Taylors Wines Top 5: Bledisloe 1, 2018
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By Pete Fairbairn, 17.08.18

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), and this week the wait is finally over!

It’s finally here – the game we’ve been counting down to for 300 days! That’s when the Wallabies last played the All Blacks, coming up trumps 23-18 in the third Bledisloe Cup match of 2018, albeit with the trophy already back in New Zealand.

This year, the three Tests will take place in Sydney, Auckland and Yokohama, and a win tomorrow night at ANZ Stadium would absolutely set the men in gold on their way to securing the trophy for the first time in fifteen years – to say we’re excited would be an understatement!

In a huge boost for women’s sport in Australia, the Wallaroos will also take on the Black Ferns in a double header immediately before the Bledisloe Cup, with the Australian women to receive a match payment for the first time ever.

This is hugely important in recognising the commitment and sacrifices these women constantly make to represent their country, and was achieved as part of 2017’s Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations between Rugby Australia and RUPA.

Tickets remain on sale here, with both matches to be broadcast live on Fox Sports 501 from 5:00pm (AEST) onwards; on free-to-air television, Network 10 will broadcast just the men’s match, their coverage beginning at 7pm.

In Perth, the Western Force take on Panasonic Wild Knights on Friday night in the final match of their inaugural World Series Rugby campaign; that game will be live on Fox Sports 503 from 8:30pm (AEST) and delayed nationwide on 7Mate at 11:00pm. There are five Australians in the Wild Knights’ side, including Wallabies Berrick Barnes and Dan Heenan, while the Force lineup sees the return of exciting flyhalf Andrew Deegan.

At Club level this weekend, there are Grand Finals on Saturday in Canberra (Royals vs. Vikings) and Melbourne (Harlequin vs. Melbourne Unicorns, live stream on the Rugby Victoria Facebook page 3:00pm Saturday), with the Queensland Premier Rugby Grand Final to be shown LIVE at 3:00pm on Sunday on Fox Sports 507.

Finals fever also hits Sydney’s Shute Shield, with Warringah and Manly clashing in a Qualifying Final live on 7Two at 3:00pm on Saturday (replayed at 10:10pm on Fox Sports 501) and Northern Suburbs taking on Eastwood live on 7Two at 3:00pm Sunday (replayed at 9:00pm on Fox Sports 501). Minor premiers Sydney Uni take on Eastern Suburbs in the other match.

Club Ruby Finals action also kicks off in Perth this weekend, while as always, the latest episode of Rugby Union South Australia will air at 3:30pm Sunday on NITV.

1. Izzy determined to leave a legacy

He's one of the most exciting players to ever wear a Wallabies jersey, and while he hasn't yet been part of a successful Bledisloe Cup campaign there's no doubt in Israel Folau's mind that he has the opportunity to help inspire the next generation of Wallabies.

Speaking with Christy Doran for Fox Sports, Folau said he felt a responsibility to deliver whenever he wore the gold jersey.

“Any team I am a part of, any time I get the opportunity to put on the jersey for that team, I always want to give the best I can,” Folau said. “Everyone is watching and kids aspire to be in that position.

“I just want to be the best I can every time I get the opportunity. That’s the way I think going into every game. You want to leave something behind for the current players and for the players to come.”

Israel is acutely aware of what it would mean if the Wallabies could claim back the Bledisloe Cup for the first time in fifteen years.

“Not only (would a Bledisloe be the icing on the cake) for myself but the rest of the squad and Wallabies fans in general. It’s been a pretty tough time when it comes to this time of year.

“It’s something as players you really get sick of, being on the losing end of things. If we could win the Bledisloe back it will give not only the team great confidence but Australian rugby, as a whole, a great boost into backing the game in Australia.”

Click here to read the full story.

2. Matt making most of unexpected opportunity

It's fairly unchartered territory for a player to feature in the Taylors Wines Top 5 two weeks in a row, but we are that excited to have Matt Toomua back in Australian colours that his chat with the Daily Telegraph's Julian Linden simply needed to be included.

Toomua was overseas and didn't feature last year as the All Blacks shot out to a big lead in the corresponding fixture, and it turns out he didn't even watch the first half live!

“I was on a driver education course because I got done for going through a red light so I missed the first half,” he admitted. “I ended up watching it later, it was horrible.”

Although he wasn’t part of that team, Matt still feels an obligation to make amends for the rotten performances the Wallabies have produced in front of their most loyal supporters in recent years.

“That wasn’t a great night for a lot of people. The year before wasn’t either, so we’ve got a little bit to play for,” he said. “I think we owe the Sydney crowd something as well. Unfortunately we haven’t gone well here for a little while.”

Toomua’s recollection of the last Bledisloe Cup match he played in is even foggier; he lasted only a few minutes as a replacement before going off with a concussion.

“I thought it was my last Test. I’m glad hopefully it isn’t,” he said. “Hopefully I get a chance to write a nicer ending or a bit more fitting ending from a selfish point of view.”

Click here to read the full story.

3. Clough counting on home ground advantage to help Wallaroos

The Wallaroos are well aware that they hold underdog status as they go up against the world champion Black Ferns, but playing at ANZ Stadium for the first time represents a unique opportunity for them.

Speaking with Sarah Friend from Rugby.com.au, star lock Rebecca Clough said that the value of this year's inaugural Super W competition and increased preparation time have both been integral in the team's preparation.

“We’ve been preparing for the last few months, Super W set a really good platform and we’ve been working our butts off, so this is just exciting, and we just want to play now,” Clough said.

