Taylors Wines Top 5: South Africa, Port Elizabeth
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By Pete Fairbairn, 27.09.18

It’s time again for the Taylors Wines Top 5, where we wrap up the best of Australia’s players in the media this week (and give you a great wine tip courtesy of Taylors).

The Wallabies are back on the road this weekend, looking to make it two from two in Port Elizabeth against a South African team that will be buoyed by their last-start win against New Zealand. You’ll have to get up in the middle of the night to watch that one with kick-off at 1:00am (AEST) and coverage live on both FOX Sports 503 and Channel 10, before the All Blacks take on Argentina at 8:30am (FOX Sports 503 only).

The NRC competition is really heating up, and there are four more cracking matchups this week following on from what many have called the greatest round in the competition’s history!

The Fijian Drua return back home to host NSW Country (Saturday 1:00pm, LIVE foxsports.com.au) following their late win in Sydney on Sunday, before the Vikings host the unlucky Melbourne Rising in Canberra at 7:00pm on Saturday (LIVE FOX Sports 503).

On Sunday, there’s an epic grudge match between Brisbane City and Queensland Country LIVE Fox Sports 503, 3:00pm) before the round concludes with the impressive Western Force hosting the Sydney Rays in Perth (Sunday 5:00pm, foxsports.com.au).

1. Hanigan’s interesting way with words

NSW and Wallabies backrower Ned Hanigan is a real larrikin, and journalists dream; the words that come out of his mouth are certainly not clichés!

Speaking with Tom Decent in the Sydney Morning Herald this week ahead of the Wallabies’ clash with South Africa, the 23-year-old Coonamble kid was asked about Australia’s loss to Argentina just over a week ago, and what the review process would be like for that match.

“You review it but you can’t leave it behind,” Hanigan said. “We’ve obviously had a few hard conversations and [spoken about] the learnings to come out of it. We can’t be sitting there kicking stones and letting it just get worse, we’ve got to grab it by the balls and try and turn it around,” Hanigan said.

Even Wallabies prop Allan Alaalatoa, sitting next to Hanigan, thought the phrase was rather amusing. While there might have been other expressions to use, the message was clear as day. Despite winning two of their last nine games, there is an unwavering belief in this Wallabies squad that big things are still on the horizon, only if little one percenters are completed diligently.

“We've obviously got a dream of winning the World Cup, it's 100 per cent what everyone in the room wants to do,” Hanigan said. “But if you just have that dream and no process about getting there you might lose your pathway. We've gone back to, starting yesterday, nailing our processes and that starts individually.”

With no Lukhan Tui or Pete Samu on this tour, Hanigan is firming as most likely to wear the No.6 jersey. After starting in 10 of 12 matches in his first international season, Hanigan has been on the bench in three games this year against Ireland, South Africa and Argentina.

“We’re in a situation where positionally it’s not really up to myself,” Hanigan said. “You’ve got guys coming in like Angus Cottrell, who has had an awesome Super Rugby season. Caleb [Timu] has been performing in the NRC. I try to just make sure that whatever role I get given in the team I just make sure I do it to the best of my ability.

“They’re going to come in with a lot of confidence,” Hanigan said. “Their tactics that worked against the All Blacks, they might look to hang onto or try to counteract those.”

Click here to read the full story.

2. Jackson-Hope’s relief for Rob

Brumbies and Vikings centre Jordan Jackson-Hope has been one of the stars of this year’s National Rugby Championship (NRC), and with Wallaby Kyle Godwin having moved abroad and veteran Andrew Smith retiring he has one eye firmly on nailing down a starting spot in next year’s Super Rugby competition after playing just three games in 2018.

“I'd be lying if I said it wasn't mentally tough. But I guess that comes with the career you're in. It won't always go your way, you've got to be resilient with that," Jackson-Hope told the Canberra Times’ Chris Dutton.

“I've got one year left [on my Brumbies contract] so all I can do is put my head down and make the most of it. It's up for grabs at the moment. Both (new signings Irae Simone and Tom Wright) are great players as well, but it's about who puts their hand up. I'm pretty keen and itching to get the opportunity to show what I can do.”

Jackson-Hope scored the winning try last week as the Vikings edged the NSW Country Eagles late in the contest, but the post-game assessment largely focused upon the wellbeing of fellow young gun Rob Valetini. Valetini has had a wretched run with injuries and hurt his knee in the clash, leading to Jackson-Hope fearing the worst.

“I was pretty gutted to see Rob go down last week. Initially it was alarm bells after back to back knee surgeries,” he said.

"But once the smoke cleared, they don't think it's as bad as what they first thought. Hopefully it will be fine. I went up and saw him straight away to see how he was going. By then he knew it wasn't as bad as what he thought, so that was reassuring for everyone else and for him as well."

Jackson-Hope will miss this weekend’s match against the Melbourne Rising for family reasons, with Simone and Len Ikitau to partner in the midfield.

Click here to read the full story.

