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Super Rugby

Jordie Barrett’s Best Position Is Inside Centre

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Jordie Barrett may only be 21 years old, but is already an incredibly versatile player. The six foot five Taranaki man played most of his Super Rugby at full-back, but also made appearances at inside and outside centre, and out-half, and on one occasion, a lineout. Embed from Getty Images

he question is, where does he fit in to Steve Hansen’s plans? He has made all bar one of his appearances in black at 15, save for a four try outing against Italy on the right wing.  

New Zealand are not short of options in the back three. The ever dependable Ben Smith is back on great form, Rieko Ioane and Waisake Naholo are flying on the wings and Damian McKenzie always brings great impact off the bench. George Bridge finally got his chance against Japan and took it with both hands. Then there’s the uncapped players, like Ben Lam, or Solomon Alaimalo. David Havili even may yet make a comeback, after struggling for form this year.
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Centre, however there may be more of an opening. Jordie has been criticised for his defence at full-back in the past. He doesn’t have the pace that a lot of his competition do, and his decision making has let him down in the past (see the New Zealand loss to South Africa in this year’s Rugby Championship for an example). At 12, he wouldn’t be as exposed like he would be at  full-back. Barrett has played a lot of his rugby at inside centre, and regularly stood at first receiver for the Hurricanes. Embed from Getty Images

He is a different style of centre to the hard-hitting style of Ngani Laumape, or Sonny Bill Williams, but he also has the size to pull it off, given he’s taller than his second row brother. A Barrett 10-12 axis, or a Mo’unga-Barrett 10-12 combo is a very appealing proposition, and then with Damian McKenzie, or even Beauden at full-back, you have a squad laden with playmakers. Jordie has played both centre positions for the Hurricanes, but when it comes to international, the 12 jersey is the one he should set his sights on. Out of the midfield backs in the current likely to play on past 2019 (Ngani Laumape, Jack Goodhue, Anton Lienert Brown) there is only one natural 12(Laumape), with Goodhue and Lienert-Brown only really cover for the position.
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While New Zealand U20s did not have a successful campaign in 2016, Jordie Barrett was a high point. Playing at inside centre he scored 52 points (one try) showing his goal kicking talent. The younger Barrett also frequently took over kicking duties for the Hurricanes. Crucially, Jordie is very comfortable about kicking a drop-goal, something that his older brother is still a little bit hesitant about
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As he matures as a player, and his rugby brain improves, it would not be unlikely to see him move to the midfield. New Zealand need the depth at 12. Ngani Laumape is flying, but Sonny Bill is 33 now, and there is few other big boys that can fill the Sonny Bill hit-it-up role.


Pro14

Rob Kearney secures move to Australia

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(Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Press Release from Western Force:

Ireland’s most decorated player, Rob Kearney, has signed with the Western Force on a one-year deal.

The fullback, who scored 82 points in 95 appearances for Ireland, joins from current PRO14 champions Leinster Rugby.

Kearney’s illustrious international career has included two Grand Slams (2009 and 2018), four Six Nations triumphs (2009, 2014, 2015 and 2018) and three World Cup campaigns (2011, 2015 and 2019).

At club level, Kearney has earned 219 caps for Leinster, playing a crucial role in establishing the provincial side as Ireland’s most successful club team, where he lifted six PRO14 titles, four European Champions Cups and a European Challenge Cup since debuting against Welsh side Ospreys back in 2005.

Kearney’s aerial prowess, strength and reliability throughout his career has seen the Dundalk-born player also earn three caps for the British and Irish Lions, which included Tours to South Africa in 2009 and a series victory against Australia in 2013.

Having conquered the European club and international landscape for over a decade, Kearney is delighted for the opportunity to ply his trade in Western Australia.

“I am delighted to be joining the Western Force for their upcoming season and excited to play with such an ambitious club who are looking to improve on this year’s campaign,” Kearney explained.

“I hope to add value both on and off the field that complements the high ambition of the club.

“I’m particularly excited to immerse myself in a new performance environment and to play both with and against some of the best players and teams in the southern hemisphere.

