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Thursday’s Rugby News

Thursday’s Rugby News

Thursdays Rugby News sees Karmichael Hunt’s Road to Redemption, Fijians looking for Sydney gold, Gibson close to re-signing and another rugby lifeline from the Rebels




Karmichael Hunt

Karmichael Hunt

Karmichael Hunt’s road to redemption begins Friday night when he will start for the Waratahs in their trial match against the Highlanders.

The exiled Red did not play for Queensland last season after some off-field antics came to light, but after an impressive NRC campaign he was offered another chance down south in Sydney.

After only a week in Waratah colours, Hunt has shown no signs of slowing down after a year out of professional rugby, impressing his new coach Daryl Gibson earning the starting 12 jersey.

“I have been very impressed with the professionalism and the condition he has come in,” Gibson said.

“By his own admission, he had a year away from the rigours of training professionally and the physical contacts that you take. I have been impressed with him.

“He has come in and been very professional with the way he goes about his stuff. The squad have welcomed him with open arms.”

According to Gibson, Hunt was sought after not only as a back up to Kurtley Beale but to add a new level of defensive strength to the Tahs backline.

“He is adding a real edge to us, around the intensity and particularly what he is bringing in defence. As I said from the start, our biggest growth area is in defence and making sure we are tough and harder to break down.”

“One of the things we wanted to bring to our side is a real defensive edge, and physicality, into that position. Again with the recruitment of Adam Ashley-Cooper, who is a renowned defensive genius, and with Karmichael, it really gives us some stiffness there in the midfield. It also gives us a lot of options in depth, which allows us through the season to better manage our squad.”

Hunt will get his time to shine at 12 on Friday, where due to the new international plan around the Wallabies, Gibson has had to rest most of his stars a head of the trial, including Bernard Foley, Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau. 

Will Miller will captain the side, with Mitch Short and Mack Mason at the 9 and 10 combination. Jake Gordon will start on the bench, as the only member of the 12 man bench to have played Super Rugby.

Waratahs Squad against Highlanders

Harry Johnson-Holmes, Andrew Tuala, Shambeckler Vui, Jed Holloway, Ryan McCauley, Lachlan Swinton, Will Miller (capt), Hugh Sinclair, Mitch Short, Mack Mason, Cameron Clark, Karmichael Hunt, Lalakai Foketi, Curtis Rona, Alex Newsome.

Replacements: JP Sauni, Rory O’Connor, Chris Talakai, Le Roux Roets, BJ Edwards, Pat Tafa, Jake Gordon, Ben Donaldson, Will Harrison, Richard Woolf, Will Harris, Cody Walker.


Fijian Fans celebrate a semi-final win over South Africa

Fijian Fans celebrate a semi-final win over South Africa

Despite being the dominate force in Men’s Seven, the Fijians have never won the title at the Sydney Seven’s in the three years since the tournament moved to Sydney. Something they hope to rectify this weekend.

Following an incredible performance at the Hamilton Sevens last week, that saw them beat USA 30-0, the Fijians are confident they can turn it around at Spotless Stadium this weekend, with the help from they expat supporters.

Coach of Fiji, Gareth Baber spoke about how much inspiration his side takes from the intense support they receive all over the world from Fijians.

“We don’t have a home tournament so the success that Fiji has always had has been off the back of going to places there really shouldn’t be Fijians,” Baber said.

“But they are, they’re all around the world.

“It’s ingrained in Fijian DNA, so when we travel the world and see the sea of blue that we do see. It is a phenomenal connection for us as Fijians to realise exactly what that means to us.

“It gives us that lift, really when we are in positions like we were at the weekend, and we have been previously. Sometimes when it is not going so well, it is a little bit of an anchor for the players … I can say to the players at halftime: ‘look around you, this is what you have to live up to, this is the responsibility when we pull on the white jersey’.”

Normally held at Allianz Stadium, this year the Sydney Sevens will be held in Sydneys west at Spotless Stadium, home of the Greater Western Sydney Giants. With this change it is believed that the Fijian locals will be out in force to support their countrymen. Sydney has the largest population of Fijians, outside of Fiji.

