Bledisloe Cup Game 1: Wallabies v All Blacks preview - Green and Gold Rugby
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Bledisloe Cup Game 1: Wallabies v All Blacks preview

Bledisloe Cup Game 1: Wallabies v All Blacks preview

The biggest rivalry in southern hemisphere sport kicks off this week when the Wallabies host the All Blacks in Perth on Saturday night for game one of the Bledisloe Cup (Oh and also round three of the Rugby Championship.

For Australians, winning memories associated with the Bledisloe is like the pub: only for those over 18. But like any year the optimism is built back up after a scrappy win over the Pumas and enough time to forget what happened last year when we played the All Blacks, who swept the Aussies in convincing fashion.

Background

The Wallabies are coming off a mixed start to their 2019 campaign, losing 35-17 to the Springboks at Ellis Park in a sloppy performance that saw the side waste possession and opportunities.

They seemed to bounce back the following week, with a more convincing performance, defeating the Pumas 20-16 in a game dominated by a committed defensive effort and an impressive scrum. However, they will need to find another gear if they wish to compete with the All Blacks, having lost nine out of their last ten clashes.

Photo Courtesy of Keith McInnes

Photo Courtesy of Keith McInnes

The All Blacks have had a less than convincing start to 2019, beginning their campaign with a 20-16 win over Los Pumas in Buenos Aires. The much-weakened side raced out to a 20-9 lead at halftime but was forced to out the rampaging Argentinians on their goal line after they were held to nill in the second half.

They were they held to a 16-all draw against the Springboks after looking certain to win after the sharp boot of Richie Mo’unga and a try to the flying mullet Jack Goodhue. However, like the Wallabies, Herschel Jantjies broke the hearts of the home supporters, pouncing on a chip kick with minutes remaining to split the points.

They will be looking to bounce in honour of Sir Brian Lochore, with the legendary All Black passing away at the start of the week.

Team News

The Wallabies have made five changes to the side that beat Argentina, highlighted by the return of James O’Connor. He has been selected wear the No. 13 Jersey, slotting into outside centre to partner Samu Kerevi in the midfield.

In further team news, hooker Tolu Latu is set to start for the Wallabies at hooker ahead of Brumbies hooker Folau Fainga’a, whilst Allan Alaalatoa returns from injury to start at tight-head prop in place of Sekope Kepu.

Recently signed halfback Nic White will partner Christian Lealiifano in the halves, with Tom Banks returning to the side via the bench.

The All Blacks have made widespread changes to the side that drew with the Springboks, headlined by the return of Dane Coles and the selection of Ardie Savea at blindside flanker. Coles returns to the starting line-up ahead of Crusaders’ Codie Taylor who reverts back to the bench, while Savea will slot into blidside flanker in place of Shannon Frizell.

Savea is joined in the back-row by Chiefs captain Sam Cane, with Matt Todd moving to the bench alongside prop Atu Moli and lock Patrick Tuipulotu. Crusaders lock Scott Barrett replaces Brodie Retallick in the second-row after Retallick was injured during the draw with the Springboks a fortnight ago.

In the backs, halfback Aaron Smith comes into the side for TJ Perenara, whilst Anton Lienert-Brown will make his fourth start for his country at inside centre, replacing dual-code premiership winner Sonny Bill Williams who was dropped from their 34-man squad.

Key Match-Ups

James O'Connor

James O’Connor v Jack Goodhue
James O’Connor has been well and truly chucked into the deep end, lining up against Jack Goodhue at outside centre. The flying mullet has been a consistent standout for the All Blacks and Crusaders, establishing himself as the form centre heading into the World Cup. Goodhue will likely be tasked with having to stop Samu Kerevi with the Wallabies expected to shift centres with ball in hand, and if he can neutralise Kerevi, it will be troublesome for a side that has been heavily reliant on his barnstorming run.

This is where O’Connor can come into the fixture, providing some much-needed spark and imagination into the backline. This will hopefully fix what Brendon Shields noted during the Pumas contest, with his data suggesting that the Wallabies lacked creativity and innovation in attack, especially off first phase. If O’Connor can provide this, then he will go a long way to keeping the Wallabies in the contest and potentially causing the upset.

