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National Rugby Championship

Thursday’s Rugby News

Thursday’s Rugby News

Thursday’s Rugby news see a replacement for Uelese, NSW to field two teams in the NRC, Aussie U20s call in back up and Dave Wessels talks Rebels Vs Force



Tahs v Chiefs 2016

When Rebels hooker Jordan Uelese was ruled out of the June Series with an ruptured ACL, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika had to find a replacement.

With our experienced hooker stocks running low, Cheika moved to select four-capped hooker Tolu Latu, the equal highest capped hooker in Australia.

This would seem like an odd move for Cheika had he not already picked a handful of out of favour, injured or suspended players, so it makes sense he would pick the guy who hasn’t held onto his Waratahs Jersey.

“He’s been out of favour at the Tahs for a lot of the year and he’s coming back into favour a little. His two or three games he’s played, I think he’s had a good impact and he’s been excellent since he’s been in camp,” said the coach.

The out of favour Waratahs hooker appears to have found favour with Cheik, as Latu hasn’t started for the Waratahs since round 15 2017 and was left out of the 2017 Spring Tour squad all together.

“Right now he’s our most-capped (Four caps) hooker in Australia, so he’s got that little bit of experience playing in the big match atmosphere,” Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said of Latu. (Via ESPN)

All hope is not lost for Melbourne Rebels hooker Anaru Rangi, who could potentially join the squad despite not being picked as Uelese’s replacement. Right now Cheik wants to focus on his already two uncapped hookers.

“Anaru Rangi has had a really good season with Melbourne too so he’s definitely not out of the equation. I’m just keen for the two uncapped hookers (Paenga-Amosa and Fainga’a) to have a little experience around.”

With a lack of experience, I would have been looking for a guy who has played a handful of 80 minute performances with the same intensity each week, someone like that might be a little more useful, even if it is off the bench.

Michael Cheika is expected to name his team to face Ireland this afternoon.



Credit: J.B Photography

NSW Rugby plan to field only two teams in the 2018 NRC competition this year, The Sydney Rays and New South Wales Country Eagles, meaning no more Greater Sydney Rams. (Via

The Rams are the second NSW team to be cut from the competition, after the Sydney Stars were disbanded post the 2015 season.

This follows the current Queensland structure of City and Country teams.

NSW General Manager Tim Rapp believes the move will all for a more defined pathway in NSW rugby, along with reigniting a traditional rivalry between City and Country teams.

“The decision to move to two teams means that our pathways are more defined and aligned with our overall High Performance goals of creating opportunities for our players and support staff to be involved at a higher level. At the same time, we are bringing back the rivalry that underlines Sydney and NSW Country contests like never before,” Rapp said. (Via

By reducing the number of NRC teams, it will see Waratahs players distributed evenly, leading to be better competition and rivalry.

“There are players who are proud of their heritage, be it Sydney or NSW Country and that’s what this competition is all about. Seeing NSW Waratahs players representing their team will add extra spice to the derbies in particular.”Tim Rapp said when speaking to the media.

The move will definitely strengthen the NSW teams, though it is interesting, given that Rugby Australia is keen to grow the game that they think cutting teams will fix it.

The NRC is a great platform for Rugby to grow. You can see there is an interest in it, but like all good things they take time to grow. Hopefully RA can work out what they want the NRC to be so we can continue to enjoy rugby even longer in Australia.


For the first time in a long time the idea of the Melbourne Rebels versus the Western Force can be focused on the Rugby. The Rebels are heading west to take on the Force in a World Series Rugby match on Saturday 9thof June (same night as the Wallabies vs. Ireland.)

It will be a homecoming for a few of the Rebels players and coaches,

Speaking with, Rebels Head Coach Dave Wessels had this to say about the event

“We get a special game (this) week, we get to go and play the Western Force in Perth,”

“It will be a momentous occasion for both clubs because it’s really a sign that rugby people want to put things that have happened in the past behind us and we want to move on and try to support each other and try to support the game that we love.”

Wessels takes a lot of pride in the fact that the Rebels are the only Aussie conference team to play the Force this season, something that is really important to him given everything the two clubs endured last year.

Wessels is expected to name a large number of former Western Force players to make the trip west this afternoon. Billy Meakes and Matt Phillip are already packing if you follow their Instagram accounts.

For those of you still wondering what separates World Series Rugby from Super Rugby (besides Twiggy Forests money), there is a handy cheat sheet via

The rules are designed to keep the game moving faster, turning it into a bigger spectator event.

There are rolling substitutionswith teams able to make 12 changes, as opposed to the regular 8.

The scrums can only last 60 seconds; something designed to speed up the part of our game that separates us from other sports. This put the responsibility on players to keep the scrum up.

An even quicker line out, with attacking teams able to throw the ball once they are set up, regardless of where the ref or defending team are.

And finally there is the Power Try. What is that you ask? Well its like a Super Goal in AFL. It is a reward of 7 points (9 if converted) for scoring in a spectacular fashion.

A Power Try is scored when the attacking team score through continuous play starting in there own 22. If there is no change in possession or penalties taken then a 7-point try is awarded.

The match will kick off Saturday at 10pm AEST.


Injuries and the June Series have allowed Reds Rising stars Hamish Stewart, Harry Hockings and Jordan Petaia to be called into the Australian U20s team for their must win game against New Zealand.

The Reds trio will replace the injured Len Ikitau, Trevor Hosea and James Ramm. Prop Lawrence Tominikowill also miss the game after receiving a three match suspension for a dangerous tackle against Japan.

