Giteau to patner Cooper and Genia against the Boks

Giteau back to partner Cooper and Genia v Boks

Giteau back to partner Cooper and Genia v Boks

The Wallabies will kick off their 2015 with an inside back combination that was last used at Wallaby level against England at Twickenham in 2010.

Green and Gold Rugby can confirm that Michael Cheika, in his first test on home soil, has opted for Queenslanders Quade Cooper and Will Genia to start at Suncorp Stadium, usurping Waratah incumbents Bernard Foley and Nick Phipps. Joining the Queensland combo will be the Toulon-based Matt Giteau, to start at inside-centre, in his first Wallaby cap since their heavy loss to Samoa at the start of the 2011 season.

In a boon for Wallaby fans, it is a 9-10-12 combination that comes with both history and success.

Remember the first Rugby Championship match of 2011 against the Boks at Suncorp Stadium? The Wallabies ran out 30-13 winners on the back of that combination and, in particular, a classy Giteau performance.

Better yet. Remember that amazing performance in Bloemfontein against the Boks again? The one where we had the four-try bonus point wrapped up after 25 minutes? When the Boks came back but Kurtley Beale kicked a monster after the siren for the victory? There they were again. Genia, Cooper and Giteau.

Better still that win over the All Blacks in Hong Kong, this time with James O’Connor kicking the winner. Well the boys were at it again there, particularly the same 9-10-12 combination that will lead us out this week against the Boks in Brisbane.

It is a combination few pundits could have foreseen being selected for the opening Wallaby test of the season come the start of the year given the rise of Phipps and Foley for both the Waratahs and national team. More so talk of selecting overseas players, such as Giteau, was more the domain of outspoken former Wallabies desperate for wins, than anyone within ARU HQ.

But times have changed and Cheika is passionate about success and will do all it takes to achieve it. The much discussed ‘Giteau-clause’ opened the way for the 92 cap veteran to possibly achieve two previously forgone career goals – 100 Wallaby caps and a Rugby World Cup victory.

As for the selection of the Reds halves over the Tahs halves, we will have to wait until next week to see if it is more than a devise to help build a home crowd, but the talk amongst the journos all week has been how sharp the two have looked at training sessions.

Elsewhere in the team, Cheika has opted to go with Scott Higginbotham at number 8 over Ben McCalman of the Force in the only other really contentious selection. Higginbotham will partner former Wallaby skipper Michael Hooper and Scott Fardy in a backrow balanced with brilliance in attack and a high work ethic across the park.

The tight five of Will Skelton, Rob Simmons, Sekope Kepu, James Slipper and captain Stephen Moore was to be expected. Similarly the outside backs of Tevita Kuridrani, Rob Horne, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Israel Folau won’t disappoint many impartial fans.


Without the benefit of a ‘warm up’ test, the Wallabies will be entering the contest following a week long camp on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Whilst the All Blacks took on Samoa in Apia, Argentina played a French Barbarians team and the South Africans played something called a “World XV”, the Aussies opted for the holding camp approach.

It’s a somewhat understandable decision given a new coaching team and the introduction of a whole bunch of new players in Wallaby rookies (Rory Arnold & Taqele Naiyaravoro), long absent veterans (Greg Holmes), overseas based stars (Giteau and Mitchell) and Dean Mumm.

By all reports the training has been intense which is what would be expected under Cheika, Nathan Grey and Mario Ledesma. Combinations have been tried and journalists have been tricked as they strive to build some sort of hope amongst Wallaby fans this year.

South Africa’s preparation got a surprising boost when their lone Super Rugby hope, the Stormers, were knocked out of the finals in the first week. Their match against a “World XV” was seemingly little more than an opposed team run and, from reports, did not match the intensity as some of those Wallaby training sessions.

In saying that, nothing beats match conditioning and Bok coach Heyneke Meyer has at least been able to partially answer some questions he may have had leading into the Rugby Championship.


So this is the future is it? Toulon team mates Matt Giteau  and Bryan Habana are now likely to face off as opponents in a test match. It may happen in Europe all the time, but it’s a rarity in Australia. Whilst the two don’t oppose each other positionally, there is no doubt that will be both come across each other on the field regularly.  Giteau’s kicking game will be important for Australia and will be out to test his Toulon team mate, whilst Habana works hard-off his wing and is likely to pop up in the 12 channel on occasions.

It’s old school to say it, but the battle of the Front Row is vital, as much for the RWC as it is for this game. The Boks have a fabulous front row, as good as any in the world at the moment. The Wallabies showed glimpses last year of gaining the respect they craved in this department, however much of the good work was undone towards the end of the northern tour, most notably against England. There is no doubting that Slipper, Moore and Kepu are our best combination and their ability to match it with the likes of the Boks, All Blacks, Poms and Welsh will go a long way in determining the success of this Wallaby season.

There are some absolutely brilliant fullbacks in World Rugby at the moment and in Israel Folau and Willie le Roux, we have two of the best on show this weekend. Both are attacking freaks capable of making the chasing defence look completely ineffectual. Folau’s form for the Tahs has been below the jaw dropping standard we’ve come to expect, but the man is class regardless. Le Roux, fresh off a hat trick against a “World XV” can also carve with the best of them.  The mere presence of these two puts enhanced pressure on the opposition’s respective kickers and chasing game. Any slip up in these departments will be heavily punished.


Other than that pesky Super Rugby season getting in the way, Michael Cheiaka looks to have had the build up he was after for the Rugby Championship. His scheduling, his players, his coaching staff. His commitment to the cause is undeniable and I expect it to have instant results for this Wallaby team with a highly intense performance against South Africa on Saturday.

Wallabies by 18


Team 2

  • Breenden

    Is this team official?

  • Boby

    2 slowest wingers in world rugby.

    • Mart

      Horne has pace… The only disappointing thing is having 2 similar wingers. Better to go with one and have a Tomane or Taqele or Speight on the other.

      • Hambone

        Correct, I thought tomane has done more than enough to push for a starting berth, especially seeing two dads and bobby are quite similar

      • Chinese Dave

        Well, Speight’s out of consideration right now, I wouldn’t give Taqele anything but a bench spot (at a very big stretch), but I agree about Tomane. He hadn’t impressed me much this year until the tail end of the season where he seemed to grow a third leg.

      • Spank

        I tend to agree for sure. I was never a fan of Horne but he has rightfully earned his place this year. On the other wing we need Speight (if in form). I imagine he will get a chance to show in due course. Would love to see Mr. T also get the chance despite his detractors.

    • Pedro

      Arguably the best defensive wingers in world rugby.

      • Mart

        2 defensive wingers doesn’t work. We’ve seen it before with Horne and McCabe

        still a rock solid backline

        • Jay-c

          Dunno if the all blacks of 2011 would agree with that

        • saying “best defensive wingers” didn’t imply they’re not attacking wingers or great finishers (as said above)

    • Nick

      I agree. We need a Drew Mitchell there with some x factor and also a big booming boot.

  • Hitcho

    Wow..(Insert scratching my head icon here). I better clarify. Pocock over Hooper, Tomane over Horne. Hooper on the bench coming on for Fardy at 60mins.

  • Train Without A Station

    Probably would have liked to have seen Tomane over Horne and Holmes over Kepu. Kepu and Holmes though.

