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Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News sees all you need to know about the last regular round of Super Rugby, club corner, more out the Reds corner and the Force keeping the faith.


Super Finale

Amanaki Mafi lets one bounce

Amanaki Mafi lets one bounce

Well, it’s the last round of the regular season, and there’s plenty of rugby going on all around the country.

We’ll kick off our predictions in WA this week, where the Western Force will return to the field this Saturday at NIB Stadium, coming up against a Samoan side that recently qualified for the World Cup. However, they scraped in by the skin of their teeth, and it came with a berating from the nation’s PM.

With that in mind, the Island Nation will be looking to make a statement here, and grab an unlikely win. If there was any chance for them to get a win, it is now. The Force have lost their last two games, putting in a valiant effort against the Rebels and getting blown off the park by the Crusaders.

They have named a strong squad however, so expect plenty of sparks to fly come Saturday night.

Western Force Squad: Harrison Lloyd, Feleti Kaitu’u, Tom Sheminant, Johan Bardoul, Jeremy Thrush, Henry Stowers, Chris Alcock, Brynard Stander, Ian Prior ©, Andrew Deegan, Brad Lacey, Henry Taefu, Marchel Brache, Masivesi Dakuwaqa, Peter Grant. Reserves: Heath Tessmann, Cameron Orr, Chris Heiberg, Leon Power, Tevin Ferris, Issak Fines, AJ Alatimu, Jack McGregor.

All the luck in the world to Samoa, but the Force will be hungry to get back in the winner’s circle for their fans, and they will want to make a statement here. Force by 14 or more.

Heading into Super Rugby, the Reds kick things off for the Aussie teams when they will play their final match of the year against the Sunwolves.

It’s devastating that this match won’t be the farewell for George Smith, but I hope plenty of Reds fans will get down to Suncorp to say farewell to the legend.

The Reds themselves will use the game to blood some talent, with Angus Blyth set to debut from the bench, while Tate McDermott will get his debut in the starting lineup. Lukhan Tui will also be back.

Reds Squad: Jono Lance, Filipo Daugunu, Jordan Petaia, Duncan Paia’aua, Eto Nabuli, Hamish Stewart, Tate McDermott, Scott Higginbotham (c), Liam Wright, Caleb Timu, Lukhan Tui, Izack Rodda, Taniela Tupou, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, JP Smith. Reserves: Alex Mafi, Harry Hoopert, Ruan Smith, Angus Blyth, Angus Scott-Young, Adam Korczyk, Moses Sorovi, Teti Tela

The Reds will take confidence from their defeat of the Rebels last week, and they’ll be motivated to win this one and finish the season on a high. As much as the Sunwolves have had their moments this season, their capitulation last week doesn’t give me confidence that they can pull the upset. Reds by 10.

Down in Dunedin, the Rebels meanwhile have a chance to make club history and book a maiden finals berth. The squad currently are clinging onto eighth place, with the Sharks and Brumbies still a chance of knocking them out. A win here though would put that race to bed.

The only negative is they are without Adam Coleman, Will Genia, Dane Haylett-Petty and Geoff Parling, who have all been ruled out due to injury.

However, they do come up against a Highlanders side that has leaked eighty points in the last two weeks, and are also missing some stars of their own in Ben Smith, Aaron Smith and Luke Whitelock.

Dave Wessels has made four changes to the side that went down in Brizzy, with Sefa Naivalu, Ross Haylett-Petty, Fereti Sa’aga and Sam Talakai coming into the starting lineup.

Rebels Squad: Jack Maddocks, Sefa Naivalu, Tom English (c), Billy Meakes, Marika Koroibete, Reece Hodge, Michael Ruru, Amanaki Mafi, Colby Fainga’a, Angus Cottrell, Ross Haylett-Petty, Matt Philip, Sam Talakai, Anaru Rangi, Fereti Sa’aga. Reserves: Nathan Charles, Tetera Faulkner, Jermaine Ainsley, Sam Jeffries, Richard Hardwick, Harrison Goddard, Jack Debreczeni, Lopeti Timani

Last week I said it was now or never for the Rebels to nail down that top eight position. Extern results went their way and they were lucky that they kept their spot. They need to show up this time, because in this case, every point matters. If they put a performance like they did last week, it won’t be enough. Highlanders by 5.

