Table of Contents
Friday’s Rugby News – 4/8/23
Friday again, gang. Let’s get into it.
IT’S NOT CHILD’S PLAY
The top priority today is to acknowledge the untiring enthusiasm and contribution of my colleague Charlie Mackay, who kept this machine running for a few weeks while G&GR’s tech boffins (that is, some third world kiddies who administer the site with an old Motorola RAZR for the equivalent of 40 cents a month) tried to refresh the 2009-era WordPress installation and issue logins to the new volunteers.
On behalf of the current news team, and I hope all G&GR regular readers, I say ‘thank you’ to Chucky for carrying the water and sponging our collective groin. He’s a true team man, and I think he might just have been too good for the other mob.
BLEEDIN’ IN DUNEDIN
“So much better when the fans aren’t in the shot”
Speaking of the benighted third world, off we go to Dunedin tomorrow for the Bledisoe rematch. You’ll have seen the team announcements already, but here they are for the record:
New Zealand v Australia
Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin – 12:35 p.m. (AEST) on Saturday, 5 August 2023
Ref: Karl Dickson; ARs: 1: Wayne Barnes and Christophe Ridley; TMO: Marius Plonker
All Blacks: 1. Tamaiti Williams, 2. Samisoni Tau’keiaho, 3. Nepo-baby Laulala, 4. Brodie Retallick, 5. Sam Whitelock, 6. Samipeni Finau, 7. Sam ‘Kicker’ Cane (c), 8. Ardie Savea, 9. Finlay Christie, 10. Damian McKenzie, 11. Leicester Fainga’anuku, 12. Anton Lienert-Brown, 13. Braydon Ennor, 14. Shaun Stevenson, 15. Will Jordan, 16. Dane Coles, 17. Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 18. Fletcher Newell, 19. Tupou Vaa’i, 20. Luke Jacobson, 21. Aaron Smith, 22. Richie Mo’unga, 23. Dallas McLeod
Wallabies: 1. Angus Bell, 2. David Porecki, 3. Pone Fa’amausili, 4. Nick Frost, 5. Richie Arnold, 6. Tom Hooper, 7. Fraser McReight, 8. Rob Valetini, 9. Tate McDermott (c), 10. Carter Gordon, 11. Marika Koroibete, 12. Samu Kerevi, 13. Jordan Petaia, 14. Mark Nawaqanitawase, 15. Andrew Kellaway, 16. Jordan Uelese, 17. James Slipper, 18. Zane Nonggorr, 19. Will Skelton, 20. Rob Leota, 21. Nic White, 22. Quade Cooper, 23. Izaia Perese
Take note of that kick-off time and make sure you get home early enough with a package of dim sims and potato scollops for sustenance.
Wallabies-wise, that looks like a better back row, and I’m keen to see if big Pone is willing and able to make a mark. I think there’s something not right in the centres: Kerevi is out of form and last week, Petaia seemed to me to be watching what was happening rather than making it happen. I think we’d all like to see both wingers stay in their lanes, especially in defence.
Prediction: Wallabies by 4.
“This cap? It’s my hundredth.”
I plan to keep an eye on Wales during their warm-up matches so we can see how they’re tracking en route to Pool C. A couple of weeks ago I reported on their oversized training squad – now they have to get serious with two matches against England. This weekend in Cardiff they’re sending out:
- Corey Domachowski, 2. Ryan Elias, 3. Keiron Assiratti, 4. Dafydd Jenkins, 5. Will Rowlands, 6. Christ Tshiunza, 7. Jac Morgan (c), 8. Aaron Wainwright, 9. Gareth Davies, 10. Sam Costelow, 11. Rio Dyer, 12. Max Llewellyn, 13. George North, 14. Louis Rees-Zammit, 15. Leigh Halfpenny, 16. Elliot Dee, 17. Nicky Smith, 18. Henry Thomas, 19. Ben Carter, 20. Taine Plumtree, 21. Tomos Williams, 22. Dan Biggar, 23. Mason Grady
Props Domachowski and Assiratti are among half a dozen uncapped players and are sure to be welcomed heartily to the test arena by Ellis Genge and Will Stuart. The fairly useful Leigh Halfpenny runs out for test number 100.
Kurtley Beale’s going to France. Not for the World Cup, but to take up one of several contract offers. On Tuesday, a magistrate altered his bail conditions to allow to get his passport back from the cops and head overseas to play. He has to lodge a $50,000 surety, not drink le rouge ou le blanc and return by 31 December.
Over at rugby.com.au, Nathan Williamson reports that James O’Connor has signed with the Reds for another year. Nathan also relays some Wallabies news with a double dash of unconventional grammar: Tate McDermott was ‘outcasted’, but Eddie Jones ‘forecasted’ a leadership role for him in the remodelled Wallabies, he thinks Tate has the same sort of leadership assets as George Gregan.
Speaking of GG, Planet Rugby reports he believes Scotland have a good chance of making it out of their World Cup pool at the expense of Ireland or South Africa.
THE FRIDAY FRY-UP
In my column last week, I had a bit to say about TV commentators who can’t be bothered to recognise players or pronounce their names correctly. Allan Alaalatoa’s injury last Saturday night means we won’t have to listen to Sean Maloney call him ‘Arlertoa’ for a while, but on the same night, Tim Horan sank to Maloney’s level by consistently dropping a syllable from the middle of Nawaqanitawase. There’s a little ‘ni’ in there, Tim. Remember the Knights Who Say “Ni”? You try that, bub.
If you’re fretting about the underwhelming start to Eddie Jones’s second tenure as Wallabies coach, I invite you to set aside 30 minutes from your day (or at any time over the weekend) and watch this Squidge video from last year. Obviously, events have overtaken the prediction that Jones and England were on track to win the World Cup together. Nonetheless, Squidge is forthright in his view that Eddie is the biggest rugby brain in the universe and the standard-setting coach of the entire professional era. The downside of his brilliance is his determination to take the long way around, to spend years if he has to, building towards his single goal – a World Cup to make up for the one he missed seizing 20 years ago. We’re going to have to be patient.