The Australian Conference Preview

Over the next three weeks we will be previewing each of the Super Rugby Conference’s in our blog and in our Draft Rugby Podcast. This week we start with the Aussie conference, and to help us out we have Jaybor Staunton and Rich Freeman speaking about the Reds and Sunwolves respectively. Check out our podcast at the links below:


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Brumbies

Full squad:
Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Tom Banks, Sam Carter, Tom Cusack, Murray Douglas, Blake Enever, Folau Fainga’a, Vunipola Fifita, Ben Hyne, Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, Josh Mann-Rea, Lachlan McCaffrey, Connal McInerney, David Pocock, Tom Ross, Pete Samu, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Darcy Swain, Rob Valetini, Mack Hansen, Wharenui Hawera, Len Ikitau, Jordan Jackson-Hope, Bayley Kuenzle, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Lealiifano , Noah Lolesio, Ryan Lonergan, Matt Lucas, Andrew Muirhead, Chance Peni, Joe Powell, Toni Pulu, Irae Simone, Henry Speight, Lausii Taliauli, Tom Wright

New Faces:
Toni Pulu (Chiefs), Pete Samu (Crusaders), James Slipper (Reds), Bayley Kuenzle (Southern Districts +AusU20s), Len Ikitau (NRC Canberra Vikings), Noah Lolesio (cousin of Francis Saili), Irae Simone (Waratahs), Tom Wright (5games for Manly NRL), Vunipola Fifita (NRC Vikings), Tom Ross (Aus U20s), Murray Douglas(3 scotland caps, & Hurricanes),

Losses:
Isi Naisarani (Rebels), Kyle Godwin (Connact), Ben Alexander (Retired), Robbie Abel (Mitre 10 cup Auckland), Richie Arnold (Japan), Mees Erasmus (Rebels),Lolo Fakaosilea (Japan), Andrew Smith (Retired), James Verity-Amm (Cut), Faalelei Sione (Cut), Michael Oakman-Hunt (Cut), James Dargaville (Cut), Nic Mayhew (Cut)

Best 15:
Scott Sio, Folau Fainga’a, Allan Alaalatoa, Sam Carter, Rory Arnold, Pete Samu, David Pocock, Rob Valetini, Joe Powell, Wharenui Hawera, Henry Speight, Christian Leali’ifano, Tevita Kuridrani, Toni Pulu, Tom Banks

Stocks are rising:
Toni Pulu – The ex Chiefs winger is set for a big season as he pushes for Wallabies selection before the Rugby World Cup. Expect him to hold down one wing while Speight holds the other.
Jordan Jackson-Hope – If you’re looking for someone to have a break out year this could be your man! Last year Hawera struggled to get game time, if Leali’ifano moves to 10 again then it could make way for Jackson-Hope to show us all what his got.

Stocks are falling:
Andrew Muirhead – A breakout 2018 will probably not be enough to save him from the fantasy chopping block this year. At best the Bulldog will be competing for a bench spot with Chance Peni.
Tom Cusack – An outstanding backup to Pocock, he really took his chances last year. Sadly for him the arrival of Pete Samu and now health of Valetini means he may battle for consistent game time this year.

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Rebels

Full squad:
Hooker: Jordan Uelese, Hugh Roach, Anuru Rangi
Prop: Fereti Sa’aga, Ben Daley, Jermaine Ainsley, Tetera Faulkner, Sam Talakai. Pone Fa’amausili, Mees Erasmus
Lock: Matt Philip, Adam Coleman, Luke Jones, Sam Jeffries
Backrow: Angus Cottrell, Ross Haylett-Petty, Richard Hardwick, Isi Naisarani, Brad Wilkin, Rob Leota
Scrumhalf: Will Genia, Harrison Goddard, Michael Ruru
Flyhalf:  Quade Cooper, Matt Toomua
Centre: Bill Meakes, Reece Hodge, Cambell Magnay, Sione Tuipuluto
Wing: Semisi Tupou, Marika Korobiete, Tom English
Fullback: Jack Maddocks, Dane Haylett-Petty

New Faces:
Mees Erasmus (Brumbies), Hugh Roach (Waratahs), Luke Jones (Bordeaux), Brad Wilkin (Waratahs), Isi Naisarani (Brumbies), Quade Cooper (Reds/ Brothers RC), Matt Toomua (Leicester), Campbell Magnay (Suntory Sungoliath)

Losses:
Laurie Weeks (Retired), Geoff Parling (Retired/Coaching), Colby Fainga’a (Connacht), Lopeti Timani (La Rochelle), Amanaki Mafi (NTT Communications Shining Arcs), Jack Debreczeni (Chiefs), Jack McGregor (Western Force), David Horwitz (Connacht), Henry Hutchison (Aus 7s), Sefa Naivalu (Reds)

