Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika has named his squad for his side’s opening Rugby Championship game against South Africa this Saturday at Ellis Park.
Melbourne Rebel Isi Naisarani is the only player in the starting XV that is uncapped at test level, while Harry Johnson-Holmes could also make his debut off the bench following injuries to both Scott Sio and Tom Robertson.
On the other hand, Nic White is set to make his first appearance in gold for over four years and has been selected ahead of regular starter Will Genia at scrum-half, who takes a place on the bench.
Like White, James Slipper will make a long-awaited return to the Wallabies team as he opens up at prop for the first time since 2016.
Slipper is joined by Folau Fainga’a and veteran Sekope Kepu in the front-row, while Izaak Rodda and Rory Arnold partner-up in the engine room.
Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, joins captain Michael Hooper and Naisarani in what is a fierce looking back-row.
White links-up with Bernard Foley in the half-backs, with the terrifying combination of Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kuridrani outside them at 12 and 13 respectively.
Reece Hodge begins the game on the left-wing, with Dane Haylett-Petty on the right and Tom Banks completes the line-up at 15.
Speaking ahead of the clash Wallabies head coach Chieka is looking forward to taking on the Springboks at Ellis Park, a place the Wallabies haven’t been to since 2008 and haven’t won at since 1963.
“This is an opportunity for our team. We really want to begin building momentum to take us towards our goals in 2019. The players are impatient to play at Ellis Park where our Wallabies haven’t had an opportunity to play for quite a while. We know we go into the game as heavy underdogs but most of the players have had a touch over three great weeks of training to prepare, so really they just can’t wait to get out and get into the battle. I’m feeling a lot of belief and commitment from the people in this Wallaby squad. They’ve all invested a ton of effort into our preparation and I know the 23 men selected to represent us all on Saturday will do us proud,” he said.
The Wallabies will be hoping to end their long wait for a win in Johannesburg when Saturday comes around as they look to build towards the World Cup, and they haven’t taken many risks in their squad selection which shows how much this means to them.
Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below.
1. James Slipper (86 Tests)
2. Folau Fainga’a (7 Tests)
3. Sekope Kepu (103 Tests)
4. Izack Rodda (17 Tests)
5. Rory Arnold (19 Tests)
6. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (11 Tests)
7. Michael Hooper (c) (91 Tests)
8. Isi Naisarani*
9. Nic White (22 Tests)
10. Bernard Foley (68 Tests)
11. Reece Hodge (33 Tests)
12. Samu Kerevi (vc) (25 Tests)
13. Tevita Kuridrani (58 Tests)
14. Dane Haylett-Petty (30 Tests)
15. Tom Banks (3 Tests)
16. Jordan Uelese (2 Tests)
17. Harry Johnson-Holmes*
18. Taniela Tupou (11 Tests)
19. Rob Simmons (94 Tests)
20. Jack Dempsey (10 Tests)
21. Will Genia (100 Tests)
22. Matt To’omua (42 Tests)
23. Kurtley Beale (83 Tests)
Arendse expects tough challenge on year-end tour
Springbok utility back Kurt-Lee Arendse expected the Boks to face another tough test when they embark on their traditional year-end tour to Europe in November, and he hoped to be in the selection mix after making a comeback against Argentina last Saturday.
Arendse, who was one of try-scorers in the team’s 38-21 victory against Argentina in their closing match of the competition in Durban last Saturday admitted that while they were disappointed to lose out on the title, their three back-to-back victories would serve as an important confidence booster going into the tour.
The Boks will face Ireland, France, Italy, and England on the tour, and with Ireland, France, and England all in the top five sides on the world rankings, Arendse said they needed to be up for another massive challenge.
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber and his team, however, can draw comfort from the fact that they had a better net points’ difference in their respective mini-series against New Zealand, Australia, and Argentina in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, despite losing out on the title, as they prepare for the year-end tour.
“It would be fantastic to be back in the mix for the year-end tour,” said Arendse. “It’s going to be a tough tour against challenging opposition, so it would be great to have the opportunity to test ourselves against them.”
Arendse added: “It was very disappointing for the team that we couldn’t secure the Castle Lager Rugby Championship title, but it would be great if we could carry the momentum of winning our three Tests into the tour.
“The Castle Lager Rugby Championship is a tough competition, and we are expecting the same from the teams we will face in November, so it will be important to leave South Africa in form and with some confidence and winning momentum.”
After being handed a four-week suspension for a dangerous tackle against New Zealand in Nelspruit, Arendse was delighted to be back in the fold for the final Test against Argentina and said he hoped to be selected for the year-end tour.
“It is very special to be part of this group of players,” said Arendse. “I was out and Canan (Moodie) came in and did the job on the wing, so it was good to be back for the final Test, and that made scoring the try even more special.”
“In my time off it made me think a lot about my rugby, what I would like to improve on and reflect on a few things. So, it was good for me, and it made it made me even more hungry to return to action.”
The Springboks departed for their franchises and clubs following Saturday’s Test, and while some players will enjoy a short break, others will run out for their respective clubs and franchises in the next few weeks before the squad assembles for their preparation camp for the year-end tour at the end of October.
