Thursday's Rugby News - Green and Gold Rugby

Thursday’s Rugby News

Thursday’s Rugby News

Thursdays Rugby News sees Rebels and Brumbies squads are in, All Black captain retires, and Karmichael Hunt ready for the Reds




Tom English keeps his starting spot

Tom English keeps his starting spot

Rebels coach Dave Wessels has made a handful of changes to his squad that beat the Highlanders last week ahead of the teams second clash of the season with the Brumbies, third in six weeks, and it is only round 4.

Wessels has brought in an almost new front row, with Matt Gibbon, a player who started the season without a contract and former Brumbies hooker Robbie Abel getting their first starts in the navy blue, and Sam Talakai retaining his starting spot from last week. 

“Matt Gibbon is a great story, because he came over in the preseason with no contract and fought his way through in preseason and did a number of things which impressed me,” Wessels said.

“There was a moment which impressed me where he was a loosehead and we needed a tighthead in a drill pre-Christmas.

“We asked him if he could do it and most people would flinch at that, but Matt didn’t bat an eyelid and that was an indication for me that he was prepared to do whatever the team needed of him.

Adam Coleman comes into the second row relegating Luke Jones to the bench. Rob Leota comes of the bench for Angus Cottrell who has been left out of the 23 all together as Dave Wessels looks to manage his players a head of 2 straight months of matches. 

“In order to win Super Rugby, you need a good squad and there’s been guys who have trained and competed in the last couple of weeks who deserve a go,” Wessels said.

“Anybody who’s not at full capacity, we shouldn’t be putting in there just based on reputation.

“We need to be smart, we’ve got a run of eight games continuously, so we need to have the fresher players available all the time.”

Billy Meakes and Tom English will continue their strong pairing in the centres in an unchanged backline that beat the Highlanders. Wallaby Reece Hodge will come off the bench.

Wessels has been impressed with the work rate and effort of Meakes and English who continue to fight to hold that starting spot.

“It’s probably just a reflection of Tom English and Billy Meakes doing a good job for us in the midfield,” Wessels said.

“Reece is the ultimate professional and we do everything we ask of him, but we want payers to feel that they have to warrant their performances at all time, so Hodgey is doing everything in his power but the other guys are working hard to keep their spots too.”

Rebels Squad

1 Matt Gibbon 2 Robbie Abel 3 Sam Talakai 4 Matt Philip 5 Adam Coleman 6 Rob Leota 7 Brad Wilkin 8 Isi Naisarani 9 Will Genia 10 Quade Cooper 11 Marika Koroibete 12 Billy Meakes 13 Tom English 14 Jack Maddocks 15 Dane Haylett-Petty


16 Anaru Rangi 17 Tetera Faulkner 18 Jermaine Ainsley 19 Luke Jones 20 Ross Haylett-Petty 21 Richard Hardwick 22 Michael Ruru 23 Reece Hodge


Kieran Read about to scored key try

Kieran Read about to scored key try

All Blacks captain Kieran Read announced on Wednesday his retirement from international rugby after the World Cup later this year.

Read will stay in Japan and join Toyota Verblitz.

The two time World Cup winning no.8 will look to win his third World Cup, first as captain, believes now is the right time.

“My family and I are looking forward to an overseas experience and Japan presents an awesome opportunity to immerse ourselves in Japanese culture as part of the Toyota club,” Read said in a statement.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen praised the “outstanding” career achievements of Read, believing he will be remembered as a great of the game.

“He’s developed into a fantastic leader who has the utmost respect of all his peers,” Hansen said.

“What he has achieved has been remarkable, and it’s fair to say that he is one of the greats of our game.”

Read debuted for the All Blacks in 2008, and in 2013 was named World Rugby Player of the Year. At 33 years old, he has played 118 caps for the All Blacks and 133 for the Crusaders.

Read took over the captaincy of the All Blacks from Ritchie McCaw post the 2015 World Cup that saw an exodus of leadership players from New Zealand with McCaw, Dan Carter, Conrad Smith and Ma’a Nonu stepping away from New Zealand Rugby.

During his time as captain, Read has managed an 85% victory rate.

The All Blacks are keeping Read on ice a head of the World Cup, with the Crusader expected to miss the first six rounds of Super Rugby as the Kiwi’s look to reduce the risk of injury.

Read sat out most of 2018 with a wrist injury and a bulging spinal disc. During that time Sam Whitelock took the role of captain, but it is unsure if he would be a long term option to replace Read.

Whitelock is rumoured to also be looking for a move to Japan post the RWC, along with Brodie Retallick and Beauden Barrett.

Ben Smith, Liam Squire and Nehe Milner-Skudder have announced their retirements from international Rugby, and Coach Steve Hansen will also step down post the World Cup.



Coach Dan McKellar has made only three changes to the starting line up and two on the bench after his team went down to the Hurricanes last Friday. 

Canberra favourite Henry Speight returns from a hip injury that puts him back on the wing, pushing Chance Peni to the bench.

Code hopper Tom Wright gets his first start in his professional Rugby Union career in the no.12 jersey as Irae Simone was left out completely.

