Thursday's Rugby News - Green and Gold Rugby
Rugby

Thursday’s Rugby News

Thursday’s Rugby News

Thursdays Rugby News sees Matera a Waratah?, Dad Bod Marika, Randwick to host the Pumas, and the All Blacks and South African squads named.


 

 

MATERA WANTS TO BE A WARATAH

Embed from Getty Images

Once again not a Betoota Advocate article.

Someone with no chance of playing with the Wallabies has said they want to play for the NSW Waratahs. Or so his coach believes.

Former Wallabies scrum doctor and current maestro of Argentina rugby Super Mario Ledesma has come out saying Pablo Matera would love to play for the Waratahs due to his love of Sydney and even believes he would be pushing for Michael Hoopers spot. Once again, not satire.

“He loves being here, he loves surfing, he would love to play over here for the Waratahs,” Ledesma told RUGBY.com.au

“He is going to Paris after the World Cup but I think he would love to play here.

“The dream is to play for Argentina, obviously, but if he had to choose a franchise it would be this one.

“He would be challenging Hoops for the no.7!”

Before you get excited Waratahs fans (and anyone who wants to see someone replace Hooper), Matera has signed a monster deal with Stade Francais through to the end of the 2021-22 season that would make him one of the highest paid players at the club. 

Matera had a stand out 2019 season with the back rower winning Man of the Match in the Super Rugby final despite being on the losing side. His growth as a player and a leader has seen him become the captain of the Jaguares and the Pumas.

“He got the man of the match in that final and everybody was talking about him after the game but he doesn’t pay much attention about that,” Ledesma said.

“Obviously his consistency (is good), he never really has really bad games,” Ledesma said.

“He had very good games on both sides of the ball because he’s really hard defensively and he’s really hard with the ball, a little it of rugby league in him and he’s been kicking and offloading. He’s a really balanced player, really all-round good player and good bloke too.”

Ledesma said Matera’s no-nonsense personality makes him a very good leader.

“He’s great. he’s authentic,” he said.

“You don’t find that running around the streets, he’s really, really authentic, he can talk to you in the eye and tell you how it is but in a good way. He’s really good with the boys and he challenges the boys, he challenges the staff and he’s just a guy that wants the best for the team and for Argentinian rugby.

“If we’re not challenging each other … there’s only one way  to go and it’s down.”

KOROIBETE TIMING HIS RUN

Marika Koroibete gets a pass away

Marika Koroibete gets a pass away

New Dad Marika Koroibete is back in Wallaby camp in Brisbane and he might be more sleep deprived than he jet lagged team mates.

The winger was late at joining the squad in South Africa due to the birth of his son, Isaiah, and when he missed selection for the Springboks match, he came back earlier to support his wife.

“(I’ve got) two boys (now), I’m very happy. When I wasn’t selected in the team I asked if I could come home and give my wife a hand back at home,” he said.

“It’s good now to be back in camp.”

Now back in camp, Koroibete is pushing hard to get his starting spot back. The Wallabies were without a specialist winger against the Springboks, with coach Michael Cheika opting to play three full backs, with Reece Hodge and Dane Haylett-Petty on the wings and Tom Banks at fullback. They all had solid games but they lacked the awareness and pace that an outright winger would bring.

Converting from Rugby League two year ago, the winger has seen a massive change in is game, learning the intricacies of Rugby to make him a better player.

“I’ve learnt a lot. When I came on in 2017, I was more ‘just play the game’. Now, I understand the game more than the last couple of years, knowing how to work smart instead and extend my energy in a game,” he said.

“All players want to work hard but to work smart you are picking the right time to be effective not just running around for the sake of it, for the GPS.

“Since I switched to rugby and I’ve been learning week in, week out. I’m always trying to pick up my game and I’ve been working with Dean Benton on my speed, power and pace and hopefully I get a chance with the Wallabies to show the potential that I’ve got.”

In a World Cup year, everyone wants a spot on the plane to Japan, so Koroibete is looking to use his strength to make the most of his chances.

“It’s a big year with a lot of competition and I just want to get a chance I’ll definitely give all I’ve got,” he said.

He is also reaping the benefit of having Will Genia and Quade Cooper at the Rebels this year, helping work on his position and playing his role, and with the inclusion of Rebels attack coach Shaun Berne into the Wallabies set up, Koroibete is looking to continue to improve.

“I understand the game a bit more, I know what I need to do in my position more,” he said.

“Shaun (Berne) is a former player, he’s genuine, honest, straight forward, he’s specific on your roles and will get into you as well. That’s good for me.”

RANDWICK TO HOST LOS PUMAS

A show of handbags

A show of handbags

For the first time since they hosted the All Blacks 31 years ago, the Shute Shield club Randwick will host an international opponent when they play the Pumas in a World Cup warm up match. The date will likely be early September 

Sydneys east was home for Pumas coach Mario Ledesma when he coached the Waratahs and Wallabies, and thought it would be the perfect spot for a pit stop before the World Cup.

“I like the place and we wanted a hard game but not that hard so we’re playing Randwick, that’s we’re talking about that,” he said.

“That’ll be two weeks away from the first game.

“We’re trying an opposed training after that, in the week in Japan before the World Cup, might try get something over there but we’re far away from everybody, so maybe we’re training against each other, just going a little bit harder.”

Super Mario was looking for a spot his team could adjust to the time difference to hit the ground running in Japan, even considering time in Perth with a match against the Force, before settling on the idea of a match in Sydney.

“We were looking for a game to play before the World Cup and…we were trying to play against Perth but obviously we had to go to Perth and it was quite tricky to go over there and then there was another option coming through Europe but you still have jet lag coming through Europe,” he said.

“I thought it was ideal and I feel good coming over here and the boys do too, so they like it.”

Whilst it won’t be international standard Ledesma believes it would be a good hit out for the Argies before their first World Cup match.

“We were talking about if we wanted to do 80 or do maybe 3×30, we’ll see but i think we’ll do just a normal game,” he said.

“That’ll be our last game before the World Cup but it won’t be like we haven’t been playing footy because the boys have been playing for a while now.”

 

PULLING NO PUNCHES

Photo by Tom Offer

Photo by Tom Offer

The All Blacks and South Africans have named their squads for Saturdays match and they look quite different from the teams that picked up wins the previous weekend.

Only three of the starting team from last weekend remain in Springboks squad, after linking up with the advance party sent to New Zealand for a seperate training camp.

Winger Makazole Mapimpi, flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit and lock Eben Etzebeth were able to keep their spots.

Duane Vermeulen has replaced Eben Etzebeth as captain, with the weekend being the first Rugby Championship for the No.8 in five years.

 “It is important that we continue to build on our leadership for this important year, especially while our regular skipper, Siya Kolisi, is out of action because of injury rehabilitation,” Boks coach Rassie Erasmus said.

“Duane is an experienced captain and we have a strong group of leaders in the team, which includes Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit, who have both captained the Springboks before, as well as a number of other franchise captains.”

The squad welcomes back 4 over seas based players into the starting line up with fullback Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz), winger Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse), halfback Faf de Klerke (Sale) and lock Franco Mostert (Gloucester).

