Welcome to your edition Three of Tens Talk, which provides you with inside information on Teams, Players and the Tournament.
In this edition we profile rivals – the Hurricanes, the Blues & the ACT Brumbies. Plus we look at the women’s tournament with a focus on the ladies from the capital, The Brumbies Women.
Carlos Spencer. THE Carlos Spencer. While there are many Blues players who epitomise the team’s golden era – all time All Black greats Zinzan Brooke, Jonah Lomu and Michael Jones among them – only one will lace on the boots for the Blues at the Global Tens. The enigmatic number 10 featured in the first ever Super 12 game back in 1996, and in all three finals from 1996-98, before wrapping up his playing career in South Africa in 2011. That Spencer steals most of the headlines when it comes to the Blues appearance in 2018 speaks volumes about the team’s recent – and not so recent – struggles, look for the Tana Umaga-coached team to try and silence its critics with some inspiring play.
Player to watch – Carlos Spencer: Who else? The 35-test All Black last pulled on a Blues jersey back in 2005, and last played in 2011, so it will be interesting to see how he goes in the minutes he is given in Brisbane. While arguably best known on these shores for throwing the intercept that ultimately bundled the All Blacks out of the 2003 Rugby World Cup, there can be no doubting the excitement factor he brings – even at 42 years of age.
By their own admission – or, at least, in the words of star flyhalf turned water boy Beauden Barrett – the Hurricanes took a while to settle into their Tens debut in 2017. By day two however, the 2016 Super Rugby champions had hit their stride and on the back of a strong kicking game they went deep into the playoff stages, eventually falling in the semi finals to the Crusaders. With head coach Chris Boyd now a confirmed departure to Northampton at the end of the 2018, the men from the capital will be looking for a fast start to the season in Brisbane.
Player to watch – Julian Savea: There’s a number of very good reasons why Brisbane Tens ambassador Julian Savea is rated one of the giants of world rugby – and it’s not just to do with his 108 kilogram, 192 centimetre frame. With 46 test tries for the All Blacks to his name, he is equal fourth on the list of all time try scorers for New Zealand – equal with Christian Cullen and Joe Rokocoko and just three behind all time leader Doug Howlett. Currently out of the All Blacks team, the 27 year old will be out to kick start his 2018 season with a big Tens showing.
Currently in the grip of a resurgence that has seen them re-take the mantle of the leading Australian Super Rugby outfit, the Brumbies are building nicely having recruited strongly following the departure of the Western Force and the return from Japan of David Pocock. With a new coach for 2018 in Dan McKellar, the Brumbies come into the Tens having reached the quarter finals of the 2017 Super Rugby competition, having earlier topped the Australian conference. The two time Super Rugby champs also have form in the Tens game, having finished runner up in the World Rugby Tens tournament on two occasions.
Player to watch – Isi Naisarani: One of five former Force players heading to Canberra in 2018, reigning Super Rugby player of the year Isi Naisarani will be one to watch at the Tens. A hard running, try scoring backrower, the Fijian import enjoyed a breakout stint with Brisbane City in the 2016 National Rugby Championship, which saw him move west for 2017. Ending the year judged the best Australian in Super Rugby is a sure sign of his class and a reason he’s considered likely to wear Wallaby gold sooner rather than later.
The Brumbies will be out to make up for lost time when they debut in the women’s side of the draw at the Tens. And they have some quality in their line up, with four-time Australian World Cup representative Louise Burrows and New Zealand Black Fern and World Cup Winner Charlene Gubb named in their 18-woman squad this week.
Rugby Tens Fun Fact
Carlos Spencer’s return to the playing field is truly an event for the rugby traditionalist. Spencer will be rare amongst the test players on display at the Tens in that he hails from the era of the tour game – he actually played for the All Blacks five times, in midweek games in France and South Africa in 1995/96, before playing his first test match. The debut when it came was remarkable – Spencer scored 33 points (1 try, 10 conversions, 1 penalty goal) in a 93-8 rout of Argentina at Wellington in 1997.
Brisbane Global Rugby Tens
Dates: Friday 9 and Saturday 10 February, 2018
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Gates Open: 1:45pm Friday / 12:40pm Saturday
Blues spin it to win it in Tens final
An all-or-nothing surge from George Moala snatched victory for the Blues in the last minute of the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens final.
Aussies chasing NZ tails on finals day
Just like Super Rugby, the Kiwi teams are setting the pace in Tens rugby.
Veterans hunt young prey in Global Tens pool games
Carlos Spencer was among the winners in the early rounds of the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens
New jersey springs new hope for Kuridrani
Once a Red, Chris Kuridrani wants to follow his brother Nemani Nadolo into the Fijian Test side