Friday’s rugby news has Toomua’s defence called upon, Cummins wary of the revamped French team, the IRB hoping to keep superstars for Rio and some changes to the Welsh Test team.
Toomua asked to step up in D
Wallabies playmaker Matt Toomua has been tasked with the momentous job of stopping French outside centre Mathieu Bastareaud, who weighs in at around 120 kg. The Australian 12 will find himself sliding onto Bastareaud and will be called upon to limit the line-bending fast ball that the Frenchman frequently creates.
“He is obviously a strong carrier,” Toomua said, adding, “it’s not just his size. He has got some decent feet on him.” The Brumbies 10 also emphasised that the Wallabies will face a new set of challenges at the breakdown with the return of French captain Thierry Dusatoir.
Wallabies must maintain intensity
Wallabies winger Nick Cummins has silenced any talk of complacency among the Australian camp after the crushing 50-23 drubbing of France last Saturday. The Honey Badger emphasised that the French side, with 10 changes and a week to dwell on their first Test loss, will be coming out with a much different level of intensity in the first 20 minutes.
“We know it’s coming,” he said. “Obviously it can go any way in that first 20 minutes. It’s a real battle.” Cummins also thanked the Wallabies recent run of six win in a row on the benefits of continuity in selection, allowing the development of partnerships within the side.
IRB wants stars in Rio
IRB boss Brett Gosper, while acknowledging the value of out-and-out Sevens players, has emphasized that rugby’s chances of becoming a permanent Olympic sport may rely on an injection of star power. Gosper said he’d personally love to see Wallabies fullback Israel Folau and England powerhouse Manu Tuilagi feature at the Games.
Australian Sevens coach Geraint John said he is open to the idea of including union stars in his squad for the 2016 Olympics, but only if they spend a significant amount of time integrating themselves with the game in the lead-up months.
Welsh lineup announced
The Welsh XV to play the Springboks this Saturday has been boosted by the inclusion of stars Dan Lydiate and George North. Lydiate had to prove his form and fitness to coach Warren Gatland in a hit-out against the Eastern Province Kings on Tuesday, his first match in five weeks after a hamstring injury.
Meanwhile, North will return after being left out of the Tuesday match and isolated from the team, suffering from a virus. Wales and Lions prop Adam Jones will also make his 100th international appearance and his 95th for Wales (five for the British and Irish Lions).