Friday rugby news has Pek Cowan commenting on the Force situation, Changes to the Lions Tour format, rumblings about the All Blacks squad for the Lions, and the Waratahs falling on desperate times.
Pek Cowan has come out in support of his teammates, saying that they are focusing on trying to play as best they can for their fans and that the ARU situation is “out of our control.”
His comments come just after the ARU declined two invitations to attend a meeting with RugbyWA. It is understood that the Western Force, through it’s ‘Own the Force‘ campaign, is close to closing in on the $5 million needed to buy back the franchise from the ARU. Support for the club has also increased enormously, with more than 14,000 turning out for last weeks match against the Chiefs. (Hells yeah Force and rugby fans in general!)
Cowan said, in an interview with ABC News that the players were trying to avoid dwelling on the future of the team.
“We’ve had a few conversations about it, but ultimately it’s out of our control.
“So we need to stay galvanised as a group, make sure we play well, make sure that everyone can see we haven’t packed it in.”
However, he also warned that many of his teammates may look to go overseas if the decision is drawn out for any longer.
“It comes as no surprise the overseas window closes in a month or two,” he said.
“For guys sitting and waiting, the decision has been made for them.
“The longer this takes, the less time they have and the more likely they will be forced to make a decision other than to stay here.”
Less from the Lions?
Premiership rugby in the UK have confirmed that the British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand this year will be the last in it’s current six week, ten match format.
Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Mark McCafferty has echoed the stance of Rugby Football Union counterpart Ian Ritchie that the tours must be shortened as part of the new global season that comes into effect in 2020.
“We have been fairly outspoken. At the start of the season we said we were unhappy about the intensity of the schedule that had been signed up several years ago and it needs to change.”
“To go through this kind of program in the future is not feasible. To be playing 10 matches in a five-week period is too much and our views on that have not changed.
“Hopefully come 2021 some of those changes will come into place and they have largely been agreed. The duration of the tour is scheduled to come down by a week so that will mean a decrease in games.
“Ultimately it is up to the Lions how many games they put into the time frame, but we have a big interest in how players are managed through that.”
Such comments have really pissed off former Ireland and Lions captain Brian O’Driscoll who has demanded that tours are retained in their current six-week, 10-match guise. Quite frankly, it pisses me off too. I like it when the Lions come to town, so let’s keep it as it is.
Double Barrett shotgun for the Kiwis?
The last time a player made his debut against the B&I Lions, he scored two tries. That man was Israel Folau. And according to Paul Cully of the Sydney Morning Herald, the All Blacks would be silly not to consider having Jordie Barrett in the starting lineup against the Lions.
“So we should not talk ourselves out of considering Hurricanes No. 15 Jordie Barrett for the All Blacks based on assumptions about age or experience. Pele was 17 when he scored twice in a FIFA World Cup final.
“Instead, let us trust our eyes and instinct. And what do they tell us? That Jordie is not your normal customer.”
To be fair, I personally think Cully has a point on this one. Jordie Barrett has been utterly sensational since we first got a glimpse of him at the Brisbane Tens, and pairing him alongside his brother Beauden has proven to work brilliantly for the Hurricanes.
“His backfield coverage is excellent. It is no coincidence that opposition clearing kicks always seem to find him. He reads the play so well and those long limbs get him around the park.
“No wonder Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd is bending his ear about fullback being his best position. It is.
“Then there is his goalkicking. Apparently a side strain is preventing big brother Beauden from taking the tee, but for the Hurricanes that’s a blessing in disguise. Jordie is the more natural striker of the ball.”
While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, considering how much Jordie has torn up our teams this year I think it would be awesome. No better way to kick off your career than ripping the Lions to shreds.
You’ve Got to be Kidding me!
The Waratahs have truly fallen on desperate times. In an appropriately titled article by our friends over at The Roar, the Waratahs are bringing back much-maligned duo Nick Phipps and Dean Mumm for their clash against the Reds tomorrow night.
That being said, how much worse can they get? Maybe this might be the right move by Daryl Gibson.
Michael Hooper said in an article with the SMH that Phipps will be looking to channel his anger from being dropped last month into his performance.
“No one was angrier [than Phipps] when he missed a couple of opportunities to start,” Hooper said.
“I’m really happy with the energy he’s brought when he was on the bench and particularly coming back into the team. He’s been fantastic and a credit to his work ethic and attitude to get back into a starting side.”
Jake Gordon has been removed from the squad altogether, but Gibson has said that he plans to have him back against the Blues next week.
As for Mumm, he swaps out with big Willie Skelton, who moves to the bench. Make of that what you will.
Hooper has said that the Tahs are “not planning for a loss, so I can’t tell you how that would feel. Everything is pointing to a win for us at the moment.”
Make of that what you will too. In other news, prop Sekope Kepu and hooker Hugh Roach will also come back into the starting team.