Monday's Rugby News - Green and Gold Rugby
National Rugby Championship

Monday’s Rugby News

Monday’s Rugby News

Mondays Rugby News sees The final round of the NRC, Liam Gill wants to come home, Lukhan Tui extends his break and English and Clark commit.


 

FINAL HOME AND AWAY NRC

2018-Brisbane-City-v-Canberra-Vikings-7

It has been a cracking season of NRC rugby with some entertaining, fast paced, high scoring and close matches in what was a highly competitive season.

The final weekend was no different.

It was a battle of the country teams when the NSW Country Eagles hosted Queensland Country in Tamworth. The match couldn’t have been closer at half time with scores level, but a second half blitz from Queensland saw them blow the score out 45-21. Don’t forget to read what Andrew had to say about the match.

Then there was the Western Force against the Fijian Drua in a challenge for the minor Premiership. A late surge from the Force wasn’t enough to get the win with the final scores being 33-28. Despite a bonus point the Force dropped to 3rdon the ladder. Here is Graham’s review of the match.

The Melbourne Rising played host to the Sydney Rays, with both teams playing for pride more than anything. A competitive first half saw the visitors up by 7 at the break, but that all changed with an onslaught of tries from the Melbourne men to see them run away with it 55-21. The loss to the Sydney Rays is the first time a team has gone winless throughout an NRC season. Mr Wobbly had his thoughts on the match.

Brisbane City and Canberra Vikings were playing for their season in their clash on Sunday afternoon. It was a slippery affair in prime rugby conditions up at Easts Rugby club in Brisbane with the Vikings taking the narrow victory 13-10.  Check out Ben’s review of the match.

The Drua will host the Vikings in Fiji on Saturday for the first match of the finals and Queensland Country will take on the Force on the Gold Coast.

Given the success that the Drua have found in the NRC and the impact it is having on Fijian Rugby, it is possible to see another Pacific Island team join the competition.

Ben Whittaker, Rugby Australia’s High Performance Boss confirmed that there were early talks to bring either Samoa or Tonga in to the NRC. (Via SMH)

“We’ve had inquiries from World Rugby and clearly the other two nations they are keen to promote are Tonga and Samoa,” Whitaker said. “Fiji was a good three-and-a-half years in the making so it does take a bit of time to get things in order but that is a discussion that’s commenced.”

 

 

FAMILY FIRST FOR TUI

Lukhan Tui, before the incident

Lukhan Tui, before the incident

Reds and Wallabies player Lukhan Tui confirmed over the weekend that he would not be going on the Spring Tour with the Wallabies, instead staying with his family as that deal with the loss of their father.

Tui stood down from rugby after the loss to Argentina on the Gold Coast the week of his step-father passing. The whole affair was marred even more when a drunken fan started an altercation with Tui.

Tui informed the Wallabies of his desire to take the rest of the year off to be with his family, and though they respect his decision, Wallabies coach Michael Cheikasaid the door to return to the tour would remain open if Tui changed his mind.

Tui did state he would be back for the next year with the Reds and hopes to make it back into the Gold jersey.

In an emotional post on social media, Tui broke the news to rugby fans, saying it was the easiest decision during the hardest period of his life.

“I’ve always been & forever will be #FamilyOverEveything, hence the choices I’ve made,” Tui posted.

“Stepping away from the game of rugby for the remainder of the year is a decision that is for my siblings and for my Mum. Rugby will always be there & at the end of the day it is only just a game.

“Because there’s honestly no atmosphere, experience, money or jersey that could ever separate me from doing what I love and that’s looking after my family.

“This is also to show my younger siblings that Family is truely above everything and setting an example for them to follow.

“This isn’t about putting myself last, it’s about putting them first which has always been the case. 1 month ago my family and I lost our Dad. He raised my siblings & I to be the people we are today and set the perfect example that we live by.

“He made my dream of playing rugby come true and taught me how to be a man and further to that a family man.

“This is something I’m humbled by and will forever be grateful for.

“I have a young family and I’m now the man of out home, I have self-expectations and a role to play that not many people can relate to or ever understand.

“My purpose in life has always been to make my family proud and to ensure that they are safe.

“Rugby is only a game and my family is everything to me.

“In saying that, I’ll be back next year to continue playing ruby for my Dad, Qld and hopefully for Australia again.

“Until then I will be contributing to helping finish what my dad started.

“I LOVE YOU DAD”.

GILL WANTS TO COME HOME

Samu Kerevi offloads to Liam Gill

Samu Kerevi offloads to Liam Gill

It would appear that Liam Gill is the latest Aussie abroad to have an interest in coming back to Australia in 2019 in an effort to make a World Cup bid, after RUGBY.COM.AU claimed that Gill’s management reached out to the Super clubs.

A spot on the roster isn’t the only thing that Gill’s camp are looking for, with money being the reason he left, and it would have to be the reason he came back.

Currently Gill is earning $500,000 a season, (half of what Michael Hooper will make next season), and with Hooper and David Pocock on the RA books, it would appear that what ever money Gill earns will have to come from his Super Club.

This isn’t unheard of for Gill though; given when he left Australia his salary was paid in full by the QRU.

It is an interesting move for Gill, given the depths Australia currently has in its back row, and with Hooper at the Waratahs, Pocock at the Brumbies and the Rebels not likely to have much wiggle room in their salary cap, it would appear the only option for Gill would be to return to Queensland.

