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Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News

Fridays Rugby News sees the return of the Hair Bear, CTE, Changes to the Wallabies and Coach Campo.


 

 

The Hair Bear Is Back

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The Hair Bear is my daughter’s pet name for her favourite player Tatafu Polota-Nau. TPN was minding his own business in Leicester when an unknown number turned up on his phone. Tatafu had figured his days in gold were over so he hadn’t bothered to give his number to the Wallabies coach. But that didn’t stop Cheika hunting down his man.

Even though TPN wasn’t keen on a farewell tour he was a bit peeved with how he’d played last year. So it seems it didn’t take too much cajoling to talk the powerfull hooker into one last tilt at a possible World Cup.

“I am quite shocked to be back here,” the 89-Test veteran hooker told reporters

Knee surgery in the English off-season behind him, Polota-Nau rates himself a chance to feature at Suncorp Stadium and push younger hooking options like in-form Folau Fainga’a ahead of September’s World Cup in Japan.

“It ended with a sour note last season … I sort of thought it was my last with the Wallabies,” he said.

“I didn’t have the stamina I used to have, but that’s because my preparation wasn’t the best.

“It’s from my end just to see if I’ve still got it … give these guys (younger hookers) a run for their money.”

I think that he’s a good chance of making the world cup squad. There are a lot of good young hookers on the up in Australian rugby but all of them a very short on experience. If TPN can show decent form through the TRC surely he’s a shoo-in?

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

DEFINITELY a concussive event

Known as CTE for us everyday Humans. Tatafu Polota-Nau had a big week in the papers. We’ve all seen him sprawled out after one of his many head knocks and wondered what kind of long term damage they were doing to him. Tpn has over 250 top-level games at the coal face under his belt, quite an achievement by anyone’s standards. But it’s also plenty of chances to do long term damage.

Tatafu was pretty relieved that the first known case of CTE had come to light in Australia.

To be honest, I’m glad it’s being looked at because I feel like … I watched a documentary about the NFL tackling the case, because obviously it started in the 70s and has caught up with them now,” he said.

 “It’s actually a real injury that people don’t understand or aren’t wanting to understand because it doesn’t look as serious as a broken leg or anything like that.

“It’s great that it’s being addressed because there’s more to life than just playing the game of rugby. A lot of guys have families that they need to look after too post-rugby, so I’m just really happy that it’s being addressed.”

Polota-Nau is something of an early adopter in this space, having struck up a relationship with Sydney neurology professor John Watson back in 2013. A year later he told the Herald he was considering donating his brain to science to help research efforts in the area.

Remarkably, Polota-Nau’s annual check-ins with Watson have never uncovered anything troubling – although the Wallaby is careful to point out that does not preclude issues arising further down the track.

CTE is a pretty crap disease.  Symptoms don’t appear until years after the injury and the only way to confirm it is by brain biopsy after the patient’s death. First-stage symptoms include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as well as confusion, disorientation, dizziness, and headaches. Second-stage symptoms include memory loss, social instability, impulsive behaviour, and poor judgment. Third and fourth stages include progressive dementia, movement disorders, hypomimia, speech impediments, sensory processing disorder, tremors, vertigo, deafness, depression and suicidality.

Lilo Back In Gold!

Lilo

Everyone loves a good news story and Christian Leali’ifano’s return to the Wallabies is at the top of my list right now. Diagnosed with Leukemia in 2016, he missed the next 11 months of rugby before returning for the Brumbies quarter-final loss in 2017.  His game has been steadily getting better ever since.

Back in the side alongside Lilo are Scott Sio, Will Genia, Marika Koroibete and Kurtley Beale in the starting side and former wild child James O’Connor in the reserves. Lilo’s inclusion at the expense of Bernard Foley and Sio for Slipper might be seen as 50-50 calls but the others are all positives in my book.

Lealiifano has been named at five-eighth in partnership with halfback Will Genia, who got the nod over Nic White.

“He’s had a great season in Super Rugby. I think he’s definitely deserved the opportunity now to play,” Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said of Lealiifano.

