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
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
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
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
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