Taylors Wines Top 5: 1st Test vs Ireland
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By Pete Fairbairn, 07.06.18

It’s time again for the Taylors Wines Top 5, where we wrap up the best of Australia’s professional players in the media this week (and also give you a great wine tip courtesy of Taylors)!

The Super Rugby competition goes on hiatus this week, with the first Wallabies Test of the 2018 season as World Number 2 Ireland pitch up on our shores and both teams try to get the three-match series off to a winning start in Brisbane (8:00pm AEST, Saturday).

Click here to see the full list of mid-year internationals around the world.

The Waratahs head into the Super Rugby break at the top of the Australian conference, with the Rebels and Brumbies still fighting for finals action when the action returns later this month for the final three regular season rounds. The Rebels will be in action this weekend, when they take on the Western Force in Perth at 10pm AEST on Saturday; screened nationwide on both FOX Sports and the Seven network (including 7Two and 7Mate in some states).

Click here to see the full Super Rugby table.

With less than 50 days until the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco, the Australian Men’s and Women’s Rugby Sevens teams must first navigate their final World Rugby Sevens series tournament in Paris this weekend.

The Aussie Women head into the final tournament with a slender four-point lead at the top of the standings. They’re in one of the toughest pools in the history of the World Series, and will face Fiji (Friday, 10:48pm), Russia (Saturday, 1:28am) and Canada (Saturday, 4:12am) in the Pool Stages.

Cup Quarter Finals kick off on Saturday night (from 11:46pm), with Cup Semi Finals starting on Sunday morning (from 5:14am) and the Cup Final at 1:30am on Monday.

Click here for the full Paris Women’s Sevens fixture.

The Aussie Men’s side were disappointed with their performances after the pool stage in last weekend’s London Sevens, after heading through to the Cup Quarter Finals undefeated before being downed by England (Quarter Final) and New Zealand (playoff) respectively.

They will face the same three pool rivals; Wales (Saturday, 5:00pm), Spain (Saturday 7:56pm) and London surprise packets Ireland (Sunday, 1:46am), with Cup Quarter Finals from 6:13pm on Sunday. The Cup Semi Finals are from 10:03pm on Sunday, with the Cup Final at 2:54am on Monday.

Click here for the full Paris Men’s Sevens fixture.

1. Marika feeling at home in Rugby

It’s hard to fathom that Marika Koroibete was playing for the Melbourne Storm in the 2016 NRL premiership, so firmly ensconced in the Wallaby starting lineup by the end of last season, but the quiet Fijian-born star has reflected on what was initially a challenging transition to the fifteen-a-side game.

“Last year was a big challenge," he told AAP’s Jim Morton. "To start it was not easy to come from Rugby league and ... I was not confident.

“This year I pretty much know my role and know what the team expects from me. It's exciting. Sometimes before I was just guessing out on the field; now I know what I want to do.”

Koroibete’s fellow code swapper Semi Radradra has been in fine form in the French Top 14 in his first year outside the NRL, and he returned to the Fijian Rugby Sevens team on the weekend to rave reviews out of Twickenham, catching Marika’s eye in the process.

Koroibete credits the coaching from two Spring Tours to get him up to speed while Radradra's instant transition shows he's "on a different level".

“It's hard to go from Rugby league to 15s, and then from 15s to sevens - it's a different fitness," the eight-Test flyer said. “He's just an amazing player and he's just getting better.”

Click here to read the full story.

2. Brandon and Folau’s pact, twelve months on

The story of how uncapped hookers Brandon Paenga-Amosa and Folau Faingaa went from slaving away together as garbage men in Sydney, to being named in the Wallabies squad within twelve months, is possibly the best in Aussie Rugby for many years!

Brandon and Folau have played against each other at school and Shute Shield level for many years, adding Super Rugby to that mix in Round Eight this year in Canberra, but this week has been the first time that they’ve been in the same squad as one another.

At this time last year, neither had played Super Rugby or had contracts, but as they told Tom Decent of the Sydney Morning Herald, the two made a Wallabies pact in an Armidale pub after playing an NRC match against each other for the NSW Country Eagles and Canberra Vikings.

“Bro, next year we’re going to give it a red-hot crack’,” Paenga-Amosa told Fainga’a. “Let’s try and be in the Wallabies this time next year.”

Faingaa was immediately on board: “The convo was just like: ‘next year has to be our year’. I grabbed him at the same time and said we need to go hard next year because something might come up.”

Before signing their professional deals, they were both subjected to 4am wake-ups every day to earn a living as garbage collectors alongside one another in Southern Sydney, something that they’re happy to have left in the past.