“I look forward to moving to Western Australia to begin building relationships with my new teammates and coaches alike and to meet the ever-growing Western Force fan base which also includes a strong Irish contingent.”

Head of rugby Matt Hodgson is excited to see the Force attract world class talent, saying it shows the potential and positive development of the club.

“Rob is a fantastic signing, but more than that he is a great person who will be able to bring a lot to WA rugby,” Hodgson stated.

“He is a player of the highest calibre that brings a wealth of experience and quality to the side.

“He also brings a winning mentality, having experienced so much success for his country and Leinster. We can’t wait for the Sea of Blue and the sizeable Irish community within WA to see him pull on the Force jersey next season.”

Kearney will join the club for pre-season later this year.

More player announcements can be expected in the coming weeks.

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International

Rugby Australia Make Significant Cuts

Following the coronavirus pandemic rugby has been hit hard with no way of playing games and now Rugby Australia have been forced into making cuts in order to retain staff in the long-run

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(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Rugby Australia have confirmed that they will be standing down 75% of their staff in a bid to combat the growing struggles that the coronavirus pandemic is causing.

The workers will be released from tomorrow until the 30th of June due to the lack of finances available to Rugby Australia with the Super Rugby season currently on hold and a strong possibility of the Wallabies summer tests being called off. 

In the worst case possible the organisation are predicting a loss of $120 million due to the virus and speaking on the latest developments the organisation’s chief executive Raelane Castle admitted this was the toughest decision she and her colleagues had ever had to make. 

“Today we have had to deliver the hardest news imaginable to our incredible, hard-working and passionate staff, that many of them will be stood down for a three-month period so that the game can survive this unprecedented crisis. Since the suspension of our proposed domestic Super Rugby competition, we have been working to understand both the immediate and long-term financial implications for the game as a result of the suspension of the competition, and potential further loss of revenue-generating content as we look ahead to the international season. Our extensive modelling shows that as a code, we could lose up to $120 million in revenue should it not be possible for any rugby to be played in 2020. Of course, that is the worst case scenario, and we are very hopeful that we can recommence the Super Rugby season and domestic Wallabies test matches at some point this year. The measures we will implement from April 1, although extremely painful, are necessary to ensure the sport remains financially viable and to ensure that we are able to come out the other side of this global crisis, fully-operational and ready to throw everything into the rebuild. It is our priority to keep all of our valued team connected and engaged through this period,” she said. 

Castle’s has already taken a 50% pay cut since the crisis began and the rest of Rugby Australia’s executives will have a 30% reduction in pay. 

It is a tough call to make in order to preserve rugby in Australia and the fear is that things may get worse with a fear that not all four of the country’s Super Rugby franchises will make it through to next season due to the financial losses.

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Super Rugby

New Zealand Rugby Sides Facing Pay Cuts

New Zealand Rugby are preparing for the possibility of having to cut wages following the outbreak of the coronavirus

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(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

New Zealand Rugby Players’ Association chief executive Rob Nichol has admitted that there is a possibility of pay cuts among Super Rugby sides with the league in lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Over the weekend it was confirmed that Super Rugby would be suspended due to the coronavirus and there is a fear that the competition may not be completed this year. 

Speaking on the situation, Nichol told Stuff that New Zealand’s five Super Rugby side are preparing for the worst. 

“As it stands right now, things are kind of status quo. But we are not naive. We know there is going to be a commercial impact, we know we will have to sit around the table and work with the other stakeholders and be a part of the solution. And get things on an even keel once we understand what we are really dealing with,” he said. 

There are a number of options over the remainder of the season being put forward, with only “derby matches” being played one of the possibilities. 

That would mean a number of matches not being played and a loss in matchday revenue for the respective teams, but Nichol is ready for whatever happens as long as the people are looked after. 

“Whatever we decide to do, it will be that kind of team approach. We know there is going to be commercial ramifications but first of all we will be doing what is right for the people,” he added. 

There is no certainty over what is going to happen in the coming weeks and months, but the ramifications could be huge and Nichol finished by stating that however this ends all sides will work their hardest to make the most of a bad situation with clubs heading into the unknown at this moment in time.

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