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Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News sees squads, squads and more squads, club corner, some Aussies who made it to the final and a Brumby taking the reins of the Wallabies.


Time to Dance

Not Getty

Digby Ioane about to score first try of the game

Well ladies and gents, it’s that time of the year again. From Super Rugby to club rugby, we are well and truly in the business end of the season.

The Crusaders and Lions will do battle for the trophy. Fun fact, the Lions, even since the days of Super 12, have never the trophy. Ever. This match also marks the first time in Super Rugby history that the two same teams who contested the final the previous year are also contesting the final again this year.

Crusaders Squad: David Havili, Seta Tamanivalu, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, George Bridge, Richie Mo’unga, Bryn Hall, Kieran Read, Matt Todd, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Sam Whitelock (c), Scott Barrett, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody. Reserves: Sam Anderson-Heather/Andrew Makalio, Tim Perry, Michael Alaalatoa, Luke Romano, Pete Samu, Mitchell Drummond, Mitchell Hunt, Braydon Ennor

Lions Squad: Andries Coetzee, Ruan Combrinck, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Courtnall Skosan, Elton Jantjies, Ross Cronje, Warren Whiteley (c), Cyle Brink, Kwagga Smith, Franco Mostert, Marvin Orie, Ruan Dreyer, Malcolm Marx, Jacques van Rooyen. Reserves: Corne Fourie, Dylan Smith, Johannes Jonker, Lourens Erasmus, Marnus Schoeman, Dillon Smit, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Howard Mnisi

They are good squads on paper, but let’s be honest: the Crusaders should be on track to win this. They’ve got the form, they’ve got the wins under their belt, and they’ve got the depth. Crusaders by fifteen or more.

Predictions GAGRS?

Aside from there, there is also a match going on down at Leichhardt Oval tonight too, with the Michael Cheika XV taking on a Super Rugby Selection XV. While it is a Wallabies trial, there are some interesting players in the mix for this one:

Cheika’s Cheeky Chumps: Scott Sio (Brumbies), Folau Faingaa (Brumbies), Jermaine Ainsley (Melbourne Rebels), Adam Coleman (Melbourne Rebels), Rory Arnold (Brumbies), Adam Korczyk (Queensland Reds), David Pocock – captain (Brumbies), Caleb Timu (Queensland Reds), Will Genia (Melbourne Rebels), Hamish Stewart (Queensland Reds), Jack Maddocks (Melbourne Rebels), Billy Meakes (Melbourne Rebels), Reece Hodge (Melbourne Rebels), Marika Koroibete (Melbourne Rebels), Tom Banks (Brumbies). Reserves: Tetera Faulkner (Melbourne Rebels), Brandon Paenga-Amosa (Queensland Reds), Taniela Tupou (Queensland Reds), Izack Rodda (Queensland Reds), Harry Hockings (Queensland Reds), Lukhan Tui (Queensland Reds), Liam Wright (Queensland Reds), Isi Naisarani (Melbourne Rebels), Joe Powell (Brumbies), Jed Holloway (NSW Waratahs), Jordan Petaia (Queensland Reds), Sefa Naivalu (Melbourne Rebels), Jake Gordon (NSW Waratahs)

Manenti’s Many Mavericks: James Slipper (Bond University/Queensland Reds), Anaru Rangi (Endeavour Hills/Melbourne Rebels), Sam Talakai (Box Hill/Melbourne Rebels), Blake Enever (Easts/Brumbies), Matt Philip (Endeavour Hills/Melbourne Rebels), Angus Cottrell (Power House/Melbourne Rebels), Richard Hardwick (Harlequins/Melbourne Rebels), Pat Sio (Eastwood), Moses Sorovi (Wests/Queensland Reds), Andrew Deegan (Wanneroo/Western Force), Filipo Daugunu (Wests/Queensland Reds), Duncan Paia’aua (Norths/Queensland Reds), Tom English – captain (Melbourne Unicorns/Melbourne Rebels), Pama Fou (Eastwood), Semisi Tupou (Box Hill/Melbourne Rebels). Reserves: Hugh Roach (Eastwood/NSW Waratahs), Fereti Sa’aga (Melbourne University/Melbourne Rebels), Mees Erasmus (Easts/Brumbies), Angus Blyth (Bond University/Queensland Reds), Tevin Ferris (Nedlands/Western Force), Mick Snowden (Eastwood), Sam Lane (Manly), Fabian Goodall (Eastwood).

Lot of good eggs in these squads. Not really going to make a prediction here, but for all those folks or who are keen, get down to Leichhardt Oval tonight, or you can stream on rugby.com.au.

It should be a great night for all concerned, and hey, you might even run into Jamie Miller and Hugh Cavill.

Club Corner

Matt Gordon (Easts), Jayden Ngamanu (Souths), Tate McDermott (UQ) and Tom Kibble (GPS)

Matt Gordon (Easts), Jayden Ngamanu (Souths), Tate McDermott (UQ) and Tom Kibble (GPS)

From one business end of town to the other, club rugby is heating up all round the country. And with that, comes a white-hot version of club corner.

