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Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News has the teams of the week, club corner, George Smith on the Reds, and the Rebels looking desperate.

The Weekend is Upon Us

Solomon Alaimalo

Solomon Alaimalo

The weekend is upon us,  and we are into round eleven.

I’m not exactly looking upon this weekend with optimism, but from that, I’m entering into a state where all I can say to all the Aussie Super Rugby teams is “come on! Prove me wrong!”

Starting this week is the Rebels, who will play in South Africa against the Stormers in Cape Town. In their eight year history, the Stockade have never won a single a match in the Republic. They’ve even won matches in New Zealand, but they still can’t win in South Africa.

The loss of Haylett-Petty will see Jack Maddocks move to fullback, while everyone else in the Rebels backline moves down a place, with Billy Meakes returning to inside centre.

In the forward pack, Lopeti Timani and Jermaine Ainsley return to the forward pack, with Sam Talakai on the bench.

Rebels Squad: Jack Maddocks, Tom English, Reece Hodge, Billy Meakes, Marika Koroibete, Jack Debreczeni, Michael Ruru, Amanaki Mafi, Angus Cottrell, Lopeti Timani, Adam Coleman (c), Matt Philip, Jermaine Ainsley, Anaru Rangi, Tetera Faulkner. Reserves: Sama Malolo, Fereti Sa’aga, Sam Talakai, Geoff Parling, Colby Fainga’a, Harrison Goddard, Semisi Tupou, Sefa Naivalu

Would it be nice if the Rebels win? Absolutely, and I really hope they do. Do I think they’re going to win? Nope. Stormers by 10.

Next up the Reds will host a Lions side that turned the Waratahs inside out and brought their fans to a whole new level of depressed.

Brad Thorn has made four changes to his side that lost to the Chiefs, with Hamish Stewart coming on for Jono Lance, JP Smith coming on for James Slipper,  Jordan Petaia in for Izaia Perese, and the big one being George Smith coming into the squad, with Liam Wright being left out altogether.

Reds Squad: Aidan Toua, Filipo Daugunu, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Samu Kerevi (c), Jordan Petaia, Hamish Stewart, Ben Lucas, Caleb Timu, George Smith, Angus Scott-Young, Kane Douglas, Izack Rodda, Taniela Tupou, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, JP Smith. Reserves: Alex Mafi, Harry Hoopert, Ruan Smith, Harry Hockings, Adam Korczyk, Moses Sorovi, Duncan Paia’aua, Izaia Perese.

Yeah, this feels like another foregone conclusion. But, like I said to Thorn and all these players, for gods sake prove me wrong. Lions by 20 or more.

Finally, I’ve saved the one I’m least looking forward to for last.

My lads the Brumbies will be hosting the Crusaders in Canberra this weekend, coming off a bad weekend against the Jaguares.

The biggest loss for the home side is that of David Pocock, who has been ruled out with a calf strain. His loss sees some shifting around in the back of the scrum, with Blake Evener coming in to fill the void.

Dan McKellar has made one other additional change to the starting fifteen, with Andrew Smith named ahead of Kyle Godwin at inside centre.

Brumbies Squad: Tom Banks, Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani, Andrew Smith, Chance Peni, Wharenui Hawera, Joe Powell, Isi Naisarani, Tom Cusack, Blake Evener, Sam Carter (c), Rory Arnold, Allan Alaalatoa, Folau Fainga’a, Scott Sio. Reserves: Robbie Abel, Faalelei Sione, Ben Alexander, Darcy Swain, Lolo Fakaosilea, Matt Lucas, Jordan Jackson-Hope, Andy Murihead

After last week, I’m only seeing this game go one way. Crusaders by 30 or more.

But, like I said, come one Brums, prove this naysayer wrong! Throw everything at it. Play smart, leave everything out there on the paddock, and have a game plan for the last twenty minutes of the match.

The Waratahs have the bye this weekend.

The other matches of the round see the Hurricanes host the Sunwolves (Canes by forty plus), while the Blues take on a resurgent Jaguares side. I reckon the Jags have a good chance here, particularly if they continue their Aussie form.

