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SBW injured again. 7 All Blacks released for club duty.

Sonny Bill Williams suffers injury setback while 7 other All Blacks are set to line out for their clubs this weekend.

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(Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

All Blacks centre Sonny Bill Williams return to action has been short-lived with the Blues midfielder facing another stint on the sideline. Only last week he made his return, running out for club rugby side Ponsonby.

Williams took to the field for Ponsonby in their win against Grammar Tec last weekend following another injury-plagued Super Rugby season for the Blues where he only managed to make 3 starts.

His final Super Rugby appearance came against the Hurricanes on June 15 came after a 10-week layoff following knee surgery.

SBW was expected to play for Ponsonby again this weekend but has been ruled out due to a tight hamstring.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen had released 8 All Blacks that included Williams to play at club level if required this weekend.

New All Blacks loose forward Luke Jacobson will make his third appearance for Hautapu in as many weeks, aiming to get more game time after missing the run in for the Chiefs’ Super Rugby campaign following concussion.

Brodie Retallick has also been released and will be available for Central Hawke’s Bay this weekend.

Auckland will see a huge boost in All Blacks talent at the grassroots level this weekend, with 4 Blues players released to their clubs. Dalton Papalii (Pakuranga), Karl Tu’inukuafe (Takapuna), Ofa Tuungafasi (Grammar Tec), Patrick Tuipulotu (Ponsonby) and Rieko Ioane (Ponsonby).

The All Blacks squad will come together again in Auckland on Tuesday afternoon for a camp before flying to Buenos Aires on Friday evening for the first of the Rugby Championship Fixtures.

Rugby Championship

Quade Cooper back in Wallabies camp

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Quade Cooper - Wallabies Australia
Image Credit - Andrew Phan/Wallabies Media

Veteran playmaker Quade Cooper concedes he fell short in certain areas in the past and he’s determined to use his surprise Wallabies recall to ensure Australia’s brightest young rugby stars avoid the same fate.

Cooper had a coffee with Wallabies coach Dave Rennie last week in which he agreed to link up with the squad as a training partner before they flew out to New Zealand.

But James O’Connor’s ongoing groin issues and the cancellation of the trans-Tasman bubble led Rennie to make the decision to include Cooper in the main squad for the upcoming Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship series.

The Wallabies will fly to New Zealand on Friday for the first Test in Auckland on August 7.

The second Test is expected to be brought forward to August 14 and be played on All Blacks home soil, before the teams face off in Perth on August 21.

Cooper last played a Test for Australia in 2017 – a 15-minute cameo off the bench in a win over Italy.

He fell out of favour under then-coach Michael Cheika and moved to Japan in 2019 to link up with the Kintetsu Liners.

The 33-year-old has matured in leaps and bounds over the past three years, and has used the long COVID-19 enforced layoffs to rebuild his body.

Cooper faces an uphill battle to earn game time in the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship.

Rennie said Noah Lolesio is the No.1 playmaker, while Matt To’omua, Reece Hodge, Duncan Paia’aua, and O’Connor (when fit) are other options.

Cooper knows his Wallabies recall might not lead to any game time but he’s eager to help out in any way he can.

The 70-Test veteran has taken his training and workout standards to new levels and he was full of voice during drills with his Wallabies teammates on Monday.

“You watch them go about their training,” Cooper said.

“You see things in them that you can look back and say, ‘Yep, I can help out there. I see where I went wrong at that age’.

“For me that’s something I can provide … to be able to provide an example of what it takes.

“I know where I fell short in the past, and hopefully now I’m in a position I can lead from the front in those areas and provide a little bit of guidance.”

Working with Lolesio is something that particularly excites Cooper.

“I think we can continue to help each other,” Cooper said.

“Even myself at 33 I’m there trying to learn, trying to soak up as much information as I can.

“Watching the way he went through those Test matches (against France) – he’s a phenomenal player, and I know he’s going to be a great player and a great asset to Australian rugby.”

Cooper has been training hard with a ‘5am club’ since returning to Australia a couple of months ago.

He has also ensured his skills have stayed sharp by joining his two younger brothers for training at their rugby league club in Brisbane.

