The Tuesday Top 5 - Green and Gold Rugby

The Tuesday Top 5

Photo by Stephen Tremain
The Tuesday Top 5

Welcome to the Tuesday Top 5. Just a short, sharp one this week.

The Good Bits

So, what stood out? What were, in the opinion of MST, the best bits about Saturday’s match?

* Koroibete! I have to admit, for the first couple of years he was with the Wallabies I was dubious. But this game proved just how far he has come, his defence in particular has improved out of sight (thought as you will see below, he still has some work to do there).

* On the other wing, Wright had a fantastic debut. He showed no signs of nerves and never looked out of place.

* It was good to see Banks showing some form again.

* Recognising the importance of scoring points, no matter how they are scored. We scored 1 less try than the All Blacks, but it was penalty goals that got us over the line.

* We improved our lineout, only losing 1 on our own throw.

Marika Koroibete 

Marika Koroibete

The Bad Bits

Just because we won doesn’t mean I’m going to look back on the game with rose coloured glasses. There were definitely things that fall on to the not so positive side of the ledger.

* The missed tackle count was still around 80%. In fact there were 3 players who missed 4 tackles (Koroibete, made 5 missed 4, Paisami, made 6 missed 4, and Hooper, made 15, missed 4). 3 of our bench players missed more tackles than they made (McDermott made 0, missed 2, Lolesio made 0, missed 1 and Daugunu, made 0 missed 1)

* Swinton’s red card. When I saw that a tweet saying the “Tah’s hard man” had been selected I had a feeling there would be trouble. Too much aggression, out to prove his “hard man” status. Is that what happened? I think this headline from Christy Doran last week sums it up pretty well – “‘Something New Zealand hasn’t seen in a Wallaby jersey': Wallabies want debutant to bring hit-man aggression” Well they got It alright. Perhaps they need to temper the aggression a bit instead of trying to play it up.

* Nic White was still very slow at the play of the ball.

Lachlan Swinton see Red

Lachlan Swinton see Red

Who played where?

There have been plenty of changes to the line-up over the 4 tests, so let’s just look and see how the team sheet looked over the course of the 4 tests.

2020 Wallabies v ABs

The green indicates the same player was in the same position for all four matches. The orange indicates there was a change to the position from the previous week.

Looking at that we can see there were 5 positions where the same player was named in all matches. Slipper, Philip, Hooper, White and Koroibete were the only players to start all 4 matches in the same position each time. Wilson started all 4 but played both 6 and 8.

So which positions had the least consistency? 6, 10 and 12 were all played by 3 different players. 10 and 12 were as a result of injury, but are we struggling to settle on a number 6?

Which of those was our strongest team? Have we even seen our strongest team yet? 4 tests in to Rennie’s reign and I think it is a bit too early to have those answers yet. But I am looking forward to seeing here we go from here – provided we aren’t seeing this many changes every week. I think Rennie needs to work out quickly who plays best in which positions and in combination with who else.

Who do we want to see?

This is just a quick question for you all. Based on what we have seen so far, is there anyone you want to see brought in/back? What would your ideal team look like?

Personally I would like to see Fraser McReight given a shot at 7. I know it won’t happen because Hooper is the Captain, but I don’t think it would hurt him to have a seat on the bench. In the past 4 games Hooper has made 65 tackles. He has missed 12. He has won 3 turnovers (with 0 in each of the last 2 games) and conceded 3 turnovers. And there was only one match where he made more metres than Sam Cane.

Also I want Samu back. He is big, strong, solid in defence. Some claimed that when he was dropped for Hanigan it was for the lineout – but then why not bring Samu back for game 4?

I’d like to see Rennie stick with Wright for now, and would like to see Simone and Lolesio given more time. I would like to see McDermott given more time as well.

On the other side of the page, I would like to see less of Simmons. He didn’t contribute a lot in the last match and I think there are better options. I hope Rennie sticks with Philip, I think he has proved himself.

So, over to you. What do you think?

Lineout won by Peter Samu.

Lineout won by Peter Samu.

Los Pumas v Australia XV

For those who didn’t catch the streams of the 2 matches, here are the highlights.

  • Patrick

    Agree very strongly re McReight and Samu and Philips. I’d like to see Hanigan trialled in the second row if he is to stay (and he has been much better but I’d be happy to see LSL back fighting for a spot) and a back row of 6. Samu 7. McCreight 8. Wilson with Swinton and Hooper on the bench.

    • I’m still not convinced on poor old Ned. But in the second row, where his role is more to carry and and add heft to mauls, than to hit rucks on a regular basis I’d be happy to see a group of him, Philips and LSL start to form a basic group. I’d like to see at least one more in there really.

      Certainly agree on McReight and Samu.

