Super Rugby Pacific: Australia's bolters
SPOTLIGHT: It’s a World Cup year and players will be looking to put their hands up for selection in this season’s Super Rugby Pacific campaign.
We take a look at the players to watch at the Australian Super Rugby franchises.
Flyhalf Noah Lolesio’s place in the Wallabies’ pecking order remains clouded, particularly after Ben Donaldson’s debut on the end-of-year Tour. He can remind us of all of his talents with a dominant start to the season. Scrumhalf Ryan Lonergan and his brother Lachlan, a nifty hooker, are game-changers.
Hamish Stewart was an off-season departure from Ballymore, where his defensive grunt and ball-playing worked well in the centres. But his shift to Perth will provide a chance to impress in the No.10 jersey. And don’t forget about line-out master Izack Rodda, back after a long-term foot injury.
Hooker Alex Mafi has also moved from Queensland, where a neck injury stalled his promising ascent to higher honours. Emerging lock Trevor Hosea has trimmed down and toned up as he looks to fill the void left by the injured Matt Philp.
There are any number of Reds within reach of a World Cup berth but keep an eye on young outside backs Isaac Henry and Josh Flook. The pair will have to fight for their minutes in a stacked backline but have the skill, size and composure to shine.
Flying winger Max Jorgensen has been identified as one for the future after rugby won his signature ahead of league. But his runaway try in the weekend’s trial game in Narrabri suggested maybe his time is now. Izaia Perese is fit after a knee injury against England ended his Test season early.