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Rugby News: SRP poach first CEO from A-Leagues, Reds rookie reveals cruel prank ahead of debut, Hewat answers Dan call

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24th April, 2024
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Super Rugby Pacific have named a key staffer of the A-Leagues football competition as their first CEO.

Jack Mesley, who will commence in the role on July 22, is currently the Chief Commercial Officer at Australian Professional A-Leagues.

Mesley said in a statement he was excited by the opportunity “to engage with the competition and the fans, to help deliver the best possible entertainment product and to drive deeper engagement with the game.

“This is a monumental step for the unions and clubs to come together with a real intent to grow Super Rugby Pacific and put fans at the centre,” Mesley said.

“I am looking forward to working with closely with the Super Rugby Pacific clubs to understand their commonalities and differences, and to come together to ignite the flame for generations to come.”   

Prior to his role at the A-Leagues, Mesley was the Chief Commercial Officer at NRL club Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and spent nine years in brand and marketing at beverages company Lion.

Super Rugby Pacific Chair Kevin Malloy said Mesley’s marketing background and practical skillset made him ideally suited to the Super Rugby Pacific CEO role.

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“What set Jack apart from a strong pool of candidates following a thorough search was his passion for rugby, his enthusiasm and a breadth of experience in both marketing and sports,” Malloy said.

“We were looking for someone who isn’t afraid to roll up their sleeves, given the joint venture is still relatively new. Jack sees the potential of the competition and wants to build on the success we’ve had to date. And he understands the need to form strong relationships with the broad range of stakeholders. We are really looking forward to having him onboard come July.”

Werchon reveals prank ahead of debut

Louis Werchon’s Queensland Reds teammates tried to prank him ahead of his Super Rugby Pacific debut.

But a tongue-in-cheek call last week to check why he was late, an hour before the team was due to meet, backfired.

The 21-year-old halfback was already in the building.

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It was no coincidence. The self-styled Sunshine Coast talent was making sure there was no repeat of what happened last year.

Named to make his debut off the bench, Werchon’s Mazda ute – complete with a plastic crown melted to the dashboard and The Goat number plate – was stuck in traffic.

He was three minutes late, renowned disciplinarian coach Brad Thorn pulling him aside at the captain’s run soon after to tell him he’d been dropped.

“Thorny just said, ‘not good enough, really’, and told me to go to the gym,” Werchon told AAP ahead of Saturday’s clash with the red-hot Blues at Suncorp Stadium. 

“The meeting hadn’t even started … it (to be dropped) was pretty brutal and I definitely thought it was a bit unfair.

“Now I’m not taking any chances.

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“I’m pretty sure I was two hours early all of last week.”

It’s not all talk. Werchon was five minutes early for this interview (with AAP’s Murray Wenzel) and says his entire approach to football has changed as a result of that tardy morning.

“I’ve worked a lot harder and I’m taking my footy more seriously this year,” he said.

“I still try and enjoy it as much as possible but have taken a step forward with my diet, my prep, recovery … but I’d never cut my hair (to conform).”

 Louis Werchon poses during the Queensland Reds 2024 Super Rugby headshots session at the National Rugby Training Centre on January 24, 2024 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images for Super Rugby)

Louis Werchon poses during the Queensland Reds 2024 Super Rugby headshots session at the National Rugby Training Centre on January 24, 2024 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images for Super Rugby)

Werchon admits he thought his professional dreams had been dashed, the junior Wallabies talent heading back to finish his plumbing apprenticeship and hoping for the best.

He impressed new coach Les Kiss and earned a new contract late last year, former schoolmate Tate McDermott’s three-week suspension opening the door for his debut off the bench in a 31-0 defeat of the Highlanders last week.

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It was the Sunshine Coast Grammar graduate’s first game at Suncorp Stadium and he didn’t shy away, launching a brilliant torpedo that wobbled to trouble the opposing fullback with his first kick.

He was happy to pick a fight with a Highlanders forward and showed the dash and dare with ball in hand that he hopes will put pressure on Kiss once Wallabies halfback McDermott is free to return.

“We’re all good mates but I’m trying to not only get (fellow halfback) Kalani (Thomas), but Tatey as well,” Werchon said.

“The dream is to wear that Wallabies jersey.”

Werchon’s teammates rate his humour and confidence while Kiss has leant into the entire squad’s personalities to get more out of a talented roster that had stalled under Thorn’s successful six-year reign.

“Les just wants us to all be ourselves – we got this far being ourselves – he’s been the best, communication-wise, footy-wise,” Werchon said.

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“And Brad (Davis, assistant coach) with the backs, has been unreal.”

Watch every match of Super Rugby Pacific ad-free, live & on demand on the Home of Rugby, Stan Sport

The Reds (4-4) kept a team scoreless for the first time since 1999 last week.

But they will face a monstrous task against the Auckland-based Blues (7-1) who put 46 and 50 points on the ACT Brumbies and Western Force respectively in the last fortnight.

“They’re clinical and we’ve got to break it down,” Werchon said. 

“A win would be huge and what we did on the weekend gives us the confidence.”

Hewat joins McKellar at Leicester

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Dan McKellar, whose first season in the Premiership with Leicester Tigers looks set for disappointment, has recruited former Brumbies colleague Peter Hewat as his attack coach.

The 46-year-old Hewat is joining from the Black Rams in Japan’s Rugby League One where he was head coach.

A 40-17 defeat to rivals Northampton Saints last week left Leicester third from bottom and six points off the playoff places with three rounds to play.

The attack coach McKellar inherited after leaving the Wallabies set up on the arrival of Eddie Jones, was Alan Dickens who was placed on leave in October. Matt Smith, who was already operating as skills coach and lead academy coach, took the extra responsibilities.

(With AAP)

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