Rennie feels Cooper’s inclusion in the Wallabies squad will prove to be invaluable.

“We have a young group of men who are impressionable, and ready for Quade to come in and be a positive influence,” Rennie said.

“He’s highly motivated. We saw him running around this morning, and he looked as sharp as ever for me.”

Source – Australia Rugby

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Bledisloe Cup and The Rugby Championship Covid-19 update

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New Zealand Rugby (NZR) is working with Rugby Australia (RA) and Sanzaar to evaluate the options around The Bledisloe Cup Series and The Rugby Championship following the New Zealand Government’s decision to pause the trans-Tasman travel bubble today.

The New Zealand Government announced today that quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand has been paused for a period of eight weeks.

NZR Chief Executive Mark Robinson said the Government’s latest announcement presented some obvious challenges.

The All Blacks are due to host two Bledisloe Cup Tests, with the Rugby Championship scheduled to be played primarily in New Zealand and Australia over the next two months.

“We know the uncertainty this creates is challenging for our fans, players and partners, but remain committed to finding a path forward and continuing to deliver world-class rugby in 2021.

“We are continuing to work closely with the New Zealand Government to explore the option of bringing Australia across the Tasman for the two Bledisloe Cup Tests.

“As we have throughout the Covid-19 pandemic our decisions will continue be guided by the advice of relevant Government and health authorities with the health and safety of our people at the forefront of any decisions. It’s important we evaluate all of our options before finalising any plans.”

Rugby Australia Chief Executive Officer Andy Marinos said: “We are working closely with New Zealand Rugby and the various Governments through different scenarios now. Rugby Australia’s position has always been to prioritise the health and safety of its players, staff and fans, and today’s announcement only reinforces that. We want to thank the Australian Government as well as the New Zealand Government for their support so far, as we aim for a positive outcome in the coming days. 

“The Wallabies team have been in a secure bubble since the conclusion of the France Series, with the squad assembled on the Gold Coast. The players are regularly tested for Covid-19 and have maintained strict bio-security protocols as recommended by the Return To Play Committee and the relevant health authorities,” Marinos said.

SANZAAR along with its member national unions – NZR, RA, South Africa Rugby and Argentina Rugby Union – will announce any potential and necessary changes to the tournament schedule in due course.

NZR and RA will also continue to work through scenarios regarding the Wallaroos tour to New Zealand against the Black Ferns, and any possible travel implications.

Source – All Blacks Rugby

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Wallabies wing leaves Australia for Japan venture

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Photo by Mark Tantrum/Getty Images

Marika Koroibete is officially leaving Australian rugby and the Melbourne Rebels, with the star winger confirming his move to Japan on Friday.

Amid much ado in Japan, Robbie Deans’ 2021 championship-winning Panasonic Wild Knights welcomed Koroibete for the country’s first fully professional season next year.

The 2019 John Eales Medallist as Australia’s player of the year will link up with the Wild Knights for the Japan Rugby League One kicking off on January 7.

While widely forecast, Koroibete’s departure is nevertheless a huge blow for the Rebels and Wallabies, with Test coach Dave Rennie reluctant to use overseas-based players for national duty.

“I am very excited to be joining Saitama from 2022 season. I have been a big fan of the growing game in Japan and enjoyed my time in the country for the 2019 Rugby World Cup,” Koroibete said.

“I am looking forward to joining a very successful organisation that strives for greatness and working hard to ensure Panasonic continue to win titles.

“I have heard great things about Robbie Deans coaching and have had pleasant experiences in our brief chats so far. I cannot wait to join Robbie’s coaching staff and the rest of the team, train hard and get the fans off their seats.

“My family and I are excited to arrive in Japan and experience more of the country’s great culture whilst playing some great rugby with an exciting team, great coaching staff, successful organisation and thriving rugby competition.”

The Wild Knights won the last Top League title this year, beating Suntory Sungoliath, who have Eddie Jones as a consultant in the final.

Koroibete will join fellow Australians Dylan Riley and loose forwards Jack Cornelsen and Ben Gunter on the club’s roster.

Source – Australia Rugby

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