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Preview : 2015 Rugby World Cup final


WC Final


The script could not have been set more perfectly. After the final whistle blew at Twickenham the rest of the rugby fans were left with a cliff hanger scenario. What will happen in the final. Two of the best teams in the world. Two of the best coaches in the world. The best referee in the world. Two sides with legends set to bow out. Most notable will be the end on an era not just in New Zealand-Australia but in the world. The most notable departure will be that of Richie McCaw. The most capped player of all time. Sadly this final is not about Richie. It is a game that has the echoes of perfection to it. Number 1 vs Number 2. Whoever comes out on top will be deserving of the accolade of World Champions. Both sides are sitting on a 10-1 record and with so much at stake expects an explosive evening.

It has been an amazing last five weeks and the All Blacks will look to finish of strong as they have gradually got better every week. Some would say the Wallabies had a tougher run but New Zealand had the small matter of taking on the Springboks, France, Tonga, Georgia, Namibia and Argentina. These sides may have undoubtedly lacked variety to worry the defending champions but had the physical abilities to bother them. New Zealand took a battering and have survived remarkably. What the difference is now, is the ability of their final opposition Australia who have done well to combine brute physicality with variety and variation. Australia who faced Fiji, Uruguay, England, Wales, Scotland and Argentina could say they have faced similar opposition to the All Blacks.

The Wallabies victory this year was against this All Black side and it was when ‘Pooper’ was introduced and theAll Blacks could not handle them at the breakdown . What most will ignore is the fact that New Zealand was at hand to miss countless kicks and Dan Carter almost sealed a miss-on the World Cup squad. The next game was a completely different affair as the All Blacks at home sent the Wallabies packing. Australia may take comfort in the rotation but all that comes out the window in a game, set for a neutral ground that will grab the attentions of millions.

The game will be decided by who will outwit and execute better. The Wallabies and All Blacks match-up will be an exciting affair non-the-less and will leave some in tears of joy or disappointment.

Key battle:

Dan Carter vs Bernard Foley– The two pivots will need to be at their A-game. They will need to be kicking perfectly and marshaling their back lines with prowess. Foley is the new kid on the block while Carter is the veteran that could end his career in what dreams are made off. The match up to watch and definitely plays a pivotal role on who will keep Bill after Saturday.

Poser : Something is set to change or better yet, remain the same. New Zealand have never won  the World Cup outside New Zealand. Australia have never lost a Rugby World Cup game in the United Kingdom. No team has ever defended a World Cup, while no side has had the opportunity to win a Tri-Nations or Rugby Championship in the same year as being crowned Champions. History to be made and one last go at breaking a record.

Prediction : What can be distasteful and easily disrespectful would be the way the Australian media has taken to this game. They have gone as far as to ridicule, insult and show no respect to new Zealand and more so to Richie McCaw. The “Richetty grub” statement will be the sole reason I hope the All Blacks send off their legends in style by not only being the most successful rugby side in the world but in history. On ability either side can win it, but New Zealand just seen to have the edge. Good thing about rugby is there is no guarantees. It could be a fairy tale for New Zealand or Australia could crash the party!

A few lessons and maybe some hope?


By: SA Rugby
By: SA Rugby

Argentina have reasons to be positive

The brilliance that was the Pumas must be acknowledged. Their development side managed to dazzle in the Vodacom Cup a few years ago and some of those performers excelled a few years later. They made history for their country and beat the mighty Springboks.

Their attitude was massive and they managed to beat a side that pushed Australia and New Zealand to the death of games. A simple attitude change can make a huge difference. They showed hunger. Juan Imhoff was playing Vodacom rugby in 2011 and was joint top try scorer with a certain JJ Engelbrecht.

Fast track four years and you have the same player looking set to be a regular in his Pumas team while JJ is an outcast in his country. a player that has had a peripheral role in South African rugby. This highlights the development the Argentinians have been doing and will continue to. It has been coming; this win over South Africa.

A draw in Mendoza a few years ago, scrapping home last year. They have finally managed to go the extra mile. Argentina continue to move forward and despite 11 changes will be happy to say this- They had that first win in the Championship, they manage to get not just a five-pointer against the Springboks but managed to not finish bottom.

They will take lots of confidence to playing at home next week but what they have at the moment is this- a solid scrum (illegal scrumming? The poor prop played to the referee’s whistle just like a certain Pocock did 4 years ago) and a reliable goal kicker something the All Blacks and possibly South Africa are lacking. Kudos to the Pumas for recovering from All Black and Australian hammerings.


Go back to the tried and tested then… and Meyer? Meyer must stick to the plan

Well the truth is the Springboks will always be backing the players in the system and we cannot afford to lose to the Pumas next week. I will not say impossible, but it’s unacceptable.

Meyer will need to fast track Willem Alberts, Fourie du Preez and then hope and pray that Duane Vermeulen returns with some form on the opening day of the World Cup. These man on their day would have offered you with some go forward ball on Saturday but also some much needed composure.

What I will say is Faf de Klerk could have been the best option this weekend considering the number 9 offers a spark and pizzazz when with the ball. Look at the games played yesterday. How important where the scrumhalf’s?

Aaron Smith was brilliant but also costly with that yellow card of his; the Springbok number 9’s both let themselves and the side down, Australia’s Nic Phibbs had a shocker but his replacement rescued him with Nic White showing how important a live wire number 9 can be and Argentina? Tomas Cubelli, their nine was really good and played a key part in realising Juan in many occasions.

Sorting the half back issue will be important and the trip to Argentina will remind us were exactly we stand.

Whether we will crash and burn or the Springboks will get a miraculous recovery and mount a World Cup challenge Meyer must not deviate from his plan. Its too late to change everything from game plan to even calling the likes of Jaco Kriel.

I think we need to offer the rest of the squad an opportunity. Meyer has very little option really, unless he picks the same XV to pick themselves up? He will get a hammering from fans whether he does that or anything else. From my understanding it was always part of his plan to use everyone in the friendly game. So will he deviate thanks to this snag?

I hope not. Meyer must show character and back his guns. What type of coach is he? Last I checked he was a successful Bulls-style of rugby coach and this must mean he must get the players that suit this rugby. Go back to basics and do a few selection shake ups.

Bring in a hungry bunch of players to turn the heat up. Pat Lambie, Morne Steyn, Zane Kirchner, Lwazi Mvovo, Warren Whiteley to mention a few. Let them go out there and redeem this mess they dished up this weekend.

The absence of Jean de Villiers, Marcel Coetzee and Willie le Roux is the perfect opportunity; with just Marcel in form it could be of advantage to the Boks. The only concern is playing someone out of position.

Captain is up for grabs once again with Jean de Villiers set to be out for four to six weeks. So will Schalk who showed some short comings as skipper continue or will they throw the armband toward Fourie du Preez?

One game to get some confidence going or even get better combinations in order. Heyneke Meyer will need to prove his mastery in the next few weeks.



Wallabies change seven!


Photograph: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images
Photograph: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images


The Wallabies have managed to make seven changes to the side that beat the Springboks in the last minute of play. Michael Hooper finds himself on the bench with Zimbabwean-born David Pocock moving into the starting side. Matt Toomua also comes in for the absent Matt Giteau.

Greg Holmes gets a rare start, with Scott Higginbotham dropping out of the side. Will Genia is injured so there will be Nick Phibbs at nine, while Nic White is the replacement. Foley finally returns taking the spot of not so convincing Quade Cooper. The pivot will offer a better all round kicking option which will help the Aussies in Argentina.


Australia – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 James Slipper.
Subs: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Dean Mumm, 20 Michael Hooper, 21 Nic White, 22 Quade Cooper, 23 Kurtley Beale.

Wallabies down to 31!



Michael Cheika has cut down his squad to 31 players. The Wallabies had assembled as a 40 man squad but with a clash against the Springboks coming up the squad has been trimmed. While the players will remain in the group it sees some surprise omissions including Christian Leali’ifano and Wycliff Palu. Dave Dennis, Samu Kerevi, James Hanson, Tetera Faulkner, Toby Smith, Henry Speight and Nic White have been omitted.

Cheika did mention that it was tough making the calls and stressed that he was looking to manage the squad’s workload. Drew Mitchell and Matt Giteau have made the squad and you will likely see Rory Arnold and Taqele Naiyaravoro make their debuts against the Springboks.

