TRC 2016 New Zealand v Australia - Green and Gold Rugby
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TRC 2016 New Zealand v Australia

TRC 2016 New Zealand v Australia

When the boss put the call out for volunteers for Bledisloe two pieces the silence hung thick in the air. Days later I found myself with some time to spare so I grabbed the template and pasted it into the editor. Interestingly the old post we use as a template is the 2013 Waratahs v BI lions game. Cheika was the coach and he’d just called Bernard Foley back from the Aussie Sevens team for the match. The article was upbeat and Cheika was enthusiastic and full of confidence. Three and a bit years later and Cheika and Foley have a Super Rugby title but I’m not sure the confidence and Enthusiasm are still around.

So what about the key matchups.

No bullshit: Cheika v Hanson

Cheika - not that nasty

Cheika – what you looking at?

A lot of people on the internet say Steve Hanson and his coaching team have the easiest job in world rugby. And on the face of it it seems to be true but, year after year with an ever changing array of players the maintain their dominance of world rugby. They have consistently replaced injured or retiring players with no net loss to the team. that doesn’t happen by accident. This year New Zealand have single-handedly changed the way they and the world play rugby. It seems that in general play any player can fill in in any position. Sure the halfback and flyhalf are still steering the ship but if the don’t make it to the next phase no problem. Who ever happens to be there can do the job. Or make the break, or off load, or kick, or clean out the ruck anything really.

Michael Cheika still seems to be trying to play the style of play he used for the 2013-14 Waratahs. Part of me wonders what would have happened if Ewen McKenzie was still coach? Could he and his team come up with a game plan to beat the All Blacks and implement it or would they just have one game plan that they’d use over and over again? Because from the outside that seems to be what’s happening.

After the 3-0 English series Cheika claimed the the players weren’t fit enough for his game plan. Most people thought Aussie players should be fitter. I thought ‘well you picked the team’ and ‘ Why did you persist with the wrong game plan for three games?’ The way rugby is played has changed isn’t it time Australia moved on too?

The battle tof the backrow: Fardy Pooper v Kaino, Cane and Read

phipps and read wallabies vs all blacks

The All Black backrow mightn’t have a cool name but what the do have is three good players with balance. The wallabies are trotting out our three best backrowers this game but the balance is way out. Fardy is a genuine lineout option and a very good blindside flanker who’s only fault is he talks too much. Australia’s backrow problems start and finish with the two openside flankers occupying the other two spots. The problem being which one you drop and the ‘real’ number eight you’d replace one of them with. The only fit players on the horizon are Sean McMahon, another sub 185cm notta*, and Lopeti Timani who at 193 cm is tall enough but hasn’t played in the backrow this year and doesn’t regularly jump in the lineout. Neither fix our lineout issues and only Timani would make a difference to our scrum.

Kaino, Cane and Read don’t play out of position, work as a unit and offer two and a half lineout targets to Australias one and two halfs. Read is probably the best eight in the world and probably has been for five years.

* A notta – A term penned by GAGR legend Lee Grant meaning notta 6, notta 7 and notta 8 but a bit of all three.

The Halves: Genia, Cooper v Smith, Barrett

Quade Cooper Australia v South Africa 2015

Credit – Sully

During the week I called for Quade Cooper to replace Foley at flyhalf and I got what I wanted. Well kind of. Foley has been moved out one to a position he’s never played to cover for the three injured inside centres from last match. The move to bring the Genia – Cooper  partnership seems to be Australia’s best chance to make a dent in New Zealands dominance. But with both players coming back from injury and not having played together in a fair while it could backfire badly. Then again after losing by a record margin last week what do we have to lose.

Aaron Smith is a world class but Beauden Barrett is in career best form (at least I hope he is) and is nearly impossible to control at the moment. The two kiwis would be hard for the 2011 Genia Cooper combo to control. Can the 2016 version find some of that form and compete?



Last week was ugly. Can a largely unchanged forward pack and a rookie centre pairing make any difference? With Cooper and Kerevi in the back line we’re a pretty good chance of scoring more points but, we’re also a good chance of missing more tackles. The first goal for the Wallabies should be to stay competitive but frankly I can’t think of one area where Australia has the upper hand at the moment. Even I can’t back the Wallabies to win this one.


