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Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News sees the Kiwis looking to the Pacific, Beale looking to Western Sydney, Fakaosiliea looking towards Centrelink and Samu potentially looking towards the Wallabies.

If you haven’t already, take the chance to have a look at Jamie Miller’s piece where he examines every nook and cranny of Australian rugby. Whatever can be said, he says it. Read it, share it and support it.


NZ looks to Pacific

Fiji Pre-game huddle

Fiji Pre-game huddle

The Kiwis have decided to consider launching a Super Rugby side in the Pacific, but it’s for a reason that will surprise many of you.

The Kiwi government wants to launch the franchise to help offset China’s rising influence in the region.

China has reportedly donated US$1.78 billion in aid, including concessional loans, to Pacific nations between 2006 and 2016. This has the Kiwis quite concerned, and what better way to get the Pacific Islanders back on their side than through rugby.

You only have to look at the huge crowds the Drua brought in through the NRC to see the potential for a club there.

The New Zealand Rugby Union Players Association worked with the government, carrying out a feasibility test on the prospect of having a team.

Under a certain arrangement, a team could be comprised of players from Fiji, Samoa and Tonga, and would be primarily based in Suva, while also playing matches in the other capitals, and in Auckland and Sydney.

The current working name for the team, is (sorry WA fans, I’m seriously not joking), the Pacific Force.

“Part of the plan is that rugby can be a diplomatic force to counter China’s influence in the Pacific,” the report said.

“The idea is that rugby will help keep hearts and minds away from China, which is saturating the region with money to obtain influence.”

NZRPA chief Rob Nichol however quashed rumours that the Kiwis would bankroll the team (at least for the time being), due to the many millions of dollars that would required to set such a team up.

“(The study) raised as many questions as it answered… to suggest plans are afoot and it’s all going to happen is a bit premature,” he said.

Even the Kiwi prime minister, Jacinda Ardern got involved, confirming her government undertook the study.

“It certainly wouldn’t be something, right off the bat, that I would have thought would fulfil our criteria.”

There’s a lot of talk at the moment around expansion of Super Rugby into the Pacific and North and South America. How interesting that it also coincides with rumours of South Africa leaving. Coincidence?

Go West, says Beale

Kurtley Beale

Kurtley Beale

It’s been a shit couple of weeks for Western Sydney rugby. With the removal of the Penrith Emus from the Shute Shield, many rugby folks out west rightly feel like those in the East have turned their backs on them.

However, one player in the Waratahs finally admitted that more needs to be done, a certain Kurtley Beale.

Despite being one of many, many, many players who were originally from out west before being picked up and put in an eastern suburbs side in Randwick, Beale said that not enough is being done to support the game out there.

“I think there’s so much talent out there, being born and bred from the area and growing up seeing talent being pushed to league, it’s certainly something we need to tap into,” he said to rugby.com.au. 

“I know speaking to (former Penrith players and Waratahs) Dave Dennis and Cliffy Palu in the past years, trying to figure out something to try and help out wherever we can to be able to do what we can to be able to keep some of the talent and a lot of the supporters out there in the game.”

The Wallabies trained out at Penrith last year, and the Waratahs are likely to move to Parramatta Stadium when Allianz is getting torn down. Beale hopes the move will reinvigorate fans to look past the removal of a club they’ve been supporting most of their lives. You know, cause that’s easy.

“We trained out at Penrith Park for the Wallabies last year and that was pretty cool,” Beale said.

“No doubt there’s a lot of support out there for rugby union, it’s a matter of getting out there and doing it.”

This weekend the Tahs will play in their school socks against the Highlanders, aiming to recognise the efforts of grassroots for the club.

“It’s obviously an exciting week for club rugby, the start of the Shute Shield. It’s a great competition and it’s a good opportunity for a lot of the guys to represent their club colours on the weekend,” Beale added.

“Grassroots is an important part of our game, especially for the growth of our game and for our guys to be able to represent their colours and be the role models for a lot of our young guys to look up to, it would be a really good opportunity to do that.”

Another one follows the money

Lolo Fakaosilea

Lolo Fakaosilea

The Brumbies have announced they have released Lolo Fakaosilea from his contract, effective immediately.

A staple player amongst the Canberra Vikings outfit last year, Fakaosilea has been at the Ponies for nearly two years, but has found caps hard to come by due to injury and being placed further and further behind in the second row pecking order.

And that was even before David Pocock came back.

He has only played four games for the Brums this year, and wasn’t even used in last weeks loss to the Rebels, despite being named on the bench.

His contract was supposed to run until the end of this year, but both he and the Brums have decided to call it early.

According to the folks at rugby.com.au, Lolo looks set to sign with a Japanese team near Osaka, although nothing has been confirmed.

