Categories
Rugby

‘My heart is in Penrith’: Yeo

Penrith lock Isaah Yeo is humbled that incoming Canterbury coach Trent Barrett wants him to sign at Belmore but believes he owes it to the Panthers to stay.

Yeo was surprised when reports surfaced suggesting Barrett is keen to lure him to the Bulldogs when he comes off-contract at the end of 2021.

The Dubbo-born forward is a free agent from November 1, but he feels like his future belongs at the foot of the mountains.

“I’m still on contract at Penrith, and I’d like to think my heart is there,” Yeo said.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to come through there and I moved there when I was 17, so my first priority is to stay at Penrith, and I’d like to think that something will work out there.”

In his seven NRL seasons at Penrith, Yeo has rarely received interest from a rival club.

It’s why the news even shocked his family, including his father Justin.

Isaah Yeo is a Penrith boy. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

“My old man was asking me if there was any truth to it,” he said.

“This is the first time (in my career) where I’ve been in a position like this where articles are written about interest from other clubs.

“I actually had that story sent to me.

“It is nice to hear, but it is just a matter of making sure I’m doing my job for the club.”

Yeo’s preference is to remain at Penrith, but he can’t speak highly enough of Barrett’s influence on him as the Panthers’ attack coach.

He credits the former Illawarra, St George Illawarra, and Cronulla playmaker for transforming his game this season.

“For me, moving to the lock role and not being a ball player until this year, Trent has been tremendous for me,” he said.

“We did so much opposed stuff and repetition. I guess the more you do that kind of stuff, the more confidence you get.

“I was more of an up-and-down player when I first moved to the middle, but Trent has helped me, and he is a big part of why I’m in his (Blues) squad.

“The amount of trust and belief that he puts in his players is outstanding, and he will be a big loss for us.”

As a Dubbo boy, Isaah Yeo grew up idolising Andrew Ryan when he starred for the NSW Blues on the Origin stage. Picture: Phil HillyardSource:News Corp Australia

Yeo missed out on the Blues’ final 21-man team for Wednesday’s opening Origin against Queensland in Adelaide, but he feels blessed to be a part of the squad.

He grew up in Dubbo idolising local star Andrew “Bobcat” Ryan, who played 12 Origins for the Blues, and now he has the opportunity to follow in Ryan’s footsteps and don the state’s blue jersey.

“Bobcat was the one that I looked up to being from Dubbo, with all the accolades he achieved,” he said.

“The grand final wins, State of Origin and Australia. I loved watching him play.

“It is always a goal to be part of something like this, and if you asked me at the start of the year if I would make this squad, I would have thought it was out of reach, particularly after my year last year.”

Yeo says the Origin camp has also helped him move on from the pain of last week’s grand final loss to Melbourne.

“You can’t be dwelling on stuff in a camp like this when there is so much on the line,” he said.

“And I don’t think you can when you are a part of a group like this.”

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Rugby

Wales great JJ Williams was the lion who ran like a cheetah

The lion who ran like a cheetah: Wales great JJ Williams will always be known for his role in the invincible tour of South Africa, but there was so much more to him than just rugby

  • Former Wales and British & Irish Lions player JJ Williams has died at the age of 72 
  • The winger played 30 times for Wales between 1973 and 1979 – scoring 48 points
  • Williams was regarded as a true athlete and leaves behind a sporting family

Whenever a privileged guest asked him about the greatest of all Lions tours, JJ Williams would point to a ‘treasured’ picture on the wall of his inner sanctum.

The black and white imagery makes it as symbolic today as the day it was snapped, in Port Elizabeth on July 13, 1974, when the Welsh wing ran like the wind and did what no Lion had done before or since. 

His fourth try in successive Tests against the Springboks clinched the series and none cheered louder or longer than the victims of apartheid in the cheap seats behind the posts.

 Former Wales and British & Irish Lions player JJ Williams (above) has died at the age of 72

Their ecstatic reaction gave the scorer as much satisfaction over the ensuing 46 years as the beauty of the try itself. South Africa had been expelled by the IOC and FIFA but rugby’s predictable refusal to take a similar stand left the Lions to weather a storm of protest.

‘I treasure the photograph not because it’s me but because of the reaction of the black people in the crowd,’ he said. ‘The sheer joy on their faces, the arms raised in a victory salute at another Lions try is something I still marvel at.

‘Their jubilation stemmed from the all-white Springboks being hammered. They were effectively saying to us, “Thank you for showing that the white supremacist regime running our country is not so supreme after all. Thank you for coming. Thank you for beating them.”.’