New Zealand by 15


All Blacks

1. Scott Sio (19)
2. Stephen Moore – captain (106)
3. Sekope Kepu (67)
4. Kane Douglas (24)
5. Adam Coleman (1)
6. Scott Fardy (34)
7. Michael Hooper (55)
8. David Pocock (57)
9. Will Genia (67)
10. Quade Cooper (58)
11. Dane Haylett-Petty (4)
12. Bernard Foley (31)
13. Samu Kerevi (2)
14. Adam Ashley-Cooper (115)
15. Israel Folau (42)
1. Joe Moody (14)
2. Dane Coles (40
3. Owen Franks (81)
4. Brodie Retallick (51)
5. Samuel Whitelock (76)
6. Jerome Kaino (70)
7. Sam Cane (35)
8. Kieran Read – captain (88)
9. Aaron Smith (51)
10. Beauden Barrett (40)
11. Julian Savea (44)
12. Anton Lienert-Brown (0)
13. Malakai Fekitoa (16)
14. Israel Dagg (52)
15. Ben Smith (52)



16. Tatafu Polota-Nau (65)
17. James Slipper (78)
18. Allan Ala’alatoa (1)
19. Dean Mumm (47)
20. Will Skelton (15)
21. Nick Phipps (43)
22. Reece Hodge (0)
23. Tevita Kuridrani (35)
16. James Parsons (6)
17. Wyatt Crockett (49)
18. Charlie Faumuina (37)
19. Liam Squire (2)
20. Ardie Savea (3)
21. TJ Perenara (20)
22. Aaron Cruden (40)
23. Seta Tamanivalu (2)

Where: Westpac Stadium Wellington
When: Sat 27th August 5:35pm (AEST)
Referee: Romain Poite (France)

  • Hitcho

    Just show me heart. A genuine 100% effort with minimal simple mistakes from the team. Ticker, and pride in the jersey that’s all I want at this stage lose, draw or win.

    • A80

      As a neutral a bit of brain would be good too. Last week was poor on both counts.

    • Pills

      Totally agree – most disappointing aspect about last week was lack of heart/passion.

  • Tim

    Would have loved to see Reece Hodge at 12 with Samu. Reece has a good boot and solid in defence. Not to mention i think he scored the same amount of tries as izzy!

    • I wouldlove to see the same but then we have a 9 who has only played a handful of games in the past few weeks, two rookies in the mid field and one on the wing. That makes me a little scared. …

      • Tim

        Reece and Samu are both 21 and 22? i think could be a pairing for the future? I agree Australia lacks depth in 9 and 10 :(

        • Chinese Dave

          The ARU needs to take control of the SR teams. The fact that two out of five teams played a foreign 9 and one of those also a foreign 10 is a disgrace.

        • Tim

          Yeah i agree but Cheika doesn’t even attempt to develop other 10’s or 9’s either in the 30 man squad.

        • Chinese Dave

          It’s not the national coach’s job to develop players who aren’t at the level. It’s his job to select players who are, and recognise those that can make the step up, then integrate them into a plan that works. I don’t think he’s done the latter very well lately, to be honest, but it’s not his job to do the former. Expecting the national coach who has players for 2-3 months at most to develop new talent is wrong. The SR teams and NRC are where players get developed, and the ARU needs to be more assertive in creating those avenues for development.

          I mean, people here are whinging about Cheika picking experienced players and blocking the development of others. But it’s way more harmful that the Brumbies played Cubelli all year and didn’t develop a new Australian 9, or that the Force play a Kiwi 9 and a Saffer 10.

        • Tim

          I agree with you its a nightmare situation and its reflecting at the top level.

        • Braveheart81

          Who exactly? A 9 has debuted this year (Frisby), another 9 has been part of a squad (Powell). Who is this 10 option? There is no one close. Foley is 26 and Cooper 28 so it is not like they are old.

          It’s all well and good to try and develop players but they need to be playing at the required level.