Currently Queensland don’t have a large amount to spare in the salary cap, but the moving on of James Slipper to the Brumbies could help open the door. If the Reds can move on other exiled players Karmichael Hunt and Quade Cooper it would definitely free up the money to bring Gill home.

On the Quade Cooper front, he is still tipped to join the Rebels for the 2019 season, with RUGBY.COM.AU stating that the Rebels, Reds and Rugby Australia are all keen to make this deal happen.

Nick McArdle reported on Kick and Chase a few weeks back that the deal for Coopers services in Melbourne would be announced soon, which could coincide with the end of the NRC season for Brisbane City.

Stay tuned Rugby fans.

 

ENGLISH AND CLARK STAY THE COURSE

Tom English heads to the try line.

Tom English heads to the try line.

Melbourne Rebels Tom English and NSW Waratahs Cameron Clark have both resigned with their respective clubs for the 2019 seasons.

Both players had strong seasons in 2018 and are looking forward to a much-improved 2019 season.

English joined the Rebels in 2012 on an extended playing contract and now sits as the 2nd most capped Rebels player. Despite there being some strong competition for a spot in the Rebels back line Club Captain English held his own and even captained the side during Adam Coleman’s injury.

“I learnt some time ago that a Club isn’t defined by the four walls surrounding it. What defines a great Club, like ours, is the people within these four walls,” said English.

“This year the personnel we have on and off the field are exceptional and we are all working towards something special.’

“Being here for as long as I have and having experiencing mixed levels of success in that time, I can honestly sense we have really elevated our expectations. We’re challenging ourselves more than ever and we’re exceptionally committed to doing our members proud.

“We have made some really exciting signings. Retaining guys like Marika and Angus Cottrell plus new recruits like Matt Toomua and Isi Naisarani will only strengthen our squad even further,” said English.

Cameron Clark made the switch from Sevens to XVs in 2017 and continues to work hard to earn as starting spot in the Waratahs competitive back line. He has racked up 23 matches in the blue jersey and has been praised by his coach for his outstanding work eithic.

“That is one of the reasons I want to continue playing rugby in NSW. The environment creates healthy competition for positions, and it drives us to prove ourselves to the coaches and compete for those starting positions,” Clark said.

“I am enjoying being part of this group, love pulling on the sky blue jersey and I’m thankful for the opportunity to stay with a team I grew up supporting,”

 

 

 

  • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

    Gill’s return could be huge. In a post-Cheika world I could easily see him pushing ahead of Hooper given they’re both getting older and Hooper is more reliant on his speed – which will decline – while Gill is more well-rounded as a 7.

  • Jason

    Geez if Gill is coming back there is a really serious question to answer as to if Hooper is even in the match day 23 let alone the starting XV.

    • Happyman

      IMHO that makes Hooper the 3rd best number 7. but as the boys from Eggchasers podcast say money plays.

      • Christopher

        I wonder if they will create Hoopers Law to go with Giteau’s Law. Or will they name the law after the numpty who decided signing him on a 5 year contract was smart.

        • Happyman

          I would argue that 7 is the only position where Aus has never had issues with depth. The money spent on Hooper was out of touch with reality but he does play for the Tahs so that probably explains it.

        • Jason

          Well I look at the other options we have, I don’t think that we actually lose much without Hooper.

          A few people I know in the wider rugby community (not NSW) all think the NSW (Sydney) centric focus of the ARU/RA is one of the biggest issues facing Australian Rugby, and a large part of the reason we are in the situation we are currently in.

      • Silver Ghost

        I appreciate that RA doesn’t want to see talent go overseas, but they should live within their means. I understand none of the Dothraki, get paid anywhere near what Hooper gets.

        • Bakkies

          SG absolutely and the money should be spent on talent identification and development. Players in their prime left over ten years ago but unions like NZ had addressed this years before with coaching and underage player development their summaries aren’t hard to find online. Ireland later on followed suit as there had been an exodus from the country since 1996, fixed that but there was a risk of relying on a golden generation for results. Fixed that and there is a constant flow of players particularly from non traditional Rugby areas and schools. St Michaels while not winning Leinster Schools Cups have produced probably the highest volume of pro players in recent years including three consecutive Irish under 20s captain. James Ryan was one of them and he is a future Ireland captain.

          Australia led by John O’Neill scrapped this and the top schools are playing less competitive games in Sydney.

    • Slim 293

      How’s that? Gill was rightfully never in consideration with the likes of Hooper, Pocock and even Smith around…

      • Duvstar

        Rightfully? I think most people on this site would have had him in the side ahead of Hooper before he left for France. Gill isn’t as quick but is the only man in Australian rugby who can go toe-to-toe with Pocock on the ground (he’s not as good but he’s not far off) and his rugby brain is great. Definitely no charging out of the line during the 50-80 minute mark and exposing acres of space out wide like a certain someone likes to do…

        • laurence king

          Too right

        • Slim 293

          No, I don’t think most rugby supporters would have thought that at all… Hooper was easily more deserving of a gold jersey back in 2012 when he first got the opportunity, and I never saw anything from Gill to suggest that he should have been picked ahead of him. And now with Pocock back I can’t see how Gill would be in line to replace Hooper as having two out and out fetchers would not work. Gill is an incredible player, but unfortunately for him we’re stacked with excellent 7’s.

