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Monday’s Rugby News

Monday’s Rugby News

Monday’s Rugby News looks at the Super Rugby Australia results, Michael Hooper’s captaincy pitch, the back and forth between Rugby Australia and New Zealand Rugby and how Rugby Australia can afford Joseph Suaalii’s ‘multi-million’ dollar deal


Round four action

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Round four of Super Rugby Australia saw a pair of teams make emphatic statements as the games relocated to NSW.

The action started at the SCG where the Waratahs looked to turn around their slow start to the season against the Rebels.

They looked set to build off last week’s narrow loss when Alex Newsome crossing in the opening ten minutes.

However, this was the only bright spot for the Tahs as the Rebels took control of the rest of the match, with the newly single Matt Toomua slotting 19 points from his boot.

Tries before the end of both halves to Ryan Louwrens and Marika Koroibete would seal the 29-10 win, with coach Dave Wessels praising his young forward pack post-match. “I’m very proud, in particular, of our young forwards,” Wessels said.

“We had Cameron Orr starting debut, Trev Hosea starting debut, Jordy (Uelese) would only have a handful of caps, Pone’s (Fa’amausili) only got three caps, Josh (Kemeny) has only got three caps and they played against a really experienced pack,

“If I compare that to the Waratahs, (Tom) Robinson’s got 50 something, (Michael) Hooper, (Rob) Simmons over 100, (Ned) Hanigan, (Jack) Dempsey over 50, so for a young pack that was probably the most pleasing thing for me.”

The action then headed to rugby league’s ‘eighth wonder’ with the Force hosting the Brumbies at Leichardt Oval.

Unfortunately for the Force, they were outclassed and outmuscled by the competition favourites, who pitched a shutout 24-0 win.

With the ACT side seemingly adapting to life without standout fly-half Noah Lolesio, Brumbies coach Dan McKellar was proud with how his younger players stepped up, particularly Bailey Kuzenie.

“I thought BK was good,” he said.

“We talk all the time about when we expose the young players that they’re ready to go, we don’t throw them under the bus.

“They’re young men and in that position in particular, there’s a lot of responsibility to make calls and direct the team around the park, tell guys who are much more senior what to do and he’s been working away in the background.”

Hooper’s captaincy call

Michael Hooper 

Michael Hooper

Incumbent Wallabies captain Michael Hooper has expressed his desire to remain in one of the nation’s top roles as he looks to guide the Wallabies into a new era.

After the departure of Michael Cheika, Dave Rennie refused to confirm Hooper’s position as skipper, reaffirming that he would decide when he selects his first squad.

Whilst the 28-year-old made the surprise decision to step down as captain from the Waratahs at the start of the year, he has told Fox Sports that he still wants to lead his country from the front.

“No, I haven’t spoken to Dave about it because it’s something that I think will develop down the track,” Hooper said.

“As far as my take on captaincy, it’s a privilege that’s given to you by the people that decide that. That’s always been my mindset on it.

“If it pans out that way, yeah, I’m going to do everything I can to be the best I can be in that environment and, if I’m not, how can I help the team as best as possible – that’s my mindset.

“Look, I’m very proud to have been captain of the country and I would still be very proud to continue doing that, and I would be very pleased to take on that role if it was bestowed upon me.”

With uncertainty continuing to cloud the future of domestic rugby in Australia, Hooper threw his support behind an Australian-only competition as he enjoys a more settled lifestyle.

“I’m getting now an opportunity in my career to play solely an Australian comp, which I never thought I’d be able to play. You would never have anticipated that,” he revealed.

“What can I do in this competition (is the focus)? The other guys here, the senor guys, have certainly been in the same mindset, Rob Simmons, Karmichael (Hunt), Tetera Faulkner, some guys that have been around for a long time, well this is a bit of a new lease on life, there’s no travelling, (so) what can we get out of this competition?

“We can help leave a mark here with some of the guys that are coming through and that’s been really exciting.

“And the enthusiasm brought from all of the guys in the squad, maybe it’s a first or second year (player), has been so great for us.”

NZR receive backhand from RA

New Zealand Fan

New Zealand Fan

As Australia and New Zealand continue to shirtfront over the future of domestic rugby, RA chairman Hamish McLennan has confirmed that they will ignore any ‘expression of interest’ requests from their NZ counterparts.

New Zealand Rugby is leaning towards an eight-team competition, with latest plans from 1 NEWS suggesting that they are weighing up a 15-week home and away competition.

With NZR sending a pretty condescending message to RA in order to ‘submit expressions of interest’ to join them, McLennan has revealed that any message in this topic would be sent straight to junk mail as they continue to receive interest in their own comp.

“The expression of interest I’m not interested in and if they send it over I won’t open it,” McLennan told SMH.

“If [chairman Brent Impey] and Mark [Robinson] want to chat with Clarkie and myself, I think next week’s the week to do it.

“My preferred competition is trans-Tasman five and five and I even received a call last night from London from powerful backers wanting to invest in the competition,” he added.

This position was backed by Waratahs chairman Roger Davis during the week, who decided to take a similarly petty approach as they plan their future.

“We will now invite the New Zealand Super sides to participate in our competition,” Davis said.

“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. NZR went straight to the clubs and bypassed Rugby Australia. We can do exactly the same.

“They’re trying to split us from Rugby Australia, so we’ll see how they like the same game being played on them.

“It’s appalling really. We’re not going to split or destroy the code by dumping two or three sides. It would do irreparable damage to the game here.”

Suaalii fund

Raelene Castle and Scott Johnson

Raelene Castle and Scott Johnson

As soon as word got out about the supposed $3 million deal offered to teenager Joseph Suaalii, many were shocked that the cash-strapped organisation would make such a big play given the current climate.

At this stage, players are still on reduced contracts with more than a third of RA staff either made redundant or forced to take cuts to their pay and hours.

So that begs the question, where has all this money come from?

Well, The Australian has shed light on this, revealing that the offer has been made possible through the Emerging Wallabies Fund.

This fund is controlled by Australian Rugby Foundation, which allows all the Mosman-type characters to give back and donate to rugby in order to ensure the sport’s future talent.

