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Tatafu Polota-Nau

Tatafu Polota-Nau

Wallabies hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, who said earlier this month he might retire if he was badly concussed again, will be rested from Super Rugby for another 3 weeks to ensure he has fully recovered from a head knock.

The hard-running No 2 suffered the latest in a long string of concussions in the Waratahs’ win over the Brumbies in Canberra on 1 May and has not played since.

Michael Cheika, both Waratahs and Australia coach this year, said the 29-year-old would not play against the Crusaders this weekend or on the 2-match tour of South Africa that follows the 2014 Super Rugby final re-match.

“There is no point in taking him to South Africa and having doubts over him,” Cheika told reporters on Tuesday.

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Jono Lance

Jono Lance

Out of favour Waratahs’ utility back Jono Lance will join the Western Force for 2016, after signing with the franchise for 2 seasons.

Lance, who can play flyhalf, centre and fullback, hasn’t been featuring at the ‘Tahs playing behind Wallabies such as Bernard Foley, Kurtley Beale, Israel Folouu and Adam Ashley-Cooper, and is ready to play a starting role in Super Rugby.

He was a starting member of the Queensland Reds’ 2011 Super Rugby championship-winning team, before joining the Waratahs ahead of the 2014 season.

The 24-year-old son of former Canberra Raiders rugby league captain, Dean Lance, has represented the Australian Under 20 (2010) and Sevens squads (2010 / 2011).

Lance says he’s excited to have the opportunity to represent the Force from next season.

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Taqele Naiyaravoro

Taqele Naiyaravoro

The Waratahs’ Fijian-born wing Taqele Naiyaravoro’s is finally cleared to travel outside Australia.

It was confirmed on Thursday that the Australian Department of Immigration finally approved a temporary work (long stay activity) visa (subclass 401).

It ended a diabolical state of affairs that effectively forced the defending champions to use separate home and away wings in pursuit of their title defence this year.

The Waratahs confirmed in a statement that Naiyaravoro will be available to travel with the team to South Africa later this month – where they will play the Emirates Lions and Toyota Cheetahs – pending approval of an entry visa by South African government.

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Jacques Potgieter

Jacques Potgieter

Springbok Jacques Potgieter won’t be facing his new team, the Cell C Sharks, when they face the Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday.

Potgieter, who has been nicknamed ‘Jackpot’ by his Waratahs teammates, has been ruled out of the Super Rugby Round 14 encounter with an ankle injury.

The Waratahs head into the match up coming off a disappointing loss to bottom of the conference Western Force on the road.

The Sharks are coming off a game that ended in similar fashion.

The Sharks played terrific rugby in their game against the Hurricanes last week but ultimately lost.

As usual, the talk around the paddock at training was all about the forwards.

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Taqele Naiyaravoro

Taqele Naiyaravoro

The Scottish Rugby Union is set to spend a 6-figure fee to sign powerhouse Fijian-born wing Taqele Naiyaravoro, with the aim of making him eligible to play for Scotland after a 3-year residency period.

Naiyaravoro, who has been compared to All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu, declined to comment on reports he had signed with Edinburgh, but Waratahs CEO Greg Harris said the Fijian-born powerhouse had a contractual obligation to the Scottish team.

This clause in the contract states that if the Australians call him up for international duty, he will remain in the Southern Hemisphere.

According to reports in Australia, New South Wales Waratahs wing Naiyaravoro has been allocated to Edinburgh as part of a 3-year deal worth AUS $ 1 million to the 23-year-old.

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Tatafu Polota-Nau

Tatafu Polota-Nau

Waratahs and Wallabies hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau could take a long leave of absence from rugby or even the quit the game entirely if he suffers another heavy head knock.

Polota-Nau, who has been working with Australian neurologists on the effects of concussion, was forced from the ground with a head injury early in the Waratahs’ Super Rugby win over the Brumbies in Canberra on Friday.

The 29-year-old was also forced to miss a couple of games in the southern hemisphere’s provincial championship earlier in the season after suffering another blow to the head at training.

4 Months out from the World Cup, Polota-Nau, who has amassed 50 caps for Australia despite battling a litany of injuries throughout his career, said he was taking a cautious approach to his playing future.

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Mick Mathers

Mick Mathers

Former Wallaby and Waratahs captain Mick Mathers has been appointed President of New South Wales Rugby Union, taking over from Tim Gavin who has stood down after 3 years in the role.

As a player Mathers represented the Waratahs on 14 occasions, and played 2 Test matches for Australia in a distinguished career on the field. Mathers also had the honour of captaining the Wallabies in non-Test touring matches.

He has held the position of Vice-President of NSWRU for the last 3 years, prior to that he held positions on the Unions Judicial panel and was Team Manager of the Waratahs in the early days of Super Rugby.

Former World Cup winning fullback Marty Roebuck was elected to the vacant Vice Presidents position.