Photo Courtesy of Keith McInnes

Photo Courtesy of Keith McInnes

Sio/Latu/Alaalatoa v Moody/Coles/Franks
The shining light of the Wallabies campaign so far has been the dominance of the scrum. The Wallabies bullied the Pumas at scrum-time two weeks ago, winning five scrum penalties against the notorious strong scrummagers and former scrum coach Mario Ledesma. However, this week will be the true test of their capabilities, coming up against the headmasters of the dark arts in Moody, Coles and Franks.

It will be a big effort to neglect the power and influence that the All Blacks front three has on the set-piece, where referees will often give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to penalties due to their impressive record and reputation. If they can hold their own or even get over the top of them, it will help the Wallabies control possession and territory. If they can’t….let’s just say it may be a long night for Wallabies fans.

Numbers that matter (Thanks to Opta Sports)

92%:The All Blacks record when playing away in their last 12 games, having lost just once (16-9 v Ireland, Nov 2018)
0: The number of times that the Wallabies have lost in Western Australia, winning five games and drawing one.
2016: The last time that the Wallabies won consecutive games in the Rugby Championship, beating South Africa and Argentina
23: The average winning margin of the All Blacks against the Wallabies last year.
25%: The Wallabies overall record vs New Zealand, winning just 36 out of 143 games.
4,933,246: The approximate amount of people in Australia who have not witnessed the Wallabies hoist the Bledisloe Cup, nearly 200,000 more than the population of New Zealand

Predictions

Despite their strong win against the Pumas, I just can’t back the Wallabies to win this match. The fact that the All Blacks have had two sub-par games and have named a near full-strength team means that they are due for a big performance and this seems like the perfect stage for it. I would love to say that the Wallabies could nab a result but I think we need a lot to go our way if we are to win.

Match Prediction: All Blacks by 13
Bold Prediction: Barrett’s and Smith’s outscore the Wallabies

Match Details

Wallabies (15-1): Kurtley Beale, Reece Hodge, James O’Connor, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Christian Lealiifano, Nic White, Isi Naisarani, Michael Hooper (c), Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Rory Arnold, Izack Rodda, Allan Alaalatoa, Tolu Latu, Scott Sio

Reserves: Folau Fainga’a, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Adam Coleman, Luke Jones, Will Genia, Matt To’omua, Tom Banks

All Blacks (15-1): Beauden Barrett, Ben Smith, Jack Goodhue, Anton Lienert-Brown, Rieko Ioane, Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read, Sam Cane, Ardie Savea, Sam Whitelock, Scott Barrett, Owen Franks, Dane Coles, Joe Moody

Reserves: Codie Taylor, Atu Moli, Angus Ta’avao, Patrick Tuipulotu, Matt Todd, TJ Perenara, Ngani Laumape, George Bridge

Date: Saturday, August 10th
Venue: Optus Stadium, Perth
Kick-off: 7:45pm AEDT (5:45pm local time)
Where to Watch: Channel 10 on FTA and Fox Sports 6 (Channel 506) for Foxtel.

Referee:Jerome Garces (France)
AR1: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
AR2: Shuhei Kubo (Japan)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

  • Find it hard to add much, but I’m going to be the first to comment.

    Interesting bold prediction. Could be right this time. Hope you’re not.

    As I’ve said somewhere else, I think the Nearlies will have changed from S&C to skills and all those drops and missed passes will have gone. And while I’d have gone with Laumape personally, I think ALB starting is a step up over SBW. Running ALB out is probably better for squad rotation. Some muppet called Cane and Savea “The Kiwi Pooper.” I expect Savea to play much more like a traditional 6, albeit a short one with Cane jumping as their 4th option in the lineout, and given the way he bursts through tackles, to be pretty bloody good at it.

    We need to see what happens with the Aussie centres. Will JOC see the ball more than TK? I wish LSL wasn’t there. I supported his inclusion last week, I thought one week wasn’t enough to say “no” but two weeks was. He might go to Japan, but he’s looking at a spot on the bench for me, covering lock and back row in an emergency, and he might not make that. I guess he trains well! I think Banks and Beale are the wrong way round too. Not keen on Latu for off-field reasons. But, overall I’m giving this selection an A-. One big X and two niggles and one worry about the game plan – I have that about most sides I look at.

    • Max Graham

      tbf, Hooper plays like a (small) traditional 6. The kiwis are going to the Pooper.