The fund was set up by Raelene Castle whilst she was in charge, which at various points has supported David Pocock and Israel Folau, designed to stop the favourite past time of leaguies – poaching our best players.

“Our mandate is to support Rugby Australia as well as Rugby in Australia with the overarching goal of increasing the investment into rugby around the country and across all aspects of the game,” the ARF said on their ‘about’ section.

The Australian also provide interesting clarity around the true figure that has been thrown at the Kings product, stating that no youngster will be offered a deal higher than the final year of Jordan Petaia’s extension, which is about $375,000.

They suggest that the prospect of Olympic gold, not money, could be the driving factor that convinces Suaalii to join the Waratahs and remain in rugby.

Already, men’s coach Tim Walsh has indicated that he would welcome Suaalii into the fold with the hopes of playing him in 2021 (if the event is not cancelled.)

Along with this, any deal that would be thrown at home would reportedly expire in 2021 at the 17-year old’s request.

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Thanks Nathan and what a great weekend of rugby. I must admit I got the Tahs and Rebs wrong and have to eat a lot of humble pie on Toomua’s play. I thought the Tahs were very poor, they are playing like a group of individuals not a team and just don’t seem to be clicking together at all. I thought the score in the 2nd game wasn’t a true reflection of the way the Force played in the game. Brumbies defence was scrambling at times but very good and they certainly demonstrated what a team playing together can do.
    Good to see Hooper with the same passion as his mentor but I personally think he needs top be doing more to be selected let alone be selected as captain. He is playing well at times but giving away dumb penalties and spending time in the bin won’t help his cause.
    I just hope the NZRFU and RA can work together on this. Unfortunately I think things are being said now that could prevent any chance of the two working together and both will be worse off if that happens.
    Typical North shore “I’m better than you” bullshit. Personally I don’t think Suaalii shows anything more than promise and needs a lot of development to be a consistent NRC player let alone a Super or test player. If NSW are stupid enough to bring in an untested player and guarantee him a position then it demonstrates one of the many reasons why there is no teamwork in their player roster and why they are so shit at the moment.

    • ATrain

      It would be good if we could find an accommodation with NZRU – I think it needs to be a joint venture rather that Australian teams invited to play. We seem to be adamant now that all Australian franchises must be part of any comp we are involved in but I am uncertain that this will give us a balanced competition. There is, perhaps, an opportunity for some of the second-tier of the Jaguares squad, those not already signed by English and French (and Japanese) clubs, to bolster the Australian teams – I am perhaps most concerned about the Rebels as I have read somewhere that as many as 15 of their squad might be contracted elsewhere next season, so that will be a big rebuild.

      Like you, I thought the Force’s effort was reflected in the score. There were some close chances where the Brumbies just held them off. Jono Lance didn’t look as influential as he did the previous week but that may have been a result of a stronger Brumbies pack and more pressure. The Brumbies certainly showed the ability of the best of the NZ teams to attack on counter in the first 20 min and it was enjoyable to watch.

    • UTG

      You still haven’t nominated Suaalii’s specific areas of development.

    • I think Toomua is benefitting from a reasonably settled squad and a reasonably settled run at 10. Combinations are starting to emerge for the Rebels, and he’s happy about his service from 9 and where the players outside him are going to be. Equally, they’re confident about what he’s going to do, so when he attacks the line, support players are there, whether to clean out the ruck, or for an offload, or if he passes or kicks, the players are ready to respond pretty much by instinct.

      I don’t think that was the case for him previously, and so he never really developed a fully-rounded game.

      Like you, I think the scoreline in the Force v Brumbies game is a little undeserved. The Force played better than to be niled, and I’m not really sure the Brumbies played quite as well as 24 points suggests. However, I’m always reminded of Brian Moore in commentary, you don’t get rewarded for what you deserve, you get rewarded for what you actually do, so hats off to the ponies, who had a really good day. (I don’t really rate Moore as a commentator, although he’s a lot better since he trained as a referee and actually understands what the laws are properly, but some of the ways he was coached, like that, make a lot of sense.) I think it rather clearly cements the best v worst in the contest – the Force have been in it against their other opponents, at least for a decent chunk of the match even if they get blown out at the end – but they weren’t close on the scoreboard this time, and really I’m only saying I think something like 21-3 or 19-5 would have been a fairer reflection of the way the teams played, not that it should have been a close match at all.

  • Mortahs Incoming – custardtaht

    Well the weekend up wrap up from this guy;

    Rebs vTahs: Probably a case of the Tahs being dragged down to the Rebs level and being beaten by experience. Talking of experience, watching this game is one I’d like to forget, like that time my uncle gave me a special lollipop…like the lollipop the game was hard work for no enjoyment.

    Brumbies v Force; Take a bow Mr Clyne, you and your spreadsheet were right…will say I was mighty disappointed the force didn’t do the obligatory nudie run around the field after scoring 0.

    For next week Rebs v Force game, fox should give Kearns and the commentary team leave and just play Benny Hill music, at least then the game may be viewed as a comedy.

    Good on RA for telling the kiwis to get stuffed, arrogant twats. Let them play their rugby the way they live their lives…..incestuously in a paddock

    • ATrain

      so “dragged down” and “beaten up” ?

      • Mortahs Incoming – custardtaht

        Absolutely. The Tahs found themselves playing a style of rugby that was being dictated to them and had no ability to play that style and no ability to impose their will upon the rebels.

        • Patrick

          You forgot that they still have a few players who are distinctintly unwilling or unable to put in a decent hit.

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      Incestuously in a paddock! Ouch! I hope the RA and NZRFU can work things out as both countries will be worse off if they can’t work together. Fair enough on telling NZ to fuck off with that attitude but Australian rugby will go downhill even further without NZ and I’m not sure that’s something we actually want.

      • ATrain

        “Why are people so unkind?”, Kamahl

      • Greg

        We are living in an age of short-sightedness and selfishness. Sad it has hit our game….. but not surprising.

        • Funk

          “short-sightedness and selfishness” Hasn’t that been RA’s catch phrase for the last umpteen years???

      • paul

        There is no real evidence that we will be worse off without NZ, we have been tied at the hips to the Kiwis for 20 years now, yet the game is close to falling off a cliff here.

