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Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News looks at the Rebels preparing for their shot at club history, Brumbies gearing up for a milestone match, the Waratahs look to the future and the Junior Wallabies refuse to tread lightly against the old enemy.


Rebels ready to make history

Reece Hodge through the gap Waratahs v Rebels 2019 (Credit Keith McInnes)

The Rebels are preparing for their clash with the red hot Chiefs with the words of famous Oakland Raiders coach Al Davis (and Snoop Dogg) ringing in their eyes: just win baby win.

This is the simple equation that faces the Rebels in order to secure the first finals appearance for the club and to become the most successful Rebels side in club history (in terms of wins and points).

The significance of this match on the club’s short history was not lost on star halfback Will Genia ahead of their must-win clash at AAMI Park on Friday.

“I think that what the guys are really ready for is just the fact that we’re in the position that if we win we know we’ll be playing finals football,” he said. “That’s just exciting in itself.”

“For the Rebels who have never played in finals football and for a lot of guys who were in other Super Rugby provinces in years gone by that haven’t played in finals, it’s just such an unreal experience and you can so often say things like at the start of the year, if you’d told us the last round if we had a game to win we’d be playing finals we would take it.”

Genia will return to the Rebels line up after missing the 66-0 drubbing against the Crusaders, with the side using the energy from facing sudden death elimination from the finals race as the catalyst to move on from the crushing defeat.

“It’s only natural, it’s human nature to be upset and disappointed with such a loss and to have lost 66-0 was pretty disappointing but I think to the guys’ credit we understand that we’re in a position now where if we win this game, we’re playing finals footy and we’re creating history for the club.”

“So, that’s enough motivation to want to pick yourself up and I think the guys have done that really well.”

Whilst Genia is a certainty to return to the lineup, lock Adam Coleman is still under an injury cloud with a shoulder injury, with Rebels officials hopeful that he can shake it off to be fit to take on returning All Black Brodie Retallick and the Chiefs.

Brumbies prepare for Sio century

Scott Sio showing his leg strength as he is tackled by Michael Hooper.

The Brumbies are hoping to mark Scott Sio’s 100th match with a victory as they get set to take on the Reds in Canberra.

Sio is set to become just the 13th Brumby to notch up 100 caps and the Brumbies will be hoping to mark the occasion for the “big dog” with a win.

“Everyone’s saying it’s the “big dog week”,” Alaalatoa said. “He’s been here for a while but the last couple of years he’s probably had a few setback injuries but for him to notch up 100 is exciting and just excited to be a part of it.”

The Brumbies have put out a call to arms to their fans to not only celebrate the career of Sio but to also look to avoid the lowest average crowd in its Super Rugby history.

The side needs just 8812 fans to attend to avoid the mark as they look to celebrate their first Pasifika Day with a specially designed jersey to represent and celebrate the Polynesian heritage that is held by around half of the squad.

“I’m impressed by the way this team and organisation has embraced [Pasifika Day],” Sio said.”That’s something that’s really special and something a lot of clubs haven’t done. I’m thankful to the Brumbies for celebrating how far we’ve come.”

This was shared by prop Allan Alaalatoa, who said: “I’ll be able to smell the taro, the chop suey…the pork buns when I walk into the ground, but I’ve already told my parents to save some so I can eat after the game.”

The Brumbies are hoping that their impressive run of form lately, which stands at five straight wins, will help draw the crowds back, continuing their quest to return Canberra Stadium back to being a fortress.

“We hope our fans come out because we feel like we’re putting on the performances for them to enjoy,” said Alaalatoa.

“We have to continue to put on a good performance for them. Knowing you’ve got your family, friends and fans backing you up, it makes you go that extra distance because you never want to disappoint your home fans.”

“We set that goal of [Canberra Stadium] being a fortress, that motivates us, that makes us stick to it. We want to play so well that it’s worth rugging up in cold weather to watch us play some quality football.”

Waratahs test of character

Curtis Rona

Curtis Rona

The next generation of NSW rugby is set to be thrown into the gauntlet that is the “Zoo” as the Waratahs have signalled their intentions to rest their top players.

Despite holding on to slim finals hopes, the Waratahs will be finally forced to rest Sekope Kepu, Michael Hooper, Rob Simmons, Bernard Foley, Kurtley Beale as part of the Wallabies resting agreement.

This decision will ensure that the future of the Waratahs will get a chance to shine when they head down to Dunedin to face the Highlanders, a side which like the Waratahs, still hope slim finals aspirations.

It is expected that this squad will include the likes of five eight Mack Mason, Chris Talakai, Ryan McCauley, Tuatalatasi Tasi and Norths dynamic duo Will Miller and Hugh Sinclair.