The squad: Rory Arnold (Brumbies)*
Adam Ashley-Cooper (Waratahs)
Kurtley Beale (Waratahs)
Quade Cooper (Reds)
Scott Fardy (Brumbies)
Israel Folau (Waratahs)
Bernard Foley (Waratahs)
Will Genia (Reds)
Matt Giteau (Toulon)
Scott Higginbotham (Rebels)
Greg Holmes (Reds)
Michael Hooper (Waratahs)
Rob Horne (Waratahs)
James Horwill (Reds)
Sekope Kepu (Waratahs)
Tevita Kuridrani (Brumbies)
Stephen Moore – Captain (Brumbies)
Drew Mitchell (Toulon)
Ben McCalman (Force)
Sean McMahon (Rebels)
Dean Mumm (Waratahs)
Taqele Naiyaravoro (Waratahs)*
Nick Phipps (Waratahs)
David Pocock (Brumbies)
Tatafu Polota-Nau (Waratahs)
Scott Sio (Brumbies)
Rob Simmons (Reds)
Will Skelton (Waratahs)
James Slipper (Reds)
Matt Toomua (Brumbies)
Joe Tomane (Brumbies)

*denotes new cap

Wallabies name Rugby Championship squad!


Michael Cheika has named his squad for the Rugby Championship. A few players that are notable have been omitted and these include; Ben Alexander, James O’Connor, Benn Robinson and Karmicheal Hunt. The Wallabies also welcome Sam Carter, Scott Higginbotham and Dave Dennis with the latter two missing the Autumn tour and Dennis returning to the fold since 2013.

The Waratahs boast the majority of the squad and will feature 14 players. There is also the inclusion of Toulon duo Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell.

Photograph: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images
Photograph: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

Extended Qantas Wallabies Squad:

Rory Arnold (Brumbies)*
Adam Ashley-Cooper (Waratahs)
Kurtley Beale (Waratahs)
Quade Cooper (Reds)
Dave Dennis (Waratahs)
James Hanson (Reds)
Scott Fardy (Brumbies)
Tetera Faulkner (Force)
Israel Folau (Waratahs)
Bernard Foley (Waratahs)
Will Genia (Reds)
Matt Giteau (Toulon)
Scott Higginbotham (Rebels)
Greg Holmes (Reds)
Michael Hooper (Waratahs)
Rob Horne (Waratahs)
James Horwill (Reds)
Samu Kerevi (Reds)*
Sekope Kepu (Waratahs)
Tevita Kuridrani (Brumbies)
Christian Lealiifano (Brumbies)
Stephen Moore (Brumbies)
Drew Mitchell (Toulon)
Wyclif Palu (Waratahs)
Ben McCalman (Force)
Sean McMahon (Rebels)
Dean Mumm (Waratahs)
Taqele Naiyaravoro (Waratahs)*
Nick Phipps (Waratahs)
David Pocock (Brumbies)
Tatafu Polota-Nau (Waratahs)
Scott Sio (Brumbies)
Rob Simmons (Reds)
Will Skelton (Waratahs)
James Slipper (Reds)
Toby Smith (Rebels)*
Henry Speight (Brumbies)
Matt Toomua (Brumbies)
Joe Tomane (Brumbies)
Nic White (Brumbies)

* This denotes an uncapped player.

Will Genia dropped, Ben Mowen to captain Wallabies


The Wallabies have a new captain with Ben Mowen to lead the team into action against Argentina on Saturday night after Will Genia was dumped from the starting XV on Wednesday.

September 11, 2013 – 1:12PM

Will Genia has been dropped from the Wallabies starting side. Photo: Getty Images


Mowen becomes the Wallabies sixth captain in two years and will take over the reins in just his seventh Test, making him one of the most inexperienced skippers in Australian history.

Halfback Genia has been axed to the bench with rookie Nic White to take over the No.9 duties.

Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie revealed the decision to bench Genia was not taken lightly, “The fact that Will has captained his country shows what high regard we hold him in, and while he is naturally disappointed, I also know how competitive he is and I’ve got no doubts he will train himself to a standstill to bounce back as a better player,” McKenzie said.

“We’ve spoken about what areas we believe he can continue to improve and evolve his game and he was receptive to going back and addressing those things.

“In the end, it wasn’t an easy decision because he is undoubtedly a world-class player.”

Ben Mowen will captain the Wallabies against Argentina on Saturday night. Photo: Getty Images

In other changes, prop Ben Alexander returns to the starting XV at tighthead while Quade Cooper retains his place at five-eighth.

White has only played 16 minutes of Test rugby and made his Wallabies debut last month.

Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has made changes as the team searches for a win to snap its four-game losing streak.

The Wallabies are already without regular captain James Horwill (hamstring) while leader David Pocock is still recovering from a knee reconstruction.

McKenzie hasn’t won a match as Test coach after taking over from Robbie Deans in July.

A defeat at the hands of Argentina would be a massive blow to Australian rugby.

McKenzie remains confident of avoiding any banan skins against the Pumas, “Rugby is a game of chess and we will look forward to the challenge of getting the right balance and our first Rugby Championship win,” the coach said.

Mowen only made his Test debut in June against the British and Irish Lions. In his six Tests, he has won just one match.

The ACT Brumbies captain has been outstanding at the Canberra franchise.

He moved to the capital at the start of the 2012 season for a fresh start after years at the NSW Waratahs trying to break into the Test squad.

Mowen feared his international window had closed.

But switching to the Brumbies has reinvigorated his career and he is widely regarded as one of the best leaders in Australian rugby.

At the start of the year Mowen turned down lucrative offers from Japan to stay in Australia and chase his Wallabies dreams.

It has paid off.

He helped guide the Brumbies into the Super Rugby final, made his international debut against the Lions and has established himself as a crucial cog in the Wallabies forward pack.

White will fill the hole left by Genia.

His kicking game will be a massive boost for the Wallabies but Genia’s absence leaves a gaping hole in Australia’s experience.

White sat on the bench behind Genia last year, but was never given a chance on the field.

When White made the tough choice to have shoulder surgery instead of playing in the Rugby Championship last year, Genia suffered a season-ending knee injury and Nick Phipps was given a chance in the Wallabies No.9 jersey.

But White continued his impressive rise from club rugby this season and has earned the right to test himself against the Pumas.

Wallabies team to play Argentina on Saturday in Perth: 1. James Slipper, 2. Stephen Moore, 3. Ben Alexander, 4. Rob Simmons, 5. Kane Douglas, 6. Scott Fardy, 7. Michael Hooper, 8. Ben Mowen (c), 9. Nic White, 10. Quade Cooper, 11. Nick Cummins, 12. Christian Lealiifano, 13. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14. James O’Connor, 15. Israel Folau. Reserves: 16. Saia Faingaa, 17. Scott Sio, 18. Sekope Kepu, 19. Sitaleki Timani, 20. Ben McCalman, 21. Will Genia, 22. Matt Toomua, 23. Tevita Kuridrani

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-union/union-news/will-genia-dropped-ben-mowen-to-captain-wallabies-20130911-2tjdo.html#ixzz2eYmzNWOc

Cooper starts, Folau at 15 for Oz


Israel Folau has made the long-awaited switch to fullback and Quade Cooper will start for the Wallabies against the Springboks in Brisbane on Saturday.
September 4, 2013 – 11:02AM
Georgina Robinson

Quade Cooper will start at five-eighth for the Wallabies against South Africa. Photo: Getty Images

Folau has been named in a back three with wingers James O’Connor and Nick Cummins, who comes into the side at the expense of Brumbies fullback Jesse Mogg.

Folau moves to fullback after five Tests on the wing. Folau played fullback for the Waratahs all season and named the No.15 jersey as his preferred position.

Cooper makes his starting return at five-eighth, squeezing out Matt Toomua, who started both Tests against the All Blacks last month. Toomua and Mogg both move to the bench.

Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has kept his midfield intact, naming Adam Ashley-Cooper and Christian Leali’ifano in the centres for the third Test in a row.

“We have very specific thoughts about how we want to play this game and feel Quade is best suited to carrying that out,” McKenzie said.

“He’s been part of our matchday squad in both games so far but his role now changes from being a finisher to starting the game. We feel that role will suit how we want to play.

“He is also an experienced and successful Test player, which is handy to have against a hardened Springboks outfit.