A rising prospect, Lolo has been part of the Aussie Sevens program and was at the Reds for two years before he moved to Canberra.

If this move doesn’t prove Jamie’s article right then nothing will. Lolo is leaving Aussie rugby in his prime. He is only 22 years old.

Big Samu

Samu - Randwick Player of the Year

Samu

In what is a surprise move, two potential players could find themselves earning their Wallaby debuts in the Ireland series next month.

As reported in The Australian, Australian-born Crusaders backrower Pete Samu is reportedly in negotiation to play for the Brumbies next season, and he if signs in time, he could find himself in contention to play for the Wallabies next month.

Rugby Australia will apparently invoke the  “Brad Shields clause” to get him over, named after the Kiwi player who played for England. The rule applies to players who were born in another country, but from parents who are from the country picking the player.

Samu however was born and raised in Melbourne and played for Randwick before moving to Christchurch. His call up could come as a result of Ned Hanigan‘s knee injury that sees him in doubt to play the first test on June 9.

Samu is not the only one slated for a return to Australia, with Rebels foundation member Luke Jones apparently considering return to his old club as well.

Originally debuting for the Western Force at age 18, RA is apparently looking to have him released from his contract at Bordeaux earlier than expected, but with our governing body having nothing but door mouses in their coffers, that is unlikely to happen.

Jones has reportedly not ruled it out though, and Dave Wessels did volunteer to bring him down to Melbourne.

If a early release is granted, Jones could be in line to start for the Rugby Championship.

Interesting times be ahead…

  • mikado

    Pedantic correction – Brad Shields hasn’t played for England yet. He has been selected for the forthcoming tour of SA despite never having played in England. In my view, a mistake by the RFU and Eddie.

    Still, it’d be entertaining if Samu gets picked for Aus. He looks a decent player.

    • Braveheart81

      Shields has signed to go to the UK for next season though so they’re really just selecting him a little earlier. It’s not like they are selecting a foreign based player who has no plans to play in the UK.

      • Tomthusiasm

        I think they did the same with Piers Francis, rushed him in to England’s tour of Argentina as Farrell was on Lions duty.

        • Braveheart81

          Yes, he signed with Northampton for the 2017-18 season which made him eligible to be picked under RFU rules.

  • Johnno

    Bleeding mid-tier players will continue, which is why I think 4 super rugby sides in oz is so short sighted, as the force are showing when you cashed up and a few imports the depth is there.. I would have preferred the Western force stayed with 30-foreign imports squad and no locals, than no Super rugby side in Perth giving rugby a footprint there.. Oh well they gone from SR for now maybe forever so can’t be stuffed crying over spilt milk.. The point is depth is there.. Raylene Castle said last weeks NRC will be undergoing big changes next year, but wouldn’t say what and it’s a secret… NRC is very important for oz… Getting Samu would be good… Can only see a Fijian super rugby side working as opposed to a all star pacific island side with no central home base… Pacific players could play for a Suva franchise but it’s permanent base would have to be Fiji… Tonga-Samoa are tiny they are too small to have a pro team…

  • McWarren

    Nice picture of my old home town Nick, if you look closely I’m in the stand just right of centre towards the back. I think this counts as my 15 minutes of fame.

    Lolo is a big loss. But maybe a season of low intensity games with lots of fitness in Japan will help the young fella sort his body out.

    I’m excited at Jones potential return, he was a big loss to our playing stocks.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      got to grab it while you can mate. I know that the English press have raised the issue of Shields coming in as causing some resentment. Do you think that bringing in Jones or Samu would do the same here at all?

      • Andy

        It’s not the same thing really. Shields is a kiwi through and through. Never played in England. Jones and Samu are both aussies. One deflected after not getting picked by the Wallabies and one could never score a Super contract.

        I’m big on Samu returning. He is a walk in at 6 for the wallabies. Also shows the great player development they have in NZ. He goes over there as a nobody and comes back potentially in the top 2-3 backrowers in the country in the space of 3 years? Pretty impressive.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Yeah I tend to agree. Was just seeing what others think. I’m glad Samu has got better but it’s a bit of sad indictment on the level of coaching in Australia and tends to outline where the issues are over here.

        • Braveheart81

          Samu left as a 21 year old who had played a handful of grade games and a couple of Super Rugby trials. He never had a Super Rugby contract.

        • Ed

          If he plays 6 with the Pooper, that will place pressure on our lineout.
          Agree on the level of coaching when you also consider the improvement of Mike A during his time over there too.
          Obviously the carrot of a Wallabies jersey is very tempting, but I wonder what he will think once he is here after leaving the one of the most professional rugby setups in the world.

