The Tuesday Top 5 - Green and Gold Rugby
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The Tuesday Top 5

The Tuesday Top 5

Welcome to the post-Easter edition of the Top 5. Thankfully the focus was back on the rugby this weekend, with some cracking games. This we take a bit of a look at where the Wallabies could be heading, question some decisions that have been made and give you some of the usual stuff too.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Good – Wins in South Africa are not easy to come by. I even read one comment saying that the Rebels losses over there can almost be written off, as it’s more than likely most Aussie teams will have the same fate. So for not one but two teams to get wins in South Africa in the same round is great for Aussie rugby. I believe that the last time that happened was in 2006. As an added bonus, it really pissed off the South Africans!

Bad – If you didn’t know, it was wet in Sydney. Really wet apparently. The commentators made sure to mention it …. About a thousand times!! Every time someone dropped the ball – “It’s dewy out there tonight” then five minutes later “That wet ball is giving them trouble”. The funny thing was, from all reports it didn’t rain in Sydney on Saturday. So where did all the talk of it being wet come from? I get that the ground can get dewy (I believe that is one of Kafer’s favourite topics) but they were talking as if there had been a significant downpour. But worse than that, why can’t the players handle a damp ball? Have they never played in the rain? Have they never encountered a dewy pitch in all their years playing rugby? It may have been wet, but I wish the commentators would stop using that as an excuse for their poor ball control.

Ugly – Back to injuries, the Brumbies look set to lose Josh Mann-Rae for the season with a serious, and very possibly a career ending knee injury. I’ve spoken to Bongo many times over recent years and he is a great guy, it would be such a shame for his career to end in this way. As disappointed as I am about Mann-Rae, I am bloody angry about the other injury news from the Brumbies, which is that Pocock STILL hasn’t fully recovered from his calf injury. The injury that was initially picked up during pre-season Wallabies camp. The camp where players were made to do sprints after the Christmas break, before they were fully conditioned and instead of being with their teammates getting fit for the season.

Brumbies Lions

 

Report Card

Rebels D: For the second week in a row the Rebels attacking backline failed to fire. Meakes’ try came after some solid work in the 22 by the forwards and Hodge looked to be let through by the Tahs defence, but they again really didn’t look that threatening with ball in hand. Once again poor discipline that cost the Rebels, something I have been saying a lot recently. Some of the players showed a lack of ability in the thinking area too, with 40 seconds left on the clock and trailing by 3 points, Ruru put up a very poor box kick which the chaser couldn’t get to. One of the basics of rugby – you can’t score if you don’t have the ball. They were only let off because the Waratahs knocked it on.

Waratahs C+: The Waratahs got the win, but in a lot of areas they didn’t really outshine the Rebels. They were stronger with ball in hand and looked more dangerous, but I wouldn’t call it convincing. If I told someone who didn’t know much about rugby that these were the top two Aussie teams, it wouldn’t have painted a good picture for the game. Handling was a bit of an issue for the Tahs as well as the Rebels (but only because it was wet apparently), but when it counted their “star” players stood up higher than those of the Rebels.

Mauling Waratahs v Rebels 2019 (Credit Keith McInnes)

 

Reds A-: The Reds had the Sharks on the back foot right from the outset with a quick try. They were helped out by the Sharks appalling handling, but that doesn’t take away from the great game by the Reds. McDermott again showed why people are talking about him as a future Wallaby, he is quick and snipey with ball in hand (but 5 tackles and 4 missed tackles dampens that a bit) and controls the play well. The Reds had a good tackle rate, were disciplined when it counted and scored some very well worked tries.

Brumbies A: I gave the Brumbies a slight edge over the Reds purely based on their defensive effort. It was massive! They won the game with only 34% possession and even less territory, looking dangerous nearly every time they actually had the ball. Some poor options didn’t help, a terrible pass from Christian Lealiifano nearly led to a try after it was intercepted and they got a little lucky that the Stormers kept refusing to take shots at goal from penalties. But they finally showed that they can play a whole game and not capitulate when things get tough.

Wallaby RDO’s

Let’s see how our minute tracker is going after this week. TK is still leading the way, with Kerevi and Banks close behind. It will be interesting to see how things change in the second half of the season.

This week we had a number of Wallabies stand up to be noticed, though they aren’t the big names you’d expect. The entire Brumbies front row matched wit with an all Springbok front row, Banks showed the talent we know he is capable of, Rodda put in another huge shift, Kerevi had another good one and Joe Powell really stood out for the second week in a row. For a number 9 to make 14 tackles in a match shows he can defend as well as run the attack. That’s three more tackles in 60 minutes as the other three starting scrum halves made combined.