“It has been almost 12 months since he last started a Test match and I’m sure there were times where he wondered if he would wear the number 10 jersey again. He’s worked really hard both on and off the field to now get that chance.

“He’s carried himself extremely well all year and during the last fortnight in the role we’ve asked him to complete. Now, he gets a chance to make an impact from the start of the game.

“That also means we’re asking Matt [Toomua] to fulfil a new role this week. He has had a great season so far and his form was reflected in our decision to choose him for the opening two Test matches. He’s still in our Test squad and will have a part to play in our success this week and moving forward.”

Versatile prop Sekope Kepu replaces Ben Alexander at tighthead, with the Brumbies prop moving to the bench in the only change to the starting eight.

Reds back-rower Jake Schatz has taken Liam Gill’s spot on the bench in an effort to beef up the Wallabies pack.

Wallabies: James Slipper, Stephen Moore, Sekope Kepu, Rob Simmons, James Horwill (c), Scott Fardy, Michael Hooper, Ben Mowen, Will Genia (vc), Quade Cooper, James O’Connor, Christian Leali’ifano, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Nick Cummins, Israel Folau.

Bench: Saia Fainga’a, Scott Sio, Ben Alexander, Kane Douglas, Jake Schatz, Nic White, Matt Toomua, Jesse Mogg.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-union/union-news/quade-cooper-named-to-start-for-wallabies-as-israel-folau-moved-to-fullback-20130904-2t3z8.html#ixzz2du5VqSg3

Matt Toomua to make Test debut against the All Blacks


The Qantas Wallabies have announced five uncapped players in their 23-man Test squad with playmakerMatt Toomua to make his debut at flyhalf in Saturday night’s opening Bledisloe Cup and Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship clash against New Zealand at ANZ Stadium.

Toomua is the sole debutant to be chosen in new coach Ewen McKenzie’s inaugural Test starting line-up while fellow uncapped ACT Brumbies teammates Scott Sio, Scott Fardy, Nic White and Tevita Kuridrani have all earned places on the bench.

The selection of five uncapped players marks a new era under McKenzie and is reward for their year-long performances in a Brumbies side that only marginally went down to New Zealand’s Chiefs in the Super Rugby Final a fortnight ago.

They’ll be expected to play an integral role in a new-look Qantas Wallabies line-up that includes eight changes to the starting XV which took the field for Australia in their final Test against The British & Irish Lions in July.

Those changes comprise of Ben Mowen shifting to No.8 and James O’Connor to the wing, along with the inclusion of prop James Slipper, lock Rob Simmons, flankers Hugh McMeniman and Michael Hooper, fullback Jesse Mogg and Toomua.

McKenzie said he was confident the new group could achieve immediate success as they begin their pursuit of winning the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 2002.

“When we picked the team we didn’t spend one minute looking at how many Test caps a player had or the number of debutants.  It was picked on performance over a sustained period of time and on how we want to play the game,” McKenzie said.

“The fact that five guys haven’t played a Test before isn’t a concern.  Everyone has to start from somewhere and we definitely haven’t picked them on one game. Rather, they are starting their Test careers off the back of consistently strong performances at a provincial level.

“The reality is that whether it’s in Super Rugby or the Test arena, all our guys have a lot of familiarity with who we are playing against.  I see that as a positive as we aren’t playing anyone we don’t already know a lot about.

“If you keep the contest in that space you will find that we’ve had success in all the head-to-head individual battles at some point and under different circumstances.

“So, if our guys do well against their individual opponent, than I think we’ve got a gameplan and a game style where we will be able to express ourselves and put the team in a good position to win.”

All five potential debutants have experienced unique journeys on their way to winning selection in the Qantas Wallabies line-up for Saturday night.

For Toomua, his selection has been four years in the making after the talented 23-year-old made the briefest of appearances for Australia in an uncapped midweek clash against the Cardiff Blues in 2009.

Toomua lasted just four minutes when a broken jaw ended his night prematurely, setting the tone for a frustrating next three seasons where he was limited to just 28 Super Rugby games heading into 2013.

Having enjoyed an injury-free preseason, Toomua has stepped up to the next level during the past year and was an integral member to both the Brumbies’ Super Rugby Finals Series success and also their historic midweek victory over The British & Irish Lions in June.

“We could have gone many different ways at flyhalf as we have a lot of good options there, but in the end we see some great tactical opportunities starting the game with Matt,” McKenzie said.

“It’s obvious that each of our playmaking options have different styles so it’s important that we’re looking to get the best out of their individual strengths at different stages of the game.

“To his credit, Matt has had a really good season and he has been playing up until last week in a team that made the Super Rugby Final.  He’s done a lot of good things and there isn’t any reason he doesn’t deserve a go.”

While just 21 years of age, Sio flashed enormous potential in his second year of Super Rugby to earn a place on the Qantas Wallabies bench.

However his rapid rise has not come unexpectedly, with Sio continuing his family’s long Rugby tradition after father and prop Tevita ‘David’ Sio represented Samoa in the 1991 Rugby World Cup.

It will also be a special occasion for Sio and his family after the 116kg prop was initially named in the Qantas Wallabies squad to take on The British & Irish Lions only to miss out on matchday selection throughout the series.

Joining Sio on the bench is fellow 21-year-old youngster Tevita Kuridrani, who was a deserving winner of the ‘Most Outstanding Young Talent’ award at the Brumbies annual awards ceremony at the weekend.

Also in just his second year of Super Rugby, Kuridrani quickly solidified his place in the starting line-up with an emphasis on strong ball running highlighted when he scored the winning try in the Brumbies upset victory over the Bulls in the Super Rugby Semi-Final.

While Kuridrani just pips Sio as the youngest member of the potential debutants, it’s 29-year-old backrower Scott Fardy who sits at the other end of the spectrum.

It has been an unlikely journey for Fardy to Qantas Wallabies selection after he left Australia for Japanese club Kamaishi Seawaves in 2009 having never played a game of Super Rugby despite spending a season with the Western Force Academy in 2008.

However, after being forced to return to Australia when his village was wiped out by the 2011 tsunami, Fardy took up an Extended Playing Squad contract with the Brumbies only to be offered a fulltime contracted midway through the 2012 season.

He has taken massive strides since returning to Australia and has shown the ability to be equally productive as either a backrower or lock.

Scrumhalf Nic White has been waiting in the wings for a number of years to receive an opportunity for Australia after having sat on the bench for all three of the Qantas Wallabies wins over Wales last June before a shoulder injury ended any hopes of making a Test debut during the Spring Tour.

White returned to full health in 2013 but was overlooked for Australia’s recent series against The British & Irish Lions only to feature heavily in the Brumbies playoff run which ended just short of a dream finish in the Super Rugby Final.

Tickets for the Qantas Wallabies clash against the All Blacks at ANZ Stadium on Saturday 17 August are on sale now via www.ticketek.com.au.

The Qantas Wallabies side to play New Zealand in the opening Bledisloe Cup and Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship match at ANZ Stadium on Saturday 17 August is:

1. James Slipper (Queensland Reds)
2. Stephen Moore (ACT Brumbies)
3. Ben Alexander (ACT Brumbies)
4. Rob Simmons (Queensland Reds)
5. James Horwill (c – Queensland Reds)
6. Hugh McMeniman (Western Force)
7. Michael Hooper (NSW Waratahs)
8. Ben Mowen (ACT Brumbies)
9. Will Genia (vc – Queensland Reds)
10. Matt Toomua (ACT Brumbies)*
11. James O’Connor (Melbourne Rebels)
12. Christian Leali’ifano (ACT Brumbies)
13. Adam Ashley-Cooper (NSW Waratahs)
14. Israel Folau (NSW Waratahs)
15. Jesse Mogg (ACT Brumbies)

16. Saia Fainga’a (Queensland Reds)
17. Scott Sio (ACT Brumbies)*
18. Sekope Kepu (NSW Waratahs)
19. Scott Fardy (ACT Brumbies)*
20. Liam Gill (Queensland Reds)
21. Nic White (ACT Brumbies)*
22. Quade Cooper (Queensland Reds)
23. Tevita Kuridrani (ACT Brumbies)*

Lions ring changes to stop history repeating


The Lions have been here before. We won the first Test in Brisbane 12 years ago and everyone was feeling confident off the back of that performance. But we came to Melbourne and were beaten and then we lost the series in Sydney. No one wants a repeat of that. It is all about making sure this game is won and Warren Gatland’s selections reflect that.

