Wednesday’s Rugby News sees James Slipper re-sign with the Brumbies, creative solutions to Super Rugby’s covid problems, the Junior Wallabies confirm their first squad of 2022 and Aussie Tawera Kerr-Barlow shares some stories.
James Slipper re-signs with BrumbiesEmbed from Getty Images
114test cap Wallaby prop (either side will do), three World Cup veteran, sorely-missed Red and current Brumby James Slipper is eyeing a fourth World Cup appearance after signing a one year contract extension with Rugby Australia and the Brumbies according to G&GR’s own Nathan Williamson.
Having made his debut in 2010, the loosehead has been a mainstay for more than a decade, winning titles with the Queensland Reds (2011) and Brumbies (2020) among nearly 150 Super Rugby games.
Slipper’s influence in the Brumbies and Wallabies set-up was clear to see when Dave Rennie handed him the captaincy for the Wales Test.
It’s the 32 year old’s leadership and incredible skill that stands out for Rennie and Brumbies coach Dan McKellar which made them pleased to have him locked down until the 2023 World Cup.
“James is a top man and massively respected member of our mob and we’re thrilled he’s recommitted to Australian Rugby,” Rennie said.
Pravda also reports that Slipper is suddenly in a race with Wallabies captain Michael Hooper to become Australia’s most-capped player after his call to remain with the Brumbies rather than chase a lucrative overseas deal.
Still only 32 and already with 114 Tests under his belt, Slipper is within sight of George Gregan’s record 139 caps.
Playing tighthead and loosehead, Slipper made 14 appearances for Australia in 2021 and could conceivably add another 15 caps this year if the Wallabies’ spring tour features five matches. Should he retain his form and remain injury-free, there’s nothing stopping Slipper from catching Gregan at the 2023 World Cup in France. He currently trails Hooper by four Test caps.
Super creativityEmbed from Getty Images
Rugby Australia and Super Rugby Pacific are examining the possibility of a shared player pool and the Force playing games in Western Australia (can you imagine?!) as part of ongoing COVID discussions according to William Nathanson from a totally different news source to the first article.
Covid has been felt throughout the competition, with the Waratahs revealing all but seven of their 40 player squad contracted COVID over pre-season, but with the lethargy barely affecting the Tahs’ performance. Further cases have emerged from the Reds with Hunter Paisami and Tate McDermott joining coach Brad Thorn, James O’Connor and Jordan Petaia in isolation.
With this in mind, RA have confirmed they will look to adopt a similar model to the Big Bash with up to 30 players added into a back-up ‘pool’ from which* clubs can select players.
(*Preposition-end to original sentence corrected. You can thank me with Wallaby merchandise Nathan).
While this option is being explored clubs will initially look to cover any disruptions through their elite development and training squads first and foremost before they consider looking at external players.
These players will largely be sourced from Sydney and Brisbane club rugby, available to be selected for multiple clubs, with key emphasis put on ensuring front-row depth.
After two disrupted Super seasons, Rugby Australia CEOAndy Marinos was keen to ensure the impact could be limited heading into the revamped competition.
“We want to keep playing games, it’s important we keep playing games. The biggest challenge we have is what happens if we get a lot of impact across the front-row, how do we manage that from a technical perspective,” Marinos said on potential disruptions.
The suggestion of uncontested scrums being an option to preserve the safety of inexperienced front-rowers has not been universally popular according to the SMH. Waratahs forwards coach Pauli Taumoepeau said “Rugby is a contest game, you contest at lineout, you contest [a] maul, you contest [a] tackle. If you take that scrum out of the way, as much as it is very much for the purist, I just don’t think its rugby anymore.”
In relation to Border Force (thanks Habitual Offender) “It is very dynamic and there’s always going to be susceptible to further change but we now know we have a fly-in fly-out model that can be used in Perth,” Marinos added.
“While they will base themselves here (in the eastern states, the rightful home of Rugby), we’re working through the details of them being able to fly in through a bubble and play some games before continuing and carrying on.“
G&GR contacted a spokesperson for the East-Coast anti-Force conspiracy for comment, but he was too busy working on the Force’s Twiggy-donated FIFO jet (dubbed “Air Force One”), replacing all the castellated and nylon nuts with regular Bunnings-spec hardware.