Blotted his copy book – Coleman didn’t have much impact in this match. He looked tired at the end, barely making it to a jog for the last couple of minutes and the lack of urgency with which he went after the loose ball at the end was terrible. He casually bent down to pick it up while Hooper and Miller raced out to dive on the ball. I understand that he was probably exhausted, but if that’s the case perhaps Wessels should have looked at bringing him off.

Mixed bag – Foley had a very hit and miss match. He started terribly with two touch finders missing the mark completely, but he came back and did what he needed to do. It wasn’t a brilliant flashy performance, it rarely is from Foley, but he showed more composure when it counted than his counterpart did.

One player I do want to add into the Wallaby conversation in Rory Arnold. He is having a very good season, and his match against the Stormers put him head and shoulders above some of his rivals. He made a HUGE 24 tackles, disrupted plenty of rolling mauls, charged down a kick and scored a try and offloaded like a back to set up another. Surely Cheika and co can’t ignore a performance like that, especially when our preferred starting lock was basically walking at the end of the match, while after playing a full 80 Arnold was still giving it his all.

When it comes to the Wallabies and the “others” conversation there comes a point where it’s justifiable that you end up segueing into whether the Wallabies train will make it to Tokyo for the RWC without derailing on the way. It is hard to ignore that beyond the trees, just over the horizon can we see the flickering of distant lightning flashes. We can even hear the distant rumble; but we choose to ignore it hoping it will pass us by. Stepping back and objectively examining what arguably should be a successful weekend for Aussie Rugby it’s hard to feel convinced that collectively we have enough of anything that we can cobble into a consistently competitive team. Sure, we might be able to put together a decent team on paper, but even accepting that is accurate, beyond the first 15 the depth question is glaring. Especially when it comes to key positions like hooker, flyhalf and inside centre.

Bernard Foley contests ball with Quade Cooper Waratahs v Rebels 2019 (Credit Keith McInnes)

The performances over the weekend really highlighted some deficiencies. The Brumbies won on good defence but the question of why they struggled to get out of their 22 is an elephant in the room. They suffered the same issue last season and it’s still not rectified. The Rebels still can’t stop imploding once they are put under pressure. I believe it’s also fair to say that the backline that RA bought and bolted on the old Force team to make it competitive has not fixed the performance issues. Like that Ferrari you can’t really afford, while its blowing away the Datsun 180B’s at the lights and looking the goods, once the traffic gets heavy, conditions aren’t perfect or the 180B turns out to be a Porsche or AMG Merc, it’s quickly put away in the garage to “protect” it just like a show pony.  As for the Tahs, although they got it together in the second half, it certainly didn’t instil a sense of confidence in that performance nor mitigate the fact that the execution of basic fundamentals and maintaining focus at times seem to be a challenge to them.

The Reds did well against a really, really poor Sharks team. Kudos for getting the win away but with the Sharks being so poor, the Reds should be concerned by the skinny winning margin considering the Sharks were making fair effort to lose the game.

On top of all the Aussie teams underperforming, we can’t ignore the “Izzy” issue that will now drag on to May at least. How destabilising and how much damage it could do is still unknown. The distraction is the other issue. With the “Izzy” saga a hot media topic and a contentious social issue the conversations are being diverted away from the game but not in a good way, nor far enough away.

Then we have the Wallabies coaching saga slowly simmering away in the background. A clueless Cheika’s experimenting on lower skilled Colts players to help him with a game plan. All of this while the Wallabies are still without an attack coach.

Oh, but wait, there’s more. Injuries. We saw Genia taken off on the weekend after getting crunched, we have Pocock still suffering the consequences of the Wallabies new fitness regime and players still need to get through another half season of Super Rugby yet.

Between the Aussie teams performance issues, impending Wallabies selection pantomime, Wallabies coaching gaps, the potential of injuries (and the Wallabies strength and conditioning program potentially being a risk to players!) and the “Izzy” saga to play out, all while RA is trying to renew sponsors and workout the future of Super Rugby, it’s all the elements one would want if you were writing an over the top soap opera or producing a reality show.

The Wallabies getting to the RWC 2019 in reasonable shape could be a victory in itself. Let alone actually getting out on the field and performing.

Whoops! Did they shoot the cash cow?