 The winger played 30 times for Wales during a six-year international career from 1973 to 1979

The cheering extended all the way to Robben Island. The story goes that Nelson Mandela and fellow inmate Steve Tshwete who would become Minister of Sport under Mandela’s presidency, clubbed together to send the untouchable Welshman a small token of their appreciation.

‘They gave me two rand notes, a fantastic gesture,’ he said. ‘I was told that I was supposed to be one of President Mandela’s favourite players. I don’t think anyone could ask for a bigger compliment.’

There was far more to JJ, so called to distinguish him from the other John Williams, alias JPR, than the Lion who ran like a cheetah. 

A multi-national sprint champion who competed at the 1970 Commonwealth Games, a family man whose three children all made their mark as athletes, an employer blessed with the acumen to run his own painting business and a fearless critic, he died on Thursday from brain cancer.

Williams (left) leaves behind a successful sporting family including athletics star Rhys (right)

A hitherto youthful 72, his place in the pantheon had long been assured. At a time before the old Corinthian spirit had been battered into a pulp, when the Lions played strictly for the love of the game and responded by compiling the only invincible tour record: Played 22, Won 21, Drawn 1, Lost 0, Points for 729, against 207.

Far from not making a bean, Williams and his wife, Jane, lost a small fortune. The local education authority’s refusal to grant him paid leave from Maesteg Comprehensive School left the newly-weds struggling to pay the mortgage.

Once established as an automatic choice in the Welsh team of the Seventies, probably the most revered of the amateur era, JJ became increasingly infuriated by the WRU’s penny-pinching. 

 Williams scored 48 points for Wales during his career and was regarded as a very quick player

The most ludicrous example happened while he nibbled at a lunch of toast and honey before a match against England at Twickenham.

The chairman of selectors, Jack Young, tapped him on the shoulder to query his £5 expenses claim for the previous week. 

‘That’s right, Jack — two trips from Maesteg to Cardiff and back. Petrol isn’t cheap these days, you know.’ According to JJ, Young told him: ‘We worked it out at £3.80. You owe us £1.20.’

Worse was to follow. Within days of returning home from South Africa to Nantyffyllon, Widnes had offered him a world record £13,500 in September 1974 to cross the Rubicon to rugby league. 

Williams repeatedly become infuriated with the Welsh Rugby Union during his career

Absurdly, any public admission of such an offer exposed the player concerned to a lifetime ban under draconian rugby union regulations. 

Warned about the consequences, he said: ‘Go ahead and quote me. What are they going to do? Ban me?’

Which was exactly what they did. Despite announcing that he had turned Widnes down, JJ reported to Stradey Park the next day for Llanelli’s match only to be told by the Scarlets’ honorary secretary, the late Ken Jones: ‘Sorry JJ, you can’t play. The WRU say you have professionalised yourself.’

Williams also played seven times for the British and Irish Lions (above) in a memorable spell 

Enraged, Williams drove home ready to fight his corner. ‘The WRU saw fit to make me feel I had committed some sort of crime when all I had done was decline a fortune for the glory of continuing to play for Wales for nothing,’ he wrote in his autobiography.

He reported for training the following week, by which time the union realised that to press charges would provoke public outrage. He retired six years after the Lions tour with a career record of 352 tries from 438 matches.

Of the unbeatable Lions of 1974, JJ is the fourth to die following Gordon Brown (53), Andy Ripley (62) and Mervyn Davies (65).

The game they play in heaven is about to get a whole lot faster.


Share this article

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Rugby

Six Nations 2020: Super Saturday talking points

We look at the talking points ahead of 2020’s Six Nations Super Saturday, which could see England, Ireland or France take the title…

France vs Ireland (8.05pm)

Johnny Sexton has challenged Ireland to honour Cian Healy’s 100th cap by claiming a fourth Six Nations crown in seven years.

British and Irish Lions prop Healy will bring up his Test century in Saturday’s mouth-watering showdown against France in Paris.

Ireland can add another Six Nations crown to their 2014, 2015 and 2018 triumphs at the Stade de France – but must pull off an unprecedented bonus-point win in the French capital to be certain of holding off title rivals England.

Ireland are currently a point clear of both England, who face rock-bottom Italy in Rome, and France in the Six Nations table.

Captain Sexton believes Ireland can carve out the openings for four scores in Paris, but conceded converting them will be a different matter entirely against the resurgent hosts.

Asked to explain the size of the task, Sexton said: “I suppose we just have to wait and see, all we can control at the moment is our performance.

“So we’ve just had to emphasise to everyone that we need to get the performance right no matter what. We’re still going to have to play well no matter what, so let’s focus on that aspect.

“We know if we perform well we’ll create chances, so we’ll have to take them, we’ll need to be clinical.”

