Fridays Rugby News sees Sio’s 100, Fun and games at the Reds, Remembering Shawn Mackay, and Warren’s back with the BIL!
Thumbs Up For Scott’s Ton
A very long time ago I managed to rack up 100 games for the mighty Euros RUFC in western Queensland. It’s something I was quite proud of and I still have the certificate somewhere. I can’t imagine how much prouder I’d be to rack up a hundred Super Rugby games. I’d be intolerable.
But that’s exactly what Scott Sio will do this weekend when the Brumbies face the Reds in Canberra this Saturday night. And in one of the toughest positions on the field. He’s racked up another 53 caps for the Wallabies and at 28 could easily play for another six years.
He’ll start this weekend alongside Allan Alaalatoa and Folau Fainga’a with James Slipper on the bench.
Coach Dan McKellar has stuck with his promise of resting some sorely overworked backrowers. Injuries to David Pocock, Ben Hyne and to a lesser extent Locky McCaffrey and Rob Valetini have put a huge workload on the Brumbies other back rowers. With McCaffrey and Valetini back Pete Samu and Tom Cusack get a well-earned rest.
1 Scott SIO
2 Folau FAINGA’A
3 Allan ALAALATOA
4 Rory ARNOLD
5 Sam CARTER
6 Rob VALETINI
7 Jahrome BROWN
8 Lachlan MCCAFFREY
9 Joe POWELL
10 Christian LEALIIFANO
11 Tom WRIGHT
12 Irae SIMONE
13 Tevita KURIDRANI
14 Andy MUIRHEAD
15 Tom BANKS
16 Connal MCINERNEY
17 James SLIPPER
18 Leslie LEULUAIALII-MAKIN
19 Murray DOUGLAS
20 Pete SAMU
21 Ryan LONERGAN
22 Jordan JACKSON-HOPE
23 Len IKITAU
High Jinx At the Reds
Up in Queensland Defence coach Peter Ryan has been acclimatising the Reds by dropping ice down their shorts. Ryan spent a lot of years in Canberra, which gives him a little insight into what the Brumbies are thinking. but also makes him pretty used to the cold. Most Queenslanders on the other hand, run for their blanky’s when the mercury hits about 15 degrees. Pete’s just helping the guys out.
Meanwhile, Angus Blythe, the Reds giant 21-year-old lock is hiding his injured AC joint and telling anyone who’ll listen he’s being rested because of his impending Wallabies call up.
In the hilarity of Peter Ryan was, as always, a couple of home truths. Ryan pointed out that if the Reds lost against the Brumbies this weekend they were no better than last years Reds as both teams would have won six games for the season. While most people would agree that the 2019 Reds are better than 2018s in the cold light of day the only measure is games won. And he’s right.
So are the Reds a better team this year despite their win/loss record?
1. JP Smith – GPS
2. Alex Mafi – Bond University
3. Taniela Tupou – Brothers
4. Izack Rodda – Easts
5. Harry Hockings – University of Queensland
6. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto – Souths
7. Liam Wright – Easts
8. Angus Scott-Young – University of Queensland
9. Scott Malolua – Souths
10. Matt McGahan – Norths
11. Filipo Daugunu – Wests
12. Samu Kerevi – Souths (c)
13. Chris Feauai-Sautia – Souths
14. Jock Campbell – University of Queensland
15. Bryce Hegarty – GPS
16. Brandon Paenga-Amosa – Sunnybank
17. Ruan Smith – GPS
18. Gav Luka – Bond University
19. Caleb Timu – Souths
20. Scott Higginbotham – Wests
21. Moses Sorovi – Wests
22. Duncan Paia’aua – Nort
Remembering Shawn Mackay
It’s hard to believe it’s ten years since Shawn Mackay’s death while on tour with the Brumbies in South Africa. It’s hard to imagine what went on in the Brumbies camp in the week that followed. To have someone you considered a brother injured and in a coma and still prepare and play a game of top-flight rugby six days later is inconceivable to me. Shawn passed away while the Brumbies squad was flying home.
In memory of Shawn 15 of his teammates, 10 of the support staff and his family will come together at the Brumbies match against the Reds Saturday night.
Brumbies captain Christian Lealiifano and team manager Garry Quinlivan are the only remaining links to that team 10 years ago.
But while Mackay only played a handful of games for the club, he has never been forgotten.
The Brumbies still set up his locker every year at the closest home game to the anniversary of his death as a tribute to Mackay’s life.
“It’s still raw. I don’t think I will ever get over it, I’m always going to miss him,” Patrick Phibbs said of his Waverley College schoolmate.
“Guys are coming from everywhere. Mark Chisholm is flying down from Brisbane, Guy Shepherdson is flying down, Gene Fairbanks is driving in from Goulburn. Ben Hand has been organising it, the Brumbies have been great as well.
“I’m sure we’ll talk about how everyone is going. But the reason we’re there is because of Shawn and a chance to show our respect.”
“It’s a sad reason to catch up, but it’s good we’re doing it,” Stephen Hoiles said.
“Personally I probably found the 10-year anniversary [of Mackay’s death] as the hardest to commemorate.
“I can’t believe it’s been 10 years. It blows your mind. At the time I was a new dad and footy became the best distraction.
“Rugby was the greatest escape of all. The hardest part was going home and thinking about it, alone time was really tough.”
BIL’s Get Gatland Again
The British and Irish Lions have appointed Warren Gatland as their coach for a third tour. The New Zealander is only the second person to coach three BIL tours behind Sir Ian McGeechan.
Gatland knows first-hand the challenge posed by the Springboks, having already been part of a touring party to South Africa in 2009 as McGeechan’s forwards coach, but is confident of delivering success for the Lions in 2021.
Should Gatland avoid defeat, he would create Lions history by becoming the first person to lead tours to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and remain unbeaten.
“I’m hugely honoured and delighted to lead the Lions again,” the New Zealander said.
“It is exciting and a great challenge to coach the best players from the four Home Nations. The Lions rightly have a truly special place in the game and I jumped at the chance to be involved again when I was approached about the role.
“South Africa is a special place to play rugby. They have some of the most iconic stadiums in the world which will be packed full of passionate fans, and the Springboks have shown in recent times that they are back to being one of the dominant forces in the game.
“Having toured there in 2009 I know the scale of the task ahead of us – playing in South Africa presents a number of unique challenges such as playing at altitude, while the Boks will always be physical, aggressive and highly motivated.
“History tells you it’s a tough place to tour, but I am 100 per cent confident that we can go there and win – I would not be here if I thought differently.
Ben Calveley, managing director of the British & Irish Lions, said: “We’re delighted to have got our man; Warren is a world-class coach, boasts a proven track record and knows the Lions better than anyone else currently coaching in world rugby – so naturally he was our first-choice candidate from the start of the process.
“This was a unanimous decision from the Lions board, and it was important that we moved swiftly and proactively to secure Warren’s signature.
“Appointing him two years ahead of time ensures Warren can also be involved in planning the logistics and scheduling elements of the tour. I’m looking forward to working alongside him to give the Lions the best chance of success in South Africa.
“The supporters are central to what make the Lions special, and with the world’s finest coach at the helm, excitement will grow even further.”