The Battle of Weary Dunlop - Rebels v Tahs - Green and Gold Rugby
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The Battle of Weary Dunlop – Rebels v Tahs

The Battle of Weary Dunlop – Rebels v Tahs

The Rebels host the Waratahs in a battle for a spot in the finals.

It’s that time of year again; the week all Rebels fans have been waiting all season for, the week the team we love to hate graces AAMI park with their presence. It’s the Rebels v Waratahs week, Mexico v Trump, Melbourne v Sydney. It’s time for the Weary Dunlop Shield to return south of the border, where it belongs.

Let’s face it, with three games to go whoever loses this one’s season is over, both sides are fighting for the chance to play finals, and can’t afford to lose this game.  The Tahs are in a position where they need to win all three and hope some results go their way to secure a position in the Top 8.  The Rebels are hoping a win here so they can not rely on picking up a result in Christchurch next weekend.

The Rebels are coming off a massive win in Japan in Tokyo, with some big names returning from injury.  Matt Toomua making his first start of the year this is the strongest side the Rebels have fielded all season.

The Tahs, on the other hand, are coming off a tough loss to the Jaguares where they failed to pick up a bonus point. The Waratahs have been the bridesmaids all season long, with all 8 losses being by under 10 points.  Talk about a season of missed opportunities.


The Rebels welcome back Jones and Naisarani from injury, bolstering an already strong pack.   Richard Hardwick retains his spot at 7, with Cottrell dropping to the bench.

Matt Toomua gets his first start at 12, pairing with Hodge at 13.  Meakes moves to the bench, giving the team some great finishing options deep into the match.

The biggest surprise is at halfback, with Will Genia passed fit to play.  Many pundits wonder if he’s being rushed back to early, but he appears to have passed all the necessary checks at this stage.

Genia receiving treatment after a head knock

The Waratahs made one forced change, with Lalakai Foketi replacing the injured Karmichael Hunt, who injured his knee against the Pumas Jaguares last weekend.  Curtis Rona returns to the starting side, witching for Cam Clark in the only positional change.

It appears the Gibson is resisting the urge to rest his star players, despite the need for his Wallaby players to sit out at least one match this year.

REBELS (15-1): Dane Haylett-Petty (c), Jack Maddocks, Reece Hodge, Matt Toomua, Marika Koroibete, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Isi Naisarani, Richard Hardwick, Luke Jones, Adam Coleman, Matt Philip, Jermaine Ainsley, Anaru Rangi, Tetera Faulkner

Reserves: Hugh Roach, Matt Gibbon, Sam Talakai, Ross Haylett-Petty, Angus Cottrell, Michael Ruru, Billy Meakes, Tom English

WARATAHS (15-1): Kurtley Beale, Alex Newsome, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Lalakai Foketi, Curtis Rona, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps, Michael Wells, Michael Hooper (c), Lachlan Swinton, Rob Simmons, Ned Hanigan, Sekope Kepu, Damien Fitzpatrick, Tom Robertson

Reserves: Andrew Tuala, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Chris Talakai, Jed Holloway, Will Miller, Jake Gordon, Mack Mason, Cameron Clark

Key Match Ups

What are the key matchups this weekend?

DHP v Beale

I’m going to assume a one Michael Cheika will be paying a lot of attention to this matchup; two out of the names being thrown around the Wallabies full back position, going head to head has my interest anyway. They both play a very different style of game and I’d expect to see them looking to expose the other’s weakness.

Waratahs v Reds 2016 Rnd 1 (16 of 20)

Beale attempting to take a high ball.

Although Beale has improved over the last few weeks, you’d expect DHP to be the front runner for the first crack at the Wallaby 15.

Beale has flair, but DHP has the better composure for a 15, especially in those pressure matches.

Coleman v Simmons

Both these guys are incredible locks, they do so much work on the pitch that goes unnoticed by most, I actually was disappointed when Simmons signed for the Waratahs from the Reds, cause at the time the Rebels were desperate for a good lock, don’t forget he signed mid-year before and of the Western Force saga had played out. His had a good consistent season and will be apart of Cheika plans for Japan.

Be inspired by Adam Coleman.

Be inspired by Adam Coleman.

On the flipside, Coleman has had a pretty quiet season; a few injuries and poor games, really needs to stand up as lock is probably the Wallabies strongest position.  With the abundant depth at Lock, at least one quality lock is bound to miss out on a ticket to Japan.

