Wednesday's Rugby News - Green and Gold Rugby
Rugby

Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News looks at a women’s sevens superstar returning for Sydney, Toomua’s eagerness for the Wallabies flyhalf position, a former Wallaby links up with the men’s sevens side and Henry Speight dealing with his return to Canberra as a Red.


Charlotte’s coming back

Charlotte Caslick, Australia v Fiji

Charlotte Caslick, Australia v Fiji

The Australian women’s team is set to welcome back several big names for the Sydney Sevens, none bigger than superstar Charlotte Caslick.

Caslick returns after missing the last three tournaments due to a hamstring injury, with coach John Manenti expecting her to be ready to go.

“I’m expecting Charlotte will be ready to go,” he said.

“We just got off a plane but I’ll put my eyes over her at training this week and I’m expecting her to be ready to go.

“It will be great to have her back, she’s such a unique player in what she can bring, the threat she brings.

“Once she starts taking that ball forward at first receiver everyone starts going with her. And then also has the skills to catch and pass under pressure, which is really valuable.”

Along with this, co-captain Shannon Parry will return after missing the Hamilton leg due to suspension.

This ensures that the defending gold medalists are near full strength with Emilee Cherry returning after her pregnancy and Chloe Dalton scheduled to return later in the year from something even more painful than childbirth: having to play AFL.

Manenti is well aware that this along with their history of success in Sydney will add to the pressure on his side, believing that they should embrace it with the Olympics on the horizon.

“If they’re talking to that stuff now, you can imagine it’s going to be tenfold come Tokyo so it’s a great way to see how we’re going to respond to that pressure and that kind of scrutiny from people,” he said.

“People do have high expectations of this team and the team have earned that over time,” he said.

“We’re working towards where we want to be and some tournaments we’ve shown big strides and some have been less towards that.

“Sydney’s different – Sydney’s almost a standalone event for us and I want the public to expect us to win it because I want our girls to expect to win it and to do that we’ve got to believe that we can.

“I know they’ve got it in them and I know they believe they’ve got it in them so It’s a matter of turning up out at Bankwest and putting out a good performance.”

Toomua ready to take ten

Australia Media Access

Melbourne Rebels fly-half Matt Toomua is spurred on by the thoughts of grabbing the vacant flyhalf position for the Wallabies as he prepares to lead the Rebels to a maiden Super Rugby finals berth.

The departures of Lealiifano, Foley and Cooper has Toomua in the prime position to become the leading man in Australian rugby when Dave Rennie announces his first squad.

Despite this, Toomua is well-aware of the young talent that is set to light up the competition and refused to declare himself a certain starter come July.

“A few (Wallabies) incumbents have gone so there’s definitely an opportunity there but in saying that there’s a lot of good 10s around the country,” Toomua said.

“There’s a lot of excitement in Australian rugby for a few reasons and that’s probably one of them.

“First, I’ve got to play well here at Rebels and keep the 10 here but you know I’m not that naive to think there’s not an opportunity there.

“It’s obviously a goal of mine as I’m sure it is for the Brumbies 10 and Waratahs 10 and Reds 10, but I’m looking forward to hopefully getting a shot there.”

Toomua was full of praise for the club and its recruitment policy, believing that they have adequately covered the post-World Cup brain drain.

“Credit where it’s due, I think our recruiting team have done a really good job,” Toomua said.

“A lot of the other teams are probably feeling the exodus post World Cup a bit more than we are, we’ve got a fair bit of stability there, particularly with our coaches.”

One of these recruits has been Fijian halfback Frank Lomani, who admits he needs to be more vocal and is hoping to learn off Toomua during his stay in Melbourne.

“I need to improve my game management and I need to be more aggressive with my leadership – I need to command and be bossy,” Lomani said.

“I like playing alongside Matt Toomua – he’s helped me a lot on running lines and I like how he’s so commanding.

“We’ve got a fair idea on how the (Sunwolves) play. We’ll use our big ball carriers and we have some good players like (Toomua) who can control our game.”

