Connect with us

International

O’Connor Starts in Wallabies’ All Blacks Showdown

James O’Connor will make his first start for the Wallabies in six years this weekend

Published

on

(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika has named James O’Connor in the centre for his side’s Rugby Championship game in Perth on Saturday.

O’Connor is one of four changes and will make his first start in six years for the Wallabies when he lines out at outside centre for the men in green and gold.

The former ‘bad boy’ takes the place of Tevita Kuridrani as Cheika looks to bring some creative spark in the midfield to break down the All Blacks.

Elsewhere, Folau Fainga’a has dropped to the bench with Tolu Latu stepping into the starting XV, while Allan Alaalatoa takes the place of Sekope Kepu at tighthead prop, with Kepu dropping out of the squad.

The only other change to the side is that Lukhan Salakaia-Loto comes into the back-row alongside captain Michael Hooper and Isi Naisarani.

Once again David Pocock misses the game however, the good news for Wallabies fans is that Cheika is confident that he will be ready for action next week.

“He has trained all week with the team, slightly modified but this is the most he has done with the team so he is getting very close. He will train fully with the team today and I am hoping he will be available next week,” he said.

The Wallabies clash with the All Blacks serves as their final game in this year’s shortened Rugby Championship campaign as well as being the first of two Bledisloe Cup matches between the sides.

There is a slim chance that the Wallabies could still win the Rugby Championship title if they beat the All Blacks and Argentina do them a favour and defeat South Africa, meaning it is all still to play for this weekend.

Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below.

1. Scott Sio (56 Tests)

2. Tolu Latu (13 Tests)

3. Allan Alaalatoa (32 Tests)

4. Izack Rodda (19 Tests)

5. Rory Arnold (21 Tests)

6. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (13 Tests)

7. Michael Hooper (c) (93 Tests)

8. Isi Naisarani (2 Tests)

9. Nic White (24 Tests)

10. Christian Lealiifano (20 Tests)

11. Marika Koroibete (21 Tests)

12. Samu Kerevi (vc) (27 Tests)

13. James O’Connor (45 Tests)

14. Reece Hodge (35 Tests)

15. Kurtley Beale (85 Tests)

Reserves:

16. Folau Fainga’a (9 Tests)

17. James Slipper (88 Tests)

18. Taniela Tupou (13 Tests)

19. Adam Coleman (31 Tests)

20. Luke Jones (4 Tests)

21. Will Genia (102 Tests)

22. Matt To’omua (44 Tests)

23. Tom Banks (4 Tests)

6 Nations

Double Injury Blow for Leinster

Leinster have been handed two big injuries to two of their key men as they head into the Christmas period

Published

on

(Photo By Seb Daly/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Leinster have confirmed that star fly-half Johnny Sexton has suffered a medial tear in his right knee, while Ronan Kelleher has also had an injury set-back.

Sexton, who went off injured during Leinster’s 43-16 victory over Northampton Saints last Saturday, underwent scans on his knee yesterday and saw a specialist who revealed that he will miss between 6 and 8 weeks of action. 

The 34-year-old is set to miss the opening weekend’s of the 2020 Six Nations as a result, with the first fixture at home to Scotland on February 1st, with Wales coming to town a week later. 

It will remain to be seen how quickly he recovers, but the likelihood is that he will aim to be fit for Ireland’s third game away to England on the 23rd. 

However, his injury causes a slight selection headache for new head coach Andy Farrell, who at this moment is without Sexton and Joey Carbery, but the latter is expected to return from injury later this month. 

Although Sexton’s injury is a big blow, it could open the door once again for Connacht’s Jack Carty to get a run in the Irish line-up, while Leinster teammate Ross Byrne will take the reigns at club-level and with the form he is currently in, will fancy his chances of getting a call up to the national team having missed out on the Rugby World Cup squad. 

The injury also means that Sexton will miss all three of Leinster’s remaining Champions Cup pool fixtures as well as their three inter-provincial derbies over the coming month, with Byrne expected to be backed up by younger brother Harry and Ciaran Frawley. 

