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Waratahs lock in promising duo



The NSW Waratahs have secured the services of two of their brightest pathway graduates, with the promotion of Jack Bowen and Ben Dowling to the main squad for the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season.

The elevation of Bowen and Dowling has taken the total to five academy graduates to progress into the main squad for the Waratahs 2023 season.

18-year-old Jack Bowen, son of Wallaby Scott Bowen, was schooled at Riverview and has spent three years in the NSW system representing the Waratahs Academy in the U15, U16, and U18 age levels.

Bowen’s strong form in 2022 was rewarded with selection in Nathan Grey’s Australian U20s team, where he featured in all three matches against New Zealand, Fiji, and Argentina.

The exciting flyhalf impressed for his club team Eastern Suburbs in the Shute Shield this season, steering the team strongly in their late surge to the finals in just his first year out of school.

“It’s been a dream come true to be training here full-time and have the opportunity to potentially one day wear the Sky-Blue jersey,” Bowen said.

“I’ve grown up supporting this team and attending games since I was three years old, so it’s incredibly special for myself and my family to get the opportunity to train with this elite team.

“After spending three years in the academy, I’m extremely proud to be a full-time member and have to thank Shannon Fraser and Andrew Cleverley who have helped me transition into a full-time professional environment”.

Born and raised in Sydney and attending St Joseph’s College in Hunters Hill, Ben Dowling has also progressed through the NSW pathways, through his time in the Waratahs U18’s Academy, and club rugby at Randwick.

Dowling has had a break-out year in the Australian Seven’s program, featuring in six of their eight tournaments in the 2021/22 season, helping the men’s team secure their first-ever season series win.

The talented outside back also represented Australia at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham alongside Waratahs teammate Mark Nawaqanitawase.

“After spending time with the team through the Academy and playing in Waratahs A games, it’s incredibly exciting to now be able to train and play with the team in a full-time capacity,” Dowling said.

“I loved my time this year in sevens on the World Series as I learned a lot and feel it helped develop my game, but I’m really excited to get back and commit to fifteens.

“The team had such a great season this year and hopefully I can help play a part in continuing the success into next season.”

Waratahs Head Coach Darren Coleman was delighted with the number of players that have graduated through the NSW pathways.

“We’re incredibly proud that Jack and Ben are our 4th and 5th players to graduate directly from our academy into the senior full-time squad. It’s a credit to Andrew Cleverley and Shannon Fraser and their program that we can continue to rely on our academy to produce so many players annually,” Coleman said.

“Jack is an exciting prospect, comes from a great pedigree, and made a great impact for Eastern Suburbs and their strong form in the back end of the season.

“I’m looking forward to him growing and gaining in-game knowledge from his involvement in the full-time squad alongside the quality playmakers we have here.

“Ben Dowling is a good young prospect and we’ve seen his quality throughout the sevens program and his form for Randwick in the Shute Shield.

“Ben offers us great utility throughout our backline, and we’re really excited to see him continue to develop in our program.”

Content & Images from – Waratahs Rugby

Super Rugby

Family the motivator for Whitelock’s French move



The 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season will be Samuel Whitelock’s last with the Crusaders.


The veteran Crusader and All Black has taken up a two-year deal with Section Pau in the South of France, where he’ll link up with younger brother Luke Whitelock who joined the Top 14 club in 2019.


“Hannah, the kids and myself are going to head to France to play with my little brother Luke,” Whitelock said.


“I’ve had the privilege of playing with family for Canterbury, the Crusaders and the All Blacks at different stages and this opportunity was too good to pass up.”


Whitelock debuted for Canterbury in 2008 and the Crusaders in 2010. He is Crusader #142 and has currently played 176 games for the franchise – second only to Wyatt Crockett (203). He’s been a part of six championship campaigns and captained the side for several seasons.


“I want to say thank you to everyone for their support through the years, it’s been absolutely immense,” Whitelock said.


You’ve helped me grow, you’ve helped me develop as a player”, but most importantly as a person.”


There are few players in Crusaders history who have made a mark like Sam Whitelock. A mainstay for generations of fans, his presence on the field brought confidence to both the playing group and the fans.


