Friday's Rugby News - Green and Gold Rugby
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Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News has more on Rugby Australia’s Women’s World Cup bid, the sum to keep Hooper in Australia, a deliciously crispy edition of club corner, what’s going on in the west this weekend and more NRC squads.


RA Corner

Michael Hooper and MIchael Cheika press conference

Michael Hooper and Michael Cheika press conference

It’s time for some Rugby Australia goss, and we’ll start with the girls.

In 2016, the women’s game was in dire straits when it was announced Buildcorp was pulling their support for the NRC due to a lack of progress to get more women playing.

Now, Australia has a Aon Uni-Sevens competition, the Super W, and back-to-back Bledisloe tests between the Wallaroos and Black Ferns, which will hopefully serve as the beginning of a more regular yearly test schedule for the girls.

The Wallaroos will be receiving test match payments for the first time ever this year, and three will be more universities in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney joining the Aon Uni-Sevens competition over the next two years.

And of course, the Women’s Sevens team have won the World Series in two of the past three seasons, won the Gold in Rio in 2016, and the Silver on the Gold Coast in 2018. The fact we consider that silver ‘disappointing’ just proves my point of how this program has grown.

Well, as probably most folks already know, today Rugby Australia will officially be unveiling a bid to host the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup, and if successful, it will mark the first time that the event has come to the Southern Hemisphere.

Raelene Castle fronted the media yesterday, where they announced Newcastle and the Hunter will host the event.

“There are currently over 60,000 women and girls playing rugby in Australia with a third of those playing rugby in New South Wales and Newcastle and the Hunter region is home to the largest concentration of female rugby players in New South Wales,” she said to ABC News.

Castle admitted that she hopes to see the Wallaroos have more home tests, and hopes to see more back-to-back series with other international teams. Just imagine if the Wallaroos had been able to play against the Irish women’s team in June this year?

“That makes sense from a practical point of view, the fact that you would turn all future rugby Tests into double headers,” she said.

“There is no doubt every tier one nation has an established and developed women’s program and that’s certainly an evolution I’d like to see in the future.”

With professional Women’s Rugby now potentially on the horizon, many Wallaroo veterans are starting to back Rugby Australia’s efforts to grow the game.

“It’s a credit to all the girls who stuck with the sport, it was in dire straits but to see how much exposure we have now and the level we get to play at week in week out, it’s just going to strengthen the sport in Australia,” Wallaroo Grace Hamilton said yesterday.

If you want to know more about how to #backthebid, click here. 

The other big news out of Rugby HQ is on the mens front, with the announcement that Michael Hooper has officially committed to Australian and New South Wales rugby for a whopping five year, six million dollar contract.

Reports first surfaced of this deal back in April, and at the time the Wallaby captain played his cards close to his chest.

“There are a lot of things going on, as you can imagine. Whenever that time arrives, so be it,” he said to rugby.com.au. 

“I love playing rugby in Australia. It is such a great place to play rugby.

“There is a great talent pool and we have a lot of players coming up who are hungry to win, and that’s something that is exciting.”

The contract takes Hoops through to 2023. Fans reactions have been mostly positive, with some questioning whether Hoops is worth the money and whether it would be better spent of giving it to grassroots.

I mean, he is the Wallaby captain, and he’s a freak on the field. He’s also never put a foot wrong outside of the rugby sphere and is a fantastic role model for many of the younger players. But hey, that’s my opinion.

What do we reckon GAGRs? Is Hoops worth the money?

Club Corner

McCaffrey, Locky tackled 140913D-3074.JPG

It’s crunch time in clubland. And with it comes a super crunchy addition of Club Corner. Warning: may contain nuts.

Before we dive deep into the many Finals series that are going on, we’ll start in Sydney, with the final regular season round of the Intrust Super Shute Shield. Last weekend, a hundred points plus were scored as Gordon went down 33-71 against Southern Districts, the Wicks were thumped 7-45 at home by The Students, Eastern Suburbs were embarrassed by the Shoreman at home losing 5-51, the Rats overcame a resilient West Harbour outfit, winning 38-16, and Manly got the fright of their lives, with Parramatta turning up and nearly knocking off the Marlins before going down 30-31.

This weekend, with a five point lead over Northern Suburbs and a home match against cellar dwellers Gordon, Sydney University should be guaranteed the top of the table. Manly, Warringah, Eastwood and Eastern Suburbs will round off the top six.

Round Eighteen Fixtures:

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

South Australia is also still in its regular season, as the Coopers Premier Grade heads into its penultimate round this weekend. In Round Thirteen last week, Woodville were hammered 5-92 by Onkaparinga, Burnside defeated Souths Suburbsa 20-12, and Brighton destroyed Old Collegians 62-34.

With the penultimate round this weekend, the top four (Burnside (58 pts), Onkaparinga (52), Brighton (45) and Old Collegians (39)) are all but locked in for the semi-finals, with twenty-one points separating fourth from fifth.

Round Fourteen Fixtures:

Onkaparinga v Burnside
Old Collegians v Woodville
Souths Suburbs v Brighton

Now the regular season is out of the way, let’s head into finals footy!

Starting off in WA, the final round of the FMG Premiership Division will kick off this weekend, which will decide the last four teams that will make the semis for next week. Last week, Kalamunda kept their year alive by defeating Cottesloe 34-13, Joondalup went down to Wests Scarborough 17-55, and Associates closed the gap at the top of the table with a 30-0 win over Nedlands.
Currently, Nedlands (65) Associates (61) and Wests Scarborough (59) are guaranteed a semi-final position, but should Cottesloe (53) lose to Associates this weekend, Kalamunda (51) would have to defeat Joondalup to steal fourth place.

Round Eighteen Fixtures:

Nedlands v Wests Scarborough
Cottesloe v Associates
Joondalup v Kalamunda

Heading over to Brisbane, the semi-finals of the Hospital Challenge Cup took place last week, with University of Queensland defeating GPS 24-21, and Souths going down to Easts 25-17. To learn exactly how Souths lost that game, listen to the GAGR pod.

University of Queensland can now enjoy a weekend off, with their spot for the big dance booked. This weekend, GPS will face off against Easts in the preliminary final to decide who will join them next weekend.

Preliminary Final Fixture:

GPS v Easts

The Semi-Finals also took place last week down in Canberra, with the John I Dent Cup seeing a whole bunch of surprising results. Firstly, Tuggeranong went down at home to Royals, losing 20-26, while Gungahlin pulled off a surprise win after a controversial week, knocking Uni-Norths out of contention with a 17-27 win.

Royals will now enjoy a week off before the Grand Final, and could have the chance to make club history and claim back-to-back titles for the first time in 27 years. Meanwhile, Tuggeranong and Gungahlin will face off this weekend to decide who will face them.

Preliminary Final Fixture:

Tuggeranong v Gungahlin

And lastly, there were a few surprises down in Melbourne, with the semi-finals of the BLK Dewar Shield last weekend. After leading the competition the whole season, Melbourne went down to Harlequins at home 6-20, while Moorabbin knocked Power House out of contention, winning 17-5.

Harlequins will now enjoy the weekend off before the Grand Final next weekend, looking to also go back-to-back. Melbourne will face off this weekend against Moorabbin to determine who will challenge them for the Shield.

Preliminary Final Fixture:

Melbourne v Moorabbin

Well, at the end of that delicious dish of club corner, I leave you with a poem…

Enjoy ye club rugby, for soon it’ll be dun,
When the whistle blows, and the victors won.
Ahead, we’ll look, and soon all shall see,
Soon shall arrive, the NRC!

You can tell it’s Friday…God, I need a beer.

Go West, Young Man!

ForceSamoa5

Think there’s no professional rugby happening this weekend? Think again.<

This weekend sees the penultimate match of World Series Rugby, with the Western Force taking the field against the Hong Kong Dragons.

The Force have currently won three matches and lost two, with wins over Fiji, Tonga and Samoa and losses to the Rebels and Super Rugby champions the Crusaders.

Todd Sampson has made changes aplenty for the match. The Force have announced a young squad, including the likes of Cameron and Harrison Orr, Jack McGregor and Leon Power making their debuts for the club.

However, the likes of Marcel Brache and Rodney Iona are also back, returning from international duty.

Many folks in WA might see this match as a shoe-in for the men from the west, however the Dragons are are still in the mix for the World Cup playoffs, and this year swept the Asia Rugby Championship held in South Korea, winning for the first time in their history.

“They have guys [from Hong Kong] that have a lot of experience from New Zealand and the UK,” Sampson said to the West Australian.

“There are a couple of names I recognise from Shute Shield.

“There is quality from many parts of the world.

“They are in a full-time program and will be big and fit.

“They throw the ball around. They will be a good test.”

Western Force squad: Cameron Orr, Heath Tessmann, Chris Heiberg, Jeremy Thrush, Leon Power, Harrison Orr, Tevin Ferris, Brynard Stander, Ian Prior, Peter Grant, Brad Lacey, Henry Taefu, Marcel Brache, Clay Uyen, Jack McGregor. Reserves: Harry Scoble, Markus Vanzati, Kieran Longbottom, Fergus Lee-Warner, Henry Stowers, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, AJ Alatimu, Rodney Iona, George Pisi.

In other Force news, the Own the Force campaign has been resurrected in WA, with the club set to become a premier fan-owned club.

With Twiggy reviving the Force, talks between influential power brokers (including foundation members from the 2004 bid) have begun to discuss transferring the club into a fan-owned entity, to allow Twiggy to focus on completing his expansion for World Series Rugby.

The Own the Force campaign raised over $2 million back in 2016 before Twiggy took over. However, RugbyWA chairman John Edwards admitted that he feels, with the success of WSR, more fans will be willing to sign on.

“There is an appetite for it and we will ensure that the people get what they want,” Edwards said to The West Australian.

“When the dark cloud was hanging over the club [in 2016] there was a feeling that we could have done so much better.

“If the axing of the Force was a watershed for rugby in WA, then this will be an even bigger moment. The crowds at World Series Rugby matches demonstrates there is a huge appetite for professional rugby in WA.

“We are confident that in a home-and-away format there will be plenty more to look forward too. In taking ownership of the Force we also see a significant opportunity for sponsors in the Asian market, one of the main areas of focus for World Series Rugby.”

The Force will have one more World Series Rugby game after this weekend against the Panasonic Wild Knights from Japan’s Top League, and an exhibition match against the Stockman’s Rugby Union on August 25th, which you can find out more about by listening to the most recent Dropped Kick-Off podcast.

After that, they’ll begin their NRC campaign on September 1. Speaking of which…

Hoist the Sails!

