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The Australian Conference Preview

In this blog we look through each of the five Aussie teams to highlight all the must know facts! Keep an eye out for our Draft Rugby Show as well where we will delve a bit deeper into the ins and outs of each team. Fingers crossed we can get a couple of special guests for the pod as well!

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Brumbies

Full squad:
Hookers: Folau Fainga’a, Lachlan Lonergan, Connal McInerney, Billy Pollard
Props: Allan Alaalatoa, Archer Holz, Harry Lloyd, Tom Ross, Scott Sio, James Slipper
Locks: Tom Hooper, Nick Frost, Caderyn Neville, Darcy Swain, James Tucker
Backrows: Jahrome Brown, Tom Cusack, Luke Reimer, Pete Samu, Rory Scott, Rob Valetini
Scrumhalf: Lachie Albert, Issak Fines, Ryan Lonergan, Nic White
Flyhalf: Bayley Kuenzle, Noah Lolesio, Reesjan Pasitoa
Centres: Len Ikitau, Irae Simone, Reece Tapine
Outside backs: Tom Banks, Mack Hansen, Solomone Kata, Andy Muirhead, Tom Wright

New Faces:
Nic White (Exeter Chiefs), James Tucker (Blues -LK/BKR), Reece Tapine (CTR/OB Norths), Archer Holz (tighthead Eastern Suburbs), Billy Pollard (HK Uni-Norths Owls), Tom Hooper (LK Tuggeranong Vikings), Luke Reimer (FL Wests Lions), Rory Scott (FL Canberra Royals), Lachlan Albert (SH Wests Lions), 

Losses:
Tevita Kuridrani (Western Force), Toni Pulu (WG Force), Will Miller (retired),  Lachlan McCaffrey (No8 Kyuden Voltex), Joe Powell (SH Rebels), Shambeckler Vui (Mitsubishi DynaBoars),  Murray Douglas (LK Yamaha Júbilo), Blake Enever (LK Leicester Tigers), Guy Porter (CTR Leicester Tigers), Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin (PR)

Best 15:
James Slipper, Folau Fainga’a, Allan Alaalatoa, Darcy Swain, James Tucker/Nick Frost, Rob Valetini, Tom Cusack, Pete Samu, Nic White, Noah Lolesio, Solomone Kata, Irae Simone, Len Ikitau, Tom Wright, Tom Banks

Stocks are rising:
James Tucker – The aussie born former Chiefs/Blues/Waikato rugby man could be a huge pick in the 2nd row this year, especially having shown he can play at loose forward for waikato in the Mitre 10 cup.
Nic White – Considering the Wallabies No9 has just entered back into Super Rugby it’s hard to see his fantasy points going anywhere but up!
Noah Lolesio – Having only played 2.5 games in SR AU last season, come continuity and time in the Wallabies will only aid in his development.

Stocks are falling:
Cadeyrn Neville – Increased competition with James Tucker coming in, as well as Darcy Swain and Nick Frost both being a year older.

Smokies:
Jahrome Brown – the young gun 7 showed he was made of the right stuff when called upon last year. If he can get good time over Tom Cusack he’s huge engine should make him a consistent fantasy scorer.
Len Ikitau – Served his apprenticeship under Kuridrani and now should take the reins as the Brumbies first choice outside centre.

Rebels

Full squad:
Lachlan Anderson, Ignacio Calas, Edward Craig, Steven Cummins, Jacbous Eloff, Vaauli Faamausili, Matt Gibbon, Carter Gordon, Richard Hardwick, Dane Haylett-Petty, Ross Haylett-Petty, James Hanson, Reece Hodge, Lewis Holland, Trevor Hosea, Josh Kemeny, Marika Korobeite, Robert Leota, Frank Lomani, Campbell Magnay, Isireli Naisarani, Cameron Orr, Thomas Pincus, Joseph Powell, Jeral Skelton, Lucio Sordoni, Theo Strang, Young Tonumaipea, Matthew To’omua, James Tuttle, Jordan Uelese, Glen Vaihau, Rhys Van Nek, llikena Vudogo, Michael Wells, Bradley Wilkin

