The Tuesday Super Rugby Top 5
ACT Brumbies

The Tuesday Top 5

The Tuesday Top 5

Welcome to the Tuesday Top 5, where I sift through the rotting remains of another Super Rugby week.

5. Tiresome Tah Hate

What's not to love?

What’s not to love?

Maybe it is because of the mood I am in, but I am really starting to get sick of the unwarranted hate of the Waratahs and a few of their players. Last weekend they lost away to the Hurricanes, and whilst they made plenty of mistakes their performance had merit. And yet, in swooped the vultures to get stuck right into the Tahs players. Take Benn Robinson for instance- who most reasonable commentators (including our own Scott Allen) agree is the favourite for the Wallaby loosehead spot (or at the very least a strong contender), and has been in good form for the last four or five weeks. He didn’t play badly, and he made the G&GR team of the week (although he didn’t have much competition). But here were some of the comments about him and his performance:

“How any of the Tahs forwards were Wallabies is a mystery. Benn Robinson is flat out fat & unfit”

“I’d have Sio, Slipper, Holmes and Anae in my team ahead of Robinson any day of the week and twice on Sundays.”

“(Robinson) offers little, other than his role in the scrum in my opinion.”

These comments won 15 ‘thumbs up’ ratings between them. So clearly they aren’t isolated opinions.

I’m sure this will be put down to me defending my ‘beloved’ Waratahs, so I ask the question: are these comments as unreasonable as I think they are, or am I being a bit of a sook? That’s an honest question. I have never thought of myself as someone whose opinions are constantly clouded by provincial allegiances; I cheer for Aussie teams of all stripes (except when the non-Tahs are playing the Tahs). I can acknowledge the superiority of players from other franchises. But the constant desire of some commenters to stick the boot into TPN, Palu, Horne, Robinson, Timani, etc. is getting to me this week, for some reason.

And I’m sure people will comment on ‘undeserved’ Wallaby selection, which is one of the most tired arguments around. I can cop that about a few blokes (although I will defend Wycliff Palu until the cows come home). But surely not Benn Robinson.

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  • Farva

    For point 5, Benn Robinson has been one of our best props around and is proven at test level. He is not playing badly, but a few other LHPs are in good form. It will be mean some choices come the Lions which is always a good thing.

    Rob Horne has proved he is not test level however. There are plenty of other better centres around.

    Cliffy Palu is our best 8 by some margin, if fit.

    TPN is out of form but he is proven at test level, although not at Moores standard.
    Timani is a good player, but the fact he doesnt control the lineout and has some issues with his hands means he will be down the pecking order. And we have had some decent locks come through – Douglas, Pyle, Simmons are all examples. And Horwill if he is fit and firing of course.

    • Barbarian

      A delightfully rational analysis, Farva. Wish I had said that.

      • Timbo

        This is no place for rational analysis!!

  • Piggy

    Slipper’s numbers don’t surprise me at all. He, like quite a few of the Reds, play bloody well when wearing a Reds jersey, but have struggled somewhat when playing in the higher arena. I think a lot of that comes down the structured gameplan that Link has set in place (when they drift from that, or are ‘Force’d away from that structure, they don’t look as good), compared with playing what is in front of you. Daley is the same, so is Simmons and so was Higgers.
    I’m not a Benny hater (although I don’t bow before him either), but perhaps if he didn’t wear such obvious headgear you wouldn’t see him not rolling away, coming in from the side, or standing one off the ruck adjusting said headgear. It looks from time to time that he is going purely between scrum to lineout to scrum.
    I wonder if the Brumbies game plan has become a bit more well known by opposition teams, perhaps though it’s just they aren’t suited to the attack of ‘traditional’ South African teams. They did win against the flashiest SA team.