      • My first thought was “Oh no he doesn’t,” complete with pantomime overtones.

        I stopped to think a bit more. The trouble with Hooper is he doesn’t do any of the back row roles properly and he does bits of all of them. But… clearing opposition players out of the ruck? Covering the blindside? Even the carries into heavy traffic?

        If I think of Hooper, except for last week when someone clearly shouted at him to play the effing number on his back, he plays more like he wants a big number, 12, 13, 14 on his back.

        So he carries, yes, but more into the backs than into a pod of forwards. He undoubtedly could guard the blindside and it’s probably unfair to say he doesn’t, he doesn’t wear a 6 jersey, but I’m pretty sure we’ll see Savea stuffing that channel shut.

        So, thanks for a thought provoking comment, but after thinking about, I disagree still.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          When Hooper burst into the scene he played like a traditional 7. He could link with the backs and run in the wider channels, but also played a tighter role where he was the first player to most attacking and defensive breakdows.

          However, since Cheika took over and definitely since 2016 he has played wider and wider to the point that I sometimes feel he is on the wing more than some of our wingers. He’s also lost speed and seems to have lost some of the breakdown skills he showed in his earlier career. I think his best rugby was in 2013 under Link.

        • Honestly, I’ve got so used to him running around out with the pretty boys it’s getting hard for me to remember him ever playing like a traditional 7. I kind of know he did intellectually but I can’t bring pictures of it to mind.

          But the original Pooper was a dual open side, my original point was that with Savea playing with a 6 on his back, he’ll play pretty much like a traditional 6, with the exception of lineouts, where he’s just too short – but Cane is good enough there to be the 4th lineout option that blindsides have become in the last 5 years or so.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I don’t think Savea will play a traditional 6 – playing the really tight role in attack and defence doesn’t suit him. He is more like an 8, if anything.

        • We’ll see tomorrow I guess. My impression from watching Kiwi back rowers playing out of their normal positions is that they understand what the new role requires and they play to the new role. Towards the end of his career, McCaw would move to 8 to give Cane some time on the pitch for example, and he played like an 8, not an extra 7.

          Based on that, I expect Savea to play much more like a 6 than a second 7. Taking what he does already, and pulling it a few metres tighter won’t be a huge change for him.

          Although I agree, he’s more of a jackal who plays around the paddock like an 8 by natural inclination.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          How did McCaw play like an 8? He was never a big ball runner who was dominant at the line out. He continued to be a breakdown pest who linked with the backs. Ditto when Savea has played 8 in the past. He plays the same game, other than running off the back of the scrums as per Pocock. Rather like with David Pocock at 8, they’re picked because of what they can do and their specific abilities. It isn’t a square peg in a round hole so much as letting them play their games in a different spot.

        • I disagree. Ok, not so much about the lineout where he was short (although he’d jump and get supported and won a surprising amount of ball), but when he moved to the base, he jackaled far less, basically leaving that to Cane, and carried far more into contact, as you might expect from an 8.

          He was still a pest at the breakdown – as you’d expect from an 8, he’d make tackles and as you’d expect from McCaw he’d leap up and attack the ball. But Read does that too, Faletau and Moriarty do it too – it’s a general 8 thing. But unless Cane wasn’t there, he’d rarely join a ruck to attack the ball, unless it was a tackle he’d made.

        • Who?

          Under Link, but playing with his mates from his time under White. ;-)

        • Max Graham

          I don’t think it’s important that people play the number on their back. It’s just important to have all of the requirements covered. Appreciate your point – don’t want to sound argumentative.

        • Who?

          I agree. The issues around Hooper are based on the difficulties of filling out the requirements of the loose forwards in the players available to join him in the loose forwards. It’s why 6’s, 7’s and 8’s tend to mostly cover the same roles and have the same characteristics.

        • While I do agree with you, and finding a balanced back row is about finding the players to cover those roles, part of the issue that picking Hooper brings to the Wallabies, I think there’s a reason if you look at most international sides they have the core elements of those roles fixed by position. Some of the more minor elements might go to other players, but the big chunks are there by the numbers.