The last match of the round will be the match of the round when the Bulls will take on the Highlanders in Pretoria. The Highlanders will be favourites for this, but the Bulls looked to have turned a corner the last few weeks, and have picked up some serious momentum with three wins on the trot.

Club Corner

Tom Pincus runs with the ball (Image Credit: Paul Seiser/SPA Images)

Tom Pincus runs with the ball (Image Credit: Paul Seiser/SPA Images)

Club Corner is back for another week, and we’ll start off this time round with the one and only Shute Shield. 

Starting off, Gordon had to overcome a stubborn Penrith outfit, eventually running out 43-10 winners. Manly got their season back on track with a vital 15-23 away win against Southern Districts, the Woodies had a tough time of it, going down 38-15 to Northern Suburbs at North Sydney Oval. The Rats meanwhile made light work of Parramatta 43-15, Sydney Uni knocked off tough nut West Harbour 42-30, and finally, Randwick came from behind to defeat the Beasties in a thrilling derby, 26-19.

Round Four Fixtures:

West Harbour v Randwick 
Eastern Suburbs v Manly 
Penrith v Warringah 
Eastwood v Southern Districts 
Sydney University v Northern Suburbs 
Parramatta v Gordon 

The broadcast match will be the Students taking on the Shoreman in Bowral, and kick off will be at 3pm.

Next up, we head north to Queensland, as round four served us up some cracking matches in the Hospital Challenge Cup. Norths pulled off an important win, knocking over Wests 28-31 away from home. Bond Uni were kept scoreless by Easts at home 0-12, Sunnybank were hammered by Uni of Queensland 17-56, and Souths took the top of the table with a hard-fought 29-19 win over Brothers.

Round Five Fixtures:

Brothers v Bond University
Easts v Sunnybank
Norths v GPS
Wests v Souths

University of Queensland will have the bye.

Heading south, we stop by the Nation’s Capital and check out the John I Dent Cup. Round Three saw Royals hammer Gungahlin 38-5, Uni-Norths put on a brave display to hold Tuggeranong to a 17-17 draw, and Queanbeyan maintain their ranking at the top of the table with a 20-26 win over Wests. 

Round Four Fixtures:

Easts v Royals 
Queanbeyan v Tuggeranong
Gungahlin v Wests 

Uni-Norths will have the bye.

Down in Melbourne, Victorian rugby fans got their first taste of club rugby with round one of the Dewar Shield. Melbourne Rugby Club got their season off to a flyer with a 0-64 drubbing of Endeavour Hills, Footscray fell at home 22-27 to Harlequins, Melbourne Uni overcome a determined Box Hill outfit 36-17, while Moorabbin won 41-24 at home against Power House.

Round Two Fixtures:

Box Hill v Footscray
Harlequin v Moorabbin
Melbourne v Melbourne Uni 
Power House v Endeavour Hills 

And finally, we head across the Nullaboor to Perth for the Premier Grade, which saw some serious rugby dished out. Associates continued their good form with a 11-28 away win over Palmyra, Wests Scarborough were beaten at home by Nedlands 22-27, the Cavaliers were similarly underdone by Kalamunda 20-47, Waneroo were hammered by UWA 12-63, and ARKs continued the bad run for the home teams with a 19-24 loss against Perth Bayswater.

The only one who bucked the trend were the Southern Lions, who defeated Joondalup in the match of the round, 35-31.

Round Four Fixtures:

Cottesloe v Palmyra
Associates v Wests Scarborough
Nedlands v ARKs
Joondalup v Coastal Cavaliers
UWA v Southern Lions
Perth Bayswater v Wanneroo Districts

Kalamunda have the bye.

Keep enjoying your club rugby, and remember to get along to some games this weekend. It’s sure as hell a lot better to watch than the Super Rugby at the moment.

Dial R for Revolution

George Smith was an instant fan favourite with the Reds

George Smith was an instant fan favourite with the Reds

There’s a lot of young blood in the Reds this weekend, and many are questioning why young gun Hamish Stewart is coming in ahead of Quade Cooper. 