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Super RugbyThe Vodacom Bulls are back at the Top of the South African Conference, taking over from the DHL Stormers who came up short in Bloemfontein on an exhilarating Saturday of Vodacom Super Rugby.

The weekend started on a disappointing note for the Cell C Sharks in Dunedin though. After a solid start for the visitors, the Highlanders turned on the heat and eventually beat the Durbanites by 48 / 15 in their opening tour match Down Under.

Saturday saw 2 cracking local derbies, both won by the home teams.

1st Up, the Toyota Cheetahs caused a minor upset when they won their 3rd successive home game against the DHL Stormers in Bloemfontein, by 25 / 17.

The home team outscored the visitors by 3 tries to 2 and thoroughly deserved their 4th win of the season. It was also only the 3rd time in 14 matches that the DHL Stormers could not score any Log Points against the Toyota Cheetahs.

The final match of the weekend was a proper humdinger in Pretoria, where the Vodacom Bulls beat their neighbours, the Emirates Lions, by 35 / 33. A total of 7 tries were scored as both sides went hammer and tongs against each other for the full 80 minutes.

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Sam Johnson & Greg Petersen

Sam Johnson (left) and Greg Peterson will be joining Glasgow Warriors next season

Glasgow Warriors have signed Australian centre Sam Johnson from the Reds and USA international lock Greg Peterson from Leicester Tigers, with the duo set to be at Scotstoun until at least May 2017.

Both players have signed 2-year contracts with the Guiness PRO12 side, subject to visas and medicals.

21-year-old Johnson 1st played schoolboy rugby for Australia ‘A’ after winning the Associated Independent Colleges competition with St Edmund’s College in 2011.

He played Rugby League for the Gold Coast Titans Under 20’s after school, before returning to Rugby Union at the end of 2013, when he joined the Reds wider training squad and returned to his former club GPS.

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Super RugbyIt was a weekend of drama and excitement in South Africa as the DHL Stormers moved to the Top of the local Super Rugby Conference and the Emirates Lions kept alive their dream of reaching the Top 6.

The Emirates Lions beat the Toyota Cheetahs by 34 / 29 in an 8-try humdinger on Saturday afternoon to record their 6th victory of the season, making 2015 their 2nd best yet but with 6 Rounds to go.

Last year, the Emirates Lions finished with 7 wins, 2 better than their 5 from 2007, but they are on track to better their best in the coming weeks.

The Toyota Cheetahs also deserve a lot of credit for never giving up as they returned to Bloemfontein with 2 bonus points.

The 2nd local match on Saturday delivered heaps of drama and the result was in the balance right until the end, but the DHL Stormers hung on for their 2nd victory over the Vodacom Bulls this season as they won by 15 / 13.

The visitors from Pretoria scored the only try of the match when Bjorn Basson went over early in the 2nd half, but the match-clinching moment came at the death when Duane Vermeulen charged down an attempted drop-goal by Handré Pollard to lead his side to their 7th win of the season.

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Dave Dennis

Dave Dennis

Head coach Michael Cheika has made a number of changes to the Waratahs team to take on the Melbourne Rebels at ANZ Stadium on Anzac Day.

Captain Dave Dennis moves to the No 8 role, while Wycliff Palu will start on the bench.

Mitchell Chapman moves into his role at lock and Tatafu Polota-Nau returns to the starting line-up.

Peter Betham keeps his place on the right wing ahead of Taqele Naiyaravoro, after this week announcing his move to England to join Leicester Tigers.

Adam Ashley-Cooper makes his 2nd start since returning from injury at outside centre.

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Dave Dennis

Dave Dennis

Waratahs captain Dave Dennis has signed a new contract with the ARU keeping him in Australia for at least 2 more years.

The 31-year-old who can play in both the 2nd row and the back row, has signed up through to 2017 as he looks to help the Waratahs retain their Super Rugby title.

Injury kept him out of the knockout stages of last year’s win, but Dennis has been in good form so far this season.

The fact he is staying will be a welcome boost for Daryl Gibson, who will replace Michael Cheika as Waratahs boss at the end of the season.

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Peter Betham

Peter Betham

Australia and Waratahs wing Peter Betham has agreed a move to join Leicester Tigers at the end of the Super Rugby Season.

The 26-year-old is currently playing Super Rugby with defending champions the Waratahs and on Saturday he scored 2 tries in Wellington as they became the 1st team to defeat the Hurricanes this season.

Born in Wellington, New Zealand, Betham was brought up in Sydney and had spells with the Brumbies and Melbourne Rebels as well as with the Waratahs.

He made his Wallabies debut in a Bledisloe Cup fixture against the All Blacks in 2013.

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Super RugbyThe DHL Stormers finished their Australasian tour with a 2nd win while the Vodacom Bulls consolidated their position at the Top of the South African Conference as Vodacom Super Rugby 2015 entered the 2nd half of the season.