Morahan’s back for Sydney

luke morahan

Former Reds, Force and Wallabies flyer Luke Morahan has recommitted to the Sevens program, joining the squad for the Sydney Sevens with a view to be selected in the Toyko Olympic squad.

The 29-year-old is currently playing in the Premiership Rugby competition for Bristol after heading overseas following the ex-communication of the Force.

Morahan is no stranger to the sevens’ concept, having played during the 2010 Commonwealth Games, where the side won a silver medal.

“We’ve been in talks with Luke Morahan for a while and he has talked with great passion about playing for Australia again, especially at the Olympic Games,” head coach Tim Walsh said.

“We’re getting him back into the squad this week to give him an opportunity to put his hand up again for the gold jersey and see what he can contribute on and off the field.

“Bristol has been very supportive of allowing Luke to step away and chase something that he really wants to do and we thank the club for making him available for this week.”

Morahan was excited at the prospect of representing his country once again, having played three times for the Wallabies between 2012-2016.

“Potentially representing my country again is something I’ve thought about for a while, so to be able to re-join the Aussie 7s is really exciting, especially ahead of their home tournament,” he said,

“This week is really about a fact-finding mission to see if it’s going to potentially work out for both parties and I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen from the group just today.

“It’s really going to the case of hitting the ground running with a lot to take in but I’m looking forward to getting into the hard work.”

Morahan will be a welcome addition to the squad after Ben O’Donnell was sidelined for an extended period due to a knee injury.

Speight ready for homecoming

Henry Speight

Henry Speight

Former Brumby and current Red Henry Speight admits that he will be emotional before taking the field against his old side on Friday.

Speight spent nine years at the Brumbies before moving up to warmer pastures and was excited to return to the nation’s capital, where he still considers to be his home.

“A little bit, I guess so. There’s nothing to shy away from there,” said Speight.

“It is home for me, Canberra, and it’s got a very special place in my heart.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for the organisation and a lot of good friends and brothers in that team.”

The 31-year-old admitted that it was a funny feeling finding out the first game was up against the Brumbies, particularly when he hadn’t moved from Canberra yet.

“The schedule came out and it was just a bit of a funny feeling seeing the first game was up against the Brumbies and back down in Canberra,” he said.

“That was weird finding out when I was still living in Canberra as well.”

Despite all these emotions, don’t expect Speight to hold back in his Super Rugby debut, believing that it would be an insult to both sets of supporters if he didn’t give his all.

“If selected, the only way to pay the biggest respect is to play the best I can against them and in front of the Canberra community and also play my part for Queensland,” he believes.

“I’ll wear the jersey with pride and pay my utmost respect to the opposition and the community by playing my best on the day.

“Anything short of that is just not going to do anyone justice.”

  • A lot of redemption in today’s news!

  • Steve

    I will be glad to see Henry back in Canberra, even if he is in the wrong jersey. He’s undoubtedly given the best of his career to the Brumbies so I hope this next phase is successful for him.

    I was thinking the other day that Toomua must be wondering what he’s come back for – got thumped on his return to the Rebels, got thumped at the RWC, now stuck signed for the Rebels as the rabbit for the greyhound race between the young 10s from the other teams.

    I can think of better ways to ride out my career!

    • Neil Pocock

      Toomua is right where his talent sits him. In fact id be very surprised if a quality brain like Dave Rennie thinks Toomua is anything but a placeholder in the 10 position for the Wallabies! In fact I’ll bet Rennie has already thought about ringing Quade and asking if Quade would come back and help the next generation coming through! (Rennie probably sees that as unlikely though with the way Quade has been treated recently)
      But if Rennie has been keeping up to date with how Quade has been going for Kintetsu Liners….. (basically doing what he did for South’s, taking them from wooden spooners to winners) Yet this time the oposition is international and Quade Genia and Masereiwa are masterstroking cricket scores every weekend! I mean if Toomua did a Quade and scored 4 tries, set up a bunch more, created opportunities at will while he was in the English league then he would have been the Wallaby 10 no question……. but he didn’t. Quade did! Am very interested how it unfolds this year…..

