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 Western Force host the Reds (Thursday 9:30pm AEDST), the Rebels head to Wellington to face the Hurricanes (Saturday 3:15pm), the Brumbies host the Sharks (Saturday 7:45pm) and the Waratahs face last year’s runners up the Lions in Johannesburg (Sunday 0:05).
The Men’s and Women’s Rugby Sevens teams are also in action this weekend as the world series takes both sides to Las Vegas; click here for the full pool fixture listing.
1. Shades of 2012 in the Brumbies
In the wake of a narrow loss to the Crusaders in Christchurch, Brumbies backrower Jordan Smiler said that the unheralded young squad of 2017 reminds him of the 2012 iteration.
“I think it’s really exciting with a bunch of new guys that we have, they bring a new vibe to the team,” Smiler said. “It’s almost like going back four (or) five years where the Brumbies were a bunch of new guys. Young 23, 24-year-olds brought just a whole lot of enthusiasm and eagerness to train and to get better.
“As well as we did play on Saturday, we still lost and we’re not in the business of losing,” Smiler continued/ “Regardless of having a young team, at the end of the day it was a loss. We’re looking to rectify that.”
2. Coleman excited for second straight Aussie derby
He was one of Australian Rugby’s biggest success stories of 2016, and Western Force lock Adam Coleman was again impressive despite his side being pipped by the Waratahs in Round One.
“It was just individual skill error that hurt us last week, and we’ve got a tight turnaround this week so we need to rectify that,” Coleman said. “There’s parts of that game where we relieved pressure very easily with some soft penalties and back-to-back errors, so that’s something we need to eradicate from our game quickly."
Focus quickly turned to this week’s home match against the Reds.
“I think this game’s going to be won up front,” Coleman said. “They’ve said they’re going to come and take it to us up front with their mauls and scrums and lineouts, so we’ll really look to take it to those guys up front. We’ve got some really good backs outside of us that can shred any team.
“We need to set a good platform for them to have quality ball, so they can do what they do best.”
3. Experienced trio return to action in Vegas
The Australian Men's Rugby Sevens have received a huge boost with 82 caps worth of experience returning to the field in Las Vegas; Tom Lucas, Nick Malouf and Ed Jenkins all in the same squad for the first time in nearly two years.
“It’s been a long time (since I’ve been in the squad) and a lot has changed; I’m pretty sick of the rehab staff here, and it will be good to get away from them and get back with the boy in Vegas.” Malouf said.
“It’s also been exciting seeing the young fellas take their opportunities and I suppose it has made me really earn my spot back in the team.”
“I’m chomping at the bit; it’s been twelve months since I injured my knee, and I am just pumped to get back out there and to get the opportunity to contribute to this team again,” Lucas said.
4. Mr Rebel prepares to make history
The Melbourne Rebels may only be entering their seventh Super Rugby campaign, but in tighthead prop Laurie Weeks they have just one foundation player from that 2011 season remaining. So it will surprise nobody that the Rebels were pleased to extend the front rower’s contract this week, as he prepares to make Club history against the Hurricanes.
“The decision to re-sign with the Rebels was an easy one, I love Melbourne and I love the team,” Weeks said. “I’m incredibly proud to see how far this team has come from humble beginnings to genuine contenders every time we take the field.
“I still feel like I’m representing the first 30 blokes that signed for the club and feel like I need to continue their legacy. It’s funny, there’s all of these stories from the first year but I’ve got no one left to tell them to. All I want is success on and off the field for us. To stick around and potentially be a part of that, it’s not something I want to miss.”
When the 30-year-old runs out against Wellington he will pass Luke Jones as the club's record games holder in his 74th appearance.
"It just makes things a bit more exciting but everything is focused on this week in particular and this game against the Hurricanes," Weeks said. "It's daunting going into Wellington to play them but the way we have prepared this week we will be in a good position."
5. Lolohea talks about his debut
After coming off the bench against the Western Force to make his bow on the Super Rugby arena, David Lolohea reflected on what’s been a massive six months after a breakthrough Buildcorp NRC campaign with the Rams.
“I can’t believe it; it’s an unexplainable feeling, a dream come true. Last time I played on Allianz Stadium was when I was nine years old at half time,” he said.
“Darryl told me he thought I had done well over the preseason and that this was my opportunity, but to be honest I wasn’t quite thinking that there was much chance of this happening at this moment.
“I pinch myself every morning when I wake up to come to training. I had an awesome NRC under awesome coaching staff with Jeremy Paul and john Muggleton. The difference for me this pre-season has been my diet, I’m down to 131kg, when three years ago when I was last in the program I was 20kg heavier than that.”
And finally, for this week's Taylors Wines bonus tip...
What is better than enjoying food or wine? Enjoying them together when you get the mix just right!
When you match food and wine in the right way, it can enhance the flavour not only of the wine but of the food as well. To find the perfect match just remember these two simple rules: white wine matches with light foods such as white meat, salads and fish. Red wine goes well with red meat or a rich casserole. Sparkling wine however, can go with just about anything as it acts as a palate cleanser.