For France, lock Bernard Le Roux has been cleared to play after a hearing into an act of foul play against Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones.

Second-row forward Le Roux was accused of striking Jones with a forearm during France’s 38-21 friendly win in Paris on Saturday.

Le Roux told an independent disciplinary committee on Tuesday that he had made contact with Jones but denied that it had been an act of foul play.

“The disciplinary committee found that Mr Le Roux had committed an act of foul play (an infringement of Law 9.12) but that it had not warranted a red card, and that Mr Le Roux is therefore free to resume playing immediately.”

France’s only hope of the title is to beat Ireland by a better margin than England manage against Italy – or hope England lose to Italy for the first time.

  • France team news
  • Ireland team news

Italy vs England (4.45pm)

England forwards coach John Mitchell believes Billy Vunipola is ready to answer the call in Saturday’s Six Nations finale in Italy.

Saracens No 8 Vunipola has not played since his club’s final Premiership match against Bath on October 4, and not for England since the 2019 World Cup final on November 2.

England can lift the Six Nations trophy if they secure a bonus-point win in Rome and other results go their way.

Mitchell said: “Billy has a huge capacity for work. He’s a guy that has regularly played 80 minutes in his Test career.

“It’s phenomenal how he’s able to keep pushing on to the ball and contribute in the way that he does.”

England head coach Eddie Jones has always maintained Vunipola needs to be play regularly to be at his best, but Mitchell suggested the back-row could have a big part to play.

“It’s just a unique quality that he has,” Mitchell added. “You never judge the book by its cover I guess, it’s what’s inside.

“He’s highly motivated and he’s proved that in the past as well.”

England are expected to beat Italy handsomely, but as mentioned above, both France and Ireland can still win the Championship.

It promises to be a thrilling last round of matches, but Mitchell would not be drawn on whether England will start the weekend as favourites.

“Firstly our goal is to win the Six Nations and we’ll need to set the tone right from the start,” he said. “We’ll also need to be at our best.

“We keep that focus and we maintain our intent and if we’re very good we’ll give ourselves every opportunity.

“We’ve got an opportunity to demonstrate our pride and also the privilege which comes with being back playing for England.

“It’s an opportunity for us to put smiles on people’s faces during a really tough time and I know it might sound generic because you’re probably hearing that from all sportsmen, but that time has arrived for us.

“That’s really important to us. Preparation is extremely important but there comes a time when you’ve got to deliver and make sure you wholeheartedly create a smile and give the country something to look forward to.”

In terms of team news, Exeter’s Jonny Hill will make his England debut after coach Eddie Jones named him as lock partner to Maro Itoje for the game in Rome.

Scrum-half Ben Youngs will win his 100th cap, while there are three uncapped players on the bench – hooker Tom Dunn, powerful centre Ollie Lawrence and winger Ollie Thorley, while Dan Robson is the backup scrum-half.

To finish top England would need to secure their bonus point, make up the 23-point deficit on Ireland, and then better any further points difference advantage Ireland might gain with a non-bonus point win.

Jones said he would approach the game the same way as usual, despite the need for tries. “We’ve just been focussed on maximising our performance,” he said. “We have to be disciplined and focussed on playing to our absolute best, and every minute presents an opportunity.”

  • England team news

Wales vs Scotland (2.15pm)

Stephen Jones says Wales are under no illusions about the importance of Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations clash against Scotland.

Wales might be comfortably out of title contention when the tournament reaches its climax, but last season’s Grand Slam champions are on the back of four successive defeats under head coach Wayne Pivac – Wales’ worst results sequence since 2016 – which underlines their Six Nations finale’s significance in Llanelli.

“Pressure is an interesting word, isn’t it? It depends how you see that as an individual,” Jones said.

“We are under no illusions. This is must-win for us, and we are really excited by that challenge.

“As a group, we want closure on the Six Nations campaign, and we have got to do it in a positive manner and we have got to get the result.”

Wales have not won a game since beating Italy 42-0 in their opening Six Nations fixture almost nine months ago.

Subsequent losses to Ireland, France and England – then France again in Paris three days ago – also saw them concede 15 tries.

  • Wales team news
  • Scotland team news

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Rugby

Six Nations: Finn Russell set to start for Scotland against Wales

Finn Russell will start for Scotland in their final Six Nations contest against Wales on Saturday.

Adam Hastings drops to the bench to make way for the fly-half, who will make his first Six Nations appearance this year.

Captain Stuart Hogg and second-row forward Jonny Gray return to the side in the wake of their double-winning exploits with Exeter.

  • Six Nations: Who can win the title?
  • Maitland out of Scotland squad after coronavirus breach
  • Rugby on Sky

Duhan van der Merwe drops to the bench following his try-scoring debut against Georgia, with Blair Kinghorn taking his place on the wing after vacating Hogg’s full-back position.