        • first time long time

          Frisky may have debuted but it’s a stretch to say he actually got any time to play or show his capabilities

        • first time long time

          Whoops Frisby

        • FourEyes

          Frisky is better – sounds more dynamic

        • Braveheart81

          No, he didn’t get a lot of time but he still made his test debut and was part of the squad for a series. Most of that was due to backline injuries and not being able to use our last back reserve until late in the game in case we had another injury. In one test he couldn’t get on because we had to make an extra front row substitution so had already used 8 replacements.

          The point remains though, who exactly are these young 9 and 10 options who should be picked? There really aren’t viable options playing high quality rugby.

        • The King

          Nick Frisby, Joe Powell as halfbacks, Jono Lance and Jack Debreczeni as next off the rank flyhalves

    • Hopefully we’ll see it before the end of the game.

    • Mr Frustrated

      Good point Tim , but it just doesn’t seem like Cheika will ever drop Foley. I mean, what coach in their right mind would move a player who is clearly out of form into a position he doesn’t normally play in. Maybe if we were the world champs and couldn’t be beaten you’d try some things, but please……no wonder young guys choose to leave Australia and play in Europe.

      • Tim

        Yeah i don’t get why Cheika doesn’t be ruthless. Some players aren’t preforming so they should be dropped. Like look at Moore he wouldn’t be in our top 3 hookers in Australia he will be lucky to start over Ready next year at the reds.

        • Davey

          Cheika just dropped TK and Simmons for underperforming.

        • Tim

          Both of them haven’t played well in so long and only have just been dropped

        • Really?

          wanna guess who is Australias top try scorer in the last 2 years

        • Braveheart81

          Adam Ashley-Cooper.

        • Really?

          TK first 10 , AAC second 9 (last 25 tests), then foley, hooper and folau all equal 6

        • Braveheart81

          In the last two years (exactly) AAC has scored 10 tries. If you just make it 2015 and 2016 (i.e. from 1 Jan 2015), AAC is still on top. TK is second though.

        • Really?

          Just seemed odd to drop the top (or second – I used ESPN) try scorer and last weeks top tackler when the Wallabies need both points and strong D on Saturday (TK did have shocker with his hands last week though, no contesting that)

        • Braveheart81

          I think it is more about giving Kerevi an opportunity at 13 given his absolute stand out form this year. Kuridrani is still on the bench.

        • Tim

          TK last year i think only scored one or two try’s. Foley crossed the line i think a few times. Which is great! but both there form hasn’t been good this year

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I’ve said it before, TK got shafted. He was the only player who actually tackled all night, got shit ball – in most cases and seems to be wearing the blame. If I was him I’d be pissed, especially as the idiot causing most of the issues is not only kept but moved into a position he’s never played at this level. It beggars belief!

        • Braveheart81

          Kuridrani’s form has been below his best for the whole year and probably most of last year. He clearly hasn’t been dropped from the starting XV because of one game. I think Cheika is very keen to give Kerevi a crack at 13 which is likely to be his best position until he gets a fair bit more experience. Foley would have almost certainly missed out on the starting XV if Giteau and Toomua weren’t injured and there was a viable playmaking option for the 12 jersey. Injuries are all that saved him.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I do agree TK hasn’t been at his best this year but I think he’s trying too hard to make up for the shit inside him. Foley at 12 has got me stumped

        • Braveheart81

          Three 12 options got injured last week. Possibly the first choice of the lot of them, Beale is also injured. Leali’ifano has leukaemia and would probably be playing there otherwise. Your main point about it being unfair that Kuridrani seems to be because Foley is still playing. It would seem like Foley would have been dropped too if there was another playmaking 12 option (clearly Hodge is an option and will make his debut off the bench but he is unbelievably inexperienced).

          Is it unfair that Kuridrani has been dropped to the bench to give Kerevi a crack given the form both of them have been in this year? I don’t think so at all.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Yeah I sort of get that and yes I do think it’s unfair for TK to be dropped and Foley to be given a life in a position he’s never played before at this level when he seemed to be one of the biggest failures last week. If Hodge had been pulled in at 12 then I probably wouldn’t be so pissed, so well read. I admit it is easy to complain and glad I’m not in Cheika’s boots right now. I’d still play Hodge at 12 as at least he’s played there and if he fails it’s probably less of an issue than if Foley fails.

