Category Archive: Australia Rugby

Australia Rugby News

Jul 20

Rugby union has an image problem in Indigenous Australia | Bret Harris

Indigenous Australia has provided champion players to the NRL and AFL, but it is time the ARU woke up from decades of neglecting Australia’s first peoples

It was wonderful to see Kurtley Beale dancing at the unveiling of the Wallabies’ Indigenous jersey in Redfern on Monday. Beale’s impromptu expression of pride in his Aboriginality was certainly an uplifting moment in an otherwise bleak year for Australian rugby.

But it also underlined the appalling lack of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation in the Wallabies. Only 14 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players – Beale, Gary Ella, Glen Ella, Mark Ella, Anthony Fainga’a, Saia Fainga’a, Matt Hodgson, Lloyd McDermott, Cecil Ramalli, Wendell Sailor, Timana Tahu, Andrew Walker, Lloyd Walker and Jim Williams – have played Test rugby for Australia.

Related: Under-prepared Wallabies need match-hardened Brumbies for Bledisloe Cup

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Jul 19

Quade Cooper omitted from Wallabies squad – but Cheika leaves door open for return

  • Playmaker left out of Australia’s extended Bledisloe Cup training squad
  • Eleven uncapped players named by coach Michael Cheika

Quade Cooper has been omitted from Michael Cheika’s extended Wallabies squad ahead of next month’s Bledisloe Cup opener against the All Blacks, although the coach indicated the decision would not spell the end of the flashy but often unpredictable playmaker’s international career.

The move leaves Bernard Foley as the only specialist flyhalf in the extended squad picked by Cheika for a series of training camps starting north of Sydney next week. Kurtley Beale, a utility back who recently returned from England, was recalled to the squad for the first time since the 2015 World Cup and is only other potential No10 in the initial group.

Related: Under-prepared Wallabies need match-hardened Brumbies for Bledisloe Cup

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Jul 16

Under-prepared Wallabies need match-hardened Brumbies for Bledisloe Cup

The lack of Australian success in Super Rugby leaves the Wallabies in danger of lacking match fitness for opener against the All Blacks.

With only one Australian team in the Super Rugby playoffs, the Wallabies are in real danger of being badly under-prepared when they face the All Blacks in the Bledisloe Cup opener in Sydney on August 19. The Brumbies are Australia’s sole representatives in the playoffs, while four of the five New Zealand teams have reached the top eight as well as three South African sides.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika lamented the lack of fitness in the Australian squad during the June Tests against Fiji, Scotland and Italy, but the situation is about to get a lot worse. When the Wallabies kick off their Bledisloe Cup/Rugby Championship campaign, the vast majority of the squad will not have played a game for over a month, which means the players will be severely lacking in match fitness. Cheika has organised three training camps for the Wallabies in Newcastle, Cessnock and Penrith and no doubt will work them hard, but there is no substitute for playing games. Even if Cheika holds inter-squad matches, it will not be the same as the real thing.

Related: Move an Australian Super Rugby club to Japan and solve ARU problems | Bret Harris

Related: It won’t happen any time soon but why shouldn’t the Lions tour Argentina? | Michael Aylwin

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Jun 24

Rugby union: Wallabies hold on for tight win over Italy

  • Australia 40-27 Italy
  • Israel Folau scores two tries

The Wallabies held off a fast-finishing Italy to escape with a heart stopping 40-27 win in Saturday’s final June Test in Brisbane.

Australia looked like they were coasting to victory when Sefa Naivalu scored his second try early in the second half, giving them a 28-13 lead at Suncorp Stadium.

Related: Does the weakness of South Africa and Australia threaten future of the Lions? | The Breakdown

Related: Status quo remains in Australian rugby after ARU emergency meeting – for now | Bret Harris

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Jun 24

Demons, Roosters, Dogs win thrillers! Australia sportwatch – as it happened.

2.04pm BST

When I sat down with you the better part of eight hours ago I foreshadowed a packed day of action. Little did I know it would be one of the most intense days as well for the on-field results. Some absolutely brilliant finishes. Our codes at their best.

To start at the end. The Dees. Wow. Three goals in five minutes to win in Perth. Their third interstate win this year. Into the top four. Has a familiar ring to it. I wouldn’t be booking any September holidays if my heart was red and blue.

1.42pm BST

AFL: Bit more detail on the Doggies win by a point. A touch of controversy. via AAP:

The Western Bulldogs are back in the AFL top eight after a controversial one-point win over North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium.

The Kangaroos were denied a goal late in the match and also potentially at three-quarter time on Saturday night as the Bulldogs won 15.17 (107) to 16.10 (106).

Ben Brown marked and scored to put them ahead, but it was disallowed because a free kick was paid against the Kangaroos for a shepherd in the goalsquare.

The Bulldogs moved the ball down the other end of the ground and Jake Stringer marked.

He kicked a behind with about a minute left and the Bulldogs hung on grimly for the win, putting them back in the top eight.

1.28pm BST

Tom McDonald, five goals, two in the final term. Are we in an episode of Sliders on an alternative universe? Melbourne are three and zip interstate. And if their win in Adelaide last month was the price of admission for this young side in season 2017, beating the Eagles tonight earns them the right to be discussed as a serious top four contender. Your hearts should beat true tonight, Melbourne fans. That’s special.

1.25pm BST

MELBOURNE HAVE DONE IT! SING THE SONG! I’m singing the song and I hate this mob, they were that good. Three goals in five minutes to steal a thriller. First time they have beat the Eagles since 2009, and the first time they have been in the top four this deep into the season since, well, a VERY long time.

1.23pm BST

AFL Q4 0:24 remaining: WCE 14.10 (96) v Melbourne 15.9 (99). MCDONALD BLOODY GOES IT! HIS FIFTH! 11TH LEAD CHANGE! No idea how he got boot to ball. Special game, special winner. From a defender! 24 seconds to go, 17 men behind the ball! FOOTY!

1.21pm BST

AFL Q4 1:00 remaining: WCE 14.10 (96) v Melbourne 14.9 (93). BONE CRUNCHING TACKLES! Superb attack on the ball. In Melbourne’s forward pocket. A minute to go. Clear possession? Need one, somehow.

1.18pm BST

AFL Q4 3:00 remaining: WCE 14.10 (96) v Melbourne 14.9 (93). Huge hit! Shannon Hurn runs into a wall: Jack Viney. Looks bad, but both looked genuinely to be at the ball. He leaves the field with the trainers. They all take the time to slow the heart rate down a fraction. Three minutes to go, three points in it.