New Faces:
Joe Powell (Brumbies), Isaac Aedo Kailea (PR University of Queensland), Rhys van Nek (PR Easts Tigers), Ed Craig (HK Reds), Josh Canham (LK Brighton Grammar School), Steve Cummins (LK Pau), Sione Lolesio (FL Wyndham City), Jeral Skelton (FL Aus7s), Moses Poreo (SH Melbourne Harlequins), Carter Gordon (FH Reds), Mason Gordon (FH Brisbane Boys’ College), Lewis Holland (CTR Aus7s), Llikena Vudogo (CTR Brisbane Broncos), Lachie Anderson (CTR/OB Aus 7s), Young Tonumaipea (WG Gold Coast Titans), Lucio Sordoni (PR Jaguares), Ignacio Calás (LK Jaguares)

Losses:
Anaru Rangi (HK NTT Com Shining Arcs), Michael Stolberg, Esei Haangana (LK Panasonic wild Knights), Semisi Topou, Matt Philip (LK Pau), Jermaine Ainsley (to New Zealand Highlanders), Mees Erasmus (PR France Valence-d’Agen), Fereti Sa’aga (retired), Ruan Smith (PR LA Giltinis), Gideon Koegelenberg (LK Kurita Water Gush), Angus Cottrell (FL LA Giltinis), Luke Jones (FL Racing 92), Boyd Killingworth (FL Warringah), Ryan Louwrens (SH Kintetsu Liners), Andrew Deegan (FH Kurita Water Gush),  Tom English (CTR Kurita Water Gush), Bill Meakes (CTR LA Giltinis),  Andrew Kellaway (to Japan NEC Green Rockets), Harry Potter (WG Leicester Tigers), Semisi Tupou (WG Panasonic Wild Knights)

Best 15:
Cameron Orr, Jordan Uelese, Pone Fa’amausili, Steve Cummins, Trevor Hosea, Josh Kemeny, Brad Wilkin, Isi Naisarani, Joe Powell, Matt Toomua, Marika Koroibete, Reece Hodge, Campbell Magnay, Tom Pincus, Dane Haylett-Petty

Stocks are rising:
Trevor Hosea – after his break out year in 2020, another year of maturity and some time in the wallabies squad can only help improve his on field presence. The departure of his second row partner, in Matt Philip, could well result in 15 minutes of more game time a week.
Pone Fa’amausili – Ainsley’s move to the Highlanders will likely thrust Pone into a starting role, meaning more minutes. If his average 35 minutes bumps up to 55 minutes, he could well sit among the top couple props on either side of the Tasman.

Stocks are falling:
Richard Hardwick – well and truly fell out of favour for Brad Wilkin during the Super Rugby AU season and he is set to face a lot of competition for game time again in 2021.
Frank Lomani – Logged some solid game time following the injury to Ryan Louwrens. Will struggle to do the same with Joe Powell coming in.

Smokie:
Carter Gordon/ Lewis Holland – one of these players could take the role of Andrew Deegan if Matt Toomua is again deployed in the 12 jersey (more likely with Bill Meakes gone). There are a lot of wraps on Carter Gordon, while Lewis Holland has been instrumental for the Aussie 7s over the last decade.
Ilikena Vudogo – a Fijians 7s squad member and impressive Fiji U20s player, he travelled to Brisbane to join the Broncos as a development player before finding his way back to the 15 man code. He played outside centre at U20s however has the skill set to cover winger also, something the Rebels need!

Reds

Full squad:
Hookers: Alex Mafi, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Matt Faessler
Props: Feao Fotuaika, Harry Hoopert, Zane Nonggorr, Taniela Tupou, Dane Zander, Josh Nasser
Locks: Angus Blyth, Ben Grant, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Ryan Smith, Tuania Taii Tualima
Backrow: Fraser McReight, Angus Scott-Young, Seru Uru, Sam Wallis, Harry Wilson, Liam Wright
Scrum Half: Tate McDermott, Moses Sorovi, Kalani Thomas
Fly Half: Bryce Hegarty, James O’Connor, Lawson Creighton
Centres: Hudson Creighton, Josh Flook, Isaac Henry, Hunter Paisami, Jordan Petaia, Hamish Stewart
Outside Backs: Jock Campbell, Filipo Daugunu, Ilasia Droasese, Mac Grealy, Suliasi Vunivalu

New Faces:
Ryan Smith (LK Brothers), Suliasi Vunivalu (WG Melbourne Storm), Mac Grealy (Academy Reds CTR), Josh Flook (Academy Reds CTR), Zane Nonggorr (Academy Reds PRO), Ilasia Droasese (Academy Reds OB), Kalani Thomas (Academy Reds SH), Lawson Creighton (FH Brothers)
Part-time contracts (from development squad: Ben Grant (LK Western Force), Hudson Creighton (CTR), Matt Faessler (Front rower from brothers), Sam Wallis (FL Uni of Queensland), Isaac Henry (CTR)

