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Monday’s Rugby News

Monday’s Rugby News

Monday’s rugby news packs no surprises.  The first round of Super Rugby has been run and won.  The Brumbies are licking their wounds.  The Waratahs are trying to figure out how to fit 137 Wallabies into their backline.  And we round things out with a look at how our NH friends are travelling.


SUPER RUGBY OPENING WEEKEND

Super Rugby is back

Super Rugby is back

If your significant other doesn’t like rugby, I hope you spoiled them on Thursday given Friday saw the start of the latest 5-month long season of SUPER rugby get underway.

Seven matches across five countries reflects the truly international flavour of the competition – although with four of the matches between Australia and New Zealand there’s very much a trans-Tasman feel to it.

To the matches!!

It started off over the ditch with last year’s quarter-final losers, the Chiefs hosting last year’s quarter-final losers, the Highlanders.  It was the Otagoites who got the win 30-27 but not without “controversy”.  Replacement centre Sio Tomkinson lasted all of five minutes before being red-carded.

To the nation’s capital and again the away team got up.  GAGR’s own Canberra-based scribe has penned this review for you all.

Saturday saw two tales of utter heartbreak.  A late missed penalty saw the ‘Canes beat the ‘Tahs and a similar chance gone begging saw the Blues extend their losing streak against NZ teams at the hands of the Crusaders.  Check out our highlights/lowlights package from Brookvale.

In Singapore, the Sunwolves got out to an early, unlikely and short-lived lead before the Sharks got into gear and ran away, 45-10.

The highveld was the scene for the only successful home team this weekend, the Bulls were 40-3 winners over the Stormers.  (Incidentally, last year’s split opening round resulted in only one away team winning).

Chronologically last, but by no means least, the Jaguars hosted the Lions who continued on their 2018 form by winning 25-16.

Sully has kindly pulled together some video highlights in one handy location.

BRUMBIES BATTERED

Headgear does not stop concussion.

Headgear does not stop concussion.

It’s been a less than ideal start to the season for Brumbies.

Yes, the season is only one week old.  Yes, they got beaten by a solitary try by the star-studded Rebels.  Yes, rugby is a contact sport and injuries are inevitable.

But you could forgive the ACT team for staring with disdain at their mounting injury toll.

Henry Speight left the field after 44minutes and concerns are he won’t recover from the hip injury in time to take the field this weekend when they host the Chiefs.

David Pocock copped an early head knock, failed the subsequent head injury assessment and will not take the field this weekend.  With 9-test Wallaby Pete Samu in the squad coach Dan McKellar was impressed with how the loss of the talismanic Pocock was covered, “They were outstanding, Pete is always a threat defensively whether it be on the ground or in a tackle. He had a couple of turnovers and he carried well and showed a really good turn of speed there,” he said.

The player facing the longest hiatus is winger Toni Pulu.  Scans revealed fractures to his cheekbones and around the eye socket but it won’t be until he goes under the knife today that the full extent of his injuries are known.

McKellar described himself as “shattered”, (probably not the word to use) but did sympathise with his new recruit, “(he) just can’t take a trick. We’ll see how he goes, he’s been such a great addition to the club. He’s really popular in the group, has a lot of experience and knowledge,” said the coach, more carefully choosing his words.

At a minimum, Pulu will be facing 6 weeks out.

FOLAU ON THE MOVE

Folau is willing to shift, it the coach asks him.

Folau is willing to shift, it the coach asks him.

If three codes and two states didn’t provide enough moving around Israel Folau has announced he’s comfortable being shifted around again.

To his credit, this move is purely for the benefit of his coach and team.  (the author makes no assertation behind Folau’s reason to shift from NRL to AFL and then rugby, just saying it’s not like he’s getting paid extra to play wing)

Kurtley Beale returns to the fray after his rest and now the Daryl Gibson needs to potentially sort out how to fit in Hunt, Beale and Folau into inside centre and fullback.  One solution is to move Folau onto the wing, allowing Hunt to remain at 12 and for Beale to come in at 15.

For Folau, if it’s what’s the coach wants then he’s up for it, “I have made it clear in the past that fullback is my preferred position but obviously the team comes first,” he said.

