As it happened: Waratahs score 24 unanswered points in second half to knock out Highlanders in insane comeback

Relive 1 NEWS NOW's live updates of tonight's Super Rugby quarter-final between the Waratahs and Highlanders at Allianz Stadium in Sydney.

FT: WAR 30-23 HIG

The Highlanders season is over after the Waratahs score 24 unanswered points in the second half. What a game. Highlanders dominated the first half but when the Waratahs got their chance with Naholo in the bin, they pounced and left the Highlanders speechless. No doubt Naholo will feel the guilt for this loss but when his team had a chance late, his teammates didn't deliver either. That one is going to hurt for a long time. That's all from us folks. Po marie.

79min: WAR 30-23 HIG

ANOTHER ERROR! Aaron Smith fires a ball to Ben Smith on the right wing and Smith drops it cold. That may do it. Waratahs scrum on halfway.

78min: WAR 30-23 HIG

Foley clears. Highlanders lineout 30m out.

77min: WAR 30-23 HIG

Sopoaga attacks the line off the scrum but he goes to ground. Aaron Smith comes through looking to score but he knocks it on 2m short! What a moment in the game. Waratahs scrum 5m from their line.

75min: WAR 30-23 HIG

Beale goes for an intercept and he's got it in his hands but as he goes to ground he knocks it on. Another Highlanders scrum. Middle of the field 10m out. Stuff Hollywood stories are made of.

73min: WAR 30-23 HIG

WAR YELLOW! MASSIVE MOMENT! The TMO replays have showed the Waratahs playing at the ball in an offside position illegally close to the line so it's a yellow card. Highlanders take a 5m scrum with the penalty.

73min: WAR 30-23 HIG

HIG NO TRY! Highlanders are 5m out after 12 phases of play before the ball comes to Frizell and he smashes at the line. It's unclear if he got there. Looks like he's short. TMO confirms it.

70min: WAR 30-23 HIG

WAR THREE! Waratahs get into the Highlanders 22m through the middle of the field and nine phases of play before an offside penalty lets them push the lead to seven. It's right in front, 18m out. Foley gets it with ease.

65min: WAR 27-23 HIG

Highlanders work the ball for 20 phases inside the Waratahs 22m but they won't budge. And finally there's a penalty as the Highlanders get caught not releasing! Waratahs are a different team this second half. Clearing kick gives the Waratahs a lineout near halfway.

62min: WAR 27-23 HIG

WAR TRY! The Waratahs are back in front after another linebreak by Folau. He steps off the left to get into the backfield and links with Phipps on the Highlanders' 22m. Phipps finds support in Foley and the Tahs first-five gets his second. What a turn of events.

59min: WAR 20-23 HIG

Highlanders have the ball on halfway and use the forwards to chew up time on Naholo's sin bin. But Lentjes gets too close to the sideline and he's bundled into touch. Waratahs lineout just inside their half.

57min: WAR 20-23 HIG

WAR TRY! The Tahs are back and who else but Beale and Folau to get them there. Beale makes a linebreak on halfway and gets into the depleted backfield with Folau in support. He draws in Li and passes to the fullback who scores in the left corner.

54min: WAR 13-23 HIG

WAR TRY! Waratahs are in with Foley under the posts. Used quick ball and Beale pops a short ball inside to his first five he dives in to score. 

51min: WAR 6-23 HIG

HIG YELLOW! Naholo is sent to the bin after the Waratahs make a clean break down the right wing with an intercept on their tryline. Waratahs get into the Highlanders' 22m and Naholo flies in with a high hit. No doubt he has to go. Waratahs kick for touch with the penalty and get a 5m lineout. Big 10 minutes coming up.

49min: WAR 6-23 HIG

Waratahs overthrow the lineout and the Highlanders turn it into territory with an immediate kick into the Waratahs' 22m. Waratahs get back to recover but the clearing box kick goes straight into the back of one of the forwards standing off the ruck. That's an accidental offside, meaning it's a Highlanders scrum. It'll be 10m from the Waratahs' line.

46min: WAR 6-23 HIG

Highlanders cough up the ball with a knock on and make matters worse with Lienert-Brown getting penalised for tackling Beale without the ball. Waratahs kick for touch and get a lineout 40m from the Highlanders' line.

