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

Tuesday’s Rugby News

Tuesday’s Rugby News has the Waratahs not getting cocky, the Reds bringing back George Smith, the Brumbies sweating on Isa Naisarani and the Pooper on the comeback trail.


Don’t Get Cocky Kid

Photo courtesy of Keith McInnes

Photo courtesy of Keith McInnes

The Waratahs are on a winning streak at the moment, having beaten every other Australian conference side (incl. the Sunwolves) in the past four weeks. But as every other New Zealand side has shown over the past two years, that’s not really an impressive feat.

So, Simon Cron doesn’t think the Waratahs should get cocky.

“I think our conference at the moment there’s obviously naturally an internal battle between all the Australian teams,” the Tahs assistant coach told the SMH. “But on any given day each of those sides are really good so I think it would be stupid to be cocky.

“(Captain Michael Hooper) said at the end of the game (against Queensland last week) the most important thing for the boys is that they understand now and then they will get a pat on the back but they haven’t earned that yet.”

The Waratahs play the African leaders, the Lions, at home this week, followed by the Blues (H), Crusaders (A), Highlanders (H) and the Chefs (A).

As for the Lions, Cron said: “I don’t see many weaknesses across the park for them in their set piece or their attack and defence so for us it’s going to be test of every position.

“We threw away a lot of ball down the sideline [against the Reds],” Cron continued. “We were looking for 50-50 offloads when they weren’t on and as a result all we did was alleviate pressure [so we bloody well can’t bloody do that against the Lions].”

Reds Go Back

George Smith Queensland Reds

Queensland coach Brad Thorn is looking forwards, not backwards, the Courier Mail says, as 67-year-old George Smith is set to come back to the side this weekend against the Chefs.

Smith made his comeback with Brothers’ golden oldies on the weekend, playing a sprightly 40 minutes. Smith has been on the mend off-the-field after having spinal surgery and getting thrown in a Japanese slammer (aka ‘it is what it is‘).

Brothers coach Carl Marshall reckons Smith will be ok.

“He was not rusty at all, he was into everything physically, his catch-pass was crisp, he grabbed one excellent pilfer, deserved a few more and certainly looked the part for a recall to the Reds,” Marshall said.

“He was so humble at his one training session, the boys were really excited to have him around and it was a great thing for club rugby.”

The Courier Mail also thinks Lukham Tui will be play better on the weekend, having just signed a new 2-year contract. Which goes against standard practice, but oh well.

“It was an easy decision to stay at Ballymore. I’m really happy with how everything is going and I’m looking forward to the next two years,” Tui said. “There’s a good vibe at Ballymore at the moment. Everyone is keen and working hard, pushing each other to get better.”

Duncan Paia’aua is also set to return to inside centre, in what will be the Reds’ 1000th capped game. The Chefs are coming to Brisbane with 6 (six) injured props, which gives the Reds a chance of Steven Bradburying it.

Niceeeeeee-arani

Isi Naisarani played his last game for Brisbane City before heading West

David Pocock is BACK baby but that doesn’t mean that Brumbies coach Dan McKellar doesn’t want to lose Isi Naisarani for the weekend’s game against the Jags.

Naisarani was neck-rolled is recovering from concussion and McKellar hopes he’s a-ok for the Jags.

Standout Lachlan McCafferry has dislocated his elbow, Rob Valentini is recovering from knee surgery, and Lolo Fakaosilea has a sore shoulder, so the more backrowers the better.

“He’s played well. He has a high work rate, dynamic, powerful footballer,” McKellar said to the Canberra Times of Naisarani.

“It’s still only his second year of Super Rugby so he’s still got a lot to learn and he is going to get better, but he has performed well for the Brumbies that’s for sure.

“He has had a pretty good start to his career here and he’s a young man that hasn’t played a lot of Super Rugby, so he will get better as well.”

Despite the injury crisis, McKellar is confident that Michael Oakman-Hunt, a pickup from the John I Dent Cup who played in Dunedin, can do the job.

“He went well, he did well. He got 10 or 15 minutes there and had a couple of nice carries. It’s just [a matter of] picking up the detail now and understand the detail of his job in the team,” McKellar said.

“He had a lot of information thrown at him last week and he handled it well. I’ve known Michael for a long time and I knew he would do a good job.

“Michael has got a good work ethic and has faced adversity and just stuck around and kept chipping away. It’s great to see guys like that get an opportunity in Super Rugby because they’ve worked so hard.”

Pooper 2.0

pooper hooper pocock

Paul Cully writes a regular column on Sundays in the Sydney Morning Herald and you should read it cos it’s good.

This week he wrote about the Pooper. He thinks David Pocock and Michael Hooper and playing so well that it’s bound to be rolled out against Ireland.

“Pocock was a monster in Dunedin,” Cully mused. “The home side didn’t know how to cope with him, legally at least [oh snap! – sassy Ed].

“He won turnover after turnover and provided a reminder that no matter what happens in Super Rugby, when it comes to Test season the Wallabies have probably the strongest man over the ball in world rugby.

“Michael Cheika knows Ireland are strong on the ground…[so] the odds must be extremely low on Pocock and Hooper being reunited in the back row against the Irish, no matter which number Pocock has on his back.”

Cully also thinks that Curtis Rona (“[the Waratahs have] finally appear to have found their man at 13″) and (deep breath) Rob Simmons (“the maligned second-rower is looking more and more at home in blue every week.”)are finding some fine form.

On top of that, Cully reckons that the Melbourne Rebels are struggling with the ‘good rugby side’ thing – aka they can’t keep their leads – and it will take time for them to build that confidence. And whats one way of making themselves better?

By signing the man “on the sort of coin a decent All Black would be on” – Quade Cooper. “Of course, Dave Wessels would have to be convinced,” Cully says, ending his column, “if Genia is not already working on it”.

  • Huw Tindall

    Thank Christ (!!!) that Israel Folau’s tweet isn’t in the news today! Back to the main game.

    Re the Reds: Paia’aua back at 12 apparently. Whilst Kerevi is doing OK at 12 this year, certainly in the ball running department, I think in the current Reds side Paia’aua is a must at 12. For all Lance’s qualities he struggles to get the ball out wide. This is compounded by the Reds more limited tactics. The difference was stark at the SCG on Saturday. The Tahs wings were involved regularly with the combo of Beale and Foley able to get the ball wide with ease. TN must have run for over 200m alone. The Reds had no such ability. There is a reason why they are down the bottom of the log for tries scored. They need to rectify this and Paia’aua is the only real option I can see. What happens with Kerevi and CFS? I’d move Kerevi to 13 and CFS to the wing where he has had previous experience. yes Kerevi is a bit sus at 13 but he is too good to leave out of the side. Beyond that welcome back George Smith – they could do with his experience and leadership. Hopefully Tupou is back too. Desperately needed if they are a chance at surprising the Chiefs this weekend.

    Re the Tahs: it’s time to see just how well they are going. If they can do a number on the Lions then all signs point to yes. How will their super mobile pack go against the South African bruisers? Really looking forward to this match. Lions have been hot and cold all season so hard to tell. As always with the Tahs – if they can get parity, or close enough too, at set piece they are every chance.

    • Custard Taht

      Not sure what the answer is for the reds. Is it;

      A) Replace the attack coach

      B) Scout club rugby and see if they can find a 10 with great passing, good tactical kicking and an ability to put others through gaps.

