One Percenters: Palu pays tribute to great mate Kepu

by Sam Phillips and Beth Newman

A Yokohama Bledisloe and NRC grand final in Fiji meant there was plenty of rugby happening abroad this week.

What did you miss?

Palu pays visit to great mate Kepu

Sekope Kepu was the man of the moment in the Australian sheds after the 37-20 loss to the All Blacks having reached the prestigious 100 Test cap mark.

His wife, Anna, and their four children were all in the sheds for the emotional cap presentation.

One of the veteran prop's good mates was also present in Yokohama.

Former Wallabies backrower Wycliff Palu was spotted in the stands watching on, as was Brumbies playmaker Christian Lealiifano.

Hayne Plane may set sail for NZ

Kiwi media have reported Jarryd Hayne is taking a look at playing Super Rugby for a Kiwi franchise next season, in a bid to play for the Flying Fijians in the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Where he could, theoretically, play against Australia.

Could it happen?

Well, there are a couple of things to take into consideration, starting with the fact Hayne's contract renewal chats with Parramatta are currently stalled and need a push.

Second, the Kiwi Super Rugby talent pool is pretty decent as it is and third, that Fijian backline would be pretty damn hard to crack.

Nadolo, Tuisova, Radradra, Veitokani... and the list rolls on. Powerhouse Drua winger Levani Kurumundu couldn't even earn a gig on the Spring Tour.

But at least the Hayne Plane was doing the right thing on Saturday, as one of the tens of thousands that tuned in to see the Fijian Drua win the NRC Grand Final.

NZTA play their part in Kepu's century

Coaches, family, teammates. All got their deserved share of credit for Sekope Kepu bringing up 100 Wallabies caps last week.

But what about a shout out to the staff of New Zealand Transport Agency for their multiple interventions?

When Kepu first left Wesley College in 2004, he planned to become a policeman but he was informed he didn't have the right type of driver's licence.

With six months required to get the licence, his old man sent him back to Wesley for another year of school. He went on to captain the first XV, play junior rep for New Zealand and kickstart a rugby career.

In 2007, after he'd switched from No. 8 to prop and played for Counties in the NPC, Kepu was approached by Australia.

One of the NZRU officials who tried to get him to stay was now Waratahs CEO Andrew Hore, who was in the governing body's high performance department.

"We had chats about him staying in New Zealand but he felt his future was in Australia, and he went on to make that move," Hore told us.

"It’s quite funny because the last conversation he had with a New Zealand representative was myself, and his car got towed while we were having the meeting in Ponsoby. I had to pay the bill too I remember.

"It was so very funny walking into NSW on the first day after all those years and seeing Keps there. He's a great man."

Ryan's SCG attire

The Waratahs' announcement they will return to the SCG brought up the great tale of Paddy Ryan playing his 100th game there against Queensland in April.

After the game, Ryan walked up the race into the historic Members Bar and downed a schooner with his mates - in full playing kit and boots - before heading back down to the dressing sheds.

Aussies strike gold at Invictus Games

Australia's wheelchair rugby community added another winner this week with the Aussies taking the gold medal in the Invictus Games.

The Invictus Games are a multi-sports tournament for servicemen and women who have been injured in the line of duty.

Australia didn't have an easy run to the final, needing a golden point victory over Great Britain in the preliminary stages of the competition.

They bested GB again in the gold medal game, 22-17, to take the gold on home soil.

The Classic Wallabies got around the Invictus Games earlier this week too - former Test players including Rob Horne and Dean Mumm were part of a group of Classics who played an exhibition match durinf the tournament.

NSW to review NRC process after poor 2018

NSW Rugby CEO Andrew Hore is confident NSW's teams can improve on a disastrous 2018 NRC campaign that produced just one win between them.

The Sydney Rays finished winless in the competition and the NSW Country Eagles' only win came from the NSW derby, setting off some alarm bells for spectators in the NRC.

One of the issues Hore pointed to was tension between Sydney Rugby Union's Shute Shield and Rugby Australia that had seen the competitions overlap in recent years where other club competitions are well and truly done by NRC time.

That is set to be resolved for future seasons and Hore said that would go a long way to helping the NSW sides out.

"I think one of the big things is probably the teams have got better opportunity to get the year started," he said.

"Overlapping like it did doesn't help. Got an agreement with Sydney Rugby Union that they won't go into September and (Rugby AU) won't go into August.

"We're hopeful we'll get a window to at least give our guys a fighting chance to get underway and get things up and running.

"People have also got to understand as well, that this is the first year that NRC became part of the fabric of NSW Rugby

"It had been somewhat shunned, so there's always going to be teething issues. i'm just pleased it's part of our pathway now.

"I think although it's a rough start you've got to understand it is only the start and we've got to find out what the issues are and correct those."

 QLD Country visit some familiar faces

QLD Country's time in Fiji was only fleeting but they had a chance to visit the hometown of Wallabies centre Samu Kerevi.

The side spent time in Kerevi's village ahead of Saturday's grand final, meeting the Test players family and the local community. 

A nice gesture from many of Kerevi's long-time rugby teammates and friends.

Lance's bad injury break

Aussie playmaker Jono Lance, currently with English side Worcester, will miss the next four months of rugby after a back injury.

Lance began to feel pain in the lead-up to the Warriors' match against Ospreys and a visit to a specialist revealed a stress fracture in his back.

The 28-year-old had been in strong form for Worcester since returning to England and he is hoping to be back in action in February.

It's been an unlucky couple of weeks for Aussies overseas with Lopeti Timani ruled out for six months after suffering a knee injury playing for Top 14 side La Rochelle.

Rebels showing their handy side

How many Rebels does it take to overhaul the club's HQ? Quite a few as it turns out.

While many of their teammates are on Spring Tour, the Rebels back in Melbourne have been getting their hands dirty with some DIY work.

Rebels players and staff have been working hard on renovations at their AAMI Park offices in recent days.

Looking forward to the final product!