Thursday's Rugby News - Green and Gold Rugby
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Thursday’s Rugby News

Thursday’s Rugby News

Thursday’s Rugby News has the Lions squad, Cheika chatting Wallabies, Adam Coleman still on ice, and the Waratahs shelving box kicks (for the moment).


Lions Squad

Warren Gatland has named his bumper squad for the June series against the Kiwis. And boy, is it a squad.

First things first – Sam Warburton is the captain again. He captained the side when they were in Australia last. The squad also contains 3 2 of the 4 nations’ captains, with Greig Laidlaw (Scotland) not being around due to injury [and Dylan Hartley being excluded].

Also, get this – there are three (3) Kiwis in the team (Dylan Hartley Billy Vunipola, Ben Te’o and Jared Payne), but only two (2) Scots (Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour). The national breakdown is thus: 16 England, 12 Wales, 11 Ireland, 2 Scotland.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s the squad (in pictures!):

 

bi lions 2017 backs

Cheika Chats

Michael Cheika has chatted to Fox Sports or something or other, and this is what he had to say:

“Tyrel Lomax was there,” Cheika said. ‘Tyrel Lomax’ is the 20-year-old Rebels prop, son of Canberra Raider John Lomax, and ‘there’ was the 49-man Wallaby camp that Cheika had going on in Canberra over the long weekend.

“He’s only had a couple of [Super Rugby] games but we see the potential.”

Lomax wasn’t the only prospect there, with Izack Rodda, Duncan Paia’aua, Ned Hanigan, Sef Fa’agase, Jake Gordon, and Richard Hardwick also there.

“Richard Hardwick, I’ve really been impressed with his form, so I think he could be crossing over into the other zone, a good character too,” Cheika said.

“I think it was really positive that they were there. We’re making a concerted effort with that group of players, so we can make a contest with the other group of players.

“And push, get our top players playing well, and get our young players coming through and all that squeezes out the best.

“Maybe we haven’t focused enough on those guys in the past to come up and compete. Of that 48 there were 35 or so that we’re looking at for June, and then maybe another 10 to 12 that are [future prospects].”

When asked about the prospects of the Wallabies, particularly against the ABs, this year, Cheika had this to say:

“We understand why people would be feeling like that but we’ve got a certain way we’re going to play in the jersey this year,” Cheika said.

“We toyed around with a couple of things last year in what we looked at, and tested a few things, and we’re very clear on how we want to play and the cause we want to play for.

“We started instilling that in our players, just putting it in their minds now. We went around to everyone at the start of the year about that, and we reinforced it now because maybe some of the points we made haven’t been picked up on by the Wallaby group of players.

“That doesn’t mean you then jettison those ideas, because that’s what we do too much of. I’m not letting this go lads, this is what we’re doing, this is how we’ve got to perform on the field and these are the things we’re looking for. I’m just not going to let it go, I’m never going to let it go until we play like that.

“I don’t want to say too much about that stuff because it happens on the field, we’ve got to show it on the field when we play.”

Guts & Passion. Got it.

Coleman On Hold

Despite having overcome his seven week long calf injury, locking superstar Adam Coleman won’t be back for the Force this weekend in their game against the Chefs. Instead, his first game back will be against the Lions next round.

“I think the Chiefs game was an optimistic milestone, it was kind of a big target for us and he’s very close (to playing),” coach Dave Wessels said, reports rugby.com.au.

“We don’t want to play him for the sake of it and risk losing him again. It’s better to go one more week and have him for the rest of the season.

“He really cares about the team and he’s a very competitive guy and I think more than anything wanted to play, he wanted to have the opportunity to play against Brodie Retallick.”

While he was chatting about Coleman, who was part of the Wallabies camp last weekend, Wessels bigged him up.

“He doesn’t actually realise how good he can be, he can be a really world class player and I’m excited about the next 18 months to get him to that point,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Force have signed Randwick’s Mitch Short as cover for backup Michael Ruru, who’s gone and strained his ankle. Ian Prior is expected to start, with Short on the bench.

Je Ne Box Kick Rien

The Waratahs are set to judo chop the box kick out of their repertoire. Yep, you heard that right!