        • laurence king

          Disagree, Gill had the better all round game back then and he still does. After all, while he has been away he plays the position as it needs to be played. While Hooper (whom I do think is an exceptional player by the way) has played some hybridised version according too Cheika’s grand plan

        • Slim 293

          Better all round game? Can’t agree with that at all… Gill is an excellent defender/pilferer, but so is Hooper (who actually led Gill for pilfers when playing a more traditional fetcher role at the Brumbies), but Gill certainly does not possess Hooper’s attacking skills.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          What do you mean specifically by saying that Gill ‘does not possess Hooper’s attacking skills’?

          If you mean that Gill doesn’t possess Hooper’s speed in broken play then absolutely. However, Gill has much better ball skills in terms of passing (especially left to right) and as much power through contact. They just attack in different ways, but Gill is better suited to that linking role as he is so much better at passing and in terms of vision for the pass.

          Also, from 2013-16 it is very difficult to make the argument that Hooper was as good of a breakdown exponent as Gill. Hooper was better in the wider channels as he could get to the breakdown faster due to his speed but got blown off rucks more easily.

          One of the most important (if not the most important) aspects of openside play, however, is to hit attacking rucks often and well. Gill was second only to Pocock in this.

        • Mica

          Also don’t forget that an openside needs to slow down ruck ball if they can’t pilfer.
          Make the opposition commit more players to the ruck to secure ball.
          You can’t do this if you are getting blown off a ruck easily on first contact.

        • Who?

          In 2012, they were neck and neck, and Robbie gave Hooper the shot. No idea how you can say ‘easily’ more deserving of a gold jersey – both were very young! I don’t know that there was much between them, but either one was a good option. Hooper was given a good run at the jersey (which is the way you should go with a young guy), but Gill did nothing wrong.
          Smith was picked in 2013 for the Lions, and fair enough. Because he’s one of the greatest Wallabies ever.
          Gill was gaining ground on Hooper, and by late 2013 I think he was just about at the point of being given a start, then he went partying in Dublin…
          2014, Pocock was again injured, Hooper was the golden boy in the rising Tahs (having been the rising star in the rising Brumbies, where Gill was in a declining Reds by 2014, and obviously still set back by Dublin), so having lost the team captain (Mowen) due to ARU stupidity, Hooper was thrust into the VC role, then fell into the captaincy off the back of injuries to the captain. That solidified Hooper’s position. Then Link was gone, and Cheika wasn’t going to pick anyone at 7 other than Hooper – not even Pocock…
          In terms of not replacing Hooper (to make a Pill, or Gicock), and not wanting two out and out fetchers, I’d argue that Gill was the most rounded of the three 7’s. Hooper was the best ball runner (I dispute that he’s faster, last time they faced off, Gill was obstructed by Hooper off a scrum leading to a Foley break, yet he chased down Foley, tackled him, got up and contested the breakdown before Hooper was sighted), Pocock’s the biggest ruck monster (they have differing techniques there – Pocock used to drag the ball back into the tackled player on the ground looking for the penalty, Gill always looked to lift the ball out), Gill was the best linking player (because he passed as well as ran – he was far more complete).
          Oh, and it seems that everyone on here’s forgotten that you can’t write Liam’s name without, according to the G&GR tradition, it being written as Liam F****** Gill, given his legend status at Super level, having effectively singlehandedly carried the Reds for a couple of seasons.

        • Hoss

          Why aren’t you writing articles on here mate. Brilliant read.

          Maybe you and Nutta should do a Twiggy and mount a rebel blog.

          World Series Bloghing with Who and Nutta. Sounds like an old Abbott and Costello – the comedians, not bottom feeding pollies.

        • Who?

          Thanks Hoss. Problem is, to do a Twiggy, you’ve gotta have a generous benefactor – I already waste too much time replying to comments on here, and I honestly don’t watch as much Rugby as I’d want to watch to write more than comments on columns. Would be fun, though…

        • Duvstar

          Notice how I said members of this site over “rugby supporters” ;)

          When Hooper burst onto the scene I was all for him. And I was so excited watching him and Gill start to emerge with Pocock ahead of them.

          But for me Hooper has been a big part of the Wallabies issues since 2015, namely:
          1) lack of rugby smarts;
          2) lack of basic skills; and
          3) poor selection.

          You can’t honestly tell me he has the respect of or know-how to handle the referees? Or that his decision making is good? He makes for a good highlight reel as he’s quick and puts in some huge hits but he just doesn’t have the rugby intelligence to 1) be the starting #7 for a top international team or 2) captain a top international team. He seagulls, gets into unnecessary niggle, rushes out of the line in defence, doesn’t trust his other defenders. Watch back replays of the tries we have conceded this year – so many are affected by a decision that Hooper has made.

          The way I like to think of it is, imagine if these guys were Kiwis. Who would a Kiwi selector and coach select? And Liam Gill is far more of a “Kiwi-like” player than Hooper. He’s clever, reads the game so well, has his basic skills locked down, works really well in a team. That’s why they go for guys like Cane over Savea, why Laumape doesn’t get the start, why the Franks brothers have scrummaged for so long ahead of guys that are both faster and bigger than them (only a few examples but I’m sure there are more).

