The Melbourne Rebels have confirmed a host of players will depart at the end of the season, led by Wallabies Marika Koroibete and Dane Haylett-Petty.
In an announcement on Friday, the club revealed Koroibete will head to Japan in 2022 following his Wallabies commitments.
The 28-year-old was named Players’ Player following an outstanding 2021 campaign, with the winger scoring 23 tries during his 69 games with the club.
He will be joined in Japan by Isi Naisarani, who will leave the club after playing 31 games since 2019.
Meanwhile, Haylett-Petty, who was named captain for the past three years, will not return as he explores his options.
Haylett-Petty did not feature in 2021 as he continues to recover from a concussion.
Along with this, Frank Lomani will return back home to Fiji, with the halfback named in their squad to face New Zealand in July.
Lock Steve Cummins has also signed a multi-year deal with French side Section Paloise in the Top 14.
Their departing list is rounded out by Tom Pincus, who they confirmed will move into his post-Rugby career.
The club has confirmed that they will retain the majority of their squad from 2021, with 27 players contracted for the 2022 season.
All Blacks named for Washington Test
The All Blacks team has been named to play the USA in the 1874 Cup Test match at FedExField in Washington DC on Saturday 23 October (Kick-off: 3.30PM EST, 8.30AM Sunday 24 October NZT).
The matchday 23 is (Test caps in brackets. New caps in bold):
1. Ethan de Groot (2)
2. Asafo Aumua (4)
3. Angus Ta’avao (19)
4. Samuel Whitelock (127) – captain
5. Tupou Vaa’i (7)
6. Luke Jacobson (10)
7. Dalton Papalii (9)
8. Hoskins Sotutu (8)
9. Finlay Christie (3)
10. Richie Mo’unga (27)
11. George Bridge (16)
12. Quinn Tupaea (4)
13. Braydon Ennor (2)
14. Will Jordan (9)
15. Damian McKenzie (37)
16. Dane Coles (76)
17. George Bower (8)
18. Tyrel Lomax (10)
19. Josh Lord – new cap
20. Sam Cane (74)
21. TJ Perenara (75)
22. Beauden Barrett (98)
23. Anton Lienert-Brown (53)
It will be a special day for new All Blacks lock, 20-year-old Josh Lord, who has been named on the bench and will have huge experience around him for his first Test match, with All Blacks Captain Samuel Whitelock returning at starting lock, alongside Tupou Vaa’i.
In the starting front row, prop Ethan de Groot gets his first Test start after two appearances off the bench this year, hooker Asafo Aumua gets his second Test start of the year and Angus Ta’avao provides experience at tighthead prop. George Bower and Tyrel Lomax are the prop reserves, with Dane Coles, making his eagerly-awaited return to the All Blacks, on the bench.
The starting loose forwards are the exciting young trio of Luke Jacobson at six, Dalton Papalii at seven and number eight Hoskins Sotutu, with the hugely experienced Sam Cane making his welcome return to the national side via the bench, after missing the international season to undergo chest muscle surgery. He will be playing his 75th Test.
In the backs, it’s a first Test start for halfback Finlay Christie with Richie Mo’unga at 10. The inside pairing sees Quinn Tupaea come in at 12 and Braydon Ennor, in his first Test start, is at centre. Will Jordan and George Bridge are on the wings and Damian McKenzie is at fullback. The All Blacks will have huge international experience in the back reserves, with halfback TJ Perenara, first five-eighth Beauden Barrett and Anton Lienert-Brown ready to make impact from the bench.
This will be the fifth time the All Blacks and USA have played each other, with the last Test in Chicago in 2014, and is the first Test of the All Blacks Tudor Northern Tour.
All Blacks Head Coach Ian Foster said: “We’ve had a great week’s build-up here in Washington DC. The early part of the week was about recovering from our travel and getting clarity around some concepts in our game and we have slowly been building in intensity and getting into our work.
“The chance for us to play in a new city and new stadium is pretty special and the group is really excited and looking forward to the occasion. It’s time to get back into our groove after our break in Australia and with a number of players having not played for awhile. It’s time to get our game going again and we are ready to go.”
Speaking on the newest All Black, Foster said: “Josh Lord is a young man who’s been really enthusiastic since he came in. He’s bringing a lot of energy and learning a lot and we’re looking forward to seeing him go.”
On the players making their first Test starts, Foster added: “Ethan (de Groot) has been raring to go in recent weeks. We’re really excited for him, he’s been training well and he’s a quality player with a big future.
“Finlay has made the most of his opportunities and he just keeps growing his game and getting better and better and we’re delighted at how he’s going. Braydon has had a year disrupted by injury but he’s back. He’s running fast and we’re again looking forward to seeing how he goes.”
The All Blacks and USA will be playing for the 1874 Cup which references the year rugby was first played in the United States, a collegiate match between McGill and Harvard University.
SA Rugby assumes administrative control of Western Province RFU
SA Rugby has advised the Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) that it was invoking its constitutional power to take administrative control of the Union.
The advice was provided following a decision by the Executive Council (Exco) of the South African Rugby Union on Monday.
