Thursdays Rugby News is a slow news day that sees Simon Cron backing the Tahs, Hooper the Waterboy and Club Awards for Reds and Rebels.
CRON BACKING THE TAHS
Waratahs forwards coach Simon Cron fronted the media ahead of NSW home final on Saturday against the Highlanders.
Cron spoke on how home ground advantage won’t make a difference for the Waratahs, but wants every tahs supporter to turn up on Saturday and how resting All Blacks against the Rebels may hurt the Highlanders.
Cron was pretty inspiring talking about home ground advantage. “It doesn’t matter whether you are here or playing in Dunedin or playing in South Africa. It’s grass, white lines and a rugby ball. We are comfortable. That’s our home.”
And with that I am ready to pull on the boots again.
Speaking to the New Zealand media, the cheeky one Aaron Smith has piped up that the home ground pressure for the waratahs might actually cause their downfall.
“It’s going to be a lot of pressure on them (the Waratahs) to front up at home and then it’s about us trying to take our opportunities,” Smith said.
He isn’t wrong in recognising that the Highlanders playmakers and their ability to capitalise on mistakes. The Waratahs have also shown they have the same ability when they are in form.
Cron also made comments regarding the risk that can occur when you rest players, just like the Highlanders did.
“Sometimes you can lose cohesiveness when you rest a couple of guys.
“I have seen it before when you get into final and people have been rested and they haven’t been as cohesive when they come back in.
“I don’t expect that will happen to the likes of Smith or those guys who are seasoned professionals. But it might impact on some of the others.”
The Highlanders broke the hearts of Melbourne Rebels fans (myself included) with a strong comeback, and the Waratahs are coming off a dismal performance against the Brumbies so Saturday will be a hell of a contest. The Tahs ended the Kiwi curse early this year against the Highlanders, and maybe they can go two from two in one year.
REDS CLUB AWARDS
The regular season is done and dusted, now onto the club awards.
Samu Kerevi took out the Pilecki Medalfor the Queensland Reds, the award is the players player of the year. Kerevi is the first back to win the award since Will Genia in 2011, with previous years winners being George Smith, Liam Gill, Jake Schatz and James Slipper. Kerevi won the award convincingly despite missing the last two games of the season. He beat out Tongan Thor by 39 votes.
“To be voted by your peers as the best player is fantastic recognition for Samu Kerevi. He is a passionate Queenslander who gives everything for the jersey. The acknowledgement of your teammates is the greatest honour a player can have.” Reds coach Brad Thorn spoke highly of Kerevi, but also felt as a former forward to throw in a cheeky barb.
“As a former prop, we know Stan loved it when forwards won the award, but he certainly appreciated the way Samu approaches the game, with passion and physicality. This is the first time Stan hasn’t been around to present the award, but his name lives on and he will always be remembered as the larger than life character who gave so much to Queensland Rugby.”
It is no surprise to see Jordan Petaia, the youngest Queenslander to debut in Red, take the Rookie of the Yearaward after racking up 11 caps for Queensland.
“We were really impressed with Jordan Petaia in his first season of Super Rugby. He started training with the squad in pre-season when he was still 17 and he has taken everything in his stride. He debuted as the youngest-ever Reds player in Super Rugby has played 11 games for Queensland already. He is an impressive young man with a bright future in the Reds jersey.
With the tough contest for the Reds no.9 jersey, James Tuttle’s performance on and off the field earned him the Spirit of the Reds. Thorn praised his effort and resilience as Tuttle was presented with the award.
“James Tuttle has had a tough season, not everything has gone his way and it has been a tight tussle for that Number 9 jersey, with three talented players pushing for selection, but he has carried himself well throughout those challenges and continues to apply himself and push those around him to be their best.”
2018 Award winners
Pilecki Medal – Samu Kerevi
Rookie of the Year – Jordan Petaia
Spirit of the Reds – James Tuttle
THE WATERBOY2 NOT STARING MICHAEL HOOPER
Michael Hooper is not used to being sidelined with injury. It would appear he isn’t taking to it all that well, in particular the duties of running water and messages on game day.
Whilst speaking to the media, Waratahs forwards coach Simon Cron spoke out on how much or how little Hooper enjoyed hydrating his teammates.
“I don’t think he’s keen to do that again, he doesn’t like that job,” Cron said.
“Any player or competitor, when they’re running water and not being able to play, it can hurt you. It’s not fun to watch. He’d rather put himself in a box.”
It would not have been a fun experience for the Waratahs captain, being around his team during their loss to the Brumbies, not being able to have the impact he would prefer to have. Along with running water, Hoops had to run the messages from the coaches box. It would be a different kind of message he had to run, and something else he appeared to struggle with.
“I think if anyone, Hoops is probably more scared of him saying too much, so he’d rather not [do it], because he’s got to pick his time to step in,” he said.
As someone who has also run water for a professional team, I can say it was not that bad. Granted I ran for an AFL team, I wasn’t a player in the team and I am not the captain of my national team, but it was kind of fun.
Rugby.com are suggesting that Hooper with take a seat in the coaches’ box in this weeks match against the Highlanders in Sydney. Bernard Foley will continue to captain and Will Miller will continue to shine in the no.7 jersey.
REBELS CLUB AWARDS
Their season did not end in the way they would have liked it, in both an on field and off field capacity but that didn’t stop the Melbourne men from recognising their stand out players.
Anaru Rangi finished off his season playing in all but one game, playing 953 minutes for the season and even grabbing a few meat pies. To cap of the strong performance, Rangi now has the Players Player Award to add to his mantle.
Rangi was stunned by the experience, claiming he wasn’t expecting to win the accolade from his peers via melbournerebels.com
“I’m very humbled.
“It’s been an awesome year and I’ve loved every minute of it. I had absolutely no idea (I would be in the running for it) – I actually had my back turned when they read my name out!
“I’d really like to acknowledge Jordan (Uelese). It’s been a really competitive environment, but it’s also been a really enjoyable one to be a part of.”
Just like the Reds Rookie winner, there was no surprised in Mad Dog Jack Maddocks winning Rookie of the Year for the Rebels, after crossing the line for 9 tries this season. Maddocks was included in the Wallabies squad for the June series, and while he hasn’t earned his cap yet, there is no doubt the future is bright for the young Rebel.
“Coming into the year, my aim was really just to play a few games, so it’s a really happy moment to win this award.
“The back three is a really strong area for us, so I was just hoping to get some game time here and there where it was possible. To miss one game through injury and play every other game was a honour.”
Despite not having a contract the week of round one, Angus ‘Gussy’ Cotrell has claimed the Spirit of Weary Dunlop award.
Cottrell said: “It’s a massive honour and it’s a massive surprise, I really didn’t expect to win an award this year.
“I’ve just enjoyed having a good year with the club and to represent the team, so to win this award is a huge honour.
“It’s nice to receive an award like this, but most of all I’ve enjoyed spending time with people from the Melbourne Rebels. That’s what has made the year special, so we can definitely take that into next year.”
Colby Fainga’a was also honoured after he reached the milestone of 100 Super Rugby caps, 35 for the Brumbies and 65 for the Rebels.
2018 Melbourne Rebels Award Winners
Melbourne Rebels Players’ Player Award – Anaru Rangi
Melbourne Rebels Rookie of the Year Award – Jack Maddocks
Melbourne Rebels Spirit of Weary Dunlop Award – Angus Cottrell