  • Nutta

    Re BenR. It comes down to what you are selecting. BenR is a sound scrummer and a “set piece” player. He adds to this by snagging the odd steal at the breakdown and the odd carry. IMO this is exactly what you want from a No1 or 3. He worries about his meat & spuds first and doesn’t “gravy it up” until the plate is filled – as I’ve said before “you don’t put gravy on the plate first Boy”. Unfortunately we live in a country dominated by AFL and Mungo where joe-average punter expects all players to be out & out ball-playing point-scorers first and foremost. And it’s that sort of ignorance that has left our scrumming as the achilles heel of our play and the joke of the international rugby scene for so many years. One of my most remembered compliments was by a Back of all things after I missed a game one week last year – “Jeez Nutta, you’re a pain in the arse, but by Christ I missed you when you weren’t here!”.Now that’s pretty screwed up but I reckon BennyR is sort of the same – you don’t miss him until he isn’t there (and your scrum is faltering and your lineout sweeping is non-existant). Now that’s exactly what you want from a No1 or 3 and he does it better then anyone else in Oz atm. It’s called “Doing your role in a team” – something our 3 Amigo’s mates and their adoring fans would know fk-all about.

  • JimmyC

    Mate I feel exactly the same. I got myself in a stupid disagreement with people on another article trying to get them just to stop the negativity. It seems many non tah supporters actually barrack for other countries teams before the tahs. I live in Brisbane and am a Reds member. I support the Reds at every home game except the tahs game every year. Why can’t people be supportive of Australian rugby?

    • Big Sam

      Haha, good to see we’ve both been soothed by Hugh’s call for peace

    • Rex Munday

      I’m supportive of Australian rugby which is why I’m critical of the selection policies. They’re grown men, not children.

    • Jimmy

      Mate I think in some places, Brisbane particularly, there is a sort of League “state of origin” mentality going on. It’s similar to the Kiwi thing of hating Aussies just because they are Aussies.

      This stipulates that you will support ANY team before you support your so called “enemy”. i’m a Reds member too and i find it childish and detrimental to the Australian Rugby cause which I see as the bigger picture. I think people like us are not in the majority up here though. Guys like Douglas, Robinson and Timani have played well for the national side but are still the target for constant criticism whereas players like Quade Cooper, who have been appalling and cost us games with stupid play, stupid statements and ridiculous actions are largely left alone.

  • wilful

    Those stats seem to me to jump out that Israel Folau isn’t just some flash in the pan. Spring tour? Fer sure. Lions? maybe.

    • Who?

      The stats tell me that Folau is fed a good amount of first phase ball by the Tahs… You can only run the ball if you’re given the ball. He shows up in three lists – number of runs (each team has a player in that list), number of tackle busts (where he’s behind Digby, who’s used in a very similar manner), and number of tries (where, if you’re getting more touches than anyone else, you’d hope you’d appear).
      Stats can be made to say anything. The Tahs tweeted that they ran twice as far last week as the Canes. Didn’t do them much good! Just like 2011, when the Brums had more possession, as much territory, and more running metres than anyone, but couldn’t turn it into wins, either. Whereas the Reds that year kicked something like 44% of their ball (second highest in the comp, whatever the stat was), won the title, and had everyone talking about their attacking, running game…
      Folau for the Lions? Wouldn’t surprise me. Mogg for a jersey this year? Not with Robbie coaching…

      • Barbarian

        I pretty much agree with all of that. Well said.

  • Big Sam

    Fresh off discussing which tahs forwards didn’t deserve their gold jerseys (to be fair, only in response to that question being directly asked), I have to concede that you’re right the conversation’s getting very tired, and even as a one-eyed reds fan who’s *always* thought of you as someone whose opinions are constantly clouded by provincial allegiances, I’m with you on the overreaction to Benn Robinson. He’s not been consistently on his best form this year, but I think he’s shown that when he’s on his game he surely deserves to have a crack at the Lions. I think the overboard responses are less of a comment on Mr Robinson, and moreso on how much easier it is to take the lazy discussion path and declare someone either completely untalented and hopelessly overrated or completely amazing and tragically misunderstood (cf every discussion about Quade). You’ve inspired me to step up my game (and try to be a little more thoughtful when I bag out the tahs for being rubbish)

    On Robinson himself though – in a vacuum, he’d probably be my Wallaby pick at 1, and I’m not typically a huge fan of Ben Alexander, but I’d be interested to hear from somebody a bit more knowledgable (shame it’s a week too late to ask Mr Palmer) how much value there is to keeping together a front row unit – whether it’s worth selecting the brumbies front row (certainly the form set piece in the country, if not the comp), even if on paper you’d prefer Benn to Ben?

