The Tuesday Top 5 - Green and Gold Rugby
ACT Brumbies

The Tuesday Top 5

The Tuesday Top 5

                                                   It is Tuesday, so I must yet again climb atop the soapbox to educate the masses. Listen in, because I am not going to say this again…


 5. Alarm bells for the Reds

A dead-set Northern Quokka

A dead-set Northern Quokka

They had a Barry Crocker on Saturday night. A real Fremantle Docker. An absolute Sav Rocca. The error rate was off the charts, and they practically handed the Force the match (that is not to take anything away from the visitors, they were tenacious). As much as I would love to write this game as a one-off, bad-day-at-the-office scenario, this has been on the cards for a while now. Their win-loss record belied the performance of the team, which was a bit down on previous years. With Faingaa, Horwill and Genia back in the fold you would hope for performances to improve, but the next few weeks look to be crucial as the Reds try and steady the ship. All is far from lost, they were in far worse shape at certain points last year.

As for the Force, I said on the podcast a few weeks ago that they are going to surprise a few teams this year.They play good footy generally, and are far from the easybeats that some seem to think. I predict they will win only 4 or 5 games this season, but there will be a few quality sides in that number. The next one will be the Crusaders in April.


 4. Wallaby 10 watch

Kurtley Beale has to be a solid favourite to start at 10 in the first test against the Lions. Quade Cooper looked to be headed in the right direction but in my view has taken a few big steps backwards in the past few weeks. His performances have been error-strewn and completely lacking in composure. So if you strike him out (he will have to produce something pretty special in the next few weeks to be back on the radar) then you are really only left with Beale, JOC, Toomua, Lealiifano and Barnes as viable options. Each option has its pros and cons, but as the incumbent you would think Beale will be the one in the hot seat. JOC, Lealiifano and Barnes aren’t playing regularly at 10 (unless Damian Hill has a change of heart), and Toomua and Lilo are still a little bit too green (plus it isn’t hard to look good behind a shit-hot Brumbies pack). Kurtley isn’t playing brilliantly at the moment, but I can’t see any other alternative. Or am I missing something?

Paddy has come a long way...

Paddy has come a long way…


 3. Time for Tah Talk

The loss to the Cheetahs was no disgrace, unlike the same fixture in 2011. The Waratahs played well for 60 minutes, but lost the game in the first and last 10 minutes. In the context of a side rebuilding from a horrible season this is not a terrible result, and the 2013 Cheetahs are the best the competition has ever seen. You give them an inch and they take a mile. But let’s not gloss over the errors, and there were plenty. Too much dropped ball, not enough composure in our own 22 and a languid backline all contributed to the loss. On the bright side, Paddy Ryan and Peter Betham both showed the form that made them schoolboy prodigies (alongside Kurtley in the 06 Joeys team). They have locked down spots in the Tahs team for at least a month.

I call on all Tahs fans to get to the Blues game on Sunday afternoon. The forecast is looking good, and the match should be a belter. We need to unite behind our team, so get to the game and bring a few mates.


2. My Predicted Final Table

The wheat has now been largely sorted from the chaff. The champs from the chumps. Here is my final table. From first to last:

Chiefs, Brumbies, Blues, Stormers, Bulls, Crusaders, Reds, Sharks, Waratahs, Hurricanes, Cheetahs, Rebels, Highlanders, Force, Kings

I have just saved you 15 weeks. You’re welcome.


 1. The Brumbies might be OK this year

'Mate, did you see the Sharks game?'

‘Mate, did you see the Sharks game?’

You know what, I reckon the Brumbies might have a half decent year this year. They will certainly win more than they lose (you heard it here first).

But in all seriousness, their win on Sunday morning was mighty impressive. The first half performance was one of the most clinically dominant efforts I have ever seen from an Aussie side. It reminded me of the All Blacks- brutal dominance up front, followed by a flawless execution of the basics in the backline. And like the All Blacks their fans are now coming out of the woodwork to chew your ear off at work/pub/weekend detention.

How about that depth? Sio and Kuridrani come from nowhere to play like champions. And I’d love to see Fotu in a gold jersey at some point- he is the only player in Aussie rugby at the moment who can really hurt people.