        We will still be playing Tests against NZ I presume that will be allowed to continue or do we have to be playing domestic rugby with them for Tests to continue.

        Maybe the RA should tell NZ to fuck off and actually grow a set instead of telling them to fuck off, but not really meaning it.

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          I’m not sure that the fall off from rugby here can be blamed on being in a competition with NZ teams. I think it’s got more to do with the in-fighting that goes on here, the lack of a development framework for players coaches referees and administrators and the self interest of QLD and NSW rugby administrators who still think the game should be managed as it was in the 1980’s.

        • A Dingo Stole My Rugby

          Actually, we’ve been “tied at the hips to the Kiwis” since the seventies when that great visionary, Tempo, established close ties at provincial level, especially with Canterbury.

          Before this move, I think it’s fair to say that apart from the occasional outlier, we were generally regarded as just-above-also-rans internationally, and it was this regular playing contact with the kiwi provinces that helped to lift our standards and open our eyes to the required standards of fitness and technique.

          Yes, the kiwis need us, but we need them more, I would argue. Both are in deep financial trouble, and climbing out needs collective effort, not arrogant posturing.

          Both nations need to stop this meaningless public dick-swinging. Just sit down and work out a solution that benefits all, including our Pacific ‘feeder’ nations (sarcasm intended).

        • paul

          We need them more, due to some help back in the seventies.
          We are in a financial black hole because we tied ourselves to the Kiwis and a system that has done noting for the game here domestically. Sorry but your argument does not stack up.
          We can quite easily find a solution that does not require us to be playing NZ every weekend.

        • UTG

          Yep, Argentina made no noticeable improvement when given the opportunity to compete against NZ sides in a provincial comp. I still haven’t seen evidence we need to compete against NZ to improve.

        • ATrain

          The Argentina example is, I think, a difficult one. I think the Jaguares definitely improved from competition with both SA and NZ (and probably AU) teams during the Super Rugby era. They were eventually able to find answers to all the travel etc and made a Super Rugby final. However, their most recent World Cup performance probably didn’t look like an improvement. Still, at the RWC in the current era, I think all the sides are improving so the ones that don’t improve as much (like us) look like they are going backwards – well we probably legitimately went backwards in the last two years leading up to the RWC – but someone like Argentina probably improved just not as much as others.

          I don’t mind playing NZ teams in a comp like the one being discussed. I am not sure if our 5 teams are up to the standard of their five. Certainly in 2018 and 2019 we weren’t but we had shown improvement in the first 7 rounds of pre-COVID Super Rugby in 2020. I am unsure about the Force. They are genuinely competitive against other Australian sides but not sure how they would match up against the Blues, Crusaders, Hurricanes. I am also uncertain how many of the Force squad will be available once all the borders re-open. They have a couple in the squad who, if I am correct, only became available because other comps were shut down and there are also a couple of veterans that might be a bit closer to the end.

          I am also a little concerned about the Waratahs and the Rebels. The Waratahs as they are now and the Rebels where they might be next year with a large number of players reported to be moving at year’s end.

          So, for a Trans-Tasman comp to be in Australia’s best interest we have to get the balance right between giving as many of our professional players an opportunity and ensuring future pathways (5 teams) and depth of quality players to be competitive with NZ teams (something less than 5 – maybe as few as 3). If we genuinely want to maintain the five franchises in Australia then I think maybe combining with NZ isn’t the way to go.

        • UTG

          The Jaguares made the Super final because they were a watered down Pumas outfit. It did little to help the performance of the actual Pumas. Reducing the number of Australian teams just so they were capable of regularly beating the Crusaders wouldn’t produce any different results for the Wallabies.

        • Moz

          I actually think its a little harsh when judging the Force. In general they have not be able to attract the quantity of Super-quality, players as they were not a part of the Super competition until very recently. However, if it is announced that they will be a permanent future (as much as one can say) going forward, then I daresay Mr Forrest will open up the purse-strings and hopefully bring back some more Aussies plying their trade overseas. I imagine he could even find enough coins at the back of his couch to target Skelton, LFG, McMahon, etc for example, if it was felt they could add something!

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          I just wonder how sustainable it is relying on Mr Forrest for the funding. Bloody great that he’s doing it and I’d certainly not knock it but I think the Force need more than this to go forward. Agree 100% that if they become a permanent feature of something going forward then they’ll be in a stronger position.

        • Moz

          Agreed that it might not be sustainable, but right at the moment its a hell of a lot better than what’s being offered by the other teams. A few years ago, when the Force was going through the ARU shafting, they actually put together the “Own the Force” fund raising, and raised several million dollars straight away (I though it was upwards of $5m, but would stand corrected on this). And going forward, once teams experience some success, and if the comp is successful, you have both broadcaster funding as well as team sponsorships (just don’t mention Firepower….). And finally I don’t believe that Mr Forrest has indicated that he’s just in this short-term. Its at the very least a good base to build from, preparing for when he may withdraw this funding.

        • ATrain

          I think they had a commitment for up to $5 m as you suggest. I was one of those that committed but, in the end, it wasn’t required unfortunately because of the RA decision. I don’t personally doubt Forrest’s commitment but there may be arguments to how it’s best allocated or what gives the best outcome in the long term for rugby in WA – more on junior development (which he has already locked in), continuing to fund GRR and the Force in that comp or committing larger amounts in terms of player payments to participate in a Trans Tasman comp that would have a requirement for a much more expensive roster.

          I don’t like the idea of WA players getting to SR standard and then getting picked off by other teams.

          I have no doubt that, if the current commitment continues, that WA will be able to supply a competitive Super Rugby side almost entirely made up of local born and bred players – they are already in the squad (and some in the Rebels and elsewhere). I just don’t personally know how long it will take and what the best path is to achieve it. I really liked GRR and what it was trying to achieve and I would love to see what it could become by, for instance, the next world cup or the 2027 world cup in Australia – so I wonder if Forrest is open to it, if it would be better that all the Australian sides joined that perhaps that is the answer for us all.

        • ATrain

          Yes you are probably right Moz. They were certainly able to bring in some quality reinforcements very quickly in the short period of time between the shutdown of GRR and the commencement of the Super Rugby AU comp. They led for much of the game against the Reds, were in striking distance of the Waratahs and had some good phases against the Brumbies for no return – a touch unlucky. I am actually surprised now that the Waratahs managed to beat them – perhaps if they had time to bed some of their new players in the result would have been different.