The Aussies went down to the Kiwi’s in the Oceania U20s competition in April this year, fall 43-28. Junior Wallabies coach Jason Gilmore has said that Oceania loss was a line in the sand for his team that continues to improve.

“Leading into the World Cup, we hadn’t played together as a group for a while, so they were a bit rusty, but certainly you can see the growth from the Wales to the Japan game.” He said (Via


IN: Hamish Stewart, Harry Hockings, Jordan Petaia

OUT: Lawrence Tominiko, Isiah Latu, Rory Suttor

  1. Harry Hoopert, Queensland
  2. Efi Maa’afu, Queensland
  3. Tom Ross, ACT
  4. Angus Blyth, Queensland
  5. Harry Hockings, Queensland
  6. Michael Wood, Queensland
  7. Fraser McReight, Queensland
  8. Josh Kemeny, NSW
  9. Tate McDermott (c), Queensland
  10. Hamish Stewart, Queensland
  11. Jordan Petaia, Queensland
  12. Isaac Lucas, Queensland
  13. Semisi Tupou, Victoria
  14. Matt McTaggart, NSW
  15. Mack Hansen, ACT


  1. Matt Faessler, Queensland
  2. Sama Malolo, Victoria
  3. George Francis, NSW
  4. Esei Ha’angana, Victoria
  5. Pat Tafa, NSW
  6. Ryan Lonergan (vc), ACT
  7. Bayley Kuenzle, NSW
  8. Will Harrison, NSW


  • idiot savant

    I am very interested to see who Cheika chooses at 6, 13, and on the wings. Is he feeling confident and will he concentrate on attack? Or is he worried about losing and will he be defensive? Without knowing anything about who has recovered from injury or who has been training the house down, Im going to take a stab at the 23. I think Cheika is going to be defensive. Here goes… Sio, Latu, Kepu, Coleman, Simmons, Samu, Hooper, Pocock, Genia, Foley, Hodge, Beale, Kurnidrani, Korobette,Folau. Bench: Robertson, BPA, Thor, Rodda, Timu, Phipps, Kerevi, DHP.

    • Huw Tindall

      I hope he goes for the more ‘defensive’ lineup. We’ve got enough firepower to score points without putting out all our most attacking players. To that extent I think your team is pretty bang on but I think BPA will get the start as he has Super form whilst Latu is still coming back and I’d also put DHP in over Marika Korobiete. Still got questions over Marika’s defensive positioning and under the high ball. He sure can put on a hit though!

      • onlinesideline

        and hes freaking good at chucking a U turn and scrambling back to tackle a player too when found to be in the wrong position. Maybe hes used to it :)
        I like DHP but Marikas hits / speed push him over the line for mine. Good to have both in 23.

    • IIPA

      What time is the team named? Prob will just be the starting XV.

      I’ll be dissapointed a little if Latu gets in, dont think he quite deserves it yet though provides bench value for sure. Hopefully he’ll pick BPA and also not be conservative in picking the likes of Simmons ahead of Rodda or Kuridrani ahead of Rona/Kerevi.

      I’m not sure the wisdom of removing the GW Rams but then I suppose they hadn’t really fired the imagination of the public – still, that’s a vast swathe of land between the Northern Beaches and Country NSW…

      • Braveheart81

        I think BPA will start and Latu will be on the bench. I think Latu will get the nod over Fainga’a because he has some test experience and Cheika doesn’t want two debutantes at hooker.

      • Charcoal

        Damien Fitzpatrick is hardly done by as he’s been the Tah’s preferred hooker all season so far ahead of Latu. Even Hugh Roach was ahead of him on the bench until the last couple of weeks. Although Fitzpatrick has no test experience, he’s no slouch, and being older and more experienced at the elite level, I don’t think the mere fact that Latu has just 4 test caps makes up for that. He’s also a good leader and has the Rugby smarts. He’s captaining the Tah’s on their trip to Japan next week.

    • onlinesideline

      Our defense has to be maniacal up front and disciplined at the same time. And while thats common to every test match these days, its the short prep that worries me. If you had to say which one is harder to achieve with a short prep, is it your running game or your discipline of your forwards in upfront battle, I would say latter. The zen of not commiting penalties comes with time, say being together for a few weeks. We will be pumped to avoid being too slow and it could be at cost of discipline. They will kick to corners and put the squeeze on us. They will be more composed that us I feel in the first test. We may find compsure in mid second half. Again, I raaise the question, has Cheika done any extra work about composure and game mindset over the last 12 months ? Who knows.

    • Adrian

      Agree exactly idiot, except for 6 where I am not at all certain, but stabbing at Tui. Same bench as you.

      If he were to go a bit adventurous Rona would start, and maybe Rodda too. That’s what I’d do. I’d still have Kerevi on the bench.

      I’m happy with the squad, so most combinations are ok by me.

      • onlinesideline

        this match will be won on defense. I would have TK in there 1000%. He is a big game player with a tonne of experience now. He’s big, strong and positionally smart. We will always put it together with front ball but wont always defend well. Our defense has to be the thing we all talk about after the match is over. Step up Mr Muggelton. This is the Wallabies that always feels good when watching and when its over.

        • Adrian

          I have no issues with TK, but I think Rona can defend almost as well, and attack better, given that many of the attacking moves will be Tah moves that seem to be working.

          I think our defence will be ok actually, but I could be wrong

        • Brumby Runner

          I’m not sure Adrian just why you might think the defense will be ok. It is our achilles heel and based on history over the past couple of years is more likely to leak a number of tries than the attack is likely to score.