          It sounds harsh and I’m not saying our troubles are a result of starting Hooper, as he’s a great player, but he just seems to encapsulate where Aussie rugby has gone wrong the previous few years.

        • Who?

          And, to top it off, LFG’s better at drop goals than any current Wallaby! :-P

        • Mica

          As a comparison, look at Matt Todd – quite a similar player to Gill. I actually think Gill is more talented than Todd, but you can’t fault the basics of the role that Todd plays in the team and how well he carries out all of his core duties. Todd’s just unlucky to have Cane in front of him, that all changes now though and I suspect the ABs will bring Todd into there setup now with Ardie being a super sub for impact.

        • The Big Lebowski

          I get the impression from this thread that Hooper is to Queensland fans what Cooper is to Wallabies fans.

        • John Miller

          Well, if that is the comparison, with one languishing in NRC whilst the other boasts a freshly minted, multi-million dollar contract (penned as he was recovering from a serious, notoriously recurring leg injury) plus the Wallabies captain’s armband, there is a clear delineation in regards to political backing between the two.

        • The Big Lebowski

          Watching as a neutral (admittedly a Tahs fan, but with question marks over Hooper) I’d say there is more complex dynamics at play. Hooper scored his Wallabies jersey on merit. His tenure there is part durability, part form. He was clearly ambitious for the captaincy, and coaches recognised that. She shaped his attitude to climb the ranks and there he is.

          The timing of his signing while injured was probably more unfortunate than sinister. But yes, things have gone right for him and he’s received warm backing for the all-round package. Even Pocock was probably tagged as a bit of a liability given political views (whether that is justified is not really the argument here).

          Cooper is a wonderful talent and has showed with focus for the team he can build unbeatable combos. But in the era of McKinsey & Co (management consultants) being the other assistant coach then culture and the ability to enhance it becomes the foremost ‘soft-skill’ required. Quade seems not to have taken notice of the culture Thorn wants to build at Queensland (and rightly or wrongly, it’s Thorns remit to do as he wishes I this area). Given the generous money he’s earning playing club and NRC, one could surmise that he either can’t get another contract elsewhere or doesn’t want to. Nor is he obligated to under his contract but geez, wouldn’t it send a signal to his critics that he is serious about playing for Australia again.

        • John Miller

          TBL, there are some reasonable observations contained within your commentary. I don’t disagree that Deans’ original decision for Hooper over Gill was merit based in 2012. It would have been line ball, but certainly not undeserved.

          But there is simply nothing meritorious about a broken and ailing RA splashing $6M on a player who is clearly not the best performer in his position (is anyone actually attempting to argue that he is nowadays? – a jersey in which Australia boasts great depth), is a questionable captain, who at the time of signature was on the long-term injured list for an historically recurring leg injury when his key point of difference is purported to be “speed”. The bloke is out of form this year and wasn’t even the Wallabies best backrower last season when fully fit – the guy that was jetted off to Japan knowing that Michael Cheika would never let him compete for the jersey he most coveted. This is the backdrop under which Hooper was given 5 years worth of $1.2M free lunches. It is eye-watering stuff.

          As for Cooper, being blindly ostracised at National level gave Thorn the green light to mirror this at State level. There is nothing to support some vague notion of Cooper’s detrimental affect on Queensland “culture”. If Thorn had said, “grumble, just don’t like the bloke, grunt.” We’d get it. He has said nothing but “I”m going in a different direction.” He made this decision after all other Super Rugby clubs had finalised their team sheets. Dollars weren’t available to other franchises and, by all accounts, the Reds didn’t want to pay any top ups.

          As for being “serious about playing for Australia again”. I”m sure he would be. Right after this becomes a possibility, following Michael Cheika’s exit.

        • The Big Lebowski

          It would be remiss of me to say I didn’t blush when I heard of that Hooper deal, especially in the context you’ve painted. Agree – arguably past his prime and for mine (and here are my question marks) does he and his style of play allow the Wallabies/Tahs…whoever…develop a game plan or style to compete?

          On the evidence, no. No. 7s around the world are specialising in fetching or ‘jackaling’ (still not sure if I like the term). Pocock playing out of position is a detriment to his role even though he’s still outstanding. There is a consistent whiff of imbalance in the backrow.

          I think we need to be careful, however, to accuse his contractual achievements of denying Liam Gill a spot in the Wallabies squad should he return. Gill still compete with Samu, Pocock, Miller etc as well as Hooper. And RA, after all, said yes to the deal. RA is culpable of shutting out other No.7s, not Hooper.

          That uncomfortable feeling that Thorn’s apparent exiling of Cooper (and Hunt, and possibly even Slipper for that matter) causes is probably emblematic of something deeper. And perhaps fingers would be pointed if Thorn told us what he really thought. Maybe he is preserving some of Quade’s dignity with his obfuscation.

        • John Miller

          I don’t disagree that the fault lies wholly with RA and Cheika – not Hooper. The bloke is a worthy and talented footballer who gives his all consistently. His weakness is a lack of effectiveness not effort, impact not commitment, physiology not psychology.

      • I disagree wholeheartedly. Gill was not given the opportunities Hooper was gifted in his early career but IMHO had nothing to do with his form. (Queue conspiracy theory rant)

    • As long as Chieka is still the coach there’s no spot for Gill. He was never given a shot under MC even though he definitely earned a chance.