“You have strike players like KB and Karmichael, and if the coach decides he wants them both on the paddock at the same time and if that means for myself shifting over to the wing, I would be more than happy to do that”

Hunt’s exodus from the Reds saw an on-field reunion for he and Folau who played rugby league together for Brisbane and Queensland.

The latter expressed his excitement for having his old team mate around his new club, “I have known K for a long time now, obviously going way back playing together at the Broncos and in Origin together,”

“It’s great to have him in the team, the boys are loving him and his contribution so far has been great”

Green and Gold will keep you up to date with team announcements as the come to hand.

 

AROUND THE WORLD

Remember when guys like this played in Australia?

Remember when guys like this played in Australia?

While Six Nations took a weekend off the northern hemisphere’s club rugby competitions continued unabated.

In England, the premiership is just past halfway and two teams are stamping their authority on the competition.

Tied on 52 points, 14 points clear, are Saracens and Exeter.  Saracens pulled alongside the Chiefs after defeating Leicester and Exeter missed their chance to maintain their solo lead atop the table after going down to the (now) 4th placed Gloucester.

A quick look through the roster of all the top teams reveals the number of Aussies involved and one has to wonder what impact the movement of players has on both our playing stocks and the quality of competition afforded to player vying for English test spots?  Further to this, Harlequins (feat. James Horwill) sit in third.

Elsewhere in Europe, the “locals” aren’t faring so well.

Discarded Super Rugby sides the Cheetahs and the Kings sit in 6th and 7th place in their respective Pro 14 conferences.

Scott Fardy’s Leinster are heading Conference B and top the table overall having only dropped 2 games out of 15 so far this year.

The USA are coming off a successful international season in 15s last year and their local professional-ish comp is well into its second season.  However, with its odd draw, some teams have played four matches, others only one.

NOLA Gold, (New Orleans) won their first three games and despite losing to New York over the weekend they remain in first place.

San Diego sit second, one game and eight points behind and third through seventh see some teams having played one game while others three but only a four-point spread across the four teams.

  • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

    I wonder if having to publically not complain about his coaches, or use his wife to complain, when they announce they will play him on the wing was, like the social media clauses, a clause in his new contract.

    This comment certainly was a 180 from his wife’s tweets last year.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      I think his best position is right wing anyway. That way he can still have opportunities for high ball, can inject himself into the line easier and it won’t affect his deficiencies as much as positioning for defence is easier on the wing and if he’s right wing then he won’t have to actually pass to the right that much.

      You’re correct nice buzz words and so different from last year.

      • Richard Patterson

        G’day KRL. Hope the summer went well and you, and everyone here is excited for the 2019 rugby season.

        Don’t tell me we are facing another year of debating the correct position for Israel Folau? I guess we throw Kurtley Beale, Reece Hodge, Matt Toomua and Dane Haylett-Petty and Jack Maddox into that mix too. Let’s not forget David Pocock, Ned Hanigan and Jed Holloway as well.

        Why do I suspect Israel Folau is an absolute pro. and will play anywhere on the field to help the team. As long as that “anywhere on the field” has the No. 15 on it’s back so Israel can get as involved in the game as Israel wants to. Whatever you do though, don’t upset Israel. Rugby League would love to have him back. The French would pay enormous money for him, as would England and Japan. So give Israel what Israel wants. Let him say what he wants on social media and do what he wants on the playing field and training track. Be gentle, and if you got to create exceptions for Israel, then do it. Screw what the rest of the squad thinks and screw all that bs about culture and standards and working hard for each other. Israel is allowed to do whatever it takes to retain Israel in Australian rugby. Oh – and that also includes putting up with the opinions of his wife.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Hahaha gold mate and I’m sure it is discussed exactly like that by the boards of the Tahs and RA

        • Greg

          Richard,
          Don’t forget skater at 11 or 14.

      • disqus_NMX

        Dead right, Folau is best on the wing anyway. And KB’s best position has always been fullback. His fitting in at 12 is a stopgap due to lack of other options, now fixed by KH. Throw KB into fullback and the Tahs have a seriously good backline!