          I find it very hard to judge at the moment who any team in Australia will be able to bring back or retain. We don’t know what the comp will look like next year or how much TV or any other funding model (private equity etc) will be prepared to pay. We also don’t know what the capacity or appetite UK, French and Japanese club teams will have – they are signing players at the moment, have picked off much of the Jaguares top players, but they will also potentially face rationalisation.

          The Reds lost 3 key players and I am not sure of what they could do at their best – they had a close game against the Force and a Tahs team that seems off the pace and a dodgy draw against the Rebels which many described as the worst game of the season (before last weekend’s Tahs game perhaps). The Waratahs seem a long way off the pace. The Rebels have been patchy and could lose more key players in the off-season. So of all our teams, I only really see the Brumbies providing genuine opposition against the three top Kiwi teams. The others have the capacity to win the odd game but not more than that. I think the Reds are an up and coming side, the Tahs are maybe the Reds two seasons ago and I am not sure about the other two.

        • Moz

          Pretty hard to argue against most of what you wrote just then! I’m just loving 1) being able to watch the Force play again, and 2) being able to watch Aussie teams win. Hopefully at least 1 and maybe even 2 of these will continue into next year.

          And it is certainly very interesting as to what is going to happen in the next year or so in regard to the overseas markets. I heard that Kyle Godwin has signed with the Tahs for next season. So does that mean that he believes its going to be tougher signing the big contracts oversea for the next few years?

          Lets hope that we don’t waste a good crisis, giving us the opportunity to fix the game in Oz

        • ATrain

          There is a fresh article on Rugby.com.au where Wessels calls for a Super Rugby team in every capital city (I guess that would only leave Adelaide, Hobart and possibly Darwin) with Australia running the IPL of world rugby and players like Maro Itoje etc playing here.

          It would be great to think we could have a home-grown comp in Australia of good (and improving) quality and retain the best of our players. I do like the opportunity to play against NZ’s best too, not because they are a higher standard necessarily (though I think they are in all reality) but just because they are great to watch and there are now some real traditional rivalries (Brumbies vs Crusaders for example have had some great games over the years).

          The whole world is in a state of flux at the moment and we don’t really know what is going to come out of it but I do hope, as you do, that there is a place for Australia in world rugby when it is all done and dusted and a permanent place for WA in Australian rugby.

        • Yowie

          February pre-season games in Darwin would be an exercise in dehydration & heatstroke management!

        • ATrain

          I have never lived in KL or Singapore or Hong Kong, only visited but I don’t imagine it would be much fun there either. I am not sure how GRR’s season fits in with wet/dry/Asian monsoon but they seem to manage. Seriously though I guess Darwin with a population of 130K would struggle to fund a team (unless the Chinese port owners want to chuck in something). They did have a big 7s comp there at one stage – not sure when that was but that would be a true test of the stamina.

        • Moz

          I played one season up here in Singers, and my son was playing last year (season is up in the air at the moment – they are still training, but only in groups of 5 due to social distancing restrictions), and it is a bastard at times with the weather. The Force played one game up here last year, and I think the boys really felt it. Nothing like a bit of humidity and running around to get a bad case of the “betty swalls”.

        • ATrain

          I would be neck to knee rash if I was up there. Too much information sorry.

        • Moz

          Hahaha, its a safe environment on this site, oversharing is par for the course!

        • Moz

          Interesting call from Blood on the possible future competition. I must admit I am swaying more towards us setting up our comp for a couple of years, with a big focus on Aussie teams, plus a few others in the region – an amalgamation of Super AU and GRR. If you want to grow the sport in Australia, and in particular grow the viewing numbers, then maybe an Australian focus is preferable. We’ll still be playing the Kiwis in the Internationals, and there may be a side comp to have the top couple from each play a few games (or if we want to make sure we are in with a chance, our top 2 v their bottom 2…..). I think we need a couple of years of rebuilding the entire rugby system in Australia. Lets not just be forced into something at this stage if it is not in the best interest of Oz rugby.

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          Well written mate

      • Mortahs Incoming – custardtaht

        I agree that a trans tasman competition is the best outcome for both parties. Hopefully both sides will calm down and change the tone and attitude, but hardly surprising RAs hackles are up.

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          I agree that NZ has handled this poorly and RA has every right to be pissed about it. I just hope that people can calm down and work together

    • Yowie

      I won’t have that.

      I think you’ll find that most incest occurs behind closed doors, not out in the open.

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        Pfffft closed doors are only for when there’s overseas guests

        • Greg

          I did wonder what we would discuss with the departure of Mr Chieka. Now I know….

        • Yowie

          Yeah, it’s called “etiquette”.

      • Mortahs Incoming – custardtaht

        That may be the Qld way, but sheep live in paddocks, the bloody things can’t be toilet or house trained.

        • Yowie

          …sheep …can’t be toilet or house trained.

          Some say they can be if shown enough love. As such, we await the results of the nation-wide longitudinal study commenced 7 May 1856.

    • Missing Link

      little bit harsh on the Rebels to be honest, the Tahs were their own worst enemy. I don’t think they touched the ball in the 2nd half and the Rebels got the job done. I think the Rebels forward pack were great, they worked as a unit and if they were the All Blacks and the Waratahs were the Wallabies, our trans tasman counterparts would be talking about “dismantling the Wallabies with a typical All Black masterclass”.

      What the fuck happened to Maddocks? He is/was one of the most promising youngsters, he looked confident at Super Rugby and not out of place at test level…. now he looks like an injury fill in at Super Rugby level. WTF!

      As for the Force, what can I say, the Brumbies are the complete package this year, the Force were always going to have a bad night. I know there are reasons why they don’t have the cattle but they don’t have the cattle. Many players past their prime and others who’ve jumped around a few times looking for an opportunity.

      • idiot savant

        Maddocks has always had a fair distance between his best and his worst. He looks impulsive which can be great when its the right choice and not so good when its the wrong choice. He’s gonna give his coaches some grey hairs.