 “He’s had a lot of quality time spent since he’s been in here, not just for himself, but the way he gets around his teammates. I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for him to get out there and play.”
“There’s been a lot of players pushing hard for selection. Trying hard, training hard, committing in training,” Cheika said.
Wallabies:
Kurtley Beale, Reece Hodge, Tevita Kuridrani, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Christian Lealiifano, Will Genia, Isi Naisarani, Michael Hooper (captain), Lukhan Salakai-Loto, Rory Arnold, Izack Rodda, Sekope Kepu, Folau Faingaa, Scot Sio. Reserves: Tolu Latu, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Rob Simmons, Luke Jones, Nic White, Matt Toomua, James O’Connor.

 

Campo for the Tahs?

News today that David Campese has thrown his hat into the ring for the vacant Waratahs job. Campo has a vast knowledge of the game but somehow has failed to win the hearts of the Australian public since the heady highs of his playing days.

I think it’s my time in life now… coached overseas many times,” states Wallabies legend David Campese.

The winger and fullback famous for his “goosestep” played 101 caps for the Wallabies including his “player of the tournament” efforts in the winning 1991 Rugby World Cup campaign.

“It’s really about getting the players the skill factor and confidence that they can attack under pressure instead of just trying to hit the ball up under the pressure and not back our strengths which was our exciting backline,” state Campese.

He believes the All Blacks and Crusaders are sticking to a style the Wallabies used to play during the dominant era of Australian Rugby.

 “They play the sort of rugby that we used to play, and I can’t see why we can’t do that,”

Club rugby is the best academy… get them all playing the same style get them confident, so these guys are hungry wanting to play for NSW instead of going overseas,”

What do Waratahs fan think? Is Camp the next Waratahs coach?

 

  • Hitcho

    Now this makes me a happy camper.
    Christian Lealiifano… What a remarkable story of guts, determination, resilience, and recovery. The guys got heart! As well as being the nicest guy you’ll ever meet, jez he’s come back well from what was the battle of his life. He is a much respected true leader of men.
    Not that he’ll read this comment, but I would say to him that you sir may have something to prove to yourself but you’ve got nothing to prove to me. Do your thing and go well. I can’t get to Suncorp but will be standing to applaud him when he runs out.
    This is the stuff I’m happy to see being reported in mainstream media.

    • We are so Mainstream!

      Always happy to report on such an amazing story.

      • Hitcho

        Ha ha ha mate please accept my most humble apologies. No offense intended: )

        • Too late! I’m going to bitch and whinge all day!

        • Yowie

          What part of the UK are you from originally?

    • onlinesideline

      100%

  • Someone, I’m not saying who, forgot to put the news on the front page! Our apologies.

    • Okay it was me!

      • Nutta

        The true sets you free Sully. Just ask Izzy.

  • IIPA

    Campo for Tahs coach I would wholeheartedly support. Yeah it wont appease the NSWRU dont think anything exists west of Anzac Parade critics but Campese is far more well rounded than being an Eastern suburbs born n bred toff.

    Might it blow up and not work ? Sure. But engendering support and passion does begin with the coach and Daryl Gibson was as vanilla and non-exciting as my grandma’s choice of dessert each night so I say give it to Campo.

  • Custard Taht

    Campese is the logical and only choice for the Tahs coach, and subsequently the Wallabies coach for the 2027 world cup cycle. He pretty much ticks all the boxes;

    1. Ex Randwick
    2. Ex Tah
    3. Ex Wallaby

    All he needs to do, is park his car in the Waratahs HQ car park, and the job is his. If he wants to really kill the interview, get drunk, send some inappropriate text messages about a female employee whilst driving drunk and fall asleep behind the wheel.

    I would counsel him to avoid causing offence, that is a career killer.

    • Brisneyland Local

      Pure gold

      • Bobas
        • Brisneyland Local

          Thanks for sharing that. Hilarious. If we lose this weekend it will be the crowd abusing Cheika. Being led by me and Hoss!

        • Yowie

          Awesome stuff. That set off a few laughs in the office here when I forwarded a copy around just now.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Hahahaha brilliant

        • Patrick

          That almost makes me want to check my fb account for the first time this year!

