Waratahs great Phil Kearns inducted into NSW Hall of Champions
NSW Waratahs and Wallabies great Phil Kearns has today been inducted into the NSW Hall of Champions.
Sport NSW has confirmed that Kearns will be inducted alongside Brad Dalton (Basketball), Craig Johnston (Football), Joanne ‘Joey’ Peters (Football), Prashanth Sellathurai (Gymnastics) and Liesl Tesch AM (Wheelchair Basketball & Para Sailing), at the prestigious rebel NSW Champions of Sport ceremony to be held at the International Convention and Exhibition Centre in Darling Harbour on Monday, November 28.
Kearns, who played his club rugby for Randwick, earned 73 caps for the Waratahs after making his debut in 1989 against ACT and captained the side on 28 occasions.
The NSW hooker also represented the Wallabies 67 times, including ten as captain, and is one of five Australians to have won the Rugby World Cup twice – in 1991 and 1999.
Off the field, Kearns was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 2017 for significant service to the community.
Kearns also played an integral role in the bidding process for Australia to host Rugby World Cup 2027 and 2029, serving as executive director.
NSW Sport Hall of Champions Committee Chair, Alan Whelpton AO, said the accomplishments of the six inductees during their distinguished careers earned them worthy selection.
“The six inductees are recognised for their outstanding sports careers which saw them reach the pinnacle of their chosen sport. They represented their country, state, sport, and themselves with distinction and inspired a new generation of athletes to follow in their footsteps,” said Mr Whelpton.
Sport NSW Chairperson, Carolyn Campbell, said the inductees reflected the inclusive nature of sport.
“Sport has the great ability to bring together male and female players of all abilities, shapes, sizes and ethnic backgrounds and provide the opportunity to enjoy organised competitions and the ability to excel and reach the highest levels,” said Ms Campbell.
“These six new inductees to the NSW Hall of Champions have shown the way and we honour their selection,” she added.
Hall of Champion inductees are approved by the Minister for Sport following recommendations from the Hall of Champions Selection Committee and NSW peak sporting bodies.
Kearns is the 21st Rugby Union player to achieve the honour and the first since Nick Farr-Jones in the 1990s.
O’Connor, Annan to start in Reds Suncorp Stadium return
The Queensland Reds have made three changes to their starting XV ahead of this Sunday’s Harvey Norman Super Rugby Pacific Round 4 clash against the Fijian Drua.
In what will be Queensland’s first appearance at Suncorp Stadium in 2023, James O’Connor will return to the starting side at flyhalf after making a successful comeback from injury via the bench, while Taj Annan will make his first Super Rugby start at inside centre.
Jock Campbell will also return to the run-on team at fullback, with the Queensland forward pack remaining unchanged after last week’s narrow loss to the Brumbies in Canberra.
Head coach Brad Thorn said: “We’re excited to be back at Suncorp this week. We love playing in front of our Queensland fans.
“The Drua are coming off a memorable win in Fiji. They’re a great attacking team and can hurt you from anywhere on the field.
“It should be a great afternoon with some fast, attacking Rugby on display.”
Campbell’s return to the number-15 jersey sees Jordan Petaia shift to the wing to partner Filipo Daugunu out wide, while Suliasi Vunivalu is set to provide firepower off the bench.
Annan will pair with Josh Flook in the centres after Hunter Paisami was ruled out with concussion.
Co-captain Tate McDermott and James O’Connor will reprise their partnership in the halves, while fellow skipper Liam Wright, Fraser McReight and Harry Wilson make for a settled backrow trio.
Seru Uru will look to recreate his heroics in last year’s fixture, with the lock scoring a crucial try and snatching a lineout steal in the final minutes to secure the win over the Drua in 2022. He’ll combine with Ryan Smith in the second row.
Dane Zander, Matt Faessler and Zane Nonggorr start in the front row in what will be Queensland’s second fixture against the Drua in Super Rugby Pacific.
The competition will celebrate its inaugural ‘Kids Round’ this weekend, with youngsters set to flood Suncorp Stadium for the family-friendly Sunday afternoon game. Tickets available via https://bit.ly/3ZGWgpX.
Queensland Reds v Fijian Drua, Sunday 19 March, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, 3:00pm AEST. Watch live via Stan Sport.
- Dane Zander – University of Queensland – St Joseph’s Nudgee College – Albany Creek Brumbies
- Matt Faessler – Brothers – Toowoomba Grammar School – USQ Saints
- Zane Nonggorr – Bond University – The Southport School – Gold Coast Eagles
- Ryan Smith – Brothers – St Patrick’s College Shorncliffe – Caboolture Snakes
- Seru Uru – Wests – Ratu Kadavulevu School, Fiji – Namoli Rugby Club, Fiji
- Liam Wright (cc) – Easts – Anglican Church Grammar School – Easts
- Fraser McReight – Brothers – Brisbane Grammar School – Albany Creek Brumbies
- Harry Wilson – Brothers – St Joseph’s College Gregory Terrace – Gunnedah Red Devils
- Tate McDermott – University of Queensland – Sunshine Coast Grammar School – Flinders Rugby Club
- James O’Connor – Brothers – St Joseph’s Nudgee College – Brothers
- Filipo Daugunu – Wests – Dogotuki District School, Fjii
- Taj Annan* – Souths – Brisbane Boys College – Merewether Carlton
- Josh Flook – Brothers – St Joseph’s Nudgee College – Brothers
- Jordan Petaia – Wests – Brisbane State High School
- Jock Campbell – University of Queensland – The Southport School – Inverell Highlanders
- Richie Asiata – Easts – Anglican Church Grammar School
- Sef Fa’agase – Sunnybank – Shailer Park State High School – Beaudesert Warriors
- Peni Ravai – Easts – Ratu Kadavulevu School, Fiji
- Jake Upfield – Bond University – The Southport School
- Connor Vest – University of Queensland – Grafton High School – Grafton Junior Rugby Club
- Kalani Thomas – University of Queensland – Ipswich Grammar School – Souths
- Tom Lynagh – University of Queensland – Epsom College – Richmond Rugby Club
- Suliasi Vunivalu – Wests – Saint Kentigern College, Auckland
*denotes Queensland and Super Rugby Pacific starting debut
Squad Naming: Round Four vs Blues
The Crusaders have named their squad to take on the Blues this Saturday, 18 March, at Eden Park.