          It’s just easier to find a big, hard-tackling, ball-carrier to defend close and put a 6 jersey on them. A tall, rangy, generalist and say wear 8. Then a smaller, big-engine jackal with soft hands and put them in 7. The big, hard hitting character who can do the jackalling… they’re rare because it needs a different body shape to keep on doing that. Not saying they can’t do it from time to time, but getting in there and doing it for a full 80 is hard work of a particular type and you find the good ones have a particular body shape. And so on.

        • Max Graham

          I’m not sure I agree. Most sides seem to find that big bloke who isn’t a 7 to fill the ’role’ of the Jackler. Is that a word?? There really aren’t any Phil Waugh type players around these days. For example, the South Africans have Marx and Vermuelen, who are both class acts at the ruck, but obviously neither wears a 7 – Marx being in the front row! We could go through most of the major nations and see the same thing and going the full 80 doesn’t seem to be a problew. I think this idea of the jackal at 7 is seemingly an ANZAC thing – perhaps because we were ahead of the curve for a while. I’m not sure it’s relevant any more. Hooper wears a 7 – not because he plays like Phil Waugh – because he’s able to pack on the open side of the scrum and chase the back line. Other than that, he actually plays more like a tiny Owen Finegan – leads the defensive line up and makes big tackles, runs at the fringe, etc. His selection means that there is likely a need to have others to attack the ruck. I don’t see that as a problem – even if it means it’s the hooker that takes the role. Does that make sense?

        • I think you’re making an easy mistake of confusing the part-timer with the dedicated full-timer.

          I don’t know what proportion of rucks the Pococks, Smiths, McCaws, Canes, Warburtons etc. of the world are in and jackalling, well over 60% I’m sure, over 70% wouldn’t surprise me, over 80% wouldn’t shock me.

          Marx, Coles, Latu and the like – they certainly can and do get in and make a difference turning the ball over at the ruck. But just how many rucks are they doing it at? 20%, 30%? If we say it’s 25% and they hit two in a row, they can take a breather for the next 6 and still be on their average. If we say Pocock hits 75% and he misses those two in a row that Latu hit, then he has to hit the next six to keep his average up there. (I know it doesn’t work quite like that, but it illustrates the point rather vividly.)

          To use an example from a different sport Ian Thorpe can run a marathon. No idea if he ever has but he is, or was, fit and he could get round the course. There’s no way he’ll ever be an elite marathon runner at 1.98 m tall and 104 kg. The guy that’s won the London Marathon 4 times is 1.66 tall and 56 kg.

          Just because Marx, Latu et al can get in there and be effective sometimes – and they definitely add something to the team with that, I’m certainly not arguing they don’t – it is not the same as hitting ruck after ruck after ruck as their main job, and getting up and doing it again after they’ve done the last three. No one condemns them when they stand off the ruck in a guard position. If a traditional 7 does that two rucks in a row, someone will get in his/her ear about it.

          I’ve not seen a hooker add fetcher to their other duties. Not as the side’s main fetcher. Secondary fetcher, yes, but that’s a different thing, and a lot of sides have a few of those – 13 is often another one.

          I have seen a few hookers move to the back row, but they tend to end up in a 6 jersey and, like other back rowers, occasionally jackal when the 7 can’t reach the breakdown for some reason.

        • Max Graham

          Those stats don’t seem right to me. Can’t imagine how one player can get to half the rucks in a game. Maybe I misunderstood. Peter O’Mahoney must have won 4 turnovers at the ruck in the third test against Australia last year. He’s 2m tall and is one of the best in the business. I think we’ll have to agree to disagree. Good luck tomorrow!!!

      • Who?

        I agree. I’ve said for at least two seasons that Hooper isn’t a traditional 7, he’s a short 6. He’s a workhorse. The question with him is always where he’s tasked to play, the balance of the backrow with the selection including him, and what we expect of someone who wears that jersey (generally, a performance of the type that might see you wearing a cape, and a big ‘S’ on your shirt. And your undies on the outside).

  • Custard Taht

    My take;

    1. Sio to inflict some Moody Blues.
    2. Latu will force coles down and stay down.
    3. 7A’s to feed Owen some franks & beans.
    4. Rodda to show there are harder hitters than a Barrett.
    5. Arnold to prove the only lock is a deadlock.
    6. LSL…got nothing.
    7. Hooper to go principle and cane sam.
    8. Isi to make Keiran read the scoreboard and weep.
    9. Nic White to show the only good Smith who wears 9 plays for the storm.
    10. CLL to show that remaking Moana won’t work.
    11. Koroibete to show the Wallabies have been there, done that, with the original and best Ioane, Digby.
    12. Kerevi to school anton that it is pronounced Lineout Bro.
    13. O’Connor to tell Jack that the only Goodhue is Wallaby Gold.
    14. Hodge….got nothing
    15. Beale to show up baby barrett as a short ranged, officer’s sidearm, in the rear, with all the gear and no idea.

