We’re back again with this week’s best interviews with players ahead of Round Four of Super Rugby, and as this is brought to you by RUPA’s Official Wine Partner, Taylors Wines, we’ve even got a great wine tip from the experts themselves at the bottom of the article.
This week starts off for the Aussie teams in Melbourne, where the Rebels host the Brumbies (7:45pm AEDT Friday) as they look to cement their spot at the top of the Conference while the visitors look to hit back following last week’s defeat in Brisbane.
On Saturday night, the Reds host the Bulls at Suncorp Stadium (7:45pm), the first time that the team from Pretoria have visited Brisbane since 2013, while the Bulls haven’t won in Brisbane since 2004!
On the other side of the equator, the Waratahs are the last Australian team in action when they face the Jaguares in Argentina at 8:40am on Sunday morning, while the Australian Men’s Rugby Sevens team are in a tough pool at the Vancouver Sevens. Their pool games are at 6:42am (Canada), 10:14am (Uruguay) and 2:08pm (United States), before Cup Finals kick off from 5:08am Monday, with the Cup Final at 12:19pm.
Click here for full list of Round Four Super Rugby fixtures.
Click here for the full Vancouver Sevens schedule.
1. Robbo pays the backs a compliment
It’s not very often that front rowers pay compliments to the backs, but credit to Waratahs star Tom Robertson. As he spoke to Tom Decent from Argentina, he gave mad props (get it?) to the boys from number 9 upwards…
“We’ve got the best back line in the competition in my opinion, so if we can get them the ball they will do the rest of the damage,” Robertson said.
“It’s up to us to set a good platform. The Argentinians love their scrums so we’re definitely expecting a big battle up front there. We’re trying to do our own thing and scrummage the way we want to scrummage. We don’t really take any consideration of what they do.”
Click here to read the full story, including the team’s response to the dramatic draw in Durban last weekend.
2. Time in Japan changes Debba for the better
It’s new areas for the Taylors Top 5 this weekend as we feature a player on a podcast for the first time, as Rebels flyhalf Jack Debreczeni joined Nick McCardle, Christy Doran and Sam Worthington on the Fox Sports podcast.
Debreczeni left the Rebels at the end of last year for a stint in japan with the Honda Heat, and thpught his time in Melbourne was down, however an SOS from David Wessels saw him return and he has starred in his side’s opening two Super Rugby matches. That time away helped him to fall back in love with the game, and to up his skillset in a few other areas…
“I found my six months in Japan really good for me, both on and off the field,” Debreczeni said. “Living in a foreign country by myself I found I had to mature a lot, especially off the field. I was doing a lot of chores for the first time, worrying about bills and all that sort of stuff, but I think it helped me to grow up a bit and appreciate things in life.
“On the field I got to play with a group of guys who worked during the day and then trained with us in the afternoon and played on weekends, and you could just see the love for the game that they had.
“It took me back to playing in the school days, or Club footy for the first time, where you are just playing for the love of it and there aren’t any external pressures put onto you. It made me grateful for the opportunities that I’ve had so far, and the love for the game and excitement came back a little bit.
“It was the six months I needed over there to get away from Australian Rugby, and enjoy a different type of culture and lifestyle.”
Click here to listen to the full podcast, which also features former Wallaby star Drew Mitchell.
3. Lolo and his ‘Daddy Duties’
Backrower Lolo Fakaosilea has been named in the Brumbies’ starting side for the game in Melbourne this week, the third person to wear the number 7 jersey in as many weeks after Rob Valetini and Tom Cusack.
With Lolo’s housemate Valetini out for an extended period of time with a serious knee injury, Lolo has designs on locking the jersey down for as long as possible. This week, he is joined in the 23 by his other housemate in potential debutant Folau Fainga’a, and Chris Dutton from the Canberra Times found out how things go in the household which also (and importantly!) includes Fakaosilea’s partner and daughter Miah.
“Folau was a bit nervous on Tuesday night; he didn't get to sleep until 1.30am," Fakaosilea told Dutton. "I guess I've got another two young fellas living with me. We've taken them in under our wings. It's good for them and myself. It's an extra hand around the house and we're very grateful Jess is there for us.
"She gets dinner ready after we've been flogged at training. We're just like a big family. Robbie is the messiest, and that's including Miah. Rob sleeps with no bed sheets because he can't be bothered putting new ones on."
The one rule in the Fakaosilea house is no Rugby talk when you walk through the front door, but speaking about this week’s match it is clear Lolo is excited for his chance to shine.
"I think it's time for me to put my foot down and claim the starting jersey, and hang on to it," Fakaosilea said. "The past few months I've been working on my ball carry, just trying to improve on every element of my game. I want to be on the ball [at the breakdown], physical in defence and a tough ball carrier. It's a great opportunity for me to put my hand up, I've got to make the most of it.”
Click here to read the full story.
4. Cool-hand Will at home in Melbourne
Melbourne Rebels and Wallaby scrumhalf Will Genia has openly admitted on many occasions that it was always his preference to return to the Queensland Reds for the 2018 season, however with the team he played over 100 Super Rugby matches for unable to fit him in their squad he has instead traded Paris for Melbourne.
That being said, as he told Iain Payten in today’s Daily Telegraph, life in his new home isn’t bad at all and he’s enjoying working with new Coach David Wessels for the first time.
“Dave is right up there. He drives the intensity home. He reminds me a lot of someone like Eddie Jones or someone like Cheik as well.
“I like Melbourne, I am in a good place…. even more than I expected to be. The reason why I’m really enjoying myself is that it is a really good bunch of people to be a part of. It’s a great group. There are no egos or guys who are too big for the group. Just a good bunch of people who want to work hard.
“It’s a group with a positive attitude who want to do well, and I am loving being part of that and part of that vibe.”
“We want to win,” Genia continued. “I want to win. I didn’t come here thinking we would be a mediocre team and you’d just take your pay cheque. I am here because I want to make a difference and win rugby games. Wherever that takes us in the competition as far as success goes, we’ll see.”
Click here to read the full story, including details around that new haircut!
5. Isi going to prove a point?
Finally this week, we turn to 2017 RUPA Medal For Excellence winner Isi Naisarani. The former Western Force star had to choose where to move when his side was axed at the end of last season, and though he had offers from every Australian Super Rugby club he wasted no time signing with the Brumbies.
“The culture here is very good, everyone is really good mates and there are heaps of Wallabies here and that's why I chose the Brumbies," Naisarani told Chris Dutton and Eamonn Tiernan of the Canberra Times. "It's a really good program and a lot of the guys playing for the Wallabies now have come through the Brumbies pathway.
"Yes [I got offers from every club] but the Brumbies were the best choice for me."
Not only did he sign, but he also convinced some teammates to trade Perth for Canberra at the same time!
"I was the first player to sign out from the Western Force and Chance and Richie just wanted to follow me, that's why they're here," Naisarani said. "But no I don't think about [expectations]. I just want to keep doing what I'm doing and play hard and aggressive. The goal is to win a Super Rugby final."
Click here to read the full story, including Rebels’ Coach Dave Wessels’ thoughts on his former charge.
And now, for an exclusive tip from our friends at Taylors Wines, and this week we’re talking pouring…
To taste a wine at its best, make sure it’s served at the right temperature. You’ll taste more flavour in a wine that’s slightly warmer – even whites shouldn’t be chilled too much, or you’ll lose some of the more subtle accents.
Pour about half a glass. This will allow the aroma of the wine to fill the rest of the glass and prevent any spilling when you swirl the wine in the glass. Hold the glass by the stem or base - not the bowl - to stop your body temperature effecting the temperature of the wine.