Connect with us

Super Rugby

Queensland Rugby Union announces Queensland Rugby Challenger series and Japan tour



The Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) has today announced a two-match series between a Queensland Reds Development team and a Queensland President’s XV to provide further development opportunities for elite, non-contracted players in Queensland.

The Queensland Rugby Challenger series, which will be held at club venues in October, will see contracted Reds players take on the best of the StoreLocal Hospital Cup competition, with the series culminating in a tour to Japan.

Queensland will take on their sister-state club the Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights on November 4 with spots in the travelling squad on offer following the two matches.

Reds General Manager of Professional Rugby Sam Cordingley said: “As a club, we are excited to travel to Japan and play our Japanese partner the Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights as part of our 2023 preparations.

“It was unfortunate we had to postpone last year’s match due to COVID-19, but we thank the Wild Knights for their continued support to ensure this historic fixture could still take place.

“Just like Queensland teams did in the 70’s and 80’s – the Reds will tour once again in the off-season, with our time in Japan set to provide a valuable development opportunity for our squad and Queensland’s best developing players ahead of next year’s Super Rugby Pacific season.

“Given the significance and history surrounding the event, this will be a capped fixture which will afford a number of Queensland’s best amateur players the opportunity to receive a Queensland Reds Cap and number.”

Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights General Manager Hitoshi Iijima said: “We are very pleased to have a world-class Rugby team the Queensland Reds from Queensland Australia, a twin city of Saitama Prefecture, to Kumagaya Rugby Stadium to play this fixture.

“We would like to deeply thank the Queensland Reds, for making the decision to travel to Japan despite the Covid-19 pandemic. Also, we give our deepest gratitude to Saitama Prefecture, Kumagaya City, and all those involved for their support and cooperation.

“We hope this match will lead not only to the growth of the Wild Knights, but also to further friendship between the two cities and development of Rugby in Japan.”

The Queensland Rugby Challenger series is set to provide prospective Super Rugby players with the chance to test their ability at a level between club and professional Rugby.

The series will also be used to trial several law variations to increase ball in play time and improve the spectacle for fans.

In a throwback to the amateur era, teams will come together following each match, with speeches from captains and coaches, and acknowledgements to match officials and players of the match.

Staff will also get opportunity to test themselves at the next level, with the President’s XV to be chosen purely from the Hospital Cup talent pool on and off the field.

Reds Super W Head Coach Simon Craig (Easts) will lead the President’s XV coaching team, supported by Elwee Prinsloo (Wests) and Elton Berrange (UQ).

Cordingley said: “The Queensland Rugby Challenger series will further increase our connection between the amateur and professional games in Queensland.

“We’ve had a development gap for too long compared with other Rugby nations. These matches will afford the Reds squad more playing time together while at the same time providing opportunities for our best amateur Queensland players and coaches to be involved in representative Rugby.

“This series will provide a platform for innovation, which is difficult to trial during Super Rugby, as well as bringing back some of the points of difference our great game has has.

“The Challenger Series and Japan Tour is a starting point which we will aim to grow in future years.”

The President’s XV side will be selected following the QPR finals series, with the StoreLocal Hospital Cup Grand Final taking place at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday 18 September.

The subsequent tour match against the Wild Knights will be the inaugural fixture between the sides following the announcement of their bilateral alliance partnership in 2020.

The connection between the two teams will be further highlighted during the tour when the Reds and Wild Knights celebrate the 30th anniversary of their first match against each other in the Saitama Prefecture. The teams will play for the Saitama-Queensland Shield, named in honour of the relationship between the two Sister States.

In 1991, a Queensland touring team captained by Michael Lynagh that included names like Tim Horan, Jason Little, John Eales, Brendan Nasser (father of current Reds frontrower Josh), plus Paul Carozza (current Reds Academy Head of Talent Identification) and their physiotherapist Cameron Lillicrap (current Reds Assistant coach) took on a Saitama XV side which featured the Wild Knights’ General Manager Hitoshi Iijima.

The Queensland Reds and Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights will continue to work proactively together to promote and contribute to the development of each team and region in both Queensland and Saitama Prefecture before-and-after November’s historic match. 