      • John Miller

        So punt Cheika.

        • Slim 293

          Robbie Deans, Ewen McKenzie and Cheika all selected Hooper (and Pocock and Smith) over Gill…

        • Greg

          Look, I think he should play just for his name:-) LFG!!

        • Jason

          That was a long time ago! I’m not saying Hooper is worse than Gill nor Pocock (although I do think Hooper is the 2nd best 7 in Australia currently), just that there is a legitimate question there with Gill, Pocock and Hooper — some would think Hooper is the third banana out of that 3.

        • John Miller

          Superb simplification.

          When available, Deans chose Pocock and Smith over every other openside – both before Smith’s first European sojourn and after he came back for his almost omnipotent power season with the Brumbies in 2013. Deans’ choice between Hooper and Gill in 2012 was no doubt a tough one – I disagreed at the time, but as a race for “next best”, could see it was a close call and reasonable none the less. People also forget, the 2010-2012 iteration of Michael Hooper with the Brumbies was a far more forward-centric and ruck-capable version than the tramline-focused, tackle missing, post-injury and out of form player running around in 2018.

          McKenzie didn’t have the luxury of either Poey or Smith. If anything, he tried too hard to show he was unbiased in his selections (not a strong characteristic of his successor and probably one of the key components in his downfall at the grubby hands of active Sky Blue dissenters). Hooper obviously benefited from incumbency following Deans’ reign and McKenzie wasn’t in the post long enough to assemble his best alignment before the knives were out.

          Micheal Cheika is the single Australian coach who has preferred Michael Hooper @ 7 despite better options being available. Whether that number includes Liam Gill or not, it is as supremely flawed to attempt to lump Deans, McKenzie and Cheika in the same bucket; as it is to try and group Hooper with Pocock and Smith. (If one could resist the political interference of an idiotic $6M splashing RA), a better coach will install a fit David Pocock @ 7 tomorrow and then decide if the likes of (Gill, Hooper, Hardwick, Dempsey, Cottrell etc.) offer the right utility value off the pine.

        • Slim 293

          That’s a nice piece piece of fan fiction regarding Link’s selections… considering he wasn’t afraid to make some tough choices into his selections in his short tenure, and dropped a number of high profile players for other options I’m going to call “bullshit.”

        • John Miller

          You call as long and loud as you like Champion. McKenzie’s “tough choices” were more often than not against “his own”. If he was as unashamedly parochial in his team squads as Mr Cheika, there wouldn’t have been enough sharp knives in the room to execute the grubby coup. So laughable when we constantly hear about “team harmony” within Cheika’s Wallabies. Anyone who disagrees gets marginalised or shipped out (sometimes to international playing honours elsewhere) whilst an unaccountable core group enjoys limitless carte blanche.

        • Who?

          Don’t forget, Gill hurt his chances under Link by being part of the Dublin 6… :-(

        • Slim 293

          Robbie Deans, Ewen McKenzie and Cheika all selected Hooper (and Pocock and Smith) over Gill…

      • John Miller

        So punt Cheika.

  • Silver Ghost

    If the Rebels sign Cooper, it will be a dynamic back line
    9. Genia/Ruru
    10. Cooper/Tomua
    11. Koreibete
    12. Tomua/Meakes/Hodge
    13. Hodge/English/Naivalu
    14. Naivalu/Maddocks/English
    15. DHP/Maddocks

    A bit of flexibility too.

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      Toomua realistically won’t be available until the end of the season, if at all. Suspect we might see Hodge at 12 given that.

      • Silver Ghost

        Good point.
        That will leave them thin at 10. if Cooper is injured.
        Not sure who else the Rebs have to cover that position (not Hodge)

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I think Maddocks realistically has to play 10 going forward. He certainly isn’t a winger.

    • Jason

      You’d probably want Maddocks at 12 over Hodge, not sold on Meakes either but he’s more a 13 than a 12 IMO.
      Also you could maybe see Maddocks playing ahead of DHP at fullback.

  • Nutta

    That Rebels backline is starting to look good.

    LFG – always great to have good footballers in-country. But the $$ spent on Hooper and the quality of Pocock means he would be destined to go the same way as McMahon again.

    I’ve said a bit about Sydney rugby lately but surely the woeful results of the Sydney showing in the NRC cannot be ignored. Plenty of young guys got some experience, but that’s not necessarily good experience getting your arse handed to you left, right and centre fairly consistently. But it’s ok – NSWRU and SRU have a plan to put a development officer in Parramatta. That will surely unlock the potential of western Sydney and save the day.

    • Hoss

      Morning mate.

      Enjoyed your piece over the weekend. I had to look up many of the words meanings and had one or two nose bleeds along the way, but got through – very insightful

      Your right about experience – its what i try to drill the HR team on – yep he has 20 years experience, but is it the right experience.

      Give me attitude over aptitude any day.

      • Nutta

        20yrs experience at being a disruptive prick out-ranks 12mths experience of doing a good job? Ahhh, the good ol’ Seniority argument. Love it. Right up there with overtime lists and open ballots. Sometimes I miss the old days of industrial relations. Then I wake up.