      I think the backs are a WIP. We probably need to see Powell and McDermott, Lolesio, Simone, Paisami, Wright and for me Banks is current the inked in 15, but he still needs game time, likewise Petaia. Daugunu needs some more time too. I am certainly not suggesting all those players start at once, apart from anything there are two scrum-halves there. But we need to see, and by we I really mean Rennie and his team, not us fans, how these guys cope with test match rugby. It doesn’t have to be this year for all of them, but by the end of 2021, they should have a pretty good idea of who their starting XV and their first choice bench 8 are for the next two years. That will obviously change a bit with injury, form, emerging new talent, people becoming fathers and whatever else, but there will be a core squad.

      Ideally we’ll see a situation, like we pretty much see if we look at all four semi-finalists in Japan, where there are senior players who retired, “middle-aged” players who will probably retired in four years and youngsters who will probably retire in eight years. In each position, even the youngsters, there’s an obvious understudy, usually another youngster, with a chunk of caps, ready to step in and take on the role with enough caps that it’s not “OMG, first test cap” time. It might be a challenge to get all of that in place with rebuilding the Wallabies and Covid, but the core of it could be there still. It might not result in a semi-final, there were other teams with that pattern that got knocked out earlier after all, but it gives the Wallabies a real chance again.

      • Patrick

        Agree on all those points. Especially that we really need a wider squad with inked-in specific replacements who
        know what to do if called upon, rather than just shuffling the same 9 backs around.

        In relation to 10, in the short term I would leave Hodge starting with Lolesio coming on, then make a call once JOC gets back whether to drop Lolesio (temporarily!) to bring JOC back in via the bench or drop Hodge.

        • Mike D

          When we say “A Team” I think that assumes a standard team that applies to all matches. What I think Rennie did that worked so well in Bled 4 was using Hodge to strengthen the defence and settle the back line, put pressure on the way the ABs play. If the Pumas play a different style, maybe our A Team is different. I’m thinking a 6/2 bench with Hodge as a reserve, either JOC or Lolo to 10. Start Tupuo and bring 7As on from the bench with the scrum game from Argies. More hard graft rather than aggressive forwards, so Samu back into 6, pull Swinton for this one, not because he’s had the RC, but because there’s a better fit for the opposition. Keep Simmons for this match, he just works hard and I think that will be really important in the set piece rather than increasing our dominance in the break down.

        • Patrick

          I am not entirely sure, I think we should have a pretty fixed A team. Most other countries do! Injuries and the need to manage workload will provide the opportunity to “flex” the team and bring in newer players on a regular basis.

      • Huw Tindall

        I’m with you on needing to continue to trial new players and build a wider squad but I’d do this slowly. Kind of went to town in my own post above but I’d prioritise developing a winning culture first and that means taking a relatively conservative approach to team and tactics. More of what we saw in Bled 1 and 4. Treat the Pumas games as must win. Stick with the A-Team and only selectively trial new blokes from the bench or if forced to via industry or need to rest a player. Guys like Phillip have played massive minutes and may just need a break. That’s a call for the coaches but if their bodies are right then they play. No easy caps! Realistically this means guys like Hosea and Harrison won’t get a run this year. Fine. Plenty of time for them.

        • Patrick

          Agree :)

        • Brumby Runner

          I’m not sure why you are discarding Hosea for the balance of this year. We are short on quality locks with LSL off injured (for how long? Anyone know?) while RS is yesterday’s man (to be kind) and is off overseas at the end of this year. We then have ? Hanigan, who is simply a better version of Simmons in open play, or Blyth or Swain who haven’t developed yet to the level Hosea has even though a year younger.

          Hosea plays with a lot of physicality/aggression, is an excellent lineout operator and works all day long. If it’s lineout calling that seems to be the problem, Cadeyrn Neville is also in the squad and probably finished the Super season with better lineout form than most of the others.

          I reckon Hosea is worth a crack at some time, off the bench, against the Argies, or even to start if Simmons is giver an early farewell.

        • Who?

          I don’t see why we couldn’t start Hosea and have Simmons on the bench as a safety option. As in, you know what you’re going to get, if things go pear shaped. It would only be logical, and better to have the young guys around the old guy before he goes. I was surprised that Rennie used Hanigan as the bench lock last week…

          And isn’t Phillip supposedly gone at the end of the year, too..? Off to France for the Super season..? That makes it even more important to get some game minutes into the young guys (Hosea, Blythe, Swain) whilst there’s two blokes around in the team who can call the lineout well. Neville’s likely around again next year, and has been a good performer at Super Rugby level over the years, but he’s never managed to garner the attention of the national coaches.

        • Brumby Runner

          No, but Neville is now in the squad and presumably has the chance to impress on the training field.

        • Who?

