The Roar
The Roar


ANALYSIS: Lynagh and Jorgensen catch the eye as Tahs edge Reds, Ikitau stars for Brumbies in Super Rugby trials

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11th February, 2023
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Wallabies coach Eddie Jones will have had one eye clearly on the here and now and another on the future as he watched the Reds and Waratahs contest an entertaining trial match in Narrabri on Saturday.

The Waratahs edged it on the scoreboard 33-32 but needed an error from referee Nic Berry and his assistant, who, flying blind without TMO, failed to spot veteran Fijian Nemani Nadolo drop the ball as he dived over in the left corner for the late winner.

There was plenty of effort and endeavour from both teams – as you’d expect from any Queensland vs New South Wales clash – and there was plenty to catch both eyes as Jones continues his buildup to naming his first squad on his return to the national job.

While the established and fringe Wallabies – guys like Jake Gordon, Jed Holloway, Harry Wilson and Fraser McReight – will have felt Jones’ stony glare from the stands – just as intriguing for the new/old coach, and Australian rugby, is the level of talent coming through the ranks.

Four bright young things – who will all be dreaming of playing in the home World Cup in 2027 – took centre stage in sweltering conditions in country New South Wales – two from each side.

Going up against each other in the first half were under 20 stars Max Jorgensen down the left wing for the Tahs, and Floyd Aubrey directly opposite him for the Reds. There was another match up of emerging talent in the No.10 shirts with Tane Edmed given the start against Tom Lyngah.

Three of those four have famous footy playing fathers, and perhaps it was Michael’s boy Tom who shone the brightest alongside Reds No.9 Tate McDermott in the opening 40 minutes.


Much has been made of the gap in flyhalf depth between the golden oldies – QC, Bernard and JOC – and the young guns, and Lynagh has shown his name belongs to the crop of impressive emerging youngsters with Edmed, Ben Donaldson and Noah Lolesio.

Jorgensen – son of former Wallaby Peter – is garnering serious heat and the schoolboy star showed why early in the second half with a stunning step and burst of pace to score a breathtaking try, having swapped the left wing for the right.

The step left Filipo Daugunu floundering, and the forgotten Wallaby took a cynical measure of revenge with a late hit on the young Waratah after a clearing kick.

Daugunu was out of sorts – he shot through and should have backed himself to take on the final line of defence, only to throw away the ball with a shocking pass.

Aubrey may lack the notable footy lineage of the others but is no less exciting or promising than the others, and made an impressive start when he scooped up a cross field kick from McDermott and finished deftly in the right corner.


Aubrey, who plays for GPS in Brisbane, was hunted by NRL clubs but decided to stick with the XV man game. For those who want to know more about him, this story from Jim Tucker on The Roar is well worth a look.

But Aubrey also gave an indication of why expectations must be tempered for young players. He dropped an Edmed bomb under little pressure that Jorgensen seized upon in the lead up to a Tahs try, and later made another blunder from a high ball, getting a fatherly tap on the head from Seru Uru.

He was replaced by Suli Vunivalu – another Red who chose union over league (eventually) but one who is at a footy cross road much further down the road than his 20 year old teammate. Vunivalu played a matter of minutes under Rennie and needs to start showing more for Jones, and his club coach Brad Thorn. Fans of both teams are waiting for an explosion, but there was little sign of it once again.

Edmed is perhaps the closest of the four youngsters to a Wallabies call up – although there are good judges who wouldn’t be at all surprised if Jorgensen comes from the clouds between now and the World Cup.

Super Rugby kicks off in two weeks with the Tahs hosting the Brumbies at Allianz Stadium. While the coaches will be trying to keep the players’ minds on that competition, it it inconceivable that a significant number of those playing last night paid no thought to Jones and the gold jerseys on offer this year.

McReight and Wilson combined with Uru for one Reds try and Wilson was pumped with placing the ball down for the try. He fell out of favour under Dave Rennie and acknowledged this week that the arrival of Jones gave him “a lot more hope”. If Saturday night is any gauge he’s set for a big season as he tries to nail down the Wallabies No.8 jersey.

McDermott and Jake Gordon were both busy in their first sparring session of a season that might see one of them agonisingly left home from the World Cup. Langi Gleeson got a yellow card and was seen seething on the naughty step. When he got back on he channelled his anger into a brutal hit.


Earlier the Waratahs Super W team beat their Queensland rivals 13-5, scoring two tries to one and sealing it with three minutes left.

The game was scoreless for an hour as the 37-degree heat took its toll in Narrabri before Caitlyn Halse broke the deadlock.

A penalty to Halse put the score out to 8-0 in the 70th minute, before Tiarna Molloy gave her side the chance to snatch victory in the final minutes with a Reds try.

The Waratahs put the result beyond doubt in the final stages with a try to Margot Vella.

Ikitau stars for Brumbies

Len Ikitau’s second-half double was enough for the ACT Brumbies to skip clear after the Melbourne Rebels had fired their first shots ahead of the Super Rugby Pacific season, reports AAP.

The Brumbies led early but needed a second-half surge in a 35-33 win in Wagga Wagga on Saturday.


The Rebels, beaten 24-0 by Fijian Drua in their only other trial game, held sway and led 19-12 early in the second half after stalling the Brumbies’ rolling maul and finding space on the left flank.

But Wallabies centre Ikitau produced the critical plays, twice tumbling out of tackles to score his tries in the Brumbies’ comeback.

His second put them nine points clear before the Rebels scored a consolation try after the siren.

Rugby sevens recruits Corey Toole continued his fine pre-season form with a try for the winners, while fellow sevens product and Tokyo Olympian Joe Pincus made the most of his early minutes with a first-half double.

Pincus was on after Ray Nu’u was helped off with a right knee injury, while Rebels five-eighth Carter Gordon was also limping when he exited in the 60th minute.

The emerging playmaker was sharp before that, throwing the pass for Pincus’s first try and running at the line with confidence.

Playing fullback, Reece Hodge was also impressive while Jack Debreczeni was smooth in pulling the Brumbies’ strings in the No.10.


Victory for the Brumbies followed a tight win over the Waratahs in their other pre-season game, returning coach Stephen Larkham to enter the season later this month with a perfect record.