Thursday’s rugby news has the Wallabies gearing up for the Spring Tour, the Rebels looking for big signings, Folau fit and a JOC injury downgraded.
Wallabies look for mental edge on tour
With the year’s Test schedule announced, Ewen McKenzie has immediately looked towards the Spring Tour fixtures, saying that wins over England and Wales could give Australia a psychological edge over their World Cup Pool B competition. “You can create pressure and you can create doubt and confusion and questions over playing style,” McKenzie said.
The Wallabies coach said the key to winning a World Cup was consistency in all the 2014 Tests. But the Spring tour will be particularly influential, with the five games featuring matches against Wales in Cardiff, France in Paris, Ireland in Dublin and finishing with England in London.
Rebels to go on signing spree
The Rebels have re-signed promising young breakaway Sean McMahon, with coach Tony McGahan saying that the 19 year-old was a future Wallaby. After being recruited from the national sevens team, the aggressive McMahon has been one of the Rebels’ best and has played every game this season.
McGahan has also looked towards the off-season, declaring his intention to go after some big name off-contract playmakers. While the Rebels coach tried to emphasise that the inexperienced pairing of Bryce Hegarty and Nic Stirzaker would develop, he said that the club would be trying to secure some high-profile inside backs, including Matt Toomua, Matt Harris and Christian Lealiifano
Folau finally available
An ARU spokesperson has confirmed that Waratahs fullback Israel Folau will not be pulled from this weekend’s match against the Bulls. After missing the Tahs’ two games in South Africa with a throat injury, Folau was controversially forced to sit out last Saturday’s loss to the Western Force.
Meanwhile, SANZAR has postponed Michael Cheika’s judicial hearing scheduled to commence on Wednesday afternoon. On request from Cheika, the hearing to deal with his alleged sideline confrontation with a TV cameraman in Durban has been moved to Thursday night.
O’Connor sustains hamstring injury
London Irish representative James O’Connor has picked up a hamstring injury which was feared to have ruled the former Wallaby out of the final three games of the season. But director of rugby Brian Smith has now said that O’Connor’s injury will only keep O’Connor out of this week’s game against Northampton, with a probable return for the last two matches
Smith also said that JOC’s time at London Irish had been successful, asserting, “He has been terrific. He’s a very good player and been instrumental in a couple of key wins for us.”