        • Parker

          Kerevi should be at 12 — a far better likelihood of success there than Foles.

        • Hoss

          KL – usually agree with you 100%, but TK’s dropping has more to do with average form for a while now, not just last week. mightn’t have missed a tackle but has been toothless in offence for some time.
          Like a few above i can live with defeat in windy wellington if we at least aim up and make a good account of ourselves. and that starts with a more competitive team on the paddock – but don’t get me started on Foley at 12 or the worlds best 7 playing 8 !!!!
          At least QC will play flat and pose some questions for the AB’s – last week we had passed the ball 3-4 times before we got to the line – Foley was so deep he will get the ‘bends’ if his not careful.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Yeah I do see that but it’s almost like the rest of the team are sitting back and waiting for TK to do something for them. I agree he is dropping balls more than he should but I still think he’s been shafted

        • Hoss

          KL – and in your one comment – that’s what sums up the Wallabies at present – “rest of the team are sitting back waiting” – you could apply that across the paddock, until that culture / leadership changes, i just want someone in gold to say ‘follow me boys’ and then AND only then will we see improvement.

          KL – you are the Yoda of Rugby.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Thanks mate

        • Moz

          Its actually “the Yoda of Rugby you are”

        • Hoss

          Sorry Moz – confused am I.

        • Tim

          TK hasn’t been in great form at super rugby level as well. It was tough gig. I think he will have a big impact off the bench!

        • mikado

          I take your point. TK tackled well and can hardly be blamed for the lack of penetration in the back line. On the other hand, he did drop more ball than one would expect of an international centre in dry conditions, and for a while now he has lacked “X factor” – the ability to conjure something out of nothing. For all his other faults, Foley has made more incisive breaks than TK in the last few months.

          I think that Foley contributes to the lack of penetration by the backs but is himself the victim of a lack of front-foot ball from the forwards.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        That seems a desperate move to me. Almost a WTF moment

        • aj

          I really really hope Foley gets subbed for Reece if it isn’t working instead of quade.

  • Keith

    Mr Soft Hands will save us!

  • first time long time

    Sully, every fibre in me wonders what might have happened if Link was still coach.
    He seems to be the only coach of recent times to ignore partisan provincial loyalties and I think was working in the right direction.
    Not helped by some undercutting from inside…..possibly in part due to his own behaviour (which is still speculation and innuendo)

    Oh well not to be!
    Here’s hoping the Pooper-Genia-Fooper sandwich pays off!

    • Brisneyland Local

      Farkin Hilarious!
      Pooper-Genia-Fooper sandwich

      • first time long time

        Hope it tastes better than it reads on the menu!

        • Brisneyland Local

          As long as it does what we hope!

    • Bay35Pablo

      Link had the scars to learn you need to keep changing. He was a different coach when he came back from Europe to the one that left. I think Cheika has never had to go through that reinvention process. He has managed to be successful with generally the same approach in each team polishing it as he goes. However, ultimately you get to the level (i.e. Tests) where you have to change and I think we are seeing the issues. Will be interesting to see where we will be in 12 months time.

      • Seb V

        The whole 2011 Reds seasons was the Reds coming out with a different tactic every game to suit the opposition. People like to forget they also played a territory game on occasion too. Cheika is a one trick pony it seems.

  • Sideshow

    I have a confession. I didn’t even watch the last game. I couldn’t see the point. With the team that was selected we were just going to get pasted. This week I still expect to get pasted, but at least with Cooper in, and Kerevi replacing the woefully out of form Kuridrani, there is scope for a little bit of excitement occasionally. Even though Cooper has lost his step since his injury, I’m sure he can still throw cutout backhand flicks, and that’s worth the price of admission right there.

    • Cooper came beck from his injury very early. with another year to heal who knows what his condition is?

      • Sideshow

        Oooh, now that’s an exciting prospect!

