How do the Super Rugby AU squads stack up?

Super AU kicks off on February 19, meaning it is less than a month away. The Reds, Brumbies and Waratahs have announced their full squads for the coming season and the Rebels and Force can’t be too far behind. Let’s take a look at the relative playing strength of the various sides. Starting tight fives […]

Super AU kicks off on February 19, meaning it is less than a month away.

The Reds, Brumbies and Waratahs have announced their full squads for the coming season and the Rebels and Force can’t be too far behind.

Let’s take a look at the relative playing strength of the various sides.

Starting tight fives

Brumbies Reds Rebels Waratahs Force
1 James Slipper Feao Fotuaika Cameron Orr Angus Bell Tom Robertson
2 Folau Fainga’a Brandon Paenga-Amosa Jordan Uelese Tom Horton Feleti Kaitu’u
3 Allan Alaalatoa Taniela Tupou Pone Fa’amausili Harry Johnson-Holmes Santiago Medrano
4 Caderyn Neville Lukhan Salakaia-Loto Trevor Hosea Jack Whetton Jeremy Thrush
5 Darcy Swain Angus Blyth Steve Cummins Sam Caird Fergus Lee-Warner

Looking at those line-ups it hard to see how the Brumbies and Reds don’t remain at the top of the Aussie pile. Both tight fives are full of strong players with minimal change from last season.

The Force have made some great strides with the additions of Tom Robertson and Santiago Medrano but will be ruing missing out on Julian Montoya after his wife’s visa problems.

The loss of Ned Hanigan, Rob Simmons and Matt Philip from the Waratahs and Rebels packs will hurt them.

That said, it’s a 23-man game, the tight five benches will have plenty to say as well.

(Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

Tight five reserves

Brumbies Reds Rebels Waratahs Force
16 Scott Sio Harry Hoopert Cabous Eloff Tetara Faulkner Greg Holmes
17 Connal McInerney Alex Mafi Ed Craig Dave Porecki Andrew Ready
18 Tom Ross Zane Nonggorr Matt Gibbon Tiaan Tauakipulu Angus Wagner
19 Nick Frost Tuania Taii Tualima Ross Haylett-Petty Sam Wykes Ryan McCauley

Very much advantage Brumbies here. The Reds have lost JP Smith and failed to strengthen their reserve locks, the Rebels look set to play Ross Haylett-Petty at lock despite listing him as a back-rower, and the Tahs have drafted in Sam Wykes in his 33rd year.

The smokies here are likely to be the Force, they’ll be hoping Greg Holmes can stay fit and that Andrew Ready and Angus Wagner can continue to improve as they did throughout last season.

I’ll be watching Ryan McCauley with interest, he had limited opportunities in three seasons at the Waratahs but at 2.03m, 115kgs and now 23 years old he should be starting to hit his straps.

Tight five squad players

Brumbies Reds Rebels Waratahs Force
Harry Lloyd Josh Nasser Rhys van Nek Alafosio Tatola Chris Heiberg
Lachlan Lonergan Matt Faessler Joe Cotton Jack Winchester
Archer Holz Dane Zander Robbie Abel Kieran Longbottom
Tom Hooper Ryan Smith Chris Talakai Victor Harris
James Tucker Ben Grant Max Douglas Jackson Pugh
Jeremy Williams

What really stands out here is that the Rebels need to announce a few more tight five signings – the cupboard is bare outside the starting 23.

What is surprising the Waratahs’ depth is equal to or better than most. Yes, their remaining two locks are young but aren’t really giving a lot away compared to the other squads.

Back rows

Brumbies Reds Rebels Waratahs Force
6 Rob Valetini Liam Wright Rob Leota Lachlan Swinton Tomas Lezana
7 Tom Cusack Fraser McReight Isi Naisarani Carlo Tizzano Kane Koteka
8 Pete Samu Harry Wilson Brad Wilkin Jack Dempsey Brynard Stander
20 Jahrome Brown Angus Scott-Young Richard Hardwick Will Harris Ollie Callan

The Reds have a clear advantage with all three of their starters playing for the Wallabies last year and likely to improve further this season. The only question may lie on Fraser McReight and Harry Wilson standing up to the heavy load of a second professional season straight after their first.

The other three squads all look like they’ll be competive with one or two internationals. I’m excited to see Carlo Tizzano make his mark this season, he and Lachie Swinton will bring a lot of fire to the Waratahs back row. The key will be for these two to control themselves.

Harry Wilson in action for the Reds

Harry Wilson. (Photo by Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images)

Back-row squad players

Brumbies Reds Rebels Waratahs Force
Luke Reimer Seru Uru Michael Wells Charlie Gamble Tim Anstee
Rory Scott Sam Wallis Josh Kemeny Hugh Sinclair
Jeral Skelton

The Rebels are the ones with the most depth here. They’re probably wishing they could convert one of these players into a different position.

Halves

Brumbies Reds Rebels Waratahs Force
9 Nic White Tate McDermott Joe Powell Jake Gordon Tomas Cubelli
10 Noah Lolesio James O’Connor Matt To’omua Will Harrison Domingo Miotti
21 Ryan Lonergan Moses Sorovi Frank Lomani Henry Robertson Michael McDonald
22 Bayley Kuenzle Bryce Hegarty Carter Gordon Tane Edmed Jack McGregor

I’ll put my hand up and say I may have the Force bench wrong as they still have Ian Prior and Jono Lance, but I hope the young blokes get a chance to impress.