Emerging Ireland Squad: Meet the Players
The Emerging Ireland squad that will compete in the Toyota Challenge in Bloemfontein over the next two weeks features a host of players that have starred for Ireland at underage level and on the world stage for the Ireland Sevens. Fourteen were part of the IRFU’s National Talent Squad programme and the majority have already made a breakthrough at senior level for their Provinces.
The Capped Players
Max Deegan was named Player of the Tournament after helping the Ireland U20s to the final of the 2016 U20 World Rugby Championships. He was capped by Ireland against Wales in the 2020 Six Nations Championships and despite some serious injury setbacks, has amassed 85 senior caps for Leinster.
Shane Daly has two caps for Ireland, making his senior debut against Georgia in the 2020 Autumn Nations Cup. A former Ireland Sevens international, he has 49 senior caps for Munster.
Robert Baloucoune is another former Ireland Sevens international who has two senior international caps having made his debut against the USA in July 2021. The winger has 47 senior caps for Ulster.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) September 26, 2022
The Maori Crew
Cian Prendergast played in both games against the Maori All Blacks during the summer. He played for the Ireland U20s in 2020 and has made 32 senior appearances for Connacht.
Joe McCarthy also played in both fixtures against the Maori All Blacks on the 2022 New Zealand Tour and played Ireland U20s with Prendergast in 2020. The second row has made 13 senior appearances for Leinster.
The Development Brief
Both Tom Ahern and Jamie Osborne trained with the Ireland squad as Development Players ahead of the 2021 Autumn Nations Series. Ahern was an Ireland U20 international in 2019 and 2020 missing the Grand Slam campaign through injury. He has made 21 senior appearances for Munster
Osborne represented the Ireland U20s in 2021 but had already made his senior Leinster debut at that stage. He has made 20 senior appearances for Leinster.
Stewart Moore, Calvin Nash and Diarmuid Barron have all established themselves as senior Provincial players. All three represented Ireland at U20 World Rugby Championships.
Since making his senior debut for Ulster in December 2019, Moore has accumulated 32 senior appearances. Nash has played 38 senior games for Munster, while Barron has 36 senior Munster caps.
The Class of 2019
John Hodnett, Scott Penny, David McCann, Dylan Tierney-Martin, Brian Deeny, Jake Flannery, Thomas Clarkson, Michael Milne, Callum Reid and Josh Wycherley were all part of Ireland’s U20 Six Nations Grand Slam winning squad in 2019.
At Munster, Hodnett and Wycherley have made 22 and 29 senior provincial appearances respectively while Flannery made six senior appearances for Munster before making the switch to Ulster this season. McCann, who captained the U20s the following year, has made 15 senior appearances for Ulster with Reid clocking 11 appearances to date.
Tierney-Martin has made eight senior appearances for Connacht and scored a try against the Stormers at the weekend. Penny has made the most senior appearances for Leinster with 42 with Milne (18), Clarkson (18) and Deeny (3) also making the breakthrough at senior level for Leo Cullen’s side.
The Sevens Boys
Baloucoune and Daly are not the only two players in the Emerging Ireland squad that have benefitted from exposure to the Ireland Sevens programme.
Andrew Smith and Chay Mullins both won bronze medals at the recent Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town while Cormac Izuchukwu won two Ireland Sevens caps before clocking nine senior appearances for Ulster.
Smith also won the Energia AIL title with Clontarf earlier this year and has made two senior appearances for Leinster. Mullins has joined the Connacht Academy this season having also helped the Ireland U20s to a 2022 Six Nations Grand Slam.
The 2020 Triple Crowners
The 2020 U20 Six Nations was cut short by the Covid pandemic but after three games the Ireland U20 squad had secured wins over Scotland, Wales and England, claiming an unofficial Triple Crown. Ethan McIlroy, Jack Crowley, Tom Stewart and Ben Murphy were in that squad alongside the aforementioned Smith, McCann, Prendergast, Ahern and McCarthy.
McIlroy has made 37 senior appearances for Ulster while Stewart’s progress has been hampered by injury but he claimed an impressive try against Connacht in the first round of this season’s URC.
Out-half Crowley has notched up 16 senior appearances for Munster including a start in the Champions Cup against Castres. Murphy has also made his senior debut for Leinster having gone on loan to Munster during the 2021/22 season.
The Class of 2021
In 2021, the U20 Six Nations took place in the summer months of June and July as the global pandemic continued to disrupt the rugby calender. Osborne featured strongly for the Richie Murphy’s side but so too did Nathan Doak, Cathal Forde and Sam Illo.
Doak has already made a big impact at senior provincial level with Ulster clocking up 24 appearances since making his debut against Munster in December 2020. Forde has made two senior appearances for Connacht while Illo has featured three times since switching from the Leinster age grade system.
International IQ Rugby
There are three players in the squad that have come through the Irish qualified player pathway. Mullins came via the Bristol Academy and the IRFU’s IQ programme in the UK.
Michael McDonald was born in Ireland but represented Australia U20s at the 2019 U20 World Rugby Championship having emigrated down under with his family at the age of 13. He joined Ulster at the start of the current season.