      • Steve

        Seven. Seven Quades.

      • joy

        The reincarnation of Cooper, great news mate. Quade on crutches would be better than most options.
        Meanwhile Folau lands with French league side Catalans, sending a signal that there is no room in world rugby for devoted Christians. Suicidal.

        • Neil Pocock

          Yep and no mention of SBWs and his Muslim religious beliefs that appear to be superficial at best! He demands that banks who charge interest and betting companies not be allowed on his playing jersey…… but he’s happy to take those Banks and Betting agency millions! Hmmmm. I wonder if anyone’s asked SBWs about Muslim’s belief in stoning all homosexuals?

        • Geoffro

          Ah well.SBW is getting big bucks for going to the other offshore Superleague franchise.Must be something in the water

        • Anonymous bloke

          Give me a break. The message sent is there’s no room in rugby for people who breach the terms of their contract and post material denigrating whole classes of people for things over which they have no control on their social media accounts. If you have a look at the response to Folau’s signing, a lot of people are critical and he’s been hired under specific terms preventing him from doing what he did while playing rugby and he’s publicly agreed not to do it again (although he agreed not to do it previously as well).

          They would have to ask SBW about that, because he hasn’t gone around saying that they should be stoned.

        • Neil Pocock

          Well that’s my point…… why doesn’t someone ask him….. because if he’s as devout as he publically says(no other Muslim player has ever made his claims tho) then stoning or at BARE minimum unacceptence if homosexuals…. Most of your comment is mute tho as nothing was ever nailed down in court….. Rugby Aus hardball tactic was not followed thru with!

        • Anonymous bloke

          The problem is not really what he or Israel Folau believe, it’s what they say when they have a platform reaching hundreds of thousands of people. If SBW was supporting stoning homosexuals on social media then there would be problem. He doesn’t though, so why try to challenge his personal religious beliefs?

        • Dud Roodt

          And aren’t we all the better for it

      • Steve

        I don’t believe Japanese 2nd division rugby is quite the gold standard of footy you’re making it out to be

        • Neil Pocock

          Really? He went from man of the series in the NRC…. Then took South’s from nothing to great heights, then won the Gagr gong as voted by US as best 10 during the Super season delivering the best attacking platform the Rebels have ever seen and was in the top 3 of all 10s for the season! After an extremely odd, contenious and ultimately flawed omission from the Wallabies WC team, Quade is now at Kintetsu…..a competition punching bag for decades…. and all of a sudden they’re putting cricket scores on every single team EVERY game!
          IF you were to not rate Quade Cooper, show me someone with remotely the same impressive form! It certainly isnt Toomua with his Euro/Super and then WC form…. Toomua gets a solid at best rating!

        • Neil Pocock

          Me either….. because it appeared far too easy!

      • Geoffro

        Good on Quade and Will for doing exactly what Kinetsu bought them for {get promotion) though I havent seen any games and doubt Rennie will be watching either.

        • Neil Pocock

          Your wrong about the promotion…. although it’s an obvious massive bonus….. they were specifically bought in to win games and get Kintetsu unrelegated into the higher league! And it’s no internationaly star ridden team either with only the 3 international stars of sorts in Quade Genia and Masereiwa!

        • Geoffro

          ?? unrelegated into the higher league.Please explain

        • Dud Roodt

          Come on Geoffro, stay with us here; Unrelegated, you know? like de-un-promoted? or Un-de-relegated.
          It’s not rocket surgery

        • Geoffro

          yeah,nah almost completely unsure what its not about

    • Geoffro

      Yep,poor old Matt.Also living with the strain of being the number two athlete in his family/marriage.:} :}

  • Adrian

    Thanks Nathan, and hello everyone!

    Australia has just lost about 15 Wallabies who will join the (about) 25 that are already OS…..and the other non Wallabies.

    Each of the 4 Oz teams have lost about 5 Wallabies. Each team has about 5 recent Wallabies and 5 other Wallabies.