Baber is hoping a big turnout from the Fijian community can help carry his team the same way the crowd helped in Hamilton.

“We know there is going to be a Fijian crowd here for us again, which is superb. It is one we want to put to bed, in terms of the last couple of years and make sure we carry on with the quality that we showed in Hamilton.”


Daryl Gibson

Daryl Gibson

Daryl Gibson is close to inking a new deal with the Waratahs, that would see him continue to coach New South Wales until the end of 2020. Gibson signed a one year contract extension at the end of last season.

A clause in his contract has allowed him to nominate the time frame, and after Gibson claimed that he would be ready to move on at the end of the 2019 season, it appears he is ready to go again with the tahs.

“I am really close to staying on here,” Gibson said.

“I am really enjoying my time. I want to bring that next generation through and post-World Cup, bring that next generation through. I see that as important for this club.

“I am obviously in a really good place here with the squad at present and conscious that I want to bring that next generation through, and set that up for someone else.”

Simon Cron and Chris Whitaker were both considered to be Gibson’s successors when the Kiwi born coach moved on at the end of the 2019 season.

Though Gibson clearly feels he is the man to lead the Waratahs after the post World Cup exodus occurs at the end of the season, when many players will be offered contracts with Northern Hemisphere teams.

The Waratahs look like they could be picked apart by the Northern teams, with Nick Phipps and Curtis Rona already linked to English clubs and no shortage of rumours regarding Kurtley Beale and Bernard Foley.

Captain Michael Hooper and Israel Folau both signed long term contract deals at the end of last year, putting some ease in the mind of Gibson and Waratahs fans.

Gibson understands that high turnover post World Cups is normal, stating it is understandable for players to go north to chase the money, but it is even more important to be bringing up a new generation of talent in Australia.

“I see the financial pressures in the game, for players now the opportunities to go overseas and be rewarded for that are going to be out there for them, and that’s part of what it’s always been in rugby,” he said.

“With the northern hemisphere, the exchange rate, the extra injection of money up there, I’m sure those pressures are going to come up more,

“It tends to be in World Cup years that, turnover.

“I don’t see it as any different.

“It makes our jobs, in terms of making sure the next generation are coming through the Australian system, (more important).

“I’ve been really impressed with the talent that’s coming through our ranks.




Quade Cooper isn’t the only Australian rugby player to be offered a lifeline by the Melbourne Rebels this season, with the club offering a contract to former ACT Brumbies hooker Robbie Abel.

Abel left the Brumbies last season, playing provincial rugby in New Zealand for Aukland in their successful Mitre 10 Cup campaign, before being called into the Maori All Black side that travelled to America, with former Rebel and Canberra boy Tyrel Lomax.

Returning to Australia, let alone a move down south was not something initially on Abel’s radar, but he’s ecstatic to have have a new home and another chance at Super Rugby.

“A month ago, I was getting back from the Maori All Blacks tour. After I left the Brumbies, I thought that was it in terms of playing Australian rugby,” Abel said.

“From there I thought I’d either stay in New Zealand or go overseas.

“Staying in Australia was something I didn’t see or coming to Melbourne was something I didn’t see either.”

Unlike previous season in Melbourne, this will be one season where the competition for the two match day spots will be fierce, with rising Wallaby Jordan Uelese looking to fight his was back from injury, the staple of last seasons front row in hard man Anaru Rangi (needs a gold jersey soon), and new recruits Hugh Roach with 41 caps for NSW and now Robbie Abel with 36 caps from the Brumbies and 3 from Maori All Blacks.

Despite the competition for the position, Abel isn’t coming into the club with a you versus me mentality, instead he want to learn and help others grown at the same time.

“There’s a lot of quality and everyone’s very different to what they bring,” he said.

“I’m of the opinion that we are working together to make each other better and we compete to be at our best.

“I’m a massive fan of helping the other hookers and learning off them and then we compete.”