  • Kokonutcreme

    Sully, valid point about Link.

    He was a very good analyst and as coach of the Reds developed different game plans to combat the opposition. He didn’t enjoy the same success against the All Blacks but his final test in charge was their best effort. He identified that the All Blacks like to test defences with their first three to four phases and if nothing’s on they will look to kick. He told his charges to stay tight in D for those early exchanges and then build pressure. For 60 minutes the plan was working.

    Cheika always talks about working harder, getting fitter, staying true to their identity and having belief. But you see little evidence of changes to tactics.

    It’s like he only knows how to coach one way.

    • To be fair I think Jim McKay also had a lot of input.

      • Kokonutcreme

        And now both are lost to the game here which is a shame

        • Something had to be done to keep Kurtley Beale in Aussie rugby! Oh wait…

        • Brisneyland Local

          Yeah I agree! That and the more than $1.2 mil we had to pay out to DI Patston because of KB. Think of how many grass roots players that would have funded!

        • Braveheart81

          Do you have a source on that figure or did you just make it up?

        • Brisneyland Local

          Yes I have a source on that figure!

        • Braveheart81

          Seems like an unlikely payout figure given her relatively short tenure at the ARU. It also seems like an amount that would have been detectable in the ARU financials.

          Anyway, let’s not discuss this otherwise it will lead to a whole bunch of other unverifiable statements about the people involved being posted.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Yep! Agree. That sordid mess should be buried, along with the uncoscionable behaviour of all involved!

    • MungBean

      McKenzie didn’t have Pocock. If he had, he’d have won a few more games.

  • Brisneyland Local

    Sully as always a great write up!
    As you know from my posts, I have been farily negative, but I think this is at least a forward step. I am really nervous about Foley at 12, but there are not a lot of choices. I know we will loose, but I just want to see an improvement in basic skills, tackling and kicking. If we improve in those areas and go down fighting I will be content!

  • phil peake

    Still no mention of Folau. Why? Is he exempt from criticism?

    • Pclifto

      Why? Any issue with Izzy is issue #267 at this point….

      • phil peake

        Didn’t you watch the game?

        • There are a lot of problems ahead of our back three problems.

        • phil peake

          You don’t think fullback is a critcal position in rugby?

        • We have team problems, top 3 inch problems, front row problems, lineout problems, back row problems, centre problems, and a passable fullback who can’t/won’t kick. For me it’s about priorities.

        • phil peake

          How many tackles did folau make on Saturday?

        • How many did he need to make?

        • phil peake

          You have no problems with a fullback, the last line of defence, in a 50 point hiding, making 1 tackle in 80 mins?

        • Really?

          Well Ben Smith made 9 in a winning side, that’s probably a good place to start

    • dane

      Because he was tyne only player to even bend the line last week?

      • phil peake

        So you ignore the rest of his game?

        • Nick Gregory

          we get it – you think Folau had a bad game because he made 1 tackle.

          However, it wasn’t 1 tackle from 15 attempts, so get over it.

        • phil peake

          Thanks for raising my next point. He made 1 tackle and missed 1 tackle. 80 mins of rugby, nearly 50 points scored against us and he made 1 tackle and missed 1 tackle. How is that even possible?

        • Nick Gregory

          he wasn’t in a position to be making tackles? Pretty simple to understand TBH. Sometimes a player will run at you, other times they will run at other players. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a rugby game before, but generally not everyone makes the exact same number of tackles

        • phil peake

          Thanks I’ve seen a few. You keep giving me the exact points I’m trying to make. He wasn’t in a position to be making tackles. In 80 mins, he was lazy, walking, staying on one side, not covering, not turning, not reacting and not positioning himself.

    • Bruce

      because he’s a tah? A fullback who can’t kick… it’s a complete joke. Every other team knows to kick it to Izzy, rush the defence and boom you’ve just made 40m. Bring back Jessie Mogg!