“Each year camps are getting bigger, longer, the quality of coaching and quality of the girls is stepping up. The prep that we had even before coming into camp has been unreal, nothing like we’ve ever had before.”

Clough, who is veteran of three Wallaroo World Cup campaigns, believes history can be written - in more ways than one.

“The Black Ferns, their number one for a reason. They’ve got everything to lose though and we’ve got nothing to lose," Clough said. "They're just flesh and bone just like we are, and we’ve got a huge point to prove.

“We’ve been working on so much these past few days, a lot of execution, skill execution, speed and it’s all coming together. We’re really gelling together really nicely. We know we’re better than sixth in the world at the moment, so we’re really excited.”

Click here to read the full story.

4. Foley - defence the key

Australia’s hopes of winning back the Bledisloe Cup for the first time in 16 years rests with their ability to hold New Zealand to 20 points or fewer; recent history shows that if the Wallabies can contain the All Blacks to less than three converted tries they will win.

Speaking with Jamie Pandaram, flyhalf Bernard Foley highlighted the importance of restricting the Kiwis’ scintillating attack.

“These games come down to defence, it’s not how many points you can score, it’s how much you restrict them to,” Foley said. “That’s something we learnt throughout the June series (against Ireland). I always back our attack when our defence is solid, when we’re able to halt momentum.

“I have no dilemmas in the quality of our attacking plays. It’s more in our defence and our mindset there.”

One of the keys to shutting down the All Blacks will be to pressure their five-eighth, Beauden Barrett, and Foley indicated Australia’s forwards led by David Pocock will be racing up to shut him down.

“You don’t want to give him time and space,” Foley said. “He’s definitely an attacking player. He always has that attacking mindset. I don’t think you can say that he’s a conservative 10. “He’s one who’ll chance his hand and someone you have to try to shut down earlier because you’ll struggle later.”

Australia won the last Test between the two nations last October 23-18, producing a memorable defensive display in the final moments as New Zealand surged at their line before coughing the ball up under pressure after the siren.

“I have been a part of a couple of games where they have stolen right at the death,” Foley said. “But it just comes back to being assured of what we’re doing, guys backing their role, doing their job for the full 80 minutes. They’re such a quality side that every game goes down to those 80 minutes. Whether you’ve got a lead or you’re losing, you’ve got to stay on the task til the 80th minute because it does become game-defining or even series-defining, especially to the last whistle.”

Click here to read the full story.

5. Will says why not wear it?

When the Wallabies' first ever Indigenous jersey was launched last year, it was rightly lauded as something that meant so much to so many (as well as looking quite outstanding in the process!).

Speaking with Georgina Robinson, Wallaby scrumhalf Will Genia suggested that he sees no reason why it shouldn't be the permanent Australian jersey.

"I'd love to wear it all the time," Genia said. "I'm not the boss but I certainly think that it's something that they should think about, because it's a representation of all our cultures and I think that part should be emphasised as much as any other part.

"It's Australian. Being Australian [means] we all come from different lands but we call this place home. That's why I think it's important. We probably shouldn't refer to it as the Indigenous jersey, it should be just the Australian jersey in a sense, because we're all Australian."

The Wallabies have worn the jersey only once, in their Bledisloe Cup Test win against the All Blacks last October in Brisbane, and will apparently wear it this year at home in either the Springboks match in Brisbane on September 8 or the Pumas clash on the Gold Coast on September 15.

Genia said the jersey and the Wallabies' multicultural make-up was their version of the haka, the Maori war dance the All Blacks perform after the anthems at every Test.

"I love it (the haka). It's just an expression of their culture," Genia said. "People can say it's over-commercialised but they don't do it for a commercial purpose. They do it because it's something that's important to them in terms of their culture. From our perspective, we have an incredible amount of respect for it."

In a nine-year, 90-Test career in the gold jersey, Genia has played 22 matches against New Zealand for only three wins. He made his debut seven years into Australia's current Bledisloe Cup drought and on Monday revealed he considers winning it more important than a World Cup.

"I haven't won a World Cup so I'm not going to say it's harder but I will say that for me it's the No.1 priority," Genia said.

"Just because they're the best team in the world for the last 15, 20 years, back-to-back World Cup winners, you have to beat them two times out of three to win that trophy, so for me that makes it incredibly difficult and also will make it incredibly special if we are fortunate enough to do it."

Click here to read the full story.

And now, for an exclusive tip from our friends at Taylors Wines, and this week we’re talking about the flavour characteristics of individual grape varietals…

Specific grapes have particular flavours and aromas, which they impart to the finished wine. But climate, region and winemaking technique can also affect the palate of a particular grape varietal.

A Riesling from the Clare Valley, for instance, will probably taste quite different from one grown in Margaret River or Germany. Nevertheless, here are a few key flavours and aromas you might notice in some of the more popular grape varietals.

RIESLING: Green apple, lemon, lime, citrus, musk, rose petal

SAUVIGNON BLANC: Gooseberry, capsicum, lemon, grapefruit, passionfruit, asparagus, lime, melon

CHARDONNAY: Melon, peach, nectarine, butterscotch, caramel, cashew, toast

CABERNET SAUVIGNON: Blackcurrant, cassis, mint, cedar, berries, tobacco leaf

MERLOT: Violets, raspberry, blackberry, musk, cinnamon, stewed plums

SHIRAZ: Plum, pepper, black cherry, blueberry, aniseed, liquorice

Click here to head to the Taylors Wines website (18+ only).

17.08.18
Pete Fairbairn
Communications Manager
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