Thursdays Rugby News sees Cooperation between the clubs and the national set up, the Friday night squads named, and Rebels happy to play Hodge in different positions.
FOR CLUB AND COUNTRY
Rebels coach Dave Wessels as played down that there is tension between the Super clubs and the Wallabies after two of his star players came back from Wallabies camp with soft tissue injuries.
Rebels captain Dane Haylett-Petty and Adam Coleman both returned from Michael Cheika’s fitness camp with calf injuries, with DHP being cleared for round 1 and Coleman named on the bench for Friday’s match.
Brumbies David Pocock and NSW Nick Phipps also picked up the same injury, though Phipps is the only one still in the rehab group.
Wessels has attempted to put to bed the idea that the Super clubs with the Wallabies set up.
“The reality is we’re in a contact sport so people get injured from time to time,” he said.
“I think the Wallabies would be the first to admit that they can do things better in their environment as we would be in our environment.
“We’re all trying to do things better. Did I have any formal dialogue that I was upset by the camp or whatever that’s been suggested in the media? No I didn’t do that.
“If I did I would just ring Michael myself, I wouldn’t be talking about that in the media.”
Nick Phipps sat down with the FOX SPORTS RUGBY Podcast where he took open up about the camp as much as a current player is expected too.
“I came back and day one we went straight into some noisy stuff (intense sprints) and I pinged my calf towards the end of the session.
“I wasn’t the only one, I had Poey (Pocock) and Dane (Haylett-Petty) with me and then I think Adsy (Coleman) did his…
“It was frustrating because if there’s three or four blokes from the Wallabies squad who you can trust to do all the work and be ready to go it’s probably us blokes and then we’re sitting on the sideline.
“But I don’t know, I think it was just a bit of luck, we went real quick, real fast and luck sort of got us four.”
“It’s [the camp] been painted like a real death march or something. Yeah, I got injured but the rest of the camp was really positive,” Phipps said.
“I know there is a lot of stuff out there saying how it was poorly run — it was quite well run. But I guess it is disappointing that a few of us pinged our calves. It’s frustrating but injuries happen.”
“Cheik actually had a really good presentation about what he expects from players in different groups, to pass the selection criteria and that maps out your season ahead, so you can sit there and start to tick your goals off and really plan ahead,” Phipps said.
It may be a long year as the national set up continue their trial and error of how to prioritise the Wallabies without completely screwing over the Super franchises. Case in point, the upcoming Wallaby camp in Sydney.
REECE HODGE’ MR FIX IT ROLE
On the topic of cooperation between the Super Clubs and the Wallabies, the idea of Reece Hodge and his versatility came up when Dave Wessels fronted the media.
Hodge, after breaking his ankle in a freak accident prior to the spring tour, is returning to Super Rugby this weekend, coming off the bench.
Hodge has played in every backline position for the Rebel, except for halfback, and almost every backline position for the Wallabies. Whilst this has been seen by some pundits as a weakness, a jack of all trades master of none if you will, other have likened it to centurion Adam Ashley Cooper who has played multiple roles for the Waratahs and Wallabies in his career. Except Hodge can kick 70m off the tee.
Not long ago Michael Cheika and former attack coach Steve Larkham had seen Hodge in a 10 jersey, or a back up 10 jersey for Bernard Foley. When they wanted to see this, Dave Wessels complied, and played Hodge at 10 for the remainder of the Super Season.
Wessels at points last season tried to accomodate the national set up, but with this year being a World Cup year, he acknowledges the importance of exposure and experience for the players.
“From our point of view, it’s probably fair on the player, if that’s his role going to be at national team and we can accommodate that and it’s useful for us as well, it makes sense to do it,” Wessels said.
“We haven’t had massive extensive discussions on it to be honest and I think Hodgey’s unique personality makes it very possible for him to play a number of different positions.
“I think one of the things is that the Wallabies have made it quite clear to us that in the World Cup his role will be to be versatile, so he covers a number of different positions,” he said.
