Rugby News: All Black demoted in ruthless captaincy call, Jake White expects to be ‘killed’ for 6N view, Kiwi ace joins Force


World Cup All Black Dalton Papalii has been stripped of the Auckland Blues captaincy by new coach Vern Cotter with former skipper returning to the helm.

Lock Patrick Tuipulotu is back as captain having given up the role to play in Japan two seasons ago. He rturned last year and played under Papalii’s leadership for coach Leon MacDonald.

“He has been before. I had a good conversation with him when he came back and felt it was the right move,” Cotter told Kiwi media.

“I was able to talk to Dalton and a couple of others around the team as well.

“Patty’s notion of leading is sharing, and getting other people involved, so for me, that ticked all the boxes. It was a pretty easy choice, really.”

Tuipulotu has played 43 Tests for the All Blacks – the most recent in October 2022.

The 30-year-old is consider a good chance to add to his tally with Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock moving overseas after the World Cup.

“It’s not new for me,” Tuipulotu said.

“I’ve been in this role before and I’m pretty proud.

“I’m a Blues man through and through, so to be given the captain’s armband, it’s a privilege, it’s an honour and I’m looking forward to leading the side out again.”

He said there were no hard feelings from Papalii.

Dalton Papalii of the Blues. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

“He’s on board,” Tuipulotu said. “We’re good mates, or I’d like to think we’re good mates. I trust that I have his backing.”

Cotter said he had a “really good conversation,” with Papalii.

“We spoke briefly, but very clearly around it.

“He felt that he was only in a caretaker role while Patty was away. I thought that was big from him.

“He knows he can help and the experience he had last year being captain will give him more awareness around it, and he’ll be better for Patty and the team.”

Petaia looking for fresh start

Wallaby Jordie Petaia says he’s been given no clear indication how new Reds coach Les Kiss intends to use him in Super Rugby this season.

Petaia spent time at fullback, wing and outside centre under Kiss’ predecessor Brad Thorn and is thought to favour the No.15 jersey.

The 23-year-old told the Brisbane Times that new coach Kiss was giving everyone a chance to find their feet in pre-season.

“Not at this stage, I think at the moment we’re playing a system where everyone is everywhere – there’s a lot of running going on at the moment which I think is great,” Petaia said of if he was being used in a defined role.

“We’ve got the ability with all our players in our backline to move the ball across the park. The boys have been really working on their fitness trying to move across the park trying to play the way Les wants to play – that open style of footy.”

Petaia reflected on the woeful World Cup campaign – and in particular the loss to Wales that left the Wallabies needing a miracle that never came.

Jordan Petaia of the Wallabies (Photo by James Worsfold/Getty Images)

“A few boys were tearing up, it was a pretty hard one to walk off the pitch from. You’ve got family in the stands, people that come across the world to watch the guys, you don’t get the job done … it was extremely tough,” Petaia said of the Wales defeat.

“In the end, it’s about what you do next. You don’t want to repeat what’s happened at the Cup, you want to start the next venture on a strong foot.

“I think that’s the main thing the boys took out of that tournament, that feeling of failure.”

He said he hadn’t thought too much about the identity of the next Wallabies coach.

“I think it’s a little bit refreshing not thinking about that environment, we can just focus on the Reds and the campaign coming.

“I think you see in the past Super Rugby always can reflect at the international level, if you’ve got guys and teams playing well in their conferences and doing well.”

Boks 6N case black and white

Former Springboks head coach Jake White says South Africa should not be added to the Six Nations despite rising voices suggesting it would aid the Boks and the tournament.

South Africa are committed to the Rugby Championship only until the end of 2025, while they have been getting closer ties to the north through club competition and many see that as a natural progression for Test footy as well.

White, speaking after his club side the Bulls beat Bristol in the Champions Cup, said he was against a move.

“I’m an old school guy. I can’t see that you can ever have South Africa playing Six Nations,” the former ACT Brumbies coach said.

“I don’t know, so many things have changed in rugby, and hopefully we will hang on to that Six Nations is for the six nations that play in the north.

“Once you start bringing [in] South Africa, what is stopping you from bringing [in] New Zealand and Australia and all that sort of thing? Then it’s not the Six Nations.

“As an old school guy, I hope it won’t happen. I’d probably get killed for saying that back home.”

PNG woman makes history

Joanne Butler, a 23-year-old from Korere Village in Rabaul, has become the first Papua New Guinean female to sign a pro rugby contract, joing the ACT Brumbies for this season season.

Butler received a scholarship to play for the club as the result of a joint partnership between Oceania Rugby, World Rugby, Rugby Australia, and the Australian government’s PacificAus Sports program.

She replaces injured Samoan player Fa’alua Tugaga, in the squad with with her selection marking a significant milestone for the sport in the region.

President of Oceania Rugby, Richard Sapias, said: “The official signing of Joanne to the ACT Brumbies is a watershed moment for the sport in Papua New Guinea and opens the Super W competition to even more talented athletes from the Pacific region.

“The Combine Program delivered by Oceania Rugby, in partnership with World Rugby, Rugby Australia, and the Australian Government, highlights the amazing outcomes that can be achieved through great collaboration. We thank our partners for ensuring the success of this program over the past few years.”

Force sign former Black Ferns star

The Western Force has announced the signing of props Harono Te Iringa and Alapeta Ngauamo along with the re-signing of Manusina Samoa scrum-half Saelua Leaula for the 2024 Super Rugby Women’s season.

Te Iringa, 27, was previously a New Zealand’s Black Ferns squad member prior to the 2022 World Cup. The prop joins the Force after spending the past few seasons with the Chiefs in Super Rugby Aupiki, helping the side win the 2022 title.

Ngauamo joins after spending the past two seasons at the Queensland Reds, while she has plenty of experience with Queensland Premier Rugby outfit GPS Rugby Club and offers leadership coming from a coaching background.

Force Super W head coach Dylan Parsons said: “Harono has come out of the Chiefs Manawa program. She just played in the Farah Palmer Cup with County Manukau.

“Through her performances there and being in a position of need in the front row, we’re really excited to add someone with that experience to come across to the Western Force

“Alapeta is coming out of the Reds program where she’s been consistently in the match day squad the past couple of seasons. She’s an experienced prop who has come across wanting an opportunity to help achieve higher goals.

“We’re really excited add her experience to our group and she is already showing that she is a quality human”.

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