Versatile Wallabies back Matt Toomua has admitted he wants to become Australia’s starting out-half for 2020 following the departure of a number of high-profile stars.
Players such as Bernard Foley, Christian Leali’ifano and Quade Cooper, all of whom were used in the position have left to play their trade overseas and in their absence Toomua believes he has a chance to make the jersey his own.
“My ambitions are the same as everyone, to get in that starting team, but with the changing of the guard there’s a bit of unknown there. Like others you have dreams of being in a starting jersey and for me it would be that 10 jersey,” he said.
Toomua knows that he has a chance to make a new start under incoming head coach Dave Rennie and will hope to impress in the position, but will face competition, including the possibility of having to battle James O’Connor, who could line out at 10 in his Super Rugby return.
The back was used in many positions by former head coach Michael Cheika, including at out-half, but he became more regularly used as a centre and since his debut in 2013 he has only started five games at 10.
It remains to be seen who will come into Rennie’s plans as he does not take over the reins until after the season with Glasgow Warriors. However, come July, when the Wallabies face Ireland in their opening test of the year, Toomua will hope to be in with a chance of being that starting 10.
Brilliant Boks outclass England at Twickenham
Fourteen-man South Africa produced a commanding performance at Twickenham to end the Castle Lager Outgoing tour on a high note with a 27-13 (halftime 14-3) victory over an outclassed England on Saturday.
Replacement prop Thomas du Toit was sent off for a high tackle with 20 minutes remaining to suggest that the game might be back in the melting pot. Although the Boks led 27-6 at that point, England had come back from a 19-point deficit to draw with the All Blacks seven days earlier.
But there was to be no ‘miracle’ for the home team this time; no last-minute disappointment as was suffered here a year ago or by a 14-man Boks in Marseille three weeks ago. It was a massive statement of depth and intent as a mix-and-match combination showed resolve and great composure to close out the game against an ultimately confounded home team.
A Springbok team shorn of backline regulars Handre Pollard, Lukhanyo Am and Cheslin Kolbe as well as pack stalwarts Lood de Jager and Pieter-Steph du Toit – and featuring their third-choice goal kicker in Faf de Klerk – ultimately commanded Twickenham after beginning cautiously but growing into the game with increasing confidence.
They scored two tries through the outstanding wing Kurt-Lee Arendse – scoring in a fifth successive test – and lock Eben Etzebeth to one from Henry Slade, while flyhalf Damian Willemse dropped two goals with Faf de Klerk kicking a conversion and three penalties.
South Africa’s Rugby World Cup dominance of the English pack resurfaced as scrum and maul were dominant with free-kick and penalties arriving as early as the first two scrums. De Klerk was wide with his first shot at goal from the penalty and England took the lead in the 11th minute when centre Owen Farrell was successful with his second kick at goal. Unbelievably his first attempt had gone wide from straight in front.
A neck tackle on No 8 Evan Roos presented De Klerk with an easier opportunity to level the scores mid0way through the half before Farrell – to general astonishment – missed another straightforward opportunity a couple of minutes later.
But that was to be England’s last sniff of first-half points as the Springboks dominated the second quarter.
A succession of lineout drives put the England pack on a warning and one from one such drive Siya Kolisi was held up over the line (Roos did manage to ground half a second after the whistle had gone).
England’s defence was resolute however and it rook a cool 30-metre drop goal from Willemse – his first for the Springboks – to edge his team into the lead for the first time on the half hour.
Three minutes later the game burst to life.
England had kicked frequently and from one such bomb on to Willemse just inside his own 22 the Bok backs cut England to pieces. The Bok flyhalf evaded the chasing Freddie Steward, fed the ever-alert Willie le Roux on his inside who in turn passed to Arendse on the right-hand touchline 40 metres out. The flying wing had Marcus Smith in front of him, but an inside-outside swerve saw him speed past the flat-footed defender without being touched.
Straight from the restart South Africa again broke from deep – dummying the box kick and breaking away through Willemse and Arendse – and although it didn’t lead to points the half ended on top with De Klerk kicking his second penalty to give his team an 11-point lead (14-3).
