Pacific Island double-header in Auckland in lead-up to RWC

A pair of Rugby World Cup warm-up clashes among Pacific Island nations and a New Zealand Heartland XV will be hosted at Eden Park on August 31. Fans are excited to get their Rugby World Cup Final Tickets online to see live performances of their favorite team and players.

On an occasion billed as the ‘Pasifika Challenge II: The Road to Japan’, Fiji will take on Tonga while Samoa will face the Heartland XV in back-to-back games in Auckland in preparation for this year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan, which kicks-off three weeks later.

Pacific Island double-header in Auckland in lead-up to RWC
Pacific Island double-header in Auckland in lead-up to RWC

The series of matches follows on from the inaugural Pasifika Challenge contest in 2017, which was used as a warm-up event for that year’s British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand.

That year, an under-strength Wales side defeated Tonga 24-6, while the All Blacks thrashed Samoa 78-0.

This year’s follow-up edition adds to the World Cup preparation of all three Pacific Island nations heading to the tournament in September.

It was announced last month that Fiji and the All Blacks will face off in a two-match series to be played in Suva and Rotorua in July, while Samoa and Tonga have one-off matches against the Wallabies in Sydney and the All Blacks in Hamilton a week after the Pasifika Challenge.

Additionally, all three teams will compete against Japan, the United States, and Canada in the Pacific Nations Cup in the weeks preceding their clash at Eden Park.

The event also has the potential to be rewarding off the field for the financially-embattled Pacific nations, according to RNZ, as event organizers Left Field Live, an Australian-based sports rights, and entertainment company, have added a monetary incentive based on attendance figures, which will be split evenly by the Fijian, Samoan and Tongan rugby unions.

Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development, a branch of the Auckland Council, is involved with hosting the matches, and there is hope that fans will turn out in big numbers in a similar fashion to the way in which they have supported the likes of Mate Ma’a Tonga in rugby league in recent years.

The Pasifika Challenge II will be played during the second round of New Zealand’s amateur provincial competition, the Heartland Championship, meaning that some of the league’s best players will be unavailable for their provinces for that weekend.

It will also be played simultaneously with the Mitre 10 Cup that round, and although no teams within the Auckland region are playing at home that day, Auckland will be playing against Waikato in Hamilton at 7:35pm, meaning a scheduling clash is likely between the competitions.

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Shoulder surgery likely to put end to Nehe Milner-Skudder’s Rugby World Cup hopes

The unpredicted hope of Nehe Milner-Skudder to compete in this year’s World Cup seems to have been shattered. Fans are excited to get their Rugby World Cup Final Tickets online to see live performances of their favourite team and players.

The 28-year-old star of the Hurricanes, who will join France’s top 14 clubs in Toulon next year, will have another surgery on his shoulder which has prevented him from playing Super Rugby throughout the season.

As a result, he will not participate at all in the Hurricanes this year, which means he probably played his last match in New Zealand.

Shoulder surgery likely to put end to Nehe Milner-Skudder's Rugby World Cup hopes
Shoulder surgery likely to put end to Nehe Milner-Skudder’s Rugby World Cup hopes

“There was plenty to work towards and look forward to on the Rugby to-do list,” Milner-Skudder posted to Instagram.

But unfortunately, because of persistent shoulder problems as a result of a previous surgery that did not go as well as we had hoped, it was the best decision to make again for everything is settled.

Milner-Skudder’s new injury is one of the many injuries that have plagued him since his debut as a test man in 2015. When he started to help the All Blacks win a third World Cup title in England.

The hot-stepping wing scored eight tries in eight test appearances that year and won the World Rugby Breakout Player of the Year award.

However, a series of injuries have severely limited his involvement in his playing at all levels of the game. Milner-Skudder has played only five other tests for the All Blacks in the three since this year’s Rugby World Cup.

He recently became an ambassador for the New Zealand rugby campaign for mental health in sport, highlighting the heavy consequences of his long list of injuries.

“I have been through a few injuries but this has easily been the toughest one both physically and mentally,” he said.

However, I’m not ready to give up any time soon, I love a good challenge and I have so much love and support around me.

Milner-Skudder is expected to join New Zealand compatriots Julian Savea, Liam Messam and Bryce Heem as he returns to Toulon for the 2019/20 season later this year.