Fiji Pre-game huddle

Fiji Pre-game huddle

Is it weird to think that the National Rugby Championship kicks off in only three weeks?

Well, with the Western Force putting their squad together earlier this year, and the release of the Brisbane City and Queensland Country squads last week, the Fijian Drua became the fourth team to announce their extended squad that will compete for the fabled Toast Rack. 

There is a much younger vibe to this squad, with only four Fijian internationals in the team. However, to underestimate them would be a grave mistake, as a lot of this young talent were amongst the Fiji Warriors side that took it to the Force earlier this year.

The Drua were a welcome breath of fresh air to the NRC last year, and despite only being in the competition for one year, are regarded as legitimate title contenders for this year.

“We have less than three weeks to prepare and are racing against time. My main concern right now is to prepare the team for the tough competition that we have ahead of us,” said coach Senirusi Seruvakulato the Fiji Sun.

“There are only seven teams in this year’s competition and there is no bye, which means that we will be playing every week, so there is a need for the team to maintain consistency in their training and recovery.”

The extended squad began training yesterday, and the Drua will kick off their campaign with two home games against Melbourne Rising and Brisbane City, respectively.

The Fijian Drua Squad: 

Forwards – Eroni Mawi, Joeli Vei­tayaki, Mateo Qolisese, Ratunaisa Navuma, Mesulame Dolokoto, Vugakoto Veremalua, Mosese Du­civaki, Luke Tagi, Alivereti Rabu­kawaqa, Tevita Naqali, Peni Naul­ago, Albert Tuisue, Mosese Voka, Johnny Dyer Jone Navori, Filimoni Seru, Eremasi Radrodro, Peni Ra­idre.

Backs -Serupepeli Vularika, Frank Lomani, Peni Matawalu, Alivereti Veitokani, Jone Manu, Cyril Reece, Jona Sawailau, Poasa Waqanibau, Apisalome Vota, Asesela Atunaisa, Avete Daveta, Levani Kurumudu, Aporosa Tabulawaki, Apisalome Waqatabu, Enele Malele.

Extended Playing Squad – Atunaisa Maio­no, Seru Cakobau, Penijamini Makutu, Samuela Saqiwa, Sailosi Dawai, Elia Canakaivata, Aisea Natoga, Veramu Dikidikilati, Peni Vukayawa, Apenisa Deve, Joseva Turuva, Asesela Ratudamu.

  • John_R

    Some more chat out of the Reds. Apparently they are trying to coax Berrick Barnes back for next year.

    • Ed

      Acoording to the Smellograph, Folau will backflip on the Reds and stay with the Tahs. I wonder if he will have a long, huge contract like Hooper or a one-year deal that Foley is said to be signing.

      • John_R

        Last I read, the sticking point was the length of the contract. Think Folau wants 4 years from memory?

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Four years from an outside back of Folau’s age is a long time! Is Foley only signing a one year contract?

        • John_R

          That’s what I thought as well hey. I would’ve bet good money he wanted a 1 year contract so he could go on the European market after the world cup. But apparently not!

          And re: Foley, 1 year is what I’ve read too. I think that might’ve been in the SMH.

      • 22DropOut

        I hope not. The best thing for Australian rugby, and for Folau from an outsider’s perspective, is a move to Queensland.

    • Alister Smith

      Not sure how his form in Japan has been but it might be a great opportunity to further develop Stewart with Barnes at inside and Kerevi outside (i thought I saw something that said he was staying on?)

      • John_R

        Yeah last I saw was that Kerevi was going to sign a one year extension at the Reds as well Alister. What’s going on up in Brisbane? Seems like a lot of itchy feet there at the moment. Which contrasts beautifully with the steadfast refusal to move on that Quadey is showing

        • Greg

          Bingo! there is the first mention of the day of QC’s contractual situation!

        • Alister Smith

          He certainly attracts a lot of attention Greg. For me, nothing summed up QC’s career better than the closing minutes for Souths in the semi last weekend. Anyway, I am sure there will be plenty more talk about him until he 1. changes BT’s mind, 2. finds another SR club or 3. heads off to Japan/Europe.

        • disqus_NMX

          All you guys want to keep shitting on QC, but the facts of this season are that he took Souths from near the bottom of the table last year, to the finals this year. And meanwhile the Reds backline has performed like a club standard in a Super competition, and the Reds went from 5th last to 3rd last, and achieved that glorious standard with a newly dominant forward pack. How’s that brain fart stack up for ya? You missed option 4. BT moves on, or gets moved on. A very real possibility if next season is like this one.

        • Hoss

          Khoder is that you ???

        • disqus_NMX

          Lol, no. In case you missed it, there are a truck load of rugby fans who are pissed off that QC got dumped. This forum itself is non-stop with the subject.

        • onlinesideline

          Maybe the reality is, he doesnt care as much as we are all talkimg about it as he is pulling in 600k a year and is slightly pre-occupied with other things ….. errrr starts with Laura … ends wih…

        • onlinesideline

          lol – spoken like a true Quade supporter.

        • disqus_NMX

          No argument with that :)

        • Alister Smith

          I don’t keep shitting on him, i just don’t think he is as good as you obviously do and, as I have expressed a number of times before, I don’t think he has the decision making of the very top class 10’s – I am talking about blokes like Carter, Lynagh and Larkham. I think that final play last Saturday was an example of that. If you think that was a good piece of decision making then fine. Regardless of where they finished I think Thorn has made real improvements in the culture at the Reds and I have enjoying watching him develop the team and develop as a coach. Obviously you don’t agree. BT could be gone at the end of 2019 and if he does it will be because of his own decisions and record, including his decision around Quade but, so far, I think he has done enough to be hopeful going into next season.

        • disqus_NMX

          I agree that QC isn’t in the class of Carter, Lynagh, or Larkham, but who is? Certainly not any other 5/8th in Australia at the moment.

          As for the Souths game against Easts, if there were only 5 mins left on the clock, I’d agree with you, but there was 15 mins left, and plenty of time for both teams to keep adding to the scoreboard (as Easts did with another try – and won by 8 points, so the 3 points wouldn’t have made a difference). His decision and execution were pure class, it was caught well inside the dead ball line, but the defender managed to drive the player out just before he could get the ball down. Inches in it, and quite frankly, I’d love to see a TMO replay of it. QC didn’t lose that game, he almost won it, and it was the forward pack that lost it, they were dominated across the park.

          And even if you think it was a bad play, do you really think that was a shit decision compared to the countless of times the Wallabies have eschewed 3 points in a vain attempt to go for a try? I’m pretty sure we would have won the Irish series if not for all those “brain fart” decisions.

          And that’s the bit that shits me the most. When QC fluffs something risky, it’s called a brain fart or he’s labelled flaky or it’s said to sum up his career. But when Hooper makes countless stupid decisions as captain, he gets a $6m contract extension. And when Foley keeps making stupid decisions and poor execution, he gets rewarded by being undroppable.

          So no, I don’t think QC is in the class of Larkham et al, but I think he’s the best 10 in the country, and most definitely the best in Qld.

          We love QC because of those risky plays, not despite them, because he pulls them off so often, and wins games with them that we would have lost otherwise.

        • Alister Smith

          Well I prefer a more conservative approach

        • Alister Smith

          I also dont think anyone else is in the class of the three players I listed – I probably think Foley is the best we have (or the combination of Foley and Beale). I will be as keen as anyone to see if Toomua can be better.

          I have never been a particular fan of QC because he plays a high risk (and yes at times a high reward) game. Wally Lewis could also throw a 35m cut out pass but he probably threw a lot less of them than QC because he only through them when they were necessary.

          There is no doubt though that the QC of 2011 (and a few years either side of that) was a world class player. The fact that he had Genia on the inside also helped because it meant he didnt have 100% of the focus on him to do everything.

          But I watched him live a couple of times last year at Lang Park and it looked to me as if he was struggling badly with injury. In 2011 he was the answer but I dont think he is the answer for the Reds in 2018 or 2019.

          While only 30 or 31 he has lost some of what made him a great individual player and that was, for me, so much of what his game was built around. While he has obviously matured as an individual I dont think his game has changed enough to compensate for his loss of pace etc. In Prems he can still get away with it because the speed of the defensive line is that bit slower but at Super last year I felt he was slipping and for someone who plays in a way that makes him so integral to every element of the play when he starts to slip it all goes down with him.

          Bringing him back now would undermine what has been achieved this year (I know you think we went backwards and understand the reason why but I think there has been improvement). In any case, he is now (perhaps through no fault of his own) a 30 yo who hasn’t played Super rugby in over a year – if he sticks out next year as well you add another year to that.

          My honest opinion is that his best days are behind him and that its time for the Reds to move on, to invest in the youth they have there and are coming through and to add a couple of experienced players who can mentor in the way the new coach wants to play. Clearly QC, while possibly a good mentor in the way he wants to play, doesnt fit the bill for Thorn and I tend to agree.

        • Who?

          I don’t disagree that Cooper’s best days were likely around 2015-2016, physically. But I think it’s a bit rough to judge any Reds back on last year’s performances. I agree that Cooper was injured last year, and played through it. It was visible, particularly in his pace. He still made up for it in other ways (for instance, when he picked off Foley’s long pass, was easily being chased down, then dropped in a left footed grubber for Perese (?) to score), but it wasn’t ever going to be his absolute best.
          But again, it’s rough to judge a back – especially a flyhalf – when they spend an entire season behind a pack that can’t tackle, can’t secure quick ball, and is generally dominated. Whilst Cooper looked like he was struggling with injury, the Reds pack looked like it was struggling with fitness and accuracy. The amount of times I saw Reds forwards go for big ‘hits’ in defence, only to fail to hold the tackled player, was staggering. So, maximum effort, poor execution, minimum reward. So what do you do when you’re in the back half of a game and your pack’s exhausted? You play kindly – you put the ball in front of them, rather than asking them to work hard to recycle it. It takes way more energy in the game before the EOYT (i.e before they changed the laws to make it harder for tacklers to contest the breakdown, and before they changed the moment of the creation of offside lines) to attack than to defend, so you get the ball in front of the pack, take some territory (reduce pressure), and stop the play (let them take a breath!). Of course, to someone like Cheika, who doesn’t believe in kicking, that looks like you’re not enjoying your Rugby. But the alternative is that you lose to Scotland and barely scrape by Italy because your pack’s not fit enough.
          In terms of the way Thorn wants to play… His pack needs to learn to run at gaps and pass the ball. That doesn’t appear to be a focus for Brad – he didn’t show much of that as a player, but it’s an area the AB’s have massively developed since he left. It’s something that Gibson’s got the Tahs doing well. It’s a more modern game than the Reds are playing, and so I’m not confident that Thorn’s got the game plan right. And it’s not like he hasn’t got the players – Tupou’s a fantastic ball carrier, Timu, Rodda and Tui could certainly develop an offloading, short passing game. They’d be better Wallabies for it, too. And the backs, well, they didn’t do much through most of the season…