Starting down in Melbourne with the BLK Dewar Shield, the final round of the regular season last week saw Melbourne claim the minor premiership with a 22-71 win over Footscray, Harlequins wrapped up second with a 36-19 win over Endeavour Hills, Moorabbin defeated Box Hill 30-21 to end their semi-final chances, and Power House locked in fourth spot, beating Melbourne Uni 34-5.

With that, all the winners from this round, Melbourne (67 pts), Harlequins (62), Moorabbin(48) and Power House (39) respectively, progress to the semis this weekend, before the preliminary finals next week:

BLK Dewar Shield Semi-Finals:

Melbourne v Harlequins
Moorabbin v Power House

Up the highway in Canberra, the final round of the John I Dent Cup saw Tuggeranong defeat Easts 31-57, Wests go down 22-39 to Royals, and in a thriller, Gungahlin stole fourth place away from Queanbeyan on points differential with a 47-5 win over Uni-Norths.

With four teams left, Tuggeranong (67), Royals (60), Uni-Norths (50) and Gungahlin (48) will compete in the semis down at Viking Park this weekend, with preliminary finals following up next weekend:

John I Dent Cup Semi-Finals:

Tuggeranong v Royals
Uni-Norths v Gungahlin

Away from club footy finals for a moment, the Intrust Super Shute Shield continued into the latter half of it’s regular season, with Gordon going down 21-45 to Manly, the Pirates went down 31-48 at home to Northern Suburbs, Southern Districts lost 21-62 to Sydney University, the Rats won a thriller against the Woodies 17-16, and Eastern Suburbs defeated Randwick 41-24.

This weekend sees the penultimate round of the season, and there is plenty still to play for. The Students currently hold the top of the table, however only five points back are Northern Suburbs and Manly, so the game is still very much on.

Round Seventeen Fixtures:

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

Back to finals footy, and we’ve got one of the more exciting finals series in recent memory up in Brisbane. Round Eighteen of the Hospital Challenge Cup last week saw the University of Queensland claim top spot with an away win, 14-33 over Souths, GPS defeated Easts 39-5 to take second, Bond Uni defeated Norths away 33-38, and Brothers finished their season on a high with a 16-26 away win against Wests.

The finals series sees University of Queensland (58), GPS (52) Easts (46) and Souths (46) progress through, with semis again on this weekend and prelims next weekend.

Hospital Challenge Cup Semi-Finals:

University of Queensland v GPS
Easts v Souths

Over in South Australia, the Coopers Premier Grade continues it’s regular season. Round Twelve last week saw Onkaparinga defeat Souths Suburbs 40-26, Burnside defeat Old Collegians away from home, 32-41 and Brighton smack Woodville 75-7. Ow.

Round Thirteen Fixtures:

Woodville v Onkaparinga
Burnside v Souths Suburbs
Brighton v Old Collegians

And finally, we finish with the finals in Perth, with the FMG Premiership Division entering into its fourth round of playoffs. Round Sixteen last week saw Kalamunda go down 17-37 to Nedlands at home, Cottlesloe got back on track with a 42-17 win over Joondalup, and Wests Scarborough grabbed a vital 33-23 win over Associates, which has opened the race for second, third and fourth right up.

Currently, Cottlesloe (53), Wests Scarborough (54) and Associates (56) are in the running, but it’s fair to say that with the penultimate round this weekend, Nedlands (65) are looking pretty safe for the win.

Round Seventeen Fixtures:

Kalamunda v Cottesloe
Joondalup v Wests Scarborough
Associates v Nedlands

It’s the biz end of the season, and before you know it, it’ll be all gone and it’ll be NRC time… so get along and cheer on your clubs this weekend!

Super Final, Ctd.

Elton Jantjes kicks a conversion

Elton Jantjes kicks a conversion

The Super Rugby final continues to build, but this week has seen plenty of discouraging headlines in both camps.

Firstly, The Crusaders earlier this week came out and say they hope that a home grand final will see them bring in a full house at Rugby League Park in Christchurch.  Attendance has been notably down in The Garden City this year, and the disappointing turnout last week has some beginning to worry that the Saders might struggle to fill the 18,000 seat venue.

By comparison, Steve Hansen has been arguing that the Crusaders are long overdue for a stadium revamp, particularly after there was talks of building a stadium in a similar vein to the one down the road in Dunedin.

“Dunedin Stadium has shown what you can do there so I think we’ve missed the ball there, missed the opportunity,” says Hansen to RadioNZ. 

“A lot of people have thought: oh, why do we need a rugby stadium and why do we have to support that, and it’s bigger than that.”

“When you have gone through an earthquake that’s what we need.”

Meanwhile, the Lions coach Swys de Bruin has been calling Angus Gardner out, as he fears that the Crusaders currently have rub of the green from match officials.

“They can’t because they are champions and people think they are good get away with certain stuff,” de Bruin said to Fox Sports.

“Because going through their clips — and you guys know me, I speak from the heart — there is a lot of things they get away with, more than other teams get away with.”

In other notes, there are actually four Aussies that will be involved in the final on Saturday night. In addition to Gus being in charge of the whistle, Nic Berry will serve as an assistant referee, and (most notably) 6As and Pete Samu has been named on the Crusaders bench.