1.16pm BST

AFL Q4 4:00 remaining: WCE 14.10 (96) v Melbourne 14.9 (93). Pedersen again!
He’s everywhere! Contested mark, leans back on the set shot, but pops it across the face. Can’t say they didn’t have their chance. WCE need another goal. Oh how they will rue that Jetta miss from 20m – would have iced it. Talking point (as they say) if they get rolled here, that’s for sure.

1.14pm BST

AFL Q4 5:30 remaining: WCE 14.10 (96) v Melbourne 14.8 (92). LIQUID FOOTBALL! Pedersen moves it forward with the most precise kick to Tom McDonald running into the hot spot 20m out. Grab taken, set shot kicked, we’re inside a kick. They move the ball beautifully. Tons of time.

1.12pm BST

AFL Q4 6:30 remaining: WCE 14.10 (96) v Melbourne 13.8 (86). Take marks just like Cam Pedersen, Cam Pedersen’s what I need, whooah-oh! Big contested mark, clutch set shot goal. Game stillllll on.

1.11pm BST

AFL Q4 7:30 remaining: WCE 14.10 (96) v Melbourne 12.8 (80). Jetta, oh no! A wonderful tackle to ping Viney holding it. Goes back from 20m directly in front and sprays to the right. Moments before, Nathan Vardy (let’s go party) just misses from 50. They will need one more to be safe.

1.07pm BST

AFL Q4 11:30 remaining: WCE 14.10 (94) v Melbourne 12.8 (80). Tired boys out there now at Subi. But that doesn’t make McGovern any smaller. Fantastic contested mark deep in the 50. And after missing some earlier chances tonight, he does the job here from 30m. That pushes the lead back out to 14 points half way through the final term. Melbourne hit back but the Eagles have steadied.

No crowd do a hammy trying to get on TV like Subiaco. The simple things.

1.02pm BST

Heartstopper at the Docklands! Here I was thinking we had the close one at Subi, but the Dogs have got home my the smallest of margins via a Jake Stringer behind. Goodness me. All the best bits of that as it comes to hand (well, twitter).

Bit more detail from the ground. A touch of controversy! Via AAP:

1.00pm BST

NRL: How the Roosters did it. Not surprisingly: Mitchell Pearce in the middle of it all when it mattered. Via AAP:

Mitchell Pearce has recovered from Wednesday’s State of Origin heartbreak to kick the Sydney Roosters to a 25-24 golden-point win over Melbourne at the Adelaide Oval.

After the Roosters trailed by 12 points with eight minutes to play, Michael Gordon kicked a conversion from the sideline to send the match into golden point.

In front of 21,492 fans – the biggest NRL crowd in Adelaide since the Rams’ first game in 1997 – Pearce slotted an off-balance field goal from 35 metres out to claim the victory over an Origin-depleted Storm team on Saturday.

Pearce had earlier set up two tries, as the Roosters worked over Melbourne’s right-edge defence in the second half through Latrell Mitchell and Daniel Tupou.

12.57pm BST

AFL Q4 17:20 remaining: WCE 12.10 (82) v Melbourne 11.8 (74). Scampering down inside 50, Stretch to Petracca, into the open goal. All arms and legs; ugly but effective. Don’t strike me as a team about to give up. Salem don’t be back for the Dees tonight, done a hammy according to Ch 7. Viney’s shoulder has him resting too. So it’s huge job from here.

12.55pm BST

AFL Q4 19:00 remaining: WCE 12.10 (82) v Melbourne 10.8 (68). Super footy from Hutchings, taking the ball inside 50 by foot, taking a bounce, taking a shot and going just enough. Broke a tackle in the process. They have the last four of the game.

That’s a brilliant effort from Mark Hutchings! #AFLEaglesDees

12.52pm BST

AFL Three-quarter time: WCE 11.9 (75) v Melbourne 10.8 (68). Mitchell puts another brilliant handball through, a snaked kick from Sheed hits the post. Sammy still doing this at will (1:33).

12.43pm BST

AFL Q3 4:00 remaining: WCE 11.9 (75) v Melbourne 10.8 (68). Another free kick and goal, McGovern infringed close to goal and given a 50m penalty to ensure he kicks West Coast’s second in a minute. Their lead now swells beyond a single straight kick, which isn’t for nothing in the context of this oscillating evening. They have the last three!

12.39pm BST

AFL Q3 5:00 remaining: WCE 10.9 (69) v Melbourne 10.8 (68). Not the sort of game you can look away from for more than a minute or two. The tempo is finals-like. If this is an audition for September, Melbourne are ready for a part. But Hutchings from WCE is the beneficiary of Jordan Lewis being Jordan Lewis after the mark, a 50m penalty taking him to the kick-off line. That’s our tenth lead change!

12.29pm BST

The Roosters have done it! A converted try inside the last minute then the golden point victory over the top of the table Storm. Indeed, it was two tries inside the last seven minutes to get the draw to begin with. Have that!

From the ground (AAP):

Winners!#NRLRoostersStorm #NRL

12.28pm BST

AFL Q3 11:10 remaining: WCE 8.8 (56) v Melbourne 9.6 (60). Brillllllliant from Mitchell, wins the contested ball as he has done a thousand times before, dishing outa pristine handball to Karpany who kicks straight from 30. Important they got that one straight back. Margin back inside a kick. Jack Viney down the race for some medical treatment too. He’s been best on the ground, so that’s significant.

12.25pm BST

AFL Q3 11:30 remaining: WCE 7.8 (50) v Melbourne 9.6 (60). Two goals in a minute for Tom McDonald. It means another lead change, then extending it to ten points for the Dees. First, a set shot after a kicking in danger free at half back. The second, from a tighter angle on the 50 arc and drains it. Beautiful set shot kicking. Why they are the best in the comp on that measure. Noteworthy that the bounce from the middle wasn’t a good one – umpire should have called it back. Anyway, let’s get on with it.

12.22pm BST

AFL Q3 14:00 remaining: WCE 7.6 (48) v Melbourne 7.8 (50). Make that eight! Sloppy from Melbourne. Don’t see that with them often in 2017. Gawn gets the tap from a throw in close to goal, Dom Sheed roves it with easy, snapping truly.

12.20pm BST

AFL Q3 16:00 remaining: WCE 7.6 (48) v Melbourne 6.8 (44). Anoooother lead change at Subi, the seventh of the night, when Jake Melksham bangs home a conventional set shot.

12.17pm BST

NRL: Gordon kicks it! CLUTCH! We’re off to golden point land. Storm and Roosters 24-24 at the end of regulation. Top versus second. What a result!