          Yep, knew that – hence the mention. He’s not a young buck, having played at the Rebs, the Reds, the Brums, but he’s definitely earned his time in the squad. :-)

  • Steve

    Thanks MST it’s always a pleasure – I agree with almost everything here (so what value can I add?)

    I liked the balance of the back row this week and think it should stay. For mine who better as a bench player than Samu who can play at 6,7,8 and really contribute? He’s a better bench loosie for me than Hannigan – As you say, if he stays he needs to find a home as backup second row.

    And keep the frikkin back 3 from this weekend please – DHP especially hasn’t been near the first-choice 15 for a while now and the wingers looked great.

    10/12/13 remains the question mark for me. Hodge outperformed expectation, but let’s be honest he’s not going to be our first choice 10 at RWC23 so JOC with a view to Lolesio seems to be the call.
    I still lean towards Toomua then Simone at 12 and prefer two 13s Petaia and Pastrami to compete at 13 (especially seeing Pastrami continued defensive issues at 12), I’m sure others will disagree so to each their own.

  • Huw Tindall

    Thanks as usual.

    In terms of what I want to see next I want to see small incremental improvements off the template they set in Bled 1 and Bled 4. We got ahea of ourselves in Bled 2 and Bled 3 was a schemozzle. I want simple tactics executed well and a slow but planned introduction of players and combos. Go for 2 wins against the argies rather than blooding talent or resting the best players just because we think we can. Build a winning culture and momentum by, well, winning! Take the Pumas deadly seriously. Put the best team on the paddock. Maybe if the Pumas are really struggling then experiment a bit morein game 2 but only if we can risk it.

    On the playing front I want combinations to build. Outside of forced selection changes I wonder how much Rennie would have experimented. If you want to experiment do it via the bench (like the kiwis do!). Not too much chopping and changing to the starting XV. It may mean Harrison or Hosea don’t get a debut this season and if that’s the case then so be it. Plenty of time for these youngsters and no need to rush it. I’d make minimal changes to the team for Pumas game 1.
    – Maybe rotate Slipper out of the starting spot to give him a break. Front row has been pretty good rotating and they are used to it at Super level.
    – BPA and 7As stick. Tupou off the bench is destructive.
    – Stick with Phillip unless he really needs a rest. he has put in a bunch of work and could be due a rest.
    – Stick with Simmons run on assuming LSL isn’t ready. Simmons is easily our best set piece lock (scrum and lineout). Sure he’s older and probably won’t make 2023 but back to building a winning culture. The young guys can learn a lot from him.
    – Hooper is the Captain for good reason. Leave him and get McReight onto the bench.
    – At 8 Wilson picks himself unless, like Phillip, his body needs a rest. Naisarani easy choice to replace if he is.
    – 6 would have been Swinton as he is a legit point of difference. With him likely suspended I’mnot sure who is next best. Hanigan is OK but like him on the bench as flexible cover. Probably Samu to reunite the Bled 1 combo which did so well. Honestly don’t know how Liam Wright fits into this Wallabies XV. A 6.5 style player who does his best work in tight channels.
    – White stays. Will be around for 2023 so invest in him. His kicking is worth it alone. Give Tate serious minutes though. 20-30 if we can.
    – JOC back into 10. Love the job Hodge did but unless they want to seriously invest in him for a future at 10 then he’s back to the bench as Mr Fix It. Victim of his own versatility. Lolesio on the bench and like Tate, give him proper minutes.
    – 11 I’d take Marika for game 1 then rest him for game 2. Give Daugunu a go. 11 is his natural side and plays a lot like Marika anyway!
    – 12 Tough one. Would be Toomua all day but in his absence I’m tempted to stick with Paisami. He’s done so well, and even though he plays 13 for the Reds, I could stomach this one as playing him out of his normal position. Tough on Simone but I don’t think the team’s game plan and combos are well enough developed to have a more ball playing 12 in there. In reailty they are keeping Toomua’s seat warm.
    – 13 Petaia all day.
    – 14 is Wright. Looked at home on debut. Got a step as good and Daugunus but better positional play and a boot on him. A more balanced back 3 with him in the side.
    – 15 is Banks. DHP doesn’t offer enough anymore over Banks.

    • Damo

      Swinton’s 35 minute stint was the prefect illustration of what Ned isn’t able to deliver.

      • Will

        agreed. Swinton with some tempered aggression is an enforcer the wallabies need. The way he put Sam Cane on his arse plus a few other ABs was great as a spectator and powerful for his team mates.

      • Damo

        ‘perfect’- although he may have been a school prefect.

      • Swinton has the potential to be the best blindside flanker we have had for years, and playing in the same team as Michael Hooper will ensure they work in tandem at test level. OK he was sent off (and now suspended) BUT one must trust he will have learnt from that. We need hard men like him.

    • Greg

      I agree with most of your comments but one was a bit more challenging.

