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Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News sees all of the squads for the weekend, other upcoming fixtures at home and overseas, Rugby Australia establishing a new national ID program, and Poey’s return date confirmed!


Squad’s In

Duncan Paia'aua can't avoid the Brumbies defence.

Duncan Paia’aua can’t avoid the Brumbies defence.

Starting off in Super Rugby, the squads for three of the Aussie teams are out and there’s plenty to talk about.

Beginning with the derby, the Rebels have had to make one big change, with skipper Adam Coleman out due to sternum soreness. However, they do have a solid replacement in Ross Haylett-Petty, who will join Matt Philip in the second row. Tom English has been handed the captaincy duties, and will look to build on the Rebels impressive start to the season.

They have also been bolstered by the return of Marika Koroibete and Richard Hardwick from injury, who will come off the bench for the Stockade. Ben Daley will also get his first appearance for the club.

Meanwhile, the Brumbies have welcomed back a pivotal player in Scott Sio, who will come into the starting lineup. He will also be joined by  Lolo Fakaosilea, with several players moving around in the scrum. The Brumbies scrum was far from it’s usual standard last week against the Reds, and Dan McKellar is determined to get it right again.

“We were really disappointed in our scrummage against the Reds and it wasn’t to our standard,” McKellar said.

There will also be four changes to the Brumbies bench, with exciting NRC prospect Folau Fainga’a, prop Faalelei Sione and  lock Richie Arnold bringing some late game grunt to the forward pack, while Andy Muirhead has his first start in 2018.

Rebels Squad: Dane Haylett-Petty, Jack Maddocks, Tom English (c), Reece Hodge, Sefa Naivalu, Jack Debreczeni, Will Genia, Amanaki Mafi, Angus Cottrell, Lopeti Timani, Ross Haylett-Petty, Matt Philip, Jermaine Ainsley, Jordan Uelese, Tetera Faulkner. Reserves: Anaru Rangi, Ben Daley, Sam Talakai, Colby Fainga’a, Richard Hardwick, Michael Ruru, Billy Meakes, Marika Koroibete.

Brumbies Squad: Tom Banks, Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani, Kyle Godwin, Chance Peni, Christian Lealiifano, Joe Powell, Isi Naisarani, Lolo Fakaosilea, Lachlan McCaffrey, Sam Carter (c), Rory Arnold, Allan Alaalatoa, Josh Mann-Rea, Scott Sio. Reserves: Folau Fainga’a, Faalelei Sione, Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, Richie Arnold, Tom Cusack, Matt Lucas, Wharenui Hawera, Andy Muirhead.

This has got the makings of a really good game, with the both sides looking to prove a point. As much as I want my Brumbies to get up, I reckon the Rebels are going to take this one.

Meanwhile, up at Suncorp Stadium, the Reds have made one change for their match against the Bulls, with Filipo Daugunu coming in onto the wing at the expense of Duncan Paia’aua, who has moved to the bench. This move will see Chris Feauai-Sautia move to outside centre, and Samu Kerevi move to inside centre.

The forward pack will remain unchanged, with Brad Thorn having faith in the squad that beat the Brumbies.

“We’ve made a few changes in the backline, bringing Chris into the centres and Filipo onto the wing,” Thorn said.

“Chris has been in great form and offers a lot in the centres.

“He played there throughout the NRC and provided plenty of go forward for the team.

“It’s also a good opportunity for Filipo to get his first start.

“The Bulls will be a tough challenge but the team is looking forward to running out in front of their home fans again this weekend.

“Hopefully the team can go out and make everyone proud.”

Reds Squad: Aidan Toua, Filipo Daugunu, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Samu Kerevi, Eto Nabuli, Jono Lance, James Tuttle, Caleb Timu, Liam Wright, Adam Korczyk, Kane Douglas, Izack Rodda, Taniela Tupou, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, James Slipper (c). Reserves: Alex Mafi, JP Smith, Sef Fa’agase, Harry Hockings, Angus Scott-Young, Tate McDermott, Hamish Stewart, Duncan Paia’aua

The Reds are looking like an improved side, but will need to play an up-tempo game to knock over this Bulls side. The lads on the podcast are predicting the Bulls will win this one, and I’m inclined to agree. But hey, I was wrong last week.