Gordon slots it, we’re off to Golden Point!#NRLRoostersStorm #NRL

12.15pm BST

NRL: TRY! IN THE LAST MINUTE! That puts the Roosters within a conversion of equalling the game at 24 each. Stand by…

12.13pm BST

AFL Q3 19:15 remaining: WCE 6.7 (43) v Melbourne 6.6 (42). Carbon copy to the start of the first quarter, a bomb into the 50, taken well by Petrie, who turns around the does just enough to pop through his fourth. The Dish turning the clock back. The Eagles back in front!

12.09pm BST

NRL: Game on in Adelaide. Melbourne briefly looked home with a try to Jahrome Hughes, but the Roosters hit right back via Daniel Tupou. And they have converted it. So it’s a six point game (24-18) with six minutes remaining.

Short-side raid, Tupou scores!#NRLRoostersStorm 18-24 with 7 mins to go. #NRL

12.07pm BST

Netball: The Australian Netball Awards presentation taking place in Melbourne.

What we know:

Here we have it, the @SuperNetball Team of the Year!
Not a team you would want to face on the court. #AusNetballAwards

12.02pm BST

Old school from Leon Cameron. His Giants flogged Brisbane by ten goals but he’s given them a spray for not winning by more. Like this a lot.

“For three quarters we were good but we were really, really ordinary in the last quarter,” he said at the press conference. “It was concentration, not fatigue … and probably just some players getting ahead of themselves.” (via AAP).

12.01pm BST

Let’s go… around the grounds. What a hectic half of footy that was. Hope you’re enjoying it. Plenty else going on around the country.

NRL: Melbourne Storm maintain their lead, with a quarter hour to go up 20-12. But Sydney have the most recent score, a converted try by Latrell Mitchell.

11.54am BST

AFL Half-Time: WCE 5.7 (37) v Melbourne 6.6 (42). “His ruckwork over the last little while has been extraordinary,” says Peter Ball of Max Gawn who lands a picture-perfect pass in the hands of Hannan. A bad, unMelbourne-like miss from close range. Gawn earns another free at the traditional centre half-forward postion, to the hot spot. It ends up to Melbourne’s advantage. McGovern saves the day with a heaaaavy tackle. Siren! THEN IT BEGINS. They’re all at it. Clayton Oliver cops a whack to the chest after the siren by Schofield. He’s reported! Ha – barely touched him. Brilliant theatre at the end of a hotly contested half. And breathe.

Did Schofield make any contact with Oliver at all there? #afleaglesdees

11.47am BST

AFL Q2 4:00 remaining: WCE 5.7 (37) v Melbourne 6.5 (41). Petrie’s third! Nice set shot from 40m, makes no mistake after a strong contested grab. Melbourne come screaming out of the guts from the restart, but Neal-Bullen has jusssst missed from outside 50. A quarter of near-misses. Don’t look away, this is a cracker. Jack Viney has already had 23 stats, by the way. Most of them contested.

11.44am BST

AFL Q2 5:00 remaining: WCE 4.7 (31) v Melbourne 6.4 (40). Another brilliant defensive effort, Salem laying a perfectly timed and executed tackle, preventing Cripps of a shot on goal. Moments before, a late West Coast fist prevented Melbourne’s own certain goal. Tremendous defensive pressure on display from both sides. And now it’s Melbourne who need to make the most of the play they’ve largely controlled in this second term.

On the earlier sling. This is the twitter consensus.

Shocking decision, legitimate tackle from Yeo, holding ball every day of the week. #AFLEaglesDees

11.42am BST

AFL Q2 6:00 remaining: WCE 4.7 (31) v Melbourne 6.4 (40). Brilliant tackle from Frost to stunt a Melbourne surge. But they get it back eventually and… McGovern has spilled the easiest of marks directly in front! Reminiscent of Jack Darling in the 2014 Grand Final. Speaking of tackles: sling tackle paid! Yeo the man pinged, Tyson hits the deck. The Perth partisans hate it. Looked a bit harsh, but there was head-on-ground contact. No goals for a bit, but all happening.

11.36am BST

Women’s World Cup: A quick look next door, and one of the very best players to watch in the world, Smitri Mandhana, has a half-century. India flying after being sent in, 71-0 after 15.

Related: England v India: Women’s Cricket World Cup – live!

11.35am BST

AFL Q2 12:00 remaining: WCE 4.6 (30) v Melbourne 6.3 (39). Here’s the thing: Melbourne are really, really good. It hurts a bit to say that, I am big enough to admit that. The whole merger thing, you know. But the way they moved the ball along the way, through half-forward, inboard to the spare man 20m out. What a delight. Tom McDonald is on the end of it. He makes no mistake. They seldom do, the Dees are the straightest kicking team in the comp at the moment.

11.31am BST

AFL Q2 14:30 remaining: WCE 4.6 (30) v Melbourne 5.2 (32). Raining goals! Josh Hill got one back for the Eagles, but Mitch Hannan’s to put Melbourne back in front the more impressive, slamming it onto his boot with perhaps a tenth of a second reaction time (I’m making that up). 40+ out, and true! Up to five lead chnges now

11.28am BST

AFL Q2 16:00 remaining: WCE 3.6 (24) v Melbourne 4.2 (26). Jeremy McGovern steps back for his fourth shot at goal for the night and it’s coming back and coming back… but hits the post. Down the other end and Melbourne kick a coast-to-coast goal to again stunt the Eagles momentum! Jazzy Jeff Garlett involved as usual, on the end of the inside 50, finding Bugg who converts from point blank range. Lead changes with every goal. This is good stuff.

11.24am BST

NRL: Over at Adealide Oval, it’s half time in the top of the table stoush between the Storm and the Roosters. The Melbourne side lead 12-6 via converted tries to Addo-Carr and Croft.

11.23am BST

AFL: Dogs have started well at the Docklands, ahead of North by 15 points half way through the second term. Ten marks inside their F50 for five goals. Efficient.

11.20am BST

Lions: The All Blacks ran away with the opening Test in the end, 30-15 victors. Here’s the match report from Robert Kitson at Eden Park.

Related: New Zealand and Rieko Ioane run away with first Test against Lions

11.18am BST

Before going around the grounds. Prompted by hearing Luke Darcy’s voice, the funniest thing I’ve seen in footy for a while for your quarter time enjoyment (one swear word, if you don’t like those). Can’t. Stop. Watching.

11.16am BST

AFL Quarter Time: WCE 2.5 (17) v Melbourne 3.1 (19). A few wifi issues that quarter, my apologies for the silence. Resolved now. I did see West Coast spray a couple of late set shots adding to their sense of frustration. And Melbourne finally missed one too, Vince unable to convert from long-range after the siren.

