Waratahs backrower Wycliff Palu attacks against the Brumbies last weekend. Photo: Roar
I have been genuinely surprised to read and hear suggestion that Michael Cheika’s team will start the Super Rugby final as anything other than favourites.
The Waratahs finished the season in top spot, scored the most tries by some margin, and conceded the second fewest in the competition.
They’ve comfortably been the best team in the competition in the back half of the season, too, and go into the final on an eight-game winning streak.
Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau are making an impact in rugby union. Photo: AAP
When Israel Folau was spotted having a coffee with the NRL’s head of football Todd Greenberg last week, it fuelled speculation that a return to rugby league was on the cards for the dual international.
Combined with sightings of Bulldogs coach Des Hasler at a Waratahs match – reportedly to watch Kurtley Beale play – it had the rugby union community in a slight panic, fearful they may be losing two of their biggest drawcards, and best players, to the 13 man-a-side game.
Folau hosed down any rumours on Fox Sports’ Rugby HQ on Thursday night, proclaiming the coffee was merely a chance meeting, along with highlighting the fact that it was Greenberg’s birthday and the two know each other well.
Match winner . . . Henry Speight. Photo: Planet Rugby
If Steve Larkham can finally rid himself of the Jake White kicking malaise, the Brumbies can make a big noise in the Super Rugby finals series.
First up it’s the two-time defending champion Chiefs, with the bonus of a home game, then the all-expansive Waratahs away, as the first-time minor premiers.
Unless, that is, the Highlanders upset the Sharks at Durban, then they will play the Waratahs, and the Brumbies the Crusaders.
Bundee Aki wins Counties Manukau 2012 MVP. Is he following in All Blacks coach Steve Hansen’s footsteps? Photo: Rugby heaven
HAVE you heard of Bundee Aki? I hadn’t, at least not until last week. He may sound like a Cirque de Soleil trapeze artist, but instead he is a midfielder for the Chiefs Super Rugby franchise. He helped them to the title only last year.
Aki made the news recently because he announced that he is quitting the Chiefs and joining Connacht, which is an odd move until you realise that he has made it with the express intention of playing international rugby for Ireland. His connections with the Emerald Isle? Absolutely none, unless he has a fondness for the black stuff.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen acted like someone had poked him with a sharp stick. Hansen berated players on the fringes of the All Blacks for moving abroad for easy money and an easy life – having done exactly the same while coaching Wales.
The irony was noted even in the Kiwi papers, one of which recorded: “With hypocrisy coming from every word, the All Blacks coach fumed over players who take ‘easy options’ and ‘lack mental fortitude’.”
Serevi at a HSBC Rugby Sevens Festival programme. Photo: IRB
Two of the greatest players to have played Rugby Sevens are excited by the potential growth of the sport of Rugby in Olympic host nation Brazil ahead of the 2016 Games.
Former Fiji star Waisale Serevi and the all-time leading points scorer in Sevens Ben Gollings saw first-hand the excitement and appetite for the game having spent two days coaching youngsters new to the sport.
Speaking at an HSBC Rugby Festivals programme, powered by Serevi, the Fijian, “It’s been a privilege to come and teach these little kids rugby, and I have seen a lot of talent from these children.”
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.
Matavesi is calling for Fiji to be given more competition. Photo: FRU
Outspoken Fiji international Josh Matavesi believes his country is being ‘held back’ by the lack of competitive fixtures and has called on the International Rugby Board to include them in a leading southern hemisphere tournament.
The Worcester Warriors centre, who qualifies through his father and has been capped six times – most recently against England last November – says Fiji should be added to the Super 15 competition which involves the leading franchises in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.