    Hopefully Pocock and Sio get a solid run off the bench too.

    • Seb V

      I’m with you, but each one of those were close calls. Hard to be disappointed.

      • Train Without A Station

        Yeah meant to write that but somehow just added a nonsensical sentence.

    • Mart

      Horne has had a great year. Probably would’ve started him and Tomane over AAC

      • Train Without A Station

        I think AAC is necessitated as without him we have poor back 3 kicking options.

        • Klaus

          So why have them? They will need to bring more to the table in attack by working behind Quade. If he doesn’t have those options he can’t play his game. I personally think its a bad call having the pair of them there. 1 would have been ok but you need a boot and an attacking/hard working winger. All in all a good team with a couple of tweaks credit to Cheika for having the guts for big changes.

  • Boby

    We are going to get murdered at the breakdown higgers and hooper wont work

    • Train Without A Station

      Funnily enough we didn’t get murdered at the breakdown the last test they played together which was against the All Blacks in October. We enjoyed a huge possession advantage that night (over 60%).

      • Chinese Dave

        While I don’t share the opinion that we will necessarily get murdered in the breakdown as above, I don’t think your stat is particularly meaningful in that the ABs don’t mind their opposition having position in a non-dangerous manner given how clinical they are on the counter, much like the Highlanders did to both the Tahs and the Canes.

        • Train Without A Station

          But when don’t teams minds giving possession up? generally in the opposition half, when they are likely to kick it away anyway.

          The only modern team I have seen that really is completely happy to give up possession and has been able to win games was the Western Force last season.

      • Nick

        We also lost. I think Poey is better at Test level because he so effective at slowing the opposition ball down. That alone is the reason I would have him there over Hooper against any team.

        • Train Without A Station

          But Nick, remember Poey put on a absolute masterclass at the breakdown against the Blues this year.

          Brumbies still lost.

          You can’t say the result was a lack of breakdown dominance. You can say since we dominated possession, that we worked well enough at the breakdown to give us pill though.

  • Bruce Lyle

    I’m pretty happy with it but would prefer pocock for 60 then bring on hooper

    • Pedro

      It’s nice to have an ace up your sleeve though.

      • Tip

        Better to play the ace four times in the first hour and play the queen after 60..

        • Don’t make homosexual inferences about Poey just because he called out Jackpot

        • rossco

          Theres such a thing as playing to the conditions and the opposition. On a fast, dry track in Brisbane, a Hooper, Higginbotham Fardy back-row to start would seem to make sense.

          On a muddy track in the NH, maybe Cheika would go with Fardy, Palu, Pocock ?

          At least we now have a quality bench

          My only concern is that the wingers may lack a bit of out and out pace, but maybe he is going defensive to counter Habana and Pietersen.

          Those clips above highlight what a great finisher Mitchell was. Personally, I hope he still is but don’t really know. Tomane and Mitchell on the ends of an attacking back line could be something else

        • Axemen

          I agree – everything looks great except for the wingers – they are solid players, but do they have the ability to turn a game themselves like a Savea or a Habana, definitely not. Hopfully Henry Speigh will be back soon who I think can give that bit of X factor on the wing.
          Would of preferred Pocock at 7, but also appreciate that it is very much a dry track backrow and we would need some more meat on a wet track when I think Paul would come in at 8 and Pocock start with Higgers and Hooper moving to the bench.
          Only issue with Palu at 8 is it really cuts down our lineout options whilst Skelton is at lock. People always whinge the Simmons overcalls himself, but when you only have 2 credible jumpers when Skelton/Palu are in the same team it does seriously limit your options. .

        • Sofa Coach

          Rossco did you see his solo Heineken Cup winning try this season? Google it! It will ease your fears!

        • sidesteppa

          clermont v toulon 2015 heineken cup. this brilliant try is at the 1 hr 30 mark on the youtube video footage.

  • Hugh Cavill

    Hard to be negative about that team… though I’m sure our usual posters will still find a way!

    Will be a sexy fast unit of ball-running stars. Obviously Cheika is going to experiment a bit, so I’m sure we’ll see Toomua, Pocock, McCalman etc get their shot. Can’t wait!!!

    Hopefully this team may silence some of the ‘Cheika only cares about the Tahs’ ranters.

    • tah fan

      i’m with you . expecting fury was trying to find how a nsw hater would whinge about this team, i guess it would be that they think there are 3 too many.

      but in all seriousness that team looks awesome!
      cannot wait for the game!

      hope we also get drew on the bench, would be good to have his boot at the end of the game when any of the play makers get subbed towards the end of the game.

      • Michael Hassall

        I like the call about Mitchell, does he play any fullback in France?

        I’m with Hugh as well, the team has been picked, lets get behind the team.

        • Stray Gator

          Right wing, I believe

    • Hitcho

      Just one simple question, Hooper over Pocock… really?

      • ols

        Have to agree, Vs the Bok pack, considering the damage Pocock has done historically and the need for a breakdown presense to get forward ball suprised he went with Hooper
        That being said, I am not dissapointed at all. Hooper is a seriosuly quality player.

        • Hitcho

          Agreed Hooper is a quality player, Pocock is just a better 7. Want to slow the Saffas ball by competing at the breakdown and pinching a good percentage of it Poeys your man.

        • RedAnt

          Seems even more important to have a strong breakdown presence (ie. Poey) in the starting team with Schalk Burger listed at No. 8.

      • Hugh Cavill

        Both great players, imagine Pocock will get a chance to start in the near future.

      • Simon

        At least the Boks will be happy about it….

      • Pocock doesn’t make many turnovers in the first half when the cleanouts are still ferocious.

        Hooper is often the first to the ball/breakdown in open play, and first back in defence after opposition breakouts.

        The simplistic view of his contributions at seven are laughable.

        Pocock on at 50 to work his magic!

        • Hitcho

          In actual fact Poeys turnovers per half are almost 50/50. More important than his turnovers is the disruption Pocock causes at the breakdown by competing so heavily. The Opposition have to commit more players at the breakdown to retain the ball which slows their attacking ball, decreases the number of potential attacking players, and gives the Wallabies more time to reset in defense. Hooper simply doesn’t have the impact Pocock does at the breakdown.

        • I watched all his games and that surprises me.
          Where can I get those stats?

        • RobC

          Grizzly, best source is gagr, forcefan does the ruck stats. One article on 7s matt wrote based on FFs numbers.. There’s several others he’s written

  • kp

    Starting with Hooper over Pocock???? Just when you think they are starting to get it together they fall into old habits and brain fart all over the place.
    Don’t get me wrong – I like the rest of the team (but Genia and Cooper better play the house down). But wouldn’t you bring Hooper on with 20 to go against a tiring opposition and let him go ballistic. How does bringing Pocock on with 20 to go set the world on fire? It doesn’t. Start with Pocock allow him to pilfer then bring on Hooper. If I was the opposition that is the last thing I would want to see.

    • Chinese Dave

      Pocock on with 20 to go shuts down the opposition. If we’re leading at that point and we need to close strong, it doesn’t have to be by scoring more, it can be by killing their game. Remember the loss to the ABs when Nic White box-kicked the ball away with a 2 point lead? Imaging being able to just kick the ball far away and have Pocock shutdown the nuns’ ruck ball.