      ” Hooper is the Captain for good reason.”

      What is the reason?

      He has a motor but he doesn’t seem to settle the team, he struggles with ref comms.
      No question he puts in 110% but captain?

      • Huw Tindall

        Well beyond onfield performance where he still regularly tops the tackle count, makes post contact metres, and still pilfers more than people think (check out the stats); his experience and leadership around the squad is invaluable, especially in a transition phase we are in now. For sure McReight is putting pressure on a classic on balling 7 but he’s played one season of Super Rugby compared to 100 test caps. Sets the example for commitment and discipline at training etc. Plenty of articles and interviews etc have identified the above as core reasons why he is captain. I know he is a polarising figure but are we going to start second guessing Rennie and Johnson and the assistant coaches?

        • Hoppy

          I’ve looked at the last 2 matches and I cant get to the 15 tackles Hooper is credited with in each match. I think he gets credit for support in some tackles and that support doesn’t add much to the outcome. Indeed the first AB try to Reiko Ioane last weekend came about because Hooper’s support ‘tackle’ had zero impact on the player who swiveled and laid off the pass before Ioane get the ball. Hooper basically just put his hands on without any shoulder or attempt to disrupt/stop the player continuing to play the ball and opening up the Wallaby defence. The missed tackle counts for Hooper appear to be about right but I think he’s only made 10 – perhaps 11 – positive and effective tackles in each of the last 2 games. He did finally have some impact with his running in the second half in BRisbane which was good to see but well overdue and I agree with other comments here that he is a very passive captain on the field and no longer any real threat at the breakdown – moved way to easily.

    • whatwouldberniedo

      just as a truely left field suggestion, I’d love to see cameron Orr brought into the squad. he was by far the next best at loose head after slipper in SRAU (Sio is toast). I’m unsure why Angus bell got the nod ahead of him but have to give credit where its due for the cracking shift he put in on Saturday.
      Toomua will seriously struggle to make 2023. As much as I reckon he’s been the best 12 we have since the 2013 eoyt, where he was excellent outside Quade, his concussion history and what looks like a chronic groin (as opposed to an acute trauma mechanism of injury) will likely pull him up short in 3 years time. harsh as it is, we should be developing someone else ASAP. the same could be said for Karmichael. he was excellent for the 2 games he was fully fit for this season (completely dominated the midfield vs Qld), but won’t be in the mix come 2023.

      is hodge the 12 we need in 2023?

      • Hambone

        Sio has been quite pedestrian, but wouldn’t rule him out. Watching the new kid have a pearla might give him the kick in the ass needed.
        Orr is tip top, as is pone’s hard running and hits. Plenty there, just need someone to really step up in the middle, BPA holding his own but nothing stand out, I’m always sad rangy never got the tap on the shoulder, he had heart.
        I also wouldn’t rule 2 cows out for the next run at Bill, we need his cool head and the experience he brings, but we still need a succession in place aswell or we are left with a bled game 3 scenario.
        Whilst bobby S. probably had his best hit out in a while he is off os next season, I find it a little silly hosea not getting some minutes off the bench.
        Matt Phillip has been the wallaby stalwart this season and even he is sneaking off for a quick top up before international tests kick off, someone upstairs with the restacked broadcast deal cheque book needs to throw a decent wad down in front of him, point to the second euro wave etc etc whatever.
        Have him pack down all season with big trev at the rebels building that combination leading into our next run at the bled next year..

        • Patrick

          Yes we’d be nuts to lose another decent lock with a workrate in tight.

        • Huw Tindall

          Phillip on a 1 year deal in French rugby next year…will miss Super :(

          Think we may see Hosea get some minutes off the bench if LSL isn’t back. Simmo is gone yeah and won’t be around for RWC2023 but his set piece is too important in tests and he can teach a lot to the younger guys. He’s also reportedly part of the brains trust and is one of the most cerebral players working with coaches on lineout moves and so on. Probably a lot of value off the pitch.

        • Who?

          This little period will be absolutely invaluable for Hosea. Just a shame we don’t have all the young locks in there. Between Simmons and Parling, that’s a lot of recent IP and skill in running a lineout, and just a golden opportunity for them to soak up every scrap of knowledge they can.

      • idiot savant

        Im a big fan of Toomua but I fear you’re right. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

        • Yowie

          Nice Simpsons reference.

        • idiot savant

          Ive reached an age where it begins to make sense…

      • Huw Tindall

        Not a bad shout on Orr. Was definitely a surprise prop star in AU. Don’t know what’s happened to Scott Sio either. He’s 29 so shold be in his prime as a prop.

