Rugby

Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News sees A Brumby Rebelling, What Will it Be Now,  The Weekend Ahead in Club Land and The Bledisloe Mind Games Begin

THE BRUMBY REBELS

Joe_Powell

In a move that surprised no one except Fox Rugby’s Russell Gould, halfback Joe Powell has announced his shift down to Victoria to join the Rebels.

Given it had been widely rumored for months since Nic White was unveiled as returning to the Brums, and the other halfbacks floating around the ACT system in Ryan Lonergan it was clear from the start that the team could not carry three halfbacks in the squad who could all reasonably make claims to a starting spot.

The article on Fox Sports reveals that Powell has fond memories of making his Wallaby debut down at AAMI Park, saying, “I’ll never forget debuting for the Wallabies at AAMI Park – I’ve got plenty of fond memories there and also some not so good memories against the Rebels where we got touched up a few times, so it’ll be nice to be with the home team now.”

He added, “I think the Rebels had a really good season this year, so I’m excited to do my bit and help them improve even more next season. I’ve known a few of the fellas like Hodgey (Reece Hodge), Pup (Matt To’omua) and Dane (Haylett-Petty) from my time throughout Wallabies squads, so from what I’ve heard it’s a really good group down there.”

Coach Dave Wessels was also thrilled to add Powell to the Rebels squad, saying, “Aside from the skill and intensity he brings on the field, it’s obvious that he’s a good team man. He’s a great fit for Melbourne.”

Powell slots into a squad that has seen a number of departures in the last few days, including half Ryan Louwrens who is returning to Japan. His arrival sets up a straight race with Fijian international Frank Lomani for the starting 9 jersey in 2021.

In my view this is a pretty logical move for Powell given the three way squeeze in Canberra. Even though he has been playing well enough to make the 44 man Wallaby squad and will look to add to his four caps in the coming international window there is still room for him to grow as a player.

The Rebels will give him that chance and a different environment and coaching system for someone who has played their entire career in the same place could be the catalyst to take him from perennial Wallaby wider squad member to someone regularly featured in the matchday 23.

WHAT WILL IT BE NOW?

New Zealand Fan

Another week has gone by and we see yet another rumour/proposal/writings of a madman with regards to what rugby will look like in 2021.

So far we have seen every model from everyone staying in their own countries to a re-united Super Rugby, to multiple competitions with new entries to hybrids. The poor old Sunwolves have been born and killed off more times than I have had hot breakfasts in this time.

It would come as no surprise to any of you then to see that out of New Zealand comes yet another scenario, a bit of a Frankenstein job that looks terrible at first cut but makes some sense the longer you look at it. But also like Frankenstein, it gets angry at the end and will eat you. (That’s the part beyond 2022)

Liam Napier at the NZ Herald is reporting that New Zealand has all but settled on it’s model for 2021, with the five Kiwi teams to play each other home and away prior to a series of home and away matches with the five Australian sides. The problem with that being RugbyAU has not yet agreed to it. And given the fractured relationship that exists at present, it wouldn’t shock me to find out that they were not even aware of this proposal. The proposal seems simple enough and perhaps even workable.

2022 is where it starts to get interesting. The NZRU proposal sees Super Rugby Aotearoa expanded by around three teams, with no mention of cross-Tasman competition as part of the equation. The teams proposed to be added “definitely” include a Pasifika team, but the others are up for debate.

The report states that there were eight expressions of interest for expansion, with four worthy of further discussion. One of them is the Pasifika team, expected to be either Moana Pasifika or Kanaloa Hawaii, who recently dropped out of the running to be included in the US Major League Rugby comp. Others discussed as possible additions include Fiji Drua (formerly of the NRC) and the South China Tigers who had signed a deal with Bay of Plenty for the aborted Global Rapid Rugby season.

A further wildcard in this is the Western Force with the report stating a deal has already been reached for Twiggy Forrest to take his toys over the Tasman. Given the way the Force were initially treated you really can’t blame him but if true it would be hit to any sort of reconciliation process, not to mention the excessive recruiting they would need to do to simply come close to being competitive. To be blunt, hiring 35 year old Irishmen, no matter how good they are/were will not cut it long term if NZ is their pathway.

I really like the 2021 model, it would give around 19 games for each team (plus finals if run) which would appear to be a decent number  for broadcasters without running the same matchups over and over. 2022 seems like a bit of a nightmare as I can’t see the cross-Tasman stuff happening if there are 8 teams (15 games plus finals) unless it is run on a shortened basis.

What then are the Australian options for 2022 if the Twiggy Force are in NZ? There would need to be additional teams (Sunwolves rise again), or the leftovers from South Africa the Cheetahs, which then presents the timezone issue everyone moans about.

Of course this could all be some wild cheese dream I have just had?

 

CLUB RUGBY WEEKEND PREVIEW

Maile Ngauamo GPS v Easts QLD Premier Rugby (Photo Credit: Brendan Hertel / QRU)

This is the time of the week where we get out our rods and go fishing for the latest news out of clubland. With finals fever sweeping parts of the nation, let’s shove a worm on the end and cast off.

