After launching RUPA’s new feature Look Who’s Talking Now last week, our members across the country have again had plenty to say as 2016 Super Rugby preparations intensify following each side finalising their pre-season trial match fixtures.
One man who can’t wait for pre-season trials is Queensland Reds lock Cadeyrn Neville who hopes to run out for his new side for the first time against the Crusaders at Ballymore.
“It’s pretty exciting to have two pre-season clashes at Ballymore,” he told the RUPA website. “Throughout the NRC (for Brisbane City) this year, and even playing there last year with the Melbourne Rising and in a trial game for the Rebels, I actually haven’t lost a game there so it’s a venue I like to play at!” (For the record, Neville’s 8 from 8 at Ballymore!)
Speaking to The West Australian’s Nick Taylor following his re-signing, Western Force hooker Heath Tessmann said he did not want to leave with the club having just gone through a low point after finishing with the 2015 wooden spoon.
"When you leave a place you want to leave it in a better place than it was when you arrived," he said. "We hit the reset button and we've had some pretty up front conversations," he said. "We've identified what we were doing wrong, we've addressed it and hopefully we've fixed it. We'll find out when we get on the pitch where there's a bloke with a whistle in his hand."
Fellow hooker and RUPA Board Member Stephen Moore, a star of the Australia Day lamb television advertisement, told Fox Sports’ Sam Worthington that his departure from the Brumbies at season’s end had not affected anything as he returned to pre-season training in Canberra.
“It’s been fine… business as usual,” Moore said. “There’s other guys in the team that are also moving on and it’s no different for them I suppose. Every year I’ve played professional Rugby, you’ll have players that’ll move on and it’s no different.
“I wanted to let the boys know before they went away for their Christmas break so that when we came back in the New Year all the focus was on 2016. It’s a really important year for the club and I’m very much committed to making it as successful as it can possibly be.”
Moore’s Brumbies and Wallabies teammate Sam Carter said that while both internal and external expectations are high, his team won’t shirk from the necessary hard work required to be successful.
“We’ve got a good squad on paper but that doesn’t get the results,” Carter said. “We’ve just got to make sure we tick all the boxes and put our best foot forward. If we do that, we know the results will fall our way.”
His teammate James Dargaville elaborated even further when looking forward to the competition and its’ new format.
"You have to finish on top of your pool, that is the most important aspect,” Dargaville said. “It is simply a matter of winning as many games as we can, especially at home, and then at the end of the season being there or thereabouts.”
A couple of household names were announced as key signings this week, the first of which sees Nick Cummins commit to the Australian Rugby Sevens’ program as they prepare for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
He’s played for the Wallabies and represented Australia in Rugby Sevens at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, but as he told The Australian’s Dan Koch “to think about the chance to be part of an Olympic team … well that’s just another level.
“Look, I have made it clear to them if they are after a flagbearer the Honey Badger is available and I’d be more than happy to take care of that job,” Cummins said with a laugh. “Opening or closing ceremony … I’m not fussy.”
Wycliff Palu is back as well, re-signing with the Waratahs after the injury he suffered at the Rugby World Cup and subsequent lengthy rehabilitation prevented him from fulfilling the first of two seasons in the Japanese Top League.
“I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason. It’s not by bad luck or chance that I’m here again,” Palu said, as reported in The Australian. “I’m working hard just to get back into the Waratahs setup; I’m just going to try and get my body in shape and if that takes six weeks it takes six weeks.”
Emma Tonegato, Australian Rugby Sevens star, told the RUPA website that a number of the younger players in the squad are itching to get involved on the road to Rio.
“We’ve got a couple of injuries (at the moment), notably to Sharni Williams and Chloe Dalton, but we do have a large squad and there a lot of girls ready (to step up),” she said. “Taleena Simon, Dominique Du Toit and Shenae Ciesiolka are just three who will all be ready and up to the challenge when they get their chance.”
Tonegato’s Rugby Sevens counterpart Tom Cusack is looking forward to reacquainting himself with new Men’s Head Coach Andy Friend and coming up against superstar Sonny Bill Williams at the Wellington Sevens, as he told the Canberra Times’ Chris Dutton.
"I'm excited about what's to come and it's good to have Friendy there as well,” he said. “It looks like there's some stability around the squad which is massive for the playing group. You love to face the best and [Williams] is no exception. I'm excited by that possibility and no one will shy away, I'm sure the challenge will excite players," Cusack said.
Former Sevens representative Matt Lucas is pleased to be back at the Waratahs after a year out of the Club, talking to Beth Newman at Rugby.com.au.
“You get a bit of a reality check (when you miss out on a spot),” he said. “You¹ve got to really cherish what you¹ve got here and enjoy it but at the same time you¹ve got to earn every bit of it.
“I¹ve always prided myself on working hard. Last year was just the realisation you need to enjoy what you¹re doing… the year out of the professional environment I really enjoyed what I was doing and as a result played some pretty good footy.”
For those unfamiliar with Reds recruit Eto Nabuli, get used to his name; he was chatting to Chris Garry at the Courier Mail about his Rugby background and his goals for his first year after switching from the NRL.
“When I came to Australia I switch to league but I did want to come back to this sport because I love it more,” he said. “I never played league until Australia; Union I understand and in Fiji all I played was sevens and union. My big target is I want to play for Australia but it is all about hard work. I need to do whatever it takes to play. That is long term … to wear the gold jersey.’’
Finally, to this week’s social supremo, and after Western Force skipper Matt Hodgson took the prize last week, it's another forward who's been impressing the RUPA office, if not the PGA Tour of Australia.
Melbourne Rebels prop Tim Metcher had a crack on a golf simulator during his spare time, and showed off a better hook shot than David Warner! Sorry 'Metch' - this is too good not to share!