        Agree re Toomua. Despite being young enough to make RWC2023 (he’ll be just over 33) his history is littered with injury and concussion. Hunt will be almost 37 by RWC2023 he’s defo out! Was a great player this season when not injured. Actually, do we know if Tahs extended his contract? Regardless, we need to get some 12s in the pipeline. Personally a fan of Stewart as he plays a very Toomua like game. Paisami has shown he has D and straight running in his skill set but would like to see more if he’ll be a long term 12. Would mean playing him there at the Reds too. None of this out of position BS.

        • Brumby Runner

          Pretty sure Hunt is off to the USA. Agree he will be off the radar for 2023.

          Paisami was impressive at 12 in Bled 4 with a couple of missed tackles the only blemishes. Expect he will continue to improve if given opportunity at the Reds and Wallabies. Actually outplayed Laumape in Bled 4. I am still a fan of Simone at 12 because he brings a level of creativity to the position. But won’t be surprised if Tom Wright also moves closer to the play in time.

    • idiot savant

      All good points Huw. Im looking forward to a back row of Swinton, McCreight, and Wilson in 2 years time, particularly with Swintons new found line out skills.

      But for now I think what you say makes sense. There will be some tired bodies so maybe some rotation might be necessary. Phillip, Hopper, and Wilson could probably all do with some less minutes in the last 2 games.

      I doubt Toomua or JOC have the bodies to withstand regular test rugby for another 3 years so I think they might have to be phased out.

      I think one question that will be occupying Rennie’s mind will be if he should start Hodge somewhere given his goal kicking can build scoreboard pressure. Keep him at 10 and move JOC to 12? Put him at 12 and JOC to 10? Put him at 15?

      • A real conundrum with Hodge. Has to be in the 23 whatever the situation. Certainly he is our most versatile player.

        • Patrick

          Crazy idea: let’s leave him at 10 for now and bring in JOC or Lolesio off the bench until one of them actually contributes to a stronger team performance. I wonder after Saturday if we do not have almost too many stars in the backline and not enough basic starch, which Hodge provided.

          I fully expect that by 2022 it will be Lolesio or perhaps JOC or even someone else but let’s not rush it.

        • Huw Tindall

          This selection battle is going to be fascinating. Drop you guys who was almost MOTM?

      • Huw Tindall

        Will be interesting to see if the older guys have enough in the tank to make it. The shortened Super AU and Test seasons due to COVID may help!?

        JOC and Two Cows will be just over 33 at RWC2023. Hooper will be 32. By contrast Richie McCaw and Nono were 34/33 respectively in RWC2015.

        • Who?

          I think JOC may do better than Toomua. Just because of how he’s always looked after himself off the field his history of fewer injuries, and his lower number of concussions.

          It’s worth remembering that Sir Richie and Carter missed a LOT of footy in that last RWC cycle. And Nonu’s ageless (i.e. he played Super Rugby last year, 4 years after that RWC, and was still pretty much international standard).

        • Huw Tindall

          That’s a great point on the older kiwis missing footy. Between sabaticals and restricting their Super games they probably play 5-10 less games a year for the 3 years heading into the RWC. That add up on the body. I coud see a scenario where none of our older blokes make it to 2023!

        • Who?

          If it weren’t for the fact that Toomua’s ended the year injured, you could argue that 2020’s been good for load management.
          Hooper’s off for his sabbatical next year, and no one looks after themself better. So it’ll be interesting to see how he goes, especially given so much of his game is based off his pace.

    • Who?

      10 – JOC
      12 – Hodge
      13 – Paisami.
      I’m not enjoying what I’m seeing from Petaia. He’s playing park footy, not Test footy. He doesn’t seem to comprehend the breakdown – he was unnecessarily turned over in the first half, and was lucky not to get penalized on the penalty in the second half (and it was the second opportunity – he should’ve stripped Jordie in the tackle rather than rucking the 9).

      Worth noting that, although Wilson was marked as a change in selection for Test 2, he played all four Tests. He just changed jersey number. I don’t see why he couldn’t have worn 8 in that first game, with Samu wearing 6. Wright also fits at 6.
      Swinton’s gone for a month (i.e. the season).

      Is Slips gonna be available given his elbow injury..?

      • idiot savant

        You are right about Jordy. I noticed his uncertainty at the ruck. Shows his age there. Lets hope Lord Laurie coaches them next season

    • Well thought comments. Disagree with you though on Nick White. Already getting too old. Next year, I hope Rennie picks the best player in each position. He will have plenty of opportunities to see them in Super Rugby AU.

      • Huw Tindall

        He’s only 30 so younger than Aaron Smith! Was hard judge as White didn’t play much Super AU this year but his experience and kicking game are great assets in tests. I think Tate has more promise but needs to round out his game for test rugby. If White can maintain fitness and form I’d keep him lined up. Tate is so young he could play in 4 world cups!

