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Thursday’s Rugby News

Thursday’s Rugby News

Lest We Forget.

ANZAC Days Rugby News sees Scott Johnson fronting the media, McReight named Captain, Uelese still hopeful of World Cup and Toomua a chance of early return.





Just like every parent has their favourite child (me), Coaches have their favourite players, who will get picked whether they are worthy of selection or putting in the effort.

This happens at every level of sport, even the Wallabies.

With the Wallabies now having a three-man selection panel it appears some players days might be done with Director of Rugby Scott Johnson saying form is king for all those who wish to play in the World Cup.

“Players pick players and by that I mean if their form is good enough, they get picked,” Johnson said.

“If their form warrants it, they get picked. They usually determine their fate. It’s the odd choice that we have to split them but if a players’ form warrants selection, he will get selected.

“(Combinations) will probably help if form is really close, but the form will be the determining factor. It usually works on the fact the best players get picked.”

The Wallabies only have a handful of tests to figure out the squad and combinations, so Super Rugby form is incredibly important. These words give hope to plenty of players out there, often over looked when it was a one-person selection panel.

Players like Locky Mccaffrey and Isi Nisarani haven’t played Test Rugby but are in strong Super form, and exiles Quade Cooper and Karmichael Hunt who haven’t played for Australia since 2017, could both be on the plane.

Johnson has been impressed with what Australian rugby has had to offer in the way of talent and depth. Not all doom and gloom.

“I have sat abroad and in the cheap seats for 12 years. I have got to get down and dirty and that’s what the trip was about,” Johnson told media on Wednesday.

“Don’t let anyone tell us we don’t have talent in this country. We have good talent. It is impressive and I am buoyed by it.

“And the depth is better than I thought from afar. Four teams, it shows there is good talent out there.”

Johnson is expected to meet with Michael Cheika soon to discuss the hiring of a new attack/backs coach, Johnson saying they have a few options on the table, with names like Matt Giteau and Brian Smith thrown around.

“We have got names, we are not without choice,” Johnson said.


Fraser McReight is tackled

Fraser McReight is tackled

It has been a crazy 12 months for Reds flanker Fraser McReight, after debuting for the Reds, he’s  picked up three caps off the bench and now being named Captain of the Australian U20s a head of the Oceania Championships on the Gold Coast.

“It’s a bit of a whirlwind to be honest, I did not expect any of that to happen,” McReight said.

“Last year at this stage I was coming back from injury and luckily Gilly (junior Wallabies coach Jason Gilmore) put faith in me and my first game was at this tournament last year.

“So it was a bit of a whirlwind and to be here where I am today after last year and after having a good pre-season with the Reds and being lucky enough to get a (super Rugby) cap or two is awesome.

“So hopefully we can bring that back and (provide) a bit of experience for the boys and I can’t wait.”

McReight is part of an experienced leadership group, and with plenty of Super Rugby players in the U20s squad, he was happy to just help mentor the younger player. That didn’t stop him from smiling when he was announced as captain of the squad though.

“Any chance you get to lead a side, let alone Australia, is a huge honour, so I can’t wait to lead the boys out and do my family and friends and the country and the team proud,” he said.

“There wasn’t any expectation on me being captain, we have a great group of leaders in the team, but it is pretty special. It’s something that I did want.

“And just to do it at home for the first time, I get my mum and dad and my family and friends to come down and watch and I think that’s pretty special.

“I have some really good mates in this team that I get to play with, so it’s a huge honour.”

The Australian U20s squad are preparing for their match against Japan on Friday night, in a tournament that they hope will help build a platform a head of the U20s World Championship in Argentina in June.

“The real goal is junior World Cup, so hopefully by the time we play New Zealand and move into our first game against Italy in June, our combinations are ticking and our form is really on the rise.”



Melbourne Rebels Coach Dave Wessels will be watching the English Premier Rugby very intently to see if one of his star recruits will be back early than expected. 

