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World Cup dreams prompt Gill's 'non merci' to French clubs

Liam Gill turned back advanced from France to give himself a shot for selection at next year's World Cup.

Liam Gill turned back advanced from France to give himself a shot for selection at next year's World Cup. Photo: Franck Fife

Reds flanker Liam Gill spurned the advances of French rugby clubs to chase his dream of being Australia's first-choice openside in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

The intriguing tussle for the Wallaby number seven jumper continues this weekend when Gill goes head-to-head with the man who has usurped him in the national pecking order, Waratah Michael Hooper.

Add the resuming David Pocock back into the equation and three doesn't go into one, ensuring there's a heightened focus each time two of the trio square off in an Australian derby.

Gill, who has 42 caps for the Reds at the age of 21, came to Ballymore as a schoolboy star in 2011 and quickly established himself as an elite competitor on the side of the scrum.

He rocketed into Wallaby calculations but it was Hooper that started in all five Tests on the Spring Tour, with Gill out of Ewen McKenzie's squad altogether for three of the matches.

Gill will remain with the Reds until 2015 but said there was interest from French rugby for his services. Instead, he returned to his native Queensland and has backed his ability to try and win the race to become McKenzie's first-choice ball hound.

"I was in touch with them [French clubs]. But I was more than happy to stay with the Reds and Australian rugby. I just backed myself to give it a shot," Gill said.

"I really do back myself to make it at Australian level and that's where I want to end up. I want to make sure I give myself that chance."

Hooper's running game stands out, as does Pocock's strength over the ball. But Gill is hoping his all-around package can help him rise to the top in what may be the most-competitive spot in the Wallaby starting side.

He concedes he has it all ahead of him, given Hooper's form for both NSW and the Wallabies, and wants to stamp his authority in the Super Rugby rounds. Against the Waratahs, that spotlight intensifies.

"I've still got a lot to prove. They've both been ahead of me in the pecking order and that has been the case. There's a lot that I need to go out and prove. That's what I set out to do. It's Super Rugby where I can show what I can do and influence the game," Gill said.

There's never a media conference where Gill isn't questioned about his battles with Hooper - and now Pocock - but he doesn't view his Wallaby aspirations through the prism of one-on-one conflicts.

If the Reds are winning, he says, the path towards selection suddenly becomes a whole lot smoother.

"If the team wins, it's so much easier. That's where everyone's head is at. They talk about individual battles but if the team gets up, that's enough said," Gill said.

The Waratahs sent up some impressive smoke signals with their romp over the Western Force but Gill said the Reds travel to Sydney full of confidence after knocking over the Brumbies in Canberra.

Winning two games on the road against their biggest Australian rivals would be a massive boost for Queensland before their first home game of the season against the Cheetahs.

"There's a lot of excitement here. Putting together a big win like that first up was really big. We didn't beat them [the Brumbies] last year," Gill said.

"That gives us a lot of confidence. It puts a fair bit of fire in the belly to try and keep that rolling."

3 comments

  • I really like Liam Gill and rate him very highly, but providing Pocock is fit, come world cup anyone would be hard pressed to get picked over him.

    Commenter
    Sammmmm
    Location
    Brisbane
    Date and time
    February 26, 2014, 8:03AM
    • Except Hooper

      Commenter
      Nic
      Location
      Tahland
      Date and time
      February 27, 2014, 8:08AM
  • I too rate Liam Gill and he has been unfortunate not to be given a big enough chance to stake his claim. However, think of it this way: the hype is behind Pocock, who is an exception player: big and strong over the ball, but at this stage he is injury prone and needs to survive this Super Rugby season with strong consistent form while stayijg relatively healthy. The same can be said for Scott Higginbotham, whose overall worth ethic and leadership i also rate highly. If Gill keeps playing well and is fortunate enough to have either of these players fall under an injury cloud then he is a perfect player to sit in the bench/start and become an immediate impact. While Liam Gill may not be the most effective runner his strength is racking up tackles and pilfering the ball against tired oppositions. He is quick and strong.
    His decision to stay in Australia is a smart one. French rugby clubs will be there for the next 100 years so I say great call on staying here and keeping our depth at flanker strong.