      C) Replace the defense coach.

      Whatever the answers are, I don’t have them. I have never played at the elite level, and I don’t like the suss looks one gets when creeping around carparks.

      The wheels seem to have fallen off the Reds wagon, since returning from the SA tour. It appears to be an attitude issue, as it seems they are not playing for each other anymore.

      • John Tynan

        I see what you did there with option B…

        I’m happy with the attitude and application – they just don’t have a game plan that is even close to a modern game. One out runners then get it to a single line of attack for the big centre to crash it. I thought the Ella’s killed that off with deception and innovative running lines.

        • Custard Taht

          The attack issues are most likely tactical, but I can see the value in keeping things simple, whilst working on the basics and fundamentals.

          The problem is the basics and fundamentals have either plateaued or dropped off.

          Their defence makes the titanic look positively sea worthy. A good defence requires a good attitude.

        • Greg

          do we know anyone innovative running around in club rugby in Qld atm?

          …. maybe!

      • joy

        A blind man will not find the elephant.

      • HK Red

        Unfortunately, I think Bredley’s limitations as a coach are starting to show. He’s stubborn, he’s driven, he’s dedicated, and as an individual he held his place among teams filled with champions. As a player he did the job and he did it well. I just worry that he lacks the creative ability and the strategic thinking that is required for coaching at this level. Being a hard-nosed tough bloke is a great inspiration for the young guys and they will surely follow him over the top, but there’s further development that’s needed that I don’t believe he can provide. I really hope I’m proven wrong.

        I also don’t think giving your young charges a dressing down in the press is the right tactic. You walk a tightrope shaming someone, it can backfire quite quickly and destroy trust. Didn’t a lot of people question Stiles use of the media to give his players a serve after poor performances?? I’m not seeing many people questioning Thorn doing exactly the same.

        • Bakkies

          Thorn reminds me of a Cheika. He is a motivator not an innovator. Once he has made his mind up it takes a long time to get him to come to his senses.

          These types of coaches have a limited shelf life. The motivation has to come from the captain and other senior players not the coach.

          There’s a reason why coaches like Rennie and Schmidt hold down jobs for as long as they want.

    • Dud Roodt

      Oh how wrong you were…
      It appears Izzy can’t keep his fucking mouth closed about. He’s essentially now making a mockery of RA

      • onlinesideline

        yeah hes gonsky – whether RA does it or he walks – either way very weird behavour by him and I fully support his rights but if he used his brain he could have left it and let it wimper out – he knows Raelene is in very hard position but by furthur whinging he is really taking her on. So he will go to League knowing it wont be tolerated ? Wheres the victory ? Walking from Union ? Weak victory.

        Question is, is he martyring himself for the right to speak freely or for the religious message itself ? Feels like the former which is pretty self destructive. Theres ways to do things and consdering all the input coaches and surrounding players have probably put into his career, especially when he first came to Union, both at state and national level it looks pretty damn selfish, not very humble (Christian) at all.

        • Dud Roodt

          To be honest, when it all kicked off, I thought to myself “he’s already signed with league and this is his get out clause”, and I thought the way Todd Greenberg was talking supported that theory.
          Then when Greenberg came out and said they wouldn’t tolerate it I thought it reeked of them having lost his signature. Because I mean really, you’ll let a bloke who glassed his girlfriend (then blamed it on his mate) play origin, but you won’t tolerate a guys religious beliefs?!

          Now I think you’re right, Izzy might be martyring himself. Although I’m sure his church won’t be too happy when the 10% of his earnings they receive goes from $100k to $6k.

        • Bakkies

          He said he has had offers from overseas. Ulster is a good fit for him. The stuck in the 16th century DUP are still popular there and they are the only jurisdiction in the UK that hasn’t allowed gay marriages.

        • Dud Roodt

          Sounds perfect then!

        • Hoss

          Great points mate. In a negotiation of 2 parties, wedging one by leveraging yourself (like the Apostle Israel has) will never end well. Its the old adage of a ‘win-win’. Izzy has just set-up a situation of win-go fuck yourself. It will end in tears, either RA stands its ground due to commercial (sponsor) pressures and says goodbye, or sucks it up and take one in the Pooper for the same reasons (commercial value of Folau to the RA) – kind of ironic that Izzy may cause his employee some discomfort in the rectal area – isn’t this how it all started ??????????

          To quote my favourite show – ‘not that there’s anything wrong with that’

        • joy

          Companies that take a position on divisive social issues are the ones setting up a win lose or even a lose lose situation. My family has already issued Qantas a yellow card and if Izzy goes it will be a lifetime red.

      • Huw Tindall

        I do like that website the article was on though. Player’s Voice I think. Has been some great articles across many sports this last year.

        • Dud Roodt

          Yeah it’s a direct copy of the site The Players Tribune that Derek Jeter started – really good stuff on there.

      • joy

        I read all that. How can any reasonable person take issue with any of it.

        • Waz_dog

          They can’t. What people do take issue with is this – if God exists then heaven and hell exists, and that God has given each person a choice on which one they want to go to. They choose a life that leads to hell and then hope like all buggery that God doesn’t exist.

          When people finally die they’re really going to find out whether God does exist or not.

        • onlinesideline

          Are you sure …. if he doesnt exist how will they know ?

        • Waz_dog

          That’s the beauty of faith – no one’s 100% sure until your dead.

        • onlinesideline

          but you said “when people finally die thats when they find out if”
          Im saying if someone dies and there is no G-d then they will never know there is no G-d. So your comments is not really true.

          Im not talking about what you do or dont believe in when u are alive, Im asking you about a comment you made re when someone dies

        • Waz_dog

          How is it not true? If God exists then people will either go to heaven or hell. If God doesn’t then people will simply cease to exist or be reincarnated or whatever it is they believe in when it comes to the after life.

        • onlinesideline

          “When people finally die they’re really going to find out whether God does exist or not ”

          If G-d does not exist, Im sure you would agree, thats the same as saying, there is no after life, no form of consciouness, no ability to think, because the soul would cease to exist. So if thats the case there is no “knowing” about anything because body and SOUL existence ends when you die – IF THERES NO G-D.

          Your comment implies that its possible to die, get to the next world, and discover theres no G-d – lolol – to that extent it cant be true. Good for Monty Python though.

          Isnt what you really meant to say is “when people finally die they will find out what I really believe to be the case and that is, G-d really exists”

          If G-d doesnt exist, people wont find out squat because they wont exist either – GET IT ? :)

        • Waz_dog

          I get the sentiment – it doesn’t change anything. It’s a binary output – option A or option B. That sentiment is exactly like If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

          If people knew the answer to that prior to dying we wouldn’t be discussing this because we’d know. We don’t, we won’t until we die and if God doesn’t exist and nothing happens after we die we never will.

          But no one knows the answer to that question so you’re going to have to make your own mind up on that one.

        • onlinesideline

          I was simply pulling you up on the way you expressed what you were attempting to say above. It didnt make sense because you used the words find out for both A and B. If its B the dead person would “find out” nothing. Not disputing its binary and not talking abouth faith while you are alive, or answers while you are alive, just about the way you expressed the possibilities when you die. If its B people wont “find out” anything. It was the fact that you said find out for both A and B.

        • Waz_dog

          That only rings true from an atheist point of view – what if Option B is one of the many other religions out there? You would know then when it comes to the afterlife.