    The “stars” of the recent trials weren’t Wallabies, and half of them haven’t played SR

    On paper at least, the 4 teams are more equal than many think

    Based on supposed ability, the order this year should be Brums, Reds, Rebs, Tahs.

    I suspect it won’t be that. Somehow the Reds have to show in SR the backline ability they showed in the trials, or Thorn is gone. Ditto for Rebs if they don’t crack the top 2.

    Somehow the Rebs seem to have an unbalanced team I think….but I could be wrong.

    The Brumbies look the goods again, with Tahs as dark horses.

    I’m not game to tip any of them though until we’ve had a few games.

    In the meantime, let’s enjoy some young fresh talent,….for the good of the game.

    • Geoffro

      Hi Adrian.Im willing to give my tip and cant go past the Reds on purely raw talent.Am excited by their young lineup and the ball is now in the management’s court to bring it together.JOC and Henry as the senior citizens in this outfit give a bit of a chuckle.

      • Adrian

        Agree Geoffro re talent, and I do hope they have the tactics and nouse to go on with it

    • idiot savant

      Yes Adrian it might well be that it is the next gen of players that make the difference to some Aussie sides. Smart move not to tip yet – we have yet to see how the impact of the player drain affects the Tahs, Brums, and Rebels and if the young Reds have what it takes to go to the next level.

      My instincts tell me that the rebels will come last in the Aussie conference. Their forwards were unconvincing last year and they have not recruited well there. At the other end of the conference its hard not to see the Brums winning again. They have the best coaching group in the country and do the basics better than anyone else. Reds and Tahs remain mysteries to me. The Tahs could well be a dark horse. They have a very mobile pack and a great back row. Backs are nothing more than solid though. Harrison impresses me but its a lot to ask for him to guide them to the top of the conference. Reds could finish anywhere. There is strike power in the outside backs and their forwards while slow can win possession and hold it. Id prefer Hegarty at 10 as I think he makes better decisions and will get the ball to Petaia with more time and space. But like you Im hedging my bets at this stage! Cant wait to see all the boys in action.

      • Adrian

        Thanks idiot.

        Yes, I agree mostly with what you say.

        With the Tahs, I was interested to hear the opinion of two young Australian U/20 guys on the Rugby.com tv coverage of the Reds v Tahs match.

        Despite them being Queenslanders they described Harrison as having the enthusiasm of a teenager, the skills of Carter and the brains and maturity of a 26 year old. I think he has shown that too.

        I’m not fussed if Beale starts with Harrison on the bench. Soon though, Harrison will hold this spot.

        With the Reds, I agree that Hegarty at 10, BUT, I don’t mind Lucas at 10 and swapping occasionally with Hegarty. I think Lucas needs to learn both at the moment, because I reckon that very soon Harrison will be the Wallabies 10, and Lucas the 15

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      Welcome back Adrian. Good to see you mate. I’m not so sure that the teams are as equal as you say, I just think all the teams have unknowns so we don’t know exactly where they sit.
      The Tahs forwards were poor last week but it may just have been an off week. I’m not sure pre-season games mean much and so I wouldn’t put anything on those games.
      100% right on both Thorn and Wessels I think. The issue is that they both were pushed up early with no real mentor to help them grow due to the appalling lack of development in the game here. Both I think can be good coaches but are just very inexperienced.
      I’m hoping the Reds step up this year as they seem to have the best balance.

      • Adrian

        Thanks KARL, and happy new year.

        Yes trials are trials.

        I certainly do hope that the Reds come good. For a range of reasons, that would be good for Australian Rugby. It would bring the best out of the young guns such as Lucas, McDermott, Wilson and Co….which in turn is good for the Wallabies. I think they have the cattle to go a long way

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          Never any doubt that the cattle is there. Just the ability to get it out where it’s needed and operating right mate

        • Geoffro

          Dont forget McReight.That guy is a special

        • Adrian

          He certainly is.
          Without wanting to get locked in to anything, I can see:
          Lucas
          Mark N (apologies)
          Peteia
          O’Connor/Walton
          Korebette
          Harrison
          McDermott/Gordon/Powell/White
          Nasarani/Wilson/Valentino
          McReight/Wright/Hooper
          Swain/Dempsehy
          Rodda/Blythe
          LSL/
          Tuopo
          Fainga
          Alaalatoa (yes, as LHP)
          ….and plenty of others.