    Commenter
    Mattty
    Date and time
    February 27, 2014, 9:51AM
    Comments are now closed

    Super Rugby 2015

    Round 1
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    CRU 10 vs REB 20 Report Stats
    BRU 47 vs RED 3 Stats
    Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
    LIO 8 vs HUR 22 Report Stats
    BLU 18 vs CHF 23 Report Stats
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    SHA 29 vs CHT 35 Report Stats
    BUL 17 vs STO 29 Report Stats
    WAR 13 vs FOR 25 Stats
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    CHF 19 vs BRU 17 Report Stats
    REB 28 vs WAR 38 Report Stats
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    BUL 13 vs HUR 17 Report Stats
    HIG 20 vs CRU 26 Report Stats
    RED 18 vs FOR 6 Report Stats
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    STO 27 vs BLU 16 Report Stats
    SHA 29 vs LIO 12 Report Stats
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    Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
    HIG 20 vs RED 13 Report Stats
    FOR 13 vs HUR 42 Stats
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    CHT 25 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
    CHF 40 vs CRU 16 Stats
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    BUL 43 vs SHA 35 Report Stats
    LIO 19 vs STO 22 Report Stats
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    CHF 17 vs HIG 20 Report Stats
    BRU 27 vs FOR 15 Report Stats
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    BLU 10 vs LIO 13 Report Stats
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    Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
    HUR 30 vs BLU 23 Report Stats
    FOR 17 vs REB 21 Report Stats
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    CRU 34 vs LIO 6 Report Stats
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    HIG 13 vs HUR 20 Report Stats
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    HUR 36 vs REB 12 Report Stats
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    Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
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    Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
    BLU vs BRU 18:35EP
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    CRU vs HIG 18:35AMI
    WAR vs STO 20:40AS
    FOR vs CHT 22:45nib Stadium
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    LIO vs SHA 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
    BUL vs RED 04:10Loftus Versfeld
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    Round 10
    Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
    CRU vs CHF 18:35AMI
    Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
    HUR vs WAR 15:30WS
    HIG vs BLU 18:35FBS
    BRU vs REB 20:40GIO Stadium
    FOR vs STO 22:45nib Stadium
    Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
    SHA vs BUL 02:05Growthpoint Kings Park
    CHT vs RED 04:10FSS
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    Round 11
    Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
    CHF vs FOR 18:35WS
    BRU vs HIG 20:40GIO Stadium
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    CRU vs BLU 18:35AMI
    WAR vs REB 20:40ANZ
    Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
    LIO vs CHT 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
    STO vs BUL 04:10DHL Newlands
    RED vs HUR 17:05SS
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    Round 12
    Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
    HIG vs SHA 18:35FBS
    BRU vs WAR 20:40GIO Stadium
    Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
    BLU vs FOR 16:30EP
    HUR vs CRU 18:35WS
    REB vs CHF 20:40AAMI
    Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
    CHT vs STO 02:05FSS
    BUL vs LIO 04:10Loftus Versfeld
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    Round 13
    Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
    CRU vs RED 18:35AMI
    REB vs BLU 20:40AAMI
    Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
    HUR vs SHA 18:35WS
    FOR vs WAR 20:40nib Stadium
    Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
    LIO vs HIG 00:00Emirates Airlines Park
    STO vs BRU 02:05DHL Newlands
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    Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
    BLU vs BUL 18:35EP
    RED vs REB 20:40SS
    Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
    HUR vs CHF 18:35WS
    WAR vs SHA 20:40AS
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    LIO vs BRU 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
    CHT vs HIG 04:10FSS
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    Round 15
    Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
    CHF vs BUL 18:35Rotorua International Stadium
    RED vs SHA 20:40SS
    Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
    BLU vs HUR 18:35Emirates Airlines Park
    WAR vs CRU 20:40ANZ
    FOR vs HIG 22:45nib Stadium
    Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
    CHT vs LIO 02:05FSS
    STO vs REB 04:10DHL Newlands
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    Round 16
    Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
    CRU vs HUR 18:35Trafalgar Park
    BRU vs BUL 20:40GIO Stadium
    Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
    SHA vs REB 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
    HIG vs CHF 18:35Rugby Park
    FOR vs RED 20:40nib Stadium
    Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
    STO vs CHT 02:05DHL Newlands
    LIO vs WAR 04:10Emirates Airlines Park
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    Round 17
    Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
    HUR vs HIG 18:35McLean Park
    FOR vs BRU 22:00nib Stadium
    Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
    REB vs BUL 16:30AAMI
    BLU vs CRU 18:35EP
    RED vs CHF 20:40SS
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    CHT vs WAR 00:00FSS
    STO vs LIO 02:05DHL Newlands
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    Round 18
    Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
    BLU vs HIG 18:35EP
    REB vs FOR 20:40AAMI
    Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
    BRU vs CRU 16:30GIO Stadium
    CHF vs HUR 18:35Yarrow Stadium
    WAR vs RED 20:40AS
    Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
    BUL vs CHT 02:05Loftus Versfeld
    SHA vs STO 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
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    Round 19
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    7 vs 7 10:00
    Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
    7 vs 7 10:00
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    7 vs 7 10:00
    Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
    7 vs 7 10:00
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    7 vs 7 10:00
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    Super Rugby 2015
    Overall standings
    Team P W L D +/- Pts
    Hurricanes 6 6 0 0 85 27
    Brumbies 6 4 2 0 73 20
    Sharks 7 4 3 0 11 19
    Chiefs 7 5 2 0 46 24
    Bulls 6 4 2 0 24 18
    Waratahs 6 4 2 0 36 18
    Highlanders 6 4 2 0 22 20
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