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Thursday’s Rugby News

Thursday’s Rugby News

Thursday’s rugby news has a tick of approval for the Aussie halves, a promising 9 left out, the Brumbies on a membership push and Kaino showing his versatility.


Larkham believes in halves

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Stephen Larkham has expressed his faith in the Wallaby playmakers available for this year’s World Cup, adding that the obsessive analysis of the team’s flyhalves- especially Quade Cooper- has been damaging for tournament preparations. As Michael Cheika’s backs coach, Larkham has worked closely with both Bernard Foley and Cooper, neither of whom have been able to pin down the number 10 jersey throughout the Rugby Championship.

“I’ve got no doubt they’re capable of producing for us,” Larkham said. “Bernard, I thought his option taking was spot on [against USA] and then Quade came on at fullback. But he’s gone from strength to strength in this program.” The legendary Wallaby also emphasized that a common denominator in his World-Cup winning experience was that the team was united throughout the tournament.

Farr-Jones laments 9 exclusion

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Nick Farr-Jones has given a surprising criticism of Michael Cheika’s 31-man World Cup squad, lamenting the fact that the team will not include uncapped Melbourne halfback Nic Stirzaker. “I think he’s got the best pass in the country, I think he’s got a great short-side game, he’s got good lateral vision so his judgment is good,” Farr-Jones said.

Cheika has picked just two specialist halfbacks for the World Cup — Nick Phipps and Will Genia — with inside centre Matt Giteau providing emergency cover at the expense of former starter Nic White. But the former Wallabies captain said that the Wallabies should be nourishing Stirzacker’s potential, emphasising that while he needs to become more consistent, “I think he’s got every attribute that could make him a world class scrumhalf.”

Brumbies begin membership push

Brumbies huddle Brumbies v Bulls 2015

ACT Brumbies chief executive Michael Jones hopes cheaper membership packages will help the Super Rugby province increase membership by about 50 per cent- from 9000 last year to 13,000 for this season. But a number of Brumbies members have said that they feel like they have been “betrayed” and “slapped in the face” by the changes in membership prices.

Despite Jones previously asserting that “Every seat in every category is going to be cheaper,” a number of bays have been reclassified from silver to gold membership, forcing up to 1000 members to pay more to keep their seats. Jones said the Brumbies were about to post a loss of more than $1 million this year and had made a loss 10 out of the past 11 years, requiring the changes.

Kaino moves to lock

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Veteran All Blacks flanker Jerome Kaino, who was a key member of New Zealand’s 2011 World Cup-winning team, has been earmarked to provide back up for the second row for this year’s tournament after the Kiwi selectors made the bold choice of picking just three specialist locks in their 31-man squad.

“I’ll jump and scrum, wherever they want me,”  said Kaino, who is also competing with Victor Vito and Liam Messam for the No 6 jersey. “It wasn’t too bad. I wouldn’t call it hard, but it was different.” Scrum coach Mike Cron has been working with Kaino to ease his transition into the tight five, which involves more that just set-piece work but also adjusting running lines and targets as part of the team’s structure

  • GoMelbRebels

    I’m a big Stirzy fan, but I’m not sure the RWC would be the place to debut him in test Rugby. That should have happened during the Rugby Championship at least. Next year, next year…

    • Pedro

      I agree and sometimes it’s good to hold players back a little early in their career. It keeps them hungry and gives them time to become better players before exposing them. I think Scott Sio had benefited from a bit of protection, Jesse Mogg on the other hand got his jersey to soon.

      • Seb V

        wayyyyy too soon for Moggy, Once he learns to man-up in contact he’ll become a sold fullback option. don’t see that happening for a couple years.

    • npivag

      I think that’s F-J’s point if you click through to the article, he thinks he should have been part of the conversation earlier. Weird timing for the commentary though.

      • JM

        Yeah, he’s injured anyways so what’s the point in carrying on about it

        • jamie

          It’s not an ‘injury’ injury. It was shoulder surgery that needed cleaning up but he could’ve easily played at 100% with it

    • As a Reds and Genia fan, I said the same thing. I thought if baffling he wasn’t in the mix. A Liam Gill-like situation where even white and out of form Genia had the nod over him. Very disappointing. Can’t see Phipps or white as long term options so it would have been great to have him play v argues at least.

  • Greg Dodwell

    Looks like you’ve been scooped by this morning’s Tele! After my Phantom fix, I read that the Wallabies will be fielding their “A” team against Fiji, their “B” team against Uruguay: a tactic to counteract short turnarounds between games.

    • npivag

      This isn’t exactly surprising though.

      • jamie

        A complete swap of every player is though. Cooper and Pocock were meant to play every RWC 11 game.

        • npivag

          Is it? Against the 2nd worst nation in the tournament when every other team in the pool is in the top 10?
          Virtually every coach would do this.

        • Braveheart81

          We didn’t have any midweek games with 4 days turnarounds in 2011.

  • MM

    I thought Stirzacker was out injured…….

    • Brendan Hume

      Can anyone shed some light on this? I was wondering why he wasn’t in the NRC. I agree with Farr-Jones to the extent that I think Stirz would have benefited from being in camp during this international season. Perhaps it’s too early to be in the RWC squad but training with White and particularly Genia before their departures to France would have been a valuable tool in his development that won’t be there now.

      • npivag

        I believe it’s one of those ‘we’ll have to get that shoulder cleaned up at some point’ surgeries. Every year a lot of players have them.
        If you make the Wallabies you have it after the test season and come into super rugby a little under cooked, if you don’t make the Wallabies you have it right after the season (missing the NRC) so you can put in a full preseason and dominate the following year.