It follows Panasonic shifting their home base to Saitama Prefecture located in the Greater Tokyo Area which shares a sister state relationship with Queensland.

Saitama Prefecture was Queensland’s first sister-state relationship formed in 1984 and remains one of the most active among the many currently still operating between the two countries.

Queensland Rugby Challenger Series

Queensland Reds Development XV v Queensland President’s XV

Saturday 8 October, Location TBC

Saturday 15 October, Location TBC

Queensland Reds Japan Tour

Queensland Reds v Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights – Friday November 4th, Kumagaya Rugby Stadium

Content & Images from – Queensland Reds Rugby

Super Rugby

Brad Shields named 2024 Hurricanes Captain



Brad Shields named 2024 Hurricanes Captain

Experienced loose-forward and Hurricanes centurion Brad Shields has today been confirmed as captain of the Hurricanes ahead of their 2024 DHL Super Rugby Pacific campaign.

He will be supported by Asafo Aumua and Jordie Barrett, who have been named as vice-captains for 2024.

Shields, who played 103 games for the Hurricanes between 2012 and 2018, before heading offshore to pursue a test career with England, signed with the Hurricanes last year, eyeing a return for this season.

He takes over the reins from 2023 captain Ardie Savea who departed for Japan this season.

The captain’s tag is a title the 32-year-old is not unfamiliar with, having led the Hurricanes in their 31-all draw against the British and Irish Lions in 2017, and then taking on the role for the entire 2018 season.

Shields said he is honoured to be given the captain’s armband for 2024, but it is a role he will lean on many of his experienced teammates for support.

“I’m hugely excited and honoured to be leading the Hurricanes this season,” said Shields.

“I admit, after Clarky (Clark Laidlaw) told me I was really stoked, but I did feel a little apprehensive given I had been away for a few years and the quality of leadership we have at the Hurricanes. But at the end of the day, it’s a massive challenge and opportunity I’m excited for, and what makes it more exciting is there is a handful of guys here with so much experience who I know I will turn to for support. We’ll all work together with this one.”

Hurricane #184 said he intends to lead by his actions this season which he hopes will bring out the best out of a young Hurricanes team, and Hurricanes fans.

“Actions. Always by actions is how I like to lead,” said Shields.

“I really want to challenge our environment because challenge always brings better performances. We’ve got a really young team this season so anywhere I can help and encourage and bring the best out of some of the young guys, and the players who have been here for a while, is what I aim for.

“The one thing that’s massive for us at the Hurricanes is connection within our community. Ultimately, we’ve got to play good rugby and perform really well if we want bums on seats, but it certainly means a lot to know we’ve got our community behind us, and we’ll do everything we can to give them a good service and make 2024 an exciting and enjoyable season to watch.”

Having an abundance of experienced leaders in this Hurricanes side didn’t make the captaincy decision an easy one for Hurricanes Head Coach Clark Laidlaw.

However, Laidlaw said he and the other coaches were impressed with Shields’ attitude the moment he stepped back into camp and became an obvious choice as the right man to lead the side.

“The coaches and I do a lot of observing around leadership of the team, and it became reasonably apparent that we have several players that want to lead which is really exciting,” said Laidlaw.  

“But with Brad, he leads really well every day. He’s a great role model around how we want to train; he’s competitive as hell; he’s won Super Rugby; he’s a test match player; he’s bigger and stronger than he’s been before; and he knows what it takes to win and to lead. So, at the end of the day, he became an obvious choice.

“One of the best things about Brad is that he wants to be better. That’s an important trait to have as a leader as it rubs off on everyone else. We as coaches want our captain to represent what we want the team to look like. And we felt with Brad’s experience and his maturity, he’s the right man to lead us forward for this season.”

Laidlaw also echoed Shields’ comments on looking to his teammates for support this season.

“Brad will lead the side, but we do have a number of other players with Asafo and Jordie, who are going to be vice-captains of the team, and our leadership group will support Brad and help the coaches this season.”


Content & Images from – Hurricanes Rugby

Continue Reading

Super Rugby

Waratahs Squad announced for 2024 Super Rugby Season



The NSW Waratahs confirmed its initial 34-player squad for the 2024 Harvey Norman Super Rugby Pacific season with a couple more spots to be decided in pre-season.