Scarlets No 8 Blade Thomson also comes in to start on his home ground in Llanelli in place of the injured Matt Fagerson, while Ben Toolis also drops to the bench.

Racing 92 stand-off Russell fell out of the equation following a disciplinary issue ahead of the Six Nations in January but has repaired his relationship with head coach Gregor Townsend and made an impact off the bench in Friday’s 48-7 win over Georgia.

Townsend said: “It’s been great to bring in quality and experience to our starting line-up with players such as Stuart, Jonny and Finn who have been involved in some high-level games in recent weeks.

“We were also encouraged by Blade’s display at the weekend for Scarlets, which is a timely boost given last weekend’s injury to Matt Fagerson.”

Townsend, whose side beat Italy and France after narrow defeats by Ireland and England, added: “As a group we are very much looking forward to finally completing our fixture against Wales and returning to play Six Nations rugby again.

“We were highly motivated back in March, and that extra edge has come back into our training and preparations this week.

“We are expecting a physical battle against a very good side, one which we will be working hard to stay in the fight and to finish the fight in Llanelli.

“Ultimately, this game provides an opportunity for us to end this extended championship on a positive note and go into the Autumn Nations Cup with some added belief in what this group of players can achieve.”

Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg (c), 14. Darcy Graham, 13 Chris Harris, 12 James Lang, 11 Blair Kinghorn, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price; 1 Rory Sutherland, 2 Fraser Brown, 3 Zander Fagerson, 4 Scott Cummings, 5 Jonny Gray, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 7 Hamish Watson, 8 Blade Thomson.

Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Ben Toolis, 20 Cornell du Preez, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Duhan van der Merwe.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Rugby

Scotland's Finn Russell to start in Six Nations finale against Wales

Scotland’s Finn Russell to make his first Six Nations appearance this year in finale against Wales while Stuart Hogg and Jonny Gray return after their double-winning success with Exeter

  • Scotland travel to Wales for their final Six Nations encounter on Saturday
  • Finn Russell has claimed a starting berth for Scotland in their Six Nations finale
  • Adam Hastings drops to the Scotland bench to make way for the fly-half
  • Stuart Hogg and Jonny Gray return in the wake of their exploits with Exeter 

Finn Russell will start for Scotland in their final Guinness Six Nations contest against Wales on Saturday.

Adam Hastings drops to the bench to make way for the fly-half, who will make his first Six Nations appearance this year.

Captain Stuart Hogg and second-row forward Jonny Gray return to the side in the wake of their double-winning exploits with Exeter.

Finn Russell is set to start for Scotland in their final Six Nations encounter away at Wales

Adam Hastings will drop to the bench to make way for the 28-year-old fly-half on Saturday

Duhan Van Der Merwe drops to the bench following his try-scoring debut against Georgia, with Blair Kinghorn taking his place on the wing after vacating Hogg’s full-back position.

Scarlets number eight Blade Thomson also comes in to start on his home ground in Llanelli in place of the injured Matt Fagerson, while Ben Toolis also drops to the bench.

Racing 92 stand-off Russell fell out of the equation following a disciplinary issue ahead of the Six Nations in January but has repaired his relationship with head coach Gregor Townsend and made an impact off the bench in Friday’s 48-7 win over Georgia.

Townsend said: ‘It’s been great to bring in quality and experience to our starting line-up with players such as Stuart, Jonny and Finn who have been involved in some high-level games in recent weeks.

Captain Stuart Hogg (right) and Jonny Gray (left) will return after their triumphs with Exeter

‘We were also encouraged by Blade’s display at the weekend for Scarlets, which is a timely boost given last weekend’s injury to Matt Fagerson.’

Townsend, whose side beat Italy and France after narrow defeats by Ireland and England, added: ‘As a group we are very much looking forward to finally completing our fixture against Wales and returning to play Guinness Six Nations rugby again.

‘We were highly motivated back in March, and that extra edge has come back into our training and preparations this week.

‘We are expecting a physical battle against a very good side, one which we will be working hard to stay in the fight and to finish the fight in Llanelli.

‘Ultimately, this game provides an opportunity for us to end this extended championship on a positive note and go into the Autumn Nations Cup with some added belief in what this group of players can achieve.’

Gregor Townsend will be desperate for his Scotland side to finish the Six Nations on a real high




Share this article

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Rugby

England vs Italy: Eddie Jones hails Ben Youngs for bouncing back from ‘difficult’ 2015 to win 100th cap

Farrell paid tribute to Youngs’s longevity with England

England know that their best chance of winning the Six Nations this weekend is by piling on the points over Italy, who remain bottom of the table without a point to their name. The battle between England, Ireland and France is almost certain to come down points difference, with their two rivals meeting in Paris, but Jones has been forced into widespread changes given the seven-month gap between matches after the coronavirus pandemic.

