Digby crocked

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

Digby crocked

Digby Ioane has undergone a shoulder reconstruction and will be out of all rugby for six months.

The Reds winger will miss the Tri-Nations but is hoping to be fit for the Aussies’ tour to Europe in October.

‘My injury obviously happened for a reason, so I have to accept that and I’ll focus on trying to come back in time for the grand slam,’ he said. ‘That’s my major goal – if they pick me.’

Tahs unchanged for Lions clash

Waratahs coach Chris Hickey has shown faith in the squad which beat the Sharks last week by naming an unchanged side for Friday’s crucial encounter against the Lions.

The Tahs kept their slim play-off hopes alive with a 16-12 win over the Sharks in Durban, and are one of seven teams still in contention for a semi-final berth going into this week’s final round of fixtures.

Western Force-bound Brett Sheehan, who dodged a dangerous tackle charge earlier in this week, has been named on the bench and will earn his 50th Super Rugby cap if he comes on.

The Waratahs face several scenarios as they chase a spot in the final four, but Hickey says beating the Lions will be his team’s first priority.

‘It’s always great when you come off a good win to be in a position to field the same side again,’ said Hickey.

‘It’s a six-day turnaround this week which limits your preparation somewhat, so having those combinations in place week-to-week is a real positive.

‘All we can do is go out there with a focus on winning the game – that’s all we can control, and the rest will take care of itself.

‘Playing at Ellis Park… one of the most imposing stadiums in the rugby world and we know that even though they’re [the Lions] out of finals contention they’ll be up for a real contest.’

Waratahs – 15 Lachie Turner, 14 Peter Playford, 13 Timana Tahu, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Lote Tuqiri, 10 Daniel Halangahu, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Wycliff Palu, 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 Damien Fitzpatrick, 17 Sekope Kepu, 18 Chris Thomson, 19 Luke Doherty, 20 Brett Sheehan, 21 Sam Norton-Knight, 22 Tom Carter.

Jones blasts Tahs

According to Eddie Jones Kurtley Beale, the one-time wunderkind of Australian rugby, has stagnated and the Waratahs have no idea what they’re doing.

In a candid interview with ruggamatrix.com, Jones held little back on many issues, slamming the Western Force, the Super 14, the ELVs and the proposed expansion of Super Rugby in Japan.

But Jones directed his most stinging remarks at the Waratahs, saying that even though they were still in the Super 14 finals race they were a major disappointment.

‘I don’t think the Waratahs this year have looked as if they have moved on at all,’ said Jones. ‘They’ve certainly got the players to build on what they’d done under the previous regime. It’s hard to work out how they’re trying to play. Some of their first-phase executions have been quite poor and they haven’t got the balance right at 10 and 12.

‘[Tom] Carter is a good, strong player but is very limited. So when you play him there, you’re going to be somewhat restricted in your attack. And Beale just hasn’t developed at all.

‘Again he looked like he was going to be something right out of the box. But at the moment his game has really stagnated. So I’m not sure what the philosophy of their attack is. To me, watching them play, they play like two teams. There’s the forwards and there’s the backs, and there’s no idea of the forwards creating a platform for the backs to work off, and vice versa.’

Jones has been impressed with his former team, the Brumbies, believing they will become a major force next season if they secure O’Connor.

‘I’d be very surprised if he [O'Connor] stays at the Force, given that they’re run by cowboys,’ added Jones. ‘I don’t think he’s that keen to have his career looked after by cowboys. The Brumbies are getting Matt Giteau, and if they get James O’Connor, they’ve got the nucleus to become the strongest team in Australia.’

Jones lacked enthusiasm for the Super 14, having a direct dig at a group of former leading international coaches who assembled in Stellenbosch and pushed for the introduction of the ELVs.

‘They definitely stuffed up the laws. It just means that there has been a lot of wine drunk by old coaches in Stellenbosch, which has been wasted. The Super 14 has also lost so many of their senior players. They used to play until they were 30-31 and now they’re going overseas at 26-27. There are also too many teams. Australia has suffered from having a fourth team, to the extent we have one good team and three moderate teams.’

Jones is also mystified by Australia’s eagerness to push Super rugby into Japan.

‘Rugby in Japan is funded by the companies. If there was to be a Super team in Japan, it would take away from the company competition. The only way it could happen is if it was the Japan national team. If that’s the case, the Japan national team is not going to be run as an Australian franchise.

‘I struggle to see how Australia are going to benefit from Japan being in an expanded Super 14. Financially, the only way they are going to get any benefit is from extra television rights.’