“I think it’s fair that we give him that exposure. When you know Reece as a person, that doesn’t really bother him.
“He quite enjoys that – the challenge of starting in different positions and things like that – but primarily we’d see him as a centre.
“If all else is well and injury-wise and things, we’re able to accommodate that, first and foremost we’ll be seeing Hodgey as a centre.”
Wessels believes for Australian Rugby to improve and be strong, that the franchises need to cooperate with the Wallabies set up.
“I think it’s important that everybody recognises that part of our role as a provincial union is to support the Wallabies and we want to be a place that can create Wallabies and make those guys successful,” he said.
“We have to work closely with the Wallabies, as do all the franchises. Our ultimate goal is to make Australian rugby successful and the Wallabies are our no. 1 brand so I’d be very full of myself to sit here and say that’s not important to us, it is important to us.”
REBELS BIG GUNS ON THE BENCH
Last season the Rebels hopes at a maiden finals appearance were cut down by the Highlanders like a William Wallace rebellion against the English. Friday night the men from Melbourne will look to make a mends for what happened last year in Dunedin.
Melbourne will welcome back Wallabies Adam Coleman and Reece Hodge from injuries, both who have been named on the bench. Coach Dave Wessels has been impressed by the way the two have conducted themselves in rehab, saying they earned their way back into the team.
“Probably the biggest thing for us is just that the way that those guys have competed in their rehab to get to the level where the are,” he said.
“Both of them have hit some personal best fitness markers which is sometimes not easy when you’re in a different environment, you’re not training with the main team and then to have them back in training for the last two weeks has been pretty special.
“We’re working hard to try and create an environment where guys are just working hard to compete every day with each other, get better themselves but also get better with the people around them so I think Adam and Reece deserve their selection for having done that.”
Wessels was also impressed by the efforts of his team that took it to the Brumbies round one, rewarding players by only making two changes to the starting line up, with Sam Talakai replacing Jermaine Ainsley in the front row, and Brad Wilkin replacing Richard Hardwick at 7.
“We want to be true to the fact that we’re rewarding guys who compete in everything and want to be there and show desire to want to play and I think we’ve stayed true to that,” he said.
“I thought the guys who played against the Brumbies, a lot of them deserved to retain their spots and in some instances we’ve made changes because it’s pretty hard to split between two guys so we’re giving somebody else an opportunity. We’re excited for Friday night.”
As the Rebels welcome back two of their stars, the Highlanders are forced to rest three of theirs. Aaron Smith, Ben Smith, and Luke Whitelock will all stay home this weekend.
In the absence of their co-captains Smith and Whitelock, hooker Ash Dixon will take the role of captain on the day.
Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger was only able to name five started from last weeks narrow win over the Reds due to injury or national resting requirements.
For all those interested in the Kiwi set up. “Under an agreement between New Zealand Rugby and the Kiwi Super Rugby coaches, no All Blacks player should total more than 180 minutes of play through the first three rounds.”Via. RUGBY.com.au
Josh Ioane will move to fullback, and allow former Blue Bryn Gatland to make his Highlanders debut at flyhalf.
“We are happy with the outcome of the first two games, with plenty of positives to build upon, however, there are a few areas to tidy up in both our defence and attack,” Mauger said.
“The team to take on the Rebels is a mixture of experience and youth, and an excellent opportunity for some players who have worked hard for their chance to showcase their abilities.
“I am happy with the depth within our squad and the competition for positions is helping drive our preparation and performances each week.”
