We’re back again with this week’s best interviews with players ahead of Round Seven’s Super Rugby action, and as this is brought to you by RUPA’s Official Wine Partner, Taylors Wines, we’ve even got a great wine tip from the experts themselves at the bottom of the article.
The Melbourne Rebels have been absolutely flying, but they were simply the latest Club to fall victim to the competition-favourite Hurricanes at home last night. After leading 19-8 with half an hour gone, the visitors took things to another level and eventually ran away with the game, winning 50-19. The Rebels have a bye now before returning to action at AAMI Park in Round Nine when they host the Jaguares.
Tonight, one of Australian Rugby’s biggest rivalries comes to the fore as the Waratahs travel down to the Hume Highway to take on the Brumbies in Canberra. The Brumbies saluted 28-12 in last season’s only meeting between the two sides, in Sydney, but the ‘Tahs are in good touch having saluted 51-27 against the conference-leading Rebels two weeks ago before recuperating with a bye last week.
Click here for full list of Round Seven Super Rugby fixtures.
The Reds have returned from their tour of South Africa and Argentina with a win against the Jaguares and a bonus-point, narrow loss to the Stormers last week, and they’ll rest and recover with a bye ahead of their Round Eight clash against the Brumbies in Canberra.
Finally, our thoughts are with James Stannard, his family, teammates and friends, as he recovers in hospital following a one-punch attack which has seen him suffer a fractured skull and has likely ruled him out of the Commonwealth Games. Here’s to a speedy recovery, Chucky!
1. HJH has a secret second life
Cricket had Brett Lee, and now it appears as if Australian Rugby may well have a musical superstar in our mix!
As Iain Payten reported in the Daily Telegraph, rookie Waratahs prop Harry Johnson-Holmes used to play bass guitar in Newcastle band Geography of Mars, and he can also sing, play violin and strum the double bass!
“I opened up to the team earlier in the season and let them know of my dark past of being in a band in Newcastle,” Johnson-Holmes explains. “I played bass guitar, at local venues. I didn’t even sing that much. But it turned into: “Oh, you have to sing a couple of songs.” I have just stitched myself up.”
“It’s behind me now. I am on the straight and now just focusing on my footy.”
In his first year of professional Rugby, the former Australian under 20s star has looked right at home alongside Wallabies Tom Robertson, Sekope Kepu and Paddy Ryan packing down in the ‘Tahs scrum.
“I felt prepared (for the step up). Training alongside some of the world’s best scrummagers, and with the likes of Simon Cron as our scrummaging coach, I felt confident going into it,” Johnson-Holmes said. “It was tough but it was good to see I came out of it in one-piece, and with my back still in the same shape.
“Every training session, if I am packing against Sekope Kepu or Tom Robertson or Paddy Ryan, they’re all world class players and every training session turns into a bit of a Test match there.”
Click here to read the full story.
2. Quirky finds out why her Mum won’t take her calls
At the end of a very long week training, and with the Commonwealth Games right around the corner, the last thing in the world you want to hear is that you’re required to come back to team HQ for a compulsory team dinner!
That’s exactly the fate that befell Alicia Quirk and the Australian Women’s Rugby Sevens team a couple of weeks ago, however as Quirky writes in this blog for Exclusive Insight, that frustration soon turned to extreme emotion and gratitude.
“Seriously, it was the last thing any of us wanted to do,” she writes. “As I made my way back into the facility later that night, I could see one of my teammate’s sisters step out of the elevator. I immediately started thinking, “I wonder what Paige is doing here?”
“And that is when I saw my Mum, come bursting through the lift next. I started crying walking over to her! Mum did not return a call of mine all week since we had arrived back from Las Vegas and I later found out it was because she didn’t want to ruin the surprise for me.
“As you have probably clued on, this was the night they revealed to us that we had made the 7s squad for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. It had been such a massive week and on reflection, I don’t think any of us realised how fatigued and tired we all had been. But the announcement, and having all of our families in the room, brought new life into the place and gave us all the lift we needed.”
Click here to read the rest of the blog, and find out how the team’s preparations are going.
3. Curtis has one eye firmly on the Rugby World Cup
When the Western Force were axed at the end of last year, many people thought that new Wallaby Curtis Rona would return to the NRL after just one season of Super Rugby.
He had been so successful in the thirteen-man game, and had openly admitted when he signed for the Force that the major reason behind the conversion had simply been because he wanted to live in his hometown of Perth, so if he was forced to leave Western Australia it would have surprised none if that meant leaving Rugby.
However, that taste of the Gold jersey was enough to convince him to instead sign with the Waratahs, as he explained to the Sydney Morning Herald’s Georgina Robinson.
“There was a World Cup coming up in 2019 and after getting the chance to play in a Wallabies jersey in my first year, that was an experience I cherished, and I want to do it again. Coming to the Tahs was an easier choice because we knew Sydney from my league background and my wife having friends here as well.”
“Originally teams were offering me one-year deals, but I didn't want to move my family for just one year then move them again. It's not worth putting them under that stress. I said to the Tahs, 'if you're genuine about me then I need a two-year deal, so I can have some security for my family'. They came back with that and, with the World Cup coming up, I'm striving for that, and if I can stay with this team for the long term I'd be delighted to.”
Click here to read the full interview with Curtis.
4. Perfect Preparation Makes Proper Proud Performances
Credit to the Australian Women’s Rugby Sevens team – not only are they training exceptionally hard ahead of the Commonwealth Games, but it seems like many of them are taking the time to put pen to paper and blog.
Following in the lead of Quirky is young superstar Demi Hayes, who this week wrote about preparation on her own blog, From Paddock To Pitch.
“There are billions of quotes all over social media about how ‘preparation is key’ and in this case, it is,” Hayes writes. “There are so many little parts of preparation that play a huge role in a team’s success.
“We for one want to make the most of every training we have left before we step onto the big stage, with all trainings focussing on a different part of the game or opposition. In preparation, we are aiming to be the fittest, strongest and smartest team every game and every Rugby field we play on. A goal that I believe is reachable.”
It's a great blog, and in her three entries so far Demi has provided great insight into her own journey into a professional Rugby career and some inner sanctum details behind the scenes.
Click here to check out her latest blog, and to subscribe to receive all of them straight to your emails!
5. NSW’s new superstar fullback
When you’re competing with one of the best Rugby players in the world, Wallaby superstar Israel Folau, for the fullback position you know you’re going to have a tough job on your hands.
Bryce Hegarty has proven himself time and time again in a Super Rugby career which sees him reach his 50th cap this weekend. Last time out, as the ‘Tahs got the job done against his former team, he was selected at fullback with Folau on the wing and as he explained to Wayne Smith in The Australian, it was actually Israel who suggested the switch.
“He (Israel) was one of the ones behind the move because he was saying to me: You need to be the fullback. I really need to train with you at 15. When I came on at fullback in the first three games of the year (and Folau moved to the wing), we gelled really well together.
“I’m a confident guy and confident in myself and I’m confident I can be the best fullback in Australian Rugby and that’s what I want to achieve. I want to have that position and play for Australia. Everyone would be silly not to have goals like that and I feel like I have good combinations with the people around me.”
“I’ve always been a bit smaller, the skinny kid who didn’t really look like a Rugby player, I suppose. I try to bring the playmaking and the decision-making and the speed, they’re the positives of my game and I try to bring them to the team as best I can. Hopefully, the rewards and the accolades will come.’’
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.
Find out more about wine on the Taylors Wines website.