      • Perth girl

        I wonder what happened to the good players they had 3 years ago, it’s a mystery!

  • Jason

    Whilst the 28-year-old [Hooper] made the surprise decision to step down as captain from the Waratahs at the start of the year

    Just a little bit of historical revisionism? The coach made that call and Hooper accepted it… not sure he couldn’t.

    Frankly I can see no worse option than Hooper being retained as the Wallabies captain, he’s probably the worst Capitan we’ve ever had in terms of his communication with the referee — and that was impacting our relationship with the referees. I’ve refed in comps where you have ‘that team’ and no matter how hard you try to be objective it’s never a good thing to be ‘that team’, this would be at least in the minds of the the officials a constant link to the behaviour of the Cheika era. I think it’d be really important for Rennie to get some clean air after the debacle that was the Cheika era. It’d probably also help for the returning fans and players to have some new blood and leadership come through.

    More importantly we REALLY need some stability and all this year Hooper’s spot has been under pressure from the young Reds Capitan, Hooper hasn’t exactly been playing down this house this year anyway, and his team has been exceptionally poor.

    I’d rather Allan Alaalatoa or of one the other main says of the Wallabies, right now is when we start gearing up for the 2023 RWC. Not in two years time.

    • James Doherty

      Have you seen Hooper at all this year? He has been on fire. He’s been the most consistent player of the tournament. He has signed on till something like 2027. He will most definitely be in that squad.

      • Rugby Truth

        Hooper is the most over-rated player EVER!

        He was outplayed by the Reds backrow. He was outplayed by Tom Cusack the week after and on the weekend, the Rebels backrow outplayed him.

        On the weekend, he contributed 5 runs for 11 metres, 72% tackle success rate, conceded 5 penalties and 1 yellow card.

        So if it’s consistency you quoting – you’re right. Consistently rubbish.

        He is incredibly inaccurate at the breakdown;
        – consistently misses his target,
        – if he does hit his target he’s so passive that he is incredibly ineffective and gets swatted away (have a look at the amount of time he is resting his chest on an opponents back at the breakdown)
        – but he does run around all day with his cheeks puffed out pretending to be doing something.

        I tell my under 10’s NOT to watch hooper if they want to improve and enjoy their rugby

        Is it a coincidence that the garbage the wallabies and waratahs have been dishing up coincide with hooper at #7?

      • UTG

        Hooper is living in so many heads rent free on this site. By all the stats he is head and shoulders above the rest. Take it from the Kiwis who rate him very highly.

        • Max Graham

          He’s one of the few world class players in the Wallabies and is extraordinarily consistent, tough and hard working. Much of the criticism he cops is nonsensical. Take that from a Queenslander.

    • Rugby Truth

      Here’s my tip for Wallabies captain.
      Matt Toomua

      • Jason

        Nah, my dark horse is O’Connor — wouldn’t that be a good pub trivia question! But Toomua isn’t a bad pick.

    • Yowie

      [NFOS] Plus, whatever the team culture dynamic was under Cheika, it was not an effective, winning culture. There is a lot to be said for a fresh start in terms of team leadership as well as coaching.

    • UTG

      Why is Allan guaranteed a Wallaby starting spot? ‘Nela has been far better than him. If you want to discuss captaincy candidates the first thing you need to do is nominate someone with a guaranteed starting position.

      • Yowie

        ….someone with a guaranteed starting position.

        I wouldn’t be so hasty to rule-out non-Waratahs players for the captaincy.

      • Max Graham

        Tupou is the best player in the country. His form is ridiculous.

      • Jason

        Rodda would have probably been the pick, ticking all the boxes. Fantastic leader, one of your first down on the team sheet and not under any real pressure for his spot. But…

    • idiot savant

      I agree that its best to begin a new era with a fresh captain, particularly if you want a fresh culture. I dont agree that Hooper hasn’t played well enough to be in the team. While he might not always be effective his work rate over 80 minutes if of considerable value. Someone has to make those tackles and contest those rucks.

      But Hooper was a captain in the Yes Sir, Three Bags Full Sir era of subservience under Cheika. Hopefully Rennie wants men who can make their own decisions under pressure on the field within the framework that the coaches have laid down. My preference is Toomua. He is one of the few leaders to emerge from the Three Bags Full Sir era with integrity intact.

      • UTG

        If you want to pick a fresh captain for a new era is a 30 year old in Toomua the right man? At best he’s just a stop gap until someone young establishes themselves.

        • idiot savant

          And thats OK. The new 10s are going to take 2 years to be fully confident at test level. I also think he will set an example in leadership – his on field organising is second to none, always talking and instructing players. Its also too early to say which next generation players who can lead will be long term players.

        • Jason

          Toomua isn’t playing 10 for the Wallabies. O’Connor is the better option IMO.

        • Mortahs Incoming – custardtaht

          Picking Payne as Aus cricket captain has been a good outcome. The idea of picking an older captain has merit if you are changing the culture if a) They are good leaders with the right attitude and b) good enough to be there on merit.

          I personally would not puck Toomua, because I would not pick Toomua to begin with.

          I would not pick Hooper for captain as he was the leader and part of the problem that sees the Wallabies needing a culture change.

        • UTG

          I don’t mind a captain that is older but you need someone who is going to have a steadfast place in the side for the foreseeable future. Paine’s selection was never in doubt, I think there is doubt over Toomua’s, particularly ongoing. If not Toomua nor Hooper then who is your pick for captaincy?

          On changing the culture, the cricket side had a demonstrable culture problem, I’m not really sure the Wallabies do. They’ve just not been particularly consistent performers. There was tension between RA and the coach but that has been dealt with by changing the coach and RA leadership.

        • Patrick

          Did you watch them play, or see some of the feather-dusters who got selected? They might have fixed their culture problem by sacking the coach and getting rid of Foley and Beale, but it is pretty damn hard to argue that they didn’t have one.

        • UTG

          Being bad at rugby is not the same as having a culture problem.

        • Patrick

          Being individually bad isn’t. Being bad at playing together is.

        • UTG

          Every bad team has a culture problem? Did Fiji have a culture problem last RWC because they couldn’t get out the pool? Do the Force have a culture problem at the moment because they’re winless?

