Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News

Fridays Rugby News sees the first squads named, A surprised call up and McCaw backs the Wallabies.





The speculation is over and we have our first Wallabies squad.

Rebels Back Rower Isi Naisarani is set to become Wallaby No. 926 after being named to start at No.8. Born in Fiji, Naisarani became eligible to play for the Wallabies in April this year, but has had the eye of the Wallabies coaches for quite some time, even going as a development player on the Spring Tour. 

Waratahs prop Harry Johnson-Holmes has bee the surprise call up (see below story), given he only joined the squad on Wednesday evening local time, despite the fact the squad had been in South Africa for a couple of weeks. HJH has been named on the bench and stands the chance to be Wallaby No.927.

Newly returned Exeter (he still doesn’t have a Super team) halfback Nic White has been named to start a head of Will Genia, in what might be the start of the succession plan for Genia’s retirement.

“He’s come back, he’s shown a lot of intensity,” Michael Cheika said of White.

“I don’t think you need much with the competition and he’s competed very well and he’s definitely earned his spot and to have Willy on the bench, that’s going to finish, it’s a real plus for us.”

With everyone wondering who will replace He Who Must Not Be Named, it appears Brumbies full back Tom Banks will be the first to have a crack at the job, with Rebels Reece Hodge and Dane Haylett-Petty names on the wings. The Rugby Ruckus so eloquently put it “…Not a winger spotted in the 23.” 

Cheika has talked about a new game plan this year, and the squad does suggest there could be something to that, with the a much bigger pack than he has traditionally played, running centres in Kerevi and Kuridrani, and some experienced play makers off the bench.

It might be the cliche but it looks as though Cheika wants to lean into the underdog status the Wallabies will be carrying this year.

“This is an opportunity for our team. We really want to begin building momentum to take us towards our goals in 2019.

“The players are impatient to play at Ellis Park where our Wallabies haven’t had an opportunity to play for quite a while.

“We know we go into the game as heavy underdogs but most of the players have had a touch over three great weeks of training to prepare, so really they just can’t wait to get out and get into the battle.

“I’m feeling a lot belief and commitment from the people in this Wallaby squad. They’ve all invested a tonne of effort into our preparation and I know the 23 men selected to represent us all on Saturday will do us proud,” Cheika said.

The Wallabies haven’t played South Africa in Johannesburg since a 53-8 defeat in 2008 and haven’t won at the now renamed Ellis Park since 1963.

Christian Lealiifano (shoulder), Scott Sio (adductor), Tom Robertson (ankle) and Allan Alaalatoa (foot) were not considered for selection due to injury.

The Wallabies to take on the Springboks

1. James Slipper (86 Tests) 2. Folau Fainga’a (7 Tests) 3. Sekope Kepu (103 Tests) 4. Izack Rodda (17 Tests) 5. Rory Arnold (19 Tests) 6. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (11 Tests) 7. Michael Hooper (c) (91 Tests) 8. Isi Naisarani* 9. Nic White (22 Tests) 10. Bernard Foley (68 Tests) 11. Reece Hodge (33 Tests)

12. Samu Kerevi (vc) (25 Tests) 13. Tevita Kuridrani (58 Tests) 14. Dane Haylett-Petty (30 Tests) 15. Tom Banks (3 Tests)


16. Jordan Uelese (2 Tests)17. Harry Johnson-Holmes* 18. Taniela Tupou (11 Tests) 19. Rob Simmons (94 Tests) 20. Jack Dempsey (10 Tests) 21. Will Genia (100 Tests) 22. Matt To’omua (42 Tests) 23. Kurtley Beale (83 Tests)


Photo Courtesy of Keith McInnes

Photo Courtesy of Keith McInnes

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has named five new recruits in his 23 to take on the Jaguares, sorry the Pumas in Argentina this weekend.

Crusaders flyer Sevu Reece will start on the wing, with fellow crusader Braydon Ennor, backrower Luke Jacobson, prop Atu Moli and flyhalf Josh Ioane all named on the bench as potential debutants. 

Sam Cane will wear the captains armband after an incredible return to rugby this year, with Hansen naming an experienced team despite the debutants.

“As always, with the first game of the season, we’ve worked hard on building our relationships, re-establishing our connections and combinations and getting clarity in our roles. We’ll continue to nail the details further in training throughout the week so that we are bright, clear and excited to play with real intensity come Saturday,” Hansen said.

“It’s going to be exciting to watch how the new All Blacks perform along with their more experienced teammates.  The team is a mixture of experience and raw enthusiasm, which I’m sure everyone is looking forward to seeing come together and play.”

