Thursdays Rugby News sees more Wallabies rest, Anthony Fainga’a retires, Some new tricks from an old dog and Super W wants to include New Zealand.
WALLABY REST CONTINUES AT WARATAHS
Waratah Wallabies will head into round one with no warm up games played as NSW Daryl Gibson elects to rest eight Wallabies a head of their trial match with the Brumbies tonight.
It would be normal practice to see the Wallabies players back for the final trial match to bring them up to match level before the start of season, but this year the Australian Super coaches are working with Wallabies Coach Michael Cheika to manage the work load of players.
The Waratahs have Jack Dempsey, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Ned Hanigan back in the team with eight other Wallabies from last season still on the sidelines: Sekope Kepu, Tolu Latu, Rob Simmons, Michael Hooper, Nick Phipps, Bernard Foley, Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau.
The Brumbies will be without Scott Sio, Allan Alaalatoa and David Pocock but will have their skipper Christian Lealiifano on deck and will welcome back Folau Faingaa, Pete Samu, Rory Arnold, Henry Speight and Tom Banks.
This means that due to the resting policy, these Wallaies will have to rely on their contact training and match simulations to run out the cobwebs a head of the start of Super season next week.
Despite not having a proper hit out to start the season, NSW assistant coach Chris Whitaker believes his Wallabies will be ready for Super Rugby.
“The intensity at training, with the load management and things like that, they’ll be ready to go,” Whitaker said.
“There is obviously a contact element (with) introduce to contact sessions we do at training. Each week we increase the amount of contact. By next week it’ll be full whack and 100 per cent contact. They’ll be getting enough contract load in the training sessions, throughout the week, to be ready for the game.”
Both teams appear to have plenty of depth in certain spots so the trial match will be the last opportunity before the start of the season for players to show why they deserve a spot.
With Pocock and Samu in the Brumbies back row McCaffrey, Cusack and Valetini will all be looking to secure that finally spot, and with Tom Banks a lock for the 15 jersey, the back three becomes even more competitive for Jordan Jackson-Hope, Tom Wright, Chance Peni, Lausii Taliauli, Toni Pulu, Andy Muirhead, Len Ikitau and Speight.
With plenty of Wallabies in the Waratahs backline, the 11, 13 and 14 jersey will be hotly contested by the likes of Lalakai Foketi, Curtis Rona, Cam Clark, Alex Newsome and Ashley-Cooper.
Waratahs: Alex Newsome, Curtis Rona, Lalakai Foketi, Karmichael Hunt, Cameron Clark, Mack Mason, Mitch Short, Jack Dempsey, Will Miller (capt), Lachlan Swinton, Ryan McCauley, Jed Holloway, Shambeckler Vui, Andrew Tuala, Harry Johnson-Holmes. Reserves: JP Sauni, Rory O’Connor, Chris Talakai, Le Roux Roets, Ned Hanigan, Pat Tafa, Jake Gordon, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Will Harrison, Richard Woolf, Will Harris, Cody Walker, Hugh Sinclair, Ben Donaldson.
Brumbies: 1. James Slipper 2. Folau Fainga’a 3. Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin 4. Rory Arnold 5. Sam Carter 6. Robbie Valetini 7. Tom Cusack 8. Lachlan McCaffrey 9. Joe Powell 10. Christian Lealiifano 11. Lausii Taliauli 12. Irae Simone 13. Tevita Kuridrani 14. Toni Pulu 15. Tom Banks
Reserves: 16. Josh Mann-Rea 17. Tom Ross 18. Vunipola Fifita 19. Blake Enever 20. Jahrome Brown 21. Matt Lucas 22. Wharenui Hawera 23. Chance Peni 5. Darcy Swain 6. Murray Douglas 8. Pete Samu 11. Andy Muirhead 12. Tom Wright 13. Len Ikitau 14. Henry Speight 15. Jordan Jackson-Hope 18. Bayley Kuenzle
EDDIE JONES: THE FACT FINDING MISSION AND NIGHT ON THE TOWN.
England pulled off one of their best wins in their time under Eddie Jones on the weekend when they beat Ireland in Dublin. It may have been their best win in a long time. So how did they do it?
Gerard Meagher from The Guardian believes that two options people wont consider straight up was a night out in London before camp, and a fact-finding trip to Australia. Both Eddie Jones believes help build the leadership that England desperately needed.
Without the experienced leaders of Dylan Hartley or Chris Robshaw in the England squad, there was concern, in particular if Owen Farrell’s thumb injury had been more serious, as to who would step up and lead on the field.
Well according to Jones, plenty of serious players have stepped up, dubbed “The Generals” by Billy Vunipola.
“The senior players organised a night out and didn’t get into trouble which was fantastic and isn’t always the case when you’ve got 30 guys going out and having a drink,” Jones told the BBC. “They wanted to go into the camp ready to go, have some stories to tell and have some togetherness. We believe that is so important.”