Lastly, the Waratahs and Brumbies do battle in Sydney on Saturday night in a match has a decent amount of hype building up to it.

The Tahs are already guaranteed a finals placing, having wrapped up the Aussie conference last week. They’ve been in solid form, and will be favourites to win. Unsurprisingly, they’ve named an unchanged lineup.

However, they’re coming up against a Brums side with everything to play for. The men from the capital have been making a late charge to the finals, with three wins in their last four weeks. More concerning though is that they knocked off the Hurricanes at home and very nearly beat the Chiefs in Waikato.

The Brumbies have to win with a bonus point to equal the Rebels tally. Unsurprisingly, they’ve gone brawn for go-foward in the piggies, naming Rory and Richie Arnold in the starting line-up, the first time both brothers will start together. Scott Sio will also return to the starting lineup.

Waratahs Squad: Israel Folau, Cam Clark, Curtis Rona, Kurtley Beale, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Bernard Foley (c), Nick Phipps, Michael Wells, Will Miller, Ned Hanigan, Rob Simmons, Jed Holloway, Sekope Kepu, Damien Fitzpatrick, Tom Robertson. Reserves: Tolu Latu, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Paddy Ryan, Tom Staniforth, Brad Wilkin, Jake Gordon, Bryce Hegarty, Alex Newsome

Brumbies Squad: Tom Banks, Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani, Kyle Godwin, Andrew Muirhead, Christian Lealiifano (c), Joe Powell, Isi Naisarani, David Pocock, Blake Enever, Richie Arnold, Rory Arnold, Allan Alaalatoa, Folau Fainga’a, Scott Sio. Reserves: Connal McInerney, Nic Mayhew, Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, Sam Carter, Lachlan McCaffrey, Matt Lucas, Wharenui Hawera, Lausii Taliauli

This match has got the makings of a classic. While my heart says my Brumbies can pull an upset given their recent form, my head says that the Tahs have the form and the homeground advantage to sneak this one home. Tahs by 2.

In other matches, the Chiefs will host the Hurricanes, the Crusaders will host the Blues, the Bulls will travel to Joberg to face the Lions, and the Sharks will be looking to steal the Rebels finals spot with a win over the Jaguares in Durban.

Club Corner

Shute Shield Semi-final 2 - Randwick v Southern Districts

Hey, hey, it’s club corner day!

Starting off in WA again, the regular season of the Fortescue Metals Group Premier Grade came to an end last week, with Palymra defeating ARKs 22-20, Nedlands defeat Coastal Cavaliers 46-17, Associates knock over the Southern Lions 35-12, Cottlesloe overcame a determined Wanneroo 24-19, Perth Bayswater fell away from home to Kalamunda 20-12, and Joondalup grabbed a solid 32-14 win over UWA.

Last time I checked, Associates and Nedlands were neck and neck at the top of the ladder. Unfortunately, both the RugbyWA website and Rugby Link don’t have any information at all about who won the regular season, nor of any of the other games this weekend. Any of our WA rugby readers know of anywhere else I can go to do the preview for the finals?

Up in beautiful Brisvegas, round fifteen of the Hospital Challenge Cup dished out some quality rugby, with University of Queensland winning 52-21 over Norths, GPS grabbing a 22-29 away win over Wests, Bond Uni drew 24-24 with Souths, and Brothers defeated Sunnybank 27-24.

Round Sixteen Fixtures:

Norths v Easts
Sunnybank v Bond University
Wests v University of Queensland
Souths v GPS

Brothers have the bye.

Down in the Nation’s Capital, Round Fourteen of the John I Dent Cup saw Gungahlin knock Queanbeyan 27-24, Royals get back to winning ways over Tuggeranong 19-15, and Uni-Norths smacked Easts 41-17 at home.

Round Fifteen Fixtures:

Uni-Norths v Royals 
Queanbeyan v Easts 
Tuggeranong v Wests

Gungahlin have the bye.

Round Ten of the Coopers Premier Grade in Adelaide saw Onkaparinga knock over Brighton 41-33, Souths Suburbs go down at home to Old Collegians 17-44, and Burnside hammered Woodville 54-7. Ouch.

Round Eleven Fixtures:

Old Collegians v Onkaparinga
Woodville v Souths Suburbs 
Burnside v Brighton 

Down in Melbourne, Round Eleven of the BLK Dewar Shield saw Box Hill grab an important 30-27 win over ladder leaders Melbourne, Melbourne Uni overcame a determined Endeavour Hills 34-22, Moorabbin destroyed Footscray 63-5 and Harlequins grabbed a important win away from home against Power House, 22-24.

