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Monday’s Rugby News

Monday’s Rugby News

Monday’s rugby news has Michael Cheika demanding more from number eights, Jake McIntyre to challenge Quade Cooper, Ben Ryan slams Australia and Melbourne Rising claim the Horan-Little Shield.


Cheika Wants More from 8’s

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has called for his number eight’s to stand up following an injury to David Pocock.

It is expected that either Sean McMahon or Lopeti Timani will take over the role.

“If we look non-traditional, like we’ve been running with, his ready replacement…[is] Sean McMahon, [he’s] slightly different, very strong running player,” Cheika said.

“He took the spot the other day, he’s been knocking on the door for quite a while.”

“There’s a few guys starting to, younger guys that are coming into the picture that can provide that and maybe a couple of older guys coming back [you never know] that have the more traditional jumping, running, link man.

“We want to be able to have both options, so there’s `going to be a few different options tried out over there.”

McIntyre Up for Challenge

Brisbane City flyhalf Jake McIntyre says he will challenge Wallaby flyhalf Quade Cooper for a starting spot at the Reds next season.

McIntyre’s Brisbane City lost 38-32 to the Sydney Rays meaning they will likely miss out of the semi-finals for the first time in the competitions history.

“It’s really disappointing because not capitalising on chances hurt us in this game as it has for the whole NRC,” McIntyre said.

“I’ve been gaining confidence and trying to put into practice the advice of the Reds coaches to run the ball more and be more of a threat.

“Quade coming to the Reds with his passion, as well as other experienced players (Stephen Moore and George Smith), is really exciting.

“I’ll still be working as hard as I can to get the starting spot as every player does.

“I understand Quade is the Wallabies No.10 but that’s only going to make me push harder to be better and learn around him.”

Ryan Slams Aus

Fiji’s Olympic winning coach Ben Ryan has warned that player agents are draining the Pacific Islands of their rugby talent.

Ryan claimed that country’s including Australia were persuading players to play Super Rugby which is weakening the Pacific Islands.

“Anyone can do anything, so it’s the Wild West in that respect,” the 45-year-old Englishman told BBC Scotland.

“They get a Super Rugby contract dangled in front of them and they don’t then come back across to play for Fiji,” said Ryan.

“Australia’s the same.

“In 10 years’ time, if things don’t change, I see an Australian side with half their team coming from the islands, at least.

“I’ve heard of at least another dozen coming through the Australia ranks.”

Rising Claim HL Shield

The Melbourne Rising have claimed the Horan-Little Shield after defeating the UC Vikings 60-44 in Canberra.

Tom English for the Rising and Josh Mann-Rea for the Vikings both got a hat-trick in the match in which 15 tries where scored in total.

The win meant that the Rising has now overtaken Canberra on the ladder and now sit in third position.

The Rising will now defend the Shield against the Western Sydney Rams in Melbourne next Sunday.

  • muffy

    Does Chiekas words re #8 mean we are possible seeing Higginbotham returning? that’s what it sounds like to me… anyone have any knowledge on that?

    • brumby runner

      I think it means whatever the listener wants it to mean. To me, it’s just another bit of Cheika gibberish.

      • Simon

        To be fair to Cheika, it’s the sort of gibberish you get when journalists ask gibberish questions like “So what are you going to do with no Pocock?”

        He may specifically have been referring to Houston here, who is perhaps not really a jumper but definitely is a traditional 8.

        • Adrian

          True Simon, but Houston can jump fairly well.
          It’s mostly as you say. Having to reply to inane questions from journalists.
          My hope is that by the end of the European tour, Houston, Timani and McMahon and Co have all had a crack at 6/8, and Mumm and Fardy are phased out, … though there are plenty who would keep Fardy

        • Tim

          I would keep Fardy but Mumm should be playing in the NRC no place for him in the squad

        • brumby runner

          No. My issue is that he is rarely very coherent in his comments. It might be deliberate, but I think it is just the way he is, but he is often very oblique in his comments, whether in response to a dick head question or not. Hence my comment that he means what the listener believes him to mean.

      • MST

        Its the usual Cheika gibberish which means it a lead in the justify his impending selection.

        So add in the Alaalatoa swapping sides, the latest suggestion of getting Robertson to swap sides, playing one of the worlds best 7’s at 8 and dropping Fardy for Mumm @6 to accommodate the Pooper due to line out issues and its just the usual rhetoric all about picking the players you like and fitting them in to a team irrespective of their postiions; and we wonder why the teams is struggling to gel.

        • Gavin

          Is this in any way fair?