Their tries weren’t ‘play of the week’ material, but they were all well-crafted and perfectly carried out. They got a bit silly in the second half (shouldn’t have been pushing so hard for pointless extra tries), but in reality the game was well won by then. I was impressed by the Sharks in the first few weeks, but they seem to have gone off the boil. With an all-Bok line-up it is hard to see why this is happening, a bit like at the Tahs.

So my question for the week- is Jake White now the Wallaby coach in waiting? Answer in 300 words with at least two references to Kafka’s Metamorphosis and one to Max Walker’s How to Hypnotise Chooks.

 

Over to you, peanut gallery. What hideous oversights have I made this week? Ready, aim…

  • I agree that no 10s have been standing out, but Beale is not the answer. For starters he’s injured and had been out of form. Secondly fly half is not his best position. Cooper is the stand out when at his best, but he’s nowhere near that at the moment. I don’t think JOC and Barnes are fly halves either. Its getting thin – Toomua and Lealifano both look good, but would be a huge call to debut at 10 against the Lions. So where does that leave us? I actually have no bloody idea but to hope for QC to find his groove.

    I also admire your positivity with the Tahs. They were dead set horrible in the second half on Friday night. They remind me of the Reds in 2007 under Eddie Jones. They are trying hard but they’re just not very good.

    • BloodRed

      I agree almost completely with everything you’ve said there. I’d be more than happy though to blood either Toomua or preferrably Lealiifano against the Lions. Everyone has to debut at sometime and if an occasion was ever going to get a new boy fired up, a once in a lifetime Lions game would have to be it. Toomua has been the best Oz 10 this year and LLF was the best last year until his injury and isn’t lacking for form this year albeit at 12.

      Having been row 14 for the Reds stinkfest on saturday I’d say QC has an awful lot of work to do before he can be considered. The whole backline was pretty woeful but the hesitation and indecision he showed would be fatal against the Lions.

      KB in form is world 15 standard at 15 but at best only superXV standard at 10. JOC is better but likewise he adds more danger out wide. With the form being shown by Mogg and plenty of other wing candidates, the pair of them might struggle to get into the starting 15 if they aren’t at 10

  • Benny A’s Tackle

    1. Go the Brumbies! Having turned up to every game in miserable 2011 makes the last couple of games oh so sweet. Having scored 14 tries and only conceded 2 in 320 minutes of rugby is a dazzling effort, so lets hope they keep it up. If only Dean’s hadn’t been so conservative in his selections last year (& Lilo hadn’t got injured) he could have blooded some of these blokes which means we wouldn’t have to keep discussing the philosophical ‘form over experience’ question.

    2. Final table looks about right. Cheetahs above Tahs and Hurri’s though.

    3. Couldn’t believe Cheetahs were paying $3.50+ for a win on Friday night. Should have chucked more on it. Better from the Tahs though.

    4. Need more time to pick the 10.

    5. Poor Reds, we need em strong for the Lions tour. They got 2 months to right the ship and find some form. Link, I wanna see them in the finals ok mate.

  • Said it last year, JW is the man for the wallabies. Everyone mentions ewen mckenzie but i know who i would appoint. He has completely reinvigorated the Brumbies with his brilliant support staff and tactical knowledge. Yes link had a similar turnaround with the Reds but White has won it all at test level. He has assembled a group of good players and made them great. This is what needs to be done with the Wallabies. We never had the talent the AB’s had but we played to our strengths to beat them. He is the man for the job and his loyalty to oz rugby gives me hope

  • brumby runner

    The burning question really is who plays 10 for the Wallabies. In form, QC should get the job, but atm he is well off the pace. I also hold the view that neither Beale nor JO’C are best suited at 10, but I don’t take the pessimistic view that new players can’t be blooded against the Lions. I would be surprised if there had never been a Wallaby making his debut against the Lions. And in my opinion, the 2013 Lions do not look to be the diabolical opposition most on this site seem to think. I really think it might be the only way certain posters can justify to themselves the continued selection of their particular favourites despite having no form whatsoever. Therefore, I believe the best person for the job in the absence of QC is definitely Matt Toomua. He is as steady as a rock, defends brillianlty and guides the attack better than any other prospect in the Aust conference. He runs to the line, has a good passing game, and can kick almost a sgood as Nic White and perhaps better than Jesse Mogg. He is the closest we have to the Dan Carter style of 10. And don’t start on the rubbish that he is working behind a winning pack. We need to be aiming at having a winning pack in the Wallabies, not surrendering before a ball is even kicked off. And we do have the players in the Aust conference teams to put a more than adequate pack on the field.