It is really hard to miss the irony when you see the media reports about the biggest Super Rugby crowd so far this season. 27K+ rabid Moondog fans turned out on the weekend to support their soon the be extinct team.

Apparently bums on seats is important to the financial viability of Aussie teams, so we keep getting told. So when you look at the recent reporting around the axing of the Sunwolves, and read that they draw some of the biggest crowds when they play here in Australia it does raise questions about the decision to cut them. The proposed  new round robin competition will see less home games for Aussie rugby teams so when you take out a team that draws large crowds it makes no financial sense.

Now, I could be well off the mark here, but I believe that some of the rational from SANZAAR was that the still to be ratified “World League” would provide the additional revenue to compensate. With the “World League” on thin ice and Moondogs attracting crowds of 27K+ and with room to grow its supporter base post RWC 2019 that’s being held in Japan, someone other than SANZAAR is going to make some decent money out of the carcass of the Moondogs post 2020.

I can’t help but wonder if both the NZRU and RA now having second thoughts and wondering if they have accidently shot their cash cow. The revenue from bums on seats is one thing, but those companies that are willing to kick in sponsorship dollars also like bums on seats and eyes on TV’s. Right now Aussie teams have Japanese linked sponsorships but how long will it last when the Sunwolves are reincarnated and their supporters pack has no interest in Super Rugby?

What is odd, and it’s certainly a way of hedging your bets, is that many of the Japanese rugby teams have signed agreements with NZ Super rugby teams. At this point I haven’t heard if any Aussie teams have managed to partner up, but most likely we are late to the party again; or are we? There is hope that Global Rapid Rugby might be the new kennel for the Moondogs in the future but there is nothing formalised yet.

I can’t help but have a chuckle to myself as I write. Crowds of 27k+ are like a fantasy come true for Aussie rugby. Crowds that size being the atmosphere that attract people to our game and it’s what we desperately need.

Great stock shot!

Great stock shot!

But in the same thought process I look at the number, 27K and think, not many years ago that was a good crowd in Canberra, healthy for Sydney, and average crowd in Brisbane.

Alas, what Super Rugby bringeth, it has taken away more. But I fear those who make the decisions may again be ruing another ill-considered decision due to the lure of what they thought was more easy quick cash.

Our Picks

Try of the week: This may not be the flashiest try, but it shows how an accurate kick in attack can be a deadly weapon. I hope the Aussie 10’s study this move, no speculation involved, a pure kick pass.

Forwards being backs: After Folau Fianga’a showing the way last week, this week a number of forwards have jumped on the bandwagon.

First up, Warren Whitely channelling his inner fly half.

via GIPHY

Next, Tom Cusack putting in a clearing kick. I think his motivation for this kick was that he was sick of tackling. Seriously, he looks buggered!

via GIPHY

Finally, the tallest forward of them all offloading and spinning out of tackles like a winger.

via GIPHY

via GIPHY

Try saver of the week: While I could pick any number of tackles from the Brumbies v Stormers match, I went with this one from the recent Women’s Sevens in Kitakyushu. Everything about this is just awesome to watch.

 

  • paul

    Super Rugby will ultimately be the death of the game here as a major sporting code, it is completely compromised beyond any ability to grow the game at a domestic level in this country.
    But nothing will change as we neither have the leadership willing to make the sacrifice needed for change or more sadly a fan base willing enough to demand change.

    • Huw Tindall

      Got a solution to bridge the TV rights income gap between what we have now and some future imagined competition that will support itself?

      • paul

        Yes, its called reality. My point was the code here has never been prepared to make the collective sacrifices to grow the game so that imaginary competition can become reality.

        So lets just keep paying the $million salaries to all those in the so called rugby tent, and get the money from where, because that’s what we have right now.

        My question is where is all that TV rights income going, is the game growing here, are the crowds turning up, are they watching it on Fox.

        Where has all that TV money gone that you so crave as irreplaceable.

      • Pearcewreck

        No, not short term.
        Maybe long term, but it will be all too hard.
        By about say 2027, there will be no more professional rugby in Aust.

    • Pearcewreck

      Yep, Super Rugby is buggered.
      How can any sport have as a Flagship Competition, one that has 73% of teams based overseas?
      That has 33% of matches played on the other side of the world.
      That has 25% of matches played at 2am in the morning.
      That has all games played on a TV channel that only 25% of the population has access too.
      Where the nearest teams to each other are 3 1/2 hours drive away from each other.

      You could not design a worse competition when comes to creating public interest.