Absolute legend George Smith however has made it clear that to assume that Cooper’s omission is hurting the club is too simplistic a mindset.

“I’ve spoken to Quade and we speak about normal things rather than football … that conversation (about his Reds snubbing) has already been determined by Brad,” Smith said to Fox Sports. 

“Is it a new era? If you look across our team there’s a number of new players, so you could say it is but not in terms of Quade.

“There’s a list of players who aren’t in the team from last season and that’s the way things develop in time.”

The Reds have the youngest squad in Super Rugby, with an average age of 24 and eleven players under the age of 21.

“It’s been written that our attack hasn’t been great, but everything’s built on defence and last week, especially early, it wasn’t great,” Smith said.

However, some are hoping that the Queenslanders, with Smith back in and Samu Kerevi taking charge, can pull this one out of the fire.

The Reds this weekend will wear their club rugby socks in recognition of Rugby Family Round, which aims to celebrate grassroots rugby.

Records are made to be broken

Adam Coleman

Adam Coleman

As mentioned earlier, the Rebels have never won a game in South Africa, and they’re bloody keen to change that.

No one is more keen than South African-born coach Dave Wessels.

With Adam Coleman officially back to taking on skipper duties, Wessels will hope his team can pull together a big performance.

To have Adsy back is great for the team,” Wessels said to 

“He’s actually trained very well this week.

“I think if we can play with similar intensity to the way that we did in Pretoria (against the Bulls) and hopefully get a bit more luck… then I think we give ourselves a good chance.

“The Stormers have got the second-most line breaks in the comp and we’ve scored the third-most tries so both the teams like to attack.

“The Stormers tend to grow another leg when they are at Newlands as well.

“They played the last three games away from home so for them playing at home will be a big boost.”

Wessels himself was originally from Cape Town, and the city is currently going through a major water crisis that could see it be the first major city in the world to run out of water.

“But fortunately we’ve brought a bit of luck to the city. There’s been two or three days of rain since we’ve got here,” Wessels said.

Hopefully, the drought being broken in Cape Town bodes well for the Rebels this weekend (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist).


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  • Jack

    good work Nick, always like reading your analysis

  • IIPA

    Not sure what Izzy P did to get dropped but Petaia has looked sharp.

    A braver move at the Brumbies would have been Jackson Hope at 12 and lord knows they need some spark in that backline. Not sure a 12-10 of Smith and Hawera is the answer.

    I’d give the Brums the slimmest chance of all three Oz teams this week.

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      Would have been cool to see JJH starting.

      • David Creagh

        McKeller = clueless

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I’m beginning to lose confidence. How is Speight anywhere near the team? How can Verity-Amm not at least wen trialled at outside centre at least off the bench?

          Is it player power? Does McKellar lack confidence in the new guys? Or does he really think those guys are performing?

        • MST

          Cluelessness! IMHO It appears he is trying to cover his inabilities by sticking with the supposed names and know players thinking it’s a safer option.

          So much wasted talent in that squad.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          ‘IMHO It appears he is trying to cover his inabilities by sticking with the supposed names and known players thinking it’s a safer option’

          I fear you’re right, mate.

          Verity-Amm and Muirhead deserve far more minutes. Speight and TK deserve far fewer.

          I also posit that Jackson-Hope or Hansen should surely be partnering Lealiifano. Hawera isn’t performing and Godwin won’t even be in Australia next year, and also isn’t performing.

        • Brumby Runner

          Has McKellar lost the change room? His performance at half time last weekend was not what you’d expect to be received with any joy by a group of adults.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I was at the match and didn’t see his ‘halftime performance’.

          What happened?

        • Hoss

          Think the equivalent physical reaction to a stroke and suffercation – pretty similar look on the fox cameras.

