Wallaby set for return after 11 months out, Tahs 10 battle resumes, Pom rules out Eddie miracle

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Wallabies backrower Lachie Swinton is set to make his return after almost a year on the sidelines when the Waratahs play the Brumbies in a trial match in Griffith on Saturday.

Swinton last played in the opening round of last year’s competition and has been sidelined with ongoing nerve damage in a shoulder.

Forced to watch the Tahs’ impressive 2022 campaign from the sidelines – as well as the entire Test season – Swinton struggled to adjust to his setback.

“The big point is I’m not playing and out there doing what I love doing,” he said during the middle of 2022.

“For me, not doing that does break me a lot. I’m trying to focus and channel my energy into developing myself athletically and in other aspects, and I think that’s going really well. Whenever this comes right, I’m going to be a better player for it.”

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 15: Lachie Swinton of the Waratahs Is tackled by Andy Muirhead of the Brumbies during the round seven Super Rugby match between the Brumbies and the Waratahs at GIO Stadium on March 15, 2020 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

 (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

With most of his Wallabies unavailable for the opening trial due to load management in a
World Cup year, Swinton is joined in the starting backrow by Charlie Gamble – at the start of a year that could catapult him into RWC contention – and Will Harris.

The Tahs will give starts to new signings Taleni Seu, Harrison Goddard, Nemani Nadolo and young gun Max Jorgensen.

It’s early days but there will be lenty of intrigue around the team’s No.10 jersey this season. Ben Donaldson will start there with Tane Edmed at No.12 but both will spend time at flyhalf.

Glasgow Warriors recruit Tom Lambert wears the Sky Blue for the first time since his days in the NSW Waratahs Academy, while Tolu Latu also plays for the Waratahs for the first time since 2019 when he left for Stade Francais. They will both feature in the second half.

Tahs coach Darren Coleman said in a statement: “After 13 solid training weeks, the staff and players are super excited to finally play some rugby.

“I feel we’re in a different stage of our development than this trial last year, we’ve had a lot more time together and boys have greater clarity in how we want to play.

“These trials are a great opportunity to reward the boys who have worked hard through the pre-season, get them some game time, and allow them to compete for round one spots.:

The NSW Waratahs match against the ACT Brumbies will be streamed live on BarTV.

1st half team (1-15): Te Tera Faulkner, Mahe Vailanu, Archer Holz, Ned Hanigan, Taleni Seu, Lachie
Swinton, Charlie Gamble, Will Harris, Harrison Goddard, Ben Donaldson, Dylan Pietsch, Tane Edmed, Harry Wilson, Nemani Nadolo, Max Jorgensen.

2nd half team (1-15): Tom Lambert, Tolu Latu, Tiaan Tauakipulu, Zane Marolt, Ola Tauelangi, Michael
Icely, Hunter Ward, Langi Gleeson, Teddy Wilson, Jack Bowen, Harry Wilson, Henry O’Donnell, Mosese Tuipulotu, James Hendren, Ben Dowling.

Reserves: Sateki Latu, Thomas Maka, Fritz Jahnke-Tavana.

World Cup winner backs Eddie impact

England World Cup winner Ben Kay says Eddie Jones will have a “bounce effect” on the Wallabies but not enough to win this year’s tournament.

Kay, speaking to Betway ahead of the Six Nations starting this weekend, said Jones lost his way with England by losing focus on what mattered most.

“I backed Eddie early on, but I just felt it had become about how clever he was, rather than how clever the team was. I’ve compared him before to Jose Mourinho, and actually, at the beginning, sometimes that worked for the team, because he took some of the heat off from the media,” Kay said.

“He was obviously very, very successful, but he did go through a lot of backroom staff. He didn’t always treat all of the players that well, particularly some of the young ones that he brought in and then sort of jettisoned and affected their career. I felt it was probably the right decision, to be honest.

“Obviously, it’s not ideal being this close to a World Cup, but I think Steve Borthwick was the favourite to take over from Eddie post-World Cup, so I think it’s just accelerated that process.”

Kay said Jones had forced the Rugby Football Union into action.

“I don’t think it was one issue. He’d obviously made some fairly public comments. His response to some of the criticism was to challenge the RFU and say, ‘I’m in charge here,’ and I don’t think that went down particularly well,” said Kay.

“The worry now is that he’s gone to Australia, and I’m sure he’ll have an immediate bounce effect. I don’t think Australia will win the World Cup, but they could decide who doesn’t win it.”

Kay is expecting Eddie to hit the ground running.