        • Alister Smith

          Yes all fair points – I think we are a fair distance apart on Quade and probably never likely to get there completely but I have certainly got a better appreciation for his game now than I used.
          I think you make an interesting point with regards to Gibson but note that Gibson has been given three years to get there. There were plenty of people calling for his head at the end of last season. He also “benefitted” from being mentored by Cheika (against that is somewhere we will probably disagree) and after Cheika left and took some of the coaching team he had to rebuild things around his own style with some new assistants. I must admit I get a bit frustrated by Cheika’s run at all costs approach, it’s a bit fundamentalist and I would rather we were a bit more pragmatic and played to conditions, situations as required.
          I think it will take Thorn a while to do that but I think that he has made some gains in terms of culture, attitude and some basics in the forwards, particularly around set piece. Towards the end of the year they seemed to have a few more points in them and
          Hopefully he will add to that next year and while he may not have had much evasion etc as a player I don’t agree that that impacts on his ability to add those things as a coach. If he gets the right people around him and is open to their ideas then that can flourish. So it is more a test of his management and his leadership. He strikes me as being a sort of bloke that if he doesn’t know something he will work to learn it or find others who can (but I don’t know him personally so I may have it entirely wrong). Personally I hope he get’s it right because, whether I like him or not, I don’t think another change of coaches is the answer, just improvement.

        • Who?

          I think we probably have pretty different perspectives on Cooper over time, but what I addressed above wasn’t even really about Cooper. The same would’ve applied to Lance, Stewart, Paia’aua or anyone else who was unlucky enough to play 10 behind that pack. Regardless, I think it’s fair to say that we’d agree that the Cooper situation is a massive financial waste. We might disagree about the cause (I believe it’s because they damaged Cooper’s chances of finding a new club with the timing of their press release, the manner they’ve handled it, and the allegations they refuse to top up his contract with other clubs – i.e. Cooper can stay at the Reds on $600+ doing nothing, or go to the Brums/Rebs for $400k + Reds top up of about $200, which the QRU refuse to pay according to rumours on here), but I don’t think anyone would say this is anything other than a horrible waste for all involved.
          And I think Cooper may well have looked at stepping back post 2019. He’s getting on. I think the transition to whoever’s next (will it be Stewart long term? I don’t know) might’ve been smoother, too, if they’d been able to be transitioned in (as Stiles was doing with Stewart), rather than dumped in it.
          I think Thorn’s made progress in effort around the park, but I don’t know that he’s made significant steps forward in set piece. The Reds, it must be remembered, had a faltering scrum for the first half of 2017, but apart from that, under Stiles’ care (both as head coach, co-head coach, and forwards coach), the scrum was actually quite strong. Similarly, the lineout was quite solid.
          With whispers around unhappy players and players leaving, I don’t know whether anyone can be certain whether Thorn’s made a positive impact, a negative impact, or no impact on culture.
          I’m also unsure that Thorn’s a learner. He played under Henry, sure. But he also played under Bennett (very much a ‘my way or the highway’ kind of guy, although one who does bring in outside help when he sees a need) and Deans (who consistently surrounded himself with yes men as assistants and saw little value in outside input). So I’m not confident he’ll be the learning and listening coach that it takes to succeed at the top level. That doesn’t mean he won’t succeed ever, it means he might need to change his style to succeed (as Henry did, learning to listen – he started more autocratic, and became much more collaborative over time).
          I don’t think that the correct approach to coaching is to focus on being hard, then upskilling. You start as you mean to finish. You don’t teach a player to be hard and run over players, then change so they run at holes. That doubles your coaching lead times as you teach, unteach and reteach.
          In terms of points, Lance had a hand in a fair few of those, and he’s gone. And I don’t know that the QRU has any history of appointing decent coaching staff since Link. That’s a long time ago now – almost a decade.
          I’m not saying he should be dumped – I agree, sometimes you’ve got to pick and stick. The QRU have changed too much (I don’t think they should’ve sacked Stiles – even that was a change more than they should’ve done). But I’m not confident in Thorn for the short term, and I sincerely hopes he learns from his clear mistakes in his first year (including list management).
          In terms of Gibson, I think he’s finally feeling as though he’s got some independence to do what he wants, rather than just following the Cheika philosophy. We’re seeing a much more Kiwi style this year than the power game that Cheika wanted. Is Gibson a great coach? I don’t know. He was dumped by Blackadder, and I don’t consider Blackadder a great coach (solid, not great). But he’s a learning coach, and I think he’s right with his emphasis on support play and passing in his forwards. I might be wrong, but I think Hanigan’s become a much more dangerous ball runner this year, because he’s looking for support and not dying with the ball.

        • Alister Smith

          Thanks Who – agree re: financial waste and the initial decision around QC and timing around that – if you don’t want him then boot him before resigning him for a couple of years. Similarly why did Cheika put so much effort into getting him back and then not really give him a run in the position.

          Very hard to argue with a lot of your points. Perhaps on list management its not as clear cut. Not too many were arguing for Frisby to be kept and the two young blokes who have played this year have gone OK but not sure why Tuttle was shifted out of it so quickly. I think the decision around Karmichael Hunt was fair given his past (though he wasnt actually convicted of that second cocaine posession charge – only the lesser drug). Once they drew the hard line on Hunt though it is then difficult with Slipper – it was a repeat offence after all. But I hope, for the Reds sake, that BT becomes a better coach and that the QRU also learn from their mistakes over the past few years and become a better franchise. Anyway, I am still encouraged by this year, but that is more gut feel than stats and as you or someone else commented, that stats havent shown much improvement. My vision might be blurred by my personal view of Thorn, who I think was perhaps the greatest convert of all time. Some of the faith I put in him is based around his capacity to be able to change and develop skills in scrum and lineout and I also like his general approach to the game. Anyway – we will see where next year leads us.

        • Who?

          Thorn’s statistically – well, at least by championships – the greatest footballer of all time. Origin, Kangaroos, RWC winner, Super 14, Heineken Cup, NRL Championship… I don’t know that there’s a trophy he’s not won! So I’ve much respect for him, and as a personality. I’m just not convinced – full stop – by former players as coaches. They start way further back in my estimation, because they’ve often not had to think things through as much as those who weren’t nearly so naturally talented.
          I really do hope that Thorn grows. I think he had a good way to grow, because he was dumped into a rotten situation very, very green. When you think about just how green he is, it’s not really a surprise he’s made mistakes and put a heap of people offside. He’s got absolutely no experience! Which is, yet again, another indictment against the QRU’s board. I don’t imagine Thorn was agitating hard to take on the Reds. And if he was, I further question the QRU’s judgment, because no one should think that a greenhorn who’s desperate to push out his superior is a great candidate to introduce a new culture and lead a team.
          I didn’t argue for Frisby to be retained (but didn’t think it was very fair that he and Vanzati were axed), as the Reds arguably had enough 9’s. But it made less sense that he was axed only for Ben Lucas to come back and spend most of the season at 9.
          I agree about Hunt, not quite with Slipper. Slipper, it’s a first offence for the QRU (first positive test is a medical notice, second one is disciplinary, all were outside competition testing, no police involvement). But Thorn’s made a rod for his own back with some of his statements.

        • John_R

          It’s an honour Greg!

        • Nicholas Wasiliev

          We have a winner!

          Congrats sir, you’ve won today’s edition of QuadeBingo! Straight mention or Quade, Brisbane and the Reds!

          Your prize is free tickets to the Hospital Challenge Cup grand final, which Quade would be playing in if he didn’t have a brain fart last weekend…

        • Hoss

          Complete with free rose coloured glasses, a copy of the Boss’ ‘Glory days’ and the 2011 Rugby Almanac that states he was the best 10 ever to don the jumper.

          Queue Benny Hill music now.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          gold

        • Hoss

          Love it mate – i reckon some reds fans wrote this gag.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vuW6tQ0218

      • idiot savant

        No please keep the Scottish Tongan at 12. Duncan could be anything. Water the bastard and let the flower bloom. If they dont sign a 15, Barnes will probably play there but his main job should be teaching the other Scot Hamish everything he knows at training about playing 10. He could teach Duncan as well.

    • John Tynan

      You better be taking the piss….or else I’m sitting out for another year.

      • John_R

        In the DT mate. I can’t imagine Berrick wanting to come back, the risk of concussions etc.. But who knows aye.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Honestly, that seems like a very good signing to me if Barnes is interested. Sort of guy the Brumbies could use too. They need a guy capable of distributing at inside centre.

        • idiot savant

          I think its a good idea too. Particularly in view of the fact that Reds cleric Ayatollah Has Bin Al Thorn has issued a Fatwa against QC mentoring Stewart. Stewart only started playing fly half at 17 and he has just turned 20 so clearly needs some guidance.

          IMHO Barnes was an opportunity missed. His first test against Wales in the RWC at Cardiff was extraordinary. Then a succession of cock ups by coaches, injury, Giteau’s ego, backs who refused to kick chase, the great Messiah QC, and his own ability to be test class at 12 and 15 conspired to rob him of a concentrated run at the 10 position. I thought he could have been Stephen Donald at the last RWC. Maybe the next one?

        • Who?

          I don’t blame QC for Barnes’ issues. I think that, had he stayed at the Reds, it would’ve been very interesting to see them develop together. Perhaps Barnes would’ve been able to block Cooper?
          But it all started to go wrong when Barnes was shifted to 12 outside Giteau. After the success of that pairing in 2007, they should’ve retained it into 2008.

        • idiot savant

          Agreed. That where Gits ego came into play. He wasn’t going to play second fiddle and yet he was never anything but ordinary as first fiddle. Barnes on the other hand could play a tune in just about any position.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Yeah, 10. Barnes, 12. Giteau could have been our combination going forward from 07. I couldn’t work out why Deans switched them. I don’t fully buy the ego thing as Deans wasn’t one to pander to egos.

        • Who?