          Also, the decision on No 13 will be made to best accord with the way Cheika sees the backline operating. He has in the past favoured Kuridrani at 13 to simply run over the gain line getting front foot ball for the next phase, which he does without necessarily offering anything else in attack. His defense will be sorely missed if not selected.

        • Adrian

          The reasons I think the defence will be ok Brumby are:
          1. Wallaby mindset re the defence structure changed in August last year, away from holus bolus complicated rotation to a simple rotation (of a type used by many NZ teams) before Bled 2. In fact the complicated rotation was abandoned at halftime in Bled 1. Throughout RC and Bled 2,3 we used this simpler structure and it worked. During EOT it didn’t work that we’ll, because we changed our 12 (Kerevi), and shuffled Beale to 15, and the momentum was lost.
          2. All Australian SR teams (including Reds to some extent) have used a similar (simplified rotation) this year, and all of their defences have improved compared to 2017. They are ok, not good. I think the Wallaby team will be better defensively than our SR teams because the players picked are better defensively than their SR equivalents. Korebette is better defensively than Naiyaravoro , Coleman is better than Staniforth etc. Some guys like Beale are not better defensively than say Godwin, but given the other good defenders around, Beale’s attack more than makes up for it. Beale and Kerevi have had some good defensive efforts this year as well as bad ones.

          I agree that the 13 will be determined by how Cheika thinks the backline will operate. IMO it will be like Tahs backline. Kurandrani can fit with that, but not quite as well as Rona in attack.
          I think Cheika will pick Kurandrani, but I’d pick Rona

        • Who?

          Adrian, the system ONLY changed against NZ. We still rotated everyone against SA and the Pumas. We didn’t rotate on the EOYT purely because Beale was already back there, wearing 15.
          So I’m not certain that the system will be changed compared to 2016.

        • Adrian

          I’m keen to see what happens.

          Now that the team is picked, even I am slightly nervous.

          My tip is Foley dropping back, and sometimes Genia. Beale staying up. Kerevi and Beale moving in one spot only, with Korebette in the line, effectively at 13

        • onlinesideline

          Not a fan of Rona but he has had some moments this season.

      • McWarren

        Adrian my only concern with Kerevi on the bench is, from memory he finds it hard to get to the pace of the game when he comes on late, and tries too hard to make a huge impact which generally manifests itself into penalties. For me he either starts or is out all together.

        • Adrian

          Looks like he starts!

        • McWarren

          What can I say? Some of your genius is rubbing off.

          Not a surprising or bad team, though I still can’t accept the Pooper. But it is what it is.

  • Missing Link

    Morning GAGRs. Gearing up for another bumper weekend in Rugby. You know where to find me from 5.30pm onwards.

    Looking forward to the Rebels game as with a few players on national duty it will test their depth a bit. Could be a great opportunity for Wessels to start Goddard and Adams in the halves and there will need to be an all new back 3.

  • Nutta

    Dizzy at 15. Foley at 10. Beale at 12. Pooper. Nothing will be any different I’m guessing.

    Very very disappointed to hear there are only 2 NRC teams left in NSW. There should be 4: Syd North (Manly, Rats, Nths, Gordon, Ewood), Syd Sth (uni, Beast, Wicks, Southos), Syd West (Parra WestHrb and whatever is the NSWRU excuse for y’know, the other +2million people out there) and Country. Piss poor stuff – and that’s a highly offensive comment for me.

    I saw the Aussie’s tackle. It barely deserved the yellow he took on-field but a 3match suspension on top? For real? After some of the late/high/off-ball/diving/eye-gouging etc crap I’ve seen over the last 2-3yrs THAT got 3matches? We are seriously fkd up.

    Sorry – I just should have stayed in bed today.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      I hear you Nutta. To be fair making wholesale changes this close to the. Next RWC would almost be stupider than sticking with the failed combination that he’s pushed for the last 2 years. He should have changed things straight after the last cup and then built for this one if he was going to change.
      I don’t understand the reasoning in the NRC. This needs expansion to build rugby especially as Super Rugby failed so badly. To me this is a serious backwards step that is worse than closing Perth down.

      Good luck for Saturday, I think you’ll need some.

      • Braveheart81

        Alternatively, the 9,10,12,15 are the easiest selections in the backline, combine well together and will be very experienced at the 2019 RWC. Obviously plenty of people don’t rate them but many others see them as very obviously the best players we have in those positions.

        We will have a few inexperienced players at the 2019 RWC but the core members of our team will be very experienced and at the right age. Australia needs to improve but I think they are better placed age and experience wise for the 2019 RWC than they were for the 2015 RWC.

        • Nutta

          10 – we have no one else. 12 – we have a multitude of options. Izzy is a right winger. Playing him at 15 is pandering to contract negotiations.

          But I do agree we are in better shape especially in the fwds when compared to last Bill. 3 decent TH’s, a gaggle of locks and some real backrow options. We need Sio to smarten up at 1 and someone to step up and own 2. The rest, well they are only Backs…

        • Braveheart81

          We have a multiple of options at 12 and Beale is the best of them. The team wins more often when he is playing. Folau has probably been the Wallabies best player over the last 4 years primarily playing fullback. I’m not sure why you’d move him. He’d be fine on the right wing too but his ability to slot into the backline and create something is pretty important for the team. I don’t know why we’d move another player to fullback who is inferior at just about everything to Folau except kicking.

