Ireland to rest big guns for Chicago trip to face Italy

Nick Purewal 29/10/2018
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Will Addison in action for Ulster

Will Addison has moved a step closer to his Test debut by being named in an unfamiliar 26-man Ireland squad to face Italy.

Former England Under-20s star Addison could now well make his senior international bow in the clash at Chicago’s Soldier Field on Saturday.

Head coach Joe Schmidt has opted to hold back the likes of captain Rory Best and vice-captains Johnny Sexton and Peter O’Mahony, with Argentina, New Zealand and the USA all still to face in Dublin.

British and Irish Lions forwards Iain Henderson and Sean O’Brien and full-back Rob Kearney have also been left out of the squad to travel to Chicago, with boss Schmidt keeping a clutch of stellar names fresh for the three Dublin encounters.

Leinster playmaker Ross Byrne has also edged closer to his Test bow in making the Chicago squad, with Joey Carbery possibly pencilled in to start at fly-half.

Addison left Sale for Ulster in the summer and has since earned rave reviews for a string of fine performances with the Belfast province.

Now the 26-year-old – who qualifies for Ireland through his mother – can push for his first Test cap, when Ireland take on Conor O’Shea’s Italy in America.

Schmidt’s decision to keep some senior players fresh for the Dublin encounters also means Ireland will have a new face as captain this weekend.

Ireland squad to face Italy in Chicago:

Forwards: F Bealham (Connacht), T Beirne (Munster) J Conan, S Cronin, T Furlong (all Leinster), D Kilcoyne (Munster), J McGrath (Leinster), J Murphy (Ulster), A Porter (Leinster), Q Roux (Connacht), R Ruddock, James Ryan (both Leinster), N Scannell (Munster), D Toner, J van der Flier (both Leinster).

Backs: W Addison (Ulster), B Aki (Connacht), R Byrne (Leinster), J Carbery, A Conway (both Munster), J Cooney (Ulster), J Larmour, L McGrath, G Ringrose (all Leinster), J Stockdale (Ulster), D Sweetnam (Munster).

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Michael Rhodes ready for warm welcome if he is handed England Test debut against Springboks

Duncan Bech 29/10/2018
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Michael Rhodes is ready for his Test debut

Michael Rhodes is backing himself to stay composed in the face of any sledging from South Africa if he makes his England debut against his homeland.

Rhodes is in contention to start in a remodelled back row for the Springboks‘ visit to Twickenham on Saturday as Eddie Jones contends with an injury crisis that has claimed Billy Vunipola, Nathan Hughes and Chris Robshaw among its victims.

Saracens’ hard-tackling blindside flanker qualifies for England on residency grounds and in a twist of fate could win his first cap against the nation he left for the Gallagher Premiership in 2015.

Knowing he might be targeted by the Springboks, he is ready for any verbal hostility.

“That could well happen. Things like that do happen on the pitch,” Rhodes said.

“I don’t know how I would react in the game but those type of things don’t tend to affect me too much. In any club games I’ve played, I have just focused on doing my job.

“The chirp and the chat is part of the game. They might try to niggle and get under my skin, but I think I can just ignore that and can get on with the game.

“I’m not perfect but I would like to think I can block that out especially if I anticipate it coming .”

Rhodes played South African provincial Rugby for five years before joining Saracens for a change in scenery and he quickly made an impact, most notably for his fearsome defence and work rate.

On selecting him in his autumn squad, Jones remarked that “when he hits, he hurts” and the 30-year-old is expected to be play a part in an autumn series that continues with fixtures against New Zealand, Japan and Australia.

It was only 18 months ago that the prospect of representing England began to materialise, although the back row resources available to Jones made it a long shot until injury struck.

Rhodes insists anyone doubting his allegiance to the national cause should watch him play.

“To those people, I would say that my goal is to win Rugby games with England. I’m going to play as hard and committed as possible to winning the game,” Rhodes said.

“If they are supporting the team, then the winning is what they should be concerned about.

“As I say, when it comes down to commitment, there should be no doubt where my commitment lies.

“It’s really strange how things work out. I never came here to play for England and I left my international aspirations in South Africa when I left there.

“It wasn’t a decision I made in terms of ‘oh I want to play for England’, as most English players would have because that was never on the table when I first moved here.

“I’ve had a lot of support from mates back home. I think my old man’s been getting more flack than me about it from his mates about who he’ll be supporting.

“He hasn’t told me yet, he’s probably keeping it on the down-low for now.”