          First, the Pooper selection was entirely justified because they are two of the best players we have and they can do a job. It was very successful last year and the problems the team has faced this year have not been down to the selection of Hooper and Pocock. If they were do you not think that Cheika would have realised it? Do we think he’s inept?

          Despite the messages posted in the comments here, Mumm is an experienced 6 and achieved huge acclaim playing there for Exeter. Admittedly, he has not played there for the Waratahs in the last two seasons (to the best of my recollection).

          The rest of the team’s reshuffling this term is as a direct result of a long list of injuries. You don’t just select the best specialists for each jersey that are available to you, especially with a talent-base as bare as ours.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Having played a #7 at 8 for the last few seasons most 8’s wouldn’t have thought there was a role for them so maybe someone like Hig is the answer

    • Tim

      Higginbotham doesn’t have 60 caps i think he is currently playing in Japan

    • jamie

      I can’t understand the hype with Higgers. Loved him at the rebels, but I don’t recall him having a good game in gold. Ever.

      • Phil

        Like you,Jamie,can’t see what this love affair people seem to have with Higgers.To me,he was a great disappointment at test level,as I always thought his Super form indicated he would be a long term test player but it never happened.Maybe some astute coaches noticed this too?

      • McWarren

        Jamie, for me Higgers never got an extended period in Gold to shine. I think we missed a beat with Higgers, given an investment in time and trust I think he could have been a close version of Read.

        • Braveheart81

          He played 32 tests, never excelled at test level at number 8 (not an uncommon situation for Wallaby 8s in recent years) and is on the wrong side of 30.

          Few thought he was unlucky to miss the RWC squad last year and now he’s playing in Japan.

          He got plenty of opportunities and didn’t take them. He’s certainly far too old to have been a project player that you think might end up being great if you select them for a couple of years regardless of performance.

        • McWarren

          BH this could go on forever. I know it is all pie in the sky now. Frustrating as it is, I will never know how good Higgers or Gill would have been as test footballers, given the opportunities some of there peers enjoyed. So onto the next battle.

        • jamie

          I just never thought he had the physicality for test level. The rebels pack was able to offset this (no passengers) while the Mumm’s and the Hooper’s disappearing at ruck time won’t be able to make up for Higgers’ wider game.

    • Kevino

      Would love to see Higgers back, but he needs to play with Poey/McMahon at 7 not Hooper. Their styles of play clash to much to have on the field at the same time so I can’t see this happening.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    So what is Ryan’s solution to the problem? The players are not ever going to make the money in the Islands that they can in Super Rugby, the Islands do not have the funds to have a team in Super Rugby and no one is going to invest in this unless they see a return on the investment that neither Ryan or anyone else can deliver. It’s all very well blaming Australia (and New Zealand) but it’s one of the pitfalls of an open market that you have to accept and whinging about it without offering a solution isn’t actually helpful. The players are required by law to be released to play tests for their country and I know that they are pressured not to by the clubs but it is still their decision.
    Personally I’d like to see two policy changes. Firstly introduce a policy that would allow people from the smaller nations being able to play for their country and still be eligible for a country of choice after the three year living there rule and also have them eligible to come back and play for their nation once they aren’t picked for their country of choice. Secondly, make it unlawful for a player to play for a club if they turn down the chance to represent their country along with a HUGE fine for the club if they do play for the club instead of the country with the fine going to the national team. This way a Fijian could come to Australia and play for a Super Team, be picked for Fiji but have a choice to play for Australia after 3 years and if they don’t return to Fiji and play for , say the waratahs instead, then the Fiji Team get a big cash input. I think this would work – but can’t see it being ever put in place.

    • Keith Butler

      It’s not just Aus and NZ. The European clubs are just as culpable. In an ideal world you solution would be a good starting pointing but unfortunately we don’t live in an ideal world.

      • Simon

        Yeah well the European clubs are pinching all our talent too, so we’re just going to the next one down the financial pecking order!

    • EamonDunphy

      NZ are taking the p*** with importing players but that’s life.

      Whatever about international eligibility, it’s a pro-game and these guys want to make a living. Our ridiculous Super Rugby competition is a logical step for them and they will continue to chase the money in England, France or Ireland after that.

      That’s pro-rugby, baby

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Not sure what you mean with your first sentence but yes it certainly us pro-rugby

        • EamonDunphy

          Current side not a bad as previous ones, only 6 of the squad born outside of NZ.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Really. What 6

        • EamonDunphy

          Kaino, Naholo, Tamanivalu, Kerr-Barlow, Tu’ungafasi, Fekitoa… must be more.