Rob Valentini comes in at blind side flanker, pushing Pete Samu to the bench, with Tom Cusack starting at no.8 for the injured Locky McCaffery.

Matt Lucas has been left off the bench, replaced by Ryan Lonergan.

There was four changes to the starting line up last week, but Dan McKellar doesn’t believe that the weekly changes will upset chemistry or the ability to play their best rugby.

“I don’t think we’re chopping and changing in critical positions,” he said.

“I think as long as you’re not making mass changes around your playmakers, that’s a bit of disruption, but we’ll back whoever we put in the team.

“We don’t make changes that we don’t trust or believe in and that was the case last week and it will be the case this week.”

McKellar needs his team to bounce back after their seven-point loss to the Rebels in round 1, saying his team has taken a lot away from that loss at home.

“We certainly learned a couple of things out of round one, but it’s going to be another tough clash down there,” McKellar said.

“It’s an eight-point game, really.”

Brumbies Squad

1 Scott SIO 2 Folau FAINGA’A 3 Allan ALAALATOA 4 Rory ARNOLD 5 Sam CARTER 6 Rob VALETINI 7 David POCOCK 8 Tom CUSACK 9 Joe POWELL 10 Christian LEALIIFANO 11 Andy MUIRHEAD 12 Tom WRIGHT 13 Tevita KURIDRANI 14 Henry SPEIGHT 15 Tom BANKS


16Josh MANN-REA 17James SLIPPER 18 Leslie LEULUAIALII-MAKIN 19 Murray DOUGLAS 20 Pete SAMU 21 Ryan LONERGAN 22 Wharenui HAWERA 23 Chance PENI




Karmichael Hunt has promised NSW fans that he will pour every ounce of his Queensland blood into the Waratahs jersey on Saturday night when he faces Queensland for the first time in his career.

“There’s a tremendous amount of history in there and I’m proud to be wearing the jersey but this weekend’s game is against the old foe, who I played all my school footy in the colours – obviously Origin and whatnot,” Hunt said.

Hunt didn’t just play for Queensland in Rugby Union, he played AFL for the Gold Coast Suns, the Broncos in the NRL and represented Queensland in the State of Origin

“So the way I look at it is I’m going to take all that passion and pride and whatnot that I used as a schoolboy in Queensland as a Bronco, an AFL player, an Origin player and just pour it into the NSW jersey this weekend.

“I’m still really good friends with the guys I’m playing against, so that’s going to be an experience in itself but, as always, once the whistle goes, there’s no friends other than the guys that you’re wearing the same colours with and I look forward to going to battle with them.”

Hunt was exiled from the Reds by Brad Thorn last year for his off field indiscretions before being offered a lifeline by the Waratahs, and opportunity the utility back has grabbed with both hands and put his best foot forward.

Having played in both centre positions for NSW and full back for the Reds, Hunt isn’t phased with where Daryl Gibson decides to play him.

“Chopping and changing, obviously you have to get used to a different role and there’s a bit of knowledge to get down pat before kick-off comes but, other than that, it’s just once the whistle goes, you go out there and do your best,” he said.

“You do your role, you compete and you try and do everything possible to get a win for your team.

“That doesn’t change if you’re in 13,12, on the bench or number 15.”

Hunt spent his first few weeks in Sydney living in the Waratah coaches garage, making friends with Gibsons triplet sons before being reunited with his own family after they moved down for Queensland.

“Daryl’s doing a great job,” Hunt said.

“The coaching staff are doing a great job with using my ability and my talents. I’m just happy to go out there and put my best foot forward obviously with the transition so far and just look forward to keep improving and obviously keep adding to what we’re trying to do as a team here.”


  • Huw Tindall

    Public Service Announcement:
    2 * FREE TICKETS TO TAHS v REDS at the SCG this Saturday.

    I won some tickets to the Tahs this weekend but can’t use them for geographical proximity reasons so if anyone wants them let me know. They are e-tickets so can email whoever. Have asked rugby mates in Sydney and they are either already going or can’t make it so free to any GAGR fan who wants them.

    • Brisneyland Local

      Huw I will take them if they havnt already gone

      • Huw Tindall

        Sold to the large man with chronically faded curtains!

        Warning I believe they are in the NSW supporters section. Believe it’s called ‘Tah Tribe’ or something.

        If keen just ping me an email. It’s just my name all in one word at gmail.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Thanks amte. You are a mighty generous man, and I will never hear a bad word mentioned about you again on this sight. ;-)

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Bugga. too late

        • Huw Tindall

          quick and the dead

    • Nutta

      Geez you’re a nice fella.

      • Huw Tindall

        Who would I be to deny someone the opportunity of seeing Australia’s premier provincial rugby side take on some blokes in red shirts?

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Hahahaha gold

        • Timbo

          Surely you mean purple shirts?

        • swingpass

          maroon if you don’t mind

    • David Creagh

      Very generous Huw

    • Greg

      You mean you are not commuting for this one?

      • Huw Tindall

        I checked with the girlfriend and the silence emanating form her was telling

        • Greg

          so… no objection raised? I’ll see you there. members stand.