The side shows seven personnel changes to the one that defeated Wales 33-30 in March, with Elliot Daly, Manu Tuilagi, Ford, Joe Marler, Courtney Lawes and Mark Wilson all ruled out with injury, while George Kruis is preparing to move to Japan after leaving Saracens.

It means that fit-again Henry Slade returns to the starting XV in the unfamiliar role of inside centre, with Jonathan Joseph outside him in the absence of Tuilagi.

Jonny May and Anthony Watson continue on the wings, but with Daly ruled out with a knee injury George Furbank returns at full-back for the first time since the first two rounds of the championship in February.

Exeter’s Jonny Hill will make his England debut this weekend

A fit-again Mako Vunipola returns at loosehead prop with Maro Itoje joined by Exeter Chiefs’ uncapped lock Jonny Hill in the second row, and with Billy Vunipola fit to start after recovering from the broken arm that ruled him out of the rest of the Six Nations earlier this year, Jones reverts to his favoured back-row unit that impressed at the Rugby World Cup with Tom Curry restored to flanker alongside Sam Underhill.

Uncapped duo Ollie Lawrence and Ollie Thorley provide cover for the backs among the replacements, along with scrum-half Dan Robson, where they are joined by props Ellis Genge and Will Stuart, hooker Tom Dunn, lock Charlie Ewels and back row Ben Earl.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Rugby

England will have more than enough power and speed to demolish Italy

Eddie Jones’ team selection shows the array of talent at his disposal… even with so many big names missing, England will have more than enough power, speed and class to demolish Italy

  • Eddie Jones has tapped into club form and momentum in his England side 
  • Henry Slade has been outstanding for the Chiefs and fully deserves his recall
  • Jones is trusting a hunch at full-back by picking George Furbank there again 
  • Tom Curry and Sam Underhill were superb in tandem during the last World Cup 

This is an impressive England line-up which is certain to be far too strong for Italy. In the absence of so many key men, Eddie Jones has been able to demonstrate the vast depth of talent at his disposal.

There is considerable power up front, plenty of guile, creativity and finishing pedigree at the back – and a hefty dose of experience all over the field. 

Furthermore, by selecting two of the three Exeter players in his squad, Jones has tapped into club form and momentum.

Eddie Jones can demonstrate the vast depth of talent at his disposal in his latest England side

Henry Slade has been outstanding for the Chiefs and fully deserves his midfield recall

Henry Slade has been outstanding for the Chiefs and fully deserves his midfield recall. With Manu Tuilagi unavailable after Achilles surgery, England will have to play differently and Slade will help them to do that. 

Alongside Owen Farrell, he offers the distribution skills of a second playmaker, but also the clout of a man with increasing confidence in his running game. These days, he carries into contact with purpose, as well as using his pace and footwork to find gaps.

The option of deploying Slade in the No 12 shirt has rarely been used by England but it does make a lot of sense. He has all the attributes for that linking role, close to the decision-making hub of the back line – and will be able to slot in at first receiver instead of Farrell when the opportunity arises. Slade has joined forces with Jonathan Joseph before and they have the capacity to cause mayhem in the Stadio Olimpico.

Jones has pedigree in his side at half-back, in midfield and on the wings, but he is trusting a hunch at full-back, by picking George Furbank there again. 

Slade offers the distribution skills of a second playmaker, but also the clout of a man with increasing confidence in his running game

Jones, however, is trusting a hunch at full-back, by picking George Furbank there again

The Northampton rookie has appeared to be in a prolonged rut since the season resumption – and even before lock-down – but the England coaches evidently believe that their encouragement and faith can reignite his game.

It is a gamble, but with so many leading backs unavailable, there were limited alternative options.

In the pack, another Chief will be expected to pick up with England where he left off for Exeter. Jonny Hill has been one of the Devon club’s stand-out figures during their charge to domestic and European glory, so the lock has fully earned his Test debut alongside Maro Itoje. It is heartening to see Jones provide this fitting reward.

There are few surprises among the forwards, with familiar faces in the front and back rows. While there has been much fanfare about the emergence of so many Test-class flankers in the Premiership, Tom Curry and Sam Underhill were superb in tandem during the last World Cup and Billy Vunipola’s ball-carrying clout will be even more important with no Tuilagi in midfield. 