43min: WAR 6-23 HIG

Highlanders get a penalty after a cheap, late hit from Hanigan on Sopoaga during a clearance kick. Sopoaga gets back up and he looks okay but the Highlanders have turned a clearing kick inside their 22m to a lineout just inside the Waratahs half as a result. Worth it, Hanigan?

40min: WAR 6-23 HIG

Sopoaga gets things underway again.

HT: WAR 6-23 HIG

First half in the books and to put it simply, the Highlanders have outplayed the Waratahs so far. Dominanted the rucks, executed with their set piece and constantly applying pressure to the Waratahs' offence. Even Folau is making uncharacteristic errors. It's a great start but they're not home yet. Stick around, we'll have the second half soon to see if the Highlanders can finish it off.

38min: WAR 6-23 HIG

He's thrown some stunners tonight but this latest pass from Sopoaga is a shocker. Goes miles forward and flies into touch. Waratahs opt for the scrum instead of the lineout though - its 30m from the Highlanders' line.

36min: WAR 6-23 HIG

Pressure strikes again. The Waratahs' throw at the lineout isn't straight so it's a Highlanders' scrum on their 5m. 

35min: WAR 6-23 HIG

Waratahs get a big chance to reply before the half after they get an intercept on halfway and immediately kick ahead. Naholo gets back to recover it but he's swamped by Waratahs and is penalised for not releasing. Tahs know they're too far behind to take three here and kick for touch. 5m lineout coming up.

34min: WAR 6-23 HIG

HIG THREE! The Highlanders' scrum puts on a massive shove and the Waratahs front row comes up under the pressure. Sopoaga steps forward for the penalty and takes thre free points on offer from 15m out in front.

32min: WAR 6-20 HIG

There's a stoppage in play for Michael Wells who stayed down after a heavy collision. It's been a good three minutes and he hasn't moved at all. Not looking good for the Waratahs loosie. He finally gets to his fet and walks off on his own but his night looks over. Highlanders with a scrum 15m from the line to restart things.

31min: WAR 6-20 HIG

Waratahs look for an intercept on another big pass to Naholo but it's a knock on. Highlanders scrum 15m from the Waratahs' line.

29min: WAR 6-20 HIG

Highlanders have another attacking lineout on the Waratahs 22m after the Tahs' pack is penalised for collapsing a maul. Sopoaga finds touch with the penalty.

27min: WAR 6-20 HIG

Highlanders attack down the right wing after a skip pass from Sopoaga to Naholo puts the big winger in space. He's taken down on the Waratahs' 22m. Fired back to Sopoaga who floats a cross kick to the left wing but there's no one from either team there. Bounces into touch for Waratahs lineout 15m from their line.

25min: WAR 6-20 HIG

HIG TRY! Too easy. Rob Thompson slices through the middle on the 22m with a right step and he's in under the posts. Clean play from the Highlanders at the moment and they're well and truly winning in all areas of the park so far.

22min: WAR 6-13 HIG

It's happened again! A chaotic phase of play filled with bouncing passes from both sides eventually sees the Waratahs counter-attack and make their way into the Highlanders 22m. But once again, a runner gets isolated and the Highlanders strike over the top. The ball isn't released and it's another penalty at the breakdown. The Waratahs are struggling massively in the ruck at the moment. Sopoaga kicks for touch with the penalty and gives the Highlanders a lineout 10m from halfway in their half.

19min: WAR 6-13 HIG

HIG THREE! Waratahs dive on a loose pass to get the ball back but it turns into a disaster as they give up yet another penalty. This time it's Folau getting isolated in the middle of the field and Coltman is over the top. Folau doesn't release and the whistle blows. Sopoaga from 25m out in front says thank you very much.

16min: WAR 6-10 HIG

Waratahs cough up another penalty at the ruck - this time for not releasing the ball. Sopoaga seeks touch and finds it. Highlanders lineout 40m from the Waratahs line.

14min: WAR 6-10 HIG

Miscommunication leads to a poor throw and it's ruled not straight. Waratahs packing a scrum down just inside their half.

13min: WAR 6-10 HIG

Highlanders back in attacking territory after the Waratahs are penalised for not rolling away after kickoff. Sopoaga finds touch and it's a lineout just inside the Waratahs half.