          His halftime interview (sideline) was of a petulant brat who was far too important to talk to the media.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Thanks :(

        • Brumby Runner

          From what I saw on the Fox coverage, while giving the half time gee up to the players he looked like he was about to suffer apoplexy, heart attack and a stroke all at the same time. He went beetroot in the face, and the neck sinews were bulging as he looked to be berating them for their efforts. If that’s how someone talks to a group of adults, then I don’t think too many of them would be listening.

        • MST

          I have been suspicious he had a few weeks ago. He definitely has crossed over to the ranting, raving and player blaming theme. His last few post game press’ers have also been along the angry man blame the players script. IMHO Brumbies need to be aware he may be scorching players.

          I am still trying to work out how do many have identified that TK has been playing poorly yet has played every minute of this season while the backline has changed around him.

    • John Tynan

      This is another selection thing I don’t understand. They are the same type of player and look to be about the same ability, same strengths, etc. It’s easy to look like a super star off the bench when you’re young and dumb and full of something – just ask 2017 Perese – but the full time, week in week out, you aren’t going to shine every time you get the ball – just ask 2018 Perese.

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        Perese just came back from injury, and he had some really good runs against the Waratahs I thought. He’s a winger, and him and Daugunu aren’t getting enough ball in enough space.

  • idiot savant

    That Mr.Thorn is a stubborn man. Im not sure when his game plan is going to deliver enough tries to win a game but he must believe it will because he is persevering with it. The Reds have scored less tries than any other team in the whole competition. You would think a combination of slow ball and only one playmaker has something to do with that. Maybe Thorn doesn’t see it that way? A starting debut against the Lions is hard enough for a teenage flyhallf but to surround him without a single playmaker is really shoving him off the deep end. I can only assume the plan is 10 man rugby – kick for territory and defend.

    • Simon

      Yeah, slow ball, one playmaker, lack of deception in attack and poor handling. That said, his game plan has somehow delivered enough tries to win three games already. Admittedly in one of those wins, that number of tries was zero, and in the other two wins it was a mere two each.

      The plan has always been kick for territory and defend, they are trying to copy the Highlanders’ game plan. Kick for territory, defend hard, force a turnover, counterattack. Unfortunately they are nowhere near as good as the Highlanders at any aspect of that plan, especially the counterattack part, which is what scores the tries.

  • Brisneyland Local

    Hey GAGR’s, there are rumblings here by back channells, as well as some less than subtle comments by “Marto” on the radio this morning that there have been inappropriate events in the Reds Corporate boxes allegedly involving females wearing not soo much or perhaps very little clothing.
    I heard this about a week or so ago, and let it slide, but the fact that it was bought up on Radio this morning means this could get public and ugly if there is the slightest degree of truth to it.
    Any other GAGR’s heard anything?

    • Dud Roodt

      I haven’t, but the way the reds have been playing I’d be looking for something else to watch too.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Thats possibly why they are doing it!

    • Hoss

      No, but how much is a corporate box going for ??

      • onlinesideline


      • Brisneyland Local

        I dont know. I ditched my box in 2013. And my family membership this year.

        • Hoss

          Just checked the QRU Website and i am interested in the Corporate ‘Rub & Tug’ Package. At first I thought it may be a tour through the Reds dressing room pre-game as they undergo physio, but after reading your bit earlier I am confused and a little aroused……

          Always thinking outside the square you reds – i like it.

        • Brisneyland Local


        • Who?

          That’s why it’s a new option this year. They were waiting for you to leave. :-P

        • Brisneyland Local

          Mate if I were a club, I wouldnt want me as a member either!

        • Who?

          It’s not that – they knew you had a ‘family pass’. Which means your time with your family would’ve been awkward if you spent the whole game looking into the corporate boxes! :-P

        • Brisneyland Local

          Well the plan was to leave the family down in the family area, and me head up to the “special” room for “special” viewing! Problem solved! ;-)

      • Missing Link

        happy to chip in hahahahaha

    • McWarren

      Can we get fox cameras in this week?

      • Brisneyland Local

        Here’s hoping!

    • Nutta

      Anyone know where K.Hunt was on the weekend?

      • Brisneyland Local

        Someone said he was still out suffering white Line fever!