    • Adrian

      Spot on Huw

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Thanks MST. Some good points as usual. I don’t think Rennie likes the idea of a “settled” team as I think he believes, rightly in my opinion, that it builds complacency. He likes players fighting for their position for every game. Like me he doesn’t believe the building of combinations is as important as getting the best players on the ground. If the players are good enough they’ll work well with whoever is inside or outside them. I’m expecting the chop and changes to continue and what I want to see is just some continual improvement both by individuals and as a team. TBH I don’t think it needs more

  • Greg

    Thanks MST.

    I agree with the comment about White at the breakdown. I don’t know where he is…. but when a ruck forms, I know where he isn’t!

    Eventually he trots up and does his thing. He doesn’t look flustered. It seems that he is comfortable with the situation.

    Surely this is not a strategy?

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      I must admit I don’t like White at all so my comments carry that bias. I think he’s too emotional to be a success at this level. Can’t fault his enthusiasm but I find he gets so carried away and caught up in the moment that he misses his main job. I also find his service is slow and he isn’t as decisive as he needs to be

      • Bobas

        KRL: I dont like players that are too emotional. But I like it when Aaron Smith celebrates a try like he doesn’t have airport herpes.

      • Reinforce

        He’s fine – they’re all nuts, Halfbacks and Hookers – the most highly wired folk on the pitch.

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          That is true

      • Yowie

        Decisiveness isn’t that important. Hang-on, wait, maybe it is. I’ll get back to you.

      • idiot savant

        Of course Aaron and JT are models of emotional control…

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          I think TJ is getting worse but both are better than White

    • Hutch

      Disagree on White. Simply put, if he didn’t play on the weekend we would have lost. He provided the majority of the team’s structure and playmaking and was solid in defence.

      • Greg

        I agree he was key to the win but my comments are also accurate.

        Whats going on?

      • idiot savant

        Agree. He is one of the best box kickers in the world and when the chase is good as it was on the weekend and in game 1 he is a weapon. He gets held a bit which can often make him late for a ruck and he sometimes has to join one because the clean out is poor. He can actually be very quick to distribute. The victory in Perth was orchestrated by Whites speed.

        • Who?

          You’re right on White’s speed; I think he cops it for slow ball when reality is that he picks and chooses his timing as well as anyone. I think he’s on quite a high level these days (he was always decent), and he’s amongst the very first chosen for the foreseeable future. In spite of my appreciation for just how well McDermott’s done the last few tests, and my appreciation for how Powell plays.

  • laurence king

    One useful addition that I would like to see, .. lord Laurie to come in and oversee the breakdown

    • Huw Tindall

      He’s got a rep as the best in the business in this area hey. Having heard a few interviews with him I think he probably just doesn’t want to commit to travel and full time role. Really happy in Canberra at the Brums and wallaby assistant is a jet setting job going around all states during Super and then internationally for tests.

  • RahRah

    I would like to see a further development of the last games backline.

    What price bringing Hodge on as a 10? His defense was outstanding and his boot is a weapon. We’ve been chasing the magical 2nd play maker philosophy but it yielded zero results so far. Paisami is big and direct and could be developed as a 12, or JOC who is a better 12 than 10.

    Bring Naiserani back into the squad/team and develop him as a 6 with Wilson at 8 and McReight at 7 interchangeable with Hooper. Ned gone. Left field, Stander from the Force brought into the squad. Samu back in the squad.

    Simmons gone with Hosea and Neville in, Philip calling the line.

    • Too Little Too Late

      I must admit I quite like the idea of having a rock solid defence in the backline as a priority and then look at how we can add points through clever play afterwards.

      It goes against the grain of how we have selected the backline for a few years but stopping the opposition scoring is a vastly underrated skill.

      Quick line breaking outside backs with a solid backline centre and quick loose forwards to patrol the wide channels could be a way to go.

      We don’t need to score a heap of points just a few more than the opposition.

      • RahRah

        Yes that’s my thoughts.
        Hence the need for a true ball runner at 6. At the moment Wilson is the only true runner in the back row with Hooper a sometimes. Naiserani made meters but would need to work on his retention.
        Simmons makes none and needs to go.

        • Too Little Too Late

          I’m a big Hoops fan but as you rightly said he is not a ball runner. Wilson looks good with the ball in the wide channels and Samu can run as well.
          Personally I like the tight 5 running it up in close with centres running off them and the loosies working in support on the wings.
          We’ve got some good ball running and passing front rowers we should use that dynamism to our advantage .

        • idiot savant

          McReight can run but we may to wait a while to see that.

      • Patrick

        That is the only way to be a top level team. Rock solid defensive pressure leads to errors leads to penalties/turnovers leads to scoring.

        And never more obvious than in these last four tests, or at the world cup. Left in their comfort zone NZ are just unbeatable, under pressure they are perhaps even a notch below England/South Africa/France and dare I suggest us.

