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Super Rugby

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Brodie Retallick

SUPER MAN: Humble 23-year-old Brodie Retallick turns into a super-powered lock when he pulls on the All Blacks jersey.

Brodie Retallick is forging a reputation as one of the best locks in world rugby. Toby Robson got to know the 2.04-metre 23-year-old with his head in the clouds but his feet firmly on the ground.

Brodie Retallick has been working things out from the start.

As a youngster he and his two brothers, Logan and Brook, would crowd around their father Glen as he worked on their motorbikes.

Long days spent riding around the family’s 5-acre block in Broomfield or towing each other on sleds took their toll on the machinery.

It wasn’t long before the Retallick boys were fixing things themselves. Mum Jo’s boys were the hands-on types, out playing rugby in the yard rather than parked in front of the television.

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Eddie Jones

Optimistic: Eddie Jones

Japan is set to be selected as the final Super Rugby franchise ahead of Singapore according to reports in Australia.

The competition will expand to 18 teams from 2016, with an extra team to be added in South Africa and a new franchise also to be introduced in Argentina.

The final place is believed to be between the two Japanese countries, with Singapore mooted as a potential home for a Pacific Islands team, while Japan would be looking to base their team around their national side.

And according to Daily Telegraph in Australia, SANZAR bosses are edging towards Japan, with a decision potentially to be announced by the end of the month.

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Taniela Tupou

Taniela Tupou’s decision to snub the All Blacks has attracted derision in New Zealand.

The Reds is set to sign barnstorming teenage sensation Taniela ‘Tongan Thor’ Tupou.

The Reds are understood to be close to finalising a deal for the New Zealand-based 18-year-old who has been chased by four countries and two rival Australian franchises.

If the signing comes off, it will be a massive boost for Australian rugby and cap an impressive fortnight for the Reds, who announced two weeks ago that they have recruited James O’Connor and Karmichael Hunt for next year.

Tupou revealed earlier this week that he would reject offers from the NZRU to defect to Australia, where his older brother lives and plans to guide his career.

The NZRU held last-minute meetings with Tupou in a bid to change his mind but he has not wavered.

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Josh Mann-Rea

Not quite Julia Roberts, but still a happy hooker – Josh Mann-Rea

Josh Mann-Rea has saved the number of the Wallabies coach in his mobile phone so he never again thinks he’s being pranked with a call-up every rugby journeyman dreams of.

Not getting on as a reserve against South Africa last weekend for the most unlikely Wallabies debut of the professional era has only slightly dented the fairytale that Mann-Rea calls “my wild ride”.

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James O'Connor

James O’Connor: The worst of the three Amigos.

Drew Mitchell doesn’t mind admitting he didn’t jump for joy when told James O’Connor would be joining him in the south of France.

When O’Connor signed on for Toulon in February, the former Wallaby wing thought only of the brash youngster he’d known in Australian rugby, and the poor form and controversy behind his exit.

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Agustin Creevy

Agustin Creevy

Argentina captain Agustin Creevy revealed on Friday a plan for fielding a full-strength international side when they join the southern hemisphere’s prestigious Super Rugby competition in 2016.

The move would rob European clubs of several leading players but would strengthen Argentina at Test level.

Super rugby organisers have already confirmed an Argentinian side will join the competition when it is expanded to 18 teams as the International Rugby Board pushes to expand the sport in South America.

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Jacques Potgieter

Jacques Potgieter

He became an honorary Australian by starring for the Waratahs in their Super Rugby triumph but Jacques Potgieter is set to go from teammate to fierce Test rival with a recall to the Springboks later this month.

The wildman flanker, who became a cult hero for NSW, is a favourite of Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer and News Corporation understands Potgieter will be drafted into the South African squad for home games against Australia and New Zealand.

Potgieter is currently playing in Japan for the Fukuoka Sanix Blues but recently returned to South Africa on holidays and spoke with Meyer at the Boks’ first Test win over Argentina at Loftus Versfeld.

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Long road taken: Josh Mann-Rea to answer Wallabies S.O.S.

Long road taken: Josh Mann-Rea to answer Wallabies S.O.S.

