Old Collegians Rugby Union Club
NPC Division One round-up
WAIKATO 26, TARANAKI 20
Queensland Reds-bound Brock James was as gutted as everyone else in the Taranaki rugby camp that his kicking let him down in the game for a semifinal spot.
James, who has shattered several points-scoring records for Taranaki this year, managed only two from five.
"It wasn't a good day for my kicking to go missing," the 22-year-old first-five-eighth said. "The guys put so much into the game. My focus has been NPC and it's absolutely gutting to come up empty."
James has signed a two-year deal with the Reds after an outstanding season with Taranaki in the NPC.
Although he wants to return to Taranaki next season, his NPC future is unclear.
"I'm not sure about coming back next year, but I've asked the Reds if I can," James said. "I've loved it here, it's been awesome.
The New Zealand Rugby Union ruled that the Hurricanes could not have James because he did not qualify to play for New Zealand, having represented Australia in sevens.
From The New Zealand Herald, Saturday October 16 2004
James predicts S12 success
Story by: QRU
New Bank of Queensland Reds signing Brock James is predicting success for his new team in 2005.
James has just finished a season at flyhalf for Taranaki in the New Zealand National Provincial Championship, and believes the rookie Reds are good enough to challenge for honours in the new year.
"The fact that the average age of the squad is under-23 makes things very exciting," he said. "Everyone knows that the Reds have some very good young players coming through and if we can stay injury free then I think we will surprise a few teams.
"The talent is certainly there andthey are obviously a good bunch of guys. I know Drew Mitchell, Anthony Mathison and Peter Hynes from representative teams in the past and I am looking forward to learning as much as I can from the likes of Elton Flatley, Chris Latham and the coaching staff," said James.
The 22-year-old will join his new team-mates at an informal get-together at Ballymore on Sunday but will not be reporting for pre-season the following day.
"I have been given two weeks off to recharge the batteries after the NPC and will be back into it on November 1," he said.
"It has all happened very quickly for me but I am thrilled. Playing Super 12 has always been my goal and it was on my mind a lot when I was playing in New Zealand. I'm just glad that Jeff Miller saw enough to convince him I was good enough.
"The fllyhalf jersey is obviously Julian Huxley's spot and deservedly so as he is a very good player. He didn't have much chance playing for a team like Northland in the NPC and I'm just glad it wasn't me. Having said that, I'm keen to take whatever opportunity comes my way at the Reds and my goal has to be making the starting team.
"Playing in New Zealand has been really beneficial and I am looking forward to returning with the Reds. Taranaki managed to knock off Canterbury and Otago who make up the bulk of the Crusaders and Highlanders in Super 12, so I know what it's like to win over there against the big teams.
"There have been plenty of words at Taranaki this week as well because they have a few Hurricanes players and they've been telling me what they plan to do to the Reds in round one of Super 12 at Ballymore," he joked.
Reds snap up James
11th October 2004
Queensland Reds have secured the signing of Brock James for next season's Super 12.
The fly half - who has been outstanding for Taranaki in this season's NPC and had raised the interests of New Zealand Super 12 franchises before the NZRFU ruled him ineligible - has signed a two year deal with the Reds.
The Waratahs had been tipped to sign the 22 year old after missing out on both Andrew Johns and Julian Huxley in recent weeks.
However the Reds - who were unsuccessful in bringing Gramme Bond back from Sale - were quick to snap up James, with coach Jeff Miller hoping that he can provide cover for what has proved a troublesome position.
Last season the Reds lost first Elton Flately and then Julian Huxley in quick succession, with their injuries stopping the Reds from making any significant progress.
Miller rates James similar in style to Huxley and expects him to challenge him for the No.10 jersey, while Wallabies No.12 Flatley stays at inside centre. "He gives us the depth which is so important," Miller said. "We're still scarred from what happened this year."
The Reds expect to officially finalise their 30-man 2005 squad this week by offering deals to former Wallabies winger Ben Tune and young halfback Nic Berry. Tune is returning from a long injury lay-off after knee surgery and is aiming to forge a place in the Queensland backline at outside centre.
"The Reds are clearly a team going places and I am excited about people part of such a young and talented squad," said James. "I was very impressed by Jeff Miller's vision for the Reds and I didn't need much persuading to become part of it."