As for the Waratahs, they are still to name their squad against the Jaguares as of Thursday night.

For more information, head over to news.com.au.

Hope everyone enjoys their rugby this weekend.

Outside of Super Rugby…

Kirby Sefo and Liz Patu struggle to bring Grace Hamilton down

Kirby Sefo and Liz Patu struggle to bring Grace Hamilton down

There’s a bloody huge amount of rugby going on this weekend, so we’ll start domestically.

Super W kicks off tomorrow night, with Queensland hosting NSW as the matinee game before the Reds play the Bulls. Both squads look bloody dangerous, with Wallaroos and Tens stars aplenty. Fans are going to want to get along to this, it’s gonna be a cracker.

The other Super W match will be just as spiteful, with the WA Womens side hosting the Victorian Womens at the beautiful Cottesloe Rugby Club in Perth on Sunday. WA Rugby fans should really get along to this one, as it’ll look to be just as fierce as when the Perth Spirit knocked over the Melbourne Rising in front of 4,000 fans in the NRC.

“The Women’s Sevens team’s resurgence – some of that has been the competition that they played domestically – unearthing new talent and giving new players an opportunity to play more together,” said Rod Kafer, Rugby Australia’s New Special Projects manager. 

“That’s really important and the Buildcorp Super W gives us that opportunity again.

“We have the Wallabies, we have the men’s and women’s Sevens team and we have the Wallaroos.

“That’s right at the pinnacle of our game – they wear our national colours – they’re a national team and we need to take pride in giving our teams the best opportunity to win and be successful.”

Back at Super Rugby level, round 4 will get off to a flyer when the Highlanders come back off the bye and face the Stormers, who have had a bloody tough time of the road the last few weeks. Open and shut result.

Following the Aussie derby, the first kiwi derby will kick off on Saturday with the Hurricanes hosting a dangerous Crusaders outfit in Windy Wellington. I’m tipping the visitors for this one, but the Hurricanes could very easily spring a surprise, as the Crusaders do have plenty of injury concerns. Reckon this one will be the match of the round.

After the Reds play the Bulls, the Sharks could find themselves coming up against a tricky opponent in the Sunwolves, who look to have improved out of sight this year. If the Sharks play like they did last week, we could have an upset on the cards.

Finally, the last non-Aussie match will see another game that will be contender for match of the round, with the Lions hosting the Blues. It’s been a frustrating start to the campaign so far for the Blues, and I don’t see that stopping anytime soon here.

And, lastly we head overseas to the Six Nations, with the penultimate round kicking off tomorrow.

In what’s been a close competition this year, this round sees a scrap for top honours between Ireland, England and Scotland. 

Starting in Dublin, the Irish will look to have one hand on the trophy when they host the Scots. If the Irish win, they will take a big lead at the top of the table, and could potentially win the whole thing (barring another result in Paris).

If Scotland however pull the upset, which many can see happening, they could find themselves in contention to win the trophy in the final round, when they head to Rome to face Italy. But this result is dependant on the same result in Paris.

It’s time to dream for Scotland. They have never won the Six Nations in it’s current form, so this will be the match that will define how far they can go as a resurgent team.

The second match is that crucial result in Paris, and both the Scots and Ireland are banking on England losing for their respective results. If England win, it will effectively set up the decider for the trophy at Twickenham next week against the Irish.

But, while France have been looking far from their best this season, they finally snapped an eight match losing streak and got back to winning ways when they beat Italy last round. A win here will do much to put a smile on the faces of long suffering fans, and nothing would be more enjoyable for French fans than effectively ending England’s chance to win the Six Nations.

Finally, the last match sees Wales host the Azzuri in Cardiff. The Welsh have been looking an improved side this year, and are still mathematically a chance of winning the competition (albeit, against very high odds). But they’re going to want to win big here. As for Italy, it’s all about pride now.

The last time they beat the Scarlets was back in 2003. Surprisingly though, the last four matches between these two have gone Wales way, but by a margin of ten or less. Maybe there might be a surprise here?

Australia’s Got Talent?

Australian Men Sydney 7s

Oh look! Another Rugby Australia pathway program! Lost count of how many there are now.