There is quality all through the starting line-ups. The Tahs probably have the most to prove compared to the other four squads.

Will Harrison lines up for a shot at goal

(Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

Halves squad players

Brumbies Reds Rebels Waratahs Force
Isaak Fines Lawson Creighton James Tuttle Jack Grant Ian Prior
Lachie Albert Kalani Thomas Theo Strang Ben Donaldson Jono Lance
Reesjan Pasitoa Jake Mcintyre

The Brumbies and Force have the clear edge on depth. Melbourne look thin but have the ability to shift Reece Hodge out of the centres to back up and cover Matt To’omua.

The Reds are reportedly fuming about the loss of Carter Gordon, while Ben Donaldson shows a lot of promise for the Tahs and will be pushing for a spot over Tane Edmed.

Centres

Brumbies Reds Rebels Waratahs Force
12 Irae Simone Hunter Paisami Reece Hodge Tepai Moeroa Kyle Godwin
13 Len Ikitau Jordan Petaia Campbell Magnay Joey Walton Tevita Kuridrani
Reece Tapine Hamish Stewart Young Tonumaipea Lalakai Foketi Richard Kahui
Josh Flook Lewis Holland Alex Newsome Henry Taefu
Hudson Creighton Grason Makara

The Reds look best placed in midfield with a pair of Wallabies, the very solid Hamish Stewart and the promise of Josh Flook to choose from. I’ve mixed starters, bench and squad since teams will be flexible in their midfield and back-three subs.

Shout out to the Force who will have a solid starting pair with plenty to prove and a mix of young and old to back them up.

The Melbourne starters have promise but need to deliver and they run the risk of needing Hodge at ten or 15.

This will be Len Ikitau’s chance to impress having had few opportunities behind Tevita Kuridrani.

Meanwhile, there are a few options in NSW with Joey Walton able to push in one and Izaia Perese listed as a midfielder during the squad announcement.

Tevita Kuridrani fends off Beauden Barrett

Tevita Kuridrani has moved form the Brumbies to the Force. (Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Back three

Brumbies Reds Rebels Waratahs Force
11 Tom Wright Filipo Daugunu Marika Koroibete James Ramm Tony Pulu
14 Solomone Kata Suliasi Vunivalu Tom Pincus Izaia Perese Byron Ralston
15 Tom Banks Jock Campbell Dane Haylett-Petty Jack Maddocks Rob Kearney
23 Andy Muirhead Mac Grealy Illy Vudogo Triston Reilly Jake Strachan
Mack Hansen Ilasea Droasese Lachie Anderson Mark Nawaqanitawase Marcel Brache
Brad Lacey

There is some quality across the back threes and, importantly for the Wallabies, more speed than we’ve seen in a long time. Will the experience of the older custodians at the Rebels and Force be able to keep up with the quickness across all the squads?

Jock Campbell should be one to watch this season, he was outstanding for the Reds last year and will be wanting to make a mark compared to the players Dave Rennie preferred over him.

So where do those squads leave us? The Brumbies and Reds are clear favourites with the bookies and that is probably correct.

The Force will be the other team making strides. It’s a shame they missed out on Montoya, but they’ve still recruited well.

Source : The Roar More   

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Eddie Jones self-isolating after Covid-19 scare

Coach Eddie Jones has been forced to self-isolate after his assistant Matt Proudfoot tested positive for COVID-19 as England’s Six Nations Championship defence suffered further disruption. It is the second time in three days that England’s key Australian personnel have been affected by coronavirus after Jones’s compatriot and skills coach Jason Ryles announced on Monday […]

Eddie Jones self-isolating after Covid-19 scare

Coach Eddie Jones has been forced to self-isolate after his assistant Matt Proudfoot tested positive for COVID-19 as England’s Six Nations Championship defence suffered further disruption.

It is the second time in three days that England’s key Australian personnel have been affected by coronavirus after Jones’s compatriot and skills coach Jason Ryles announced on Monday that he wouldn’t be available for the championships.

Proudfoot was diagnosed with coronavirus following Monday’s testing and, as part of contact tracing protocols, Jones and his attack coach Simon Amor have to quarantine for 10 days.

If the next test reveals the outbreak is limited to Proudfoot, who is not displaying any symptoms, Jones will join up with the squad at St George’s Park next Thursday.

Ryles, whose work has been praised by Jones and England’s players since he joined them after helping the Melbourne Storm to glory in the NRL, has chosen not to travel from Australia to London with his family due to the lockdown in place in the UK.

To plug the gap left by his absence, Jones has appointed Ed Robinson, son of the former England and Scotland coach Andy Robinson, to oversee skills training for the duration of the Six Nations.

“Ed is a talented young coach and will work to help the players improve. We understand and support Jason’s decision and are expecting that he will be back with us this summer,” Jones said.

The head coach will name his 28-man party for the Six Nations on Friday as scheduled and his management team are continuing to work virtually, with the opener against Scotland on February 6 looming on the horizon.

Of Jones’ front-line staff, only defence coach, New Zealander John Mitchell, is not currently affected by COVID-19.

Unless the outbreak spreads, England should face minimal complications ahead of the Calcutta Cup showdown at Twickenham due to the timing of Proudfoot’s positive test.

Six Nations organisers are confident the tournament will take place as scheduled, despite misgivings from the French government over the prospect of France travelling to Dublin and London for away matches.

This latest development could enhance their fears at a time when rugby in England is going through a two-week break due to the cancellation of the final two two rounds of European group action.

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