The full interview with Abel is up on the Rebels website where he talks more about his connection to Melbourne and his experience of being a Maori All Black and learning about his heritage and culture.


  • Nutta


    Thx D

    Hunt is fighting for his career. I would expect him to show up hard and ready especially after a season of recovery albeit on a journey-mans body. It will be nice to see Beale put under some proper pressure.

    Good luck Robbie. Out of interest, does an outing in the MAB jersey rule him out of Wobbly contention? He has represented someone else now has he not?

    • Brisneyland Local

      good question Nutta. I dont know if the MAB’s count as test representation?
      I think that is a good question to put to KRL?

      • Huw Tindall

        If you do a haka before smashing into blokes from another country it should count.

        • Happyman

          Mate they do a Haka at the opening of a door these days.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Pure Gold.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        TBH I’m not sure although I don’t think it’s recognised by World Rugby as a national representative team so he should be ok if he wants to go down that road.

        • Brisneyland Local

          I thought if any one would know it would be you!

    • Dylan Langes

      Im not sure if it does. I couldn’t find the answer but that being said I didn’t look particularly hard. I think its like the Baa Baas from my understanding though

    • Happyman

      Basically my understanding of the rules is if it is a capture team.

      Eg Aussie 7’s is a capture team. Not under 20’s or Australia A. The entire European Rugby blow up last year around eligibility is a bit of a mine field as each union is allowed to name different capture teams so the rules are different for each country.

    • Ads

      I had in my head Morgan Turinui had played or been invited to play for MAB. I googled and this seems to be incorrect however the article below wouldd seem to indicate it doesn’t disqualify you, or it is even possible if you have already got a cap with a non-NZ country…

    • Funk

      From the looks of things he’s not locked to nz, because the “Next Senior Representative team” for nz is the Junior All Blacks (2018), not the Maori All Blacks according to the WR website…

    • Hoss

      Nothing like Genitals to stiffen up the midfield.

      • Nutta

        Is that a new moniker?

  • Brisneyland Local

    Morning GAGR’s! Some interesting tid bits there today. My randomness in a completely random order:
    – I for one actually hope Hunt can redeem himself. I watched him in a number of the NRC games and he looked good. I hope he has his issues sorted. At least he can tackle unlike Beale.
    – Gibson! I wish him luck. It would be good to see a bit of coaching stability in the SR levels.
    – Go Fiji! (Do I need to say anymore!).
    Over to you GAGR’s!

    • Dylan Langes

      I think the idea of Gibson working through the transition is probably a sound one rather than just running and leaving someone else to pick up the pieces.
      I don’t know if Hunt can get back into a gold jersey but we will see. Probably has a better chance now that he’s in a sky blue jersey. It isn’t good for Aussie rugby with player like him sitting out for a season or wasting away at local level.
      It’s hard to not like the Fijians isn’t it.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Yep living up in QLd I thought it was a giant waste watching QC and KH playing club rugby. Dont get me wrong, Souths bar profits have never been higher. But for both of them I think they got a lot of fitness training and body healing in, so it may have just prolonged their careers a little.

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      Personally, I think re-signing Gibson would be a mistake.

      He has been head coach since 2016 now and has only had a minimum of success, and only in 2018. 2016 and 17 were embarrassing.

      Lest we forget, the Waratahs finished the season playing inferior rugby to the Brumbies and only really played at all well towards the middle – and even then it was only ‘decently’ rather than great rugby.

      He has also demonstrated himself to be an average recruiter, often failing to recruit in key positions, and has signed Dad’s Army for 2019.

      • Ads

        Agree with that. Recruitment is the big issue. Cron has been really good. Could be a good option to see if he can step up after a couple of years as an apprentice.

        • Brumby Runner

          I wouldn’t be sure, but the success of the Tahs in 2018 coincided with Cron’s appointment as Assistant. He may have been more influential that Gibson.

        • Who?

          It also coincided with the departure of Grey………. ‘Nuff said!

        • Brumby Runner

          True enough Who, but I have to say it’s not “Nuff said!”. Grey’s departure from the Tahs also heralded a significant down turn in the defensive capabilities of the Wallabies. Surely, in this case, there is argument to support causation being directly associated with consequence.