June 29, 2013

Jason Robinson

George Gregan and John EalesVictory 2001: George Gregan, Rod Macqueen and John Eales. Photo: Nick Wilson / Allsport

He has brought in Ben Youngs to replace Mike Phillips at halfback, which should give the Lions a little more zip around the ruck. Tommy Bowe coming back on to the wing is also massive. The Irishman and George North in combination with fullback Leigh Halfpenny will threaten the Wallabies everywhere if the ball ends up in their hands.

It is a strong Lions team and they will be confident going into this game but also mindful that the game last week could have been lost. Although the Australians took a lot of injuries and had to make a lot of changes, they came within a whisker of winning the game.

They will have looked at the video and at all those changes in Australia’s back line and said ”If that kick goes over everything is radically different.” That shows how close these games are and is probably why Gatland has decided to make a few changes.

It was interesting to see Robbie Deans stick with James O’Connor at five-eighth and push Kurtley Beale back to fullback.

Last week, with those few runs he made in Brisbane, Beale showed he certainly knows how to break a defensive line.

I am a massive fan of his and I think that missing that final kick will have disappointed him so he will be out to make a statement this week.

The Lions need to keep a close eye on Israel Folau as well, because scoring two tries on your debut is ridiculous and if the Wallabies can get more ball out to him he will cause more problems for the tourists.

It was always going to be difficult for O’Connor. When you’re not used to playing No.10 it’s one of the highest pressure positions on the field and when your team suffers the injuries that they did it’s always going to put more pressure on you. But it’s pretty simple for him, his job is to control the game, he’s got to get his guys playing in the right areas and involved as much as possible.

At times he also needs to get a little deeper, because I’m sure the Lions will look to put as much pressure on him as possible. But O’Connor is a fantastic player, there is no doubt about it, and just playing those 80 minutes there would have done him the world of good. He’ll be looking to work well with Will Genia, who is one of the best players on the planet at the moment.

When I think back to the 2001 series there is no doubt that winning the first game gives you a massive boost and in a lot of ways you also play knowing you have that buffer.

In the first half we played really well, we were leading 11-6 at the break, and it was only in the second half that it all fell apart. You often talk about games turning at a certain point. In that Test match it was really winger Joe Roff’s intercept try in the 41st minute that started to swing it in favour of the Wallabies. You look at all Tests and quite often they come down to one or two things. Twelve years ago it was Roff’s interception; who knows what it’s going to be in this game.

But for all the Lions’ justified confidence heading into this match, you can never underestimate an Australian side down on its luck.

Even though they lost the first Test 12 years ago and they lost it again this time around, every time you play the Wallabies they are a very confident side.

And you know that even though you’re one-up, you can’t take anything for granted.

From an Australian perspective, when you are forced into a position where you have to win a game, it tends to bring out the best in the players.

I’m sure we’ll see a massive performance from the Wallabies.

Australia: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Israel Folau, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Will Genia, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Ben Mowen, 5 James Horwill, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Benn Robinson
Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga’a, 17 James Slipper, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Liam Gill, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Rob Horne, 23 Jesse Mogg.

British and Irish Lions: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Brian O’Driscoll, 12 Jonathan Davies, 11 George North, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Alun Wyn Jones, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Makovina Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Ryan Grant, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Tom Croft, 20 Sean O’Brien, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Alex Cuthbert.

Date: Saturday, June 29
Venue: Etihad Stadium, Melbourne
Kick-off: 20.05 AEST (11.05 UK & Ireland time; 10.05 GMT)
Expected weather: Mostly clear evening in Melbourne with a minimum of 7°C and a maximum of 15°C. The roof will be closed so rain will not be a factor.
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Chris Pollock (New Zealand), Romain Poite (France)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

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Innocent not lucky: James Horwill defends conduct ahead of unprecedented IRB appeal


Wallabies skipper James Horwill is not concerned about the spectre of another hearing into his alleged stamping on the head of British and Irish Lions second-rower Alun Wyn Jones, declaring that multiple camera angles not yet publicly seen would again vindicate him.

June 28, 2013 – 10:57AM

I didn’t know anything about any incident until after I was cited after the game.

Horwill was cited for a third-minute incident in the second Test when he struck Jones in the head during a ruck, but the Wallabies second-rower was later cleared by a hearing held by judicial officer Nigel Hampton.

James Horwill (L) with fellow second-row partner Kane Douglas.James Horwill (L) with fellow second-row partner Kane Douglas. Photo: Getty Images

However, the International Rugby Board has sparked controversy by effectively appealing its own decision and ordered a rehearing which will take place after Saturday’s second Test against the Lions at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium.

It is an unwelcome distraction for the Wallabies that must win Saturday’s game after losing the first Test 23-21.

Despite the uncertainty he is now facing – an unfavourable decision could rule him out of a potentially series-deciding third Test in Sydney –  Horwill said the IRB ‘‘was entitled to do what they’ve done’’ but he believed the initial hearing, which had viewed nine different camera angles, had given the ‘‘correct result’’.

‘‘I think they just showed that I was completely unaware of what was going on and you can just see that with the different angles,’’ Horwill said. ‘‘You can slow anything down to make it look different but if you look at it from a number of angles you can see what happened.’’

Horwill said he was a clean player and had not even realised that he had struck Jones, who had required stitches.

‘‘‘I didn’t know anything about any incident until I was told the next morning,’’ Horwill said.

“I had no idea about anything that had happened during the game, (and) still when I was told I had been cited I had no idea what it was for until  I was shown the incident a number of times.

‘‘It was a completely accidental act, there was no intent from my side. That’s the way it was, there was no intent, there was no malice. I completely had no idea Alun was anywhere near my feet.

‘‘Any incident you look at you can make it look worse than it is. I’m confident about what happened on the field. I have no knowledge of anything ever happening.’’

‘‘There were nine different camera angles to look at, so it was very thorough and the hearing went through it’s due process.

‘‘I’ve played 130 professional rugby games and never been cited once (and have) never attended any judicial hearing. It was a complete accident. Unfortunately accidents happen in rugby, it’s a contact sport and there was no intent or malice on my end to do anything.’’

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No Cooper, Mogg in Wallabie squad


Australia coach Robbie Deans omitted flyhalf Quade Cooper but named Israel Folau and two other uncapped players in his preliminary squad of 25 on Sunday for the three-test series against the British and Irish Lions.

Deans to sideline Cooper for Lions series


Wallabies coach Robbie Deans appears set to overlook Quade Cooper for the upcoming British and Irish Lions series with James O’Connor favoured to play five-eighth.

Post weekend updates as they happen


Boks sweating over star wing

Seasoned Springbok wing JP Pietersen has a mild groin strain and is doubtful for South Africa’s final tour match, against England at Twickenham on Saturday. Bok team doctor Craig Roberts said the 2007 World Cup winner and 2012 SA Players’ Player of the Year will be “medically managed” this week, after he sat out training on Monday.

Bok lock cited for ‘eye-gouging’

South Africa lock Eben Etzebeth has been cited for making contact with the “eye or eye area” of Scotland flyhalf Greig Laidlaw, the International Rugby Board announced Monday. The alleged incident occurred 14 minutes into the second half of the Springboks’ 21-10 victory over Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday. He was cited by Alan Mansell of England. Etzebeth, 21, will appear before an IRB disciplinary hearing on Tuesday and if found guilty faces a lengthy ban – which could include the Springboks’ Test against England at Twickenham this coming Saturday.

Cooper walk-out rocks Wallabies

Controversial Wallaby flyhalf Quade Cooper has reportedly dropped a major bomb by walking out on Australian rugby. According to Channel Nine news the injured No.10 has turned his back on the Australian Rugby Union and the Wallabies and will look to continue his career overseas or switch to Rugby League. Cooper has a Super Rugby contract with Queensland, but according to the Channel Nine report that agreement is contingent upon a contract with the game’s governing body.

Marler set to miss Bok clash

England prop Joe Marler is set to miss Saturday’s Test against the Springboks after suffering a knee injury in last weekend’s loss to Australia. The Harlequins loosehead sustained a grade one medial collateral ligament tear during England’s 20-14 home defeat and is expected to be replaced by Alex Corbisiero. Coach Stuart Lancaster hinted that the injury-enforced change won’t be the only alteration to the team for the important match against South Africa. “We will potentially freshen things up with one or two changes. We have players on the return – Alex played 75 minutes yesterday and Jonathan Joseph played,” Lancaster said. Source

Bok injury update


Springbok centre Frans Steyn went for x-rays on his injured right ankle on Monday evening and he has responded well to treatment.