        • Nutta

          Boom Tish! The Wizz Fizz Kid…

        • Brisneyland Local

          Peruvian Nose Candy!

  • Hoss

    Good morning from a sunny day at the Ponderosa.

    Come on Nick, great strength and victory is born in the face of great adversity.

    Reds by 9

    Brumbies by 1.

    Now lets see how the Kiwis handle an Aussie Hoodoo…………..

    • Gareth

      Agree – lets flip the hoodoo. The pressure is on not to be the first kiwi team to be beaten by an aussie team.

      • Hoss

        Now THAT’S more like it.

        Ask not what your code can for you, but for what you can do for your code…………..

        • Nutta

          I have a dream…

    • Nicholas Wasiliev

      Indeed it is Hoss,

      As much as last weekend has left a continuously bad taste in my mouth all week, like I said, I’m honest to god begging for these guys to prove me wrong!

      I’ll still be watching this weekend.

      • Hoss

        That’s the spirit.

        History is littered with victories against overwhelming odds

        The little Israelite’s half-back – David Something (Seinfeld ??) and his last minute, try saving tackle on the huge Philistines second rower to secure the Nazareth Cup.

        Whenever the darkness creeps in remember – “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”

        Go you good things

        • Who?

          Difference between that David kid and Aussie teams is that he was clever. The big fella wanted to play tight, but he was smart enough to play fast and wide, to his own strengths, striking from distance rather than trying to grind through someone bigger and tougher than him. Big fella wanted to wrestle, David brought a gun. When was the last time we saw such thought processes applied by Aussie Super teams..?

        • onlinesideline

          I like it Rabbi Who?

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          You’re a friggen legend mate

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Absolutely Nick. I’m actually picking the Reds. I think they have the heart to win. While they’ve had a hard time of it over the last few weeks I do think they are improving and still better than last year

    • Adrian

      Hi Boss
      Wish I was that optimistic, but I think all Oz teams will probably beat the bookies who have them getting about 10 points start.
      They’ll have trouble winning the games though, but will be competitive.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      In your dreams mate

  • Gallagher

    What does anyone expect George Smith to say about Quade? You will never hear his real opinion because he has to be seen as supporting the wider team ethos and the coaches plan, otherwise they will just be dropped for some unexplainable reason also… and nice tinkering Thorn, now you’ve gone from dumping your best 10 in Quade and not even using him as a development opportunity, to using one ‘playmaker’ in Lance solely until he got injured and not even giving Stewart a go to get acclimatised, and now we have him in the deep end as single playmaker against the Lions, who are finalists two years running, with no other backup. This team is going to get monstered, so sad to see. All I keep thinking is Quade is at least imparting his knowledge on QPR for the young ones coming through, just hope its not at the expense of Stewarts career when he gets absolutely demolished, and he is still in the picture when Thorn gets dumped next year… I would be bold enough to even say we may see Quade in the Wallabies squad this year his form for Souths has been so good…

    • disqus_NMXfOrw5ot

      I have to confess, the greatest entertainment I am getting out of this season, is how often Quade is brought up with each passing Reds loss. QC is starting to look like a genius sticking with club rugby. He is playing well, his team is winning, and as usual the wheels are falling off all the Aussie Super Rugby teams, and QC is nowhere to be blamed for any of it. And BT50’s grumpy bum All Blacks Quade hate is starting to look like a truly petulant decision. Truth is though, if QC is actually brought into the team, I hope he’s smart enough to demand complete control of the backline, including selection and strategy. Otherwise he will fail too, and BT50 will suddenly start to look wise after all.

      • Gallagher

        Sorry mate, apart from watching the Souths games I am NOT entertained by quades absence, quade isn’t a genius, he didn’t have a choice, and he should never run the entire backbone, he’s a player, the coach should know how to build around his players. Bringing quade back wouldn’t necessarily start winning them more games, but it would fill the biggest glaring hole and give them a chance with the right strategy and coaching…

        • disqus_NMXfOrw5ot

          I’m sure he had a choice to take an overseas contract somewhere. But he has stuck by Qld/Oz rugby to play club rugby and wait patiently to see if he gets picked for Qld or Wallabies. I admire that.