          We just weren’t that good over that period, it wasn’t because there was a rift between the players and staff and it wasn’t because the players didn’t work hard. Our skill levels weren’t great and we played dumb rugby. That’s it.

          None of our franchises in Super could beat any NZ team for a couple of years. Did they all have systemic culture problems? Doubt it, they just weren’t that good.

      • I’m not sure I agree that Hooper gets into my G&G side.

        My disdain for Hooper is well known hereabouts but after the first two weeks I was ready to eat humble pie and I thought taking the captain’s armband away from him at the Tah’s had done him a favour. However, against the Brumbies I thought all the bad features of the Hooper of old were creeping back in, and against the Rebels I thought he was not only outplayed physically, but his brain wasn’t there, leading to a personal rash of penalties as well as seeing a YC.

        I think Cusack probably edges it for me, but I think open-side is a pretty open contest this year.

        I would agree with Toomua as probably the pick for captain. Personally I’d prefer someone wearing 1-9, I like a captain closer to the referee regularly, but I also like a captain who will regularly stay on the pitch throughout the match, which at test level pretty much limits you to 4-8. I’m not sure there’s a senior player with good captaincy credentials there – one who will have a generally good rapport with the referee, so Toomua seems like a good call.

        If, two years down the line, or even three years down the line, someone better emerges that’s not a disaster. England changed their captain in 2018 and runners up in 2019 is hardly a terrible result for them. From the way Rennie is speaking now, I’d trust him to handle it better than the previous incompetent… incumbent I mean.

        • Patrick

          I’d keep Hooper in the mix but I too would be surprised if I (was coach and) I ended up writing his name on the teamsheet.

        • Jason

          I would agree with Toomua as probably the pick for captain. Personally
          I’d prefer someone wearing 1-9, I like a captain closer to the referee
          regularly, but I also like a captain who will regularly stay on the
          pitch throughout the match, which at test level pretty much limits you
          to 4-8. I’m not sure there’s a senior player with good captaincy
          credentials there – one who will have a generally good rapport with the
          referee, so Toomua seems like a good call.

          Pete Samu?

        • My only concern with Samu is that he’s never seemed to take that role on the field that I’m aware of?

          I don’t have any reason to suspect he couldn’t but my impression is that he’s more a head-down solid grafter than a leader and communicator. That can certainly work to lead the team, but it’s not always good for the talking to the referee part – although after Hooper, it might be a great change.

      • Jason

        I didn’t say Hooper hasn’t played well enough to be in the team, although he’s not been consistent at all and his effort has been patchy. But my bigger point is we have options let’s say Hooper is ranked a 90, Wright is probably an 85 (not to mention the other back rowers we have Wright is just the other 7). Maybe you want to sure up your lineout (given our Hookers and Locks at the moment that’s probably a good idea) then maybe the 5% you loose with Wright is worth it because he can jump in the lineout.
        I’m not saying Hooper is trash — just that he’s not sold gold like many make out, AND we have alternatives (and always have Cheika just ignored them because he’d already picked his team).

        I’m not sure of Toomua, I think he shouldn’t be playing 10 and 12 doesn’t suite the captaincy, he could get a go, but only until we unearth our next long term Capitan. My personal smokey (really bat shit crazy) for the Wallabies C job is O’Connor I think he is slightly better suited to playing 10 if only because of his halves pairing with Tate. But nether are genuine 10’s and I’d prefer us to have a few 10’s try out for the long term role.
        O’Connor has actually been a fantastic leader with the Reds even on his socials and in interviews, somehow he’s gone from being the fuck up of Australian Rugby (even still in 2017) and is now a mature man. Plus that’d be a redemption ark for the ages.

        • idiot savant

          That would be some redemption. And I like his influence on the Reds. For captaincy, id be worried about the downsides of his instinctive play. Its what gives him X factor but it can also gift tries to the opposition which can have a detrimental effect on the side if you are captain. Both Toomua and OConnor are getting better in the 10 jersey with every match they play there so its good for Australia and its hard not imagine they will be sharing first receiver duties in a first five and second five set up with the Wallabies.

          Re Hooper, Im long on record here that his style of playing 7 was not the best team result. He has held down the position for the worst win loss record of just about any 7 since 1970. But as an individual you just gotta keep on picking him and thats the problem. Its too late now but I would have re-trained him as a hooker 4 years ago and kept Pocock as the 7. Both would be on field but the back row would be better balanced. I still maintain the best performance by a Wallaby back row in Cheika’s entire reign was when the Wallabies beat France in Paris with Fardy, Pocock, and McMahon as as the back row. Disbanded for Hooper and a loss to Ireland the following week.

    • Bernie Chan

      IFF Rennie thought Liam Wright was good enough to be in the Wallas starting XV, is there any reason why he couldn’t be the Capt? Pocock was appointed Capt at 20 (though he was exceptional…)?
      Wright seems to be leading the Reds reasonably well.
      Wouldn’t mind if Toomua got the gig as the flyhalf and Capt though…

      • Max Graham

        I think Wright would do a good job, but you’ll be changing captains again within the year because that gold 7 jersey will be going to Fraser McReight.

        • Bernie Chan

          McReight was the U20s Capt? So no lack of leadership but Liam Wright has been moved to #6 to accommodate McReight at #7. Is Wright a Test player at #6?

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          Yeah good question. TBH I think there’s a few ahead of him as a pure 6 but I also think you pick your loosies as a team so I guess it depends on the role Rennie has. I just hope we dont have another Pooper which was never effective

        • Bernie Chan

          The Pooper pooped once the surprise tactic wore off. The balance of the side was something Cheika neglected all to often it seems.
          I just hope Rennie picks the best XV available and a balanced bench….don’t care which Super Rugby AU side they play for..

        • Jason

          Wright is a test player wherever you play him. But he’s an out and out 7, he’s not enough of a ball runner to be a test 6.

      • ATrain

        that used to almost the traditional choice once wasn’t it – 10 as captain – could see and read all of the game from where they play – guess it depends on the individual but I think Toomua has leadership qualities and experience at the highest level. I think he might be 12 for the Wallabies though (but would still be happy if he was captain).