Props: Angus Bell, Archer Holtz, Daniel Botha, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Hayden Thompson-Stringer, Tom Lambert, Tom Ross

Hookers: Dave Porecki, Mahe Vaianu, Theo Fourie

Locks: Hugh Sinclair, Jed Holloway, Miles Amatosero, Ned Hanigan

Loose forwards: Charlie Gamble, Fergus Lee-Warner, Lachlan Swinton, Langi Gleeson, Ned Slack-Smith

Halfbacks: Jack Grant, Jake Gordon, Teddy Wilson

Flyhalves: Jack Bowen, Tane Edmed, Will Harrison

Centres: Izaia Perese, Joey Walton, Lalakai Foketi, Mosese Tuipulotu

Outside backs: Dylan Pietsch, Harry Wilson, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Max Jorgensen, Vuate Karawalevu

New signings and re-signings

For all new signings and re-signing, you can follow our 2024 Waratahs Contract tracker.

Content & Images from – Waratahs Rugby

Continue Reading

Super Rugby

Highlanders 2024 Squad Announcement




The Highlanders will usher into the fold a swag of new players for the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific competition.

Some have already made brief appearances last season such as halfback Nathan Hastie, loose forward Oliver Haig, hooker Jack Taylor and midfielders Jake Te Hiwi and Matt Whaanga. Several players have come through the John Jones Steel Highlander’s High Performance Programme such as first-five, Ajay Faleafaga, and loose forward Hayden Michaels.

Also new to the team, and adding depth to the outside back stocks, are the arrival of blockbusting winger and former Moana Pasifika star, Timoci Tavatavanawai, and Blues’ speedster Jacob Ratumaituvuki-Kneepkens. Argentinian winger, Martín Bogado, fresh from the 2023 World Cup, will return to further his Super Rugby experience in New Zealand.

Another former Blues player will add strength to the midfield in the form of Tanielu Tele’a who will be looking to get his career back on track after being hampered by injury in recent seasons.

Former Welsh international, Rhys Patchell, will bring his vital experience to the first-five role which will be good news for young pivots Cameron Millar and Ajay Faleafaga.

All Black, Ethan De Groot, will be joined in the forward pack by veteran loose forward and former Crusader Tom Sanders.

Highlanders’ Head Coach, Clarke Dermody, is looking forward to the preseason and the opportunity to work with his players.

“We have had a few changes in our squad and our coaching group so it will be great to get everyone together and start building some cohesion through the preseason. We will just about have our whole squad together from day one, which is a nice opportunity for us.”

“I am also pleased to see some of the younger players that we have invested in over the last few years start to come through to Super Rugby level. I am sure their individual enthusiasm will be infectious for the squad. 

The team assembles on Thursday 23 November 2023.



Backs:  James Arscott (Otago), Connor Garden-Bachop (Wellington), Martín Bogado (Argentina), Folau Fakatava (Hawkes Bay), Ajay Faleafaga (Otago), Sam Gilbert (Otago), Nathan Hastie (Otago), Jacob Ratumaituvuki-Kneepkens (Taranaki), Jonah Lowe (Hawkes Bay), Cameron Millar (Otago), Jona Nareki (Otago), Rhys Patchell (Wales), Jake Te Hiwi (Otago), Timoci Tavatavanawai (Tasman), Tanielu Tele’a (Auckland), Josh Timu (Otago), Matt Whaanga (Southland)

Forwards: Jermaine Ainsley (Otago), Henry Bell (Otago), Nikora Broughton (Bay of Plenty), Daniel Lienert-Brown (Canterbury), Mitchell Dunshea (Canterbury), Ethan De Groot (Southland), Oliver Haig (Otago), Billy Harmon (Canterbury) , Max Hicks (Tasman), Fabian Holland (Otago), Luca Inch (Tasman), Ricky Jackson (Otago), Ayden Johnstone (Waikato), Saula Ma’u (Otago), Hayden Michaels (Southland), Pari Pari Parkinson (Tasman), Hugh Renton (Tasman), Tom Sanders (Otago) , Jack Taylor (Southland), Will Tucker (Otago), Sean Withy (Otago)




Content & Images from – Highlanders Rugby

Continue Reading