In a brand new feature for the 2017 Super Rugby season, RUPA will collate five of the best features from the week’s Rugby media and bring them to you in the one convenient location.
This week the Taylors Wines Top 5, brought to you by RUPA’s Official Wine Partner Taylors Wines, features some of the new faces you mightn’t know all that well and a few who’ve been around for quite some time, as the 2017 campaign gets underway.
1. Benny A’s raring to go
In today’ Canberra Times, Chris Dutton ran an exclusive interview with veteran Brumbies prop Ben Alexander. Alexander is in line to become the most-capped Brumby of all time this season, and he spoke about how hard he has worked over the pre-season to ensure he goes into the campaign in good touch.
“The last 10 seasons have flown by, but I still think I've got a lot of good footy ahead of me. I truly believe that,” he says.
“The moment you stop improving, you start going backwards. There have been times in my career where I haven't improved and I've slipped down the pecking order very quickly. It inspires you to keep training hard. You look at someone like David Pocock, who is always looking for tiny things to improve his game. The longer you play, the more obvious your weaknesses become. So you know what you've got to improve on. I'm definitely a lot clearer on what I have to do."
2. Karmichael keen to remind people of his capabilities
Playing three different football codes at the highest level is an extraordinary achievement and highlight what superb athletes Karmichael Hunt and Israel Folau are, but at the same time it also forces Hunt to realise that he hasn’t necessarily dominated a game of football in a number of years as he adjusts to different sports.
Speaking to AAP, Hunt talks about how re-energised he is heading into the new season, and how ready he is to show people what he’s got.
"It's been a while since I've been physically able to play some really good football,” he says. "It's honestly been the pre-season I needed from the start, just to rebuild my system.”
3. Dane Haylett-Petty re-signs; and sends a message
As one of the growing number of Perth products filtering through the Western Force team, Wallaby star Dane Haylett-Petty decision to re-sign in WA certainly took into account the fact that his family, including teammate and brother Ross, live locally.
With continual chatter that the future of the Force is under threat from the ARU, Dane used his re-signing as a platform to reiterate how crazy he thinks it would be if the franchise was cut from Super Rugby moving forward when speaking with Rugby.com.au.
“I think when the Force came in, it was all about growing Wallabies and I think throughout the years they've definitely done that,” he said.
“They've produced plenty of great Wallabies and added to Australian Rugby so I think it'd be crazy to let go of a team like that. I love playing here and hopefully it will be around for many years to come.”
4. Fitzy back against all the odds
Waratahs hooker Damien Fitzpatrick has returned to the Waratahs to chase regular Super Rugby action, and perhaps even a Wallabies jersey; but his return certainly wasn’t on the radar a couple of years ago.
While a minor injury will ironically sideline him from the first round of Super Rugby this weekend, Fitzpatrick spoke to Rugby News about his arduous journey back to fitness follow three ruptured ACL, in the same knee, before he’d even turned 25 years old.
“I’m very lucky to still be playing Rugby at all with some of the surgeries I’ve had, but now I’ve got the chance to come back and play for my state again and make up for lost time. It’s a chance for me to show the New South Wales fans what I’m really about, something I didn’t get to do first time out. Unfinished business is a perfect way to put it.”
5. Maddocks – from the middle order to the right wing
In our final feature for the week, The Age’s Roy Ward spoke to young Melbourne Rebels star Jack Maddocks about selecting Rugby over a promising cricket future, and dealing with glandular fever after signing his first ever professional deal with the Club.
In exciting news, Maddocks has been named to start tonight for the Rebels, so fans won’t have to wait long to see what he’s made of!
“I took my cricket seriously when I was growing up and I always thought of myself as more of a cricketer," Maddocks said.
“Then I had a late growth spurt and went from five feet eight [173 centimetres] to six feet four [193cm] – that makes it harder to be a batsman and easier to be a Rugby player.”
And finally, for this week's Taylors Wines bonus tip...
Did you know you may have been drinking your red wine at the wrong temperature this whole time? The concept of drinking red wine at ‘room temperature’ actually comes from the chilly drawing rooms of Medieval France. Since Australia is much warmer than those chilly castles, most winemakers and sommeliers recommend you chill your red wine slightly, to ensure it is at the best temperature for drinking!
If you see something in the press that you think is worthy of the next Taylors Wines Top 5, please send us your tip!