Who’s hot and who’s not: Jordie Barrett, All Blacks and John Cooney shine while it’s tough times for Worcester Warriors and Wasps

Colin Newboult
Who's hot and who's not image 26 September 2022.jpg

It’s time for our Monday wrap of who has their name in lights and who is making the headlines for all the wrong reasons after the weekend.


Jordie Barrett and New Zealand: It was an excellent weekend for the utility back and the All Blacks as they celebrated another successful Rugby Championship campaign with a 40-14 win over the Wallabies at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday. Barrett, who is New Zealand’s first-choice full-back, was shifted to inside centre – after injuries to David Havili and Quinn Tupaea – and slotted in seamlessly in his new position. The 25-year-old wears the number 12 jersey regularly for his club, the Hurricanes, and it showed as he delivered a superb attacking performance. Meanwhile, despite a wobbly start, the All Blacks also deserve praise as they finished the tournament in style with three successive victories and they outplayed Australia in most departments at the weekend en route to their one-sided victory.

Incredible resilience from Worcester’s players: The past few weeks have been a difficult time for the Warriors players as there is still plenty of uncertainty over the club’s future due to its ongoing financial troubles. But despite facing the threat of being put under administration, Worcester‘s players dug deep and delivered an outstanding all-round performance in a deserved 39-5 win over Newcastle Falcons in their Premiership clash at Sixways on Saturday. Afterwards, Worcester’s director of rugby, Steve Diamond, revealed that his players held a vote to decide whether to play against Newcastle or not and it was “virtually unanimous” to go ahead with the game. That proved to be the right decision and the Warriors players can be proud of their efforts.

John Cooney: The veteran scrum-half gave Ireland head coach Andy Farrell a timely reminder of his ability as he put in a man of the match performance for Ulster in their 55-39 triumph over the Scarlets in Saturday’s United Rugby Championship clash at Parc y Scarlets. Cooney was outstanding as he finished with a 30-point contribution, after crossing for a brace of tries, seven conversions, two penalties and three try assists! The 32-year-old hasn’t played for his country since February 2020 with Jamison Gibson-Park, Conor Murray and Craig Casey all picked ahead of him but if he continues with his current form, it will only be a matter of time before he adds to his tally of 11 international appearances.

Tom Banks makes his return: Wallabies fans will be delighted by the news of the full-back’s return to action after he was named in the Australia ‘A’ squad for their tour to Japan in October. When on song, the 28-year-old is a brilliant attacker but he has spent the last three months on the sidelines after he broke his arm while on duty for the Wallabies during their first Test against England in Perth in July. Banks is part of a core group of experienced players in Australia ‘A’ squad coached by Jason Gilmore with Nick Frost, Cadeyrn Neville, Suliasi Vunivalu, Lachlan Lonergan, Darcy Swain and Filipo Daugunu all included in the 34-man group.


Desperate situation for Worcester: As the Warriors’ director of rugby Steve Diamond stated, they could have already played their last ever match. The RFU and PRL have set Worcester owners Jason Whittingham and Colin Goldring a deadline for later on Monday to adhere to a series of conditions or else they will be suspended from competition. They quite frankly need to get rid of the people currently in charge but those two, for whatever reason, appear to be desperately holding on. Whittingham and Goldring have said that there is a prospective buyer but it is concerning that the governing bodies don’t even know who it is. And according to reports, the deal has hit a snag due to the co-owners wanting to allegedly remain involved in the club. Well, I think we speak for everyone in the sport that Whittingham and Goldring should depart and be nowhere near professional sport ever again.

Wasps set for administration: Worcester aren’t the only Premiership club in a dire situation with their fellow Midlands club signalling their intention to enter administration. At least the actions of the Wasps owners appear more honest than their Worcester counterparts and that they are actually taking steps to save the club. They, like the Warriors, have been badly run with the people at the top having made some very bad decisions, which has led to this point, but there is at least more hope for their supporters. There is a prospective buyer who is based overseas and, according to the Coventry Telegraph, ‘seems credible’, but Wasps need to find £2m over the next couple of weeks or they will go into administration. That could, ultimately, lead to relegation.

Darcy Swain very lucky as Australia play the system: We were very surprised to see the second-row only receive a six-week ban for his shocking clearout on Quinn Tupaea – an indiscretion which has left the All Blacks centre with a ruptured medial cruciate ligament. While handing down suspensions in line with the length of time the victim is spent on the sidelines would open a can of worms, six weeks is nothing for what Swain did. According to the panel, it was ‘mid-range’, which we would very much dispute, and ‘reckless’ rather than ‘international’, which is another ‘interesting’ interpretation of the incident. Added to that is Australia’s decision to call-up Swain for the ‘A’ squad that will tour Japan in October, knowing full well the lock was set to be banned. It means he will be available for the latter stages of the Wallabies’ end-of-year series. In some ways, it is quite smart from the selectors but they effectively played the system and it looks very unedifying, especially when you consider the damage Swain caused to his opponent.

Key players ruled out of end-of-year series: After Tupaea was sidelined for the rest of the year, Australia’s Rob Leota and Wales’ Liam Williams joined him. Leota went off in the Wallabies’ defeat to the All Blacks with a ruptured Achilles while Williams has suffered a broken collarbone and both will be out of the upcoming internationals in the northern hemisphere. It is cruel for all three players and we wish them well in their recoveries.

READ MORE: Sunday Social: All Blacks crowned champions, some joy for Worcester and Owen Farrell shows his class