3. Hodge looking to build momentum

The Wallabies have lost on all four of their visits to Port Elizabeth since 1933 but that is less daunting than the highveld curse that Kurtley Beale ended in Bloemfontein in 2010 with a wonderful penalty goal on full-time for 41-39 over the Springboks. The 2010 Wallabies scored five tries in that classic win and such elusive precision is what this Wallabies’ unit needs to nail, as centre Reece Hodge explained to the Courier Mail’s Jim Tucker this week.

“Frustrating is the word that sums it up because consistency is what’s killing us at the moment, both within games and also game-to-game.,” Hodge said. “We are capable of some brilliance and this is an opportunity to show what we’re really capable of in an 80-minute performance, which we haven’t done this season.”

Hodge said the Wallabies were grooving specific attacking plans for the Springboks and the rush defence that was such a big part of the recent 36-34 upset of the All Blacks.

“We’ve got some interesting plays we’ve designed around how the Springboks have defended with some exciting prospects for myself and the outside backs in terms of finding some space. “They didn’t even give the All Blacks a chance to get moving in the first place so that (style of defence) was definitely a huge part of why they won the game.

“They’ll try to bring it again so it’s up to us to create our own holes.”

The magnitude of playing the Boks in front of a roaring 46,000-strong sellout at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium plus a predicted 27km per hour wind must be factored in to how tough it will be to win.

“Obviously, it’s a huge challenge but we want to create as many records as we can on the road and start piecing together two, three and four good performances back-to-back to get some momentum,” Hodge said.

Click here to read the full story.

4. Karmichael Hunt’s road to redemption

It’s been a well-publicised challenging year for Karmichael Hunt, however the Wallabies centre is back playing consistent Rugby for Brisbane City in the NRC and is willing to accept responsibility for the actions which have kept him off the paddock this year.

Triple-code star Hunt, 31, addressed his mental health struggles, battle with the bottle and Rugby dreams in an exclusive interview with Nick McArdle on Fox Sports’ Kick and Chase, and nothing was considered off-limits.

“I’m not perfect, I’ve made mistakes,” Hunt admitted. “I think the one thing, over the six months, that’s been pretty clear to me is that I’ve just lacked care for my mental health.

“Since (I was) 17-year-old, the only way I’ve been able to deal with stress in my life is just to cop it on the chin and move forward. And it’s manifested in ways where it’s got me in trouble. Binge drinking, alcohol use like that brings nothing but bad and along the years, the trip to the AFL put myself on the bottom of the pile.

“It was pretty stressful, a lot of anxiety around how I would end up during that transition. And then you go and add three kids in three and a half years plus another career change (switching from AFL to Rugby).

“For me, the one thing that I always ended up getting in trouble with was I just bottled everything up, tried to deal with it, protect my family as much as possible from how I was feeling. But it just manifested in self destructive behaviour which was binge drinking, which led to other things. One thing I’ve learnt over the last six months is I need to start speaking up and admitting when things aren’t OK for myself.

“And that it’s OK not to be OK.”

Hunt said he had spoken regularly with counsellors and psychologists over the last six months, which had been a big help as he looks to rebuild his career — and his strained relationships with loved ones.

“It’s probably been the most difficult for my family, to bring embarrassment and shame on them again. It’s been pretty painful to be honest but the last six months has given me time with them to build the trust back up with my wife and my parents.

“We’re all excited and hopeful for the future, that it’s going to be a good one for us.”

Click here to read the full story.

5. Force enjoy home away from home

Western Force star Heath Tessmann was thrilled to see so many Force fans come out to support his side on the other side of the country last weekend (when they played Queensland Country at Bond University, on the Gold Coast) and will now count it as one of his most favourable Rugby memories. 

Speaking to the Western Force website, Tessmann said he was happy with how the team responded to the loss against the Canberra Vikings the week prior and bounced back to win against Queensland. 

“When Ian Prior kicked the goal to put us in front right at the end of the game, there was that many Force fans there that it would have drowned out the home team’s crowd,” Tessmann said. “That was a really enjoyable part of it.”   

“It was a big tour for us we were playing the two finalists from last year’s competition we really wanted to work hard and get the two wins from that little tour, unfortunately, we fell over in the first game, but I think we all responded well as a group with that win,” he said.

“It has been really enjoyable watching the team progress within our first four games and really setting a good standard on how we want to play throughout the tournament,” he said. “Like we’ve said it is a sprint this tournament and we are already over the half way point. We have got three games left and we just want to finish them off well.”

Tessmann had a blast from the past visiting his old stomping ground during the teams’ week on the Gold Coast and believes that the tour has given the boys a chance to bond off the field.

“For a few of us like myself, Ian Prior and Rod Davies training at our old club in Brisbane at the University of Queensland was really enjoyable,” he said.  

Click here to read the full story.

And now, for an exclusive tip from our friends at Taylors Wines, and this week we’re teaching you about Cabernet Sauvignon…

Cabernet Sauvignon is a proud French grape and the principal variety behind France's most famous red wine, Bordeaux.

The hallmark aromas of a good cabernet - blackcurrant and cedar - are most definitely regal. It was the first varietal ever planted by Taylors and remains a key varietal to this day.

27.09.18
Pete Fairbairn
Communications Manager
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