However, the Toyota Cheetahs and Cell C Sharks both lost at home as the teams from Pretoria and Cape Town opened up a bit of a gap in the local conference and the Vodacom Bulls moved up to 2nd on the overall log.

The DHL Stormers were made to work hard for a scrappy win in Perth on Saturday afternoon as they defeated the struggling Western Force by 13 / 6, the only 5-pointer of the encounter a Penalty Try to the visitors after yet another superb scrum. The win concluded their best Australasian tour in 3 years.

Back home, the Vodacom Bulls and Cell C Sharks delivered a typically hard local derby in Durban with the 3-time champions from Pretoria ultimately winning by 17 / 10, with each team scoring a solitary try.

The Toyota Cheetahs unfortunately could not build on their good win in Perth last weekend when they were beaten by 18 / 17 by the Reds in Bloemfontein.

Down Under, the defending champions – the Waratahs and the Chiefs recorded impressive victories in Wellington and Christchurch respectively.

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Kurtley Beale

Kurtley Beale

Wallabies and Waratahs centre Kurtley Beale admits contract talks have been playing on his mind.

Beale’s current deal expires at the end of this season and he said on Monday he aimed to reach a decision on his playing future before the end of the Super Rugby tournament.

“It’s always going to be there isn’t it,” Beale said.

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Bernard Foley

Bernard Foley

Waratahs Super Rugby-winning flyhalf Bernard Foley has signed a 3-year contract extension with the Australian Rugby Union.

The new agreement locks away the 25-year-old incumbent Wallaby flyhalf until at least the end of 2018 and ensures he will be eligible for Wallabies and Waratahs selection in each year of the deal. As part of the flexible contract, Foley will also be entitled to spend 2 seasons playing rugby in the Japanese domestic competition.

Foley said he was thrilled to have finalised a long-term agreement with Australian Rugby.

“I have an incredibly strong desire to continue representing Australia and the Waratahs, and this deal allows me to do that for at least another 3 years,” Foley said.

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Taqele Naiyaravoro

Taqele Naiyaravoro

The Waratahs are likely to be without in-form winger Taqele Naiyaravoro for their Super Rugby crunch match against the Hurricanes in New Zealand, due to a visa issue.

Fijian Naiyaravoro was also omitted from the team for the match against the Otago Highlanders in Dunedin last month and is unable to leave Australia for the time being.

“Taqele’s visa application is an ongoing process and as such he is not able to travel overseas at this point in time,” a spokeswoman for the Waratahs said on Tuesday.

The Waratahs declined to comment on whether the explosive 23-year-old, who leads the team with 3 tries, would be available for subsequent games in South Africa later in the year which could prove season-defining.

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Paddy Ryan

Paddy Ryan

Waratahs & Wallabies prop Paddy Ryan has recommitted to the Waratahs for the 2016 season, his 6th with the franchise.

Waratahs CEO Greg Harris said it was a great result that a player of Paddy’s talent and accomplishments had chosen to re-sign for another year.

“It’s a testament to the culture of the team, and the ability of the coaching staff to develop players, that guys like Paddy choose to continue their careers here,” Harris said.

“Paddy made his Super Rugby debut for New South Wales, and he has been an important part of the team’s recent successes, accordingly it is great to see him recommit to us.

“The Waratahs have invested in Paddy’s development as a player as he has come through the NSW development pathway, and the rewards have been mutually beneficial.

“We look forward to this continuing into 2016.”

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Michael Cheika - Wallabies coach

Michael Cheika – Wallabies coach

The Australian conference’s struggles in Super Rugby has alarm bells ringing Down Under, where media pundits have condemned the nation’s lack of playing depth in a Rugby World Cup year.

4 Of Australia’s teams, including the reigning champion Waratahs, are mired in the bottom 6 of the 15-team southern hemisphere competition halfway through the season.

The 5th, Canberra-based Brumbies, are 2nd but battling to hold ground against New Zealand and South African rivals amid a mounting injury toll.

The conference’s solid performance last season, when the Waratahs broke through for their maiden title and the Brumbies reached the semi-finals, was hailed as a sign of the increasing depth of Australian rugby.

Those achievements have been quickly forgotten, with the Melbourne Rebels, Reds and Western Force conjuring a total of 5 wins between them from the opening 9 Rounds.

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Michael Cheika - Wallabies coach

Michael Cheika – Wallabies coach

Waratahs and Wallabies coach Michael Cheika says that it is obvious he is not liked or respected in New Zealand, as the saga of his halftime chat with referee Jaco Peyper rumbles on.

Cheika was given a warning by SANZAR earlier in the week for entering the referee’s room at halftime during his team’s match against the Blues 2 weeks ago.