ACT Brumbies third-string hooker Josh Mann-Rea is on the verge of a shock Wallabies call-up as coach Ewen McKenzie battles an “unbelievable” injury toll that is set give former coalminer Mann-Rea his national debut.

Injured Wallabies captain Stephen Moore says Mann-Rea has the resolve to perform on the international stage, as the rake known as “Bongo” contemplates the biggest moment of his career.

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James O'Connor

Runaway success: James O’Connor scores a try for Toulon on the weekend.

The short-term future of James O’Connor and his return to Australia is assured, but doubts remain about his long-term plans after the World Cup in Britain next year.

Queensland are expecting O’Connor, who has 44 Test caps with the Wallabies, to remain in Brisbane after announcing last Friday that the back had signed a two-year deal with them – starting next season.

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Jarrad Butler

Brumbies player of the year Jarrad Butler.

The ACT Brumbies have declared Jarrad Butler a “star of the future” after the unheralded back-rower claimed a double delight at the club’s awards dinner on Saturday.

Butler emerged as the stand out player in a team boasting 13 Wallabies, winning his first Brett Robinson award as the players’ player for the Super Rugby season.

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Glenn Moore

NO PROBLEMS ADJUSTING: Newly appointed Blues assistant Glenn Moore in his days as Highlanders’ head coach.

Former Highlanders coach Glenn Moore will take charge of the Blues forward pack for the next two years.

Moore will join the Blues fulltime at the conclusion of the Heartland Championship – he is the current Mid Canterbury head coach – and replace All Blacks skills coach Mick Byrne, who stepped down at this end of last season.

Auckland-born Moore partners head coach Kirwan and assistant Grant Doorey in the coaching team with a back skills coach, who will fill Sir Graham Henry’s void, to be appointed in the coming weeks.

Moore reckons none of his Super Rugby charges will phone to say they can’t make training because the cow shed roof has blown off in a big storm.

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James Slipper

James Slipper

Wallabies vice-captain James Slipper has underlined his standing as the most influential prop in Australian rugby by dominating the awards at the Queensland Reds’ gala ball.

Slipper became the first front-rower to win the coveted Pilecki Medal for a second time on Friday night while also taking out the People’s Choice award and the Spirit of the Reds award.

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James O' Connor

James O’ Connor

James O’Connor’s willingness to shelve any special contract demands is the first sign that a new maturity at the Queensland Reds will replace his old spoiled kid persona.

There were reservations initially at Queensland Rugby Union board level that a player with O’Connor’s rap sheet of poor discipline was a bad fit for the Reds.

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Mark Ella - Randwick 1984

Learning from the greats… Mark Ella playing for Randwick in 1984.

When most people refer to the influence of Wallabies legend Mark Ella on rugby union, they recall his on-field wizardry and brilliance with the ball in hand.

Waratahs coach Michael Cheika did on Thursday at a Randwick Rugby Club fund-raising lunch that feted Australian rugby’s four “Invincibles”.

Ella, who played 25 Tests from 1980-1984 before retiring at the of age 25, is one; along with Col Windon, Ken Catchpole and David Campese – all of whom played for the Galloping Greens.

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Zac Guildford

Zac Guildford

Zac Guildford is looking to put his past alcohol-fuelled misdemeanours behind him and launch a new chapter in his impressive rugby career with Clermont.

The bad-boy of New Zealand rugby has had his fair share of run-ins with both rugby authorities and the law, but now he says he has a more mature head on his 25-year-old shoulders.

“I made some mistakes in my youth. The time had come to make some changes in my life and coming to Clermont was one of the best I could make,” he said.

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Karmichael Hunt

Biarritz’s centre Karmichael Hunt runs to score during the European H-Cup rugby union final match Biarritz vs. Toulouse.

The Queensland Reds will on Friday night unveil James O’Connor and Karmichael Hunt as their blue-chip recruits for 2015.

Rugby’s worst-kept secrets will be revealed together at the Reds’ Gala Ball at the Brisbane Convention Centre, but diehard fans will be hoping for more.