Perth likely to be a battle for runner-up


Under pressure … the respective coaches, Robbie Deans and Heyneke Meyer, enter this encounter with critics banging at the door.

September 7, 2012

Paul Cully

  • Under pressure ... the respective coaches, Robbie Deans and Heyneke Meyer, enter this encounter with critics banging at the door.

Photo: John Selkirk

Those old enough to have grey hairs will have allowed themselves a wry grin at some of the commentary emerging from South Africa this week.

Some malcontents suggested a new playing style was required to match it with the All Blacks, and that a re-evaluation of the traditional Springboks strengths was required. It’s the sort of complaint that surfaces when the South Africans fail to crush an opponent through sheer physicality, as was the case in the draw with Argentina.

It won’t happen. There may be tweaks but South Africa’s gloriously physical style will be the same in a decade as it is now. Their under-20 side, even with the likes of outstanding prospect Jan Serfontein in the midfield, won the Junior World Championship final against New Zealand this year using four familiar bludgeons: the lineout drive, the scrum, heavy collisions and a superior kicking game. The Springboks side that takes to the field in Perth tomorrow night will not be a great one, but at least their foundations will be solid.

The respective coaches, Robbie Deans and Heyneke Meyer, enter this encounter with critics banging at the door. This is as common in coaching as selecting but Deans’s situation is evidently perilous and there is no mystery behind it.


His side, in one real sense, has been going backwards for months. The Wallabies have spent progressively less time in the opposition 22 in every game this year, starting with the Scotland debacle in June. The figure fell to about 25 per cent in first Test against Wales, had dropped to 13 per cent by the third Test of that series in Sydney and stood a touch above 10 per cent in Auckland two weeks ago.

Accordingly, tinkering with the line-ups over the past three weeks has given the appearance of charging at windmills. New men have come and gone to little effect. At least the forwards can say they were simply outgunned. The lightweights behind them have underperformed.

The prevailing winds have also been against the New Zealander all year. Australian Super Rugby sides won a miserable 24 per cent of their games against South African opposition this year. The Reds, who make up almost half of the 22 to face the Springboks, succeeded in one match from five. The only team to avoid a losing record (the Brumbies, 2-2) were coached by a South African. The school of thought – recently voiced by a former coach from the analog age – that Australia is sitting on a group of players who would conquer the world if they were not being so egregiously mismanaged interprets the situation too simply.

Yet this week’s XV at least gives the appearance of an improvement. Adam Ashley-Cooper at No.13 is a threat to the wonderful but declining Jean de Villiers and powerful but medium-paced Francois Steyn. Dom Shipperley is a desperately needed finisher because despite all his outstanding work, Digby Ioane’s strike rate is nine tries from 27 Tests.

When the Argentinians got in behind the Springboks’ defence two weeks ago, their lack of speed was palpable. Yet adventure – absent from the Wallabies this year – is first required to achieve it. The first four Argentina passes in the move that provided their try were all offloads in contact, from a counter-attacking situation. The blueprint could not be any clearer.

Problematically, South Africa have also emerged stronger from deliberations at the selection table.

The key switch is the removal of Francois Hougaard from the base of the ruck – where his clearances were substandard against Argentina – to the wing, with Ruan Pienaar taking over at No.9.

Pienaar is a confidence player but that commodity is high since playing an instrumental role in leading his Irish province, Ulster, to the Heineken Cup final.

In the pack, Andries Bekker was unrecognisably poor in Argentina, third best in every two-man collision, and makes way for the sterner Juandre Kruger. And Willem Alberts returns to his best position, at blindside, instead of Jacques Potgieter, who was repeatedly cut in half on the gainline by the low-tackling Pumas.

There should be concern about Hougaard’s role on the flank, which will undoubtedly contain a roving component. If the big Springboks ball runners start to rumble through the 10-12 channel, Hougaard’s eye for a gap and acceleration in the following phases will be a huge issue for Australia.

Both these sides are weaker than the outfits that contested the World Cup finals, but the result is no less in the balance.

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Boks focus on today’s Wallabies, not last year’s cup


SPRINGBOKS supporters still wince when reminded of it, but South African coaching staff will not be using the horrid memories of last year’s World Cup exit to motivate their team against the Wallabies.

September 6, 2012
Bryce LawrenceNot a favourite person among Springboks fans … referee Bryce Lawrence. Photo: Jason Oxenham

The Wallabies’ 11-9 triumph over the Springboks in the quarter-final in Wellington in October caused uproar in South Africa, with New Zealand referee Bryce Lawrence becoming the country’s public enemy No.1 after several dubious decisions went Australia’s way. The then Springboks coach Peter de Villiers was scathing, basically blaming Lawrence for his team’s departure from the tournament.

However, de Villiers’ successor, Heyneke Meyer, has no interest in reliving that game, believing it has no relevance to the Perth Test on Saturday night. That might have a lot to do with only four Springboks who played in Wellington remaining in the starting line-up.

”I am not a guy who lives in the past,” Meyer said when announcing his Test line-up. ”There’s only Jannie [du Plessis] left from that World Cup forward pack, so I can’t use it as a motivation. But I also don’t believe in negative motivation. I instead know where we have to go, and we want to be the best team in the world.


”We are far from that yet. We have our own goals over the next four years, and that’s the focus – not what happened in previous games.”

Meyer made some unexpected selections, including moving halfback Francois Hougaard to the wing, and revamping his back row. He even conceded this could cause problems.

”One thing we don’t have in our back row, which is a little bit of a concern, is out-and-out pace,” Meyer said. ”But we make up for that by having a back row with a big work rate. Duane [Vermeulen] is not your typical No.8, but he is a very hard, grafting player, and gives you go-forward. What we lose in speed, we gain in muscle and intelligence.”

The Wallabies were not too bothered to hear Hougaard had been moved out wide last night, as they believe he is more dangerous closer to the ruck.

Meyer argued Hougaard out wide could be a match winner.

”He is a great player,” he said of the 24-year-old. ”It doesn’t matter where you pick him, he remains a game breaker. He will get more space on the wing.”

SOUTH AFRICA: Zane Kirchner; Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers (capt), Francois Steyn, Francois Hougaard; Morne Steyn, Ruan Pienaar; Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Marcell Couetzee, Juandre Kruger, Eben Etzebeth, Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Tendai Mtawarira. Res: Tiaan Liebenberg, Pat Cilliers, Flip van der Merwe, Francois Louw, Johan Goosen, Pat Lambie, Lwazi Mvovo

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Wallabies forwards get rev-up from White


SPRINGBOKS World Cup-winning coach Jake White has called on the Wallabies forwards to dramatically lift their standards against South Africa tomorrow night, otherwise they will suffer their third straight humiliating Test loss.

"The real issue is the Wallabies forwards are not gaining any ascendancy at the gain line so the backs have no platform to launch attacking raids" ... Jake White.

“The real issue is the Wallabies forwards are not gaining any ascendancy at the gain line so the backs have no platform to launch attacking raids” … Jake White. Photo: Getty Images

The now Brumbies coach believes the Wallabies forwards’ inability to dominate the gain line battle has made it virtually impossible for the Australian attack to perform.

White is not hiding from these comments, instead giving the team a jarring rev-up for tomorrow night’s Perth Test, with revealing statistics that emphasise how impotent the Wallabies forwards were in the two Bledisloe Cup Tests.

White, who was involved in 11 internationals against the Wallabies while Springboks coach between 2004 and 2007, makes the telling point that Radike Samo made more metres in one international last year than the whole Wallabies pack combined in the Sydney and Auckland losses.


”Some of the statistics from the recent Bledisloe Cup clashes are mind blowing,” White wrote. ”In two Tests the Wallabies forwards carried the ball just 80 metres (50 in Sydney then 30 in Auckland), while the All Blacks forwards carried for 225 metres – almost three times as much.

”Much criticism has been aimed at the Wallabies attack for failing to score a try in Auckland, but it may not be the backs’ fault. The real issue is the Wallabies forwards are not gaining any ascendancy at the gain line so the backs have no platform to launch attacking raids.

