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Rugby News: RTS gets first Test start as ABs named, Swinton's agony nears end, question Razor refused to answer

27th October, 2022
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27th October, 2022
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Wallabies forward Lachie Swinton is on course to resume his career with the Waratahs after a year on the sidelines with a serious injury.

The Tahs backrower last played in the opening round of Super Rugby against Fijian Drua before suffering nerve damage in his shoulder in a tackle. He required a nerve transfer operation to regain muscle function but was left increasingly frustrated by the slow progress of recovery.

“The big point is I’m not playing and out there doing what I love doing,” he said ahead of the July Test series.

“For me, not doing that does break me a lot. I’m trying to focus and channel my energy into developing myself athletically and in other aspects, and I think that’s going really well. Whenever this comes right, I’m going to be a better player for it.”

Lachlan Swinton poses during an Australian Wallabies portrait session

(Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images for Rugby Australia)

In an update on five of their wounded – Test centre Izaia Perese, props Angus Bell and Harry Johnson-Holmes, back Will Harrison and Swinton – it was revealed Swinton was on course to play in at least one of the Waratahs’ pre-season trial matches with the aim of being available for selection for the round one clash against the Brumbies.

Perese suffered a ruptured patella tendon during the Wallabies’ second Test loss against England in Brisbane in July and is looking to start running before Christmas. He is aiming to be back in full training in mid-January with the target of returning to play in the early rounds of the 2023 season.

It’s a similar timeline for Johnson-Holmes, who suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in Wallabies camp ahead of the July Tests.

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The Tahs said Johnson-Holmes had his Achilles surgically repaired and is currently out of a cast walking, focusing on regaining the strength and mobility of the calf and tendon.

Angus Bell, who was injured in the England series but returned during the Bledisloe Cup before being ruled out again with his troublesome toe injury, has had surgery on his injured plantar ligament.

Bell is in the early stages of recovery and currently walking in a boot but is hopeful of some game time during the Waratahs’ pre-season trial matches and a return for round one.

Harrison is slated to return to training partway through Tahs’ preseason after surgery on patella and MCL damage and will miss the start of the season.

All Blacks name team for Japan Test

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Stephen Perofeta will start for the All Blacks for the first time in Saturday’s Test against Japan.

RTS will play in the centres with Perofeta at fullback for the match.

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The All Blacks have been hit with seven withdrawals ahead of the game and the three Barrett brothers are missing due to the death of their grandmother.

Finlay Christie has been named to play his second Test in the No. 9 jersey with Aaron Smith as cover. If Smith plays he will equal Dan Carter as the sixth-most capped All Black with 112 Tests.

The side also features the return of Anton Lienert-Brown. The 56-Test midfielder missed the start of the international season due to a shoulder injury and, after being named on the bench s in line to earn his first cap since November.

“This Northern Tour is going to be huge,” said coach Ian Foster. “We see four incredibly tough Tests ahead and this one against Japan will ask some serious questions of us.

“We want to show that we are ready to respond. We want to show that we have put in the work required to lift our game even further after the Rugby Championship.

“We have a lot of respect for Japanese rugby, the fans and the culture of this country as a whole. What an exciting way to kick off the next part of our journey as a group.”

Match day 23 (Test caps in brackets):

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1.    George Bower (19)

2.    Dane Coles (84)

3.    Nepo Laulala (42)

4.    Brodie Retallick (98)

5.    Tupou Vaa’i (15)

6.    Shannon Frizell (21) 

7.    Sam Cane (85) (captain) 

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8.    Hoskins Sotutu (12)

9.    Finlay Christie (12)

10.  Richie Mo’unga (41)

11.  Caleb Clarke (11)

12.  Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (2)

13.  Braydon Ennor (5)

14.  Sevu Reece (21)

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15.  Stephen Perofeta (1)

16.  Samisoni Taukei’aho (17)

17.  Ofa Tu’ungafasi (48)

18.  Tyrel Lomax (20)

19.  Patrick Tuipulotu (42)

20.  Dalton Papali’i (18)

21.  Aaron Smith (111)

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22.  David Havili (21)

23.  Anton Lienert-Brown (56)

Question Scott Robertson wouldn’t answer

There appears to be some lingering ill will between Crusaders coach Scott Robertson and New Zealand Rugby over the All Blacks coaching saga earlier this year.

Robertson spoke to Kiwi reporters this week after the Crusaders’ squad for 2023 was locked in, along with those of the other four NZ franchises.

Robertson is expected to depart the Crusaders at the end of next year to pursue other opportunities. He has spoken candidly about his desire to coach international teams at World Cup level and was close to taking over the All Blacks as Ian Foster wobbled with losses to Ireland and South Africa earlier this year.

Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson celebrates his 100th game with a win during the Super Rugby Pacific Semi Final match between the Crusaders and the Chiefs at Orangetheory Stadium on June 10, 2022 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Peter Meecham/Getty Images)

 (Photo by Peter Meecham/Getty Images)

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The All Blacks bounced back, Foster survived, and Robertson was left frustrated.

