Monday’s Rugby News looks at the Wallabies squad for the Bledisloe, The Wallaroos confidence heading into their clash with the Black Ferns, a recap of the Rugby around the country/pacific and shedding light on a new rugby/business-focused event
Triple P’s return
The Wallabies have announced a 36-man squad for the opening Bledisloe clash with New Zealand, highlighted by the returns of Jordan Petaia, David Pocock and Tatafu Polota-Nau.
Petaia has worked his way back to full fitness via club sides Wests and Sunnybank after suffering a lisfranc injury in round three of the Super Rugby season.
“It’s great to see Jordan (Petaia) back. He’s had a few games of club rugby under his belt now so we’ll look to integrate him this week in Perth and give him time to settle in,” coach Michael Cheika said.
He is joined in the side by David Pocock (calf) and Tatafu Polota-Nau (knee) who continue their rehab from injury.
Notable exclusions from the squad are back-rowers Jack Dempsey and Pete Samu, along with Rebels flyer Jack Maddocks.
Dempsey was ruled out after suffering a shoulder injury for Gordon whilst Samu and Maddocks seem to have fallen out of favour with the selection panel despite impressive Super Rugby seasons.
Cheika believes that confidence is at an all-time high in the squad, with the Wallabies looking to build off their win over Argentina.
“Squad decisions are getting harder and harder to make. So many lads are putting their hands up at training and at club rugby around the country, and each one of them is pushing the other to get better each day,” he said.
“We were pleased to get the win against Argentina and we felt we built on some things from the previous game against South Africa and now we’ll be looking to build on that.
“There’s strong belief in the group and it’s showing itself in how hard they’re training and how committed they are to doing whatever they need to do to achieve our goals.”
The squad is as followed:
Forwards: Michael Hooper (captain, Waratahs), Allan Alaalatoa (Brumbies), Rory Arnold (Brumbies), Adam Coleman (Rebels), Folau Fainga’a (Brumbies), Luke Jones (Rebels), Sekope Kepu (Waratahs), Tolu Latu (Waratahs), Isi Naisarani (Rebels), David Pocock (Brumbies), Tatafu Polota-Nau (Leicester), Izack Rodda (Reds), Rob Simmons (Waratahs), Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (Reds), Scott Sio (Brumbies), James Slipper (Brumbies), Taniela Tupou (Reds), Jordan Uelese (Rebels), Rob Valetini (Brumbies), Liam Wright (Reds)
Backs: Adam Ashley-Cooper (Waratahs), Tom Banks (Brumbies), Kurtley Beale (Waratahs), Bernard Foley (Waratahs), Will Genia (Rebels), Dane Haylett-Petty (Rebels), Reece Hodge (Rebels), Samu Kerevi (Reds), Marika Koroibete (Rebels), Tevita Kuridrani (Brumbies), Christian Leali’ifano (Brumbies), James O’Connor (Reds), Jordan Petaia (Reds), Joe Powell (Brumbies), Matt Toomua (Rebels), Nic White (Exeter Chiefs)
Got to have faith, faith, faith
The Wallaroos will head into their two-test series against New Zealand with renewed faith despite having never beaten the Black Ferns
The most recent clashes between the two in 2018 ended in 31-11 and 45-17 losses in Sydney and Auckland respectively.
However, second-rower Shellie Milward has revealed that the squad have learnt plenty from their two clashes and is hopeful that they can snatch victory when they face off in Perth on Saturday.
“I don’t go out there, and I don’t think anyone in our team goes out there, to reduce the scoreline or just to make it a close game, we go out there with the intention of winning,” she believes.
“Especially after the last two Tests last year, I fully believe that we can. The first Test against them last year, they really brought it to us forwards, they were quite dominant.
“They stamped their authority in their lineouts and their rolling mauls and things like that but we were, in the second Test, able to adapt and give it back to them then.
“I came away learning from that – we didn’t have the win but we believe we definitely can beat them.”
Milward missed the Wallaroos historic two-test series with Japan where they recorded their first win on home soil, revealing that the squad has tempered confidence heading into the much more physical contest with the Black Ferns.
“They’re renowned for their physicality so I have no doubt that they’ll bring it to us in these next two Tests,” she said.
“We’re going to have to step it up another notch for the forwards there.
“I think the Japan series we were quite dominant in the forwards and that gave us good go forward or the backs and converted on the scoreboard.”
Despite having two warm-up tests before this clash, Milward believes that the consistency maintained by coach Jason Gilmore from last year in terms of selection has allowed for greater confidence and familiarity to build in the side.
“I think one thing I hope from last year was to keep a core group of girls together leading into this year and the coaches have done well doing that,” she said.