  • Damo

    I’m sure rush defence is a factor in high missed tackle %’s. Do the D coaches accept this stat in exchange for the destabilisation rush D creates in opposition attack?

  • Dally M

    It probably won’t happen, but i’d like to see Will Harrison at 10 and Lolesio at 12.

    That was where they played very successfully at U/20 level, but now that Noah is playing at 10 for the Brums it’s unlikely to eventuate.

    That would be a great dual playmaker combo to build for 2023.

    • RahRah

      Personally I think we’ve tried to pursue the holy grail of dual playmaker and it has led us nowhere.
      Horan was not a playmaker but remains the greatest 12 this country has ever produced. Herbert was no playmaker but what a fantastic combination he made with Horan. Those two coupled with an electric back three made the world watch in awe.

      • idiot savant

        Yeah Horan was a running stepping player but he could pass. He never starved his outside men like some running 12s. He played a bit of 10 at club level so he had some skills. I think a 12 has to be able to pass well in todays rugby. 12 is the fulcrum channel where there is less time than any other position in the backline. Australia rarely ever threatened with Kerevi at 12. Better passing skills are needed.

  • Jason

    I think the ‘Who Played Where’ is a little bit simplistic, having a player front up for 4 test matches in a row isn’t a small ask, but a number of positions had players playing 3 games in that position (BPA & LSL for example) guys being forced to adapt to injury (eg Toomua & O’Connor coming out), and/or substantially the same position Tupou going to the bench, Wilson & Hooper being staples in the back row.

    I think our tight 5 is fairly stable, we are probably a lock short of where we’d want to be hopefully Hosea for example can find some test form or someone else can step up for next year (Blyth perhaps).

    I think our back row is always going to be unbalanced while we keep selecting Hooper to start. I think he just throws out any hope of balance in a back row and so we’ll have to keep searching. I think if we are going to insist on Hooper at 7 Liam Wright is probably the type of player we need at 6, someone who ‘can’ get over the ball, can jump in the lineout, can give that hard running, and is robust at the breakdown… all the things that Hooper doesn’t bring to the table. If Wright is up to that is another question.

    Our back line was obviously disrupted due to injury, but there is a lot of promise there. Not sure if White was just gassed or if there was something wrong with him for Bled 4. Maybe you start Tate, or you just rotate your half-backs though more. I think White and Tate can start while Gordon and Powell are quality players I think they are a step backwards (but play the way Rennie wants us to).

    I think it’s fairly safe to say O’Connor will be our flyhalf going forward. Lol’o/Harrison will get a run against Argentina but for the big games – the ones that count O’Connor is our flyhalf.

    The starchy centres of Hunter and Jordie (maybe Hodge could find himself in the mix) is probably our way forwards, although that’s not really how Rennie wants to play.

    While Wright was impressive I don’t think he really did anything special that Daugunu wouldn’t have done in his place, so that position will be contested for a little while and will probably go back and forth. I think Hodge is a chance of playing 15 (he again proved he isn’t a 10 IMO), but he’s got just enough play making when he’s got time and space so playing him at 15 is probably his best position (obviously not counting him playing from 23 because that’s really his best position). Banks has been ho-hum, not bad but hasn’t really taken the position for himself.

    I think Hunter has been a diamond in the rough for us, he’s been our rising star, playing Club Rugby last year… Asked to play 13 in Bledsoe 1 and you’d have thought he’d be found out — solid as a rock. Moved into 12 half way thorough Bled 2 and he was shockingly composed. Then in Bled 4 he’s REALLY thrown in the deep end and asked to play 12 — and what he adds a passing game, and a nice kicking game (okay he’d been working on those a while but he pulls it out for the game)! He feels like he’s uncontrolled in defence and you’re just waiting for him to be punished but after 4 games against the best team in the world — the one team who will REALLY punish you for just once being out of control and he’s yet to be found out. IMO he’s been our MVP of the series what he was asked to do we had no right to ask him, and what he did he had no right to do, but he just got on with it and got it done.

    • Westo

      Spot on re Piasami, as this is exactly what he did for the Reds. Stepped up in the first game and IMO did more than Petaia in his first two games for them – busted tackles, broke lines, made tackles, he might have even scored in his first game. I was like ‘wow’, who this kid. How good is it now that he is taking his chances on the big stage. Keep it coming young bloke.

    • idiot savant

      Fair call on Paisami. He has delivered. I think Wright has to hit the steroids in the off season if he is to have any future in gold. As MST says, he is 6.5 or a notta. He may get stronger as he gets older which could help him become a Boshier type but seriously Wilson and Swinton are gonna lay some bodies down in the future. They will be our 8 and 6.