      • Happyman

        Mate if you changed your moniker to Kiwi Rugby Aussie Wallaby Lover. You would have KRAWL. LOL

      • Brumby Runner

        Not just pre-season form KARL, but early season form is often misleading also. Last two years the Brumbies have come from behind to challenge or take the conference win, and apart from recent years the Crusaders were famous for their early slump and late season surge.

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          Yeah I think as the season goes on both the depth of the squad and the mental toughness becomes so important. I think the Rebels will struggle with the first part and I’m hoping both the Brumbies and Reds have been working on the 2nd bit

    • Crescent

      I hear you Adrian – and the trials are not always the greatest form guide. Teams can play with a bit more freedom to try things out – combinations and “risky” plays – it’s part of what makes the trials interesting viewing.

      I find it really hard to place the teams in a finishing order. The Tahs worry me – Penney did not get the chance to recruit a roster of completely his choosing. Forwards have been pretty poor for a few seasons, and reluctant to do the tight work required to set a platform for the backs consistently (strictly in my opinion), and I am not seeing many changes that show they are ready to address that shortcoming in valuing possession of the ball. The backs look promising on paper, but we will see how the young guns fare once they step into the competition arena and the opposition start doing their homework on how to counter them. Will be tough year financially for the Tahs as the Travelling Wilburys in terms of home games, which will probably affect their gate takings. That said, I am planning on heading down to the Gong for the match at WIN Stadium – a great chance to catch up with a mate who lives down there, so can get on the cans and make a weekend of it.

      I am liking what I have seen of the Reds and Brumbies, remain concerned that the Rebels will start like a house on fire, but burn out yet again at the crucial end of the tournament. This season will be crucial for Wessels to prove he has the team management skills to get them through the season in good order.

      Really looking forward to the competition starting this year, insanely early, and I will be relying on recording the early games on a Friday afternoon as I am no hope of getting in the door at home before kick off (and can’t watch the match via streaming whilst driving…).

      Also watching with great interest on the 2021 broadcast arrangements – fingers crossed for a deal that will assist in growing the viewership.

      • Adrian

        Thanks Crescent.

        I think that each Oz team except for Rebs have shown promise here and there in the trials. My suspension is that the Rebs have deliberately hidden themselves over the last 2 weeks.

        That said, even if they start well, I can’t see them going on with it because overall (IMO) they are down on class and tight 5 forwards and have too many outside backs.

        I think that Wessels has shown that he can extract a fair bit of milk from average cattle, but eventually it runs out!

        Yes, decent FTA broadcasting or cheap/free streaming is a must

        • Keith Butler

          ‘‘Twas always the case with the Rebs putting the cart before the horse. We could be in a world of pain unless of course Wessels has been boxing clever.

        • Adrian

          Let’s hope he has been

  • Huw Tindall

    Hat tip for this one Nathan: “This ensures that the defending gold medalists are near full strength with Emilee Cherry returning after her pregnancy and Chloe Dalton scheduled to return later in the year from something even more painful than childbirth: having to play AFL.”

    • Greg

      Honesty, Huw and Nathan AFL was a good bet for pain free viewing last year.

      We persevered with the wobs and I am optimistic that this year will be bigger and better.

  • While I obviously wish Toomua all the best in his quest to be the new Wallabies 10, and I think he was a decent call off the bench to cover 10, 12 and 15, as a starter I can’t help think he’d be better to look at starting in the 12 shirt.

    But, maybe he thinks there’s a shedload more experienced competition left there and he’s good enough to pin down the 10 shirt, at least while all the other franchises are running out what is, in essence, fresh blood.

    Surely the risk with that strategy must be that he starts for a year or two, gets hooked after 60 minutes or so to let the newbies get some game time and in 2022 someone else is the new starter?