Although O’Connor and Hunt, neither of whom will be in attendance, represent the franchise’s biggest recruitment announcement since Super Rugby kicked off in 1996, Queensland can’t fix the problems that plagued them this season with two outside backs.

Karmichael Hunt and Israel Folau made national headlines when they defected from the NRL to AFL in 2009 and 2010 respectively.

Folau finished a difficult, though lucrative, stint in the AFL in 2012 and is now one of rugby union’s top draw cards. Hunt, meanwhile, is poised to join him in the 15-man code with reports linking him to the Queensland Reds in 2015.

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Israel Folau

Wanted man… Israel Folau playing against the All Blacks.

The risk of losing star Wallabies like Israel Folau after the 2015 World Cup has prompted the Australian Rugby Union to change its rules to allow overseas sabbaticals.

The Australian Rugby Union will dangle a sizeable carrot to lure the country’s top players to sevens in the lead up to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.

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Brad Thorn

Brad Thorn: One of a kind

Bigger, faster, and stronger – it’s a wonder any professional rugby player lasts more than a handful of seasons before terminal injury strikes.

Professional rugby players’ representatives love to say how short their client’s careers will be – usually while negotiating for a pay rise.

They operate in an increasingly brutal arena, one tackle away from enforced retirement.

The average size of an All Black forward increased from 100kg to 113kg since rugby went professional in the mid-1990s and the backs have ballooned from 82kg to 94kg.

Collisions are now compared to car crashes. Concussion has become an unwelcome theme.

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Stephen Moore

Stephen Moore will take over as Brumbies captain in 2015.

Stephen Moore will take over as ACT Brumbies captain in 2015.

Wallabies skipper Stephen Moore will captain the Brumbies for the 2015 Super Rugby season.

Moore will replace Ben Mowen, who quit Australian rugby to pursue his career in France.

The Brumbies will announce Moore’s appointment on Wednesday morning, backing the experienced hooker to guide the club to Super Rugby success.

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Pat McCabe

Wallaby Pat McCabe returns from New Zealand.

The Brumbies have watered down head coach Stephen Larkham’s comments that hardman Pat McCabe has retired, saying the 26-year-old’s playing future hinges on a meeting with the Wallabies’ doctor.

McCabe fractured his neck in the Wallabies’ 51-20 loss to the All Blacks at Eden Park on Saturday, with Larkham telling ABC radio on Wednesday morning the 24-Test winger had decided to hang up his boots after consulting with a specialist.

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James O'Connor

HE’S BACK: Reports are saying James O’Connor is set to sign on with the Reds.

The Queensland Reds will confirm the worst kept secret in rugby on Friday night when Wallabies’ prodigal son James O’Connor is announced as their new signing.

News Corp is reporting that the Reds will announce that O’Connor has signed a two-year deal at its Gala Ball in Brisbane.

O’Connor had his 44-Test career put on hold last year after the Australian Rugby Union tore up his contract after the 24-year-old was escorted off a flight to Bali by Australian Federal Police at Perth Airport.

He has since enjoyed a sixth-month stint at London Irish in the English Premiership before signing a short-term deal with European champions Toulon in the French Top 14 competition.

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Michael Hooper

Top Tah… Michael Hooper celebrates after winning the Super Rugby title.

He missed out on the Bledisloe Cup last weekend, but Wallabies captain Michael Hooper added to his bulging portfolio of individual accolades by winning a second straight, NSW Waratahs Players’ Player of the year award on Tuesday.

Openside flanker Hooper, who led NSW to their maiden Super Rugby title following a late season knee injury to first-choice skipper and fellow back rower Dave Dennis, polled 277 votes.

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Craig Joubert

Craig Joubert

New Zealand rugby is claiming its second referee apology in a week, with Craig Joubert said to have admitted he was wrong with a ruling that probably cost the Crusaders the Super Rugby crown.

The Waratahs won a tense final three weeks ago in Sydney 33-32, with the winning points coming from a penalty when flank Richie McCaw was penalised for entering a ruck from the side with a minute remaining in the match.

