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Rugby News: Clive please... Pom blames Eddie AGAIN after 6N flop, ABs set lunch date with WBs, Fiji Drua ace axed

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7th February, 2023
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Eddie Jones has gone from England’s set up but some things haven’t changed.

Among them, Sir Clive Woodward twisting the knife into the Wallabies’ new coach after a disappointing England result.

Woodward hounded Jones throughout the Aussie’s England tenure in his Daily Mail columns and predictably was still at it following the Six Nations loss to Scotland at Twickenham on the weekend.

“There is still a fear factor in the England players, a legacy of the Eddie Jones era that will take time for [new coach] Steve Borthwick to eradicate,” wrote Woodward.

“England were programmed under Jones to minimise risk in their own half. That meant box kicking too often and kicking the ball away.

“England wouldn’t have dreamt of running the ball from their own 22 as Scotland did several times. The change to a more attacking approach won’t happen overnight, but it must take place.”

Jones also copped a backlash from Borthwick, who was scathing of what the Aussie left him.

“I’ve been frank from day one in saying there’s a lot of work to do,” Borthwick told reporters.

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“When I looked at the team in the autumn, when I measured the team and got all the data for the team, we weren’t good at anything. It was as frank as that. So we are trying to build some strengths in this team and some bits we are pleased about and some bits we are disappointed about. My job is to make sure we get some improvements next week.

“I have asked the players to play a new way. One thing I have got to do here is get the players to believe in themselves and get the players to bring their strengths to the pitch. Get them to play to the best of themselves, which I don’t think we have seen them do for a while. I think you saw an improvement in that regard.

“There are multiple areas that we have tried to change. I think you saw some improvement in the scrum which I was pleased about because it has been ranked as the worst scrum in tier one rugby. I think we saw some improvements in the attack and speed of ball and we tried to improve the breakdown where I think England were ranked the ninth quickest, so one of the slowest in tier one.”

 (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Eddie was complimentary of Borthwick in his self-titled podcast debut last week, but the English moaning and and blame game are sure to fuel him in future contests.

Fiji ace axed

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Fijian Drua have terminated the contract of Vinaya ‘Bossman’ Habosi just two weeks before the start of the Super Rugby season.

The club, who open their season against Moana Pasifika in Auckland, said in a statement: “The Fijian Drua today confirmed that player Vinaya Habosi has had his contract terminated with immediate effect, due to a high-level breach of the Club’s Code of Conduct.

“The decision was made after careful consideration, and full due process was accorded to Vinaya throughout the process. The Fijian Drua will not comment further on this matter.”

Chelsea sign ex-All Blacks staffer

English football club Chelsea have hired All Blacks mental skills expert Gilbert Enoka.

Enoka, who instilled a “no dickheads” policy during 20 years with the All Blacks, will attempt to turn the Premier League’s big spenders into a tight knit group under manager Graham Potter.

Enoka was part of the staff for the All Blacks’ World Cup triumphs in 2011 and 2015 and also worked with with the Black Caps and Silver Ferns.

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The London Telegraph reported: “Head coach Graham Potter’s bloated squad is bursting with different personalities and egos, and there is an acknowledgement that Chelsea’s expensive new signings could flop under the weight of expectation if the right culture is not created.

“That is the area Enoka has been hired to help with, and the 57-year-old will stress the importance of the team over the individual at a time when Potter has been left with the unenviable task of trying to help all of his new players settle in, while trying to make sure existing squad members do not become disillusioned.

“Successive managers and head coaches have questioned the mental fortitude of the Chelsea squad since the club last won the Premier League title in 2017.”

Enoka developed a culture at the All Blacks where players took responsibility for their actions and were answerable to their teammates.

Wallabies face All Blacks in Dunedin

The All Blacks will play two Tests on home turf this year against South Africa in Auckland and Australia in Dunedin.

The All Blacks play South Africa at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland on Saturday 15 July while the Bledisloe Cup returns to Dunedin for the first time since 2017, in a rare afternoon home Test match on August 5.

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The 2.35pm local time kick off means a 12.15pm start for fans in Australia.

The two home Tests will be part of a 2023 schedule which will see the All Blacks play five Tests in the build up to the Rugby World Cup in France in September.

Wallaroos coach retains job

Jay Tregonning will continue as coach of the Australian women’s rugby team following a review of their program post World Cup.

The Wallaroos bowed out in the quarter-finals of last year’s tournament in New Zealand.

But it was enough for Tregonning to retain his position, with Eddie Jones now overseeing the women’s rugby program as part of his return to the Wallabies coaching role.

Tregonning will continue to be supported by assistant coaches Scott Fava and Sione Fukofuka.

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Rugby Australia said the 2022 season review included input from players, management and external consultants who worked with the Wallaroos program.

Tregonning, who took over as coach at the end of 2021, said he was excited to continue in the position and to work with Jones.

“The whole program is excited about the prospect of Eddie Jones having input – being able to collaborate with one of the world’s best coaches is a major opportunity for myself, the staff and the players,” the Wollongong school teacher said.

“Although making it through to the quarter-finals at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand was a great achievement, the players and staff are hungry for more success. 

“We debuted 19 new players throughout 2022, so it will be great to go into 2023 with a large percentage of players who have accrued valuable Test match experience.

Grace Hamilton of Australia

Grace Hamilton of Australia (Photo by Fiona Goodall – World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

“The coaching staff and I are looking forward to continuing to build on our performances from last year – there were definitely inconsistencies within key areas of our game and these will be areas of focus.”

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The Wallaroos will play an extended season of Test matches in 2023, including a one-off Test against Fiji, the Pacific Four Series against New Zealand, USA and Canada, the Laurie O’Reilly Cup against New Zealand, and World Rugby’s inaugural WXV competition.

Shocking run for sevens star

Stand-in Australia captain Henry Hutchison will miss the rest of this year’s Sevens World Series rugby competition after being battered with four injuries in the space of a week.

Hutchison sprained his wrist and broke several ribs during the Sevens tournament in Hamilton in late January.

A week later, he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, and injured his right knee while playing against Argentina at the Sevens event in Sydney.

The ACL tear has ruled him out for the rest of the season, meaning he’ll miss events in Los Angeles, Vancouver, Hong Kong, Singapore, Toulouse and London.

Hutchison had stepped into the captaincy role following an ankle injury to Nick Malouf, who could return for the event in Los Angeles on February 25-26.

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The Australian men’s Sevens side currently sit eighth in the rankings, with the top four teams to earn automatic qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympics. 

“Obviously with the 2023 World Series being an Olympic qualifying year, I’m super disappointed that I won’t be able to contribute any further on the field,” Hutchison said in a statement.

“However, I’ll be doing everything in my power to contribute to the team in a positive way.

“I’m hoping that my injury gives new boys the opportunity to develop their game and add new depth to our squad.

“There are a lot of talented footballers on this side. I’m anticipating that someone will step up and get the job done in my absence.”

Hutchison, 25, will undergo surgery for his multiple injuries on Monday.

“One of the biggest challenges for me over the next 9-12 months will be keeping my mind active and staying focused,” Hutchison said.

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“The training and the rehabilitation will be the easy part – the mental endurance required for recovery will be the focus area for me.

“Injuries are a part of football – they come with the territory. This is the biggest setback I’ve faced in my career to date, but I have full faith in the rehabilitation team I’m working with. I know they will go above and beyond in getting me back to my pre-injury state.

“I aim to come back to rugby a better player and a better athlete, mentally refreshed and ready to roll into a big 2024.”

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