Round Twelve Fixtures:

Box Hill v Power House 
Footscray v Endeavour Hills
Harlequins v Melbourne 
Moorabbin v Melbourne Uni 

And last, but certainly not least, in beautiful Sydney Round Thirteen of the Intrust Super Shute Shield saw the Students knock over Eastern Suburbs 36-29, Southern Districts went down at home 27-34 to West Harbour, Warringah and Manly fought out an unbelievable 20-20 draw at Rat Park, Eastwood and Parramatta put on a hell of a show at TG Milner, with the Woodies prevailing 53-36, and Northern Suburbs beat Gordon 46-25.

Round Fourteen Fixtures:

West Harbour v Eastwood 
Eastern Suburbs v Southern Districts 
Manly v Randwick 
Parramatta v Sydney University
Gordon v Warringah

Get down to support your club rugby this weekend. The season’s end is closing fast, so remember to get on it and have a blast!

Honest Chat

Brad Thorn and Darryl Gibson share a laugh after the game

Brad Thorn and Darryl Gibson share a laugh after the game

A lot has been said about Brad Thorn‘s coaching strategy and ‘no-bullshit’ attitude. However, for he admitted to rugby.com.au then when it comes to the drug issues that have plagued the squad all year, there is a personal reason as to why he is so determined to crack down on it.

“When you’re talking about cocaine to me, it’s a serious issue,” he said.

“I know that probably these days people are saying it’s more prevalent but once again, it’s the Queensland Reds – this is part of the Queensland Rugby Union.

“I don’t want (cocaine) to be around this team, this club or the kids around this club.

“I’m a dad – I’ve got four kids and on my wife’s side one of her siblings had some issues with drugs and it’s a tough thing.

“I know they call them party drugs and stuff now but you can call them whatever you want – they cause issues in people’s lives.

“I don’t really want to talk about it too much because I want to respect my wife and her family – my family – I guess.”

However, Thorn admitted though that he does believe in redemption and recovery, even in his players.

“But the good news is, he [his brother-in-law] got through that.

“It’s not great for society, it’s talked about in the newspapers and it’s a challenge for society.

“There are a lot of young guys coming through and it’s important to me that they have good mentoring from myself or that the club culture is strong,” he added.

“As much as I want them to go on to be great players and have great careers, I also want them to be great people and humble.

“So kids have good role models when they see a Reds player – he plays good footy and someone that the way he goes about his stuff shows good qualities.

“What I’m doing is trying to build something.

“I think I said to you [the reporter] earlier in the year either I take it through or I leave it for the next guy.”

The Reds are reportedly very keen to keep Thorn on, with QRU chairman Jeff Miller declaring Thorn as a potential ten year coach for the club.

If that is the case, Quade Cooper will probably have to go and find another place to play. Earlier in the week, outgoing RUPA boss Ross Xenos expressed that he felt it was time for the Reds to give him, James Slipper and Karmichael Hunt another chance, following the news that those players might not even play NRC.

“These guys have committed to playing their rugby in Queensland,” Xenos said to Fox Sports.

“They’re playing the cards they’ve been dealt.

“It’s not only the on field behaviour, but actually, some of the reports coming out of Souths and some of the work that Quade’s done off the field, the impact that Quade playing for Souths is having on other clubs in the competition — when they can build their games against Souths as ‘Quade Cooper Day’ — there’s interestingly been other flow on benefits I think for premier rugby in Queensland off the back of the position the players have taken.

“I think that there’s probably a lot of people out there who were surprised how respectfully these players have handled these situations, and that they haven’t thrown their toys out of the cot, and that they haven’t gone and stepped outside the lines of respectful conduct and the like, and they’ve gone back and they’ve accepted, again, the cards that they’ve been dealt.

“And they’ve been as good role models for the game as they can be.

“They’re doing their best to accept responsibility for what they’ve done and get on with things.”

We believe in Twiggy

ForceTonga4

Four tests into the era of World Series Rugby, the Western Force‘s cause towards a new competition looks to only be getting stronger.

