The Taylors Wines Top 5, brought to you by RUPA’s Official Wine Partner Taylors Wines, brings to you five of the best interviews with current Australian professional players in the media this week.
This week in Super Rugby, the Melbourne Rebels and NSW Waratahs fight it out for the Weary Dunlop Shield in Melbourne on Friday night at 7:45pm (AEDST), with the Western Force playing the Crusaders in Christchurch immediately prior at 5:35pm (AEDST) . The Brumbies host the Highlanders in Canberra on Saturday night at 7:45pm as the Australian conference leaders look for a third straight win, while the Reds are the first ever Australian team to visit Argentina as they face the Jaguares on Sunday morning at 8:40am (AEDST).
1. Willing and Abel
Brumbies hooker Robbie Abel has certainly played the long game in Super Rugby, making his debut for the Canberra sied last year at the age of 26 after spending two years in Perth with the Western Force.
He's made a real impact of the bench this year, scoring two tries already, and with Josh Mann-Rea injured he gets his irst ever Super Rugby start this Saturday against the Highlanders; and he's confident he's ready to go.
"For sure. You build a lot of confidence through pre-season and through the trial games and through all the time you spend at training to take into the game, so it's good to just build confidence on top of the confidence," Abel said.
2. Hometown hero pleads for Rebels' retention
Melbourne Rebels prop Fereti Sa'aga is the latest in a spate of local talent to break through for the Club, and the former Australian U20s star has urged the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) to ensure the Rebels remain in the competition, following his first Super Rugby start on the weekend.
“I still remember when Stirling Mortlock and the boys came to town and they said there was going to be a Rebels team. I was stoked,” Sa’aga said. “I realised then that there would be an opportunity for me here, rather than having to move elsewhere.
“I grew up with Rob Leota. We’ve always talked about one day playing for the Rebels. It’s just crazy, we’re doing it now. And hopefully we’re here to stay. That’s our main thing, so that we can pave the way for young boys who are keen to play professional rugby in their own city. “If we do get cut, it’s really going to take away from the amount of talent that comes out of here.
“There is talent here.”
3. Veteran star readies himself for return
Matt Hodgson has been synonymous with the Western Force since the Club's inception, and this week he returns from injury to make his first appearance for the season against the Crusaders in Christchurch. The 35-year-old has felt a sense of freedom since relinquishing the captaincy at the end of last season, and he’s looking forward to producing a strong campaign for the Force. But will it be his final season?
“These next three weeks are pretty important for me,” Hodgson said. “In the next bye, I’ll probably sit down and have a chat to my family, and the club, and see where my head’s at. The body’s ready to go. It’s just whether the head’s going to be in it.
“I want to finish on a good note. I don’t want to linger around. I’m playing each game and each block as it comes.”
4. Bernard takes a cautious approach
While we're all thrilled to see Bernard Foley named to return from concussion this weekend as the Waratahs head to Melbourne, the Wallaby star and RUPA Board Member has explained to AAP's Darren Walton just how significantly his head knock had affected him.
"It’s quite a scary injury in that blokes can get knocked and not come back from it,” the 27-year-old said .“They can be innocuous or they can be the prone knockout. No-one really knows about this issue.
“There’s no deadline or guideline as to how long before you’re going to be back. That was probably the frustrating thing. The things that were lingering,” Foley said. “Head injuries are something very serious and something very relevant at the moment, I suppose, with the way it’s been handled in rugby league and rugby union. The player’s welfare is paramount in terms of making sure people are safe and right in going back on (the field)."
5. Slipper: Down, but not out
All of our thoughts this week are with Reds skipper James Slipper, whose 2017 Super Rugby season is over after he tore his achilles aganst the Lions in Johannesburg last weekend; not that he's feeling sorry for himself.
“Four games in a year and it’s all over for me,” Slipper told the Courier Mail. “My motivation in rugby hasn’t changed at all with this injury.
“I’ve always wanted to play at the 2019 World Cup (in Japan) and that’s still the long-term goal after getting back healthy for the Reds.
“This is my first season-ending injury and we lost the game as well (44-14) so it has been a tough, disappointing few days."
Slipper has faith in the young prop who is likely to be called upon as his replacement this weekend against the Jaguares.
“I’m sure we have a good performance in us in Argentina and that (replacement prop) Markus Vanzati will be up for it. I know the work Markus has put in and you only learn getting out there and scrummaging.”
And finally, for this week's Taylors Wines bonus tip...
Cork vs. Screwcap – the second biggest rivalry in the world (closely behind the Wallabies vs. the All Blacks), but what makes these two common wine closures so different?
Corks, one of the longest used seals for wine, are usually a natural material and protect the wine from being exposed to copious amounts of oxygen (turning your favourite Shiraz into vinegar for salad dressing). The cork allows a small amount of oxygen into the wine, and overtime this helps age the wine when it comes to cellaring. But the differences in the amount of oxygen that the wine is exposed to vary from cork to cork, so when you cellar a case of wine, each bottle could end up different than then next over a period of time.
Screwcaps increase the consistency of oxygen being exposed to the wine from bottle to bottle, while also making it easy to open when you’re ready to enjoy a glass or two. They have quickly become the preferred closure of choice for most wineries in Australia and New Zealand, and it’s now picking up popularity abroad.
At the end of the day, the best closure is the one you prefer to open when drinking your favourite wine.