      Yet, Raelene and before her Bill, and before him John, just ride the gravy train of self interest.
      Nothing will change as the sport sinks further into irrelevance.

      • From NooZealand

        How true and how sad. Never thought of those well mention points.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Mate the NRC has the potential to be the equivalent of the Mitre10 in NZ or Currie Cup in SA if the state organisations came on board.

      • Who?

        Exactly. But instead, the NSWRU has done all it can to undermine it, and the SRU considers itself to be superior to the NRC (in spite of the fact that it’s an amateur competition with zero Super players, where the NRC has over 50% of the Super players involved), and constantly tells everyone in NSW that’s the situation.
        Typical self-important behaviour from the same elbow-patch wearers who run (and ruin) everything for their own benefit.

  • Who?

    MST’s, I can’t help but think you’ve got something personal against Cooper.

    It wasn’t a brilliant flashy performance, it rarely is from Foley, but he showed more composure when it counted than his counterpart did.

    I’m not sure either of them had a chance to show composure, the ref just kept whistling. And playing the ball desperately on the ground isn’t exactly showing composure (from Foley).
    I’m not saying that Cooper outplayed Foley, I just think their play was completely overshadowed by a refereeing performance that took all flow and options out of the game. The Rebels had very little possession and even less territory in the second half (I think they only got inside the Tahs’ 10m line once, which was when Foley played the ball on the ground) – it’s tough to judge a backs’ composure when they don’t see the ball. Though he did make a couple of great tackles on Foketi.
    Similarly, I don’t think Foley can be marked down. Because in spite of a glut of possession and territory, there was no flow to the game, Foley didn’t have much chance to marshal his team as the whistle just kept blowing. He kicked all his points (as did Cooper – only miss on the night was Hodge from long range), but the backline didn’t look threatening, and I don’t recall them seeing much ball. It stayed tight, then got dropped, or the Rebels got penalized, or it was kicked. An intercept try off an overthrown lineout is hardly the sort of thing to split performances by 10’s.
    .
    If that was the game to pick the Australian 10, then we need a replay, because neither of them had any opportunity – opportunity to shine, or even opportunity to fail. It was a game where neither player really deserved comment, and neither won (in spite of the mainstream press’ typically worthless estimation of the game).
    .
    For what it’s worth, I completely agree with your rating of the performances. Just wish you’d thrown Murphy in there with a D, too. I don’t think anyone was happy with that performance, and not (just) because he reffed equally, or equally poorly. Amazing how you can have one game finish 17-23 and another finish 23-20 and the wider margin was the more entertaining game.

    • Ian

      Toomua….

      Case Closed.

      • Who?

        I advocated for Toomua at 10 last year, everyone seems to have forgotten he can play 10. And when he finally got there, didn’t he still have Foley alongside him..? He wasn’t great, but I also think he wasn’t given a decent shot at it.
        .
        Point is, though, Foley can’t be praised for his performance and Cooper can’t be described as lacking composure when the game was so disrupted that neither had a chance to show composure.

        • Ian

          Agree completely, he had passable games at 10 last year with the compromise of Foley in the centres.

          Truth is, he came from club to international, and looked “okay” with some really bad cattle around him. He directed the team well (enough) and clearly got more out of the squad than cooper and Foley did.

          Add in some time, and a decent combo of players outside him, and I think he is simply so much more a complete player than the other two. The best kicker out of them all, faster to set the line than Foley, less risky than Cooper, calmer than Cooper, Doesn’t sulk unlike Foley.

          Jees, imagine if we had Nic White and Toomua as our 9 / 10 combo, as long as the scrum was good and our breakdown clean, our play of the ball would be break neck fast.

        • Who?

          Toomua threw a 25m pass direct to touch last year… Not sure I can be certain he’s less risky than Cooper.
          Further, Cooper’s not played a (full) game for the Wallabies since 2016, where he similarly had Foley outside him. He was considered ineligible last year, was required to ‘enjoy his rugby’ in 2017…
          It’ll be interesting what Wessells does in June. Who plays 10?
          Honestly, we could do worse than Cooper at 10 and Toomua at 12…

        • Ian

          *pointless fanboying*

          Chance Peni would have been there to catch it if on the pitch.

        • Brumby Runner

          Was a great combo on the EOYT some years ago.

