The Brumbies have confirmed the signing of Junior Wallabies hooker Lachlan Lonergan on a two-year contract.
Lonergan was part of the Junior Wallabies side that reached the final of the U20 World Championship this year, playing four of the five matches and scoring four tries.
The 19-year-old has come through the Brumbies’ ACT Junior Representative grades and academy structure and links up with fellow Junior Wallabies Noah Lolesio and Nick Frost in the Brumbies 2020 Super Rugby side.
The hooker is delighted to have signed a contract with the Brumbies and is determined to fulfil his potential.
“I’m really excited about signing a contract with the Brumbies and getting an opportunity to further my career at my hometown club. The Brumbies have always been an important part of my life and, having progressed through the Academy with them, it’s a dream come true to wear the jersey. I know I still have lots to learn and am looking forward to continuing to work hard with Dan and the coaching staff to further my development and grow as a player,” he said.
Head coach Dan McKellar has been impressed by Lonergan’s work over the past year and is happy with the talent that the franchise’s academy is producing.
“Lachie has been in the pathway system for a number of years now and has earned a full-time contract off some excellent performances for the Australian U20 side where he was one of their best. Like any young hooker his set-piece and physical development are areas we will work hard on with Locky. But he is a very good young hooker with a point of difference. He’s a good young local product who has an exciting future ahead of him. We have seen over the last couple of years that a number of players have come through the Brumbies Academy and Lachie is another positive story,” he said.
The Brumbies are known for their tradition of bringing through academy graduates and allowing them time in the first team environment and Lonergan is another example of that.
As well as joining his fellow Junior Wallabies in the squad for next season he will also join his older brother Ryan when he links-up with the senior squad.
Super Rugby Pacific Tournament Announced
Rugby Australia and New Zealand Rugby have formed a new partnership to deliver Super Rugby Pacific from 2022.
The world’s best provincial competition will kick off a new era in 2022 following a new joint venture partnership between Rugby Australia (RA) and New Zealand Rugby (NZR). Set to kick-off on 18 February 2022, the new 12-team Super Rugby Pacific competition welcomes the introduction of Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika who will join the five Australian and five New Zealand sides.
The competition structure for Super Rugby Pacific will be as follows:
- 12 teams (alphabetical order) with Blues, Brumbies, Chiefs, Crusaders, Fijian Drua, Highlanders, Hurricanes, Melbourne Rebels, Moana Pasifika, NSW Waratahs, Queensland Reds, Western Force
- 18-week competition window from 18 Feb to 18 June 2022 and 24 February to 24 June 2023
- 91 matches in total
- Teams will play 14 regular season matches with each team to host seven matches
- Teams will play 8 teams once and 3 teams twice with a focus on derby matches
- One competition table with teams ranked 1 to 12 based on competition points
- Three-week playoff format involving the top eight teams on the overall competition table with quarters, semis and final as follows:
- Quarterfinals – 1 v 8, 2 v 7, 3 v 6 and 4 v 5 with the top-ranked team hosting
- Semi-Finals – top-ranked quarter-final winner hosts against lowest-ranked quarter-final winner & 2nd highest ranked quarterfinal winner hosts 3rd highest ranked winner
- Final – top-ranked semi-final winner hosts the other semi-final winner
The Fijian Drua had previously competed in Australia’s National Rugby Championship [pictured below], winning the title in 2018. Their inclusion was confirmed thanks to the support of Rugby Australia and New Zealand Rugby as well as that of the Australian Government’s PacificAus Sports program.
Fiji Rugby Union will announce where Fijian Drua home matches will be played shortly, while Moana Pasifika will play their home fixtures primarily in New Zealand. Super Rugby Pacific’s two new entrants will play each other twice in the first two seasons with other examples where teams play twice to be determined by a seeding process based on 2021 results, with an emphasis on local derbies.
Rugby Australia CEO Andy Marinos said: “We’re thrilled to confirm the competition model for next year and beyond and want to thank NZR for their hard work and effort along with Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika for their patience, and the effort that has been put into their proposals.”
“I want to thank Nine and Stan for their endorsement of the competition as well as Foreign Minister Marise Payne and the Australian Government for their terrific support. This is a game-changer for Rugby in the Pacific, and indeed, the rest of the Rugby world. We have seen the brilliant rugby that Fiji play in all formats of the game and their inclusion will make this new competition one of the toughest in the world,” Marinos said.
New Zealand Rugby General Manager Professional Rugby & High Performance Chris Lendrum said: “We are entering an incredibly exciting new phase for rugby in the Pacific region. The trans-Tasman rivalries are crucial to our sport in the Southern Hemisphere, and the existing Super Rugby clubs have built a wonderful history and legacy over 26 years.”
“Moana Pasifika and the Fijian Drua will add an enormous amount of energy, skill and talent to the competition, not to mention a passionate support base. The Pasifika nations have added so much to world rugby over the years and this is an opportunity to enhance the standing of Pasifika rugby.”
Queensland Reds Announce 2022 Squad
The Queensland Reds continue to invest in developing elite talent with 31 players retained from this year’s program ahead of the 2022 season.
After claiming their first Super Rugby title in 10 years and consistently ranking as the best supported Super Rugby team in Australia this year with the biggest crowds and TV audiences, the club is focused on sustained success for Queensland Rugby in 2022 and beyond.
90% of the current 32-man squad has come through the Queensland pathway having been a part of Reds Academy programs, represented Queensland at either U18s or U20s level, played Queensland Premier Club Rugby or played for either Queensland Country or Brisbane City in the National Rugby Championship (NRC) or in the U19s (URC) competition.
20 of the 31 players retained from this season had already secured their future at Ballymore ahead of the 2022 Super Rugby season.