        • Huw Tindall

          Of course! Ask for forgiveness, not permission.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Dylan, some interesting picks here for the Rebels and Brumbies. I still think the boys from Melbourne should have this.
    Good luck to Read, he’s been a stellar servant of NZ rugby and deserves his payoff. I think injuries have caused him even bigger issues than we’ve been aware of and I wish him luck for the future.
    Yeah on ya Hunt. Just perform on the field ok!

    • Dylan Langes

      In Wessels I trust, sometimes he does the odd call but he appears to have a plan. I was blown away when he first picked Gibbon and now he’s giving him a start. But he did the same with Gus Cottrell who went to the Rebels without a contract and started round 1. I think Wessels is fortunate that he has the depth to play with along with not playing favourites.

      • Patrick

        I think he just plays modern rugby like it is, a (minimum) 30 man squad game in which you never have quite the 15 you want most so you need to make sure you make the most you can out of the most players you can.

        • Dylan Langes

          Good way to look at it.

        • Happyman

          Link did the same thing with the Reds. He played it as a squad I think it the European experience.

    • Happyman

      I would suggest you are correct with Read KRL from what some guys have told me the money in Japan is very good and the load in terms of games is much lower. France sounds great until you think about putting a 34 year old body through 30 odd games in a season in often lousy weather. (Said in the full realisation he is from Christchurch).

      My picks for the weekend Reds with both the heart and the head, Rebels the same way.

      I expect eh Reds will be pretty wound up so hopefully they don’t lose there composure.

      • Dylan Langes

        Im a Rebels fan but I have left my Saturday night open just to watch the Reds Tahs match. Should be a belter. Not sure who I want to see win though haha

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Reds mate! The Reds!

        • laurence king

          Love the Tahs but I simply cannot barrack for them while Cheika is the Wallabies coach.

  • John Miller

    “Anybody who’s not at full capacity, we shouldn’t be putting in there just based on reputation.“


    • Huw Tindall

      When Toomua eventually get’s here he could be struggling for a starting XV if the Rebs keep performing!

      • Dylan Langes

        Wessels was talking about the ability to rest players to get the most out of them, I am really excited by this idea. No need to run a player into the ground, keep them as fresh as possible for a long season.

        • Huw Tindall

          A balance between player freshness and developing combinations but with the length of Super Rugby season these days you need it. It’s not Top 14 or Premiership length yet but still! Wessels has got the salary sombrero to rest players :D

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        Let’s be honest, a fully fit Reece Hodge will not fail to make the Rebels’ 15 unless he suffers a catastrophic loss of form.

        Unlike Koroibete, he knows how to play rugby;

        Unlike Maddocks, he has actually demonstrated some competence on the wing at international level;

        Unlike Meakes, he actually offers line breaking power, and is as good at defending, passing and has a bigger kick.

        I think Hodge scores something like 21 points against a full strength Highlanders last year.

        What’s more likely:

        a. Meakes, who looked average at the Force and average last year at the Rebels became a gun in the off season and Maddocks, who was atrocious on the wing for the Wallabies last year became a gun in the 1 month off season; or

        b. The Rebels backline players are reaping the benefits of a 9-10 that is functioning well?

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Maaaate, you really don’t rate Meakes or Maddocks do you?

          Personally I like Meakes and while you are correct in Genia and QC making him look better I still think he’s playing well and making some good decisions. I though Hodge was crap at 13 last year and although a lot of that may have been due to those players inside him not giving him th ball, space and time to demonstrate a better outlook I still don’t think the midfield is his best position. I actually like him at 15. He can catch, he can pass (not well but he can actually distribute the ball), he can kick, he knows where to put himself so that he can defend and he can break the line when he attacks with the ball. I think he’ll go well at 15 and if he gets time there he could well be the best one in Aus

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Maddocks looks like he has a lot of potential. But let’s be honest in our appraisal of him: he looked pretty good in super rugby, but far from spectacular. His defence and decision making is weak on the wing in particular. He grew up playing fullback and apparently all coaches agree he is a 10. Nick Bishop agreed too for what that’s worth, and said that he’s had have to play at 10/15 to have an international future.

          He was actually atrocious for the Wallabies on the wing. Not that fast, not that powerful and at sea in defence. But it isn’t his fault, he’s being played out of position.

          I’d much rather him at fullback than Hodge.

          Meakes is just a decent super rugby player. It’s like people praising a journeyman like Robbie Coleman or Jono Lance. It just baffles me. He’s a guy I wish that I had in the Brumbies squad and who would make the 23 more often than not, but he’s not particularly fast, powerful skilful or good at defending. He’s a good super rugby player.

          Was Hodge horrendous at 13? Playing out of position and outside a dysfunctional 10-12 he was actually the only Wallaby to create at least one line break every game. Additionally, despite defending in the hardest position and having to be the defensive General there, and despite playing outside Beale and Foley (sometimes with Foley at 12!) the Wallabies’ midfield defence was actually pretty good last year. In fact, it was our poor attack rather than conceding heaps of points that resulted in our very losses to teams like Wales, Ireland and Argentina. We didn’t concede a huge number of points.