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen was just as ruthless, retaining just three starting players, with Beauden Barrett, Ben Smith and Brodie Retallick keeping their starting spots but not positions. 

FOr the 3rd time in his All Blacks career Beauden Barrett will start at 15, making way for Super Rugby champion Richie Mo’unga to start at 10. Ben Smith will move from fullback to the wing.

“He’s (Mo’unga) just had more experiences out in the middle,” All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster said.

“I love the way he’s dealt with leading a Super team that were the defending champions. He dealt with the pressures of that and help guide them significantly to another one.”

New Zealand to face South Africa

1. Joe Moody (37) 2. Codie Taylor (41) 3. Owen Franks (106) 4. Brodie Retallick (76) 5. Samuel Whitelock (108) 6. Shannon Frizell (4) 7. Matt Todd (17) 8. Kieran Read – captain (118) 9. TJ Perenara (55) 10. Richie Mo’unga (9) 11. Rieko Ioane (24) 12. Sonny Bill Williams (51) 13. Jack Goodhue (7) 14. Ben Smith (77) 15. Beauden Barrett (74)

Reserves

16. Dane Coles (61)17. Ofa Tuungafasi (27) 18. Angus Ta’avao (4) 19. Vaea Fifita (10)

20. Dalton Papalii (2) 21. Aaron Smith (83) 22. Anton Lienert-Brown (34) 23. George Bridge (1)

South Africa to face New Zealand

1. Steven Kitshoff 2. Malcolm Marx 3. Frans Malherbe 4. Eben Etzebeth 5. Franco Mostert 6. Kwagga Smith 7. Pieter-Steph du Toit 8. Duane Vermeulen (capt) 9. Faf de Klerk 10. Handre Pollard 11. Makazole Mapimpi 12. Damian de Allende 13. Lukhanyo Am 14. Cheslin Kolbe 15. Willie le Roux

Reserves

16. Bongi Mbonambi 17. Tendai Mtawarira 18. Trevor Nyakane 19. RG Snyman 20. Francois Louw 21. Herschel Jantjes 22. Frans Steyn, 23. Jesse Kriel.

 

  • John Tynan

    Wobs team in.
    Sio in for Slipper, Slipper to bench.
    Genia in, CLL in, Marika in for Sauce.
    Beale in for Bastard.
    White to bench.
    Latu bench for Uelese.
    Luke Jones to bench
    O’Connor to bench.
    5/3 bench.
    Sauce, Bastard, Spanners out of 23.

    • IIPA

      Not sure they are the changes we really need for the most part:

      The Good:
      Marika for DHP had to happen after last week.
      Sio back.
      CLL given a try at 10.
      Jones and JOC in 23

      The Not so Good:
      No changes to starting back row despite issues and the fact Argie are hard at the breakdown.
      Genia for White
      Beale in starting XV despite showing how good he is in a sub role.
      Banks shown the exit quickly again.
      Latu
      Kepu starting and I’m not quite sure how Slipper is good to go after last weeks head knock.

      • Bobas

        Couldn’t have summed it up better myself double IPA.

        The biggest no no for mine is Banks dropped. Poor Bastard needs a bit of time if you expect to be at least the back up come Japan.

        • onlinesideline

          its incredible isnt it. Players get destroyed once they hit the wallabies under Cheika. Cheika just cannot hang tight. He tries all these new people but reverts back to the old guard within 1 match.

        • Bobas

          The back-line both weeks have looked like each selector gets 2 selections each.

        • onlinesideline

          so how can they build momentum going into RWC which Cheika went to great lengths to emphasize and at the same time experiment ?
          He will end up achieving neither, momentum NOR a 1st XV playing 3 games in a row. Why didnt he play Jones last week, why didnt he play JOC last week. He knows what DHP can do and where hes at. If your gonna experiment start from beginning and takes some risks so that combos can evolve. I just dont get the bloke. The problem I belive is that he is fundamentally scared. His actions smell of fear, constant fear, that hes trying to plug one hole and then plug another and ………

        • Yowie

          NOBODY expects the Cheika Wallabies! Our chief weapon is surprise…surprise and fear…fear and surprise…. Our two weapons are fear and surprise…and ruthless defence…. Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless defence…and an almost fanatical devotion to running rugby…. Our *four*…no… *Amongst* our weapons…. Amongst our weaponry…are such elements as fear, surprise…. I’ll come in again.

        • John Tynan

          Put him in….THE SANDHILL SPRINT!!!!
          Gold mate.

        • Yowie

          Player: I don’t understand why I’m playing out of position.

          Cheika: Ha! Then we’ll make you understand! Nathan! Fetch…THE BEEP TEST!

          (JARRING CHORD)

        • onlinesideline

          Problem is, is that the most suprised are our own players.

        • Brumby Runner

          This is what grates with me most of all. Even the players are as much in the dark as we are about selections until publication two days out from the game, and none really seems to be across whatever game plan or strategy Cheika wants to implement. How can they be expected to perform as a tightly operating team?

        • laurence king

          ‘By Jove, the lad’s got it!’

        • Keith Butler

          Steady Yowie much more of this and Hoss, our resident humorist, will be gunning for you.

        • Yowie

          Ah sh!t. I don’t want a “this town aint big enough for the two of us” pistol showdown with someone who wears a cowboy hat full time.

        • Keith Butler

          Sparks, now there’s one from the vaults. Russell and Ron Mael the weird brothers.

        • Yowie

          I had no idea what that was so just looked up and watched the music video on Youtube. I’m properly disturbed now.

        • Keith Butler

          And so you should be.

        • John Tynan

          More a bunfight in a tearoom…

          https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2uv92d

        • Reinforce

          ……and the ol’ ones fail to deliver. I try to be positive about Foley but he isn’t our best flyhalf and Hooper has awesome ticker but plays the wrong role for the team and puts it out of balance.

      • UTG

        Genia for White was always going to happen to see which one of them should have the starting jersey. We’ll know after this. Remember White was a relative unknown coming back from overseas. Genia is the incumbent and has almost always been a faithful servant in Gold, he deserves his shot.

        Pretty fucked Banks isn’t on the wing. I like a back three of Koroibete, Banks, Beale.

        Latu’s been called up for the injured Uelese, also adds breakdown presence we were lacking.

        AAA is still injured, hence Kepu retains his spot.

        • IIPA

          Mafi, BPA, Rangi or Fitzpatrick are ahead of Latu for me who is living on 2016-17 form. All compete well at breakdown and less likely to give away a penalty when doing so.

          Kepu will be blowing up after 20min. I’d have started Tupou.

        • UTG

          None of those guys really compete at the breakdown in the same way Latu does. They’re just not test quality atm, I’m far more happy to take a punt on Latu than bring in someone like Fitzpatrick who’s just not going to be up to the standard.

        • IIPA

          Yet he started ahead of Latu for most of the last two years at the Tahs…

          And I think refs have wisened up to Latu doing his best Malcolm Marx impersonation that he’s not actually supporting his own weight most of the time.
          Anyway I don’t think a Latu 20min cameo ( unless he gets a card ) is going to have much play on the result either way.