        • Julesie

          Agree re-Beale but really think it comes down to what style Cheika is going for since we do have other quality 12s. Beale suits Cheika-ball thats for sure. Also not fussed with Folau at 15 but I do think he could become an exceptional winger and DHP ticks every box for 15. DHP is not quite as good in broken play or in the air but still very good and exceeds Folau both as a kicking option and as a defender (positioning and tackling).

        • Braveheart81

          I reckon the gap between the attacking and high ball ability of Folau and DHP exceeds what DHP offers over Folau in kicking and defence.

          Folau is the best back we have and I think it is in our interests that he touches the ball as often as possible in the situations where he wants (i.e. chiming into the backline in attack).

          I don’t really think the Wallabies will improve by moving Folau.

        • Julesie

          Yeah I can see where your coming from. Fullback definitely gives him the most opportunity to run the ball. I guess the whole desire to have a good kicking 15 comes off the back of having a 10 who cant kick long to save himself -.-

        • Nutta

          As I said, they are only Backs.

      • Bernie Chan

        KRL…we’re gunna need a LOT of luck…The compliant rugger press (eg foxsports, rugbyheaven etc etc…) talk a “balanced back row…”? How the heck is Pooper “balanced”…does Cheika think one player can do the role of a 6 and 8 combined? Pocock is a beast, but needs a proper #6 and #8 to help him out…

    • Perth girl

      More shrinking to greatness by RA

  • 22DropOut

    If only 2 teams why not just enter the NRC in NSW branded as the Waratahs and test the water with a Western Sydney team and appease the neglect of that area

    • Nutta

      Whach you talkin’bout Willis? Like the Western Sydney Wanders? Or the Greater Western Giants? Dude, they are clearly abject failures in engaging a community and/or sponsors! I mean come-on man, have you not been watching?!?!? I’m telling you from the dizzying heights of St Leonards and the down & dirty authenticity of Moore Park that I have multiple Consultant reports scattered around my office telling me that such ideas are workable only on the back of a multitude more of Consultant reports written by Stirling High-Toff-Watershed. Remember he was the son of Milton High-Toff-Triplebarrel that I used to play 3rds with at Knox and we roomed together at St John’s College. Yes? Good man. We’ll do lunch together next week yes? Burnt Orange over at Mosman? Good idea.

      Oh… Wait… Fk.

  • Bakkies

    Joe Schmidt usually names his team on a Thursday around lunch time.

    • 22DropOut

      Team is leaked. Very experimental, big names rested. One 2nd choice in the front row and 2 3rd choice.
      Are they disrespecting us? We better win against this weakened team

      Rob Kearney; Keith Earls, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale; Joey Carbery, Conor Murray; Jack McGrath, Rob Herring, John Ryan; Iain Henderson, James Ryan; Peter O’Mahony (capt), Jordi Murphy, CJ Stander.

      • Bakkies

        More to do with the workload the Leinster boys have had. Nothing has been posted about the bench

      • A Dingo Stole My Rugby

        Jeez. If we don’t beat that barely half-strength Ireland team like a red-headed step-child, I’ll be fascinated to hear Cheika’s excuses this time.

        • Nutta

          Is that you Robbie?

      • McWarren

        Still looks like a bloody handy side to me. There backrow and locks would walk into our side. And Joey led them to a win over the AB’s if I’m not mistaken.

        • 22DropOut

          He cameod off the bench in that win

  • Silver Ghost

    Thanks Dylan
    It seems the Sydney ‘old school tie’ network have prevailed.
    These are the same guys, using their media stooges, that argued both the Force and Rebels should be dropped in favour of a Western Sydney SR franchise , Thank god, that RA didn’t take it seriously.
    These, so called advocates of grass roots rugby, have now dropped Penrith and the WS Rams. So much for all the rhetoric about the need to grow the game! These ‘elbow patch’ people can’t stand outsiders or “poor people”

    On another note, good to see, real grass roots getting a spotlight on the weekend, with Rebels and Force. Will be an opportunity for the likes of Hutchison, Adams and Goddard.

    The laws changes in WSR are interesting – particularly speeding up scrums and line outs.

    • Nutta

      Scrums need a 20sec limit from the time the Ref calls. Either side not set and ready to engage from there gets short-armed. 2nd offence goes to long arm. 3rd offence gets your 9 sin-binned and the next one to go is 10 (to stop weak scrum teams from engineering the result). This idea of standing about waiting for Godot is ridiculous.

      • McWarren

        And stop the clock until the 9 has fed the scrum.

        • Nutta

          I support the aim but practically – at a grass-roots level – we would struggle with that. Remember we aren’t League or AFL with a small army of officials even at local level. Law 6.4.A pretty much leaves it to the man in the middle. So I wouldn’t expect him to manage his clock as well. I would go the 20 rule as the Ref can manage that even just verbally “Righto, that’s enough, 3-2-1 PEEP!”

  • Voddies

    The cutting of the Greater Sydney Rams (hate that name too) and the continued use of NSW Country and QLD Country teams shows you all that is wrong with the people who are administering this fantastic game.

    With all due respect to our country brethren, they should not be fielding professional or semi professional teams. They should remain an amateur rep team that all the country rugby players can aspire to and be selected for.

    The NRC should consist of 2 QLD teams (North Brisbane and South Brisbane), 3 NSW teams (North Harbour, South Harbour and Western Sydney), Canberra, Melbourne and Perth.

    It feels like the RA administers are trying to get the NRC to fail instead of trying to build it brick by brick, slowly but surely, to be a solid foundation for professional rugby in Australia.

    • Braveheart81

      I don’t really get why. The NRC teams are pretty different from the country rugby teams and it provides an opportunity to play reasonably high level rugby games in country centres that have been pretty well supported.