        • Tomthusiasm

          Tolu Latu – Tonga
          Dean Mumm – NZ
          Lopeti Timani – Tonga
          Will Genia – PNG
          Quade Cooper – NZ
          Samu Kerevi – Fiji
          Tevita Kuridrani – Fiji
          Dane Haylett-Petty – South Africa
          Sefanaia Naivalu – Fiji
          Henry Speight – Fiji

        • EamonDunphy

          Touche.

        • first time long time

          Any refunds on Dean Mumm???

        • Kevino

          You forgot David Pocock – Zimbabwe

        • jamie

          How many of them grew up in Aus and played all their rugby here?

        • Tomthusiasm

          Not sure

        • jamie

          Latu played Aus U20s. There’s nothing earlier about him I can find from a quick google search

          Mumm – was educated in Sydney

          Timani – moved to Aus to play league

          Genia – only learned rugby when he moved to Aus at 12.

          Cooper – moved here when he was 12.

          Kerevi – moved here very young (toddler age from what I can gather)

          Kuridrani – moved here at 15

          DHP – moved here at the age of 10

          Naivalu – moved here as a part of a rugby plus program of some sort

          Henry Speight – yeah not sure on him.

          Pocock – left Zimbabwe following genuine persecution

          Safe to say that barring Speight and Naivalu, most of them learnt and played the bulk of their rugby in Aus. Other than Speight, I can’t see any of these being ‘poaching’ for rugby purposes. Australia is a great country with great wealth and people want to live here. I’m proud to call foreign-born Aussies true blue.

        • Tomthusiasm

          I’ve got no problem with it either

        • brumby runner

          Henry was recruited by the Brumbies from Waikato after Christian Lealiifano spent a season there in the ITM (NPC) as it was. If Aus hadn’t ‘poached’ him, NZ most assuredly would have.

        • McWarren

          Pocock – Zimbabwae
          Hooper – England (or just his parents, not sure)

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Fair enough on those but most came to NZ as children with their parents for opportunities other than being brought over as adults to play rugby.

      • Colin Fenwick
    • Tim

      If Fiji, Samoa and Tonga where developed countries they would be the best 3 teams in the world.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Not sure I agree mate. While they have some brilliant players with incredible skills, they struggle to play a structured game. I think 7’s suits them better because of that.

    • Phil

      You are right,Krl.Also how many PI players are now playing in Europe?Ryan doesn’t seem to mention that,only Australia and NZ.
      Most of the PI background players live in Australia and NZ by lifestyle choice,not just rugby.Just so happens most of them can play a bit of rugby/league as well.

    • McWarren

      Hmmm, not sure of your cunning plan. I like the gist of the banning a player from club duties if he refuses to turn out for his country, but I think you’ll hit issues such as bogus injuries and how does a player retire from international duties. Or god forbid a player just doesn’t want to play for there country, I know it would be odd, but can you really force someone to go play for there country. Some of these Islander fella’s have a lot of people dependent on their income, is it fair to put that at risk to ensure they play test match footy?
      I don’t know really, just posing the question.
      I’m surprised Ryan hasn’t asked for the Olympics to be rescheduled to every two years.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Yeah you make some good points. Maybe if someone chooses not to play for their country the residence time is longer. Not an easy issue to solve

  • Gavin

    What does Ben Ryan want? Servitude?

  • Simon

    I’ll be really interested to see how McIntyre goes next season. It’s not realistic to expect he’ll challenge Cooper for the starting 10 (though he has to say that to the media of course) and he may find himself in a tussle with Mason for a bench spot, but Cooper is pretty fragile and tends to break easily. I’m hoping with Cooper’s experience and a new backs coach, McIntyre can develop his game to Super quality.

    • Lindommer

      Hasn’t Mason signed with the Force?

      • Simon

        Not to my knowledge. If he has I can’t find any record of it on google!

  • Tim

    We all know he will pick Sean at 8 over Timani. So what if how our team comes from the islands? We are a multicultural Country if you look at our league team alot are islanders that are born here. We should be building depth in Australia but the ARU are incompetent.When you have alot of talent that wants to play for your country why should we turn them down?

    • Gavin

      I would agree with this.

      A pre-requisite, in my opinion, should be citizenship.

      • Tim

        Yeah i agree Citizenship should be a given. On the bright side Samu has citizenship!

        • muffy

          So does Pocock

      • Braveheart81

        Citizenship is different from country to country though. At least a World Rugby rule is the same for everyone. If you make it citizenship, a country could decide to grant citizenship to a person in a very short period of time so they can participate. Citizenship is a requirement for the Olympics and has been manipulated massively over the years by many countries.

        • Gavin

          Good point.