        • UTG

          It could easily, when he came on against the Irish in the 3rd test he was fantastic until he was incorrectly penalised.

        • IIPA

          At his best and talent wise I don’t disagree he’s probably ahead of the others. But we need to see it more than once or twice across the last three seasons.

          Rightly or wrongly we’ll have two guys running around in the last quarter with enormous red flags above their heads in the eyes of the officials…

        • UTG

          This is last chance saloon for Latu. He’s been gifted an opportunity because we’re bereft of other options (although TPN has joined the squad). Let’s all just hope he recognises this, cuts the silly shit, and shows us his promise.

        • Who?

          And it’s Will’s last game at Suncorp. There’s been a notable amount of press around it. Well, notable, considering there’s no press about it, half of that non-existent press has been about this being Genia’s and potentially Kerevi’s last game at Suncorp.
          .
          Agree Banks should be on the wing in place of Hodge. And you’re right about Latu replacing Uelese with his head knock. Though Taf’s also been drafted in.
          .
          Surprised at how few changes were made, though. Honestly expected more. Not necessarily all justified changes, but this is Cheika – it wouldn’t have surprised to see TK leave, Kerevi at 13, Beale at 12 (though I did clearly state – and first state – that Beale’s run would see Banks dropped over someone who was less deserving of their place in the XV (i.e. DHP, Hodge)), Arnold dropped.. It would’ve been more justified to swap out one of the loose forwards, but that didn’t happen.

        • UTG

          There’s a case to be made for switching out LSL. Although, Jones is another hybrid blindside/lock so perhaps they thought there wasn’t a whole lot to be gained from playing him over LSL. Valetini might be the best option but it’s understandable they’re not taking a punt on him starting in a must win game. Will be interesting if they consider starting Pete Samu at 6 when he returns if they think a back row with both Naisarani and LSL/Jones is too heavy.

          Apart from Banks, I think they’ve got the backs spot on.

        • John Tynan

          Difference between Long Servcie and Jones is the direction. Jones a loosie turned into a lock (for some reason I never understood), LSL a lock turned into a loosie.

        • onlinesideline

          welcome to australian rugby

        • UTG

          Either way, they’re both not the quickest across the turf sideways.

        • John Tynan

          Jones at least has the benefit of running good loosie lines most of his career, to make up for it.

        • Who?

          John’s got it – the issue is that Lukhan’s clearly a lock. We’re trying to play a giraffe in a camel’s role (i.e. we need something that can be a bit shorter, but is hardier). I want a heavy back row, but the other issue with that is that it means Hooper needs to be an onballer. Because a Fardy or Mowen type player – tall, high work rate, but also hard on the ball – is a rarity compared to an onballing 7.
          I get not starting Valentini. My reason for not starting him isn’t that the game’s must win – it’s that he still needs time to develop into his body. Though that didn’t stop Cheik from picking the far-too-raw Hanigan for a good while.
          .
          Backs, 9 and 10 aren’t decided (because White/Genia’s a potential coin-toss, and Foley/CLL is about who Cheik likes best – still a shame he marked Cooper never to be selected again in 2017), and I’m not sure we shouldn’t end up with Beale on the bench (swap in JOC at 15 or 14) and Hodge gone, but at a minimum switching Hodge and Banks would work. I’m just glad we didn’t swap the centres.
          .
          Though I don’t see that we’re favourites for a game at ‘Fortress’ Suncorp.

        • John Tynan

          Or Uelese, alongside your Hanigan example.

        • Who?

          Very true. Although, going off last weekend’s issues, I don’t see that his head’s going to harden up any more. :-P

        • UTG

          Need to see JOC off the bench in the back 3 given he was predominantly playing centres up north before we start him. If he plays well I’m very happy to have him at 15.

          If we are going to play a heavy back row then we need a 7 who is quick on his feet and cover the wider channels as much as an on-baller. We really need another on-ball option in the front row as well.

        • Who?

          The Wallabies need Liam F****** Gill…….. Pace to match Hooper, but harder to shift over the breakdown.
          .
          Fair point about JOC, but he’s the sort of player I’d trust to have a go. Over so many others in that squad. He’s always been a natural born 12, but covered the roles across fullback and wing very well (just not so good at 10, under Deans, who burned every 10 he ever selected).

        • Missing Link

          I have a feeling we might see Koroibete, Banks, Beale before the end of the year

        • UTG

          That is what I was hoping for this week. I’m also hoping JOC can transition into the back three from the centres again because starting him at fullback and bringing Kurtley on for the last twenty could be deadly.

        • laurence king

          If Rasputin stays in charge, the merry-go-round will continue until we are knocked out at whatever stage of the World Cup. He is grasping at straws.

      • John Tynan

        If we play another stand off the breakdown game, I’ll be filthy.
        Kepu lucky.
        Latu lucky we don’t have a “no dickheads” policy.

        • laurence king

          Latu, designated driver

        • John Tynan

          In 18 months or so, after he gets his licence back again?

        • Brumby Runner

          Is a licence really necessary. He’s been driving like a man possessed at training.

        • A Dingo Stole My Rugby

          Picking Latu just shows that Cheika is asleep at the wheel.

          Ok, I’ll see myself out…

      • Patrick

        Back row is my biggest worry. I am starting to wonder if we can be a top 5 team at all without Brian.

    • Hoss

      Hodge & FKA very very lucky to still be there.

      • John Tynan

        It amazes me what sticks in his head and what gets dropped like a hot turd…

      • Mart

        If they don’t start taking points from 50 out then drop Hodge

    • Custard Taht

      Overall the changes are more plus than minus.
      1. Shame we won’t get to see how CLL goes with Foley at 12. It doesn’t seem right to try a different 10 without the old 10 at 12….who knows, this way might work.
      2. Hopefully JOC gets a go at 15, he has a complete skill set, which is unusual for a Wallaby back.
      3. I think the backrow/breakdown issues can be easily solved with training well and more intent.
      4. Bit harsh on Banks, but a team needs a scapegoat, and in the case of the Wallabies, scapegoats.

      • John Tynan

        Laughed out loud at point 1 – absolute gold!!

        • Missing Link

          CLL would have sore toes with Foley at 12. 2016 against England wasn’t that long ago!

        • Patrick

          Me too

    • Missing Link

      I don’t blame Cheika for using this game to “have a look”

      I’ll be very pleased to see CLL run out, he deserves more than a pat on this back to come back from adversity like he did.
      I said that last year he was far from his best following his battle with cancer, and I hoped he hit his potentially again… well consider it a done deal.
      Well done Christian.