Had the kick missed, the Crusaders would have had possession and would have been unlikely to yield their 32-29 lead with time almost up.

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Juan Smith

Juan Smith

The boyish smile on the face of Juan Hugo Smith masked the trauma that he endured in the past four years, when it seemed an Achilles injury ended his career.

At 33, with 69 Test caps for South Africa, he is one of the most seasoned players in the Springbok team to face Argentina in Salta on Saturday.

Captain Jean de Villiers, also 33 and 97 Tests, and recalled prop Gurthrö Steenkamp, 33 and 51 Tests, are among the few that can match him for experience in the team that will take to the field at Estadio Padre Ernesto Martearena.

Smith is the epitome of a player who overcame seemingly insurmountable odds to return to the international arena, after it seemed his career had come to an abrupt end.

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The past few years has seen Rugby’s world be dominated by one group of Villains that we have come to respect, hate, admire, deride, sledge and applaud. Let’s take a look at these Bad Guys and their alter-egos – whilst not forgetting that most of these guys eventually get their comeuppance. – Enjoy!

 

15. Ben Smith -Keyser Soze – The usual Suspects
Keyser Soze

Keyser Soze – The Usual Suspects

This is one of those moments where we are lulled into a false sense of security. The guy looks harmless enough and seems to melt into the background when surrounded by other more unsavory types. But it is with the Big reveal that things unfold and the manipulator truly emerges.

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Brad Thorn

Brad Thorn: Still going strong at 39

Brad Thorn will continue his incredible 444-game career beyond his 40th birthday with English rugby giants, Leicester.

Meanwhile another code-hopper is preparing for his own return to action with Sonny Bill Williams hoping to return for Sydney Roosters either this weekend or next.

Williams will be hoping to sign off in rugby league – for now anyway – with a second straight NRL premiership before he returns to Hamilton to re-join Super Rugby’s Chiefs.

Both Williams and Thorn are incredible cross-code stories. But who deserves the mantle as the greatest code-hopper of all time?

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Brad Thorn

Brad Thorn: Still going strong at 39

Leicester Tigers have confirmed the arrival of World Cup-winning former All Black second row Brad Thorn.

39-year-old New Zealander was referred to by Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill as “one of the great all-time rugby players the world has ever seen.” He is expected at the club at the end of September.

Thorn became the first player to win World Cup, Super Rugby and Heineken Cup titles and arrives from the Highlanders having previously represented the Crusaders and Leinster.

“He is a very driven individual,” Cockerill told the Leicester Mercury.

“He wants to play in the Premiership and he wants to win the Premiership.”

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Francois Steyn

Frans Steyn wil nie n “GELDJAGTER” genoem word nie.

​”Ek is nie ’n kind nie.”

Só het Frans Steyn glo op die laaste krisisvergadering tussen hom en die Suid-Afrikaanse Rugbyunie (SARU) gesê voordat hy opgestaan, uitgeloop en die Springbok-groep vaarwel geroep het.

Dit was nadat meer as een vergadering tussen hom en SARU oor sy terugkeer uit Frankryk skipbreuk gely het.

SARU het aanvanklik in 2012 skriftelik ingestem om Steyn se kontrak met ’n Franse bemarkingsmaatskappy uit te koop sodat hy weer heeltyds vir Suid-Afrika beskikbaar kon wees. SARU het die paaiemente daarvoor stiptelik betaal – tot in Januarie 2013 toe betalings skielik eensydig gestaak is.

 

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WP RugbyWhen the Springboks finished off their 2013 campaign with a victory over France in Paris, coach Heyneke Meyer spoke about the need for South African rugby to undergo revolutionary change in order to close the gap that the All Blacks enjoyed when it came to conditioning and mental strength.

At the start of the 2014 Castle Lager Rugby Championship, he continued the theme of revolution, this time talking about the need to bring greater intensity and tempo to the Bok game, to be able to out-think opponents now that the days of bludgeoning opposition with physicality are in the past.

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Israel Folau

Israel Folau breaks his ankle playing for the Broncos in 2009.

Israel Folau believes God broke his ankle in 2009 to teach him a lesson about boozy weekends and random one-night stands with women.