“I kind of enjoyed being a garbo, you meet some interesting characters and you work with some real good guys,” Paenga-Amosa said. "The 4am wake-ups every single morning, the hard yakka throughout the day, digging holes underneath the hot sun, it really drove me to want to come a professional Rugby player and be the best man I can.

“I didn’t like labouring and digging holes for hours and hours (though). That sucked. I pulled my back out here and there and then had to go to Rugby training with a sore back. I didn’t like that too much.”  

“That smell in the morning and when it’s hot in the arvo … I could barely put up with it," Fainga’a said.

Click here to read the full story.

3. Timu’s remarkable journey to Test level

Queensland Reds star Caleb Timu has packed plenty into his 24 years, and as he prepares to make his Test debut this weekend he told Fox Sports’ Sam Worthington a little bit about his journey to this point including a stint in Rugby League and two years away from sport on a Mormon mission.

“I was at the Broncos out of high school, there for a couple of years in their 20s system. I learned a whole lot there and was blessed to play Origin 20s and be in a few of those rep teams which I learned a lot from.

“I went on mission for two years, no Rugby at all, nothing, so I had to come back and train a lot to get in shape for Broncos preseason. I was there for about half a year until I got a contract at the Reds and moved across.

“After my injury (a ruptured ACL at training almost immediately after singing for the Reds in 2016), it’s been a bit of an uphill battle, a rollercoaster. But to be here, where I am today, those things have helped shape who I am, helped me work even harder to be the best I can be, and to play at the highest level.”

Speaking about his mission, Caleb said that the decision to put professional sport on the backburner for religious reasons was a no brainer.

“For two years you’re pretty much fully dedicated to serving the Lord and doing missionary work where you teach people, you walk the streets seeking those that are willing to learn about Jesus Christ and his church,” Timu said.

“And so I was posted around New Zealand, I went to the Cook Islands — and I think that helped me a lot, helped build the person I am today, through the experience of fully committing myself to my faith.

“My faith and family are obviously most important but I’m blessed to do what I love and to turn up every day doing something that makes me happy.”

Click here to read the full story.

4. Genia conscious of Irish threats

The Irish head into this Test on the back of twelve consecutive Test wins and placed higher on the world rankings than ever before in second.

There’s zero chance of the Australians taking them lightly, however scrumhalf Will Genia admitted to the Courier Mail’s Jim Tucker that it hasn’t always been the case. Back in 2011, at the Rugby World Cup, Will was a key member of the Wallabies side who were defeated 15-6 at Auckland’s Eden Park.

“When I look back, we probably underestimated them going into that game which is pretty disrespectful and taught us a lesson,” Genia said. “I was probably ignorant (to Ireland’s strengths) back then but there’s no chance of us underestimating them this week.

“They are No.2 in the world (Australia is down to No.4) but it’s more the level of Rugby they are playing. Whether it’s just them winning (more), extra social media or more interest, our guys just know more about the Sextons, the Murrays, the impacts of their big players.”

The big Irish asset is having a shrewd game “they understand really well”, according to Genia, and the patience that set up a winning field goal with 41 phases in Paris in February. “It’s all about attrition for them,” Genia said. “They like holding the ball, building phases, building pressure and then they’ve got Sexton sitting back plugging the ball to the corners or Murray with his box kicks.”

Click here to read the full story.

5. Hooper enjoying the best seat in the house

He gets a front-row seat to watch Israel Folau in action during the Super Rugby season, and Wallabies and Waratahs Captain Michael Hooper is certainly enjoying it. Speaking with The Australian’s Wayne Smith, Hooper mentioned he has been delighted with the form of the three Waratahs teammates who will control much of what happens in the Australian backline on Saturday; Bernard Foley, Kurtley Beale and Folau.

“They’ve been really keen to step up to that and been really consistent in whatever game is put in front of them, whether it be free flowing or one that is really tight,” he said. “Been really impressed with their development as players, game management-wise as well. “And Izzy, he is in some of the best form I have ever seen him in. That’s very helpful as well. It is enjoyable to be part of that at the moment.”

Click here to read the full story.

And now, for an exclusive tip from our friends at Taylors Wines, and this week they’re saying “Here’s to good taste…”

Move the wine all around your mouth, coating your tongue and mouth. Wine tasting is a different experience for every part of your mouth. Sweetness gives a warm feeling on the tip of your tongue, while acids cause a sharp ‘pulling’ feeling on the sides of the tongue towards the front. 

Tannin grips the side of the tongue at the back, while the alcohol content presents itself as a hot feeling at the rear of your mouth near the throat and back of the tongue. One of the most exciting parts about tasting wine is just how many different flavours there are. At first a wine may appear to contain just one or two dominant flavours but probe a little deeper and you’ll detect more and more layers of flavour and aromas. This is what can often make a good wine great.

07.06.18
Pete Fairbairn
Communications Manager
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