        • onlinesideline

          what you believe in this world is irrelevant to your statement. (not irrelevant but irrlevant to your STATEMENT) Your statement was from the point of vew of a dead person Waz. You said once a person is dead they will experience A or B didnt you ?

          Im saying out of your two possibities you stated if the B option is true the dead person wouldnt find out anything .. coz there wouldnt be a G-d. If you dont believe in the possibility of A OR B then how can you make that statement that implies A and B are BOTH possible ?

        • Waz_dog

          You need to do a bit of research on religions of this world and then get back to me. You might find it’ll answer this question.

        • onlinesideline

          really really disappointed in that answer Waz. If you cannot understand that I am not referencing religion but logic and meaning that probably goes towards understanding how you answered. Clearly you just dont undertstand the contradiction you wrote. Believe me I understand religion. Does a person who dashes the “O” in the word G-d look like someone who doesnt undertsand the gravity of the topic. I think not mate. Reread what I said tommorrow and get back to me. Hint…. it doesnt mater what religion you are referencing, the statement you made doesnt make sense. Lets end it peacefully here. Peace.

        • Waz_dog

          I understand exactly the logic.You are quite correct and I already agreed with you if option B is solely an atheist point of view. You need to realise that there are other religions out there other than Christianity and atheism that satisfy you knowing that God doesn’t exist and still in a state of being in the afterlife, therefore knowing and satisfying my statement which I originally stated. Peace to you also.

        • onlinesideline

          But you didnt make the statement in the context as to whether its possible to have self awareness in the afterlife without G-d existing, including what the eastern religions may espouse, you made the statement in reference to your PRECEDING statement which implied people want to be free to sin in this world but then hope they arent accountable in a worldview of “heaven and hell”- (ur words) in the next world. Thats Christian isnt it ? Name me an alternative religion where it says their is heaven and hell AND its possible to be self aware in the afterlife but without G-d existing. If you can I will eat my hat. Im out its 6am in morning in Europe and sleep time.

        • Old_Laurentian

          Please, please sleep quietly and leave it there. Izzy was quoting from a book that represents the teaching of one religion, which is fading fast.

          N- more G-d and Christianity n-nsense, please-. N-w it appears to be the religi-n that can’t say that w-rd, -r can’t t-lerate THAT letter? Give me a break, it’s a Rugby site.

        • onlinesideline

          Im not a Christian and am making no comment about its authenticity or otherwise, I was talking about a comment above that didnt make sense to me.

        • Hoss

          i suffer dyslexia and lean towards the agnostic side of the dial.

          Some nights i lay awake tossing and turning wondering if there really is a dog ?

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          So an insomniac, agnostic dyslexic. You’ve got it rough mate.
          As my wife says; religion is about who’s got the best invisible friend. Personally if it makes someone feel better, and doesn’t hurt anyone then go for it. The problem is so many do hurt others and that’s not right.

        • Dud Roodt

          My money is one the Flying Spaghetti Monster personally. I like the cut of his jib the most.

        • Who?

          It’s amazing how there’s less room for reasonable argument when someone uses more than 44 characters to be clearer…
          I don’t think there’s any reason for anyone to be grumpy. I can see why Israel wasn’t happy with what Raelene said, but what she said wasn’t duplicitous. It was an attempt to put a positive spin on a difficult conversation. And what Israel said in the interview shows he understands where Raelene’s coming from, and that he’s not a cut and dried homophobe or hater the way many initially portrayed him to be.
          At the same time, the headlines around today are pure click bait. Israel’s said he offered to hand in his contract if it was creating an untenable situation for RA. That’s not arrogant. He said, “Here’s my position, if it’s a problem for you, I’ll step back, fall on my sword, pay the price.” RA have – rightly – said they don’t need him to do that. So he’s shown he’s willing to face massive consequences for his actions. He’s clearly said he supports the Bingham Cup, he’s said he wants Rugby to be inclusive, he’s clarified his position that all people face the same fate (that it’s not a special punishment just for the LGBTI community, it’s the same for drunkards, thieves and greedy people – all listed in his reply), he’s mentioned he lives with friends and family who strongly disagree with his position, and that he has gay family members. If they’re friends (and family), that shows he can accept people whilst disagreeing with their beliefs, positions and/or actions. Isn’t that what we all expect of everyone..? Nothing more, nothing less? Or is it ok to call for someone’s sacking over their beliefs…? Are we allowed to expect that someone who’s saying he accepts people as people (though he thinks they’re making mistakes) should be considered unacceptable to the rest of us..?

        • Waz_dog

          Yeah but when you put it like that, Dud and co can’t use Izzy as a scapegoat to bash Christianity ;-)

        • Dud Roodt

          When have I used Izzy as a scapegoat to bash christianity?

          Personally I feel it does a pretty good job of that itself, but just need a refresher on when I did that?

        • Waz_dog

          You don’t need to blatantly say something to infer it dud.

        • Dud Roodt

          I guess just like thinking you’re right doesn’t mean you haven’t wildly missed the mark.

        • Waz_dog

          Have I missed the mark?

        • Dud Roodt

          You have. You seem to have made the mistake of thinking my critique of Izzy’s comments was me using an opportune time to have a go at christianity. In the process of the critique, christianity and my thoughts on it came up, but not mentioning would have been a bit difficult given the topic of conversation.

      • Waz_dog
        • Dud Roodt

          Ha thanks Waz – already read it this morning

        • Missing Link

          In hindsight, Israel Folau’s response to that instagram post should have been “it’s all written in the Bible, you should read it sometime” but alas here we are.

    • HK Red

      Unfortunately, I think Bredley’s limitations as a coach are starting to show. He’s stubborn, he’s driven, he’s dedicated, and as an individual he held his place among teams filled with champions. As a player he did the job and he did it well. I just worry that he lacks the creative ability and the strategic thinking that is required for coaching at this level. Being a hard-nosed tough bloke is a great inspiration for the young guys and they will surely follow him over the top, but there’s further development that’s needed that I don’t believe he can provide. I really hope I’m proven wrong.

      I also don’t think giving your young charges a dressing down in the press is the right tactic. You walk a tightrope shaming someone, it can backfire quite quickly and destroy trust. Didn’t a lot of people question Stiles use of the media to give his players a serve after poor performances?? I’m not seeing many people questioning Thorn doing exactly the same.

      • Bakkies

        Thorn reminds me of a Cheika. He is a motivator not an innovator. Once he has made his mind up it takes a long time to get him to come to his senses.

        These types of coaches have a limited shelf life. The motivation has to come from the captain and other senior players not the coach.

        There’s a reason why coaches like Rennie and Schmidt hold down jobs for as long as they want.

        • HK Red

          Sorry Bakkies, I’d moved my comment further down the page to a more on-point “What’s going on with the Red’s?” type thread. Didn’t mean to leave you swinging in the wind here.

  • Wallabrumby

    If the Pooper comes out I am very interested in knowing who will play beside them in the back row. Gonna need a ball runner and a good lineout jumper, so presuming that alone (and not his form) will rule out Hanigan? Surely Cheika can see that.
    If Dempsey is back and firing would he do the Job?
    Interested to know everyone’s thoughts on this.

