Super Rugby: Australian conference scouting report

There have been some big-name movements across the four Australian franchises ahead of the 2018 Super Rugby season. Catch up with all the ins and outs here.


Brumbies coach Dan McKellar steps into role vacated by Stephen Larkham, the former assistant taking over at an exciting time in the Australian capital. There have been some departures of note, namely Scott Fardy and Jarrad Butler, but the addition of some familiar faces and a splash of promising youth sees the playing squad in excellent shape. David Pocock's return after a yearlong sabbatical is the obvious focal point, but further back-row support will also generate competition and interest in the Brumbies' loose forward trio.

Forwards: Robbie Abel, Allan Alaalatoa, Ben Alexander, Richie Arnold, Rory Arnold, , Sam Carter, Tom Cusack, James Dargaville, Blake Enever, Mees Erasmus, Lolo Fakaosilea , Folau Fainga'a, Ben Hyne, Leslie Leulua'iali'i-Makin, Josh Mann-Rea, Nic Mayhew, Lachlan McCaffrey, Isi Naisarani, David Pocock, Scott Sio, Darcy Swain, Rob Valetini,

Backs: Tom Banks, James Dargaville, Kyle Godwin, Mack Hansen, Wharenui Hawera, Jordan Jackon-Hope, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Leali'ifano, Ryan Lonergan, Matt Lucas, Andy Muirhead, Chance Peni, Joe Powell, Andrew Smith, Henry Speight, Lausii Taliauli, James Verity-Amm.

Ins: Richie Arnold, Mees Erasmus, Folau Fainga'a, Mack Hansen, Matt Lucas, Lachlan McCaffrey, Isi Naisarani, Chance Peni, David Pocock, Darcy Swain, James Verity-Amm.

Outs: Nigel Ah-Wong, Chris Alcock, Jarrad Butler, Tomas Cubelli, Saia Fainga'a, Anthony Fainga'a, Scott Fardy, Nik Jooste, Jordan Smiler, Tom Staniforth, Isaac Thompson, Aidan Toua, De Wet Roos.

Big in: Pocock's return will make the Brumbies a formidable breakdown force again, but the addition of former Force No. 8 Isi Naisarani may prove to be of equal impact. The Brumbies have had big bodies in their pack in recent times, but they have lacked a real dynamic ball-carrier. That problem is solved with Naisarani's arrival. The Fijian-born back-rower rose to fame in the National Rugby Championship before emerging as a genuine star of the future in Perth last year, winning both the Nathan Sharpe Medal and the RUPA Medal for Excellence. He has the choice of playing for Fiji at Test level or waiting until he is eligible for the Wallabies under the residency rule.

Big out: The recruitment of plenty of back-row talent leaves the Brumbies in good shape, but the loss of Scott Fardy to Leinster should not be discounted. Fardy had been a tireless contributor in Canberra, after he returned from Japan in virtual obscurity, and he went on to become a key cog of the Wallabies' run to the 2015 Rugby World Cup final. A threat over the ball, strong lineout option and excellent link man, Fardy was always in the thick of the action and should look back on his time in Canberra with pride.


Having survived avoided the Super Rugby scrapheap after getting the nod from Rugby Australia, the Rebels take a new-look squad into 2018 under the tutelage of former Force coach Dave Wessels. The South African, who impressed amid some trying times in Perth, has brought a stack of the Force's top talent with him while the Rebels have also added genuine Test quality in Englishman Geoff Parling and, clearly, Wallabies ace Will Genia. One of Wessels' major tasks will be settling on a No. 10. Does he try to convert Reece Hodge into a fully fledged playmaker or can Jack Debreczeni, Jack McGregor or Tayler Adams emerge as the man to pilot the Melbourne franchise? Adam Coleman will lead the squad in what may be the beginning of a captaincy journey that ends with the Wallabies.

Forwards: Jermaine Ainsley, Adam Coleman, Angus Cottrell, Ben Daley, Colby Fainga'a, Esei Ha'angana, Richard Hardwick, Ross Haylett-Petty, Rob Leota, Amanaki Mafi, Tom Moloney, Geoff Parling, Matt Philip, Sam Jeffries, Trevor Hosea, Anaru Rangi, Fereti Sa'aga, Sam Talakai, Lopeti Timani, Alex Toolis, Laurie Weeks.

Backs: Tayler Adams, Jack Debreczeni, Tom English, Will Genia, Harrison Goddard, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Dave Horwitz, Henry Hutchinson, Jack Maddocks, Jack McGregor, Bill Meakes, Sefanaia Naivalau, Hunter Paisami, Michael Ruru, Nic Stirzaker, Semisi Tupou, Sione Tuipulotu.