  • jay-c

    the lions scrum will be stronger than anything the reds will face this year
    while robinon and palmer aim to dominate in a scrum, slipper aims for parity
    we want our best scrum men- slipper supporters need to remind themselves of why northern hemisphere teams have beaten us over the last decade- its because we havnt taken the scrums or even our forwards seriously.

    i love what he can do for the reds and around the park- unfortunately that doesnt count for shit when we dont have a strong scrum-

  • Rex Munday

    There are alot of reasonable and experienced punters who seriously believe that Palu is overrated. His tackling is good but he *sometimes* goes missing and, worst of all, he constantly hits the defensive line too upright and gets turned over or requires more wallabies to commit to save possession. We prolly just have to agree to disagree.

    I’m ambivolous about Benn R, and he prob deserves a place. TPN is a good player but seems to be selected regardless of fitness or form. His lineout throwing is a liability.

    Timani is nothing more than a rugby league prop with limited options . It amuses me that people bang on about Benn R being an asset solely because of his set piece play but give Timani a pass when he can’t even jump in a lineout.

    People have got the shits because they constantly see the likes of Horne, Timani, Douglas, Kepu, Mitchell, Mumm and, even TPN and Palu, leapfrog those who are in much better form. It might be forgiven if the Wallabies weren’t struggling to achieve a 60% win rate, but they are. How many jerseys were handed to Horne last year before the selectors woke up?

    • Barbarian

      Well, to answer your last question- three.

      Rex I don’t mind rational debate about these players. You certainly raise a few valid points. I am not saying that we shouldn’t discuss the merits of Waratah players, or any players for that matter. I just hate it when people use extremes or pointless hyperbole, or just call players names without backing it up- eg ‘fat’ and ‘lazy’.

      As for your points- may be a few issues with Palu’s body height, but his work rate in gold has been consistently good in the last year (in the last three games on the EOYT he lead the forward pack in runs in each game, and in tackles made was second to Hooper vs England/Italy, and Pocock vs Wales). But I understand how people see it differently.

      Agree with the issues about TPN, and Timani. Both have proved themselves at various points, but their form this year has been sorely lacking.

      • To be fair, don’t the same pointless hyperbolic statements get thrown around for other players, not just Tahs? The name ‘Quade Cooper’ certainly comes to mind. So it’s not just the Tahs, though several people have made the (reasonable) point above that it seems to be more Tahs players than anyone else who are getting picked for the Wallabies, who are then under performing.

        If Deans turned around in June and picked almost the entire Force, or Rebels, (or Reds or Brumbies if they drop the next eight games) forward pack, people would be pretty cranky if they didn’t perform.

        Also, while this rubbish that goes on in comments and on the forum can get a little tiresome, isn’t this website built on people expressing what they feel and arguing about it? Sure it would be better if we could all argue about the technical ability of Palmer vs Kepu at scrum time, but that probably isn’t realistic. A little bit of (healthy) hate between supporters makes the games more exciting. And being NSW fans, you should know you cop that more than anyone else, deserved or not. It comes with the territory.

        • Barbarian

          I understand, and your points are well made. I suppose every man has his limits, and I cracked the shits with it last weekend.

        • Can’t blame you – I think my limits have been reached today with the Wallabies squad!

    • Redsfan1

      Amen. It just is frustrating that the Tahs players are so biasedly favoured over the other players. Fact is they did poorly last year, poorly this year yet somehow Barbarian is arguing they should be Wallabies?! Brumbies & Reds have to dominate Wallaby selections this year.