    • Nutta

      After the reminders about certain distribution frailties on the weekend there really wasn’t much choice I reckon. The guy is a running threat more than a distribution threat surely, but some sort of passing competence is a necessity for a 15 even in the new world of a 12 cum 7 cum 3 and similar such oddities/atrocities.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        You’d have thought that after 4 or 5 years or whatever he’s been playing the game he would have picked up on this by now.

        • Ed

          Maybe some of this love KRL/BL:
          “Everyone could see his (Jerry Collins) potential. The trouble was, everyone could also see he couldn’t pass. Well, not from left to right, anyway. The remedy? They stood him between two walls and made him do up to a thousand passes a day, for two months. He could pass after that, alright.” (Courtesy Peter Bills, The Jersey)

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          yep not hard if the coaches and players are willing to improve

        • Ed

          Naaah maaate, it is about fitness.

          Players that go to training sessions for the first time with Pep Guardiola as their manager are baffled they are not doing a lot of running work. Pep does a lot of skills work that doubles as fitness training. Yes, a different sport but the principle remains the same.

        • Greg

          Fitness?…. toughness. If you are tough enough the skills will come… sort of.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Sounds like the Cheika mantra mate

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I can see that for soccer but I’m not sure standing still while passing between two walls will develop a lot of fitness.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Andrew. Such a good weekend and I feel like life is now in balance again.

    There were signs of rust a bit this week and I’m sure this will disappear over the next few weeks as bodies get back into it. gee the Bok teams look good with their combination of power drives in the forwards and now some exciting back moves as well. Some unlucky teams with just small things causing the result and hopefully players will learn from that. My observations, in no particular order were:
    – I thought AAC looked his age and I think he’s got a long way to go if he wants to wear yellow/gold this year
    – Hunt was good at times but he seems to miss the direction he receives when playing with Quade. I think he still lacks the instinctiveness that comes from years of play in a position and this lets him down at times.
    – I was pleasantly surprised by some of Folau’s kicks and I hope this means he’s actually been working on resolving some of his glaring deficiencies. Still needs a lot of work on his passing.
    – I was impressed with both the Canes and the Highlanders pulling off wins from some tough positions. The leadership of both teams was spot on and a big part of the recovery.
    – As above, the Bok teams are looking very good with good power and open play mixed up well.
    – Brumbies are getting hit early with injuries, hope this isn’t a trend. I think their main issue on the field is a lack of a plan B. Their backs didn’t seem to know what to do with the ball once they got it. It was almost like they were looking for a structured play that didn’t pan out and they had no idea of what to do next.
    – Rebels played very very well and I thought the QC/Genia combo was great. Genia is definitely the general directing things but Quade really had that backline organised for him. Could be interesting seeing this develop over the season.

    • Happyman

      Agree on most points KRL for mine the Canes just had more belief and when an Aussie team finally wins a close game or a game they should not have won against NZ opposition belief will grow. For mine the Tahs lost that game on Latu he came on late gave away a pen, throws a lineout not straight and then the final act of the game is an overthrow (The lifter was where he should be when he should have been there so that one was on him).TBH I felt a little dirty wanting the Tahs to win at the end of the game obviously I just like NZ teams less than I dislike the Tahs.
      Bokkies did look good power and pace in many cases I felt sorry for the Moondigs Front row on a couple of scrums.
      I get the bad feeling that this year is the Brumbies year to pay the injury gods. Some years certain teams just end up being hurt by the injury gods I always hate it when that happens.
      For you interesting to see Julian Savea was dumped by Toulon today. I wonder if he has struggled with fitness in the French environment as from what I can see keeping fit is pretty much up to the indvidual player and he would probably struggle without the higher level of oversight.

      PS Rugby is back how good.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Hey mate. interesting on Savea. Not really surprised as he was dropped from the ABs as his playing had dropped off. I think he’s a real confidence player and anything that affects his thinking affects his playing as well. I’ve heard he’s not happy in France so maybe that’s it.

        p.s. love the “less than I dislike the Tahs” gold mate

        • Happyman

          Mate I think France would be tough if you did not embrace the culture and have a go at learning french etc. I seem to recall he had issues with his weight in the past and have never seen a player go there and get smaller. Nemani Nadolo Ben Tamifuna etc.
          Some guys are also just not hard wired to play in another jersey just for the money he might be one of those.