“We have had the bye week to really reflect on where we are going wrong on that stuff. We have tweaked a few things, particularly our kicking strategy,” Daryl Gibson told the Daily Telegraph.

“We have been victims of not controlling those situations and putting ourselves under pressure defensively.

“Early against the Hurricanes (we were) down 21 points and a lot of that was because of the box kicking situation, where we weren’t getting a contest and not getting a good spread defensive line and putting ourselves under that pressure.

“So we have shelved the box kick for a while. We will put that in the back pocket and try something else.”

No word yet on whether Mack the Mason will shelve his chip kick.

As announced yesterday, the Tahs have named their squad for the Kings game. With Andrew Kellaway (fractured throat bone – no, really) out for up to 6 weeks, there’s been yet another backline rejig.

Israel Folau is back at fullback, while Rob Horne returns from injury to the 13 jersey. The Nard, whose head has probably been bubble wrapped all week, is playing at flyhalf again.

Oh yeah, and Dean Mumm’s been dropped to the bench. Dave McDuling is gonna take his place.

  • Adrian

    I think Cheika is on about the “perfect rugby” style we played against Wales.

    It’s really the only style Cheika knows how to coach properly, and means big boppa forwards and a flat backline. Think Foley and Beale to steer the ship.

    Plan B is Cooper on the bench for a (slightly) deeper backline. Maybe some running forwards too, but Higginbotham shouldn’t hold his breath,… unless he’s learned to accept coach directions!

    Despite the poor form of Australian sides, the right sort of guys are in form, or were in form before they were injured.

    I think we can take a test or two off NZ, after NZ have taken care of the Lions

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Nice to see a positive outlook after so much negativity in the last few weeks on Super Rugby. I think you’re hoping a bit but depending on any injuries against the Lions and how the team is going after that tour I think there probably is an opportunity for the Wallabies to take at least one of the games. TBH I hope they do. I’ve said it before NZ needs a strong Australia and going into a game with the knowledge that Australia could win is a good place to be.

    • onlinesideline

      not a chance in hell mate – we are going to get absoluetly spanked. Until we face reality and concede we arent within a bulls roar of the kiwis, we will never put a national side together that threatens the ABs in any way. We sprout the same optimism every year and this year being even worse than last years re our super standards – were in for a world of pain this winter. You cant infuse into a player the winning pysche that comes from winning super matches without winning and you can ignore the pysche that forms from losing super matches. We are in a bad way and I think this is just the beginning of a long run of average Wallaby teams.We need major changes in rugby in this country and until Super implodes its groundhog day over and over.

      In other news……

      • Adrian

        Agree we need the major changes.
        I just think we’ll fluke it on the field this year, … which will probably delay the structural changes we need. I still want us to win though

      • Duncher

        As much as I hate to admit it, I think you’re right. Time we looked at ourselves a little more realistically.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Mate I feel your pain. Still hurting from the 90’s. I’m not so sure. There are a lot of issues but if Cheika gets, and listens to, a tactical expert, they get rid of Sharpe and get a decent defence coach, pick the right players and not protect under performers, focus on basic skills rather than fancy plays, stop the over the top mongrel shit then they will have a chance.

    • Big Dipper

      Dreamin’ — wish you were right.

  • Xaviera

    You mention Hartley being selected but his name isn’t in either of the two graphics, and I don’t think he’s in the squad. Wise choice methinks.

    • Funk

      No, Hartley didn’t ,make the squad.

      • adastra32

        Woops

  • Brumby Runner

    Good to see the up and comers included in the Wallaby camp. Can’t argue with any of those mentioned.

  • Bay35Pablo

    “I think he could be crossing over into the other zone”
    “other zone” – he talking about knocking off to Europe … ? :)

    • Braveheart81

      I think he’s saying Hardwick is on the highway to the danger zone.

  • Nutta

    Box kicking – it has been said plenty of times but it bears saying again; there is nothing wrong with kicking. But it must be disciplined and for a purpose. And that’s what we haven’t been. The best teams in the competition are actually the most prolific kickers. They put the ball into an uncomfortable situation for the opponent, meet it with organised defence and force them to play their footy in the wrong part of the field.

    Lions – the Grey brothers not getting picked is criminal in my opinion. Hartley not getting picked is sensible – I wouldn’t pick him either. Too many brain explosions over too many years to risk.