Ins: Tayler Adams, Jermaine Ainsley, Adam Coleman, Angus Cottrell, Ben Daley, Will Genia, Richard Hardwick, Dane Haylett-Petty, Ross Haylett-Petty, Dave Horwitz, Trevor Hosea, Henry Hutchinson, Bill Meakes, Hunter Paisami, Geoff Parling, Matt Philip, Anaru Rangi, Sam Talakai.

Outs: Cruze Ah-Nau, Steve Cummins, Dominic Day, Jackson Garden-Bachop, James Hanson, Mitch Inman, Pat Leafa, Tyrel Lomax, Sean McMahon, Ben Meehan, Will Miller, Jonah Placid, Jordy Reid, Culum Retallick, Jake Schatz, Siliva Siliva, Toby Smith, Mick Snowden, Ben Volavola.

Big in: It's hard not to feel for Rebels veteran Nic Stirzaker, but Will Genia's move south is arguably the biggest recruitment in the club's history. A circumstance of fortune rather than active recruitment given the Reds had already filled their No. 9 quota, Genia is the X-factor the Rebels have lacked since their inception; a player capable of breaking open games while exercising superb control. He will also be able to take the pressure off whomever starts at No. 10 and, from a marketing perspective, may be a name a few more AFL-mad Melbournians should recognise.

Big out: Sean McMahon missed a chunk of Super Rugby last season, but his departure is a real blow for the Rebels given what he did in Wallabies gold later in 2017. The back-rower made his name in Melbourne after moving south from Queensland, his ball-carrying often one of the few shining lights among some heavy defeats. He was rumoured to be seeking a move back to Queensland but opted for Japan when a deal couldn't be done with Rugby Australia. He is a big loss for both the Rebels and the Wallabies.


The third and last of Australia's three new Super Rugby coaches, Brad Thorn has already stamped his authority on the under-fire franchise. While listed below, Quade Cooper will not play for the Reds this season with Thorn effectively telling the veteran Wallabies back that he will spend the year in club rugby. The two parties are trying reportedly trying to sort a release. Elsewhere, there are a number of bright new faces, across both the backs and forwards, while former Reds Ben Lucas and Jono Lance have come full circle and returned to Ballymore. There is uncertainty over the immediate playing future of George Smith and Karmichael Hunt after their separate brushes with the long arm of the law.

Forwards: Angus Blyth, Kane Douglas, Sef Fa'agase, Michael Gunn, Reece Hewat, Scott Higginbotham, Harry Hockings, Harry Hoopert, Adam Korczyk, Alex Mafi, Brando Paenga-Amosa, Andrew Ready, Izack Rodda, Angus Scott-Young, James Slipper, George Smith, JP Smith, Caleb Timu, Lukhan Tui, Taniela Tupou, Makus Vanzati, Liam Wright.

Backs: Quade Cooper, Filipo Daugunu, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Nick Frisby, Karmichael Hunt, Samu Kerevi, Jono Lance, Ben Lucas, Lachlan Maranta, Tate McDermott, Eto Nabuli, Duncan Paia'aua, Izaia Perese, Moses Sorovi, Hamish Stewart, Teti Tela, Aidan Toua, James Tuttle.

Ins: Filipo Daugunu, Harry Hockings, Harry Hoopert, Jono Lance, Ben Lucas, Tate McDermott, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Angus Scott-Young, JP Smith, Teti Tela, Aidan Toua, Liam Wright.

Outs: Sam Talakai, Stephen Moore, Cadeyrn Neville, Rob Simmons, Leroy Houston, Hendrik Tui, Jake McIntyre, Campbell Magnay, Henry Taefu, Chris Kuridrani, Jayden Ngamanu.

Big in: Lance and Lucas offer depth and experience to a Reds backline short on depth, but the inclusion of boom rookie Liam Wright brings extra excitement to the pack. Wright enjoyed a meteoric rise in 2017 that began with his superb form for Australia at the Junior World Cup and culminated with a non-cap debut for the Wallabies against the Barbarians in Sydney. He was then taken away to Europe as one of Michael Cheika's development players, just days after he claimed the award as Australia's Under 20s Player of the Year. With doubt surrounding Smith's return, Wright could find himself in the Reds' No. 7 jersey from the competition's opening weeks.

Big out: There have been several notable departures up front but Reds fans will point to the fact that the best rugby of Stephen Moore, Cadeyrn Neville, Rob Simmons and Leroy Houston was probably behind them. That is not the case for powerful centre Campbell Magnay. He was used only sparingly over the past few seasons but had shown enough to suggest he was worth persisting with; he'd certainly caught the eye of Cheika. Having signed a two-year deal with Suntory, he won't be sighted in Australian rugby until after the 2018/19 Japanese season at the earliest.


Entering his third season as Waratahs coach, Daryl Gibson has added a number of new faces up front as he seeks to atone for last year's awful showing. Gibson has picked up some experience at lock in the form of unwanted Reds veteran Rob Simmons and the Brumbies' Tom Staniforth, while others have come through the Waratahs' junior pathways. Kurtley Beale, meanwhile, headlines the backline additions with Curtis Rona, Alex Newsome and Lalakai Foketi providing options at outside centre and on the wing.