        • Missing Link

          I thought about this yesterday, do we really need 3 lineout options? I know Dempsey has been out of action but he was awesome last year before he got injured and I would love to see him back in gold but Dempsey, Hooper, Pocock does not bode well for the lineout, leaving Coleman and Arnold as the only options. is this enough or do we really need a taller 6 or 8?

        • Braveheart81

          Dempsey is 191cm. Samu is 186. That’s a decent difference when it comes to lineout jumping.

        • John Miller

          Dempsey’s listed on-paper dimensions probably look better and (before injury) he was an illusive runner with great workrate and some nice skills; but is – yet another – 6.5 (and probably better deployed in an openside capacity at Test level). Samu is a more direct ball carrier with impressive ball playing skills, very strong in the central forward contest, more abrasive in the mauls and front on collisions and definitely plays heavier than the publicly published numbers might suggest. Neither is Fardy-esque from a lineout or breakdown perspective (so the travesty of Cheika’s bizarre ostracism of the European Player of the Year shortlisted, Champions Cup Final bound blindside flanker lives on).

          Dempsey is also overly benefiting from the remembering of one or two strong games from a mixed first year’s offering – and also the direct juxtaposition of the disastrous Ned Hanigan selection that preceded him. That said, behind Sean McMahon, he was probably the second best Australian backrower used by Cheika last year and deserves to be in the mix – but only following full recovery from injury and consistent display of strong form in Super Rugby.

        • Ed

          Dempsey has been training with the Waratahs this week but Gibson said it was unlikely Jack would play in for them this year following his injury. But Cheika could pick if he thought he was fit like he did last year.

        • Brumby Runner

          The others who might be in the running for No 6 are :
          Cusack 1.91m
          Cottrell 1.91m
          Timu 1.9m

          Cusack especially jumps well in the lineout, and is a real workhorse around the ground, Cottrell is the most abrasive of the lot and a hard hitter. Timu is the more all rounded player. Any of them, including Dempsey and Samu, would offer less than Hanigan at the lineout but a whole lot more than him in open play.

        • Ed

          For a team – the Wallabies – that relies a lot on set piece to begin their attack, I would say yes. Otherwise, the opposition could double team our jumper at four, forcing us to throw to two.

        • Andy

          Totally agree.

      • McWarren

        Maybe, be if it’s only valid resentment when your winning.

    • Who?

      Nice photo – I built that grandstand! :-)

      • McWarren

        You forgot the heated seats, other than that I thank you Who. Watched many a match from that stand or on the other side admiring it.

        • Who?

          I didn’t have that part, only steelwork. But it’s a very pretty ground (overall).
          Gotta steal our moments in the sunshine – especially heading into winter…

  • Kokonutcreme

    After the NZRU released Shields I mentioned that it would attract the attention of unions that have eligible players in NZ who now know are not off limits to selection.

    I didn’t mention Pete Samu, but Michael Alaalatoa as a player target for RA.

    • Richard Patterson

      Michael Alaalatoa is progressing very nicely as a prop forward. He is also eligible for All Black selection. I would suggest he focuses on his task at hand and pursues All Black selection. Shannon Frizell is another one who has put in his time and emerging out the other side. I would not rule out either being all Blacks in the next 1-2 years.

      • Missing Link

        I hope Michael A, signs with an Aus team soon and pursues Wallaby selection instead.

        • Ed

          He re-signed in March with the Crusaders until the end of 2020.

          “I don’t really have a longterm plan… I haven’t really heard from him (Cheika),” Alaalatoa said.

          “It is something I aspire to do (play Test rugby) at one point in my life, but at this time I am not really thinking about that.”

          https://www.foxsports.com.au/rugby/super-rugby/prop-michael-alaalatoa-resigns-with-crusaders-until-2020-ending-hopes-of-an-australian-return/news-story/b0d652a65bc562ec76b281382a34ad0e

        • Missing Link

          Thanks mate, I guess it’s his destiny to do what he wants with and I wish him all the best.

        • Ed

          I agree.
          It is disappointing Cheika has not approached him as Kepu is not getting any younger – he’s 32. Cheika could have his eggs in Tongan Thor.
          I may be wrong but Tupou would be an attractive buy for a French club as one he is a prop where they value them far more than we Aussies. Two – he was born in Tonga, so I guess he has a Tongan passport, which would mean he would not be counted as a foreign import for a French club.

        • Braveheart81

          I reckon there is a pretty strong chance Tupou will push ahead of Allan Alaalatoa this year and will be in our best 23.