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Veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper joins boom rookies in Wallabies train-on squad ahead of Spring Tour

Alex Broun 29/10/2018
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Adam Ashley-Cooper playing for Kobelco Steelers

Rookie sensation Jordan Petaia has been called into Michael Cheika’s train-on squad for the 2018 Spring Tour after a memorable National Rugby Championship (NRC) campaign for Queensland Country.

The 18 year-old would become the third youngest player to ever debut for the Wallabies, should he make an appearance in the November internationals against either Wales or Italy.

It caps a remarkable rise for Petaia who starred for the Queensland Reds in Super Rugby last season, after only making his debut in round eight against the Brumbies.

Petaia is joined by fellow rising star Rob Valetini, who will join the squad as a Development Player.

Valetini has overcome an injury interrupted season for the Brumbies to dominate for the Canberra Vikings in the NRC and will earn vital experience in Europe ahead of 2019.

Veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper has also earned a squad call-up for the first time since 2016, after injuries ruled out key outside backs Reece Hodge (ankle) and Tevita Kuridrani (pectoral).

Ashley-Cooper won’t have to travel far with the 34-year old currently based in Japan for Kobe Steelers in the Top League, and he’ll be keen to prove to Michael Cheika this week that he’s ready to join George Gregan as the only Australian to play in four Rugby World Cups, if selected next year.

Matt Toomua will also join the squad in Odawara, Japan for a week-long intensive training camp at the base the Wallabies will use ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

The train-on squad will be revised before departing for Wales on Saturday for the first Test of the tour.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said: “Jordan (Petaia) has just got a lot of good touches. He’s a good lad, he wants to succeed, he wants to do the work, he’s eager.

“Having him here with us on these next few weeks will give him an idea of what’s required at the level and give him a chance to make a play for the World Cup squad.

“Adam (Ashley-Cooper) will train with us, we’ll see where he’s at. He’s come on the tour with us to be available for selection, he’s not coming for a holiday.”

“His experience is important and also just his versatility, his ability to cover a few positions. With him and then a guy like Jordan, it’s probably a good balance. We need a couple of extra backs here on the trip,” Cheika said.

2018 Spring Tour

Wales v Wallabies at Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Sunday 11 November at 21.05 UAE time

Italy v Wallabies at Stadio Euganeo, Padua, Sunday 18 November at 17.45 UAE time

England v Wallabies at Twickenham Stadium, London, Sunday 25 November at 18.45 UAE time

Qantas Wallabies train-on squad ahead of 2018 Spring Tour

(Test caps, Vodafone Super Rugby side and age)

Forwards

Jermaine Ainsley (1 Test, Melbourne Rebels, 23)

Allan Alaalatoa (30 Tests, Brumbies, 24)

Rory Arnold (19 Tests , Brumbies, 28)

Adam Coleman (28 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 26)

Jack Dempsey (7 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 24)

Folau Fainga’a (6 Tests, Brumbies, 23)

Ned Hanigan (18 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 23)

Jed Holloway (uncapped, NSW Waratahs, 25)

Michael Hooper (c) (88 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 26)

Sekope Kepu (100 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 32)

Tolu Latu (10 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 25)

Brandon Paenga-Amosa (4 Tests, Queensland Reds, 22)

David Pocock (75 Tests, Brumbies, 30)

Izack Rodda (14 Tests, Queensland Reds, 22)

Rob Simmons (91 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 29)

Pete Samu (7 Tests, Brumbies, 26)

Scott Sio (52 Tests, Brumbies, 27)

Taniela Tupou (9 Tests, Queensland Reds, 22)

Backs

Adam Ashley-Cooper (116, Kobe Steelers, 34)

Tom Banks (3 Tests, Brumbies, 24)

Kurtley Beale (81 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 29)

Israel Folau (70 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 29)

Bernard Foley (65 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 29)

Will Genia (97 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 30)

Jake Gordon (uncapped, NSW Waratahs, 25)

Dane Haylett-Petty (28 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 29)

Samu Kerevi (22 Tests, Queensland Reds, 25)

Marika Koroibete (18 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 26)

Jack Maddocks (5 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 21)

Sefa Naivalu (8 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 26)

Jordan Petaia (uncapped, Queensladn Reds, 18)

Nick Phipps (70 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 29)

Matt Toomua (39, Leicester Tigers/Melbourne Rebels, 28)

Development Player

Rob Valetini (uncapped, Brumbies, 20)

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