    • Huw Tindall

      That’s the $64,000 question WB and harks back to the RWC challenge where people say the Pooper was proven to be ineffective. I don’t think this is the case. We lost the RWC final to the greatest All Blacks team of all time. It’s more a question of who is best to compliment Hooper and Pocock. They need to tick the runner and lineout jumper requirements you list. So…
      – Timani doesn’t seem up to it. Just hasn’t lived up to the hype and rig he has
      – Hannigan has been play in the second row and whilst a great lineout jumper is still bulking up and working on his running and ruck work.
      – Naisarani isn’t eligible this year.
      – Is Timu a good enough lineout exponent?
      – Wells isn’t a big back rower.
      – Holloway could be. Has the size but has shown he can use it yet.
      – Tui? Hasn’t played many matches this year after his suspension. Certainly a big unit but not the best lineout exponent.

      The only option ticking all the boxes seems Dempsey. He was a revelation before injury last year. If he can get back to that form then I’d give him first run a the position. That’s a big if though as he is only due back from injury for the Blues game in a couple of weeks. Probably too late to rush him into the Irish series.

      As much as I hate to say it I can see Cheika going back Ned Hannigan. At least he ticks one of the lineout jumper box (arguably one of the best in Aussie rugby) and is a legit 80 minute player.

      If we don’t have a back rower to compliment Pooper then the next question is do we run one of them of the bench and have a different 6 and 8 combo? Who are the form 6 and 8? Timu and Korcyzk? Miller and Wells have had great games the last two weeks but are too similar to Hooper and Pocock to fit the ball running/lineout requirement. Same with Hardwick. McCafrey and Cusack at the Brumbies?

      So…no easy answers! I think the tight 5 though is looking much more promising. Tupou, Slipper, Sio, 7As, and Kepu all playing well. TPN to fly back and add his skill and power. Second row is starting to overflow with options. Coleman, the Arnold(s), Rodda, Matt Phillip, and then the established players in Carter and Simmons are serviceable and have a bucket load of experience.

      • Braveheart81

        This is the question that has to be answered if you don’t want to start both Pocock and Hooper. Who are these mythical 6 and 8 who provide a better backrow.

        Dempsey got there last season but were those couple of tests something he can produce consistently or was that a flash in the pan? He will have a limited preparation to prove himself for the June series (although probably won’t have to show his best form to make the squad providing he gets a few games in).

        Hanigan has certainly improved this year and is excellent at the lineout but doesn’t have that physicality around the park. Gets through a heavy workload but his challenge if he plays test rugby this year will be to improve his accuracy. He missed too many cleanouts last test season.

        Timu started the season with a bang but possibly hasn’t kept it up. He’s a good ball runner but he loses the ball in contact a bit and couldn’t put his stamp on the game against the Tahs and was outshone by the lightweight Michael Wells.

        Adam Korczyk has improved this year but I certainly don’t see him making our best backrow however it is arranged.

        Lopeti Timani has been poor this season and I can’t even see him making the squad.

        Ross Haylett-Petty has been pretty good and could be an option at 6.

        At this point I don’t see any backrow combination that doesn’t feature both Pocock and Hooper that is better than one that does. Everyone seems pretty happy to bring Hooper on with half an hour to go to play two 7s but somehow thinks the premise of playing 80 minutes like that is the worst idea of all time.

        I tend to think we’ll see it again this year because there isn’t a better option.

        • Brumby Runner

          BH you always bring up the mythical aspects of playing in the 6 and 8 spots. Does wonders for your argument because we have no superman or Perseus or Hercules playing in Super Rugby. However, we do have options to allow the Pooper to be disbanded. They may work or they might not. But Caleb Timu is (after Mafi and Naisarani – either of whom would walk in if eligible) the best No 8 going round and apart from his game against the Waratahs (where he was still effective, mind) he has earmarked himself for higher honours in all games this year.

          And at 6, we have Dempsey yet to return from injury, but as you often state, form towards the mid-year break is better than form right now, so let’s hope that Dempsey does make it back on the field in time. Otherwise, it does come down to Tui, Philip, RHP or Hanigan. I personally wouldn’t like to see Ned retained because contrary to your view on things, I really haven’t seen any positive improvement at all in his game so far this year. But if someone says something often enough, many start to take it as gospel.

          It really isn’t just a matter of the Pooper or nothing, and we don’t need to go looking for myths and legends to try something different.

        • Braveheart81

          I think Timu will make the squad but I’m not convinced yet he is a good enough option to suggest he’d be better at 8 to displace the Pooper. He may be in time.

          Mafi and Naisarani are irrelevant because they aren’t eligible. I too would start Naisarani at 8 if he was eligible. Timu seems like less of an outstanding option to fix the Wallabies backrow issues when you consider he’s only the third best starting number 8 for an Australian side.

          Tui has played one game at 6 and was crap.

          Philip hasn’t played there but I agree he is a decent option on paper. RHP is also a good option to try and hopefully he makes the test squad.

          Personally I would be picking one of those guys to go with Pocock and Hooper. If you offered me a choice for this year between Timu and Pocock and Pocock and Hooper I would take Pocock and Hooper every day of the week. I don’t think Timu offers enough as a specialist number 8 that suggests he would help create a better overall forward pack. I would probably look at having him on the bench as the backrow replacement.

        • Huw Tindall

          100% agree Braveheart. I understand the call for a traditional balanced backrow 6, 7, 8 combo but with the troops we have available I just don’t see it. We gain more with Pooper on than trying to manufacture a traditional backrow.

    • Custard Taht

      The Pooper should be consigned to hell. Pocock is the best 7 in the world and there isn’t a team in world rugby that he wouldn’t start on……except the Wallabies.

      The Pooper was successful initially, but that success has been well and truly ended. The top teams have turned the pooper into ordinary poop.

    • Missing Link

      If Dempsey can hit the same form pre injury then yes he belongs in the 6 jersey, along with some tall timber in at 4 and 5. Coleman definitely. Not Hanigan, nice guy but not a Wallaby

      • onlinesideline

        Majorly agree – he da man in my book. Hes just the 6 we are looking for.
        Out of the newbees Rodda, Tui, Dempsey and Ulyseees are a walk in for 23 squad, very closely followed by Thor.

        • Missing Link

          Yeah we have to look to the future and these guys show a lot of promise. It’s going to be hard to get them up to speed before Japan next year and Cheika will probably opt for experience, but from then on it should be all about these guys. I’m a hard person to please when watching the Wallabies, but the last time I saw Dempsey he was slipping tackles against NZ as if they’d rubbed vaseline all over him before the game. Can’t remember the last time I saw a forward so elusive against the best team in the world.

          9 and 10 are going to give us trouble going forward, there is daylight between Genia and anyone else, and our options at 10 consist of Foley and …. Plenty of options 11 through to 15 for the next few years.