          See, I don’t actually agree with the last line there… I don’t think Berrick was an ‘any position’ player. I think he was a good 10 , and could’ve been a very, very good 10, but his development there was stunted by the decisions to play him at 12. He wasn’t a great running threat – he wasn’t a heavy running 12, he wasn’t that combination of heavy and elusive that marked Nonu (and Kerevi), and he wasn’t the same sort of threat as JOC or Beale at 12. Plus, defending at 10, he’d have been running around to make dominant right shoulder hits less often, and perhaps knocked himself out less often. And a 10, we’d have seen more of his long passing game, which was underrated.
          I’m with DBTB on Deans, too – I don’t see why he would’ve stuck Gits at 10 purely for Gits’ ego. In fact, the Barnes/Giteau combination (especially in 2008, with Mortlock still there) would’ve been among the very best options he ever had for his inside backs. I can’t help but wonder if it wasn’t less of Giteau’s ego and more of Deans’ ego (we’ll just change up all the structures and then we’ll win!). In fact, I still credit that first up Bledisloe win in 08 more to Knuckles than Deans, because we were still playing the Knuckles style. It took a while to change things up to the Deans style – starting with completely destroying our defensive system (which had been the world’s best for the past decade, under Muggleton), to ensure we could concede 53 points on the high veldt.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          How was the defensive system changed?

          I agree. Barnes was a 10 and he could have been a 15 (most good 10s make good 15s, but not always the other way around). But he should have been left to develop as a 10.

          In attack he didn’t offer enough of a running threat for 12, and while a great defender for a 10 the physical requirements of 12 are so much greater that no wonder he was knocked around. Toomua, too, while he is capable of playing at 12 I think is arguably as good at 10.

        • Who?

          I wasn’t into studying it all at that point, but Deans brought his own defensive system in and replaced the departed Muggleton’s system. It took us a couple of years to return to the gold wall that we’d had through the 98-07 era. There were games in that era – especially towards the end of it – where our defensive line kept us 10-20 points closer than we should’ve been, if you looked at every other facet on the park.
          Part of Barnes’ defensive issues – and this came from QRU coaches – stemmed from his unending desire to skirt around and put a strong shoulder in on defence. But he was a right shoulder tackler, not an either shoulder tackler, so he’d knock himself out when he’d tried to run around and hadn’t quite gotten around the corner.

        • idiot savant

          Yeah, apologies to Gits, I might have stretched it a bit on the ego. I had heard that he pushed hard for 10. I honestly cant understand how Deans would have chosen Gits over Barnes at 10 after that RWC. But then I couldn’t understand how he chose McCabe at 12.

          I didnt say Barnes was Nonu but I will say I never saw him play a bad game at 12 or 15 for Australia. He was more Horan than Nonu at 12, a very good stepper, fearless at the line and capable of lighting up outside backs. I almost understand why he was moved!

          Giteau I’ve always thought should have been a half back. Not sure if he had the motor but he had the mindset and the kicking game.

        • Who?

          Some blokes are hard to categorize, aren’t they? I thought Gits was best at 12. Because I didn’t want him as my primary playmaker (so not 10!), I didn’t want him passing it every time he touched it (scrumhalf), with Snorky outside he could be a sniping runner in the traffic but not drop back to 15. But players like him – players who are carrying threats, passing threats, but are not primary playmakers and are small – are hard to position.
          We long debated JOC. I still think his best position was 12, but he never got there (note – Gits and JOC were roughly the same weight and height (ok, Gits might’ve been a little shorter!) as Horan. It’s just that the other 12’s got bigger – like Nonu and Roberts). Beale’s the same. DMac’s been the same. Players who you don’t want to weight down with the responsibility of running the backline, but whose hands you want that ball in as often as possible.
          When I say you don’t want them carrying the responsibility of running the backline, you can see that a bit with Beale, but way more with Giteau in late 2008. Because there was no second playmaker (we even tried Mortlock and Cross in the centres together!), if Gits made a break but was tackled, there was no one to organize the backline to seize the opportunity created. So on the odd occasion that Gits made a break, we wasted it. Then, when he realized that was happening, Gits stopped running the ball almost completely, which meant he became predictable and the backline was too easy to defend (more than partially because Deans didn’t have strong structures).
          You always want a bloke like that in the team. It’s just a matter of putting them somewhere they can take initiative but not be squashed by responsibility. :-

        • Nutta

          BB was a fantastic footballer. But he got into a downward spiral of head-knocks. If he has come good and is fit then he would be a fantastic addition to Thorny and the Reds. I only hope he is truly ‘Right in the head’

          https://youtu.be/_8rH2a36RM4

        • juswal

          Maybe he doesn’t remember any concussions.

  • Ian

    I am not overly happy about Hoopers 5 year contract, I have never liked him as a captian, although he is an exceptional 7, but probably our 4th best exceptional 7.

    What happens to Sean McMahon & Liam Gill? Two players that are currently overseas due to Hooper being cemented into the Wallabies? Both Gill and Sean are better than Hooper in my honest opinion. I really think Hooper is worthy of Wallabies selection in certain circumstances and certain games. BUT (all opinion remember), he is not a good leader, and he is not our best 7. Sean McMahon and David Pocock should be fighting for the shirt at the moment, with Gill on the bench for Line-outs.

    Just really poor choices by Rugby Australia yet again.

    • 22DropOut

      A poor choice by Rugby Australia to reward a new contract to one of our outstanding players, double John Eales medal winner, Wallaby of the year and winner of numerous accolades here?

      I’m delighted that he has signed a deal committing the peak years of his career to Australian rugby. He is an outstanding player and a model professional who leads by example on and off the pitch, a la Brian O’Driscoll, rather than by his mouth.

      Fantastic news for Australian rugby.

      • Ian

        Yeah he is good, just not as good as Gill, McMahon and Pocock. But everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

        • 22DropOut

          Gill and McMahon are not a the level of Michael Hooper in my opinion.

          Pocock obviously is world class.

        • juswal

          The trouble with your opinion is that it’s your opinion.

        • 22DropOut

          Your obsession with me continues. I thought you had given up trolling me with snide comments.

        • juswal

          22PopTart

        • Ian

          You can block his comments you know

        • 22DropOut

          Good idea.

          Don’t get why people come on just to insult people. Not s great way to treat people

        • Andy

          How do you unblock? I think I accidentally blocked someone. Don’t even know how that happened

      • Alister Smith

        I think Hooper is excellent but a five year contract for anyone is probably a bit long IMO there is a lot that can happen over that period and other talent that can emerge and what might happen to him as he ages/potential for injuries etc – I also think that contracts in rugby of $1 million/season plus considering the financial state of the game in Australia are perhaps not justified whether that be for Pocock/Genia/Folau/Hooper or anyone else – of course that might just be a commercial reality given the generous values available in UK/France.

        • Greg

          Perhaps the 5 year contract is to offset moving the wallabies captaincy to Pocock?

        • 22DropOut

          In an ideal world you would give a shorter contract,I agree, but I suppose there is a quid pro quo in these negotiations. There’s not a top-tier club in Europe which wouldn’t offer him more money

        • Alister Smith

          No and I didn’t necessarily mean he wasn’t “worth” it just whether or not the Australian competition/Sanzaar competition could “afford” it based on the earning capacity of the game here. Certainly you are correct that he would easily get that money in Europe and is probably doing some dough by staying here (and its probably easier on the body and the family to play in the European comps) with less travel and more regular home games.

      • Keith Butler

        A great player – yes. But by offering him a 5 year contract are the ARU effectively saying that you will be our 7 and captain for the foreseeable future? The likes of McMahon and Gill might as well stay overseas.

        • 22DropOut

          I don’t see how it guarantees Hooper the captaincy?

          Also don’t see why this should influence McMahon and Gill. I am sure they have many reasons for playing overseas (and fair play to them) but I can’t believe they are playing overseas simply because they don’t think they can get into the Wallabies team ahead of the incumbent. Every player who has had the honour of wearing the jersey should have to earn it.

        • Ian

          Obviously why there are so many Warratahs players in the Wallabies right now… amaright… eh.. (nudge nudge)…. right…

        • Brumby Runner

          The contract is simply too long. It will just about cement Hooper as the Wallaby No 7 for the duration. Imagine the indignation if the highest paid player in the land was ejected from the Wallabies starting lineup.

          The other unforeseen consequence just might be that it forces David Pocock to look overseas after his present contract expires. He is the country’s best No 7 and probably the best captain in waiting but it seems he will forever be denied the position of his choice.

          And there is no doubt that players like Gill and McMahon will be considering the implications of Hooper’s 5 year contract in any of their deliberations about returning home to try for the Wallabies.

          On top of all that, there is no certainty about what the Super Rugby competition will look like after 2020. We just might be facing a semi=professional future in this country, and the cost of maintaining Hooper’s five year contract could well be a huge drain on the running of the sport into the future.

        • 22DropOut

          I’d have preferred a 3 year deal too, but if it was a 5 year deal or he goes to Europe then I’d give the 5 year. He’d earn more overseas, that’s the trade-off to keep him.

          I can’t believe that the reason Gill and McMahon won’t return to Australia is because they are afraid of competition. Nobody is undroppable because of their contract value, as the most recurring topic on these comments threads prove.

          As for Pocock, he will always be a first choice Wallabies player but the coaches will try and shoehorn our best players in. Beyond the number on his back I don’t think it makes too much of a difference personally and the Wallabies are stronger with both players on the pitch.

        • Who?

          I don’t think either of them are afraid of competition. But I’d guess that, if your options are small contract with Wallaby top up and match payments or big contract, then the likelihood of selection weighs heavily. And their likelihood of selection wasn’t ever high. Hooper established himself during Pocock’s injury and Gill’s discipline (Dublin 6 incident), then Cheika came in and Cheika likes picking people he knows and understands (i.e. certain incumbents are undroppable. And Hooper, Foley, Folau and Beale are undroppable – Beale got less punishment in ’14 for his major indiscretions than the Dublin 6 the year before!).
          So that means small (i.e. Super) contract, unlikely top up, and no match payments. Plus, when both left, absolutely abysmal Super coaching (Graham and McGahan). Why would you stick around for low pay and no development? And if you’re overseas, why would you move home without a significant carrot? Moving is a cost – you only move when you’re unhappy or there’s a good reason.

        • Braveheart81

          Three coaches in a row preferred Pocock and Hooper to Gill. I think Gill is an amazing player but I don’t think it is reasonable to paint this as a case of Cheika not liking Gill.

          How was Beale’s punishment less than the Dublin 6? He was hit with a massive fine and stood down from several matches. Also remember that it was judged that McKenzie wasn’t allowed to impose the sanctions he did so standing down those players for the Dublin night out was unjust.

        • Who?

