Home / Sports / Wallaby teammates David Pocock and Sean McMahon to go head-to-head in Japan rugby final

Wallaby teammates David Pocock and Sean McMahon to go head-to-head in Japan rugby final

David Pocock’s Panasonic will take on Sean McMahon’s Suntory in Japan.Source: Instagram

A HEAD to head clash between Wallabies No. 8s David Pocock and Sean McMahon is set to feature in the season-ending Japan’s club rugby championship final on Saturday.

Wild Knights skipper Pocock, under ex-Wallabies coach Robbie Deans, will be playing his last match before returning to Australian rugby with the Brumbies following his sabbatical last year.

McMahon, who made a big impression in the Wallabies No. 8 role in Pocock’s absence, is completing a successful first season of a two-year deal with defending champions Sungoliath.

That match up promises to produce a brutal breakdown battle in the final at Tokyo’s Prince Chichibu Stadium on Saturday.

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Good win against Yamaha in the semi final! Looking forward to a big week ahead to prepare for a big top league championship game against #panansonic #onemoretoget #grandfinalweek #suntory #sungoliath #suntorypride

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Sungoliath have lost just one match in two seasons and belted Jubilo 49-7 in their semi-final last weekend while the Wild Knights battled to a 17-11 win over ex-Brumbies coach Jake White’s Verblitz.

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Wallabies great Matt Giteau has steered Sungoliath from five-eighth in his first season since moving from French club Toulon and he featured prominently in their semi-final rout, scoring 17 points from a try and six conversions.

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They also had young Australian centre Campbell Magnay on their bench in that match.

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ALL BLACKS five-eighth Lima Sopoaga has confirmed he is leaving New Zealand to play rugby in the UK at the end of the year.

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Unconfirmed reports on Wednesday suggested that the Highlanders No. 10 would be heading to the Coventry-based Wasps side.

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On Thursday, the 26-year-old announced he would be leaving New Zealand with a “heavy heart” at the end of the 2018 season to take up a contract in Britain. “It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make but is one I’m at peace with,” Sopoaga said on Instagram.

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“I have loved every minute of being a professional footballer here in NZ. I’ve made life long friends and memories that I’ll cherish forever.”

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Sopoaga thanked fans, teammates, coaches, family and friends who stood by him.

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“So here’s to 2018, one last roll of the dice before I head off to experience life on the other side of the world. I’m ready,” he said.

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Sopoaga recently fell to third in the All Blacks’ fly half pecking order, behind Hurricanes No. 10 Beauden Barrett and Chiefs playmaker Damian McKenzie.

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BRAD Thorn welcomed the Reds to their new world by shunting them off to an old school army camp where sleep deprivation and infantry skills tested their mental toughness.

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No one who knows the former All Black and Brisbane Broncos hardman expected a cosy seminar and whiteboards session when the Reds returned to training on Monday.

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He didn’t disappoint. After morning weights, Thorn ushered a squad of 39 onto a bus for 48 full-on hours at the Enoggera Army Barracks under the charge of 8th/9th Battalion.

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Former Reds boss John Connolly was pushing his players through mud holes, log-carrying and spartan army exercises nearly 30 years ago at Canungra Army base on the Gold Coast.

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You can watch video of this on the 7th Brigade-Australian Army Facebook page.

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What Thorn did was nothing new but it was the rookie coach’s chance to observe who persevered, who were the leaders and who floundered under stress.

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Building a stretcher-and-jerry can raft taxed everyone but prop Taniela Tupou was able to paddle his team’s vessel across a swimming pool.

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Senior Reds James Slipper and Scott Higginbotham traded footy shorts, rugby balls and tackle bags for fatigues, stooped runs under barbed wire, ropes and wall climbs.

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Food was rationed so there was no Breakfast Creek Hotel steak at the end of each day.

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“It was an infantry-themed resilience activity to test their physical and mental toughness and take the players out of their comfort zone so they were required to look after each other,” Lieutenant Jarrad Dekuyer said.

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Sacked coach Nick Stiles improved team culture with his pre-season methods last summer and Thorn plans to keep building one of the bedrock elements of all good teams he has played in.

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Karmichael Hunt was nowhere to be seen.

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He has been stood down from all team activities before his January 29 court date after being charged with two counts of alleged drug possession late last month.

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The first inkling of the team’s options at fullback will be revealed at the intra-squad trial at Ballymore on Reds’ Fan Day on February 2.

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Hamish Stewart and Lachie Maranta may well see time there while pacy wing rookie Filipo Daugunu is a possible experiment at No.15 because he kicks the ball extremely well.

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The Reds have specialist fullback options in their wider training squad with Jayden Ngamanu and Paddy James while big-kicking Nick Jooste is busting for a chance after his Brumbies contract was not renewed.

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