12min: WAR 6-10 HIG

HIG TRY! Naholo dives into the corner and the Highlanders are back in front. Visitors get a lineout on halfway and they come off the top and hit the midfield. It's recycled quickly to the right to Sopoaga and he sells a beautiful dummy to slice into the backfield. He sees Naholo on the right wing unmarked and fires it to him. Naholo goes the final 20m to score. Slick from the southerners.

9min: WAR 6-3 HIG

WAR THREE! Highlanders immediately fall onto the backfoot again as their penalised in the first ruck after the kickoff for not releasing. Waratahs arrived with numbers after kickoff and forced the issue. Smart play. Foley slots it from 25m out to the right.

7min: WAR 3-3 HIG

HIG THREE! Highlanders respond straight away after Waratahs are penalised for not rolling away seven phases into the Highlanders' attack. It's 40m out in front and Sopoaga nails it. All tied up. 

4min: WAR 3-0 HIG

WAR THREE!  Lentjes is penalised for being offside and it's right in front from around 20m out. Foley steps forward to give the homeside a lead and does so with ease.

2min: WAR 0-0 HIG

Highlanders try a switch move from the scrum but the final pass to the right wing sails into touch. Waratahs take it quickly and Folau sees space in the backfield and kicks. Sopoaga races back to get to the bouncing ball and gets to it before clearing. Waratahs lineout 30m out.

KICKOFF

Foley gets things underway and we're off in Sydney! And it's a shocker! Way too short so we come back to halfway for a Highlanders scrum.

Taqele Naiyaravoro of the Waratahs passes the ball to Michael Hooper during the round 14 Super Rugby match between the Waratahs and the Highlanders at Allianz Stadium
Taqele Naiyaravoro of the Waratahs passes the ball to Michael Hooper during the round 14 Super Rugby match between the Waratahs and the Highlanders at Allianz Stadium Source: Getty

PREVIEW

Keeping a full contingent on the park will be the first step for the Highlanders if they are to wipe the painful memories of their last Super Rugby trip to Sydney.

Halting big NSW Waratahs ball runners is seen as another fundamental in Saturday's quarter-final.

The Dunedin-based side were humbled 41-12 in round 14 two months ago, a momentous result which ended a 40-match winless streak for Australian franchises against Kiwi teams.

It is best remembered for the red card shown to Highlanders winger Tavita Nabura in the opening quarter.

His kung fu-style kick to the face of opposite Cam Clarke when claiming a high ball handed the Waratahs a virtual free pass, exacerbated when halfback Aaron Smith was shown a yellow card soon afterwards.

However, Highlanders assistant coach Clarke Dermody said the danger signs had become obvious prior to their numerical disadvantage.

"We played a lot of that game down on men, which is not ideal, but even in that first 15 minutes the Waratahs were playing awesome," Dermody told AAP.

"They were creating heaps of momentum with their big runners so I guess that's probably the bit of that game which we've been reviewing - how to stop that.

"I'm predicting they'll probably do that again."

Big outside backs Taqele Naiyaravoro and Israel Folau both bagged doubles while Curtis Rona also ran amok, ending the Waratahs' four-match losing trot to the Highlanders.

The Kiwis are close to full strength and refreshed after welcoming back two influential All Blacks, Ben Smith and Aaron Smith.

There are six starting changes from the makeshift side which finished the regular season with a 43-37 home win over the Melbourne Rebels.

Key figures who have endured a heavy workload were rested to prepare them for the Australian conference champions.

Veteran fullback and co-captain Ben Smith is a leading light in their counter- attacking style while halfback Aaron Smith dictates the speed of their game and is a lethal tactical kicker.

Also back is outside centre Rob Thompson, one of their big improvers this season, along with regular first-choice forwards Luke Whitelock, Tom Franklin and Daniel Lienert-Brown.

Dermody believes his returning players have benefited from a break.

"You can tell straight away. Monday morning when those boys came back in they had a spring in their step and were ready to go," he said.

"Partly because it's knockout rugby but partly because they had that whole week off."

TEAMS

Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Alex Newsome, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 Bernard Foley (c), 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Will Miller, 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Jed Holloway, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Tom Robertson

Replacements: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Brad Wilkin, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 Cameron Clark, 23 Bryce Hegarty

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (cc), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 James Lentjes, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown

Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon (cc), 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Kalolo Tuiloma, 19 Shannon Frizell, 20 Elliot Dixon, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Matt Faddes


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Bolters galore: Get to know the eight rookies in the All Blacks' end-of-year tour squad

The All Blacks named eight new players to their ranks yesterday as the 51-man Northern Tour squad was revealed. Get to know each one and their journey to selection below.

