The SA Rugby magazine team rounds up some of the interesting news snippets making headlines around the world.
‘Pooper’ combination reunited
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika looks set to include both Michael Hooper and David Pocock in the starting lineup for their World Cup opener against Fiji on Saturday.
An anonymous source close to the Wallabies camp told the Sydney Morning Herald that Pocock would start on the side of the scrum at No 6 while Hooper will lead the team in the No 7 jersey.
As a result, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto looks set to drop to the bench with Isi Naisarani set to continue as eighthman.
The duo of Pocock and Hooper last played a Test together as the starting flanks during the series against Ireland in 2018, and will look to cause havoc at the breakdowns from early on.
Cheika will announce his team to face Fiji in Sapporo on Thursday.
Djokovic backing Boks at World Cup
Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic has voiced his support for the Springboks ahead of the World Cup in Japan.
Speaking in a video for the Springboks’ kit supplier Asics – who are also the Serb’s shoe sponsors – the 16-time Grand Slam champion wished the Boks well for their World Cup campaign.
‘Good luck in Japan. Go Bokke!’ said Djokovic.
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Owens declared fit for World Cup opener
Nigel Owens has been declared fit to referee the opening game of the World Cup after overcoming a leg injury.
Owens will take charge of the fixture between Japan and Russia after sustaining the injury a fortnight ago, when a Cardiff player’s leg inadvertently struck Owens, causing the Welshman to leave the pitch.
‘I had a running session on Tuesday and the leg is fine,’ said Owens.
‘It was a concern because the injury was painful, especially in the days after I sustained it.
‘Had I been standing still at the time the player’s leg caught me, I could have ended up with a broken leg.’
Owens, one of world rugby’s best referees, also had the honour of being in the middle during the 2015 World Cup final.
Time is right to take on Ireland, says Hogg
Scotland fullback Stuart Hogg believes that their opening clash with Ireland on Sunday is the best time to play the best-ranked side in the world.
The result of the clash between the Six Nations rivals will most likely determine which team tops Pool A, with Hogg highlighting the importance of defence during the fixture.
‘If there is a time to take on Ireland, I believe it is now, before they get up a head of steam,’ commented Hogg.
‘We are fully aware of the challenges they are going to bring but we are concentrating on ourselves and making sure we bring our A game.
‘We have got a lot of set-piece plays, a lot of counter-attack opportunities and defensively we are going to have to be spot-on.
‘We believe defence will win World Cups, and that is something we have been working incredibly hard on since we came together in June.’
Hogg looks set to win his 70th Test cap when the Scots face the Irish in Yokohama. Kick-off is at 9:45am SA time.
Coleman pays tribute to Tongan father
Wallabies lock Adam Coleman’s often unnoted Tongan heritage has surfaced in an emotive way ahead of the clash with Fiji this Saturday.
Coleman’s father Pau’u Afeaki, who passed away when the London Irish-bound lock was just 12 years old, captained Tonga on the international stage.
Three of the 27-year-old’s cousins – Rodney Blake (Australia), Inoke Afeaki (Tonga) and Ben Afeaki (New Zealand) – all played at Test level.
‘That’s the reason I play rugby,’ said Coleman to the media ahead of the Pool D opener.
‘You have the old man play rugby for Tonga and you’ve got three,four cousins that have played professional rugby.
‘So, as a youngster you always look up to them and think, “I want to play rugby, I want to be better than them.”
‘I wanted to get out there and find out why they like it so much.’
In addition to paying tribute to his father, Coleman will also have the names of mother Jennifer and daughter Fia written on his wristbands for Saturday’s Test in Sapporo.
Picture: EPA/Franck Robichon