”The backs can be creative as they like, and the Wallabies back line is full of creative players, but without the time and space to execute their attack they were easily closed down by the All Blacks.

”There could be two reasons for this. Either the Wallabies, in their desperation to attack, are getting the ball to the backs too often or the forwards are being given the ball but can’t gain any ascendancy. The latter isn’t surprising as they are missing some of their best ball carriers.” This includes Wycliff Palu and James Horwill, who are both injured, while Tatafu Polota-Nau and Samo hasn’t started every Test.

”In one run last year against the All Blacks in Brisbane, Radike Samo carried the ball more than the entire Wallabies pack in the first two clashes this season. Whatever the cause, the Wallabies must go forward.”

White said the Springboks had ”the opposite problem”. Their forwards were carrying the ball too much, and so their attack ”is one dimensional, and, as we saw in Mendoza against Argentina, easily contained”. This is because Heyneke Meyer ”is using the Bulls game plan, based around forward power and gaining a physical edge over opponents”.

The Wallabies forward woes do not end there. Hooker Stephen Moore was yesterday ruled out due to a hamstring injury. As a result of the strain, Polota-Nau will return to the starting line-up, with Saia Faingaa moving onto the reserves bench.

At least tight-head prop Ben Alexander is prepared, explaining he was not distracted by all the speculation over the future of beleaguered coach Robbie Deans, whose position will be placed under greater scrutiny if they lose to the Springboks.

”We feel a responsibility for the side not performing, and our concern is that we play well for our country,” Alexander said. ”The criticism of Robbie hurts us too because its a reflection of us and how we didn’t do a great job representing our country [against the All Blacks].”

Meanwhile, Dan Carter’s Wellington jinx has continued after being ruled out of the All Blacks team to face Argentina tomorrow. Carter strained his left calf muscle at an indoor training session on Thursday morning and will be replaced in the starting No.10 jersey by Aaron Cruden.

Beauden Barrett, who has trained with the squad this week, will come onto the reserve bench.

with AAP

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-union/australia-rugby/wallabies-forwards-get-revup-from-white-20120906-25h4o.html#ixzz25lBFHE1I

Preview: Wallabies v All Blacks


WALKING WOUNDED: The Wallabies are missing several key players through injury. Skipper James Horwill won’t play again in 2012 after suffering a serious hamstring injury playing for the Reds. James O’Connor is also sidelined with a hamstring injury and will miss at least the first two Rugby Championship fixtures against New Zealand. Inside-centre Pat McCabe (leg) and loose forward Ben McCalman (shoulder) are also unavailable for Saturday’s clash, while destructive No.8 Wycliff Palu will miss the majority of the tournament with shoulder nerve damage. All Blacks outside-centre Conrad Smith is sidelined with an eye injury. Veteran lock Brad Thorn and outstanding flanker Jerome Kaino are the only other notable absentees from the World Cup winning squad having taken up lucrative deals in Japan.
16/8/2012 9:52 AM

VENUE & TIME: ANZ Stadium, Saturday August 18, 8.00pm (AEST).

HEAD TO HEAD: Played 167 – All Blacks 115, Wallabies 47, Draw 5.

LAST TIME: October 16, 2011 (Auckland) – New Zealand 20-6 Australia.

WALKING WOUNDED: The Wallabies are missing several key players through injury. Skipper James Horwill won’t play again in 2012 after suffering a serious hamstring injury playing for the Reds. James O’Connor is also sidelined with a hamstring injury and will miss at least the first two Rugby Championship fixtures against New Zealand. Inside-centre Pat McCabe (leg) and loose forward Ben McCalman (shoulder) are also unavailable for Saturday’s clash, while destructive No.8 Wycliff Palu will miss the majority of the tournament with shoulder nerve damage. All Blacks outside-centre Conrad Smith is sidelined with an eye injury. Veteran lock Brad Thorn and outstanding flanker Jerome Kaino are the only other notable absentees from the World Cup winning squad having taken up lucrative deals in Japan.

FORM: The Wallabies rebounded from ‘that loss’ to Scotland in Newcastle with three narrow victories over Six Nations champions Wales. They were dominant in the opening Test in Brisbane, prevailing 27-19, but could have easily lost the Melbourne (25-23) and Sydney (20-19) fixtures. The All Blacks kept their undefeated record against Ireland in tact during their three-Test series in June. They did suffer one almighty scare in the second Test in Christchurch, but Dan Carter saved the day with a field goal at the death to clinch the series. They bookended the series with a 42-10 victory in Auckland and a 60-0 thrashing in Hamilton to send a message to their Rugby Championship rivals.

WHO’S HOT: Wallabies flyhalf Berrick Barnes made the most of his chance in the No.10 jumper in June, winning two man-of-the-match awards in the Wales series. Loose forward Scott Higginbotham was the pick of the forward pack while tighthead prop Sekope Kepu continues to improve with every match. All Blacks superstar Sonny Bill Williams was spectacular against Ireland and has two more chances to prove himself on the international stage before taking the cash in Japanese rugby en route to the Sydney Roosters. New scrumhalf Aaron Smith emerged as the next Kiwi superstar in the June series against Ireland, while Kieran Read and skipper Richie McCaw were also excellent.

WE THINK: The 20-6 scoreline in the Rugby World Cup semi-final flattered the Wallabies. It was much more one-sided than that. Robbie Deans’ men have won two of their past four clashes against the Kiwis, but the semi-final result highlighted the massive gulf in class and it’s hard to see how that gap has closed in 10 months. To make matters worse for the Wallabies, they are missing several key personnel through injury while the tourists ar

:e close to full strength. The All Blacks won the last two meetings at ANZ Stadium by a point and Sydney typically produces tight and physical affairs. The venue might help narrow the margin but it won’t be enough to reverse the result. All Blacks by 10.

Wallabies 15. Kurtley Beale, 14. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13. Rob Horne, 12. Anthony Fainga’a, 11. Digby Ioane, 10. Berrick Barnes, 9. Will Genia, 8. Scott Higginbotham, 7. David Pocock (c), 6. Dave Dennis, 5. Nathan Sharpe, 4. Sitaleki Timani, 3. Sekope Kepu, 2. Tatafu Polota-Nau 1. Benn Robinson.

Reserves: 16.Stephen Moore, 17. James Slipper, 18. Rob Simmons, 19. Radike Samo, 20. Michael Hooper, 21. Nick Phipps, 22. Drew Mitchell.

All Blacks 1. Tony Woodcock, 2. Keven Mealamu, 3. Owen Franks, 4. Luke Romano, 5. Sam Whitelock, 6. Liam Messam, 7. Richie McCaw (c), 8. Kieran Read, 9. Aaron Smith, 10. Dan Carter, 11. Hosea Gear, 12. Sonny Bill Williams, 13. Ma’a Nonu, 14. Cory Jane, 15. Israel Dagg.
16. Andrew Hore, 17. Ben Franks, 18. Brodie Retallick, 19. Victor Vito, 20. Piri Weepu, 21. Aaron Cruden, 22. Ben Smith.

Read back for Blacks, as is SBW


The All Blacks team to play Australia in the opening Investec Rugby Championship match at ANZ Stadium, Sydney, on Saturday 18 August has been named.

SH Form XV


I thought I’d give this ‘team of the week’ thing a go, not so much to tell you who I thought stood out on the weekend, but to actually try and figure out how many will agree with me!

Deans makes eight changes to Wallabies


Loose-head prop Benn Robinson will play his first Test in 18 months after being one of eight new faces included in the Wallabies starting side for Saturday night’s clash with Wales.

June 7, 2012 – 10:59AM

Benn Robinson will lead an all-Waratahs front row.Benn Robinson will lead an all-Waratahs front row. Photo: Getty Images

Loose-head prop Benn Robinson will play his first Test in 18 months after being one of eight new faces included in the Wallabies starting side for Saturday night’s clash with Wales.

Robinson, whose 2011 international season was ruined by a serious knee injury, will feature in an all-NSW front-row as Australia try to bounce back from Tuesday night’s upset loss to Scotland.

Coach Robbie Deans has brought in five new forwards and three backs to his starting line-up after the shock 9-6 defeat to the Scots in Newcastle.