Folau believes God took him out of the NRL to endure two years of toil in the AFL to humble him.

Then, only after Folau had reconnected with God, did He open the door to rugby, in which he now stands as the man to end 12 years of Australian agony by leading the Wallabies to victory over the All Blacks in tonight’s Bledisloe Cup opener.

And if you think Folau is crazy, he doesn’t care.

“I want to advertise who Jesus Christ is, which is the thing that means most to me,” the Wallaby fullback says, patting his heart hard.

“I know it’s got nothing to do with footy, but that’s what drives me every single day.”

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Derick Minnie

“Cheers vir eers!” Derick Minnie op pad vorentoe Saterdag teen die Bloubulle op Ellispark.

Niemand wil dit hard sê nie, maar almal weet dit: Suid-Afrikaanse rugby is in die #2%$.

Vir diegene wat onlangs uit ’n diep slaap uit ontwaak het, hier is die feite: Net een Suid-Afrikaanse span kon dit tot in ’n Super Rugby semi-finaal maak. En daar het hulle ook in die pomp geduik. Die ander klomp – die Bulle, Stormers, Leeus en Cheetahs het redelik swak gedoen.

Hoe kan ’n land soos Suid-Afrika, wat meer spelers as Nieu-Seeland en Australië saam het, so sleg uit die bus uit bliksem?

Om daardie vraag te beantwoord, moet ons teruggaan tot ons terugkeer tot internasionale rugby in 1992.

Dan sal ons sien dat ons intussen nooit pasaangeërs was nie. Nie met taktiek nie en nie met afrigting nie.

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Panic StationThe Vodacom Blue Bulls are already in crisis mode – and it’s only the first round of the Absa Currie Cup season.

Coach Frans Ludeke called in the players to Loftus Versfeld on Sunday night for an emergency meeting – following their humiliating 41-13 opening loss to the Xerox Golden Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday – where players were read the riot act.

Following a disappointing Vodacom Super Rugby season, and this start to a much-vaunted Currie Cup campaign, the players were told to either shape up or ship out as Ludeke vented his anger after the loss.

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Hosea Gear

Hosea Gear

Former All Blacks wing Hosea Gear is quitting northern hemisphere rugby and heading to the Chiefs in a bid to play in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Gear, 30, has signed a one-year contract with the Chiefs to play in next year’s Super Rugby competition as he makes a bid to return to the international stage and challenges again for a World Cup wing spot.

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Rory Arnold

Brumbies recruit Rory Arnold, the tallest player in Super Rugby.

If you thought NSW Watarahs and Australian Wallabies battering ram Will Skelton was big, meet ACT Brumbies recruit Rory Arnold, the tallest player in Super Rugby.

The 208cm, 130kg lock created huge headlines last year after being involved in an alleged biting incident in South Africa, but Arnold is determined to make a big impact at the Brumbies for the right reasons.

While man mountain Skelton weighs in at 140kg, at 203cm he can’t match Arnold, who is equal in height with former South African player Andries Bekker. They are the tallest players in Super Rugby’s 19-year history.

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Recent Comments

  • robzim 16 Sep 2014, 23:11 SAST - Cheers all. Quite an eclectic taste of music on the blog... really nice
  • Blue Bird 16 Sep 2014, 23:09 SAST - GoBokkeAndIreland wrote: @ Blue Bird: @ Tassies: I think it’ll be a regular thing. Keep well guys – thanks for...
  • grootblousmile 16 Sep 2014, 23:09 SAST - Oh holy shit... I forgot PUB NIGHT! Sorry folks! Have had a torrid few working weeks. Woked right through the...
  • Blue Bird 16 Sep 2014, 23:08 SAST - Cheers and goodnight all :Cheers:
  • GoBokkeAndIreland 16 Sep 2014, 23:04 SAST - @ Blue Bird: @ Tassies: I think it'll be a regular thing. Keep well guys - thanks for the company,...
  • Tassies 16 Sep 2014, 23:02 SAST - @ Blue Bird: a few miles from the Rand fella then. Enjoy BB. Till another time. cheers


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