    • idiot savant

      It would be interesting to hear what Teti Tela brings to Reds training each week after playing inside centre to Quade at Souths each weekend…

      • Gallagher

        They got that sleek winger as well that carves up…

        • idiot savant

          Emori Waqavulagi – plays everywhere from halfback to fullback. Unfortunately capped by Sri Lanka but is Fijian.

    • Who?

      The other dodgy thing about this is…
      Thorn’s weakening our U20’s campaign. Stewart SHOULD be playing the Oceania U20’s tournament this weekend, but instead he’s playing against the Lions. Which means the Reds don’t have our best 10 playing against the Lions (salary says it’s Quade), and the U20’s don’t have their best 10 (Stewart).

  • Brisneyland Local

    “Rugby Australia have reportedly Put on the table a five-year contract extension for Michael Hooper to keep him in Australia and lock him away for the upcoming 2019 and 2023 World Cups. It is the longest deal ever offered by Rugby Australia to an individual player, a sign of the times perhaps that the code is becoming more like the NRL and AFL where such contracts are common.”
    From another site.
    WTF. How are we locking this guy in when he isnt even the best 7 on the paddock! Wow!

    • Hoss

      Your effing right Briz – it should have been 7-10 year, Buddy Franklin type. Damn RA lightweights.

      Viva le premier state.

    • Who?

      Isn’t it crazy, given the complaints about having signed Quade to a 3 year contract just a couple of months ago? There’s plenty of 10’s who’ve played past 30, and Quade’s contract went to 30. 7’s a much, much more combative position, and Hooper’s USP is his pace and motor. Pace generally leaves players before strength (i.e. props play until they’re older than outside backs, as a general principle), and Hooper will be beyond 30 when this contract ends.
      I’ve got no problem with re-signing Hooper, but the contract duration is completely inconsistent with the public statements around Quade. And we’re talking about a Wallaby captain, who will be under a new (national) coach for the vast majority of this extension… Which was the problem with Quade and Thorn. Crazy stuff. Just shows our administrators are inconsistent and unable to learn from their own supposed mistakes.

      • Ed

        While other Australian codes do provide longer term contracts, what happens if the next Wallabies coach decides he wants a different style of 7 to play for the national team. Will they have the backing of the RA board to bench Hooper? And would future 7s look at opportunities overseas as they see the position basically locked up until the 2023 RWC?
        I wonder if the proposed contract has the possibility of a sabbatical? Considering Hooper is rarely off the pitch (bar the sin-bin), his body and mind would appreciate a break when he hits his early 30s.

      • Brisneyland Local

        I agree. I dont have a problem re-signing him. But 7 years is just bullshit!

    • idiot savant

      The Manly Marlins will be licking their lips.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Hope this doesn’t mean he’s captain for the next 5 years, or that he learns how to do it properly. I really don’t get this but if I was Hooper I’d snap it up.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Concur, you take whats on the table. But surely (Dont Call me Shirley!) RA couldnt possibly be that stupid!

  • Nutta

    Hello Punters

    Thanks Nic

    My opinion (for what its worth) on the Reds and Mr Thorn: the Reds have a baby roster and no Quade. I get that upsets some people. Personally I would rather play alongside the original Bernie (the dead one) than Quade but I’m not entitled to an opinion. But what I do think on occasionally when looking at the Reds squad and their plethora of Bairn’s is a date Qlders especially should remember well when on 06 June 1998 at Lang Park the Wobblies walloped England 76-0. Now if you listened to the media (especially the English media) of the time then international English rugby was dead, buried and the estate up for sale. However two things came from that game: the nucleus of the 2003 English Bill Team and one certain Johnny Wilkinson was playing his 4th test. So you just never know…

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Always worth putting it forward mate. I think the issue is that the Reds were never going to win this year, but the changes are leading up to being in a position to do so in 2 or 3 years. I just think Thorn should publicly admit this to meet expectations

      • Nutta

        Well well well…


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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