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Waratahs’ trio Robinson, Tatafu Polota-Nau and Sekope Kepu will start up front while NSW teammate Wycliff Palu will play No.8 and Reds lock Rob Simmons will start beside veteran Nathan Sharpe in the second-row.

Centres Pat McCabe and Rob Horne replace Queenslanders Mike Harris and Anthony Faingaa in the midfield, while utility back Adam Ashley-Cooper takes over from Luke Morahan at fullback.

Under-pressure playmaker Berrick Barnes has been retained at five-eighth.

Uncapped Brumbies halfback Nic White has been named as a reserve and will become the 860th Wallaby if he makes his debut off the bench.

A world-class No.1, Robinson’s last Test for the Wallabies was at the end of the 2010 Spring Tour when Australia scored a record 59-16 victory over France in Paris.

Palu’s inclusion means Scott Higginbotham moves from No.8 to blind-side flanker, while back-rower Dave Dennis has kept his place in the 22 as Deans has elected against naming a specialist lock on the bench.

Saturday night’s Test in Brisbane is the first in a three-match series between the Tri-Nations champions and the Six Nations winners.

Australia beat Wales twice last season, downing them in the bronze play-off at the World Cup before scoring a 24-18 win in Cardiff in December.

Wallabies: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Joe Tomane, Rob Horne, Pat McCabe, Digby Ioane, Berrick Barnes, Will Genia, Wycliff Palu, David Pocock (capt), Scott Higginbotham, Nathan Sharpe, Rob Simmons, Sekope Kepu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson.Res: Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander, Dave Dennis, Michael Hooper, Nic White, Anthony Faingaa, Mike Harris.


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Time for hemispheres to align for sake of fair contest


With the domestic Tests upon us, I thought it would be pertinent to ask, does rugby need a universal playing schedule?

Matthew Burke
June 3, 2012
CARDIFF, WALES - MARCH 17:  The Wales players celebrate after winning the match and the Grand Slam during the RBS Six Nations Championship match between Wales and France at the Millennium Stadium on March 17, 2012 in Cardiff, Wales.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)Victors … Wales won the Six Nations but how much will they have in the tank?Photo: Getty Images

After the Test against Scotland on Tuesday night, Six Nations champions Wales are heading to our shores. It is great to have the champions strut their stuff here in a three-Test series, but are they going to be the team that rose to glory through the months of February and March?

The squad will still be fit, don’t worry about that. Most of the players just finished their domestic season and Leinster won the European Cup, Harlequins took out the Aviva Premiership and Ospreys were too good in the Pro 12. All the Welsh players will be battle-hardened after a long season. But will they have enough juice in the tank to roll out four more weeks?

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On the other hand, the Wallabies are battered and bruised but haven’t endured the rigours of 35 weeks of rugby. Yes, Super Rugby is physical and fast but it’s incredible how the long season wrecks your body. It’s not so much the playing of the games, even though there are restrictions on the number of games players are allowed to play each year, it’s the training workload that is the most significant factor in getting players fit for the weekend. Gone are the days of getting out the Deep Heat to loosen the hamstrings. Planning by the strength and conditioning coaches is calculated to the nth degree to determine how the players feel at that precise time. In a way now it’s up to the sports scientists to tell you that you are ready to play.

It comes down to who is going to give a little to make it work. Us or them. The European season runs from September through to the finals in May. That is a long year of rugby. I know, I have been there in the depths of winter where I was once diagnosed with hypothermia!

The Super Rugby season is a little shorter from February to early August, extended by the inbound Tests this year. What I would like to see are Tests and Club Challenges that are played around the same timeframe to make it as fair as possible. So no team is disadvantaged by fatigue or by the loss of players heading into surgery for the end-of-season joint clean-out.

Even the scheduling of the World Cup has its drawbacks. The southern hemisphere teams come off a domestic season while the northerners have to chase some international friendlies after completing a long season and then start the dreaded pre-season. There is always some kind of gap to contend with. We have to get something sorted.

So how can this be done. My friends in Britain are not going to like me, but I would ask for a shift in timeframe from the northern hemisphere to run over its summer months to coincide with the southern hemisphere season. Make the united season run in a calendar year. Start in January and finish in August for the domestic competitions. Finish with a three-way finals series between Super Rugby, the English premiership and Pro 12. Finish with crowning a Club Champion. Following those games, I’d have a full international season for the domestic Tests – rugby championships and Six Nations – finishing with the overseas tours. This would at least provide a level playing field.

The problem with the current set-up is that teams at the end of their season are just about out on their feet. Remember when England sent a ”C” team here to play the Wallabies in 1998. The result was a 76-0 shellacking. Conversely, the Wallabies’ four-week tour at the end of the year has recently had mixed results.

The benefits of the change of schedule is the competitions are aligned, the players are on an equal basis regarding fitness and fatigue and an element that I was exposed to during my time in Britain – the weather. You do learn to play a different style through winter but if you are wearing numbers 11 to 15, rug up as you don’t see much of the ball.

Rugby is a year-round game, perhaps it’s time to get everyone in sync to provide a level playing field. Until then it will always have a hint of bias.

Twitter – @burkey710

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Cooper skids into Wallabies contention


QUADE COOPER was fast-tracked into the Wallabies’ train-on squad last night because of concerns that Kurtley Beale, the first choice Test five-eighth, might not be able to play against Scotland in Newcastle in June 5.

May 28, 2012
Returning to the Wallabies squad after injuring his knee in last year's World Cup ... Cooper.Returning to the Wallabies squad after injuring his knee in last year’s World Cup … Cooper. Photo: Getty Images

And, as revealed in The Sun-Herald, David Pocock will captain the team for their first international of the season, with Will Genia expected to be his deputy.

Even before Test skipper James Horwill injured his hamstring during Saturday night’s Reds-Brumbies match, the Wallabies selectors had planned to rest him for Newcastle, instead scheduling his return for the following Saturday in Brisbane against Six Nations champions Wales.

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Out ... James Horwill hobbles into  camp yesterday.Out … James Horwill hobbles into camp yesterday. Photo: Mick Tsikas

The Australian Rugby Union has approved Pocock taking over as skipper, a role he was given for the match against the Barbarians at Twickenham last November.

But there is now uncertainty when Horwill, who is scheduled to have scans in Sydney today, will return. The seriousness of the injury is shown by the selectors opting against including him last night in the large 39-man squad.

The most likely scenario is that Horwill, who arrived at the Wallabies camp at Coogee last night to be assessed, will miss all four June internationals but be back for the Reds’ final three Super Rugby round matches in

late June-July. Horwill’s place in the Test front row is expected to be taken by veteran 34-year-old Nathan Sharpe, who is in line for his 102nd Test cap.

Beale is another on the doubtful list after being an early casualty in the Rebels’ 66-24 loss to the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday, where he aggravated a long-standing shoulder complaint. Beale was scheduled to be the Test No.10 against Scotland, due to the unavailability of James O’Connor.

Cooper was also expected to be held back until the Rugby Championship later in the year when the Wallabies play New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina, as he had only been involved in two games this season after seven months out recovering from a knee reconstruction.

After his erratic World Cup performances last season, there was consideration at ARU level to bringing back Cooper slowly, but after playing 80 minutes against the Brumbies on Saturday night and half a game the previous week, the Test selectors believe he is ready to fill the void against Scotland. The other option at No.10 is the Waratahs’ Berrick Barnes, who after several erratic efforts had a much improved performance against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein at the weekend.

As expected, it is a training squad full of new names, including 15 players who have yet to play for the Wallabies.

The biggest name to miss out is former Wallabies captain Rocky Elsom, but an injury-marred season gave the selectors no choice but to overlook him.

The unluckiest is Reds utility Ben Lucas, who was going to be picked but injury concerns make it uncertain when he will be able to train.

The bolter is Rebels second-rower Cadeyrn Neville, who has played only a few Super Rugby games. For many years, Neville competed in international youth rowing events, and to improve his aerobic strength in 2009 he tried out with the Manly club, starting on the bench in fourth grade. The next season he was elevated to first grade where he was sighted by the Rebels. Beside him will be his Rebels second-row partner Hugh Pyle, another newcomer.

Brumby Michael Hooper will be Pocock’s openside breakaway back-up, with Liam Gill, his closest rival, instead captaining the under-20s at the world championships.