        • onlinesideline

          Yeah Dempsey is seriously fleet footed and looks like hes been preparing to WIN for the wallabies since nippers. Mate Im of the opinion that 2019 SHOULD be a totally realistic target for these guys seriously hitting their straps. Whether Cheika does that is another question. I think we these guys he should should go for it this year. They are good enough, best newbees in yearsssss. If he does things like include Tui and Demsey in a pointless baabaas match 1 week before touring then it could take longer. Damn pointless that was.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Well the Irish will be cheering if the Pooper is resurrected again. It’s a proven failure that is easily negated and provides an unbalanced back row that doesn’t actually achieve much. It’ll be interesting to see who plays 6 & 8 but regardless if it’s Pocock in either then the opposition will have a big smile

    • Huw Tindall

      The Irish run an aggressive on ball backrow too. Weren’t the Irish essentially running 3 open sides at one point? You can say Hooper isn’t a 7 but his stats prove otherwise.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Mate, I’m not saying Hooper is an’t a 7. He’s actually a good 7, not quite as good as he’s portrayed here sometimes, but still very good. The issue is that when you have a policy of 2 No 7’s you lose the role of the 6 and that makes your loose trio unbalanced. Absolutely have it for a particular game against a particular side where you have a particular tactic but to have it as your go to tactic means your opposition is able to plan for and exploit the lack of the 6 in your combination. It’s not only the ABs that can do that, all of the top 4 or 5 teamsin the world have the ability to do that. Funnily enough Cheika is the only coach in the worls who thinks having 2 7’s is the best combination so either all the others are wrong and he’s a genius, or and more likely, he’s wrong and needs to rethink.

        • Dud Roodt

          People on here talk Hooper up? That’s funny, I can’t remember the last time someone said how great he was other than to defend him. I feel the general consensus on here is that he’s a sea-gulling glory boy (even when the stats indicate that is a complete fabrication of the truth).

        • onlinesideline

          he sea gulls but definitely would not say he is a glory boy. No-one who runs and tackless as much as this bloke could be accused of seeking glory or glory only. Its the meters he runs more than the tackles thats convinced me of this. He has mind blowing ticker.

          Not saying you are saying hes a glory boy ? Are you ?

        • Dud Roodt

          I’m most certainly not. I think it’s a fallacy that he is one, and that he is a sea gull. How can a player be at once both the highest tackler, highest runner amongst forward (and sometimes amongst all players) yet he seagulls at the same time? It really doesn’t make sense to me.

        • Huw Tindall

          It’s a post fact world Dud. Fake news and all that.

          I would like to see the XV that say Hansen or Jones or Townsend would pick if they were coach. And not just to see how they rate Poey and Hooper.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Huw good point. A outsider then would not be accused of bias! Or on the other hand wouldnt be influenced by it!

        • onlinesideline

          yeah I agree – the sea gulling I think he is doing ( accused of ) is actually more making a call about his effectiveness if he came back into the ruck. I am sure he can judge that, its not like hes taking a breather, hes just backing his speed and by hanging out in the line sometimes ha has been effective.

        • Dud Roodt

          Exactly. I think he’s a phenomenal reader of a game from a players point of view (his captaincy I’ll admit does leave a little to be desired).

          He’s 3rd overall in tackles made.
          3rd overall in pilfers

          That’s not really indicative of a seaguller is it?

        • John Miller

          Of course, Pocock is 1st in pilfers after only 3 matches played. But then, selective stats can be made to support any argument. If, for example, you widen the “forced turnovers” metric beyond singular “pilfers” to include “forced penalties” and “forced ruck and maul penalties” (the latter two metrics more closely indicative of strength over the ball as opposed to just pace to the ruck), Hooper sits outside of the top 20 players in the competition behind nearly all Super Rugby openside flankers in the competition, a host of other loosies and a number of holistic players such as Retallick, Creevy and Parsons.

          And while Hooper attempts a lot of tackles, he also botches an awful lot for an openside flanker that goes unmentioned and unnoticed. Hooper’s tackle technique and timing is excellent, and when he gets it right – particularly rush up tackles on hospital pass bound inside backs – it makes great highlight reel. But when he gets it even slightly off, as a bantamweight, it’s not pretty. Getting back to stats, Michael Hooper has the most “ineffective tackles” across the entire competition: every team and every player. His mid-70% tackle efficiency is very modest for a 7 (only 1 other player in the top 20 tacklers has a tackle efficiency less than 80%). And this is not a one-off: he was the second highest “ineffective tackler” in 2017 as well. Pocock’s tackle effectivness: 92%.

        • Dud Roodt

          My point above was not to compare Hooper to Pocock – I think they’re both fantastic footballers in their right.
          My point was regarding the notion that Hooper is a seaguller. That he spends so much time in the backs or on the wing that he doesn’t play the role of a 7, or a forward in general. Not that he would be happy with the stats you’ve included – however, it goes even more to my point (tackles attempted) – if he did indeed spend so much time seagulling, by definition alone, he wouldn’t be attempting (and missing) so many tackles.

        • John Miller

          But that is the direct comparison DR isn’t it? Hooper V Pocock. Because whilst there might be some conjecture whether Hooper is a 7 or not. There is zero conjecture regarding Pocock. He is an out and out openside flanker in: every. Single. Team. In fact, despite the jersey he wears, Pocock is also the Wallabie’s openside flanker. Which means Michael Hooper is the smallest, shortest, least set piece and tight running proficient 8 in international test rugby. Time for a change Mr Cheika.

        • Dud Roodt

          If i were comparing the two then yes, most definitely. But I wasn’t. I was defending Michael Hooper’s abilities as a player.

        • John Miller

          As a player: Michael Hooper is an outstanding openside flanker. If that is your platform: we agree. As an openside flanker, he is inferior to David Pocock. Sit him on the pine.

        • Dud Roodt

          Yeah cool. But I wasn’t talking about David Pocock, nor was I comparing the two

        • Braveheart81

          That is such a dated analysis of the roles players play in the modern game. Pocock did an outstanding job at 8 at set piece. He controlled the ball well at the back of the scrum Outside of that the numbers of the jerseys dictate little else than the area of the field they patrol in attack in the pod system we play.

          Good pilfers in any position get an opportunity to attack defensive breakdowns. The fact that Pocock does that most because it’s his greatest strength doesn’t change based on the number on his jersey. Malcolm Marx is leading Super Rugby in the stat again and he is a hooker.

          Hooper is a far better 7 in attack with his running, passing and link play. That’s a pretty core skill on a modern 7.

          Who is your backrow that is better than one involving both Pocock and Hooper. I don’t think we have one currently. I think the leading 8 candidate at the moment is probably Caleb Timu and he hasn’t been entirely consistent and has plenty of flaws to his game. He was well and truly outplayed by Michael Wells on the weekend.

        • John Miller

          The “traditional” versus “modern” argument is itself a meaningless diversion. The key criteria is: what capabilities does this team most require in relation to its own incumbent strengths and weaknesses and those of their opposition on any given day.

          If we take Ireland, for example, in the first 30 minutes, will the Wallabies most require: pace in the three quarter channel or muscle and leverage in up front battle? Dancing feet on the flanks or power and height in the set piece. General industriousness or raw boned power? And even if one chose the former in each instance, who really should be providing such capabilities? Almost half the team are designated backs, if they can’t beat a man, run a support line, make a cover tackle, rush a catcher – change their selection pecking order.

          The Wallabies 8 or 6 doesn’t need to be a better individual player than Michael Hooper. They just need to be better at: leveraging scrums, catching and challenging for lineout pill, running into big blokes in the centre of the park, wrestling mauls, hurting jackals with broad blunt shoulders and imposing themselves physically in the tight collisions. There are a host of better physiologically aligned animals for those specific tasks.

          But as to some peripheral myths:

          90% of attack starts at the breakdown. For every wide running centre, winger (or openside flanker) who dances through the three quarter channel against a backfooted, sparsely spaced defensive line to collect the plaudits, is a dented, unheralded bloke at the preceding ruck who cleaned a ruck with such dominance as to allow the quick ball, which facilitated the time and space for the successful attack to occur. The lifecycle of a try more often than not starts with the breakdown – that too is attack.