      The Rams effectively became Eastwood last year. The NSW teams have historically underperformed because the good players were spread too thinly and it offered little involvement for the Waratahs. Moving to the same model Queensland has used since the start of overseeing two teams makes sense in my opinion.

    • Silver Ghost

      Voddies, my reading is this is a NSWRU decision not RA.
      I believe these guys will do anything to protect the history/legacy of Shute Sheild at the expense of everything thing else.
      Your suggestion of structure is good but IMO, no way the Sydney powerbrokers of Sydney Club Rugby will go for anything that doesn’t have a ‘club’ jumper involved.

      • Braveheart81

        They’ve canned the team that had basically become a Shute Shield team last season. I think it’s about taking control away from Shute Shield sides and centralising it with the Waratahs like the way the two Qld teams are run.

        • Brumby Runner

          I think it’s about NSW deciding that winning is the objective, not development of the next rung of players.

        • Who?

          You’re probably right… Because it hasn’t worked to develop players for the QRU. Oh, hang on… Who’s got the younger squad? Lack of success for NSW isn’t about playing depth, or anything other than off field disorganization keeping them from success.
          Unless the ownership model has changed (and no one’s mentioned it), then there’s nothing to show it’s aligned better with the Tahs.

        • Braveheart81

          It is more closely aligned with the Tahs. That is the reason for the change. They are adopting the same model Queensland has had since the inception of the competition that has been very good at giving young players a crack at the next level. Aligning the NRC level with the professional level above is the situation for every other team and I think it is good that NSW is now doing it. With the NRC under 19s being the major pathway for young players it is also more important for NSWRU and the Waratahs to take control of that.

        • Who?

          More closely aligned with the Tahs, or owned and operated by the NSWRU and Tahs? The two are very different situations. The QRU owns the two teams (I was at the AGM where Carmichael explained the QRU’s logic behind it all).
          I think it’s great if the NSWRU is actually going to own the teams. If they’re not, it’s a step in the right direction, but it’s not the full step that they should take, and should’ve taken from day one.

        • Braveheart81

          “The move brings NSW into line with the QRU model of fielding City and Country teams, and like the QRU system, NSWRU will be far more involved in the two teams. The state body had previously kept its hands off and allowed club consortiums to run the franchises.”

          “Both teams will use the Waratahs facilities and have equal access to coaching, medical and analytical staff.”

          I don’t know if they will actually own the teams and if they don’t, maybe that wasn’t immediately possible but I agree with you that this is a move in the right direction and should have been the position from the start.

      • Adrian

        I think you are right Ghost.

        The only thing re NRC teams in Sydney, is nobody I know could follow who was who.

        At least us older guys (but without leather elbows) remember Sydney as a team, and Sydney v Country matches.

        It’s possible that the total number of people attending “Sydney” matches will exceed the sum total of those attending the 2 (or was it 3) Sydney team matches.

        Short-term consolidation perhaps, but doesn’t send a good message to Western Suburbs

    • Who?

      The real question about all this is the management structure behind the teams. Who owns the NSW CE and Sydney teams?
      In Qld, both teams are completely owned and operated by the QRU, and QC remains an amateur rep team as well as being an NRC franchise. The Qld Country Heelers still play the NSW Country Cockatoos each year (and the NSW CE are clearly another team, though I’ve no idea who owns/runs them). If NSW Country Rugby owns and operates the Country Eagles, then I agree that’s a problem, because they shouldn’t be carrying that risk. That’s something the NSWRU should’ve taken onboard, as the QRU did. Because the NRC Franchises carry all the financial risk, not RA.

    • McWarren

      What about a country side based in the country?? Can you imagine? Scandalous idea I know.

  • Adrian

    Good write again Dylan

    I like the idea of Latu starting, irrespective of whether he earned it or not, because it might help us get some turnover ball, which Pocock and Hooper will also do. Hoop was second in SR turnovers after about 7 rounds and Latu is historically good at this. Pocock is too of course.

    I think we’ll need turnover ball because Ireland of late like to hold it for 15-20 phases. They don’t just kick, though they can and are good at it.

    I think we’ll start fast and furious ala Tahs 2018 which is why I’d prefer Rona to start

    If we have Tuopo, BPA, Timu coming on with 20 to go and play huge men up the guts offloading to inside backs and Hooper ala Tahs of 2014.

    The much better forward depth provided by Reds and others makes this possible.

    I think our defence will be like it was in last year’s Bled 2,3 and RC, which is similar to Tahs this year. Some rotation, but not wholesale, with Foley dropping back, but Beale staying up to make use of first phase turnover ball.

    If we score more points than them, our defence will have been good!

    Bookmakers have Ireland winning by 1.5. I’m tipping Wallabies though.

    • onlinesideline

      Yep I agree. I see the other hookers as Mealamu type burrowers close to the line, which is great but in this match we could be starved of possesssion and Latu loves a good scrap at breakdown time and hes good at it. Hes also strong and the Irish have some monsters. If Cheika can get a good 50 mins out of Latu, would be great. He also has some in ur face agression and dosnt take a backward step. I also think he is a big game player like TK. 4 caps is 4 caps and with Uelese gone Latu will see this as huge opportunity to have a big year. If picked he could step righttt up.

      • Adrian

        Couldn’t have said it better myself online

      • Nutta

        I agree. Latte is good.

        • Adrian

          I used to think that but I’m more flat white now.
          My barista says they are identical, just in a different cup/glass

        • Nutta

          I moved on to Piccolo’s after a spell working at Flemington Markets. My Mediterranean Friends (aka ‘bloody wogs’) put me straight on that issue!