    • Bobas

      If the rays and nswc didn’t have so many of their fringe NRC players representing the wallabies they would have had a better showing.

      • Nutta

        Yeh, but if the seemingly all-powerful Shute Shield was really that good, and the clubs were REALLY pulling for the good of the game (rather than their own self-interest) then surely there would be talent enough for competitive North, South and West Sydney teams? Surely Sydney is not so bereft of rugby talent that the absence of a dozen Tarts guys strips the city clean surely? For if such were true then RA’s awarding of themselves a 75% performance score – critically dependent on self reflection around health of competition and development – in their Annual Report would be farcical yes?

        Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing wrong with self-interest when that is what you’re accountable to. But to be one but in the same breath claim to be the other (out there working for the good of grass-roots rugby palaver) then it’s simply hypocritical bad faith.

        I mean if Sydney WAS that bereft of talent then surely SRU and thereby NSWRU would be welcoming Twiggyball into western Sydney with open arms! I mean here is a guy who for years propped up the national U20’s programme – so it’s not like he is unfamiliar with player development & retention issues. But No! They are all just fine and dandy! They have it under complete control to the point they have no need for Twiggyball. Ergo they are healthy. Ergo they have the talent. Ergo all is fine.

        Ergo they are all just full of shit.

        • Bobas

          The Shite Shield

        • Bakkies

          All of the posters here have hit the nail on the head yet the clowns at the Australian Sports Commission believe they are fit for purpose and clear their audits.

          ASC how is that working for you? We spent years trying to fix this with the introduction of the AIS and national coaching programs but you are happy to watch us lose and go backwards while bellends in administrations are looking to shrink sports.

      • idiot savant

        The performance of the NSW based teams during the life of the NRC has got me wondering about the quality of the Shute Shield competition by comparison to other club comps around Australia. If SS is the highest standard and has the most club players wouldn’t it be expected that the NSW clubs would dominate the NRC? Or is true that the NSW players just aren’t motivated by it due to the poor pay?

        The advent of streaming has eroded my productivity but has also allowed me to see club games in Sydney and Brisbane back to back. Now I probably haven’t seen enough to make an accurate analysis but from my unrepresentative sample I thought SS games were more physical with better defence than the Brisbane club games I’ve seen. However I didnt think SS was any quicker nor did I think there was as much enterprise in the play but maybe thats just a function of better defence.

        I have to say though that tallies in a way with the NRC games Ive seen. The Eagles and the Rays are physical and tackle well until their motor runs out which appears to be a lot earlier than other sides. So theres a fitness question mark over SS players. And it looks like physicality is preferred to speed which has historically been a NSW rugby league state of origin problem. While no one can match Fijian enterprise the NSW sides have shown a lot less than sides with club players from Melbourne, Canberra and Perth.

        • Who?

          Johnny Rugby’s articles on The Roar seemed to imply that most Shute Shield players were ignored, some had turned down the opportunity to play NRC (not financially viable, no incentive with Tahs contracts already filled), and the clubs are disconnected from it.
          I don’t think the NSW NRC sides’ performances indicate the strength of the Shute Shield, but rather the complete disconnect between the Shute Shield clubs, the NSWRU and RA. A little unity would go a long way into fixing their problems.

        • idiot savant

          But surely if your ambition was to play for Australia you would knuckle down to NRC. Particularly after the ascension of BPA to the Wallabies. Or are you saying the best Shute players can walk into Tah contracts without having to go via the NRC? You’d have to think the Kearns door to the Wallabies is long closed. Perhaps, as you say, its discontent which if true would account for a lack of spirit. And its hard to win without spirit.

        • Bakkies

          IS the Tahs created their own problem by finalising their Super Rugby squad so why stick around?

        • Who?

          As Bakkies said, the Tahs squad is finalized, and that’s a big part of the motivation issues for Shute Shield players. That, and the way the teams are run and how they’re viewed in Shute clubs (who have always been suspicious of them).

        • Bakkies

          Well yeah the Sydney teams this is the first year that the Eagles have totally unperformed. Last season they were slow out of the blocks but came home strong. The Rays have rarely been contenders nor were the Rams and Stars.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Still, that’s a ridiculous situation for the Tahs to get themselves in. .. knowing full well the NRC is yet to play. They could unearth the next Tui, PAmosa or Kerevi. Pretty poor attitude it seems. . ..Superstars have been popping up from NRC since day one.
          Even if it’s a really narrow pathway, it’s gotta stay open. . ..

        • Nutta

          I believe at least 2 if not 3 of the John Dent teams would smash most of the Shute sides

    • Keith Butler

      Hope that the pack can give the backline the support they’ll need.

    • Tim

      Looking at the Sydney teams where are all the tahs that are not in the the wallabies squad. It doesn’t look like many of them are playing NRC.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Dylan,

    I hope Tui manages to sort out the family issues and get back into the game. I think he’s a better lock than a 6 but it’d be good to have him back.

    Be good to see Gill back but not sure he’ll compete for a spot as this current coach setup doesn’t seem able to see past the Pooper. If I was him I’d stay earning big bucks in Europe for another year.