Taking the Reins

David Pocock chases a loose ball

David Pocock chases a loose ball

For Michael Cheika and his team, tonight’s trial match at Leichhardt Oval is shaping up to be an important match in the teams Bledisloe preparation.

One inclusion is that Brumby David Pocock will be given the chance to take the reins again as skipper, in the absence of the still injured Michael Hooper. 

Cheik fronted up to the media again yesterday, and highlighted the importance of having a hit out like this. In addition, he also spoke about Matt Toomua returning to the national squad, with the young gun signing a new contract with the Melbourne Rebels. 

“Now that he’s been signed to play back here it opens up a new scope for us around our options in the playmaking section of the field,” he said to rugby.com.au.

“He’s obviously got good track record with Australia. He played in the World Cup final in 2015 (and then in 2016).

“The team’s changed a lot since then.

“I’ll have a talk to him soon enough and get him back in as quickly as we can and see how he goes.”

One big question mark was the emergence of who would play at Outside Centre. Two names immediately spring to mind on who will fill that role, but Cheik made it clear on where he wants one of those names to play.

“I think I’ve been pretty clear that I like Israel [Folau] at fullback,” he said.

“If he did anything up there it’s double drop in, some in attack, some in defence.

“We’re going to see a few of the suspects on Friday night. Hodge will get some time there, might even let Jordan Petaia have a bit of time there.

“You might even see one of the wingers have a go in there or a Sefa Naivalu but not just go in there to fill a spot.

“You’ve got to go in there and arrive at the standards and do your job in that position really well. Once we get (Curtis) Rona and Israel back next week, we’ll have a look at those guys and make some decisions once we’re up in Cessnock.”

Hamish Stewart has also been brought in to camp. But, Reece Hodge will be playing at Outside Centre tonight, and a few folks (including GAGR Favourite Dave Wessels) see him as a young, ideal candidate to take on the role.

“I think Reece is a natural centre, whether it be 12 or 13,” Wessels told rugby.com.au.

“He will feel very comfortable there. He has fantastic acceleration which is an ability to genuinely take an outside hole, and defensively he is very solid.

“I think Reece has actually enjoyed playing in a few different positions because it has given him the perspective of what players either side of him expect of him in those roles. He knows, in some way, his role in the national side is going to be one that he has to be versatile, in order to fill those.”

What do we reckon GAGRs? I for one have been impressed by Hodge every time he’s put on the green and gold jersey. His acceleration is insane, his skill level is quality… and that boot. That boot. Do we think he’s ready to move into Outside Centre?

  • Baylion

    “the Lions are the only Super 12 Foundation club to never win the trophy”

    i don’t get it. Neither have the Sharks nor the Stormers.

    • Ruggaman

      I see you :)

    • Nicholas Wasiliev

      You are indeed correct Baylion. My bad. That sentence was just me writing at 11pm haha.

      Amended now. Thanks for pointing it out.

  • onlinesideline

    Came across this today – geeze thats a real 10
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DeV92r24NHY

    • Parker

      Where are all the Beale detractors to jump on Larkham for crabbing sideways? So tired of those one note critics who can’t see anything good in Beale’s contributions to Wallaby success.

      • onlinesideline

        Mate I totally agree. Alot of people do it and did it – it depends how its done and when its done. Cooper did it and put many a fine young lad in a hole (think I’ll revise that sentence shortly) Gits did it and Daniel Carter did it too.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Gits did it well when outside Larkham and inside Mortlock. When he lost those guys – Larkham who created space and Mortlock who would always straighten the attack and get over the advantage line – he was never the same player. I also wondered whether he got a chronic injury after 07/08 where he never had the same speed or footwork again.

        • Who?

          I also question the lack of structure around Gits – and the other 10’s – in the Deans backline. You’ve rightly pointed out how key Mortlock was for Gits’ ability to drift (and Larkham’s ability to drift, along with Horan, Herbert, etc). Since the arrival of Deans, we’ve lost that consistent straight or unders runner in our backline.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          TK is the closest, but he doesn’t have Mortlock’s power. Not convinced that can be attributed to Deans as we just haven’t had those powerful runners for a long time. AAC ran straight, but not with the power of Mortlock or even TK.

        • Missing Link

          Stirling was a great example of making a position your own, he started off as a bean pole on the wing, bulked up and became a hard runner and tackler. probably the most influential player in the Wallabies backline around 2007

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Yeah from 05-07 he, Larkham and Smith carried the team. We were ranked second in the world for most of that period, despite most of the rest of the players being so poor.

        • Mica

          It’s not just about power. Mortlock had a very compact running style that used his power well and made him hard to tackle. It’s also about quickness of feet, agility and what the runner does just prior to defensive contact that makes you a good line breaker. Finally decision making; what to run, when to run and options to kick or pass.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          True, Mortlock did have better feet than given credit for. His feet and power were the key to the Wallabies winning that Bledisloe Cup match in 2007 at the MCG.

          However, his best attribute was that even when he ran straight at a defensive line, despite not being super quick, he would carry the defenders back 2-3m over the advantage line every time.

          God, our backline would be infinitely better with him at 13.