Dalton Papalii

Auckland's Dalton Papali'i (C celebrate a try with team mate Jordan Trainor (R during the Lions vs Auckland Mitre 10 Cup rugby match at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Thursday the 4th of October 2018. Copyright Photo by Marty Melville / www.Photosport.nz
Auckland's Dalton Papali'i celebrate a try with team mate Jordan Trainor. Source: Photosport

Midway through last year, Auckland loose forward Dalton Papali'i was revelling in a second World Under 20 Championship with New Zealand, as a winner in Georgia.

Despite the successes, he remained quiet working on his game and returned to his province to work on his game.

But opportunity came knocking this year as the Blues were hit by a severe injury crisis and Papali'i was signed.

After a limited role with the Super Rugby franchise, the 21-year-old played outstanding rugby for Auckland in this year's Mitre 10 Cup competition topping the tackles count late in the season.

Papali'i also captained his St Kentigern's College First XV and in 2015 led the New Zealand Schools side to a convincing win over their Aussie counterparts.

George Bridge

Bridge said he was blown away when he was approached by the Crusaders for the long-term deal. Source: 1 NEWS

The 23-year-old outside back has stamped his mark in the successful environment of the Crusaders Super Rugby team.

Born in Gisborne, Bridge moved down to Christchurch six years ago to play club rugby and was selected in the under 20s national team as well as Canterbury for the Mitre 10 Cup.

Fast forward to last year, Bridge had an outstanding Super Rugby debut during the Crusaders' successful 2017 campaign and was named their Rookie of the Year.

That impressive form continued in 2018, finishing second-equal on the leading try scorers list with 15 tries as his team defended their title.

Earlier this year Bridge signed with the club and New Zealand Rugby until 2022.

Brett Cameron

Brett Cameron of Canterbury during the Mitre 10 Cup rugby match, Canterbury v Manawatu, Christchurch Stadium, Christchurch, New Zealand, 6th September 2018.Copyright photo: John Davidson / www.photosport.nz
Brett Cameron of Canterbury makes a run. Source: Photosport

21-year-old Canterbury first-five Brett Cameron first came on the radar in last year's Mitre 10 Cup playoffs, making an assured performance in the semi-final in just his third provincial outing.

However, Cameron also made waves in 2014 when he was plucked from Wanganui's small Cullinane College and named in the New Zealand Schools training squad.

After school, Cameron headed south to Lincoln University and into the Canterbury provincial team. He played one match for the Crusaders this year.

Gareth Evans

Hurricanes reserve Gareth Evans in action during the Super 15 Rugby match - Chiefs v Hurricanes played at FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand on Friday 13 July 2018.

Copyright photo: © Bruce Lim / www.photosport.nz
Gareth Evans makes a run for the Hurricanes. Source: Photosport

Born and bred in the Hawke’s Bay, 27-year-old loose forward Gareth Evans shifted south to Otago University to study and made the Otago provincial side in 2011.

He went on to play three years for the province, becoming known for his abrasive style and huge work rate.

He was drafted into the Highlanders for the 2014 season, making 14 appearances in his debut year, before helping the side to their maiden Super Rugby title in 2015 and victory over the touring British & Irish Lions in 2017.

The younger brother of 2009 All Black Bryn Evans, Gareth transferred to the Hurricanes in 2018 and quickly established himself as the first choice No. 8.

Bryn Hall

Bryn Hall will face his old teammates in a classic Kiwi derby this weekend. Source: 1 NEWS

Auckland-born Bryn Hall, 26, has plenty of leadership experience under his belt, having captained his St Peter's College First XV, was co-captain of New Zealand Under 20 in 2012, and North Harbour provincial captain in 2015.

The halfback made his provincial debut for North Harbour in 2012 and strong performances saw him selected for the Blues for the 2013 season.

He spent four years with the Blues before transferring to the Crusaders in 2017 and was part of their Championship-winning season. He also earned selection in the Māori All Blacks during last year's Lions Tour.