      This wouldn’t be my first choice, btw, I would have had Pocock on with Higgers, not Hooper, but don’t discount this selection offhand.

      • Happy with that

        That’s why Nick Whites not there

      • Nick

        Imagine you could do that for 80 minutes nOt just 20!

      • Axemen

        But what about if we are chasing a game and want a ball runner coming on – Pocock (and definitely not Horwill) are ball runners or tryscorers (being on the back of a driving maul doesn’t count). That is where I think a Hooper or Higginbotham might be more useful against tired defenders. I think we need to roll the dice a bit more to get a ball running backrower into the team – carry only 2 backs reserves, a 9 and one other. We have backs that can cover numerous positions in AAC and Giteau. Don’t use Giteau as backup 9 as it only restricts us in other things we can do and he has played the position maybe 3 times in the last 10 years – that isnt good enough for Test rugby.

        • Dally M

          Hooper is an 80 minute player so would expect we will see Pocock & Hooper on in the second half at the same time.

  • bad ass

    Awesome side but the back line is worth nothing without the ball. Swap Pocock for Hooper and bring Hooper on at 60. Not enough strange picks to get upset about anymore so I am feeling uneasy. Looks close to our best side.

  • Mst

    Hard to be positive about this team – but I am sure the usual posters will find a way.

    Hopefully its not the kids on red cordial running around spilling it everywhere with the obsessive forwards game the lynch pin until we get Toomua, Pocock, McCalman etc on to get their shot and steady the ship.

    Unlikely this team will silence the critics knowing it more of an experiment than anything.

    • Robbo_76

      The team looks good to me – not exactly as I would have picked it, but there are a few combinations to be tested over coming weeks and we just need to be patient and see how each of them go. Can’t wait to get to Suncorp though – carn Wallabies!

  • Robson

    The two “Bs” win test matches. The Breakdown and the Bench. So I’m interested in who will be on the bench, because Cheika has shown that he is not, unlike Robbie Deans, timid or unsure of how to use it. Hooper is not a pilferer, but that doesn’t mean we can’t win the breakdown or our share of it. It might become important when the Wallabies want a steal on their own line though and that is where Pocock’s skills are invaluable. Much wlll depend on how SA will play this, but the script looks set for an all out running game by the Wallabies. Could be a great match up of contrasting game plans.

    • Train Without A Station

      Actually I’m preparing an article. The breakdown doesn’t appear to win matches and there is a very small difference between rucks won, rucks lost and turnovers conceded between winning and losing teams.

      • Robson

        You’ve obviously done the research so I’m not in any position to argue, so fair enough. What I would suggest, however, is that whilst it might not be how many rucks that are won that is a factor, but the significance of ruck dominance at crucial times, ie whilst you are backed up on your own goal line.

        • Train Without A Station

          I agree these qualitative measures are important. I was actually surprised to discover it. I expected winning teams to have a 55% to 45% split of possession on average but it’s actually 52/48.

          I also expected turnovers lost to be a factor. The factor is something like 16 turnovers conceded for winning teams on average and 18 for losing teams on average.

          The way it averages out over all games I can’t see it likely that winning teams are just letting possession be retained at non-crucial times. Obviously teams take this tactic, but it’s generally in their defending 22, which is when it would be considered quality attacking position.

        • Nutta

          I’m waiting patiently… would be interesting to see how the consistently defensively contested ruck forces attacking teams to commit players to retain ball thereby lessening their attacking options – or more to the point how NOT going hard for a turnover allows the attacker to support their backs with forwards to keep getting quick ball

        • Train Without A Station

          Nutta still the highest number of defensive ruck contests I can find from the games Forcefan surveyed was 18 and that was for a number 8. The next highest was 16.

          Considering Pocock gets a turnover at every 8 rucks I think Forcefan noted, and he gets less than 2 per game, I’d expect him to contest 14-16. Even if 10 are effective, on a low possession game that’s 10 of 80 rucks. On a game where the opposition has a lot of ball that’s probably closer to 15 of 130. Hardly the huge impact we think it is.

          My point is that it’s not an individual effort as no single individual has that much impact on the statistics. It’s a team effort.

        • Nutta

          Agree on team vs individual. What I’m considering is more the Oz or NZ philosophy of attacking the ruck vs the Saffa and English idea of standing off the ruck and setting the defensive line instead. Conventional Oz & NZ wisdom is that by the defence not committing good numbers to competing at the ruck it allows the attacking team too much latitude to man-up in the attacking line. Thus by having the threat of a good pilfer in your team forces the opponent to commit at least 1 extra head to the ruck on their attack JIC to counter the pilfer threat. Thus you get 2for1 value so to speak. But do the stats actually support this?

    • Nutta

      Always been a fan of the 3 T’s myself: Tackling, Turnovers & Tags (rucking). But I confess to being old and old-fashioned about these things

  • Chinese Dave

    I can only hope Hooper Horne and AAC have been killing it in training. With Higgers in, I’d have expected Pocock to start and I’m surprised to see Tomane not in instead of either AAC or Horne. Anyways, as I’m not a NSW hater whatsoever, I’m hoping this team goes well and that we all get behind it.

    It would be great for the back to the future halves and inside centre combo to work, and hopefully we show those Boks what good running Aussie Rugby can do.

  • Mart

    The 9, 10, 12 ,13 is world class. I’m excited to see this combo

    • Chinese Dave

      Sure, by name, not sure if by form though. Time will tell, can’t wait for the phoney war to end and for this shit to start already! Go the Wallabies!

      • jamie

        Sanchez = from all accounts in wallaby camp = on
        Quade = on
        Giteau = on
        Kuridrani = will be on

    • Spank

      And 15

  • wilful

    how good was Mitchell’s handling of the ball at 3 minutes in to the first vid?

  • Mart

    I forgot how good that game in SA was in 2010. What a ball tearer.

    P.s how the hell did they blow a 31-6 lead!?!

  • Sam

    Watching those clips make me realise how long ago 2010/11 actually was…..

  • PiratesRugby

    Front row is good. I was a Kepu critic a couple of years ago but he has worked really hard on his scrummaging and on his play around the ground. And when he gets his angry face on, he’s a real handful.
    Second row is a fail because it contains Will Skelton. Can’t jump, too slow etc. Eben Etzebeth will tear him a new ring, especially if Skelton tries to do his tough man stuff off the ball again.
    Hooper getting picked ahead of Pocock is a disgrace. Seriously there should be royal commission into how he gets picked ahead of the best openside breakaway in the world. But Fardy and Higgers are good selections. Plus we need jumpers because Skelton is a dud.
    The halves are about as good as we can do. At least its not Phipps and Foley again. To be fair, they were only stop gap measures and did well enough. We didn’t expect much of the and they delivered. That’s kind of a compliment.
    The centres are a bit of a surprise. That is, I have no idea how Giteau will go. Kuridrani is a pretty safe bet. Will QC and Giteau be a swinging gate in the 10/12 channel? They’ve both improved their defence.
    The wings are a fail. Why have playmakers like Genia, Cooper and Giteau and then have two deadly slow wingers like Horne and AAC? They are each wonderful players and AAC has had a marvellous career in gold. No need for a slow motion replay though. I can’t think of two slower wingers in international rugby. On top of that, Hooper is going to be out there cramming up the back line. Planning to bash through the Boks? Er, lets see how that one works out for them.
    Folau picks himself at 15. He’s learning the position really well. I’m glad Cheika didn’t go with the “x-factor” Beale as some have suggested.