          Hodge can pass well enough to play 12 or 15, but he’s not that good under the high ball and not that fast or elusive in contact. Instead, he runs good hard lines, defends very well, has a huge boot (useful in both positions), supports well and is good at the breakdown for a back. They’re the typical skills of a centre.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          You do makes some good points and I agree I’m being harsh on Hodge considering the dicks he had to play outside of. I do like Meakes but I also acknowledge he looks a lot better outside QC and his skills are definitely helping Meakes look good. It’ll be interesting to see how they both go this year and if they take their opportunities.
          The really good thing is the options that all this is providing for the Wallabies. I just hope the clown and his bumbling assistants look at them

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Look, maybe he forms a better partnership with Quade than Hodge and remains at 12. But some of the criticisms of Hodge flying around is just absurd.

          Based on current abilities I’d have him over Koroibete or Maddocks on the wing any day if he was fit. Whether he manages to become starting 12 will depend on whether he can combine with Quade as well as Meakes currently is.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I do agree on him being better on the wing than either of those 2. I feel sorry for Maddocks because he’s not a wing but just went where he was told. Koroibete needs to go to NRC and learn how to play rugby

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I fear both Maddocks and Hodge are at risk of suddenly finding themselves outside of the Wallabies 23 and never fulfilling their potential as a result of being shifted around too much, rather than learning how to play a position properly.

          It took JOC until his late 20s to settle down at 12, when it was obvious to all and sundry when he was 18 that he was could be either a 12 or 15, but had to be given a chance to learn those positions. Instead, he was shifted around until no one knew what he was.

          You’re right that Koroibete needs to learn how to play the sport. He has such a huge upside, but he looks lost because he was thrust into the sport too early due to his athletic abilities, and hasn’t learned the basics well enough either. He’s at risk of not fulfilling his potential too.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          That’s a fair call. Must be hard for them though. Do you tell the Wallaby coach you don’t want to play that position and miss out completely, or do you play where you’re told and do your best?

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          You do the latter. But the coach should be thinking about the longterm interests of the player as well as his own success, not just what is convenient for him in the short term.

        • John Miller

          Don’t discount Toomua for 12 either. We already know he and Quade compliment each other very well.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Yep he combines excellently with Quade at 12. I’ve said before, but suspect we may find that the 10-12-13 Link identified as being the best back in the spring of 2013 might be what’s Cheika eventually realises is the best: 10. Quade, 12. Toomu, 13. Kuridrani.

          Shame we could probably have had this for the last 6 years.

        • Gun

          KRL you do your arguments no good when you call the players inside him dicks based on playing ability. I agree that their selections are inappropriate and unwarranted but it doesn’t make them dicks.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Yeah fair call although I guess it comes down to what you mean by dick. To be honest the way they don’t seem to think they need to improve is the thing I dislike the most and that sort of is a dick thing to me. However, I get it means worse to others so happy to not use it.

        • Who?

          Your point about Maddocks not being powerful is accurate. Kafe said that Maddocks actually told him last year that he was still growing, so he’s a lot of work on core strength and strength through his hips over the offseason. Hopefully it comes off for him.
          Hodge at 13 for the Wallabies is just like anyone else at 13 for the Wallabies. Impossible to judge. He was wearing 13, but generally found with wide balls out on the wings, especially on turnover ball, due to the defensive scheme.
          Hodge can be quick, but he’s not that quick off the mark. He’s more about top end speed. That’s actually a winger’s thing, not a 10/12/15 thing, where you’re more likely to be in traffic.
          Ultimately, I think he’s a good centre. Wessels agrees – he always says he sees Reece as a centre. But I don’t know that I’d push Meakes out for him at the moment. And the Wallabies have clearly informed Wessels that they see Reece as a utility player this year, so it’s good for them if he shuffles around the backline. For this RWC cycle, anyway.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          But a centre doesn’t have to have good acceleration – what matters is straightening, strength through contact and supporting.

          Nonu wasn’t very fast off the mark since about 2010/11. None of Crotty, SBW, Tuilagi, Basteraud, ALB, Goodhue, Kuridrani, Aki, Farrell or Toomua are quick off the mark either – Hodge would be as quick as any of them.

          Wingers have to be able to quickly beat a man on the outside, even if their top end pace isn’t that high. Off the top of my head all of the following were very good wingers despite lacking top end speed: Mortlock, JOC, Speight, Cummins, Milner-Skudder.

          I would much prefer to carry a centre a bit slower off the mark, than a winger. Otherwise, how do those half breaks become actual breaks?

          I suspect this year he may play wing for the Wallabies, but defend at 12 off of the line out.

        • IIPA

          Hang on hang on
          A center doesn’t need to be fast you say… yet you’re main and bloody regular I must say criticism of Meakes is lack of speed.

          Meanwhile Simone who you stated is “already better than Meakes” just got dropped for an ex rugby league halfback.

          You even managed to slag off Robbie Coleman who for a couple of a seasons was about the only x-factor at the brumbies and a local guy who on size alone had no right to be playing super rugby.

