Tuesdays Rugby News sees the All Black squad named, Some big names back in training for the Wallabies, a Safety review for Schoolboy Rugby and Henry Speight on the move.
LET THE MIND GAMES BEGIN
Just after Cheika named his squad for the Rugby Championship, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has named his squad, with a few big names returning, a few rising stars and further proof the All Blacks have immense depth when the they can leave so much talent out. With the naming of the squad, Hanson has started with the mind games.
“The selectors found this an incredibly difficult squad to select, and whilst we congratulate those who’ve been named in the Investec Rugby Championship team, we also commiserate with those who’ve missed out” Steve Hansen (Via allblacks.com)
The NZ Herald doesn’t think there are any bolters in the squad, with the team looking to have a solid blend of experience and fresh talent, Jackson Hemopo, Shannon Frizell and Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi are some of the surprising fresh faced inclusion. Chiefs Tahuriorangi is the biggest surprise, keeping Crusaders Bryn Hall and fellow Chief Brad Weber out of the squad.
With Dane Coles and SBW still under the injury cloud, Hooker Liam Coltman and Centr Ngani Laumape come in as cover players for the injured pair.
Hansen has started the mental games early this year, claiming he believes the Wallabies are favourites this year to win back the Bledisloe Cup, something that hasn’t happened since before I was in high school.
“We lost to Australia the last time we played them, so no doubt they’ll have a lot of self-confidence and are worthy of starting as favourites.”
I am not a gambling man but I wouldn’t be running to sportsbet.com any time soon. In fact the bookies seemingly disagree with the NZ coach, the All Blacks are paying $1.25 to win in Sydney.
Hansen claims to be expecting a well contested competition this year, with Australia and South Africa upping their games, and with Super Mario as the Argentinian head coach, Los Pumas could be a threat too.
“Both Australia and South Africa appear to have grown their games and will come at us with real energy and conviction, while the Argentinians have a new coaching group, which will present new challenges.
“All of this means that this year’s Rugby Championship will be a well-contested competition and we’ll need to once again raise the bar across the board when it comes to our preparation, our skill levels and how we handle pressure.
Here is the All Blacks squad for the 2018 Rugby Championship.
Jordie Barrett, Ben Smith, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Waisake Naholo, Rieko Ioane, Jack Goodhue, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ryan Crotty, Sonny Bill Williams, Beauden Barrett, Damian McKenzie, Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith, TJ Perenara, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Kieran Read (C), Luke Whitelock, Sam Cane, Ardie Savea, Liam Squire, Shannon Frizell, Jackson Hemopo, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Scott Barrett, Joe Moody, Tim Perry, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Nathan Harris, Dane Coles.
BIG WALLABIES BACK
Sporting a moustache that rivals Ned Flanders, Tatafu Polota-Nau is back in Wallaby camp and looking to bring what he has learnt in the Northern Hemisphere and keep up with the standard set.
TPN missed the June series due to his commitment to Leicester, which paved the way for some of the younger hookers to put their hands up. Brandon Paenga-Amosa and Tolu Latu stepped up their game during the June Series, (lest we forget that National Anthem from BPA) and are both pushing for selection. Whilst it would be no surprise to see TPN be in the squad, there is some good competition to keep him honest.
In fact, Taf isn’t all that confident that he will get back into the match day 23, let alone wear the no. 2 jersey during the championship.
“Absolutely not. After today, I am not sure if you guys saw that but they have set a really high standard and I thought I would come back in and wriggle my way back in but I think I have left my run a bit late.”
“In saying that, I am always going to put my best foot forward.”
“I have to earn it,” he said.
In other Wallabies news Captain Michael Hooper is putting his best foot forward to be inline for a test return for Bledisoloe one, after completing all the drills on day one of the training camp.
Speaking with Rugby.com.au, Hooper said, ‘Yeah it’s feeling good. I am a little off the pace. It’s the first real footy I have played in over six weeks but I am comfortable in how the injury has progressed in getting here and I have had great rehab. I am putting myself in the best position to get myself right for the first game,”
Hooper will have a full week of camp to get him ready for selection next week, but even if he misses out, the Wallabies currently have a plethora of talent in the back row that some good players will naturally miss out.
HENRY SPEIGHT ON THE MOVE
Brumbies winger Henry Speight has signed a short term/ on loan contractwith Irish club Ulster during this off-season.
Fellow Brumby Christian Lealiifano used the same deal to Ulsterlast season.
Speight will be back by the end of the year in time for the 2019 Super Rugby season, but the move indicates that he will most likely be out of Wallaby selection for the Spring Tour
Speight has spoken about his excitement of joining Ulster and the new challenge he has ahead of him.
“I’ve spoken to Christian (Lealiifano) a lot regarding this move and he had only great things to say about the staff, players, supporters and wider community, which welcomed him with open arms.
“This is a fresh challenge for me and I hope to embrace it by relishing every moment and by adding value to the group as best I can. I can’t wait to arrive in Belfast and get to work with my new teammates.”
Brumbies coach Dan McKellar supported Speight’s move.
“We are fully supportive of Henry joining Ulster for the first months of the Pro14 season,” he said.
“Henry has been at the Brumbies for eight years now and this is a great opportunity for him to experience a new environment and culture”
It is a smart move by Speight, he would get more out of playing for Ulster than he would playing NRC for Canberra.
These short term load contracts may be the key to keeping talent in Australia that hasn’t broken in the Wallabies squad, or is looking for a way back in.
SCHOOLBOY SAFETY REVIEW
After a string of serious injuries to occur in Queensland’s GPS rugby competition, Rugby Australia has decided to conduct a review regarding safe practices in the game and training.
Nudgee College’s Alexander Clark suffered a spinal injury over the weekend in what is said to be a freak accident as he scored a try for the 15B’s
Four boys on four separate occasions have experience serious injuries in the early weeks of the season. Along with Clark, Gregory Terrace’s Conor Tweedy and Toowoomba Grammar School’s James Kleidon and Ollie Bierhoff have all suffered serious injuries.
Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle has said she has made contact with Clark and said he can’t wait to get back to playing Rugby after he started to show some positive signs.
“Alexander Clark and Conor Tweedy are both in a stable condition and there are some positive signs but they are facing a rather long road to recovery,”
Castle went on to say,”We will be reviewing each of these cases individually because they were all in separate incidences either in the game or in training.
“There is no consistent theme that has caused any of the injuries.”
Tim Horan and Quade Cooper went to visit Conor Tweedy and Ollie Bierhoff in hospital, with Horan commenting on how distressing it is for families involved. Horan has also thrown his support behind the introduction of a certificatesystem for players packing down in the front row.
“Certificate 1 may be while you’re at training, you’re allowed to pack in the front row,” said the former Australian Centre.
“Certificate II means that you can now compete in a game, because you understand how to pack, where to put your arms, where to put your shoulders, what happens if the scrum goes down, where does your head go.”
He followed up saying you can’t remove the ‘push’ from schoolboy scrums, because they are a major part of the game, and something that will happen in clubland.