Entertainment central on the Chiefs wings
The Chiefs have two absolutely box-office wingers in their squad for this year’s Super season; Japanese international Ataata Moeakiola and Etene Nanai-Seturo, fresh off the World Sevens circuit.
Moeakiola burst onto the scene in 2016 at the World Rugby U20s, scoring a hat-trick within 30 minutes against South Africa. The Tongan-born wing performed to the point that he was being compared to Jonah Lomu. The 23 year old is quite a physical specimen; he stands 185cm and weighs in at 110kg. This will be Moeakiola’s debut in Super Rugby; he was on the books at the Sunwolves since 2017, but university rugby for Tokai took priority. It will be fascinating to see how the big man adapts to top level rugby, given that it is nearly three years since we saw him at U20 level.
If Ataata Moeakiola is Jonah Lomu, then Etene Nanai-Seturo is Christian Cullen. The 19 year old from Auckland is a much smaller operator than his Japanese compatriot, coming in at just under 90kg and six foot. He is similar in ways to Nehe Milner-Skudder when he first broke through, he is one hell of a stepper, and is one of those players that makes things happen, there is a sense of anticipation when he gets hands on the ball, as those who watched him play for Counties Manukau in this years Mitre 10 Cup are well aware. He showcased his try-scoring ability last weekend, with two tries, simple finishes as they were
Nanai-Seturo was the subject of legal battle when he was younger; he was contracted by the New Zealand Warriors as a 15 year-old, but after he had a change of heart, an agreement was reached between New Zealand Rugby and the Warriors to allow him to join New Zealand Sevens.
Break up with Nick Phipps, I’m Bored
The Rugby Championship was a tough one for Australia, and in particular the much-maligned Waratahs out-half Bernard Foley. Undroppable for Cheika in the past, Foley lost his spot to Kurtley Beale for a couple games. This weekend sees two potential Wallaby half-back pairings face off; Christian Leali’ifano and Joe Powell start for the Brumbies, opposite Will Genia and Quade Cooper for the Melbourne Rebels.
It’s been a difficult couple of seasons for Quade Cooper; he spent time playing for Souths rugby and Brisbane in the NRC after being told he was not part of Brad Thorn’s plans for the Reds. An attempt to make it into the Australian Sevens squad in 2016 didn’t pan out, and two year contract with Toulon ended prematurely.
Cooper’s contract with the Rebels is a lifeline, and his World Cup hopes are greatly benefitted by the fact that he’ll be playing every week opposite Cheika’s first choice scrum-half Will Genia. Half-backs are the source of a lot of Australia’s difficulties. Cheika’s policy of a 6/2 split on the bench means that there is almost never specialist out-half cover on the bench for Australia, Kurtley Beale is the backup. Beale has a lot of good qualities, but he is not a Test level out-half. Quade looked good in Rebels colours last weekend, and if he can get into a good run, it would be very hard to ignore him for a spot in the World Cup
The continued selection of Nick Phipps is also not good for Australia, considering he does not even start for the Waratahs regularly (Jake Gordon does). Joe Powell and Jake Gordon are both young, talented scrum-halves and the sooner Michael Cheika realises that he needs a scrum-half and out-half on the bench, and that he needs to delete Nick Phipps’ number off his phone, the better Australia will be come Japan this Autumn.
Guess who’s back?
Nonu is back folks. Turning 37 this summer, the legendary All Black started last weekend in the Blues midfield outside TJ Faiane. Nonu didn’t look the quickest, understandably, but he was making big hits and carried hard. Many people expected Nonu to retire after he left Toulon for family reasons but he will line out for the Blues this season in what his third stint in Auckland, after the 2012 and 2014 seasons. Nonu will be part of what is quite a tasty backline for the Blues this year; he will form a seriously destructive partnership with Sonny Bill Williams, and will have some lightning pace outside him, with likes of Melani Nanai and Rieko Ioane.
Nonu is hopeful of making it to the World Cup. He has said that he learned how to take better care of his body during his three years in France, is a goal for him during this Super Rugby season. He’ll have his work cut out for him however, with the likes of Sonny Bill, Ngani Laumape, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, Anton Lienert-Brown all in contention for a spot.
Will anyone stop the Crusaders?
In the eyes of many, the Crusaders are the best club team in world rugby. A club world cup like football has is something every rugby fan would love to see, the men from Canterbury lining out against Dublin’s finest, or a reenactment of the ancient battles from which the teams get their names, the Saracens taking a stand against the Crusaders.