          You’re having a ‘mare.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          No, my criticism of Meakes is that he does nothing particularly well: not that quick, not that strong through contact, not that spectacular in defence and not a spectacular distributor. As I said above, to say he’s a player in the class of Robbie Coleman is not a ‘criticism’, but a realistic observation of what he has shown over his career playing football. Might want to actually read what I say, rather than taking tiny bits out of context to try and create false straw men arguments.

          You have any evidence whatsoever that Simone was dropped on account of being deemed incapable of playing at this level, rather than him being injured, or another reason?

          Is saying someone is a decent player without quite being international quality ‘slagging someone off’? Might want to go and google that term.

          Also, when was Robbie Coleman the only player with x-factor at the Brumbies? He left after the 2016 season, the year in which the Brumbies had Toomua, Lealiifano, Speight and in which Tomane was the best attacking player in Aus until he was injured. In fact, Coleman wasn’t even a first choice starter in that team.

          You managed to write so many points in that, and yet none of them were correct. That’s almost impressive.

        • IIPA

          Does nothing particularly well but in comparison to whom ? What about having someone in the centres who doesnt do anything poorly ? Because I dont think we can say that of a lot of our Wallabies backs in general the last few years. Anyway you see ‘nothing particularly impressive’ I see a well rounded skill-set and a real ability to read the game.

          As for the much vaunted Brumbies 2016 backline. Spent most of the year watching Moore and Pocock maul their way over the line didnt they ? Certainly didnt set too many grounds alright with their own scintillating collective backline play from memory. Anyway you’re obviously not a Meakes-man nor a fan of the Prince of Queanbeyan

          Simone, call me crazy but he’s made some bad blunders…basically 2 ordinary games out of 3, and there’s a young kid who’s looked really sharp in his short cameos. You do the math. He’s not short on talent but you reckon after a 30pt thrashing the coach is only rotating players and not dropping any ?

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Yeah, and he’s been fine so far. And if he keeps up this form he will convince me he’s improved hugely in the off season, but until he proves it I’d rather base my assessment on him on what he has shown over a number of years, as opposed to 2 matches outside Genia and Quade both playing great rugby.

          Another stupid straw man, because I disproved your nonsense claim about Coleman being the only X factor player at the Brumbies in a year where I barely remember him playing, and in which he certainly wasn’t a first choice starter. Tomane was Australia’s Higgers scoring back by far until he broke his leg about halfway through the season; Toomua was injured most of the time; Lealiifano was out of form (presumably the early stages of the cancer); TK was out of form. In fact, Toua probably showed the most ‘x-factor’ – and I’m not convinced X factor is a good thing.

          Actually, I do rate Coleman. He’s an extremely talented player. But like Meakes he was a bloke who usually made the 23 and didn’t let the team down when he was slotted in. But he never set the world on fire and wasn’t usually a first choice starter.

          Was he average? In a match where the Brumbies conceded about 45 points he made 12/13 tackles. He also ran for a good number of meters. He’s had two poor kicks. You saying that he’s had two average games doesn’t mean it’s true.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Mate, I see a huge difference in the core role and skills between 12 & 13. From your comments I feel you don’t. Is that correct?

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Not really. I think it depends on the balance of the centres. Almost all good centre combinations have one guy that is a big bigger to get over the gain line, and one guy that is a bit smaller. Both of these guys should be able to distribute.

          Crotty, Goodhue, Tuilagi, Mortlock, Nonu, Goodhue, Lienert-Brown, Basteraud (to name just a few) are guys that, while they primarily played one centre position, could play the other position pretty well too.

        • Who?

          See, I go the other way. I do want strength in the contact, but I want my centres to have the pace to get through the line. I don’t expect my centres to go 90m – that’s why wingers exist. I want wingers to have pace, but especially top end. I want them to get the ball in space on the fly, whereas centres get the ball in traffic, which is why I think they need acceleration rather than top end.
          I agree Nonu’s acceleration’s not what it was, but he wasn’t a top speed guy. He was about acceleration (early in career), elusiveness, and strength in the contact. All characteristics which made me think JOC would’ve been a great 12. Mortlock was our last great outside centre, he was arguably a winger because his path through 13 was blocked. I would describe Goodhue as having good feet. Big lad, but good feet. TK has more gas than Kerevi, which is another reason why I look at TK as a 13 and Samu as a 12.
          But hey – all good, we all have different philosophies of how to play the game and how we select positionally. :-)

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I’m just thinking of the top class 12s, and I can’t think of many (with the exception of Nonu) who had good acceleration in the past decade.

          Was Jean de Villiers quick off the mark?

          Honestly, I don’t think speed over more than about 40m really matters in rugby, except in very specific situations. I remember that Clark run down Reiko with ease when the Tahs played the Blues last year, and Clark struggles for game time at the Tahs, whereas Reiko is perhaps the best winger in the world..

        • Who?

          I can’t think of many players other than Nonu who I’d rate as top class 12’s in the last decade… There’s been lots of spot fillers, but not many greats. Whereas at 13, we can point to Snorky, BOD and Conrad as three all time greats.
          Top end speed in wingers isn’t everything, otherwise Davies would’ve had caps (as opposed to one cap). You’ve got to have enough size, too. But the back three is where I’m most concerned about pace. Guys like Habana and Shane Williams lived off their pace out wide, and there’s a few more quick Saffa wings now, too.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Mortlock didn’t have good top end pace, and Conrad was slow. BOD wasn’t very quick at the end of his career either. Not to say that Hodge has Mortlcok’s power, BODs elusiveness or Conrad’s brains.