Matt Toomua, who currently plays for Leicester, could be back in Australia in a fortnight if the English club escapes relegation according to the Wessels.

“In a best-case scenario, Leicester escape relegation, in which case they might release Matt early and he could be arriving within a fortnight,” said Wessels. “Otherwise it may not be until the Sunwolves game (in Tokyo on May 25).”

Leicester currently sit at 10th on the ladder with Newcastle eight points behind them. The relegation issues could be decided in next weekend’s round with Leicester will play Bristol, one place ahead of them on the ladder, while Newcastle meet sixth-placed Northampton. If Newcastle lose and Leicester win that could be the relegation sorter.

The Rebels have seen a drop in performance as they head into their second bye round for the season, after their first was in round 2, when no one needed a rest. After two defeats in a row, Wessels believes his boys are in need of rest.

“We have been pretty much going the first 10 weeks of the season pretty much continuously,” said Wessels in the after he Rebels’ loss to the Waratahs on Saturday night. “Part of it is that guys are pretty tired at the moment.

“I thought had we made one or two different decisions on the field, we could have won. What we need is to get away from rugby for a little bit, for a week or so and then we’ve got another block coming up when he will welcome blokes like Dane Haylett-Petty, Jordan Uelese and Gus Cottrell back.”

Toomua coming in could provide a vital rest period for new Rebel Quade Cooper, who has played every minute for the Rebels this season. Though Cooper and Toomua offer a difference in playing styles, the versatility of the two class fly halves is something the Rebels have never had in their time.



170903 Jordan Uelese

Despite not playing Rugby for almost 12-months, Melbourne Rebels hooker Jordan Uelese is still optimistic he can make it into the Wallabies squad for the World Cup.

A bloter in 2017, Uelese suffered an ACL injury followed by an infection in 2018 that slowed the momentum he built, after picking up two caps for the Wallabies. The injury hasn’t slowed down his desire to don the gold again.

After a lengthy stay in the rehab group, Uelese has “tick a few boxes” at training next week before he could be back playing.

“I’m hoping that that hooker spot is still up for grabs and I feel like I’ve got a lot to give and want to push my claim for the World Cup,” Uelese told reporters at a Wallabies program a Melbourne school on Thursday.

“Having so much time off I’ve had time to work on the rest of my body and I feel I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in my life.”

The No.2 spot for the Wallabies is still up for grabs with no one being able to fully stack their claim. Reds Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Brumbies Folau Fainga’a and veteran Tatafu Polota-Nau  all played hooker for the Wallabies in 2017 along with Tolu Latu, but it is still anyones game.

Rebels starting hooker Anaru Rangi has been one of the in form hookers in Australia but has not found favour with Cheika or the Wallabies selectors.

Uelese said the form of Rangi, and Melbourne’s other hookers Robbie Abel and Hugh Roach, has motivated him in his comeback.

“Having the hookers we’ve got at the Rebels means I haven’t had to rush my recovery, so it’s been a blessing in disguise,” he said.

“I’m grateful to have the competition there to push me to get better.”


  • st saens

    When it comes to Wallaby selections ‘Form is king’. What a novel concept Mr Johnson. For the last four or five years the mantra has been ‘From is king’ (ie from NSW). Easy to see how Cheika could have got that wrong…misread the Australian coaching manual. Even the esteemed US president mis-speaks from time to time.

    • Garry

      Mr Johnson talks a good game, but Cheika’s past 4 years, and recent pressers, lead us to be sceptics. Ball is your corner Johno and Snoz. Be brave, walk the walk. Our RWC is in your hands.

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        Even if we had the All Blacks’ 23, Cheika would still be the coach.

        His game plan is an even bigger problem then his selections.

        • Brisneyland Local

          even if we had the AB’s 23 he would still pick Foley, and Beale.

        • From NooZealand

          And if he were to pick the AB’s 23, they might still loose if they play his game plan (whatever that is). As for Mattie for attack/backs coach, no way; need someone a la Wayne Smith.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Yep the Ass Clown sure has the reverse midas touch! I dont think it matters who he brings in they wont be the attack coach they will just be a stooge of the ass clown dribbling his shit.