Crusaders have been dominating Super Rugby for the last two seasons, going for the three in a row this year. It has been the Lions that have come closest, they were beaten finalists in 2017 and 2018. It is hard to see anyone beating the Crusaders to the title this year. Depth wise, they have the most impressive squad in Super Rugby. An all international pack, combined with some of the most exciting young backs coming through in New Zealand, Crusaders will be great to watch this year.
Most exciting to see are full-back Will Jordan, and halfback Ere Enari. Jordan has long been earmarked for stardom and coach Scott Robertson is excited to see him make his Super Rugby debut, telling Stuff.co.nz
“”Obviously a prodigious talent. You could see in the pre-season, his ability to beat players and take opportunities, he’s definitely got an eye for a gap and a bit of extra speed. He’s a good local boy, he always dreamed of being a Crusader, so it’s a dream for him this weekend.”
Ere Enari has had a torrid time with injuries over the past couple of years, suffering three leg breaks in the space of two years. Like Jordan, he is a star in waiting, who has had to bide his time before making it to Super Rugby, if he can string a good run of games together, it won;t be long before we see him wearing black.Embed from Getty Images
Also worth a watch are Manasa Mataele and George Bridge, both wingers, and Braydon Ennor in the midfield. Ennor in particular looks like a serious player; searing pace, and along with a highly intelligent rugby brain. It will be interesting to see if Richie Mo’unga can build on the calls for him to be given the All Black first five jersey, after his impressive Rugby Championship appearances, and his combining with Beaudy Barrett at full-back.Embed from Getty Images
Samu extends Brumbies & Wallabies stay
Wallabies and Brumbies backrower Pete Samu has re-signed with Australian Rugby until the end of 2023.
Born in Melbourne, 30-year-old Samu has settled at the Brumbies after a unique Rugby story saw him play in Cornwall in the United Kingdom straight out of school before returning to play for Randwick in Sydney, followed by a stint in New Zealand where he won two Super Rugby Championships with the Crusaders.
He was lured home in 2018 to the Brumbies where he again tasted Super Rugby success in 2020.
Known for his athleticism, speed and skill, the versatile backrower made his International debut in 2018 against Ireland but narrowly missed selection in the 2019 Rugby World Cup squad.
He has since gone on to wear the Wallaby gold 19 times, starting at openside flanker against Wales in the side’s final Test of 2021 and will chase a maiden Rugby World Cup berth in 2023.
Wallabies and Brumbies backrower, Pete Samu said: “I’m really happy to have my future sorted out early on in the year so I can focus on playing my best Rugby for the Brumbies in Super Rugby Pacific.”
“I’ve loved my time here at the Brumbies since coming over in 2018, it’s a special club and my family and I are really settled here in Canberra.
“I feel I’ve got a lot of improvement left in my game and to be able to work alongside world class coaches like Laurie (Fisher) and Dan (McKellar) week in week out will help me achieve that.”
Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said: “Pete’s a great team man and we’re thrilled he’s extended his commitment to Australian Rugby.”
“His athleticism and speed are a point of difference across the backrow and we think his best footy lies ahead of him in the gold jersey.
“He’s had an unorthodox journey to get to where he is and you can see how motivated he is to make the most of his opportunities.”
Brumbies coach, Dan McKellar said: “It’s great for the Brumbies to have Pete locked in for another season.”
“He’s got a point of difference in attack you don’t see from many backrowers and when he’s healthy and on form, he’s a genuine match winner.
“He bought into what we’re about here at the Brumbies from very early on and he’s extremely popular, both within our group and among our members and supporters so we’re all thrilled to have him in a Brumbies jersey until the end of 2023.”
Brumbies name side for Super Rugby opener
A familiar Brumbies side will kick off the club’s 2022 Super Rugby Pacific campaign at 2pm on Sunday against the Western Force at GIO Stadium.
Andy Muirhead will make his 50th appearance for the Brumbies, the winger having become an integral part of the Brumbies squad since joining as mid-season injury cover in 2017.
Backrower Ed Kennedy and centre Ollie Sapsford are the two potential debutants in the team, with Brumby 143 Jesse Mogg set to wear ACT colours once again as a finisher.
Up front, Allan Alaalatoa will lead the Brumbies once again in 2022 from tighthead prop with veteran James Slipper at loosehead and Folau Fainga’a at hooker.
Cadeyrn Neville returns to the side at lock halving missed the end of 2021 with injury, while Darcy Swain looks to kick on from an impressive 2021 partnering Neville in the second row.
