This is an opinion piece by former Wallaby Mathew Burke on the upcoming British and Irish Lions tour to Australia in June. Burke is a columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald.
I’m sensing the vibe is a little different for this series against the British and Irish Lions compared with 2001.
Digby Ioane will head to Paris at the end of the year. Photo: Getty Images
Wallabies winger Digby Ioane will leave the Queensland Reds and Australian rugby later this year after signing a massive two-year contract with French glamour club Stade Francais.
It’s understood Ioane will reap almost $2.5 million but the deal will severely endanger his chances of playing in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Queensland Rugby Union chief executive Jim Carmichael on Thursday night confirmed French radio reports the world-class back would link with the Parisian club at the end of the year.
Ioane is regarded among the best wingers in the game and his loss is a major blow to both the Wallabies and the Reds.
Nalaga, Brown made the top pick of the Heineken Cup semi-finals. Photo: Planet Rugby
Now that the dust has settled on the European semi-finals, we select the players who stood out from the crowd this weekend.
Without further ado, here comes Planet Rugby’s offering – be sure to add your own 15-1 team selections below.
Heineken Cup Team of the Semi-Finals:
15 Delon Armitage (Toulon): Many forget that Armitage was one of England’s best players during the Martin Johnson era. For those that had, he offered a sharp reminder on Sunday. Outstanding under the high ball and in defence, he also showed great pace.
14 Sitiveni Sivivatu (Clermont): Class. A constant threat whenever he had ball and especially when offloading, ‘Sivi’ will be one of the first names in the mix when we pick our team of the tournament.
Manu Tuilagi goes in for a try against the All Blacks. Photo: Planet Rugby
Three Pacific Islanders were named in the 37-man squad that will face Australia this year, with Sam Warburton named as captain.
Centre Manu Tuilagi, prop Mako Vunipola and backrower Toby Faletau made the squad announced yesterday.
Cardiff Blues flanker Warburton was confirmed skipper at Tuesday’s press conference, which saw fifteen Welshman included in the squad.