11.05am BST

AFL Q1 5:00 remaining. WCE 2.2 (14) v Melbourne 3.1 (19). Steadier for WCE, reward for earlier effort. The Dish has both of them for the Eagles.

11.04am BST

AFL Q1 6:11 remaining. WCE 1.1 (7) v Melbourne 3.1 (19). Jack Viney brilliant on his opposite foot, and Melbourne are putting a dent in this early. Talk about making the most of limited chances. Here is the previous one. Class.

Q1 | Alex Neal-Bullen gets the perfect bounce, and cruises through the arc to his first. @melbournefc making it count. #AFLEaglesDees

11.02am BST

AFL Q1 8:30 remaining. WCE 1.1 (7) v Melbourne 2.0 (12). Melbourne have barely had a sniff, but they do have the leads! Clever punch back into the corridor, and Neal-Bullen gets the burners on inside 50 slamming it home. That’ll hurt the Eagles.

10.56am BST

AFL Q1 9:30 remaining. WCE 1.1 (7) v Melbourne 1.0 (6). Subdued start far as the board is concerned. All very end to end, but no penetration. Shuey misses a set shot from 50. They lead the inside 50 count 9-2 early. Then we hear on the call – and this is pretty gear – that Jordan Lewis had to leave the field to pop his contact lenses in. Ever heard of that before?

10.46am BST

AFL Q1 16:55 remaining. WCE 1.0 (6) v Melbourne 1.0 (6). Billy Stretch back in the senioors and straight into the book. Set shot converted after Gaff infringed deep inside the 50. Bit sloppy from the Eagle mainstay. A goal apiece it is.

10.42am BST

AFL Q1 19:16 remaining. WCE 1.0 (6) v Melbourne 0.0 (0). Baaaaaaaaaaaaah! Consider that my ‘Peeeeeeep’ equivalent for an AFL goal-by-goal siren. And there’s a goal inside a minute! The Big Dish, Drew Petrie, gets his hands onto a bomb inside 50. Nice grab, nice set shot. We’re away at Subiaco.

10.38am BST

Women’s Cricket World Cup: Heather Knight has won the toss at Derby and with a bit of cloud about, so England will have a jam roll first against India in their World Cup opener. Join our live blog with Vish, who is at the ground and watching closely. We went to Paris together this week for a little midsummer getaway. It was bloody lovely.

Related: England v India: Women’s Cricket World Cup – live!

10.35am BST

NRL: We are also away in the top of the table NRL clash between the Storm and Roosters in Adelaide. It’s a Sydney home game, where AFL was played just two nights ago. With tired Origin lads everywhere from the powerhouse sides, nine all up; five purple, four tricolour.

After a midseason stumble the Storm have won four on the trot and look top be the team to beat again, two games clear on top of the ladder. It will be a shootout though, Sydney the highest scoring team in the NRL. It is the first time they have played in 2017, the Storm smashing them twice last year.

10.32am BST

AFL: Then in about ten minute we have the West Coast hosting the Dees, both teams coming in with 7-5 records, jostling for a position in the eight. Melbourne haven’t played finals footy for 11 years, so they require no incentive. And they have been good on the road, beating Adelaide away last month. Better still: they have All-Australian ruck Max Gawn back from hamstring surgery.

On the other hand, the Eagles haven’t lost to the Demons since 2009. Last time they met it was by a kick in Rd 18 at Subiaco, the venue for tonight’s game too. They also put together a very accomplished victory against Geelong last week. Volatile to the extreme in season 2017. Anything is possible from the blue and golds.

10.29am BST

AFL: Next! Two games coming up this evening.

Starting now, the Doggies and North at Docklands. In the case of the Bulldogs, their premiership hangover is nearing Hawthorn 2009 levels. They’ve lost four of their last five, unable to kick a matchwinning score. They were easily beaten by Melbourne last week, which hurt.

10.25am BST

All over at the Gabba as well, an even ten-goal win for GWS over botton-of-the-ladder Brisbane Lions. They go to a game clear on the ladder. The perfect way to see in Heath Shaw’s 250th game. Jeremy Cameron and Jon Patton both slotted four, reinforcing why they are the clear premiership favourites.

Some additional detail from the ground, via AAP:

10.14am BST

Game over! Matt Gillett backs up from Origin in the best possible way, over the line in the final minute to seal the win for the Broncos. They sleep tonight happily inside the top four. Siren sounds. Conversion made. That’s a 30-20 win over the Green Machine, their season just about over now. Brisbane with three tries to one in that second half really turned up the pressure when it mattered after going in 12-12 at the break.

Jarrod Croker from the Raiders on the radio: “We are going to have to do it a lot better or it is going to be too late.” Not wrong.

Man or machine?

Definitely superhuman from @MattGillett12.#NRLRaidersBroncos#NRL

10.12am BST

NRL: Dying stages, but the Raiders can’t make it work. Ten metres out from their own line the Broncos are feeding the scrum after an infringement from the hosts. Inside two minutes left, Brisbane lead 24-20. Can they kill enough clock with clean possession? Let you know in a couple of minutes.

10.11am BST

Lions: A try and a penalty swells the All Blacks’ lead to 23-8 over the Lions in their First Test at Eden Park. A quarter hour to go, time running out for the visitors. Follow the final stages live with Gerard Meagher.

Related: New Zealand v Lions: first Test – live!

10.08am BST

The recap. A plug. This is excellent. New product from HQ each Friday, bringing together the best of the Guardian’s sport from the week that was. Free, easy, just sign up at the link.

Related: The Recap: sign up for the best of the Guardian’s sport coverage

10.04am BST

AFL: 20 minutes into the final term, GWS weren’t able to put the foot down for a monster win – yet anyway – the margin still 67-points as it was at the final change. Their forward line though… scary. Going to win everything, aren’t they?

That’s a fairly handy forward line #AFLLionsGiants

10.03am BST

NRL: From nowhere, Canberra are back in this game, dragging a try back in the 68th minute. Joseph Leilua showed “amazing strength” according to the caller, dragging multiple tacklers across the line with him. The video ref green lights the try. But the conversion is missed. It’s Brisbane still in the lead, 24-20.


Too good from Leilua.#NRLRaidersBroncos#NRL

9.58am BST

Netball: I will be keeping an eye on the Australian Netball Awards ceremony that starts in the next hour in Melbourne.

Caitlin Bassett is expected to feature prominently on stage for her work in the national side then spearheading the Sunshine Coast Lightning’s premiership win last week.

9.52am BST

NRL: Try time! Broncs again, leading the Raiders 22-16. Rewarded for the immense pressure they have put the hosts under in this second half. It’s converted, so make that 24-16, in the 60th minute now.