      • Hoss

        Lets be honest here, ‘The Bus’ was only ever one sandwich away from being fat.

        As a current card carrying member of said fat club i can spot potential members a mile off.

        • Happyman

          So in Hoss world he can now be known as “The Coach” bigger and slower than a bus

        • Hoss

          Gold Mr Happy.

        • Nutta

          And as with all wingers I am sure he likes to advise fat men how to scrum so the double-entendre of The Coach fits well.

        • Keith Butler

          Yes Hoss and my six pack has turned into a bay window.

        • Greg

          A six pack is for under-acheivers. A keg just seems to happen!

        • Hoss

          I hear you. I am at the stage where I can only see the last two inches of little Elvis, as to what condition the other 8 inches are in is a total
          mystery. But I know nothing grows in the shade.

    • Keith Butler

      What impressed me about QC was that he was playing for the team. Nothing too fancy and along with Genia controlled things perfectly.

      • laurence king

        seemed to work very well with Meakes as well

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Absolutely and as LK said he worked well with Meakes as well. This has got real potential and I hope Cheika is watching

    • Huw Tindall

      Good observations as usual KRL. I’d give an additional point to KHunt and AAC for the defense. Up against Laumapi and Aso that is a block busting centre combo. The Tahs midfield held up admirably with Canes scoring 2 from pick and goes. Also Spanners defended regularly in the line with Laumapi running at him all day. Only missed one tackle on him. Foley at least has OK technique and commits his shoulder unlike QC who outplayed Foley this weekend in other areas. While i’m on Spanners I’m not going to hang too much shit on him for the missed penalty to win it. He is kicking at ~85% in the last two seasons and drilled one from the sideline to convert Rona’a try. World class percentage that up there with Halfpenny and Farrell. Good to see some pressure on him at last though!

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Mate I think it will be interesting to see how the year develops if QC and Genia keep turning it up. To be fair it needs to be consistent or it will be easy for him to discard it

    • Brisneyland Local

      I think with a supportive coach, a team that wants to learn and play hard, a 9 that has a symbiotic relationship with QC and they thrive when together, I think we will see that week on week improvement.
      I am interested in seeing if Hunt continues to lift. Like you mentioned he plays well of QC. Having them as a threesome, and with Kerevi at 13. We have an interesting dynamic.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Kerevi’s not a 13 mate. I still think he’s your best 12

        • Brisneyland Local

          You are probably right. He plays 13 at the Reds at times.

        • Greg

          QC played 10 at the reds…. at times!

        • Brumby Runner

          But how many times did he play 10 with hunt at 12?

        • Brisneyland Local

          When he was allowed to!

  • Happyman

    Irony Mode On
    You obviously mean the Rebels and Brumbies don’t you
    Irony Mode Off

    • Brisneyland Local

      HM, personally I prefer sarcasm. It is the lowest form of wit, but the greatest.

  • Brumby Runner

    BL, I thought the quality of the Brumbies/Rebels game was the highest on show over the weekend (though I didn’t see any of the Saffa games). I didn’t think any of the Crusaders, Blues, Chiefs, Landers of Canes were at all impressive. I am hoping the same can be said after another few rounds.

    • Brisneyland Local

      NZ generally always start slow. I think they dont turn up for the first half. And we still cant put that many points on them.

  • formerflanker

    The continuing criticism of Israel Folau’s non-rugby controversies is in marked contrast to his own silence on the same issues. If he can keep quiet and just play the game, why can’t his detractors follow his example and focus just on his rugby skills and weaknesses?

    Additionally, shortening Karmichael Hunt’s initial and surname to a disgusting slur is something primary school kids would be proud of – but no-one else. Can I suggest that G&GRs stop doing it?

Rugby

Turned to writing for GAGR before my over the top rants about rugby landed me in hot water. Hoping this will keep me a little more measured.

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