SECOND NEW ZEALANDER IN RUNNING

New Zealand have already produced one key part of Australia’s current test side and in the form of Quade Cooper.

Now that Cooper has picked up an injury an opportunity has arisen for another New Zealand born player to make an impact on Australian Rugby.

Cooper’s team mate at the Queensland Reds is Mike Harris and he is hoping to thrive in the absence of Cooper from the sides opening games in this year’s Super Rugby tournament. Harris was born in Auckland but like Cooper, Harris has pledged himself to Australia for whom he qualifies to play through his Australian grandmother.

Harris is hoping he can make enough of an impact for the Reds in Cooper’s absence to give himself a chance of a call up to the Wallabies squad in the near future. He was tipped for a call up in the Australian’s short tour of Europe in the Autumn, but was unable to after twice having to go under the knife for “frustrating” operations on his knee.

Cooper will no doubt be a massive miss for the Reds but they are not short of cover in the number 10 department. Harris has been named as one of six potential stand offs for the opening stages of the Super Rugby campaign.

The absence of a name such as Cooper gives the squad players a chance to step up and prove how good they are. Harris himself said “Quade is a big loss to the team but other guys will step up” he describes it as personally “a big opportunity”.

Cooper was subject to a poor reception from New Zealand crowds during the World Cup. They took it as a major insult that a player would choose to play for the Wallabies over the All Blacks, the team of both players birth.

Cooper also turned down the chance to play for England, on his grandmother’s side – the team with best Six Nations betting odds contacted him back in March but were informed that a decision had already been made.

It is likely that any success for Harris is likely to be met by an equally negative response from their neighbours. But Harris will no doubt take the stick if given the chance to represent his adopted homeland.

ENGLAND RING THE CHANGES

The England rugby team faces arch rivals Scotland in the second match of the Six Nations Tournament next month and interim coach Stuart Lancaster has announced a youthful squad that will play for them.

The team, at the moment is going through a phase of transition with players getting used to the new system deployed by the coach and getting to know each other in a new way and this might give the others an opportunity to take the almighty team head on and maybe even go on to beat them.

But the manager is firmly putting his faith on the young players who have done well in the Aviva Premiership for their respective clubs and Lancaster believes that on current form, this was the best possible squad that he could put together.

According to the coach, the England rugby team is as much concerned about the present as it is about securing the future of the team. He further added that he was looking for youth as well as experience in such a way that will bring more balance and flexibility to the side to try out different combinations and styles of play.

The team really struggled to replace the likes of Jonny Wilkinson and Richard Hill, both of whom were the back bone of the Rugby World Cup winning squad back in 2003 and under the previous management, the side failed miserably as evident in the recently concluded Rugby World Cup.

This brought in Stuart Lancaster as interim coach and no sooner had he arrived, than he started to ring in the changes, replace the ageing and underperforming players with youngsters with immense talent and according to the fans and critics, the England rugby team under Lancaster is heading in the right direction but he needs to be able to keep the consistency.

VAUGHAN CONFIDENT ON ENGLAND 2015

Paul Vaughan, organiser of the 2015 Rugby World Cup is confident the tournament will be the best ever and has set the target for all involved to ensure it is.

The planning of the tournament was officially launched at Twickenham this week and the venue, which has been central to recent turmoil at the RFU, which has resulted in a major shake-up in the organisation, is according to Vaughan going to be the hub for the most successful World Cup in the events 28 year history(by 2015).

Vaughan is confident the recent problems within the RFU have been solved and they are capable of overseeing a fantastic spectacle come 2015. He has not only commented on the ability of the England Rugby 2015 (ER2015) group to produce the best tournament to date, but he is also confident the host nation will be able to produce a team capable of competing at the business end of the tournament (not that the Rugby Betting markets back him on this one!)

He wants a successful England team between now and the tournament, he believes the more successful England are, the more tickets will be sold and the higher the excitement levels will be for the tournament.

ER2015 are targeting selling 3 million tickets for the tournament (nearly three times the number sold at last year’s tournament in New Zealand) with some pool match tickets costing less than £10.

A more successful England team, a wide spread of stadia and cheap tickets being available mean that the target of selling 3 million tickets is very much an achievable one. Vaughan believes there are 9 million Rugby fans in the UK and up to 350,000 coming from abroad to watch games.

His target will be to get non Rugby fans interested in the tournament and to make as many tickets as possible available to the widest range of people possible. The Rugby Union betting exchanges believe that England can host a great tournament, and if the plan of producing the best tournament yet pays off, Rugby fans in England are in for a real treat.