Welcome to this week’s addition people. This week I will touch on the Australia A Team, the use of drugs and how hard it is to find information on same, Reds signings and the English are coming.
Australia A Team for the Pacific Nations Cup
I really like the squad for the Pacific Nations Cup, it shows a clarity of thought where players have been picked with a view to getting meaningful game time. Take Fraser McReight for instance. There is actually no benefit in picking him to play hold a tackle bag for the English tour. With Hooper fit and available (and a Waratah) Fraser has no chance of being picked in the game day 23 as he is a specialist openside flanker. I would argue if Hooper goes down he is the next one picked and goes straight into the team, but in truth he is a 7 or in the stands.
Australia A Pacific Nations Cup Squad
Tim Anstee (Western Force)
Jock Campbell (Queensland Reds)
Filipo Daugunu (Queensland Reds)
Ben Donaldson (NSW Waratahs)
Tane Edmed (NSW Waratahs)
Matt Faessler (Queensland Reds)
Lalakai Foketi (NSW Waratahs)
Feao Fotuaika (Queensland Reds)
Matt Gibbon (Melbourne Rebels)
Langi Gleeson (NSW Waratahs)
Ned Hanigan (NSW Waratahs)
Will Harris (NSW Waratahs)
Reece Hodge (Melbourne Rebels)
Harry Hoopert (Queensland Reds)
Harry Johnson-Holmes (NSW Waratahs)
Feleti Kaitu’u (Western Force)
Ryan Lonergan (Brumbies)
Ryan McCauley (Western Force)
Fraser McReight (Queensland Reds)
Andy Muirhead (Brumbies)
Mark Nawaqanitawase (NSW Waratahs)
Dylan Pietsch (NSW Waratahs)
Billy Pollard (Brumbies)
Jackson Pugh (Western Force)
Tom Robertson (Western Force)
Ryan Smith (Queensland Reds)
Hamish Stewart (Queensland Reds)
Jake Strachan (Western Force)
Seru Uru (Queensland Reds)
I also like the selection of Tim Anstee and Seru Uru both of whom I rate above Rob Leota.
Drugs in Rugby
This was harder to find information on than I expected. This problem is becoming a bit of a scourge around the world and some thought needs to be put into how players are looked after, or it will be the next problem for rugby after concussions.
We all know that rugby is a collision sport and sometimes you just need the horsepower. South Africans are renowned for their size and power and rugby is now seen as an option for players to escape poverty. The pressure on young men to potentially become the breadwinner for the family and change their families’ future through playing or the educational opportunities are immense. I know of a young man from South Africa who was cut from a Super team over there as at 194cm and 110kg he was too small to play blindside.
As rugby is a global sport this has fed into all levels; how many times have you heard someone say he just needs another ten kg to play at the next level? Players hear this and are influenced by this and see all the rep teams at a junior level get picked on size.
All the articles I could find were from 2020 to 2018 and it would be insane to suggest that it is not an ongoing issue.
On a local level the winner of the best and fairest in the local Brisbane Club competition a couple of years ago was banned for performance enhancing drugs and there has been more than one player who has had to get something from his car when ASADA turned up to training on a Tuesday night.
I am also not even touching on the over use of anti Inflammatory drugs.
Ireland Squad for the tour of Mordor
Ireland have named a very strong team to tour NZ and while this will trigger many of our NZ brethren I am picking the Irish to win the series. (Sorry KARL)
Here is my rationale: they have beaten the NZ team regularly over the past couple of years. Unlike most Euro teams they will be fresh as the IRFU manage player load exceptionally well. They are also very good at rugby.
IRELAND (tour squad to New Zealand):
Forwards: R Baird (Leinster), F Bealham (Connacht), T Beirne (Munster), J Conan (Leinster), G Coombes (Munster), C Doris (Leinster), T Furlong (Leinster), C Healy (Leinster), D Heffernan (Connacht), I Henderson (Ulster), R Herring (Ulster), J Loughman (Munster), J McCarthy (Leinster), P O’Mahony (Munster), T O’Toole (Ulster), A Porter (Leinster), C Prendergast (Connacht), J Ryan (Leinster), D Sheehan (Leinster), N Timoney (Ulster), K Treadwell (Ulster), J van der Flier (Leinster).
Backs: B Aki (Connacht), H Byrne (Leinster), J Carbery (Munster), C Casey (Munster), K Earls (Munster), C Frawley (Leinster), J Gibson Park (Leinster), M Hansen (Connacht), R Henshaw (Leinster), J Hume (Ulster), H Keenan (Leinster), J Larmour (Leinster), J Lowe (Leinster), M Lowry (Ulster), C Murray (Munster), J O’Brien (Leinster), G Ringrose (Leinster), J Sexton (Leinster, capt).
Maori All Blacks v Ireland; June 29, 0805BST – FMG Stadium, Hamilton
New Zealand v Ireland; Saturday, July 2, 0805BST – Eden Park, Auckland
New Zealand v Ireland; Saturday, July 9, 0805BST – Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Maori All Blacks v Ireland; July 12, 0805BST – Sky Stadium, Wellington
New Zealand v Ireland; Saturday, July 16, 0805BST – Sky Stadium, Wellington
Queensland Reds re-sign hooker duo
Queensland have sorted out their hooker stocks for next year with the signing of Josh Nasser and Matt Faessler. Richie Aiiata, who will round out the squad Queensland, will be hoping for a better run with injury in this position than they had this year, at one point they used numbers 5 and 6 in the rotation.
Faessler signs a one-year deal after his breakout season while Nasser has re-committed until the end of 2024. 23 year old Faessler’s re-signing caps off a remarkable year having started without a full-time contract before impressing after a string of injuries to earn selection in the Australia A squad for the Pacific Nations Cup.
“Queensland is my home and I’m very grateful to have signed on for 2023,” he said in a statement. “Playing Super Rugby for the Reds was a dream come true and it’s a special group of players and staff at Ballymore at the moment. I’ve got a lot of good friends in the group who I’ve come through the pathway with, so it’s unreal to play alongside them in a maroon jersey. Getting picked for Australia A gives me the opportunity to continue to build and advance myself as a player and I’m excited to bring my learnings back to Queensland next season.”
Nasser has improved immensely this year as until recently he was a prop and IMHO not a very good hooker. He has worked on his fundamentals and is improving into a decent option for the Wallabies going forward. The elevation of Faessler for mine show there are players running around in club rugby who are better than guys who are in Super squads, so the onus is on the Super teams to get out there and stop just asking agents.