Tuesday’s Rugby News looks at the injuries from round 6, Petrus du Plessis’s trip down under, Thorn heaping praise on Michael Todd and, Cloe Dalton re-signing with RA
To’omua cleared, Hunter not so clear.
There are a few concerns for supporters of the Rebels and Reds after their epic match on Saturday.
Hunter Paisami bent his knee a way it’s not supposed to go seconds before half time and sat glumly on the bench for the Reds massive second-half effort. Paisami spent the force shutdown recovering from an MCL tear and there a fears he has re-injured it but scans in the next couple of days will show the full picture.
Minutes after the break both Tate McDermott and Matt To’omua where being whisked up the tunnel for HIA’s. While McDermott returned to the field no worse for wear To’omua was able to return. Good news is To’omua was cleared to travel back to Sydney with his teammates and with the Rebels having a week off is unlikely to miss a game.
It was on the field that the Rebels really missed To’omua’s leadership when they were unable to score with a mountain of possession and territory in the second half.
Late in the game, Australia’s other leading contender for the Wallabies flyhalf spot walked off with an injured sternum. But no word yet if his replacement was precautionary or not.
Is Petrus du Plessis joining Wallaby Coaching Team?
Rumours have been swirling around Petrus du Plessis and his possible inclusion in the Wallaby set up for a while. Most of the speculation has been whether Rugby Australia could afford to stump up the cash to lure the 120+ kg tighthead prop down under.
While there has been no word from RA it seems that the De Plessis’s are apparently heading to Australia while the Glasgow Warriors have announce Petrus has left to take up coaching opportunities elsewhere.
Wallabies boss Rennie has made no secret of his desire to sign the 39-year-old Du Plessis, who has been Glasgow Warriors’ scrum coach since 2018. “If we can get it across the line, there’s more than just the Wallabies, it’s getting around the country working with all national sides and so on but he’d be a great get if we can get it over the line.”
Two weeks ago Glasgow confirmed that the South African had ‘accepted another coaching role’ and it now appears that barring something as yet unseen, he will be Wallabies scrum coach. He will be Rennie’s latest acquisition from Scottish Rugby, with former Scotland and Glasgow coach Matt Taylor returning to the land of his birth as defence coach.
He won two Heineken Champions Cup and three English Premiership titles during his time at Saracens. Before enjoying a stellar professional career playing for Nottingham, Saracens and London Irish in England and then heading across the border to Scotland, du Plessis graduated in physiotherapy from the University of Salford in 2008 when he was playing for Sedgley Park.
Notionally a weakness of the Wallabies, Du Plessis will have his hands full turning their scrum into a weapon, but you wouldn’t bet against him.
Thorn waxes lyrical
After the amazing defensive effort by the Reds on Saturday their coach, big bad Brad Thorn heaped praise on Reds analyst and defence coach Michael Todd in the after-match press conference.
Todd, who migrated to Australia in 2009 after two years earlier having represented Zimbabwe at rugby’s Junior World Cup in Ireland, never expected to find his name being spoken so reverently at a post-match press conference.
While he had helped Thorn with the Queensland Country side in 2017, the same year he joined the Wallabies for their spring tour as a computer analyst, all of his work earlier this year had been on laptops. That was until the COVID-19 pandemic struck and he suddenly found himself answering an SOS from Thorn to take over the defence coaching role after Peter Ryan was laid off by the Queensland Rugby Union.
“It’s been a pleasant experience but a steep learning curve,” Todd told The Australian on Sunday. “I wouldn’t say we are doing too much different. We have just tried to simplify it. We know it is going to be a short tournament so we just try to do all the simple things really well as well as play for each other.”
Normally, Reds halfback Tate McDermott is feted for his attack but he made at least three try-saving tackles on Saturday and he admits that working with Todd has been eye-opening.
“From my point of view, it’s the basics done well,” McDermott explained. “You stick that first tackle, you get right back to the basics, everyone does their job. Todd has taken that to another level.”
Country First For Chloe Dalton
The Draw of the Olympics and the chance of a medal has pushed Chloe Dalton towards signing with Rugby Australia for the 2021 season.
“When I looked at it, I wanted to make sure that when I get to the Olympics in 2021 I’m the best possible player that I could be, and I don’t think that going back and playing another AFLW season and coming back with three or four months to prepare would be enough,” Dalton tells RUGBY.com.au.
“I want to be sure, particularly for my teammates, that when I step out on the field I’m as fit and strong as possible and everything that I’ve been working on makes me the best teammate.
“I don’t want to ever go to an Olympics and not be at my peak.”
The benefit of hindsight has given her that perspective.
Had the Tokyo Olympics gone ahead as scheduled for 2020, Dalton, 27, believes she would have been racing the clock to return to the form she was in four years ago before she sensationally switched codes to join the AFLW in 2018.
“I’m quite thankful that I have an extra year to get ready for Tokyo 2021 because looking back now I think I would have been cutting it pretty fine to come in off the back of the AFLW season and only have a few months to prepare for the Olympics,” she says.
Dalton believes, too, that the extra year the squad has to rediscover their mojo will help their bid to defend their gold medal.
“There’s definitely positives in the fact that it’s (COVID-19) given us more time to prepare,” Dalton says.
“I think for us as a squad it’s definitely a positive thing and we’ve tried to use the last few months where there’s obviously been a lot of restrictions in place and other countries may not have had access to the same training and still be able to be centralised like we have, so we’ve been trying to use that as much as we possibly can and from a strength and conditioning perspective to get ahead.
“Moving forward, coming up against probably our biggest opposition in New Zealand, who have obviously been really dominant over the last year or so, it’s going to be a massive challenge but it’s working out what we can be doing individually and as a squad to get ourselves up to that level so when we meet them, whatever context that is, how we can beat them.”