Willemse’s comfort in the No 10 jersey was writ large when he landed a second drop two minutes into the new half with cool assurance.
Farrell cancelled it out with his second successful penalty from in front after De Klerk strayed offside, but it was a rare moment of success for England as they started clearing their bench early to try and cancel out the Boks’ firepower up front.
It di not work initially as the building pressure from a succession of lineout drives led to a yellow card for not rolling away at a ruck by loosefoward Tom Curry. Two minutes later the numerical advantage was rewarded for the Boks. England were forced onto their goal-line and the outstanding Eben Etzebeth scored under the cross bar from a metre out.
De Klerk converted and then added a fabulous penalty from 50 metres to give the Springboks a three-score lead at 27-6. But the Springboks’ fortunes were about to change.
The Bomb Squad’s impact had been apparent with the new front row of Malcom Marx, Steven Kitshoff and Thomas du Toit extracting more scrum penalties from the English front row.
But Du Toit’s stay was short-lived as he was ed carded with 20 minutes to go for entering a tackle in an upright position and driving with his head and shoulder into England hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie.
That set up a tense final 20 minutes but the resolute, scrambling Bok defence was not to suffer the same fate as the All Blacks’ a week before at Twickenham.
Centre Henry Slade managed to cross in the period, but it was the only sighting the tryline England could manufacture as they trudged from the field, baffled, and beaten.
England 13 (3) – Try: Hery Slade. Conversion: Owen Farrell. Penalty goals: Farrell (2).
Springboks 27 (14) – Tries: Kurt-Lee Arendse, Eben Etzebeth. Conversion: Faf De Klerk. Penalty goals: De Klerk (3). Drop goals: Damian Willemse (2).
Boks want to change fortunes against England
The Springboks are determined to change history as they go in search of their first victory over England at Twickenham in eight years in their final Castle Lager Outgoing Tour match on Saturday, and both captain Siya Kolisi and assistant coach Mzwandile Stick said they are expecting a hard grind of a match.
The Boks last beat England at Twickenham in 2014 and since then they have come marginally close, suffering one-point defeats in their last two matches at the renowned stadium.
With the team having shown that they are on the right track after being narrowly pipped by the two top ranked teams in the world (Ireland and France) before defeating Italy convincingly, the Boks have all the motivation they need to finish their tour on a high note this weekend.
“The rivalry between the teams goes way back,” said Stick.
“It’s hard to win here and the stadium has a rich history. A lot of people who have played here haven’t won. It’s going to be another tough game tomorrow and both teams will give everything they have in a in a packed stadium.
“So I’m really I’m really looking forward to it and the boys are ready for it too.”
Kolisi shared Stick’s sentiments and said their comprehensive 32-12 victory against England in the Rugby World Cup final in 2019 was a distant memory.
“2019 was a long time ago,” said Kolisi.
“A lot of the guys that were there then are no longer here, so this match is different. We can’t look at that as motivation.
“We lost here last year, so we don’t have to look too far. This is a new group of players and we are want to make the country proud.”
Stick said regardless of the result on Saturday, there were a lot of positives the Springboks could take out of the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour.
“It’s always our goal is always to win, irrespective of who we play against, so this is an important game for us,” said Stick.
“There are a lot of positives we can take out of the tour irrespective of the results tomorrow. We got a lot of answers from playing against the No 1 and No 2 teams in the world, and we came close in those games. We are also pleased with the way we developed in our game.”
Stick added: “We believe we are in a good space building toward the World Cup, but that said we haven’t beaten England here for the past eight years, so it’s going to be a massive game.”
With England staging a dramatic comeback last week to register a 25-25 draw against New Zealand, Kolisi said the tempo of their game would be vital.
“We all saw how they came back last week, so we know how big this challenge is going to be,” said Kolisi.
“That said, all we can focus on is our intensity and how we start the game. We know it will take a strong 80-minute effort.”
The match kicks off at 19h30 (SA time) and will be broadcast live on SuperSport.
Donaldson to start in Wallabies final Test of 2022
NSW Waratahs playmaker Ben Donaldson will start at flyhalf for the first time in Wallaby gold against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday afternoon (local time).