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      Hey Eloise, Happy New Year mate. I’m not so sure Toomua is a great 10 either. In some ways I see him as more of a 13 as he can distribute well, runs hard and has good Defence. Maybe he should push out 2 places not 1

      • Geoffro

        Which puts him firmly in the frame as a utility player.I reckon JOC has that possie at a Walla level.Unfortunatey I doubt he can position himself as the best in any specific position now.His best pos I reckon is 12 but I doubt he’ll get a run there over Meakes.

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          Yeah that’s a worry with any plans to move him,. Maybe his best option is to stick to 10 and just try and get better week by week

        • Geoffro

          Sure,plenty of players have grown into very good 10s after switching from 12 , 15 or whatever.Just getting a bit late in the day for Matty…….

      • Dave P

        Toomua will do fine at 10, especially with the likes of JOC and Petaia outside him. He is a better organiser and kicker than Foley and a better defender than Quade. He will have 2 seasons to make the position his own, a luxury he has never had in the past. The worry is if he gets injured the Wallabies will be relying on a first year super rugby fly half (unless they go back to JOC or Beale).

        • Geoffro

          Agree that would be key to him making a fist of it – being played at 10 consistently

      • Adrian

        I like Deegan as an organiser and setter-upperer, at least based on his NRC form

      • I guess it depends on the rest of the systems but in my mind 13 is so often backs defensive captain and people who have moved in or out to play 13 talk about how hard it is compared to 12, wing or 15 with extra angles etc.

        I don’t think Toomua has any experience there, and a season at super rugby, then international starting centre… well maybe he can do it, but it’s a rare player that is good enough to really start across all of 10, 12 and 13.

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          Yeah true. Still better there than some league reject who hasn’t played rugby for years though

  • sambo6

    Call me old fashioned, but I don’t like Toomua’s chat about the Wallaby 10 shirt……

    To be fair, (even as a massive reds fan) I also Don’t like Wright’s chat about hooper’s aussie shirt. Or hooper’s chat about his captain’s armband. Everyone should just focus on what’s in front of them…….

    • Geoffro

      Squeeky wheel gets the oil maybe :}. though if I was Matt Id be keeping a sharp look over my shoulder at Deegan for even the 10 spot at the Rebs

      • Neil Pocock

        Yep, Lolesio….. Definitely!

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Thanks Nathan. Welcome back.
    Be good to see the girls at full strength. They have pushed all the teams at times and at full strength I think they can challenge anyone. I love the way they play too. Hope the men’s do well this week, they really need to start bringing things together if they want to threaten at the Olympics

    I think Toomua needs to step up this year. At times he looked good but he also appeared quite hesitant at times and didn’t really seem to take control. I think he’s going to have a bigger battle on his hands than he thinks.

    Good luck to Henry Speights I hope he nails it.

    • Geoffro

      Speight. [you’re an Aussie now and need to get those nasty Kiwi brews out of you’re mind]

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        Hahahahaha I just blame poor schooling where I never got my spelling sorted and unfortunately Spellcheck doesn’t cover everything

    • NSWelsham in London

      KARL as a matter of interest, this name change due to citizenship (loving it by the way), does this mean you will support the wallabies for home games and Kiwis for their home games? :-)
      Remember a good Aussie side means better competition for the Kiwis… hahaha

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        Mate at this stage it’s still ABs vs everyone, Wallabies vs everyone else. Dual citizenship for now

  • Keith Butler

    If the weather forecasts for Canberra on Friday are accurate the why is this game going ahead. Temps in the 30s come game time plus acrid bushfire smoke must be a danger to players and spectators alike. Surely commonsense should prevail.

    • Yowie

      They did a poll of the Brumbies spectators and both of them said they were ok about the smoke.

      • Keith Butler

        Ouch! Water and oxygen every 10 minutes.

  • AllyOz

    with reference to the ladies 7s picture above, not since the great Matt Dunning played have I seen bra straps adjusted so expertly

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

More in Rugby