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.
Following a convincing first-up victory against Fiji last week, the Wallabies' second Test of the season sees them host Scotland at Allianz Stadium in Sydney on Saturday afternoon at 3pm (AEST).
After a nail biting one-point defeat to defending champions England cost Australia a Semi Final place at the World Rugby U20s Championships late last week, they recovered to defeat Italy and earn a spot against Scotland in the 5th place playoff on Sunday at 8:30pm (AEST).
1. Ned's anthem realisation
Against Fiji in Melbourne, Waratahs forward Ned Hanigan joined fellow debutants Karmichael Hunt, Richard Hardwick and Joe Powell in wearing the gold jersey for the first time. It represented the realisation of a lifelong goal for Ned, and the significance of the achievement hit him as he lined up next to 'Tahs teammate Sekope Kepu for Advance Australia Fair.
“I'm standing next to 'Keps' when the anthem was being sung and he was getting right into it,” Hanigan told Rugby.com.au's Beth Newman. “(It makes) you think how proud he is to still be in the jersey and he's played there before. (And) There's been so many great players who have worn that six jersey and just to be a part of just such a history of a player that's been in the jersey, I think that was something I got taken back by and I really enjoyed it.
His parents and two of his siblings were there to share the emotion of his first Test.
“Mum said she cried in the anthem, so I'm glad I wasn't standing next to her,” Hanigan laughed. “We talk about as players that we might have to sacrifice a few things but I think my parents, especially, throughout winter sport and summer sport when I was at school and things like that, they’ve always been on the sideline and if they're not there, there's a fair bit going on,."
2. No more Colonel's feasts for Lukhan!
While Michael Cheika has retained Stephen Moore as his Captain in the Wallaby squad, the experienced rake was last week named on the bench with Michael Hooper leading the Australian side on to the pitch against Fiji.It's not the first time Hooper has led his country, and while 'Squeak' remains the Wallaby Captain 'Hoops' said it wasn't awkward taking the reins against Fiji (a role he will again take on against Scotland this week).
“It wasn’t awkward,” Hooper told Fox Sports' Christy Doran. “I mean, I was stoked, I was stoked. It is such a privilege and I think I appreciate the role more than previously or understand the responsibility that goes along with the role more than the last time I was captaining.
“For me, it was a real privilege to lead the team out, especially for the first Test of the year. I think I understand now that whether it’s one game that you’re wearing the ‘c’ for or you’re lucky enough to have a few, it’s certainly a privilege and something not to be taken lightly."
3. Sio inspired by Leali'ifano's attitude
As he prepares to return from injury and make his first Test appearance of the year against Scotland, Brumbies prop Scott Sio has told of the inspiration he has taken from his time in Canberra's Team Rehab alongside Christian Leali'ifano.
Lealiifano is building up his workloads after being diagnosed with leukaemia in 2016 and undergoing a bone-marrow transplant, putting Sio's injury battles into perspective.
"He's on an unbelievable road to recovery and back to playing and I've drawn a lot of inspiration from him," Sio told the Sydney Morning Herald's Tom Decent. "We were really close but we've probably grown a lot closer this year, which has been great for me and given me a lot of drive off the field and determination, to see how far he's willing to push his body having gone through what he did last year.
"We can't play this game forever. When it happens to someone so close to you, that's when it really gets put in perspective. This is one of the healthiest guys in the team and it can strike at any time. We saw how positive he remained throughout the whole thing and how positive he still is, which is a credit to him and it teaches us a lot about minor injuries. At the end of the day these things are minor compared to something that he is going through at the moment."
4. Higgers looking forward to reunion
They were on the same team back in 2011 as the Reds won the Super Rugby title, Scott Higginbotham as a star back-rower and Matt Taylor as the team's defence coach, but this Saturday the two will be in opposing camps as Australia meets Scotland. Even so, Higgers is looking forward to catching up with Taylor and clearly still holds him in high regard.
“From experience, I know how great a coach he is,” Higginbotham said. “They've obviously used that. They've got some really good attacking players around the lineout and a good structure and they've always pushed the Australians and it was obviously a tough loss for them in the World Cup.
“I'm sure they're always looking to get a bit of revenge in that sense from that game.”
5. Back to the big smoke
Finally this week, and we have to begrudgingly thank Rugby League legends Brad Fittler and Andrew Johns for helping to lead the path to this week's latest Wallaby debutant, Eto Nabuli.
The new Wallaby was carrying bags as a hotel porter in Fiji when he met the NRL legends back in 2012, and they took one look at the big man and asked if he played footy; the rest is history.
“My hotel manager released me for a few hours and we went to my old school oval to do some big bombs, some grubbers, some drills.
“I will always be grateful to them but even before everything I prayed because I just wanted to go somewhere for a life where I could help my family,” Nabuli told the Courier Mail's Jim Tucker.
The Johns reaction said it all: “I thought if this kid were a racehorse, I’d pay $1 million for him”.
Nabuli of course would first break through in the NRL with St. George, before moving to the Reds last season, and now he is primed to become Wallaby No. 908 this weekend!
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!