          De Villiers, Steyn, Toomua, Tuilagi, Crotty, SBW – these have been some of the best 12s in recent years, and I don’t think any of them were particularly fast (either top end or acceleration). But I may be mistaken on de Villiers, as I can barely remembering him having a run of form uninjured…

          I totally agree that pace out wide is what matters. But most tries aren’t scored by wingers running 100m, it’s them running 10-30m and beating guys outside. Top end gas is a huge bonus, but acceleration is everything. I cannot think of a single top class winger in recent years who hasn’t had very good acceleration, except for maybe Folau.

        • Who?

          Exactly – Snorky, Conrad and BOD weren’t about top end pace. They were about elusiveness and/or power, and for two of them, great playmaking. All were brilliant defenders.
          I don’t actually rate any of those 12’s as being high quality 12’s… They’re nowhere near Nonu’s category, not close to Horan.
          I don’t think Folau actually has pace OR acceleration… He has size and a good step. You’re right that we don’t see many 100m tries, but we do see a lot of guys making 30m downfield from the ruck, but they often receive the ball 20m behind that gainline. So you need to be able to sustain that pace more when you’re on the wing than in the centres.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          To be fair, Nonu is probably New Zealand’s greatest ever 12, and Horan is potentially the greatest 12 of all time, and certainly Australia’s greatest 12. It’s a bit like saying that Andy Murray wasn’t a tennis great as he had so much less success than Federer, Rafa and Djokovic.

          I agree that they weren’t all time greats, but I think that they were the best of the 12s we’ve had in the last 10-15 years. Do you have anyone you’d place above them in this time?

          I think we’re essentially saying the same thing about wings…. And yeah, I agree Folau is strangely slow, but has so much power that he’s difficult to tackle.

        • Who?

          I prefer Giteau at 12 over those guys. Mauger. I see Crotty as a 12, but his pace is mental, and his dedication to the fundamentals. Tuilagi’s a 13, SBW I really don’t rate, because he’s not a complete player. Toomua was good, but I still see him as a 2nd 5 rather than an inside centre, because I still don’t see him as a running threat. He’s a competent carrier, but not a strike carrier, not a crashballer. Steyn had enough power to compensate for acceleration, but didn’t really ‘own’ the jersey the way he should’ve done. De Villiers was a top bloke, but I didn’t ever see him do much in attack. He was much more a glue type player and defender than a strong attacking player.
          And, where I like Giteau at 12, I think JOC could’ve been an all time great at 12, if he’d only been moved there young and put comfortably in his place even younger. And I think that Kerevi could, with better coaching, be our Nonu. So I’m pleased he’s got McKay alongside him, and I hope he doesn’t disappear come November.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I think my memory of Gits is tainted by how poor he was after he switched to 10 under Deans, but I do remember loving him from 04-07. I think the era of the small playmaker at 12 is over though.

          Pretty sure Tuilagi has played more 12 than 13, at least for England, over the years.

          I watched the match with JOC at 12 that Nick Bishop wrote an article on, and he looked spectacular. If I was Cheik I’d have him sign with an Aussie club like Toomua and play him as our 12 most likely.

          But still, my point is that most of these guys were particularly fast. Just defensive rocks who ran good, hard lines. I don’t remember Steyn doing anything in attack ever, whereas at least De Villiers was the intercept king.

        • Who?

          I agree those guys weren’t fast… They were mostly power runners, though almost all of them sit behind the crashball king, Jamie Roberts, in that capacity. It’s interesting that Mr Bishop has moaned about Gatland taking away Roberts’ skills, and dumbing down his game from the kicking, passing, stepping fullback that Roberts apparently was as a junior.
          So when I say I want someone who’s more focused on acceleration than top end, it’s because I want my centres to get through the traffic. There’s two ways to do that. One is to find a gap and get through before it closes. The other is to power through. Ideally, you get both (hence why Nonu was great). Acceleration is harder to find than size in the modern game (because everyone’s over trained), but if you had a line up of Horan, Giteau, Nonu, JOC, Kerevi… You’ll see a pattern to my preferences. :-)

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          But wouldn’t I describe Steyn, de Villiers, Crotty, SBW (or old mate McCabe) as particularly fast OR powerful. Steyn was a bit of a softie for his size. McCabe had the heart of a fucking lion but wasn’t quite big enough for the role that Deans wanted him to play.

          I find it weird to think that Roberts was once like that…

          I also agree, in theory. However, Kerevi needs to cut down his error rate hugely and make better decisions on when to pass (I think it will happen if Coach Courageous lets McKay do some coaching), but Kerevi is by all accounts about to leave Australia and Toomua will be very old after the World Cup.

          Unless JOC comes back or Simone improves (both very possible) then Hodge could find himself as our best option at 12. Even if he was second or third option, due to the physical requirements of that position, it feels like most 12s spend a large portion of their careers injured. You normally need 2-3 guys capable of playing that role due to injuries…

          I can see JOC being the perfect 12 outside of Quade.