          I’m not painting this as Cheika disliking Gill – I’m painting this as the traditional preference for incumbents. Which goes with all coaches. It’s why Hooper started over Gill when Link was coach – Hooper was the incumbent (even though both were very, very green). It’s why Foley played Link’s last game as coach at 10 – he was the incumbent over a returning injured player. There’s nothing wrong with incumbency. Deans decided to give Hooper a chance first, that’s fine. He had two very promising young players, and he went with the one from the stronger provincial team – the team on the rise. It also helped Hooper that, in 2013, he ended up playing alongside Mowen and Fardy, so most of that season it was also about an experienced combination (the 2012 Brumbies loose forwards). That gave Hooper his incumbency, which was fair enough. Talk about his skillset only started to come around after Mowen moved away (because Mowen was actually rather good over the ball), and the balance in skills and attributes across the loose forwards deteriorated.
          Beale’s punishment – in terms of selection favour – was definitely less than the Dublin 6. This isn’t about whether Link was inside his rights to impose the sanctions. Because he could’ve just decided, “I’m not picking that bloke,” as Thorn has done with Cooper. That wouldn’t have been an official, sanctioned punishment, but would’ve been, in essence, no different.
          My point was that those blokes were all on thin ice for the next six months, whereas Beale was flown to England 2 weeks after Cheika took over. Even though he was meant to be banned for way longer, and we never fly blokes over for the back half of a tour. It was special treatment.
          I’m not wanting to debate whether that was right or wrong, I’m just pointing out that someone who might’ve been expected to be a Link favourite (he debuted at the Reds under Link) didn’t get an armchair ride, he set his own path back a long way by making a poor off field choice. That his path back to the Wallabies after the 2013 EOYT was less supported than Beale’s. Not saying right or wrong for either of them, just observing the way it felt to this observer.

        • idiot savant

          And Hooper has earned the 7 jersey over Pocock?

        • 22DropOut

          Both have earned their place in the team.

        • Keith Butler

          As many others have pointed out Hooper is neither the best 7 or the best captain. While Cheika is coach Hoops will always be his pick irrespective of the merits of Pocock or others.

        • 22DropOut

          But Pocock will always play. He, and Hooper, are arguably our best two players and can easily be accommodated in the same team.

        • Bakkies

          Not if you plan on winning test matches. That was sussed out long ago by the ABs.

        • 22DropOut

          Pocock was sussed out? What does that even mean?

        • Greg

          The pooper was sussed out. It is nowhere near as effective as when it was first introduced.

        • 22DropOut

          No new combinations or innovations remain as effective as they were when they start. Doesn’t mean it is “sussed out” or in any way invalid.

          Abandoning if you want to win test matches doesn’t make any sense.

          It’s classic specious reasoning.

        • 22DropOut

          Yes can argue that Hooper isn’t the best 7 or the best captain

          As a 7, you can argue Pocock is our best 7 and he is a world class player. If you could only pick Pocock or Hooper in the Australian team for the World Cup Final tomorrow then I would guess that most people, including Cheika, would pick Pocock. Fortunately both can be accommodated in the same team.

          As a captain, there is more to being captain of a rugby team than talking to a referee, which I agree is not his strongest point (although this is an area where we are lacking generally) but in other areas Hooper does excel. He is a fair call as captain, as Pocock is too.

          Either ways, he is not undroppable. When he deserves to lost his place that is what will happen.

        • st saens

          ‘Every player who has the honour of wearing the jersey should have to earn it’… This is exactly why a 5 year contract is too long. Even if MH is our best seven today (which I personally do not believe), there has to be serious doubt he will be our best seven 3, 4 or 5 years from now. So another million dollar man goes to club-land, or is selected for the Wallabies on past performances, keeping a younger talent out of the team. This decision is so absurd I could scream (but I won’t) !

    • Twoilms

      Neither Sean McMahon nor Liam Gill are better than Hooper though. That’s the thing. Hooper might be unpopular but the reality is, he is probably the best 7 in the world. The only person really vying with him for that title is Pocock.

      Gill and McMahon? good but hardly missed.

      • Ian

        Wow, that I could not disagree with more. Worlds best is Pocock, that cannot be disputed, second best would be (up until he retired last month) Sam Warburton.

        Gill I would put as behind Hooper, but he jumps in the lineout and is exceptional in the fundamental flanker skill set, where as Hooper is more of a hybrid running flanker that is rubbish in a line-out and has not done a lot of pilfering lately. But he makes up for it in his defence and attack.

        • Twoilms

          Warburton has retired so it’s irrelevant. But even if he hadn’t, he hasn’t been a better player for years now.

          Pocock is the best jackler in the world, for sure. But that’s it. The rest of his game is mediocre. He’s slower around the park, breaks less tackles, less run metres, hits less rucks on attack, has a worse link game and is no better in the lineout.

          There is an argument that Cane or even Todd might be better. England and Ireland all play with two 6s, more or less. Think Robshaw type players. So no comparison.

          Hooper really is close to, if not the best player in his position in the world.

        • Ian

          So you are saying as a number 7 he is a fantastic 11?

        • Who?

          Umm………. Hooper hits more attacking rucks?! That’s hard to do when you’re waiting for the ball!
          Go check the stats between Hooper and Pocock for Super Rugby – the attacking stats (run metres, runs, passes, etc) are actually very similar.
          Hooper’s quicker (though he’s actually slower than Gill – based on actions in the last game they played against each other, where Hooper held Gill back, after which Gill passed Hooper, chased down Foley on a direct, straight break, tackled him, got up and got on the ball before Hooper arrived), but he’s also far easier to move at the breakdown (so he doesn’t enter it as often).
          Hooper isn’t a traditional 7, he’s actually more of a 6. He’s a ball runner and a tackler, a workrate player. McMahon is another who’s in that traditional 6 mold. But both of them are a bit short.
          Hooper’s a fantastic rugby player – one of the best rugby players in the world. But being a fantastic all round rugby player doesn’t make one a fantastic specialist player in a singular position – even their own. I’d say the same is true of Foley and Beauden Barrett – rounded Rugby players, but arguably not the best specialists at 10. That’s just where they happen to play.

        • Ian

          What he said!

        • Bakkies

          Hamish Watson has played some fantastic Rugby in recent years. Unlike Pocock and Hooper, Watson along with John Barclay compete at the breakdown often together. They destroyed England this year as a pair and Scotland don’t sacrifice their lineout as Barclay can be lifted.

        • Andy

          Hooper is the luxury 7 in my opinion.

          When you have other players that can pinch the ball, like an 8/6 and a 2, but the 8/6 is a Read, Fardy type player who are versatile then having Hooper is a massive bonus to a team that is intent on having an attacking game plan. The Wallabies have achieved this at times and other times not. It’s all about balance. On his pilfering, he is the ideal 2nd or 3rd pilferer who can also create a shit load of pilfering opportunities for your Pocock’s ect… due to his line speed in defence. If he’s you only guy though, not so great

          On his turnover stats, they were actually pretty decent this year. =4th in Super rugby I believe.

        • Braveheart81

          And last year they were better. There have been years where he has topped international rugby for pilfers/forced penalties. Pocock is clearly better at it but the narrative that Hooper doesn’t do it or isn’t good at it just doesn’t hold water. He is not the 7 that attacks every breakdown. He has a crack when the opportunity is there.

          I am firmly of the opinion that both him and Pocock are in our best starting XV.

        • Greg

          Me too…. which positions

          Pocock @ 7 + Hooper @ 6?
          Pocock @ 7 + Hooper @ 11?

        • Who?

          I know this is a gag, but I wouldn’t bet money that Koroibete’s kicking game is better than Hooper’s… :-

        • Andy

          Agree. He isn’t the best at it but far from bad. I actually don’t mind the pooper either. Especially if we have Tui at 6

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        I’m not convinced Hooper is top three. Pocock and O’Brien are surely the top two. Hooper is probably competing with Cane for number three.

        • 22DropOut

          I suspect that O’Brien is cooked as a test 7 sadly.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I hope you’re wrong about that. But still, Dan Leavy looks like something special also.

        • 22DropOut

          Injuries seem to have taken their toll. Played very few games for Leinster in the last few years, when he has regained fitness he has played for Ireland but always injured. Playing the Lions tour last year was a mistake IMO.
          Some great back-rowers in the conveyor belt, I doubt he will get another central contract in Ireland.

      • idiot savant

        Id have Pocock, Sam Cane, and Sean O’Brien ahead of him.

        • Brendan Hume

          I’d have Kwagga Smith ahead of him too.

    • Dally M

      Compared with say, paying Pocock how much to have a year off & go play in Japan?

      • Who?

        I don’t think anyone liked that, but Pocock’s contract was, even if allowing only 2 playing seasons, lower (say $1.125M/season against $1.2M/season), and was of a length that left us confident the player would be useful at the end of it. A year’s (mostly) rest, then two more campaigns, and we all reassess. Hooper’s contract is higher, and it’s for half a decade. I can’t think of another Rugby player with that sort of contract duration, let alone one paid at the apex of the player’s earning capacity (do you think Hooper’s next contract post 2023 will be as large? You only sign long contracts when you can lock someone into a lower price). It’s unprecedented, and with all the complaints that Cooper’s contract was too long… It’s great for Hooper that he’s got certainty, but it’s a rather risky decision from RA to sign such a long term contract.

        • Dally M

          And Hooper’s injury history compared with Pocock.

          The guy plays 80 mins of almost every game he’s involved in and very rarely misses a game.

          Whilst it’s reported as being $1.2M per, i bet there is a large chunk of that tied up in match payments etc.

        • Who?

          Pocock’s injury history was pretty similar to Hooper’s for the first few years of his career. He went through 2008 – 2012 mostly uninjured (I’m thinking of that dislocated thumb at 37 minutes against Wales in 2009… Ouch!). Then two knees. Since then, he’s been mostly healthy – can’t think of many (any?) tests he’s missed due to injury.
          Hooper’s been the rubber man, but no one can be certain of avoiding injury playing in the back row. Sooner or later, it catches up. I hope it doesn’t, for his sake (no one wants to see a player injured), but top flight Rugby takes its toll. Sooner or later you have to pay the piper.
          Don’t disagree that there’d be a significant match payments part of that $1.2M salary, but if we say QC’s salary is $600k to a potential $850k, that’s a potential $250k in Wallaby match payments. If the same pay rate applies, that means Mr Hooper’s deal is still over $900k without match payments.

    • Old_Laurentian

      Quite so. Poor choices. But all please try to imagine we will be arguing about Hooper vs McMahon vs Gill in five year’s time. Silly isn’t it?

      • Who?