    • Andy

      all you’ve done is go through the team and picked out every Waratah bar Folau. Doesn’t matter that they were the best oz team 2 years in a row…. But all there players are shite….

      • PiratesRugby

        Except Kepu. But that doesn’t fit your narrative.
        TPN is good and he’ll back up Moore. But he’s not named yet.
        Are Horne and AAC fast? Seriously? Anyway, I thought I was complimentry about them. “Wonderful”. Marvellous”. Not enough for you??? Okay, they’re absolutely magnificent players with a ribbon on top. But they’re still slow. I’d have them in may S15 team any day but not outside Cooper and Giteau in a test against the Boks on Saturday.
        Skelton is and remains rubbish. Likewise Hooper. Deal with it.
        No team can win the RWC with Phipps and Foley in the halves. Cheika agrees.
        The Tahs won the s15 in 2014. They topped the table this year. Perhaps they should be the Wallabies? Just pick them all?

        • Honkleton

          Do you genuinely look at Michael Hooper and see a rubbish rugby player?

        • PiratesRugby

          No, to be fair, he’s tremendous in super rugby. At test level he gives away too much at the breakdown. Meerkats in the scrum. Goes missing from the tight stuff.

        • Mate, forget the ‘to be fair’!

          You are so biased you can’t help laying on BS comments even after conceding he’s tremendous at Super rugby! (presumably implying rubbish at test level)


        • PiratesRugby

          I also think Cooper and Giteau might be a swinging gate in the 10/12 channel. Bias too?
          Hooper is tremendous at S15. So what. So is Jordy Reid. Pick him too?
          If Carter was picked at lock I would have said he was too soft. More bias?
          You just can’t handle any criticism of any Tah players. That’s bias.
          Having Hooper in the side means playing a test without a 7. How’s that been working for the WBs lately? But we also had a scrum half who couldn’t pass and a dud fly half. It hadn’t all been Hoopers fault.

        • Dally M

          You’re flogging a dead horse mate.

          PiratesRugby has two pet hates that keep him up at night, Hooper and Skelton.

          You’d think by now after posting a thousand times about the same two players that he would have something new to say, but nope it’s same repeated drivel.

          Search most articled on G&GR and you will find the same post over and over.

          It’s amazing how all these internationally rated coaches have it so wrong about those 2 players when Pirates knows better. Keyboard champion!

        • Andy

          Wow. Nice use of “narrative” in your reply. You must be one of those smart rugby experts.

          But saying Hooper is rubbish suggests otherwise. Sure, Pocock is a top player and could have easily started but to suggest he is being replaced with a rubbish player is a nonsense.

    • Who?

      Don’t worry me hearty, Cheiks will have Beale on the bench to come on at the end! Why, I don’t know…

      Not too unhappy with the side. You’re right about Hooper/Pocock.

      I think Gits’ defence is wrongly decried here. He’s never been able to regularly drive big guys back with a dominant tackle, but he’s always been a safe tackler. Quade’s defence is understandable, but his tackling has improved and I think you’re missing something…

      Quade – like Foley with the Tahs – will defend at fullback, alongside Folau. Horne will defend in the line. He can’t kick and he’s not quick. With AAC, Horne and Folau at the back, we only have one good tactical kicker, and even that one good kicker’s kicking ability is regularly forgotten (AAC – he can even lauch a torpedo these days! Something he couldn’t do when he regularly played 15 – rather well – for the Wallabies). I say tactical, because I do think Folau can kick well, he just hasn’t been taught the tactics well enough yet. Still kicks to the man too often.

      If it weren’t for the likelihood that Horne will defend in the line, I’d be cranky about the wingers. Not because they’re poor players or don’t give their best, just because of the lack of kicking in the back three, and the lack of pace in the back three. Quade and Sanchez are every bit as quick as all three of them (Folau’s not fast). I would’ve liked to have seen Mitchell on there for one of them (kicking and finishing), or Tomane (finishing, size, pace).

      One last thing – really, really hoping Naiyaravoro doesn’t get a cap…

    • “Hooper getting picked ahead of Pocock is a disgrace”!
      A disgrace……
      That Cheika picked the bloke he made captain in time of need?

    • Nutta

      You are copping some traffic over this aren’t you? Leaving aside the extra dollop of vitriolic vinegar you drop here & there (btw you are good at that – credit where it’s due), I think you have made some fair criticisms here.

      Big Willie has turned into a bit of a penalty magnet of late along with Latu. I’m not commenting if he is dirty, but he is attractive the refs attention. But then again the same can be said for Simmons. Willie is there because he can run a ball and stop a maul. He needs to kill the penalties and win a few lineouts. Simmons is there to jump and scrum. He needs to kill his penalties and carry for some metres. They are both a worry – but whom to have instead?

      Hooper over Pocock is not a disgrace. It’s not what I or you would of done esp to have 2 such loose loosies as Higgers and Hoops in tandem. Perhaps this is rotation? Again, not what you or I would do but it’s not a disgrace.

      Both Gits and QC’s defensive have come a long way in the past few years. That said I still expect to see Horne or TwoDads defending at 10/12 with QC dropping back to run as a 2nd FB with Folau

      The wingers have been picked for defence. In attack they will get off their wings and roam a bit. Both will run hard and straight and esp given AAC’s inability to pass then playing him on the wing is fair enough. I agree they aren’t the fastest. But they will die in trenches defensively.

      • Who?

        Fair point about Skelton, but Simmons’ penalty magnet days seem to be over. He was, according to G&GR’s article, the least penalized of our locking options this year (per game minute).
        Agree with the rest of what you’ve said. Starting to get excited for the game now!

  • Older I Get

    This team is obviously a transparent effort to sell seats in Queensland! There is no way that Cooper and Genia would be there under any other circumstance.

    And that statement is a blatant and stupid effort to overcome some of the anti Waratahs bent in the normal commentary. I actually think it is great to see that crew come back together midfield. We have lots of tests this season, so let’s see how the old crew can work in today’s rugby environment. The outside backs are solid and strong on defence. It is great to see the competition in the 7 role – whomever they choose will give all. Higgers will add some steel, Fardy is as reliable as you can get (WYSIWYG). The second row has a whopping lug and a flying jumper. That could work. The front row is ever an enigma for me, so whatever. I like Moore as Captain. In the end, go hard as Cheika and his coaching team clearly want.

  • Jack

    Bloody happy with this side for the most part. To be fair Hooper can and will deliver a solid performance, but I’d dearly love to see Poey running on with the rest of this side. Also like to see a bit more pace out wide. Honestly didn’t think Cheiks had some of these selections in him, a surprise package for sure.

    • Who?

      Stats around Hooper and BamBam are interesting – Pocock’s played the Boks 7 times with 1 loss, the last game being the RWC QF where he singlehandedly thwarted them. Hooper’s stats are the complete reverse – 2 wins from 6 games.

      • How can you put forward such a weird stat?

        They were different teams and different times.

        Or are you saying Pocock is lucky for the Wallabies?

        • Who?

