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Wallaby flyhalves 'personal' rivalry resumes after 2023 spat

By AAP
Carter Gordon of the Melbourne Rebels and Noah Lolesio of the Brumbies. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images and Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Noah Lolesio will be out to make a statement when he locks horns with Wallabies five-eighth rival Carter Gordon in Friday night’s Super Rugby Pacific clash.

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Lolesio’s ACT Brumbies are heading down to take on Gordon’s Melbourne Rebels, and both their coaches admit the feud will be fuelling the young talents during the AAMI Park contest.

It’s the first time the pair have faced off since the Brumbies’ starlet mouthed “Carter Gordon?” upon scoring a try against the Rebels, just days after he was snubbed from a national team squad for the Melbourne player.

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Melbourne coach Kevin Foote said the matter had become “personal” between the two playmakers, and Brumbies boss Stephen Larkham tipped Lolesio to thrive with the added fire.

“We don’t focus on one particular individual, and as a No.10 it’s very difficult sometimes to come up against your position on the field,” Larkham said.

“It’s very rare they come up against one another one-on-one, but there will be a challenge for both players in the way that they control their teams.

“I’m sure Noah is looking forward to that challenge.”

Earlier in the week, Foote said the prospect of making an early statement for new Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt would be high on the agenda for both players.

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“It is personal, I think it is personal, that’s the truth of it,” he said.

“There’s a new Wallabies coach on top of that, so they’ll be playing for positions.

“There’s the British and Irish Lions coming. There’s Wales Tests come July.

“It’s personal for us.”

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While Gordon went to last year’s World Cup and struggled in the poor Wallabies side, Lolesio spent his off-season playing with French club Toulon on a short-term contract.

Larkham said the 23-year-old, 17-cap Wallaby had come back as a more confident five-eighth.

“Going over there and trying to find a connection with a new team has given him some skills to bring back and connect with our players over here,” he said.

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“What he’s bringing to training is hopefully what he brings in the game, which is really good communication and intensity.”

The Brumbies have named star back-rower Rob Valetini to start despite no pre-season minutes, with Rhys van Nek starting at prop as Allan Alaalatoa recovers from his achilles rupture.

Gun Melbourne front-rower Taniela Tupou has been named to make his club debut off the bench.

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finn 27 minutes ago
Massive red flag raised by weakened Champions Cup teams – Andy Goode

I wonder if the problem of some teams not taking it that seriously would be helped by making performance in the champions cup count towards qualification and/or seeding in the following year’s competition. Eg. top four seeds would be winners of the URC, premiership, and top 14, plus best performing team in the previous year’s CC who have not otherwise qualified. Doing that the seedings for this years comp. would have been: Tier one: Saracens - Munster - Toulouse - la Rochelle Tier two: Sale - Stormers - Racing 92 - Leinster Tier three: Leicester - Connacht - Bordeaux - Exeter Tier four: Northampton - Ulster - Lyon - Sharks Tier five: Harlequins - Glasgow - Stade Francais - Edinburgh Tier six: Bath - Bulls - Toulon - Ospreys The competition would probably work better with fewer teams, so I’d probably favour only the first 4 tiers being invited, and then going straight to a quarter final without a round of 16. On the one hand this would possibly incentivise teams to take the champions cup seriously, and on the other it would mean that the latter stages would be more likely to involve teams that have demonstrated a willingness to take the competition seriously. The main differences between my proposed system and the actual draw is that mine would give la Rochelle a fairly easy ride to the quarters, and would either exclude the Bulls entirely or would give then an insurmountably difficult draw. As it happened Exeter got quite an easy pool draw but that was a bit of a fluke. My system would reward Exeter for being one of the teams that demonstrably devote a lot of attention to the CC by guaranteeing them a good draw.

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