  • Huw Tindall

    In Tahs news they’ve just gone and done what we’ve been banging on about. Hunt at 12. AAC 13. Beale 15. Izzy 14. Frothing for this game. Will be up bright an early London time for game day.

    • Brisneyland Local

      If they can get the ball to the backs, they should do well. I think they will struggle with their piggies against that Reds pack. Either way it will be great to watch.

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        I don’t think they should be starting gramps at 13. In round 1 when he ran the ball he looked like a geriatric. He will probably come out and prove me wrong now, but who is going to straighten in that midfield?

        • Brisneyland Local

          Maybe he was just resting those hammies. Personally I am no AAC fan. But will wait and see how that performs this weekend.

        • Ads

          You might see Rona coming off his wing into 13 on attack. He should arguably be at 13 anyway!

        • Brisneyland Local

          You could be right.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Yeah, I think Rona should be there in attack and defence.

          I wouldn’t have grandpa in the starting 15.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          I’ll buck the trend as I rate AAC highly. He was still playing very high lvl rugby overseas for Bordeaux and the Steelers in Japan. Maybe not for a full Super season now tho…. but I’d certainly rate him above Rona!

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I agree Rona should be 13 outside Hunt. I guess I should wait and see how AAC goes but I’m not expecting much and I don’t rate him.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Wow that’s a big call……watch this space

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Yep and I realise I could be proved wrong. Still feel it though

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I think Hunter will straighten the line unless Foley just keeps skipping him

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I think he will try his best, but he offers no running threat. He’s a quality player, but I think he needs a guy outside him to bend the line.

        • Huw Tindall

          Two Dads is matching up against Kerevi now too with Duncan P at 12. Doesn’t get much easier for the old man!

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Yep, it will be a baptism of fire.

          But at the same time, at least he is matching up against Kerevi in defence as well as attack, so they could both make a lot of line breaks.

      • laurence king

        A much better balance in the Tahs backs, and some real grunt in the forwards for the Reds. The contrast should make for some interesting footy.

    • Damo19

      I think the contest just became even more interesting with Thorne picking Hegarty at 10 , Duncan P at 12 (Kerevi at 13) and Isaac Lucas at 15. Some fast feet there- but of course it all depends on the game plan. If they are going to mindlessly kick the shit out of the ball and not chase it then they may as well stay home.

      • Who?

        I hope Hegarty’s ribs are ok…….

        • Singapore Sling

          Hard to believe that’s the case, they said he popped one during the half time commentary last Saturday. Even if it was minor ribs are generally slow to recover. I think this is more confirmation as to where Jim McKay see’s Stewart’s future.

        • Who?

          Exactly my point. I don’t see how it’s even close to a good idea to play Hegarty, how he could be anywhere near fit.
          You might be right about McKay…

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          If it’s true that Stewart is outside then starting 15, and this isn’t forced by an injury to Hamish, then it just shows the mind numbing stupidity in the decision to dump Quade.

          I have no reason thus far to think that Thorn will be a competent coach whatsoever at this level.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Yep and we’re not talking about a winger. … It’s arguable the most important position in a team. Just look at the Reds with Hegerty and he’s nothing special. The diff QUADE has made to the Rebels is crazy. Thorn is an epic douche. ….. May we never forget!

        • Damo19

          Media release doing the rounds is that Hegarty has “overcome rib soreness to take his place…”. I guess we will see. I would suggest with ball in hand he stays out of the same channel as TPN when he comes on the field.

      • Patrick

        History suggests that there’s no such thing as an aimless kick to Beale…

        I hope that’s changed!!

      • Huw Tindall

        Just saw that and it’s not surprising after the first 2 games I guess. Lucas at 15 could be a risk though if the Tahs have a half decent kick chase game (lolz yeah right).

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Hahahaha and we know they won’t

        • Huw Tindall

          Hope springs eternal KRL!

    • Parker

      Unfortunately Foley’s at 10 so the success of those outside depend on whether he lifts his game.

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        I think Thorn’s decision to play Lukhan at 6, rather than Timu, may come back to bite him. Foley, Hunt and Beale must be salivating.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          “Foley must be salivating… ” lol don’t make me laugh. …. what’s he salivating about? All the line breaks and tries his teammates will be making while he watches….

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Foley main’s ability is running the ball. Slippery guys like Beale and Foley who get smashed by quick defenders match up well against slow, lumbering forwards – which I fear will apply to Lukhan when he’s forced to play at flank.

        • Huw Tindall

          Breakdown will be interesting. The Reds struggled a bit there last week not being able to slow down Crusaders balls as their big units couldn’t get there in time.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Yeah, and Dempsey does okay at the breakdown too. But I was thinking in defence. Lukhan is just so slow for a flanker.

      • Huw Tindall

        I don’t get the amount of stick Spanners cops. Sure he is limited but he has been the best and most consistently performed 10 for years now. And that behind an average pack without much go forward. Yes QC was overseas, injured, excluded but nobody has stepped up in the interim.