Losses:
Harry Hockings (LK Suntory Sungoliath), Izack Rodda (LK Lyon), Isaac Lucas (FH Ricoh Black Rams), Henry Speight (WG Biarritz),
Jack Straker (PR Released to Easts), David Feao (PR Carcassonne), JP Smith (PR LA Giltinis), Ed Craig (HK Rebels), Carter Gordon (FH Rebels), Michael Wood (LK released to Brothers), Chris Feauai-Sautia (released to Souths), Scott Malolua (SH Released to souths), Jethro Felemi (?), Sean Farrell (HK released to Souths), Jack Hardy (OB ?), Tom Kibble (released to GPS)

Best 15:
Harry Hoopert, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Taniela Tupou, Angus Blyth, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Liam Wright, Fraser McReight, Harry Wilson, Tate McDermott, James O’Connor, Suliasi Vunivalu, Hunter Paisami, Jordan Petaia, Filipo Daugunu, Jock Campbell

Stocks are rising:
Jordan Petaia – If he can stay fit we might finally see the fantasy player he can be! His disrupted season in 2020 sees him enter 2021 with the second-highest points per minute (0.59) only behind Laumape.
Fraser McReight – The weapon of an openside flanker has served his apprenticeship last year and made the openside flanker jersey his own by the end of the year. This time around I expect him to start far more games.

Stocks are falling:
Hamish Stewart – I think his spot is under SOO much threat from Hunter Paisami, in saying that he didn’t do anything wrong in 2020. The signing of Vunivalu means Petaia is less likely to be utilised on the wing, meaning we may well see him pair up with either Paisami or Stewart in the 12 and 13 jerseys.

Smokie:
Alex Mafi – Apparently struggled with muscle tears through last year which could be the reason he didn’t hold onto his jersey over BPA.
Suliasi Vunivalu – first year back in rugby, and yet this seems like a no brainer. Question is, how fast can he find his feet in the game he grew up on?

Waratahs

Full squad:
Hookers: Robbie Abel, Joe Cotton, Tom Horton, David Porecki
Props: Tetera Faulkner, Angus Bell, Chris Talakai, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Alefosio Tatola, Tiaan Tauakipulu
Locks: Sam Wykes, Max Douglas, Jeremy Williams, Jack Whetton, Sam Caird
Backrow: Will Harris, Carlo Tizzano, Charlie Gamble, Hugh Sinclair, Jack Dempsey, Lachlan Swinton
Halfback: Jake Gordon, Henry Robertson, Jack Grant
Fly Half: Tane Edmed, Ben Donaldson, Will Harrison
Centres: Tepai Moeroa, Izaia Perese, Lalakai Foketi, Joey Walton
Outside backs: Alex Newsome, Jack Maddocks, James Ramm, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Tristan Reilly

New Faces:
Izaia Perese (Broncos & Bayonne), Alefosio Tatola (PR Manly), Dave Porecki (HK London Irish),  Sam Caird (LK Blues), Jack Whetton (LK Highlanders), Sam Wykes (LK Shimizu Blue Sharks),  Jack Grant (SH Red Hurricanes), Henry Robertson (SH development squad),  Tane Edmed (FH Eastwood)
Michael Wood is also playing the trialling this weekend.

Losses:
Damien Fitzpatrick (retired), Kurtley Beale (Racing 92), Mack Mason (FH Austin Gilgronis), Michael Hooper (Toyota Verblitz), Karmichael Hunt (released), Tom Robertson (PR Force),  Ned Hanigan (LK Kurita Water Gush), Rob Simmons (LK London Irish), Jed Holloway (LK Toyota Verblitz), Charlie Abel (PR LA Giltinis), Darcy Breen (PR Sydney University), Rory O’Connor (PR Warringah), Andrew Tuala (HK Southern Districts), Ryan McCauley (LK Force), Tom Staniforth (LK Castres), Pat Tafa (no8 Green Rockets), Mitch Short (SH released to Randwick), Michael McDonald (SH Force), Jack Walsh (FH Exeter Chiefs), Cam Clark (WG San Diego Legion), Siosifa Lisala (WG Toyota Shokki)

Best 15:
Angus Bell, Tom Horton, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Sam Wykes/Sam Caird, Jack Whetton, Lachlan Swinton, Carlo Tizzano, Jack Dempsey, Jake Gordon, Will Harrison, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Joey Walton, Izaia Perese, Jamess Ramm, Jack Maddocks