    Coleman – if he isn’t using Arnold as inspiration for what he can also contribute then he’s crazy. If Dougy can re-find his mojo (it’s there – we have seen it) then we have 3 cracking Locks there.

    • Tomthusiasm

      Scotland probably feel hard done by and there’s probably too many Welsh players there. Zebo should be there though. Gats offered a coaching role to Townsend, who could’ve pressed the case for more Scottish selection, but he turned it down. I guess Gats and Farrell have gone with known quantities.

      • Who?

        Known quantities and sticking with a game plan that’s been shown to be too one-dimensional… Gatland and Cheika have too much in common.
        With good selection and game plans, the Home Unions actually have the talent to win in NZ. But we can already see too many poor selections, and I’ve no confidence that the bastion of stagnation that is Welsh Rugby under Gatland will provide the more attacking and flexible strategies that the other three nations can provide. There’s historical proof of that – it’s called the 2013 Lions tour. The Third Test, many said it was about Gatland picking his team (dropping BOD). But BOD was a better player to play that style of game than Davies is or was. The difference wasn’t team selection, it was strategy. It was moving to a more attacking mindset, a change in intent, from powering through close, grinding out wins with scrum penalties, to attacking. Looking for 7 points rather than 3, looking to attack with width as well as in tight. If it took until the Third test last time – when the series was in the balance – to figure it out against a very poorly coached Wallabies team, why is there any reason to think that things will be better this time?
        The selection of Biggar over Ford is proof of this. Along with players like Zebo missing out. But Ford/Farrell was a very viable option at 10/12. Now, the 10 will either be Sexton (my original preferred choice anyway), or Farrell. Meaning less likelihood of creativity at 12. Ringrose missing the squad (who was very close to the best player in the 6N’s – and it’s not unprecedented to take a very young Irish outside centre on a Lions tour – think 2001) also shows a continuing focus on power rather than enterprise. And the lack of Grey brothers, too. I know everyone loves AWJ, but the Grey boys are closer to the modern prototype lock (Retallick/Whitelock/Etzebeth), and the AB locks will run rings around AWJ… The provincial locks will likely do the same.

        • Tomthusiasm

          Agreed, I think they should’ve taken a gamble but also half expected a team of safe bets, very short on X-factor imo.

        • Keith Butler

          I see AWJ as a ready made captain of the midweek side paired with Lawes. Pity that one of the Gray brother and Launchberry aren’t in the tour party. That would bring real strength in depth.

    • Keith Butler

      I could only justify AWJ going if he were captain. Lawes wouldn’t have made my squad either I’d have had Launchberry and either of the Gray brothers, probably Johnny. Talking of locks, if Coleman and Arnold can keep themselves healthy I reckon that will be pushing the likes of Whitelock and Retallick for top spot. A lot of damn good locks around in world rugby at the moment.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Absolutely agree on the kicking. Why take an option out of the game. Surely train hard and play it better rather than dump it. That sounds weird

  • Tomthusiasm

    “LIONS, LIONS, LIONS, LIONS” etc.

    Looking forward to it.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      As long as we win

      • Tomthusiasm

        I think we should, the Lions have to play provincial barbarians, 4 super teams and the Māori ABs before the first test. They should be fairly shagged by then.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Or they’ll be battle hardened and we won’t. This could backfire on us and I think they’ll be in a better position than us for the first test

        • Tomthusiasm

          Wasn’t there talk of a warm up test against Samoa or something?

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Yeah but hardly enough to harden them up

  • McWarren

    Gee the Gray brothers must be feeling hard done by and Jamie Heaslip, and probably 20 other players as well to be fair. I think the Lions will loose this serious because they will insist on picking Sexton at 10 and Farrell at 12. I really think it is either or for those two. I just wonder if the two are suited to playing alongside each other. I hope I’m wrong as I like both players.
    Did any of what Cheika said make sense? It could be a lack of sleep but I read it and came away with nothing. Lets hope his tactic talks aren’t as waffly.
    A fractured throat bone, ouch!! Sounds like one of the injuries Johnny Wilkinson used to get.
    Glad they aren’t rushing Coleman back, it must have been tempting.