Jones and his High Performance Manager, Neil Craig; a fellow Aussie and AFL coach (read more into they way he lead the way for Sport Science) conducted a fact finding trip to Australia to research the “ability to refocus.” Something that was key to Englands success on the weekend.
Jones believes that a Tests often last around 100 minutes from first whistle to last, with the ball only in play for around a third of that. Figuring out what his players need to be dong for the other two thirds was the reason for his trip Australia, where he worked with Ric Charlesworth a former cricketer, hockey player and coach – and spent time visiting AFL teams as well the Melbourne Rebels and Melbourne Storm.
“Golf takes four hours but you hit the ball for maybe five minutes,” he said. “Good golfers are good in between the shots and now in rugby it’s such an important part of the game that you have to be good in play. That’s something we’ve been working with the senior players a lot on with Neil Craig. We went to Australia to study that aspect particularly and see what we could learn. If you do a positive thing you can lose focus, if you do a negative thing you can lose focus. It’s that ability to refocus.”
Mako Vunipola spoke about how England put the theory to the test against a tough Irish defence.
“There were breaks in play when we just came in together,” he said. “Mark Wilson was like, ‘Oh boys, you’ve gotta love this,’ and to be fair it was tough, but one of those enjoyable moments.”
CONCUSSION FORCES RETIREMENT FROM FAINGA’A
Former Wallaby and Queensland Red, Anthony Fainga’a announced his retirement from rugby on Wednesday in an interview with FOX SPORTS where he opened up about his concussion trauma.
The 32 year old was apart of the 2011 Queensland Red premiership side, and played 23 test for the Wallabies, including the 2011 World Cup.
Fainga’a has opened up to just how bad his head injuries have been and why the decisions to walk alway from rugby was needed.
“I’m probably only one more head knock away from being a vegetable or not being able to play with my kids,” Fainga’a said.
“After a couple of really big head knocks, I had to make a big decision.
“In 2016, my twin brother (fellow former Wallaby Saia) got married and at the altar, I was actually getting held up because of the head knocks.
“I received a couple of really big head knocks over my career and I was standing at the altar getting held up, I got walked out by someone.
“I got a few head knocks last year and after all these head knocks I had to make a decision, make a choice about what I wanted to do with my future.
“I love the rugby game so much but I needed to look after my mental health.”
After leaving the Reds in 2016, Fainga’a continued his rugby career in Japan playing for Kintetsu Liners.
Anthony had the fortune of being able to talk to his brothers, twin Saia and younger brother, former Melbourne Rebel, Colby, both professional players about the possibility of retirement.
“When I would speak it out loud, it was an easy decision but when I was thinking about it, it was like, how hard is this, I love the game and I’ve got offers to keep going and I should play still,”
“They (Saia and Colby) would never say: ‘It’s time to hang the boots up.’
“But I told them and they were so happy for me.
“My message would be it’s never too early, it’s never too late to finish up.
“Everyone wants to keep playing, everyone loves rugby but it only takes that one head knock.
“Especially for younger players, they need to make the hard decision.
“The easy decision is to keep playing, the hard choice is to say I’m going to give this up and go and do something else.”
TRANS TASMIN SUPER W?
At the launch for the 2019 Super Rugby and Super W competitions on Tuesday, one topic that was brought up by some of the stars of Super W was the idea of the provincial teams taking on New Zealand teams, either by expanding the competition, or doing annual tours like days of old.
RugbyWA women’s captain Mhicca Carter believes that a competition similar to Super Rugby would be the ‘dream’ for the women, New Zealand leading the standards in terms of womens rugby.
“That would be incredible, that’s the dream,” she said.
“New Zealand are the best in the world so we need to be up to speed with how they’re developing and the progression of what they’re doing.
“When you play against the best it’s only going to beneficial for us, so ideally that would be amazing. There’s hope for the future for that to come which is very exciting.”
Since this is unlikely to happen in the short term, Carter believes it would be a handy boost for the Aussie teams, should they be able to tour New Zealand.
“For the sport to develop to the level that we need it to for the Wallaroos to be where we want them to be, there’s got to be more games, “ she said.
“Playing throughout the provincial areas of New Zealand would be incredible. I think we’d love to see more games, it’s only going to grow us as a country.”
Former Wallaroo and NSW Captain Ash Hewson had previously called for the inclusion of New Zealand in Super W, but also believes that a provincial tour would be a great starting point.
“I think there’s a really large disparity between the top four teams in the world, and the rest of the world,” she said.
“For us to mix it with the best teams in the world which we’re more than capable of, skill wise, it’s about getting that exposure to those quality games and that quality rugby.
“To play provincial teams from New Zealand I think would be unbelievable.”
Hewson went on to include something not often heard in Australian Rugby circles, that we need to not rush to expand, and take our time to grow.
It’s developing, we’ve got to be patient.
“You don’t want to over kill it I guess. There’s a process I think the people running it are very aware of that.”