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Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News looks at Koroibete’s potential exit, England’s impending trip to Australia, the Force’s new signing and the main reason for the Waratahs demise


Million dollar Marika

Marika Koroibete

Marika Koroibete

Wallabies winger Marika Koroibete looks set to leave the Rebels at the end of the year, with a deal overseas looming.

Koroibete’s departure from Australian rugby has been speculated for a while, with the players even going as far as naming their group chat Justice4Marika on account of his ‘poor’ pay packet.

The Top League are looking to change this, with the Herald reporting that he has already started preliminary discussions with clubs in Europe and Japan, with the Panasonic Wild Knights the red hot favourites.

His continual rise in the Wallabies set up could see him fetch close to $1 million per season on the open market, a figure RA simply couldn’t match for a winger.

Neither RA nor the Rebels have started discussions with Koroibete, with contract talks set to start after Super Rugby AU.

“We’d like him to continue,” Rebels chief executive Baden Stephenson told the Herald.

”Clearly he’s a player that is highly respected and a guy the Rebels and Rugby Australia would like to keep.

“Marika is in our leadership group and he’s as invested as I’ve ever seen him.”

The loss of Koroibete would obviously be a massive blow to the Wallabies, given he’s coming off winning the John Eales Medal in 2019.

However, the Wallabies have seemingly found the winger goldmine over the past 12 months, with the likes of Tom Wright, Jordan Petiaia (depending on where you play him) and Filipo Daugunu proving that they are up to international standard.

Couple this with the arrival of Vunivalu, who provides a similar skill set to Marika, along with the likes of Ramm and Ralston shows that there is decent depth waiting in the… wings.

Also up RA’s sleave is continuing their lenience with the ‘Giteau Law’, who are yet to confirm whether it will go back to the 60-cap limit.

Force’s new flash

Andrew Ready enjoyed scoring this try against his old team

Andrew Ready enjoyed scoring this try against his old team

The Western Force have continued to bolster their squad as they bring in another international player.

However, whilst they have opted for experience in the past, they have shifted their focus towards youth as they bring in England U20’s star Jordan Olowofela on a one-year loan deal.

The midfielder joins from Leicester, having been invited to a training camp with the senior England squad in 2018 following his heroics in the U20 World Championships.

“In this unique season, with limited opportunities for all players to get game time, this opportunity presents a chance for Jordan to get valuable experience in his development,” Leicester coach Steve Borthwick said in a statement.

“At just 22, Jordan can gain both rugby and life experience in a different environment and culture.

“I am excited to see the progress he makes in Super Rugby and I am confident he will represent our club in a way that will make everybody at Tigers proud.

“We are extremely grateful to the Force for presenting this opportunity to a Leicester Tigers player and the productive process in making it happen.”

The speedster was excited to test himself in Super Rugby, grateful to get the opportunity from the Force.

“I am really excited about this opportunity and looking forward to linking up with the Western force for the Super Rugby season,” he explained.

“The chance to live in Australia and test myself in a competition like Super Rugby is exciting.

“I am grateful the club got me this chance for a new and different challenge.”

Swing low

Hooper finds the try line - Photo by Keith McInnes

Hooper finds the try line – Photo by Keith McInnes

Aussie Eddie is set for a return Down Under as he brings the Poms for a mid-year tour of Australia in 2022.

According to the Herald, England will return to Australia next year as part of a three-test series, hoping to replicate their feat in 2016.

Jones was arguably the architect for the decline in the Wallabies performance (very debatable), whitewashing them 3-0 just months after making the World Cup final.

Despite the poor result, the series was a smash hit for RA, with three sold-out crowds delivering a surplus in 2016.

Interestingly, this expected series is a major reason why RA is so keen to host the Lions tour of South Africa.

The reasoning behind this comes as a group of ex-players and officials start to campaign for the series to be pushed back 12 months as the situation in the UK and South Africa remains volatile.

“Playing it anywhere other than South Africa this year may well help to destroy the ethos of the Lions; the very creed of the Lions is going to another country,” former Lions player and team Manager John Spencer told the Yorkshire Post.

“It’s about spreading the gospel of rugby and all these countries absolutely adore the Lions. I’m not sure what will happen next but if they did have it here I’m not sure crowds would flock to see the Lions at home anyway.

“I would like to see the tour postponed for a year and then everyone will have exactly the same in South Africa in 2022.”

This would take precedence over any tour, leaving Australia to play a potential ‘B’ England side.

The Poms seem to share this view but for a completely different reason, with steady Eddie not wanting to lose his best players for a Lions tour that falls just 12 months out from the 2023 World Cup.