Jonny Hill has been one of Exeter’s stand-out figures so the lock has fully earned his Test debut

Tom Curry will turn out against Italy in the final game of the Six Nations decider against Italy

He has been some way off his best form, but Jones and his assistants will trust the mighty No 8 to rise to the grand occasion.

Those who have marvelled at Jack Willis’s astonishing deeds for Wasps will be frustrated that he has not been given a place in the match-day 23, but Ben Earl has been similarly outstanding for Bristol, on loan from Saracens. 

Dan Robson has justified his inclusion among the reserve backs and the uncapped Ollie Lawrence and Ollie Thorley can announce themselves by running amok against a tiring Azzurri defence.

Curry (right) and Sam Underhill (left) were superb in tandem during the last World Cup

Billy Vunipola has been some way off his best form, but Jones will hope he can raise his game




Share this article

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Rugby

Former Wales and British and Irish Lions winger JJ Williams dies aged 72

Former Wales and British and Irish Lions winger JJ Williams has died at the age of 72.

Williams, who was christened John James but known throughout the world of rugby by his initials, was one of the finest finishers the game has seen.

He scored 12 tries in 30 appearances for Wales and won Grand Slams in 1976 and 1978, as well as four Triple Crowns between 1976 and 1979.

One of Williams' former clubs Bridgend Ravens tweeted: "All at Bridgend Ravens are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former player JJ Williams. Our thoughts are with JJ's family and friends at this tough time."

Williams toured South Africa in 1974 and New Zealand in 1977 with the Lions and his try-scoring exploits put him into the tourists' record books.

He equalled David Duckham's record of six tries in a single Lions game during a 97-0 victory over South West Districts in 1974.

Williams scored four tries in the subsequent 3-0 Test series triumph against South Africa, becoming only the second Lions player to score two tries twice in a Test.

He scored another Test try in New Zealand three years later and his five-try Test haul is only second to Ireland's Tony O'Reilly, who crossed six times during the Lions tours of 1955 and 1959.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Rugby

Crows and Saints sweat on compensation, Broad set to stay a Tiger

Save articles for later

Add articles to your saved list and come back to them any time.

Adelaide and St Kilda are sweating on what the AFL's secret free agency compensation formula delivers for them when the Saints lodge paperwork in a bid to land Crows midfielder Brad Crouch as early as Friday.

The Crows have been on record declaring their preparedness to match a bid for 2019 best and fairest Crouch, who has signalled his intentions to join the Saints on a deal of up to five years.

Adelaide are hopeful that St Kilda's offer will trigger a top-band compensation pick which would grant the Crows pick No. 2 in the upcoming national draft.

Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks with midfielder Brad Crouch.Credit:Getty Images

However Adelaide won't know for certain whether the Saints' deal for Crouch is good enough to get the Crows that prized selection until they receive correspondence from the AFL once St Kilda have lodged the terms of the contract with the league.

The free agency window opens on Friday morning, from which time the Saints can make their submission to the league. Outgoing AFL compliance officer Ken Wood and legal counsel Andrew Dillon are among the tiny group of people that know the league's top-secret free agency compensation formula which is based on the terms of the relevant player's contract offer.

Once a club seeking to obtain a restricted free agent makes its offer, the AFL runs the contract through its formula – sources close to the situation insist there is no discretion involved – to determine which band the offer falls under. The league then communicates the details of the offer and the compensation selection to the player's current club, who then have three days to decide whether or not to match a bid.

The Saints would much prefer the Crows not match the St Kilda offer for Crouch as they don't want to be forced to give up a pick for him. Sources familiar with the situation said the Saints were contemplating tinkering with their offer in a bid to boost the chances the deal triggers pick No. 2 for Adelaide.

A bid on a restricted free agent has never been matched since the league introduced free agency eight years ago but that streak appears poised to end over the coming days. Greater Western Sydney have indicated they are likely to match Geelong's bid for spearhead Jeremy Cameron with a view to forcing a trade which could reap the Giants some of the Cats' three first-round draft picks, and perhaps a player.

Brisbane have been optimistic that their contract offer for Joe Daniher will be enough to warrant a top band compensation pick for Essendon which would prevent the Lions from needing to facilitate a trade with the Dons.

The Giants also have the option to match bids for Aidan Corr (North Melbourne) and Zac Williams (Carlton), both of whom are also unrestricted free agents. However the fact the Kangaroos and Blues don't have as compelling draft hands as the Cats makes GWS much less likely to match bids for that pair.

Adelaide pair Rory Atkins and Kyle Hartigan, both of whom are unrestricted free agents, should safely make their way to Gold Coast and Hawthorn respectively as early as Friday.

Meanwhile three-time Richmond premiership player Nathan Broad is poised to remain at Punt Road. Sources close to the situation confirmed the West Australian is likely to sign a new contract with the Tigers despite interest from Gold Coast.