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This will be the best prepared Fijian team for the Rugby World Cup 2019

Fiji boss McKee has accumulated an experienced coaching team he believes that can deliver in whole rugby program to take the Flying Fijians to new levels at the RWC 2019 in Japan. Fans who want to watch the live action of Rugby can book Rugby World Cup Final Tickets online.

The coaching ticket that will take Fiji through the Pacific Test series, Pacific Nations Cup and the Rugby World Cup 2019 John Pryor, a member of the Eddie Jones Japan management team at the 2015 World Cup.

Now in charge of England, Jones helping Japan defeats South Africa to register the worst ever end up 4 years.

Former bath Head Coach Tabai Matson, who is part of the Chiefs coaching set-up, Neil Barnes and Alan Muir as assistant coaches Damian Marsh is head of athletic performance.

Barnes joined the World Cup as a coach for the Taranaki provincial side and the Hurricanes Colts assistant coach with Dave Rennie.

This will be the best prepared Fijian team for the RWC 2019
This will be the best prepared Fijian team for the RWC 2019

McKee said. “I’m fully confident that this coaching group can plan and deliver a total rugby program to take the Flying Fijians to new levels.”

“This is a highly experienced and skilled coaching group with general professional credentials. Group of coaches has the information and arrangement to take the Flying Fijians forward and to help ensure this will be the best prepared Fijian team travel to an RWC 2019.”

Super Rugby Assistant Coach with the Chiefs, Matson was part of Fiji’s management at the 2015 RWC in England while coaching Wellington coach Muir has been working with the forwards on their scrimmaging.

“The technical rugby staff has Rugby World Cup experience; with Barnes who was part of the Canadian team at the Rugby World Cup in 2011 and 2015 while Pryor was with the Eddie Jones coached Japan in the last RWC World Cup. The expectation of good performance will be very high for the Flying Fijians at RWC 2019.”

Fijians RWC coaching and management team:

McKee (head coach), Willie Baleinabuli (team manager), Matson (senior assistant coach), Neil Barnes (assistant coach), Alan Muir (assistant coach), Damian Marsh (head of athletic performance), John Pryor (head of strength and conditioning), Hiroaki (assistant strength and conditioning), John Batina (performance analyst), Josh Vuto (video analyst), Bryn Savill (doctor), William Kong (head physiotherapist), David Bick (physiotherapist), Sunia Koto (team logistic and cultural leader), Inoke Bainimarama (media officer).

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Former Bath coach selected as Fiji Rugby backline coach for RWC19

Former head coach Tabai Matson says I am grateful and humbled to be appointed the backline coach for the Fiji Rugby World Cup 2019 campaign in Japan. Fans who want to watch the live action of Rugby can book Rugby World Cup Final Tickets online.

Tabai Matson had to leave Bathing and playing with the Chiefs in Super Rugby has been the Fiji backs coach at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.

Tabai Matson will be involved in the Pacific Nations Cup and the warm-up games for Japan which include 2 tests with the Maori.

Matson told it’s always great to be back for duty for my homeland every time I’m here for you personally is exciting and an honor.

This is one of the greatest rugby nations in the world atmosphere of Fijian people who

Former Bath coach selected as Fiji Rugby backline coach for RWC19
Former Bath coach selected as Fiji Rugby backline coach for RWC19

gives something else; it’s always happy to be here.

“I am so excited privileged and really proud that I get the honor to coach Fiji. The task is clearly just a few weeks away and I am honored and humbled to be part of the team to the World Cup.”

Tabai Matson played 58 matches for Canterbury and also played 25 games for the Crusaders in the 1990s, before continuing his playing career abroad. He played 2 tests for Fiji at the 1999 Rugby World Cup.

Tabai Matson joined Canterbury as an assistant coach in 2009. He led Canterbury to their fifth consecutive national provincial championship title in his maiden year at the helm.

Matson joined the Crusaders coaching the team in 2013 and was also appointed assistant coach of the Maori All Blacks that same year working alongside Colin Cooper for his 3 years.     Tabai Matson had to quit Bath in 2017 having arrived at the West Country from the Crusaders with Todd Blackadder the director of rugby.

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England’s back-three options for the RWC

The 13-month injury-enforced absence of Anthony Watson finally came to an end last Friday, with the British & Irish Lion fighting to place himself back into contention for one of the predicted five outside back slots in England’s 31-man World Cup squad.

Once considered a nailed-on Test starter, Watson now faces the challenge of re-establishing himself as absolute certainty in Eddie Jones’s Japanese touring party post-injury – and he is not alone in this undertaking. Fans have bought their Rugby World Cup Tickets and hoping for their favorite players to perform well in the tournament.