          In my opinion I would require both. On a per country basis, citizenship seems to be what would make that country happy to have the individual represent them on the world stage.

          Just my opinion, no right or wrong answer really!

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        That would mean Cooper is out. He’d never get a game in NZ so his career would be finished.

        • Gavin

          Nothing stopping him getting citizenship though, is there?

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Nope. Although as a Kiwi it’d be difficult

        • Joy

          As difficult as pulling on a gold jumper?

        • Patrick

          There’s thousands of you a year getting citizenship!

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Mate going through the process now and it’s not easy, it takes forever, and it’s friggen expensive.

        • Patrick

          It isn’t that bad! Expensive is relative, all countries make you jump through hoops. In France you have to pay an external provider for the language test … even if you are studying post-graduate professional courses whilst working in French!!

  • Adrian

    People have been emigrating ever since people existed.

    If they hadn’t, everyone would be in Africa.

    Most (but not all) guys with Pacific heritage grew up here after their parents emigrated. We just notice them because they stand out.

    We used to whinge about Soccer players with “foreign” names, even though most of them (but not all), grew up here. Now we are used to it.

    It’s they way of the world,…period.

  • Hoss

    Just a hunch Chek, but wouldn’t picking a genuine 8, starting a genuine 8 at number 8 be a good place to begin – as opposed to ‘hybrid’ 7’s & 6’s forced into the 8 jersey ? ?

    • Gavin

      View 1: He’s an idiot who, unlike the rest of us who are great coaches, know that you have to pick a specialist for every position.

      View 2: He’s a hugely decorated and shrewd coach who fielded a hybrid back-row in order to accommodate two of the country’s best players in the same team (which helped the team win a RC and reach the RWC Final).

      • Hoss

        No doubt at the time (RC & RWC) it was the right move a the right time, but & its a big but – the rest of the world have more than dealt with the selection and moved past us. Lead to an ineffectual set piece, line-out issues and maybe, just maybe the worlds best 7 in Poey being largely ineffectual in 2016 . Same as Eddie found with Smith / Waugh conundrum a decade ago.. Its a selection headache for sure. Both Hooper & Poey deservedly in the 23. but at what cost ? Checks selection drama equates to the first law of physics – for each action there is an equal & opposite reaction. We are better in some regards with 2 x 7’s on the paddock, but lesser in others. And being 2 from 7 this year (and with Poey on a years break next year) would seem a good time for a ‘Plan B’.

        • Gavin

          The line-out issues stem from a hooker who couldn’t throw to save his life and this was compounded by a dysfunctional front-row and a team savaged by injuries and out of form. We could have had Read, McCaw and Kaino in the back-row and those problems would have remained.

          Pooper is not the problem, nor is it the solution to all problems.

          People are just singling out Pooper to join the lynch-mob and make themselves feel superior to a phenomenally successful coach who clearly knows more than any of us

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I agree mate. It was a novel idea that worked for a short period but now it doesn’t and it’s putting additional pressure on lineout, defence and set pieces that are creating issues and need to be resolved.

        • McWarren

          Yeah agree Hoss. Even at the time you could see the Pooper leading us down the path we now find ourselves on. Had we bitten the bullet a year or two ago, when neither McCalman or Palu were going to solve our 8 problem we would now have at least one maybe two 8’s of international standing (who I hear you all ask, well for me it would have been Timani and Higgers).
          Criticizing the Pooper is so often seen as a jab at both players individually. Although I admit to not being a Hooper fan, he now has full rights to the 7 jersey with Poey out and Gill gone. But we new this was happening months ago, we new Poey was going ages ago and yet not a single new 8 has been blooded, tried or spoken of. That is why I criticise Cheika.
          Our lineout used to be a weapon, even with Moore throwing into it. Now it is predictable and ineffective. One of the reasons is a non jumping 8. Anyone who solely blames the Hooker doesn’t know a lineout from a lineup.

        • Joy

          Its actually Newton’s third law but the first, an object at rest stays at rest or an object moving keeps moving in the same direction at the same speed until acted on by an external force, might explain recent selection policies.

        • Hoss

          to quote my favourite legal practitioner – ‘yeah, but its the vibe………..’

      • Warwick Todd

        I’ll take option 1 thanks.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Wouldn’t that be great to see

    • Braveheart81

      Who is this genuine number 8? The whole reason the first two choices are Pocock and McMahon is because we don’t have a genuine number 8 who is good enough. Ben McCalman has played 49 tests and doesn’t consistently provide the impact we need.

      Timani will get more game time but he isn’t likely to dominate there overnight. He has issues at the back of the scrum and he doesn’t have great handling and lineout ability. Hopefully he builds into the role as he gets more experience.