        • GoMelbRebels

          Yes, planned shoulder surgery, so no NRC or Wallabies, though maybe the surgery could have waited if Wallabies selection happened (“what sore shoulder?”).

    • Marcus Pontmercy

      Why havent i seen him in any team roll in the nrc thus far?

  • Adrian

    A. Stirzaker wasn’t available for selection, because he was injured then, even if he isn’t now.

    B. We’ll play 2 different run on teams v Fiji and Uruguay. The only thing that will make Uruguay team seem like”B” team is Falau, and probably Pocock and Moore won’t play. Once the “finishers” have had a go, it will be hard to say what the A team is, and what the B team is.

    He’s genuinely using a 31 man squad.

    Likely to use bench early v Fiji, IF we are well in front, and use the bench late v Uruguay, assuming we are well in front.

    I’m tipping a period of Phipps/Cooper in at least one of these matches, …. unless he’s sitting on this to use v England as a surprise ….

    Results and team harmony so far, suggest the coach knows what he’s doing, and surprises won’t surprise …

  • Nicko

    Why does our ‘best 10′ discussion not involve our most in form 10 Matt Toomua?

    • Adrian

      Understood, but:
      Cheika style has 3 main points
      1. Big brutal forwards getting over advantage line (read Sio, TPN, Kepu, Skelton, Palu etc)
      2. Helter-Skeltee at times (read Phipps)
      3. Don’t kick the ball away, but run it (means no kicks like Toomoa did towards end of Auckland match, or Genia does sometimes.
      This is all a version of the Randwick style. Cheika doesn’t coach, or even know how to coach Jakeball, and even though Larkham is in the group, he’s not going to start now. Toomoa is there for straight running and defence at No12, not as an “old school” 5/8

    • Braveheart81

      Most in form? He played well off the bench against South Africa and then very well off the bench against the All Blacks in Sydney. He got knocked out early against the Pumas and then was absolutely terrible in the second Bledisloe in Auckland (playing 12).

      Trying to move Toomua to 10 now leaves a gap at 12 and there is no evidence that it will be better than having Foley or Cooper there.

      • Spank

        Tend to agree that Toomua should be there whether at 10 or 12 or interchanging.

    • Seb V

      Lack of game time in the position. Same reason why Lilo wasn’t considered. Unfortunately there are not enough games to try everyone out, Cheika had to make a call early on for 1 or 2 players and give them a shot. Logically at the time Cooper and Foley were probably the right ones to test first, in hindsight they are probably the wrong choices but it’s too late to change now.

  • onlinesideline

    random thought – my biggest fear is Wales.We will definitely be up for England match but i can see us making a woopsie against Wales for two obvious reasons. 1 We’ve won the last 10 matches = subconscious cockiness. 2. Halfpenny and Rys Webb both out = subconscious cockiness. Wales on other hand – HUGE welsh crowd – nothing to lose, lost last 10 matches against us and want revenge against these aussie c%&ts RIGHT in the WC and look at us, even without our goalkicker we are still gonna go ya….I see this as toughest match of the pool and one we could lose to bring us down to earth … they will be VERY VERY pumped for this and their replacements for Halfpenny and co will be just as good….their luck wil change and it could get down to a ref blunder or a missed kick by us..

    • jamie

      I think that every stereotype of cockiness you have must be completely ripped to shreds when Cheika is coach. He just will not accept it.

      • Marlin

        I hope you’re right (and I’m sure it won’t be for the lack of trying) – it’s still an element I think

    • Boris

      Luckily we have to play them at Twickenham and not Cardiff. That is a huge advantage for us.

      • Spank

        Not sure it is an advantage. Half of Wales can be there in Twickenham if they want. Rememberwhen we play the Boks in Perth it is a ‘home-game’ for the Boks! Like others above I am also concerned about our dropping our guard against Wales.

        • Braveheart81

          It’s still an away ground for Wales. They only play there about twice as often as we do.

        • Ian Francis

          Actually they play there half as much as we do. Alternate venues for 6Nations and all that.

  • Tomthusiasm

    Stirzaker killed it for Manawatu in the ITM Cup a few years back, great player and would be a great player to take a punt on for the RWC. Injury aside, I’m not sure if he could jump the queue ahead of Nic White, particually if he’s hasn’t been playing in the NRC.

    As for Kaino, it definitely gives the pack some extra grunt and they could give him plenty of time during the pool stages, not sure if they should play him there against a top tier team though.

  • jamie

    Wouldn’t surprise me if Larkham wants Stirzy and JackDeb blooded next test season… Stirzaker is scarily good considering his greenness and JackDeb is a slightly taller mirror image of Bernie, with an ability to kick 60M penalties

  • Stray Gator

    According to NFJ, Stirzacker’s “got every attribute that could make him a world class scrumhalf.”

    Well, that’s as maybe. I’m a big Stirzy fan, too, but I reckon Cheika (a well-known fellow fashionista) shares my deep reservations about whether redheads should ever wear gold – does nothing for their complexion.

    Just sayin ….

  • Imagine the howls of outrage if we’d picked three locks. New Zealand is bold. Michael Cheika is stupid.

  • Gottsy

    Just read that the wallabies are going to field 2 entirely different XV’s for the first two games, and that they are training as two separate units in the lead up. Big gamble if you ask me, and really begs the questioning of including guys like Skelton and Palu. Fingers crossed it pays off.

  • PC Joy

    Larkham calls for moderation and contributers to this blog ramp it up. Don’t you guys respect Larkham?

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