          Running in the backline is not the same as “linking” to the backline. Again – statistically – per game Pocock has more: possessions, runs, passes, offloads, tackle breaks and linebreaks than Michael Hooper. There is an argument to be made that not only is he clearly a better defensive player, he may actually be a better attacking one as well.

        • Dud Roodt

          Interesting you left run metres off the stats for the 2. I reckon average run metres is a better metric than possessions – otherwise Rob Simmons and Tom Staniforth would be considered the best running forwards in the game with their 8,000 possessions for -5m

        • Change to who? Its put up or shut up time! Who are you going to select at 6 & 8 assuming Pocock is at 7?

          Based on who is available (Naisirani isn’t, Fardy isn’t, McMahon isn’t). Based on the wonderful Super performances of the Australian rugby teams the possibilities are terribly thin! You’ll probably end up with a converted lock at 6 like Tui! And if there is one 8 who has stood up and played the house down all season (except maybe Wells, who I am NOT recommending) I haven’t seen him. Perhaps Timu would be closest but his form is not consistently good enough.

        • Braveheart81

          The South African stats site AllOutRugby has Hooper leading the comp in dominant tackles with 19. I agree that he misses more tackles than he should particularly when he plays as the “shooter” but he makes a lot of tackles and he makes a lot of dominant tackles.

        • John Miller

          And BH81, that only reinforces the highlight reel that we invariably see replayed endlessly to limitless hyperbole on Fox Sports: Hooper shooting out of the line (with exceptional timing and technique) to nail a flat footed duck. This said, he also executes great tackles outright in straight contests and deserves his tag of strong defender. But he is far from a Sam Cane, David Pocock, Sean O’Brien: Rock – an the embellishment should stop. Hooper gets found out in one on one straight out contests with more regularity than is reported. His 4 bump offs in the Argentina / Wallabies match last year (twice by the 12) was far from the exception. Does a good dominant tackles when he does get a player down account for 3 out of 10 misses or poor tackles? That’s what rate he’s running at. And the openside is supposed to be our best tackler. For mine: hell no.

        • Braveheart81

          The shooting tactic in defence is intended. It’s to stop the ball spreading further out and if the player comes back inside there is defence to cover it.

          Anyway, you clearly don’t rate him but I expect we will see both him and Pocock in the starting backrow in June. I don’t think we have a better option.

        • John Miller

          I thank you for your explanation of the “shoot out of the line” technique. I have indeed heard of it previously. Though I very much appreciate your reiteration. And Michael Hooper does it exceptionally well. But dominant tackles gained from this technique do not illustrate Michael Hooper’s general defensive effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) as a review of his broader statistics shows – which is the precisely the point I was making to DR who rolled out the numbers, selectively.

          As it happens, I rate Michael Hooper very highly. He is an outstanding rugby player with some singular skills and I very much enjoy his wide running, support playing, flyhalf worrying industriousness. I just happen to think that these characteristics run a distant second to the tight running, lineout jumping, maul wrestling, breakdown cleaning, scrum leveraging eightman play that the national rugby team sacrifices in order to accommodate him in a Pocock/Hooper augmented backrow.

          And despite the endless calls for a 6 or and 8 who can somehow bridge the gap between this inherent skills deficit – there is no player in world rugby that can do his own job effectively, and then pick up the slack from another as well.

          Time to pick an openside flanker Mr Cheika. And then pick a proper 8. And then pick a full grown, angry 6.

        • Braveheart81

          Who are these 6s and 8s who are as relatively good at their position as Hooper or Pocock are at 7? The fact remains that Pocock and McMahon played better tests as a number 8 in 2015 and 2017 respectively despite neither being a specialist number 8 than we saw out of any of the specialist number 8s in recent years such as McCalman, Higginbotham, Timani or Palu for the last few years of his career.

        • John Miller

          Again, attempting to make this about “who is the better player” is a constant technique used to justify the Hooper inclusion. If the Wallabies were selected based upon who are the 15 best players, Hooper would make the Wallabies team every day of the week and twice on Sundays. It isn’t. And the comparison isn’t about which 6 or 8 is better or worse than Pocock or Hooper. When Pocock is in the Wallabies backrow with Hooper, it is about who executes the core roles of the blindside flanker or eightman position better than Michael Hooper. Because no one executes the core requirements of the Wallabies openside flanker position better than David Pocock and they are the core competencies he fulfils. So you ask me: who is a better lineout jumper, scrum leverager, tight runner, maul wrestler, blunt force breakdown cleaner than Michael Hooper? Probably most of them BH81.

        • Braveheart81

          Tell me who your suggested backrow is. Everyone who complains about Pooper suddenly goes quiet when they’re actually asked who they’d select instead.

          If we had a world class number 6 and 8 I wouldn’t be having this argument, but we don’t.

          Our best backrow performance last year featured Hooper, McMahon and Dempsey. 3 players who have all played at number 7 at varying points in their career and none of which you’d describe as a specialist 6 or 8. They have just ended up playing there because they are outstanding players and that’s how they best fit into various teams.

        • John Miller

          “If we had a world class number 6 and 8.”

          And again, they don’t necessarily even need to be “world class”. They just need to be better at: lineout jumping, scrum leveraging, tight running, maul wrestling, blunt force breakdown cleaning than Michael Hooper – because this is what we sacrifice in order to accommodate him in the starting side. When I say, “probably most of them” – that’s what I mean.

          So perhaps you can answer, which Australian loose forwards is Michael Hooper better in regards to the key requirements of: lineout jumping, scrum leveraging, tight running, maul wrestling and blunt force breakdown cleaning?

        • Patrick

          Fardy, Pocock and McMahon?

        • Jack Mallick

          Two of those have walked out the door on Aussie rugby…and besides you’re back to the issue of having two opensides

        • Patrick

          I think McMahon, whilst a little light for an 8 in theory, does fine there. And despite having watched for just that during many games, I’ve never seen him hit lighter than an opponent yet.

          I would say he plays a good 10 or even 15 kgs above his body weight.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Yeah exept all the Tahs supporters. TBH I’m not a huge fan of the way he plays. Undoubtably hes dedicated, enthusiastic, fast and gives it 100%. I just feel the way the game is played now he’s not as effective as 7’s like Cane, Pocock, O’Brien and others who have modified their game a bit more. I certainly dont think him and Pocock will be effective together

        • Mica

          Or we don’t have a decent 8 available, or we don’t have a decent 6 available. I’d prefer Pocock at 6 to Hannigan any day of the week.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          well I do tend to agree with that, but if he’s on as a 6 then play as a 6 not as a 7 as there’s someone else doing that.

        • John Miller

          If David Pocock is on the pitch, he will do what he does: play as an openside flanker. Give him the 7 jersey. Then wearing a 6 or an 8, the ridiculousness of selecting Hooper in the conjunction with Pocock in the starting Wallabies side will start to become obvious.

      • Kevino

        Nope, I expect your will have POM at 6, specialist 6 and line out operator. CJ at 8, specialist 8 main ball runner, and than depending on fitness will be SOB at 7. Not 3 number 7’s at all.

        • Bakkies

          CJ is better over the ball than Hooper. Ireland also use CJ and Leavy to jump in the lineout.

      • Who?