      • Jason

        Yeah, I’d say there isn’t any reason within Wright himself for being captain. I think he’s showing all the signs of being an excellent captain. But that would require 1) a clean break from Hooper, I don’t think the two could co-exist in the same side with Hooper having been replaced and 2) Wright would be under a LOT of pressure and I’m not sure you’d want to do that to such a young player. I mean even at the Reds he’s under a lot of pressure for his spot. Willson is almost a lock at 8 for the Wallabies (genuine don’t know who you’d pick instead of him). McReight, Salakaia-Loto and Scott-Young are all potential test quality back rowers. Heck even the guys left off the bench like Seru Uru and Tom Kibble are really high quality back rowers.

        He’s got the ability and in a vacuum if you’re picking Wright in your XV he’s probably the guy, but I think the realities of the situation probably make it a risky choice — not a bad choice, just a lot of scope for it to go wrong.

        I actually think Pete Samu might be a go’a he’s probably in your XV for 90% of your team permutations, he’s a really quality player, having experience with a champion winning Crusaders and the very settled Brumbies. The only issue he might have is he might be a bit too much of a bits’a without a clear position he could get lost in the back row, plus he’s SUPER valuable closing out games off the bench, maybe you keep him on the bench to cover your whole back row and close the game.

        • Bernie Chan

          Kinda like the fact there is competition for spots in the backrow at the Reds and (hopefully…) the Wallas.

          Wilson has been going really well at #8, impressive for a lad that is only 20(?).

        • Jason

          Yeah, Wilson is literally 20 years old, and he was a gun cricketer too fielding in the slips. So I expect him to develop that Higgers type silky smooth game — throw an offload near him and he’ll take it like a catch at silly point.

        • Bernie Chan

          If he can kick goals and play golf…he may a bit of a “John Eales” facsimile. Slipper who is 6’5…

    • Max Graham

      Captain or not, if the team is picked on form and/or potential, Hooper will be one of the first picked. I believe his successor is at the Reds, but I don’t think it’s the flanker you’re thinking of. AAA might fo a great job, but he’s not the best in his position. I don’t like Hooper as a captain at all, but he deserves to be in the team I can’t see who would be better option as skipper for 2020.

      • Jason

        I didn’t say Hooper wouldn’t be in the team, just he might be. Wright, McReight and Willson could be picked as the Wallabies back row — they won’t but it’d be a possible pick. Maybe Hooper is in the XV maybe he’s not but if he has a bad game or two he could easily be replaced by any of the upcoming back rowers we have. My point is Hooper’s going to be under a lot of pressure if he’s in the XV or not, sure it might be his spot to lose but he’s got a frenzy of sharks waiting.

        I agree AAA isn’t the ideal option, he’s just the ‘safe choice’ alternative. My pick would be Pete Samu but there are a heap of options that would be better than Hooper.

  • Keith Butler

    Dear Nathan. wTF has Toomua’s marriage split got to do with his rugby performance. Very poor mate.

    • Hoss

      EASSSSYYYYY big fella. I remember after my third wife left me, or was it my second wife leaving me a third time? Anyhow, I recall my first Saturday night out after that I scored two respectable 4’s and a hard won 3, so Matty T is doin all right.

      • Yowie

        Is that out of 10, or 100?

        • Hoss

          10’a are over rated. Give me 5?willings 2’s anytime.

        • Yowie

          It’s handy that ratings go up the more one drinks.

      • Keith Butler

        Sorry Hoss just rubbed me up the wrong way. An irrelevant comment.

  • David G

    The Tah’s were absolutely dominated by the Rebels passion and up-front physicality in the forward pack. Simple as that.

    Hooper has done nothing in the past few games to secure his spot in the Wallabies. It was time to start looking for a new Captain as soon as Cheik left.

    I’m praying that we don’t participate in a competition with the Kiwi’s, for the betterment of the code here. We need to create a more entertaining product on a domestic level, which starts with wins and getting back to enjoying rugby on a fundamental level. Unfortunately the negative psychological impact on both the players and fans from playing the Kiwis of late outweighs the potential growth that occurs when playing at a higher level.

    Once we refine, re-structure and get back to enjoying rugby again we can re-visit joining a competition with the Kiwis. Combine this with their poor attitude (as shown of late), self-righteousness and what I perceive from many of them as joy as our code dis-integrated before their eyes, means they can truly fuck off.

    Last but by no means least, the Fox Sports commentary team NEEDS TO GO. It’s an utter disgrace, I shouldn’t even need to explain why. It’s like everyone at RA forgot that Rugby is a product, and its almost impossible to win over new fans and viewers with commentary like this.

    They current official commenteriat barely describe the technical machinations of the game, such as different team structures, backgrounds of players, key statistics & analysis. They seem to do little to no research prior, are full of negative language and terminology, poor inside jokes, obvious questions of bias, and all exhibit a seeming inability to string a sentence together (no offense Gregan you seem like a genuine nice bloke but I’m tired of being forced to listen to you work through your public speaking speech impediment every weekend).

    We often forget that us rusted on, obsessed Rugby supporters (most of whom played the game) are NOT the demographic we need to be targeting to grow the code. With the current state of play, Rugby is very inaccessible to your average person , and we need to find ways to change this to survive.

  • David G

    The Tah’s were absolutely dominated by the Rebels passion and up-front physicality in the forward pack. Simple as that.

    Hooper has done nothing in the past few games to secure his spot in the Wallabies. It was time to start looking for a new Captain as soon as Cheik left.

    I’m praying that we don’t participate in a competition with the Kiwi’s, for the betterment of the code here. We need to create a more entertaining product on a domestic level, which starts with wins and getting back to enjoying rugby on a fundamental level. Unfortunately the negative psychological impact on both the players and
    fans from playing the Kiwis of late outweighs the potential growth that occurs when playing at a higher level.

    Once we refine,re-structure and get back to enjoying rugby again we can re-visit joining a competition with the Kiwis. Combine this with their poor attitude (as shown of late), self-righteousness and what I perceive from many of them as joy as our code dis-integrated before their eyes, means they can truly get lost.

    Last but by no means least, the Fox Sports commentary team NEEDS TO GO. It’s an utter disgrace, I shouldn’t even need to explain why. It’s like everyone at RA forgot that Rugby is a product, and its almost impossible to win over new fans and viewers with commentary like this.