      • Hoss

        IMO Timani deserves the opportunity and has the physical attributes needed for an 8. My bolter is the Tah’s rookie Halloway. Had a great year, good skills, right build, good in the tough stuff, but also a good link player, and has some pace as well – crystal ball stuff i admit, but he looked the good until he got injured and missed half the year. With nothing to play for trophy wise i just reckon its tme to look at options and a 125kg frame like Timani is a good place to start.

        • Braveheart81

          Timani had a stint off the bench. I expect he’ll get another one this weekend. McMahon had more impact in everything he did though so I expect Cheika will select him.

          Timani is big and strong. His skills at the back of the scrum are a substantial weak point and he is worse in the lineout than McMahon. Those are probably the biggest things stopping him from getting a go starting at the moment.

          Hopefully Holloway returns in 2017 with the same form he showed for the first half of 2016. He was outstanding.

        • Gavin

          He does look like a future Wallaby.

          With our current options and considering what it adds to the team, I’m happy with Pooper. The fundamentals (line-outs that people are getting hung up over although I doubt their sincerity) are fundamentals of the game which are easily within their capabilities. It would be great to have some world class specialists in each position though and Holloway has potential.

        • Xaviera

          I’m sure if Jed was fit he’d be on a plane to Pretoria and London and wearing gold. As a true old style 8, he was head and shoulders above any other in the Australian Super Rugby teams. QLD doesn’t have one, Brumbies had the closest in Ita Vae (spelling?) before he had to retire prematurely, Melbourne mix it up and the Force have Ben, who is an honest toiler, but no more. Timani is a little bit in no man’s and – not quite big enough to be a lock, not quite fast enough and with a high enough work rate to be a true 8. Probably an impact 6, depending on the balance of the rest of the back-row, and I suspect that’s why he’s struggled to be selected. Nothing to do with the Cheika conspiracy theories – he just doesn’t fit into the mix. A pity, because when he’s on his game, he always interesting to watch, and I’d hate to either have to tackle, or be tackled by, him. Pocock’s injury has forced Cheika’s hand (see what I did there?), so now it’s up to Timani to seize the chance.

        • Gavin

          Yes, why not.
          Personally I think that Pooper is the best option when you consider everything but now is the perfect time to start trying out new combinations.

        • jamie

          I’d love to see Jed at 6, as Fardy/Mumm’s replacement.

          Holloway
          McMahon
          Timani

          Would be lovely one day :-)

        • Hoss

          Holloway has to be in the mix somewhere, but Hooper is a lock on #7 and IMO our best player this year, with daylight second.

        • jamie

          Hooper is an amazing player, but he won’t stay uninjured and in good form forever.

          I’d say my backrow has better set piece and Holloway is the Hooper: with the running game to suit. Hooper off the bench would be nuts though. Imagine the little energiser bunny running through tired players. Bring him on at 45-50 for Timani.

      • McWarren

        Higginbotham.

      • Gavin

        Agree.

        And it has to be said, a professional team should be winning its own lineouts regardless of who plays at 8. It is a bread and butter part of the game which we should be taking for granted and shouldn’t really be factoring when considering the tactical nuances of any selection.

      • dom par

        Holloway, Reid, Butler, Timani, Cottrell, Smiler, McCalman.

        Then there is the multitudes of guys who got no shot and went overseas like Jones, Tala Grey, Higgers, that captain from the Brumbies who I can’t remember the name of, Houston.

        If you want to blame someone blame whichever coaches kept picking that useless idiot Wycliffe Palu. How can someone outstay their welcome for half a career?

        • Braveheart81

          Holloway got injured after his run of good Super Rugby form this year. Jordy Reid plays all over the backrow and is hardly a genuine 8. Would you really pick him ahead of McMahon if we’re talking Rebels players. Timani has come into the Wallaby fold and received a debut cap and will get more opportunity. He has plenty to work on too. Butler is another notta and I don’t think many would think he is close to the Wallabies as a number 8. Cottrell was in great form before breaking his leg badly and hasn’t really got back to that form again. Smiler is in and out of the Brumbies starting side. I don’t think he is close to Wallaby level. McCalman has played 49 tests. Fans have never been satisfied with his play at number 8.

          Palu kept beating direct rivals at Super Rugby level. He did the hard work around the breakdown. Deans, McKenzie and Cheika picked him regularly when healthy. If the coaches don’t rate the player, stop picking him.

          There’s a reason Palu kept getting selected. The other players showed they weren’t consistently up to it at Super Rugby level.