But this one does look like a goodie. Remember the days when Australia used to have a national academy? Then Bill Pulver and the new board came along and it fell to the job of the Super Rugby clubs? Yeah, that one.

Well, things look to be going back to the way they were, with the governing body set to announce a new and improved talent ID program.

This came after RA’s high performance panel and the Super Rugby managers met yesterday in Brisbane to iron out the plans, which are hoped will (according to Fox Sports) provide a significant boost for the code’s fight for young talent.

“The (previous system) didn’t have the national approach that I now think is going to almost intuitively make that system stronger,” explained national high performance manager Ben Whitaker.

“It went back to the five individual Super teams saying ‘right, we’ve got to look after ourselves.’

“What do we need in a year or two years?’

“It didn’t mean that we dropped the ball, but when Bill [Pulver] first came on, elements of that national system dissolved.

“Whether right or wrong the national academy was in place at that stage.

“That sort of function went back to the Super teams and that created a little bit more of ‘well this is mine.’

“Not sharing anything because ultimately we’ve just got to win.’

“But you can see in the last 12 months — there was a feeling even before that — but in the last 12 months we’ve formalised that approach now.

“And there’s commitment and agreement that if we don’t identify talent from as young as 13-14 years of age and bring them through the system, if that’s not attended to nationally with the contribution of all the Super teams, it’s never going to be strong.”

The focus of this academy will be to ensure that players can be encouraged from a young age to pursue rugby, and also ensure that there is depth in all key positions. This is particularly important, as many positions now (such as hookers, and fly-halves) in Australia lack a lot of depth.

The wait is nearly (hopefully) over…

Photo by Keith McInnes

Photo by Keith McInnes

Sniff. Sniff. Can someone smell a breakdown?

David Pocock certainly can, because he’s officially set a date for his return to Super Rugby. 

We haven’t seen him since the end of 2016, and frankly, I can’t wait for the big lad to come back.

So when is he targeting his return? The end of this month. His goal is to be back fighting against the NSW Waratahs at their derby match in Canberra on March 31.

Dan McKellar made it no secret that the Brumbies are keen as hell to have him back in fighting form, but are making sure he’s a hundred percent fit before he gets on the park.

“We’ll see how the next couple of weeks go, but he’s (Pocock) provided a lot of enthusiasm and energy over the last couple of days,” McKellar said to rugby.com.au. 

“We always thought in and around the bye week (for Pocock’s return) but he’s on schedule to play in that (Waratahs) game and he’ll get some good weeks of training.

“One thing we do here though with our medical staff is we don’t rush guys back, we make sure they’re fit and able to play.”

His return would see the Brumbies forward pack return to full strength.

Even writing that made me keen to see him back in action.

 

 

 

 

  • Julie T

    So is this new “national” approach to identify talent just like the so called national super footprint and only covers the east coast? WA still have their Future Force Academy which this year expands to include women. That’s our pathway. Is this part of the national plan???

    • JimmyC

      Enough is enough. I sympathise with you about your team being kicked out and it wasn’t the approach I would have taken but you can’t continue to hijack every single piece of possitive news to come from RA.

      • Mica

        The point’s valid though. WA should be included in anything called national. It’s like the Americans calling their national championships World Series. It’s somewhat head shaking.

    • andrewM

      I was actually wondering if Tim Simpson, now that he has been appointed Western Force coach would now be included in Kafer’s Inner Circle?

  • Brisneyland Local

    Well good morning GAGR’s! Team slections noted. Am looking forward to this round.
    To be honest and I dont think I am asking for much, I just want to see a skills improvement, and a defence improvement! From all Aus SR Teams. To be honest I dont even care if they win. I just want to see improvement!
    Good to hear Pooey iscoming back. Cant wait!

    • Brumby Runner

      BL, I have the impression that all of the Aus franchises are already too defense oriented. Look at the NZ conference derbies. They are usually all quite high scoring affairs by both combatants. Maybe a bit more emphasis on attack by the Aus sides would liven up the contest, and even more so if it meant there was a bit less emphasis on defense?