        So… Smith, Waugh or Croft? I think it’s pretty clear that Smith’s the man, but I can’t help but think that, much as he was a legend (and I have much respect for him), Waugh wasn’t as effective as Croft. Maybe that’s a team thing – I’d say Pocock, Gill, Hooper as opensides (with keen focus on the KPI’s for my style of openside), and it’s the same Brums/Reds/Tahs alignment!
        But I’d also say that Gill had the most potential to be the ‘complete’ 7 – he was the bloke who could knock over a droppie from 40+m, he could tackle anyone, jackal anyone, run the ball, and set up the players around him on attack. There was quite a time where he effectively carried the Reds pack alone, and with more support, I can’t help but wonder just how good he could’ve been.
        Just a shame for him with timing and associations (i.e. Dublin 6).

    • Braveheart81

      I think McMahon will come back and I don’t think his test position is 7. Gill was third choice for the Wallabies under 3 separate coaches. He’s an outstanding player and he was unlucky with his timing. At other times he could have been first choice. I don’t think RA should be basing their contracting around hoping he returns. That would be a bizarre decision.

      • Ian

        It isn’t “hope” that anyone returns, it is showing their belief that this guy is the first option for 5 years that is the problem. Others will not return because of the unfounded support rugby Australia are showing for someones theoretical future. He may be “very good” (not great) now, but can you truly guarantee that he will be good for 5 years? he is already not the best in his position, and a bad captain to boot. For that kind of money, he really needs to improve and I don’t think he can. In fact I think he should be a bench player. He is to David Pocock what Chris Whittaker was to George Gregan, but is somehow getting the nod ahead of him and others better than him?

      • Andy

        I think McMahon is a 6. And a fking good one at it. It would be some backrow with him, Hooper and pockock. But the lack in height and weight would kill us in the toyt and set piece.

        • Braveheart81

          McMahon is outstanding. I think Hooper, Pocock and McMahon would all be in our best 23 possible with McMahon on the bench. I would be finishing the game with all three on the park. They are three genuinely outstanding players and the dynamism they add in general play outweighs what we lose at the lineout.

          I don’t think they are that light that we lose that much at the scrum. All three possess more power than their weight would suggest in my opinion.

  • IIPA

    The HK game will be interesting. The HK squad is nothing like their best team and doesn’t involve any players from their recent RWC Playoff wins over Cook Islands or the World Cup 7s in San Fran.

    Not surprising, it’s their off season and those players would be on ice for the RWC repechage games in Nov.

    So this game looking ahead to WSR in the future might show the depth of HK rugby and the appetite of Force fans to watch games against non-trad opponents like HK Dragons or the Kuala Lumpar Kings or whatever.

    I’m a little dubious but will be happy to see a good game and a good crowd.

    • Michael Chambers

      Hopefully the weathers better than the Tonga game. Damn that was cold. Pretty keen to see the Knights game myself that sounds like a pretty competitive match

      • Nicholas Wasiliev

        The last three or four WSR games I’ve seen looked like they’ve been played in a cyclone.
        Still been cracking matches though, reckon if the Force can self-fund themselves and Twiggy gets the comp off the ground they might be on to something

  • Brisneyland Local

    Morning GAGR’s! Happy Friday. As I sit here about to start meetings with my executive team, which by the way I really cant be bothered dealing with today, and then have to fly to “Bodies in a barrell land”. I am using my 15 mins of peace and quiet before the onslaught starts, to talk about im[portant things. so here is BL’s random thoughts whilst comtemplating a meeting he doesnt want to chair:
    – The Hooper deal is not a good one. That is a lot of money on a person who isnt the best 7 with have in the country. Jesus in Jabba the Hut Hansen said that pocock would be a starter as an AB 7. And we play him as a fucking 8 to accommodate Hooper. WTF. Certainly shouldnt be captain. His management of ref’s is fucking appalling. Yet we spend this money, whilst far more talented 7’s dissapear overseas. Think of the talent we could have developed with that money. christ we could have almost raised a Western sydney team for that kind of cashola. Dumb decision.
    – Love the Womens comp, hosting it in the Hunter is not a good decision. You will not get the crown numbers in that location as it is too hard to get to. I would have loved to taken my girls to that. But it is now bloody expensive and difficult to get to. Oh well.
    – I have been catching up with the Fijians lately. the drua are building well. If they can get their discipline from last year sorted out, there are definitley worth a lazy 100 to make the final. Go the Fijians!
    Over to you GAGR’s!

    • juswal

      What a coincidence—I’m also about to chair a meeting with my executive team.

      By which I mean close the cubicle door, drop my dacks, get seated and discuss with my genitals their plans for the weekend.

      • disqus_NMX

        Wet myself laughing.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Pure gold!

    • Who?

      So, Hooper, $1.2M p.a. for 5 years. I don’t know if that’s a good deal or not. Can’t help but think Hooper could command significantly more elsewhere, but $1.2M guaranteed in 5 years… For someone who, at that point, will have over a decade of international rugby under his belt (I know he’s the energizer bunny and trains like no one else, but it’s gotta have an impact at some point!). I think RA might’ve been stupid to offer such a long term contract. I was thinking it might actually be that Hooper was a loser from the contract, because he might’ve gotten much more elsewhere, and I was considering Pocock’s $2.25M for 2 years. Then I remembered that was a 3 year contract (yes, no play one year, but still, 3 year contract). So maybe Hooper’s the winner here – that’s a big number for a local player, and it’s a stupidly long contract… I don’t think RA’s the winner (because they’re stupid to sign such long contracts for someone at the peak of their powers).

      • Hoss

        Morning Dr.

        I would offer that it is money well spent. What would be the opportunity cost to the code if he took a rich Northern working holiday post RWC 2019 for 2 years. Lost earnings to governing body (RA), lost of competitiveness to the Tah’s, Wallabies and Oz SR in general, plus such a working holiday up North would only serve to inflate his (and other high-target Oz players) value / asking price upon their return.

        I reckon its a reasonable long-term investment for the game. Hang me for it, but their are signs from the start of The Pirates Tenure that RA are getting a lot of the small detail right and that’s how you win the war, one battle at a time.

        • Who?

          Loss of earnings in 2020 if Hooper went north… I don’t know. Does he – personally – bring in that much money? Does he bring in more money than (dare I say it) Cooper? If he does, I’d guess it’d be in NSW, the same way that Cooper undoubtedly does in Qld (in comparison to NSW). Loss of competitiveness to the Tahs, I’d also question just how much that’s true – they looked pretty good in some of the games towards the end of the season, and I’m not sure that adding Hooper back in would’ve significantly changed their losses.
          I’d have no issues with a 3 year contract for Hooper. That would block a trip north. I’d have no issues with signing a contract where he could have a sabbatical for a Super season. I’m not even questioning the money. I’m just questioning the wisdom of a 5 year contract for anyone, let alone someone who is at or past the halfway mark of their career (he debuted what, 2013? So he’s already a 5 year Wallaby).

        • idiot savant

          Somehow I have difficulty believing people go to the rugby just to see Hooper. Or frankly that he’s worth that much to the game as promotional talent. He has about as much charm as a stone and thats after 2 years of John Eales leadership workshops. He might fill out the underpants but he aint gonna sell as many pairs as the Honey Badger. People go to see Beale and Folau and Nayavoro and Tupou and yes QC. And since when has a clean skin been an advertisement for anything? Give me Robert Mitchum any day…

        • Hoss
        • onlinesideline

          What a lineup. Strings in this remind of me of Hitcocks Pyscho movie. Theme was all strings.

        • idiot savant

          Thats my man. He once said he had two acting styles. With and without a horse. Hoss, you probably ran into him on the Ponderosa. Ah… real men.

        • onlinesideline

          Its that monotone Sydney Surf talk. He’s no Frank Thring.

        • Old_Laurentian

          I move around the world .My hometown was Rugby. I actually played on the same grass as William Webb-Ellis. It doesn’t make me a traditionalist. I want to be entertained as a spectator. I will always put $ through the turnstile to watch QC (and in the old days Blanco). Why would I rather watch French Rugby? I’m not sure I can answer that

        • Packy

          Lots of people spent good money to follow the Reds and then a Wallabies backline running Will, Quade, Kurtley, James and Digby. Glory days and we knew it. Just didn’t know it would get wrecked so soon

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Pocock is by far the biggest drawcard in Canberra.

        • 22DropOut

          Rugby purists aside I agree, I don’t think that he’s a marquee player that people pay to see. However he’s a world class player who helps teams win, which people pay to see and companies pay to be associated with

        • idiot savant

          If Hooper went north and Pocock went to 7 and Australia won the Bledisloe…. it would be Michael who?

        • John Tynan

          Not sure Canterbury would concur with your last paragraph – is there a parallel, or should I put the tinfoil back on?

        • John Tynan

          That’s the blue and white Bulldogs version, not the Red and Black Crusaders version….

        • Hoss

          Morning JT, i dont pretend to follow the bastard of the Rugby Family and its various intricacies. I remember some noise about her time their, but its all vapour in the wind for me,white noise even.

          IMO The Pirate has not done too much wrong since her time at RA. A lot of the little stuff, the attention to detail is spot-on. If we had a winning national side and can re-introduce a national footprint (which i suspect is moving at pace behind closed doors) i suspect her tenure will be prosperous. The litmus test will be what (if) SR looks like once the current deal runs its race – really interesting times. But we appear to be in good, safe, practical, respectful and insightful hands.

          Even little things like Chris Whitaker returning is a good news story. The foul winds that were swirling around RA for the previous 2 years have abated.

          Nice.

        • Who?

          Not sure Hoss – the foul winds swirling around RA were coming from inside RA, the source of the storm was the board, and the boards of the state unions. Perhaps the storm clouds just aren’t as obvious when you’re sitting in sunshine (i.e. local team has improved, captain’s just re-signed). Because in the rest of the country, there’s still major issues…

        • Hoss

          Be interested in your thoughts Dr as to where the challengers / issues are that aren’t being progressively addressed ?

        • Who?

          Cleaning out the RA board. Because the whole WA disaster still hasn’t been addressed by them. It’s been addressed by RWA and Twiggy. On an RA level, the potential criminal behaviour has been swept under the carpet.
          Other issues, there’s still obvious issues in Qld. That’s not RA’s fault, but it still has ramifications for the code in the state. The same is somewhat true in Victoria, given the Rebels are going through an integrity check at the moment. So again, not a direct RA responsibility, but it reflects on the code in the state.
          Things are definitely nicer in NSW – and that’s good. Things were stormy in Brumbyland, but thankfully they finished the season with wins and good form, rather than player assaults or poor results. So things probably aren’t too stormy down there. But in Qld, WA and Victoria, there’s definite issues for the code.
          And that’s without the recent run of bad publicity up here (4 neck injuries, 2 under reported down there from Toowoomba Grammar School, where two Rugby players suffered dislocated vertebrae in the neck), which again isn’t under RA’s jurisdiction (I don’t believe they’ve got any say about private school rugby), but reflects poorly on the code.