The remaining 11 players have all recently re-signed following the completion of the Trans-Tasman competition which included backrow duo Liam Wright and Angus Scott-Young, exciting backline prospects Mac Grealy, Kalani Thomas, Isaac Henry and Lawson Creighton, frontrow trio Dane Zander, Feao Fotuaika and Richie Asiata, plus Fijian pairing Seru Uru and Ilaisa Droaese.
The only player in the current 32-man squad who wasn’t a part of this year’s program is Tom Lynagh, son of former Queensland and Australian captain Michael, who will officially join the Reds at the start of next month’s pre-season having already signed with Queensland through 2023.
Reds General Manager – Professional Rugby Sam Cordingley said: “We are entering an extended period of stability as a club.
“Next year our squad will include up to ten 50-plus game players – overall they will have achieved more than 1100 collective Reds caps with 97% having only ever played professional rugby for Queensland. We believe this level of cohesion will place us in a strong position for improved performance.
“This is a credit to our players and staff who have created an environment that is improving both individual and team performance, but most importantly it’s an enjoyable program to be part of.
“We’ll be finalising the list in the coming months. Standout performances in the QPR Finals will be important to consider, but we also have a couple of foreign positions available, so we are assessing overseas options, particularly in the frontrow.”
The Reds would also like to acknowledge and thank three players who are set to farewell Queensland to pursue new opportunities and further their Rugby careers elsewhere in Australia or overseas.
Following his national duties with the Wallabies Brandon Paenga-Amosa will link-up with French club Montpellier, utility back Bryce Hegarty has signed with English Premiership side Leicester, while scrumhalf Moses Sorovi will join the Melbourne Rebels next season.
“We were disappointed not to be able to retain Bryce, Moses and Brandon. The COVID environment has presented a number of challenges in retaining our players,” added Cordingley.
“We respect that these men have had to make decisions on their futures. All three have been outstanding contributors to Queensland Rugby – we’ll certainly maintain contact with them over the next few years.”
Following the conclusion of the Queensland Premier Rugby season, further Queensland pathway signings will be announced to complete the Reds 2022 squad as part of the QRU’s ongoing strategy to identify and develop elite Rugby talent in Queensland.
Queensland Reds Squad
(in alphabetical order)
Richie Asiata – Easts
Angus Blyth – Bond University
Jock Campbell – University of Queensland
Lawson Creighton – Brothers
Filipo Daugunu – Wests
Ilaisa Droasese – Wests
Josh Flook – Brothers
Feao Fotuaika – Sunnybank
Mac Grealy – University of Queensland
Isaac Henry – Wests
Harry Hoopert – Brothers
Tom Lynagh – TBC
Alex Mafi – Bond University
Tate McDermott – University of Queensland
Fraser McReight – Brothers
Josh Nasser – University of Queensland
Zane Nonggorr – Bond University
James O’Connor – Brothers
Hunter Paisami – Wests
Jordan Petaia – Wests
Lukhan Salakaia-Loto – Souths
Angus Scott-Young – University of Queensland
Ryan Smith – Brothers
Hamish Stewart – Brothers
Kalani Thomas – University of Queensland
Tuaina Taii Tualima – GPS
Taniela Tupou – Brothers
Seru Uru – Easts
Suliasi Vunivalu – Wests
Harry Wilson – Brothers
Liam Wright – Easts
Dane Zander – Norths
Brumbies coach Dan McKellar set to leave club after 2022
The Brumbies have confirmed Dan McKellar will leave the club at the end of the 2022 season.
McKellar took over as head coach in 2018 after making his name with Tuggeranong Vikings in the John I Dent and the Canberra Vikings in the NRC.
He led the Brumbies back to the semi-finals in 2019, before guiding them to the inaugural Super Rugby AU title in 2020.
The 45-year-old was seconded to the Wallabies as their forwards’ coach for 2021, with McKellar set to take the role permanently following next season’s Super Rugby.
“It will be incredibly difficult to leave the Brumbies at the end of next season, but I feel that this is the right time to make a call on my future to give the club time to plan for beyond 2022,” he said in a statement.
“The Brumbies gave me a chance in 2014 and have shown tremendous faith in me over these last four years as head coach.
“I will obviously say my goodbyes when the time is right and I do want to thank everyone in the Brumbies family for their ongoing support, but we have a job to do next season, and I’m excited to get back to Canberra after finishing my duties with the Wallabies and finishing off my time with the Brumbies on a high.
“We have a talented, united group and from my perspective, making the decision now gives us all clarity and time to plan so that we can focus on the upcoming season as a team and organisation to perform at our best for our fans and our community.
“I truly love this club and what it stands for and I’ve always said my goal was to leave the Brumbies in a better place than when I took over as head coach, so I’ll do everything in my power to ensure that happens.”
Brumbies CEO Phil Thomson thanked him for his services to the club and the extensive notice as they begin the search for a new coach for 2023 and beyond.
“While it will be tough to see Dan complete his time with us at the end of next season, it is helpful that he has made this decision now to allow us time to plan for the future,” Thomson added.
“Dan has led the club incredibly well in his time as head coach and will leave a lasting legacy at the Brumbies when he departs at the end of next season.
“Winning Super Rugby AU in 2020, given the circumstances of that season will live long in the memory but Dan has also been instrumental in re-establishing our academy, which has seen both local talent and young players from around the country get a chance to play Super Rugby and to represent the club and it’s values.
“Dan and the team’s focus is solely on the 2022 Super Rugby season, but we will now begin the recruitment process to replace Dan together with ensuring that we maintain a good level of continuity in our staff group for 2023 and beyond.”
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