A familiar looking backrow sees Brett Robinson Medal winner Rob Valetini start at blindside flanker with Pete Samu occupying the number eight jersey. ACT local and pathways product Rory Scott earns the starting spot at openside having made a strong impression in his rookie season last year.
In the backs, Nic White and Noah Lolesio reignite their halfback partnership to start 2022.
Irae Simone and Len Ikitau combine in the centres, Ikitau having made big strides in 2021 with both the Brumbies and in Wallaby gold.
Muirhead and Tom Wright earn the wing spots for round one with Muirhead on the left and Wright on the right.
Tom Banks has been a cornerstone of the Brumbies for a number of years and begins the season in the fullback jersey.
A strong replacement pack sees Wallaby hooker Lachlan Lonergan, Brumbies centurion Scott Sio and pathways product Tom Ross as the front-row finishers.
Nick Frost will provide impact at lock with Kennedy the final forward reserve.
The Brumbies will benefit from Ryan Lonergan’s impact and goalkicking at halfback with Sapsford and Mogg completing the matchday squad.
Brumbies head coach, Dan McKellar said: “We’re in a strong position heading into round one and fortunate to be able to pick a team full of guys with experience and who have been with us for a number of years.”
“We believe those established combinations will be key for us especially in these early rounds, but those selected will know there’s quality in the squad pushing them hard for spots.
“An afternoon kick-off in front of our members, supporters, friends and family to get the season going; we’ll be raring to go come 2pm Sunday.”
BRUMBIES TEAM FOR ROUND ONE OF SUPER RUGBY PACIFIC
1. James Slipper
2. Folau Fainga’a
3. Allan Alaalatoa (c)
4. Darcy Swain
5. Cadeyrn Neville
6. Rob Valetini
7. Rory Scott
8. Pete Samu
9. Nic White
10. Noah Lolesio
11. Andy Muirhead**
12. Irae Simone
13. Len Ikitau
14. Tom Wright
15. Tom Banks
16. Lachlan Lonergan
17. Scott Sio
18. Tom Ross
19. Nick Frost
20. Ed Kennedy*
21. Ryan Lonergan
22. Ollie Sapsford*
23. Jesse Mogg
*Denotes potential Brumbies debut
**Denotes 50th Super Rugby/Brumbies cap
The Brumbies will play the Western Force in Round one of Super Rugby Pacific on Sunday February 20 at 2:00pm AEDT. Get yours tickets now.
Source – Brumbies Rugby
Super Rugby Pacific 2022 law variations
Rugby Australia, New Zealand Rugby and SANZAAR have today confirmed the law variations approved by World Rugby that will be applied for the upcoming Super Rugby Pacific season.
Super Rugby Pacific 2022 will see two Law Variations included for the season: Replacements for red-carded players after 20 minutes; and the introduction of Golden Point extra time for regular season matches.
If a player is red carded he may be replaced after 20 minutes by another player. The 20mins from when a player is red carded to when they may be replaced is measured as “game time”.
If a regular season match is tied at the end of normal time a 10-minute golden point period is played after a five-minute break; The first team to score (by a penalty, drop-goal, try, or penalty try) will be the winner. If no points are scored in the Golden Point period then the match is declared a draw.
Click HERE for further details on the above Law Variations
Rugby Australia General Manager of Professional Rugby Services, Ben Whitaker said: “The red card and ‘Golden Point’ law variations ensure the fans are treated to competitive, exciting matches under all circumstances. These competition variations will ensure players and teams can showcase the rugby power of the Pacific to fans around the region and the world.”
New Zealand Rugby General Manager Professional Rugby & Performance Chris Lendrum said the focus this year was the speed of games was aimed at creating a spectacle for fans, “Super Rugby Pacific is played at an incredibly high tempo and we think the skills on display are the best in the world. Fans want to see fast, continuous rugby with less stoppages and we’re committed to making that happen.”
The 2022 Super Rugby Pacific Season will officially kick off this Friday, 18 February, when the Waratahs take on competition newcomers the Fijian Drua at CommBank Stadium in Sydney.
Click HERE for Tournament format details
Click HERE for Where to Watch Super Rugby Pacific 2022
Goal-line dropouts for a ball grounded in-goal and the 50/22 kicking variation are now official global law trials. Therefore they are applied in all matches under World Rugby regulations and captured by the laws of the game so will be applied to Super Rugby Pacific.