          Nevertheless, I do think Matt was more effective at 10 than Foley was last year. It is certainly a handicap to both Matt and Quade to have Bernard at 12, but that’s the way a sulky Cheika plays the game with his selections.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          I still think Toomua can’t be run on. He’s just not needed that bad and he’s not that good to force himself onto the field at all costs! A bench spot to me would be absolutely perfect! Cooper at 10 with Big dangerous centres outside him would be lethal! Then when Quade chokes or fails under pressure like we keep getting told is inevitable… ..even tho I haven’t seen it. … then Toomua is still their to settle the ship!

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Interesting how it was Toomua at 10 and Liallifano at 12. I’d definitely like to see a backline of:
          9. Genia
          10. Toomua
          11. Maddox
          12. Kerevi
          13. Keredrani
          14. Hodge
          15. DHP

        • Who?

          I’ve long wanted to see Cooper-Kerevi-TK at 10/12/13. Toomua at 10 with those centres would be my second choice 10/centres combination. Then it’s just a matter of figuring out the wingers and 15 (those you’ve picked aren’t bad, but aren’t miles ahead of the alternatives in my mind – neither Maddocks nor Hodge are specialist wingers, DHP’s a bit slow, though at least all 3 can kick).

      • Mart

        I was out on Toomua cause he’s not here But Him at 10 and Kerevi 12 could be awesome

    • MST

      No actually Who, quite the opposite when it comes to QC we must confess. One of the Mst’s (I won’t say which one of us she is!) was hoping that the return of QC would depose Foley as the Wallibies 10. We try to be honest and objective and right now it’s disappointing that what we are seeing suggest to us that QC under pressure is not performing. This may not be all down to him. Personally we would love to see Foley pushed so his selection is not a foregone conclusion and we have some options at 10.

      BTW, I don’t see Toomua as an option @10 as based on previous conversations with him, 10 is certainly not a position he favors.

      • RedAnt

        It’s hard when Toomua is a brilliant No. 12… but a better No. 10 than either Foley or QC!

      • GO THE Q REDS

        “Quade cooper under pressure is not performing”……
        I’d love to hear you expand that thought as in my mind it makes zero sense. Very much inline with WHOs comments, the last 2 games have not been games where 10s shine. Predominately forwards rugby obviously negates their ability to impact the game more. Now on balance Quade is WAAY ahead of Foley with the 1st 5rounds leaving Quade as the form 10 in the whole comp.
        I allready did a comprehensive list of Quade and Foleys impact involvements from that game…. and I’m terribly sorry but a lucky bounce/try from an over thrown lineout and a equally lucky left foot kick were literally the only good impacts Foley had in that game!
        Nontheless I’d be keen on exactly how such a person as yourself… with such prime access to sway the masses…… convinces me (and everyone one else who reads your work) that “Quade is not handling the pressure”
        Because I see Quade doing his job well. . .the coaches way!

        • IIPA

          Funny someone over at the Roar measured all involvements, Foley had more good/neutral involvements and less negative involvements.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Measured against himself or Quades effort? I assume they are including the goal kicking duties? …

        • Who?

          He was also rated as having a good second half behind a dominant pack, when the only dominant force in the second half was Damon Murphy’s whistle. He mentioned the Rebels had terrible discipline, but didn’t mention that Foley’s biggest positive involvement in the second half beyond his goal kicks and intercept was the (undoubtedly not counted) moment he played the ball on the ground (so much for composure).
          He’s listed Foley as having 46 involvements against Cooper’s 44, admitted that a number of Cooper’s involvements were at scrumhalf (especially late when Ruru got crunched – I’m wondering if this is a Wessels tactic, that the 10 steps in when the 9’s out of the game – can’t recall Cooper doing it much previously, normally you’d get an opportunity for props like Fat Cat or Slipper to show their passing game in that situation). I’d love to see some tackle stats – I looked at ESPN, and the numbers just don’t seem credible (one lineout won to Cooper, none to Foley?! Foley making 9 tackles to Cooper’s mere 6, when the Rebels defended almost the entire second half..?).

        • GO THE Q REDS

          OK so I had a look at their site and I could tell the figures would be questionable as soon as I saw the attention whoreing headline! “Foley deals knockout blow to Cooper”!
          Now don’t take my word for it go double check but they were extremely innacurate. They imply Foley makes 4 negative errors only! Straight up there was the 2 dodgy penalty line kicks, a charge down, a horrible pass out to 3 unmarked teammates, multiple deep kicks directly into Rebels hands, 2 weird flick passes between the legs…. one nearly intercepted, the other put big pressure on the outside players. He also made to kick an exit kick out and wiffed a chip kick in the Rebels 22 of the side of his boot straight to the FB uncontested. That’s just of the top of my head which without reading the rest of that poorly titled article makes a mockery of the baseline they’re using to develop their fantasy novel.. ….

