Aussie wrap (Wed)

Keo.co.za brings you the latest news from Australia’s Super 14 franchises.

Rattlebones back for Brumbies

Injury-plagued Clyde Rathbone will play his first Brumbies match in two years this Friday.

Andy Friend has included eight Wallabies in the 29-man squad that will face the Hurricanes this weekend in Canberra. Rathbone has not played since 2007 and has began his most recent battle towards fitness at the end of last year.

Test stars Stirling Mortlock, George Smith, Stephen Moore and Adam Ashley-Cooper have been rested.

Brumbies - Mark Gerrard, Peter Betham, Afusipa Taumoepeau, tyrone Smith, Francis Fanifo, Christian Lealiifano, Josh holmes; Stephen Hoiles (c) Julian Salvi, Peter Kimlin, Mark Chisholm, Shawn Mackay, Guy Shepherdson, John Ulugia, Nic Henderson.
Subs: Nathan Charles, Ben Alexander, Sitaleki Timani, Ben Hand, Patrick Phibbs, Matt Toomua, Pat McCabe, James Stannard, Clyde Rathbone, Henry Vanderglas, Salesi Ma’afu, Anthony Hegarty, Talalelei Gray, Sanualio Afeaki.

Horan: More rough times for Reds

Tim Horan expects the Rubble Reds to struggle yet again in 2009.

The former Wallabies centre played for the Queensland Reds when they were a force in Super Rugby back in the mid 90s. Commenting on their prospects this season, he said it will be tough unless the no-name brands don’t support the likes of Daniel Braid, Berrick Barnes, Quade Cooper and James Horwill.

“I think this year is going to be a lot harder for them,” Horan said. “They’ve lost a lot of experience with Chris Latham and David Croft and Sam Cordingley. Roey (former skipper John Roe) was also an unsung hero, so I think it will be a tough year for them.

“The most important players for the Reds are the mid-tier players. They have a group of young stars who have the experience – Berrick Barnes, Horwill – but it’s the group below them that has to really step up.”

Horan believes the Reds should be aiming for a mid-table finish.

“It’s hard to go into a Super 14 thinking you won’t win the competition. That has to be the aim. I think they need to be aiming to win five or six games, which they haven’t been able to do for the past number of years.

“If they do that, that can sometimes be enough to get you close to the four coming to the end of the season.”

Wallabies boost Waratahs

Chris Hickey has included 10 Wallabies in his squad to face the Fiji Warriors this Friday.

The Waratahs coach said he wants to sharpen up in certain areas despite downing the Reds in a warm-up last week.

“The pre-season is all about escalating your programme each week so you continue to build into round one and this week is another step in that direction,” said Hickey.

“We came out of the Reds trial with a few things to work on and we’ll continue to do that in the lead-up to Friday’s match.”

Wallabies openside Phil Waugh will captain the team.

Waratahs - 15 Lachie Turner, 14 Peter Playford, 13 Timana Tahu, 12 Tom Carter, 11 Lote Tuqiri, 10 Daniel Halangahu, 9 Luke Burgess; 8 Scott Fava, 7 Phil Waugh (c), 6 Ben Mowen, 5 Will Caldwell, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Al Baxter, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Subs: 16 Adam Freier, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Beau Robinson, 19 Chris Thomson, 20 Jeremy Su’a, 21 Sam Norton-Knight, 22 Kurtley Beale, 23 Dan Palmer, 24 Dave Dennis, 25 Kane Douglas, 26 Rob Horne, 27 Pat McCutcheon, 28 Matt Carraro.

This thread will be updated throughout the day.