    • laurence king

      Whoever they get, it’s going to be a big rebuild over the next few years. And in my opinion that should be the main priority when selecting the coach. I didn’t mind Gibson in some ways, but the Tahs have declined on his watch

    • LED

      When the Wallabies problem is coaching a game plan that was stale in the 90’s, Campese would certainly change this. He’d tae it back to the 80’s.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Ba-Boom!

      • Custard Taht

        When you look at the skills and execution on display by the 80’s and 90’s wallabies; if the current wallabies had those skills and execution, the Wallabies would be winning more than 50% of their games, by some margin.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Gold mate

    • Phil Kcraig

      Also prefect tahs coaching candidate as guaranteed to underachieve and dissappoint

  • Sevenwithasixonmyback

    Is Campo still coaching at Briars?
    Was that a real thing or a promotional opportunity?

  • Crescent

    Alrighty, I am going to bite. TPN. TP Noooooooo! Don’t get me wrong, I have loved TPN as a player and have tremendous respect for his time in Aus Rugby. But he even said himself that heading to Leicester was about allowing the next generation to come through and take the game forward.

    I would be hard pressed to not take a Wallaby jersey if it was offered, but we cannot take the Aus game forward by constantly glorifying the past and bringing back players who have had their time and moved on.

    Bring him into training camp to pass on his knowledge and experience. Start him on a coaching pathway if that is what we need, but to pull him back into gold when we have guys that need game time to find out if they have what it takes to cut it at international level – we aren’t going to develop the depth we need. There will be some pain along the way, but let’s face it, the Old Guard haven’t exactly bought home the silverware consistently. Apparently, we Wallabies fans are masochists and enjoy the pain by now.

    • Brisneyland Local

      Fuck yeah we do. we love it.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Bang on mate. Don’t know what the hell the selectors are thinking on this

    • John Tynan

      Even just the $25k spend on return business class tickets, presumably accommodation, food, per diem etc etc to then not use him anyway….it’s not like we are flush…

  • Nutta

    Hola amigos

    Team-Sheet:
    * We have a winger. Not a rugby winger, but at least it’s 1 winger.
    * Beale is a mistake. It should be Banks.
    * Nic vs Ginea is healthy competition.
    * Great to see L’fano feeding to Kevy & K’drani. But K’train must be on-notice esp with Hunt back playing.
    * I believe LSL starting at 6 is a mistake. He doesn’t have the 60min mobility. It should be Jones. Leave Simmo out, use LSL as a Lock/Loose reserve and get McCafe on the pine.
    * I luv TPN. But we need to be blooding Ragi or Mafi right now.
    * I am not nor ever have been a JOC fan. But 5yrs out is a long time in-which to grow up. Good luck to him. If he gets a shot I hope he makes it count.

    Campo coaching the Tarts? Normally I would laugh. But with that much sheer investment, facilities, kit, pick of ability etc and yet a complete inability to perform, I’m willing to let the guy have a go. They can’t sux much more than they already do. He may even surprise us.

    • Brisneyland Local

      You the man Nutta! 100%

      • Nutta

        Awww shucks…

    • Damo

      South Africa bring in 12 frighteningly good players to the team that touched us up last week (and have a look at the ****ing bench!!). NZ do a few tweaks to make a really good team even better. We just seem to have spun the chocolate wheel again. My god I hope we win and play some decent rugby on Saturday, because I don’t know where we go if we don’t.

      • Nutta

        The die is pretty much set isn’t it?

    • Brumby Runner

      Nutta, I’d prefer to see White v Powell for the No 9 spot. Willy G is a known resource and hasn’t be firing on all cylinders for over twelve months. He looks like he’s on the slide like Kepu.

      Hopefully it is Petaia keeping the k’train on their toes, not Hunt.

      I have to say that I haven’t been obvious of Jones’ greater mobility over LSL all through the Super season. To my mind, they are much of a muchness. Their lineout presence is where they have an advantage over the likes of Valetini and Dempsey, but McCaffrey would be pushing them for overall impact. I’d actually like to see Valetini come in to add an agressive element to the pack.

      Mafi (my preference) or Rangi or Paenga-Amosa should be there in place of TPN. The number of concussions TPN has suffered over his career are a concern and together with his most recent poor form should see him out of the squad.

      • Nutta

        McCafe is the guy who should be there over the lot of them. But short of that give me Jones over LSL for a better workrate and a harder edge.

