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Wallabies to make changes for final Test

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Photo by Mark Tantrum/Getty Images

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has forecast changes to his line-up for the deciding Test in Brisbane on Saturday after France equalised with a gripping second Test victory in Melbourne.

France fullback Melvyn Jaminet secured a 28-26 victory with a penalty strike in the 78th minute, wresting back the lead after the Wallabies had edged in front just minutes earlier at AAMI Park.

It was France’s first win over the Wallabies on Australian soil in 31 years.

With Australia winning the first Test in Brisbane last Saturday 23-21, the condensed series will be fought out back at Suncorp Stadium with just four days break.

Rennie stuck by the same 23 for the first two Tests but said there would be new faces coming in.

“I think so – we will see how our guys bounce back tomorrow,” Rennie said.

“There’s massive competition for places – there’s a number of guys who played in these first two games and there’s not a hell of a lot between them and someone who is outside that 23.

“We’ve got guys who have been really scrapping for an opportunity and deserve a crack and we want to see a response from those new guys coming in – they will be fresh and full of beans and give us some key energy.”

Tom Banks slices through the defence

Winger Tom Wright had an unhappy match while Rennie could opt to reward halfback Tate McDermott with a start after he impressed off the bench.

The Wallabies were outplayed at the breakdown, with France showing much more urgency to force penalties and turnovers.

Lock Lukhan Salakaia-Loto lacked discipline in that area but still topped the tackle count.

Skipper Michael Hooper, who was one of his team’s best, was upbeat about their chances in the decider.

“There’s no lack of effort in the squad – everyone is aiming up,” Hooper said.

“We will wake up sore but rearing to go and if we fix up a couple of parts of our game I think we can take it another level again.”

Source – Australia Rugby

Rugby Championship

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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Rugby Championship

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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International

PREVIEW: All Blacks v Fiji

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Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

The Steinlager Series ends on a high in Hamilton as the All Blacks face an incredibly physical and skillful Fijian side who will be eager to improve on the 57-23 score line from Dunedin last week.

Match details: All Blacks v Fiji, Saturday 17 July, 7.05pm (NZT), FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton

Played: 6

First game: All Blacks 74, Fiji 13 (27 May 1987)

Last game: All Blacks 57, Fiji 23 (10 July 2021)

Referee: Damon Murphy

FIJI NO SURPRISE PACKAGE

While Fiji’s strong performance in the first Test came as a surprise to some fans, it wasn’t to the All Blacks according to first five-eighth Richie Mo’unga. “We knew what we were going to get and for those who didn’t know, the New Zealand public who don’t watch European rugby, these guys are rock stars over there,” Mo’unga said. Despite a hampered build-up to the first Test with some players not coming out of MIQ until the week of the Test, Fiji pressured the All Blacks in many facets of the game and trailed by just eight points with 20 minutes to go. Fiji Head Coach Vern Cotter believes his side can get even better with another week of preparation under their belt. “The ingredients are there, a brave performance…you can build something from that,” Cotter said.

ARDIE AND ANTON MILESTONES

It will be a night to remember for Ardie Savea and Anton Lienert-Brown who both bring up 50 Tests for the All Blacks. Both players debuted in 2016 as youngsters and have quickly become regular starters and leaders in the All Blacks. Lienert-Brown said it was even more special for him to celebrate the milestone in Hamilton. “This region is probably the reason I am here. It has given a lot to me so to do it at FMG Waikato Stadium is special so I am very grateful.”

BREAKDOWN CHALLENGE

Fiji excelled at the breakdown last week in Dunedin and will be looking to edge the All Blacks again in this crucial area. It’s no secret that the All Blacks have been working hard during the week to improve their work at the breakdown and the addition of Ardie Savea to the starting line-up for the first time in 2021 will no doubt boost the All Blacks ability to compete in the tackle zone. Assistant Coach Brad Mooar outlined a simple formula to success at the breakdown: “I think it’s more about just winning the race, beating the opposition to the breakdown, making good decisions and execution as a ball carrier, supporters’ anticipation, and getting into that breakdown,” Mooar said.

STATCHAT

This will be the All Blacks 600th Test in the team’s rich history. The first All Blacks Test match was against Australia way back in 1903.

COACH’S CHAT

Hear from All Blacks Head Coach Ian Foster on the 23 players named to face Fiji in Hamilton.

WATCH

Watch the action live on Sky Sport in New Zealand and click HERE for international broadcast details.

TEAMS

 

All Blacks (caps in brackets):

1: George Bower (2) 2: Codie Taylor (57) 3: Nepo Laulala (30) 4: Scott Barrett (41) 5: Samuel Whitelock – captain (124) 6: Akira Ioane (3) 7: Ardie Savea (49) 8: Luke Jacobson (4) 9: Aaron Smith (98) 10: Richie Mo’unga (23) 11: Sevu Reece (9) 12: David Havili (4) 13: Anton Lienert-Brown (49) 14: Will Jordan (4) 15: Damian McKenzei (29)

Reserves: 16: Dane Coles (76) 17: Ethan de Groot (1) 18: Angus Ta’avao (15) 19: Brodie Retallick (82) 20: Shannon Frizell (13) 21: Brad Weber (8) 22: Beauden Barrett (90) 23: Rieko Ioane (35)

Fiji:

1.Peni Ravai, 2. Samuel Matavesi, 3. Mesake Doge, 4. Temo Mayanavanua, 5. Leone Nakarawa (C), 6. Johnny Dyer, 7. Mesulame Kunavula, 8. Peceli Yato, 9. Frank Lomani, 10. Ben Volavola, 11. Nemani Nadolo, 12. Eneriko Buliruarua, 13. Waisea Nayacalevu, 14. Setareki Tuicuvu, 15. Kini Murimurivalu.

Reserves: 16. Mesulame Dolokoto, 17. Eroni Mawi, 18. Leeroy Atalifo, 19. Albert Tuisue, 20. Kitione Kamikamica, 21. Moses Sorovi, 22. Teti Tela, 23. Manasa Mataele.

Source – All Blacks Rugby

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