Too easy to for big Joe Ofahengaue!#NRLRaidersBroncos#NRL

9.46am BST

Quickly round the grounds…

Eden Park: All Blacks still lead the Lions 13-8.

Hunt to @MattGillett12!#NRLRaidersBroncos#NRL

9.42am BST

Neglected to mention earlier. Russ did an excellent thing during the week on Nicky Winmar’s ongoing omission from the Australian Football Hall of Fame. My head nearly came off for I was nodding so much. Recency bias, as he describes, must go. Your thoughts? Hit me.

Related: An Australian football hall of fame without Nicky Winmar verges on farce | Russell Jackson

9.36am BST

Gorgeous shot from the Gabba.

Twilight games Photo: Jason O’Brien/AFL Media #AFLLionsGiants

9.35am BST

AFL: Back to back majors for the Giants deep into the third term, both from the boot of Big Jezza Cameron. They’re seven goals clear now, and this becomes a percentage booster.

Speaking of Jezza… this from Glasto Silent Disco night before last. To the song that makes the sporting world go round.

9.25am BST

Nathan Buckley. Some ambitious spin from the Collingwood coach in his press conference here, after his side were easily beaten by Port. Via AAP:

Collingwood’s AFL finals hopes are slipping away but coach Nathan Buckley insists their latest defeat isn’t a fatal blow.

The Magpies looked a long way off top-eight contention on Saturday in their 31-point loss to Port Adelaide at the MCG.

With just five wins and eight losses, the 13th-placed Magpies could fall into the bottom four, depending on other results over the weekend.

Buckley, however, isn’t giving up hope that the even nature of the competition this season might still work in the Pies’ favour.

“It’s pretty tight,” Buckley said.

“A loss is not fatal but it doesn’t help.

“If a side can go on a four or five-week winning run, you’re going to put a fair bit of a dint in it, especially as we play a lot of sides that are going to be through the middle or the higher part of the ladder.”

9.22am BST

AFL: Half way through the third term at the Gabba, GWS have added three goals to two against the Lions, leading by a comfortable 38-point buffer. Port easily accounted for Collingwood earlier today, a 31-point win at the ‘G.

LIONS: All Blacks lead 13-8 in the First Test at Auckland. Brilliant try by the locals just before the half, by the reading of the live blog.

9.16am BST

Steve Harmison is a lovely human being. And doing a great thing in a new book opening up in depth about his depression. Have a look at this interview, in the paper today. Well worth it.

Related: Steve Harmison: ‘I didn’t want the public to know about my depression’

9.09am BST

NRL: How about the wheels on Nick Cotrick? “He’s a 400m runner isn’t he?” says the radio call. Get in. He scores in the corner for Canberra five minutes from half-time. They lead Brisbane 16-12.

The All Blacks lead the Lions 10-0 at Eden Park. Remember you can keep following that on our live blog, too.

Nick Cotric is 18.


9.06am BST

Women’s Cricket World Cup: We’re not far away from the tournament opener at Derby, hosts England playing India. Had the good fortune to witness a pretty amazing exchange the other night at the official launch at Whitehall in London with the Indian skipper, Mithali Raj. A journo – who had spent most of her media conference chatting to one of his colleagues and over her – asked who her favourite Indian or Pakistani male player is. Her response was rolled gold. I wrote a few words about it, and Vish Ehantharajah has a bit more few more when Raj spoke again at the pre-match conference yesterday.

Going to be a brilliant tournament. We’ll have OBO coverage for all of England and Australia’s games then into the finals. Get on board. See a full team-by-team ready reckoner to put in your favourites. Also by Vish, who is travelling with the England team. Very good.

Related: Women’s Cricket World Cup: team-by-team guide to the tournament | Vithushan Ehantharajah

8.59am BST

AFL: Half-time at the Gabba. After sticking with the Giants for most of the opening two quarters, GWS kicked the last three of the half to open up a 9.8 (52) to 4.5 (29) lead at the long break.

8.57am BST

NRL: Free-flowing opening 25 minutes at Bruce Stadium, the the Raiders and Broncos level at 12 apiece.

The pass from Benji! #NRLRaidersBroncos#NRL

8.34am BST

AFL: At the Gabba, the Lions are keeping the Giants honest in what looks a mismatch on paper. Greater Western Sydney are 14 points to the good 20 minutes into the second term. Here’s a good ‘un from the hosts, Lewis Taylor slotting one home to narrow that margin.

Turbo Taylor #AFLLionsGiants

8.28am BST

NRL: Next up in our trio of Round 16 games in the Rugby League today is 11th placed Canberra hosting 4th on the ladder Brisbane. The Raiders have been down on their luck this year, losing six games by less than a converted try. But this is a great time for them to be getting the Broncos, the origin window traditionally when they battle; three Brisbane players were in the bruising encounter on Wednesday compared to one from Canberra. Brisbane’s record on the road this year isn’t great either, winning just three of seven away fixtures. But they have won their last four on the trot against the Green Machine. We’ll keep a close eye on it. Play starts shortly.

8.25am BST

Lions v All Blacks. It’s alllllll about to kick-off at Eden Park in their first Test Match. Be sure to open a new tab and follow along with Gerard Meagher. The Lions have won the toss. Anthems there shortly, which means GDNZ! What a treat.

Related: New Zealand v Lions: first Test – live!

8.23am BST

Ground report from the Wallabies win.

Related: Rugby union: Wallabies hold on for tight win over Italy

8.11am BST

Robbie Gray booted five goals as Port Adelaide cruised to a 31-point win over Collingwood at the MCG on Saturday.

Port led throughout and put the result beyond doubt with a commanding third quarter in which they booted five straight goals.

8.09am BST

A last-minute sideline conversion from second rower Ethan Lowe has helped North Queensland escape with a thrilling 14-12 victory over Penrith in Townsville on Saturday.

Cowboys winger Kyle Feldt handed his side a chance to steal a win after flying high to take a spectacular catch for a 78th minute try and part-time goal kicker Lowe made no mistake to hand his side a much-needed win days after the club lost star halfback Johnathan Thurston for the season.

Vision of the @nthqldcowboys Try decision in the 77th minute of #NRLCowboysPanthers.#NRL

8.02am BST

It was scrappy, and not a lot of fun for Australian fans, but the Wallabies retain their undefeated run against Italy, despite the tourists giving them a serious scare deep into the second half with two tries in as many minutes to narrow the margin to one. But two late Australian tries – with Bernard Foley the clutch play of the game – secured the result. But make no mistake, there will be furious criticism of the performance for the sheer volume of handling errors, and a scrum that struggled for penetration throughout. Forlau and Naivalu both got over the line twice when the going was better for the home side, but the latter also copped a knock to the knee that ended his day prematurely.

