Monday’s Rugby News has the Wallaby pack with a lot to prove, Folau motivated for the English, Gatland trying to shake off Lions critics and All Blacks squad news.
Aussie forwards feel the pressure
James Horwill has publically recognised the scrutiny that will follow the forward pack during their northern hemisphere tour, but the Wallaby captain is viewing the upcoming five Tests as an opportunity to gain some respect on the world stage. ‘The northern hemisphere is always a big-forward-oriented game, and if you can set the platform for our backs then that goes a long way to winning a game,’ Horwill said.
The scrum will definitely be challenged, with some huge European packs offering no respite from the Rugby Championship games that made our forwards look vulnerable at times. But the Wallabies may have caught a slight break at scrum time as England is at the start of their international season and have not played under the IRB’s new scrum laws.
Folau motivated by Lions loss
Another form of motivation for the Wallabies, one carried by superstar back Israel Folau, is the desire to avenge Australia’s series loss to the British and Irish Lions earlier this year. ‘The rivalry between the Aussies and the Poms is something you always want to get up and play for, Wales as well, it will be a hit back for the Lions campaign,’ Folau said. To do this, Folau has emphasised that he wants to produce a performance to remember at next week’s match.
Australia’s recent disappointing results at the Rugby Championship have seen them drop below third-placed England in the IRB rankings. This match will be essential in giving the Wallabies momentum heading into a long tour and creating a sense of confidence after their recent losses.
Gatland calls for quota debate
Coach Warren Gatland has called for a public debate surrounding the use of quotas following the Lions’ third Test win against Australia. After sustained criticism from Lions legends such as Willie John McBride and Keith Wood concerning the selection of 10 Welshmen, Gatland has proposed the move for the 2017 New Zealand tour as a means to avoid any further accusations of bias.
Wood has criticised Gatland for dropping captain Brian O’Driscoll and generally failing to represent all four nations, with Scotland almost entirely left out. But Gatland has insisted that the diversity of players was not a direct objective. ‘The mandate I was given from the Lions board was do whatever it takes to win a Lions series,’ revealed Gatland. ‘I was told ‘I don’t care how you do it, just win the series.’’
Moody replaced for All Blacks tour
Prop Joe Moody will have to wait a bit longer to make his All Blacks debut, after suffering a broken leg that will keep him out of the team’s tour of Japan and Europe. Moody has been replaced by another uncapped player, Wellington’s Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, who will fill in at loosehead. The All Blacks side to play Japan will be missing a number of front-line players, including Liam Messam, Kieran Read, Israel Dagg and Aaron Cruden.
Another New Zealand superstar, Ma’a Nonu, feels misunderstood after being perceived as a ‘troublemaker’ who doesn’t care about his Super Rugby team and only performs at Test level. ‘Personally I feel I have to prove people wrong all the time…The best way I can express who I am is to play good rugby,’ said the 85-Test All Black.