        • Mica

          Agreed, but a lot of this was body position and line into contact. He made it difficult for defenders to get a dominant hit on him.
          He also held his feet well and drove through the contact.

        • Patrick

          That and So’a’iloa or whatever being perhaps the worst ABs 8 in 30 years. I loved that game though!!

        • Who?

          TK’s the closest, but AAC also dragged defenders. Snorky was special, but he took time to develop into what he became (i.e. you can’t compare 2002 Mortlock to 2006 in terms of his running lines and tackle breaking). And he was the focus of the Wallaby attack. After he retired, we didn’t have a dominant 13, and we weren’t picking a dominant attacking 13, so the focus left the position. Suddenly, the program was to give the ball to JOC or KB and let them conjure a break with footwork, because there was no focus on other options. I think AAC could’ve been an even better attacking centre than he was (he was always strong in the contact), but the focus was more spread.
          I think TK could be Snorky and more. He’s bigger, he’s every bit as fast and strong. But he’s often got Folau running in his channel at the Wallabies. So the ball goes to Issy. The unders line he runs, it’s good, but it’s so often telegraphed, whereas when Mortlock ran those crazy unders lines, he’d also have Giteau running hard outside lines and players off the back of him. Further, that line was run for a long ball (8-12m) off the 10, not the 9 (whereas TK’s line is usually immediately off a scrum off the 9, so it’s not a face ball at the gain line, it’s a short ball close to the forwards in heavy traffic). TK can also run – out wide – the Conrad Smith line. The ‘take the ball drifting slightly out to beat the defender and curve it back infield to create space for the winger’ line. It’s the line he ran to create the last try against the Tahs.
          I think we (certainly the public) significantly underestimate TK’s abilities in attack, and we (more the coaches now) too often use him as a ‘dumb’ battering ram, rather than a varied player – the crazy unders line (i.e. the Mortlock, 45º unders running through holes at the forwards, trusting that, if you get through, you can straighten before being rolled by the pack), and the Conrad line.

        • Nutta

          But also don’t forget our national development in regards No13. We had Jason Little who along with Horan formed arguably one-of if not the greatest centre pairings of all time. Then we had the Herbert Banana’s H1 & H2. In the middle of that we took the worlds best fullback (at the time) Burke and tossed him into 13 to make room for some no-name called Latham at FB plus we were also running one of the best Aust Schoolboy centres (ever) in Roff at Wing because there was no room for him either. Then we had Mortlock. Then along came Two-Dads. So we had a 20yr spell in which we fielded 4 absolutely world-class 13’s (Little, Herberts & Morty) and the others have been pretty bloody handy as-well.

        • Who?

          Agreed. We had a great run, and each time you lose a player, you’ve got to adjust to the new guy. We didn’t have that consistency of selection after Mortlock, we didn’t adapt to what a new player might bring as their strengths. So we’ve gone from a run of strong 13’s to expecting dominant 13’s, even though the new guys since Mortlock haven’t been given room to grow and given possession in quite the way the other guys were. I say that because, as you’ve pointed out, rather than just sticking Mortlock in at 13, we tried Burke there and left Mortlock out wide. And left Roff out wide. That shows that, even when you’ve got potential greats ready to step in, they weren’t immediately dominant enough to own the position, and only owned it when given a good run at it.

        • Alister Smith

          I only remember Anthony Herbert as an inside but my memories come mainly from club rugby where he might have played their to allow Dan Herbert to play 13. He only played 10 tests though and I remember in one of those he came on at openside because we ran out of forward replacements. Excellent player though I would agree.

        • Mica

          Pat McCabe?
          Except they played him at 12 and prior to this our cras baller was at 13

        • Who?

          McCabe was maybe meant to be that crashballer, but he was a converted winger and didn’t have time to learn the position. Plus, whilst he was all heart and courage, he wasn’t necessarily the most effective in the role. We’re talking about a bloke under 100kg when he was up against Nonu and Roberts (both over 105kg, and much stronger in the contact).

          The perfect example of McCabe’s inexperience was the Ireland test in 2011 at the RWC, where Quade threw him a ball and looked to wrap. McCabe did the right thing and ran straight, holding the defence and preserving the space, but didn’t have the awareness to give the ball back. Quade clearly called for it, McCabe ran away from him, was isolated, and we gave up 3 points. If he’d been better prepared – if he wasn’t learning the job at the top level – then after dragging the first defender in and beating him, he’d have looked for his support.

        • John Miller

          Agreed. Was it Bob Dwyer that described Deans’ selection of Pat McCabe in the Wallabies centres as being akin to putting a full stop in the middle of a sentence? It crippled Australia’s ensemble attacking potential and also unfairly tarnished the efforts of a gutsy, bantamweight player who should have been a long term Wallabies winger. With his modest beef and upright running style, the Irish couldn’t have been happier if Pat McCabe came gift wrapped next to the newest release Playstation.

        • Bakkies

          McCabe was actually a pretty useful fullback. Good boot and strong under the high ball. God we needed one back then after Latho retired.

          As for Giteau he was excellent for Toulon as he actually played behind a pack of forwards that played as a unit (often at the Wallabies he was protected by a one man back row George Smith or Pocock carrying two passengers) and had straight runners in Mermoz and Bastereaud at 12 and 13.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          He also played in a team that played off 9 a lot in Toulon, and who had the world’s best game managing 10.