      • Brisneyland Local

        BR, Thanks for the response. I think our teams try to concentrate on defence because they cant defend. Call it re-enforcing a weakness. Their tackling is weak, they slip off them, they are caught out of postion etc etc.
        The Kiwi’s play attacking because they know they can defend, and usually tries are scored just due to the shear and relelnting pressure of the attacking phases, or excellent offloads and breakthroughs.
        When we attack on the other hand we usually end up coghing up the pill.
        But hey that is only according to me;-)

  • I’d still rather QC on the wing for his defence over Nabuli.

    • Gottsy

      He’s massive and he’s quick but good lord he is dumb. I honestly don’t know how a coach could keep putting up with the stupid things he does whenever he doesn’t have the ball

      • Happyman

        I believe every coach would look at him and go wow 6″5 and runs like the wind he would meet all of the metrics and measurable’s. I can teach him to catch and pass.
        It is just a shame he is the only Fijian on the planet with hands like feet.

        • nmpcart

          Problem is none of them have managed to teach him that yet – eventually a coach has to say ‘am I really that much better at teaching basic skills to a professional player than all of these coaches before me?’.

  • Happyman

    Good Morning GAGR I am going on a bit of a rant about the pathway here.

    Rant mode on A national program is all well and good but it is total waste of time effort and money if it disconnected from the club pathways.
    Almost every larger club in Australia is running a high performance colts program our spend and coaching support needs to be at this level from the bottom up and not from the top down.
    The amount of talent being wasted or not identified is beyond belief.
    At the moment players are being discounted on the basis of metrics so the Damian McKenzie’s of Australia don’t get a look in as they are just discounted as being to small etc.
    The amount of self interest in the current pathway identification systems are beyond belief. School affiliation’s mean everything as coaches obviously have to answer to parents if the current school atar did not make the rep team.
    If this is just another mechanism where boys spend more time in the gym and less time playing we are just on a hiding to nothing.
    These guys need to actually get to the coal face and see the guys who are working hard for it, they would be surprised by what they find. (I know they won’t)

    Rant mode off

    • Who?

      Agreed. The reality is we need MORE academies, not fewer, not a higher pinnacle. We should have more academies, but with a better distribution of coaching IP, so that the ultimate goals of producing Wallabies are more consistently met. This was the goal of Junior Gold Cup, but Pulver gave in to pressure from Sydney Schools and weakened that by allowing schools to dominate it (which meant the same kids getting good coaching at school got more high quality coaching in JGC, rather than having JGC as a comp for other kids to get that exposure to top level coaching).
      Identifying talent down to U13-14 is easy, arguably, because in the Eastern states, the big schools are giving away scholarships at the U12’s rep competitions… Which is so healthy (sarcastically says the guy whose local teenage competition is being destroyed by schools preventing long term club players turning out for clubs). But players develop at different rates.
      Eben Etzebeth was 150cm at 15, and played on the wing. He was the runt of the family, a disgrace to the family name! But obviously he grew 54cm between 15 and 20, moved to lock, and has long been one of the best in the world. If you’re identifying locks at 13-14, you miss him.
      I heard a few years ago that the number of kids who play Craven Week in SA at both 12 and 17 (the two ages that meet for Craven Week) is under 20% of the squads. So if SA were to identify and (exclusively) nurture (identified) talent from 13-14, they’d miss a huge number of future Bokke. Surely RA can’t that stupid… Oh, wait.
      Oh, and DMac? I know of a kid who I think is a little DMac. He plays 9. Because he’s small. Forget the fact he’s got a wicked step, a good short kicking game, can set up the man alongside him off the run (and is most dangerous as a ball runner, a la DMac and KB). He’s small, so therefore apparently he has to be a 9… This is the standard MO for Rugby in Australia. Pigeonholing players based on size, not skill sets. Because players can’t possibly grow bigger…

      • Happyman

        JGC is a bad joke perpetrated by the ARU. I have been to the trials twice and both times this is what I saw at Ballymore.
        About 8 coaches all with School affiliations who watched two drills with 150 boys for 15 minutes.
        Then they picked about 4 teams all from those schools to play trials on the main field.(6 Coaches watched)
        Everyone else goes over to field three to play two coaches ran this. The other coaches never go to field three.
        Then the JGC teams are picked with the Coaches schools featuring heavily and most alarmingly usually 10 boys who did not trial getting picked.
        A complete waste of time and the worst part is the boys quickly pick up on this and call B#$llsh$t.