        Think you’re talking Scotland with 3 opensides, not Ireland… Ireland don’t go hard on the ground. They’re the masters of the choke tackle, they understood the Cheika ‘win the contact in the air’ approach almost a decade ago when Cheika coached Leinster, and they execute it better than any other team.

        • Bakkies

          Ireland are one of the most effective teams over the ball. When Jack McGrath starts there are at least five players who can win turnovers. Give very few breakdown penalties away.

    • Gottsy

      Unfortunately, you’re right.

    • Brisneyland Local

      YEp I am scared about this one. Cheika certianly doesnt have the best track record for selecting players. So this could be a doozie!

    • Braveheart81

      The only backrow we have that isn’t a proven failure is one that involves uncapped players. Pocock and Hooper is as much a proven success given we have also had some of our best results in recent years with it.

  • Bay35Pablo

    We’re playing the “Chefs”? Is their mascot the Swedish chef from the Muppets?

  • Brisneyland Local

    Good morning GAGR’s. Well a rather quiet morning on the blog here. Looking for some motivation and inspiration! BL’s random thoughts:
    – I am hoping the Pooper is dead. some very good points said by others further down the page.
    – My view on it is I would start with Pocock and bring Hooper the enrgizer bunny off the bench in the 50 min mark. Use his speed and energy when tired legs are struggling in the opposition.
    – This would mean that Hooper couldnt be captain, which I doubt Cheika will accept. But Pocock has proven he has more than enough leadership ability to cover that. Inf act I think Pocock is a better on field leader tha Hooper, as Hooper has demonstrated he does not have good on field relations with the Refs.
    – I hope the Waratahs dont get cocky! The are proving to be the Aus conference’s potentially best team. But as was evidenced in the Reds game there are still some major deficiencies in their game. They really should have won that game by a significant amount more than they did.
    – I think Raylene Castle may have just isolated herself a bit. Hard line to walk, butI wouldnt want her job for quids!
    – I cant wait to see George Smith back on the paddock. He is always a breath of fresh air and a great talent to watch!
    Over to you GAGR’s!

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Morning BLL, I agree on the Pooper but I expect we’ll see it continue regardless and then any losses will be blamed on the referee’s, cheating opponents and acts of god.
      I think Gibson is too smart to be getting cocky and the players have been around enough to know where things are at. Be good if the Tahs continue to improve although I’m picking the later games will test them a bit more. I’d still love a competition where everyone played everyone else once on a bi-annual home and away to spread the travel and the finals were just the top 5 or 6 teams. I still hate this conference shit as I don’t think it truly reflects the different teams capabilities.
      Mate with you Castle can have that job, it’s a shit fight from the word go. The only reason I’d ever take it on would be to sign for 5 years and take a huge payout to go after three.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Yep that tis the bit that continues to worry me about Cheika. His behaviour wont change. Leopards dont change their spots so to speak. When it fails this time he has no where to go! He has to won this, and if he loses the three Ireland matches he must be fired!
        The rest of the Aus conference will be difficult, as there will be a lot of NZ matches, and frankly they scare the crapper out of me.
        Good move on the RA job, that sounds like a real cunning move. So cunning infact, that if you pin a tail on it you could call it a weasal!

      • Richard Patterson

        Why do I honestly feel the jury is out on Raelene Castle? Certainly at the time a very politically correct appointment — but why is there not complete confidence she can tackle such an enormous job at such a pivotal time for the code. Anyone honestly impressed by how well the Canterbury Bulldogs functioned on and off the field under her stewardship? Due to very poor early results, wasn’t Head Coach Des Hasler under pressure last season? Somehow, the decision at the time was made to retain Hasler – and extend his existing contract, only to fire him at season’s end! Due to heavily back-ended contract terms, aren’t reports already emerging the Bulldogs will be severely over the salary cap for the 2019 season and they’re facing up to a wholesale selling of players? When does the dumping of players into a soft market ever gone positively for a professional sporting franchise? Never in 50 years has Rugby in Australia had a greater need for intelligent, well planned, strategically correct leadership. Right now, that power sits with a non-Australian with no involvement in high level rugby management. I wish all parties luck.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Mate it’s not a lack of confidence in her that I was meaning to say and sorry if it read that way. I have nothing against her at all and I’m sure she’s absolutely qualified to take the role on.

          I think it’s the job that sux. Managing the egotistical high maintenance people in Australian rugby management and the equally as high maintenenace and egotstical people in the States is not a job I would see as being a lot of fun. Put the pressure of managing someone like Folau who makes comments that rightly or wrongly causes so much controversy along with having to deal with the shit storm around the decision to disband Perth – again rightly or wrongly on top of that and there is no way that I would willingly take on that role.

        • Missing Link

          If you think Castle has a tough job now, Imagine it was 2012 with Robbie Deans being coach and Quade the incumbent 10. The “double agent” rumour mill would be working overtime to come up with a new kiwi trojan horse conspiracy theory each day :)

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Hahahaha that’s true. You certainly have had your share of issues mate. Mind you at least you never had Mitchel as the coach of your national team. Dropping the best 15 in world rugby because he held the ball wrong. Bloody tosser.

        • Richard Patterson

          Interesting to see the Bulls being effective this year under Mitchell KRL. Or is Mitchell one of these guys who delivers short term results before game plans and playing styles get easily broken down by smarter opposition personnel. Gets fired – resurfaces somewhere else. Plenty of coaches make a career doing it. Someone say Eddie Jones?

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Not quite. I think he was just full of himself and still had a lot to learn which he may now have done.

        • Who?

          Nah, we just had his attack coach – Deans!!! :-P

        • Richard Patterson

          I 100% know where you’re coming from KRL and did not take it that way at all. I confess mine degenerated into a slight rant so apologies. The CEO role of RA is right now an incredibly complex, challenging job, I just fear Castle was a big reach in believing she will be the person to turn things around. The fact it was a race between only herself and Phil Kearns suggests many people viewed it like you as as “an avoid”. That sadly is the real story.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Good comments, mind you I know nothing about mungo ball or any of the goings on in it. But today you have impressed me with your analystical comment so am taking your word about mungo ball stuff as gospel! ;-)

        • Richard Patterson

          Mungo ball gives us a great blueprint on how not to run a sport BL. We should be paying attention.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Really? I thought RA had the monopoly on that one. To behonest if I was going to steal a business model based on Australian sport it would be the AFL. I think RA missed a real opportunity in not hiring Andrew Demetriou (ex-AFL) boss torun RA.

    • Richard Patterson

      I fear the No. 7 position now is firmly in the same camp as Hooker. Core skills of tackling, set-piece involvement and breakdown work (Hooker being scrummaging and lineout throwing) remain non-negotiable pre-requistes to be an effective player in the modern era. However… just like the Hooker position, at what point are we willing to concede on some of those areas to include other features such as ball in hand work, speed across the ground, open field effectiveness and gains made after contact in possession? All the stuff categorised now as “X Factor”. What exactly is the right balance because David Pocock is the former and Michael Hooper is the latter? David Pocock’s value is categorised in the “defensive” area. Michael Hooper’s value is categorised in the attacking area. Pocock can save his team with defensive points conceded, Hooper can contribute to his team with attacking points scored.

