Welcome back to the Taylors Wines Top 5, where we keep you up to date with all of the best player stories being told in the media, brought to you by our good friends at Taylors Wines (and accompanied by a handy wine tip every edition).
This week, the Wallabies will be looking to make it two wins so far at the Rugby World Cup when they come up against Uruguay at 3:15pm on Saturday, after Sunday's narrow defeat to Wales. The South Americans have been responsible for one of the biggest giant-killings in RWC history with their defeat of Fiji in Kamaishi, and the men in Gold will need to be at their best to bounce back.
The Australian Women's Rugby Sevens team get their 2019-20 World Rugby Sevens series underway early on Sunday morning in Colorado with matches against Spain (1:53am AEST), Fiji (5:37am) and Canada (8:43am). All matches will be streamed live via the World Rugby Facebook channel, with Cup Quarter Finals from 3:11am on Monday - click here for the tournament Match Centre.
The NRC is really heating up as we head into the penultimate round, with seven of the eight teams remaining in contention for the finals. The action kicks off on Saturday at 12:00pm as the Canberra Vikings host Sydney, before Melbourne Rising take on the Drua at 5:30pm at Casey Fields.
After becoming the first team to knock off Western Force this year with a 38-24 win in Port Macquarie, NSW Country head to the Gold Coast to take on a QLD Country team who were too strong for Brisbane City in Gladstone last time out (3:00pm Sunday), while the Force and City are looking to get back to winning ways as they clash at 5:00pm (AEST).
Last weekend saw Griffith Uni take out Round Two of the 2019 AON Uni 7s, with two rounds remaining (University of Adelaide (12-13 October) and University of Canberra (26-27 October)), while at underage level the Australian Schools and U18s will play New Zealand in Hamilton on Friday after defeating NZ Barbarians on Monday. The Australian Barbarians are also in action against Samoan Schools at Knox Grammar on Wednesday - click here to see the squad. The National U19s Championship is also underway, in Canberra, with the action concluding on Saturday 12th October - full fixtures here.
Finally, the Australian Rugby community were saddened by the passing of Jeff Sayle this week. Current Wallabies Coach Michael Cheika paid tribute, via Rugby.com.au, in a heartfelt letter - click here to read it.
1. Nothing but respect for South Americans
Wallabies scrumhalf Nic White says that the match against Uruguay is critical for Australia.
“It’s a do-or-die game for us and it’s against a team that beat Fiji,” White told the Sydney Morning Herald's Tom Decent. “Certainly the days of old World Cups where there are two different tiers are gone.
“Anyone can beat anyone on any given day. You’ve certainly got to turn up with a frame of mind to really go after every game and treat it as do-or-die. The days of those old World Cups where you could completely just rest and ease into a game are gone.
“We’ve certainly got a lot of respect for them … they play with some serious passion. They’re going to be physical in terms of what they’re going to throw at us and I think a degree of not knowing may help us. It’s about focusing on ourselves and being ready for anything because they play pretty unpredictable footy. That’s going to be a challenge.”
Decent and his colleague Georgina Robinson have been producing a daily podcast on the ground in Japan during the RWC; click here to check it out.
After slow starts against both Fiji and Wales, White said the side needed to perhaps be a little more patient at the start of games and not get carried away with playing in the wider channels.
“We’re looking for the answer at the moment [regarding slow starts] and should we find it, hopefully we do, we are not going to tell you or the opposition,” White said. “We want to play footy and get out there and maybe we have got to be a little bit more patient early on. Certainly I don’t think it’s a case of us not being ready or wanting it. Maybe we’re too excited. We've just got to build into the game a bit more and maybe show a bit more restraint. Our game’s looking really good but we’re just giving teams a leg-up early on. If we can sort that out, the feeling within the group is really good.”
2. All roads lead to Japan for Aussie 7s!
While a collarbone injury will keep her out of the season-opening Colorado leg this weekend, it's impossible to keep Australian Women's Rugby Sevens star Dominique du Toit down. With the Olympic Games in Tokyo less than a year away, she provided some insight in her latest World Rugby blog about the team's lead up and pre-season.
