Monday’s Rugby News has captain Horwill trying to rejoin the squad, Folau moving positions for Tahs, Bismark awaiting a judiciary hearing and Dan Carter injured again.
Big Kev’s race against the clock
Wallabies captain James Horwill has until Saturday to prove he is fully fit and ready to rejoin the squad for its two-game tour of South Africa and Argentina. Horwill has missed Australia’s last two games against SA and the Pumas with a hamstring injury. ‘There’s no evidence to say [Horwill] wouldn’t be fit by the weekend,’ said coach Ewen McKenzie, also adding, ‘I think he is tracking well.’
As for one of Horwill’s second row replacement, McKenzie has spoken with Sitaleki Timani about staying in Australia next year. Timani’s $2.4 million a season deal with French rugby club Montpellier could be jeopardised if the ARU does not release him by the start of October. But McKenzie has emphasised that ‘The ball’s in his court,’ so the outlook for the huge lock signing with an Aussie Super franchise is bleak at best.
Folau’s new role in Tahs backline
Israel Folau will reportedly play at outside centre next year, leaving room for Kurtley Beale at fullback in the Waratahs’ star-studded backline. As a result, Adam Ashley-Cooper will be pushed into inside centre while Bernard Foley will retain the number 10 jersey. New recruit Nick Phipps is also said to be the pre-season favourite for starting halfback, in part because of a solid combination with Foley that stretches back to their teenage years in Sydney Uni Colts.
Isreal Folau has also vowed that Australia will play a more expansive style in upcoming matches. In wet and windy conditions, the Wallabies adopted a much more conservative gameplan based on field-position. But Folau has said that more tries will come as the Wallabies’ confidence continues to grow.
Bismark awaiting trial
Springbok hooker Bismark du Plessis is set to appear before a SANZAR judicial hearing after receiving two yellow cards against New Zealand on Saturday. While there is more consensus with the second yellow card, given for elbowing Liam Messam in the throat, Bismark’s first indiscretion was contentious to say the least. Referee Romain Poite deemed a 17th minute tackle of Dan Carter to be dangerous.
Carter later tweeted ‘Nothing wrong with the tackle,’ with replays showing that Poite may have initially over-reacted. The IRB have now admitted that Poite’s decision was a mistake, which means that du Plessis is unlikely to face further punishment from the judiciary. ‘Just as players and coaches make mistakes, the decision was an unfortunate case of human error by the match officials,’ the IRB statement said.
Dan Carter sidelined
All Blacks five-eighth Dan Cater will miss the rest of the Rugby Championship after suffering a nasty grade 3 AC injury. Carter will miss six weeks, with New Zealand coach Steve Hansen hoping that the 97 test playmaker’s shoulder will be healed in time for the first Test against France on 9 November. Carter has played only three of seven All Black Tests this year after being sidelined by a broken hand and then a thigh injury.
The All Blacks will call up Tom Taylor for their final two Tests of the Rugby Championship. This will probably only determine the replacement slot (with Colin Slade missing out) as Hansen is optimistic that Aaron Cruden will be available for the match against the Pumas on September 28 after completing a full training session late last week.