Experienced former SA Rugby CEO, Rian Oberholzer, has been appointed as an administrator and will assume oversight of the union’s affairs immediately. His remit includes supervision of the operational affairs of Western Province (Pty) Ltd, which manages the professional playing teams of the DHL Stormers and Western Province.
The president of Western Province, Mr Zelt Marais, was informed of the decision this morning (Tuesday).
SA Rugby president, Mr Mark Alexander, said the decision had been taken with extreme reluctance.
“We had engaged with the WPRFU over a number of months on the challenges the organisation faced and tried to assist them in finding solutions,” said Mr Alexander.
“We attempted to partner in a joint oversight committee but were frustrated in our attempts to receive accurate information and engage constructively.
“However, the Union has regressed in its attempts to extricate itself from those challenges and we could no longer stand by.
“This is very much the last resort, but it had become apparent that the Union’s leadership was incapable of putting in place the actions to regularize its position.
“Several of the Union’s stakeholders have contacted our offices to express their dismay and we are aware of the public alarm.
“Clause 29 of the constitution of the South African Rugby Union charges that all unions have to ‘conduct their business affairs in such a way that, at all times, they are in a sound financial position, comply with the laws of the Republic and adhere to the requirements of good governance’.
“It is Exco’s view that WPRFU has failed that test and we could no longer distribute SA Rugby income in that knowledge. On that basis we have taken this decision with a heavy heart.”
The powers of clause 29 allow for the “assumption of responsibility for the affairs of unions…[including] the suspension from office of their elected and/or appointed officials, and the appointment by SARU of administrators, who shall assume all decision-making powers of the unions at both governance and operational levels, and who shall have the authority to direct employees, including chief executive officers, on a day to day basis, such administrators to report and be accountable to and to take direction from the executive council.”
Mr Alexander said that all stakeholders – the union’s commercial partners, broadcaster, coaching staff, players’ union and Vodacom United Rugby Championship partners – had been advised of the decision.
He assured supporters that the appointment of an administrator was to stabilise the Union’s governance and operational business and was not to have any direct influence on DHL Stormers affairs.
“Clause 29 gives us the authority to remain in administration until the Union’s affairs are stabilised,” said Mr Alexander.
“It is not possible right now to put a timeline to that – although it is our intention and desire to make this process as short-lived as possible.
“The most important thing right now is to quietly go about the off-field business so that coach John Dobson and the DHL Stormers squad can focus on performing to their best in their debut season in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship.”
Big names bolster All Blacks for northern tour
All Blacks captain Ardie Savea will continue to lead the side as they prepare for their northern hemisphere tour on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
Coach Ian Foster said with Sam Cane, Sam Whitelock, Dane Coles and Shannon Frizell meeting up with the All Blacks in Washington their readiness to play would be assessed before any captaincy change was considered.
“At the moment, we’re going to stay with the status quo,” Foster said. “…so, Ardie will carry on leading this team in the short-term future but then once we get to Washington and Wales, we’ll make some assessments about where the other guys are, then we’ll let people know.”
Cane would be left to come back into the environment for two or three weeks to get his confidence up. The 29-year-old loose forward has not played since the end of March, when he suffered a pectoral injury against the Blues in Super Rugby Aotearoa,
The All Blacks are to play: the United States on October 24 in Washington, Wales in Cardiff on October 31, Italy in Rome on November 6, Ireland in Dublin on November 14 and France in Paris on November 20.
With locks Scott Barrett and Patrick Tuipulotu returning home, after securing places in the MIQ lottery, the way was open for Taranaki bolter Josh Lord to join Brodie Retallick, Tupou Vaa’i and Sam Whitelock as the locks for the trip.
Foster said Lord was a young player with a lot of promise who had impressed the selectors when doing their rounds of the Super Rugby sides.
“He’s very athletic and we saw this as an opportunity to grow a young player for the future. He’s got the physical attributes that we think are right, and it’s a chance to get him on this tour and start working with him,” he said.
It wasn’t a new ploy by the All Blacks as Jerome Kaino, Isaia Toeava and, Asafo Aumua were examples of what former coach Sir Graham Henry described as ‘special projects’ on past tours.
There was a temptation to include another lock but, with Frizell, they felt they had sufficient cover.
Vaa’i would have an increased role with the side, and Foster was confident of his ability to handle that.
“We love what he did with us last year. We saw Tupou come in quickly last year, and he dealt with a starting role in a Bledisloe Cup game under a lot of pressure. Whenever we put him on the park, we felt he performed well, and he’s continued to do that and impress us.
“We see this tour as a chance for him to get some significant game time and have a big role,” he said.
Whitelock and hooker Coles will play Bunnings NPC games this weekend, and with Bay of Plenty on a bye, efforts are being made for Cane to play a Heartland game.
While the NPC continuing into November would be ideal should injuries be an issue for the All Blacks, Foster said it wasn’t a concern because previous northern tours occurred when the NPC had finished.
Having the competition continue meant it would be easier to get players into Europe and that would be a useful backup should they get an injury.
“The fact that some NPC is going is still a positive for us,” he said.
They were resigned to halfback Aaron Smith not joining them, but such was the situation that it was a case of ‘never saying never’, he said.
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