Tyrel Lomax

Mako player Tyrel Lomax during their Mitre 10 Cup game Tasman v Canterbury. Lansdowne Park, Blenheim, New Zealand. Friday 17 August 2018. ©Copyright Photo: Chris Symes / www.photosport.nz
Mako player Tyrel Lomax during their Mitre 10 Cup game Tasman v Canterbury. Source: Photosport

Tyrel Lomax grew up playing rugby league in Australia, before making the switch to rugby union.

The 22-year-old prop played his first year of Super Rugby for the Melbourne Rebels in 2017, before returning to New Zealand.

He played for the Tasman Mako in last year's Mitre 10 Cup and after a solid debut season was selected as one of 10 new caps in the Māori All Blacks for their tour to Canada and France.

Lomax joined the Highlanders in 2018, making 15 appearances.

Lomax played for Australian schoolboys in 2014 and the Australian U20 side the following year. His father is former Kiwis rugby league prop John Lomax.

Reuben O’Neill

Taranaki's Reuben O'Neill (L) with team mate  Ben Matwijow celebrate their win during the Mitre 10 Cup rugby match between Taranaki and Auckland at Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth on Thursday the 13th of October 2016. Copyright Photo by Marty Melville / www.Photosport.nz
Taranaki's Reuben O'Neill (L) with team mate Ben Matwijow celebrate in 2016. Source: Photosport

Taranaki prop Reuben O’Neill, 23, has overcome injury and a diabetes diagnosis early in his career to take his rugby to the next level.

O’Neill was selected in the New Zealand Schools side in 2012 and followed that up three years with selection to the Taranaki Mitre 10 Cup squad after successfully returning to rugby from a back injury.

O'Neill was a member of the Taranaki side which upset Canterbury to take the Ranfurly Shield in 2017, alongside All Blacks teammate Angus Ta’avao.

He has continued to shore up the scrum so far this year and his strength and power in the front row has reportedly caught the attention of the All Blacks selectors.

Matt Proctor

Centre for the defending champions Matt Proctor spoke after his side were drawn to play away in Japan, instead of in front of their own fans. Source: 1 NEWS

A standout player for both the Hurricanes and the Wellington Lions provincial side, Matt Proctor made his Super Rugby debut in 2013 and was a part of the Hurricanes side that secured their first Super Rugby title in 2016.

His Super season was cut short by injury this year but he returned to captain Wellington’s 2018 Mitre 10 Cup campaign.

Proctor has represented the Māori All Blacks 10 times and his representative career also includes New Zealand Schools and New Zealand Under 20s.


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Nehe Milner-Skudder, Akira Ioane headline inexperienced Maori All Blacks squad for Americas tour

The Māori All Blacks' squad to tour North and South America next month has been named with five players named yesterday's All Blacks squad also being selected this morning.

Head Coach Clayton McMillan has selected a 27-strong squad for the three-Test tour with five players featured in the All Blacks' wider Japan squad featuring in his team.

Prop Tyrel Lomax, lock Jackson Hemopo, halfback Bryn Hall, midfielder Matt Proctor and winger Nehe Milner-Skudder will all join the the team later for the South American leg of the tour after the complete their commitments in Japan.

Akira Ioane also features in the squad after failing to make the cut for the All Blacks' 51-man squad.

McMillan said the departure of some experienced players offshore, and dual duties with the All Blacks, created an opportunity for several new faces.

"We’re looking at almost 10 debutants which you would expect after some players have moved on," he said.

"Some of these debutants have had incredibly strong seasons with their provinces in Mitre 10 Cup, and their Super Rugby clubs, so we are excited to see what they will bring on this tour."

There are nine new faces in the squad; hooker Robbie Abel, locks Isaia Walker-Leawere and Pari Pari Parkinson, loose forwards Hoani Matenga, Billy Harmon, and Mitchell Karpik, first five-eighth Joshua Ioane, midfielder Matthew Landsown and outside back Jonah Lowe.

McMillan said they have all proved earned their spots with their recent form.

"Josh Ioane was with the Highlanders, and with Otago he demonstrates he is at the forefront of all the action, including playing an integral role in Otago’s successful Ranfurly Shield challenge, and, like Otere (Black) who has been strong for Manawatū, he is very accurate with his goalkicking.

"Pari Pari has to be the tallest lock running around in New Zealand rugby at the moment and he’s been a stand out for Tasman.

"We’ve got a great mix in the loose forwards – including the experienced Reed Prinsep and Akira Ioane who will bring explosive power to the loose forward mix. Along with the new guys (Hoani Matenga, Billy Harmon and Mitchell Karpik) they’re a young group but they’ve got some physicality."

