The Taylors Wines Top 5, brought to you by RUPA’s Official Wine Partner Taylors Wines, brings to you five of the best Australian Rugby interviews in the media this week.
This week in Super Rugby, the Reds are the first Australian team in action (Friday 5:35pm AEST) as they come up against Auckland's Blues in Apia, with Super Rugby heading to Samoa for the very first time.
The Waratahs are next, as they visit Hamilton to face the Chiefs on Saturday at 3:05pm, before the Brumbies and Rebels clash in Canberra at 7:45pm. Finally, the Western Force complete the Saturday triple-header as they host the Hurricanes at 9:55pm.
At the World Rugby U20s Championships in Georgia, Australia play their second pool match against Samoa at 9:30pm on Sunday, before finalising the pool stages against England at 2:30am ono Friday June 9th; all games can be streamed live at worldrugby.org.
1. A completely different ball game
We start this week in Georgia, where Australian Men's Rugby Sevens young guns Simon Kennewell, Henry Hutchison and Liam McNamara are transitioning back into the XV-a-side game for the first time in quite a while.
Speaking before Australia's impressive first up win against Wales, where the trio all started in he backline, Kennewell told Rugby.com.au's Sam Phillips how hard he's worked to be ready to return to the game's traditional format.
"The transition, it was tough early but we've got a good bunch of boys here that have helped me learn the patterns and the structures," he said.
"That's been very helpful.
"I've watched a lot of training footage to get my head around what we are doing here but sometimes I've had to slow down to think things over again to adjust to the 15s format."
2. Grant not keen to leave Perth
As the uncertainty surrounding the future of Super Rugby heads beyond the 50-day mark, some players continue to be left in limbo despite the recent lifting of the contracting moratorium.
On of those is in-form veteran Western Force pivot Peter Grant, whose recent renaissance in form has him thinking about next season; as long as the Force remain in the competition.
"When you're not playing, you feel like the cobwebs set in. And it was hard to mentally get up," Grant told Justin Chadwick of the opening rounds of the season. "I thought, 'Jeepers, is my time over?
"But I feel like the bug has bitten me again. I've been excited, and it's so good to be back on the park again and playing good rugby. I'd love to stay playing Super Rugby next year with the Western Force. This is where I want to be, and (coach) Dave (Wessels) knows that as well.
"I love Perth. I've really enjoyed my time here. My family is very comfortable enjoying it here. I'd hate to leave. I might have to go into early retirement if the Force are cut."
3. 12 months on, disbelief turns to relief
When he was called up to the Wallabies squad for the first time last year, Brumbies scrumhalf Joe Powell was a genuine bolter and he thought somebody was having him on.
Fast forward to this year, and with the form he's been in he's been half-expecting the call-up; so much so that when Michael Cheika called his name out on Fox Sports' Kick + Chase, his overwhelming first response was simply relief.
"I think everyone was geeing me up for a while saying I was going to be in it," Powell told Chris Dutton. "It would have been a bit embarrassing if I didn't get there so it was definitely a relief [to be picked]. I'd like to see myself on the bench for one of the three [Tests], hopefully I get a run at some point. It will just be about getting into camp and seeing how combinations work."
4. Dane determined to make most of his 'luck'
It's been a frustrating 2017 Super Rugby campaign for Dane Haylett-Petty, with a hamstring injury keeping him sidelined for a number of weeks, but after being named in the Wallabies squad and nearing a return to full fitness he's excited to get back out on the paddock.
“Obviously I’m feeling a bit lucky considering I’ve missed the past six weeks,” Haylett-Petty said. “I’m excited about getting back in the squad. I really enjoyed the environment last year.
“This weekend is going to be crucial to get a run under my belt. And from there, who knows what will happen. Hopefully I can train well and put myself into contention. There’s some very talented outside backs in that squad who have been playing really well this season.”
Haylett-Petty is delighted for teammate Richard Hardwick, called up for the Wallabies for the first time.
He’s another West Australian,” Haylett-Petty said. "It just shows the pathway is really working. He’s had a great year, and he’s got a lot of growth left in him. This will be his first taste of it, and hopefully he can get a game and kick-start his international career.”
5. Leaving it out on the field
Finally back to Brisbane, where Wallabies skipper and Reds star Stephen Moore is enjoying a week off from Super Rugby while his teammates are in Samoa. It's not been a holiday for Moore, however, and earlier this week he fronted the media and was asked about the tension between his side and the Force last Friday, specifically a scuffle which broke out between him and Test teammate Adam Coleman.
"It'll be fine. I'm sure we'll have a joke about it," Moore told AAP. "There will be nothing carried over there, I'm a firm believer in that. You just leave it out there and everyone gives what they've got. Both teams play the game right on the boundaries and that's what you want."
If anything, Moore said the incident showed why the abrasive, aggressive Coleman - arguably the form lock in Australian rugby - is such an important player for the Wallabies.
"That's the power of those local derbies," he said. "When you go toe-to-toe in those games, you carry that forward into the Wallabies and you feel like you've got players around you that are going to get stuck in. That's what we need. That physical part of it is absolutely key. You look at the teams we're playing in June and it's going to be really important that we front up in that area."
And finally, for this week's Taylors Wines bonus tip...
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