In Western Australia, we are at the first week of the finals, and given the AFL domination of the state, rugby has adopted their finals format too. So that means the top 8 all get a gong, although it would be hard to look past the top two sides in Associates and Cottesloe to be the grand finalists. As per the leg tennis format, this week we have the top four sides playing for a week off  and the bottom for playing for the right to continue to next week. This sees minor premiers Associates play Wests/Scarborough for the right to a week off on Saturday, along with the 5 vs 8 clash of Joondalup and Kalamunda. Sunday brings us Cottesloe and Palmyra in the qualifying final and the elimination game of Nedlands v UWA. Tips for the weekend: Associates, Joondalup, Cottesloe and UWA.

Finals time in South Australia and the published draw and the published format seem to be a bit cross purpose to each other, with one containing six teams and the other four. So far as I can make it, this week sees first placed take on second placed Old Collegians. It looks like the winner of that game will go onto the grand final. Third placed Burnside play fourth placed Onkaparinga to take on the loser of Brighton/Old Collegians next week. Fifth and sixth (Souths and Woodville) also play off in what looks like placement games, with the winner likely to play the loser of Burnside/Onkaparinga. Tips: Brighton, Onkaparinga and Souths.

I wish you had been vaccinated because finals fever is also attacking the ACT this week with the combatants being Owls, Royals, Vikings and Eagles. This shortened finals series sees top of the table Vikings taking on fourth placed and Eagles and Owls and Royals in the other game. Tips: Vikings and Royals.

Finals down south in Tasmania too, with the seemingly all conquering Devonport Bulls taking on second placed Taroona this week for the first slot in the big dance. Lions play Stags in the other game with the winner to take on the loser of the other game for the right to play in the GF. Tips: Devonport and Lions

At last a place where finals are not yet happening, and that means Sydney where the Shute Shield has two rounds left and while the top three in Gordon, Norths and Randwick look safe, where they will end up and the makeup of the rest of the teams is still pretty hazy. With Randwick who are currently sitting in third having the bye this weekend they could theoretically be pushed down as low as fifth by the end of the round and leapfrogged by Easts and Eastwood. Uni is still in with a shout but will have to overcome the powerful Norths team in the game of the week (this week it is on 7FLIX) to be any hope.

Two rounds left in the Hospital Cup in Brisbane as well and looks like there are five teams fighting for four spots. Easts who have the week off are top followed closely by Uni and Bond, with GPS in fourth and most vulnerable to a challenge from fifth placed Brothers. The Bretheren need a win against struggling Sunnybank to keep their hopes alive, while GPS job will be made easier if they can tip third placed Bond. Also this week sees Uni take on Wests and Norths battling Souths.

As I say weekly, have a look at rugby.com.au and the man about town Nick Wasiliev’s column for more colour and all the links to watch games being streamed.

THE BLEDISLOE MIND GAMES BEGIN

Beauden Barrett- apparently not in the Wallabies plans

Beauden Barrett- apparently not in the Wallabies plans

With the first Bledisloe less than two weeks away, the Wallabies are playing the long game in the mental battle, with Wallaby assistant coach Scott Wisemantel firing the early shots.

Wisemantel, having honed his skills in the very dark arts (not scrummaging) under Eddie Jones while working as his attack coach in England has come out from the Wallabies training base and isolation zone to say that the Wallabies aren’t thinking about Beauden Barrett at 10 and fully expect Crusaders star Richie Mo’unga to start there instead.

You may recall this was the cause of some conjecture in New Zealand last year in the run up to the World Cup, with Mo’unga supplanting the two-time World Player of the Year Barrett. This meant Barrett switching to fullback with most pundits having the view that this partnership never really clicked and was at least a partial contributor to the All Blacks early exit from the RWC.

Shift forward to 2020 and Barrett spent most of Super Rugby Aotearoa playing at 15 for the Blues before making a switch back to 10 near the end of the season, which then started the speculation once more.

Wisemantel is having none of it though, telling Rugby.com.au in one word “Mo’unga” when asked who the Wallabies thought would wear the coveted number 10 jersey in the first meeting. When asked why by a Kiwi reported he responded, “have you watched the Super Rugby Aotearoa? He’s been awesome.” Fairly simple then but it then pitches Beauden into a mano e mano fight to the death with his brother Jordy for the 15 shirt.

Elsewhere the All-Blacks should have a relatively familiar look to them but with the large squads and the Kiwi penchant to throw the odd rookie into the fray early on in a Test campaign, the thought that a rookie like Hoskins Sotutu or Caleb Clarke might not be out of the realm of possibility.

When the subject turned to who he thought might run onto the field for the Wallabies, Wisemantel was more circumspect, saying that he had a strong idea of what he thought it would look like but going no further than that. He said, ” I’ve got a backline in my head, but whether it’s the same backline as Dave (Rennie) and Tatsie (Matt Taylor) and Geoff (Parling), that’s for debate, and that’s a nightly debate that we’re having at the moment, so it brings an edge to training, which is good and that’s what we want.”

With a bit of a changing of the guard in a number of positions the key question is what mix of players will Dave Rennie run with? Will it be loaded with as much experience as possible, or will it be heavy on rookies or a mix? I am sure all of you readers have some sort of idea in your head, so let’s see them.

 

 

Rugby
@Ben_Marczyk

Passionate about rugby from the grass roots up. Usually found at Brisbane club rugby games, or being involved in the junior and schools system. Love a chat, happy to admit when I'm wrong. I will watch any game of rugby regardless of who is playing, from juniors through to tests

More in Rugby