This is the Tuesday Top 10, the weekly column where I make your dreams come true. That is, if you dream only of second-rate analysis and fairly lame jokes.
10. I’m struggling for motivation this week. I don’t quite know why, but the current hypothesis at the moment is I’m getting a bit tired of Super Rugby. My Waratahs are failing, and whilst the other Aussie teams are travelling nicely (bar the Force) I can’t help getting a little sick of it all. If only there was some sort of break, a ‘window’ if you will, where we can take some time off from Super Rugby and watch, say, some cracking test footy against visiting nations. Oh, what’s that you say…
9. With JOC out and QC unlikely (for the first few tests at least) the test side seems to be coming together. Or so you would think. Everyone has their opinion on the XV we should be picking, and in my opinion there are only a few positions still up for grabs in that side. But don’t expect that side to feature until at least the second week of June. The shemozzle that has been created by scheduling a Tuesday game against Scotland means that we will see both XV’s in the first week be ragtag mobs made up of a couple of Super teams each (Reds and Force on the Tuesday, Tahs, Brumbies and Rebels on the Saturday). Hopefully we can chalk up a couple of wins before we can get the settled XV on the park the following week.
8. One position that is still up for grabs in the Wallaby side is tighthead prop. In my view this is a two-way race between Sekope Kepu and James Slipper. However knowing Robbie’s tendency to pick players out of position we could get Ben Alexander, Pat McCabe or Salesi Ma’afu fronting up in the 3 jersey. Plus a few blokes in the forum are throwing Dan Palmer’s name into the hat as well. In my opinion Palmer is still a year away from a gold jersey. His workrate just isn’t high enough, and contrary to popular opinion he is not yet the best scrummager we have- you only have to have seen the Waratahs demolition of the Stormers scrum to get your answer there. If I had the choice I’d pick Kepu. Sure he didn’t perform brilliantly last season, but he was playing out of position at loosehead. He has been stellar this year for the Tahs at 3. But who will Robbie go with? God knows. I just hope whoever it is is a specialist tighthead.
7. The Reds vs Brumbies game promises to be the Aussie derby of the season. Alexander vs Slipper. Simmons and Horwill against Carter and Fardy. Hooper vs Gill. Auleau vs Higgers. White vs Genia. QC vs Holmes. Ioane vs Speight. Harris vs McCabe. Smith vs Faingaa. If you are within 100km of Canberra and are not at this game then give yourself an uppercut. It’s the plucky battlers of 2012 against the plucky battlers of 2011. For the record I’m tipping the Brumbies but it will be super tight.
6. The matchup I am most looking forward to is surely Hooper vs Gill. Both have been in titanic form, and our 7 stocks are the envy of every other nation. Certainly one or both will have a Wallaby cap or two to their name by the end of June. And one player who you haven’t been hearing much about? David Pocock. He has been out of sorts lately, and was again oddly quiet against the Rebels. Is the burden of leadership weighing him down? I don’t think so, as he was in cracking form early in the year. I would put money on him having his mojo back the minute he puts on the gold jersey- he is too classy not to.
5. When Christian Lealiifano went down all looked lost for the Brumbies. Well, sort of. Sure they were still a good side without him but with no experienced back-up surely the attack would lose a large part of it’s engine. Well what difference 80 minutes can make. Zack ‘Sherlock’ Holmes looked assured under pressure, taking his options well and challenging the line himself when the opportunity arose. A great advertisement for both the Aussie 7s program and the Shute Shield, where Sherlock has been plying his trade for Norths. I can’t wait to see how he goes against Quade this weekend.
4. The standard of Sunday’s game was pretty low. Most of the tries were as a result of soft missed tackles, and the Force will be kicking themselves after letting yet another game get away from them. The Rebels just out-enthused them in almost every facet of the game, and it is a very worrying sign for the Westerners. Alfie Mafi was one of the only players to really get stuck in, Pek Cowan was pretty good as well. But the Rebels were up everywhere else. Something radical is needed to lift this Force team out of the doldrums, and surely the announcement of a new coach is imminent. They need an experienced head to come in and steer the ship, as it seems to be veering way off course at the moment.
3. But what of the 3rd tier you ask? Well from a Sydney perspective you wouldn’t want any more than what the first six rounds of the Shute Shield have delivered. The comp is the closest it has been in years, with a few unfancied teams putting in good efforts against hotshot opposition. Specifically the mighty Parramatta Two Blues, who continue to trouble the big boys of the competition after being so woeful just two seasons ago and seemingly on the brink of collapse. The game needs strong teams int he West of Sydney, and the Two Blues and Emus must be included in any future revised comp. Get down and watch them take on Gordon at Chatswood this Saturday, or tune in to the ABC if you can’t get to the ground.
2. I suppose I should say something about the Tahs. They weren’t too bad against the Stormers, just like they weren’t too bad against the Bulls. And the Crusaders. And the Chiefs. And the Highlanders. And the Reds. But like last week they were killed by indiscipline. You just can’t give away penalties inside your own half against quality Saffa opposition. So a brickbat to Dean Mumm and Rocky Elsom, both of whom transgressed on multiple occasions. I desperately hope now they will start playing like a team that has nothing to lose, a la the Wallabies in the 3rd place playoff at the World Cup. Come on boys, let the ball sing!
1. You have to tip your hat to Brad Thorn after Leinster took out the Heineken Cup last weekend. The bloke has now won a World Cup, Heineken Cup, four Tri-Nations, five Bledisloes, a Super Rugby title, four NRL premierships and four State of Origin series. What a freak. Word on the street is he is already training for his next trophy- the 2013 Melbourne Cup, where he is expected to carry 56kg and start a short priced favourite.
Did I miss anything?