“From a personal point of view, how do I put it, it’s been a pretty reflective time. There’s a lot going on – a lot of stuff out of my control and stuff that I can’t influence,” Robertson said.

“It was tricky, [the All Blacks job] such a public role. Everyone’s got an opinion and that’s the great thing about our game – everyone loves it and everyone’s passionate about it. So I understand that.”

When he was asked if he was comfortable with how his link to the All Blacks was handled this year Robertson had a lengthy pause before saying: “No comment, sorry.”

He admitted he had been distracted by the situation.

“I’ve had those conversations with players, now I’ve got to have a conversation with myself,” Robertson said. “My focus now turns to the Crusaders, which it always has been, but probably more so going into my last year.

“Just get my energy right, keep the focus I’ve had in the other six years and get better to help the team be better.”

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Robertson also lost his assistant coach Jason Ryan to the All Blacks mid-season.

“Jase is a great mate, he’s a good man,” said Robertson, clarifying there was no ill feeling between the two. “We’ve had a good catch-up and a cuddle. I’m really proud of him, I’m really proud that he’s gone on.

“My role as a leader is to influence people into greater opportunities and help them along the way, and that’s what he’s done. He’s done a fine job with them and I miss him.”

Why Blair Kinghorn smartens up Scottish attack

Blair Kinghorn, the Scottish No.10 who has to fill the boots of out-of-favour star Finn Russell, has the smarts to be a huge success in the role, says his club coach Mike Blair.

The Scotsman newspaper said Kinghorn “often appears like a flighty character” but Blair told the paper there is more to the 25-year-old than meets the eye.

“I think he’s one of the players with the highest rugby IQ I have come across,” said the Edinburgh coach.

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“When he was injured last year, he did a couple of previews for us and he did them better than the coaches would do them.

Scottish commentator Jamie Lyall joins The Roar Rugby podcast to preview this weekend’s clash at Murrayfield

“You can hear him on the ref mic during games, having conversations with players about what opportunities there are and what things needs to change, so think he’s a brilliant guy to coach.

“But we’ve got to understand that across all teams and all personnel, there are going to be some mistakes in there, so it is about how you react to them. Blair will make the occasional mistake, but let’s look at everything he does well.

“Last season he had the highest number of assists in the northern hemisphere, so some people will look at it and say ‘Blair made this pass error’ while others look at it and say Blair created all these tries.

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“I believe there is a huge amount of upside in Blair and what he’s trying to do.”

Dempsey on course for Wallaby reunion

Former Wallaby Jack Dempsey looks to be winning his battle with a rib injury and could be in line to face his old team as a Scotland Test debutant at Murrayfield.

And the 14-time capped Australia back rower Dempsey has been given a big vote of confidence in his new quest by the man who used to help coach him at the Waratahs.

Welshman Steve Tandy, Scotland’s defence coach, is a big fan of the 28-year-old after working with him in Sydney and reckons Dempsey will take his fresh adventure in Saturday’s Test in his stride if he earns selection in the team set to be announced on Thursday.

What may count against Dempsey is that he’s been out of competitive action since the start of the month with a rib injury sustained on duty with Glasgow Warriors against the Ospreys, but he came through full training with no problems on Tuesday.

Admitting it would be “some story” if Dempsey was to make his Scotland debut against the country of his birth after making the switch through World Rugby’s new international eligibility rules, Tandy tipped his old charge to cope with the limelight admirably.

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“These events are massive and for Jack it will be maybe a little bit bigger than normal, but he’s played in big games before, and I think his form has been outstanding,” said Tandy.

“Jack was just great to work with. Really engaging and just a really good rugby player. He’s been unbelievable for Glasgow and in the way he’s really taken to rugby in this hemisphere.

“He’s explosive and powerful so we’re really happy to have him part of our group.

Kiwi principals ban live TV of school games

Former All Blacks coach Graham Henry has supported a decision by Auckland school principals to ban live television broadcasts of 1st XV rugby.

Henry a former 1st XV coach at two Auckland rugby schools, said he agreed with a decision to stop Sky Sports from showing schools rugby on live TV.

“Hopefully they are going to pass a few examinations and get a good solid education,” Henry said.

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“It’s good to have the balance right. I think it’s a great opportunity for young men to just be their normal selves and develop in their own time without the pressures of live television.”

The principals released a statement saying they “declined” live coverage as college rugby was increasingly becoming an extension of the professional game.

This year some 1st XV school matches were broadcast live on Sky Sport.

“It’s about the team rather than the individual and supporting your mates and being a good team person,” said Henry.

“I think [TV coverage] is a negative on their own development and their teams development.

“They can go professional when they leave school. “They are already starting to be professional when they are at school and I think that is leading to burnout.

“It is leading to those sorts of negatives which young men don’t need. “I think what the principals have done here is a very positive thing.”

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