Despite going down in their last two games, interest in the game in WA is still very high, and Ian Prior admitted to the Sydney Morning Herald that he has complete faith that Twiggy will be able to deliver a viable Asia-Pacific competition.

The Force have looked to be building something strong this year, and will be the only NRC team heading into the competition with games under their belt. This puts them in a huge advantage come round one on September 1, and it would be a huge coup for the men from the West if they were able to claim the coverted Toast Rack once again.

Organisers are reportedly set to announce more details about the new IPRC competition shortly after the final exhibition game between the Force and the Panasonic Wild Knights on August 17.

“We’ve been getting some feedback that next year is going to go ahead,” Prior said.

“We should have some more clarity over the next couple of months.

“But from what we’ve heard, there’s been some encouraging signs with discussions … with other teams.

“The positive signs are there. We’ve just got to keep our faith in them, and make sure we keep working hard on the field.

Prior admitted as well that a lot of the players admitted to taking a leap of faith with Twiggy, signing onto the Force knowing that the new competition was far from set in stone.

Considering the forthcoming announcements, it looks like their faith is set to be rewarded.

“It was a leap of faith [from the players] coming here to start with,” Prior said.

“But you’ve seen how quickly World Series Rugby has come together.

“And seeing how involved Andrew is and how keen he is to get the whole World Series Rugby off the ground and running as the premier competition in the world is quite exciting.”

The Force will play their fifth exhibition game on the weekend against Samoa. 

 

  • first time long time

    Well we know Quade definitely won’t be back. He did the only thing worse than cocaine use in Thorns eyes…. he upset Sir Richie!

    • disqus_NMX

      Thorne was heard during the week on the subject:

      “I don’t want (upsetting Sir Richie) to be around this team, this club or the kids around this club.

      “I’m a dad – I’ve got four kids and on my wife’s side one of her siblings had some issues with upsetting Sir Richie and it’s a tough thing.

      “But the good news is, he [his brother-in-law] got through that.

      “It’s not great for society, it’s talked about in the newspapers and it’s a challenge for society.

      “There are a lot of young guys coming through and it’s important to me that they have good mentoring from myself or that the club culture is strong,” he added.

      “So kids have good role models when they see a Reds player – he plays good footy and someone that the way he goes about his stuff shows good qualities.

      • Missing Link

        What a conundrum… Thorne doesn’t want him to be at the Reds, the ARU want him to be in any team, Cooper only wants to play for the Reds. Honestly, the ARU should tell Cooper he needs to go to the Brumbies or Rebels. Then tell Hunt he needs to go to whichever Cooper doesn’t pick. Both will not get any money if they refuse to go. Hunt will play 10/12. Thorne can keep developing his young players if that’s his thing, but we have a 10 problem in Aus and I think Cooper and Hunt can help out instead of wasting away in clubland.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I guess Cooper might go if the Brumbies/Rebels would match his salary, but they weren’t offering to do so.

          I think it’s pretty clear now that Toomua is coming back that Quade isn’t in contention, so why move to the Brums/Rebs when he could look to go to Japan or something?

        • Missing Link

          Fair enough, I didn’t know Toomua was a done thing

        • Ed

          With Toomua I guess returning for some decent coin, when does the salary cap kick in again for OZ SR sides?

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Rebels are losing Faingaa, Timani and Mafi I hear. Would they cost more than Mafi and Naisarani?

        • Braveheart81

          Toomua wouldn’t play Super Rugby until the 2020 Super Rugby season. The UK 2018/19 season doesn’t finish until May so at most he might get a game or two in during 2019 so they don’t have to deal with his salary until then.

        • Ed

          Thanks.
          It will be interesting to see how the contract negotiations for several of our top earners – Folau, Hooper, Foley and Beale? – will go as they are up for renewal this year. More so as who knows what format SR will be and how much broadcasting income will be coming in.

        • Braveheart81

          Hooper is in the middle of contract negotiations where it is suggested RA are trying to sign him for 5 years.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          He’s playing Super Rugby in the latter half of 2019 according to what I’ve read.

        • Who?

          So that’d be the standard Vickerman/Mumm return schedule, then. A couple of games before the June Tests (pending where his team finishes in the premiership), June Tests, a couple of Super games after that, TRC, RWC.
          But it would see him ineligible this year (because he’s still under contract overseas).