        • McWarren

          Yeah look BH I’ve been critical of Palu in the past, mainly around his inability to stay fit (ie always injured). I guess not critical of him getting injured but rather that but his value was limited by his unreliability to be fit. What strikes me as odd was that we never thought outside of the McCalman solution whenever Cliffy was injured, apart from a few Higgers cameo’s. All three of the coaches you mention above had ample opportunities to give other 8’s a go but didn’t. Now we have a lack of depth at 8, what a surprise.

        • Braveheart81

          Higgers played 32 test matches. That is hardly a cameo.

          Ben Mowen was really good for a season but the rest of the team didn’t like him and the coach had no interest in offering him a top up contract so he went overseas.

          Jake Schatz played 2 tests and was never good enough. He has struggled to stand out at Super Rugby level.

        • McWarren

          No argument from me regarding Schatz.
          I didn’t know that about Mowen. That surprises me.
          Higgers got 32 tests, but how many did he get as a starting 8 consecutively? I don’t remember Palu or McCalman lighting up the test arena but they got every opportunity to do so. Probably a mute point now, but I really do think we missed an opportunity with Higgers, especially in his younger days to mould him into the test 8 we all yearn for.

        • Braveheart81

          Higgers also had injury issues. Number 8 seems to be about the most injury prone position on the park. I think he got an opportunity as soon as he really showed any form at the end of 2010 and was 24 then. He was selected a lot through 2011 and 2012 and then was injured throughout the 2013 test season. He then got selected a lot through 2014. In 2015 he wasn’t in form and had already announced he was going overseas and got selected for one test where he didn’t play well.

          I’m not sure when exactly he was meant to get more opportunity. He averaged 10 tests a year for the three best years of his career when he was healthy and couldn’t make the spot his own.

        • brumby runner

          BH, not joining into an argument, but there was ample opportunity to try Ita Vaea at 8 in the twelve months before he had to pull the pin. His form then warranted a spot before either of Palu or McCalman, but imo his failure to be selected reflected the closed mind set of the coaching staff at the time. Not up for debate now because of what transpired with Ita, but indicative in my view of the way many of our coaches over time have had favourites who they persist with when all the evidence suggests change is needed.

          Higgers had quite a few chances in the Wallabies and was widely castigated for his seagulling. I am not being critical of Michael Hooper’s wider running game, but hardly ever a criticism in the same way Higgers was criticised.

          Vaea aside, Lopeti Timani was also at the forefront of many posters’ minds for the Wallabies’ No 8 spot, but wasn’t given a go until the most recent test match. As he has played lock for most of the past 2 or 3 years, where does the notion that he has trouble controlling the ball at the back of the scrum come form? May be true of course, but where’s the evidence that it’s not just another ‘urban myth’?

          Isn’t it weird that many of the calls by posters over the years are brought into effect by the coaches perhaps a couple of years later? Same thing could conceivably now happen with Holloway.

        • Braveheart81

          Vaea produced short periods of dominant ball running and had shortcomings in other parts of his game. He was bested by Palu in a couple of matchups through that time which probably showed why Palu kept getting selected and Vaea didn’t. Fitness was always a worry for him making the step up to test rugby.

          The calls from people on the internet to try people they haven’t seen fail at test level before have been consistent since the internet was a thing. The grass always seems greener when there is an untried player at a lower level who shows flashes of brilliance and the test player isn’t dominating.

          The reality is that the coaches get to see far more than the fans do and they make their decisions with a lot more information at hand. It’s no surprise that lots of people get called into the test squad and get some experience there before actually getting a chance to play a test.

          In relation to your comparison of Higgers and Hooper, did Higgers consistently top the tackle count, run metres etc.? My guess is that Hooper doesn’t get more criticism because he plays his wide running game and gets through a ton of work each and every game.

        • brumby runner

          Saying that Palu outplayed Vaea on a couple of occasions is a very subjective comment. Cliff’s greatest asset in his last four or five seasons was his run metres, but the fallacy there was that all of them (or nearly all) were way behind the gain line because he invariably took the ball many metres behind the ruck.

          My main point is that so many of the calls for changes from fans here and elsewhere are brought into effect a year or two later by the coaching staff because they have (or think they have) some sort of investment in continuing to play the same players. It seems to me that on more occasions than not, the fans’ calls eventually prove to be as good as or better than the coaches’ inclination to stick with underperforming players, and that sticking with the known has often had a deleterious effect on the performance of the team. In summary, the problems we have now at No 8 are a reflection of the coaches’ disinclination to try and persevere with others over recent years. Persevere also embraces the notion of coaching higher level skills into alternative players when the incumbents are consistently failing to reach the standards we desire.