Round Four of Super Rugby Pacific 2023 brings up a rematch of the 2022 final, when Crusaders took out their sixth title beating the Blues 21-7 at home. Always a great Kiwi derby, both teams are set to front a strong pack in Auckland.
On debut is Pepesana Patafilo, set to make an impact off the bench. On his selection, Patafilo said he was “surprised and excited”.
Previously with the Hurricanes, Patafilo made the move south late last year and said the “attention to detail in the Crusaders environment is next level”.
Scott Robertson, Crusaders Head Coach, said Patafilo brought huge energy to the team.
“He works hard and tops a lot of our stats in our GPS tracking during training. So, we’re excited for him and so is he,” Robertson said.
Hooker Codie Taylor returns to the front row alongside Joe Moody and Tamaiti Williams, with Brodie McAlister, Kershawl Sykes-Martin and George Bower on impact. Sykes-Martin debuted last week in Fiji.
No more than 11 capped All Blacks will look to take the field on Saturday, including the likes of Sam Whitelock, Scott Barrett, Ethan Blackadder, Braydon Ennor and Richie Mo’unga.
“It’s going to be a hell of a weekend,” Robertson said.
“We’ve had some historic games over the last few years haven’t we. They beat us at home, we’ve beat them up there and they’ve got some awesome rugby players playing for them.”
Sevu Reece and Leicester Fainga’anuku are taking the wings while Braydon Ennor and Dallas McLeod are covering centre. Fergus Burke returns to full back.
Coming off a loss in Fiji against the Drua last weekend, Robertson said the team showed a lot of effort “but it’s the execution part we’ve really focused on this week”.
“It’s another big game for us, another great opportunity for our players to go out and perform at a great local derby.”
“It’s great to have our hookers back, they weren’t available last week, and we decided to give our All Blacks the opportunity to have a rest week, so we welcome them back too.
Kick-off Saturday night at 7:05pm, Eden Park Auckland.
Fraser McReight re-signs with Queensland and Australian Rugby through 2025
Queensland Rugby Union and Rugby Australia are delighted to announce backrower Fraser McReight has re-signed with Queensland and Australian Rugby through 2025.
The 24-year-old debuted for the Reds in 2019 and is closing in on his 50th cap for his state, captaining Queensland for the first time last season.
McReight made his first appearance in the green and gold in 2020 and has already played 10 games for his country, with the two-year deal keeping him in Australian Rugby for the 2025 British and Irish Lions Tour.
McReight said: “I love playing for Queensland, it’s my home, so I’m super excited to be able to play here for another two-years.
“This team has plenty left to achieve and I want to be here when we do.
“I’m really enjoying my time here working hard with the boys and the staff, which makes coming into work very enjoyable.”
“I love representing my state and country and that’s my first priority.
“It’s an exciting time in Australian Rugby with a new coach, World Cup and Lions tour coming up. I’m looking forward to being a part of it.”
Reds General Manager – Professional Rugby Sam Cordingley said: “It has been pleasing to have seen Fraser’s progression from our academy to the Wallabies in such a short period of time.
“It’s great to have him recommitted through 2025, I know he’ll have his sights set on success at both the Reds and Wallabies.”
Wallabies head coach Eddie Jones said: “Fraser is a player with plenty of potential and to have him re-sign with Australian Rugby is outstanding.”
“He’s made a good start to the year with Queensland and we’re looking forward to watching him closely throughout the Super Rugby Pacific season.”
Born on the Sunshine Coast, McReight played his junior Rugby at the Albany Creek Brumbies and attended Brisbane Grammar School where he earnt Queensland and Australian schoolboy honours.
McReight captained the Junior Wallabies side who finished runners-up in the 2019 U20s World Championships in Argentina and was awarded back-to-back Australian U20s player of the year awards in 2018 and 2019.
The openside flanker has been a mainstay in the Reds pack since 2019, playing 47 games and scoring seven tries in the maroon jersey.
McReight made his Wallaby debut against the All Blacks in 2020, while he also captained Australia A last season.
- Position: Flanker
- Height: 184cm
- Weight: 102kg
- Born: 19/02/1999
- Place of birth: Buderim, Queensland
- Senior Club: Brothers
- School: Brisbane Grammar School
- Junior Club: Albany Creek Brumbies
- Queensland debut: 24/03/2019 v Brumbies, Suncorp Stadium
- Queensland caps: 47
- Wallabies debut: 31/10/2020 v New Zealand, ANZ Stadium, Sydney
- Wallabies caps: 10
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