“I think he’ll be great for them initially. He will whip them into shape. I don’t think they’re far off, but they have been really inconsistent. Certainly, in his first years in charge of England, he got that consistency right up there,” said Kay

“For him to have an effect on Australia, it may be a little bit close to the World Cup. I say they’re not going to win the World Cup, they are contenders, of course they are, but I think there are stronger contenders.

“Mind you, I think there’s stronger contenders than England, but if Borthwick can have the same sort of effect that he had on Leicester and focus on the areas that are most important to winning, then you never know.

“They’re all fortunate that no team bar France and Ireland, who still have some issues themselves, are clear favourites. I don’t think the competition is as far ahead as in many World Cup years.”

Gatland names team early

Wales fullback Leigh Halfpenny will make his first Test start for 19 months in Saturday’s Six Nations opener against Ireland.

Halfpenny, who has won 97 caps, last featured in the starting line-up when Wales beat Canada during their 2021 summer internationals.

There are also starts for 37-year-old Alun Wyn Jones, the most capped international in rugby history with 155 appearances in Tests, George North (109 caps), Dan Biggar (103) and Taulupe Faletau (95) in a group that largely featured under Warren Gatland in his first spell in charge.

The Principality Stadium encounter kicks off Gatland’s second stint as Wales boss, with his previous reign between 2008 and 2019 yielding four Six Nations titles, three Grand Slams and two World Cup semi-finals.

There are also some fresher faces however. Joe Hawkins will add to his single cap as he starts alongside North in the midfield, while Rio Dyer gets a run on the wing.

Warren Gatland

(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

“We’ve picked Joe at 12. He’s a lovely footballer with some great skills,” Gatland said. “I thought for his first cap (against Australia in November) he was outstanding, so we have given him another opportunity.

“Ireland are the No.1 team in the world, so they’re going to be coming here with a lot of confidence.

“We know how good they are and we are expecting a really tough contest. It’s important for us that we start well, but we need to be in the game at the last 20 minutes.”

Ireland arrive in Cardiff after a memorable year when they beat New Zealand twice, South Africa and Australia.

But they have lost their last four Six Nations games in the Welsh capital since defeating Wales 10 years ago.

Wales: L Halfpenny (Scarlets); J Adams (Cardiff), G North (Ospreys), J Hawkins (Ospreys), R Dyer (Dragons); D Biggar (Toulon), T Williams (Cardiff); G Thomas (Ospreys), K Owens (Scarlets, capt), T Francis (Ospreys), A Beard (Ospreys), A W Jones (Ospreys), J Morgan (Ospreys), J Tipuric (Ospreys), T Faletau (Cardiff).
Replacements: S Baldwin (Ospreys), R Carre (Cardiff), D Lewis (Cardiff), D Jenkins (Exeter), T Reffell (Leicester), R Webb (Ospreys), O Williams (Ospreys), A Cuthbert (Ospreys).

England’s extended squad named

England head coach Steve Borthwick has kept three uncapped players in his trimmed 29-man squad for their opening Six Nations match against Scotland.

Jack Walker, Ollie Hassell-Collins and Fin Smith are the three new faces who keep their places, but Toulouse flanker Jack Willis, Sale lock Jonny Hill, and props Joe Heyes and Bevan Rodd have been excluded for Saturday’s Calcutta Cup clash with the Scots at Twickenham.

In the backs, centre Guy Porter, halfback Alex Mitchell and winger Cadan Murley were also left out by Borthwick, who has succeeded Australian Eddie Jones as England coach.

England will be without centre Henry Slade who has not recovered after a hip injury earlier this month, while Dan Kelly and vice-captain Courtney Lawes are also on the injury list.

On Friday, it was announced fullback Elliot Daly would miss the entire Six Nations championship because of a hamstring injury.

Hooker George McGuigan withdrew from the squad last week and forward Luke Cowan-Dickie is set to miss the Scotland match with an ankle problem.

Full Squad

Forwards: Ollie Chessum, Dan Cole, Ben Curry, Alex Dombrandt, Tom Dunn, Ben Earl, Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Nick Isiekwe, Maro Itoje, Lewis Ludlam, David Ribbans, Sam Simmonds, Kyle Sinckler, Mako Vunipola, Jack Walker.

Backs: Owen Farrell (capt), Tommy Freeman, Ollie Hassell-Collins, Ollie Lawrence, Max Malins, Joe Marchant, Fin Smith, Marcus Smith, Freddie Steward, Manu Tuilagi, Jack van Poortvliet, Anthony Watson, Ben Youngs.


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