The Taylors Wines Top 5, brought to you by RUPA’s Official Wine Partner Taylors Wines, brings to you five of the best Australian Rugby interviews in the media this week.
Super Rugby goes on the back-burner this week, as the Wallabies prepare to host Fiji in Melbourne on Saturday (3pm AEST) in their first hit-out for the year.
1. Naivalu celebrates selection with popcorn!
Sefanaia Naivalu's fairy-tale rise, from playing for Box Hill in the Dewar Shield to the Wallabies in just two years, is well chronicled.
However, this week has been extra special for #SuperSefa as he vies for selection against Fiji, the country of his birth, and a maiden Test appearance in front of his home fans in Melbourne. So how did he hear about his selection in the squad? At the movies, of course!
As he explained to Rugby.com.au's Beth Newman, Naivalu took himself to the latest Pirates of the Caribbean film, ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’, the same night that the June Series squad was to be announced, hoping to avoid any disappointment should his name not be called.
“I was kind of worried, if I was sitting there in front of the TV and then my name didn’t come up, I’d be kind of like ‘Oh, my name didn’t come up’. I was really nervous,” he said. “In the middle of the movie, i picked my phone up and see all these messages saying ‘congratulations’. I was over the moon.. I did (keep watching) but my head wasn’t focusing on the movie, I was just like my heart was really pumping,” he said.
2. No more Colonel's feasts for Lukhan!
Naivalu was one of thirteen Wallaby debutants in 2016, and with nine uncapped players in Michael Cheika's current squad there's a strong likelihood of multiple new caps this month.
One man in line is lock Lukhan Tui, who told the Courier Mail's Jim Tucker that he's still in shock to be in the mix - especially when you consider his diet habits just two years ago, before the Reds swooped in 2015 to sign the raw Sydney youngster from under the noses of the Waratahs after a few games for Randwick!
“I’d eat a whole 18-piece pack of KFC because I didn’t know any better and I got up to 139kg after a shoulder operation,” the 119kg Tui said. “The Wallabies? I was in shock when I heard last week. 'Thorny' (Reds Assistant Coach Brad Thorn) has helped me learn fast. The KFC is out and all he pushes around training, in the gym and how we carry ourselves is about excellence in everything.
"You listen to someone who has done everything in the game and that good attitude has really helped all the younger boys at the Reds.”
3. Two doesn't go into one
With Stephen Moore confirmed as Captain and therefore an almost certainty to be selected to start as hooker this Saturday, former Waratahs teammates Tatafu Polota-Nau and Tolu Latu are both fighting for one spot on the bench. They're both determined to be picked, however as Sydney Morning Herald reporter Tom Decent found, that doesn't affect their friendship and admiration for one another.
"It's great to see Tolu progress through the ranks and it gives us a big marker to meet," Polota-Nau said. "He's the breath of fresh air both Steve [Moore] and I need to get competitive against. Tolu's performances this year have been stellar, so it'll be great to see what he can provide on the Test arena, too.
"Ever since I first started at the Wallabies it's always been quite heated competition. If anything, I'd like to say I've got back to where I was when I left last year. But in saying that, I still feel there's a lot of room for development. I'm pretty nervous actually. It's been a while since I've been in the fray. It's a good feeling because everyone is quite new and they bring good competition."
4. Coleman wary of Fijian forwards
There's been a lot of talk this week about the talent in the Fijian backline, and also that the Wallabies should comfortably win on Saturday.
However, ask lock Adam Coleman, and he'll stress that isn't the case - and, as he pointed out to AAP's Melissa Woods, he's equally wary of Fiji's forward pack!
Fiji are a quality side and we're not going into the weekend looking to underestimate them," Coleman said. We're going out there to play a Test side and we want to put in a Test performance. They're a big pack and we will definitely have to look to take them up front."
5. Back to the big smoke
Finally this week, we move away from test Rugby and salute scrumhalf Dewet Roos, as his short-term deal with the Brumbies comes to an end and he returns to Sydney to play Shute Shield with Southern Districts and work as a construction project manager after a four-month stint in Canberra.
Roos was acting as cover for Tomas Cubelli after the Argentinian international injured his knee in a pre-season game, but Cubelli is expected to make a comeback for the last two games of the regular season. Roos played in 10 games and averaged eight minutes, but his impact from the bench gave the Brumbies spark at the end of matches.
"It's been pretty good, I really enjoyed it and learnt a lot, it's been a really good experience for me," Roos told the Canberra Times' Chris Dutton. "I'll go back to the day job and club-land in Sydney to play for Southern Districts, hopefully we can get into the semi-finals there and just keep working. I'll stay in touch with the Brumbies in case they need some injury cover or anything like that. I've just got to go back and be ready if and when a call up comes.
"When I got out there it just felt normal and I wasn't too nervous which was good. It gave me confidence that I am ready for Super Rugby if needed. I got a bit of everything this season, I'll take it on board and see where we go from there."
And finally, for this week's Taylors Wines bonus tip...
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