Wednesday’s rugby news has Australia working with a new kicking coach, a TV deal on the horizon, re-signings for the Force and more bad news for Halfpenny.
Wallabies work on kicking
After arriving in England, the Wallabies have begun to see the benefit of their new kicking coach Chris Malone, who holds a decade of experience in the midst of UK conditions. Malone amassed 775 points in 140 Premiership games as a goalkicking five-eighth, with Michael Cheika commenting, “We wanted someone a bit more game orientated.”
Goalkicking will be a decisive factor in the World Cup, but the Wallabies have shown worrying inconsistency recently. In the last three tournaments, just 15 tries have been scored in the three semi-final and final matches — but 36 penalties have been kicked.
TV deal in the works
SANZAR is understood to have finalised a new broadcast agreement which will come close to doubling the ARU’s $20million television revenue. Interim SANZAR chief executive Brendan Morris also emphasised that a Japanese team will line-up in the expanded 2016 competition.
SANZAR will also use the momentum of the World Cup to investigate the possibility for a United States team to join Super Rugby in the future. “Rugby is the fastest growing game in America at the moment, there’s huge potential for us to look into those markets,” Morris said.
Force sign two players
The Western Force have announced that wing Luke Morahan and utility forward Ross Haylett-Petty have signed new deals with the Perth-based outfit. Morahan – who has re-signed for one year with the option of a second – was the club’s leading try scorer in 2015 (five tries) and has said, “I’m really excited about where the club’s heading and it made it a very easy decision to re-sign.”
Rising young lock/back-row Ross Haylett-Petty will remain with the Force for a further two seasons after making his Super Rugby debut in 2015. His maiden Super Rugby season followed in the wake of a number of standout performances for the Australian U20 squad in the 2014 IRB Junior World Championship in New Zealand
Halfpenny out for 6 Nations
Leigh Halfpenny is unlikely to feature again for Wales until after the next Six Nations, with the Toulon fullback revealing he would be out for between six and eight months. Halfpenny injured his cruciate knee ligament 10 minutes from the end of Wales’ Rugby World Cup warm-up against Italy 10 days ago and will undergo reconstructive knee surgery.
Halfpenny — the third high-profile Welsh back to ruled out of the World Cup following Jonathan Davies and Rhys Webb into the treatment room — admitted he knew his tournament was over as soon as he heard his knee snap. “I heard the sound of it snap and I just remember being on the floor in agony,” he said.