COVID crisis

Jake Gordon needs some support

Jake Gordon needs some support

The Waratahs brain drain and poor start to the season have been put down on the ongoing COVID crisis, according to assistant coach Chris Whittaker.

After a pair of record-breaking losses, Whittaker admitted that the situation forced players to make the tough decision to leave, leaving the Waratahs with an inexperienced squad for 2021.

“I think it’s out of everyone’s control. If you look at the players that left, it was all around the COVID issue, unfortunately, everyone took a pay cut,” Whitaker told reporters on Monday.

“So, unfortunately, we couldn’t keep guys, it’s not like we didn’t want to keep them, but financially we couldn’t.

“So all that type of stuff is out of our hands, it wasn’t a decision we made, we were given this squad. And the money restrictions and that stuff, we’re doing what we can and as I said with the amount of turnover you have, it takes time to build those combinations.

“So that’s the situation we’re in and we can’t change it, now it’s about moving forward and doing the best we can.”

When their apparent disregard to the NRC was put to Whittaker by myself, he pointed to the success that they have in developing the likes of Will Harrison and Ben Donaldson.

“We’ve tried to use it. Firstly, the last few years we’ve had a lot of guys in the Wallabies setup and then we’ve had some injuries in the backend of the season,” Whitaker said.

“So if you look at that NRC a few years ago that I was involved with, we had Will Harrison who was playing colts at Randwick at the time, Ben Donaldson, Tane Edmed played…so there is a lot of guys who’ve come out of that [Sydney] NRC team.

“But I don’t think that the development of the actual players is the issue,

“I think the issue is we’re losing a lot of the senior guys because of the COVID thing and we’re throwing these young guys, not just into game time, but leadership roles very early. But as I said give them time and they’ll blossom for sure.”

  • juswal

    Koroibete can go. For years there’s been an unsustainable myth that the Wallabies’ potential can be unlocked through selections at 11, 14 and 15. It’s never worked out.

    • Geoffro

      On face value and going by the fact all the big signings from league have been outside backs your summation rings true.If the theory were correct Fiji would have been top of the standings years ago eh?

    • Greg

      Much as I love great backline work, I think the key is more selections at 3, 6, 7 and 8 rather than 15.

      I know that team balance is key etc etc …. but if you are not competitive up front then nice hairstyles are not going to win the game.

      • Keith Butler

        Nah mate it’s the Engine Room, 4&5 but I may have a slight bias.

    • Damo

      And any potential that 11,14, and 15 might unlock is doomed without the right 10.

  • onlinesideline

    With guys leaving for overseas earlier one good thing I personally like about it, is that we see younger blokes come through quicker and thrust into top honours quicker. Yeah one could argue about development and body health and pacing oneself. But the abandon with which young dudes play the game is just fun to watch. We all know that as time goes on, they getting pegged to a playing script ( they call it structures) that are obviously needed but we have seen how those structures can also stymie a team too. Hello 2015-2019. I prefer exciting play born out of naivete and just having a go. This is really the future it seems.

    • Pedro

      Yeah I agree, it’s great to see who’s game translates to higher levels.

    • Pedro

      Yeah I agree, it’s great to see who’s game translates to higher levels.

    • Reds Revival

      I’m a bit worried about you taking enjoyment from young guys getting pegged.

      • onlinesideline

        Im too grossed out to reply to that with anything remotely humorous. Can I get back to you on that at a later date. Meanwhile – spare bucket handy ?

        I like girls, Hungarian girls – honey coloured cuties wiith long hair and shapely hips. Ahh thats better.

        Right where were we …..

        • Custardtaht

          Young men getting pegged……

        • onlinesideline

          noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Thanks Nathan, personally I’m not sure Koroibete is a huge loss. A good player with a lot of potential but he’s taking a long time to learn his game and while he does a lot of good things, he also still gets out of position and his passing is poor. Definitely a loss but not a huge one, especially with some of the other wingers around now.
    Interesting perspective between the Waratahs and the Force and while I acknowledge a lot of the Force comes from the money they have I still feel they are making smarter decisions on their recruitment. So Whittaker doesn’t think the development of the players is an issue, it’s all just because of COVID. Funny that covid targeted the Tahs so much more than the other teams, I didn’t think it had that ability.

    • Greg

      If indeed we find covid has an affinity for RMs… we are all toast.

    • Happyman

      Hi KRL
      The Tahs depth issue comes from a long way back. A mate of my son was recruited to Sydney last year. His comment was the depth of colts in Sydney is not very good. He maintained that the Premier in colts from Sydney would not make top 4 in Brisbane colts.
      I don’t want to get into a state based argument here but given this comes from a player it does require attention.
      The thing that amazes me is the huge player talent exodus from Australia every year. I can name ten players at a good level who are 21 or less who are playing overseas in either Japan or Europe.