    • 30 mm tags

      Doubt if I have ever seen a Wallaby full back as out of position as Folau was on the first try. I don’t believe he and the other backs are in sync in terms of defence, kicking, joining the back line or following through on kicks

      • phil peake

        Thanks I agree. Izzy never there to stop any tries. Yes the backline alignment especially in defence has big issues. Tahs had same problem. Our defence is like league (doesnt work in rugby) and our kick chase the same. All up slowly in a line but no one chasing hard to pressure the receiver. Cheika watching too much league.

      • Haz

        Well you’ve always got the time he was on the complete other touch line as England scored a try down the other..

  • MM

    We’re going to get smashed, smeared all over the cake tin turf. I thought that under this sort of pressure Cheika might use some radical surgery, make some bold selections, but by maintaining Moore and the Pooper it shows that he’s devoid of imagination. Its very disappointing for Australian rugby.

    • Bruce


  • dane

    I laughed at the remark about hoping BB is in career best form. Well said Sully

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Faint hope. he’s only going to get better

  • Bruce

    That photo looks like Reid is hypnotising Phipps…. look into my eyes… when i click my fingers you are a duck, you will play rugby like a duck…

    • Chinese Dave

      It worked, he’s been playing like a duck ever since.

    • BloodRed

      Reid to Phipps – “If you ever throw a straight pass again I will f’king end you”
      Phipps to Reid – “Yes Sir”

  • Scot

    Well written Sully. Sport at the international level can be very unforgiving. It attracts the best talent in all aspects which challenges teams to firstly win, then keep winning. When you win a lot, it requires you to keep evolving and keep progressing. When you keep losing it challenges you to re-think, re-design and re-formulate your plans to start winning again. Analytics alone can assist this process but ultimately it is still coaching staff and player leadership groups that must drive the strategy.

    In 2016 the Wallabies have been found guily of getting caught in a downward spiral they can’t get out of. I believe this is because they have failed to evolve their game plan or playing style. Even worse, they have lacked the physical conditioning to even play that style. How that has been allowed to happen has to be questioned. Eddie Jones and the England team picked them apart and Steve Hansen and the All Blacks are merely repeating the process — but with greater accuracy!!

    Michael Cheika has this admirable philosophy of playing a brand of rugby attractive to every sports fan in Australia. The problem is that it’s the same game plan from 2014. It has been decoded. The Pooper experiment has run it’s course. The impact to the lineout of a small back row there for all to see. The inability of the Wallaby backs to play up at the gain line has provided easy defence for opposition teams never better organised. The lack of variety with running lines, switches in play and intelligent kicking has been a burden in easing this weakness. We saw it all last Saturday night at their home ground in front of their home fans. We will see it again this Saturday night at an away stadium in front of vocal away fans. The Wallabies will be competitive for the opening 20 minutes. It is the final 20 minutes that will be crushing. The All Blacks will be in no mood to slow down

    • Keith

      Cheika and Pulver are obsessed with a style of game that appeals to league fans to somehow win them over. Doesn’t seem to matter if we win or lose as long as it’s pretty. It’s insane. I’d rather win ugly than lose pretty.

      • Chinese Dave

        Then bring back Robbie Deans. If I’m not mistaken he had the best record of the last three coaches.

      • BloodRed

        We are doing a good job of losing ugly at the moment. Somewhere,somehow following the Reds of 2011 I feel like I went to bed with Jennifer Hawkins but woke up next to Stephen Hawkings. Makes me feel just wrong about everything that happened in between.

        • keith

          We need the Wallabies gameplay to be like Jennifer Hawkins with Stephen Hawkings brain, atm they’re playing like Stephen Hawkings body with Jennifer Hawkins’s brain.

      • 30 mm tags

        League fans would love the style the ABs play. Run, back up pass run.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Nice write up Sully and I think you point to a couple of really pertinent points. Too many actually which is a worry. The fitness issue is one I find particularly worrying and if he spent the 3 or so weeks he had smashing them to get fit it’s no wonder they didn’t have a plan. All that hill running and everything to me is a pre-season task and if he had a plan that depended on fitness that wasn’t there then he possibly should have spent the time coming up with a plan that matched the players skillset. I think there are some worrying times ahead

    • Keith Butler

      Hit the nail on the head Kiwi. Someone needs to have a word with their conditioning coaches. England did exactly the same prior to the RWC, flogging players and look where it got them.