  • Bobas

    1. Scott Sio (55 Tests)
    2. Folau Fainga’a (8 Tests)
    3. Sekope Kepu (104 Tests)
    4. Izack Rodda (18 Tests)
    5. Rory Arnold (20 Tests)
    6. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (12 Tests)
    7. Michael Hooper (c) (92 Tests)
    8. Isi Naisarani (1 Test)
    9. Will Genia (101 Tests)
    10. Christian Lealiifano (19 Tests)
    11. Marika Koroibete (20 Tests)
    12. Samu Kerevi (vc) (26 Tests)
    13. Tevita Kuridrani (59 Tests)
    14. Reece Hodge (34 Tests)
    15. Kurtley Beale (84 Tests)
    Reserves
    16. Tolu Latu (12 Tests)
    17. James Slipper (87 Tests)
    18. Taniela Tupou (12 Tests)
    19. Rob Simmons (95 Tests)
    20. Luke Jones (3 Tests)
    21. Nic White (23 Tests)
    22. Matt To’omua (43 Tests)
    23. James O’Connor (44 Tests)

  • Mart

    Wait did i read that correctly. They purposefully picked 3 fullbacks and no wingers!?! fark me I thought Koriabete was sent home for birth of child

    • Sam

      I hate it – like we agreed last week – I don’t understand why specialist wingers are so scary. Most of the other good teams around the world pick their good wingers and their second and third string fullbacks and centres don’t get picked – we do the opposite. We actually have some good wingers too. Koro isn’t even the best one – not a great decision maker – will get caught out in defense a couple of times I just hope it doesn’t leak too many points or we will be back to 3 fullbacks or 4 centres….

  • Mart

    Ummm yes please to Matera

  • laurence king

    Could someone explain to to me how this selection has solved the problem area of the breakdown, I’m afraid I don’t see it. Why Hodge and not Banks? Why Kepu? These new selectors seem to be having only minimal influence. Cheika seems to be very much a svengali type character, I’m going to call him Rasputin from now on.

    • Ads

      I honestly don’t get the selection hate this time.
      People wanted Foley gone, he’s gone. The props are as best we’ve got with injury to AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. That’s why Kepu is there. Thor is young and prone to brain farts.
      They wanted a proper winger and sauce gone, they’ve got it. Hodge Vs Banks is not that big a deal with neither being spectacular last week. Maybe CLL place kicking has been questionable and they want Hodge there for that. People wanted Jones in, he’s in. People wanted a stronger breakdown presence, Latu is in. Pocock is injured. There will always be quibbles but it’s basically what most punters have been wanting possibly except for Hooper gone.

      • laurence king

        Mate, we got beaten at the breakdown, well beaten. Problem is not solved. Kepu was gone after half and hour last game, and got pushed around in the scrum. Thor would solve that. In respect to brain farts, Latu is far more prone to this than Thor. Hodge isn’t in the same class as Banks and in a race would lose by quite a stretch. I don’t have a problem with most of the side and to see CLL on is great.

        • Ads

          All good. The bulk of the team consists of the team most people would have opted for (with injuries accounted for). I reckon many would have picked those picked for 1,2,4,5,8,9,10,12,13. I think the injuries justify selections at 3,7, and possibly 6 (Samu). Sefa Vs Koro or Banks Vs Hodge etc might improve but are not game changer selections IMO. Hope they do well. Hope they have a game plan to engage at the breakdown.

        • laurence king

          TBH, they are all good players or have the potential to be. It is the coaches who should go, and I fear nothing will really change until that happens. I will watch the game and hope for the best and cheer Hodge Kepu and Latu and the rest.

        • Brumby Runner

          I would not have picked Genia at 9 for this match. Far better to give White as much opportunity as possible to meld back in. Will is horribly out of form.

      • John Tynan

        Latu for 20 or so won’t change breakdown pressure when it matters, or if they’ve been told to stand off.
        I am the first bloke to go nuts over a hard at the ball 7, but in reality it is a modern, across the park skill for all positions to attack a breakdown when identified. the running orders last week seemed to be not to compete.
        Similar vein for Jones vs LSL on backrow balance – 20 or 30 minutes at the back end is not really what people were wanting, I think.

        • Ads

          Hey John, fair enough. But if it is the game plan, it is still not a selection issue was my point. I guess i was saying most of the changes people wanted last year to this year have been made and the commentary is on the whole still very negative towards it.

        • John Tynan

          I’ve said before that Cheika could do worse than put some rugby reasoning out for those of us who are rugby fans and want to understand, but it always has a chook wheel feel about it.
          I think the negaitivity is just long term fans worn down, rather than anti-Wallaby rhetoric.

      • Brumby Runner

        Hodge as backup goal kicker is surely a joke. If the need for one was at all recognised, the selectors should have kept Nic White at No 9.

        • Who?

          Good that he’s at least on the bench (could easily have been Powell). It’s almost like Cheik’s trying the least familiar 9-10 combinations he can find. Foley and White played together how many times, compared to White and Leali’ifano? Christian’s played outside Sanchez how many times, compared to outside White..? I know, neither is a recent combination, but one’s still way more familiar than the other.

      • There’s still no proper fetcher, which you mentioned. Listen to the Cane interview from last week, where he said the Pumas didn’t win much turnover but slowed down the AB ball at every breakdown a lot. That’s with Cane and Savea in every breakdown, plus Coles for 60 minutes. That’s some talent the ABs had and they still struggled… how do you the Wallabies will do with Hooper checking his hair in the TV screens out between 10 and 12 for 90% of the rucks? (That might be unfair, I’m just a little irate with life right now but the snark about his position isn’t that unfair.)

        Banks didn’t look spectacular, but looked, to most of us, the best of the back three last week. His reward – dropped from the 23. If he was a 40 test veteran and you’re saying to him “we want to see the new guy” that would be one thing. When he’s a one-test wonder, unless you saw and he’s not going to Japan – and he wasn’t that bad IMO – you give him the jersey to get some more experience surely? Player morale is important as well as seeing the squad. Even if you say “we’re giving you a half, so we can see some other guys” you have him in the 23.

        Beale looked spectacular in the last 20, not sure he should be wearing 15, he’s an impact player for me. Per my comments above, he’s that 40-test player (yes, he’s actually an 82 test player but the principle stands) to whom you say “we’re seeing the other guys Kurtley.” I understand switching White and Genia. Not sure I’d have done it, but I’m not going to complain about it. I understand why others are more unhappy though.

        The rest of the run-on squad, I don’t mind too much, but a lot of people are unhappy about LSL and want a different 6. I think he had his moments and was good enough to get a second chance – just like Banks should have been.

        My biggest issue is the bench. 2 similar loose forwards/backrowers. 2 similar utility backs who are both sort of really centres. If we want to see them all, presumably we hook a look and 6 or 8, plus 12 and 13. We totally change the game plan because 2Cows and JOC are not SK and TK. We’ve demonstrated a great ability to change plans over the last 2-3 years, oh wait, that’s my hallucinations talking.

        Sorry, you did ask, and I’ve had no internet all day…

  • onlinesideline

    I hope CLL has an ABSOLUTE BLINDER

    1 – becuase we all know why – because he is a freakinnnn inspiration. Period.
    2 – because he can unlock a defense

    • Jason

      I actually think CLL will be a boon for our attack too! Especially after seeing Foley against the rush defence of South Africa last week, it was completely clear that he just isn’t capable of ‘pulling the strings’ like we’d need with our two headed dragon of SK and TK in the centers.

      The other thing is there are now plenty of guys who can kick goals and kick them well (not that Foley has even been THAT good anyway).

  • juswal

    The NZ and RSA line-ups promise a lot. I’ll have to find a screen to watch that match.