Stocks are rising:
Angus Bell – at the ripe age of 20, Bell will take his thrown as the Waratahs number 1 Loosehead prop. The departure of Tom Robertsons will mean Bell will rack up big minutes and big fantasy points. Bell is very much a modern mould of prop who loves the ball in hand and beating defenders. A Wallabies jersey awaits.
Jack Whetton – should be the Waratahs first choice lock and off the back of an impressive season with the Highlanders he is exactly what the Waratahs need.
Izaia Perese – has everything to be a Wallaby and dominant fantasy super rugby player, if he can get his head right. This is likely his last chance and expect him to take it with both hands.

Stocks are falling:
Alex Newsome – It’s hard to see Newsome holding down a spot with so much talent coming through in the outside backs.
Tom Horton – The enigma that is Dave Porecki looms as an unknown prospect to take valuable minutes from Horton in 2021.

Smokies:
Will Harris – was preferred over Harry Wilson as the U20s first choice number 8. He has a lot of competition but hopefully he can demonstrate his immense talent in 2021.
Charlie Gamble / Carlo Tizzano – Whichever flanker can take hold of the 7 jersey could be a good smokie pick. They are both known for their high workrate and strength over the ball, both traits that can make them decent fantasy picks.
Tepai Moeroa – Rugby Australia and the Waratahs have seen something in this once dominant Schoolboy rugby player. Last year he returned from league far too large and a year getting back into shape for rugby could well put him in good stead to be a force in 2021. He faces a lot of competition in the centres.
Sam Caird – 202cm & 116kg, the form Junor AB was in the Blues squad last year but didn’t get a run.

Western Force

Full squad:

Props: Bo Abra, Victor Harris, Chris Heiberg, Greg Holmes, Kieran Longbottom, Santiago Medrano, Tom Robertson, Angus Wagner
Hookers: Feleti Kaitu’u, Andrew Ready, Jack Winchester
Locks: Fergus Lee-Warner, Ryan McCauley, Jackson Pugh, Jeremy Thrush
Backrow: Tim Anstee, Ollie Callan, Kane Koteka, Tomas Lezana, Brynard Stander
Scrum Half: Tomas Cubelli, Michael McDonald, Ian Prior
Fly Half: Jono Lance, Jake McIntyre, Domingo Miotti
Centres: Marcel Brache, Kyle Godwin, Richard Kahui, Tevita Kuridrani, Grason Makara, Henry Taefu
Outside Backs: Rob Kearney, Brad Lacey, Jack McGregor, Toni Pulu, Byron Ralston, Jake Strachan

New Faces:
Santiago Medrano (PR), Tom Robertson (Waratahs PR), Ryan McCaulay (Tahs LK), Tim Anstee (Aus Sevens LK/Blindside), Tomas Lezana (Argies openside), Tomas Cubelli (Argies SH), Michael McDonald (Tahs SH), Jake McIntyre (Clemont FH), Domingo Miotti (Argies FH), Tevita Kuridrani (Brumbies CTR), Toni Pulu (Brumbies WG), Rob Kearney (Leinster FB), Jack Winchester (Reds academy HK)

Losses:
Nick Frisby, Jonah placid, Heath Tessman, Henry Stowers,
Never signed – Julian Montoya (Pumas HK)

Best 15:
Tom Robertson, Andrew Ready, Santiago Medrano, Jeremy Thrush, Ryan McCauley, Fergus Lee-Warner, Tomas Lezana, Brynard Stander, Tomas Cubelli, Domingo Miotti, Toni Pulu, Kyle Godwin, Tevita Kuridrani, Byron Ralston, Rob Kearney

Stocks are rising:
Tomaz Lezana – Huge workrate openside flanker, should thrive with big minutes now that his biggest competition is Kane Koteka.
Tom Robertson – a top shelf fantasy prop for many years, we believe his points will rise again in a team that will most likely play without the ball.

Stocks are falling:
Jono Lance – he may well have dropped to 2nd or even 3rd choice option for flyhalf. Definitely not a positive for his fantasy prospects.
Ian Prior – Surely Tomas Cubelli will be the first choice scrumhalf and his combination with likely flyhalf Domingo Miotti may mean Prior gets little time.

Smokies:
Toni Pulu – Didn’t set the world alight at the Brumbies after some exciting years at the Chiefs. Pulu has all the skills to be an exciting player and great fantasy winger.