Monday’s Rugby News looks at the results from Super Rugby AU, Cheika’s emphatic statement on returning to the Waratahs and a look at the potential future make-up of the Wallabies
Brumbies survive scare
The Brumbies have survived a major scare, holding on for a 24-22 win over the Waratahs at the SCG.
When Tom Banks crossed in the opening five minutes of the game, many Tahs fans would’ve feared that another blow-out was on the horizon.
However, the return of Jake Gordon proved wonders as he helped steady the side, despite them giving up a 24-10 half-time lead.
In Chris Whitaker and Jason Gilmore’s first game as co-coaches, the Waratahs would fight back as ill-discipline would cost the Brumbies, reducing the deficit to seven points with a Harrison converted try in the 65th minute.
With Rory Scott (yellow) and Tom Cusack (red) sent from the field, James Ramm would cross in the 83rd minutes to give the Waratahs a chance to level it up.
However, Will Harrison would miss the very tough kick at goal, allowing the Brumbies to escape with the victory.
“There might be a little bit of chat about our bad performance but you’ve got to look at the Waratahs performance and the type of pressure they put us under. It was certainly intense,” Brumbies captain Nic White said.
“There’s got to be a lot of emotion and motivation for them and they showed that and we were lucky to sneak away with that.”
His opposite number Jake Gordon was left bemused by the performance, lamenting why it took the sacking of Rob Penney to produce it.
“It’s been an emotional week,” captain Jake Gordon said.
“We spoke about it in the sheds – putting on a really good effort for Rob. I can’t answer why it’s happened like that.”
Reds roll Rebels
The Reds have sent an emphatic message to their Super Rugby rivals, producing a dominant 44-19 win over the Melbourne Rebels.
As the Brumbies enjoyed a brief stay on the top of the ladder, the Reds made sure to take back top spot in emphatic fashion as they cruised to victory.
This was set up by a dominant showing in the first half, with Taniela Tupou bullying his Rebels counterparts as he crossed for an early double inside 20 minutes.
Poor passing would let down the Rebels, conceding another two tries from intercept passes as the Reds’ backs feasted on their expensive style of play.
Melbourne No.8 Michael Wells got a well-earned five-pointer after the second intercept but the Reds remained in full control, adding a late try via reserve back Josh Flook.
Queensland skipper James O’Connor was full of praise for Tupou after the game.
“Everyone notices Taniela for his big scrummaging and big runs but the amount of work the big fella does is second to none,” O’Connor told Stan Sport.
“He works tirelessly from sideline to sideline and does our big carries for us and our structure doesn’t work without our tight five, they’re integral.”
As for the Rebels, captain Matt Toomua was left to ponder another poor start as they get set to host the Force next week in essential a mini semi-final.
“We were in it at half time and then after that intercept the game was pretty much done,” Toomua said.
“I was glad we got back into a contest but ultimately you can’t give a team like that such a big lead.”
The win ensures that the Reds remain the only unbeaten team across Super Rugby, with the Crusaders stunned by the Highlanders 33-12 in Super Rugby Aotearoa.
Whilst pundits and fans call for his return, former Wallabies and Waratahs coach Michael Cheika has poured cold water on the idea of him rejoining the Tahs.
Cheika was in attendance for the Waratahs loss to the Brumbies alongside Roosters coach Trent Robinson, where he serves as an advisor.
Despite admitting that he had been sounded out to help their quest for the next coach, Cheika refused to put himself up for the role, believing that Rennie and co need the clear air.
“I think that it’s not the time for me to be coaching the Waratahs,” Cheika said.
“It’s maybe a little bit too fresh [and] raw. Also, from a national point of view, they don’t need me in that space probably at this point.
“They [Wallabies coaches] need some clean air . . . without the name from the last four or five years because it’s been a huge thing for me.
“Anything they need and anything the coaches need [I will help with]. Even when Rob came, I rang him to see if he needed anything from me, because I believe that continuity of what happened before you is really essential.”
Whilst he won’t take over as coach, Cheika remained committed to helping the side in whatever capacity as he turns his direct coaching attention towards Lebanon in the RLWC.
“I don’t think my ideas are the ultimate ideas. I just gave a few ideas of what I’ve experienced in the past and what’s worked for us and what might work for NSW and understanding its DNA a little bit more,” he said on his conversations with CEO Paul Doorn.
“I’d do anything to help them get back on track. It was a wonderful experience coaching NSW, I loved every minute of it, the highs and the lows. I think we can get back to that pretty quickly with this team.
“They have made some decisions now and they need to show some leadership going forward to get them right.”
Wallabies take shape
With the Wallabies squad announced for next week’s training camp, it appears that we have a better idea of what the future side will look like as preparations ramp up for 2023 according to Fox Sports.
Rennie named another 14 uncapped players on top of the ten he gave a debut to in 2020 as part of his 40-man Wallabies training squad.
He admits that heading forward, they will look to favour the younger player as they blood caps ahead of the World Cup.
“You’ve got to look ahead,” Rennie insisted.
“There’s a Lions tour two years after that [World Cup], so there’s always big dates to head towards.
“But we’ve got an expectation to win now and so we’ve still got to pick a team that we think can do that, and if it’s 50-50 between a young fella and a guy we think is on the decline we’ll pick the young guy. I think that’s really important, we’ve got to have an eye on the future.”
This also includes heading overseas and trying to recruit back some lost souls, with Fox Sports revealing that Sean McMahon, Rory Arnold and Will Skelton remain on top of the recruitment list.
A name that doesn’t is Samu Kerevi, with the emergence of the likes of Ikitau, Simone, Paisami and Petaia seeing RA reportedly cool on bringing him back.
These guys shape the backline, with Wright, Daugunu and Vunivalu fighting over the wings if Koroibete heads overseas, looking to partner either Banks or Hodge in the back three.
Meanwhile, Angus Bell and Taniela Tupou are reportedly viewed as the starting props, with Trevor Hosea and Seru Uru battling Rodda and Arnold to round out the tight five.
Lachie Swinton and Harry Wilson look set in pole positions for the back row, with Fraser McReight putting legitimate pressure on Michael Hooper’s grip on the number seven jersey.