Thursday’s rugby news has Larkham praising some NRC rule changes, more Rebels changes, Quade calling for better discipline and Sam Burgess set to play in the backrow.
Larkham backs rule changes
Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham has praised the possibility of the National Rugby Championship increasing the values of tries to encourage attacking rugby. ‘Changing (reducing) the amount of points for penalties is a good idea,’ he said. ‘Making it more valuable to score tries is the key.’ The Wallaby great also said that the ARU should take the chance to address the issues of teams conceding penalties inside their own 22, time wastage for scrums and increasing the time that the ball is in play.
At the same time though, Larkham emphasised that it was important that the new laws would not diminish the game’s technical aspects, prioritising the distinct body shapes of a rugby 15 which contrasted that of a rugby league line-up.
McGahan makes bold changes
The Melbourne Rebels are slated to make a number of surprising changes ahead of their match against the Brumbies, with coach Tony McGahan desperate to reverse a three match losing streak. Prop Max Lahiff will be promoted to the starting front-row, to be joined by Laurie Weeks, who returns from a concussion. Meanwhile, scrumhalf Nic Stirzaker and flanker Colby Fainga’a are poised to run-on, displacing two of the Rebels’ top performers at the start of the season, Luke Burgess and Sean McMahon.
Jason Woodward did train on Wednesday and could well be available to return after a two week absence with a knee issue. And after the devastating injury to Lachlan Mitchell, Tom Kingston will be promoted to his wing position.
Cooper emphasises discipline
Quade Cooper says that the Reds must focus on their own ill-discipline rather than blaming the poor performance of the referees going forward in the Super Rugby season. The Reds have been the most penalized team this year, averaging 14.2 penalties a game, with four yellow cards issued in five matches. ‘There are some things that we can’t control but there are things that there is no use whingeing about,’ Cooper said. ‘You can’t go out there and expect to get a leg-up.’
The Reds have also suffered from poor execution close to the line, most notably in the Sharks match, where they bombed a couple of tries deep in the opposition 22.
Burgess set for back row
Rugby league convert Sam Burgess is set to start his union career in Bath’s back row. Burgess will cross codes after the current NRL season, with designs to put himself in contention for the World Cup next year. But despite England head coach Stuart Lancaster foreseeing the league player at inside centre, the RFU have forfeited all stake in Burgess’ development after reneging on their arrangement to pay some of the £280,000 transfer fee to release Burgess from the final year of his Rabbitohs contract.
And with Billy Vunipola and Ben Morgan the contenders for the English no. 8 spot, the Rabbitohs star is unlikely to play his way into the Test pack, certainly not in time for the 2015 World Cup.