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Wallabies’ Hooper on McReight’s mind



Michael Hooper still looms large over the Wallabies with his flanker replacement Fraser McReight saying he’s trying to make the Test skipper proud.

Hooper is on indefinite leave for mental health reasons but watched Australia best South Africa in their Rugby Championship Test at Adelaide Oval.

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They will again face the world champions at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium on Saturday, hunting consecutive Test victories for the first time this year.

Playing his fifth Test and first start on home soil, McReight was one of the stars in Adelaide, scoring two tries and forcing a turnover that saved a Springboks’ five-pointer.

The 23-year-old said Hooper messaged him straight after the match to congratulate him on the brace.

Despite Hooper’s absence opening up a starting spot, the Queenslander said he hoped that the Test centurion returned to the game.

In the meantime he planned to make his captain proud.

“He’s been wearing that jersey for decades, so obviously it was a big honour and I want to do him proud and do the jersey proud so I thought I did that,” McReight said. 

“He texted me after the game and brought up the two tries I got so he’s probably sitting at home wishing he had scored those.

“I miss him and I want to keep learning off him as he’s one of the greats so hopefully he comes back soon.”

Making his Test debut back in 2020, the Queenslander has served a lengthy apprenticeship behind Hooper, who is among the first picked in each Wallabies side.

But McReight felt it had served him well to learn from one of the game’s “soldiers”.

“Obviously I waited a long time to get that exposure and competing with Hoops for two and a half years was very good for my development in terms of just seeing how he preps – he’s a soldier of the game, a great of the game – to see how he goes day to day and how he backs up from game to game,” McReight said.

“Being his apprentice and learning from him has been wonderful for me.”

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has made it clear there isn’t room for two specialist openside flankers in the match-day squad and McReight is fully expectant that if and when Hooper returns he will again have to bide his time until another opportunity arises.

Aged 30 now, next year’s Rugby World Cup is likely Hooper’s international last hurrah.

“Who knows – I’m just doing a job for the team at the moment,” McReight said.

“If he comes back and starts at seven, he’s a legend in the game and that’s what’s going to happen.”

Rennie was delighted with what McReight brought to the table against a formidable Boks backrow.

“Fraser has really grabbed his opportunity on the back of good work done in front of him,” said Rennie, referring to the Wallabies pack.

“Hell of an effort for a young seven to get a double and he got his hand on a bit of pill post-tackle so good performance.”

Content & Images from – Australia Rugby


Marshall primed for Crusaders coaching opportunity



James Marshall couldn’t escape rugby’s draw after retiring from playing and failed in his promised avoidance of the coaching ranks.

The former Super Rugby title winner with the Hurricanes has fitted into coaching so well that he will spend 2023 as backs coach for the Crusaders in Super Rugby Pacific.

Auckland-born Marshall started his rugby career with Tasman, but when missing a place in the Super Rugby structure, in a team or wider training group, he had a chance as a 20-year-old to play in Italy with Zebre.

It proved a stimulating experience in coping with playing a different style of rugby at a different level.

He returned to New Zealand six months later for another three seasons with Tasman before getting a chance in the Hurricanes’ wider squad. He had spent four years trying to get a place in the Crusaders.

“I could never crack it as a player but I’m here now as a coach,” he said.

“It is surreal to be here now. When I finished rugby, I promised my wife I wouldn’t get into coaching. We had moved around so many times during my career, even when I was playing for the Hurricanes moving to Taranaki every six months.

“We worked it out there were well over 20 houses we lived in throughout my career so when I got to the end of it I did say I wouldn’t be chasing the coaching dream, and I wouldn’t be moving the family around any more.”

However, back in Nelson, he got the chance to work with Andrew Goodman and Shane Christie, which gave him coaching work where he had decided to settle.

“Then a couple of years later,, I get a call from Razor [Scott Robertson] and it really throws a spanner in the works for my wife and when I got the opportunity, it was a no brainer. It’s such a good opportunity for me to learn and see where coaching can now take me.”

He contacted David Havili to see if he felt Marshall could do the job asked of him as backs coach and to see if he would have the backing of the players.

Havili got back in touch to say how much he thought Marshall could add to the environment. He also contacted some of his Hurricanes contacts and admitted being surprised at how supportive they were.

The Crusaders were one of the most successful sides in the sport’s history, and looking from the outside while playing, he had always wondered what went on and how they did it.

“It’s been impressive. It’s a well-run ship. Razor does a great job. Scotty Hansen, the detail he has on the rugby programme. Tamati Ellison, some of his coaching, it’s all world-class.

“It’s been awesome for me as a young coach to witness these guys at work and try and learn as much as I can off them.

“There’s also the players. It’s a pretty impressive squad when you look at it on paper and the chance to work with some world-class athletes and try and teach them as much as I can, but also try and learn from them,” he said.

Content & Images from – New Zealand Rugby

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6 Nations

RTÉ And Virgin Media Confirm Details Of Free-To-Air Six Nations Coverage



RTÉ and Virgin Media Television today announced details of its joint Guinness Six Nations coverage, where the action will be free-to-air for supporters in the Republic of Ireland.

Kicking off on Friday, 3 February, this year’s Six Nations coverage will include all fixtures from Ireland’s Men’s, Women’s and U20 tournaments.

The partnership will see all games equally aired across both broadcasters again this year.

The 2023 Men’s Six Nations will open with Ireland v Wales on Virgin Media One, followed by England v Scotland on RTÉ2. Ireland will then take on current champions France on Saturday, 11 February.

The TikTok Women’s Six Nations will begin on Sunday, 26 March with Wales v Ireland.

Speaking at this morning’s launch at the Aviva Stadium, presenters Jacqui Hurley and Joe Molloy were joined on stage by members of their broadcast teams this year including pundits Rob Kearney, Fiona Hayes (Virgin Media Television), and RTÉ’s Jamie Heaslip and Hannah Tyrrell.

RTÉ also confirmed that Irish international and Munster player Simon Zebo will be joining their punditry team.

Commenting, Head of RTÉ Sport, Declan McBennett said: “With this being a great year for rugby, there is added excitement about this year’s Six Nations which RTÉ is once again bringing to sports fans all over the country free-to-air along with Virgin Media Ireland as part of our historic partnership which we launched last year.

“It’s going to be a huge year for Irish rugby and we’re really looking forward to it.”

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography

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Statement on behalf of Dave Rennie



Following Monday’s announcement Dave Rennie has issued the following statement.

“Firstly, I’d like to thank all of those who have reached out to Steph and I over the past 48 hours or so.

“The support has been immense and much appreciated from the more than 500 messages I’ve received from current and former players, coaches, administrators and friends both here and abroad.

“I’ve loved my time with the team. They’re outstanding young men who are keen to learn and prepared to work hard.

“The staff I worked with during my time with the Wallabies are some of the best in the world and they played a massive role in creating a quality environment and developing the depth of the playing group.

“I’d like to particularly thank those in the Australian Rugby community for their support of the team over the past three years and for all the words of encouragement when we have crossed paths in schools, on the training field or in airports around the country.

“I’m disappointed I won’t be able to see out my contract in the way I agreed to back in 2019 but leave knowing I had the full support of the playing group and the staff.

“I certainly felt we have made massive shifts over the past three years both on and off the field, which is off the back of a hell of a lot of hard work put in by good people.

“I wish Eddie, the staff and the team all the best in what’s a massive year, with the Rugby World Cup less than nine months away.”

Content & Images from – Australia Rugby

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