    The battle of the benches is an easy outcome; Cheika won’t use the Wallaby bench and the All Black bench is just a bunch of random names.

    Wallabies 23 All Blacks 20.

    • “O’Connor to tell Jack that the only Goodhue is Wallaby Gold.” LOL – love it. That said, I think JOC will be busy keeping the mullet in check..

      • John Tynan

        I think JOC will be busy thinking about what the brand would perform like if it rocked a mullet.

        • Who?

          JOC’s clearly superior to Goodhue. Because a mullet destroys all forms of credibility in any pursuit other than the pursuit of boganhood.
          ;-)

    • Reinforce

      If anyone can, Lukhan.
      Its ardie worth talking about

    • onlinesideline

      quality mate

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      6. LSL to slip through Ardie
      14. Hodge to dodge around and take down Smith

      • Custard Taht

        The problem is, those two players shouldn’t be there…….

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          True

        • Keith Butler

          Can’t argue with that CT. The LSL experiment has failed and should consigned to the bin. Much as I’m a Rebs supporter,Hodge on the wing is a two legged cart horse. Him and Meakes in the centres for the Rebs next year will do me.

  • GeorgiaSatellite

    Thanks Nathan. That 2006 stat made me throw up a bit in my mouth.

  • The JOC/Kerevi centre pairing is interesting.
    I’m hoping that JOC gets around a very busy mullet trying to slow Kerevi down. Exciting if it works. ;)

  • Kokonutcreme

    My thoughts on AB selection:
    Tight five select themselves and Coles in particular has looked full of running now that he’s finally shrugged off his calf injury. Coles is still the most accurate lineout thrower in NZ.

    Loose forwards is a risk and reward proposition with Hansen gambling on the individual abilities of all three to gain the reward. The risk is that as a new combination, if they don’t have clarity in their roles, they may compete against each others instead of complementing each other or second guess what to do on defence at the breakdown. We’ll find out on Saturday.

    Mo’unga and Lienert-Brown is a different type of inside back pairing than what we’ve become used to when Nonu played. ALB was one of the form midfielders in Super rugby, has evasive footwork and strong offloading game. Strategic response to how the All Blacks expect the Wallabies to defend who haven’t used hyper line speed so far. They’ve focused on line integrity and staying connected which invites teams to play wide. This could be dangerous against the All Blacks who still have Laumape to bring from the bench if they need to change their approach.

    Barrett at fullback – is this his best position now? Is this where he wants to play?

    Forcing Ben Smith to the wing also reduces his influence on the game. Both wingers need big games, Smith has been uncharacteristically sloppy under the high ball and Ioane was largely invisible last weekend. George Bridge deserves a starting spot and could take one of theirs.

    My thoughts on Wallabies:
    Tight five were good against the Pumas, but is that still a suitable yardstick to measure against as Pumas haven’t been a scrummaging force since last RWC. Nevertheless I expect a very good battle in the scrums with the starters and finishers. Tolo Latu is very strong over the ball and in the absence of Pocock that will be valuable, both he and Coles can be baited to lose their cool so there will be fireworks between the two.

    It’s strange to see the Wallabies field a more traditional loose forward combination. Naisarani is growing nicely into test rugby, he’s still prone to running upright which makes him an easy target to get held up. Still unconvinced of Loto’s credentials as a blindside, still think he’s a lock trying hard to play as a loosie. If the game gets into high tempo territory he could be an early casualty.

    Glad to see White and Lealiifano given a chance to start, Genia and Foley are known quantities, Cheika needs to see how this pair shape up against quality opposition to answer questions before the world cup.

    JOC at centre? Why not, he’ll interchange with Kerevi and he could surprise. He may be better suited to the attacking shape Shaun Berne has the backs playing which is very similar to the Rebels flat line attack.