        • Who?

          The problem is the selection of the coaches (which is understandable, given the school coaches are employed and therefore get priority through coaching courses, so there’s more qualified coaches in the schools than anywhere else), who just want to get their kids more game time.
          So the tournament ends up being known as “The *insert GPS school here* Pre-season Tour.”
          Take away eligibility of kids who don’t play club, and suddenly JGC is a good thing. As it originally would’ve been! But RA’s got no concern for anything other than their alma maters… Morosely myopic behaviour from the ARU (and now RA continuing the problems created under its old name).

        • Happyman

          Agree registered and playing for club would sort out the problem

    • SuckerForRed

      Understand your rant Happyman. Darling Downs is currently looking down the barrel of not having a teenage competition. Do I know the reasons? Nup. All I know is that it is bloody hard to get the 20 somethings back into the club system once they have not been there between the ages of about 11 and 18. Is a National pathway going to help this….. I am really unsure. I guess we have to wait and see. And yes I know that the Downs is a small fish in a very large pond but if there is talent from here falling through the cracks because the pathway is more like a goat track I assume that it is happening everywhere. Brisbane and Sydney included.
      But didn’t we go back to the state academies because a “national approach” wasn’t working? Or am I the only one with a memory that long?

      • Happyman

        Mate I feel your pain. My argument is upskill coaches at the lower levels as much as possible. This will create a bigger talent pool with more competition. This will create players who are less entitled who have to fight for it and therefore will be tougher on the field.
        To be fair the Brisbane clubs are working hard and producing good quality teams. My issue is these clubs are doing this with no support. Support does not have to mean money either it can just mean IP assistance.

        As far as 15 to 17 competitions they are really difficult as the Schools don’t want the better players and actively stop them.

  • McWarren

    My concern with this talent identification process is not who will be identified at 13, but who won’t be identified at 19. Is this new system going to change the current culture of ignoring those who weren’t spotted as kids and filtered through the correct scholarship program?

    • Nutta

      How dare you imply that a 13yr old Rockstar with over-bearing parents and a Private school scholarship is not the personification of TURP (The Ultimate Rugby Player)?!?!?

      Blasphemer! Heathen! Stone Him! Stone Him!

      • McWarren

        Jehovah. Jehovah, jehovah!!!

        • Nutta

          Look, I had a lovely supper and all I said to my wife was ‘That piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah.’

        • Funk

          ouuuu… he said it again….

  • Nutta

    This time I’m upping the Scots

    Why? Because it’s poetry:
    1. As my old Dad used to say ‘Boy, the sun should shine on every dogs arse at least 1 day’. This is a day for Scots.
    2. As Oz we owe you this much after the RWC Finals. Debt cleared IMO.
    3. You beat us last year. I would rather history record Oz were beat by the 6N Champions.

    Go Scotland.

    • Mica

      And I have Scottish mates.
      And the Scots are playing positive tough rugby.
      On the downside Hogg’s a bit of a sook (but then again looks like a standup guy next to Mike Brown).

      • Nutta

        Martin Shkreli is a standup guy next to Mike Brown

        Salim Mahajener is a standup guy next to Mike Brown

        Kyle Sandilands is a standup guy next to Mike Brown

        Do I need to keep going?

        • Xaviera

          Nailed it. The only thing I like more is seeing Mike Brown nailed. Repeatedly. Biggest knob in the game. Clearly one we let slip through from soccer.

    • McWarren

      Nah can’t do it Nutta.

      Come on Ireland!! Give those pastie, dress wearing flowers a beating.

    • mikado

      Ireland to beat Scotland comfortably. The Irish will have far too much power up front and the Scots have yet to show they can play well away from home.

  • McWarren

    Anyone else looking forward to Pockocks return with some trepidation? I can’t shake the feeling that one of two things may happen:

    1. He gets injured again, this time for a long time, or
    2. He just doesn’t have the impact we all suspect he will have.

    I hope I’m wrong obviously, and if he stays injury free then I am confident point 2 will be irrelevant.

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@Nick_Wasiliev

Die-hard Brumbies/Country Eagles fan now based in Sydney. Author, anthropologist, musician and second-rower trying to kick start a writing career in an increasingly bonkers world...

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