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 Rebels have a bye while the Brumbies host the Force in Canberra on Friday night at 7:45pm (AEDST). The Reds return to Suncorp as they host the Crusaders on Saturday night at 7:45pm (AEDST), whilst the Waratahs will look to hit back from last week's defeat in Johannesburg when they visit the Sharks in Durban at 430am( AEDST) on Sunday.
Following their sixth placed finish to last week's Las Vegas Sevens, the Australian Men's Rugby Sevens team head to Vancouver this week having made just one (injury-enforced) change to the squad with Simon Kennewell replacing Sam Myers. They're in a pool alongside France, Japan and the USA, with their opening fixture at 8:30pm (AEDST) on Saturday; click here for the full pool fixture listing.
1. A chip off the old block
Western Force prop Jermaine Ainsley has a fair bit of Rugby pedigree running through his veins! His father, Joe McDonnell, was an All Black front rower and as he told The West Australian's Nick Taylor, he was always keen for Jermaine to follow in his footsteps.
"I was scrummaging before I could walk. The old man would drum it into me," Ainsley said. "I grew up watching some of the best front rows and now I have the chance to go up against the best. It's pretty awesome."
Ainsley's forwards coach in the West, Joe Barakat, is impressed with the maturity of the 21-year-old.
"He's a pretty special character," Barakat said. "He's a kid and he's not supposed to develop and mature as a tighthead prop until he is about 26-years-old, but he's a fantastic prospect. It's not just his scrummaging, it's his ball carrying, what he does at the breakdown and the line-out."
2. Trendsetter from the West
She may not yet be a household name, but mark this one down for the future; Shanice Parker.
The Australian Women's Rugby Sevens young gun, who lives with and is mentored by Co-Captain Shannon Parry, is one of a new breed of players coming through the squad and hails from a place not particularly known for producing women's Rugby stars; Perth.
“Shannon’s definitely been a really big mentor, like a big sister, helping me with lots of things since coming in – on and off the field. It’s made the move a lot easier," she told Rugby.com.au's Jill Scanlon. “To be honest, it doesn’t even feel like a job - it feels like I’m just playing rugby every day – living the dream!
“When I finished school last year, I didn’t go straight into university because I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do – I didn’t want to just jump in and do a course that later on wasn’t what I wanted. But recently I’ve been talking to the RUPA people and I want to get into sports psychology."
3. Mum's the word
Staying with Women's Rugby Sevens, and Gold Medalist Nicole Beck has been a notable absentee in the World Series this year as she preapres for the arrival of a baby brother or sister to join Sophie, and a second rugrat for fiancee Joel.
Beck didn't realise she was pregnant while she played at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, and as she explained to the Sydney Morning Herald's Georgina Robinson being a mum isn't simple for a full-time professional athlete who plays a contact sport.
"Obviously I knew I was contracted for all of this year, and I hadn't been secretive, I'd always expressed that I'd wanted to have more kids but that I wasn't going to try until after the Olympics," she said. "I'm still unsure what will happen now, post-baby. I'm doing what I can during pregnancy to put myself in the best position to return after and I do plan to keep playing after baby, but it's a wait and see scenario."
Beck believes many women will still choose to put off starting families until they have achieved their goals in sport.
"I think people will still wait," she said. "It can be very competitive and having that time off means you can miss your opportunity, and that's a gamble that individuals make. Personally, I wanted both in my life. As amazing as winning a gold medal was, it meant so much more having Sophie there and sharing that with her.
4. Bryce filling Bernard's void
With Bernard Foley departing South Africa this week as he continues to be given time to recover from concussion symptoms, Bryce Hegarty continues to step up in his absence and wear the Waratahs' 10 jersey.
After missing the entire season in 2016 with a knee injury, Hegarty told Iain Payten that he wants to make the most of his opportunities in 2017.
“I am putting everything out of my mind and just taking control of the team," he said. "Playing football and controlling the boys around the park as best as I can, and combing with the nine and really leading the team.
"We need good leaders and I am more than happy to step up into that role. That’s what I want from myself. I have played a fair amount of football now, after having last year off. I am really confident in my ability and confident in the boys around me. It is an exciting team and an attacking team, and hopefully we can produce this weekend.”
5. Butler urges fans to keep the faith
The Brumbies lost a lot of experience and the end of 2016, with Matt Toomua, Joe Tomane, David Pocock and Stephen Moore among those to depart Canberra, while they are currently missing injured stars including Scott Sio, Tomas Cubelli, Christian Leali'ifano and Jarrad Butler. Coupled with two heartbreaking losses to begin the season, and it would be easy to see them losing faith in themselves; but as Butler explained to the Canberra Times, that's simply not the case.
"We're there or thereabouts as far as trying to put a whole 80 minutes together," Butler said. "I think at the moment we're excited with how we've been going, but also frustrated that we can't get over the line and start getting some wins.
"It feels like it's something small, that last little couple per cent, that's really holding us back from finishing off teams."
And finally, for this week's Taylors Wines bonus tip...
Temperature plays a vital role in the enjoyment of wine.
Did you know that if you serve a white wine too cold, the fruit flavours will be restricted and the acid more pronounced – meaning you’ll miss out on the best bits of a white wine and end up with a sour pucker face!
For a white wine that you actually want to enjoy at its very best, enhance your drinking experience by leaving the bottle out of the fridge for a little while (about 15 minutes) before serving.