Friday’s Rugby news sees Dave Rennie name his side for Bledisloe III, as they look to beat the All Blacks, and we preview the Shute Shield Grand Final, as Eastwood’s young playmaker gets a call up to Super Rugby.
Ready for battle
Dave Rennie has made some huge selection calls in an attempt win Bledisloe III in Sydney this weekend. With injury ruling out James O’Connor, the Wallabies will start young gun Noah Lolesio in the No.10 jersey. While he was named on the bench for the Wallabies test against the All Black in Wellington, Lolesio has not yet played any minutes, and will be thrown in the deep end in the Wallabies do-or-die game.
After nervously sitting on the sidelines for the last two test, Lolesio is confident he can step up in what will be the biggest game of his career to date.
“l I was pretty nervous when I was on the bench in that first game,” Lolesio told rugby.com.au.
“But now I reckon I won’t be as anxious or nervous, I’ll just be ready to go.
“There’s no better way than debuting in front of your friends and family and in this country.”
Brumbies teammate Irae Simone will earn his first Test cap after being named to start at inside centre to replace the injured Matt To’omua.
Queensland Reds pair Tate McDermott and Fraser McReight have been named on the bench and will be in line to make their Test debuts.
In other backline changes, Dane Haylett-Petty returns at fullback as of Tom Banks drops out of the match day squad, while Jordan Petaia replaces Hunter Paisami at outside centre.
In the only change to the forward pack, Allan Alaalatoa will start at tighthead prop instead of Taniela Tupou, who will provide much impact off the bench.
Meanwhile, the Wallabies have identified young powerhouse Caleb Clarke as a major threat this weekend. The gameplan is to direct contestable kicks his way to nullify his running game.
Wallabies flyer Filipo Daugunu will be charged with stopping the 21-year-old, and he says he is up for the challenge.
“Our aim is to kick to him in contests. So we can smash him. That’s our target for this week,” Daugunu said.
“He usually does a left foot step and we are working on that this week, I’m looking forward to playing against him, again, on Saturday.”
“Can’t wait to hit him,” he said.
The winger will be backed up by his teammates, who will have to contain a number of the All Black’s strike weapons across the park. The men in Gold will have to be at their best if they are to win, with the team’s relative inexperience in the backs an area of concern. The Wallabies backline only has a combined 106 caps, but Rennie is backing the team to get the job done.
“We’ve seen where we think we’ve created opportunities for ourselves,” Rennie said.
“If the boys didn’t believe us after week one that if you turn the ball over against the All Blacks or kick loosely that you get punished (they do now). We’re well aware that if we kick, we need to be able to shut them down and apply pressure, if we’re attacking we need to be accurate, and you need to tackle well.
“All the things that we did pretty well in that first Test and we were competitive.
“There’s little areas that we think we can hopefully get some joy, but they’re a good side and both sides should be improving throughout this period.”
Grand final time
In club rugby, Gordon will take on Eastwood at Leichhardt Oval this Saturday 31 October from 3.00pm AEDT. You can catch the game on 7TWO & 7plus.
Last weekend Gordon outplayed Eastern Suburbs 28-10 after a low scoring 3-3 first half.
Northern Suburbs and Eastwoods will be stinging from a taxing Semi-Final against Northern Suburbs. The 100-minute thriller saw the Woods outdo the Shoremen four penalty goals to three with a full-time result of 9-12.
Gordon and Eastwood last met in a Grand Final back in 1976, when the Stags defeated the Woods 33-4.
Experienced Gordon head coach Darren Coleman will be going up against rookie Ben Batger, who took over the coveted Woods head coaching role at the beginning of 2019 from Women’s Aussie 7s Coach John Manenti.
However, the matchup everyone will be talking about is between playmakers Rod Iona from Gordon and Waratahs recruit Tane Edmed from Eastwood who have been the driving force behind their respective clubs success this year.
Their presence and control around the paddock have earned praised throughout the season, with their kicking abilities being the difference in many close games.
It all depends on the platform their forwards provide to allow them to take such control of the paddock, with Eastwood captain Pat Sio looking to get one over his number eight counterpart and Gordon captain Jordy Goddard.
While Eastwood may have more recent Grand Final experience, Gordon are hungry to claim the final, and most important award of the 2020 season.
Gordon Premierships: 1952, 1954, 1956, 1958, 1976, 1993, 1995 and 1998
Eastwood Premierships: 1999, 2002, 2003, 2011, 2014, 2015
The NSW Waratahs have signed Eastwood playmaker, Tane Edmed to a two-year deal and will link up with Rob Penney’s squad full-time from the 2021 Super Rugby season.