Most Viewed in Sport

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Rugby

Bledisloe Cup: Wallabies team for match three, Noah Lolesio to play at five-eighth

Noah Lolesio will make his Wallabies test debut on Saturday – starting at five-eighth – after James O’Connor was sensationally ruled out of the third Bledisloe Cup clash against New Zealand with a knee injury.

Coach Dave Rennie has thrown the 20-year-old rookie into the proverbial lion’s den after being forced to reshuffle his backline after losing his two most experienced inside backs – O’Connor and Matt Toomua to injury.

Lolesio, who steered the Brumbies to the Super Rugby AU title, will take over the playmaking role while his ACT teammate Irae Simone will earn his first test cap as the replacement for Toomua at inside centre.

Watch every match of the 2020 Bledisloe Cup & Tri Nations Live & On-Demand on Kayo. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly

Noah Lolesio will come in at five-eighth. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

Rennie also named another two uncapped players on the bench – Queensland halfback Tate McDermott and his Reds teammate, loose forward Fraser McReight – in a host of changes to the Wallabies side that lost the second test 27-7 in Auckland.

Seven of the 15 starters have played less than five tests – making this one of the most inexperienced Australian sides ever to face the All Blacks in a match the Wallabies need to win to keep the series alive.

“It’s really exciting to be able to name four more debutants in the squad this week,” Rennie said.

“Noah and Irae have played a lot of footy together and we have no doubt they’re ready to take the step up to test rugby. Tate and Fraser have had big Super Rugby seasons and have impressed in training over the past month.”

Tate McDermott has been called onto the bench. Picture: Albert Perez/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Rennie also recalled Queensland whizkid Jordan Petaia at outside centre after he came off the bench in the second test. He replaces Hunter Paisami, who remains in the 23 man squad as a reserve.

Dane Haylett-Petty will start at fullback after Tom Banks was dropped, marking his first test appearance since last year’s World Cup, while there was another big surprise in the front row.

Allan Alaalatoa was picked to start at tighthead prop ahead of the one-man wrecking ball Taniela Tupou, who was relegated to the replacements bench at ANZ Stadium.

“It’s an especially significant night for us with the chance to represent and celebrate our First Nations people by wearing the Indigenous jersey on home soil in front of our Wallabies family,” Rennie said.

“We know New Zealand will pose another tough challenge but we’ve prepared well and will be ready to go on Saturday night.”

The All Blacks have made three changes to their starting forward pack but kept the same backline.

Hoskins Sotutu will play at number eight, replacing Ardie Savea, who stayed in New Zealand after the recent birth of his son.

Hoskins Sotutu will play at No.8. Picture: Hagen Hopkins/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

“He’s had plenty of minutes already in the Bledisloe Cup series and he’s ready to go,” New Zealand coach Ian Foster said.

“He’s excited. It’s a chance to start his first test so it’s pretty special for him.”

Karl Tu’inukuafe comes in at loosehead prop for Joe Moody, who was ruled out with concussion, while Sam Whitelock returns at lock.

Tyrel Lomax replaces Nepo Laulala – who is also on paternity leave – on the bench while loose forward Dalton Papalii and midfielder Ngani Laumape were added as fresh replacements.

“It’s the third test of a four test series and the Bledisloe Cup is on the line,” Foster said.

“It’s a real chance for us to come into their home patch, a place which they take a lot of pride in playing and for a trophy which means a lot to them, and we need to show them how much it means to us. The chance to go and win a trophy that’s precious to us is exciting.

“None of our players, even our experienced ones, have had to win the trophy in Australia. In the past the deciding game has always been in New Zealand, so I think it’s a great challenge for us.

“It’s been a two-pronged learning approach for us. Firstly, we’ve been learning about how we can get better ourselves and we’ve been delighted with the way the new players especially have made progress there.

“Now we just need to cement the growth in our game. Secondly, clearly, we’ve also been learning about the Australians.”