          He was also played in a forward dominated environment that was much, much slower than Super Rugby or international rugby.

        • Bakkies

          I wouldn’t say slower. Super Rugby became more forward oriented in the Super 14 days with the Bulls winning three titles so the Australian teams muscled up much to the detriment of the attack. Link’s Tahs were very forward oriented despite this they got their best ever crowd averages. Ben Alexander was pretty much the Brumbies leading try scorer.

          Goes to show that precise marketing and stronger coverage throughout the week can bring in crowds not so called Running Rugby.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Having watched a lot of French rugby, the Top 14 is definitely slower, more power-orientated and with a bigger emphasis on set piece play and defence. Much slower in my eyes. I’ll agree that around that point S14 was slower than was S12 or is SR now.

          Giteau was just never the same played after 08 (his last good season for the Wallabies). When he came back in 2015 he was very good in terms of defensive leading and decision-making, but he didn’t threaten like the Giteau of old did, despite the Wallabies’ forwards doing well that year and not facing too many world class packs.

          Part of it is good rugby. Fans are actually happy to watch scrums and pick and gos, they just don’t like scrum resets and incompetent rugby like Australia has shown for a while, although there seems to have been an improvement this year.

        • Nutta

          Guys, playing behind a pack like that with a good 9 and one of the best 10’s in history, Helen Keller would of played well at 12 behind that mob. Kim Jong-un would have been a star. Jeez even I would have… well… maybe not… over-reaching a bit there… maybe…

        • John Miller

          Yep, any of the back 3 would have been a far more intuitive selection for McCabe than international test 12. Though, I can’t say I recall he had much of a boot?

        • Nutta

          Yeh I’m not so sure. I’m a bit more generous towards McCabe. No one had any idea what QC was going to do (least of all QC himself) so McCabe did just about the only thing he could do – pick a line and run it hard.

        • Mica

          Also the wallabies were pretty rubbish at primary support during this period.

        • Bakkies

          Yep, when McCabe played that role at the Brumbies he ran in to space. Having him on the crash broke him literally.

          Thankfully he got himself sorted off the pitch.

        • Who?

          McCabe was inexperienced – so I don’t blame him for his mistakes. Anyone would’ve made those sort of mistakes, thrown in at the deep end in a new position, asked to learn it on the international level. It’s like Le Fuse. In his debut year, he’s scrummaging in a RWC Final. He took years to learn the ins and outs of being a dominant tight head, it took him until 2008 for it all to come together. Then he copped one rotten game from Joubers in Auckland and he was forever gone. Remembered as a failure, when really, it was our system that didn’t cover him while he learned his position. We all know the dark arts in the tight are the toughest to learn, and that you peak in the front row years after every other position in the team.
          Too often players who are learning their position are scapegoated, rather than the coaches who throw them to the wolves (like Dingo with McCabe).
          That said, I think that, if McCabe were genuinely an experienced 12, he’d have visually recognized the opportunity that Quade was looking to exploit, and shifted the ball. And Quade can’t be blamed for McCabe being isolated – you don’t rely on your 10 being the one to clean out two defenders, that’s on your flankers (and Pocock was injured that game, with Big Dog McCalman expected to play 7, Hodgo being left out of the squad. So again, it’s on Deans and his selections.).

        • John Miller

          McCabe’s lack of skillset as a 12 can’t be blamed on Quade Cooper. The last well balanced inside-midfield back combination the Wallabies deployed was Genia-Cooper-Toomua-Kuridrani. At 12, McCabe would often pick a line running directly at the opposition loose forwards or behemoth second fives like Nonu or Roberts and get eaten whole.

          The guy was a 40 test Wallabies winger just waiting to happen. Deans just got it wrong.

        • Patrick

          Amen. Mortlock made a lot possible by the physicality of his presence on that 3/4 line. Just a constant threat even in defence, made a lot of room for his teammates as a result.

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        Larkham didn’t ‘crab’, and not all moving laterally is crabbing. Crabbing is when you move laterally behind the line and accomplish nothing except letting the defensive line drift and taking time away from your outside men.

        Beale crabbed a lot when he was younger. He still crabs sometimes (end of third Irish test) but usually tends to move with purpose, when he moves laterally it is usually to go through a gap or let his outside man get in a better position.

      • Missing Link

        Beale is one of the best if not the best player in the Wallabies, big call when you have players like Pocock and Genia around but Beale has the ability to up the tempo of the whole team. Can’t believe he was sitting on the bench just a few years ago.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I think Genia is far and away our best back, and Pocock is far and away our best forward.

          Difference between the two of them and Beale are decision making and completeness. Beale’s lack of high ball taking, defence and decision-making (at times) means that he can’t quite be put in that same tier of players.

          That said, I think that those three are key if we want to win a World Cup or a Bledisloe. We need all three to play well.

        • Patrick

          With Folau, by a country mile. Even then, only Pocock is a walk-in to a world 22. Genia might make the bench, Folau would be very likely too, and depending on the coach Beale might too but honestly so many other options that are more complete than him.