Tahs shock as James sees Red
By Tom Findlay Monday, October 11, 2004
The Waratahs have missed out on another promising five-eighth, with news at the weekend that Brock James has signed with the Queensland Reds. Over the past two months, the 22-year-old pivot has put in stand-out performances to lead New Zealand provincial side Taranaki to fifth in the National Provincial Championship and was touted as a possible solution to the Waratahs' troublesome No.10 spot. But on Saturday it was announced that the former Sydney University five-eighth has agreed to a two-year deal with the Reds. "We had been talking to him, but we are also talking to a lot of other people and his signing with the Reds is just one of the realities of the process," Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie said. "I knew other Super 12 teams were interested in him, but I must admit I was surprised that Queensland decided to go for him, considering some of the other players they have been chasing."
McKenzie said the loss of James wasn't a great setback. "We are always looking to improve our squad in a number of key positions, but we hadn't made him an offer or anything," he said. "He was just someone we were talking to." Former All Blacks great Grant Fox has thrown his support behind James. "My gut feeling is that he has what it takes to step up to the next level [Super 12]," Fox said. "There are still some aspects of his game that need improvement, like his defence, but he is an outstanding kicker he's kicked some bloody good goals and he has played a significant role in Taranaki's success this season. "He could do with a bit more size on him and I think he needs to do some more work in the gym, but he has gone really well here so far." James says he has lifted his game considerably since joining Taranaki. "When I came over here it was to improve my game overall," he said. "The level is a bit tougher than what I was playing in Sydney club rugby, and we are playing against teams similar in ability to Super 12 teams, so it's been a good learning curve."
Brock James is a skilful and elusive young fly-half ready to make his mark on Australian Rugby
James first came to prominence with selection in the Australian U16s while at school in the traditional AFL breeding grounds of Adelaide.
With his obvious Rugby potential clear for all to see, he was offered a sports scholarship with Sydney GPS Rugby powerhouse Scots College. The move to NSW resulted in him being selected to represent NSW Schoolboys and the opportunity to further his Rugby and academic career through a sports scholarship with Sydney University.
In 2000 James was invited to the World Cup in Paris as a representative of Australia at U19 level. The following year, he was again selected to represent Australia as part of the U21 squad.
In 2003, James has been working hard on his already crushing defensive skills with the aiming of forcing his way into the Super 12 competition.
His integral role with Sydney University First Grade in their march towards third place in the Sydney Rugby Shute Shield competition has seen him rewarded with inclusion in the Australian Seven's side that competes in the IRB World Tour.
With the results he has achieved this year, James is enjoying his rugby and desperately looking for opportunities to help achieve his goal of being part of the 2004 Super 12 competition.
Taranaki get win but no bonusOct 1, 2004
By Dale Budge
Taranaki stayed on track for a semi-final berth after disposing of the hapless Otago side 31-14 in New Plymouth on Friday night
Otago seemed as if they weren't interested in playing rugby at Yarrows Stadium as the home side outscored them three tries to two.
Despite the win, Taranaki will still need to wait on the remaining fixtures this weekend to see what they have to do to make the semifinals.
Australian import Brock James, fresh from being denied a place with the Hurricanes after an NZRU ruling, got the scoring underway with a penalty in the ninth minute.
It was penalties in the opening stanza that cost the visitors dearly, giving up far too many despite being dominant at scrum time.
Taranaki went close to scoring when they broke straight through the Otago backline defence, only to be held up over the line.
They had a number of phases attacking the line before Otago produced a turnover through former All Black halfback Danny Lee and the immediate danger was gone.
On two occasions Otago first-five Shaun Webb missed penalties that could have got the visitors on the board but his attempts sailed wide.
Taranaki made their way into Otago territory on a few occasions but, due to some sound defence and the odd infringement, the southerners were able to hold on.
James added a second penalty in the 32nd minute.
The Amber and Blacks failed to show any cohesion at lineouts, throwing long, throwing short and, on occasions, throwing straight to the opposition. But when they finally hit a jumper, the backs swept onto attack and fullback Scott Ireland slipped through a gap to score out wide.
James converted for a handy 13-0 lead with less than five minutes remaining in the half.
Needing two tries to get back on even footing, it was always going to be a test for Otago and they started the second half in the worst fashion when Webb fired a badly-timed pass that was picked off by James Hilgendorf, who raced downfield. he was pulled down short of the line but the home side grabbed another three points after an offside penalty was awarded to them by referee Paul Honiss.