  • Brumby Runner

    Will be glad to see Toomua back whenever that happens. IMO he showed better game management than Foley at 10 last year and while there is a lot of scepticism about Cooper being selected while Cheika remains coach, at least Matt will offer the selection committee an alternative.

    • AllyOz

      I would like to see how Genia, Cooper, Toomua works in a Super Rugby situation. That may be our best test combination (though Kerevi has played mightily this season he could potentially come in at 13 with that combination inside.

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        It is an intriguing situation, isn’t it?

        Is it better to pick the best 12 at 12 (Kerevi) and the best 13 at 13 (Kuridrani), or is it better to build an axis that is better balanced, which would mean Toomua at 12 and one of the two Ks outside him?

        I think it depends a lot on who plays 10, but hope we get to see both in the rugby championship.

        • Dylan Langes

          And that’s the age old question, the best players vs the best combination. I think the two K at 12 and 13 is a good option but might not work with QC, he might benefit from a second play maker more

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Interesting. I personally don’t that Quade needs a second playmaker. I think he excels with a hard running 12 outside him. Interesting differing perspectives!

        • Who?

          Agreed – especially when we’re looking at guys like Maddocks, DHP, Hodge, Beale as options in the backfield. They can fill that secondary playmaker role if needed. Not discounting Banks, just haven’t seen him run as a secondary playmaker (whereas Cheika thinks Hodge can play 10!).
          I’m still wondering if Cooper’s moves in to scrumhalf when Genia and Ruru have been tackled the last couple of weeks are a Wessels tactic – never seen him do it before, not sold on the concept (unless it’s Wessels saying he doesn’t trust his props and hookers to pass from the ruck).

        • Mica

          He also does well when a blind side winger runs off his hip. Banks would be good at this role.

        • Patrick

          How would QC benefit from a second playmaker? We already have Genia, and then all he needs is fast targets!

        • Garry

          We know what we get with Foley, we’ve had 4 years of malarkey. Lest we forget. (Happy Anzac Day Gaggrs)

        • As I’ve said before, I’m not seeing a lot of SR this year because of moving. (On a side note, I got the keys yesterday, we should be moving next week, so I should be able to see some games soonish.)

          I wouldn’t like to comment on Kerevi v Toomua as the better 12, but 2-cows is certainly a pretty decent 12 and I think he’d grace a Wallabies’ shirt in that position. I know he’s seen as a “second playmaker” but he also runs good lines, makes his tackles and the like. I’m not of the opinion that the Wobs particularly need a second playmaker if Cooper is at 10, unlike Foley, but I think Toomua brings a useful set of skills to the 12 position, and good straight running, rather unlike the Beale of recent years.

          What I’ve seen of Kerevi, he too brings a lot of good things to the 12 position. If I was in those selection panel meetings, there’d be a debate to be held between those two for me, and it would probably fall back to game plan.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I agree with that Eloise. Toomua is the sort of second playmaker that actually works at 12. Great defender, brave in his running lines, kicking game and distribution game. I would have no issues with him being selected at 12 with Kerevi or TK outside him.

          That said, Kerevi is probably Australia’s best player this super rugby season, and he’s much better at 12 than 13.

          I think we need to explore all options during the rugby championship.

          Congrats on the move. Going to get less stressful now?

        • Thanks for the best wishes. Haven’t moved yet, a week today, so stress levels are quite high still.

          It’s conference season for my other half, and we’re having a little bit of work done early next week before we fill the place with all our possession and make it much harder to do, so it just makes sense.

          But… the end is in sight!

          On to the important stuff. I haven’t seen enough to really judge Kerevi, but I know he’s getting a lot of shouts. I certainly don’t have a problem, based on what I’m reading and the highlights I’m seeing of his performance if he wears the 12 jersey in Japan.