“It probably shows where we are at,” says the captain Moore, citing a lack of confidence in the team at the moment. “We are not the finished product by any stretch. But the effort has been there.” August 19 they next play, against the All Blacks in the first Bledisloe Cup leg. As Moore acknowledged himself in that chat, they have some way to go if they are going to seriously to compete in that series.

Related: Rugby union: Wallabies hold on for tight win over Italy

7.56am BST

AUSTRALIA TRY! Rugby 79th minute: Australia 40 – Italy 27. Lovely! Taken a while, but the passing and running from deep in their own half, Hodge getting a look at the sideline and scampering down to the line. “It has been a performance riddled with errors, but Australia finishing on an outstanding note,” the assessment of Bray. Foley misses the conversion, but there is the final whistle!

7.52am BST

AUSTRALIA TRY! Rugby 79th minute: Australia 35 – Italy 27. Bernard Foley with the matchwinner! Brilliant little run from four metres, stretching his right arm and slamming the ball into the turf from the tackle. Nothing pretty about that, but exactly what was required. He converts the try – his fifth straight kick of the afternoon – to almost certainly seal the victory.

7.50am BST

Rugby 76th minute: Australia 28 – Italy 27. “You know you can’t do that from the ground,” says the referee to Steyn. He’s popped his hands in where they aren’t allowed and he’s off too! Both teams to finish this one man short.

7.48am BST

Rugby 75th minute: Australia 28 – Italy 27. Yellow card! Toby Smith had been warned three times, but he’s lost shape again in the scrum. He’s off! Australia will finish this one short. This is getting desperate for the Wallabies, defending their one point lead. Italy surely will get their chance.

7.47am BST

Rugby 72nd minute: Australia 28 – Italy 27. Frantic tempo now, with Australia needing a clean finish. Within a metre of the line Cooper is clobbered, the ball spilling forward in the process. The scrum will meet five out from Italy’s line. Australia with a chance to steady. “Can Australia produce a scrum to change momentum?” asks Bray. “Because this Italian scrum has changed the game completely in this second half.”

7.44am BST

ITALY TRY! Rugby 69th minute: Australia 28 – Italy 27. “Harikiri from the Wallabies!” says Gordon Bray. Too cute passing across goal, Rory Arnold the player at fault, unable to get the ball out wide. Tommaso Benvenuti over for his second. The try is converted. One point game. Italy’s highest score against the Wallabies… who they have never beaten in 41 years of trying. Blimey!

I’m at the point of hoping Italy wins. Then no more hollow excuses. Australian Rugby needs a total clean-out from the top down#AUSvITA

7.40am BST

ITALY TRY! Rugby 66th minute: Australia 28 – Italy 20. And they have! Crossfield kick is high, and Edoardo Padovani collects the deflection from Dane Haylett Petty and does the rest. The try is converted. An eight point game. Grandstand finish? Italy’s first win in Australia? Ample for it. They are dominating possession at the moment.

7.36am BST

Rugby 62nd minute: Australia 28 – Italy 13. The scrum has been won by Italy today. A yellow card is threatened by the official for Toby Smith for three times losing his shape, close to the Australian line. Talk a penalty try if the Wallabies cannot get their act together in close. Important period here. Italy deserve to cross.

7.33am BST

AFL: Collingwood defeated by 31 points at the MCG by Port. That will be, as they say, a talking point. Next in the footy: Brisbane and GWS. The Giants had the bye last week but were knocked off by Carlton two weeks ago – so need to get back on winners list to keep their top two standing. They have an average winning magin of 51 points over the Lions in their last three meetings, including a 79 point hiding at the Gabba last time the teams met in round 17 last year.

7.29am BST

Rugby 56th minute: Australia 28 – Italy 13. Steven Moore comes off after a decent afternoon of toil in the no. 2. Between times, Italy fluffed another promising approach to the line, dropping the ball from close range. Australia increasingly look to have this under control. But they missed their chance to seal the game after an interception, Genia’s pass was a shocker, way over the head of Foley out wide.

“[Genia] does not trust his pace anymore”@FOXRugbyLive @qantaswallabies #AUSvITA

7.18am BST

Rugby 49th minute: Australia 28 – Italy 13. Bit of desperation from the Italian passing here, they just can’t break through and ultimately drop the ball. But in and around that, Naivalu is copped a whack to his knee. The trainers are on the field and the replay doesn’t look great. But he’s back on his feet. Relief for all in Camp Australia as he gets off the field without assistance, albeit limping.

7.15am BST

AUSTRALIA TRY! Rugby 44th minute: Australia 28 – Italy 13. Sefanaia Naivalu’s turn for a double! Responding in the best possible way to the overturned try from just a minute earlier. Hunt in the middle of that with the crucial pass to open up the left. And some magic from Foley in there too, passing between his legs! As you do. Australia well on this after half-time. Foley converts for a fourth time.

Some razzle dazzle stuff from Foley helps to set up Naivalu’s second for the afternoon! @qantaswallabies lead 28-13 #AUSvITA

7.12am BST

NO TRY! Rugby 42nd minute: Australia 21 – Italy 13. Talk of atomic wedgies from the Australian support players get over line after the movement has concluded. That’s not what the TMO said, but it is what he thought.

7.06am BST

NRL: Around the grounds to Townsville as well. Attritional stuff by the looks, the visiting Panthers leading the Cowboys 6-0 at the half. Corey Harawira-Naera has the try for Penrith.

7.00am BST

AFL: Around the grounds, and Port are home at the MCG, leading Collingwood by 35 points with ten minutes to go in the final term. That will shatter the Magpies, who were still in touch with a tightly-bunched middle group of sides, but can’t afford to drop games at home in the run to September. Robbie Gray has five majors for the Power.

6.57am BST

HALF TIME: Rugby: Australia 21 – Italy 13. “I think we’ll be pretty disappointed,” says back Bernard Foley when interviewed on the way off the ground. Laments their inability to hold onto the ball at important times. That final try of the half to the Italians, the most exciting passage of play of the stanza, has the margin where it should be in single digits. Especially having an early try disallowed controversially by the TMO. That said, Forlau looked unstoppable when the line was in sight, moving his impressive tally to ten tries in his past six international appearances. He might need one or two more to secure the result for the Wallabies in the second half here. Thankfully, he’s being well supported by Foley’s boot, converting all three tries with a trio of pristine strikes.