      • Barbarian

        When am I arguing that all the Tahs should be Wallabies? Just Benn Robinson, really. And when you talk about ‘bias’, what do you mean? Who on the selection panel is biased to NSW, and why? I just think Deans favours a certain style, and the Waratahs have a few players who can provide that (Timani, Douglas, Palu, TPN, Kepu etc). Now whether you like that style or not is another thing entirely. But the idea of ‘bias’ in selection towards NSW is a bit ridiculous.

        • Jimmydubs

          Hope this comes acorss as intended. I don’t think there is a bias towards NSW. Most of the reds 22 are now wallabies…
          My problem is a frustration from some great players (wallabies) for the last couple years not living up to potential at the tahs, add in a couple of stars that have had lost some of there sparkle on arrival at the tahs (AAC, Hooper) and a general dislike of all things south of the tweed and that’s about it…
          The other thing Although I am a reds fan I cringe when watching Tahs vs any NZ team and the NZ commentators state that the entire tahs pack are wallabies, plus some big names in the backline…… then they get pumped. It’s a matter of national pride that a ‘team of wallabies’ (wearing blue) are in the bottom half of the ladder in a provincial competition. This then drives an anti-tah bias when it comes to who I think the wallabies should be…….. because if they change into gold jerseys and get a worse coach things arent going to get better.
          There is something fundamentally wrong with the tahs. I don’t know what it is, I don’t think Cheika is the answer (but he deserves more time to prove me wrong).
          On individuals i think Ben R is great but he seems to be hit and miss at ‘showing up’ as far as workrate; the meat and potatoes are great though. Palu has been broken for too long and ‘if fit’ is becoming like lotto odds. TPN annoys me because he gets picked ahead of Moore, he should wear 16 for the wallabies at best and be fighting hanson for 16. (i feel the same way about Sai’a over hansen at the reds! I dont like him because his selection over someone i view as a better player befuddles me).
          not a particularly concise or well structured post, but it kept me from working for 5min so i am happy

        • Don’t think hopper’s lost sparkle – just isn’t being supported as well as he was at Brums. Scott will k ow if his numbers have dropped. I don’t think so. I’d pick Robinson purely for his scrum and the odd match saving pilfer (Blues game).

    • Jimmy

      Palu is the best No.8 in the country when he is fit – that’s why he is picked. Granted he isn’t always fit but he offers some things that no other number 8 offer like stability at the back of the scrum. Watch any game where he gets replaces and there is a little bit of movement in the scrum – suddenly the half gets rubbish ball or we start turning the ball over – he fills that role well. He is also one of the few players we have who can, and does, dominate opposition players in the collision. When someone from the opposition team decides to have a Jeremy Kaino (WC Semi) type of game, you nee someone who can control him. We had nobody in the last WC who could do this.

      He is also a good ball carrier and can make the advantage line when the defenses are tight. He offers some real hitting power in defense and his work rate has been slowly improving. His fitness issues are probably due to the fact that he doesn’t get a lot of time to string games together. Your point about him losing the ball occasionally is correct but show me any player over the last four years that doesn’t have that problem in our national side. I’ve even seen Sir David lose the ball occasionally.

  • Merrow

    OK sometimes we do go over the top with our dislike for the Waratahs, and if that is a problem, then I apologise most profusely for it. I guess the point that I would like to make is, how long does a person get to keep a spot in the Wallabies on reputation, or because they’re the incumbent? Many people on the forums and in these discussions are quite happy to stick the boot in, pardon the pun, into a number of players, but it seems that if you bag a Tah, they are a protected species. Oh, and btw, I’m happy for you to stick up for Robinson, et al, but Timani? Only when it’s deserved.

    • Barbarian

      Again, I am not saying Tahs should be protected species. It isn’t the fact that they are being questioned, more the nature of it. Pat McCabe cops similar treatment, as does Quade. Nick Phipps as well. A lot of it is a bit irrational and sometimes it goes too far. We just need to be concious of when we go away from rational analysis and start slinging mud at blokes who are just out there doing there best (and it isn’t their fault they are selected when they might not be deserving).