        • Nutta

          And here’s me thinking no one would get it…

      • A Dingo Stole My Rugby

        Not convinced about Latu. Ok at scrum, inconsistent lineout thrower. Still has major technical issues at the breakdown – for a while now, the refs have been all over his regular failure to clearly support his own body-weight.

        • onlinesideline

          Thats true, but I did notice that was in the period when his fitness was not what it was in the past. He was a different player when fully fit. Is he there again now, who knows. I’m sure 20-30k a test match looks very sweet after tasting it and then losing it. With Uelese gone……

      • juswal

        I once saw Latu break his arm attempting a tackle on a flying fullback who swerved around him on a kick return in a semi-final. Latu had no hope of stopping him, didn’t need to try, but he dived and swung an arm at the runner’s shin and took the injury.

  • Nicholas Wasiliev

    It’s genuinely disheartening to see the Rams removed from the NRC. Of all the teams, they really were starting to look like they were beginning to build a following and identity. NSW had enough for three teams, and the Rams should still be in the competition, particularly when they’re representing two million people. But alas, no one cares about that.

    I really hope the Rays bring together a lot of west Sydney players in their squad. With this disappointment comes opportunity. They now represent the entire city, and they should bring that Rams culture into their team, and make it a team about everyone. But if they only field north shore players that will completely alienate west Sydney fans (not that they don’t feel alienated enough).

    Rugby took (yet) another big step back yesterday. And I was having such a nice day. Ffs.

    • Joe King

      But don’t forget NSWRU have a sneaky plan for Western Sydney. They just didn’t bother to implement it until they removed all the teams from there.

      • Alister Smith

        Maybe there plan is that the west will remain a rugby league stronghold

        • disqus_NMXfOrw5ot

          RAs growth plan is obviously to remove all teams from working class areas, pushing working class people back into RL/AFL where they belong, and thus start enticing the private schools back into only running rugby programs. Genius.

    • Alister Smith

      12 months ago there was a push to have one of the Super Rugby sides moved to greater western Sydney – now there isnt enough interest to maintain the NRC team. Surely they could carry it for just one more season until we know what is happening with Super Rugby. It might be that in 18 months time NRC is the apex of Australia domestic rugby competitions and then we will be looking to re-establish a team there. A bit short sighted in my view and a second kick in the guts after the withdrawal of Penrith (though there may be more to that decision than I understand).

    • Thomas English

      I did some research on this recently, but as far as players go, not one player from Parra or Penrith actually made it into the Rams’ 2017 squad.
      14 of the 30 were from non-western teams like Eastwood and West Harbour.

    • bob

      What’s the word on why they cut the team? Is it a money thing? I thought Eastwood owned the rights for the team?

    • Andrew Luscombe

      How can the NSWRU remove a team they don’t own from a competition they don’t run?

      I get the impression that NSW has a high proportion of people who never wanted the NRC to work – too much threat to the established order. They’ll muck it around all they can. Truely a sad day.

  • Who?

    So, apparently, 4 Tests is ‘Experienced’. That’s pretty different to last year’s definition of experienced… I don’t believe that 4 Tests and nothing since makes a player any more experienced than alternatives who’ve played pretty well every game this year. Better for Cheika to simply say what he really thinks – “I think this bloke suits my style and will deliver for me regardless of recent form, where perhaps he doesn’t fit as well at his current province” – than to try and spin it. Just be honest!!!
    And so the Rams are gone. In spite of the regularly reported rude health of the Shute Shield, in spite of the fact we constantly hear NSW provides the lion’s share of quality players who go on to Super Rugby, they can’t field more than two teams in the NRC. In spite of people high up at St Leonards (or are they now at Moore Park?) leaking that they believed a Western Sydney team would be the best solution for our Super Rugby worries. I don’t see how shrinking the number of teams in what’s been a successful and growing competition could be anything other than a tragedy.
    Perhaps if the NSWRU had shown ANY form of leadership at the inception of the competition and had organized the franchises, rather than abrogating all responsibility and leaving the financial risk to Shute Shield clubs, leaving some SS clubs with easy pathways into NRC teams and NO pathway for other SS clubs. Perhaps RA should’ve given a little more planning time and direction. As it stood, they announced a competition publicly less than six months before it started without consulting with their sub unions. It was the right decision to create the NRC, but the lack of direction from leadership is what’s coming home to roost. To the detriment of every fan of the NRC.

    • juswal

      Nailed every point, Who? This is Cheika’s mind, exactly: “I think this bloke suits my style and will deliver for me regardless of recent form, where perhaps he doesn’t fit as well at his current province”

      I’ve posted these comments in longer form a few times lately, so I’ll just add them again briefly:
      1. What Cheika says to the media bears little resemblance to what he believes. His instinct is to spin, not to tell the truth.
      2. Super form is not a consideration in Wallaby selection. NRC form (2017) counts, along with past performances in blue (2014) and gold (2015).

  • Tomthusiasm

    Sad news about the Rams, the NRC seems like the most erratic comp. It’s like when the change an actor for a character in Neighbours or Home and Away or completely kill them off with no explanation.

