Sport Rebels open to hubs for trans-Tasman rugby
The Wrap: Wallabies squad unveiling a step forward and a step backward
Dave Rennie was at pains yesterday to point out that his new 40-man Wallabies squad was both a reflection of current Super Rugby form and a look towards the future. Australian rugby is moving forwards, and new selections like Feleti Kaitu’u, Angus Bell, Lachlan Lonergan, Darcy Swain, Tim Anstee, Josh Kemeny and Seru Uru are part of that future.
Wallabies and Melbourne veteran Matt Toomua says an additional round of Super Rugby AU should be a last resort, with players willing to do whatever it takes to make a trans-Tasman competition happen.
New Zealand Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern is expected to announce on Tuesday a potential date for the opening of a travel bubble with Australia.
Currently there is only quarantine-free travel from New Zealand to Australia and not the other way round.
The five-week Super Rugby trans-Tasman competition is scheduled to kick off on May 14 in Dunedin when the Highlanders host Queensland, with the five teams from each country squaring off each week.
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Round three is set to feature a Super Round with all matches being played at one venue, while the final between the two top-placed teams on the combined competition table is planned for Saturday, June 19.
Toomua, who is the players' union president and Rebels stand-in skipper, wants the competition to go ahead for the good of rugby.
Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has also made it clear he is keen to see how the improved Australian sides measure up against the best from Super Rugby Aotearoa.
Despite spending three months on the road last year to get Super Rugby AU up and running, Toomua felt Melbourne players would be open to more time away if organisers decided to split the competition into hubs.
"We need that competition to go ahead," Toomua told AAP on Monday.
Highly anticipated trans-Tasman bubble to potentially reopen by Friday
Thousands of separated families either side of the Tasman Sea await New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's bubble announcement that could open as early as Friday.New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is scheduled to announce the start date of the bubble tomorrow that will allow Australians and New Zealanders to travel without having to undergo hotel quarantine at either end.
"This year it's a different proposition. Last year it was more the unknown such as how long it was going to be (away from home), but this year we will know an end point.
"I don't think it's quite the commitment that last year was, so I can't see there being too many issues.
"It's my personal view we should be doing everything we can to make that go ahead and if that includes us being on the road for a little while than that's something we will do."
Toomua said there was an appetite amongst fans for the trans-Tasman games, while it was important for the development of players in Australia to match themselves against the Kiwis.
"I think fans will be keen to see us line up against some different people and test ourselves against traditionally the best country in the world," he said.
If the countries can't come to an agreement Super Rugby AU is set to be extended into a third round before finals to meet broadcaster commitments.
"That's very much option B I think," the Test playmaker said.
"They're very much looking for ways to get this trans-Tasman up and away whether it be hubs or whatever.
"I think that third round of Super Rugby AU is very much the last option from what I'm hearing."
Battle for Yemen's Marib heats up, 53 dead in 24 hours: loyalists .
Fighting for the key Yemeni region of Marib has intensified, with 53 pro-government and Huthi rebel fighters killed in the past 24 hours, loyalist military officials said Saturday. Loyalist military officials said Saturday that coalition aircraft had carried out strikes against the rebels, but the Huthis had pushed on with their offensive. - Fears of humanitarian disaster -The loss of Marib would be a heavy blow for the Yemeni government, currently based in the southern city of Aden, and for its Saudi backers.It could also lead to humanitarian disaster, as huge numbers of civilians displaced from fighting elsewhere have sought refuge in Marib camps.