        • Brumby Runner

          Tupou is already our best attacking THP, but as far as all round performances go including the not unimportant scrumming ability, Allan Alaalatoa has been the outstanding THP in the Aussie conference this year.Equally good in the scrum as Kepu and better than Tupou, while better than Kepu in open play.

        • Who?

          But wouldn’t his Wallaby cap mean he’s counted as a foreign import, regardless of the Tongan passport..?
          I think he’s pretty keen to grab a whole heap of Wallaby caps – he could’ve chosen anywhere, but family moved here, and he wanted to be a Wallaby. Hopefully we can keep him for a good while yet…

    • Who?

      I did Koko (elsewhere ;-) ).
      Pretty sure 6A’s had signed or was close to re-signing with the Crusaders, I think through 2020? That being the case, RA won’t get him. Because he’d be the fourth choice THP (for now – Kepu, 7A’s, Tupou), and because he won’t have an RA Contract (which Samu will need to sign before he’s selected).

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    That’s a pretty good initiative.

  • Tomthusiasm

    On Samu, I think that might be a bit of hot air. Firstly, Oz don’t select overseas based players who haven’t 60 caps, let alone an uncapped oz super rugby reject. Secondly, say they do change the law, wouldn’t that piss off every back rower over here that’s eligible? Wouldn’t any decent player just go overseas with lure of a wallaby jersey still possible? The remaining four super teams would suffer too, I’m calling bullshit on this story!

    • Missing Link

      Probably not wrong, then again it’s RA. It could be another strategic move :)

    • Braveheart81

      They are saying it would happen on the back of him signing a contract with an Australian Super Rugby side for 2019.

      • Tomthusiasm

        It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

      • Who?

        Exactly. It’s like Douglas playing at the RWC in 2015 based on signing for the Reds in 2016, even though he had to negotiate his way out of his contract at Leinster. That need for Douglas to get out of an existing contract being a significant difference here, with Samu available for a contract at the end of this season.
        That said, capping him before the end of the Super Season – whilst he’s still officially a Crusader, and when he’s going to return to them – is unprecedented. Capping him in TRC would be within historical precedents for timing, though unusual given it would be a first cap (returning players like Douglas, Mumm, Vickerman were all previously capped).

        • Brumby Runner

          And Luke Burgess iirc.

        • Who?

          I forgot about him… Thanks for the reminder.

  • Missing Link

    Moody couldn’t have picked a better time to show those kids a trick or two in breaking down the opposition’s defensive line

  • Perth girl

    Is it April 1st? Is the Kiwi government going to use overseas aid money to support a rugby team to counter the influence of China in the region.I suspect they will just use it as a feeder team for the All Blacks. So RA want to pay out the contract of a player who has never played for Australia so he can come back to play for the Wallabies. Leaving aside the fact that RA haven’t 2 cents to rub together I wonder how locks in the Australian SR teams feel about this, whats the point of anyone signing up in Australia

    • Brumby Runner

      If you’re referring to Pete Samu PG, then maybe off track on a couple of points. Samu is a back rower, not a lock, and my understanding is that, if selected, it would be on the basis he has signed with an Aussie SR franchise for 2019 so there would be no need to buy out the remainder of his current contract.

      • Braveheart81

        She’s talking about Luke Jones in her last two sentences.

    • swingpass

      Jones is already capped for Australia. He left because he wasnt wanted for the 2015 RWC.

      • Perth girl

        I didnt realise he had been capped already thanks for that

  • Keith Butler

    Jones and Coleman locking the scrum for the Rebs would suit me down to the ground.

  • Kiap

    Correction: Jacinda Ardern’s government was not involved in the study into a Pacific team for Super Rugby. Uncle Rupe’s media have got this wrong.

    It all came from someone in Murray McCully’s department in the previous National government.

    But if their Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade wants to foot the bill for Tonga and Samoa in the Supe, then great. Let ‘em knock their selves out.

  • Johnno

    Brad shields is will within his rights to play for England, both his parents are english and he meets all the world rugby eligibility criterias.. You lot do know at the 2011 world cup Samoa had 15 born kiwis in there squad… And are the wallabies any better eg chasing guys like Henry Speight and Tongan Thor… Test footy is glorified club rugby now anyway, and eligibility is so blurred, I doubt the parent or grandparent rule will be banned anytime soon, it never will be.. The legal issues are to big, could you imagine world rugby saying to a player who has an Irish passport based on his granny that he can’t play for Ireland as an example? No of course you can’t.. And the IOC has rules to that if you have a passport you can’t be denied to represent your nation of choice etc at the Olympics…

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@Nick_Wasiliev

Die-hard Brumbies/Country Eagles fan now based in Sydney. Author, anthropologist, musician and second-rower trying to kick start a writing career in an increasingly bonkers world...

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