        • Who?

          But “‘Nuff said!” in terms of the Tahs. ;-)
          Gibson handled defence in 2018. Attack was much more Kiwi in flavour, the upskilling of the forwards was fantastic. I’m not saying that Cron’s appointment wasn’t a positive, but surely the removal of Grey – who was a clear negative for the Tahs in 2017 – was a major factor in the improvement of the Tahs.
          Given they also added Cron, who knows how they could’ve gone with better recruitment and retention? Given they had a
          weaker roster last year (compared with some squads). I think Gibson (and Cron) did a rather good job last year, the Tahs were the best coached Australian conference team.
          This year may be different, given an even weaker roster, and given McKellar’s work seemed to be bearing some fruit at the end of the season, and given Wessells has had more time to find his feet at the Rebels (and somehow has an even stronger roster than last year).
          I’m not sure that you can say Grey’s departure from the Tahs heralded a significant downturn in the Wallabies, because we’d already conceded 40 points in Bledisloe 1 in the previous two years, and he’d been working with the Wallabies since 2015.

      • Brisneyland Local

        These are all very interesting points you make. But a crap Waratahs is good for the Rebs and Reds so am supportive of it! ;-)

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Morning mate, Fiji are looking great this year and I think they’ll be the ones to beat.
      Looking forward to this weekend

      • Brisneyland Local

        Yep. Are you going?

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          No. I’ve booked a trip to the zoo at Dubbo for my wife’s birthday.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Good move. That place is fantastic!

  • How old is Robbie Abel?

    • Brisneyland Local

      Internet says 29.

      • Yep, realised I was being lazy and was just coming back to post that. Thank you for your googlng.

        Thought he was much older.

        • Dylan Langes

          I probably should have included is age. That would have made life easier for you.

        • Brisneyland Local

          He seems to have been around a while.

        • Happyman

          I would like to check his actual birth certificate or am I confusing him with another Brumbies hooker.

        • nmpcart

          Might be thinking of Josh Mann Rea.

        • Happyman

          thanks for that I forgot his name he was a really good player.

        • Brumby Runner

          If you’re thinking of Mann-Rea, then he is a current player, one of three Brumbies’ hookers along with Folau Fainga’a and Conal McInerny.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks for this Dylan. I’m really looking forward to the 7’s this weekend. I hope your guys step up as they have seemed a bit our of sorts so far this year. I think they’re trying too hard and hopefully the pressure at home won’t get to them. I can’t see past Fiji kicking it though. They are playing some great rugby at the moment and still one of my favourites.

    It’d be great to see Hunt challenge KB for the 12 jersey, he is a much more direct runner and doesn’t rely on fancy footwork and crabbing so much. I have my doubts about his mental frailty though and think him, KB and AAC in the same environment could be a recipe for disaster as they all seem to think that rules are for other people not them at times. I guess we’ll find out over the next few months.

    Good on Gibson for extending, he seems settled here and another couple of years experience will be good for him. I think another head job off shore would round him out before looking at higher honours but I hope it works out.

    • Adrian

      From what I’ve heard KRL from people who know people who one knew Robbie Deans,.. Gibson will handle these weird guys.

      He’s quietly spoken, not macho, but handled Grey (who isn’t quietly spoken), KB and AAC in 2014, and Latu and Naiyaravoro in 2018…and got the best out of them, or removed them (Grey)

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        He got the best out of Latu? He just barely played someone who later turned out to be – rightly or wrongly – a starting Wallaby hooker later that season!

        • Adrian

          For off-field issues he wasn’t in the team for first 3/4 of season. These were slowly worked out and he became starting hooker in finals and a Wallaby hooker.

          That is what I call getting the best out of him….as distinct from a blanket ban, or picking him anyway

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          But Latu himself said he wasn’t getting picked because his line out throwing was so bad?

          Also, he said it was down to Hooper alone that his throwing improved – as Hooper practiced with him before and after training.

