One Percenters: U20s graduate to Wallabies ranks

by Sam Phillips and Beth Newman

The Australian rugby pathway has copped some heat in recent times, but the U20s are doing something right, if the recent Wallabies squad is anything to go by.

A total of 11 of Michael Cheika's 34-man squad have graduated through the U20s program since 2013, making up one-third of the squad.

Sean McMahon, Allan Alaalatoa, Reece Hodge, Joe Powell, Izack Rodda, Izaia Perese, Jack Dempsey, Ned Hanigan, Jordan Uelese, Tom Robertson and Adam Korczyk.

McMahon was the first to make his debut, back in 2014, with Alaalatoa, Hodge, Powell, Dempsey, Hanigan and Robertson all earning their first caps in 2016 and 2017 so far.

Lukhan Tui was also in the mix this season before injury, while Japan-bound Campbell Magnay was left out of the trimmed-down squad.

In a squad dominated by youth, it's this group of players, bar soon-to-be overseas McMahon, that will prove crucial to a 2019 Rugby World Cup tilt, with the next 12 months to be vital in that.

Pocock learning from the best

David Pocock's time off from rugby is coming to an end, with a Harvard University leadership course the final stage of his sabbatical.

Pocock spent this week at the world-famous institution, posting about his experiences on Instagram.

"Big week of learning with this amazing group of humans. Great way to end 6 months away from rugby. Look forward to getting back into it," he wrote.


Fardy lands in Leinster

Scott Fardy touched down at his new rugby home this week, officially donning the Leinster Blue.

Fardy was one of a number of overseas-bound players overlooked in the Wallabies squads this season and was granted a release to head to Ireland.

Not everything will be new for Fardy in Leinster, with the former Brumbies backrower set to face some familiar opposition in the newly-expanded Pro14.

Leinster is in the same pool as the Southern Kings, added to the competition along with the Cheetahs after being cut from Super Rugby.

Wallaroos inspired in Ireland

Not far away from Fardy's new home, the Wallaroos are well into Rugby World Cup mode in the capital.

The Aussie side had a moment to grab a bit of perspective this week at an Australian embassy welcome function, with Sevens and Wallaroos player Mahalia Murphy posting about Joanne O'Riordan.

O'Riordan is an Irish woman born without limbs, not that she's ever let that stop her.

Studying Criminology, O'Riordan shot to recognition after featuring in the documentary film 'No Limbs, No Limits', as well as being a vocal advocate for disability funding.

Murphy was certainly touched by their meeting, writing: "Had the pleasure of meeting an amazing woman last night at the embassy welcoming function. Such an inspiring figure that had touched my heart with what she does as a job despite her condition having no limbs and at a young age of 21, she travels around the world as a sport journalist & writes for the Ireland Times newspaper and is also studying Criminology.

"So blessed to have come across her and has given me that extra motivation and reassurance that life isn't as hard as I think. So thanks @joanneor for the chat and hope you end up coming down to the beautiful land down under 'Australia' all the best with your studies no doubt you'll kill it 💪🏾."