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)!
It all comes down to the third and final Test between Ireland and the Wallabies at Allianz Stadium this weekend, after the tourists hit back to take the 2nd Test in Melbourne. Wil Genia’s broken arm will keep him out of the action, with the game kicking off at 8pm AEST Saturday (live on FOX Sports and Network Ten).
The Western Force are also back in World Series Rugby action, taking on New Zealand’s Crusaders in Perth at 8:30pm live on Fox Sports
Click here to see the full list of mid-year internationals around the world.
1. Fanga prepared to step up in Will’s absence
The broken arm suffered by Genia in last week’s second Test is undoubtedly a blow for the Wallabies, with the Melbourne Rebels scrumhalf in exceptional form so far this year, but in Waratahs nine Nick Phipps there is an experienced and more than capable replacement ready to go.
Phipps has represented his country on 59 occasions, and despite a challenging year which has seen him miss the start of the Super Rugby season with a calf injury and be disciplined for a public indiscretion, he told Jamie Pandaram that he is mentally prepared to step into the void and steer his side to victory.
“I know full well that I’ve always prepared in case something happened like that,” he said.
“Everyone in the squad here, they’re all ready to make sure that if something happens they’re ready to go straight in. I’ve actually really enjoyed my role in the last few years working with Willy, knowing that my role off the bench is like an impact 20 [minutes], and being able to work really hard with the boys in the second squad and drive the culture of the group.
“Now it’s not too much of a mental shift. I’ll be having the keys early and taking charge earlier.”
Reflecting on the year, Phipps said he was always confident he’d bounce back from last month’s controversy.
“The boys know who I am, they were all around me, and the coaching staff, the people in charge at the Tahs, they’ve always been fully supportive of me,” Phipps said. “I really don’t think it’s as big a thing as it was at the time, it was just a bloke being silly on his buck’s party.
“It’s nothing that really affected me too much, it was one of those things where you’ve got to keep your head down and behave, and don’t let it get to you.
“There’s more important things to worry about than something like that.”
Click here to read the full story, including his thoughts on the world class backline he’ll be feeding.
2. Lukhan humbled to return to Second Grade
It’s been quite a few weeks for Wallabies utility forward Lukhan Tui, who came off the bench to great effect in the first two Tests after a campaign affected by injury at Queensland level and will start in the 3rd Test this Saturday.
Part of that comeback saw him play half a game for Souths second grade in Queensland Rugby, needing the match fitness but with his Premier Grade side out of action with a bye.
Tui told Iain Payten that it was an unforgettable experience, and one that people are still talking about in Brisbane!
“They knew straight away who I was. It kind of reminded me of when I was playing Rugby league out here in west Sydney, there were a lot of Poly boys there. I knew going into the game the guys wanted to smash me, and mate, they got me good. One young guy, I got smacked.”
Tui got smacked so good the video is still doing the rounds in Brisbane (and can be seen in the video player of the article)!
“He got me good. He got up and he was laughing and I said: ‘you got me good, bro’,” Tui said. “It was humbling to go back and play that level. I reckon it done me a world of good leading into the Tests.
“A lot of people might say that’s rubbish but to go back and play park footy against those boys, personally, for myself it prepped me up really well. I went into the next week feeling ready.”
A decider at a sold-out Allianz Stadium is a long way from Meakin Park just three weeks later, but not in Tui’s mind.
“It was only a mindset thing really. Coming back into Test footy from club Rugby, nothing changed for me,” Tui said. “I just carried my game into a different environment. You have to be physical, no matter where you are. It’s footy. You can’t be half-hearted.”
Click here to read the full story.
3. Sio pens a letter
Wallabies loosehead prop Scott Sio’s Dad played International Rugby for Samoa, including the 1991 Rugby World Cup which saw them shock the world to defeat Wales, so it was only natural that Scott would follow in his father’s footsteps.
In this piece for Exclusive Insight, Sio explains how he has always looked up to his Dad, and everything he achieved.
