Friday’s Rugby News sees players coming up the hard way, The Hurricane feeling the pressure, Get Cooper and Tough decisions for Tuilagi.
McCaffrey’s come the hard way!
Locky McCaffrey is making a pretty big impact in the Brumbies backrow. but it hasn’t been easy for the number 8 to get where he is. The photo above is the only one we have of him playing Super Rugby in our substantial library. The next year he was unwanted by the five Australian franchises and was faced with the choice of returning to Sydney club rugby or trying his hand overseas. Luckily an offer came in with Leicester and a path opened up.
Rather than be put off Locky took the massive 45 game season as an opportunity to learn and spent the next three years doing just that from some of the brightest rugby minds on the planet.
“It wasn’t really a decision, I actually didn’t get any offers in Australian Super Rugby,” McCaffrey recalled of his move to English club Leicester in 2015. “People probably think a lot of people go overseas to the U.K or Europe for money, but my decision was because it was the only option I had to keep playing rugby; it was either go back to club rugby in Sydney or go over and have a crack in the Premiership…I’d been at three Super Rugby clubs in the Waratahs, Force and Brumbies, and came to the point where there weren’t any coaches in Super Rugby who wanted me in their squad.”
“I got a lifeline over there in the Premiership, I loved the standard of rugby over there and got a good crack in terms of being able to put games together. In Super Rugby [I’d] played a lot off the bench and [it was] hard to get your foot in the door.
“But I think going over there and playing 75 or 80 Premiership and European games in three years was the best thing for me, and I had some great coaching in Aaron Mauger, Richard Cockerill and Scott Hansen, who’s at the Sunwolves now.”
McCaffrey returned to Australia and the Brumbies in 2018 and hasn’t looked back becoming one of the mainstays of the Brumbies backrow. At 194 cm and 108 kgs he’s probably a little shorter and lighter than the classic No:8 but he more than makes up for that with speed and aggression. Us old timers would say he plays heavy and it’d be true.
Hurricanes Looking For More Pressure
The Brumbies play the Hurricanes this week but it’s not quite a rosy across the ditch. They lost to the Crusaders who starved them of the ball and go forward. The Brumbies had no such problems blowing the Chiefs off the park and racking up 50 points.
Which leaves the Hurricanes with a lot to fix and very little time to do it. In an article on stuff.co.nz about the Hurricanes talented winger Ben Lam, coach John Plumtree lamented the lack of involvement from his backline strike weapons.
Plumtree said they wanted to get the ball in the hands of their finishers more often against the Brumbies on Friday night in Palmerston North, but that couldn’t happen without pressure first being built.
“It’s about us being patient and making sure when we give the ball to Ben he’s actually got a little bit of space or one-on-one opportunities.
“We’re probably just a little bit guilty of not building enough pressure. That’s been our big focus. We know that if it’s not on, we’ve got to build and build through our forwards.
“That’s something we’ve talked about and worked hard on, but it’s got to come into our game. That’s where I’ve put the players under pressure a bit [this week]. That our momentum game around our work up the middle of the park is good and that we do pick the times to go to Wes and Ben and Vinnie [Vince Aso].”
Hurricanes: Chase Tiatia, Vince Aso, Matt Proctor, Ngani Laumape, Ben Lam, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Ardie Savea, Du’Plessis Kirifi, Vaea Fifita, Liam Mitchell, James Blackwell, Ben May, Dane Coles (c), Chris Eves. Reserves: Ricky Riccitelli, Xavier Numia, Jeff To’omaga-Allen, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Reed Prinsep, Richard Judd, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Wes Goosen
Brumbies: Tom Banks, Andy Muirhead, Tevita Kuridrani, Irae Simone, Chance Peni, Christian Lealiifano, Joe Powell, Lachlan McCaffrey, David Pocock, Pete Samu, Blake Enever, Rory Arnold, Allan Alaalatoa, Folau Fainga’a, Scott Sio. Reserves: Josh Mann-Rea, James Slipper, Leslie Leauluaialii-Makin, Darcy Swain, Tom Cusack, Matt Lucas, Wharenui Hawera, Tom Wright.
how good is this 2011 photo of Quade!
The Highlanders after getting a bit of a scare from the Reds last week come up against the southern Red… I mean ah… Rebels this week. And they’ve come up with a plan that no one has ever thought of before. GET COOPER. I’ll admit that this has worked in the past but it doesn’t take into account the other guy playing in the halves for the Rebels this week. In my mind the more important part of the partnership. A guy called Will Genia.
To make their plan a little more difficult the Highlanders have rested their own super halfback Aaron Smith, along with full back Ben Smith and Second row Luke Whitelock.
“Quade is one of those guys that if you give him too much time and space he can really hurt teams,” Mauger said.
“So, there’s been a bit of focus on making sure we don’t give him any time or room to move, and if there is a little bit of time making sure we’re working together in our three and our fives defensively.
It sets the scene for a spicy clash in Melbourne, where the Highlanders will be determined to bring Cooper back down to earth after the Rebels No 10 marked his return to Super Rugby with a promising performance in round one.
Highlanders: Josh Ioane, Waisake Naholo, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Teihorangi Walden, Josh McKay, Bryn Gatland, Kayne Hammington, Elliot Dixon, James Lentjes, Shannon Frizell, Pari Pari Parkinson, Jackson Hemopo, Siate Tokolahi, Ash Dixon (c), Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Replacements: Ricky Jackson, Ayden Johnstone, Josh Iosefa-Scott, Tom Franklin, Marino Mikaele Tu’u, Folau Fakatava, Patelesio Tomkinson, Marty Banks
Rebels: Dane Haylett-Petty (c), Jack Maddocks, Tom English, Billy Meakes, Marika Koroibete, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Isi Naisarani, Brad Wilkin, Angus Cottrell, Matt Philip, Luke Jones, Sam Talakai, Anaru Rangi, Tetera Faulkner
Replacements: Robbie Abel, Matt Gibbon, Jermain Ainsley, Adam Coleman, Richard Hardwick, Rob Leota, Michael Ruru, Reece Hodge
Racing 92 Wants Manu
Manu Tuilagi is facing the questions most professional rugby players come across at least once in their careers. Family or country? Okay, maybe I’ve exaggerated a little.
In Manu’s case, he has to decide whether to take the Mega dollars available playing for Leicester and England or give up playing for his country to collect the mega-er dollars on tap playing for Racing 92 in the French Top 14. What to do? Stay in England and put up with daily Brexit news or move and put up with the French?
It’s a lot to consider. I’m back with England and I loved playing at Cardiff, even though we lost. I love playing at the Tigers too. I need to take some time after this campaign, put everything on the table and make the right decision.”
So far Eddie Jones, the England coach, has made no concerted attempt to influence Tuilagi’s decision, other than to make jokes about the player eating baguettes and croissants.
“We’ve not really spoken about it … there’s nothing to be spoken about because I haven’t made a decision,” said Tuilagi, insisting reports he had already signed were premature.
“When I saw that [piece saying he had signed] I didn’t know what to say really. I haven’t made a decision yet, so everyone [in the squad] is cool about it.”
One potential compromise might be to go to France for two seasons and then, in a perfect world, return for one last tilt at a World Cup before the next tournament in France in 2023.
Chris Ashton and James Haskell have already proved it is possible for England players to have their gâteau and eat it, and Racing’s offer exceeds anything Leicester can afford.
As things stand Tuilagi seems genuinely in two minds. “I haven’t thought too far ahead. At the moment I’m still committed to Tigers and England and all my focus is here and on trying to finish [the Six Nations] on a high.”