  • Hoss

    Just announced
    Wallabies team to face Ireland

    1. Scott Sio (43 Tests)

    2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa*

    3. Sekope Kepu (91 Tests)

    4. Izack Rodda (4 Tests)

    5. Adam Coleman (20 Tests)

    6. David Pocock (66 Tests)

    7. Michael Hooper (c) (79 Tests)

    8. Caleb Timu*

    9. Will Genia (88 Tests)

    10. Bernard Foley (55 Tests)

    11. Dane Haylett-Petty (18 Tests)

    12. Kurtley Beale (71 Tests)

    13. Samu Kerevi (18 Tests)

    14. Marika Koroibete (8 Tests)

    15. Israel Folau (62 Tests)


    16. Tolu Latu (4 Tests)

    17. Allan Alaalatoa (23 Tests)

    18. Taniela Tupou (1 Test)

    19. Rob Simmons (82 Tests)

    20. Lukhan Tui (4 Tests)

    21. Pete Samu*

    22. Nick Phipps (61 Tests)

    23. Reece Hodge (24 Tests)

    • Keith Butler

      Good team for the Aussies looks a well settled side. With the Irish selection, if correct, should be a win for the Green and Gold. A much tougher test when the Paddies roll out the big guns up front and Murray and Sexton are in tandem. Can’t wait for the Melbourne test.

      • Hoss

        Afternoon KB. Yep, a lot to like. Rodda has been form lock in Oz this year and richly deserves a start. I like 116kg BPA at 2 to start and reckon Latu on the pine is a smart play (experience, size and t/o assistance late in game when Poey is tiring) Tui and Hodge both offer good cover on the bench. Tui 4/5/6/8. Hodge 11,13,14 & 15. I probably see Tui coming on as lock and Samu to 6, Pocock to 8. Timu will be given instruction just to smash into the Irish line as long as he can while Mr Pocock (Rhodesian for ‘Jackal’) steals / slows Irish Pill.

        The game has ‘epic’ written large all over.

        Cant wait & the Green Slime have saved their best for your Melbourne Visit – spoilt !!

        • Adrian

          Exactly Hoss

          My thinking is it will be super fast, and Samu will com on for Pocock who’ll be exhausted with 20 to go. Samu will keep the pace up, and so will Phipps.

          Tuopo mig make a break or two late in the piece.

          I’m looking forward to Timu too, …on the charge

        • Hoss

          Afternoon Adrian. Yep, the versatility of Tui & Hodge affords us the luxury of a 6/2 bench with cover nearly everywhere (10 still is thin, but we have what we have).

          I reckon its up tempo Cheik ball on the menu. Ball in hand stuff, with some big units charged with carting it up. Rodda has been terrific this year, controlled aggression, real good in lineout and add to that some Bernie Larkham smarts to the kicking game (hence DHP) – i actually think we will kick more / better than many expect.

          A stretch i know, but Cheikas team and coaching staff could really lay a marker this weekend. 18 months out from the cup its a great opportunity for this group to really draw a line in the sand and say ‘we have arrived’….

        • Adrian

          Again agree 100%

          I think little things like Australian tackling , kicking, handling, composure and self confidence have improved.

          I hate to say this, but I expect our on-field positivity to be better without Moore being there

        • Alister Smith

          you two are in lock step today

        • Hoss

          its legal now, could be GAGR’s first nuptials. Poey would attend, but not Dusty.

        • Alister Smith

          hold it at half time at the Melbourne test – might help get Alan Joyce and Qantas onside

        • Who?

          I think it’ll be Tui for Pocock (given Pocock’s wearing 6, and Tui won’t go to the back of the scrum), and Samu for Timu, but I think there’s a fair chance the two substitutions will be simultaneous.

        • Braveheart81

          I reckon there’s a chance we replace the tight 5 and Samu eventually replaces Timu. Hooper and Pocock would play 80.

          In an ideal world, here’s what I think the planned subs would be:

          I think Tui would initially replace Timu and then move to lock in the last 10 or 15 minutes when Coleman comes off. Samu comes on and we finish with Samu, Hooper, Pocock as the backrow.

          Simmons replaces Rodda after about 50 minutes.

        • Alister Smith

          Cheika seems to like (a) fitting in the best 15 into a team (b) flexibility. I don’t think he is overly concerned about numbers on backs. His back three has what I see as the best fullback and two wingers in Australia, just that I think DHP is our best fullback in a more traditional side though obviously he wants to capitLise on Foluas counter attacking skills. We went for years choosing between Waugh and George Smith on the side but Cheika, faced with a similar issue doesn’t want to leave one of his two best players off the field so he has found a strategy to try and maximize both of their very unique and specialist skills. Again the numbers don’t matter to him – Pococke will shif between 6 and eight and the will play more left and right than open and blind depending on the game situation. If given the honour of coach g the Wallabies I may do it different but all power to Cheika – he has been given this job and he is going to do it his way or die trying. As long as he is a bit more respectful to the refs and takes ful responsibility for the performance I am happy to back him

    • Missing Link

      no real surprises based on the GAGR comments this week, I think we collectively nailed it.

      Looking forward to “Pistol Pete” Samu making his debut off the bench.

      • onlinesideline

        pumped for an absolute cracker.

        • Hoss

          sums me up too compadre. genuinely excited, nay – giddy with anticipation.

        • Hoss

          will you get in live in Hungary ?

        • onlinesideline

          1. Irish pub here or
          2. online

        • Missing Link

          You can always count on an Irish pub to deliver when it comes to Rugby. The only Irish pub in Patong, Phuket served me well one Saturday a few years ago. Poured myself into a tuk tuk and was lucky the driver didn’t detour to any gem or suit merchants on the way home.

    • onlinesideline

      All good – except for Samu at 13 – dead set worried hes too slow. Hes a 12 and thats it in my book. TK totally left out of 23. If someone is injured in backline I suppose Mr Versatilty will fill in…..mmmmmm….. we shall see.