James had little trouble in extending the lead to 16-0 and they went over the line through winger Sailosi Tagicakibau moments later, only to be pulled back for a forward pass.
That spurred the visitors on and finally they found their way across the line through captain Anton Oliver.
The former All Black skipper collected his team-leading fifth try of the season on the back of a rolling maul, where he broke free and bounced his way over the line.
Webb converted to bring the gap back to nine points.
Another penalty by James pushed the gap back to double digits but the Otago body language suggested they were more interested in Saturday morning's flight home than trying to get into the game.
Former coach Laurie Mains made comments over the last week or so that there was still some serious off-field issues affecting the team's performance and it was proving to be right.
When Hilgendorf bagged the second try of the night, the home side seemed set to collect a bonus point and go along way to sealing a semifinal spot.
An attacking scrum move from Otago saw a flick pass inside to Warren Smith an the replacement forward slid over to score their second try of the evening.
Taranaki scored right on the stroke of fulltime through second-five Mark Stewart but it wasn't enough to gain a bonus point, meaning they will need at least a point in their clash with Waikato next Sunday to make the semifinals.
Taranaki 31: Tries: Scott Ireland, James Hilgendorf, Mark Stewart. Cons: Brock James (2). Pens: James (4).
Otago 14: Tries: Anton Oliver, Warren Smith. Cons: Shaun Webb (2).
MVP Points: 3. Brock James (TAR), 2. James Hilgendorf (TAR), 1. Sailosi Tagicakibau (TAR).Source: ONE Sport
Hurricanes Keen on Aussie Star
9 September 2004
The Hurricanes are making moves to get Taranaki's Australian import Brock James into their Super 12 rugby squad. Hurricanes coach Colin Cooper has sought a ruling from the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) on whether he can select the sydneysider, whose status as an Australian sevens player could prove to be a major hurdle.
Dispensations for overseas players have been mainly confined to Pacific Island Wingers and a couple of European props in the past, so first five-eighth James might break new ground.
James has been overlooked for the Waratahs so far, even though first five-eighth is a problem area for the Super 12 side.
James, a former Australian Colt, was in fine form for unbeaten Taranaki against North Harbour, Southland, Bay of Plenty and Northland.
Cooper said Taranaki's Sunday match against an All-Blacks-laden Canterbury in New Plymouth would give them a better indication of James' ability.
But the Hurricanes have already put the wheels in motion, approaching the NZRU last week.
James is rated as a local in the NPC because he has played thoughout the Taranaki Club season.
He has sparked a new-look Taranaki backline and landed plenty of goals at an 80% success rate.
The Hurricanes' bid for the 22-year-old is another indication of how the departure of players overseas is affecting the game in New Zealand.
Longtime Wellington and Hurricanes No 1 David Howell (29) will leave for Europe before the end of the NPC to play for Leinster.
That leaves the erratic Riki Flutey as the only New Zealand first five-eighth of note in the Hurricanes' region, and Cooper doesn't believe he will get access to any top quality pivots in the Super 12 draft.
Cooper understands the Hurricanes' application is not being looked at favourably because James is a recent Australia Sevens player, which means under International Rugby Board regulations he is not eligible for the All Blacks.
"He's certainly turning heads. We've got to see if he is available - there's a process to go through," Cooper said.
"I'm very committed to protecting the All Black position." Then again, there's a lack of first five-eighths in the region. The draft is a unknown situation."
Another Australian inside back , Auckland's Steve Devine, became a Blues player and then an All Black.
From the Tregenza Times, September 2004
Brock's fortunes have been much debated in the NZ and Sydney press over the last week. For those of you who don't know him, Brock is Jesse James' eldest son, a former Australian Sevens and Colts representative, and has been keen to play Super 12s. After failing to get a contract in Australia in the last couple of years, Brock moved to NZ in 2004 and has been playing for Taranaki. However, he needs dispensation from the NZRU to play for any New Zealand franchise.
Brock has recently run off with a series of Taranaki records - most points in a match (27, overtaking coach Kieran Crowley's previous 26 in one game), most conversions in a game (8) and most conversions in a season (21 - from only four games). "Every week he's turning heads." said the Hurricanes coach recently, when admitting that the Hurricanes had applied to NZRU for permission to contract Brock for Super 12's in 2005. However, dispensation was refused by NZRU on the basis that Brock's experience in the Australian Sevens would prevent him from ever playing for the All Blacks. Rumours abound that Brock may get an offer from the Waratahs instead ...