6.50am BST

ITALY TRY! Rugby 37th minute: Australia 21 – Italy 13. “Campagnaro! He’s quick. Has he got the legs? He sure has!” Gordon Bray rolls his Rs with the best of them as the no. 13 slices his way through the middle of the field and isn’t stopped after Vendetti puts him through with some clean hands. They’ve earned the chance to go into the break within striking distance. The try is converted, and the margin is back to right.

6.45am BST

AUSTRALIA TRY! Rugby 32nd minute: Australia 21 – Italy 6. Izzzzzzy! Another double for the winger, he has the home side’s third try. Easy peasy, none of this diving business, Forlau getting on the end of a tidy string of passes out to the right, the final one from Hunt slamming into his chest from long-range. Foley again converts; his kicking has been supreme at each time of asking so far today.

Folau becomes the first Wallaby the score multiple tries in three consecutive Test matches. AUS 21-6 after 32 minutes. #AUSvITA

6.41am BST

Rugby 23rd minute: Australia 14 – Italy 6. “It is said that Italy had a link to rugby all the way to the vatican,” says Gordon Bray. But he immediately mythbusts himself: the Pontiff was a goalkeeper. Carry on. They do get their second penalty at close range, Tommaso Allan popping through the three-pointer. The Scott Sio violation in the ruck is against the flow of play, with Australia exerting plenty of pressure after flicking the switch ten minutes into this opening half.

6.31am BST


Who’s ready for some Italian?! #AUSvITA #ArvoRugby

6.29am BST

AUSTRALIA TRY! Rugby 18th minute: Australia 14 – Italy 3. Israel! Five tries in three Tests for the big number 15. Sharp hands out to the right, passes all hitting the mark before Forlau does the rest, taking the responsibility to force himself over in the corner. Foley converts again, straight through the uprights. Italy were nearly in double figures within a couple of minutes, and now find themselves 11 down with Australian tails up.

6.26am BST

AUSTRALIA TRY! Rugby 13th minute: Australia 7 – Italy 3. “He has the pace, he’s electric!” Sefa Naival down the left, too fast and over! Created after a scrum infringement, taken advantage of by the Australian backs. Their first real opportunity, with 97 per cent of play to this point in the host’s half. Foley does the rest to grab the extra couple of points on offer. Nice strike to get his day underway.

6.18am BST

TRY! OVERTURNED! Rugby 7th minute: Australia 0 – Italy 3 Dean Budd has gotten himself over the line after a kick that caught Australia sleeping and gave Giovambattista Venditti space down the right. He’s been desparately tackled before the pass – is the foot on the line? Upstairs we go! “Can we rock and roll it,” asks the TMO in classic cricket third umpire style. “A cigarette paper in this,” reckons Gordon Bray. The TMO: “The blue player still has his finger on the ball and the ball is in touch…” that’s all you need to know. NO TRY. Goodness me. The Wallabies have got away with one there. Rattled.

It really is a game of inches…anxious moments for the @qantaswallabies#AUSvITA

6.13am BST

Belated… but have some teams.

Australia: 1. Scott Sio 2. Stephen Moore 3. Allan Alaalatoa 4. Rory Arnold 5. Adam Coleman 6. Ned Hanigan 7. Michael Hooper 8. Lopeti Timani 9. Will Genia 10. Bernard Foley 11. Sefa Naivalu 12. Karmichael Hunt 13. Rob Horne 14. Dane Haylett Petty 15. Israel Folau

6.12am BST

Rugby 2nd minute: Italy 3 – Australia 0. An early penalty. “The Italians will be disappointed they didn’t get seven points there,” the assessment of the TV. An early error from the boys in gold, a fumble at the back. They mishandle themselves as they take the advantage, but take the kick from directly in front. Well then.

6.08am BST

Peeeeeep! We’re away.

And before we get into the real stuff, one error: “In joyful strains AND let us sing.” Nooo. Half a dozen changes for the Austrlaian team, and three confirmed for Italy. We’ll grab those from the authorities (err, twitter).

6.05am BST

Anthems! Okay. We’re ready to roll. Italy first, then the Luke Kennedy with the Australian Girls Choir for Advance Austalia Fair. Few things better in world sport than anthems at a rugby international, no?

5.36am BST

Welcome to an overflowing Saturday of action across this big, brown land of ours. I’m Adam Collins, and I look forward to riding shotgun with you a feast of footy, with plenty else to keep us cracking deep into the night.

Already underway are the Pies and Port at the ‘G. This was tipped to be the closest game of the round, but after two stonkers on Thursday and Friday night, they’ll take some beating. 13th placed Collingwood are on the improve, but still in need or urgent wins, playing catch-up in season 2017. But Port, in fourth spot currently conceding fewer points than anyway. The visitors currently lead by three goals half way through the second term.

6.17am BST

Adam will be here shortly. In the meantime, here’s the latest on the debacle that is Australian rugby union at the moment:

Related: Status quo remains in Australian rugby after ARU emergency meeting – for now | Bret Harris

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Jun 20

Status quo remains in Australian rugby after ARU emergency meeting – for now | Bret Harris

Bill Pulver remains in a job and the Super Rugby cull is still on, yet there is every chance that by next year there will be a new CEO and there will still be five Australian teams

It is business as usual for the ARU, if you can call it that, after the emergency general meeting in Sydney on Tuesday turned into something of a non-event, but there is still a mood for change.

Bill Pulver is still ARU chief executive and the national governing body remains committed to axing one of Australia’s five Super Rugby teams, most likely the Western Force.

Related: Pulver stays on as ARU chief but an Australian Super Rugby team will be cut

Related: All Blacks-lite: Wallabies take inspiration from across the Tasman | Bret Harris

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Jun 20

Pulver stays on as ARU chief but an Australian Super Rugby team will be cut

  • Embattled ARU boss to stay on following emergency general meeting
  • No change to decision to cut one Super Rugby franchise

Bill Pulver will stay on as chief executive of the Australian Rugby Union (ARU), but an emergency general meeting upheld the governing body’s decision to cut one of Australia’s Super Rugby franchises. Pulver claimed he would step down from the ARU’s top job if Tuesday’s meeting in Sydney resolved that change was required, but board members elected to maintain the status quo for now.

Pressure has been mounting on the ARU and Pulver since April, when the governing body revealed that one of the Melbourne Rebels or Western Force would be cut from the Super Rugby competition within 72 hours – a bold announcement that prompted legal action and a bitter, prolonged and so far unresolved battle between the effected clubs and the ARU.