"And we are back for the start of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series 2020 season! Eight tournaments and the Tokyo Olympics, this year is going to be an absolute cracker," she wrote.
"During our annual leave break we had a few of our full-time contracted girls along with some development players head to the Pacific Games in Samoa. The Aussie team had a really strong campaign and unfortunately went down to a strong Fiji side in the gold medal match. Shortly after this tournament the squad returned to training for the start of the pre-season. The first week back a group of 14 girls headed to Japan to do a heat training camp. This week coincided with one year to go until the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. And holy moly was it hot.
"Imagine wrapping yourself up in glad wrap, wearing a full tracksuit over the top and then running around inside a dome with a clear roof in 35-degree heat! I know I’m a little dramatic but that is what it felt like in my head. At the end of our sessions I could have quite honestly squeezed about a cup full of sweat from my shirt! We were based in Odawara, about one hour on the train outside of Tokyo. We will return to Odawara prior to the Olympics again for training. This heat camp was really important for us in our preparation for the season and the Olympics next year. We were able to experience the heat and humidity and get an idea of what to expect that same time next year when we’re running out in the Australian jerseys in Tokyo.
"Away from the field the hospitality in Japan was incredible. From the moment we landed right until it was time to leave again, everywhere we went we experienced phenomenal service. Getting a chance to immerse ourselves in the Japanese culture was also a pretty cool part of the trip and having done that now, while getting our bearings around what to expect next year will allow us to focus 100 per cent on the Olympics when the time comes.
"Returning to Australia we started our pre-season as a full squad. In a nutshell it consisted of plenty of hills, burpees, beach sessions and lactic vomits. We have been working super hard on our fitness and contact conditioning aspects of the game and the girls are looking red hot for the first round.
"With a contact sport you would expect injuries and unfortunately, we have quite a few at the moment. Sammie Treherne is out due to fracturing her Lisfranc, Emma Sykes after having surgery on her sesamoid and myself after breaking my collarbone again a couple of weeks ago.
"We also have a couple girls who are on their way out of rehab and will hopefully be playing soon. But most excitingly we have someone on debut! Maddie Ashby is one of the newer members coming into the wider squad just last season and has been working super hard. She will have the honour of pulling on the green and gold jersey this week alongside 11 other girls who I have no doubt will do the whole country proud."
3. Morrey making most of Melbourne chance
Melbourne Rising backrower Pat Morrey has given up a lot to ply his trade this year for the Melbourne Rising, with the Cairns product moving down south after winning a Queensland Premier Rugby premiership with UQ this year. Revelling in his first season in Melbourne, Morrey told Matthew Hughes that he is already reaping the rewards that come with training in a professional environment.
“Down here I get to train and do sessions with the Rebels guys who aren’t involved with the Wallabies. That’s really been awesome getting that insight into the inner circle,” he said. “I’ve learnt heaps working closely with coaches from the Rebels like Dave (Wessels) and Footey (Kevin Foote).
“One of the beautiful things about the NRC, is that it gives blokes like me the opportunity to travel interstate and check out different set-ups.”
This isn’t Morrey’s first experience in the NRC having previously spent time with QLD Country in 2016 before playing with Brisbane City in 2017 and 2018. It was during that time, as well as his games with the Rising so far, that Morrey has learnt the big difference between the NRC and Club rugby.
“I really noticed how much faster everyone was and your decision making, especially here at the moment, has to be a lot sharper,” he said.
4. Kerevi calls for player input
Wallabies vice-captain Samu Kerevi says he’d like to see players have more of a say on laws in the game after a fortnight in which controversial refereeing calls have dominated the World Cup dialogue. Kerevi was penalised for a “dangerous” fend on Welsh back Rhys Patchell in Australia’s loss to Wales on Sunday.