Forwards: Jack Dempsey, Damian Fitzpatrick, Ned Hanigan, Jed Holloway, Michael Hooper, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Maclean Jones, Sekope Kepu, Tolu Latu, Ryan McCauley, Kelly Meafua, Will Miller, Nick Palmer, Hugh Roach, Tom Robertson, Paddy Ryan, Matt Sandell, Rob Simmons, Tom Staniforth, Lachlan Swinton, Shambeckler Vui, Cody Walker, Michael Wells, Brad Wilkin.

Backs: Kurtley Beale, Cam Clark, Lalakai Foketi, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Jake Gordon, Bryce Hegarty, Andrew Kellaway, Mack Mason, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Alex Newsome, Curtis Rona, Irae Simone.

Ins: Sekope Kepu, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Kelly Meafua, Will Miller, Alex Newsome, Nick Palmer, Curtis Rona, Matt Sandell, Rob Simmons, Tom Staniforth, Lachlan Swinton, Shambeckler Vui, Cody Walker.

Outs: Andrew Deegan, Rob Horne, Dave Horwitz, Matt Lucas, Dean Mumm, Reece Robinson, Will Skelton.

Big in: He left the Waratahs with the prospect of a two-year deal with Wasps but, thankfully for Gibson's sake, Kurtley Beale decided that returning to Sydney and the Wallabies was the correct course of action. The value of Beale's return needs little explaining, as his ability to break open a game with a piece of individual skill up there with any of the world's best. He will also lighten the load on Bernard Foley and should be able to help to free up Israel Folau, who looked disinterested at times in last year's competition. Quiet first halves were the Waratahs' Achilles heel in 2017, and Beale is a player who can ensure they hum from the opening whistle.

Big out: He never quite recaptured the form that saw him help the Waratahs to the 2014 title but Will Skelton's sizeable frame will still be a notable absence in Sydney. After taking up a short-term deal with Saracens last summer, he opted for a fulltime move after the 2017 Super Rugby season. It's no surprise that Skelton's best rugby came during Cheika's tenure at Moore Park, the lock failing to put together consistent efforts without the now-Wallabies boss' unique motivational techniques.


Japan's Sunwolves have moved from the South African conference to join the Australian ranks, easing the rigorous travel demands from their first two seasons of Super Rugby. They have a new coach, too, in Japan coach and former Highlanders boss Jamie Joseph, who replaces Filo Tiatia. As was the case between their first and second seasons, the Sunwolves have a swag of news faces throughout their squad. They have come in the form of both Japanese nationals as well as overseas players who've performed in the Japanese Top League, namely Kiwis Robbie Robinson and Jason Emery. From an Australian perspective, veteran forwards Ed Quirk and Sam Wykes remain.

Forwards: Takuma Asahara, Asaeli Ai Valu, Jaba Bregvadze, Willem Britz, Grant Hatingh, Uwe Helu, Katzuki Himeno, Takeshi Hino, Shota Horie, Keita Inagaki, Shintaro Ishihara, Jiwon Koo, Pieter Lappies Labuschagne, Michael Leitch, Shinya Makabe, Craig Millar, James Moore, Yusuke Niwai, Shunsuke Nunomaki, Ed Quirk, Atsushi Sakate, Ruan Smith, Yoshitaka Tokunaga, Wimpie Vanderwalt, Hencus Van Wyk, Sam Wykes.

Backs: Jason Emery, Kenki Fukuoka, Gerhard van der Heever, Timothy Lafaele, Lomano Lava Lemeki, Michael Little, Kotaro Matsushima, Ryuji Noguchi, Daishi Murata, Yutaka Nagare, Ryoto Nakamura, Hayden Parker, Robbie Robinson, Hosea Saumaki, Fumiaki Tanaka, Harumichi Tatekawa, Yu Tamura, Sione Teaupa, William Tupou, Keisuke Uchida, Akihito Yamada.

Big in: Having long captained the Brave Blossoms, Michael Leitch is finally in Sunwolves colours. A prominent member of the Chiefs' forward pack over the past three seasons, Leitch is an imposing back-rower with a real understanding for the game. The Test skipper will offer a quality ball-running option through the middle of the paddock, an area where the Sunwolves struggled in their first two seasons through a lack of size. Given he will lead the Brave Blossoms alongside Joseph at their home World Cup, Leitch's return home is an excellent result for Japanese rugby.

Big out: One of the Sunwolves' better performers across their tough first two seasons, Derek Carpenter hasn't returned for a third season in the red and white. The New Zealand-born centre had proven himself a sound ball-carrier in midfield, scoring five tries in 12 appearances.