    • JOC has looked at Sale. I know NH quality doesn’t necessarily translate, but it’s worked well for Faf de Klerk for example, one of JOC’s teammates. However, Steve Diamond is not an AssClown, he’s a bit of a no-nonsense character who picks up players like JOC who are “troubled” and sorts them out. He also brings through youngsters who tend to get poached and go on to great things. Hopefully JOC will remember what he learnt from Diamond and perform.

      I wouldn’t object to seeing LSL on the bench but I think he didn’t well enough in his first test, at Ellis Park against a superior pack, to see him again in better conditions. I know we don’t have long to get it right, but like the coaches shouldn’t have hooked Banks, I don’t think they should hook LSL. If he still underwhelms, see what he’s like as a sub, then consider a move to the fringes of the squad or out of it. He can improve for next year… harsh, but the focus has to be “Are you coming to Japan?” although that can’t be based on one game for a new cap, unless it was Herschel Jantjies, who is so going to Japan you could consider wrapping him in cotton wool and checking who your third scrum half is if you’re Erasmus.

      Speaking of which, I think we need to sort a third scrum half… I think Genia will go, although it’s more on experience now, than ability (that might lift during the RWC but he’s looking old and slow, like he’s played a year too long to me, although he might be carrying a knock – like that head injury). I think White pretty much wrote his name in for Japan, so I’d like to start whoever is the likely third choice (Powell I think?) and have White on the bench or vice versa. White needs the playing minutes with the rest of the team to get used to playing with them, that’s Genia’s edge over him. We need to get Powell time too. Managing that is more important than managing Genia’s time and if he is carrying a niggle, that would be good rest time for him.

      • Nutta

        For me, LSL is like Hannigan – I get why he’s there but it’s not working.

        The 9’s will be Nic, Ginea and Joey. I reckon that is locked already.

        • I agree he might be, I just think one test at Ellis Park when the rest of the pack didn’t do well and Naisarani was also a new boy is a bit harsh… I know we need a fast decision, and I want to see a fast improvement but I’m willing to give him one more run.

          It’s entirely possible this is the wrong call and if it was just the Assclown, I might be more willing to drop him after that first test performance. But presumably the other selectors saw something too to have him as their first choice to run out in the 6 jersey?

          Whoever the 9’s are, if there isn’t a big new game plan for the 8-9-10 axis, the new boys need more time getting to know everyone than Sancho.

        • Brumby Runner

          I think you’re right on the 9s Nutta, but I’m with EP all the way. White should be starting to cement his place and work on combinations and Powell should have been given 30 minutes or more from the bench. This is starting to look like 2017 (?) all over again when Joe sat on the bench for a lot of the year but got I think less than 20 minutes game time spread over a number of tests.

        • Nutta

          And so resurfaces that beautiful yet forgotten nickname of classic reserve halfbacks: Anthems.

      • Phil Kcraig

        Personally wish more of oz rugby public would grow up personally as JOC done his growing up and struggle to see his rap sheet as so serious to deserve the crap and hard time given to him at this point by the over zealous rugby zealots who push a moral compass that few would pass let alone themselves. If you compare to some of nrl player rap sheets joc is a saint.

        • I think it’s complicated. Sports stars, not just rugby players, are highly paid, highly visible and, whether they want it or not, role models. Union, from it’s days as an amateur sport, has inherited a picture of itself up as a model of probity – it was played by doctors, lawyers, teachers and the like (it still is to a vastly lesser extent, but Jamie Roberts qualified as a doctor while playing for Wales), who we still expect to have a high moral character – evidence and court cases to the contrary. In fairness, those are the exceptions, and while doctors, lawyers and teachers are as human as the rest of us, and have affairs, get drunk and so on, they’re at least discrete about it.

          Of course, 20 years into being a professional sport with very highly paid young athletes, it’s going to have drunks, drug abusers, violent offenders and all the rest. Gradually that clean cut image will go away. But the ones that tarnish it – like JOC – well some of them will never be forgiven in the minds of a proportion of the population.