Prop Harry Johnson-Holmes was confident that the young guns would step up for the big clash, noting the fixture will be a real character test for the under siege Waratahs.

“It’s not so much a character-building game but character revealing,” Johnson-Holmes said. “How we respond is going to go a long way for the future of the club. We’ve got a lot of people leaving and it’s an opportunity for younger people to get their first big shot at Super Rugby and representing NSW and this great club.”

“To not treat it with the respect that it so rightly deserves would be a big mistake by those people. I don’t expect anyone to shirk the opportunity.”

The squad will reflect the side’s shift towards a youthful push for next season, as players such as Johnson-Holmes, Jack Dempsey and Jake Gordon are set to complement the inclusion of young talents such as Junior Wallabies Will Harrison, Ben Donaldson and Will Harris.

The Waratahs slim final hopes have received a further setback, with the Highlanders expected to welcome back All Blacks fullback Ben Smith, who is set to return from a hamstring injury that has sidelined him for the past 6 weeks.

Junior Wallabies wary of old enemy

Isaac Lucas

Isaac Lucas

Don’t think for a moment that the Junior Wallabies have any intent to take their foot off the pedal despite securing top stop in Pool B.

Australia secured its place at the top of the pool with their second bonus point win over the tournament over a fourteen man Ireland 45-17 in Santa Fe last Saturday.

However, coach Jason Gilmore has adamantly exclaimed that the side will not drop its intensity when they play their final Under 20’s World Championship pool match against England on Thursday.

“We wanted to get a clean sweep in our pool stage,” Gilmore said. “We’ve said the whole way along that winning’s a habit and we want to keep this momentum going into the semis.”

“And it’s another Test match. It’s a big one against England and the boys are really keen to play in this one.”

Gilmore was relieved to have locked down a place in the next stage, with only one team outside of the pool winners advancing to the semifinals.

“It’s just good to know you can go into game three with that already locked away and not have to rely on bonus points and results going your way,” he said.

“It’s a pretty tough tournament to get into the top four and we’ve had that in the past where we’ve finished on the same comp points and haven’t had that luxury.”

Australia is likely to shuffle its starting side with the test against England, however with a victory against the old enemy on the line, it is likely there will not be wholesale changes.

“(England) will be really strong with their set-piece but I think the turnaround with all the northern hemisphere teams in the last five or six years is they can actually use the football as well,” Gilmore said.

“It’s a Test match that we want to win, so we’re not going to make wholesale changes for the sake of it but we’ll have a look at our side at training and announce (the team) on Tuesday (Argentinian time).”

The Junior Wallabies are expected to welcome back winger Triston Riley, who missed the clash against Ireland with a niggling injury.

  • Geoffro

    Now we get the chance to see what the Rebs are really made of in a backs to the wall shot at redemption but stating the obvious , if they can’t at least get parity with the likes of Retallick,Cane and co they’re gone.With Debs likely to kick the leather off the ball theyre not much hope if they can’t get a share of decent possession and spend too much of the game in their own half. Hope they get there as idea of three SA sides to one oz side in the q/finals really burns me.

    • IIPA

      A side losing 66 blot two weeks out don’t deserve to make the finals. Nor do my Tahs either in case they happened to scrape in.

      Hope the Brums get a crowd. They are playing some very solid rugby and have some entertaining backs and guys on the forwards like Slipper, 7As, Faingaa, Cusack and McCaff who it’s hard not to cheer for.

      • Geoffro

        Should have been 70+ blot.My highlight was Read throwing the ball away with an open line and the complete lack of concern from the saders ’cause they knew they were going to flog them anyway.
        I’m cheering for the Brums (see my posts preseason where I picked them to top the conf – sorry,had to say I told you so) but am disappointed the Rebs have failed to kick on after so much expectation.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Nathan,
    Go the U20’s, the right messages are coming out of this group and I hope they go well. They are certainly deserving of their wins and I hope it goes well.

    I’m not sure Coleman is doing enough for it to make a difference if he plays or not. I think he’s had a shit year and if a lot is based on the Wallaby camp then I think his approach is wrong. Stop sulking and show why you’re better, you’re being soft. His real issue is that every week his options outside of Australia are getting less and less and he needs to step up and show he’s still got it.

    The Rebels and Tahs are both going to be interesting this week. Neither the Chiefs nor Highlanders have had great seasons but I think both can still win comfortably if they play well and bring their top game. The Rebels have more of a chance I think but they need to really step up. TBH I don’t think the Tahs have a chance but if they do step up it’ll really ask some hard questions of the Wallabies in the squad.

