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'I definitely wouldn't say I'm a rock star': McReight deflects Jones' compliment

By AAP
Fraser McReight vs South Africa at Adelaide Oval on August 27, 2022 (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Fraser McReight has laughed off a description by Wallabies coach Eddie Jones that the openside flankers are the “rock stars” of a rugby team.

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While his blond locks give off Kurt Cobain vibes, the 24-year-old insisted he wasn’t seeking the spotlight within the Wallabies’ World Cup campaign in France.

McReight is following a golden path of players to wear the Wallabies No.7 jersey, most recently Michael Hooper, the country’s most capped captain.

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Before Hooper, who was left out of the World Cup squad, there was the likes of flankers David Pocock, George Smith, David Wilson and Simon Poidevin who carried some swagger within the Wallabies.

Further afield, legends like All Black Richie McCaw and Springbok Francois Pienaar captured the headlines.

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McReight laughed when told of Jones’s characterisation and thought it could have been the coach playing some mind-games.

“I think he’s pretty good at keeping people level and keeping them grounded but then he knows the right time of when to pump people’s tyres up really well and that’s the experience he has, being around for so long,” said McReight, who has played 14 Tests since making his debut in 2020.

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“I’m probably not the only person getting it; everyone in the group is getting it at different times.

“I definitely wouldn’t say I’m a rock star – I’m far from it – I’ll stay away from that!”

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McReight represents the changing of the guard under Jones, taking over from Hooper, who played 125 Tests and led the team for the best part of the last decade.

In Australia’s opening pool game win over Georgia in Paris, the Queenslander did his best to emulate Hooper’s indefatigable approach.

He topped the tackle count, making 11 from his 80 minutes at Stade de France, which was three more than the next best Wallaby, Tom Hooper.

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With an average age of 23, McReight said six backrowers in the squad had formed a tight bond off the field.

“There’s times where we meet as a group and have a coffee and chat about the game and how we’re feeling and how we can add to the group and I think that’s really important,” he said.

“We’re all very young and have played a lot of footy together so we get along really well.

“It’s about coming together really well and connecting because there’s going to be players who aren’t picked.

“The calibre of our backrow group is quite high so it’s about training really hard together and pushing each other to get better and then once we step off the field we’re mates again.”

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William 4 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Correct analysis of Perofeta’s bungling of the try opportunity Ben. Never ‘fixed’ Steward as he came across in defence and passed too early. Steward didn’t have to break his stride and simply moved on to pressure Telea. Never scanned the easier option of passing to the two supporting players on the inside. Beauden Barrett showed how it is done when he put Telea in for his try. Another point from the game is that the rush defence is hard to maintain as the number of phases increases. From scrums the defensive line only contains backs who all have roughly the same pace. Once forwards are involved, the defence has players with variable speeds often leading to a jagged line. It also tends to lose pace overall giving the attack more time and space. Beauden Barrett’s break to set up Telea’s try came because Baxter went in to tackle McKenzie and Steward went out to cover Telea. Barrett has a massive hole to run through, then commits Steward by passing as late as possible and Telea scores untouched. Another comment I would make is that Ben Earl is a good player and generally an excellent defender but he made three significant misses in the series, two of which led to All Black tries. Got stepped by Perofeta in Dunedin for Savea’s try, missed McKenzie in Auckland leading to what should have been a certain try being set up by Perofeta and was one of the tacklers who couldn’t stop Savea in the leadup to Telea’s first try. Perhaps he should contact Owen Farrell to pick up a few tips from ‘tackle school’.

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