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Luke Jacobson finally has opportunity to captain Waikato side bolstered by Anton Lienert-Brown and Damian McKenzie

By Online Editors
Luke Jacobson. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Running out in a Mitre 10 Cup for Waikato while wearing the captain’s armband has been a long time coming for Luke Jacobson.

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The 23-year-old loose forward was named season captain of the 2018 squad but injury kept the All Black from taking park. Last year, having returned early from the World Cup in Japan due to concussion, Jacobson also sat out the majority of the provincial competition.

On Saturday in what should be an entertaining encounter with Wellington, Jacobson will captain Waikato while wearing the number 8 jersey. He’ll be joined by his older brother Mitch and experienced stalwart Adam Thomson.

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Up front, Ollie Norris, Samisoni Takei’aho and Sefo Kautai make up a powerful front row. Hamilton Burr and Samipeni Finau, who are equally as comfortable in the loose forwards, will provide plenty of mobility in the locks.

In the backs, former Taranaki representative Xavier Roe will make his Mooloo’s debut, combining with Fletcher Smith in the halves. The exciting Super Rugby midfield combination of Anton Lienert-Brown and Quinn Tupaea will continue to excel at a provincial level.

Patrick Osborne has been named on the left wing and will make his Waikato debut joining Bailyn Sullivan and Damian McKenzie to make up an electrifying outside back trio.

All Blacks Lienert-Brown and McKenzie last featured for Waikato in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

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In the reserves, Steven Misa, returns to Waikato for the first time since 2016 and has a chance to add to his eleven Waikato caps.

Rob Cobb, who earned minutes with the Chiefs late in the Super Rugby Aotearoa season, will wear the number 17 jersey and Highlander Josh Iosefa-Scott will also provide prop cover. The Hautapu duo of James Thompson and Simon Parker will cover the locks and loose forwards respectively and Rivez Reihana will likely slot in at first five or fullback late in the piece.

Finally, Otorohanga halfback, Cortez Ratima, and Fraser Tech utility back, Liam Coombes-Fabling will both have a chance to debut for the province via the bench.

Waikato: Damian McKenzie, Bailyn Sullivan, Quinn Tupaea, Anton Lienert-Brown, Patrick Osborne, Fletcher Smith, Xavier Roe, Luke Jacobson (c), Mitch Jacobson, Adam Thomson, Samipeni Finau, Hamilton Burr, Sefo Kautai, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Ollie Norris. Reserves: Steven Misa, Robb Cobb, Josh Iosefa-Scott, James Thompson, Simon Parker, Cortez Ratima, Rivez Reihana, Liam Coombes-Fabling.

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Flankly 2 hours ago
The AI advantage: How the next two Rugby World Cups will be won

If rugby wants to remain interesting in the AI era then it will need to work on changing the rules. AI will reduce the tactical advantage of smart game plans, will neutralize primary attacking weapons, and will move rugby from a being a game of inches to a game of millimetres. It will be about sheer athleticism and technique,about avoiding mistakes, and about referees. Many fans will find that boring. The answer is to add creative degrees of freedom to the game. The 50-22 is an example. But we can have fun inventing others, like the right to add more players for X minutes per game, or the equivalent of the 2-point conversion in American football, the ability to call a 12-player scrum, etc. Not saying these are great ideas, but making the point that the more of these alternatives you allow, the less AI will be able to lock down high-probability strategies. This is not because AI does not have the compute power, but because it has more choices and has less data, or less-specific data. That will take time and debate, but big, positive and immediate impact could be in the area of ref/TMO assistance. The technology is easily good enough today to detect forward passes, not-straight lineouts, offside at breakdown/scrum/lineout, obstruction, early/late tackles, and a lot of other things. WR should be ultra aggressive in doing this, as it will really help in an area in which the game is really struggling. In the long run there needs to be substantial creativity applied to the rules. Without that AI (along with all of the pro innovations) will turn rugby into a bash fest.

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