1. Rugby Australian walks a fine line on Fijiian Drua and Pasifika rugby.
RA has been sceptical about the inclusion of the Fijian Drua in Super Rugby, which is understandable, but it may now be time to back them or outline the alternative. Two sources have told the Herald that the Fijian Drua’s attempts to recruit players have been hindered in recent weeks as a “split” RA board decides its next Super Rugby move.
Being seen to be holding up the Drua’s inclusion is not the easiest position to defend, given the huge amount of credibility and goodwill generated by the Fiji Test team against the All Blacks on Saturday.
There has also been a bit of chat about the recent announcement of Australian government support for Fiji Rugby, and whether that makes them a natural fit for an Australian conference, but it’s thought that the Kiwis are tipping in more money, with New Zealand Rugby likely to cover competition costs for both the Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika. Fiji, World Rugby and New Zealand Rugby have clearly been working away to get on the same page, so the danger is that Australia will be seen as the roadblock to Pasifika rugby’s big step forward.
2. Wallabies team picked itself.
There wasn’t enough justification for Dave Rennie to ring the changes for the second Test against France – and a lack of options probably made a few decisions easier. Fullback Tom Banks may be struggling to replicate his Brumbies form in a Wallabies jumper, but Reece Hodge’s exclusion from the first-Test 23 indicates he has work to do after an injury lay-off, and outside the Rebels utility there are few candidates.
In fact, if Noah Lolesio settles into the No.10 jersey, I would not be averse to James O’Connor at fullback, given that the Wallabies play a style of game – as many teams do – that gives the No.15 plenty of touches on the ball. But Banks has been worth persisting with and, although he overcooked one penalty kick to touch during the Brisbane Test, his ability to kick deep is a weapon.