Super Rugby: Queensland Reds, Brad Thorn, Sam Cordingley, Wallabies, Crusaders, coffee meeting


To pinpoint the moment where the Queensland Reds’ re-emergence as a rugby powerhouse began, you’ve got to go back to early 2015.

It was over a coffee in March of that year where former Wallaby Sam Cordingley met Brad Thorn in the Brisbane suburb of Aspley, where the giant forward went to school.

The Reds were keen to recruit the World Cup-winning All Black, who won NRL premierships with the Broncos and Origins with Queensland, but couldn’t sign him given they already had their quota of internationals on their list.

But a question from Cordingley, who had only just started as general manager of the Reds, got the ball rolling about what life looked like for arguably the greatest dual international of all time.

“We had a conversation around what does life look like after rugby,” Cordingley tells foxsports.com.au. “He was considering going back to Leicester, but we kept in touch around what he wanted to do post rugby.

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Super Rugby AU: Queensland Reds star Jordan Petaia shapes as Wallabies fullback option, France, Tom Wright, Dave Rennie, Israel Folau


He might not have played at fullback under Dave Rennie, but Jordan Petaia shapes a possible solution for the Wallabies in the No.15 jersey in the years to come.

Petaia and Brumbies flyer Tom Wright have both impressed Rennie out wide and the duo are both being considered as possible solutions to fill the void left by Israel Folau.

Even before Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia there was debate about whether he should be played at fullback or the wing, but it’s long been a position the Wallabies haven’t nailed since Chris Latham and Matthew Burke wore the jersey.

Kurtley Beale at times looked like a world beater in the position and was nominated as World Rugby player of the year in 2010 when occupying the role.

But his flaws under the high ball meant he shifted in and out of the role throughout his career.



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After eight years in the wilderness, Sitaleki Timani wants another Wallabies jersey


A surprise inclusion in Dave Rennie’s 40-man Wallabies squad for a three-day camp that concluded on Tuesday, Timani sounded hopeful, rather than confident, that his Test career might be resurrected with some good fortune and hard work on the horizon.

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Ten years ago, Timani was involved in another Wallabies camp, also in Coogee. He debuted later that week against Samoa in 2011, with James O’Connor the team’s winger and Nathan Sharpe his second-row partner.

Timani, having honed his craft in France where teams thrive on the set-piece, might be a left-field selection if the former Brumbies and Waratahs representative’s body can hold up.

“I just want to try my best and see if I’m good enough to wear the jersey again,” Timani said. “I watched [the Wallabies] a lot during my time away. You want to be part of the team. Now I’m back I’m going to try my best and hopefully it’s good enough to wear a jersey.”

Timani would be vying for a Test spot against the likes of Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Trevor Hosea Cadeyrn Neville and Darcy Swain.

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With roughly three months to go before Australia’s three-Test home series with France, playmaker O’Connor said the camp was mostly about improving core skills.

“It is just breaking down some of the fundamentals of catch-pass and being able to improve our skill level,” said O’Connor after the team’s Tuesday session at Waratahs headquarters in Daceyville. “For us, that’s been an area we recognise we could probably expand. There’s been a few offloads that have gone to ground and it’s just been a few basics that have let us down [in Super Rugby].”

Meanwhile, Rebels captain Dane Haylett-Petty is still no certainty to return this week against the Brumbies for Sunday’s afternoon match in Melbourne.

Haylett-Petty hasn’t played rugby since last year after ongoing concussion issues and the Rebels are set to err on the side of caution this week. They have one more match of the regular season, against the Waratahs in round 10.

“We are probably likely to be a bit more cautious and only play him the following week,” said Rebels coach Dave Wessels on Tuesday.

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Out of their depth? The best XV at this week’s Wallabies camp


While I’ve gone for the Queensland Reds hooker, I do think Folau Fainga’a will get a look in this year. The same goes for Scott Sio. I wouldn’t be opposed to the idea of bringing Tupou off the bench. Rugby, more than ever, is a 23-man game, so coming off the pine wouldn’t be out of the equation for the Tongan Thor.

Second row: Cadeyrn Neville (Reds), Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (Reds)

Both have had terrific seasons to date. However, I also quite like what experienced veteran Sitaleki Timani brings and would be interested to see how he goes away from the Western Force. We know at lineout time the slightest split-second confusion or hesitation by any player can throw the whole operation into disarray, so it’s critical that whoever Rennie wants to start against France gets time to build combinations and get their knowledge up to scratch.

Back row: Rob Valetini (Brumbies), Fraser McReight (Reds), Harry Wilson (Reds)

Valetini has been a workhorse this year and, given Hooper is still in Japan, we’ll avoid the McReight-Hooper debate for now. Valetini is an extra lineout option and you could even throw Salakaia-Loto into No.6 if necessary. The other two have been brilliant once again in Super Rugby AU, showing no signs of second-year syndrome.