      Is David Pocock an excellent tackler. Yes
      Is David Pocock a collosis over the ball at breakdown? Yes
      Is David Pocock a fine reader of a rugby game? Yes
      Is David Pocock a naturally gifted runner with ball in hand with an attacking skill set to worry good opposition? No

      Is Michael Hooper an excellent tackler. Yes
      Is Michael Hooper a collosis over the ball at breakdown? Average
      Is Michael Hooper a fine reader of a rugby game? Mixed
      Is Michael Hooper a naturally gifted runner with ball in hand with an attacking skill set to worry good opposition? Yes

      Are those same questions about any good No. 7’s running around now whether it’s Sam Warburton, Sam Cane, Artie Savea, George Smith or Matt Todd? What about for those such as Chris Robshaw, James Haskell or any of the Saffa flankers who do not play a traditional No. 7 role like is done in AUS/NZ?

      KRL’s point about the Pooper presenting an unbalanced back row is never more evident than at set piece lineouts. Too often the Wallaby lineout is exposed by no back of the lineout threat and an over-reliance of the 2 locks to secure lineout ball (and challenge the opposition lineout). The All Blacks regularly torch the Wallaby lineout. Not because they have superior jumpers — but because they see the reads and contest the throw. It’s not hard when you are limited to only 2-3 options. I find it hard to believe the Wallabies will want to remain as exposed in that part of the game by continuing to play Hooper and Pocock together.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Richard, tip of the hat! What an excellent and cohesive set of points you have raised. Do you mind if I steal them? Remember it is only Plagiarism when you are under assessment at university.

        • Richard Patterson

          Haha. You’re more than welcome BL, I always enjoy your rugby thinking mate. As seems topical right now – it’s all about freedom of speech.

        • Who?

          And only then if you don’t give credit to the source material. ;-)

        • Brisneyland Local

          Absolutely!

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        That’s a great set of statements RP and a really good way of looking at it. I’m not so sure Hooper is an excellent tackler. I think if he gets the position right and can tackle from the side he is very good but when he tackles front on he doesn’t dominate as he just hasn’t got the build for it. No disagreement with anything else you say though.

        • Richard Patterson

          Great points KRL. There can only be one Richie. (Look out – that should get a reaction)

        • Brisneyland Local

          No reaction, only jealousy!

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I actually think Cane is starting to show some of the same skill sets as Richie did in the later part of his career. No one has ever been as good as Richie was at pilfering, although Pocock is close, but he modified that game later and I think, became a better all round player.

      • John Miller

        Is Michael Hooper an excellent tackler? Actually: no.

        Mid 70% tackle efficiency and worst in the competition for ineffective tackles (the bloke also had the second most ineffective tackles in 2017 despite the Tahs not even playing finals games). Beyond the (well executed) big hits endlessly replayed on Fox Sports, he falls off far, far too many. He attempts a lot, but in the top 20 players for volume of tackles attempted, his effectiveness rate is the worst.

        • Richard Patterson

          Great analysis John — thanks for sharing. I don’t want to turn into a Hooper critic because pound for pound I consider him to be a talented rugby player. How much do you consider his lack of tackling effectiveness is due to technique / execution? How much is because he is not surrounded by especially talented loose forwards around him (read Waratahs) and sub-consciously (rightly or wrongly) feels he has to do his job – and be in position to do some of the work of others?
          A side note is I do not consider Hooper a talented leader. I think his game would improve significantly if captaincy duties were taken from him and he was allowed to just focus on his game.

        • John Miller

          “Pound for pound I consider him to be a talented rugby player” – don’t disagree with this at all Richard. Great player, huge heart, endless motor. All great qualities. Hooper punches above his weight no doubt and whilst mid-70’s tackling percentage is not top echelon, based on the number he attempts, it is not bad. His technique is exceptional – and that is his strength along with undoubted commitment. The physiological reality is that he simply doesn’t pack the raw boned force beyond the initial collision point and if he gets it even a bit wrong, it’s ugly.

        • Richard Patterson

          Very true John. The theory that a good big man will always beat a good little man often rings true with Michael Hooper on defence. Would I want a physically larger, but less quick Michael Hooper around the field? I would say no. It’s the growing reality of pro. rugby these days. You have to be good at everything. Modern day analytics highlights what you ain’t — and the smart teams go expose it!! Thanks again for the thoughts.

        • John Miller

          And if it was just down to tackling ability, I may not disagree. But: set piece, ruck cleaning, maul contesting, central collisions, tight running – I definitely want a physically larger body than Michael Hooper for these things. Against Ireland, the forwards won’t need to be Usain Bolt to get to the key contest in the first 30 minutes: it’ll be in the middle of the park. It’ll be brutal. I’ll be attritional. And it’ll need power, weight and leverage to withstand.

        • Richard Patterson

          Very true. Whether Cheika selects Hooper and Pocock together is still to be determined. Without a big physical No. 6 to support them their task is enormous.

      • Who?

        The difference between Pocock and Hooper on attack is pace and option taking. Hooper has ridiculous pace. Pocock’s running the ball more than he has since he wore 12 at school. But he’s also excellent at controlling the maul (and with Squeaky gone, he’s arguably the premier maul tail gunner in the country now), and he looks to set up players around him, regularly passing. Given his prowess with ball in hand, Hooper doesn’t look for that near as often. So even on that score, I’m not sure that Hooper is ahead of Pocock – it’s just a difference of skillsets and what balances them, rather than overall attacking skill. If that makes sense?

    • Wallabrumby

      “I would start with Pocock and bring Hooper the energizer bunny off the bench in the 50 min mark”
      I would think 90% of rugby fans would agree with this, and 9.9% would not be unhappy. Unfortunately that 0.01% is made up of M Cheika haha

      • Braveheart81

        I’m confused where people who are so adamant about the Pooper being a terrible option are quite happy doing it for 30 of the 80 minutes.

        The question still remains of who makes up this supposedly incredibly well balanced backrow that doesn’t involve both Pocock and Hooper that is available for selection.

        • John Miller

          The opening exchanges of a rugby match (particularly against abrasive, forward-dominated, central collision trench warfare focused teams such as Ireland), are often very distinct from final stages. The timing makes very good sense.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Mate, I am so hoping that is true.
        Can I show this to my wife, she wouldnt believe that something I said about anything would garner 90% support. You have made my day! ;-)

  • Custard Taht

    Alright guys, going to let you all in on a secret, I am actually NostrilDanus, a distant relative of Nostradamus. Normally I don’t share my visions of the future, but I will this once, giving you the outcomes of the remaining regular season tah games;

    1. Lions: Tahs will bag one of the Big 5 for game hunters.
    2. Blues: Tahs make like Jonny Cash and get rhythm when you get the blues.
    3. Crusaders: The Tahs will be on the receiving end of a crusade and be denied the holy grail.
    4. Highlanders: Tahs will lift up the highlanders skirts…sorry kilts and expose them on a cold night…
    5. Chiefs: Tahs will leave the chiefs begging for a treaty.
    6. Reds: Tahs to swan into Brisbane, pull down the Qlder’s pants and spank their bottoms red.
    7. Rebels: Tahs to expose the alliance and prove the force is not with the rebels.
    8. Sun Wolves: Tahs to ignore Australia is a signatory of non-nuclear proliferation and detonate a tactical nuke.
    9. Brumbies: Tahs going to send the Brumbies to knackers where they will be turned into something useful….Glue and Dog Food.

Rugby

Hopes to play David Pocock in the inevitable biopic. Lifelong fan of whoever Jarrad Hayne is currently playing for.

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