Genia v Phipps

The man v the boy, need I say more?

OK sure, I’ll give you my thoughts on ol’ Nick.

Nick Phipps, contemplating his next move.

It’s about time that Phipps steps up and proves he is the number two scrum-half in Australia.  Genia is the premier scrumhalf in Australia and is probably the easiest selection to make in the Wallabies side at the moment.  Phipps needs to prove that he deserves to be in the matchday 23 as McDermott has really burst onto the scene in 2019.

Time to sink or swim, Nick.

Cooper v Foley

The battle of the premier 10’s will be immense. Put simply, Cooper needs to step up and outplay Foley, and he will go a long way to wearing the Wallaby 10 jersey this year.

In Sydney, on Easter weekend it was pretty even for month os the match until he took control in the second half.  Aside from his general play kicking and defensive effort, he stole an overthrown lineout ball from the Rebels, and ran unopposed to score under the sticks.  THe try went a long way to swing momentum back to the Tahs, who went on to win by three points.

Bernard Foley contests ball with Quade Cooper Waratahs v Rebels 2019 (Credit Keith McInnes)

Flyhalf levitation

This time around, I expect Quade to step up and put on that full show that his been showing sneak peeks of all year.  If the Rebels back win dominance and Will can give the good front-foot ball, Quade will light up AAMI park on Friday.  With Hunt on the sidelines, Quade and Matt will target the inside centre channel, and will likely find many gaps for the outside backs to him.

Should I watch?

This match is more than the match of the Round, it’s the most important match this round. Don’t get me wrong the Sharks v Canes has the potential to be a cracking preview to a likely quarterfinal matchup, but the Rebels v Tahs has two teams that need to win to stand a chance at making the finals. It’s a local derby between two rival cities who love nothing more than getting one over on the other.


AAMI Park – won’t see any sunshine this weekend.


A freezing cold night, oh and for the match.

Head says close, heart says Rebels to smash them.

So I’ll go with Rebels by 13.


Rebels v Waratahs

Friday 31 May at 19:45 AEST

Referee: Paul Williams

AR1: Egon Seconds

AR 2: Jaco Peyper

TMO: Jaco Peyper



  • Steve

    “Many pundits wonder if he’s being rushed back too early”

    No, we wondered what the hell the HIA protocols were if a player can be cleared to play a week after being knocked senseless.

    I realise he’s been passed to play by people far more qualified than I, but I’m also aware that the true impact of concussions are not always obvious and sometimes do not make themselves apparent until far down the line.

    That this happens to be a must-win game for the Rebels would undoubtedly make it more difficult for Rebels medics to make an impartial call, and is a position that they shouldn’t be put in.

    • I am actually somewhat qualified to read the papers and understand them, although I’m not qualified to go and do the diagnosis. But hey undergraduate and research degrees in biomedical sciences have to be good for something, right?

      I’m going to assume that the medics at the Rebels applied to protocols correctly. They have a duty to care and if they’re found to have ignored it, they can be struck off as a starting point. If it’s something that’s considered gross negligence, there’s a decent chance they can go to jail too. It’s really not something you do on a whim, or just because there’s an important game, however important it is.

      And people react very differently to head knocks. The norm is that you’d expect to miss a week or two, but we’ve all seen Ben Smith and others who seem to suffer them often take much longer. Genia, by contrast, is a player who doesn’t have a history of head injuries. I’m sure someone here can tell me the last time he left the pitch for an HIA, but I can’t remember it happening. Normal biological variation suggests for every Ben Smith, there will be someone who is knocked out cold, where you might expect the average to be 3 weeks, but they’ll pass all the tests within a week. Someone who doesn’t get hit in the head in a lot would be a good bet for that.

      So… I wouldn’t have predicted it after seeing Genia lying there last week. But I’d be willing to be a round that it’s legit that he’s passed all the protocols, however surprising it is.

      • Steve

        Thanks, I stand corrected in some ways Eloise – probably shouldn’t have questioned the Doc’s decision making.

        I guess my question is this: the protocols as I understand them detect impairment of functioning, motor control, memory etc.

        But from what I read with respect to brain injury, neuronal death & structural damage after an individual or repeated knocks still isn’t that well understood and varies a lot – does passing the HIA mean players have avoided the longer-term consequences?