Hansen further added: “We have the utmost respect for Argentina.  We know that we’ll be facing a confident, physical side. Their players will have taken a lot of confidence and self-belief from the Jaguares Super Rugby season, and with the inclusion of their overseas players, there will be added excitement to their group. They will see this game as a massive opportunity to make a statement and it will be our job to make a statement of our own.”

1. Ofa Tuungafasi (26) 2. Dane Coles (60) 3. Angus Ta’avao (3) 4. Brodie Retallick (75)  5. Patrick Tuipulotu (21) 6. Vaea Fifita (9)  7.Sam Cane – captain (58) 8. Ardie Savea (35) 9. Aaron Smith (82) 10. Beauden Barrett (73) 11. Jordie Barrett (9) 12. Ngani Laumape (10) 13. Anton Lienert-Brown (33) 14. Sevu Reece * 15. Ben Smith (72) 


16. Liam Coltman (4) 17. Atu Moli * 18. Nepo Laulala (17) 19. Jackson Hemopo (3) 20. Luke Jacobson *  21. Brad Weber (1) 22. Josh Ioane * 23. Braydon Ennor *


Michael Hooper Harry Johnson-Holmes Waratahs v Rebels 2019 (Credit Keith McInnes)

After he finished training for Shute Shield, Waratahs prop Harry Johnson-Holmes thought he was in for a quiet night at the pub having a Schnitzel when he got a phone call that would change his life.

“A couple of days ago I was just finished Sydney Uni training, sitting down for $8 schnitty at the Lord Dudley hotel with my roommate, sat down, had a few missed calls, few messages here and there,” he said on Thursday.

“Ended up calling a number I didn’t have saved and it turned out to be Cheik.

“He told me to put down my knife and fork, stop eating the schnitties, get packed and get ready to come over and here I am.”

The next morning he was in South Africa, and a day later he was named on the bench as a possible debut.

Like many before him, HJH had a feeling he would be named to play, but the whole experience was overwhelming that he didn’t quite take in what Cheika was saying.

“He mentioned it on the phone and it was so hectic at the time, I wasn’t sure what i had and what I had misheard and whether it’s a fragment of my imagination but he mentioned it on the phone so I was like, “I think I’m on the bench”, I’m still not sure if that’s true,” he said.

Now in South Africa, Johnson-Holmes is still coming to terms with the past few days, going from the pub to the Wallabies match day 23.

“It’s all numb at the moment, still trying to figure it all out and I’m sure I’ll only realise what’s happening when I’m stepping on the field if that happens. For the moment, I’m just cruising and taking it as it comes,” he said.

The 22 year old Loose Head Prop played 17 times of the bench in 2018, but an injury at the Tahs gave HJH the chance to start, and he took the opportunity with both hands. He started 12 times out of 16 appearances in 2019, and was called into the extended Wallabies squad before the team went to South Africa.

HJH’s impressive season has lead Cheika to back him to stand up at test time.

“The guy was sitting at the Lord Dudley, I think he was having a steak when I rang him a night and a half ago and now he’s here, he’s going to play a Test match,” Cheika said after naming his team on Thursday.

“I’m sure he’s going to do us proud because the energy he brings, he’s been in camp with us so he’ll be really good as well.

“It’s a great opportunity for a lot of guys and I think it’s more based on what we need from this game and what we’d like to achieve out of this game.”



All Blacks' captain Richie McCaw and coach, Steve Hansen, share a quiet moment following the Kiwi's  defeat.

*Not a Betoota Advocate article.

Former All Black Captain and Future Prime Minister of New Zealand Richie McCaw believes that the Wallabies have the potential to surprise everyone come World Cup time, as they did in 2015 when they escaped the “Pool of Death.”

They went on to lose to the McCaw captained All Blacks in the final match.

But despite their horrid 2018, McCaw believes you can’t count them out.

“Knowing Australians like I do, they are competitive, hugely competitive and they will get themselves in good situation to compete,” McCaw,”They have got ability to win games now against everyone so you don’t want to write them off at all.

“I think sometimes where people are not talking about them a lot leading up to (the World Cup), that’s the best thing you can be. You just come in and surprise everyone.

“But from a New Zealand point of view, there is never a surprise that they front up.”

McCaw was asked about the current court case in Australia and He Who Must Not Be Named and gave a very classy response, refusing to comment directly on the case but said it was “sad for rugby”.

“Without getting into the debate around who is right or wrong, I just think it is sad for Australian rugby that you are not talking about what Wallabies are going to do,” he said.



Once captained the 3rds Rugby team, but then again so did Nick Farr-Jones

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