          Thongan Thor in a few years’ time maybe.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I’m not certainly Folau makes a world 15. Pocock is the only certainty.

          Genia more valuable than Folau as he says a creator and playmaker, not a finisher.

        • Patrick

          That’s true but Folau suffers from his team. If I were selecting a world XV I would be very interested in him as a winger/FB with genuinely best in class skills.

          Australia have always struggled to use him enough imho.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          If I were picking a world 15 I would probably have him as my right wing too.

        • Who?

          Kepu or Tupou would be the bench THP for a World 23, behind Furlong starting.

      • juswal

        crabbing sideways means going forward

        • John Tynan

          COFFE OUT THE NOSE!!!

        • Nutta

          Garcon means boy…

      • 22DropOut

        The people who constantly attack Beale’s playing qualities are surely motivated by what happened under Ewan McKenzie. Beale is an outstanding rugby talent.

        • Who?

          Crazy thing is, I don’t actually recall many people complaining about Beale’s play much in the last few years (other than his defence, and, let’s be honest, it’s not his strong suit). So I don’t know where all this chip on the shoulder behaviour’s originating. Especially when Beale’s not playing 10…

  • Funk

    C’mon Nick…we haven’t lost 6A’s just yet!!!

    • Ed

      When Mike re-signed with the Saders, he was asked if he had spoken with Cheika.
      “I haven’t really heard from him (Cheika).”

      • Nicholas Wasiliev

        That actually sucks. Seriously talented player, 6As is.

        Unlike Cheik though, when an error is made, I shall acknowledge it and make the appropriate amendment.

      • Braveheart81

        He’d be at best the fourth best THP in Australia if he was here. He’s good but I’d hardly have him as a signing priority or a player you’d have high on your radar as the Wallabies coach. THP is probably the position where the highest overall quality player misses out on the matchday 23 when everyone is fit.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Kepu has looked very tired recently. His scrummaging has not been up to standard, especially since the June break. Father time is catching up and we have no way of knowing that he will necessarily make it to the RWC as one of our top two tightheads.

          Michael is better than Allan, I think. I’d say he’d very possibly be the second best tighthead prop in Australia after Tupou already.

          And unless Slipper comes back Allan should still be used as LHP after Sio. I heard somewhere that Robertson was the most penalised prop in SR at the scrum. Yes, he did okay against Ireland, but he had the benefit of scrummaging with Tupou and Latu, and Tupou was destroying the Irish scrum at times.

        • Braveheart81

          I reckon Allan is comfortably better than Mike. He has been significantly better at each age on the way up and I think he is easily better now.

          Kepu is getting near the end but he’s still playing excellent rugby. He was rock solid in the scrum in June and was outstanding in the SR quarter-final against the Highlanders. I agree that his time as a Wallaby will most likely be drawing to a close at the RWC next year.

          Robertson was equal most penalised in the scrum along with two others (12 penalties). Sio was only 1 penalty behind and Mike Ala’alatoa was only 4 back on 8 penalties. Worth noting that Robertson played 300 more minutes than any other loose head prop. Mike A played less than two thirds the minutes he did. Sio played just over half.

          I think Mike Ala’alatoa is good but he probably doesn’t make the Wallaby squad right now and certainly wouldn’t make the matchday 23. Of all the players out there I can’t see how or why the coach should be chasing him hard. The only team he’d start at would be the Rebels and they have a bunch of props on contract.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I’m not convinced that is the case at all, but it is perhaps hard to tell given the quality of the players around Michael.

          Kepu is committing more and more penalties at the breakdown, and looking slower. Still one of the best tightheads in the world though, I think, but I am not convinced it will necessarily remain that way until 2019.

          Sio scrummaged really poorly at the start of the season. In fact, the entire Brumbies scrum was poor for the first half (rather like the Brumbies), but things really turned around in the second half and both Sio and the Brumbies scrummaged much better.

          I wouldn’t have him in the 23 yet, but could easily see a situation where by 2019 our props were as follows:

          1. Sio
          3. Tupou

          17. A. Alaalatoa
          18. M. Alaalatoa

          Robertson just isn’t a good scrummager (although much improved). I would rather Allan at LHP, which would mean we’re relying on Kepu to make it to the RWC. If he makes it, it’s fine, if he doesn’t we would need Michael.

        • Nutta

          I think you guys underestimate the contribution of Kepu in general. I can’t believe I’m actually saying this – whilst No3 is primarily about scrum, there are other facets to the game. Kepu’s ball-skills, tackling and lineout work is really good gear. Add to that he is one of the best TH scrummagers in the world. Absolutely we do and should have players like Tupou coming on but do not underestimate the solidity, heart and confidence that Kepu brings to a team.

          No, I’m not shagging him.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Oh, I don’t underestimate him or them. Prior to this year I would have said he was one of the top tightheads in the world, second only to Furlong.

          However, his scrummaging has declined a bit this year, he is definitely moving a lot slower and less elusively and isn’t making the same contribution at the breakdown and the wider channels as he has in previous years.

          I think father time is catching up to him. His poor performance in the semifinal wasn’t the first, but did illustrate a concerning trend.