        And are we so sure about the protocols that some rest period shouldn’t be mandated?

        • [D]oes passing the HIA mean players have avoided the longer-term consequences?

          And are we so sure about the protocols that some rest period shouldn’t be mandated?

          I don’t think anyone will ever answer the first question with a 100% guarantee. At the moment my reading of the evidence (I’m not totally up to date, and there will be a load of new data in a few months) suggests we’re about 80% confident right now. But part of the issue is that rugby as a sport has been doing this for about 5-10 years. A lot of the real damage appears 30-40 years after players retire. So at the moment, we’re doing best guesses and looking at prognostic indicators. In 50 years time, we’ll have a better idea again. The evidence and the markers and the indicators are getting better all the time – the Gallagher Premiership has had a longer HIA protocol during matches to test a saliva test as a marker. Haven’t seen the results yet, but the initial trial was good enough they got the go-ahead to test it all season long. It takes a couple of minutes, spit in a tube, see a colour change, and if it happens, you can’t go back. At the moment, this is extra to everything else, and not applicable for a case like Genia’s but there is work going on in determining whether a player is truly recovered too.

          The best evidence we have seems to be that if you can pass the various levels of the return to play protocols you’re good to go.

          Does that mean it’s right? That’s a harder question. It’s quite hard to fake as I understand it. It’s not just asking the player how he (or she) feels, there’s a load of blood flow analysis through the brain and the like, some biochemistry looking for markers of injury and so on. As above, I can’t guarantee Genia is fit despite that. And of course, he might be fit and get clobbered in the head again (let’s hope not but it could happen). However, quite a few people who really don’t care about which individual player it is, from around the world sat down and drew up these guidelines. They’re the same in all countries, for all top-flight (SR, Premiership, Top 14 (both of them) etc. ITM cup, Currie Cup etc. and international) players. They don’t think a minimum rest period is mandated at the moment. If the research changes, they’ll change their advice. It doesn’t mean in this specific case Genia shouldn’t sit for a week. It does mean that a lot of really smart people who have spent a fair bit of time and money researching this problem think that, assuming the Rebels’ doctors are being as professional as I think they are, the risks to Genia’s long term health from being knocked out last week are as low as they can be.

          Sorry I can’t be more definitive. It’s a long-term injury/condition and we haven’t been looking for long enough to be really good at all the possible links yet. But I don’t think he needs to sit… the experts don’t. But I could be wrong, we have more to learn.

        • Steve

          Thanks for the answer!

        • Welcome

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Well written Eloise, I’m starting to understand how you can write such clear and concise articles on this site. You are obviously a very clever person

        • It’s a skill like any other. I spent a long time being trained in it. I know from what you’ve written here you have a lot of skills I don’t have.

        • Brisneyland Local


      • Kevino

        I know very little on the subject, been knocked out twice in my life playing sport.

        There is one thing I like with the on field treatment of both Genia and Cooper, they really took there time and kept the players as still as possible until they were comfortable with there condition to get up and move. You look at the image above where Genia is lying dead still with the trainer holding his head still. This will allow the impact to settle rather than a player returning to his feet while still absorbing the impact and stumbling around, this reduces the severity of the impact as moving to early generally makes things worse.

        • Who?

          Great point. In all the training I did with rugby, the one thing medics hated more than anything was coaches who wanted to move players. It didn’t matter the injury, they wanted the players to stay down and not move until either the player was happy to move (for anything not related to head/neck/spine), or until moved by professionals (for head/neck/spine injuries).
          It’s great to see the Rebels do this. Not just for the players, but also because this is an area where we have decades of horrible role models, players getting up and playing on whilst clearly concussed. We’re starting to show kids that, if you’re genuinely injured, you should stay down. The rest of your life isn’t worth the next 10 minutes on the field.

        • This makes a lot of sense to me but, strangely, I can’t find anything to back it up in the literature. That may be because clinical literature is harder to search (they have some very weird search terms that I’m just not used to) or because a lot of the time clinical judgement enters into it.