      • Who?

        Samu will defend at 12 anyway, with Koroibete at 13… :-
        Foley and Beale in the backfield.

        • Adrian

          My tip is only Foley back, Korebette in the line and only move Beale and Kerevi in one slot

        • Who?

          Still ends up with Samu at 12. :-)
          And Koroibete at 13. :-(

      • Adrian

        Hmmmm… I’d like Kerevi to score 2 tries

    • Fatflanker

      No big surprises and a pretty strong attacking team. Glad to see Rodda given his shot with Simmons off the pine if we’re getting dished up in the line-outs.

      • Hoss

        Got a real good balance to the side. Raw boned size, youth and enthusiasm & some older heads. Hodge’s versatility allows a 6/2 bench and i am relishing watching some newby Oz forwards rip in – Samu, BPA, Thor, Tui, Timu, Latu – there’s some size there

        I love best – not a lot of scars or baggage there. Genuinely exciting.

        • Fatflanker

          Just hope, especially with Rodda, the occasion doesn’t get to the newbies – no red cards in the first 5 minutes please fellas!

    • idiot savant

      I knew Mr.Cheika would surprise me and that I would get some of them wrong! Im pleasantly surprised this time for a change! I hear rumours that the Paddys are going to leave out the Leinster stars which may have been a factor. But in any event im happy he has shored up the scrum by moving 7As back to loose head. I like Pooper at 6 instead of 8, tho I think he might switch back there when Timu is replaced by Samu. (Again Cheika might fool me by replacing Pocock!) Im surprised by Tui as I thought one Brisbane second grade game was hardly enough to prepare for a test but maybe 20 mins off he bench is OK. The tactic of a fresh tight 5 to finish the game could be a winning move, tho they are not going to very familiar with each other. Im also surprised that DHP starts as I thought he might also be short of a gallop and may have to play 80 now with only 2 reserve backs. But I should have read the tea leaves when Cheika said last week that Hodge was the new Beale (utility for RWC). Pleased to see Kerevi there but praying the Paddys dont go wide fast and side-step too often. But overall I like the boldness. Im starting to feel Cheika is abandoning old agendas and being genuinely positive. Go Boys!

      • Hoss

        One big thing from this group mate is just how many players are there on form alone and not past deeds…..I would suggest all of them are there on current form. That alone is a big deviation from previous Matchday XXIII.

        Hope burns eternal

    • Alister Smith

      Don’t have any major objections but, having seen seen NSW v Qld, perhaps the NSW run on hooker (and the Rebels hooker) could be rightfully disappointed. They both look to be playing pretty well.

  • Adrian

    Yes, well…
    I think I picked 20 of the 23 in trying to anticipate what Cheika would do. I think I picked only about 11/15 of run-on team though.

    In the squad I was wrong on Alaalatoa/Robertson, Kerevi/Kurandrani, DHP/Hodge.

    Selecting my team I was equally wrong/right, but I did pick Tui

    I see this as a team with great attacking potential, even though he took a safety first approach to the wing with DHP.

    I’ll surprise myself (and others) by saying that having Kerevi at 13 is a risk defensively. He’d better score a few tries!

    I like Alaalatoa back as a loose head reserve, even though Robertson is in his best ever form.

    Usually a 6:2 bench means a forward battle, but I think having Samu there suggests 80 minutes of fast pace, and he’ll probably com on for Pocock,..but who knows?

    I still say Australia, especially after seeing the Irish team … but I thought it anyway

  • Charcoal

    They still can’t get it right as far as the makeup of the NSW based teams go in the NRC. Although I would have preferred that they retained the three team structure, including the Rams, I could accept two teams if the Country Eagles’ team was actually made up of Country based players, but we know that’s not going to happen. The Sydney and Country teams are going to be primarily recruited from the Waratah’s roster and Shute Shield clubs, so how does that engender any sort of tribalism for Country supporters? To suggest that it will rekindle the rivalry between City and Country in a bygone era is just spin and a myth. It won’t. The only way it may work is if it was based on City or Country origin, but even that’s not ideal.

    I mean no disrespect to NSW Country Rugby, but most aspiring Country players are already playing with the Waratahs or Shute Shield clubs. If they’re going to go with two teams, then it would have been preferable if it was Sydney based, split between North Harbour and South Harbour. There’s a longstanding rivalry here which could easily be recaptured. The feeder Shute Shield clubs for North Harbour would be Manly, Warringah, Norths, Gordon and Eastwood and for South Harbour, Easts, Randwick, Souths, Sydney University, West Harbour and Parramatta. As far as possible, selected players from the respective clubs should be encouraged to play for their regional team. This would create more tribalism than a manufactured City v Country rivalry, when most if not all of the “Country” players are city based anyway. A compromise to appease Country supporters should be for each Sydney NRC club to play at least one home game in a country regional centre. A North Harbour v South Harbour fixture should definitely be played in Sydney.

    In the longer term, if an enhanced NRC domestic competition supplants Super Rugby, then the Sydney based teams should be split between North, South and Western Sydney, reviving the Rams, but this time with more support from NSW Rugby. With a fully professional competition over a full season, rather than the current abbreviated model, there’s no reason why NSW (Sydney) couldn’t support three teams. The failing of the current short NRC format is that it doesn’t give enough time for Shute Shield club players, and I’m sure the same would apply in Queensland, to benefit from enhanced training and fitness. Over a full season, this wouldn’t be an issue. Playing the NRC over a full home and away season may have some impact on the respective Premier competitions, but I believe that they can still co-exist.

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