Jack Nowell

Exeter Chiefs’ first Lion, Nowell is one of our three outside backs guaranteed a trip to Japan. Capable at outside-center, wing, and full-back, the Cornishman packs a punch in attack and, crucially, mixes in with the best breakdown causes. Jones’s throwaway statement that Nowell could play at openside for England highlights just how highly the Australian boss rates his skill-set.

England’s back-three options for the RWC
England’s back-three options for the RWC

Elliot Daly

Whether you scoff at the idea of Daly at full-back or, like me, sit in awe of his all-around skill-set, the fact that he’s started the last 12 England games in the No 15 jersey indicates that Jones will take the soon-to-be Saracen to the World Cup.

While the basics of defensive full-back play may have eluded him during his first few starts at 15, Daly has transformed England’s attack. Distributing in the last offensive wave and utilizing his pace as an individual threat, England’s attack will flounder without Daly.

England’s back-three options for the RWC
England’s back-three options for the RWC

Jonny May

Arguably England’s most improved player over the past half-decade, May has evolved from a simple speed merchant with a penchant for running in the wrong direction to England’s, and Leicester’s, most prolific try-scorer.

But May’s innate ability to find the white line like a heat-seeking missile is not the only reason he is guaranteed a squad spot. The 29-year-old’s strength under the high ball is an immensely attractive trait, with Ben Youngs’s box-kicking game fundamental to any and all English success under Jones. May is the final outside back Jones trusts implicitly.

England’s back-three options for the RWC
England’s back-three options for the RWC

Joe Cokanasiga

He has been a revelation for England this season after bursting onto the scene last November. Cokanasiga is the only England winger in possession of a truly unique selling point: X-factor. The Bath winger’s size (6ft 4in and 19-plus stone), power, ability to offload like a Fijian Sevens star and sheer athleticism offers Jones a genuine game-breaker. Although an attractive asset, it is not necessarily the World Cup material Jones desires.

England’s back-three options for the RWC
England’s back-three options for the RWC

For all his many attributes, Cokanasiga does not tick the box of full-back play Jones holds so dear. Going forward, his positional play and scrutiny under the high ball will mean the difference between watching the World Cup on his sofa and sampling sushi in Japan.

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English legend Martin Johnson think Dylan Hartley is a must at Rugby World Cup

World Cup captain Martin Johnson supports Dylan Hartley in Eddie Jones England’s squad for this year’s tournament in Japan. Northampton’s hitter has been sidelined since December due to a knee injury. Fans have bought their Rugby World Cup Tickets and hoping for their favourite players to perform well in the tournament.

Johnson knows what it’s like to win the World Cup and the problems of a failed campaign after leading England at the 2011 tournament in New Zealand. Hartley was part of the team, the former Leicester lock believes that the experience is a key factor for England and expects Jones to choose Hartley as one of his three hookers for Japan.

English legend Martin Johnson think Dylan Hartley is a must at Rugby World Cup

English legend Martin Johnson think Dylan Hartley is a must at Rugby World Cup

England failed to stand out as a host nation in 2015, so Jones is under pressure to make the Cup a success. Johnson said, “Trust is an important word at this point. It’s not just about who Eddie trusts on his team, but it’s also important for the players. You must line up against players you trust will perform each time.

There are a lot of players who can activate it from time to time when everything is fine and everyone looks good. But you want players who will perform at 15-10 points with 10 minutes to play. Who do you believe then? And who do you trust, I think Dylan Hartley is one of them.

“I think Eddie Jones is already quite sure on where he is with his squad, but the players have to make sure they back it up. You can’t go into a World Cup camp thinking you are definitely on the plane to Japan, even if you already know you probably are, you have to go and produce the goods.”

The fact that 33-year-old Hartley, is short of training in the game will be a determining factor and Johnson considers that this experience tipped the scales in his favour. “It’s difficult with Dylan because you never know about those injuries, but I really hope we’ll see him at the World Cup in the fall,” said Land Rover’s Johnson’s ambassador. Speaking during the Premiership final supported the national grassroots initiative, the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup.

He is a vital part of England’s formation as a very experienced player, and if he arrives in Japan it will be his third World Cup and he will desperately want to do it. England will not fail to want it because you have to take three hookers, I think for rugby everything would be fine because he played so many games in his career. When you’re as experienced as you, you can spend some time outside and come back in and be immediately okay.