  • Keith Butler

    Interesting selection by Wessels. Could be that he has selected a stronger bench of forwards so that the Rebs maintain pressure for 80 mins and don’t give the game away in the last 20 mins.

    • Missing Link

      I tell you what, the Highlanders weren’t left wondering when Coleman entered the field of play last Friday, they felt it!

  • Brendan Hume

    I am always impressed by a coach willing to use his wider squad. It shows faith in the ability of those players, shows concern for the long-term wellbeing of the ‘top’ players, and demonstrates a maturity in thinking. Cheika (and plenty of others) could learn some pretty valuable lessons from this.

    • Who?

      It was interesting to watch Insight this week on SBS. They covered junior sporting injuries, the dramatic increase in them over the past decade. The first to speak about it was a young man who hyperextended his neck and fractured three vertebrae in a scrum collapse playing Rugby (he spoke very well, and appeared to have recovered well).
      How does this tie across? They asked in the second half of the show about players playing injured. How people refuse to come off (as adults, then factor in the issues of knowing your own limits and pain thresholds as kids – one girl had a stress fracture in her back from athletics and the family took weeks to realize that was the problem, at least partially because kids don’t know what ‘normal’ pain is compared to ‘damage’ pain). They talked a little bit about Cooper Cronk last year. In that context, I’m very pleased to see a coach who recognises that it’s important to have players fit, healthy, refreshed. And hopefully that means a culture where players aren’t so arrogant as to think they’re a better contributor to the team when they’re injured than their fit replacement. If you don’t feel that, then you have freedom to do the best thing for your team, and for yourself.

      • Brendan Hume

        It’s so easy for a coach at an amateur level to keep the best players on the paddock – but at what cost. The good players get a sense of entitlement, the players around them don’t get the opportunity to fully develop and the players on the bench lose interest.

        The same is also true at a professional level, where often changes aren’t made until they are forced by injury. NZ again lead the way with a progressive thinking around player management and their results speak for themselves…
        I made the point last week about Foley and Hooper. I don’t particularly like either as players but you can’t deny they’re good players – they’ve both played a heap of games at the highest level. You can’t tell me they’re not both worse off for not having had a coach like Wessels who may have given them games off to refresh their bodies and minds.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          And some decent coaching to remedy their glaring deficiencies

        • From NooZealand

          HA HA HA, so true.

      • Happyman

        Yes I have been meaning to catch up on that. One thing I have noticed in a Rugby context is that boys will not advise when they are injured. Especially concussion as they know if a ref gives them a blue card it is 19 days till they return so they will under report to stay on the field. Until we can change this mindset we will always have issues.

        • Who?

          Which is why it’s so important to emphasize that team mentality, that no one’s better injured than their healthy replacement, that it’s actually a bigger let down to their team mates to play through injury that inhibits them.
          In terms of concussions, when I was involved, we’d drag anyone who’d had a head knock and try the tests. There’s verbal tests, but there’s also a balance test for anyone over 10. It’s available in a free app from World Rugby. Anything like a head knock, we were harsh, and (this being before blue cards) we were very slow to allow anyone to return. We had one kid concussed twice in a season (about 6 weeks apart, term 2), I wasn’t going to let him come back (in spite of it being about 10 weeks left until the end of the season). Then his dad spoke to me about it, and told me that he thought his son might sit out the rest of the season. I told him that was my expectation. Even better, the coach agreed – not surprising, given the coach was also the dad! But the kid was the captain (appointed by a previous coach, a previous year, and unanimously approved by every kid and parent in the team), a future rep player…
          I’m not surprised kids hide their injuries, especially concussions, so it’s really up to parents and coaches to ingrain that one season of junior footy doesn’t determine the rest of their lives, but an injury might ruin the rest of their lives. Especially a concussion.
          There was one girl on the show, her reaction to almost anything said by a doctor in the first half of the show was hilarious. Clear horror at the risks she’d taken, shock at how uneducated she was. Still keen to get back to sport, but amazed at the stats.

        • Happyman

          Agreed mate there was a very good Irish Doco on the subject about five years ago and it totally changed my perception. A concussion is a brain injury simple as that. You cannot see it and really you don’t fully understand how it will affect each individual player. You have to be conservative in your approach at every step.

    • RedAnt

      To be fair, squad management is much more important in a long tournament like Super Rugby than a normal test match year. World Cup is a little different though.

      • Brendan Hume

        Yeah true – although top players are playing nearly as many tests as SR games – combined with all the travel, higher intensity of matches, and the fact players put a super rugby season behind them (often without being rested or properly managed) I’d say management is just as important in tests.

        I was adamant Cheika should have brought in George Smith to the last RWC to give Pocock and/or Hooper a good spell. Would have lost nothing in quality and would have given those players a much better crack at the All Blacks. Poey and Hoops looked completely jaded by the end of that tournament.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I thought they both played excellently all tournament?

    • Gun

      I agree. Players are never one for one replacements either. What you lose on the roundabout you tend to gain on the swings as they say. As well as the enthusiasm engendered by selection.


Once captained the 3rds Rugby team, but then again so did Nick Farr-Jones

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