  • Frosty morning

    Long time listener, first time caller….

    I think Banks is really hardly done by. Whilst he wasn’t spectacular last week he was solid and did nothing wrong. He’s capable of running great lines, and he has speed to burn. Defensively he’s better than any other fullback/winger we have. And a huge boot to boot.
    As others have said, Beale is most dangerous coming off the bench with 20 to go against a tired defence.

    • Hoss

      Welcome Frosty. I think Bastards unlucky and more to do with Kerevi’s inability as a ball-playing 12 – meaning they wanted a second ball-player (Gilbert from 15) to make up for that.

      Still, in Hoss’s XV there’s no Hodge and i would have put Bastards on the wing instead.

      • Frosty morning

        Good point Hoss. I do worry about Gilbert’s defence but at least with CLL in there will no longer be a turnstile at 10.

    • Andrew Luscombe

      Cheika is experimenting. I wouldn’t take any of these picks as resulting from last week’s play.

      • Frosty morning

        Fair call, but I wish he’d just stick with people and give them a chance to develop combinations rather than chopping and changing every game.

        • Brumby Runner

          Some changing I think is warranted. Certainly, Sio had to come back into the 23 when fit. Would like to have seen how Jones goes when starting at 6.

          But where we know how a particular player is playing, eg Will Genia, it would have been a better ploy to keep White at 9 and to see how his combination with Lealiifano at 10 would go.

          I am pleased to see the two Ks retained in the centres and hopefully Lealiifano will give them more opportunities than Foley did last week. DHP had to make way for Koroibete to return on the wing, but sadly Cheika elected to keep his white haired boy, Hodge on the other wing instead of testing Banks there.

  • Jason

    Not sure about Kepu, he looked all out of sorts on the weekend. Maybe he just doesn’t have that drive anymore. Perhaps a case of the “I’m getting paid if I play well or not.”

    • Hoss

      I was critical of Methuselah after the Saffa loss mate, but the more i thunk on it the dirtier i got at one Mr D Gibson.

      Gibson screwed the pooch big time this year with repercussions for my beloved gold

    • A Dingo Stole My Rugby

      I wrote on a previous article a few months back that in my view, Kepu’s been mailing it in for the past 18 months or so. I haven’t seen anything this season to change that opinion. He’s not the set-piece rock he once threatened to be.

      And with his recent mediocre-at-best performances, his liability to penalties has become more obvious. I just don’t think he is up to it any more.

      I suspect that Cheika is playing him this week as some sort of attempt at rehabilitating Kepu’s reputation, so he can keep picking him. After all, the Pumas have just about the worst scrum in test rugby these days – it’s a long way from the ‘bajada’ days of the late 70s/early 80s.

      • Who?

        Doesn’t the new scrum change implemented in the last week or so effectively outlaw the ‘bajada’, which relied on that sort of setup?

      • Jason

        Yeah, it’s funny Cheika does that so often if it’s intended or not isn’t clear. But whenever he goes away from Foley it’s always an experimental forward pack or backline or something, or they are a player who themselves are an experiment (ie Hodge at 10).

        It kind of feels like he wants to ‘protect his players’ or justify his selections so bad he wants to ‘prove the haters wrong’.

        I think Kepu should be out of the squad and that’s a real shame because he’s been a brilliant servant of Australian rugby but it’s a bit like Moore and TPN (not that it’ll stop Cheika) where they are just holding on too long and they clearly just don’t have it. I really don’t understand how Cheika can’t see it.

        • Who?

          As I posted yesterday, Taf was at home in the UK when Cheik rang on his UK phone. Taf hadn’t given Cheik his UK number, wasn’t sure he wanted Cheik to have his UK number… But once that phone rang, he couldn’t say no.

        • Jason

          Yeah, George Smith said it really well when he was asked a few years ago ‘If your country needs you, you aren’t going to say no. But I think there are some younger guys who can give us what we need and I’d rather they get a run before someone like me.’

          I just wish Cheika had listened to that last sentence…

      • Brumby Runner

        Like you, I posted throughout last year that Kepu was on the decline and had been overtaken by both Ala’alatoa and Tupou, and recieved a lot of insulting responses for my efforts, mainly from our blue-eyed mates.

        But without AAT, who I am fearing has been broken by Cheika and may be out for a prolonged period, Kepu is still in the mix for a spot, I’d just rather he play the last 20 minutes off the bench.

  • Hoss

    Good afternoon Rugby Lovers,

    My bags are packed & the teams announced – in terms of a progression I reckon its ok. Still got Brian, 7A’s and a few more to bolster it soon, hopefully Pataia is there-about’s, all in all, I am cautiously optimistic.
    Pumped for a big weekend and a sojourn North to the Banana Republic. Love watching gods game at Suncorp, close to the action, great atmosphere, weather is a ripper 26 degrees. As all good travellers do I have familiarised myself with key points to assimilate with the lesser primates who inhabit said region and so I have talking points in that I may converse with these simple folk over a broad spectrum:

    – Current Premiere – Alexander Balustrade. Formidable looking man who takes no nonsense and likes a burger or two.
    – Environmental issues – there are none, ask Mr Adani.
    – State Capital – from what I can tell approx. $213.
    – Favourite Sport – used to be Mungo Ball until two years ago
    – Average IQ – it sure seems to be

    Looking forward to the game, actually no – I am chomping at the bit to see the game. Great Stadium, wounded Wallabies, home game and a World Cup year – what’s not to like.
    Hoping to watch the Boer XXIII v The Nearlies in a bar prior to our own boys – isn’t that shaping as a cracker !!
    Having a drink or 6 at the Greham Friday afternoon in Brissie. Any Gaggers in the vicinity cordially invited to drop by and partake. Just yell out ‘Hoss’ I am easy to find. I am the Jabba the Hut lookalike and will be talking jibberish – first shouts on me.

    • laurence king

      You have a good time, hopefully made all the better with a good win. Meanwhile, I will have plenty of wood on the fire and drinking alone.

      • onlinesideline

        sounds like heaven
        tell me you’ve got a dog though

        • laurence king

          I wouldn’t put a dog through how I behave watching a game on TV. One moment I’m all peaceful, and the next I’m a raving lunatic punching the air in exhilaration or screaming in despair. My wife thinks that I go mad during a rugby game.

        • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

          I know the feeling. Watching the Wallabies threw bleary eyes take on the Saffers at 2am, I thought I pulled a hammy and blew my voice box from jumping up and down on the sofa and screaming at the TV.

          I thought I might need to be stretchered off but bravely soldiered-on, and suffered in silence by biting on a cushion. Wallaby fans have after all been through much worse.

          Will we fair any better against the Puma?

    • Keith Butler

      It’s Gresham. I have it on good authority from BL that Cobblers is closer and sells more brands but I dare say that by the time the weekend is over we will have watered in both.

      • Hoss

        Was a test and well done, you’ve passed.

        Corrected now

    • Happyman

      Would love to have made it however work intervenes on this occasion. Will be catching an aluminium death tube back late Friday for the game.