        • Nutta

          Time catches us all I guess. Except me. I’m still gallivanting about like it’s 1989…

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Don’t get me wrong if we were in a RWC final tomorrow he is still the guy I would have as our starting tighthead.

          However, at 32, we’re hoping that he lasts another 15 months including a hard international season, SR season and then an entire RWC. I hope he can do it, but I wouldn’t put my house on it. We should hedge our bets there, I think.

        • Who?

          I agree with both of you. But mostly, I’m just really pleased he came home early from overseas, and that it means that we have some of the best THP’s in the world right now. Along with Furlong, Kepu and Tupou do things no other THP’s can do in general play, and they scrummage as well as anyone. If Sekope can make it through the RWC (I believe he’d still be younger than Squeaky’s retirement age doing that), then he’s done way more than we could ever have hoped after the last RWC, where it wasn’t clear how much longer he’d go on.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Also no better person for Tupou and Alaalatoa to learn from. One of our greatest ever props.

    • Nicholas Wasiliev

      Urgh, I really need to stop writing so late at night haha

  • Funk

    Unf’ing believable…how the f’ can CHCH be struggling to sell out 18K tix to the f’ing final!?!?

    • Nicholas Wasiliev

      Especially considering folks haven’t exactly got much else to do in Christchurch…

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Ba-Boom! Hahahahaha love it

      • onlinesideline

        sounds like a dream to me – no people – surrounded by mountains

    • Bakkies

      Not been there but Crusaders fans have said it is like sitting on an ice cube with a wind chill gale blowing in your face.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Nick, This game at leichardt should be a cracker. I wonder if it’s seen by the playuers as a possibles vs probables type match. The AB’s used to play these and it was always a great match with some real passion, especially from the possibles. Be interesting if the Many Mavericks manage a win.

    I think the Crusaders should win but the Lions will be pumped. 3rd finals in a row is a pretty damn good achievment but they’ll defrinitely be wanting to go the extra step. I think it’ll be a lot closer Crusaders by 8.

    I think Hodge will be good at centre as he reminds me more of a Conrad Smith than a Nonu, although without a Nonu type player at 12 the backline may be lacking that straight running crash ball that is needed to straighten the attack and provide the space outside. This can be achieved by the big wingers of fullback coming in but can be risky if the ball is lost.

    • Mica

      Unders line from OC channel?
      Always loved run around play and scissors in the centres.
      Really keeps the defence guessing with multiple options and variations.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Yeah I’d like to see more of this. There seems to be less and less really smart play just an over reliance on dummy runners and I know the referees are being tasked to look at these more critically for obstruction so it may not be such a smart choice as time goes on.

    • Fatflanker

      This should be a brilliant game. Don’t expect Crusaders to get pushed around in the scrum but that Lions maul is going to be a harder beast to tame. Normally go for the underdogs in these all SH clashes but since Lions are farking off to NH and the last thing we need is the crowing we’ll cop if the 2018 Super rugby champions are getting beaten by half their opponents next year – go Crusaders!

  • Missing Link

    looking forward to the games tonight and tomorrow!

    • Hoss

      Morning Link,

      Me too. I think tonight shows the Lebanese Silk Trader has / is evolving as a coach. Really refreshing.

      Good to see Jimmy Slipps get a run.

      Great idea, love the free entry and live streaming.

      Overall how very un-RA – its great.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Hoss, you could be right. Depending how the match goes and the squad he ends up pucking from it.
        If there is no forced changed due injury or glaring form. Then we know he hasnt.

        • Nutta

          ‘Pucking’ – did you just show your true colours you fake-news Trump-defier? Or are you saying its a squad that Cheks will hit repeatedly with a bent stick standing on ice?

        • Brisneyland Local

          Second one. Actually, Just really bad typing! Did you watch the game?

        • Nutta

          Unfortunately no. Was tied up elsewhere and not in a good way…

        • Brisneyland Local

          Pity was a good watch. Mind you apparently being tied up is a good watch too!
          In normal circumstances toomua just played himself into the 10 Jersey. But in Cheika world he just played himself onto the bench!

  • Brisneyland Local

    I see the game is being cast on Rugby.com.au
    But does anyone know what time it starts?

    • Dud Roodt

      6.45 I believe

      • Mica

        Thanks. Was wondering the same.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Thank you my good man!

        • Dud Roodt

          Any time old chap

        • Brisneyland Local

          Gee arent we dignified for a Friday afternoon.

  • Hoss

    Morning earthlings.

    Working past 11 today, but done now – exhausted.

    Looking forward to a cracker this weekend, starting tonite. I love everything about it, the sides, the concept, the locale and the live streaming – bravo rugby brains behind it all

    Onto the showdown for the crown. Could be closer than a lot think. But i cant see the Saders getting rolled. Besides i was at the RWC 07 final and there’s nothing worse than Bok fans when they win – go the Saders.

    My contribution for today – the inaugriual, inorgrable – the first ever GAGR Friday Quiz.

    Score Ranking:

    10/10 – GAGR Legend status, but really, what have you done with your life that you get them right – seek medical opinion.
    7-9 Not dumb, can dress yourself, not entirely socially aware though
    4-6 Possible Kiwi here on 457 Visa
    0-3 RA Board member.

