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Greg Growden
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After more than 30 years with The Sydney Morning Herald and Fairfax Media in Australia, Greg Growden now writes exclusively online for ESPNscrum. Never afraid to step on toes, you can expect plenty of compelling insight from one of Australia's most renowned rugby writers.
Ruck'n Maul
Waratahs eye Bulls forward to bolster back-row
Greg Growden
August 2, 2013
The Waratahs have not been put off by Sarel Pretorius' lack of success in Sydney © Getty Images
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New South Wales Waratahs are again looking towards South Africa for a marquee player next season. The signing of Sarel Pretorius from the Cheetahs a few years ago wasn't exactly a resounding success, as the scrum-half eventually lost his starting spot, and was even embarrassingly criticised by some members of the Waratahs coaching staff for his passing. But the new coaching regime is now looking at bolstering its stocks up front by luring a Bulls utility forward to bolster their back-row and second-row strengths next season. Let's just say he appeared against the Brumbies in the Super Rugby semi-final at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria. More will be revealed when the Waratahs return from their two-match tour of Argentina.

Israel Folau saga has a way to run yet

There is a good reason for the excruciatingly long waiting game regarding Israel Folau's future in Australian rugby, with certain promises yet to be fulfilled. While it's constantly said that Folau is supposedly committed to the Waratahs, there is some way to go before a big Australian Rugby Union (ARU) announcement is made due to confusion over certain third-party deals. We hear Folau will be heading back to rugby league if some promised third-party deals are not paid by December. We're also told that members of Folau's family are eager for him to return to league; so much so that several NRL clubs, including Sydney Roosters, still hold hope of luring Folau back to his original football code. It is also known that Waratahs coach Michael Cheika advised the ARU that they should have had Folau locked away well before he put on a Wallabies jersey for the first time; instead it has turned into a Days of Our Lives saga.

Greg Growden and Russell Barwick preview the Super Rugby final

Aussie Jake …

 
Who is the high-profile Wallabies player with the new nickname "The Tattooed Wiggle?" Something to do with young love.
 

It's no secret that Jake White was deeply disappointed to miss out on the Wallabies coaching job. And it appears he hasn't given up on the idea of one day coaching Australia. Those close to the Brumbies coach say White is contemplating taking up Australian citizenship, and is prepared to bide his time until an opportunity comes up to return to the Test coaching ranks. Winning a Super Rugby title with the Brumbies at the weekend would certainly help his chances. Then again, White will probably now be more wary of ARU officials who may have led him into believing he was a certainty to assume the Wallabies reins from Robbie Deans. What should not be forgotten regarding White's tenure at the Brumbies is the important role his coaching back-ups, Stephen Larkham and Laurie Fisher, have made in the preparation of the team. There is even one suggestion that White may follow Ewen McKenzie's lead from the Reds - by becoming the Brumbies' director of coaching and having someone like Larkham promoted to the head coaching position.

Guns to the left of them …

The relationship between Australian rugby officials and Fox Sports - the game's local broadcasters - remains a bit shaky. We've heard yet again that Fox Sports executives weren't overwhelmed that the Super Rugby tournament and British & Irish Lions tour matches against the Australian provinces was diluted due to key Australian players being unavailable because of Wallabies training camps. Also there have been complaints made about media access and availability during the Lions tour.

Similarly, three Sydney premiership clubs made it widely known they aren't happy to lose players because of the Waratahs' trip to Argentina. As cranky are the Sydney clubs who can't play their Super Rugby representatives because their interstate provinces stipulate the stars must play in inferior local competitions.

Rumours of the Week

There were some interesting remarks made by a notable Queensland official at a Brisbane club lunch when he was asked recently if a well-known ARU director was contemplating leaving the board. "Isn't that good news,' the official told the crowd. Also some Australian provinces are tired of getting told by ARU heavies to pick up their act. They reply with good reason: "At least we're successful - unlike the Wallabies."

A high-profile former successful Test player is making it known that he is eager to become the chief executive officer and chairman of NSW Rugby. And he has considerable support from above.

Who is the high-profile Wallabies player with the new nickname "The Tattooed Wiggle?" Something to do with young love.

A one-time NSW powerbroker didn't help himself with his behaviour at North Sydney Oval during the Northern Suburbs-Sydney University grade match last Saturday. Not for the first time he was 'tired and emotional', prompting a very dramatic grandstand stumble.

An Australian provincial coach is under threat of being replaced, because he doesn't have the support of numerous key players.


Follow live text commentary of the Super Rugby Final between the Chiefs and the Brumbies on Saturday, August 3, from 7pm (NZT), 5pm (EST), 7am (GMT)

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