Melbourne Rebels

Thursday’s Rugby News

Thursday’s Rugby News

Thursdays Rugby News sees Captain Pocock, Pumas vs Randwick, TPN calls time and a Red heads south.





And Wallabies fans across Australia stood on their desks and declared “Oh Captain my Captain.”

The news finally broke of the return to test Rugby of David Pocock, who, in place of Michael Hooper, will wear the captains band as the Wallabies take on Samoa on Saturday.

Pocock is one of a number of experienced players taking the field on Saturday, with the centurions Adam Ashley-Cooper, Will Genia and Sekope Kepu all starting.

The idea of the Samoa match  was to be a trail two weeks out from the World Cup, but Michael Cheika has elected to rest several players who had significant time during the Rugby Championship including Nic White, Michael Hooper, Isi Naisarani, Izack Rodda, Christian Lealiifano, Samu Kerevi, Allan Alaalatoa, Reece Hodge, Rory Arnold and Kurtley Beale.

To cope with those resting players Cheika has called in a handful of players not named in the 31 man squad to fill gaps.

Many players will be given their chance to push for starting spots as Cheika looks to try out so new (and old) combinations to find the best fit for the World Cup.

Despite not being named in the 31 man squad, Brumbies back rower Rob Valentini stands a chance to pick up his first Wallabies cap after he was named on the bench. As his international career starts,  plenty will come to an end, with this being the last time Will Genia, Sekope Kepu and Tatafu Polota-Nau are confirmed to play in Australia for the Wallabies, with a chance it could be the last for a few more players.

1. James Slipper (90 Tests) 2. Jordan Uelese (3 Tests) 3. Sekope Kepu (105 Tests) 4. Rob Simmons (97 Tests) 5. Adam Coleman (33 Tests) 6. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (15 Tests) 7. David Pocock (c) (77 Tests) 8. Jack Dempsey (11 Tests) 9. Will Genia (vc) (104 Tests) 10. Bernard Foley (69 Tests) 11. Marika Koroibete (23 Tests) 12. Matt To’omua (46 Tests) 13. Adam Ashley-Cooper (118 Tests) 14. Dane Haylett-Petty (32 Tests) 15. Tom Banks (5 Tests)


16. Tatafu Polota-Nau (89 Tests) 17. Scott Sio (58 Tests) 18. Taniela Tupou (15 Tests) 19. Luke Jones (5 Tests)  20. Liam Wright (1 Test)  21. Rob Valetini* 22. Nick Phipps (71 Tests) 23. James O’Connor (47 Tests)


Nicolas Sanchez scores for the Pumas

Nicolas Sanchez scores for the Pumas

It has been 31 years since Randwick faced the All Blacks at a suburban ground and on Saturday the old Sydney club will get that chance to face another international team when Los Pumas have their final hit out before the World Cup.

After a long year for the Jaguares and shortened Rugby Championship, Coach Mario Ledesma decided he would prefer an easier hit out to help his team adjust to the time zone, and have one final team run.

“Obviously the Jaguares played a lot of footy this year — that’s why we didn’t want a very demanding Test,” said Ledesma, who played at four World Cups.

“I’m not (knocking) the Wicks, I’m a fan, but we’re going to start with a pretty similar team.

“We had the chance to play against Fiji or Samoa like Australia, but it was more about going through out structures and a game plan more than a physically demanding Test, and we feel very comfortable over here.”

Back in 1988, the Randwick side boasted some names that are still talked about today with the likes of Simon Poidevin, Eddie Jones and Michael Cheika taking part.

But Ledesma isn’t expecting the same experience to come up against the Pumas, more the up and coming talent that Australia has to offer. Randwick will include Will Harrison and Ben Donaldson, both who starred for the Junior Wallabies earlier the year.

“I think it’s going to be a pretty young team,” Ledesma said.

“I saw some of those players playing in the under-20s this year.

“They have two really interesting fly-halves that were training here this morning.

“I think that (Wallabies back-rower) Ned’s (Hanigan) playing.

“Apparently there was some back and forth and pressure from (NSW) Country.

“But I think it would be good for him to play against us and good for us to have a guy like Ned in front.”

