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 NSW Waratahs kick off the Australian teams' involvement with daunting trip to Wellington, where they will face the defending champion Hurricanes on Friday afternoon at 5:30pm (AEST). Saturday evening sees a cracking local derby, as the Reds look for their first win in Canberra since 2014 at 7:30pm, before some Sunday arvo footy in the West as the Force host the Kings at 4pm.
The World Rugby Sevens Series is also back this weekend, with the Australian Men's side in action at the blockbuster Hong Kong tournament. The boys kick off against Samoa at 8pm on Friday, before Saturday match-ups with South Korea (1:18pm) and England (5:40pm). Finals day runs from 11:30am until 9:00pm on Sunday.
1. EJ raises the bat
We start this week with a wonderful milestone, as Australian Rugby Sevens star Ed Jenkins becomes the first ever Australian player to reach 50 World Series caps.
Jenkins told Jill Scanlon what he thinks of the bright young squad Australia is building.
"These new guys coming in, we have an opportunity to create our own legacy and our own path - it now gives us a great opportunity to create something new.
"Their eagerness to learn; the ‘no fear’ factor shown by them – these guys are straight out of school and they’re going up against teams with very experienced guys. I’ve been really impressed by that.”
2. Back to where it all began
Waratahs backrower Michael Wells took a trip down memory lane this week, as he and teammate Andrew Kellaway ran a coaching clinic for 70 juniors at Roseville Junior Rugby Club, where his own Rugby journey started.
"It was a good night and fun to be back at the club where it all began for me, and to see that the kids are just as passionate and as keen to play the game as I was at their age,” Wells said. ""I had a great time and I hope the kids did too."
3. Enough is enough
Western Force stalwart Matt Hodgson, a foundation Western Force player, spoke out about the negative affect that the uncertainty surrounding Super Rugby was having on his team and its' players. SANZAAR is yet to decide whether one Australian team will be axed from the competition in 2018; a decision that can only be made if the ARU agrees to reduce Australia's professional footprint.
"It's frustrating what the top level administrators are doing, bringing the game down like this" Hodgson said. "It's ruining the game.
"I don't know why we have become reliant on others to make the decision. The ARU should stand up and say 'we are having five teams, it's up to you guys to sort the rest out'. Draw a line in the sand and say the competition numbers are going to stay the same, we are just going to change the structure.
"Players are sticking strong. We believe we have the depth but a decision has to be made quickly because we are already losing players overseas because of the indecision. We should be focussing on the positives and let the players play football and not worry about their future."
4. One year to the Commonwealth Games!
Wednesday marked 365 days until the 2018 Commonwealth Games kick off on the Gold Coast, with Women's Rugby Sevens added to the schedule for the very first time. After winning gold in the inaugural event at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Australian Women's Rugby Sevens star Charlotte Caslick is confident her team can replicate the feat in Queensland next year.
"If we did get to win at home it would be incredible and just to be a part of the atmosphere and an Australian crowd would be unreal," Caslick said. "The competition's no less than any other tournament so I think, for our sport in particular, it's just as tough so we're pretty excited.
"We always get put up on a pedestal as the best-performing rugby team in Australia, which is great and that's always what we want to be."
5. Alcock follows in big footsteps
Finally to Canberra, and after previously blazing a trail at both the Waratahs and the Western Force flanker Chris Alcock has had a huge impact since moving to the Brumbies. This weekend he'll come up against former Brumbies star George Smith, now with the Reds, and he's been speaking about the big shoes to fill when following the likes of Smith and David Pocock.
“I just focus on what I need to do and what the coaches tell me my goal (is) for each game and I just try and work on that and try not to think about who's worn the jersey before,” Alcock said.“Whenever I wear that jersey I wear it with pride and put everything out there and show that I deserve to be wearing it.”
"There's not often that you actually find yourself head-to-head with (stars such as Smith) but we're both trying to do the same thing at the breakdown and we've both got our own roles to play,” he said. “You watch his games and he has great involvements all the time and he does change the game."
And finally, for this week's Taylors Wines bonus tip...
When it comes to food pairing, the simple trick of white wines with chicken and fish, or red wines with beef will always do the trick, but what flavours are the most troublesome to pair with wines?
A few prime examples of tough to pair ingredients include:
- Capers: Alone, these tiny, flavour-packed orbs can be impossible to match with a wine. But when combined with a fresh salmon sandwich, you’ll be fine when pairing with a Pinot Gris.
- Artichoke & Spinach: These two ingredients on their own make your glass of wine taste like a steely tin shed, but when cooked in a creamy cheese sauce or splashed in an acidic dressing, they pair beautifully with Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc
Few ingredients alone can ruin the flavour of your wine, but paired with the right dressing or cooking method, you’ll be making food and wine magic.