    • Missing Link

      I’m really impressed with the U20s. I know we are yet to play NZ but we beat them for the first time in forever just a few weeks ago and for the first time in forever we will be in a good position at the end of the round robins if we beat England.

      Did anyone else see the video of our lock, Nick Frost against Ireland? I’ve seen other footage of him and he is a freak! This kid is built like Rory Arnold, and runs like Koroibete. Seems to have been built in a lab, from titanium and carbon fiber or something like that :)
      I’m sure he will be picked up next year and we’ll see a lot more of him in future.

      • Custard Taht

        The Brumbies picked him up. After seeing what impact frost had on the Rebs against the Crusaders, they quickly signed him.

        • Brumby Runner

          ??? Did he play against the Rebels last year? Certainly didn’t last week.

          Frost was signed by the Brumbies about four weeks ago and has since been in the U20s squad.

        • Dud Roodt

          I think it was a joke about his last name and the chill in Christchurch.

        • Brumby Runner

          Chill in Christchurch? I think it was a balmy Autumn evening when they played the Rebels.

          Still Frost should be at home in Canberra in the Winter.

      • Dud Roodt

        Apparently he was very talented in athletics at school, so instead of looking like a newborn Giraffe when running a la all the other tall timber Australia produces, he actually has solid running technique (this is course coming from a guy who needs an oxygen mask after 50 metres, so take that with a pinch of salt)

    • Bernie Chan

      Alas Coleman hasn’t had a big impact since his injury return…
      In Wallas and RWC terms, we need him to lift his game substantially if he is to pair up with Arnold. Rodda looking better thus far…?

      • Brumby Runner

        Rodda should be a locked in starter. He is the combination of Simmons’ lineout work and Coleman’s aggression which has been missing from Adam most of the year. Add that to Rory’s all round creative game and we have the second row sorted.

        Coleman in form would be a great bench option, but failing that we have excellent cover with LSL, Philip and Jones.

        • Andy

          Yep. Rodda seems to have a bit of leadership about him too. We need more guys like that.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        I agree mate. For me the lock-in locks are Arnold and Rodda

    • Geoffro

      Coleman IS soft and can’t think of a worse lock combination than him and Hanigan which will probably eventuate at some stage if Cheiks has his way.
      Look for the Highlanders back three to have a ball in Invercargill and the Rebs to be starved of possession by Cane,Retallick and co.

  • Custard Taht

    The Aus U/20 ‘s are proving that the key to solving the mystery around unlocking a defence, is, has and always will be a Touch of Frost.

    I am surprised that the U/20s are going so well. Stephen Larkham has been quite heavily involved with them since his sacking and I was under the impression that the Wallabies poor performance was his fault, as he was the only one of the triumvirate to lose his job.

    • Yowie

      Haha, yes.

      Watch this space for the Wallabies World Cup performance to be blamed on assistant coach Mr S. Kapegote. Rarely seen at press conferences but taking responsibility for the team’s attack and defence.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Hahahaha. Maaaaate that’s awesome

  • adastra32

    The WBs should win the England game easily – and that is not reverse psychology in any way. Latter have been awful in 6N and this WC. Budget cuts and reorganizational mayhem at the RFU have resulted in a decimated junior coaching system. Not an excuse, merely the facts.

  • Tomthusiasm

    Highlanders game is in Invercargill, not Dunedin. It’ll be outdoors and raining.

    • Hoss

      Yep, i spent 15 years in Invercargill over one weekend many years ago.

      • Tomthusiasm

        Why did you cut your trip so short?

        • Hoss

          Couldnt feel anything below my forehead. There’s cold, then there’s Invercargill cold.

        • Tomthusiasm

          Even the oysters are happy to plucked out of the ocean

        • Hoss

          Gold mate.

        • Keith Butler

          You big girls blouse!

        • Hoss

          I only wear them for medical reasons and comfort.

      • From NooZealand

        LOL – You are funny man!

  • Bernie Chan

    I read that Jake White has given Wessels a call to offer some support after the drubbing they suffered against the Crusaders. There’s a lot to admire about experienced coaches that are willing to share their experiences etc with young, less experienced operators. Would be wise for the less experienced operatives to listen and learn from the old heads…The Tao of Jeet Kun Do..”Take what is useful…discard what is useless”. A bit of an ‘acid test’ for Wessels’ coaching on Friday?
    At 0430 AEST the Junior Wallas will confront the ‘olde enemy’ in the Rugby U20 World Championships…to borrow a line from the legend Chris ‘Buddha’ Handy……”Go you good things…!”

Rugby
@NathW1997

Loved rugby since the day I could remember, got the nickname Footy to show that, I watch Matt Dunning's dropkick every night before going to bed

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