        • dom par

          Palu barely made any run metres in the last 3 years. He was a complete passenger in the Tah pack when they won. Everyone used to harp on about him making the most tackles in the 40 or 50 minutes he’d play. Its no surprise both times we won the RC he didn’t feature. What was horrible was he kept out Timani and Vaea for so long, when Vaea was playing like a madman in the NRC (and won player of the tournament IIRC). Its no surprise our tilt for the RWC looked better once he was injured. He obviously trained the house down, and is apparently a great bloke, because he got more shots than anyone else other than that other imposter at 8, Rocky Elsom.

        • Bobas

          So he was made captain by a coach that didn’t like him and neither did the players? I’m just wondering what your sources are?
          If Mowen was still playing top level and eligible, he’d be a walk up start.

        • Braveheart81

          The players not liking him came from a Wallaby at the time. Not being offered a top up contract was well publicised at the time. They said it was because he hadn’t played the requisite number of tests over two years but if McKenzie had wanted him as a core part of his team going forward, a guaranteed top up contract would have been forthcoming.

        • dom par

          Thats the problem with Palu, and many of the forward choices. They were rated on how they wen’t in derby matches, not against international SR teams. Who gives a flip about Aus vs Aus SR team clashes in regards to Wallaby form! I’d rather see how a team goes against the Chiefs, Crusaders, Stormers, Bulls etc. Most SA, Eng, and NZ pundits had a laugh and chuckle whenever they’d hear he had been selected.

        • Braveheart81

          Why would you pick a player who doesn’t stand up in the biggest games they are playing and can’t show any sort of consistency? Players get selected because they show they are up to it by playing well against the best opposition they face, not because they show occasional flashes of brilliance.

          Vaea didn’t show consistent form at Super Rugby level and used to drift in and out of matches and his fitness was always a concern. He always had a good highlights reel because his game was based around his ball running.

          Let’s put it another way. Do the All Blacks or Springboks select players to debut who show some promise at Super Rugby level but go missing in big matches?

  • Tomthusiasm

    Don’t forget Mumm!

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      You can have him

      • Tomthusiasm

        Wouldn’t trade my Mum for the world

  • jamie

    Not necessarily news, but did anyone see what positions Liam gill and James O’Connor played for Toulon overnight? 6 and 13… certainly rather interesting.

    • SuckerForRed

      As a general rule the flankers are swapped in NH rugby. Although Gilly has 6 on his back the role he plays is most certainly the open side flanker role.

      • jamie

        First time I’ve ever heard of that one. I know the Saffas open plays 6 and the blind plays 7, but I never knew it was like that in Europe. Toulon’s 7 was IIRC, a 7 as well.

      • mikado

        In the Home Nations 6 is blindside, 7 is openside. I think the French may play Left and Right.

  • Cammie Chow

    Ironic that an Englishman who works in the Pacific Islands is whinging about people moving to other countries to make a living.

  • McWarren

    Is the dozen Ryan talks about, are they are kids cherry picked from villages or development programs in Fiji, or are they just kids born in Australia with Fijian names? I’d like him to clarify that statement, I feel it might be another ignoramus from the north having no idea of the social fabric of Australia and NZ.
    Regardless, Australia and NZ should do themselves a favour and stop cherry picking guys(if they are) from the Islands. If they come over to play of there own fruition then so be it. But really this all goes back to the evolution of super rugby and the Rugby Championship. A Pacific Islands team should be in there somewhere.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Mate I don’t think NZ or Australia “Cherry Pick” from the Islands. I think that both countries, and Europe offer so much more for the person and his family that they are the ones chasing the contracts.

  • first time long time

    I have said it before.
    For eligibility purposes, why not allow anyone who is playing for a country that is not their country of birth the opportunity to go back and play for their country of birth (and only country of birth, not parents’ etc)
    BUT once they return to country of birth that is the only country they are now eligible for.
    You could do it across the board and the only countries that will really benefit are second tier nations.
    There may be a few that would go from say SA to Oz or NZ or vice versa but very few.
    Eg next world cup… just say TK, Kerevi, Naiyaravoro, Speight are not picked for Wallabies (unlikely for all of this to happen) they would have the opportunity to play for Fiji if selected but from then on would only be eligible for Fiji.
    I think it works

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      I’d like to give them the opportunity to play for their country of birth while they did their residency time and also go back once they are no longer picked by their adopted country.

  • Reg

    Fiji’s 7s coach lectures. Well as far as I can tell England have a few Islanders as well. Also, there are a bucketload of Islanders that now call Australia home anyway.

    Probably hasn’t occurred to the trog, that Australia and other countries are actually assisting them assist their families back home.

