The Rogues Rant #216

Welcome to The Rogues Rant, an occasional look at all things Rugby

Kiama prospect Harvey Austin has progressed further along the National Pathway program, having been included in the NSW Gen Blue Academy Squad. The Gen Blue squad was announced after the recent match between the NSW Open sides and the AAAGPS teams. Harvey was a member of the NSW 1 team which got the better of GPS 1 by an impressive score-line of 38 – 10, with Harvey contributing with a spectacular 70 meter try. The NSW Academy will now be preparing for their next outing against the Western Force Academy in Perth. The next step will be the National Tournament with Schools and Under 18 Open sides from all across Australia, culminating in the selection of the Australian School U18 Open Squad for 2019.

The new Australian selection panel has named their first squad for the year. Michael Cheika, Scott Johnson and Michael O’Connor have chosen 34 players for the start of the Rugby Championships Tournament which will see the Wallabies play five Tests as we work toward the World Cup later in the year. They expect that along with four players out injured that the final World Cup squad will come from this group. Notable absentees include Nick Phipps, Ned Hanigan, Jake Gordon and Quade Cooper. Nick White who has returned from a stint with Exeter is in the squad in the halves. Chieka has said that the newly returned James O’connor will still be considered for the World Cup along with injured players David Pocock, Adam Coleman, Jordan Petaia, and Tatafu Polota-Nau. A total of 31 players will be going to Japan. The first outing is against South Africa on Saturday 20th July at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

There is a real division in the local IDRU Comp after last weekend’s matches. The top five sides are now eleven points clear from the bottom half of the table, although sixth placed Camden has a match in hand. Even so I reckon that Camden, Shoalhaven and Kiama can still make their presence felt in the finals race all three having shown that they can compete with the best sides on any given day. Avondale and Bowral are looking set for the Major Semi given their consistent form so far. Bowral, who have had some difficulty with injuries not helping their cause, are still to find their best form. Although discipline is still an issue for Avondale, under new Coach Joe Aiono they have shown a level of patience and composure this year that has not been there in previous seasons.

The Crusaders will start strong favorites to take another Super Rugby title in this Saturdays Final in Christchurch. I think that the Jaguares are in with a real chance to spoil the party in what will be an emotional night in Christchurch. I don’t think there will be much of a gap on the scoreboard at the end of the game. I have to go for the Crusaders to win but the Jaguares will certainly turn up ready to play.

Some interesting games locally this week which will test the tipsters but which could also see the Gap on the points table get even larger. Camden hosts Vikings at Camden Rugby Park. The Rams need to find the form they displayed early in the year or they could slide right out of contention for the finals. Vikings have been impressive of late and should take the points here as well. Vikings to Win. The Wombats meet Campbelltown at the Quinnies home ground and should win comfortably. Avondale to Win. Shamrocks host Kiama at Ocean Park and will need to be right on their game to get over the top of the improving Kiama outfit. The Rocks had a hard one last week against the Wombats but I think they can get the points here. Shamrocks to Win. Tech Waratahs and Shoalhaven are on at Saunders Oval with the Shoalies running into some form with three wins on the trot. I think they can stay on their winning way here as well. Shoalhaven to Win. Match of the Round is University at home to Bowral. This will be a close one I reckon with less than a try between them at the end, but I’ll go for the Blacks. Bowral to Win.      

All opinions offered in this column are the opinion of the author. They should not be considered to represent the views of the IDRU.