Antoine Frisch was born in France but qualifies for Ireland via his grandmother. He joined Munster this season from Premiership side Bristol Bears and made his Munster debut against Cardiff in the opening URC fixture of the 2022/23 season.
Roman Salanoa was born in Hawaii but has qualified to play for Ireland through residency. He represented the USA at the 2016 U20 World Rugby Championship. Originally part of the Leinster development programme, Salanoa subsequently joined Munster and has made 10 senior appearances to date.
New Kid on the Block
James Culhane is yet to make his senior debut for Leinster but the powerful number eight left his mark on the 2022 U20 Six Nations. He was named Player of the Tournament as Ireland secured a memorable Grand Slam.
Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography
DHL Super Rugby Pacific 2023 draw announced
DHL Super Rugby Pacific’s full potential will be unleashed in 2023 with the announcement of a schedule that will ignite trans-Tasman and Pasifika rivalries like never before.
The defending DHL Super Rugby Pacific champion Crusaders will kick the competition off against the Chiefs during an opening round that focuses on traditional rivalries, while also breaking new ground as the Waratahs christen the brand new Allianz Stadium in Sydney against the Brumbies.
Opening weekend will also see Pasifika pride on the line as Moana Pasifika host the Fijian Drua at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland in what will be the start of historic campaigns for last year’s two competition newcomers. The Drua will play six home matches in Fiji, while Moana Pasifika will take a home match to Apia in what will be the second* Super Rugby game in Samoa and a first for Moana Pasifika.
The final fixtures of the opening weekend will see the Highlanders host the Blues at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin, the Hurricanes travel to Brisbane to play the Reds, and the Force host the Rebels in Perth.
Round 2 is the previously announced Super Round at AAMI Park in Melbourne where all 12 teams will gather for a high-stakes festival of rugby.
The 2023 draw will see all 12 teams play a total of 14 matches during the regular season, 11 round-robin fixtures plus three additional rivalry matches which will see each team play a home and away series against three other teams. Family friendly afternoon kick-offs are a feature of the draw with 24 daytime matches in total with all 91 matches live and exclusive on Sky, including the eight-team finals series, which kicks off in the second weekend of June.
New Zealand Rugby General Manager Professional Rugby and Performance, Chris Lendrum said:
“There is a real feeling that DHL Super Rugby Pacific is ready for take-off after a successful, but COVID disrupted inaugural season. We saw massive potential on the field in 2022, but also some huge challenges off it, so to have a fully integrated and uninterrupted draw in 2023 is great news for the players and the fans. I think we are going to see one of Super Rugby’s most competitive seasons.”
Rugby Australia Chief Executive Andy Marinos said:
“Being able to play regularly in front of home fans, and to travel across the Tasman and around the Pacific is massive for the competition, especially for fans, who can support their teams through a full home schedule. Everyone saw what Super Rugby Pacific had to offer in its first season and all 12 clubs have taken that excitement into the off-season and will be primed for a shot at the title in 2023.”
Key features of the 2023 DHL Super Rugby Pacific draw:
· Each team plays 14 regular season matches
· Round 1 features traditional rivalry fixtures
· The Waratahs will host the Brumbies in the first ever fixture at the new Allianz Stadium in Sydney
· Round 2 is the Super Round in Melbourne
· All teams play all other teams in the competition
· All teams play three extra ‘rivalry’ games which create home and away mini-series
· All teams will have their byes between Rounds 7, 8 & 9
· Top eight teams reach the finals
DHL SUPER RUGBY PACIFIC AT A GLANCE
Season opener: Crusaders v Chiefs at Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch.
Format: 12 teams: Moana Pasifika, Fijian Drua, Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders, Highlanders, Waratahs, Reds, Force, Brumbies, Rebels
14 regular season matches = 11 round-robin matches + 3 rivalry matches
One bye round per team (all byes in Rounds 7, 8 & 9)
Season Length: 18 weeks = 15-week regular season + three-week eight-team playoff series
Total Matches: 91
Super Round: Round 2, Friday-Sunday 3-5 March @ AAMI Park Melbourne.
Rivalry matches: Each team plays three teams twice (one at home match, one away match per rivalry)
· Blues: Rivalry opponents are the Hurricanes, Highlanders and Crusaders
· Chiefs: Rivalry opponents are the Crusaders, Hurricanes and Highlanders
· Crusaders: Rivalry opponents are the Blues, Chiefs and Moana Pasifika
· Highlanders: Rivalry opponents are the Blues, Force and Chiefs
· Hurricanes: Blues, Chiefs and Moana Pasifika
· Moana Pasifika: Hurricanes, Highlanders and Fijian Drua
· Fijian Drua: Moana Pasifika, Reds and Waratahs
· Force: Highlanders, Reds and Rebels
· Reds: Fijian Drua, Force and Brumbies
· Rebels: Force, Waratahs and Brumbies
· Waratahs: Fijian Drua, Rebels and Brumbies
· Brumbies: Reds, Rebels and Waratahs
* The Blues played the Reds in Apia in 2017, as part of the Super Rugby competition.
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