        • Nutta

          Apologies for interfering in chat I was not originally part of guys but I can’t let go of the complete lack of decent rugby presence in western Sydney. It’s bloody glaringly obvious – no Premier level club, no NRC presence, nothing except a handful of Subbies sides in the biggest, youngest, most potentially rugby-friendly demographic in the nation. It’s simply a bloody crime. Fix that and there are +2m people largely in the playing ages and everything that comes with it instantly on-tap. Just look at the Western Sydney Wankers and the Greater Western Fairies for proof.

        • 22DropOut

          Having many dealings with the GWS Giants for work. Their money and efforts (and the AFL machine) invested in a long term play they are convinced will see them become the biggest member club in Australia. They view it as the largest “green field” population that exists, or will ever exist, in the country.

          All long term and this doesn’t involve targeting the existing demographics who are keen on other sports (NRL). All about kids and migrants (from overseas or interstate) and planning for the long term.

          Such a massive opportunity that rugby should be taking advantage of.

        • Who?

          Don’t apologize, comrade!
          Tiocfaidh ár lá Tiocfaidh ár lá

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Spot on Nutta.
          The issues in RA need both NSW and QLD rugby to pull their heads out of their arise and let RA run rugby. Until that happens the odd good thing will not hide the pile of shit that covers most of it and is creeping higher

        • disqus_NMX

          Or on one guy in the one position where we churn out a zillion quality players that can’t get a run with the Wallabies simply due the the traffic in that position.

        • John Tynan

          Just lots of back ended contracts that came to a head (just after she left – that’s where the tinfoil comes in…) and they’ve had to sell some meat on – both subsidising other team’s contracts for experience or flogging off their pipeline.

        • Bakkies

          ‘I would offer that it is money well spent.’

          How is money well spent when the RA don’t have the money to throw away in the first place?

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Mate the Eye patch has come off and now you’re wearing the sky blue glasses and drinking from the cool aid pack.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Concur!

      • Old_Laurentian

        Could he end up like QC being paid absurd money for playing club rugby? Five years is an eternity in this context.

      • Braveheart81

        Our top few players (such as Folau) have had part of the contract paid through third party deals. I would be surprised if that isn’t the case with Hooper. If RA has locked in one of their sponsors to pay part of the contract for 5 years it would be a great outcome. Commercially, I would say Folau, Pocock, Hooper and Beale are RA’s four most valuable players.

        • Ed

          One of our most important contracts expires in 2020 – Tupou. Will the RA fork out big cash for a prop? They should have already war-gamed this scenario as you can bet the French clubs will pay HUGE for a prop. Look at Carl Hayman.

        • Braveheart81

          Yes, I think they undoubtedly will prioritise his signing. He absolutely is a key player for the Wallabies both now and even moreso heading to the 2023 RWC.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Tupou is the guy we should try and lock up for five years. They might need to fork out for it as I imagine he is aware that his value is going to increase, but he looks like he is capable of being our best player in the future.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Drua’s will be up there if they can develop some consistency. Still too loose at times which looks good but opens up holes in the defense.
      Amazing how the RA can be so good with the Women’s rugby and so shit with the mens

      • Brisneyland Local

        Yep! The loose style is teh Fiji style. But there attack can score from anywhere on the ground. The fijian philosophy is that you just have to score more than they do. Vinaka vakalevu!

        • onlinesideline

          yeah in between chucking a Mike Tyson (commonly known as biting peoples ears off)

        • Brisneyland Local

          It was just a nibble! What is a nibble between friends! (Said in my best Madagascar imression).

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Bula!

        • Brisneyland Local

          BULA (screamed very very loudly).

    • idiot savant

      Have to agree with you there about Hooper BL. A classic North Shore Ostrich decision. Its not the 1.2 million a season that concerns me. He probably worth close to that. Its 5 years. This has all the makings of QC mark 2. The Marlins must be licking their lips.

      • Brisneyland Local

        You said it!

      • Old_Laurentian

        ‘North Shore Ostrich’. Love it

      • Bakkies

        Hooper is worth nowhere near that. European clubs wouldn’t even pay that amount of money for Pocock despite him being a better player.

    • Nutta

      Whoa! Did you seriously suggest that it may be better for the game to support a western Sydney outfit than to pour that much money into one single person who plays in the highest injury-rated position in the game? You heathen. Tighten your cinch and flog yourself with barbed wire.

      • 22DropOut

        Use the Folau contract money for that!

        • Nutta

          Use any bloody money you can find for that.

        • 22DropOut

          I do agree.

          Big money on a flanker on a long term deal is a concern though for reasons you outline. The Rocky Elsom deal was a disaster and he was un-f*****-believable. The danger with having a crocked leader is that that it influences the direction of the team. If my memory serves me correct the Waratahs had tame pre-seasons under his advice, which was disastrous.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Mate I do those things on a daily basis for personal gratification.

  • Nutta

    Thanks Nic

    Great to see the womens game on the up and up.

    Go Royals. Tuggers have been way too smug for way too long.

    Keep truckin’ Force. Your energy is in staying visible.

  • Hoss

    Morning Gaggers,

    A lot of pent up frustrations on here today that would normally be expended by attacking refs, the opposition, RA in general and anyone with the temerity to disagree.

    The issues regarding Voldermort (he who shall not be named) and the Reds is old news – build a bridge and get over it, he’s like Elvis, not coming back baby.

    Hooper and other Oz 7’s, well i have put some heavy duty research into his claim v Poey, Gill & McMahon and am happy to present an exhaustive Hoss Fact-File as follows.

    * Hooper – plays for my beloved Tah’s

    End of exhaustive Hoss fact-file. Move on, nothing to see here.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      hahahaha the eye patch kid

    • idiot savant

      Balanced. Just like the WB back row will be for the next 5 years….

    • Brisneyland Local

      Pure gold hoss! I wish I was that biased about my Reds. But at the moment they suck ass!

      • Hoss

        Yes, but they would be better at ass-sucking if Voldemort came back and Karmichael Slipper and James Hunt and BT was not a fundamentalist and the earth spun counter clockwiset and Tony Mc Gahan and – oh forget it.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Yep. My sources are telling telling me the before training prayer sessions are not going down a treat at all.

        • Old_Laurentian

          Hoss – ‘Karmichael Slipper’ – there”s a stage name to treasure. But for what sort of act? (The disappearing act springs to mind)

        • Hoss

          Sounds like an innovative bedroom move.

          Barry White on the soundtrack…………

          Mrs Hoss – ‘what was that ??’

          Mr Hoss, ‘well my dear, that’s the old Karmichael Slipper. 60% of the time its guaranteed to work all the time’

          Best 3 minutes of her year.

        • Brisneyland Local

          3 Minutes, I gather that is at least twice then!

        • Greg

          Nah, each of the three minutes were a week apart!

        • Brisneyland Local

          Wow once a week. that is a really good batting average!

        • Hoss

          That would be considered cruel and unusual punishment for Mrs Hoss.

        • Old_Laurentian

          Too good

        • onlinesideline

          Why does Hugh Hefner standing there in his dressing gown come to mind. Maybe it was his Slippers – who knows.

        • Andy

          Lol. I take it she’s a happy girl

      • onlinesideline

        And bet ya any money Rodda is coming home just to round off that sucky ass.

      • onlinesideline
        • Brisneyland Local

          Yes I still cling to that. But as I get older my memory fades! My little one was born the week before that. And she is in school now and can ride a motorbike.

        • Packy

          That was awesome. Digby was a great player to have running off Quade. Fast wingers. And Ant defending hard at 13.

        • Gipetto

          ‘Brad the jerk’ should have been carded for the trip.

        • Who?

          Yeah, Thorn’s never had an issue with Cooper… :-P

        • onlinesideline

          seems to go way back. Reality is BT lost a final to QC and 1 or 2 test matches too didnt he ?

        • Who?

          A few. Hong Kong 2010, Brisbane 2011.

        • st saens

          I think BT was just genuflecting as Quade passed him by.
          ‘I did but see him passing by, yet I shall love him till I die’

        • disqus_NMX

          Christian values ;)

        • Who?

          Bakkies Botha was a lovely Christian bloke, apparently. Off the field! :-P

        • joy

          Neanderthal.

      • Adrian

        Isn’t it kick ass?…and suck something else BL?

        • Brisneyland Local

          Apparently!

        • Parker

          Anything goes as long as it’s consensual.

    • Funk

      “Hooper and other Oz 7’s, well i have put some heavy duty research into his claim v Poey, Gill & McMahon and am happy to present an exhaustive Cheika Fact-File as follows.
      * Hooper – plays for my beloved Tah’s”
      FTFY

      • Hoss

        So your saying i could be a selector ?

        • Funk

          Easily!!!

        • Who?

          You’re more than good enough at darts for that! :-P
          Your intelligence might be a much greater problem – might need to have quite a few Yendas to achieve the required levels. :-P

    • Phil Kcraig

      Yep I am personally sick of the pro QC cheer squad as he is yesterdays player and if you want confirmation just watch some of his games for souths which are QPR grade but certainly not SR quality and saying pick me for a SR squad. If anything the decision to push out QC has proved correct by BT with his Souths form and the only downside I suspect is they were expecting he would move on quickly. The fact he hasn’t is probably reflection his value is much less and hence reflecting much less in demand for his form / status as pro rugby player.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Nick,
    To be fair good on you Hooper. While I personally don’t think he’s as good a 7 as a $6M contract would buy I cannot fault him for signing this at all. I think it’s going to be interesting how it plays out in years 4&5 but that’s for another day.
    Glad to see the ladies getting some match payments. I wish RA would be as competent with men’s rugby as they are with women’s but still great to see. Looking forward to seeing the curtain raiser with the Kiwi girls next week. They actually play some great rugby.
    Rock on the NRC. It’s a shame the number of teams has reduced but I’m hoping this company keeps building and I think it is really starting to provide a great lead into Super and Wallabies.

  • John Tynan

    It’s all been said, but 2c worth is not anything to do with Hooper per se, but who the fark is making these decisions? A 5 year contract @ $1.2M for a flanker? By all means, make it a 3 yr deal, but have we not learnt from the litany of poor decisions of big money, long term, personality based contracts? Where is the rugby decision here?
    But if I’m Hooper – I’m signing it, for sure.