      • Jason

        The problem I see with Swinton is although he’s big he’s not skilled or (rugby) intelligent and you can’t (easily) teach those things. Whereas Wright has all the skills you could want from a lose forward as well as all the rugby IQ you could hope for. I mean Wright is 23 he’s playing professional footy for only 2 years and hasn’t really had that significant injury lay-off that a lot of the young guys use to get really big. Plus it’s not like Wright is getting manhandled like Hanigan was a few years ago he’s just not MASSIVE.

  • A Dingo Stole My Rugby

    So Swinton’s been sent to the naughty chair until 6 Feb. Four matches technically, but World Rugby have killed any rorting by putting a specific end date on it.

    Seems a bit light to me – 4 matches for reckless, direct, forceful, no-arms contact to the head.

    Plenty of time now to work on his flawed technique.

    Come back with a legal technique, and we will consider whether Swinton really is the legitimate ‘hard man’ he’s been built up to be, and not just a red-mist thug.

    Finegan was a hard man, Kefu was a hard man, Fardy was a hard man. There are a few useful templates.

    • Mike D

      So what did Tu’ungafasi get? Presumably the same sanction for the same offence.

      • Greg

        He faces the judiciary this evening.

        Did Swinton refuse to accept the finding and call a rally to raise funds for …. never mind.

      • Da Munch

        As Greg has said ABs are fighting it this arvo;
        Wallabies went with early guilty plea which reduced it from 6 to 4 weeks for Swinton (but has been sited twice for the Tahs).

      • A Dingo Stole My Rugby

        I think if there’s a mitigating element for Tu’ungafasi, it’s that he did attempt to wrap his arms, while Swinton didn’t. It’s a distinction, but not one that should reduce his sanction by much, if anything at all.

        • Graeme

          I thought Tu’ungafsi did have some mitigation, in that as well as attempting to wrap, Wright stepped into him, and was low to the ground. He was careless rather than reckless. Swinton managed to shoulder charge the possibly the tallest player on the park, not a lot of mitigating circumstances there.

  • Hoss

    So the Republican gets four week ban for hittin a kiwi in the melon?? World’s gone mad. Get him a beer and a pie and the thanks of a grateful nation i reckon. Those cheating bastards had it coming an eternity and payback is a mofo. I’d promote we get a list of those Nealries still to be whacked and email to young Mr Swinton with ‘Whitelock’ crossed off it. I would agree that hitting a certain retired #7 in the carpark of his local grocery store may be more complicated, but none-the-less anything worthwhile will always have it’s challenges. My fantasy would be for The Republican whacking Dane Coles and accidentally following through and getting Nigel Owens at the same time – two for one. I dream peoples, i dream.

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      I agree an atrocious decisions. Should have been at least 10 weeks. Terrible stuff

      Almost snorted my coffee on the McCaw Owens double

      • Hoss


    • Mica

      What did Ofa get?

      • Who?

        Nothing. :-(

        Yet. :-P
        He’s going in front of the judiciary tonight. :-)

      • Dally M

        His hearing is tonight and he’s challenging it.

        Therefore he should get at least 4 if not more if he has past incidents like Swinton.

        • Greg

          here we go….. Gold player suspended for attacking the should of black prop with his head.

        • Hoss

          Ahhhhh ‘Gilberts Law’

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          and fair enough too

        • idiot savant

          Hes nothing to fear then. That time he fractured a Frenchman’s jaw with his shoulder he only got a warning from the judiciary.

      • Hoss

        6 weeks hard labour and a 3rd grade reading test – he’s in all sorts.

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          That’s good

  • RedAnt

    Nice work, as always, MST.

    Who do I want to see? I’m pretty much with you on your list. Hooper is such an enigma – so many strengths, but a couple of definite weaknesses, most notably over the ball and cleaning out. With the contest at the ruck such a critical part of the game, I really think we need to see what happens with a couple of No. 7s who aren’t Hooper.

    Does anyone know how bad Slipper’s injury is?

  • Yowie

    I assumed Cheika’s “don’t take a backward step” carry-on was directly aimed at Gregan’s style of passing from the base of a ruck.

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Gregan stayed on a year or so too long but he was a brilliant 9

    • Yowie

      He was a top sledger.

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        Absolutely “4 fucken more fucken years fucken”

        • Yowie

          Haha. I wasn’t specifically referring to that.

          He has a few crackers in his book (as you would expect). The harshest burn was probably from a European tour (where the Wallabies B team were playing midweek games against provincial sides and the Wallabies A team were playing tests on weekends).

          During a weekend test Gregan stopped and stared at a run-on replacement for the Poms (I think) and said “What are you doing here? You’re a Wednesday player”.

  • Really looking forward to Super Rugby AU in 2021. Should be some awesome contests, especially between the forwards. Once they were the weak link in Australian rugby but no longer. OK the second row/locks may not have the same depth we have elsewhere, but that will come.


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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