  • Ian

    I am as frustrated by Pococks injury as anyone, but, we cannot start whinging about players being injured in training, even if just after Christmas, especially Pocock. I mean have you seen the bloke? He probably cooked two turkeys on Cristmas just so he could do bicep curls with them over dinner.

    They are professional athletes, and recently the Wallabies have had a massive issue with fitness, As an athlete, you don’t get the luxury of an off-season fat-fest. The expectation is that they are in their peak from the start of the season, not for the last 4 games, when it no longer matters. Australian teams are much fitter this year, and it is showing. We are always going to get injuries, and it sucks that Pocock is injured, but in reality, if Rugby Aus were a little wiser about who they threw their faith behind, we should in reality have ready replacements in Sean McMahon and Liam Gill. But we do not,

    and that really s#!ts me off!

    • Who?

      Agreed that we should have LFG and Sean McMahon still in the country, but if you think Pocock had a ‘fat-fest’, then you’re kidding. Look at the guys who were injured – it wasn’t ‘just’ Pocock. It was also DHP (someone who always looks to have kept himself in good condition), Adam Coleman, and Nick Phipps. Phipps took over a month to get back on the field. I don’t think anyone has ever questioned his commitment to fitness.
      .
      The reason why they pinged their calves (all four of them) was that there were squad members who failed their fitness tests (which didn’t include those four guys), and so the whole group was given extras. So you’re complaining that there’s unfit guys, then you’re ok when four of the fit guys get overextended and injured, while the unfit guys continue to be unfit (Latu’s apparently in shape now, thanks to 8 weeks off suspended).
      .
      And no sports scientist would expect players to be in peak condition at the start of the season. It’s about workload management, about having rest periods as well as work periods. You’re talking about guys who have a 10 month high contact season. 2 months, it’s barely enough time to have a ‘fat-fest’, it’s just enough time to stretch out the muscles and give them time to heal from 10 months of impact damage. Then pre-season (which is always abbreviated for our top Wallabies, which isn’t healthy).
      Perhaps we need a sports scientists’ opinion (where’s Dylan when you need him?!).

      • Ian

        Well,

        If you want to compromise the workload, you need to compromise your ambitions. Phipps is a notorious whinger, he had a whinge, cause he loves it (remember he wears 9 for a reason), so I would not trust Phipps account on him getting picked on because others had not put in the effort.

        I listened to that interview where he had a whinge, and it made me want to slap him. What he said was the complete antithesis of team spirit, squawking that he tries harder than others and is fitter than others, a bloody terrible attitude to have. Even if true, you use that knowledge to lift your team mates, not to have a whinge about being punished for the team not being to the expected level. “One in, all in” has been the catch cry of rugby for a hundred years, not “why do I have to?”.

        I think you think that I think Pocock had a fat fest, If you think I think that, I think you are kidding yourself.

        • Who?

          The way you wrote, it sounded as though you thought Pocock had turned up in poor condition. I don’t see how any of those guys would be likely to do that.
          .
          ‘One in, all in’ might be a good motto in general, but here it’s clearly cost RA significantly. The question is simple – was the workload appropriate? Cheika said the Roosters were doing the same thing, but the Roosters’ season finished in early October. The Wallabies’ season finished over 1.5 months later, and it started a full month earlier. If you’ve run 30 players through a drill, and then 4 of the fittest are injured (so, a sample size of over 10%), clearly you’ve messed up.

    • MST

      At least four of our fittest Wallibies were injured at a Wallibies pre-season training camp. Now consider that one of the key issues in rugby that has even featured in the World League conversations is managing player workload and ensuring suffirng rest time. The NZRU enforce a mandatory six week break to protect their players and ensure sufficient time for recovery. Cheika seems to be ignorant to the player workload conversation. I would also ask the question if his fitness regime was aligned with the regimes the players were on that is set by their SR teams. At the end of the day Cheik’s approach seems at odds with the contemporary practice to player welfare management and we ended up with injured players, at least one is still struggling to overcome their injury.