          While I’m not suggesting it’s the case here, I remember Jamie Roberts infamously broke his skull playing for Wales a few years ago, and played on for a few minutes. (The same Jamie Roberts who a couple of years later qualified as a medical doctor. He really should have known better.) In those circumstances you can imagine they might have a rather different treatment to someone who has been knocked out. If there’s signs of significant internal bleeding, medevac to the nearest HDU becomes more the order of the day.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Well written Eloise! Thank you for that!

  • Patrick

    This is also the Wallabies’ last chance… if the Tahs rise to the occasion and the Rebs can’t we’ll be locked in for more of the shitful same. So GO REBELS!

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Kevino, I think the weather will suit the Rebels more than the powder puff mobility of the Tahs and could even put the backs a bit. The Rebs need to hold off the mistakes and retain the ball. I’d pepper Beale with kicks but that’ll only work if the chase is good. Should be a good game as both sides have shitloads to play for and both sides need their potential Wallabies to step up which will be good to see.

    Like Patrick, I think a loss to the Rebels will cement some Tah picks into the Wallabies and for that alone I hope the Rebels win.

    • Jason

      Please no ‘Tahs in the Wallabies. Everyone goes on about ‘oh they beat the Crusaders there just inconsistent…’ No they aren’t good they are just bad, they simply had the Crusaders on a bad night and the stars aligned.

      • Howard

        They also beat the Rebs this year…

        • Howard


      • Howard


    • Custard Taht

      But sometimes the bigger men are buggered in the wet.

      Good news for the Rebs, Foley doesn’t have the kicking game to exploit the conditions.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Or any other opportunities that might arise

  • Hoss

    Morning all.

    As a devout Tah’s fan, taking a holistic view of what’s best for both the SR Finals and RWC I really want the Rebels to win – read on.

    The Tah’s aren’t good enough to make any impact in the finals and for them to beat the Reb’s will only cruel the Rebs chances not help the Tah’s, as the Tahs will still lose to the Ponies anyhow. So the Tah’s could torpedo the Rebs and miss the finals anyhow – double whammy.

    Also some Wallatah’s desperately need a break before RWC. I can’t believe Gibson has got the rotation policy so wrong – so missing the finals also helps refresh a few key Wallabies.

    Conversely the more games some Rebs play in big finals matches only helps the Wallabies – Toomua, Cooper, Hodge. Ueleses, Coleman all need either more consistency or just more minutes – again, all helps RWC campaign.

    Lastly I think there’s still close calls on players
    for starting RWC spots and the best interests of Gold are served by the Rebels players outshining their Tah’s opponents for those starting spots in gold.

    So, go the Reb’s and come on Aussie, come on, come on.

    • Keith Butler

      Flawlessly logical T’Pring ( for you old Treksters out there see Amok Time) but I still have a feeling that the juice from the Tassie vines will be headed your way.

    • idiot savant

      This makes too much sense

      • Hoss

        Almost 13 hours of sobriety mate – starting to get the shakes though

        • Brisneyland Local

          The statement of truth has occurred. You can have a sour mash now old boy!

  • Custard Taht

    Hopefully the game itself, matches the enormity of what is at stake.
    The incumbent wallabies in the Tahs need a big game to reinforce Cheikas selection of them.
    The Rebels players pushing for wallabies selection, need a big game to shake cheikas player tree, and dislodge some of those incumbents.
    The game should give a good insight into how the players handle big time pressure, as this is essentially a knock out game.

    This game could go either way, I hope it is the rebs, but feel the tahs will pluck something from their arses.

  • Jason

    Here I was thinking the title was a reference to their tired old boots…

  • swingpass

    re Genia, despite what it looked like on the field, i heard Dave Wessels say he passed his HIA at the time, but they elected to leave Ruru on.

  • Kevino

    I really hope Seconds is on my side of the pitch, would be a lot of abuse heading his direction if he is. Seriously should put him in charge, both Aussie teams he screwed going head to head.

  • Brisneyland Local

    Hello GAGR’s. For the record. Rebels by 8. I will leave it at that as I am now the polite BL.

  • Who?

    Looks like Williams has been learning a lot from Seconds this week about only watching one team. Kepu puts a high shot on Maddocks and the concern is for Hanigan. Cooper gets tackled into his own goal off his feet by Hooper, scrum feed Tahs (should’ve been a penalty to the Rebels)…

Melbourne Rebels

Irish born Melbournian who loves all things Rugby so really grew up in the wrong city. Munster, Rebels, Ireland, B&I Lions.

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