“We’ve brought in some new faces that are extremely talented as well but I think we kept a lot of the group from last year which was a great feel, great atmosphere within the team and extremely talented players.”
We start in the Pacific Nations Cup where Japan has continued their dominant start, crushing Tonga 41-7, scoring five tries to one to cruise into first place on the table.
Fellow Pool D neigbours Fiji bounced back from last week’s loss to Japan, defeating Canada 38-13 despite the Canadians dominating the best part of possession and territory.
Finally, in the biggest result of the Cup, USA has pulled off an incredible upset over Samoa, with AJ MacGinty nailing a last-minute penalty to give them a 13-10 victory.
Heading back to Australia and start in Perth where the final regular-season round of the Fortescue Premier saw UWA upset Cottesloe 37-27, Wests hold off Associates 14-7 and Nedlands outclass Wanneroo 21-8 to steal top spot from Cottesloe at the last moment.
In the Championship division, Palmyra shutout ARKS 46-0, Coastal held off Southern Lions 23-17, Kalamunda outclass Joondalup 38-15 and Bayswater pumped Curtin Uni 93-7
In round 13 of the Coopers Premier, Burnside crushed Adelaide Uni 96-3, Souths Shreked Barossa 84-19, Old Collegians dominated Port Adelaide 76-15, Brighton outclassed Onkaparinga 30-7 and Elizabeth snapped their losing streak, drawing 12-12 with Woodville.
Also in its final round, Harlequins out-grinded Box Hill 14-12, Footscray scaped home 24-23 over Endeavour Hills, Melbourne pumped Power House 62-5 and Moorabbin dented Melbourne Uni’s confidence with a 27-12 win.
The final round of the Shute Shield saw Gordon hold off Western Sydney 43-22, Randwick upset Norths 32-30, Warringah bottle 1st place with a 36-21 loss to Southern Districts, Eastwood also fail to get 1st place, knocked off by a desperate Easts team 48-26 needing to win to make finals whilst Sydney Uni pull a Bradbury, crushing West Harbour 53-6 in the final match at Concord Oval to claim the minor premiership.
In the elimination final in the John I Dent Cup, Uni Norths upset Gungahlin 25-19 despite being 22 points behind them on the regular season ladder whilst Royals overcame 1st placed Vikings 21-13 to advance to the Grand Final.
The major semi-final of the Hospital Challenge Cup saw Brothers outgun GPS 48-40 whilst Bond Uni turned Easts dream run into a nightmare with a dominant 51-12 win, with both played at Ballymore Stadium.
To finish off the news, I thought I’d take the chance to raise awareness about a brilliant company doing great things in the rugby community.
Rugby 1st is a Not-For-Profit (NFP) Business Activation Community founded by former Wallaby Adrian Skeggs that is looking to connect members, businesses and brands together to work for the good of the game using the values that underpin rugby such as tribalism, teamwork, passion and trusted networks
In doing so, they attempt to deliver opportunities for their members to achieve better results for their brands and businesses via new and targeted relationships whilst giving back to rugby.
They do some excellent work within the rugby community creating opportunities for their partner NFP’s to support rugby and help raise funds for those who desperately needed it.
Some of their great work includes raising awareness and money for former Wallaby Richard Tombs & Guns Out Spinal Foundation, to help his recovery from a devastating spinal injury, along with working with Veteran Sport Australia to help veterans take part in all aspects of rugby, including playing, coaching administration and support.
They also help foster junior participation as the naming sponsor of the NSWJRU Girls State Championships, along with sponsoring the NSW Junior Rep teams as they head to National Championships.
The reason I’m telling you all this is that they are hosting their first event ‘Currency of World Rugby – View to the 2019 RWC and Beyond’, on Monday 19th August in Sydney.
The event allows for fellow business and rugby-minded members to interact and network, along with hearing from some of the best minds in both rugby and business.
The main speaker of note is the recently appointed Director of Rugby Scott Johnson, with this event a prime opportunity for attendees to listen and pick the brains of one of the most powerful men in Australian rugby just weeks out from the World Cup.
Other speakers include Greg Thomas, who is the head of Media & Communications for SANZAAR & at the last three World Cups (including the 2019 version) and Toby Lawson, the CEO of Société Générale Securities Australia and Head of Global Markets when he wasn’t covering the Shute Shield for ABC.
For those interested in attending further details can be found below:
• Date and Time: 5.30pm – 7.30pm on 19th August at City Tattersalls Club, 195 Pitt St Sydney
• Cost: $69.00 (inc GST) which includes registration, 3-hour food and beverages package.
• To register for Currency of World Rugby: please click the link and follow the prompts.