Michael Hooper passed fit to face All Blacks in opening Bledisloe Cup clash

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper has passed a fitness test and will join exciting uncapped backs Tom Banks and Jack Maddocks in an expanded squad for the Bledisloe Cup clash with the All Blacks.

Openside flanker Hooper, who signed a new five-year AUS$6 million Rugby Australia contract, hasn't played for seven weeks since injuring his hamstring early in the first Test against Ireland.

Prop Scott Sio (shoulder) and outside back Dane Haylett-Petty (knee) have also passed fitness tests and will be available for Saturday's opening round Rugby Championship match at Sydney's ANZ Stadium against New Zealand.

Coach Michael Cheika has cut eight players from his train-on squad, trimming it to 28.

The exclusion from the squad of NSW Waratahs back Curtis Rona increases the likelihood utility back Reece Hodge will start at outside centre, though fullback Israel Folau could still be a contender.

Also omitted were forwards Folau Faingaa, Jermaine Ainsley, Rory Arnold, and Caleb Timu and backs Billy Meakes, Jordan Petaia and Sefa Naivalu.

The Wallabies have just completed an intensive week-long camp in Cessnock in the NSW Hunter region and are regathering in Sydney today.

Wallabies' James Slipper, left, Michael Hooper and Rob Simmons, right, acknowledge crowd after the match with Australia winning 29-15.
Wallabies' James Slipper, left, Michael Hooper and Rob Simmons, right, acknowledge crowd after the match with Australia winning 29-15. Source: Associated Press


'I don't think that's healthy' - Beauden Barrett slams Kiwi 'tall poppy syndrome'

All Blacks first-five Beauden Barrett has hit out at New Zealand's 'tall poppy syndrome' mentality, saying that it has a negative impact on our top rugby players.

Barrett, 27, has been a part of the All Blacks since 2012, taking over the reigns as first-choice in the number 10 jersey after the retirement of Dan Carter following the 2015 World Cup.

However, in recent times, there have been calls for the back-to-back World Player of the Year to be dropped in favour of Crusaders star Richie Mo'unga.

In a new book titled 'The Jersey' by British journalist Peter Bills, Barrett hit out at the Kiwi mentality of trying to bring down rising stars.

"I don't think that's healthy - I think you should be encouraged and applauded when you do great things," Barrett said.

"It just does annoy me when the general public bring people down to earth when really, we should be applauding great achievements.

"Whereas overseas, you do really appreciate the support you get over there for what the All Blacks achieve."

Barrett is expected to start for the All Blacks in the Bledisloe Cup opening Test in Sydney next week.

The move could allow both Barrett and Lima Sopoaga to play together. Source: 1 NEWS



French second division rugby player dies in changing room after tackle

The French rugby community are grieving the loss of one of their own today, after a young second division player died during a friendly match yesterday.

Louis Fajfrowski, 21, of Pro D2 team Aurillac, died in the changing rooms, having been taken from the field after 60 minutes after a tackle.

The young centre was assessed by doctors in the team dressing room, reportedly losing consciousness throughout the night before passing away at 8pm local time.

Club legend Olivier Magne told radio station RMC that the side were devastated by the events.

"It's a whole club, a city, a department and all the French rugby that are affected, who are bereaved, it's a family member who went away, it's very sad for French rugby," he said.

"It is necessary to wait for the autopsy, do not draw an early conclusion.

"But there is an evolution [in] professional sports in general. We are going towards more speed, intensity, violence, there are more and more difficult contacts and they could be avoided.

"We will have to quickly provide answers."

Magne also said rugby must move towards "less violent" tackles.

He said more tackles were being launched "on the upper body with the shoulder at the level of the head".

"That causes a lot of KO [knockouts]."

Source: Getty