The squad is assembling next week in the Bay of Plenty before their departure from Auckland International Airport next Sunday 28 October.

Their first Test is on Sunday November 3 against USA at 12pm NZT in Chicago.

Maori All Blacks perform the Haka during the Maori All Blacks v NZ Barbarians match at Eden Park in Auckland Source: Photosport


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Black Ferns mix veterans with fresh faces as squad named for end-of-year tour of USA and France

The Black Ferns have announced their squad for their upcoming November Tour with three new players getting called into the team.

Head coach Glenn Moore named his squad this morning to play in the triple-header Test against the USA in Chicago as well as two Tests in France next month.

Moore said backs Ayesha Leti-I'iga (Wellington), Kilisitina Moata'ane (Otago) and Natahlia Moors (Auckland) received the call-up after stellar Farah Palmer Cup seasons.

Moore said the trio possessed everything a coach wanted in a back; explosive speed, tenacity and great footwork.

"They've all stood out in the FPC and all three players deserve their selection. This trio will add a lot of firepower to our backline and I’m looking forward to seeing what they can achieve in the Black Ferns environment."

Also in line to make their Black Fern debuts are Joanah Ngan-Woo, Marcelle Parkes and Monica Tagoai who were all part of the squad for the two-Test series against Australia.

Black Ferns Sevens players Theresa Fitzpatrick and Alena Saili were unavailable for selection due to Black Ferns Sevens commitments, but Stacey Waaka is included in the squad as a utility back.

"We are thrilled to have Stacey with us. She is a fantastic athlete who always makes an impact on the field and thrives in our environment."

Fiao'o Faamausili will captain the side while Selica Winiata and Kendra Cocksedge have been named as co-vice captains.

Moore said the squad has plenty to gain from the mix of veterans and fresh faces.

"We are continuing our strategy of including a mix of experienced and new players.

"We want to give younger players an opportunity to be in the Black Ferns environment and develop their skills so by the time the 2021 World Cup comes around we have a broad base of outstanding athletes to select from."

The Black Ferns begin their tour at Soldier Field in Chicago against USA on November 4 at 6am NZT.

Black Ferns

Forwards: Eloise Blackwell, Les Elder (nee Ketu), Fiao'o Faamausili (c), Aldora Itunu, Linda Itunu, Pip Love, Charmaine McMenamin, Aleisha Nelson, Joanah Ngan-Woo*, Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate, Marcelle Parkes*, Jackie Patea-Fereti, Leilani Perese, Aroha Savage, Charmaine Smith, Cristo Tofa

Backs: Chelsea Alley, Kendra Cocksedge, Krysten Cottrell, Kiritapu Demant, Ruahei Demant, Ayesha Leti-I’iga*, Kilisitina Moata’ane*, Natahlia Moors*, Kristina Sue, Monica Tagoai*, Stacey Waaka, Renee Wickliffe, Selica Winiata

Black Ferns' Stacey Waaka takes on the Wallaroos defence at ANZ Stadium in Sydney. Wallaroos v Black Ferns, Bledisloe doubleheader. ANZ Stadium, Sydney, Australia. 18th August 2018. Copyright Photo: David Neilson / www.photosport.nz
Black Ferns' Stacey Waaka takes on the Wallaroos defence at ANZ Stadium in Sydney. Source: Photosport


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Watch: Smiling assassin Damian McKenzie adds another tool to arsenal, nails goal-kicking with both feet

Damian McKenzie appears to have refined another attacking tool in his already impressive repertoire after sharing footage on social media of his goal-kicking skills - using both feet.

The 23-year-old, who is famous for his cheeky grin when he kicks, posted videos on Instagram of him practicing the art in Wanaka with pin-point accuracy as he hit a pole using both his left and right foot.

"Always finding ways to get better as a player," he said.

"No goal posts to kick at, so had to improvise a little. Aim small miss small they reckon. Could kick all day with this backdrop."

The skill drew the attention of multiple global sport icons, with NRL star Angus Crichton, former Wallaby Quade Cooper, cricketer AB de Villiers and fellow rugby players Vince Aso and Liam Squire all quick to praise his efforts.

The All Blacks first-five used a pole instead of goal posts as a target – and still nailed it. Source: Damian McKenzie / Instagram


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