      • Hoss

        Mate look for a 6’8 Shrek impersonator. A 6’6 Pom with a head like a dropped pie and a rotund 6’4 ex #8, naturally the intellect amongst two ex locks, probably surrounded by women or being lead handcuffed to a paddy wagon (two bob each way) – that’s us.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Hope you all have a great time

      • Patrick

        I hope you do, this game is not shaping up as a picnic for your boys

  • A Dingo Stole My Rugby

    Latu. Jeez.

    Or as I prefer to refer to him – FFS. Because that’s what I mutter to myself almost every time he goes near the ball or gobs off on the field.

    For your consideration, Hoss.

  • Brisneyland Local

    Well ladies and gents. The squad is out. Hoss and KB flying north. I am leaving Sydney now. All is good with the world. Points as follows:
    – Surely there is an alternative to Kepu?
    – We are still going to get monstered at the breakdown.
    – Banks is very hard done by.
    – Beale should be super-sub.
    I dont know if there are amendments to the game plan, but if there arent, I think we will be done by 7.
    Any GAGRs in Brissy look for me and Hoss. You cant miss me. It will be like “Twins” with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny de Vito. If anyone calls me Mr Devito again I will get upset!

    • Huw Tindall

      Hopefully this GAGR get together has a better on field result than Hoss’s Tahs v Sunwolves event….

      Re the points at least the Argie scrum isn’t what it used to be. Old man Kepu is resilient at least. Testing our depth.

      Lack of breakdown presence irks me but hopefully the coaches direct the players to go hard at the breakdown unlike last week where they all stood off to pack the backline with 13/14 players. Doesn’t have to be a pilfer but just make life difficult with counter rucks.

      Great for CLL and hopefully he brings a bit more variety and tactical kicking variations than Spanners last week. Chips and cross kicks to the short Argie wingers. Even without Folau it’s worth a shot.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Yes we are hoping so. Regardless of the games result, I am sure the crew are going to have a blast.
        I just hope that they go so hard at the breakdown the earn yellows aka Tupou and Latu.
        Stoked for CLL and am hoping to see a little more go forward in attack. Because after Spanners dribble I am looking for something different.

    • Human

      Is that 7 points or 7 o’clock BL?

      • Brisneyland Local

        Defeinitely the losing score line for the Wallabies.
        But now you mention it, drinking with the Hoss man, it might all over by 7pm as well.
        Dont worry though one of my mates that is attending with us, is a Dr so we will have in house medical support to keep us going! ;-)

  • sambo6

    The fact is that our ‘balanced’ backrow is actually imbalanced by the fact that Hooper is not an on-ball 7 (im not blaminig him, he tries sometimes, but whether under instruction, or not – it is what it is). Sure….in isolation we can say Isi does what an 8 does, and LSL (sort of) does what a 6 does. But with no on-ballers in the backrow (and none really in the rest of the pack) at all this is where problems start. My Kingdom for a fardy.

    This is quite astounding from a country where we actually have a production line of hard on-ball 7s – wilson, smith, waugh, croft, robinson, gill, pocock, hodgson, wright, mccreight…which is not surprising given that when you turn up to training at the start of the year every man and his dog says they’re a ‘breakaway’…..

    • Who?

      Great post – completely agree.
      And saying that in no way diminishes Hooper’s abilities, his character, his effort. It just shows that the ‘version’ of 7 he plays still isn’t complemented by the players selected around him. Which is a failure of selection, and also shows how hard it is to find the ‘non-traditional’ 6 and 8 required to complement a ‘non-traditional’ 7. That’s not to say it’d be wrong to pick a non-traditional core of players, it’s just that you’ve got to meet the balance across them (workrate, defence, ball running and linking, ruck security/contest/jackalling, lineout) through the mix of ‘non-traditional’ players selected.
      .
      This is a major disagreement I’ve had with Nick Bishop. He sees guys like Hooper, Dane Coles and Tadhg Furlong as new type players, players who redefine their roles, because they do more than the traditional role. Whereas I see Hooper as non-traditional player, and the others as traditional players with bonus skills. Hooper’s non-traditional because he doesn’t cover the traditional role of an Aussie 7 (he’s not an on-balling player), the other two cover the standard skills then add extra skills in general play.
      You could argue that Kepu (passing game) and Tupou (wide running game) are both traditional plus players,whereas 7A’s is closer to the traditional player with fewer outstanding bonuses. But 7A’s is clearly the best THP we have at present – the bonus skills of the other players don’t add enough to push them past his advantage in core roles and his abilities around the park (which aren’t as flashy but can’t be overlooked).

      • Brumby Runner

        Well presented argument Who? and I agree with most. Hooper especially is not an on-baller and is presently the weak link in that backrow. IMO it would function far better as a unit with Liam Wright playing at 7. But of course, this will not happen because RA is too invested in Michael Hooper.

        The best solution otherwise would be to find a 6 who is an on-baller type of player. Best I can think of is Samu, but that takes away a primary jumper in the lineout.

        While ever Hooper retains his spot, it seems that we will be forever compromising on the range of skills required from the back rowers. Pity Poey isn’t yet in the picture (see my use of the current glib management-speak) and playing at 7.

      • sambo6

        compliments right back at you. I like the “traditional plus” versus ‘non-traditional’

        yes, all about balance. Hoopers fans point to ardie savea as evidence that this is the new way. But look at the other players in the AB pack who do work hard on the ball.

        • John Miller

          I often hear this comparison as well. But Ardie and Hooper are not the same. Actually, Ardie is a great example of Who?’s point: “Traditional Plus” (great term by the way). Has lots of “extras” but these don’t come at the expense of his core team competencies. And don’t require any other “Traditional Plus” backrow colleagues to make his selection viable.

      • UTG

        Is Hooper not an on-balling 7 or is he just not tasked to play as one?

        • Who?

          He’s not an on-balling 7. If he was, Cheika wouldn’t ever play Pocock. He can’t do what Pocock does. He fills more the traditional blindside role, tackling endlessly, and he runs well in wider channels (though he doesn’t link well). But he’s not a primary lineout option, as a 6 traditionally would be.

        • UTG

          I’ve always been of the opinion that Pocock and Hooper were played together because there were no better options prior to this year. I don’t really buy into the whole Cheika favours Hooper over Pocock stuff, I mean, it was Link that originally made Hooper captain.

        • Who?

          I’ve not been of that opinion. Fardy/Pocock/Higgers was a better option in 2016, but he didn’t go there. Higgers could’ve had more caps. Even Fardy/Hooper/Higgers would’ve worked. Because Fardy brought that on-ball effort which Pocock brings. But Pocock’s clearly the best available/selected Aussie forward over the ball over the past 5 years.
          .
          Link might’ve made Hooper captain, but it wasn’t necessarily a long term appointment, and it would’ve been interesting to see how Hooper would’ve developed without having his mate as coach. It felt a wrong appointment at the time, especially when the captain said he was looking forward to leaving the Wallabies to get back to the Waratahs. Even moreso when he backed his mate over his captain. It also felt like he was being hailed as the great new hope in the media (i.e. his prominence was pushed by the ARU) – something that didn’t happen to George Smith, David Pocock, or even the majority of the backs (surprising, given we talk as if we’re hard, but we’re really hard working and the average kid wants to grow up to be a back, not a piggie). It was a poor appointment.
          .
          I don’t think Hooper’s even remotely close to a poor player. I think he’s an excellent Rugby player – I also think that Foley’s an excellent Rugby player (bearing in mind his defensive frailties, but countering that with an understanding of his size). The issue isn’t whether or not they understand the game, it’s about whether they’re best suited to covering the roles they have. I think Hooper would be a truly incredible 7’s player. If he had another 10cm and 15kg, he’d be the world’s best 6. He’s an absolutely excellent player. He’s just not covering the roles required to balance the loose forwards with the other players available. There’s potential that it may be less of an issue this year, but it all depends on selection. It’s not like we’ve any more players available for selection this year than last year, and we’ve fewer available this year than we had in 2017 (before the Force became the ‘forgotten’ team in Australian Rugby, from an RA perspective).