Whilst they might have some young bloods in their team, Randwick will feature former Wallabies Andrew Walker and Adam Freier, the later who made his Wallabies debut back in 2002, packing down against Ledesma. The pair then worked together when Ledesma coached the Wallabies and Freier worked as the media manager.

“I used to see Randwick and obviously Adam Freier, who used to show all his talent, and apparently he’s playing on the weekend. It could be his last,” quipped Ledesma, who followed Randwick during his time in Sydney.

“I think it’s going to be a favour for Australian rugby to retire him. I think it’s time.”



After 15 years at the international level, Wallabies hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau has decided to call time on his international career, with one final run on his home turf at Bankwest stadium on Saturday.

TPN missed out on making his third World Cup appearance, and barring being called in as emergency cover, 

“It is (special) because the west has given me the opportunity to take rugby with both hands and go for it,” Polota-Nau said.

“If it wasn’t for Parramatta Two Blues picking up the skill set I possessed back in schoolboys days, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to don the green and gold.

“It’s a privilege really to wear the Wallabies jersey.

“It’s another opportunity to wear the gold jersey, most likely for the last time, and  it’s been a hell of a journey and I have been incredibly fortunate to wear the jersey every time.”

Despite not being named to go to Japan, TPN is confident in the young players that Cheika has chosen, and is far from being a bitter old man.

“There are various skills each hooker possesses and to be honest I have been fortunate to witness that. Unfortunately my skill set isn’t as good as the rest of them but to honest I couldn’t be at a happier place and I have every confidence they will do the job in Japan.”

Polota-Nau will face Samoa for the first time since 2011, when he was a part of the side that was upset by Samoa, who were the better team according to the hooker.

“It’s a very important game, not just to get different combinations in the right places but also an opportunity for guys who don’t get much exposure to Test rugby to test their wares against Samoa,” Polota-Nau said.

“Samoa are a really experienced side, with a lot of them playing in the Premiership, where I am playing. They will have a lot to offer and a lot up their sleeve as they prepare for Japan as well.”




The Melbourne Rebels have continued their rebuild by adding former Queensland Reds halfback James Tuttle to their 2020 list.

Tuttle was a regular in the reds squad before suffering injury set backs, and ultimately losing his spot to Tate McDermott and Moses Sorvovi.

he is grateful though, to have a second shot at Super Rugby.

“I’d like to thank Dave Wessels for the opportunity for me to continue on my Super Rugby career in Melbourne,” said Tuttle.

“I’m really excited to be joining a Club with such a highly regarded coaching staff and full of talented players right throughout the squad.

“The more competition you have in your playing group, the higher the standards you’re exposed to out on the training paddock.

“I’m looking forward to mixing it with those talented players and doing everything I can to fight for a starting spot.” 

Along with Fijian half back Frank Lomani, Tuttle will have the chance to fill the void left at the club after Will Genia and Michael Ruru departed.

It was also confirmed by the club that they had signed Western Force flyhallf Andrew Deegan, who has lead the Force at NRC and Global Rapid Rugby level.

“Having played professional rugby now in both the Southern and Northern hemispheres (with Connacht), I feel like I’m returning to the Super Rugby with a lot more experience.

“The backline at the Rebels is stacked with talent across the board, so it will be exciting to work alongside plenty of guys who have international experience.

“The Rebels look like they’ve been building something special over the last couple of seasons and I’m excited to be a part of it,” said Deegan.

Rebels GM Nick Ryan was excited that the Rebels could secure they young talent like Tuttle and Deegan.

“It’s exciting for the Club to be able to secure both Andrew and James as talented playmakers who have a worldly mix of rugby experience and youth,” said Ryan.

“Our 2020 campaign is going to be built on hard work and driving high standards day in, day out. The fact both players arrive here with experience of other professional environments means they will hit the ground running and we want to create an environment of great competition for spots in the 23 each week.

“In addition to international Matt To’omua and Frank Lomani, we now have quality depth in our playmaking stocks. It takes a squad mentality to be successful in Super Rugby and we are looking forward to finalising our roster very soon.”


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