Junior Wallabies confirm first squad of 2022
Junior Wallabies Head Coach Nathan Grey has confirmed his first squad for the 2022 year as the Australian U20s program looks to make its return to the national landscape following a disrupted 2021.
The squad has 20 players (listed below) returning from involvement in the program from 2021 and a string of exciting new talent emerging from all corners of the Australian Rugby landscape, including Super Academies, clubs, schoolboy rugby.
Assembling in Canberra on 20 February, the Junior Wallabies will base themselves in the nation’s capital till 1 March as they prepare for the annual Oceania U20s Championship that will take place in early July this year.
“This is one of 3 camps designed to build a squad to represent Australia in the Oceania Tournament, and these players get the first crack at securing a spot in that final group,” Grey said.
2022 Junior Wallabies Camp One Squad:
Siosifa Amone (Force*), Taj Annan (Reds), Ed Arnott (Tahs), Floyd Aubrey (Reds*), Nic Baker (Reds), Angus Blackmore (Brumbies*), Jayden Blake (Tahs), Jack Bowen (Tahs), Cooper Bridgeman (Reds), Adrian Brown (Tahs*), John Bryant (Reds), Paddy Burns (Tahs), Luke Callan (Force*), Jamie Clark (Tahs), Ben Dowling (Tahs*), George Gibson (Tahs), Mason Gordon (Rebels*), Mac Grealy (Reds*), Eyda Haisila (Rebels), Clem Halaholo (Tahs), Zac Hough (Rebels), Fritz Jahnke-Tavana (Tahs), Matias Jensen (Brumbies), Darby Lancaster (Aussie 7s & Tahs), Jhy Legg (Force), Remsy Lemisio (Brumbies*), Tom Lynagh – hands off Eddie! (Reds), Daniel Maiava (Rebels), Tom Maka (Tahs*), Pat Maka (Brumbies*), Timo Naivaluwaqa (Brumbies), Henry O’Donnell (Tahs), George Poolman (Force*), Lukas Ripley (Rebels*), Andrew Romano (Force*), Conor Seve (Force*), Ned Slack-Smith (Force), Byron Sutherland (Tahs), Paddy Tagg (Tahs), Keynan Tauakipulu (Reds*), Kalani Thomas (Reds*), David Vaihu (Rebels*), Angus Websdale (Tahs), Louis Werchon (Reds*), Teddy Wilson (Tahs*).
Tawera Kerr-Barlow chats to RugbypassEmbed from Getty Images
Australian-born ex-All Blacks and current La Rochelle scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow shared some amusing stories with Rugbypass. The Australian-born, Darwin-raised Kerr-Barlow mostly played league before enrolling in a Hamilton boarding school as a teenager.
Kerr-Barlow began his professional rugby career in 2009 when he made his debut for Waikato at just 18 years old. Kerr-Barlow was eventually signed to the Chiefs, making his debut for them in 2011 and became a regular starter for both teams.
Kerr-Barlow was first selected for the All Blacks to go on the end-of-year tour in 2012, earning 29 caps.
Kerr-Barlow says of the style of game in France: “The rugby is not as fast as it is in New Zealand in Super Rugby but it is much more technical,” he explained. “It has allowed me to improve my kicking game and my control and it is a little bit different. Southern hemisphere lads could do well to come here for a season or two and learn that you can skin the cat in a different way.” “In France, the nine controls the play and the tempo of the game a lot more and the tempo of the game than we do in New Zealand, which I obviously enjoy,”
His mother Gail played Test level union for Australia, his father Reimana played at representative league level in New Zealand while his uncle Tukere Barlow even trucked north and featured for Warrington Wolves in the English Super League. “Mum was the goal kicker and one time she pointed at the posts and put the ball down. I didn’t know what was happening but the ref didn’t point at the posts, she put her foot on the ball and then took it off about eleven metres from the line. She faked it as if it was part of her technique and then she just walked past the opposition and put the ball down and they awarded the try.” “I asked mum what she was doing and she said she pointed at the posts but told the ref that she didn’t want to take the points, so she got a real sneaky try. It was pretty incredible. I can’t believe it worked.”