    They current official commenteriat barely describe the technical machinations of the game, such as different team structures, backgrounds of players, key statistics & analysis. They seem to do little to no research prior, are full of negative language and terminology, poor inside jokes, obvious questions of bias, and all exhibit a seeming inability to string a sentence together (no offense Gregan you seem like a genuine nice bloke and inject better commentary than most but I’m tired of being forced to listen to you work through your public speaking
    speech impediment every weekend).

    We often forget that us rusted on, obsessed Rugby supporters (most of whom played the game) are NOT the demographic we need to be targeting to grow the code. With the current state of play, Rugby is very inaccessible to your average person , and we need to find ways to change this to survive.

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      I don’t think any true rugby supporter in NZ is happy with the problems here. There absolutely is a love/hate relationship and I think at times like this some of the more negative feelings come out. Not sure why and I think it’s stupid. Love a wind up and all but also love my Aussie brothers – for the most part.

  • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

    “They’re trying to split us from Rugby Australia, so we’ll see how they like the same game being played on them.”

    Are there anyone mature enough to put a stop to these games that is going nowhere, damage relationships and wasting time?

  • Hoss

    Evening Ladies & Gents and those from South Australia,

    Point of order to begin with – Lee Majors actually surrendered the Tah’s captaincy at the start of the 2019 season but was noodled out of it by D Gibson and co for ‘stability’ reasons – I know but rich coming from Mr D ‘Passion Fingers’ Gibson but there you go.

    For mine, I didn’t think Hoops should have been captain of the Wallabies at the beginning as I felt there were better candidates available at the time – one Mr Brian Pocock jumps to mind and I thought the smart play from Segall and co would have been a non-NSW player to smooth waters, but then again NSW were the most recent SR Title winning side so…anyway, the captaincy is Hoopers to lose and his form has been good. Yep, few brain farts last round but what 7 doesn’t get penalised – well, yes Richie, but what other 7 don’t get pinged. If he’s doing his job he is in the ball more often and likely to be to the attention of the penguin more often therefore be pinged more often. He is playing tighter this year, has the best engine in world rugby, getting more fruit from turnovers and for mine the gold 7 based on this season so far – mind you McWright on the bench also stirs the loins of this old dog.

    Which leads nicely to the spoiled for choice loosies we have that no one is talking about. Hoops, Samu, Wilson, the forgotten and injured Naisarani, Valentino, Wright, McWright, Swinton (if medicated), Miller, Scott-young, FKA, Dempsey – best depth I can recall whilst sober.

    So, to philosophise a little – fuck NZ, don’t need em, we do however need a ‘package’ to sell to broadcast partners and that must be 10-12 teams for mine, otherwise your peddling a one-owner 76 sigma with dodgy tranny (easy now Yowie !!) and asking top dollar – you get an ‘A’ for ambition but a ‘F-‘ for market awareness.

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      Mate I think Australia and NZ need each other to develop properly. Incest has never bred true and I don’t think it will in rugby either. Got a couple of egos in both camps that need a smack in the head to bring them back to reality. I personally think 5 from each plus 1 Pacific team (whatever that turns out to be) with a home and away set of fixtures plus a bye and some finals would be friggen awesome

      • Hoss

        In a perfect world yes. But with one caveat, for mine there simply HAS to be a Nippon XXIII in it. You can’t grow anything in the shade and that includes rugby. We have a potentially huge market sitting on our doorstep, ignore it at our combined peril I reckon. So 12 is the magic number 5 x Oz, 5 x Middle Earth and either 1 x PI and 1 x Asia or 0 PI and two x Asia.

        • Bernie Chan

          Jettison SAF as they don’t like the time zone changes and travel anyway (so much so the Sunwolves got binned…) and build a proper Pacific comp. Played on a home-and away basis…surely a side in Japan and one Pasifika side based in QLD (we have the warm winters..base them in Townsville or Cairns). Give Twiggy and his mates some skin in the game to shore up the finance side.

        • Hoss

          I concur Mr Chan, I would also go one step further and use the GRR as a ‘tier 2’ comp for promo and relegation each year. Grow the game by developing a second level, leave interest in the comp all year – Just as exciting for bottom 2 or 3 as is for top two or three – if not more so. Means teams have to keep playing for the year to avoid relo.

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          Yeah I agree with that. In fact I like the idea of a couple of Nippon teams and then having each team allowed up to 4 or 5 PI players that are not allowed to be selected for any team other than their national team. I think this would work better than trying to organize a PI team and having to put in place all the governance and controls required plus try and manage the different nationalities, culture and bias that exists if you have a mixed team. That’s just a disaster in waiting

      • Patrick

        I actually don’t mind, from a purely selfish perspective, NZ going it alone. Mainly for all the reasons you say :)

    • Yowie

      i know better than to comment on the internet about trans issues.

  • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

    How good is NZ Aotearoa. Any team can win on the day, the quality of rugby is top notch, it is a full home and away competition and the games are so physical that the winner will probably be the last team standing…. The team that walks away with the title will rightfully walk away with serious bragging rights winning a competition with integrity.

    How different is Superugby AU? The Brumbies is going through the motions to win it. Teams like the Force and Rebels will not play a single game at home, the draw is unfair as the weakest team gets one less bye and the shortest number of days between games. The winner will be the best team in Australia, however will not have the prestige that the NZ winner will have. It is the best we can do under the circumstances.

    I am afraid the same fate is awaiting the Rugby Championship. All games will be played in NZ and become All Black home games. The Boks and Argentina are unlikely to have played any rugby as Currie Cup rugby will not kick off while COVID-19 is spreading like an Australian bushfire in South Africa. The winner has been decided before the competition started as the playing ground is so uneven. The victory will be hollow and supporters anticipating another titanic struggle between the Boks and All Blacks will have to wait another year until the teams can compete on an equal footing. We live in strange times and that is the best we can do at the moment… I

    The Superugby AU competition however illustrates that a competitions with little integrity is better than none…

Rugby
@NathW1997

Loved rugby since the day I could remember, got the nickname Footy to show that, I watch Matt Dunning's dropkick every night before going to bed

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