          I’m saying that we’ve got a very similar situation to Smith and Waugh. The (current) Brumby plays heavier, and has a better track record against the big Bokke packs than the (former Brumby and current) lighter Waratah.

          It’s a valid statement – compare the last games they each played against the Boks. BamBam won his last game almost singlehandedly, Hooper was part of a team that just wasn’t good enough. Hooper’s pace is great against a lot of teams, but against a team with the physical impact of the Boks (or ABs), Pocock’s greater physical presence over the ball is priceless.

          And how can you call that a weird stat when everyone always rolls out Quade’s results against the ABs as a failing (even though he’s won more games against the ABs playing at 10 than anyone else currently playing in Australia! Anyone since Stephen Larkham), and they talk up McCaw’s win/loss stats, Conrad Smith’s win/loss stats..? Not to mention they do the same for coaches. I wasn’t a Deans fan, but his record against the Boks was also quite good.

        • Good reply, and lots that I can agree with. Nevertheless I
          still take issue with the use of stats which are actually invalid. The use of numbers implies you are comparing like with like, when clearly you are really just trying to back up an opinion
          Although I take exactly the same stance when you want to count Quades performances, it’s not really comparable when the Quade example refers to his apparent problems dealing with NZ crowds after he was seen as a pariah for taking cheap shots at Sir Ritchie.

        • Who?

          I get where you’re coming from with stats. That said, we’re not talking about one Test here – Hooper’s Tests are over 3 years, Pocock’s over only 2 (he only debuted in 2009!). There’s enough games that it’s a bit of a trend. In the same way that people argued that Quade was our saviour against the ABs when he had a 50% win ratio against them at 10. From 4 games (i.e. a smaller statistical sample!). Quade wasn’t the issue back then… He was the right selection, but picking the right players is only part of the story.
          Quade against the ABs is much less statistically based (given all his rivals have poorer stats against the ABs in the 10 jersey), yet it gets trotted out all the time. And while a 10 is a key player, the reality is the forwards determine the winner, the backs only determine the margin. Though that didn’t stop discussion when Barrett got to 20 AB caps without a loss, and discussion about how important Conrad Smith is to the ABs given his history and a win/loss ratio that surpasses even Richie.

        • brumby runner

          Different teams and different times. But it’s ok to go back to 2010 (some won’t even remember that long ago) to put the 9, 10 and 12 together?

    • The Slow Eater

      Yeah I agree. I actually thought he would trial Arnold instead of Simmons just to see how it went. Thought Poey would’ve been in and thought Mitchell would be on the left wing. Hooper is an amazing player and Horne deserves hit shot so all in all I’m pretty happy with this sidE.

  • Andy

    Decent team for me. Only 2 guys lucky to be there are AAC and Simmons but I understand why they were picked. One is a good set piece player and the other can kick when in the back 3. Picking Hooper over Pocock is suggesting a more attacking intent. If it doesn’t work they can easily swap them/ bench Higgers. The rest pick themselves based on form and ability imo

    • Spank

      Be interesting to see who gets the reserve lock position. I think it will be Horwill but C may go for Mumm. Really hoping though that Arnold gets a shot. In any case is this the finalised team or the Journos team?

  • porpor

    “…and Dean Mumm.” Haha.

  • Phil

    Great to relive some past glories!Interesting to see the form also of Beale and O’Connor,plus who said AAC doesn’t pass!Laid on the first 2 tries in the 2nd video and scored a trademark go for the line one against the AB’s.

    • The Slow Eater

      Yeah he didn’t look too comfortable passing though….

  • Homer J

    3 very good lineout jumpers, two good ball carrying forwards, with Pocock, Sio and Holmes on the bench for some late grunt. Hopefully Ledesma has got them firing in the scrum.
    Love the look of 9-13, great skills, power out wide and lots of kicking expertise.
    I feel 10x more positive about this team than the one picked against the Lions.

    • Who?

      Only two good ball carrying forwards? Thought we had 5 very good ball carrying forwards in that pack (Higgers/Hooper/Skelton/Kepu/Slipper), with another two who are handy at it (Fardy and Moore).

  • Sammy Salsa

    Pretty disappointing for the Brumbies contingent. Only 3 starters… considering the only SA team they didn’t beat this year was the Sharks (who they didn’t play).

  • Clarkizzle

    Good team but I’m worried we’ll get outmuscled at the breakdown. I would have had Pocock starting to combat this with Hooper coming on in the last 20 for impact. Backline looks sharp.

  • moaning expat

    Great work GAGR that not only youve got the team but put an article together whilst fairfax et all bumble away on nothing stories..!

    Now wheres my podcast !! (yes ungrateful i know but its the one thing i look forward to all week)

  • Robert Muldoon

    Is this team list speculation or has it been announced by Cheika? None of the other rugby sites I check on have anything up and I thought the team announcement was tomorrow.

    If it’s confirmed, well done GAGR on getting in first.

    Also, good looking team. I’m pretty sure there a South Africans still having David Pocock nightmares after 2011 so starting with Hooper might make them relax and lull them into a false sense of security.

    • The Slow Eater

      I thought the team wasn’t going to be announced until midday tomorrow?

  • RedAnt

    “…and Dean Mumm.”

  • Qualify

    Need Pocock to counter Coetzee. Dont think Fardy is up for the challenge. Just glad Higginbotham is there.

  • Guy

    Im Sold! – love it – I didnt think Hooper would get the nod, but he deserves the spot. Pocock will come on at 60 and terrorise the boks and win his start jersey from there.

    I cant believe im happy about genia/cooper, but all of a sudden it makles sense with giteau, kuirdrani, folau, and horne outside. AAC too

  • idiot savant

    If its true you have to admire Cheika’s boldness. This side says attack. Precisely the best game plan to go as deep as possible in the RWC. Uncle Bob will be choking on his weeties when he reads the name Higginbotham.

    What surprises me most is Genia. The Reds have been a losing side for 2 years on the back of slow breakdown ball with Cooper forced to stand deeper. We know Genia is the best running half (and the best under the high ball) we have, but games are really won by consistent good breakdown ball. If Cheika can get Sanchez to be Speedy Gonzalez at the breakdown, we really could be a show… Arriba, Arriba!

    • bad ass

      Forwards going forward helps the half back to get the pill out quickly to no end. I expect to see a very different Sanchez if our forwards can compete. Baby Jesus couldn’t get the ball out quickly behind the Reds pack.

      • idiot savant

        Yet there are at least 3 reds forwards in the Wallabies mix. I remember a lot of waiting from Genia and a lot of passing to the first receiver, not out in front. But I hope you’re right.

        • jamie

          No backrowers though…

    • jamie

      pretty sure I heard he was delivering lightening quick, perfect front-foot ball in almost hailing conditions the other day.

  • RobC

    Thanks Reg. By not starting Poey, think its a missed opportunity for WBs to assure their ruck contest, and give the backs space and time to attack.

    In any case, its the same back row that lead against the AB for 80′ in Lang Park, and SBs for 69′ in Newlands last year

    Its with the reserves where the WBs faltered. In any case, we will see Cheika’s base game this weekend!

    • What percentage of rucks does Pocock actually get to?

      He’s good, but he lines up across the field like everybody else.

      Against the Hurricanes he was nullified at turnover time. It took a concerted effort, but the Boks are capable of it too!