    • Barbarian

      I don’t think it is wise to pick a debutant at 10 against the Lions, especially one who has only had a few good games behind a dominant pack. Whilst he is a good prospect, I think he is still 6 months to a year away from seriously pushing for higher honours. His Super career up until this point has been patchy at best, and even in the first few rounds this year he has been quiet.

      I do think we will be in a far better position to judge in 4 or 5 weeks time.

      • brumby runner

        Matt’s form goes back many years. He outplayed both QC and Beale at schoolboy level. He is the outstanding No10 this year and deserves his chance.

        • Barbarian

          Oh, his schoolboy form is good, well let’s throw him in! While we’re there, I had a brilliant season for the Wakehurst under 8s back in 97, so I can play 12 outside him.

    • Rex Munday

      JOC to 10. No brainer. KB to FB.

    • Pedro

      It would be good to have a 10 that was good on defense, good at passing/kicking and good into contact.

  • Pedro

    I don’t think toomua and lilo are too green. They’ve both played plenty of super rugby and are both tough enough to take on the line. There’s still a lot of time before selections are made but I can’t see any reason why you would pick last year’s strugglers. Based on current and wallaby form, no incumbent fly halves are putting their hands up.

  • AJ

    At the risk of sounding like a Brumbies supporter…

    Here’s a thought. How about Lilo and Toomua play behind a shit-hot Brumbies pack for the Wallabies! Stop me when I make too much sense.

    • Barbarian

      Yes, because if they are dominating Super Rugby, how could they not dominate the British Lions!

      • Patrick

        Actually I think Super Rugby is close to harder, at the top. I don’t think there was any NH team that could have beaten the Chiefs last year, Honestly one of the most balanced and cohesive teams I’ve seen in a while, and you know what they say about champion teams that just happen to be full of champions..!

        I reckon this year the Brumbies and Chiefs would be, at a minimum, a very very tough match for Wales or England, would beat Scotland and would trounce Italy and Ireland. I have no idea how they’d do against France except that they’d run away with a series….;)

        I think there is a lot of merit to assuming that the Brumbies are the starting 15 and working out who can add significant additional value, and has both form and class. That is, a high bar to selecting anyone else, and a presumption that a displaced Brumby goes to the bench unless, again, there is a compelling alternative candidate. This doesn’t mean that you end up with 15 Brumbies, but that you need a really good reason to select anyone else.

        You would hope that Genia and Horwill will find the form that would justify putting them in. Pyle might be showing week-in week-out form to suggest a gong, relegating Carter or Fardy to the bench, and perhaps JO’C and Higgers would get in. Eddie Quirk would look good on the bench covering 6/8 (in conjunction with Higgers on the field) if he keeps up the form of the last few weeks before this one. Maybe Digby?

        Presumably the likes of Taf and Paddy Ryan would round out the bench, but arguably the ilkes of Sio should be first reserve prop for the Wallabies too!!

        After that I’m not really sure who else would be included? Honey Badger if he can get his form back, perhaps on the bench.

        • Ooaahh

          will we have two props at international level this year? If so you could have both Sio (LH) and Ryan (TH) on the bench. I’d have fat cat and pot plant on the park to begin.

        • Barbarian

          I think the first half of your post is a fairly ludicrous hypothetical.

          And the second part is a little far-fetched too. The idea of simply pushing a Super side into international rugby is fanciful, and hasn’t been the case for even the greatest teams. Once again I use the example of the All Blacks- despite having a dominant Chiefs side last year, do you think the All Blacks ignored class players such as Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Dan Carter, Keiran Read, Ben Franks, Andrew Hore or Kevin Mealamu? Of course not. Likewise we shouldn’t ignore World Class proven internationals like Digby, JOC, Kurtley,AAC, Hooper, Higgenbotham, Horwill, Genia and Robinson. Throwing Scott Sio’s name around? Jeez Louise. He has played one game!

        • Pedro

          I think there is merit in what you say (assuming current trends continue). Barbarian’s gonna get upset because it might mean leaving out underperforming and in some cases underdone players.

          Just because people are “proven performers” doesn’t mean they have another performance in them (eg Elsom’s last few years), injuries and teams figuring you out (eg Giteau) can shorten careers.