The same could be said for his impact on the All Blacks, having earned many All Blacks caps as captain and respect across the globe as a rugby role model.


Scott Robertson, Crusaders Head Coach, said Whitelock was an “iconic rugby player” who had taught him a lot throughout his coaching career.


“He’s iconic because of his consistency in form at all levels, spanning three decades and being at the top of his game throughout that time,” Robertson said.


He said Whitelock’s game understanding and “his ability to win big moments in big games” set him apart.


“He has an innate ability to connect the group and know what needs to be said at the right time on and off the field.”


“He’s a great mate and a pleasure to coach.”


“If there’s one player who lives the Crusaders culture it’s him, through consistency, his daily habits and his leadership.”


Whitelock will join Pau after the Rugby World Cup.

Content & Images from – Crusaders Rugby

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Super Rugby

Team Naming: Whitelock Back for Waratahs Game



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The Crusaders have named their side to face the Waratahs in Round 14 of Super Rugby Pacific ’23.


It’s the team’s last home game of the regular season before we get into finals. Kick off is Saturday at 4.35pm.


Codie Taylor takes up captaincy with Scott Barrett making the most of a rest week before some big showdowns. He’s joined in the front row by Kershawl Sykes-Martin and Tamaiti Williams.


Sam Whitelock returns this week, itching to take the field after a few weeks sidelined by injury. Both Codie Taylor and Scott Robertson spoke on Thursday morning about looking forward to having his leadership and wisdom back on the grass.


The dynamic duo of Mitch Drummond and Richie Mo’unga return at halfback and first five, their routine well-polished by now.


Look for some antics and acrobatics from Leicester Fainga’anuku and Dallas McLeod on the left and right wings, and a safe pair of hands at the rear with Fergus Burke as fullback.


Reuben O’Neill is set to make his Crusaders debut off the bench this week, the current Taranaki and former Chiefs player bolstering the front row stocks. He’s slotted in well with the team during trainings, Robertson saying he was “familiar to us” and helped relieve the burden on a front row depleted by injury. Brodie McAlister and Seb Calder make up the rest of the replacement front row.


The Crusaders go into this one second on the table, the Waratahs in sixth. There’s no discounting an Aussie side still within reach of a home quarter if the cards fall right for them. Expect a big contest.

Content & Images from – Crusaders Rugby

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Super Rugby

Farewell to a legend



The Highlanders will use the last home game of the year against the Reds on Friday 26th May to farewell Aaron Smith – their most capped player ever. All things going to plan Smith should play his 184th game against the Reds.

Smith joined the club in 2011 at the behest of the then new Highlander’s coach, Jamie Joseph, having previously been in the Blues wider training group, the rest as they say is history.

Widely recognised as one of the best halfbacks in the game his performances over the years have left fans, fellow players and the media in awe of his consistency, energy, skill level and competitiveness.

However, all good things come to an end and on Friday 26th May at 7.05pm Smith will suit up in his Highlanders jersey and run out of the stadium tunnel to be greeted by a home crowd for the last time, from next year he is signed to play in the Japanese League.

Highlanders CEO Roger Clark appreciates it will be a significant moment in the club’s history.

“Aaron has given so much to the club and rugby public in this region. Saying good-bye is not a moment that many will be looking forward to, but he so richly deserves this one last opportunity to sign off an amazing Highlanders career in front of his home crowd.  No doubt It will be a very special occasion for Aaron, Teagan and his children Luka and Leo, we hope it will be a night to remember for all.”

Head Coach Clarke Dermody acknowledges it will be an extra special night for his All-Black halfback.

“He’s been leading our team around the park for the last decade or so and he epitomises everything that a professional player should be – always prepared, highly skilled, competitive, and passionate about his team. He deserves all the recognition he gets, and he has worked very hard for it. Knowing Aaron, he will treat it like any other week, go through his routines, preparing accurately and give it his best on the night. I know I won’t be alone in reflecting on his enormous contribution to rugby in our region as his last home game comes to an end.”

Fans will have another opportunity to watch the master in action when the Highlanders take on the Rebels this Saturday at 4.35pm.

Book your seat to witness history here 


Content & Images from – Highlanders Rugby

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