Bell re-signs, but upheaval elsewhere in Aussie rugby


The Waratahs and Wallabies have received a huge vote of confidence after Angus Bell re-signed with Australian rugby through 2027, but there is upheaval elsewhere with Taniela Tupou and coach Dan McKellar both reported to be on the move.

Bell, 22, has put pen to paper on a new four-year deal that will make him a cornerstone of the both the Waratahs and Wallabies, particularly by the time the 2027 Rugby World Cup, which will be played in Australia, rolls around.

The loosehead prop debuted for both NSW and Australia in 2020 and has since gone on to play 20 Tests, all of them under former Wallabies coach Dave Rennie.

While injury denied him further appearances in 2022, Bell has emerged as the heir apparent to James Slipper in the No. 1 jersey and the New South Welshman’s contract extension will be warmly received by all stakeholders within Australian rugby.

“I’m really excited and grateful to continue my journey here in Australia and at the Waratahs, over the next four years,” Bell said via a Rugby Australia statement.

“The Waratahs is like a second home to me and where I started my professional career. I’ve got long family ties here, with my dad also playing for the Waratahs, so it’s pretty special for myself and my family that I’ll continue to wear sky blue.

“It’s an exciting time for the Waratahs and Rugby in Australia and I’m looking forward to continuing to do my best for both the Waratahs and the Wallabies.”

While he was recently critical of the pathways in Australian rugby, new Wallabies coach Eddie Jones said Bell was an example of how they could work effectively.

“Angus is a promising young player and his long-term commitment to Australian rugby is a real positive for the game and its supporters.”

“He has the potential to be an important part of this year’s World Cup campaign and we’re looking forward to him working hard at Super Rugby level.

“He’s born-and-bred Sydney and a real example of the pathway systems working in Australia.”

Meanwhile, Bell’s Wallabies front-row colleague Taniela Tupou appears headed for the exit door at Ballymore, but in a positive for Jones and Australia the tighthead prop is reportedly only heading south to Melbourne.

Multiple media reports suggest Tupou has agreed to join the Rebels on a two-year deal from 2024, after talks to remain at the Reds broke down in their final hours.

Tupou had been linked with a move overseas, expressing his desire to one day play in Japan, but it has been known for some time that his relationship with Queensland Rugby officials was fractured.

The Wallabies prop struggled with a calf injury for much of 2022, before he then tore his Achilles tendon against Ireland, which has ruled him out for likely the entirety of this year’s Super Rugby Pacific campaign.

Tupou’s retention for the 2025 British & Irish Lions tour will however be viewed as a major success, with Rugby Australia understood to be revising its Overseas Player Selection Policy — dubbed the Giteau Law — with an eye on repatriating as many Australian players as possible in the run to the 2027 World Cup.

While Tupou’s two-year deal is not yet official, his retention on top of Bell and Allan Alaalatoa’s extension is good news for Jones as he seeks to lock away his front-row stocks for the Lions’ visit in two years’ time.

But it now seems as though McKellar’s time as a Wallabies assistant coach is fast running out with the former Brumbies boss set to take up the vacant job at Leicester.

McKellar had been shortlisted for the English Premiership role, with The Telegraph reporting a deal had been struck to bring the Queenslander to the Tigers once his commitments with the Wallabies had been finalised.

Jones is hoping McKellar will stay on for the run to this year’s World Cup in France, particularly given he last week informed Laurie Fisher he would not be continuing the role he had filled under Dave Rennie.

McKellar had been touted as Rennie’s successor as the Wallabies head coach before Jones suddenly became available following his sacking by the Rugby Football Union in December.

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