  • first time long time

    Is it on purpose that your picture of the battle of the back row doesn’t show Hooper but Phipps instead???

    • Wanted a picture of Read but couldn’t find one of him and our backrowers in the library. No conspiracy here.

      • first time long time

        No accusation of such, completely appropriate IMO.
        I can see Poey’s bicep so he was there

        • jamie

          Hard to miss really

  • Charlie Farquhar

    As a pom watching with pals as hooked neutrals, feeling here that Australia’s struggle to execute quality box kicking tactics has held them back when looking to implement the types of gameplan that everyone here seems to be in accord over with NZ’s current form? Not to hit it out and concede lineout ball, put to flood 15m channels wide on the gain line so wingers can be turned. Cheks will probs get quade and foley split phase league style throwing 10m fizzers from the go mind.

    Also interested to know what the general consensus is amongst all of you guys here as to what you think Sean McMahon’s position should be? In serious danger of frying his brain it seems?

    Keep up the good work GAGR.

    • Keith Butler

      I reckon he’s a 7. Plenty of guts and a strong runner but no big enough to be either a 6 or an 8 at international level. We have the same problem at the Rebels no genuine 8 apart from Thompson, whose getting a bit long in the tooth, and more 7s you can poke a stick at filling in at 6. But they won’t take the big decision and move Lopeti into the back row.
      I think Cheks has shown his hand in picking bigger 6s and while Hooper and Pocock are around Sean Mc’s chances of game time are looking pretty remote

      • ForceFan

        I’d like to see him developed as a strong ball carrying, tackling 12 as we have problems in this position at the moment.

        • sambo6

          With pocock and gill leaving these shores, Aussie rugby is in the same position that English rugby is in with regards to the 7 slot. No real fetchers, but plenty of nottas, who try their guts out.

          While i’ve always been a huge fan of the traditional fetcher game, rather than the Hooper/mcmahon/haskell style of number 7. Given the move towards all players being able to do all things as discussed above, if the rest of our team was highly skilled over the ball, then you wouldn’t need a ‘fetcher/pilferer’ as every tackle situation would be a pilfer/slowing opportunity. that might be 30 years away at our current skills level though….

  • Bobas

    Great article Sully, cheers for this.

  • Really?

    An excellent and honest piece
    Really surprised there were no changes in the front row, cant think of a good game Sio has had scrummaging since the Pommy pool game at RWC, for Brumbies or Aus, and Kepu/Moore contributed little around the park last week.
    Perhaps too many changes and the coach, as Sully notes here, had to prioritise.

  • Toadflax

    So here is what I have decided to do

    1. Define success this weekend as playing our hearts out and not playing dumb rugby

    2. Go to the theatre while the game is played so I do not spend Sunday in the dog house for swearing profusely in front of my wife, kids and half the families in our street

    3. Watch the game by myself when I have completed 2

    4. Take a double dose of Risperdal after completing 2 and possibly after 3 depending on whether we achieve 1

    5 Go and watch some great rugby on Sunday – Gaaarn The Rays

  • Duncher

    Number for number, you’d pick the kiwis over every Australian player… I would probably swap Pocock for Cane, but he’s playing 8 not 7… Actually I might play Hooper over Cane as well, I think Cane’s their only weak spot…

    • first time long time

      A “weak spot” that is easily plastered over with Ardie Savea

      • Duncher

        Yeah… yeah… fark, I feel woozey

        • Cane is a weak spot? What part of his game is weak?

        • Braveheart81

          He’s pretty pale and is prone to sunburn on really sunny days.

        • Duncher

          The fact that he’s wearing Sir Ritchie’s number and will never be Sir Ritchie???

        • Duncher

          I got nuttin

  • muppet

    I knew we were an open book!

All Blacks

Just another Rugby tragic. Shane "Sully" Sullivan has been in man love with the game since high school in the 70's. He inflicts his passion on family and anyone who will listen. He can't guarantee unbiased opinion but he can tell you the Reds are Awesome! To read non-rugby content head to

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