    Great NRC over the weekend but not so sure on expansion to the other Islands. It would be good but I think the competition should sort itself out first

    • Alister Smith

      The ideal solution would be if we could stage a southern hemisphere competition where players could earn the equivalent (or at least a competitive amount) with what can be earned in Europe. At the moment, playing for the Wallabies is seen as the pinnacle. But that means anyone who is lower than 2nd/3rd down the line and is over a certain age or level of experience will find better financial opportunities elsewhere. Lima Sopeoga is earning $1.3m/year and another non-regular all black (whose name escapes me – Tatui??) signed for $1.1m – so its not inconceivable that the market value for the “first choice” 7 in Australia is around a similar amount. The five year deal has always irked me I’ll admit.

      Personally I think Hooper was ahead of Gill when he left but I don’t pretend that this is a universal view. However, I think if Gill had been selected and retained and Hooper had gone overseas there would be just as many people whinging that we had picked the wrong one and we needed to get Hooper back – it’s just that those people whinging would be wearing sky blue undies rather than red or purple or blue and gold ones.

      Whilst ever our competition can only generate a limited amount compared to the competitor and whilst ever France and England comps allow so many foreign players (i think France has recently reduced its amount) then we are going to see those players on the fringe of Wallabies selection making a financial decision to go to Europe rather than hanging around to make the Wallabies. At the moment, our comp (particularly with the travel and time away from home base) doesn’t generate enough to keep players interested. There may come a time when we have to take the FFA option and decide that our best players will play in Europe and that we will run a domestic competition to develop talent that will be finished overseas. Although I hope it never comes to that. Soccers junior numbers and the draw of playing in the EPL etc will ensure kids will still play the game but in rugby I think, unless we have a strong domestic presence, we will eventually die out.

      • Damo

        Slightly related, according to the team sheet eight South Africans were in the starting 15 for Montpellier on the weekend in their European Champions Cup clash with Edinburgh.

        • Alister Smith

          Wow. I am not sure about the article I read that said they had reduced the number of players allowed to play for French teams but I had assumed it would have been significantly less than 8 foreign players (let alone 8 from one foreign country).

        • Bakkies

          SA fall under Kolpak which regards them as local players under EU law that’s why they get recruited and selected. Not just down to SA Gov’t quotas and the Rand.

          Lock Paul Willemse has been selected by France and he played in the 2012 under 20s comp that featured Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, Steven Kitschoff, Handré Pollard, etc.

      • Who?

        Gill left in 2016. No way Hooper was ahead then… They were much closer in 2012-2014. By 2016, opponents had worked out Hooper, but Gill was as effective as he’d ever been.
        I’m sure another significant factor for LFG was his tenure under Woody, followed by ongoing coaching issues. That’s enough to have driven anyone to distraction and departure.

        • Singapore Sling

          LFG was the sole ball running backrow option under Spindle. He was a shining light in that 2016 team, career best form IMO.

        • Alister Smith

          Sorry mate don’t agree – I have always seen Hooper as the better of the two – in any case he left because he was offered more money and wasn’t being picked – if he was in England and not being picked he would still be playing in England and still be eligible and be competing against the players being picked ahead of him and that was my point

  • Bakkies

    With the coach’s pet on a five year contract, Pocock to be re-signed and the RA forking out for Samu’s release Gill is wasting his time entertaining the idea.

    • Jason

      I’d say were 50/50 Cheika leaving before the end of the year.

    • idiot savant

      Agreed. He is zero chance of playing for Australia. Sounds like a manager trying to up his price for the next contract. Either that or his form has deteriorated and Lyon dont want him anymore.

      • Bakkies

        His form has never been questioned in France. He will probably be eligible soon to qualify for France under the IOC Olympic 7s clause and he has 7s experience. Tim Nana’s Williams was able to swap from NZ to Samoa.

  • Hoss

    Good afternoon fellow dilettantes,

    Great weekend of NRC. The way Fiji play is just an expression of them as a people isn’t it, full of joy, adventure, fun and athleticism. Any chance their 10 Veitokani has an Australian Grandmother – christ he can play and how quick is he !! If it helps i am prepared to adopt him in hopes of someday wearing gold. I could watch him play all day, he is like Mark Waugh when he was in form – seems to have so much time in his play.

    Good to see an ol fashioned slug-fest in the pig slop yesterday – remind me of the wet Saturdays in grade (minus the skill, fitness, desire, brains, application or endeavour) – great stuff.

    I reckon Steven Segal and RA would be meeting about now to have an exhaustive, analytical, deep reaching, thought provoking – nahhhh, just shitting you. RA will be rubber stamping his ‘plan’ for the next 12 months. My own limited understanding of that plan is to leave Australian Rugby completely rooted (scientific term) after his exit post RWC 19 with a generation of players alienated by his ‘loyalty’ to certain players burning a future team of potential world beaters.

    Look at the talent we have available…..i wonder if Steve is brave enough to change his approach (Pooper, Spanners, Gilbert, Sauce to name a few) to gamble on a few – Valentini, Gordon, Dempsey, Cooper, Naisarini (i know he has a few months left to qualify – but get him in the environment) Cottrell, Banks, Patea, English – to name a few.

    For all the things that frustrate us all – for me, its how good we could be.