    • Sam

      I recently had a chat with the conditioning coach from a highly successful team from the code that kicks the ball a lot (also happens to be a sport scientist). He said that some literature is starting to come out how too much heavy weights training is leading to an increase in soft tissue damage when the muscle is then placed under fatigue from cardio activities – i.e. running. This sounds like a pretty good theory for Pocock – he looks like weights are his thing!!! He also said way too much time is spend in gyms with controlled strengthening rather than more dynamic activities that also build cardio. I think the Aussie players get gym fit but are not Rugby fit like other countries (cough… NZ)

      • GO THE Q REDS

        Yep that’s always bugged me in my mind also! It makes sense to be out running on uneven grass paddocks if you want true conditioning. Not dead flat gym rooms or tread mills. All those tiny little muscle reflex memory used in stabilizing muscles can only be built up on a rugby field. Not in a lab!
        Perfect eg is if I was the teams place kicker…id want the whole team screaming an yelling at me in training every kick….. not peace n quiet!

      • Who?

        He’s likely not wrong, but I can’t imagine that Nick Phipps – who also pinged his calf – is the king of the leg press…
        It’s worth noting that Sir Richie loved running, always did lots more running than the average flanker.

        • From NooZealand

          Dear Mr Who,
          The big plus for the ABs is Mr Cheika; as long as he is the coach; it won’t make much difference the training methods that the Boys in Gold have / apply. Sad really.

        • Who?

          Agreed, but that doesn’t mean he has to ruin everyone else’s chances by injuring key players for the Super season…
          Hey, the ABs need a new coach from next year – maybe you could take him for us? :-P

        • From NooZealand

          HI, maybe not the Flying Nuns, but there is kindy around here that needs a clown. ((:))

        • Greg

          He had to be a good runner. no point arriving the wrong side of the ruck too late!

        • Sam

          Nick Phipps is actually one of the guys that does the most gym time. Used to be a very hand mid/long distance runner (and a little cox in the rowing team) but had to spend a lot of time in the gym to bulk up enough for international footy – now spends a lot of time there.

      • From NooZealand

        I would tend to agree because Wayne Smith was appalled at the time the English rugby players spent at the gym doing weights.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Mate I think the issue is more that with all the science behind conditioning and getting players up to speed, Cheika decides he knows better and pulls out a stupid session that injures players because they weren’t ready for it. Seeing how Pocock plays he would have given it 100% and then gets injured. It beggars belief that the coach of the Wallabies, with all the resources available would be so fucken stupid and even worse have no consequences for his stupidity

      • Brisneyland Local

        Again no consequence. Fuck! It sounds like the public service.
        He is head coach, leave S&C to the professionals. Not the amatuer Ass Clowns!

        • Patrick

          Also leave head coach to the professionals please

        • Brisneyland Local

          Yep! So agree with that!

  • RedAnt

    Think an A- for the Reds is a little generous. The Sharks turned down kickable penalties in the first half and completely butchered at least three tries… and none of them were due to pressure from the Reds. But a B or B+ for the grit and determination they showed, for sure.

    I really don’t know what to make of the Tahs vs Rebels game. Painful to watch. Way, way too much kicking from both sides’ halves pairings. Clearly the instructions to both teams were to play for territory but at what point do you go, ‘well this ain’t working, maybe we should try something a little different’?

  • ALJ

    Cusack is more effective at clearing out of the 22 than the entire Brumbies back line

    • Pearcewreck

      You mis-spelt Foley.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Gold

  • Brumby Runner

    Thanks MSTs. A lot of excellent articles, issues and observations in this weeks’ offering.

    Some very good performances by Brumbies against the Stormers. Who could be faulted in a game that required 226 tackles and yet still take the win? Standouts were Arnold and Powell; very promising effort by Brown; and good improvement by Kuridrani and Banks. Everyone else did their jobs and more.

    In the earlier game at the SCG, I found it totally irritating that the commentary team kept on about the dew and the wet ball. Neither side played good. The amount of kicking was completely over done and skills otherwise were in short supply. A most disappointing and depressing game.

  • formerflanker

    From the “I remember the days when…” file.
    Wet days – players stand closer together so short passes with a wet ball can be successful.
    A modern rugby ball should be easy to pass short no matter what the weather – or climate – or dew – or sprinklers – etc.

    • Brisneyland Local

      Couldnt agree more. Synthetic balls do not have the issues that those soapy leather balls we used to play with! They were shite!
      In this case these players are shite!

