Wednesday’s top rugby news has Richie burying the hatchet, Mortlock’s advice, Benji looking likely for the Blues and the French fullback attacked.
McCaw buries Cooper hatchet
Every time they meet, whether in the Test arena or Super Rugby, there is plenty of hype built up around the animosity between Richie McCaw and Quade Cooper. Most of it emanates from the incident in 2011 where Cooper kneed the All Blacks captain in the head, as well as some choice words that McCaw had for the Reds number 10 in his autobiography. According to McCaw, however, the situation is ‘something that’s been blown out of proportion’ before emphasising his respect for Cooper on the field.
McCaw also spoke in depth about the Crusaders’ finals victory over the Reds. He believes that no matter how good your scrum half and flyhalf are, if a team gets dominated at the breakdown like the Reds did, there is little they will be able to do to turn the game around.
Stirling advice for beating Bulls
There is no doubt the Brumbies face a tough battle to beat the Bulls this weekend. According to Stirling Mortlock, the last man to lead the Brumbies to a win in Pretoria, there are a few keys to getting the victory. Namely, adjusting to both the altitude of 1350m and the imposing atmosphere created by the Bulls’ faithful as well as getting a little luck.
On the issue of altitude, Mortlock pointed out that the Bulls players will be going through the same thing, saying ‘the reality is at some stage the body will be burning, and in talking to a lot of the South African guys, they have that burn as well.’ How the players handle that period that is the key, according to Mortlock. The Brumbies will also have some wisdom on the field, with Clyde Rathbone and George Smith both part of the team that defeated the Bulls in Pretoria in 2006.
Benji looking blue
While nothing is confirmed, it appears Benji Marshall’s commitment to New Zealand will beat his desire to continue living in Sydney. Speaking yesterday, Marshall’s manager Martin Tauber stated ‘Benji’s made it quite clear that he would never do anything but wear the Silver Fern.’ As such, the Auckland Blues, who met with Marshall over the weekend, are the clear favourites to land him. They have not yet made a formal offer. Marshall’s desire to play for the All Blacks would also suggest he will not be heading to France or Japan, though that has not been ruled out.
The ARU is believed to be keen for Marshall to play for the Melbourne Rebels, who could use some star power. However the governing body is also holding firm on the assertion that no top-up will be available to players not eligible to represent Australia.
France fullback has jaw broken
Details are still emerging, but there is a pretty concerning story coming out of France where Brice Dulin, fullback for France and Castres Olympique, is facing up to two months out of the game after having his jaw broken. Dulin has played five Tests for the French after debuting against Argentina in 2012 and also played in two matches on the recent tour to New Zealand.
Initial reports suggest that the player was attacked at a festival in France where Dulin and some of his teammates were displaying the French Championship trophy. Castres Olympique won the title last month after defeating Toulon in the final. Full details have not yet emerged, it is pretty horrifying that a player could be attacked while on promotional duties.