“There will be players who come because they did exceptionally or because someone else has an injury, but I do not see that person as someone who has never been part of England team.”

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An undervalued skill that could be crucial at this year’s Rugby World Cup

Watching Colin Slade kick cross with his weaker left foot for James Horwill to score in his last big game last weekend warmed the hulls of my heart. Now you can book online tickets for Rugby World Cup to support your favourite players.

It was the Barbarians against England in Twickenham and the pressure was good. But you only have to admire moments of great skill in our game that seems to have been usurped by automatons and behemoths.

An undervalued skill that could be crucial at this year's Rugby World Cup
An undervalued skill that could be crucial at this year’s Rugby World Cup

Slade, who currently trades in southwestern France with Pau, will never be considered a great All Blacks player. But he played 21 tests and had several decisive moments, for example, to mark the winning conversion in Brisbane, while 2014 All Blacks beat the Wallabies in what turned out to be the last international Ewen ‘Link’ McKenzie as coach of Australia.

The only skill for which Slade scored better than anyone in New Zealand at that time was effective in kicking with his so-called weaker foot. It’s a rare skill, rarely mastered, even at a time when professionals have more time than ever to work on their skills.

Some of the No. 10 greats were able to pass quickly and painlessly on their left boot. Jonny Wilkinson and Hugo Porta come to mind. Beauden Barrett is more than helpful from his left. The last game of Dan Carter as All Black was a straight conversion for the 2015 Rugby World Cup final. And yet he was not one to change foot easily, preferring to use his cunning talents and go under pressure or even do one of those killer banana kicks.

Slade, equally comfortable in the goalkeeper’s jersey, was as good as anyone at the highest level, and the magic of last weekend, missed by many, is a great example.

Simply, being able to stomp can save you trouble when you are under the pump or drive your team to attack with a long and precise grip. You can just see those first five years, or any return, that is not confident. They will try to get out of trouble, it means a disaster if the defensive line is disciplined.

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Five key match-ups in the Brumbies v Waratahs RWC audition

The NSW Waratahs host the Brumbies in a blockbuster Super Rugby game that will double as an audition for Wallabies acnes at the RWC on Saturday. Sports fanatics from all over the world can now grab Rugby World Cup Tickets online to enjoy the most exciting rugby matches.

Five key match-ups in the Brumbies v Waratahs RWC audition
Five key match-ups in the Brumbies v Waratahs RWC audition

There are five key matchups in the penultimate round clash that could go a long way to deciding who starts for Australia in Japan later this year.

Constricted head props Sekope Kepu (Waratahs) and Allan Alaalatoa kick effects off in the front row, while second rowers’ locks Rory Arnold and Rob Simmons will latch horns behind them.

Arguably the most stimulating battle is at No.10; with inspiring Brumbies skipper Christian Lealiifano facing under fire Waratahs playmaker Bernard Foley.

That competition will have a big effect on the next, with red hot Brumbies outside center Tevita Kuridrani watching to run through veteran Adam Ashley Cooper.

Finally, it’s the encounter of the fullbacks viewing to fill the annulled of exiled star Israel Folau. The showdown sorts the hugely talented Kurtley Beale against Brumbies young gun Tom Banks.

The 10 rugby players have 588 Test caps among them but half will be demoted to the bench or even drop outside the game day 23.

Brumbies coach Dan McKellar supposed he was looking forward to the head to head fights and believes Lealiifano is the form five-eighth in Super Rugby.

“I don’t think Michael Cheika will be picking his Wallabies 10 off the back of Saturday night but all of these games certainly play a role,” McKellar said.

It will be as close to Test game footy as you can get at Super Rugby level, so you just get a meter of how players grip that situation.

Christian has played in more of these matches than most and he will be very comfortable and calm and will know he’s just got to do his job well.

“Christian has been the form 10 of the competition, consistently.  I don’t think he’ll be thinking a whole lot about Bernard.”

McKellar also sponsored his fullback.

“Banksy and Beale isn’t a bad one, he’s playing well Tommy, he gets a lot of raps when he’s scoring tries, but for me, the strength of his game this year is his ability to clean up kicks in the backfield,” McKellar said.

His cautious work is a real area he’s better as well and we all know he can attack.

“I think Kurtley (Beale) is more dangerous at 15 (than 10 or 12), it allows him to sit in behind the play and chime in and spot opportunities when they present.”