Although the bad news for both Leinster and Ireland doesn’t stop there with upcoming star hooker Ronan Kelleher expected to be side-lined for a period with a possible fractured hand, which he is thought to have suffered during last weekend’s game. 

It is thought that Kelleher was in poll position to earn his first call-up to the Irish side for the Six Nations after a blistering start to the season, but this may now dampen his hopes. 

Sean Cronin is believed to be nearing full-fitness once more, which would be a boost for both club and country as he could slot in seamlessly. 

The injuries are piling-up for Leinster, who will also miss centre Joe Tomane for the same period as Sexton through a hamstring injury, while Rory O’Loughlin will miss this weekend’s game with injury. 

James Ryan is also making his way through the back to play protocols after taking a knock to the head against the Saints, but could feature this Saturday. 

Leinster will hope that their squad can cope with the set-backs as they head into this weekend’s home fixture against Northampton, with younger stars now having the chance to lay a marker as the province look to make it 11 wins from 11 at the start of the season.

Continue Reading

6 Nations

Sexton to Miss Northampton Return Game

Leinster fly-half Johnny Sexton is set to miss this weekend’s home game against Northampton Saints and there are further injury concerns for the Irish province

Published

on

(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Leinster have confirmed that out-half Johnny Sexton will not feature in this weekend’s return fixture against the Northampton Saints in the Champions Cup.

The Irish-star went down awkwardly in a tackle early in the second-half of Saturday’s 43-16 victory over the Saints and was replaced by Ross Byrne immediately and will now see a specialist later today for further scans on the injury. 

The 34-year-olds fitness uncertainty will come as a massive concern for new Ireland head coach Andy Farrell, with the Six Nations edging closer and with him set to take charge of his first training camp before the New Year. 

As well as his skill-set, many expect Sexton to take over the captaincy from recently retired Rory Best, with his experience being a key component to the Irish side. 

The good news for his province is that Ross Byrne has been in fine form so far this season after his Rugby World Cup omission from the Irish squad and has back-up from younger brother Harry as well as Ciaran Frawley, with Ross likely to take the starting spot this weekend. 

However, Leinster will be without backs Joe Tomane and Rory O’Loughlin this weekend, with the former set to be side-lined for up to eight weeks with a hamstring injury following a brilliant opening to the season, while the latter is suffering from a shoulder problem. 

In the forwards James Ryan is undergoing the return to play protocols after taking a knock to the head during Saturday’s win. 

Leinster and Ireland will hope that Sexton makes a speedy recovery, but for the boys in blue their eyes will be firmly set on this weekend’s fixture which could see them all but qualify for the knock-out stages of the competition and they will want to continue their perfect start to the season with an incredible 10 wins from 10.

Continue Reading

International

All Blacks Players’ Player of the Year Confirmed

The All Blacks have had an off-colour year compared to their usual high standards but there were some stand-out performers and the players have cast their vote on their player of the year

Published

on

(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

New Zealand back-rower Ardie Savea has been announced as the All Blacks Players’ Player of the Year for 2019.

The nation as a whole were disappointed with their year having lost out on the Rugby Championship and failing to retain their Rugby World Cup crown, with their rivals South Africa claiming both. 

However, despite all the downsides there were some stand-out performances and Savea has stood out among his peers for his showings this year beating fellow teammates Beauden Barrett, Kieran Read, Codie Taylor and Anton Lienert-Brown to the award. 

It brings Savea’s year to a bright ending after also being pipped to the World Player of the Year award by Springbok Pieter-Steph du Toit last month. Although Savea will miss a chunk of the 2020 season having confirmed he will undergo surgery on a knee problem which will leave him side-lined for between four to six months.

Sevu Reece was handed the Players’ Super Rugby Player of the Year after finishing top of the try-scoring charts with the Crusaders

Meanwhile, in the women’s voting Charmaine McMenamin came out on top as the Players’ International Player of the Year. 

The New Zealand Rugby 2019 awards take place on Thursday with both Savea and McMenamin up for the Player of the Year award going up against Beauden Barrett and Lienert-Brown, and Black Ferns’ Kendra Cocksedge and Ayesha Leti-l’iga respectively.

Continue Reading

Trending