Halves: Nic White (Brumbies), James O’Connor (Reds)

I’m happy for the incumbents and senior figures of this Australian team to get another go in 2021. I still see Matt To’omua as more of a No.12 and do like him as a second decision-maker.

Centres: Hunter Paisami (Reds), Len Ikitau (Brumbies)

This might be a bit left-field, but I’d love to see how a Paisami-Ikitau pairing would go. I know it makes sense to use a midfield pairing that has been tried and tested at Super Rugby level, but I think they could flourish together.

Back three: Marika Koroibete (Rebels), Tom Wright (Brumbies), Tom Banks (Brumbies)

Koroibete is one of the best in the world, while Wright shone last year and deserves another chance. It’s a tough field and some big names such as Filipo Daugunu, Jordan Petaia and Suliasi Vunivalu need to seize their chance to make the Wallabies starting XV. On the basis of Haylett-Petty still being out with ongoing concussion symptoms, Banks wears my No.15 jersey.

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Bench: Angus Bell, Lachlan Lonergan, Allan Alaalatoa, Seru Uru, Pete Samu, Jake Gordon, Matt To’omua, Suliasi Vunivalu.

Alaalatoa is a no-brainer, Uru could be used as back row cover, while Pete Samu is an on-baller who could be devastating late in matches. Jake Gordon is a different kind of halfback to White and just shades Tate McDermott in my eyes. Gordon’s impact against the Brumbies was profound. To’omua’s experience will be desperately needed and if Vunivalu can be unleashed against tired defences, who knows what havoc he could wreak. I don’t have room for Reece Hodge.

Who could force their way in?

From NSW, perhaps Jack Maddocks, Jack Dempsey and Will Harris. The latter was probably a week or two late to show what he could do but he will certainly be on Rennie’s radar. Joe Powell and Richard Hardwick from the Rebels probably have claims to be there. Stacey Ili has been good too but doesn’t get enough opportunities at the moment. Liam Wright, although injured for the season, and Brandon Paenga-Amosa will both be disappointed.

A lot can change in three months though.

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Super Rugby AU: Queensland Reds lose Wallabies star Hunter Paisami for Brumbies clash


Exclusive: The Queensland Reds’ quest to host their first Super Rugby final since 2011 has been dealt a blow with Hunter Paisami ruled out of Saturday night’s match against the Brumbies.

Paisami has a calf injury and has been ruled out of the matchday 23.

He has been replaced by Josh Flook at outside centre, with Brother inside-centre Lawson Creighton brought onto the bench.

The Reds had hoped to keep the injury under wraps such is his influence within the team, but it’s believed he will likely be back for their final regular match of the season against the Force on April 23.

The 22-year-old, who was let go from the Rebels in 2018, produced the matchwinning moment against the Brumbies when the top two Australian sides met in the nation’s capital in March.

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Wallabies 2021: Rugby Australia big decision on whether to keep director of rugby Scott Johnson, Dave Rennie, Andy Marinos,


Update: At the end of 2018 Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle hired Scott Johnson to rein in Wallabies coach Michael Cheika.

Now Rugby Australia’s new CEO Andy Marinos, who was coached by Johnson at Wales, must decide whether or not to keep the well-travelled figure as director of rugby.

It can be revealed that Johnson’s contract with RA runs out at year’s end.

Johnson wants to continue in the role.

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Is it the McReight time? The young gun pushing Hooper for a Wallabies jersey


But with Hooper plying his trade in Japan’s Top League this year, McReight has established himself as Super Rugby AU’s premier No. 7.

The 22-year-old’s “fetching” at the defensive breakdown a strength, and having played largely as a No. 8 and centre until his final year at school, ball running has always been instictive for the Brisbane Grammar product. And then there’s the leadership.

In 2019, McReight captained the Junior Wallabies to their best ever result at the World Rugby U20s championship – a one-point loss to France in the final.

Phil Waugh knows all about having to squeeze a world class player out of the Wallabies’ No. 7 jersey and the 79-Test flanker told the Herald McReight is ready to make the leap.

“You can go too eager, you can dive into everything and you get penalised or blown off the ball,” Waughs aid.

“He’s really started to identify when to go and when not to. What to attack and what not to attack. When you get that right, that allows you to have more energy to other things on the field.

“Identifying the pivotal moments to have a crack at the ball and then be really effective when you are doing that, just watching him do that and see him get into a rhythm and routine – it’s as good as anyone in Super Rugby.”

McReight’s timing is instinctive as it wasn’t part of his game until his third and final year of 1st XV rugby, and it was the work of Pocock that sparked it.

Michael Hooper of the Wallabies runs the ball during the Bledisloe Cup match between the All Blacks and the Wallabies in 2020.

Michael Hooper of the Wallabies runs the ball during the Bledisloe Cup match between the All Blacks and the Wallabies in 2020.Credit:Getty Images

“At Grammar, we would always lose the ball so it was my job to get it back,” McReight told the Herald.

“I suppose, at that time, in 2015, Poey was big at that World Cup. That had a big influence on me.

“But I don’t really remember doing it before Year 12. It just stuck.”