The Brumbies are leading the Australian session after winning six of their past seven matches, and can all but secure a home round by ending NSW’s period at Bankwest Stadium.

“There’s a lot on the line for us and them, and (for) individuals, so she’ll be on,” McKellar said.

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RWC 2019 – All Blacks coach Steve Hansen locks Scott Barrett in the engine room

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has raised the idea that Scott Barrett is selected as the No. 6 World Cup specialist. A public debate on whether Barrett, who went into the scrum during the Chiefs’ defeat at Suva on Saturday against the Crusaders, would better serve his country.

Hansen remains unconvinced, he is well aware of these conversations but says that All Black’s pickers are unlikely to be swayed by the idea that Barrett is primarily a lock. Sports fanatics from all over the world can now grab Rugby World Cup Tickets online to enjoy the most exciting rugby matches.

RWC 2019 – All Blacks coach Steve Hansen locks Scott Barrett in the engine room
RWC 2019 – All Blacks coach Steve Hansen locks Scott Barrett in the engine room

Although test # 6, Liam Squire should finally make his first appearance of the season for the Highlanders against the Bulls this weekend. That’s why he ignored the “All Blacks’ founding day for players based at South Island in Christchurch on Monday, it’s hard to separate the group of hunters at Super Rugby.

Barrett, who has made blind appearances against England and South Africa in recent seasons, would be a popular choice if the selectors chose to start in the rugby championship. But it seems that it will not happen, Hansen still believes he is best placed to graft himself into the dark of the fray.

The match in Twickenham against England was remarkable and the match in North Harbor against South Africa, which was faster but against a big bunch, it was exceptional.

Squire had a nightmarish season with injuries to his hip and knee. If the Highlanders do not play in the playoffs, it will be limited to a maximum of two matches in Super Rugby before the Rugby Championship.

In 2015, the All Blacks named only three specialized locks Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick and Luke Romano on the World Cup team.

Hansen said that Barrett could still cover the lock and number 6, although the selectors wanted only three secondary rowers.

“He can still be a swingman, even if you take three locks one of the key things we need to solve if we take four or three.”

The coach hailed the return of his opponent Sam Cane, who was outstanding in the 40-27 win over the Crusaders and completely recovered from his broken neck. However, he said there was a chance that Savea could pack his suitcase at No 8 while Cane stayed in the open.

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Chris Ashton considers England may have dumped him on eve of RWC

England flyer Chris Ashton trusts that he will not be selected for the RWC despite being part of the Eddie Jones Six Nations’ training team. Sports fanatics from all over the world can now grab Rugby World Cup Tickets online to enjoy the most exciting rugby matches.

Chris Ashton considers England may have dumped him on eve of RWC
Chris Ashton considers England may have dumped him on eve of RWC

The Sale Sharks wing says he has had no communication with England ahead of the announcement of the wider 45-man World Cup training squad, which is set to be revealed in the coming weeks.

This time last year Ashton appeared for the Barbarians against England at Twickenham, where he scored three tries, effectively forcing his way back into England reckoning.

However, the Wigan-born wing/fullback says he thinks Eddie Jones is set to leave him out of his World Cup plans. Speaking on The Rugby Pod, Ashton said he is not expecting a call-up, despite his good form in the Premiership.

“I don’t think I am (involved),” Ashton said when asked regarding his inclusion in the training squad. “Honestly, I’ve not had a word.”

“He’s been meeting other lads. It may not be happening. It would be a big fall, from the starting fifteen to out of the 45. I don’t know how I’ve done it but I think I have. We’ll see.”

Ashton also said that he was at loss at why he had not been selected by England in the past, and suggested it was a case of coaches not liking his personality. He spoke about how it “still bothered” him how his England career under Stuart Lancaster had ended and also revealed that he held a private meeting with Jones in 2018 in order to try to get to know him better.

“I went down to Penny Hill once to meet him (Eddie Jones). I thought surely if he meets me it would be different, as I was sure he may be heard of me or had an opinion of me before we had even met.

“I thought maybe that would help. It didn’t help!”

It was me that organized it. I just wanted to ask him what I need to do. I want to meet and say ‘this is who I am’. Show him the kind of person I am and what I want to do in rugby – a bit of an ice breaker. I’d never been into the camp before so I had never met him.

“It was a case of me covering every option. When I did get into the camp I got on with him really well.”

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