      Still love him but maybe not starting him isn’t really a disaster.

      • ForceFan

        Pocock made 23% of the Total Ruck contacts by the Brumbies Forwards against the Canes and 27% of the Defensive Ruck contacts.
        Pocock earned 4 Turn Overs from his 19 Def Ruck contacts.
        This is at the SAME rate that he averaged all SXV in 2015.
        Pocock was early (1st or 2nd of his team) 100% of the time.
        4 Turn Overs in any game is hardly being “nullified”.
        Pocock averages the same number of tackles as Hooper but Misses tackles at 1/3 the rate of Hooper. (0.6 Missed per game)

        Hooper made 17% of the Total Ruck contacts by the Waratahs Forwards against the Clan and 24% of the Defensive Ruck contacts.
        Hooper earned 0 Turn Overs from his 10 Def Ruck contacts.
        At his normal rate from 10 rucks he’d get 0.6 Turn Overs.

        He also conceded a Turn Over.

        Hooper was early (1st or 2nd of his team) 70% of the time.
        Hooper averages 11 tackles per game and averages nearly 2 Missed Tackles per game (1.8).

      • RobC

        I said missed opportunity. Not dsaster

        You can check the ruck stats yourself, its been shared many times here, on the roar. Poey and even Gill are clearly better in the rucks.

  • Common Man

    Time after time Rob Simmons has failed to meet international test standards yet continues to be selected. Someone please justify this to me…I know he runs the lineout but surely there are others who are capable with an actual presence on the field in all other areas.

    • jamie

      Luke Jones runs the line out at the rebels… He’s a Rob Simmons x 2

  • is it wrong to say i actually like that front row? won’t dominate but hopefully won’t fold like they’ve been punched in the stomach.

    Will be interesting to see how it all goes – i’m keen to see how Giteau steps up,the potential for that backline is fantastic if they hit their straps – but that Bokke midfield is lightening quick.

    • Nutta

      I’ll get pasted by the Queenslanders but I reckon Toby Smith should be in for Slipper. I would start with Toby/Squeak/Kepu and replace them as a unit with Slipper/Hanson/Holmes at 60min. But I concede it’s a left-field option. In terms of the backs I was pushing for Inman to be the 12 until they changed the selection rules and Gits became available again

  • bad ass

    It may not be bad to save Pocock for the world cup and use him as a sub until the big games. That is unless Chieka only wants to take one flanker.

  • bad ass

    Are there any Cooper haters out there brave enough to say before match day that Chieka is wrong to pick him at 10?

    • galumay

      Yes, I wouldnt have QC in the team, lets hope we dominate the Boks in the forwards becaue QC is a disaster under any sort of pressure.

      • Drop kick

        And he has been injured for the best part of three years , has shown no form in the four or so games he has played this year.
        God only hopes cheika is only resting foley, tomua and beale

        • Sambo

          yes he did… eugh

      • jamie

        What. At least Quade can kick a ball more than 22 yards unlike foley.

      • bad ass

        I can’t wait to find out.

    • Nutta

      With a 2nd ball-player in Gits to take some of the pressure off then all is good. If QC or Foley was the only ball-player then I worried.

    • Terry

      No. But those hoping Cooper will shine in the test will be disappointed. He has not played enough rugby and is nowhere close to top form. He will be involved in the game but will pose little threat. He will try certain things, some of which will work, some will not. Watch then for all the calls for Foley into 10 or Giteau moved there. It’s just one big merry go round with everyone hoping (versus knowing) what is right. It’s been the case for 2-3 years now.

      • jamie

        Cheika has picked him there for a reason. Apparently he looks very, very on at training

  • Nutta

    We have a problem with line-benders and tight support from the loosies IMO

    QC & Gits undeniably add creativity to the midfield and there is no doubt Gits is a better option at 12 than Beale (Thank God). But it means the only line-bender we will have in the backs is K’drani. It puts a lot of pressure on him to perform against anyone let alone a side as physically imposing and direct in approach as Boks. For that reason I rate the wingers we have as they will challenge the line – but with enough physicality? Gits will need to turn Damo Dandelion inside out a few times to compensate.

    Higgers brings the 3rd genuine jumper into the lineout to compensate for Willie. But alongside a wide-ranging 7 (Hoops) are we surrendering the breakdown scrap to the Boks on a punt to beat them out-wide? The Boks don’t play fetchers. They play ruck-bashers. So that means our usual opportunity lies in beating them to the breakdown and getting hands-on early. But Hoops & Higgers won’t deliver that – they will deliver wide ranging. I would of thought Higgers at 8 would mean Poey at 7 for sure (a tight balanced by a loose – but here we have two loose). Added to this is that Higgers is no line-bending smasher. This means the weight will fall to the T5 to make the tight yards. This will put focus squarely on Simmons to carry better than he ever has before.

    So looks like we are playing around the Boks and not through them. To do that against their traditionally in-your-face-&-smash-‘em defence we will need a very flat 10 (so a capable set-piece), a constant inside option off the 10 (Horne & Two-Dads will do this well) and a VERY smart short kicking game.

    Certainly it’s a punt (no pun). But the Gods love a gambler. C’mon guys…

    • Benny A’s Tackle

      Enjoyed your comment, loved the finish.

      • Nutta

        Why thank you good sir

    • bad ass

      Disagree, Hooper will be out wide with Higgers to help Kuridrani bend the line.

      • Nutta

        My mistake for not explaining myself better. I’m talking about getting some momentum from static ball off a set defensive line. K-Train (heard that y’day & thought it gold) is the only back who will seriously plough through. Gits is a glider. Hoops and Higgers would be still in the set peice. Alternatively off static ball at a ruck, neither of those 2 are bash runners as we have traditionally had (Gavin, WillyO, Tabua, Kefu, Lyons et al). So the pressure to get the line moving will fall to either K-Train (easy to defend when they have only 1 option) in the backs and the T5 will all have to really stand up in non-1st phase static situations. That’s ok as they are all decent runners except Simmons.

        • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

          Aren’t you forgetting Izzy Nutta? He normally beats a few tacklers. I’d wager that he’ll see plenty of ball and link with TK.

        • Nutta

          Completely agree re his ability to beat the defender. But again he is 2/3/4th phase runner. He is not a 1st phase line bender. We can get away with K-train as a single line basher IF a) QC has front foot ball & b) Horne or AAC looms on QC’s inside to draw defenders off. But if the ball is poor and/or we aren’t forcing the defenders to make a choice then it will simply be too predictable. Don’t get me wrong – I like the backline. I just hope we all do the extras & work hard off the ball to compensate.

  • McWarren

    Okay, firstly thank god a team is picked and we can get out teeth into it.
    Front row looks solid, but lets wait and see as none of them have dominated a Springbok front row in the past. I’d like to have seen Holmes given a go, we know what Kepu is capable of, lets face it this is a trial match for the RWC. Maybe Cheiks is saving that for the Pumas.