          Hooper was doing Gibson’s role for him!

        • Adrian

          Na,….a lot more than throwing going wonky in the background

        • Who?

          Given his throwing was still the poorest of the Wallabies hookers last year, I’d have to agree. Because if that was improved, then he shouldn’t ever have played top level Rugby before. :-)
          Bloke has no clue about the need for loop in lineout throws…

        • Adrian


          My original point was that Gibson handles complicated guys better than most coaches.

          I’d bet he could talk Amanaki Maffi into being a saint. For all we know, Latu could be his cousin!…..
          ….Maffi’s cousin,…not Gibson’s cousin….or ….whatever!

        • Who?

          Adrian, I was definitely agreeing with you. I’m sure it wasn’t lineout throwing that was the main reason why Latu was left out.
          The fact that he did do all that extra work with Hooper? That’s a great thing, and something he needed to improve, and something he needs to continue to improve. It’s great that Hooper volunteered to do it with him, it’d be even better if it were a lineout guru who worked with him (i.e. someone with more technical knowledge – I don’t expect a short 7 to be the font of all lineout throwing knowledge!).
          Lineout throwing is something that hasn’t been a consistent, year-in/year-out strength for the Tahs for over a decade. Taf was weak there (improved now, but it’s not his strength), and he’s dominated the spot for over a decade. It’s definitely a KPI for the position, but not one that’s been highly valued by the Tahs. So perhaps it’s not a surprise that Latu’s throwing isn’t his strength, and that he was originally picked in spite of it.
          It’s great Latu did that work, not just because he needed/needs it, but also because it gave himself something to talk up when he was selected again, rather than just having to say, “Coach didn’t pick me. Why not? I dunno…” Or having to give a weak excuse to cover for the other issues (be they fitness, personal issues, whatever) which Gibson worked through with him.

        • Adrian

          All good points Who.

          I think player management is ultra important as are technical skills like throwing.

          It’s unbelievable that we don’t have some experts in these areas, and that Hooper had to help out

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Gibson has been in charge for a long time now, the time is assuredly his. He’s signed a lot of people with questions marks over their behaviour. So if it goes poorly, it reflects entirely on him. Equally, if he gets the best out of them then it is down to him also.

          But he has certainly assembled a team with an extremely high number of players with question marks over their behaviour.

        • Who?

          I’m sure that KB’s grateful that this site, being arguably Australia’s premier fan-based Rugby site (certainly Australia’s biggest rugby-only fan-based site) was on hiatus over Christmas, when his old videos watching the disappearance of white powder surfaced…

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        I hope so mate. Aus rugby doesn’t need anymore negative press, RA’s doing enough of that themselves

  • Keith Butler

    Four hookers at the Rebs strikes me as a bit of overkill. Would have preferred some more depth at prop. We got toweled more than a couple of times last season.

  • Adrian

    Thanks Dylan

    Nice write up, including on Gibson.

    From what I’ve heard he is an extremely nice guy with a huge undertaking of the game.

    He takes his time (eg 2017) to sort out issues such as a poor defence coach. He did defence himself in 2018, and they made the finals, and the semi after a Q/F win.

    All of this with a squad slagged off by all and sundry.. except me and Huw and maybe Hoss.

    Gibson can handle all sorts of personalities, and will be good for a post WC Tahs,… and Wallabies IMO…but that’s another story too. I hope he can get Naiyaravoro back for 2020 but in the meantime he’ll get plenty out of Hunt.

    AAC won’t be able to pull his tacky stunts on Gibson IMO..of course

    • Brisneyland Local

      I admire and support your enthusiasm here. I hope he does well. He seems like a dcent guy.

  • Brisneyland Local

    Half way between the two.
    I think they have a great squad, and Wessell’s has impressed me. So fingers crossed.

  • Brisneyland Local

    I may have a degree of smug satisfaction. Especially if genia and Quade do it. As the Reds said Genia wasnt worth the investment. i.e. he was too expensive.


Once captained the 3rds Rugby team, but then again so did Nick Farr-Jones

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