There is a strong Waratahs representation, with 11 players who return from South Africa being involved – the most unexpected being promising utility back Bernard Foley and second-rower Kane Douglas. Alongside them are Adam Ashley-Cooper, Barnes, Dave Dennis, Rob Horne, Sekope Kepu, Wycliff Palu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson and Sitaleki Timani.

The training squad will be culled to about 30 for the Test series against Wales.

Australia rugby train-on squad named on Sunday: Ben Alexander, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Berrick Barnes, Kurtley Beale, Quade Cooper, Dave Dennis, Kane Douglas, Anthony Faingaa, Saia Faingaa, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Michael Harris, Scott Higginbotham, Michael Hooper, Rob Horne, Digby Ioane, Sekope Kepu, Salesi Ma’afu, Pat McCabe, Ben McCalman, Jesse Mogg, Stephen Moore, Luke Morahan, Cadeyrn Neville, Dan Palmer, Wycliffe Palu, Nick Phipps, David Pocock, Tatafu Polata Nau, Hugh Pyle, Benn Robinson, Nathan Sharpe, Dominic Shipperley, Rob Simmons, James Slipper, Sitaleki Timani, Joseph Tomane, Cooper Vuna, Nic White.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-union/union-news/wallabies-to-search-for-new-skipper-with-horwill-injury-20120527-1zcs8.html#ixzz1wA6phN8A

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-union/union-news/cooper-skids-into-wallabies-contention-20120527-1zd6x.html#ixzz1wA5X0mVK

Horwill back to lead Aussies


Captain James Horwill returns to Australia’s starting line-up for the one-off test against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday as the teams meet in a rematch of their entertaining Rugby World Cup third-place playoff in October.

Barbarians vs Wallabies Preview


AS MOST of their New Zealand counterparts’ attention turns to barbecues and the beach, the Wallabies are gearing up for their match against the UK Barbarians at Twickenham.

Preview: Barbarians v Australia


Thu 24 Nov 2011

The two-game trek to Blighty might have been organised to recoup some of the Australian Rugby Union’s financial losses, but the match against the famous composite side which has a penchant for enjoying the social side of the game shapes as an important one for the Robbie Deans-coached side.

After all, it will encounter plenty of pride and passion against a Wales team next week that will be out for Rugby World Cup revenge and looking to send retiring veteran wing Shane Williams out on a high.

Even minus the likes of Kurtley Beale, first five Quade Cooper, midfielder Pat McCabe and lock Dan Vickerman, Australia will be expected to beat the Barbarians, whose coaches Graham Henry and Steve Hansen will have the tough task of moulding a group of substantial international players together in a short space of time while also taking time out to observe some the Baabaas’ ‘off-field traditions.’

However, don’t expect a side which boasts more than 1000 test caps and includes the likes of Stirling Mortlock, Bryan Habana, Victor Matfield and five World Cup-winning All Blacks – Isaia Toeava, Adam Thomson, Jerome Kaino, Keven Mealamu and Richard Kahui – in its ranks to lie down without a fight.

Not only will Henry be keen to end his international coaching career on a high, but the invitational team is also chasing a sweep of the SANZAR nations, having beaten both the All Blacks and Springboks in 2009 and 2010.

The physical and mental condition of those Wallabies who took part in the RWC will be interesting, as too will the performance of England rugby league international and surprise Barbarians recruit Sam Tomkins.

The 22-year-old Wigan fullback will notch a unique double when he runs out against the men clad in green and gold. Last week he played league for his country against the Kangaroos in the final of the Four Nations tournament.

The Wallabies have an enviable record against the Barbarians, having won eight of their 11 meetings.

Isaia Toeava (New Zealand), Sam Tomkins (England rugby league), Robbie Fruean (Crusaders), Stirling Mortlock (Australia), Bryan Habana (South Africa), Danny Cipriani (England), Peter Stringer (Ireland); Adam Thomson (New Zealand), Mauro Bergamasco (Italy), Jerome Kaino (New Zealand), Simon Shaw (England), Victor Matfield (South Africa, captain), Eusebio Guinazu (Argentina) Keven Mealamu (New Zealand), Sylvain Marconnet (France).


No reason to fear Springboks


And then there were eight. Yes, the preliminaries are over and the Rugby World Cup 2011 quarter-finalists have been decided. But critics who reckon pool play is a waste of time because it’s obvious which eight teams will progress might have a rethink in future years.

Sharpe commits to Force/Aussies


Australia veteran Nathan Sharpe has committed his future to the ARU and the Western Force.

Saturday Internationals


Here is a list of the test matches to be played on Saturday.

Wallaby scrum not test standard


Some of our older readers of this site might remember a brilliant piece by a certain Canadian friend of RuggaWorld a while back where he re-lived his experience of Loftus as a foreigner to all of us.  Well ‘Minnow Man’ as he likes to be called is back again giving us some very interesting views on the Wallaby scrum.

Wallabies 21, All Blacks 22


New Zealand and Australia have both dismissed the notion that their final Tri-Nations match, in Sydney on Saturday, is a dead rubber.

Braam offered full-time position with Wallabies


Former Springbok Braam van Straaten is set to become the Wallabies’ full-time kicking coach.

Springboks 39, Wallabies 41


The Wallabies and the Springboks have a choice of trophies this weekend – the Mandela Plate or the Wooden Spoon.

Spies not intimidating


Wallaby No 8 Ben McCalman is not at all intimidated about the prospect of facing Pierre Spies in Saturday’s Tri-Nations Test in Bloemfontein.

Fourie is the best ever – Genia


The Springboks’ problem in this year’s Tri-Nations is not so much down to fatigue or Irish referees as it is a case of simply missing Fourie du Preez.

Aussies change 3 for Boks


Winger Drew Mitchell and hooker Stephen Moore will make their 50th Test appearances after being named today in the Qantas Wallabies side for Saturday’s Mandela Plate Test against South Africa at Bloemfontein.

‘It’s my fault’ – Ashley-Cooper


Adam Ashley-Cooper balmes himself for Australia’s loss last weekend at Loftus.

Some people missed a good test match


Am I the only one that thought the test at Loftus over the weekend between the Springboks and Australia was actually pretty good?

Boks change two only


The Springbok team to face the Wallabies in the Nelson Mandela Challenge Shield decider in Bloemfontein shows two changes to the one that beat Australia in Pretoria last weekend.

Springboks 44, Wallabies 31


The battle for second place is on, which is also the battle to avoid the wooden spoon.

Schalk IS a fetcher


Well to David Pocock at least he is…

Cooper still undecided


Quade Cooper has broken his silence to reveal he is a long way off deciding whether to stay with the Wallabies next season or take up a lucrative offer with the Parramatta NRL club.

Steyn too good to leave out – Smit


Springbok fullback Frans Steyn is too good a player just to leave on the sidelines and therefore it wasn’t a difficult choice to include him the starting line-up for Saturday’s Vodacom Tri-Nations Test match against Australia at Loftus Versfeld.

Wallabies team named


The return of Quade Cooper to the flyhalf position represents the only change to the Wallabies starting XV for Saturday night’s Tri Nations Series match against South Africa in Pretoria, from that which appeared against New Zealand earlier in the month.

Victor to captain Boks against Wallabies?


Earlier today we mentioned that there might be some revelations from within the Bok camp, unfortunately the press conference delivered very little but the biggest surprise might only come when the team is named to take on the Wallabies.

Deans worried about wounded Bok


Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has warned his players of the dangers of confronting the wounded South African beast after the Springboks lost in the final minutes to the All Blacks in Soweto on Saturday.

Can’t be cheating if you’re not caught


My first sales manager always used to tell me; ‘Don’t come to me with problems, come to me with solutions’.

All Blacks 20, Wallabies 10


There is s still a good chance that this will be a great game, as it should be between two intense, skilled sides who believe in attack.

Wallabies 28, All Blacks 49


What a prospect this match is! Miss it and spend the rest of your rugby days regretting it. It just could be greatest match of all time. If you look at the three Tri-Nations matches this year, it suggests that this will be a miraculous match between two evenly-matched, skilful and adventurous teams.

Wallabies 30, Springboks 13


After a tough, disappointing and possibly demoralising two matches in New Zealand, South Africa move north to menacing Brisbane where even in the best of times they have not won for 39 years.

Deans drops Mitchell, Turner


Australia coach Robbie Deans dropped wingers Drew Mitchell and Lachie Turner on Thursday as he named his squad for the Tri-Nations that starts this weekend.