  • GO THE Q REDS

    Your Try of the Week and the point on “accurate” attacking kicks from our Aussie 10s is a bug bear of mine. I’d be confident in saying there hasn’t been a game so far this year were Quade Cooper hasn’t put in a perfectly timed cross field attacking kick! This weekend Cooper timed a lovely kick over to Korreibetti in space who ran up field for some easy metres on attack! Only 2 weeks ago I was arguing at the very point you make being a huge Foley issue! This weekend he proved it again with a dodgy attacking kick that went sailing directly into the hands of the Rebels defenders standing in goal! He also had advantage to make it worse. Not worse that he had advantage to try something risky… worse in that he had basically a no pressure play hot in the red zone and he spanked it off his boot!

  • Wallabrumby

    Some interesting points regarding Form players at the moment. I agree Coleman inst looking strong at the moment and plenty of competition in the row. Rodda & Arnold are my picks to start, with the likes of Coleman, Lukan (insert new name here) and Philipps as the backups.

    One player who I just dont understand is Koroibete – for all his apparent wonder i have not seen him do anything amazing in Super Rugby yet, so why is he picked for the Wallabies. Someone with all his hype should be carving up Super Rugby. The only think he offers is defence and probably his kick chase, but in my opinion he doesn’t deserve to be in the Wallabies squad. he is also meant to be really fast, but he was gassed by Foley (i think it was him) in the game on the weekend…Foley!
    Anyone else see the same or is it just me?

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Mate Koroibete was always a risk. I really don’t get this fascination here with ex NRL players. None of them have ever been worthy of the Wallaby jumper yet for some reason the coaches here love them. Koroibete is crap. He would be lucky to make a Super team in NZ. He is good on attack occasionally but his defence and positioning is crap and he’s forever losing the ball in contact.

      • GO THE Q REDS

        None? That’s a stretch…. .Korrobetti yeah he fits that bill. Someone with similar hype would be Reiko Ioane…… but he’s killing it!

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Mate the only one I rate was Tuqiri and he was only starting to come right when he got sacked. Sailor was always shit, Rogers had one good run in 5, Walker was crap. Tahu never did anything. Folau was over stated and never improved his deficiencies, Hunt shows potential but needs to learn his positioning and still struggles with distribution. There ma6 have been earlier ones that are better but I never knew them

  • Brisneyland Local

    Mate great points, as always. You like all of my other Kiwi mates would rather see the AB’s play against the Wobs with Foley at 10. That common view scares me, because you guys are right, 99% of the time.

    • MST

      Challenge accepted! We will have a crack at the Foley v Cooper; what’s the difference thing and why the Kiwis prefer Foley over Cooper in next weeks Top 5.

      • Brisneyland Local

        That would be bloody great. Speak to KRL he has great views on this, as he does with all things Rugby. BUt there are plenty of other Kiwi’s out there. All of the ones I know and hang with, are desperate for us to pick Foley!

        • From NooZealand

          With all due respect BL, it won’t make any difference whether it is Foley or Cooper. The Wallabies are looking better in other areas though and that is good.

        • Brisneyland Local

          I think potential Wallaby players are looking good. The million dollar question is, will Cheika the Ass Clown select them.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          NZ were one dropped kick off from losing a home test to the Wallabies, and potentially the Bledisloe in 2017. In 2018 they were also one unbelievable performance from Mounga away from an 0-2 record vs the Boks in a year in which they were far from dominant.

          With all due respect, as good as the All Blacks are, the Kiwis vastly overrated their ability. In competitive sport anyone can beat anyone, and in a World Cup the Wallabies would only need to outplay the All Blacks over 80 minutes to beat them, even if the All Blacks outplay the Wallabies every other minute against all other opposition throughout the year.

        • From NooZealand

          I am with you mate. Why do you think I wear the Wallabies #13 jersey (S Morlock’s) sometimes? (OK you didn’t know that, but now you know). On one hand I was trying to be funny on my comment to BL; on the other hand; really the Wallabies do need some else in the number ten.

  • Greg

    I hate it when you are right…..

  • OnTheBurst

    Rodda and Arnold are the stand out Aussie locks and should be picked as starters. Coleman’s form is a real worry

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      I agree but at the same time he’s proven at test level so I wouldn’t be too unhappy

      • GO THE Q REDS

        Yep Cooper is proven at test level too tho. He has a better win ratio then any other 10 in over 10 years. And he’s playing well now! Can’t have it both ways mate…..

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Mate I’ve put you crook. I would love Cooper to be picked. I don’t think Cheika will pick him though unless he plays continually at a much higher level than Foley and I’m not sure he’s doing enough right now.

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Brumbies first, then for the love of the game. "It infuriates me to be wrong when I know I'm right." —Moliere

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