“I always get asked – Was it a life-long ambition to follow your Dad’s footsteps into Rugby?” Sio wrote. “I guess being so close with my family, I grew up wanting to emulate everything that my Dad did.
“I naturally gravitated and fell in love with Rugby and luckily enough to this day I have had the opportunity to make it a career. So I think as a kid life the dream was there, but as I grew little bit older that dream began to foster and come into fruition.
“Like he always says, “lucky we loved Rugby”, it was easy for me to share the same passion as us for it as well. Dad always supported my family and I in everything we did, no matter what we wanted to do.
“All he asked was that we approached all things we the same passion he displayed for Rugby. We played a bit of league as well when I was younger, but I guess I just loved everything about Rugby and the fact that anyone could play it.”
Sio talks about his transition from the back row, injury battles in recent years and the importance of preparation as well; click here to read the full story.
4. Hooper happy to experiment with report system
One of the biggest stories of the past week was across the Tasman, where a red card for France fullback Benjamin Fall changed the shape of their second June Test against the All Blacks.
In the aftermath, New Zealand coach Steve Hansen floated the introduction of a reporting system, similar to Rugby league, after Fall’s card was ultimately rescinded earlier this week.
Speaking with Beth Newman, Wallabies captain Michael Hooper says he’d be open to a trial of a reports system in Rugby, though admitted it would be a big change for the code. Hooper said he would welcome a trial of the Rugby league-like system, and said it could help reduce the pressure on referees to make a snap decision on a particular incident.
“I'm not opposed to it at all,” he said. “I think it could be a good thing, maybe something to trial and maybe take a leaf out of Rugby league's book there.
“It's obviously a thing that's going to (cause) change because it hasn't been like that for a long time but it'd be interesting to see how it goes.
“The tough thing with review, as always, and the heat of the moment is your slow-mos and what happens and actually breaking down why things happen.
“That's where a review system could be important.”
Hooper said no matter what system was relied on, player safety had to be the first concern.
“I think player welfare is at the peak of this and that should be paramount for everything, with largely red cards, it's usually due to that sort of thing,” he said.
“It's probably for a longer chat to really break it down but player safety is at the top and if that can help that, then I'm for it.”
Click here to read the full story, including Sekope Kepu & Stephen Larkham’s thoughts on the issue.
5. Marika reveals details of his childhood
Whilst the Wallabies didn’t get the result that they were after in Melbourne last week, it will forever remain a very special Test match for Marika Koroibete; it was the first time his parents, who travelled from Fiji, had ever seen him play professional Rugby.
Marika’s story and upbringing is quite remarkable, as detailed in this piece for The Players’ Voice, where he also talks about what being a Wallaby means to him.
“I hadn’t played or watched Rugby league, then I came to Australia and played for Wests Tigers and then Melbourne Storm. Everyone in Sydney, they grow up dreaming of playing NRL. For me to play without growing up watching or playing the game, I’m proud of that.
“I love Rugby, so to get an offer from the Rebels, of course I wanted to play. Now I’m lucky enough to be selected for the Australian team. The kids back home, ask them if they want to play for Fiji or Australia and they all say, ‘Australia of course.’ Because they’re on top of the world, we always look up to Australia.
“To come this far, it’s an honour, I’m very proud. I’ve got my Wallabies cap at home, I’ll get it framed up with my debut jersey. It’s something I’ll take with me everywhere. All the hard work, it’s all in there. That’s something you never forget.”
And now, for an exclusive tip from our friends at Taylors Wines, and this week they’re teaching you about temperature…
It is quite normal for the majority of people to serve their wine without really thinking about the temperature of it. The red is served straight from the shelf or storage area at room temperature, and the white is served completely cold straight from the fridge.
However, just as you wouldn't enjoy a lukewarm cup of tea compared to a hot one, it is a lot more enjoyable to drink wine at the optimum temperature. While it is true that red wine should be served at a warmer temperature than white wine, there isn't really any truth to the notion of serving it at room temperature.
And although white wine is delicious when it is chilled, it shouldn't actually be consumed too cold!