        • Braveheart81

          It’s a RWC year. Super Rugby goes straight through and there’s no June test series. If he plays right through the English season I’d be surprised if he was put straight into Super Rugby rather than having a break to recharge for the tests.

        • Braveheart81

          It’s 2019 so it’s a RWC year. In 2015 the English Premiership Final was on the 30th of May and the last two rounds of Super Rugby were the 5th and 12th of June before the finals. Pretty likely he would play little or no Super Rugby in that season.

          If he plays right through the English season I would guess Cheika would want him to get a little break before the Rugby Championship rather than playing a couple of Super Rugby games.

        • onlinesideline

          I reckon Quade could be approaching the point where he doesnt give a shit. I get impression that hes kind of bloke that enjoyed the big stage so much that the overseas prospects just for bucks would be too depressing.He has experienced everything as a Wallaby. Maybe he has other plans. Who knows.

        • Dud Roodt

          “Honestly, the ARU should tell Cooper he needs to go to the Brumbies or Rebels. Then tell Hunt he needs to go to whichever Cooper doesn’t pick. Both will not get any money if they refuse to go.”

          Unfortunately RA might then find themselves in a rather costly court case with Cooper

  • Gottsy

    I really like Thorn’s no bullshit attitude, I just hope that there is a road to redemption available. As much as I applaud telling the kids that drugs are bad, it would also be nice to show them that if you work hard enough to make up for your mistakes it’s not the end of the road

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Agree Gottsy, I think one thing Thorne does need to learn is that he is allowed to admit he’s made mistakes and not be so pig headed. I also admire his no bullshit attitude but he also comes across as a bit inflexible at times and I think some of this inflexibility, especially in selections is actually hurting the Reds. What I really feel sorry for though is that he hasn’t got a decent mentor looking after him and guiding him through these things.

      • Hoss

        Morning KRl,

        I am with Gottsy, i like the fact BT has taken a stand (not on drugs per se, just ‘this is who we are and what we stand for’. Great success is built in great adversity.

        This year could very well be the making of him as a coach and as a Team. The Reds of 3-5 years from now could be the Australian Crusaders (culture, succession plans, respect and results) – even though the greatest sports person out of the Cantabrian Plains isn’t the Crusaders, its Ivan Mauger.

        BT has the chance to build the Reds for a generation, if a few human sacrifices along the way is the price of that journey then so be it.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          mate, Don’t get me wrong I agree 100% on what he is doing and I think long term the positive affect on Australian rugby will be very good. I just feel that some of his selections (Not the no QC) are showing a little bit of inflexibility and that isn’t a good attribute for a coach. Personally as I have mentioned above and previously, his biggest issue is having that loser McGahan as part of his team. Why in the hell the Reds management seem to think employing people with a recod of losing is a good thing I’ll never understand.

        • Hoss

          I hear you mate – McGahan is ‘passion fingers’ – everything he touches, he fucks.

  • Missing Link

    Hoping the Rebels get the win tomorrow, and if not I’ll be cheering for the Jaguares. Even if the Rebels end up in CHCH and get smashed, so be it, they would have made the finals for the first time – a great achievement. Better still if they somehow find a way to beat the Crusaders, it would really throw a spanner in the works and open up the comp.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      be interesting with the Highlanders resting so many key players. I think they’ll struggle myself but it’s a funny old game and anything can happen on the day.

      • Missing Link

        So true mate, there’s a bit at stake for the highlanders too as their destiny in the finals could change if they lose if I’m not mistaken. So it will be a case of “who wants it more”. If the Rebels lose, it will be in the hands of the Jaguares vs. Sharks. Jaguares have never won in SA I believe and have a finals spot stitched up, Sharks need to win to make the finals providing the Rebels lose. I think I mentioned it earlier in the week, when the Rebels sit down and reflect on their season, they should have taken that draw against the Jaguares, and they should have beaten the Waratahs in Melbourne. I’m sure there were a few other shouldacoulda moments as well. Mistakes cost them.

    • Hoss

      Best they can hope for mate is a losing bonus point – which pending other results, may still be enough.

      More chance of Duffle Coat Supreme rolling Wynx than the Alliance getting over Connor MacLeod.

  • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

    So, now that Toomua is back is the Wallabies’ best 10-12:

    10. Toomua
    12. Beale

    Or

    10. Beale
    12. Toomua

    Or

    10. Toomua
    12. Kerevi
    (15. Beale)

    • Hoss

      What sites that on Sherbert ?