Related: Wallabies suffering from an inability to adapt and respond to unstructured play | Rajiv Maharaj

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Jun 18

Wallabies suffering from an inability to adapt and respond to unstructured play | Rajiv Maharaj

Under Michael Cheika, the Wallabies seem clueless when there is a deviation from pre-conceived scenarios – and that does not reflect well on the coach

Michael Cheika made an insightful admission in his press conference following Australia’s inexcusable 24-19 loss to Scotland at Allianz Stadium on Saturday. Commenting on the failure to capitalise on breaks against the run of play, the coach said: “A lot of the breaks we made came off the back of work … but we didn’t perhaps create those holes the way we’d like to normally so therefore we didn’t have enough support in there behind them.”

Related: Gregor Townsend hails Scotland’s unity in hard-fought win over Australia

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Jun 17

Wallabies fall to defeat as spirited Scotland gain degree of revenge

  • Wallabies 19-24 Scotland at Allianz Stadium
  • After two one-point defeats in recent years, Scots turn tables

Scotland consigned the Wallabies to a humbling 24-19 Test defeat in Sydney in front of a stunned crowd of 30,721 fans at Allianz Stadium who watched the visitors avenge two heartbreaking one-point losses to Australia in the past two years with a stirring victory.

Israel Folau’s second tryscoring double in as many weeks couldn’t save the Wallabies, as Scotland confirmed their status as world rugby’s big improvers. Up to fifth in the rankings, the Scots cashed in on a disjointed display from Michael Cheika’s men.

Related: Wallabies fall to Scotland, Swans stage comeback and more Australian sport – live!

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Jun 15

All Blacks-lite: Wallabies take inspiration from across the Tasman | Bret Harris

In a tacit acknowledgement that rugby has changed and they are trying to change with it, Australia are attempting to replicate New Zealand’s style of play

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. That seems to be the Wallabies’ motto as they use the June Test window to develop a new attacking style of play to put an end to the All Blacks’ 14-year dominance in Trans-Tasman rugby.

Related: Rugby league convert Eto Nabuli to make Wallabies debut against Scotland

Related: Australian rugby currently languishing about 10 years behind New Zealand | Bret Harris

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Jun 11

Positives from Wallabies’ win over Fiji rendered moot by catch-and-pass woes | Rajiv Maharaj

Poor execution of this basic skill set has been a blight on the Australian game for nigh on a decade and the the All Blacks have never looked further adrift

Only the foolish would celebrate too hard the Wallabies’ 37-14 win against a spirited Fijian outfit in Melbourne on Saturday. Yes, of course Karmichael Hunt is a massive positive takeaway point – he was magnificent at 12 and is a match-day 23 keeper – but, overall, coach Michael Cheika should be deeply concerned about his side’s atrocious catch-and-pass skills.

It’s such a glaring inadequacy it renders all positives moot: Australia will lose more often than not against top tier opposition until players learn how to catch and pass accurately – and that means putting the ball in the space in front of support runners, and not behind them whereby players need to check their run and thus lose attacking momentum.

Related: Lions’ confounding win gives New Zealand reasons to be fearful | Paul Rees

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Jun 08

Karmichael Hunt named to make Wallabies debut against Fiji

  • Hunt to become dual-international after being picked to face Fiji at MCG
  • Waratahs backrower Ned Hanigan will also debut on Saturday

Code-hopping Karmichael Hunt will make his long-awaited Wallabies debut alongside Waratahs backrower Ned Hanigan, with the pair named to start in Saturday’s Test against Fiji in Melbourne.

Hunt was named at inside centre for the first Test of the year, while 22-year-old Hanigan will start as a blindside flanker. The Australian team will be led by Michael Hooper after veteran Tatafu Polota-Nau beat regular skipper Stephen Moore to the starting hooker role. Moore may still appear on the bench, which will only be named following Friday’s final training run. 

Related: All Blacks coach Hansen laughs off Gatland’s Super Rugby comparison

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Jun 06

World rugby needs to consider radical step to help out Pacific Island nations | Bret Harris

Players of Pacific Island descent fill the squads of international rugby powers, but should discarded players be able to return to their nation of origin?

When the Wallabies play Fiji in Melbourne on Saturday the majority of players on the field will be of Pacific Islander descent. Obviously, the Fijians are Pacific Islanders, but 18 members of the Wallabies’ 34-man squad are of Pacific Islander descent,though centre Samu Kerevi, who was one of seven Fijians, has withdrawn following an ankle injury.

At present, there is also a decent percentage of Pacific Islanders playing for the All Blacks, while there is even a sprinkling in the British and Irish Lions, plus the English, French and Japanese national teams. It raises the a question for the game on a global level: are the Pacific Island nations just becoming nurseries for the top cashed-up countries in world rugby?

Related: Warren Gatland demands more intensity from Lions against Blues

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May 11

Wallabies’ favourable Rugby World Cup draw tempered by fly-half crisis | Rajiv Maharaj

What appears on the face of it to be the best possible draw will count for nought if Michael Cheika does not address his problems at No10 over the next two years

Many consider the 2019 Rugby World Cup draw announced in Kyoto on Wednesday night is a “dream run” for Australia. Celebratory emojis blew up on social media, but the hullabaloo is premature. There is every chance the Wallabies campaign could end in an ignominious quarter-final defeat.

In 2015, the Wallabies were thrown into the so-called pool of death alongside England, Wales and an extremely competitive Fijian outfit. Australia not only survived that baptism of fire but went all the way to the final. It was an overachievement, in no small part due to the motivational powers of the then newly-appointed Wallabies coach Michael Cheika.

Related: Will England fail to escape their pool for a second successive World Cup? | Robert Kitson

Related: Australian rugby currently languishing about 10 years behind New Zealand | Bret Harris

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Mar 10

Kurtley Beale to return to Waratahs at end of English rugby season

  • Beale would like to play for Australia at 2019 World Cup
  • 28-year-old has had conversation with Michael Cheika about his plans

Kurtley Beale will return to Australia within months, after the end of his one-year deal with English club Wasps.

Beale has signed a two-year deal with the ARU and the Waratahs in Super Rugby.

Related: Kurtley Beale signs for Wasps on reported £700,000 salary

Related: Australian Rugby Union relief after man charged over All Blacks listening device

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Mar 10

James O’Connor to face disciplinary hearing over alleged cocaine possession

  • O’Connor to front French discipline commission on 29 March
  • Former All Black Ali Williams set to be fired by Racing 92

Former Wallabies international James O’Connor has been summoned to face a French rugby disciplinary hearing this month over his alleged cocaine possession.

O’Connor is to front the Ligue Nationale de Rugby’s discipline and rules commission on 29 March, along with co-accused Ali Williams, an ex-All Black.

Related: Rugby union players Ali Williams and James O’Connor arrested in Paris

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