On Monday morning, he was quick to take the blame away from “high-pressured” referees but said he felt players should have a larger contribution when it came to developing these laws, with decisions often having to be made in split seconds on the field. England player Rachael Burford is currently the player representative on World Rugby’s Rugby Committee while former Ireland player Jamie Heaslip is also in that group.
"Yeah, you’d think so,” he told Rugby.com.au's Beth Newman, when asked whether players deserved a bigger say in laws developed for their well-being.
“At the end of the day you’ve got to understand from a player’s point of view, the way the referee explained it to me, in those milliseconds I’ve got to move my arm from just running to tucking it down. What do I do if I don’t have my arms up? Is his shoulder going to go into my head? How am I to keep myself safe? I’m literally just holding onto the ball and just running, in that position, in that situation.
“I guess they would have past players talking about the ruling and that but that’s out of my hands. I’m just here to play footy. I really just want to contribute all the positive things I can to the team.”
Kerevi said initially he didn’t even realise the TMO was reviewing his part in he incident, believing they were looking at a potential high tackle from Patchell.
"The boys thought it was the tackle at first but I was like, 'no, it wasn't high or anything'. I felt fine,” he said. “When I realised they were looking at me it kind of shocked me, the first time I am getting looked at for running the ball. But it's all good like, I was just hoping I wasn't going to get a card and let the team down.”
Kerevi said a lack of consistency when it came to these decisions was frustrating for players but said the call wouldn’t change his approach to attack.
“I’m just trying to do what’s best for the team and obviously trying to get over the ad line and I don’t think it’s me changing the way I run,” he said. “I think I have to get a clearer ruling on how we are meant to run. I’ve seen other examples of that, I’ve seen the way Beaudy ran at Kolbe and players understand, that’s sport. Like I said last night, it’s a collision sport, so players are not taking it badly. It was a good run by Beaudy and I thought, myself, last night I was only trying to get over the ad line as well.”
With so much action at the judiciary, the opening stages of the World Cup have been dominated by discussions about refereeing and Kerevi said he hoped that balance would change.
"Look, I understand you guys have to do a job and talk about the juicy stories but I just want to get back to rugby, especially like Japan-Ireland game. How good was that? That's what rugby's all about," he said. "I get you guys are just doing your job and that's fine but it's just tough because we are always talking about the referees and it's not all on them. I guess it's the ruling around it and they've got to enforce the law and keep safety."
5. Former Waratah with some sage words
It's not very often you'll find us championing the All Blacks in the Taylors Wines Top 5, but we must admit to holding a soft spot for former NSW Waratahs prop Angus Ta'avao, in Japan for the Rugby World Cup with New Zealand.
Aside from proving a hit on Japanese game shows and answering a journalist's phone during a press conference this week, Ta'avao also had some wise words on work-life balance. It may be his first World Cup tournament, but he appreciates the value of being able to twist the 'off' button once rugby duties are completed.
"If you just focus on Rugby, Rugby, Rugby … This is my first World Cup, and you are away from our family and in a team environment 24/7 pretty much.
" (It is important) To be able to switch off and take your mind off things, whether that is going out with the boys and having a coffee."
And as for dancing on Japanese TV? Ta'avao was adamant it was an off-the-cuff reaction to what was happening around him.
"We were supposed to lift him (a member of the show) up and then some music started playing. Just me being me, it was a bit awkward. We were just standing there so I thought I would dance a little bit. Whatever happened, happened.
"I think it is pretty important to be yourself, and have fun when it is time to have fun. But obviously when we come into the team environment, it is into work."
And now, for an exclusive tip from our friends at Taylors Wines, and this week we’re talking about decanters…
Chances are, many of us don't actually have a wine decanter in the cupboard. If you really enjoy your wine, think about buying one for your next dinner party. Otherwise, you can also gain the benefits of decanting wine by looking for a clean water jug or similar wide-mouthed glass serving jug.
Choose a clear (not patterned) glass container that will allow a full 750ml bottle to be contained while ensuring a generous surface area.