          Sometimes it’s time to give the new guys a chance, too bad if it’s against the lions, if they are the best and have been playing the best so be it. All this debut stuff gets a bit tired when you’re talking about players that have played professional rugby for 5 or 6 years.

        • Barbarian

          So which of the following players (that I already named) do you think are ‘underperforming’, and who would you replace them with?

          Digby, JOC, Kurtley, AAC, Hooper, Higgenbotham, Horwill, Genia and Robinson

          I understand Horwill still has injury issues, but as it stands I would still pick Douglas, McMeniman and Pyle over Carter or Fardy.

        • brumby runner

          Higgers has been terrible this year. Missing tackles and going for intercepts and leaving holes in the defensive line. At 6, he doesn’t rate on form against Mowen, Aeuleua, Kimlin, Quirk or Cotterell. Similarly, AAC is not showing form this year (nor last really). Ant Faingaa should take precedence. JO’C I think has shown that he cannot play 10. If selected it should be at wing, and there is a plethora of outstanding candidates for wing positions. Beale should be considered for 15 only, where he is probably one of the leading candidates. It is debatable that Robbo is playing better than Benny A but I wouldn’t be concerned about who starts so long as the other is on the bench.

        • Barbarian

          So we shouldn’t pick AAC because he isn’t showing form, and we should pick Faingaa who has barely played a game! And you are straight-up wrong about Higgers, he has been one of the Rebels best in the past few games. JOC and Kurtley have both lead the Wallabies to victory at 10, I think that is a fair indicator that they might be at least worth consideration.

        • Pedro

          “This doesn’t mean that you end up with 15 Brumbies, but that you need a really good reason to select anyone else.”—This is what I was refering to, that there is merit in thinking that the best super team for Australia is a good place to start looking for wallabies.

          I also said “assuming current trends continue”. Meaning if Brumbies keep proving dominant and certain player don’t turn their form around.

          For example if the brumbies front row continues to be the best at scrum time, their front row should be the Wallabies’. This was why the Tahs had the wallaby front row last season. So therefore Fat Cat sits on the bench, whether he’s better than Alexander or not. Moore was benched last year for the same reason.

          It would take too long to go into my opinions of all of those players, suffice to say that there is a lot of rugby before a decision is made. Making a decision today (that is making a prediction) I see more talent and cohesion is the brums than has been seen in some more capped players. (Tomane and rathbone are the only capped member of the brumbies back line)

          Genia has been our best player for a couple of years, so does deserve some favouritism. I don’t think he should be rushed back though, I often think whether taking Pocock to europe last year was a mistake. I’m sure if fit he’ll start, but I wouldn’t be worried about White if he was called up. It was a shame though that Deans played Genia for 80min most games, otherwise he wouldn’t be debuting.

          I agree with Douglas and Pyle over the Brums locks, because they bring a little more physicality. Neither though is exactly a seasoned veteran, just like the form brumbies players.

    • Pedro

      I wanted to write that, but as a brumbies supporter thought it might void other opinions of mine.

    • BloodRed

      You’re making too much sense for Deans. It needs to be much more confusing for him to like the suggestion. Perhaps you should have said something about imposing our story on the story they are trying to impose on our story whilst respecting that everyone has their own story that they bring to the story.

      • Pedro

        BloodRed has the right skill set.

      • mxyzptlk

        You could be a press secretary.

  • HardenUp

    I don’t really understand all of this talk about wallaby 10, its a bit early to tell, KB hasn’t had enough game time. JOC hasn’t played 10 at super level enough and QC is lacking confidence. On form, at the moment, Toomua should be Wallaby 10. He is the only 10 in the Aust conference who has been playing well. Lets hope KB, JOC and QC all play really well in the next couple of weeks so that the we have a few more Wallaby 10 options.

  • Tim

    Declaration: Huge Brums fan. Having said that, I thought Beale has looked good at 10, and with O’C have mar Rebels a threat. I was surprised Jake out Pup at 10, over Christian. He is doing a fine job, but thing CL is more dynamic. Please don’t even mention Barnes, experience or not. He’s too easily panicked & kicks (aimlessly more than not). If Quade can find form, then he’s an obvious pick. So give him a few weeks back with Genia to see if it clicks.

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