One Percenters: Fijiana emerge as Wallaroos' Test option, Gill leaves Lyon

International
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Fijiana has emerged as one of the top prospects to face the Wallaroos should international rugby resume in 2020.

The Wallaroos had announced three Tests for 2020, two against the Black Ferns and also a July clash with Canada.

There were also plans for the Wallaroos to play further Tests against the USA and Canada later in the year as Rugby Australia looked to expand the 

Rugby Australia and New Zealand Rugby have both expressed their desire to be able to play trans-Tasman Tests later this year as part of a travel bubble and the Wallaroos are expected to be part of those plans.

Australia also has a close relationship with Fiji and Rugby Australia's head of women's rugby Jilly Collins said talks were underway about the possibility of taking on Fijiana in 2020 should restrictions permit.

Fijiana have qualified for the 2021 Rugby World Cup and also travelled to Australia earlier this year for exhibition games against the Waratahs and Reds women's sides.

"Looking at the Test schedule broadly, the most realistic option is seeing what we can play within the Oceania region," Collins said.

"So, New Zealand, the Black Ferns are an option but we're looking at Fijiana being an option as well.

"I'm having lots of conversations with my counterparts in different countries around looking at what Test schedules could work.

"There's a collective buy-in from the teams that have qualified for the Rugby World Cup around making sure there's support for them to ensure they're as best prepared as they can be.

"Travel is obviously restricted and that will prevent some international Tests but hopefully we are able to get some in the last quarter of the year."

Gill to leave Lyon

Former Reds flanker Liam Gill is parting ways with French club Lyon, the team announced this week.

Gill has been with Lyon for three seasons, following a stint with fellow Top 14 club Toulon.

“Liam is one of the best players I have ever seen,” Lyon assistant coach Kendrick Lynn in a statement.

“No matter the week, it didn’t matter if he was a little injured or that he was not in his best form, he was going to give everything, come out bloodied and exhausted.”

Where Gill will land is unclear with no announcement on his next destination.

The flanker was linked to an Australian return ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup but that did not eventuate.

Australian Super Rugby teams are currently unable to finalise any signings or re-signings in their rosters with the long-term financial outlook of the game still uncertain.

Australia's players last month accepted wide-ranging salary cuts to run until September, unless rugby kicks off before then, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Aside from that, the players are also set to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement at the end of the year that will likely have implications for squads moving forward.

Rugby Australia is yet to finalise either a modified broadcast agreement for this year's domestic Super Rugby competition or a deal for 2021 and beyond.

Smith ends Highlanders speculation


Rumours have been rife in recent days that Ben Smith could be joining the list of Kiwis popping up in Super Rugby Aotearoa next month but the fullback put an end to that speculation on Sunday.

Smith, who is currently signed with French club Pau posted a message to Instagram dispelling any chance of him featuring for the Highlanders in the domestic competition after the French Top 14 season was cut short.

But it's not all bad news - Smith also confirmed in the post that he would be going back to club rugby when that resumes.

"Super Rugby Aotearoa looks like a great concept," the post read.

"I'm looking forward to supporting the Highlanders and watching them give it a crack.

"I'm not sure where the speculation has come from, but I won't be playing in this years (sic) competition. I'm looking forward to getting alongside my club side in Green Island and getting back to grassroots where it all started."

Mint launches coin challenge

The Royal Australian Mint has been getting inventive during the coronavirus pandemic.

This week, the coin manufacturer released a series of sports-themed coin games perfect for trying out in isolation.

Take a look at coin rugby right here and try it out at home.

Sharpie's new arrival


Congratulations to former Wallabies captain Nathan Sharpe and his wife Samantha on their new arrival.

Sharpe shared a photo to Instagram on Sunday, announcing the birth of their daughter and his fourth child on May 15.

Rebels share cheeky return to training video

All of Australia's Super Rugby teams will be back at training on Monday but they

While it might be tough going for the forwards, if this post from the Rebels is any indication, the backs mightn't mind it too much.