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies
        • Missing Link

          wow massive get for the Rebels. I’m sure it was more than just Perry who swayed his decision. The arts precinct, 3 hat restaurants and bespoke single origin coffee brewers were an attractive prospect :D

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Yep, Rebs are looking good. Although losing Faingaa and allegedly Timani and Mafi will be a big loss. Naisarani is allegedly going to Melbourne though.

        • Hoss

          I think Mafi is a confirmed departure – back to Nipponville.

        • Missing Link

          And he’s taking his ball with him too, much to the disgust of the rest of the team who have been asking him politely if they could pretty please hold the ball for a change to which Mafi’s response is “it’s mine, get your own ball” :D

        • Hoss

          Yep, agree 100%. Good engine, but no rugby smarts at times.

        • Missing Link

          Yeah they can afford to lose a few forwards with the likes of Hardwick, Philip, RHP around. The only problem is that Faingaa is really good at the breakdown, not quite Pocockesque but he’s won a hell of a lot of ball this year.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I think Wessels overlooked him a bit much at the start of the year. Hopefully Hardwick can fill the role next year.

    • first time long time

      I was surprised (pleasantly) at how good Toomua was off the bench for the Wallabies. Taking the attack forward with hard straight running, a good foil for the others who are a bit lateral, and great defence.

    • onlinesideline

      10. Cooper
      12 Toomua
      14 Izzy
      15 Beale

      :)

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        I’d have Cooper or Beale, not both. Only one amigo needed. Link had it right I think. Only now we could have better strike runners like Banks/Koroibete/Perese rather than the poorer wingers we had then.

        • Missing Link

          so true, we had to play centres as wingers because we had to compensate for centres deficiencies, and we didn’t have many genuine wingers with pace like we have now.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          9. Genia, 10. Toomua, 11. Banks 12. Kerevi, 13. Kuridrani, 14. Folau, 15. Beale looks better balanced to me than what we have now. Mixture of playmakers, guys to straighten the attack, outside backs with pace, elusiveness and power, and kickers too.

        • onlinesideline

          does this mean technically that Toomua could play RC this year ?

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Not eligible until the Spring Tour unfortunately.

        • onlinesideline

          eligible or availabe and if former why ?

        • Ed

          The Terror says Toomua could possibly play against the Boks and Pumas in the RC.

        • onlinesideline

          whats the determining factor / rule – do you know Ed ?

    • Braveheart81

      Out of the three of Foley, Beale and Toomua, Beale is the one I think that will be first picked in the starting XV. Not sure what will eventuate in terms of the other two and the overall structure.

      Not sure what our best starting 23 will be.

      People are clearly cold on Foley (and for good reason in plenty of cases) but I don’t see Toomua as being a walk up starter in the XV on his return. We would also need a new goalkicker in the situation where Foley isn’t in the XV.

      Regardless of what happens, Toomua adds excellent depth at 10/12. Great to see him returning. He was in our best 23 before he left and no reason he won’t be when he returns.

      I see Beale returning to 15 long term as being pretty unlikely. His move there last season coincided with a substantial drop in form. I think he will stay at 12 but could move into 10 if Toomua plays 12.

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        I think Toomua and Beale are both better 12s than they are 10s, but I also think that both are better 10s than Foley, and, finally, I think that Toomua is a better 10 than Beale is.

        Thus, I would hope to see 10. Toomua, 12. Beale, but also think that 10. Beale, 12. Toomua would function essentially the same way.

        Toomua just runs straighter than Beale, and can pass longer and more accurately. Beale is more dangerous in a bit of space, and in broken play.

        • Braveheart81

          The problem with Toomua 10 and Beale 12 is either are a clear step down in goalkicking from Foley. Hodge could come into the starting XV but his goal kicking is also inferior to Foley. He’s also an inferior winger to other options available.

          I don’t see it as being a simple situation to fix.

          Toomua coming back adds very valuable depth though regardless of what happens. For the Wallabies to be better we need more excellent players missing out on the starting XV/23 each game. In June we had pretty much everyone available and I would only name a couple of really good players who missed out (Alaalatoa, Arnold and maybe Naivalu).

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Foley isn’t much more than 10-15% of either from memory, and Beale’s percentage is automatically lower due to the fact that he took a lot more longer kicks than Foley. Foley is somewhere between a 75-80% kicker most of the time, but he is a short range kicker.