Best 15:

Tetera Faulkner, Jordan Uelese, Jermaine Ainsley (or Talakai), Adam Coleman, Matt Philip, Luke Jones, Richard Hardwick/ Angus Cottrell, Isi Naisarani, Will Genia, Quade Cooper, Marika Koroibete, Bill Meakes (Toomua when available), Reece Hodge, Jack Maddocks, Dane Haylett-Petty

Stocks are rising:
Jordan Uelese – only played 8 games due to injury (30th hooker), a consistent starting spot this year should see him push up into the top grouping of hookers.
Luke Jones – was ranked 17th over all positions in 2015 with a 39 average.
Quade Cooper – Reunited with Genia, Cooper is expected to start at flyhalf for the rebels all year. We have long thought a coach that backed him would bring out his best, this could be his year.

Stocks are falling:
Bill Meakes – Should be rock solid for the middle of the most part, but beware the return of the stay at home dad (Matt Toomua) around Round 15.
Tom English – Drops down the pecking order but will again be the Mr fix it for injuries and rest weeks for other players (unless there is a significant injury he is unlikely to get consistent time).
Angus Cottrell – Whether he is starting at 6,7 or on the bench, he is likely to share his game time more this season with Jones and hopefully a fit Hardwick.

Smokie:
Cambell Magnay – The Aussie centre/ wing has truck loads of potential, he just needs to find some consistent game time. He might not it at the Rebels this season, but if there is an injury or two in the outside backs then he could be gold. Keep your eyes on the casualty ward this season to try and predict the best time to pick him up.

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Reds

Full squad:
Forwards: Harry Hoopert, JP Smith, Ruan Smith, Taniela Tupou, Efi Ma’afu, Alex Mafi, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Angus Blyth, Harry Hockings, Izack Rodda, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto , Scott Higginbotham, Adam Korczyk, Angus Scott-Young, Caleb Timu, Harry Wilson, Liam Wright 
Backs: Tate McDermott, Moses Sorovi, James Tuttle, Hamish Stewart, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Samu Kerevi, Duncan Paia’aua, Filipo Daugunu, Will Eadie, Izaia Perese, Jordan Petaia, Aidan Toua

New Faces:
Sefa Naivalu, Matt McGahan, Gavin Luka, Efi Ma’afu, Fraser McReight, Harry Wilson, Jock Campbell, Will Eadie

Losses:
George Smith, Izaia Perese, Jono Lance, Eto Nabuli, Ben Lucas, James Slipper, Karmichael Hunt, Quade Cooper, Sef Fa’agase, Andrew Ready, Kane Douglas, Michael Gunn, Reece Hewat, Markus Vanzati, Lachlan Maranta, Jayden Ngamanu

Best 15:
JP Smith, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Taniela Tupou, Izack Rodda, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Caleb Timu, Liam Wright, Scott Higginbotham, Moses Sorovi, Hamish Stewart, Filipo Daugunu, Samu Kerevi, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Sefa Naivalu, Jordan Petaia

Stocks are rising:
Sefa Naivalu – Only averaged 45 minutes across his 14 games in 2018, this year we expect him to be a go to attacking weapon for the Reds. The big question is if the Reds outside backs can score more than 13 tries this year (way down on the 31 scored but the Hurricanes!).
Liam Wright – The release of Michael Gunn could mean big things for the young open side this year. There is still some competition for a starting role with Korczyk, but his obvious talents might be too much to ignore this time around.
Taniela Tupou – Ranked the 6th prop in 2018, Tupou is most likely Australia’s next world 15 player. His set piece is absolutely dominant, he breaks tackles and racks up more run metres than any other front rower. If he doesn’t top the prop rankings this year then something has gone terribly wrong!

Stocks are falling:
Duncan Paia’aua – Two years ago we thought he was the next Wallabies 12, now he sits behind the Aussies most damaging centre and has signed over seas for after this season. His game time should be limited, so I’d stay well away from him this season.
Tate McDermott/ Moses Sorovi/ James Tuttle – Round and round the rotation policy goes, where will it end? No body knows…

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Sunwolves

Full squad:

Props: Keita Inagaki, Asaeli Ai Valu, Koo Ji-Won, Pauliasi Manu, Hencus van Wyk, Craig Millar, Sam Prattley, Alex Woonton, Hiroshi Yamashita
Hookers: Jaba Bregvadze, Shota Horie, Yusuke Niwai, Atsushi Sakate, Locks: Mark Abbott, Grant Hattingh, Uew Helu, Kazuki Himeno, James Moore, Tom Rowe, Wimpie van der Walt
Backrow: Ben Gunter, Michael Leitch, Kara Pryor, Dan Pryor, Ed Quirk Hendrik Tui, Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco, Pieter “Lappies” Labuschagne
Half Backs: Jamie Booth, Kaito Shigeno, Fumiaki Tanaka, Yutaka Nagare, Keisuke Uchida
Flyhalf: Hayden Parker, Rikiya Matsuda
Centres: Phil Burleigh, Michael Little, Shane Gates, Ryoto Nakamura, Will Tupou,
Wingers: Kenki Fukuoka, Lomano Lemeki, Semisi Masirewa, Hosea Saumaki, Rene Ranger, Gerhard van den Heever
Full Backs: Jason Emery, Jamie Henry

New Faces:
Pauliasi Manu, Mark Abbott, Dan Pryor, Hendrik Tui, Rene Ranger, Jamie Booth, Phil Burleigh, Sam Prattley, Kara Pryor, Dan Pryor, Hiroshi Yamashita, Tom Rowe, Ben Gunter, Shane Gates

Losses:
Sean McMahon, Nika Khatiashvili, Willie Britz, Sam Wykes, Harumichi Tatekawa,
Kotaro Matsushima? Akihito Yamada? Robbie Robinson? Sione Teaupa? Timothy Lafaele? Yu Tamura?

Best 15:
Pauliasi Manu, Shota Horie, Koo Ji-Won, Mark Abbott, Grant Hattingh,
Kazuki Himeno, Lappies Labuschagne, Michael Leitch, Yutaka Nagare, Hayden Parker, Kenki Fukuoka, Michael Little, Rene Ranger, Lomano Lemeki, Kotaro Matsushima

Stocks are rising:
Craig Millar – The ninth ranked prop in 2018 with a 25.1AVG, the Sunwolves Co-captain is set for a lot of game time this year. He is someone that might fly under the radar this year, but not if you read this blog!
James Moore – Named in the extended Japanese RWC squad Moore will likely get his chance to press for a starting position at lock. Considering the majority of the squads locks are usually loose forwards, then we could see him get significantly more game time. Like everything else with the Sunwolves, nothing is guaranteed,

Stocks are falling:
Fumiaka Tanaka – It seems that Tanaka is slowly sliding down the number 9 pecking order with the emergence of Shigeno and Uchida. Don’t expect him to play nearly the same minutes this year.
Harumichi Tatekawa – Looks like Tatekawa’s form has not been strong enough for him to warrant a spot in the Sunwolves team this year. He might get a run if he can prove himself in the development squad, but I’d stay well away this year regardless.

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Waratahs

Full squad:
Props: Tom Robertson, Sekope Kepu, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Rory O’Connor, Shambeckler Vui, Cody Walker
Hookers: Tolu Latu, Damien Fitzpatrick, JP Sauni
Locks: Rob Simmons, Ned Hanigan, Tom Staniforth, Nick Palmer, Le Roux Roets, Ryan McCauley
Backrow: Jack Dempsey, Michael Hooper, Will Miller, Michael Wells, Jed Holloway, Lachlan Swinton, Patrick Tafa
Halfback: Jake Gordon, Nick Phipps
Flyhalf: Bernard Foley, Mack Mason
Centre: Kurtley Beale, Lalakai Foketi, Curtis Rona
Wings: Israel Folau, Cameron Clark, Alex Newsome, John Folau

New Faces:
Le Roux Roets, John Folau, Rory O’Connor, Karmichael Hunt, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Patrick Tafa

Losses:
Paddy Ryan, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Andrew Kellaway, Hugh Roach, Brad Wilkin, Irae Simone, Michael Snowden, Kelly Meafua, Kalivati Tawake, Matt Sandell, Bryce Hegarty

Best 15:
Tom Robertson, Tolu Latu, Sekope Kepu, Rob Simmons, Ned Hanigan, Jack Dempsey, Michael Hooper, Michael Wells, Jake Gordon, Bernard Foley, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Kurtley Beale, Curtis Rona, Israel Folau, Karmichael Hunt

Stocks are rising:
Karmichael Hunt – The troubled back could make a real go of it with the Waratahs back line supporting him. If he finally signs on the dotted line that is..
Jack Dempsey – This is the year Dempsey has the chance to leave a mark on Southern Hemisphere rugby, his hamstring injury cost him all of Super Rugby 2018, but if you’re willing to run the risk of his fitness, then he could be a fantasy cash cow with his running game and work rate.

Stocks are falling:
Ned Hanigan – Hanigan was made far more valuable last year with the absence of Jack Dempsey. This year he has more competition than ever.
Damien Fitzpatrick – Fitzpatrick played out of his skin last year. We expect Damien to play second fiddle this time round as the calls for Latu’s promotion only getting louder. The Wallabies need an international starter and it isn’t Fitzpatrick.

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