Monday’s rugby news has Link once again hinting at changes, no free ride for Reds signings, the Bingham Cup retained and Nonu available.
McKenzie responds to loss
While Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie still believes that last Saturday’s huge loss was just an “aberration”, he has signalled a changed side in response to concerns that the team is not moving in the right direction. While downplaying sweeping changes, McKenzie said that the side selected for the Springbok match in Perth will reflect a response to the All Blacks loss as well as the unique challenge posed by the South African team.
“We have to work out whether it was an aberration or whether we need to continue to look,” McKenzie said, while adding, “There were so many things that we could have done better, [but] that’s a function of pressure.”
No guarantees for Hunt and JOC
Although Link is happy to see that James O’Connor and Karmichael Hunt have signed for the Reds and will be able to put their hand up for World Cup selection, he has downplayed notions that either of the two may have negotiated some selection favour. Obviously O’Connor, having played 44 Tests would be closer to his 2015 goal but McKenzie emphasised, “You have to earn your way in and that will be done next year.”
As for Hunt, Link hoped that the former league star could get some NRC games under his belt, also speculating that while Hunt played outside centre quite successfully at Biarritz, 15 would probably be his preferred position.
Convicts win Bingham Cup
The Sydney Convicts have retained the Bingham Cup, defeating the Brisbane Hustlers 31-0 on Sunday. The Convicts fielded three teams throughout the competition, with their ‘A’ side eventually winning the competition which was contested by 24 teams from 15 countries.
The competition is named after Mark Bingham, a gay rights advocate who died in the September 11 terrorist attacks. Bingham, a gay American rugby player, led the passenger revolt against hijackers of United Flight 93 that crashed in a Pennsylvania field.
Nonu to play Pumas
All Blacks inside centre Ma’a Nonu will join his midfield partner Conrad Smith when New Zealand takes on Argentina in Napier on Saturday. Nonu has recovered from the shoulder injury that kept him out of the second Bledisloe Cup thrashing of the Wallabies.
Coach Steve Hansen was downplaying the residual effects of the team’s Bledisloe win, emphasising, “They’ll [the All Blacks forwards] have to front up at least as well as they did last week and that’s about being accountable for their preparation and their roles, that’s the start point.” Only lock Patrick Tuipulotu and loose forward Jerome Kaino are unavailable, both due to injury.