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.
The Wallabies' second Test of the season, against Scotland at Allianz Stadium last Saturday, ended in a disappointing and narrow defeat, and there is no doubt that the men in Gold will be determined to hit back in emphatic fashion against Italy on Saturday in Brisbane.
The Australian Women's Rugby Sevens team, meanwhile, can secure second place in the 2016-2017 World Series with a tournament victory at Clermont-Ferrand in their last tournament for the season.
1. Coleman senses an opportunity
Such has been his impact in Wallaby Gold, and so quickly has he cemented a spot in Michael Cheika's team, that it is truly hard to believe that Western Force lock Adam Coleman has only been playing on the International stage for the past twelve months.
After being named to start again this weekend among six changes to the Wallaby team, Coleman told Wayne Smith in The Australian that the Australian side is wide open for any young footballer determined to make a name for himself.
“There’s a lot of youth within the team who are still picking up combinations,” Coleman said. “It’s a new team but at the same time it’s a great opportunity for the young blokes to prove what they’ve got and see if they can own that Australian jersey. It’s a great opportunity for a lot of young guys within Australia.
“I (just) try and play my own role for the team and I think if everyone does that then we’ll be a very successful side."
2. Superstar Shannon shares her work-life balance
Following the highs of 2016, where the Australian Women's Rugby Sevens team won both the inaugural Gold Medal at the Olympic Games in Rio but also their first ever World Series, 2017 has presented as more challenging with the girls unable to go back to back.
There's been a heap of factors to this, including the post-Rio retirement of Gemma Etheridge and Amy Turner alongside a number of injuries which have seen the likes of Emma Tonegato, Ellia Green, Evania Pelite and Sharni Williams miss plenty of tournaments; indeed, only Chloe Dalton, Alicia Quirk, Shannon Parry, Charlotte Caslick and Emilee Cherry have played in every tournament.
Whilst disappointed to not go back-to-back, the squad remain one primed for future success and Co-Captain Parry has been at the forefront of that. Following this weekend's final tournament of the season in France, she'll switch to XVs mode as she prepares for the Women's Rugby World Cup, and as she told Rugby.com.au's Jill Scanlon, the secret to her success is finding a balance to her life away from Rugby.
“Surfing is very much the thing that keeps my mind, body and soul refreshed,” she said. “For me that’s my peace zone, my happy place and I know I need that because you can’t live rugby day in and day out, so that’s how I get my balance between my rugby and my surfing and that’s what makes me happy.”
Off the field, Shannon serves on the RUPA Board as the Sevens Women’s Player Director, and she would love to pursue a path that underlines that passion when her playing days come to an end.
“I’d love to be involved further with the game and in particular the Women’s game in Australia and give back to this sport which has given me so much and given me so many opportunities,” she said. “For me, any way in which I would still be involved with rugby would be a dream come true to be honest.”
3. Up there For Izzy!
Israel Folau's start to the 2017 International season has been hot, with the superstar fullback scoring a double in each of the first two matches against Fiji and Scotland.
Folau, a triple-code whose high-flying exploits have seen him make headlines in Super Rugby, NRL and AFL, soared high aboce Scottish fullback Greig Tonks at Allianz Stadium to score his first try on Saturday, and the Courier Mail's Jim Tucker couldn't resist asking where it ranked amongst his personal highlight reel, including comparing to his infamous State of Origin try nearly a decade ago.
“The 2008 Origin try and that one against Scotland stand out as the grand final (of his kick-catch tries),” Folau said. “The Origin one is just ahead because it was harder to ground the ball with the way I came down but otherwise I enjoyed the same thrill with the catch and a try."
Folau said he didn't need to be tipped off by Bernard Foley that a kick was coming his way.
“We’ve been working on it the last few weeks and if a driving maul did collapse (as it did) we’d look to go the kicking option. No words ... I just knew the kick was coming."
4. Hunt's warning for Rugby
Fellow triple-coder Karmichael Hunt has, like Folau, been there, seen it all and worn the t-shirt (or jersey) throughout a hugely successful career. He knows the NRL intimately, and as he told Fairfax's Phil Lutton, the opportunity to earn a contract in the 13-man game straight out of high school makes it increasingly difficult for Rugby to compete to hold on to elite young talent.
The Wallabies centre played rugby at Churchie while being recruited by league's Broncos, and said NRL clubs were highly active in the elite Rugby schools.
"When you're very young and have league clubs throwing a lot of money at you, at a very young age, it can be very hard to resist. I know coming through, I was always a league boy but I went to Churchie," Hunt said. "The Broncos had me on their books and they weren't giving me anything special, maybe a pair of boots, but those things tend to add up. They get you involved – I was wearing the Broncos training shorts around after school – they reel you in from a young age.
"It's hard as a kid. You get tempted, the parents get tempted as well. It's a very tough battle for rugby. League has a lot of money to throw around in that space. Rugby league has done a lot in that sector in terms of the money they put into grassroots and young players. It's a difficult one," Hunt said.
"I've ended up full circle and coming back. But it's a shame a lot of these great young kids playing Rugby at school probably see their futures elsewhere straight after school. It's hard to resist."
5. Four new contracts to celebrate
Finally this week, and it's a little bit sneaky as we celebrate multiple articles in one go, but following the lifting of the contracting moratorium earlier this month it has been great to see some of Australia's most talented young players sign new deals in the past few days.
And finally, for this week's Taylors Wines bonus tip...
Did you know you may have been drinking your red wine at the wrong temperature this whole time? The concept of drinking red wine at ‘room temperature’ actually comes from the chilly drawing rooms of Medieval France. Since Australia is much warmer than those chilly castles, most winemakers and sommeliers recommend you chill your red wine slightly, to ensure it is at the best temperature for drinking!