        • Braveheart81

          Yes, but Foley is still the best goalkicking option we have. Beale has never been that good and neither has Hodge regardless of whether they take long range shots that are lower percentage shots.

          I definitely agree it is good to have a longer range kicker in the team but if we don’t pick Foley we are going back to having an incredibly mediocre goalkicker by test standards.

          None of them are compelling reasons on their own for selection but the goalkicking certainly helps Foley.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          You could have said the same thing about not dropping Morne Steyn for the Boks in 2013-14. However, continually selecting a limited player that had declined from his peak over better players solely for his kicking hurt the Boks. They got better when Meyer dropped home for Pollard/Lambie.

          And Foley is nowhere near the kicker Steyn was.

        • Braveheart81

          That ignores the fact that Pollard and Lambie are both excellent goal kickers (and have had the highest success percentage in Super Rugby in different years).

          That’s a very different equation to picking someone who is consistently a sub 70% kicker (Hodge). I agree he takes more harder shots but Hodge is kicking at 67% this season compared to Foley at 81%. That is a big difference. People complain about Foley’s goal kicking.

          Goal kicking would have been less of a concern in dropping Morne Steyn because the replacement options were excellent goal kickers. Sadly there is a big drop off in Australia. Jonno Lance has been good for the Reds but the goal kicking for the Rebels and Brumbies have been consistently poor.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Pollard has been very good at times, but Lambie was only ever a 75% sort of kicker. Also, the difference between Steyn (as probably the best kicker in the world) and his competitors was certainly as large as those between Foley and his.

          I’d be interested as knowing Foley’s percentage in the latter half of the season. I remember that after the first 4-5 rounds he was sitting at 100%. I would suspect that his percentage in the latter half of the season would be below 75%.

          Going from a 95% to a 75%-80% kicker is as much of an issue as going from an 80% kicker to a 65% one. It is going to make as much of a difference in terms of points scored.

        • Who?

          People complain about Foley’s goal kicking because he’s supposedly the ice man, picked because he’s so much better than everyone else, when history doesn’t bear that out. Not when you consider the penalties others would consider kickable that he declines.

        • onlinesideline

          Equal shame we cant have our best players playing in their best positions still. Toomua is a better 12 than 10. Hes strong and can bust tackles and also has a great long pass from 12 out wide which is what he are really missing. Really dont think putting him at 10 is the answer and I dont think Cheika is going to drop Foley. I dont think Beale is a 10 now in his career either. Its just too late and he offers so much running onto the ball from depth. Toomua coming home is good but wont fix the 10 problem (which Cheika clearly doesnt see as a problem anyhow) Toomua had quite a bit of bench time under Cheika anyhow didnt he ?

          We need people who are selected in national side to be experts in their chosen positions from schoolboys. This playing x here and playing y there once they hit the Wallaby camp just doesnt work. Kiwis very rarely do this for obvious bloody reasons.

        • Braveheart81

          Toomua started 6 tests and came off the bench in 8 under Cheika. Largely that was through the 2015 RWC where Giteau started at 12.

          I agree that Toomua’s best position isn’t 10 but he’d probably be our second best 10 immediately and would put genuine pressure on Foley to perform as well as providing a player with a lot of experience in the position (including some at test level). It is leagues ahead of having Reece Hodge as our backup option.

        • Who?

          In a Cheika backline, where Beale runs the game from 12, Toomua at 10 is a big step ahead of Foley at 10, and his straight running, strong tackling and long passing fit Beale’s needs perfectly. He preserves space by running straighter so Kurtley can run sideways if he chooses. He doesn’t run too often, and has a bigger pass, so he gets Beale the ball sooner. He defends in the front line so only KB is in the backfield. He’d do very well.
          And I’m not sure he’s a better 12 than 10. I still think he’s a more dangerous passing player than running player, and I want my 12 to have more to his running game (I still want Kerevi at 12).

    • Ads

      There’s a history of players playing well overseas and coming back and not even making the 23. I don’t think there’s any reason to assume he will displace anyone yet.

      I think the most likely best 10, 12 is Foley, Beale.

      Here’s hoping for good competition, and the selection of the best players.

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        There’s also a history of players improving overseas and coming back better players, especially in recent years – eg Beale, DHP, Meakes, Pocock.

