Friday’s rugby news has more captaincy speculation, a disappointed Dennis, some Brumbies changes and Guilford dumped by NZRU.
Moore at short odds
Stephen Moore is quickly becoming the favourite to be named the next Test captain, with former skipper Nathan Sharpe giving the hard-nosed Wallabies hooker his endorsement. While Moore does not have any experience captaining at Super Rugby level, being surprisingly beaten out by NSW recruit Ben Mowen in Jake White’s 2012 Brumbies side, Sharpe said that the long-term experience with the Wallabies was a more important factor.
“I really like to see someone serve a long apprenticeship … and he’s always been there or thereabouts in leadership groups,” Sharpe said. The Brumbies hooker is notably nine years older than his prime competition, Michael Hooper.
Dennis dissapointed to miss out
Dave Dennis has said he was disappointed to be left out of the Wallaby squad for the upcoming three Test series against France, but also understands coach Ewen McKenzie’s decision. “It’s 12 months out from a World Cup, you need to give guys some opportunities, so I’m comfortable with that decision that he made,” Dennis said.
The Waratahs skipper played four Tests after starting on the bench on the Australian team’s end of year tour of Europe. But Dennis narrowly missed out on the call-up after coach Ewen McKenzie chose to name five second-rowers, three of whom are uncapped, and six back-rowers in his 32-man squad last week.
Brumbies face sweeping changes
Brumbies director of rugby Laurie Fisher has made a number of changes to the team’s starting line-up to keep their Super Rugby finals hopes alive after consecutive losses. “It’s important to have the maximum number of players who are playing well … we need a certain amount of freshness and need to power up a bit in our game,” Fisher said.
Clyde Rathbone, Pat McCabe, Ruan Smith and Fotu Auelua will all be brought onto the starting XV to face the Rebels on Saturday night. As a result, fullback Jesse Mogg and Leon Power have been dropped to the bench, prop Ben Alexander is managing a neck injury, and Robbie Coleman is recovering from gastro.
Guilford has contract terminated
Winger Zac Guildford has had his NZRU contract terminated, after repeated alcohol-related incidents. Guilford was set to see out his contract with the Crusaders until the end of the current Super Rugby season but will now start his career with the Top 14 side Clermont earlier than expected. “We’re really disappointed that Zac has not been able to achieve his full potential in New Zealand – he is a good man, talented but troubled,” NZRU General Manager Neil Sorensen said.
Guildford played the last of his 10 Tests for New Zealand in mid-2012, being involved in several drunken incidents in the last few years. Sorensen did leave the door open for a possible return to Test rugby if Guilford completes his stint in France and is able to stay on top of his personal issues.