WALLABIES TEAM

15-Dane Haylett-Petty, 14-Filipo Daugunu, 13-Jordan Petaia, 12-Irae Simone, 11-Marika Koroibete, 10-Noah Lolesio, 9-Nic White, 8-Harry Wilson, 7-Michael Hooper (captain), 6-Ned Hanigan, 5-Matt Philip, 4-Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 3-Allan Alaalatoa, 2-Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1-James Slipper

Reserves: 16-Jordan Uelese, 17-Scott Sio, 18-Taniela Tupou, 19-Rob Simmons, 20-Fraser McReight, 21-Tate McDermott, 22-Reece Hodge , 23-Hunter Paisami

ALL BLACKS TEAM

15-Beauden Barrett, 14-Jordie Barrett, 13-Anton Lienert-Brown, 12-Jack Goodhue, 11-Caleb Clarke, 10-Richie Mo’unga, 9-Aaron Smith, 8-Hoskins Sotutu, 7-Sam Cane (captain), 6-Shannon Frizell, 5-Sam Whitelock, 4-Patrick Tuipulotu, 3-Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2-Dane Coles, 1-Karl Tu’inukuafe

Reserves: 16-Codie Taylor, 17-Alex Hodgman, 18-Tyrel Lomax, 19-Scott Barrett , 20-Dalton Papalii, 21-TJ Perenara, 22-Ngani Laumape, 23-Rieko Ioane

Shock Bledisloe Cup return for unwanted Wallaby

Dane Haylett-Petty will be rushed straight back into the Wallabies team for Saturday’s must win Bledisloe Cup match at ANZ Stadium more than a year after he was dumped from the World Cup side.

Haylett-Petty hasn’t played for the Wallabies since last year’s final pool D game against Georgia in Japan after he was surprisingly left out of the team that lost in the quarterfinals to England but has been given a reprieve by new coach Dave Rennie.

Dane Haylett-Petty in action for the Wallabies last year. Picture: Matt King/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Unavailable for the first two Bledisloe Cup tests because of a groin injury, the Melbourne Rebels’ captain will start at fullback against the All Blacks, replacing Tom Banks after he struggled in the second test defeat in Auckland.

“The way we’ve approached it is jerseys are up for grabs, so they have to prove at training they are worthy of the shirt,” assistant coach Scott Wisemantel said.

“Obviously now that Super Rugby has finished and they’re not playing games regularly, it has to be training. Shirts have been given out on the basis of training performances. On that basis, it means that everyone is a chance.”

Bledisloe III Preview with Tim Horan and Andrew Mehrtens

Tim Horan and Andrew Mehrtens preview the Game Three of the Bledisloe Cup between Australia and New Zealand.

The Wallabies will have to make one enforced change to the backline with inside centre Matt Toomua on the casualty list, with Irae Simone and Reece Hodge vying for the spot, and are also likely to bring in whiz-kid Jordan Petaia at outside centre.

Wallaby World Cup winner Tim Horan said Petaia’s return from injury left Rennie with some ‘brave calls’ to make but former All Black Andrew Mehrtens said it was no-brainer to pick him at outside centre.

“For me, Petaia has got to be at 13, he’s just got so much ability,” Mehrtens said.

“He’s such a threat on so many levels that you want the ball in his hands as often as possible and he’ll get those chances more at 13 than on the wing.

Jordan Petaia will likely make his return. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

“The interesting thing in the midfield, with potentially a couple of inexperienced players in there, I’d almost be tempted to throw Reece Hodge in the mix to provide a bit more of that vision and communication alongside (James) O’Connor.”

Wisemantel said the Wallabies hadn’t lost any self-belief after their 27-7 loss in the second test, rejecting suggestions the All Blacks had overpowered Australia after the drawn first test.

Instead, Wisemantel said the Wallabies brought about their own downfall by missing 40 tackles and turning the ball over 20 times.

“Did they take it up a notch or were we inaccurate?” Wisemantel said.

“(We) Just need to be far more accurate. Defence, attack, our whole all-round game, we’ve got to be more accurate.”

Meanwhile, Wallaby prop Scott Sio and New Zealand lock Patrick Tuipulotu have put their rivalry to the side by calling on Australia and New Zealand to end the “broken promises” and finally to do more for Pacific Island players and teams.

Patrick Tuipulotu in action. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

Appointed as ambassadors for the Samoa Tourism Authority with the country’s economy hard hit by the pandemic, both men said the need for a Pasifika team in Super Rugby had moved past the lip service stage.

“This is something that we want but then again there are a lot of hoops to go through and a lot of cogs to move before we get anywhere,” Tuipulotu said.

“It‘s almost like there has been a lot of broken promises over the years and it’s hard to really start something.”

MORE WALLABIES NEWS

Sio, whose father represented Samoa at test level, said there was overwhelming support among all players for matches in the Pacific.

“It’s not that players don’t want to travel there,” he said.

“There are a lot of boxes needing to be ticked and we don’t have a lot of influence on a lot of that. But we can use our platform to keep raising that awareness that we think it’s a great opportunity for both countries to expand and grow the game of rugby.”

Wallabies vs All Blacks Bledisloe III is Live on Fox Sports 505 and Kayo from 7.00pm Saturday (Available in 4k on Foxtel)

Originally published asWallabies gamble on mass changes

Source: Read Full Article