    Second row concerns me. I like Simmons but have my doubts about Skelton (yes I am naturally inclined to be anti-waratah, but it is in my breeding so bugger off). My concern with Will Skelton is that he has only size on his side. If the opposition can cope with that then what else is going to do. He may be able to go 80 minutes in S15 now but that is still 80 minutes of only getting to every 4th ruck. I am not unhappy he is picked for this game, if my concerns are valid I think the big bok pack will prove me right. With Pocock not included Skelton lack of impact at 3 of every 4 rucks is a concern. As both Higgers and Hoopers play a looser style we really need Will to hit every 2nd or 3rd ruck. Lets hope I’m wrong.

    Back row is a concern. It looks a bit light weight to me. If you are going to pick Higgers at 8 then Pocock should be 7. If you go with Hooper then McCalman would be a better choice at 8. Fardy is the worker we are going to need in spades to cover Hooper and Higgers absence from the rucks. I hope he’s had his weetbix.

    The halves are very exciting due to my natural reddish disposition. Can’t wait to see them have first crack. If Cooper can click with Hooper as well then we could see some fantastic running rugby, if we can get go forward ball.

    Lets hope Gits does what everyone is hoping he will do. I have been against picking him or Mitchell, but as he is in now then I am chomping at the bit to see him link with Quade again.

    Kuridrani is a no brainer.

    Wingers also concern me. I used to think Horne was over rated, but I put my hand on my heart and admit that I was wrong, he is strong in defence and doesn’t stop. Reminds me of one Rob Egerton, not the flashiest of wingers but just keeps on keeping on, he chases everything and never gives the opposition a moments peace. AAC is a centre, and we have some of them. Give him a cool name like Mr Rugby and it seems we have to pick him in every team?? I don’t get it and don’t get our love affair with utility players. Pick a winger any winger will do.

    Izzy is Izzy. I just wish he could kick a long way.

    As I look on this as a trial game I would like to see the bench get emptied at about 55 minutes, though leave Skelton on for 80 minutes.

    I have a hunch that this is a B team in the vital positions of 7, 8, 9, 10, 12. I wouldn’t be surprised or disappointed if the A team to play the Blicks is Pocock, Palu/McCalman, Phipps, Foley, Toomua.

    As a died in the wool Reds fan, once a Wallabies team is announced I couldn’t give a stuff if its made up of Tahs and Ponies from 1 to 15. I can’t wait to see that gold jersey run out on Saturday night.

  • joeyjohns

    I would have Toomua over Giteau, Pocock over Hooper, Tomane over Horne.

    By the Rwc I expect to see cooper, joc, toomua kuridrani, Speight, folau with giteau and aac as our bench players in a 6/2 split.
    Pocock 4 lyff

  • ACSC

    where has this been announced as the starting lineup?
    I would like to see tomane on a wing and a forward pack with both hooper and higginbotham in the same pack against the springboks is a mistake imo.

    • Huw Tindall

      Great point ACSC. It’s being discussed as definitive but I see no ARU press release or the like! The side is due to be named Thursday AEST not Wednesday night. I’m holding fire on comments till then. Even on the Pocock v Hooper as starting #7 flaming debate!

      • How’d you like them apples!

        • Nutta

          Well done on the clear & away scoop lads.

  • Joe Blow

    FU#k yeah!
    I like it. Speed to burn and a decent tight 5.
    It’s a different side than anyone picked as far as I can see.

    • jamie

      I predicted Toomua at 12 and Pocock at 7 but apart from that I’m happy. And Giteau isn’t exactly a bad compromise

      • Rollo

        I predicted Hooper at 12, Pocock at 1, Higgers at 2, Beale at 11, Cooper at 15. Cheika must be laughing his arse off right now

        • jamie

          Pocock would be a handy prop if he had a crash course in scrummaging.

  • Dally M

    I like the look of that team open the proceedings, however I suspect that this game and the next against Argentina is to see how some of these guys go under Cheika’s & Bernie’s attacking game style and does not indicate a preference.

    We won’t see the preferences appear until the team is named for the first Bledisloe game.

  • Dally M

    Surprised that Foley isn’t on the bench.

    I guess Gits would move to 10 with Toomua at 12 if Quade gets injured etc. or Toomua on at 10

    • Brumby runner

      Toomua is a 10 who has played most of the Super XV season at 10, while Giteau is a lesser skilled 10 who as far as I know hasn’t consistently played 10 for a very long time. I would hope that Cheika sees the difference, as it is a very real possibility that Quade qill pick up another shoulder injury at some time in this game or another to come in TRC.

  • brumby runner

    If this is confirmed as the team, then Cheika has made some risky calls.

    The 9, 10, 12 combination particularly is a risk. All well and good to say they were killing it in 2010, but the 2015 vintage is a lot different to the one in 2010. Genia has been out of sorts for a couple of years (being charitable), Quade has been injured more often than not and is still to find form after returning from his last injuries and Giteau is really an unknown quantity. There is a fairly high probability that one or more of these will not be up to the job against the Saffas, and even more chance the combination won’t be.

    The Saffas have gone with two hard, on the ball types in the back row (discounting Burger who is probably on the down hill slope atm). I can’t see a Hooper/Higgers combination matching the intensity and workloads of Coetzee and Louw at the breakdown. And even if the number of turnovers by winners and losers is nearly equal on average (@TWAS), the game-winning momentum can usually be seen to originate at the breakdown when one side dominates.

    AAC’s spot in the side is a risk also. Certainly, he is solid and dependable but he is not a specialist winger, nor will he have the pace to match it with Habana and Petersen. IMO the best way to utilise AAC’s skills is as bench cover for 13 – 15.

    I don’t have a problem with Will Skelton in the second row. He could well make the difference in how the tight fives perform, but at least he will give as good as, or better than, Matfield around the park, ie hitting rucks. It will be up to Simmons, Fardy and Higgers to counter Matfield at the lineout.

    While I have my doubts about the wisdom of some of these selections (if confirmed), I will get behind the Wallabies. I just hope it’s not behind the try line as conversion attempts are being made.

  • Who?

    Team confirmed, bench named:

    16. Tatafu Polota-Nau
    17. Scott Sio
    18. Greg Holmes
    19. James Horwill
    20. David Pocock
    21. Nick Phipps
    22. Matt Toomua
    23. Drew Mitchell

  • Pclifto

    I’m good with Hooper starting. He’s the incumbent and Poey is working back to Test level after injury.

    Plus I dare say Cheika will mix up who starts and who finishes over the coming Tests…

  • Axemen

    TAHS brats will be texting each other like crazy on what they need to do to remove Cheika. What will we see first in the HERALD: “TAH players feel betrayed – Phipps, Foley and Beale shattered” or “Beale talking to Canterbury Bulldogs”.

  • Ben

    Cheika to Cooper, “here’s your chance, on Suncorp, with your buddy Will, against the Boks (a team you prefer to playing than against NZ), now or never”. I like it, Foley and Toomua are both serviceable known quantities, why not experiment now.

  • Benny A’s Tackle


    Skelton has a couple of weaknesses, not jumping is a big one; but it so so good knowing that he’ll take 2-3 South Africans to take him down. Him just being nearby will make room for others. Last time the Wallabies had someone like that?

    THE BAD:
    Toomua on the bench? No need. Quade & Gits can play 10. AAC can play fullback. Horne and AAC can play centres. Hooper could even jump on the wing! Play another backrower, tell Higgs, Skelton and Hoops to play 60 of their best and hardest minutes, then bring on Poey, MacCalman (should have been Vaea) and Horwill (should have been Jones). A bench to seal a win…

    Cheika probably wants to keep the opposition guessing as to who will run out a 7. Rotate starting Hooper and Poey until the pool matches against England and Wales. Imagine trying to formulate a game plan not knowing how the Wallabies are gonna play it! A nightmare. Well played Cheiks.