    • Duvstar

      Johnny Gray, yes, Ritchie Gray and Heaslip probably not so much. Heaslip is well behind Vunipola and Faletau and Ritchie was completely outshone by his brother. Plus there’s a plethora of locks. Launchbury got about 2/3 MOTM’s in the 6N so can feel very hard done by.
      The Sexton Farrell debate is definitely a tricky one. I’d agree with you but then Ford and Farrell work together and I never thought that’d work. I love Sexton but wouldn’t be surprised to see him pick up an injury (obviously hope not). In which case Farrell to 10, Davies to 12 and Henshaw/Joseph at 13 for me.

      • McWarren

        There are so many options isn’t there. Your right about Launchbury but I think Heaslip is a far better 8 than the two you mentioned above, a far higher work rate.
        Who would you start at 12 with Sexton other than Farrell? Davies?
        I like Sam Warburton but selecting him as captain probably means Peter O’Mahony will not get a start, I reckon Gatland will name him or Hogg as captain of the midweek teams. Its a real shame in my opinion as O’Mahony is just the sort of tough uncompromising player to really lead the pack. I was hoping to see him knock a few AB backs on their arse. I can see him going with O’Brien at 6, Warburton at 7 and Vunipola at 8. A pretty good back row none the less.

        • Duvstar

          Haha I don’t think I can ever forget Heaslip’s brainfart where he kneed an ABs player in the head in the first ten mins of a test and got red carded. High workrate I know, but will never bend a line like Vunipola. Agree on O’Mahony on all fronts. Top player but probably won’t see a test match. I think Hogg will get the start at 15 (with Farrell goal kicking). And I wouldn’t be surprised if CJ Stander gets a strong look in at 6. One of the players from the last 2 years, fast, so strong and never goes backwards.
          I hope Gatland’s XV would look like this: 1. M Vunipola 2. Best 3. Furlong 4. Wyn Jones 5. Itoje 6. Stander 7. Warburton (would rather Tipuric or O’Brien but has to be the captain) 8. B Vunipola 9. Murray 10. Sexton 11. Daly 12. Farrell 13. Henshaw 14. North 15. Hogg
          Also fingers crossed Ringrose gets a late call-up for an inevitable injury. Dynamite player

        • Who?

          There’s much talk about Gat running both Faletau and Billy V in the same team – Faletau starting at 6.
          I don’t think Warburton should be captain, I don’t think he should be in the Test team. Stander is, for mine, very likely to miss out. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were Faletau/Warburton/Billy V. But I could also see Gatland going Warburton at 6, Tipuric at 7 and Billy V.
          Heaslip as a line bender doesn’t match Billy V or Faletau, but he doesn’t need to. He’s not the primary carrier. SOB and Stander do more of that.
          So, what’s the key to beating a great team like NZ? Easy – you ignore the players who have beaten them recently, and the styles that have beaten them recently, and go with something that hasn’t worked in decades! :-P
          I also don’t think we’ll see Sexton/Farrell at 10/12. I think that could work, but I don’t think it’s as needed for Sexton to have a strong kicker outside him as it is for Ford. I also don’t think Gatland thinks that way (when did he last pick a second ball player at 12 for Wales..?). Here’s an out there selection option – Sexton (or Farrell) 10, Te’o 12, Davies 13. Te’o’s arguably the closest back there to a Jamie Roberts…

        • Kevino

          My starting line up from squad selected:

          1: Vunipola
          2: Best
          3: Furlong
          4: Itoje
          5: AWJ
          6: O’Mahony
          7: O’Brien
          8: CJ Stander

          9: Murray
          10: Farrell/Sexton
          11: Watson
          12: Joseph
          13: Henshaw
          14: Williams
          15: Hogg

          This forward pack would offer everything you could need, I think POM will end up playing all 3 tests, might be off the bench but the warm up games are about creating combinations. His the best 6 in World Rugby when fit and the best defensive line out jumper.

      • Kevino

        Mike Brown has got to be the one feeling hard done by, and that’s coming from an Irishman.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Coleman is awesome. Hope he keeps fit for the Wallaby games later on.
      I agree, I read Cheika 3 times and still don’t know wtf he’s on about

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