If Wallabies coach Dave Rennie was picking a team to face France tomorrow, McReight would be a strong chance to be named in the starting XV. But the young gun doesn’t listen to the hype about displacing Hooper.

“He’s the Australian captain. I’m not going to worry about that,” he said.

“I’m just doing my job and I’ve said to the coaches I want to prove what I can do. And I think I’m doing that.

“But that doesn’t mean anything. I have to keep doing it week in, week out and hopefully I get a few more runs in Wallaby gold this year. That’d be nice.

“But I want to win for Queensland, first and foremost, to be honest.”

While he doesn’t believe the hype, McReight also backs himself to go toe-to-toe with the Wallabies captain.

Hooper helped McReight with his nutrition and pre-match preparation during the three months spent together in Wallabies camp last year but at training, the pair were involved in some heated scuffles.

“I’m a competitive bloke. I go hard at training,” McReight said.

“We had a few scuffles at training and we’re always competing against each other.

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“And that’s my job as a young seven. He makes me better, I make him better.”

If McReight can continue his rapid rise, Waugh believes Hooper may soon have his own Smith moment.

“People are forgetting how young he is. He’s only just come through the 20s. Physically, he’s pretty mature. Similar to what Pocock was when he came through,” Waugh said of McReight.

“To win at Wallaby level, you have to have experience winning at schools and 20s level. He’s had that, which is great.

“The question then is how that fits in with Hooper and the other back rowers. What’s the right combination?

“(Playing the pair together) works. It just depends on what part of the game you use it.

“Do you use it at the front end, the back end or the middle? There is a place for it.

“Whether it’s throughout the whole game is questionable but there will always be pockets in the game where you leverage your best players, playing together.”

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Tokyo Olympics 2021: Australian rugby sevens team wants Wallabies star Sean McMahon for Games


He’s the trump card Dave Rennie wants on deck for the 2023 World Cup, but Tim Walsh is hoping to have Wallaby wrecking ball Sean McMahon on-hand for Australia’s Tokyo tilt.

With the Wallabies trying to win back the hearts and minds of Australians, Walsh believes the sevens team can win the public over like it did when his women’s side won gold at Rio and an explosion of women’s sports sprung as a result.

“You look at what it did for women in Australia by winning the gold medal. That didn’t just change rugby in Australia, it changed women’s sport,” Walsh said.

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Sean McMahon is in Walsh’s plans. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Sean McMahon is in Walsh’s plans. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images



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Super Rugby AU: Queensland Reds vs Brumbies, teams, wallabies, Rebels vs Force


They dominated Wallabies selection, now Australia’s top two will go at it on Saturday with a Super Rugby AU final at stake – and gold jerseys too.

It’s been a decade since Ewen McKenzie’s Reds hosted the Crusaders and won their maiden Super title.

A record crowd filled Suncorp Stadium to watch James Horwill’s men lift the Super Rugby trophy as Brad Thorn’s Crusaders returned to New Zealand empty-handed for a change.

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Not a single member of the class of 2011 remains, but halfback Tate McDermott was one of those in the crowd watching the Reds that winter’s Saturday night and for he and his teammates they are desperate to give their long-suffering Reds faithful another chance to see them lift their first-piece of major silverware since.

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Maul master McKellar unlikely to be joining Wallabies as forwards coach


“I’ve talked to Dave and the coaches a lot but that’s just around rugby and our players in that program,” McKellar said.

“I’ve said in the past I one day look forward to coaching at that level. When that day is, I don’t know.”

Rennie and Rugby Australia are in no rush to find a replacement and Parling may even plug the gap if a new hire isn’t made prior to the July series against France.

Whoever does take the role on would be mindful of McKellar’s ACT deal expiring after next year’s Super Rugby season.

Even if he doesn’t take up a position in 2021, the brains behind the Brumbies’ unstoppable rolling maul remains a strong chance of joining Rennie’s staff ahead of the inbound Tests next July, giving the Queensland product plenty of time to become accustomed to the role and the squad prior to the 2023 World Cup.

Meanwhile, Super Rugby clubs are sweating on Tuesday’s announcement from New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern regarding a trans-Tasman bubble.

New Zealand media reports suggest the bubble could be up and running as soon as mid April.
That would allow the full trans-Tasman fixture – which kicks off in mid-May – to be played as currently scheduled.

Home games for the five Australian franchises will be extremely valuable as matches against New Zealand teams generally bring the biggest crowds of the year.

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The Reds are hopeful of attracting a crowd of almost 25,000 to their clash with the Crusaders. The match will also be used to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the 2011 Super Rugby title winning team.

If the bubble is delayed or not functional for the trans-Tasman competition, alternate plans are already in place.

RA are hopeful of creating a “hub” or “bubble” but the most likely scenario is the extension of the Super Rugby AU season.

The location of the Super Round – which would have seen all five trans-Tasman matches take place in one city – is yet to be decided. The concept is likely to wait until next year before it’s launched by RA and NZR.

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