1. Tetera Faulkner 2. Anaru Rangi 3. Sam Talakai 4. Luke Jones 5. Matt Philip 6. Angus Cottrell 7. Brad Wilkin 8. Isi Naisarani 9. Will Genia 10. Quade Cooper 11. Marika Koroibete 12. Billy Meakes 13. Tom English 14. Jack Maddocks 15. Dane Haylett-Petty
16. Robbie Abel 17. Matt Gibbon 18. Jermaine Ainsley 19. Adam Coleman 20. Richard Hardwick 21. Rob Leota 22. Michael Ruru 23. Reece Hodge
1. Daniel Lienert-Broen 2. Ash Dixon 3. Siate Tokolahi 4. Jackson Hemopo 5. Pari Pari Parkinson 6. Shannon Frizell 7. James Lentjes 8. Elliot Dixon 9. Kayne Hammington 10. Bryn Gatland 11. Josh McKay 12. Teihorangi Walden 13. Thomas Umaga-Jensen 14. Waisake Naholo 15. Josh Ioane
16. Ricky Jackson 17. Ayden Johnstone18. Josh Iosefa-Scott 19. Tom Franklin 20. Marino Mikaele Tu’u 21. Folau Fakatava 22. Patelesio Tomkinson 23. Marty Banks
BIG BRUMBIES BACK
There is no question about it, if David Pocock is fit, you play David Pocock. He returns from injury back into his regular spot in the 7 jersey.
Pete Samu will get his first start for the Brumbies, starting at Blindside, with Rob Valentini given the week off, with McCaffery earning the no.8 spot once more.
Despite a strong start to the season, James Slipper will start on the bench, making way for Scott Sio to get his first start to the season.
Blake Enever is the final change to the starting line up. He will join Rory Arnold in the second row, and Darcy Swain comes onto the bench. Sam Carter was not named in the 23.
Coach Dan McKellar has named an unchanged backline to the side that took it to the Chiefs last weekend in Canberra, as they look to continue the momentum built from that epic win.
With Barretts, they are almost like the mythical Greek beast, the Hydra (cut one head of two more shall take its place.) One Barrett is out and another shall take its place. Jordie has been rested and Beauden has returned from his honeymoon to steer the ship at 10 for the Hurricanes.
“It’s a big year for him — I think he’s pleased to be back home from all his travels and he’s settled back in,” Hurricanes coach John Plumtree said.
“We got some good work into last week and now he’s ready to run the ship.”
Beauden isn’t the only change, Ardie Savea returns after missing the loss to the Crusaders, he will come in at number 8, Vaea Fifita will return as open side and Du’Plessis Kirifi will continue his hold on the blindside spot.
After last weeks performances from both teams, the Brumbies will have the momentum heading into this game, something that Plumtree is aware of.
“We want to improve a lot of aspects of our play and hopefully we can do that in front of what will be a great crowd in Palmy,” Plumtree said.
“We were really impressed with the performance the Brumbies put out last week so we know the scale of task ahead of us but it’s a great challenge for the squad.”
1. Scott Sio 2. Folau Fainga’a 3. Allan Alaalatoa 4. Rory Arnold 5. Blake Enever 6. Pete Samu 7. David Pocock 8. Lachlan McCaffrey 9. Joe Powell 10. Christian Lealiifano 11. Chance Peni 12. Irae Simone 13. Tevita Kuridrani 14. Andy Muirhead 15. Tom Banks
16. Josh Mann-Rea 17. James Slipper 18. Leslie Leauluaialii-Makin 19. Darcy Swain 20. Tom Cusack 21. Matt Lucas 22. Wharenui Hawera 23. Tom Wright
1. Chris Eves 2. Dane Coles 3. Ben May 4. James Blackwell 5. Liam Mitchell 6. Vaea Fifita 7. Du’Plessis Kirifi 8. Ardie Savea 9. TJ Perenara 10. Beauden Barrett 11. Ben Lam 12. Ngani laumape 13. Matt Proctor 14. Vince Aso 15. Chase Tiatia
16. Ricky Riccitelli 17. Xavier Numia 18. Jeff To’omaga-Allen 19. Isaia Walker-Leawere 20. Reed Prinsep 21. Richard Judd 22. Jackson Garden-Bachop 23. Wes Goosen