  • ForceFan

    The changing face of rugby?
    Is this part of the reason why Hooper gets the nod?

    In the Super XV Final between the Canes and the Clan, Defensive Ruck
    engagements by both groups of Forwards made up 23% of Total Ruck
    The Canes’ Forwards earned 2 Turn Overs Won (TOW) from 65 Defensive Ruck engagements.
    The Clan’s Forwards earned 6 TOW from 57 Defensive Ruck engagements.

    In the Semi Final against the Clan, the Waratahs Forwards Defensive Ruck engagements were 22% of Total Ruck engagements.
    The Waratahs’ Forwards earned 2 TOW from 42 Defensive Ruck engagements.

    In the Semi Final against the Canes, the Brumbies Forwards Defensive Ruck engagements were 39% of the Total Ruck engagements..
    The Brumbies’ Forwards earned 8 TOW from 69 Defensive Ruck engagements.

    In the last 12 months there has been a growing trend in Southern
    Hemisphere rugby to stand-off on Defensive Rucks with a strong focus on
    maintaining the defensive line. TOW come mainly from isolated ball

    Has this resulted from a World Rugby directive?
    Is there an intention to drastically phase out the “battle at the
    breakdown” and slowing down of the ball in an effort to provide more
    “entertaining” rugby?
    Is this what we’re going to see in the RC and RWC?

    Perhaps it explains why Hooper who, has a good running game but, on
    average earns 1 TOW from 16 Defensive Rucks is preferred over other
    Aussie No 7s with much higher TOW rates:
    Gill – TOW per 7 Defensive Rucks
    Pocock – TOW per 8 Defensive Rucks
    Hodgson – TOW per 10 Defensive Rucks.

    For information:

    No 6
    Fardy – TOW per 9 Def Rucks.
    McMahon – TOW per 23 Def Rucks

    No 8

    McCalman – TOW per 9 Def Rucks
    Palu – TOW per 12 Def Rucks
    Vaea – TOW per 13 Def Rucks
    Schatz – TOW per 20 Def Rucks
    Higgers – TOW per 23 def Rucks.

    Very easy to see why some Roarers are expecting Fardy to have to do a lot of work at the breakdown against South Africa.

    • ForceFan

      Just to show that this trend is actually happening, the stats for the last 7 tests as follows:
      (Forwards Defensive Ruck Engagements as % of Forwards Total Ruck Engagements)
      South Africa – 49%
      Argentina – 53%
      New Zealand – 34%
      (Barbarians – 32%)
      Wales – 27%
      France – 18%
      Ireland – 20%
      England – 7%

      • Who?

        Great Stats work Force Fan. It’s something I’ve thought was happening, but haven’t seen clear proof. From my perspective, I can see it going back to Link deciding not to contest the ruck against the Tahs a few years ago (first Templeton Cup game 2013 – heard about it during some coach training back then from a QRU consultant). Link’s reasoning wasn’t about maintaining a defensive line – though I think that’s a side benefit, one borne out in the way the ABs played a lot last year (they didn’t contest the defensive ruck). His logic was that there’s no offside line at a tackle, so if you don’t create a ruck, you can’t be penalized for being offside.

        That said, I think the logic behind picking Hooper is then even less sound, as you effectively want a higher strike rate. More turnovers won for fewer engagements. Your stats have Gill as the most lethal pilferer, the highest strike rate, ahead of BamBam and Hodgo, with Hooper way down the list. Either the other guys pick their engagements better, or (more likely given their work rates – none are known seagulls) they just have better outcomes.

        Further, I think there’s also a large number of people on here who think that, whilst Hooper’s a great ball runner (something no one contests), the issue is that you traditionally want your 7 securing possession. Which means a high number of attacking rucks hit.

        • ForceFan

          Their average Rucks per 80 minutes shows this even more:
          Pocock – Attack 26; Defence 18; Total 44
          Hodgson – A 28; D 12; T 40
          Gill – A 25; D 13; T 38
          Hooper – A 21: D 8; T 29

          In yesterday’s AB v Pumas game the ABs Def Rucks were 25% of their Total Ruck engagements.
          McCaw – Attack 26; Def 14; Total 40

        • Who?

          Very interesting stats. Interesting to see the ratio of attack to defense. Hodgo clearly hits the most attacking rucks, Hooper hits more than I’d have expected in attack, but even fewer than I’d have expected in defence. And Pocock,Gill and Hodgo are pletty close to McCaw’s ratio.

  • ols

    Are you including the Coaching stafff?

  • Hambone

    I second that.. Not a team of champions but if they can come together and enjoy the ride I reckon there is enough there to get them over the line. And I fit one can’t fucking wait.. Already been getting wifey on side for the late nights ahead.. Ha-ha

  • Billy Bob Vanderwaal

    Sorry, I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic or not, but for what it’s worth, I listen to every podcast and it is something I very much look forward to. Even your worst podcast is better than paying attention to my job.

  • A. Fox-Russell

    Reg the podcasts are unreal. Don’t think there is no one listening to them. I farkin love them. Great commute fodder.

  • RobC

    Yes pls, podcasts are excellent!!

  • I listen. Really enjoy them.

  • moaning expat

    Forgive me Reg. It’s all I have in this cold lonely world !

  • Mart

    Pull you’re finger out Reg..just cause the reds went shit and you don’t have fox… We love em!!

  • Dally M

    It takes priority over all my other daily podcasts on my train ride to work when available!

  • sprynter

    Ah, Reg. Don’t doubt it, the podcasts are excellent!
    I prefer to be listening, gazing out the window on my commute – not reading a 2×3 inch screen.

  • Bobas

    My comment was deleted… wish someone would care to explain… even Matt Rowley up-voted it and he disproves of most things I do.

  • Common Man

    One of the best on an unsuccessful tour. Do you think he’d be considered for selection if he was a kiwi or bok?

  • The Slow Eater

    I have been as toey as a roman sandal on this one so awesome work Reg. It’s greatly appreciated. Well done.

  • Mart

    Record.pause rewind… oh I expect!

  • Dally M

    Wish there was an option to play at half speed once you’ve rewound to have a look at something.

  • Common Man

    Only seven of the starting XV from the last game against England remain…It should be six. Are you related to him, or just one of his buddies from school claiming him as useful? You also failed to answer my question about whether or not he’d be considered by NZ or SA.

  • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

    There is an option of sorts on my Fox recording box. Mind you, mine is an old Austar type, so maybe different to the current Fox gear.
    Try this:
    . Hit pause where you want to view the action on slow replay
    . Press the button on the right of the pause once, twice or three times, depending on what speed you’re after.
    Mine usually works but can get weird on me.
    If that doesn’t work phone them and ask. ;-/

  • gypsyspud

    Just because he doesn’t do it often doesn’t mean he isn’t able to. He has the ability to kick out of trouble, however is a far better runner of the ball so he plays to this strength.


The original prop in a prop's body, but thankfully I have the rugby mind of a prop as well.

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