    Why are they persisting with playing only one specialist winger? Would love to see Tom Banks given a run on the right wing, think this position suits him best at test level. He’s quick and has a good boot.

    The Wallabies actually have a good record against the All Blacks at home in world cup years, winning in 1991, 1999, 2007, 2011 and 2015. Wouldn’t surprise me if they pull off another upset – but then get creamed next week.

  • IIPA

    This is really D Day for most Roarers. All the players they love to hate are gone. No Foley, Phipps, Ned, Simmo, Robertson, Maddocks…. Waratahs making up barely 10% of the squad…. it doesn’t get better than this right ? Right?

    Well personally I think the addition of the types of passionate, hard-working, good Super Rugby form players like Philip, Meakes, McCaffrey, Clark, McDermott, Rangi i( the type Chris doesn’t value ) s still what’s missing from this squad but anyway….. this is as close to the team Roarers want minus perhaps Poey for Hooper and Banks/Beale swapping roles.

    If we don’t get at least close to a slightly vulnerable ABs team then I’m not sure where we go. And what everyone will complain about….

    • Custard Taht

      It will all be about Cheika…..after all he will be the common denominator.

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        Yeah, we have a better team now. Unfortunately, the coaching is still rubbish – complete with the Rebels’ failed flat attack.

        • Who?

          I did ask a few weeks ago if perhaps Berne was using the Rebels to trial coaching the Wallaby attack. We all know what happened to it. It was lost because of the lack of impact from the forwards. That led to everyone accusing Genia and Cooper of falling out of form, leading to Cooper (who had less capacity to impact the forwards) being excluded from the Wallabies (but, being honest, we all knew that he was never going to be picked), along with Meakes, and we end up with only Koroibete (who I’m now happy to see in Gold – he’s finally earned his place!), DHP (currently hard to argue in) and Hodge (same) in the squad…

        • Keith Butler

          Reminds me of the old adage forwards win matches, the backs by how much. Never more so than with the Rebels unfortunately.

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      Don’t forget Latu starting, keeping slow and not dynamic Hodge on the wing.

      Also, dropping our best defensive player in TK is mind numbingly stupid, especially after JOC said he felt most comfortable at 12. Rivalled only by Salakaia-Loto at 6.

      • IIPA

        If we agree Beale is better off the bench and therefore Banks at FB who is the other winger ?
        Guess you will say Speight but apart from a SK/TK/Mk/Speight looking and playing like Fiji-lite I’m not sure that’s a balanced backline at all.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Speight is a quality defender and attacks the breakdown well. Also, is a good finisher unlike Hodge and co.

          I love Kerevi but he isn’t passing and he doesn’t seem to combine well with TK, who is our best 13. I’d like to see this tried out this weekend:

          10. Lealiifano
          11. Koroibete
          12. JOC
          13. Kuridrani
          14. Speight
          15. Banks

          We know what Kerevi brings and the centre partnership isn’t without its issues, so I’d like to see what JOC can bring at 12.

        • UTG

          Good backline, but you’re missing Simone at 12 and Muirhead at 11. Wright also unlucky not to make the starting 15.

  • juswal

    I don’t have much to say here. I’m not being deliberately obtuse when I say that I don’t understand how players who didn’t play through this last Super Rugby season can be selected. I don’t understand why some of the best Super players in their positions are not in the squad.

    I just don’t understand the squad, and I doubt it’s been equipped with an effective attack plan and a manageable defence structure.

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      It’s mostly a good squad, but overlooks some of the most in form players – most of the Brumbies, but some Reds also.

      • juswal

        and Meakes

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I’m not convinced given we now have JOC there in front of him too. He’s unlucky JOC came back though.

        • juswal

          How did JOC get in without playing Super? Why would the selectors even look at someone who hasn’t just played a full season of Super? There is no need to even consider O’Connor, White and Toomua. They’re outside the selection pool. I don’t understand.

          I’m repeating myself so I’ll stop. There are too many broken records already playing in this group.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I believe we both know the answer to this question – because he was playing abroad, in top level European rugby. They aren’t outside the selection pool, as all are eligible for selection, and superior to the Australian-based alternatives. Were Fardy or Morahan to become eligible then I would expect them to join the squad also.

          The view that super rugby is of a higher standard than European rugby is very outdated. Unless you oppose them on philosophical grounds, in which case we can agree to disagree.