  • mikado

    Out of interest, did anyone commenting on the Ben Ryan story read the linked article?
    The GAGR summary edited it a bit to make it look like a rant against Australia. It’s more a rant against unscrupulous agents and clubs.
    As for the rights and wrongs of it, it’s hardly surprising that Ryan is concerned about a drain of players from the Islands. However I can’t think of a better system. If players can earn more money going overseas it’s a bit unjust to prevent them from doing so.

  • Tomthusiasm

    I knew I forgot someone!

  • SuckerForRed

    Ireland has a fork in that particular steak as well….

  • Gavin

    In fairness mate, if someone says the sky is blue you go on a rant about it being purple.

  • first time long time

    I’d add to that, our hooker has only thrown to the same targets 2 games in a row maybe once this year.
    Like any combination it takes time for them to develop confidence in each other.
    Until this season Moore has been a very reliable lineout thrower.

  • Gavin

    You talk about the Wallabies as though they are Subbies players. They are elite test-level players and the mechanics of a line-out are basic, well within the capabilities of any player who dons the gold jersey.

    Any professional side can and should be winning their own lineouts regardless of who plays. You cannot win your own line out if you throw incorrectly, that has been the issue in the early RC games. Even Stevie Wonder can see this. Of course it doesn’t fit in with the anti-Cheika narrative that you are pushing here.

  • firs time long time

    And depending on the time of day…. he may be right.
    Take some of the agro out of your comments and a more cordial discussion will develop even if people disagree with you.

  • Gavin

    Pot kettle black?

    There is a weird desperation to paint a narrative of the team being managed by a bunch of morons which is blatantly absurd.

  • first time long time

    Missed it by that much Gav!

  • Gavin

    I doubt you have ever played the game mate. Thank God the selection committee days are over or the team would be chosen on the basis of rants like above.
    You’re not for turning, you’ve a pre-determined view and obviously you know better than everyone else.

  • Gavin

    Is that a direct quote?

    Do I really need to spell out that all the line-outs are not lost for the same reason. They are not. I am not restricted to black and white thinking. There are nuances.

    Many line-outs were lost as a result of misfiring from the put in. Not all, obviously.

    If you don’t think that mis-firing is an issue is there really any point in us discussing if further? You think I’m full of shit and vice/versa and our perceptions are too different to be resolved clearly.

  • Gavin

    How did the throws misfire? Are you for real? FFS.

    Moore was a great player, had a great career. True.

  • Gavin

    Is news of Moore’s misfiring line-out news to you? It has been featured in all of the newspapers and has been put to him in press-conferences, and he himself has acknowledged the need for improvement.

    In your desperation to pursue the “Cheika is an idiot” narrative you really are clutching at straws.

  • Gavin

    What can I possibly say to satisfy you? His throwing has been misfiring and inaccurate. It is clear to everyone watching the games, it has been widely documented in every form of media (including this website) and has been put to the player himself.

    It is frankly absurd that you are challenging this.

  • Gavin

    Misfiring means not throwing accurately, obviously. Why do I think he is misfiring? I don’t know why, I can only guess.

    Listen mate my responses have been needlessly, and immaturely, confrontational. Looking through them, I am acting like a dick. So, sorry about that.

    To be clear, the biggest problem with our line out to date, in my opinion, has been Moore’s throwing. I believe Pooper is a scapegoat and I suspect that the frustration at the selection of Pooper is influencing people’s take on the lineout. Of course, you can argue that my defence of Pooper is influencing my take on the line out too.

    You have elaborated on why you disagree, and of course you make very valid points. My responses were not as respectful as they should have been.

    I genuinely disagree with you for what it’s worth.

  • first time long time

    Fair play Gavin

  • first time long time

    I reckon, come world cup time you would get guys flocking back to their homeland once they were unlikely to be picked for their adopted nation.
    Can’t see much in the way of downside to having these guys involved.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Absolutely. Would piss off those who didn’t play off shore though and could cause other issues in the home country

  • First time long time

    Yeah I’m sure there Would be some unintended consequences but I think most would be forgotten if say Fiji were in a RWC qtr, semi or who knows final.
    Rugby keeps claiming to be a global game but my impression is that the traditional powers in world rugby don’t have any real interest in changing the status quo that’s keeps a handful of teams out of reach of any developing rugby nation

  • st saens

    Gavin, shut the f**k up mate. You are a F*cking bore. I read this site for informed comment and analysis, not to put up with agro bullsh*t from people like you. Please get moderated into the internet wilderness.

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@Hughadams01

Wallabies, Waratahs and Northern Suburbs supporter. Twitter: @Hughadams01

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