        • John Miller

          Great post.

        • UTG

          I don’t think Higgers has ever really been up for it. He was given a number of opportunities throughout his career but never really proved himself.

          I’m surprised people are simultaneously lamenting the fact we were passive in defence and had no breakdown presence yet can’t make the connection between the two. It doesn’t really matter who is your 7 if you’re being blown backwards every time the opposition carries, you’re not going to have a breakdown presence. I’m going to wait a few more games till I start consigning Hooper as not having any breakdown presence.

        • John Miller

          91 tests too small a sample size?

        • UTG

          Long time since he was the sole 7 in the back row.

        • John Miller

          Yep, might have developed a scintillating breakdown capability that isn’t discernible from almost 100 test matches and 9 Super Rugby seasons.

          Of course, he was the sole 7 this weekend. That was relatively recently.

        • UTG

          And I’ve said why we had subdued breakdown presence on the weekend but you’ve overlooked it.

          From your rampant fanboying of Naisarani, I’m not really expecting anything in the way of objectivity from your opinion of Hooper.

        • John Miller

          All Australian rugby fans know why we had “subdued breakdown presence on the weekend”. But thanks ever so for your defining prose.

          Do alert us when Michael Hooper transforms into a fetcher UTG. Queue baited breath.

        • UTG

          You don’t make turnovers when your team is backwheeling the whole time. It doesn’t matter who your 7 is.

          If we are going to play a backrow with two 110kg+ players then we’re going to need to the speed and engine of Hooper to cover the wider channels in defence. We saw how badly exposed we were when Naisarani couldn’t execute a basic drift.

          I’ve had this discussion with you before, Hooper does a more than reasonable job at the breakdown. Look up the Sanzaar, Alloutrugby or RugbyPass stats for turnovers won/forced penalties/tackle turnover in Super 2019, he’s got the same number or very close to (i.e. 1 more or less) as the new golden boy, Liam Wright.

        • Who?

          Hooper’s issue isn’t solely turnovers, it’s when they’re made, and how much ball he slows. He makes turnovers in space, not necessarily when we’re pressed on our tryline. Which was the mark of Smith, and is the mark of Pocock. They make turnovers when we’re desperate.
          .
          Their other great skill was slowing the ball, even when they couldn’t turn it over. How many times did our loose forwards do that on the weekend?
          .
          Now, you’ve said Naisarani couldn’t implement a simple drift. I think that’s wrong. What he struggled with doing wasn’t drifting, it was decision making – whether or not he should drift. What was needed was clearer direction in the defensive line, but, understandably when the scrumhalf appears to be responsible for it (and it was turnover ball due to Lukhan being too flat arriving at the breakdown and getting knocked over by the tackler), there was no coordination out there. So there’s no guarantee Hooper would’ve been any better with his decision making out there.
          .
          That said, I’m not arguing that Hooper doesn’t lead the defensive line (forward), and do that well. I think he does that excellently – I think very few would debate it. The question is, what’s his role? Is it to lead the defensive line, or is it to slow ruck ball? That’s impacted by who’s selected around him. Traditionally, the 7 doesn’t lead the defensive line. The 7 secures attacking ball and slows defensive ball. If the 7’s not going to do that (i.e. he’s a non-traditional 7), then a non-traditional player for another position needs to be selected. That’s what Pocock’s been – a non-traditional skillset for 8. Which has left us missing other skills. If Hooper were covering the traditional roles for a 7, then there’d have never been a need to select Pocock at 8.

        • UTG

          Naisarani would have practiced thousands of 3 on 2 and 5 on 3 drills in training over his lifetime. Couldn’t have hadn’t it much easier, tightly bunched South African attack, sideline close by. All in all it, was a pretty basic drift and a bad misread, I’d expect most schoolboy backrowers to do a better job.

          I’m sceptical of statements that write off Hooper’s turnovers as being in space not in the tight. Usually the argument goes “Hooper doesn’t make turnovers” and when confronted by stats that say otherwise the argument very quickly slides into “Hooper makes turnovers out wide.” The turnover Hooper made on the weekend was midfield in our own 22m but obviously one swallow does not a summer make. I’m not sure we have a good proxy for slowing the ball, I’d assume that a guy who is making near the same amount of turnovers as other good sevens is slowing the ball just as much. If he isn’t, pretty good ability to stand off in defence and only commit when the turnover is on.

          To the question of which one of our loosies was slowing the ball, I’d say that you don’t really slow the ball when you’re conceding the amount of post contact metres we were on the weekend. It’s much harder to get on the ball when you’re not making dominant tackles and you can’t really flood the breakdown when you’re constantly trying to plug holes in your defensive line. Was the tactic of playing a passive defensive line in defence a good one? I’d argue no. Can you really say anything about the breakdown presence of individual players under such a tactic? Again, I’d answer no.

        • Who?

          Don’t forget, Lukhan’s only been playing about 6 years..? He made his Reds debut in his third year in Rugby. Communication is crucial at all levels of the game. A defensive line that’s not constantly talking is always going to have those sorts of issues, it didn’t look like there was much communication or trust in that situation.
          .
          Pocock often slows the ball in high YAC (Yards After Contact) situations. In fact, it’s more crucial to slow the ball when you’re conceding ground – your defensive line needs someone to slow the ball, in order to give them time to reset. Making dominant tackles is only one way to slow the ball. It’s Cheika’s preferred method (his teams that have performed well have rarely bothered to slow the ball on the ground, they’ve been far more focused on winning the contact in the air), but it’s not the only method. And there has to be an alternative found when winning the contact in the air isn’t happening (i.e. when you’re facing a big Bok pack).
          .
          You’ve complained that I’ve said Hooper’s most common turnovers aren’t tight, they’re not often on our tryline in clutch situations. But we’ve discussed that Hooper does a pile of work in defence – his tackle numbers are always way up there, and they’re often wider, and he leads the defensive line forward. It’s clear that his focus isn’t on getting into breakdowns, it’s on making tackles. And he’s been shown many times over the years to be far more shiftable over the breakdown than Smith, McCaw, Pocock, etc. If you’re making a truckload of tackles, leading the defensive line and easy to shift over the ball, then it’s very hard to be an immovable rock over the pill.
          .
          The question of Hooper isn’t whether or not he’s a very good player – it’s clear that he is. It’s whether or not he brings the skills that are currently needed in the openside flanker role, to balance the loose forwards, given the skillsets of the majority of available blindsides and eightmen.