          I guess it boils down to what interesting excuse for a game plan they have…

  • adastra32

    I wouldn’t be so confident about Toomua’s release if Leicester win this weekend. Aside from the top two teams (Exeter and Saracens), the whole of the rest of the Premiership table is incredibly bunched. Only nine points separate Leicester (10th/3rd from bottom) and Wasps (5th). There are still sufficient games for many teams – inc. Leicester – to compete for European competition qualification next season.

    • Garry

      And he has been playing 12 at the tigers.

  • Huw Tindall

    New just in Nick White is signing an RA contract and will return. No super club announced as yet. Probably heading to the Rebels with the Salary Sombrero.

    • Steve

      What is the Rebels salary situation Huw? They seem to be able to hoover up half the talent without trouble.

      Hoping he comes back to the Brums, was very disappointed when Toomua didn’t.

      • Huw Tindall

        Not sure to be honest but apparently it’s legit. They couldn’t bullsh!t the Super Rugby comp as they would all be audited. Remember Wallaby top ups don’t count to Salary cap and Quade is having half his salary paid by the Reds! The Rebels also let go a few players least season who would have added up even if they were on the minimum of c.100K. Re Toomua I believe he was also happy to take a bit of a pay cut as his wife (superstar Elyse Perry) plays Women’s Big Bash in Melbourne. Still, on the face of it it looks like they are stacked with too many big $ players!

        On Nick White he would probably command a fairly decent wage as he was up there with the best in the English Premiership. Not sure what this would be but say 200K super + 200K Wallaby top up. I’d guess similar to Phipps. Genia and other top players are all around 600-800K I believe.

        • Patrick

          How the f$$% would Nick White get a top-up??

        • Huw Tindall

          Well he signed an RA contract so by definition he has got a top up. A lot of players are on top ups. Something like 35 players or so? Basically enough to cover a world cup squad.

        • Steve

          The Chiefs recently re-signed Henry Slade and Jack Nowell for £450k & £350k respectively, so I’d imagine White is in a similar ballpark….significant pay cut for sure to come back to Aus

        • Huw Tindall

          I was completely guessing at 400k AUD for Nick White so could be way off but would expect a pay cut whichever way you look at it.

          Current super rugby team salary cap is 5.5m AUD and they need around 35 players so that’s bit under 160k per player. Think the minimum wage under the CBA is about 100k and then you’ve got some stars on 400k plus without Wallaby top up that really eats in to the cap.

          Nick White would wall in to all teams bar the Rebels right now so suspect he’ll command a decent wage.

    • Brumby Runner

      Would RA really contemplate both Genia and White (who seem to be nearly everyone’s No 1 and No 2 picks for halfback atm) being at the same team?

      It is a conundrum. All teams currently have at least one halfback being considered for Wallaby selection – the Tahs have two. Where does he fit in?

      Personally, I’d like him to come back to the Brumbies, but with Joe Powell displaying skills and form that would not be out of place in the Wallabies, it would seem to not add a lot of value. I reckon the Reds would be the best place for him, where he could be another experienced leader in a quite young and inexperienced team and where he could help develop their younger players like McDermott and Sorovi.

      So, all things considered, it looks like the Tahs for Nic.

    • John Tynan

      The one I read says he has signed a deal with RA – “but won’t be available for the Brumbies until 2021″!!!!!
      They are literally making this shit up on the fly….

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Dylan, big ANZAC Day so didn’t get to this. For me the biggest issue here is how in the hell is Giteau under consideration for Attack Coach? Unless he’s had a successful career as a coach somewhere that I have never heard of I can’t see how he can jump into the Wallaby setup. Sure he was a good player but that doesn’t necessarily transfer into a good coach, in fact history has demonstrated that very few good players make good coaches.
    I’m dumbfounded.

    • Funk

      He had a couple of months as Captain/backs coach for Toulon right before he left…must mean he is ready to step up to the Wallabies Attack coach (he says…shaking his head)!!!

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        I know mate it’s just more madness

  • Spam.

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