    • The Big Lebowski

      Agree. Talent isn’t an issue, although experience might be. But of all the debutantes he has given a jersey to, we are still none the wiser about who our solid foundational team would be. Drives me insane.
      For mine, ‘Segal’ as you call him, over-coaches every little aspect of the sport. And the dribble about his half-time “I just made it personal” spray? Truth is, if they were motivated to play for him there is no need for a spray. Players are just fucking bored senseless playing under him.
      Steve Hansen said in an interview a few months back that it wasn’t his job to motivate players, but turn 15 motivated players in to a team. Fark me, how simple is that? Let’s punt the coach.

      • Damo

        Much as I would like to see Jordan Pataia get a crack, part of me wants him to be held back until this current coaching crew is sent off into the sunset. I really don’t want to see such an instinctive talent turned into a brick with legs.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          I’m am Sooo with you there.

      • Bakkies

        Yep this isn’t Gridiron where it is overly coach driven at the elite level. Watch the Lions tours documentaries and the team’s leaders will drive the rev up speeches in the dressing room on game day. At lower levels yes it often comes from the coach.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Mate, just read the book “The Jersey” by Peter Bills. All about why the ABs are so good. Lots in there but time and time again it’s about practicing the basics and doing them well.

      Shits me that the Wallabies fall over so badly there. Neither Folau nor Foley pass well to the right, kicking isn’t great, too many passes go anywhere but to the receivers hands. Too much emphasis on looking good and not enough on the basics I think

      • Hoss

        To quote Oscar Wilde mate – ‘Success is a science; if you have the conditions, you get the result’

      • Happyman

        Mate all you have to do is watch the Kiwi teams warm up. All skills catch pass getting everyones hands on the ball and barely any contact work. All passes are made with an over emphasis on fingers pointing in the right directions. Fine attention to detail. It then flows into the game.
        Folou and Foley would not be allowed to continue with such poor pass technique and TBH it just comes down to repetition.

        • Bakkies

          I was told at a coaching course that the ABs spend a quarter of their sessions on skills. Whereas in Australia there are too many stories about players thinking they are above that and looking at being told what to do.

      • GO THE Q REDS

        Well Folou does Score lots of tries along with often….. record amounts of run Meters and line breaks. Who cares if he can’t pass one way. Same goes for Barret and McKenzie, two terrible defenders. They’re in the team because of what the do GREAT. And that’s a good thing.
        As for Foley…. .well he’s average at everything except an extraordinary friendship with his coach!!!

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I agree with everything except Barrett and MCD being terrible defenders. Both of them defend very well and make good tackles and distribute well. As far as Folau goes I’d say used to more than does. TBH he didn’t seem to have his headspace right this last season, not sure what the issue was but a lot of the time he just didn’t seem all there.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Well sorry but your plain wrong. Fox stats have McKenzie as by far the worst statistical defender in super rugby by far and Barret has been near the bottom aswell along with Foley(thats how I know) . Feel free too look up the stats if you wish bit it’s no secret. But as I’ve said before. ….guys like that are still first picked because of what they do amazing. (Barret had his worst Super Rugby season in years this year, kicking off the calls for his replacement in the ABs. But he’s a big game player and has dominated the tests)

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          You know what they say. Lies, damn lies and statistics. To be fair I was talking about their defence in the AB games. BB in particular was very good on defence in his line against the Boks

      • Alister Smith

        I also enjoyed “Legacy” by James Kerr and “The Real McCaw” – one is an excellent appraisal of the values that drive the All Blacks and the other of how they were put in practice. But I agree we need to get back to basics. There is an excuse (at least there was when he first came across for Folau as he didn’t come up through the rugby system) but there is too little emphasis on basic skills training all the way up. We also have a habit I think of picking good athletes rather than good footballers in some cases. If he’s big and strong and fast we can fix the rest (but we don’t fix the rest).

    • idiot savant

      Looking forward to seeing Stephen in ‘Under Siege 15: The Comeback Kid’. Its a dependable franchise. Threaten everyone. Pick the same guys. Get the same result.

      I have enjoyed the NRC matches where we’ve seen some real fight between Aussie sides. The Vikings vs Bris City forward battle was a treat. I couldn’t help but thinking how much Id like to see the Smith Bros taking it up against the ABs. The front rows across the NRC have been really ramming it up each other – to the point where they have collapsed nearly every scrum. Gee Valentini looked good on so little preparation. There was some real heat in those forward exchanges. I also enjoyed Vailani boring into the Q Country boys, and Figg’s never say die competitiveness. Scott Young doesn’t mind a rumble either. And it was a pleasure to see Dempsey back running into people. Last week it made me laugh how many times he bruised Wilson’s ribs. Where this fight in the national side?

      • Hoss

        Best gruff voice

        Under Siege XV – this time there’s a plan.

    • Bakkies

      It is amazing that going back to proper Rugby laws and scoring the NRC can still produce quality Rugby.

      With Tom Cusack out and Cottrell in the squad already Tevin Ferris could be a bolter at blindside. I wouldn’t be wasting time with Valetini with his injury history. Give him time to fill out and a pre season rather than tackle bag holding practice. He might get injured doing that.

  • Keith Butler

    Lukhan Tui top bloke and I echo every word. My Dad loved his rugby and always supported me. Lost him at a young age back in 1981, so he didn’t get to see me play my first games of 1st class rugby against Coventry and then an easy game away to Swansea. But I knew he was there in spirit.

National Rugby Championship
@DylanGLanges

Once captained the 3rds Rugby team, but then again so did Nick Farr-Jones

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