          I’m not saying that’s fair. Like you, I think he’s done his time and while there’s a case he might not be good enough in the positions he should be considered for I think he offers something a bit different to each of Kerevi, Kurundrani, Toomua and Beale, and he’s an acceptable wing sub too, so he’s worth a look.

        • joy

          Well said.

    • Phil Kcraig

      Yep given tahs really do suck suddenly a left field option like campo sounds actually ok…

      Saids a lot about the sorry state that is nswru

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Sully. Been busy today so late to catch up.
    TPN! Really? Surely an investment in the ones who’ve been playing would be better. I think this is a huge mistake and is putting the team backwards. I know he’s been good but the emphasis is on “been”
    However I do like the work being done on CTE and good on him for getting involved. It’ll be interesting what comes from this and how much it affects the game. I’m thinking some countries won’t care too much but others may well bring in some law changes and that could be interesting.
    Campo as coach of the Tahs! Wow! One I hadn’t thought of. I don’t know his coaching history so can’t comment too much but I really don’t think he’d be worse so why not?
    Happy with some changes. Like a lot I think Banks has been hard done by. I think the loosies might well be the loss in this game as they didn’t do much last week and the 6 & 8 still have to cover for the ineffectiveness of the 7 at the ruck.

    • I looked up Campo. He’s coached Singapore and Tonga’s 7’s and 3 years at the Sharks 11 years ago.

      Extensive coaching experience… really up to date.

      Hey, look, they might appoint him and if they do, I wish him luck. I can’t help feeling there are better qualified people with recent experience but… this is a rugby club in Australia so who the hell knows.

    • NSWelsham in London

      two minds on the Campo job. First is i think he will not care about names and purely pick on what he sees in front of him, which could mean we see the last of hooper in his current role etc. Defence is what worries me, he was absolutely woeful, “upsettingly” so… i hope he realises this and brings in a defence coach, but, why not…. As a NSWelshman would love to see them do well and if Campo can make his star burn bright again then absolutely bring him in (only if there is noone better though)..

      • Alister Smith

        While he is waratahs and syllables royalty he isn’t really an establishment character and has been a critic of both waratahs and Wallabies coaching set ups or the games administrators. I don’t think he has much chance I put him in the same group as Alan Jones.

        If he does get the gig I think he’ll need a good set piece coach – I have memories of him leaning against the posts in boredom while the forwards packed repeated scrums.
        Cheers for

  • GeorgiaSatellite

    Thanks Sully. And a special mention for spelling ‘shoo-in’ correctly. No disrespect to the other writers, as I appreciate the (gratis) work you all do, but it made an old editor happy.

    TPN: does Cheika own a DeLorean by any chance?

    • Yowie

      I think correct word use is enough for us put Sully up on a pedal-stool for a bit.

    • Custard Taht

      No, but he has an awesome Hot Tub.

  • Christian Lealiifano back in green and gold – well done mate and all the best out there on the field.

  • nmpcart

    Has TPN’s form in England been any good? He didn’t look his old self last time he played here, and saying that was due to a lack of preparation is not exactly positive for a professional player. Dragging back these veterans smacks of desperation.

    • Shtinatina

      His last few games before the end of the season at Leicester were pretty good.

      • Brumby Runner

        But good enough to warrant test selection? His form last time here was way below the required standard, and by his own account he had put all thoughts of representing again behind him.

  • Max Graham

    Some of us just like to whinge. If fit, TPN is a walk-up start to the Oz side. Fantastic player!! Possibly our best in the scrum, solid at line outs, hasn’t missed a tackle in his life and carries like a kiwi back rower. I still feel bad for him, having had to spend years on the pine watching lesser humans wear the 2 jersey. I’m stoked he’s back, and if/when his lungs get close to 100%, he’s a certainty to start the big games.

    • UTG

      Agreed, much better than journeymen like Fitzy.

      • Max Graham

        I think Fitzgerald has the potential to play a load of tests. He’s a great prospect, but the scrum goes up 3 gears when he’s replaced by Latu.

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@Only1Sully

Just another Rugby tragic. Shane "Sully" Sullivan has been in man love with the game since high school in the 70's. He inflicts his passion on family and anyone who will listen. He can't guarantee unbiased opinion but he can tell you the Reds are Awesome! To read non-rugby content head to http://www.onesully.com.au

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