        Maybe not, but Foley’s game has been in clear decline since 2014-15, and Toomua was arguably better than him as an overall player then. Cheika doesn’t seem to trust him anymore – Foley doesn’t defend in the line, isn’t the main tactical kicker and doesn’t even play as first receiver except off set piece. Beale plays flyhalf the rest of the time.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Nick, I am so looking forward to this weekend’s games. Despite the current points difference I think a lot of the teams are actually closer than the margin suggests and this weekend will go to the team that wants it the most. While the coaches of the teams are saying the right things I can’t help but feel that the difference between the Brumbies and the Tahs is that if the Brumbies lose they are gone, whereas if the Tahs lose it only means they go into the finals after a loss. This might mean the Brumbies will want it more because there is no second chance. I think the same in SA with the Sharks.

    Regardless of the issues around conferences and positions the fact that there is this much to play for this weekend is fantastic.

    Go the Canes!

  • bob

    WA season is not over it has been split into two divisions. Premiership wih the top 6 teams and championship with the bottom 7 teams. I think they play one single round robin then it finals with top four. They did this system this year so more clubs could play 1st grade

  • Bobas

    Thorn needed to get Cooper a contract with a meaningless title, instead of a ‘super rugby player’ he could have been employed in as a ‘fan satisfaction and ball management co-ordinator’ then Thorn can make that position redundant and advertise a new but equally meaningless position, ‘Back-line architect and affirmative responder’, just in case he also needs to get rid of the next player before his employer has paid out his contract.

  • Perth girl

    Samoa haven’t actually qualiflied for the World Cup just yet as they have a return game against Germany today. They did beat them 60 to 15, I think it was, at the last game so it should just be a formality. The team playing the Force tomorrow night is a development team with Brian Lima as the coach. I am looking forward to some big announcements from WSR about the format next year.This should happen round about the same time as the last game against Panasonic Wild Knights

    • Missing Link

      I hope they can take it international next year with a proper round robin tournament and finals

  • juswal

    Everything that Thorn said about cocaine and party drugs is applicable to alcohol, tobacco and gambling, which have done way more harm to users, families and communities.

    I don’t care about his wife’s uncle’s adopted cat’s historical lifestyle problem. It has nothing to do with running a professional rugby operation.

    • IIPA

      And soft drink and high intake of processed foods and addiction to phones and video games…but you have to draw the line somewhere.

    • IIPA

      And soft drink and high intake of processed foods and addiction to phones and video games…but you have to draw the line somewhere.

  • Brisneyland Local

    Well hello GAGR’s! Sorry for the absence, have been (infact, still am) sitting looking out my window at the Remarkables In Queenstown. Have been taking a break with my little fairies, and skiing , eating and drinking my ass off.
    I have come to the sad realisation that I am an old man when my two little girls (9&11) have just flogged me down the ski slopes. What a sad and ignominious end to Daddy being the top dog on the ski slopes. ARghhhhH!

    Lots of good comments and reading on here today. My points for the day are not related to any of the news, but what I am seeing on TV over here.
    – I just watched a game of two U17 school boys teams (I dont know what league or competition it was part of) but it was a joy to watch. Their players even at this age, can pass left to right, right to left, they can kick! Jesus their 16 yo 10, could kick 60m. A 16 yo kid disgracing our Wallaby 10.
    – The commentary was positive, and highlighted the skills of the boys playing.
    – The systems are evident, and skills and technique coaching is evident. These boys had skills most of our Wallabies dont.
    – What a nation of rugby depth.

    Dont worry boys and girls I havnt drunk the Kool aid, I am just infuriated that we are not able to do what this nation of sheep Lovers can do when it comes to a sport!

    Any way Pedro’s Lamb and a bottle of Pinot is calling me.
    Will be back next week lads.

  • Bakkies

    Let’s not forget that Toomua is currently injured. I doubt Leicester will be letting him go from his recently extended contract without compensation.

    This needs to stop. The RA paid out below the full amount owing on Douglas’ Leinster contract and he had a back injury at the time. He has only come good now and he is off again.

    Players leave let them go and focus on young talent as they are leaving too.

Rugby
@Nick_Wasiliev

Die-hard Brumbies/Country Eagles fan now based in Sydney. Author, anthropologist, musician and second-rower trying to kick start a writing career in an increasingly bonkers world...

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