The Waratahs coach was already on a warning after he verbally abused a camera man last year and many have said that SANZAR should have come down on him harder.

In particular Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said that he was dismayed at the leniency SANZAR showed when they decided that Cheika had broken a law of the game – but not breached the code of conduct.

Had SANZAR ruled that Cheika had broken a code of conduct he could have been suspended from rugby and been unable to coach the Wallabies at the Rugby World Cup.

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Allister Coetzee

Allister Coetzee

An elated DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee heaped the praise on his coaching team and all the players in the aftermath of their excellent 32 / 18 Vodacom Super Rugby win over the defending champion Waratahs earlier today.

The DHL Stormers overturned a 13 / 15 half-time deficit to record their 1st tour win of 2015 against the reigning champs – also scoring 4 tries in the process in Sydney.

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Michael Cheika & Jaco Peyper in hot water

Michael Cheika & Jaco Peyper in hot water

SANZAR confirmed that it received a formal complaint in regard to the alleged conduct of Waratahs head coach, Michael Cheika, following the Waratahs vs Blues match played at Allianz Stadium on Saturday 28 March.

After undertaking a thorough investigation, including receiving statements from all parties involved, it was determined that Mr Cheika had approached the match referee, Jaco Peyper, in front of the other match officials to seek clarification on a scrum interpretation during the halftime break of the Waratahs vs Blues match.

In a short and polite exchange that took place in the referee’s change room, Mr Peyper responded to Mr Cheika’s request for clarification. No other issues were discussed. Both Mr Cheika and Mr Peyper have subsequently acknowledged this exchange should not have taken place and apologised.

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Juan de Jongh

Juan de Jongh

Centre Juan de Jongh has recovered from an ankle injury and will lead the DHL Stormers in their 3rd Vodacom Super Rugby tour match of 2015 – against the Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday.

De Jongh was an 11th hour withdrawal from the team last weekend, but he is fit to take his place in the No 13 shirt this week and assume the leadership responsibilities in the absence of Duane Vermeulen, who is back in South Africa as part of the rest agreement with SA Rugby.

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WaratahsWaratahs Head Coach Michael Cheika has named an unchanged starting side for the match against the DHL Stormers, with Adam Ashley-Cooper and Tatafu Polota-Nau named to return from injury via the bench.

Ashley-Cooper has been sidelined for almost 2 months with a rare knee injury but has finally been deemed fit and will return to the substitutes bench.

Polota-Nau will be returning to the field after suffering a head knock at training weeks ago.

As we have become used to in 2015, coach Michael Cheika has named 2 Extra Players on the bench, for the bench to be finalized and reduced closer to game time.

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Daryl Gibson

Daryl Gibson

The Waratahs have announced the appointment of Daryl Gibson to the role of head coach on a 3-year contract to commence ahead of the 2016 Super Rugby season.

Gibson has been Assistant Coach of the Waratahs, under current coach Michael Cheika, since his appointment at the end of 2012, and has previously coached at the Glasgow Warriors and the Crusaders.

Waratahs Rugby CEO Greg Harris said the integrity of the selection process was of the highest priority and that Daryl’s appointment would ensure that the transition at the end of the season would be a smooth one.

“Daryl has been an integral part of the creation of a culture which the club is now identified by, and his appointment will ensure that the players can build on the positive foundation which has been established by Michael Cheika.”

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David Pocock

David Pocock

David Pocock’s principled stand against homophobia on the field will cost him any chance of captaining Australia again, says former Wallaby Greg Martin.

Pocock’s on-field complaints to the referee led to Waratahs forward Jacques Potgieter being fined AU$ 20 000.00 for using homophobic slurs during his side’s win over the Brumbies on Sunday.

Respected rugby commentator Martin says Pocock did the right thing in speaking out but his action will split opinion in the game.

“He’ll pay for it. It will mean that he will never captain the Wallabies again,” Martin told Brisbane’s Triple M radio on Tuesday.

“What he’s done, he hasn’t fractured the game down a Waratahs-Brumbies line… It won’t be fractured down like that, but it will be fractured upon clear-thinking, modern-thinking footballers who will support David Pocock and the more old school, hard heads who will say that was a disgrace he shouldn’t have done that.

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Jacques Potgieter

Jacques Potgieter

The Australian Rugby Union fined Waratahs player Jacques Potgieter $ 20 000.00 (with $ 10 000.00 suspended), following an incident during Sunday afternoon’s match against the Brumbies.

Potgieter admitted making comments contrary to the Australian Rugby Union’s Inclusion Policy.

He will also be required to undergo additional educational and awareness training.

The sanction was determined following an investigation by the ARU’s Integrity Unit, after the matter was referred to the ARU by SANZAR late Monday afternoon.

The incident follows the endorsement of an ARU Inclusion Policy in August 2014, which is designed to stamp out all forms of discrimination and homophobia in Rugby.

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