    • Brisneyland Local

      mate concur. Hoots points to Sk8tr boy for getting it. But there is no comercial reality in that contract. It is emotion dressed as logic.

  • Nicholas Wasiliev

    BREAKING NEWS: More NRC announcements…

    Wallaby and Waratah great Chris Whitaker has been officially announced as the man to lead the Sydney Rays in the NRC. What we reckon GAGRs?

    http://www.raysrugby.com.au/chris-whitaker-the-man-to-lead-sydney-in-nrc/

    • Ian

      Fantastic, But I hear Gregan is also keen on the job.

      • onlinesideline

        would love to see the little fella back on the front lines.

  • Nicholas Wasiliev

    MORE BREAKING NEWS:

    Talks of a shakeup in the Rugby Championship fixtures schedule from 2021 onwards as part of the new broadcasting agreement. Plans to draw out the Bledisloe Cup matches over a longer period of time. Can’t come soon enough in my opinion:

    https://www.smh.com.au/sport/rugby-union/rugby-championship-set-for-shake-up-and-bledisloe-cup-boost-20180809-p4zwj2.html

    • Kokonutcreme

      Didn’t see any mention of drawing out BC games out over longer period of time, suggestion is that they’ll still be bundled as a back to back set, but may be played later during the series. Real question is will they continue to play a 3rd fixture post 2021?

      Interesting proposal about playing double header home game against same opposition. Both SA and Argentina don’t attract large crowds in Australia, how will that affect gate takings if they play two tests vs SA at home and none vs Argentina then reverse this the following year.

      Even the Bledisloe Cup tests are struggling to fill stadiums, although the first BC test in Perth you’d expect to be a sellout.

      One idea I had was for two countries to split hosting the first and second half of the series each year. That would reduce travel demands, allow games to move around the country instead of the same venues every year. May also open opportunity to tie it in with womens rugby international series as well as provide opportunity to play midweek games against provincial teams, almost return to receiving international tours.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      That would be a much better plan. I’m glad it’s at least being thought of

    • Hoss

      NW – your the king of breaking news today – any place i can stream / listen to the Steelers gold medal game today ??

      They have been awesome.

    • joy

      Thor a rabbit!

  • Adrian

    $1.2m over 5 years = $240,000 pa which isn’t a fortune by any means.

    I think it means that money isn’t everything for Hooper, and is an excellent investment …IMO

    • John Tynan

      It’s $6M over 5 yrs….

  • John Tynan

    Otherwise, you were right, it would be good value!!

  • st saens

    Hypothetical question…if Hooper was still playing for the Brumbies (or the Rebels or Reds, or the Force FFS) would he have been offered a 5 year contract for 6,000,000.00 ($2.28 per minute)???

    • Ads

      Hypothetical question…if Hooper was still playing for the Brumbies (or the Rebels or Reds, or the Force FFS) would he cop the abuse he does?

      • Brisneyland Local

        Yes he would!

        • Ads

          haha, don’t think so!

        • Brumby Runner

          Of course he would, simply because I don’t think he’s copping any abuse now, and wouldn’t in your scenario. There would still be a truck load of criticism if he was selected for the Wallabies in the 7 spot in preference to Pocock, but that is criticism levelled at Cheika and his co-selectors (if there are any) rather than at Hooper himself who is generally regarded to be a very high quality rugby player.

        • Ads

          I reckon that’s true for some. I also reckon there’s a group that dislikes pretty much anything nsw, and want to talk about whether he looks like a sk8r boy, or his hair or whatever. That criticism is directed towards him personally in these cases not the selectors. I’m confident if he played for another province there would be less criticism.

        • Who?

          But you’re forgetting that, if he still played for the Brums, then all the Tahs fans would be haters. And, as we always hear from Tahs fans, there’s more of them than anyone else!

        • Ads

          Ha, but EVERYONE hates NSW first and foremost.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Definitely.

    • Ian

      Well, to be blunt, he wouldn’t get a game for the Brumbies right now.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Touche!

    • Greg

      All the discussion here tbh is about selecting him at 7 and captain. He is a very, very good player.

      Pocock would be better at 7 and Pocock or perhaps Foley as captain.

      What would his best position be… 6? 12? 11?

      • st saens

        Agree totally. Fantastic player, but IMHO not our best number seven and not our best captain option.

        • joy

          Pocock went missing in the Lions game. He is yesterday’s 7.

      • Who?

        That’s a great point. What’s probably also worth considering is that the same conversations were held around Squeaky when he was an aging captain (as opposed to a young captain) and when there wasn’t a consistent challenger to his starting jersey. I say ‘consistent’, because the two who were being consistently touted, well, one’s now got 7 caps (all off the bench) and is generally off the bench for his Super team, and the other bloke hasn’t been seen for a while.
        I think we can all agree that Hooper’s a fantastic rugby player, that he’s a bloke held in the highest regard by all who know him, that he’s improved his media persona significantly in the last three years, and he deserves another contract. The only points of contention are selection and contract duration (not even value, just duration).

    • joy

      You have him working every minute for 5 years. $2.28 is cheap for a perpetual motion machine.

  • Brendan Hume

    I just can’t see the ROI for Hooper at those bucks. Good player who’s played a ton of minutes over the past 5 years at Super and Test level. Just broke down with a hammy injury and we sign him up for 5 years at that sort of coin? Doesn’t make any sense to me. Too many things can go wrong in a bloke the wrong side of 30 over a 5 year period. If the sport was a bit more financial, no worries, but bloody hell, club players are still being gouged to support grassroots development while having no say in how that money is administered.

    • Hoss

      He’s 26

      • Brendan Hume

        sorry, closer to 30 than 20… I’m just struggling to see the value for RA in this deal. I’m guessing this places him among the highest paid players in the world – maybe that won’t be the case in 5 years but it’s still a lot of coin.

        • John_R

          To disclose upfront, I’m a massssiiiivvveeee Hooper fan, so ya know, trigger warning for bias alert.

          But I see it as an experiment in testing the value of continuity and having a long term leader in the team. Alan Jones said a couple of years back that Hooper could be like our McCaw.

          I don’t think he’ll ever quite have the same impact on the game, just for the simple fact that he’s a fair bit smaller than sir Rich. But I’m a big fan of continuity and the culture that it can help to develop. So let’s see how it goes aye?

    • onlinesideline

      many all blacks and wallas and European dudes for that matter played their best rugby between 30 – 32 or 33. 26 is no big deal at all. It takes between the ages of 21 to 24 to achieve SR expertess. You telling me a 26 or 28 year old is on decline only after being settled as a good SR player for 2-3 years ?

      • Who?

        Really depends when they first hit the big time. JOC was shot at 25, when he played for the Reds in 2015. He’s currently only 28, he debuted at 18. Hooper debuted in 2012 (in the Newcastle Hurricane loss against Scotland). He’s played almost every single minute of Rugby available ever since then – Lions series, pretty well every Test since then. He’s got 82 Test caps. I think Pocock’s about 15 fewer. At the current rate, at the end of his current contract, Hooper will have over 150 Test match caps. And he’ll be 31. If he were to copy Richie and play until 35, that’s another RWC cycle, and another potential 50-60 caps.
        So it’s not a concern about chronological age, it’s a concern about game time, and the body’s capacity to keep on recovering. I really hope he’s fit enough to hit 200 Tests – I don’t want anyone to become decrepit. And we all know he trains like no one else, that he looks after himself impeccably. But we’ve got to be realistic and fair.

    • 22DropOut

      To quote a famous archaeologist, “it’s not the years it’s the mileage”.

      5 years is a long contract, not ideal. Presumably Hooper had bigger contract offers from overseas and the ARU could counter that with a longer deal.

      I’m happy with it all things considered. If he can’t see out his contract due to injury it will be covered by insurance. If the mileage takes its toll on his form and jeopardises his Wallabies spot he’ll always have big money moves abroad to fall back on. The odds of him seeing out his contract as a crock are, in my opinion, slim.

  • Hoss

    GAGR team – anyone know how the Aussie Steelers are going in their game ? Is there any place i can watch / listen ??

  • st saens

    Here’s a challenge…
    If you were CEO of Rugby Australia, to whom of all the great and gifted players you have seen over the years, would you offer a $6M 5 year contract??
    Mark Loane …nope
    Michael Lynagh …probably not
    Mark Ella …maybe
    Wally Lewis …probably consider it
    Five years is stupid, dumb, idiotic, unfathomable and frankly hilarious.
    Not happy Raelene…do something about western Sydney. Players come and go. Grass roots pathways, well designed and carefully nurtured, are forever.

  • TouchFinderGeneral

    Are there any rumours of other clubs wanting an EB to clog up their mid-field? Could be some smart footwork from MH & his agent. He says to M.C. Heika “RWC 19? Mate, I’m off to Toulon/Sarries/Suntory, unless …”

    I reckon he gets a bagging he doesn’t really deserve round these parts, we are stronger with him in the mix – and after all it isn’t really his fault Toutai Kefu retired. Still, that pace off the mark will drop over the next few years, so 5 years does seem a little generous. I’d have taken the 1.2 mill for a barely measurable fraction of the time commitment.

    Someone should point him in the direction of a calendar though. That charity mo’ thing ain’t for another few months.

  • GO THE Q REDS

    1000% object to a 5 year deal to Hooper for many reasons. But WHY has this happened, yet RA didn’t bother to step up and help a Quade Cooper deal go through so at least one other Aus Super club could use his MUCH NEEDED experience and skill rather then waste such a talent at a time when EVERY club needs help in the play making positions. Nothing highlights that more than the Matt Tomua appearance from thin air. Oh wait. …i forgot, Quade Cooper had a finals game for a under 12s game so we better not use him for a Wallabies run. …..

    • joy

      Quade Cooper crucifixion is an addiction.

  • LED

    Theres so much moaning about this contract becasue the media adds up the number across all the years to make it sound huge. You know what my 13 year old son asked me on hearing this: “Dad, why do sports stars in Australia get paid so little? Theres 2nd rate soccer players in Europe who are paid three times this amount”. So thats what a 13 year old thinks who hasnt had the time to become cynical and jealous.

    Hoopers a freak on the field and one of our consistently best players. The best coaches in the country at all levels have throughout his career have found a way to get him on the field because he changes games and score more points than any other forward in the country. This game is about scoring after all. We can get all the pilfers in the world and if you dont score you dont win. Period.

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@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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