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Rugby News: Hamish froths at 'mind blowing' Cleary link, Quade comeback not all it seems, Wallabies in white at WC

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21st April, 2023
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Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan says the prospect of bringing Penrith NRL star Nathan Cleary to the Wallabies is “mind blowing” as the sparring between the two footy codes drones on.

McLennan’s public pursuit of league players has angered some rugby fans – not least in the comments section here at The Roar – but the RA boss seems in no mind to wind in his enthusiasm for code wars.

League got one back this week with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck returning to the NRL with the Warriors from next season, with league boss Peter V’landys saying union should be called “rugby boomerang” because the players always come back.

The Australian has been leaked ANOTHER union hit list – and yes you’re not imagining it, Rugby Australia does seem to be leaking one a week at the moment.

Having leaked the document, McLennan was quick to confirm the names within – Souths captain Cameron Murray, Roosters’Angus Crichton, Parramatta centre Will Penisini, Penrith captain Cleary and Brisbane’s Payne Haas.

“Nathan Cleary wasn’t on the original list as we thought he’d be untouchable, but he said he’d be open to a switch,” McLennan said.

COVENTRY, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 21: Nathan Cleary of Australia runs with the ball during the Rugby League World Cup 2021 Pool B match between Australia and Scotland at The Coventry Building Society Arena on October 21, 2022 in Coventry, England. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

(Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

“I’d forgotten he’d spent time growing up in New Zealand, so he appreciates the game and gets it. Imagine him running out in front of 85,000 people wearing Wallaby gold at Stade de France. Mind blowing.

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“If you haven’t seen it, go on YouTube and type in ‘Wallabies’ national anthem at Twickenham’, Murrayfield, which is my favourite, or Stade de France and you’ll get what I mean. We don’t encourage people to break contracts but it’s up to him. There’s many good overseas tours he could do.”

McLennan revealed a family connection to Crichton.

“Well, (my wife) Lucinda’s family are super-close to the Crichtons,” he said. “Her mum and dad (Ruth and Tony) are old friends with Liz and Robert (Angus’s grandparents), and Lucinda used to hang out with Charlie (Angus’s dad) from the age of five at their property in Young.

“My daughter Olivia went to school with Gus’s sister Lucy and they’re great mates, so we all know each other really well.”

Murray has been cited by Eddie Jones as the NRL player he thought could excel in rugby.

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“Eddie (Jones) loves him. He’s top of the pops as an ex-rugby union player but I don’t think he’s gettable,” McLennan said.

Haas was revealed as a target this week and McLennan said he was hoping to meet his representatives, with the Broncos star off contract at the end of the season, but had a dig at Haas’ history of behavioural issues.


“He certainly has the physical talent but he’s got to really want to do it …. It’s a great honour to wear Wallaby gold so we’d need to be convinced he’ll adhere to the highest levels,” McLennan said.

On Joseph Suaalii’s former Kings’ school mate Penisini, McLennan said, oddly: “Will is an interesting one as he would understand, as (former Wallaby) Peter FitzSimons says, that rugby is more than a game, it’s a culture.”

Quade ploy in Japan return

Quade Cooper’s first game back after his long lay off with an Achilles injury could last merely a minute.

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The Roar understands Cooper’s Kintetsu Liners team is expecting to withdraw him from action shortly after kick off in the game against NEC Green Rockets.

Cooper has missed all of the season so far but needs to step on the field this weekend in the final regular season game to be eligible for the promotion-relegation playoffs.

The Liners will face a second division opponent in a two-game home and away play off with the winner going to next year’s top division and the loser resigned to division two.

Cooper is understood to be short of the required fitness to make a proper return this week, with his club team hopeful he can play a meaningful role in the playoffs.

Quade Cooper poses during an Australian Wallabies training session at Royal Pines Resort on July 27, 2022 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Quade Cooper poses during an Australian Wallabies training session at Royal Pines Resort on July 27, 2022 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Wallabies in white

The Wallabies have agreed to wear a white jersey against Portugal at the Rugby World Cup due to a policy in place to help colour blind fans.

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Rugby Australia told the Sydney Morning Herald they have agreed a request to wear the alternate strip because of the clash with Portugal’s red tops.

World Rugby said one in 12 males and one in 200 women suffer from some sort of CVD, including World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont.

Tahs march into semis

The NSW Waratahs will march into the Super W semi-finals with their unbeaten record intact after rolling the Rebels 29-0 in their last-round clash in Melbourne.

The table-topping Waratahs (5-0) have set themselves up for a final-four assault at Concord Oval in Sydney on April 30, running in five tries in their Friday night thrashing at AAMI Park.

Queensland currently hold down second place with three teams – 2022 champions Fijiana Drua, the Western Force and Brumbies – still in the scramble for the other two play-off spots.

Currently sitting fourth, the Force are two points clear of the Brumbies who they host on Saturday night.

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Stand-in Waratahs captain Grace Hamilton said it was a solid workout for her side, who will take on the fourth-placed team.

“We knew the Rebels were going to come out, they had nothing to lose here at home,” Hamilton told Stan Sport.

“They got us physically and we had to wear them out, and grind them out, and we got a bit messy at the start of the second half so we’ll look into that and see how we can be better for next week.”

Melbourne (0-5) have finished without a win but showed their improvement through the season to hold the rampant Tahs to 24 points.

They trailed 12-0 until just before halftime when debutante winger Jacinta Windsor showed her pace to dash 60m in and around the defence to score.

NSW’s early tries came after hooker Katalina Amosa mauled the ball across the line to open the scoring and then Wallaroos No.8 Hamilton powered over from a five-metre scrum.

Waratahs halfback Tatum Bird had a busy game while Test centre Georgina Friedrichs was a constant threat.

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Starved of possession and territory in the first half, the Rebels were constantly on the back foot and incurred 11 penalties.

But they settled into the match after the break with their skipper Wallaroos hooker Ash Marsters leading the way with some big hits.

They showed heart to regularly repel the visitors in the second half, even while down a player after prop Laiema Bosenavulagi was yellow carded.

The hosts held the Waratahs out until the 75th minute when a clearing kick by Rebels centre Wasie Toolis was charged down by Iliseva Batibasaga, who turned and pounced on the ball in the in-goal.

Speedster Maya Stewart then iced the win in the dying minutes after a spectacular team try that stretched 60 metres.

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