        • UTG

          I think your position is pretty understandable. I’m not trying to argue that Hooper is as good as Pocock over the ball (is anyone?), I do, however, think he’s about as good as a lot of other 7s going around. Given this, my view is that Hooper’s skill set complements the other blindsides and eights available, he can cover out wide in defence where the bigger men can’t. When Samu returns he may change the dynamic of the backrow and it may be a different story. I’d also note that a lot of the international teams have hookers who are very good over ball and provide the extra pinch around the breakdown which takes the pressure off the backrowers. The only hooker we have in the squad that can do that is Latu, I’m hoping he kicks on this weekend and can push for contention throughout the rest of the RC.

        • Who?

          Hooper would complement the 6’s and 8’s if they were securing the ruck. Wide defence is for the backs first, the loose forwards after they’ve secured rucks. Reality is, we’re not securing rucks, and we’re not disrupting opposition ball, either. Part of that is Cheika’s preference for selecting LSL at 6. LSL was shown to be too leaden-footed for 6 in defence against the ABs last year. But he doesn’t disrupt opposition ball.
          .
          Meanwhile, Naisarani’s well loved for being a ball carrier, but I’m not 100% sold on him at the breakdown (looking at the Rebels’ season). I haven’t voiced this much, as I’m still giving him the benefit of the doubt (just as I’ve not complained TOO much on here for his consecutive mistakes at 37/38 minutes against the Boks – fumbling the ball back to White on that 5m scrum (never transfer pressure!), then getting mauled into a turnover off the lineout). Hopefully he can prove me wrong.
          .
          So whilst we might appear to have the sizes more balanced, we still don’t have the roles covered. Our 6 should be tall, rangey and hard working. LSL is tall, hard working, but not so rangey. Our 8 should be powerful with ball in hand, make dominant tackles in tight, and own opponents at the breakdown. We’ve seen the first point from Naisarani, but I’m not sold on the other points. As the newest arrival, he gets the benefit of the doubt. LSL gets grace for being selected out of position. Hooper, well, we know who he is, what he brings… Cheika should be much better than this.

        • UTG

          When LSL first burst on the scene for the Wallabies he was a bit of a hit man. I remember him bringing some serious power in Bledislode 3 2017, sadly haven’t seen that since. A bit more aggression in defence is definitely needed, it was why we looked so good in the first Irish test last year. It’s also why I’d be tempted to include Coleman, at least off the bench, when he returns from injury. He’s never recaptured his 2017 form, when he looked like he could go on to be one of the best locks in the world, but he brings that aggression that’s missing.

          Agree with you in regards to Naisarani, he has a nice left foot step and accelerates well post contact but doesn’t seem to be as effective in the tight, particularly in defence. He’s still finding his feet and definitely deserves his spot but I think Valetini will overtake him in due course.

      • I really like your “Traditional Plus” descriptor. It certainly covers Coles. I’m not sure it quite covers Savea, he does the fetcher role, yes, but he carries more like a blind-side, without the linking of a traditional 7, although he can certainly pass and offload. They’re also playing him at 8, as they did last weekend, where he’s too short to be a lineout jumper – but they can pick a tall 6 and 7 and have Savea lift one of them. He’s got the passing skills and the ball control at the back of the scrum to be a good 8 mind, so he ought to be able to link nicely like a traditional 7.

        The thing is, if they pick Savea at 7 and Read at 8, Read has got the hands for the linking role of the traditional 7, and NZ never lacked for ball runners, they just have their 6 run slightly wider. (Never met a blindside who wouldn’t prefer to run at a 10 than a prop…) If they pick Cane, Savea and x, they just pick x to be a taller 6 who can catch in the lineout.

        Savea is possibly the only player I’ve seen who is genuinely a utility back rower. While you can look at him and say “too short for 8″ and “doesn’t link like a 7″ and “too light for 6″ as long as you pick a tall enough 6 and 7 for those back of the lineout options, he runs through contact as destructively as any 6, and with smashing through defenders and smart offloads it’s not a traditional 7 linking role, but he can give the backs some wicked front foot ball. If Ioane doesn’t come through, and no one emerges from the ITM cup, I think he might be the next person to wear 8 for the AB long term and he’ll look pretty good doing it.

        • John Miller

          Nice post EP. Though, you may be being slightly harsh on Savea’s linking game. The bloke is certainly no George Smith. And I suspect his tackle busting, line breaking, breakdown winning highlight reel may overshadow that aspect of his game. But, as a comparison, Vodafone has Savea making twice the number of offloads as Hooper and almost 40 more passes over the course of the 2019 Super Rugby season. Now, Hooper is more of a backline runner than a backline linker. But, it certainly reinforces the better rounded capabilities of Savea and the distinct flaw in attempting to parallel the two players.

        • You could be right. If I think of a classic 7 in the linking role, I’m thinking of someone playing like a smaller centre, taking the ball to the line, committing a defender and then passing to a teammate in space, ideally a space they’ve created. Because I’m thinking about Savea, Conrad Smith and Goodhue are coming to mind as examples. (That’s not to suggest that your classic 7’s or either of those is not capable of taking contact and setting up a ruck, nor offloading out of a tackle but that’s not the linking role I’m focussing on right now.)

          When I think about Savea, I know he can pass but I don’t think about him drawing a defender and passing, I think about him drawing a defender, crashing through him, and the next one and the next one, and then offloading, or going to ground and setting up a ruck. SBW in his pomp, Nonu, Kerevi, that kind of power centre – although Nonu had a good distribution game too. But all those wondering why TK never saw the ball… Kerevi doesn’t pass, he trucks it up, and TK was never in a position for the short offloads (which is partly a new combination and partly a game plan thing IMO).

          There’s no doubt what Savea does is really destructive to defensive lines. I’ve seen him powering forwards with four players clustered around him and then pop an offload to a player in space, or go to ground and pop the ball up to the 9 to pass straight out to the winger, basically as fast as you can read it. Heck, when he gets it really together, it’s probably more advantageous to the AB and the Canes than what a traditional 7 does in terms of unlocking a defence. Just not part of the traditional skillset you’d look for and tick all the boxes.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Dylan.
    Well I’m back in the Land of the Long White Cloud for a couple of weeks and really looking forward to the game tomorrow night. Some interesting picks by Hansen and co and it’ll be interesting to see how they pan out. I expect even more for Perth as it seems they still have decisions to make around a couple of positions.
    Who would have thought a league player coming to rugby had so much to learn? Well apart from most on here who questioned the free ride they get into the Wallabies that is. I’m glad Koroibete is learning this but the issue for me is it takes even longer to get the instinctive play right and not having it is likely to be a weakness that other teams will target. Good to see him back in the team after last week but I’m a bit concerned Hodge is still there as he’s no winger.

    Interesting choice of Randwick and I sort of get the travel savings. Just not sure what they’ll get out of the game. Be bloody funny if they beat the Wallabies and lose to Randwick though.

Rugby
@DylanGLanges

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

More in Rugby