        • Keith Butler

          Unfortunately we’ll never be able to test the respective standards of Super Rugby and European Rugby although, imo, Leinster and Saracens would be a match for any super rugby team, including the Crusaders.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I think the Crusaders would probably beat them, Leinster this year at any rate as they declined a lot. And remember, Saracens were very lucky to beat Exeter in the final. But Saracens and Leinster would certainly be in the top 4 teams in all of super rugby.

        • Keith Butler

          Could dream of a comp for the top teams on neutral territory.

        • Not sure who would win, but the top few teams from France (Toulouse, Clermont), England (Saracens, Exeter) and the PRO14 (Leinster, Glasgow, Munster) would probably all perform pretty well in SR. They play a different style, definitely, but there’s some good rugby being played.

        • Keith Butler

          Absolutely.

        • Who?

          What’s even better is that whilst they play a different style, it’s probably more accurate to say they play different styles, plural. Which wasn’t necessarily the case previously. The European comps are notably undervalued in their variation in styles by those of us on this side of the globe.
          You know this better than me. :-)
          But worth reminding everyone else.

        • You’re right, definitely. Exeter and Leinster play in very different styles for sure, and they’re both different to anything you see in Super Rugby.

        • juswal

          Cheika said last year that “obviously” anyone not playing Super wasn’t in Wallabies contention.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I don’t remember this? Well, he’s shown since 2015 that he loves foreign players. It was a short lived loyalty to Aussie based players in that case.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Yep and said it again while referring to Quade Cooper giving himself an easy out not to select Quade. And yet while the Wallabies go through yet another week with key complaints being a lack of creativity….. Quade Cooper is off plain golf despite being the most creative and effective try creator in Super rugby! Behind an efficient forwards pack this bunch if selectors have to be about the most inept bunch of clowns I’ve seen in my time for not even having Quade in the squad…… even with injuries to other 10s! CRAZY stupid……

  • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

    I think the Wallabies will probably have the better scrum, the line out will be even but the All Blacks will demolish us at the breakdown – they’re starting two sevens, have a 6/8 at 8 and a Fardy-type 5/6 in the row. That’s against a single 7 who isn’t very good at breakdown for the Wallabies, and three locks at 4-5-6. We will get done.

    • Who?

      Agree with your assessment, mostly, but I describe our loose forwards as a 5, a 6.5 and an 8.

  • UTG

    And leaving out the best attacking centre in the Southern Hemisphere.

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      I actually agree he is our best attacking player. But TK is more important overall (for his defence), and I don’t think the two of them combine. At least, they haven’t so far.

      • UTG

        I don’t think they were too bad last match. Hooking Lilo at 50 minutes in really killed their chances of getting attacking opportunities when the defensive line started to open up towards the back end of the game. I’d have kept them together myself but I think this is more about giving JOC time to prove himself and less about perceived weaknesses of TK. They were never going to drop Kerevi to give JOC minutes given he’s been not only the biggest attacking threat for the Wallabies this RC but the biggest of any team.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          We scored one try at home against the 10th ranked team in the world.

          Nicholas Bishop’s article on the other site made clear the attacking structures aren’t using TK, but there have been multiple scoring opportunities that have gone to waste when Kerevi hasn’t passed early or well enough – to LSL vs South Africa and to TK vs Argentina.

          Not saying it will necessarily be better, but I think we need to see it. It is certainly better than what Cheika has gone for this weekend.

        • UTG

          Yes, we wasted a lot of opportunities but I’m happy we’re at least creating them.

          I don’t think your side is better than Cheika’s. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone agreeing with Kerevi being dropped. I certainly don’t think any international coaches would be picking both Speight and Koroibete on the wing.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I know for a fact that I’m not hard pressed to find someone to agree with me that JOC should be tried at 12.

          I think you’re wrong. Plenty of teams go for two wingers on the wing (like South Africa). You just need to make sure at least one of your wingers is proficient under the high ball and positionally okay. I’m fairly certain that not many international coaches would consider Hodge a winger.

          We haven’t created that many opportunities. We created fewer than Argentina, who are a very poor side.

All Blacks
@NathW1997

Loved rugby since the day I could remember, got the nickname Footy to show that, I watch Matt Dunning's dropkick every night before going to bed

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