  • Nowared

    You obviously didn’t read Scott Allen’s post on the failure of the Waratahs at the breakdown – that pretty much says it all for the Waratahs – what an embarrasment for their coach – you have to ask the question – how brain dead are they that they haven’t been able to realise that you need to have numbers and go forward at the breakdown so that the backs can operate efficiently ( they have had a pre season and around 9 weeks into the competition) if they don’t know now they will never know.
    Ben Robinson – great set piece loose head – around the paddock – not up to it -certainly not wallaby standard – needs a real rocket to get super fit and dramatically lift his work rate.
    I wonder whether he is just lazy.

    • SuckerForRed

      “Ben Robinson – great set piece loose head – around the paddock – not up to it -certainly not wallaby standard – needs a real rocket to get super fit and dramatically lift his work rate.
      I wonder whether he is just lazy”
      This is one of the things I get cranky about people discuss props. As Nutta said above the need to get their ‘meat & spuds’ right before worring about the gravey. The frount row, IMO, is there to do the tight stuff. Big blokes being good around the park is the domain of the Flankers & the 8. Had a discussion a few weeks ago about how I was disapointed that DP was leaving and he had not got his chances to play in Gold. The reply was, ‘Well, he isn’t good enough around the park’. Well he shouldn’t be.
      With this view of the world I actually think that Benn Robbo should be first pick for the Gold. He has been playing well this year & don’t see any of the other LHP being ahead of him. Some might be close. But, Big Sam also raised a valid question – are you better of picking the frount row as a unit?
      My issue with all players selected for Wallaby honors is that at times there seems to be more emphasis placed on history than current form. Look what Cheika’s little rest did for Drew’s form. Maybe it should happen more often.

      • Nowared

        If you are talking test football or top provincial, your front row has to provide the “full meal” – while it is essential to win the set piece, you have to have the ability, fitness and character to perform in and contribute in all the other phases – you won’t win much silverware at these levels if you don’t

        • SuckerForRed

          True. But you can not expect someone to do everthing. Yes it is nice if they can bring some gravy to the plate, but gravy is pretty usless if the meat & spuds are not there. That is, they need to have the basic down pat and be bloody good at them first. Just my opinion.

      • Who?

        I agree that you’ve got to have the fundamentals set first. There’s no point picking a hooker who can’t throw into a lineout (Taf’s greatest weakness, just ahead of his propensity to spill the ball in contact). Your locks must be able to jump in the lineout (I’m looking at you, Sita!). Your props must be dominant scrummagers.
        That said… Work around the park is more important, on balance, for a LH than a TH. The LH’s up against one player, half the time he’s crabbing out sideways, whereas the TH’s up against two. I like Le Fuse’s comments from a G&GR podcast a couple of years ago. Benny A was scoring heaps of tries for the Brums (think he led the table that year for them), then had a much lower impact round the park for the Wallabies. Al explained that there’s just that much of a difference in energy expended between scrummaging at 3 and 1. There wasn’t anything else to clearly explain it, and Benny A did look a lot more tired round the park. So for that reason, I don’t expect Dan Palmer to do as much work around the ground as Benn Robinson.

  • Roscoe Tims

    I think the problem with Benn Robinson is that he was one of the best international looseheads around until about two years ago when his form fell away (perhaps injury related). He’s never regained that form and the fact that he’s been playing in an under-achieving team hasn’t helped. He looks OK now – he’s the best scrummaging loosehead around – so in my view would be favourite to start as No 1 for the Wallabies.

    In terms of Slipper at tighthead – yep, he’s great around the park and is stepping up in terms of maturity but I’d imagine his current ‘less than convincing’ scrummaging abilities might be exposed against Cian Healey or Gethin Jenkins. Still developing – wouldn’t a season in the UK be just the best thing for someone like him – he’s only 23 (short term pain for long term gain).

    As for the Tahs, I reckon they’ll win 2 (Rebels, Force), 3 at the most (maybe Kings) of their next 8 games. Tough looking schedule. But they’re not Robinson Crusoe there…

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