    The Questions

    1. Its RWC 2019. Nigel Owens has courted controversy by releasing an album of his favourite Welsh Valleys & Downs hymns. Whats the name of the album. Pick one correct answer
    a. My beating black heart
    b. I have 2 eye colours – All Black
    c. I love you Ritchie – or
    d. ‘Away with you Steevun’
    e. All of the above

    2. Two part question:
    – What South African player is named after a native Zebra extinct since 1883 ?
    – And did his parents hate him ?

    3. Its the summer of 2020, the week leading to Christmas, a Labour Government is in power. Two identical passenger trains are due to leave Sydney Central station, both heading 450 km, one north, one south. The northern line is flat and the train travels at a constant 88 km / hour. The southern line is facing a 3.7 degree incline for the duration, but travels at 103.6 km / hour. Both have identical weights and neither stop. Who arrives at their destination first.

    4. A French outside centre is decapitated during the 2019 RWC Semi v AB’s. The AB 1 & 7 are involved in the tackle. Who is penalised, suspended and why ?

    5. Will Eddie Jones (aka Dr Evil) make it to RWC 19 as coach of Ol Blighty ?

    6. Which gifted Wallaby 9 gave up a promising Wallaby career to return to driving a truck at a coal mine ?

    7. Steve Hansen was spotted smiling in public – what was the cause:
    a Hit a pedestrian with his car
    b. Saw that the worlds best 7 was still picked at 8
    c. Had just listened to Nigel Owens LP
    d. Was told ‘Blind Benny O’Keefe’ was officiating

    8. True or False. In the 2019 Reds, BT introduces abstinence from the evils of the flesh or devil nectar in as part of his overall moral authority for his young troops. Weekly hymn sessions are introduced instead of
    – True
    – False

    9. Sensing a changing wind, Quade Cooper, Karmichael Hunt and Jimmy Slips head west ahead of the Force returning to the revised Super format in 2021. Cooper aged 48, Hunt 63 and Slipper 39 are the marquee signings in a disappointing year for the re-branded Force Awakens. Law suits follow from Disney

    – True
    – False

    10. Yes or No.

    Australia win the 2018 4N and Bledisloe. Tensions between the sun-burnt country and the long while sliver – stripping aforementioned slightly dim, possibly backwards middle earth residents of national pride. All efforts by the NZ government are put into netball to reclaim some national pride, also into rowing, as Rampaging HG Nelson famously put it – ‘kiwis are at their best, sitting down going backwards’.

    Answers after lunch, i need a lie down.

    • Funk

      1 e
      2. Fiickie Bakkies Johanus van de westerhausen – du Preez
      3. this is a trick question…no-one will vote for Bill Shorten
      4. the Frenchie, is red carded for placing the aig players forearm and shoulder in dangerous positions with his head; suspension 6 weeks extended to 12 weeks due to it being against 2 aigs
      5. No
      6. frisby
      7. e (none of the above), the smile was actually due to SH cupcaking himself and loving it!
      8. true
      9. false, Hunt is found in connection to the recent 600kg of the white powdery substance confiscated off the coast of Byron Bay this week and is welcomed back by the NRL
      10. No, the wallabies do win the BC and RC, however nz has now given up on netball due their disastrous commonwealth games effort, all allocated monies are now being distributed to their sheep dog trials team.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Gold

    • idiot savant

      Mate that is spectacular but you do appear to have a lot of time on your hands. Its not wasted on me though.

      The only answers I know are: 6- Steve Merrick (possibly the last halfback to light up a stogie after a test match) and 8- True (The Reds will be renamed next year as The Christian Fundamentalists)

      • Alister Smith

        Steve Merrick was the last player to be selected for the Wallabies from NSW Country if I remember correctly – the one before that was Dave Carter (Sam’s dad)

    • Nutta

      1. D
      2. Jarpy & yes
      3. 47.
      4. Frenchman. Assaulting a AIB. Only AIB may assault AIBs.
      5. Gear steward
      6. Steve Merrick
      7. B
      8. True
      9. False. QC still at Souths just to prove a point
      10. Yes

  • Bay35Pablo

    Lions talking up Saders getting rub of the green. Welcome to the party late boys, only took you how many years to realise?

  • Jamie Miller

    Cavill and I will be signing autographs by the pie stand. One at a time please.

    • Moz

      One pie at a time?

      • Who?

        One pie per autograph?
        Just hope they don’t eat the pies with a knife and fork – no matter how hot they are! :-P

        • Nutta

          I know! Fk-me i thought these idiots even had tax-payer funded media advisors! Seriously you wouldnt see shit that far fetched on Utopia!

        • Who?

          To be fair, if it’s hot, I’ll eat a pie or pizza with a knife and fork. Once it’s cool, I’ll drop the cutlery and get the food in my hands. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t look good, especially in a photo. It’s like Trump’s photo at the last G7, sitting down arms folded with Merkel and co looking over her. The story the photo told summed up the summit, but didn’t actually fairly sum up that moment. I don’t say that as a fan of Trump, just as someone who hopefully understands there’s always more to what’s going on than what we see.

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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