      The Tahs have been a net importer or talent for the best part of two decades it is an unsustainable model when you are short of funds.

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        And leads back to RA not having a national development framework. Pretty sad when you realise the NZ Rugby Academy in Palmerston North was based on a model developed in Australia that was then discarded here

        • Yowie

          …coming over here, taking our jobs and our women development academies…

        • Greg

          .. sheep?

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          We’ve enough pretty ones of our own mate

        • Yowie

          “We’re not shearing ours with anyone!”

        • onlinesideline

          they’re not shy either

        • Yowie

          Good excuse, I’ll remember that one

          “It was the sheep that was keen officer!”

    • Yowie

      Covid doesn’t discriminate based on whether you are a Waratah or not….

      …making Covid ethically superior to a Wallabies selector.

    • Huw Tindall

      Think the COVID bit that particularly impacted the Tahs was the large numbers of players they had coming off contract last year. They were literally not in a position to offer appropriate contracts to guys like Hannigan because there was no TV deal in place and no guarantee of funding. Contrast to Reds where guys like LSL and Tupou and JOC had multiple years to run. Rebs and Brums similar. Now, there have been many other failings at the Tahs starting with letting Simon Cron go so it’s all down to COVID but I think it’s fair for Whits to claim it disproportionately impacted them.

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        Yeah I get that but if the management of all these issues had been managed better then neither covid nor anything else would have had as big an impact. By all means allow them to blame covid but I think the issues go much deeper

        • Huw Tindall

          Yeah I agree. Covid is a reason but not an excuse for the state of things.

  • Reds Revival

    I think Payto nailed the “sliding doors” moment for the Waratahs on Rugby Heaven last night. The fact that NSWRU let Simon Cron go, only for Andrew Hore and Daryl Gibson to then pull the pin a few weeks later. It has basically put them in the position that they’re in now. Personally, I think that Roger Davis (CEO) needs to be the fall guy, as all of this has happened under his watch. He has seen the demise of the Waratahs since their SR win and has to take accountability for it.

  • Tah Tragic

    Either the Tahs are investing in the future with a young squad (as Thorne did with the Reds) or they have lost all their senior players due to Covid/money issues. You can’t argue both.

    I am excited about the young talent coming through but there does not appear to be any plan from the Tahs coaches or management. It’s as if they got to the start of the season said f&$k we have no experience and said “yeah, yeah, umm …. we’re doing what the Reds did 3 years ago”.

    You need some experienced heads if you are developing a young squad. We certainly could have done with Hunt’s experience and defence in the centres in Sat night. I’m not claiming a silver bullet here; the result would have been the same just slightly less embarrassing.

    If we do have a good squad in 2/3 years time it will be a fluke rather than due to good planning.

  • Who?

    When their apparent disregard to the NRC was put to Whittaker by myself, he pointed to the success that they have in developing the likes of Will Harrison and Ben Donaldson.

    Thanks Nathan. :-)

    My counter to Whittaker’s statement would be to point out that Will Harrison wasn’t an NRC player; he was an Under 20’s player. NRC is an opportunity for all players – so Harrison’s an NRC player – but the point of saying ‘an NRC player’ is to indicate the player’s major development before making it to the the next level (Super Rugby) would be found in the NRC. Whereas, for Harrison, as a player who was integral to the U20’s making it to the JRWC Final, his primary development before making it to the Tahs was through the Age Squads.

    For the other guys… Tane Edmed (who’s looked pretty handy in his two runs off the bench) played one game of NRC. Ben Donaldson’s played a few more, though I don’t recall him playing this year (Tahs).

    The bigger issue for the Tahs, though, is in their pack. Where’s the tight fives from the three NRC teams they had? No one can tell me they were all SR contracted players. But, even more problematically, with the utter lack of focus from the NSWRU on the NRC (particularly historically in how the relationships were set up – which is NOT me blaming current administrators and coaches, it’s me chalking it up to errors in 2013), and the impedance created by the SRU feeling threatened (as they always do), the NSW NRC teams were set up in such a manner that the best available players often weren’t interested in playing NRC. We saw in 2019 (given no NRC last year) that there wasn’t a huge buy-in from Tahs forwards who weren’t Wallabies across those teams.

    The real question is the comparison in game time of Swain, Hockings, Blythe, etc in the NRC before playing Super Rugby compared to the Tahs’ new locks, who had opportunities in not one team (Swain), not two teams (Reds), but three teams. Because NSW has dropped the ball on developing player depth.

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      Be interesting to see where they’d be now if they had invested in the NRC. The predictions of the Shute Sheild being good enough has proven false

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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