Wallabies coach Michael Cheika and lock Adam Coleman expressed their shock at the news of Warringah’s Lachlan Ward shock passing as the Test side arrived in Sydney on Sunday.
Cheika, whose former club side Randwick was set to play Ward’s Rats in first grade this weekend, said his thoughts were with the entire community, still reeling from the tragedy.
“It was very sad when we heard about it yesterday,” he said on Sunday.
“Having played against Warringah for many years, I know how close a family they are up there and they should know that everyone in Australian rugby’s with the club, obviously with the family because they’re all our brothers when they’re playing the game."
A number of players took to social media to express their shock at the news, with plenty of the current Wallabies former Shute Shield players.
The entire rugby community are saddened by yesterdays tragic news. Thoughts are with the Ward family and everyone at @Warringahrugby club— Bernard Foley (@bernardfoley) June 11, 2017
Asked whether club rugby might need more medical precautions at games, Cheika praised the setup of grassroots teams.
“I wouldn’t consider myself an expert in emergency care or anything but from what I’ve seen about rugby at most levels, including club rugby, which I spent many years playing in, there was people there at the ready – qualified doctors – some of them may have been volunteers, some of them may have been there in a professional capacity,” he said.
“I think rugby in that respect does as much as it can to look after its people. Especially in club land – I think there’s a lot of people there who are always on site to help out.”
Fiji’s Aussie connection
There are more than a few crossovers between Fiji and the Wallabies, on and off the field.
While much was made of the Fijian Wallabies in the lead-up, Fiji’s coaching staff has its fair share of Aussies.
Brumbies rugby general manager Damien Hill was drafted in for a training session on Thursday as a kicking consultant, while their forwards coach Jayson Brewer managed of the ARU’s coaching pathways.
Keen-eyed watchers might have noticed Reds strength and conditioning Damian Marsh, who is one of Fiji's strength and conditioning staff, running the water for the Fiji team in Melbourne as well.
The door swings both ways, though - one of the Wallabies analysts was in the Fiji camp at the 2015 World Cup, before joining the Aussies last year.
Hanigan’s post-match plus one
When Ned Hanigan appeared to do post-match media at AAMI Park on Saturday night, he had a new ‘friend’, Scott, alongside him.
Scott is an ASADA testing official, ensuring Hanigan ticked all the boxes after his Wallabies debut.
The 22-year-old proceeded to give yet another refreshingly frank media conference before walking out the door, shouting ‘Everybody say goodbye to Scott’ on the way out.
O’Connor’s off-season setback
Operation couldn't have gone smoother apparently..— James O'Connor (@JamesOConnor832) June 9, 2017
now I just need to pick a new TV series to keep me entertained..? pic.twitter.com/xEYda8novi
James O’Connor’s rugby future is yet to be made clear but the former Wallabies back has a long road back to even playing again.
O’Connor posted on Twitter this week after having foot surgery, saying that everything had gone as well as could be expected.
O’Connor is reportedly set to be released by Toulon, but his next destination is not clear.
Super Rugby players go global
While the Wallabies were taking on Fiji, a handful of Ausralia’s other Super Rugby players were handed opportunities in Tests around the world.
The Force’s Marcel Brache lined up for the USA, while Amanaki Mafi starred for Japan, in a big win over Romania.
Meanwhile, capped Wallaby Cooper Vuna has been named in Tonga's mid-year squad - a move believed to have been made possible after he received a clearance to play for their Sevens team last year.