With a number of players unavailable following the three-point loss to world number one Ireland, Dave Rennie and the selection group has made seven changes to the starting XV.
Former Junior Wallaby, Donaldson will partner with club captain Jake Gordon who starts at scrumhalf for the side’s final Test of 2022.
A new-look backrow sees Langi Gleeson also earn his first Test start at number eight in place of the injured Rob Valetini, while Fraser McReight comes in for Michael Hooper at openside flanker, with Jed Holloway rounding out the loose forward trio at blindside flanker.
James Slipper will lead the side as loosehead prop in his 127th appearance for his country, partnering with long-time Brumbies teammates Folau Fainga’a and Allan Alaalatoa in the front row.
The athletic Nick Frost will be looking to continue his breakout debut season at international level, starting at lock alongside workhorse Cadeyrn Neville for the fourth time this year.
Melbourne Rebels stalwart Reece Hodge will again showcase his incredible versatility, named at inside centre for the first time in the Test arena since 2016, partnering with Len Ikitau who will again wear the familiar number 13 jersey in the midfield.
After an impressive performance off the bench in Dublin, Jordan Petaia earns a start on the right wing, linking with Tom Wright who is selected at fullback, while Mark Nawaqanitawase completes the back three on the left edge.
Lachlan Lonergan has been named as the finishing hooker with Force front rower Tom Robertson the replacement loosehead while Rebels journeyman Sam Talakai is in line to become Wallaby number 963 after being selected for a potential debut off the pine as the tighthead cover.
Coonamble-raised Ned Hanigan returns to the game day squad with the versatile Pete Samu selected to cover the backrow, a role he has filled with great impact so far in 2022.
Queensland captain Tate McDermott returns to the side to provide spark as the replacement scrumhalf, while Noah Lolesio will be the finishing playmaker. Jock Campbell rounds out the matchday 23 as the back three cover.
The Wallabies are looking to win at Principality Stadium for the first time since 2017.
Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said: “Ben has had a great year. He’s been impressive at training around his skillset and detail and has earned his opportunity to start for his country this week.”
“It’s a special occasion for Sam and his family. Over the past five weeks he’s impressed us with his diligence and work ethic and deserves the chance to debut on Saturday.
“We’re well aware of a Wales side that will be looking to respond after last week but we’re equally as motivated to finish our season on a positive note here in Cardiff.”
Every Wallabies Test from the 2022 Spring Tour will be ad-free, live and on-demand with extended coverage on Stan Sport.
Wallabies team to play Wales at Principality Stadium, Cardiff on Saturday 27 November, 3:15pm GMT/2:15am AEDT (Sunday)
- James Slipper (c) (126 Tests)
- Folau Fainga’a (37 Tests)
- Allan Alaalatoa (63 Tests)
- Nick Frost (8 Tests)
- Cadeyrn Neville (7 Tests)
- Jed Holloway (9 Tests)
- Fraser McReight (9 Tests)
- Langi Gleeson (2 Tests)
- Jake Gordon (19 Tests)
- Ben Donaldson (1 Test)
- Mark Nawaqanitawase (2 Tests)
- Reece Hodge (61 Tests)
- Len Ikitau (25 Tests)
- Jordan Petaia (24 Tests)
- Tom Wright (22 Tests)
- Lachlan Lonergan (7 Tests)
- Tom Robertson (30 Tests)
- Sam Talakai*
- Ned Hanigan (27 Tests)
- Pete Samu (32 Tests)
- Tate McDermott (20 Tests)
- Noah Lolesio (16 Tests)
- Jock Campbell (3 Tests)
2022 Spring Tour Fixtures
Wallabies 16 defeated Scotland 15, Sunday 30 October at BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Wallabies 29 defeated by France 30, Sunday 6 November at Stade de France, Paris
Wallabies 27 defeated by Italy 28, Saturday 12 November, at Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence
Wallabies 10 defeated by Ireland 13, Saturday 19 November at Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Wallabies v Wales, Sunday 27 November, 2:15am AEDT at Principality Stadium, Cardiff
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