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Tuesday’s Rugby News

Tuesday’s Rugby News

Tuesday’s Rugby News sees Toulon boss on the war path, Foxsports announce the third selector, bye week a benefit for the Reds and Kepu fit to travel.


 

 

SAVEA RELEASED FROM TOLOUN 

Julian Savea in action in 2015 Rugby World Cup v France

Julian Savea in action in 2015 Rugby World Cup v France

Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal has ‘sacked’ former All Black Julian Savea, telling the winger he is no longer welcome at Toulon.

Boudjellal unloaded after Toulon’s loss over their latest defeat to Agen 19-10

Boudjellal, speaking to RMC Sport, said: “I told him (Savea) he was free and no longer welcome at Toulon.

“He has one year left on his contract. He can do what he wants. It’s going to be a long year for the club but especially for the player.”

“I’m going to ask for a DNA test, this isn’t the Savea that we signed. They must have changed him on the plane,”

“His identical twin brother looks very similar to him… We will have at least learnt that certain physical similarities are very striking.

“Sometimes, some players come for the wrong reasons…”

Savea took to Twitter to reassure people he would continue to train and see out his contract

“Putting all the negativity behind me and heading into this week with a positive attitude whether I am welcomed or not I am still contracted to my team and I will continue to train week in and week out with my brothers #endofstory #letsmoveon

Savea was a try scoring machine for the All Blacks, scoring 46 tries fro 54 caps, but that has to translate into his games at Toulon, where he has only scored 2 tries since joining the club last summer. Though it is easy to score that many tries when you had the All Black back line to work with.

Ex Toulon player turned commentator Drew Mitchell gave his two cents on twitter also.

“This type of carry on from @mouradrct won’t exactly entice other players to play for @RCTofficiel ..

Business or not you just don’t treat ppl like this.

Good luck wherever you play next bro! @juliansavea7

Ardie Savea (Julian’s Cousin) retweeted it adding “F***ing Amen”.

Savea wasn’t the only Toulon player to feel the wrath of the President, French fly-half Anthony Belleau was also called out.

“I can see why he isn’t starting for France given his current level.

“Some players are average because they want to leave and others because they won’t be as well paid anywhere else. A lot will be let go.”

Boudjellal has a history of controversial comments and targeting of players.

When talking about Quade Cooper, who he brought in to replace former English fly half Johnny Wilkinson, he compared the players to foie gras (duck delicacy) and pâté (standard food)

“It’s difficult to go from foie gras to pâté,” Boudjellal said,

“For now, Cooper is not what I was hoping for. But we have to also give him time.

“Right now if I say that I’m not happy with our stars, it’s only because we expect a lot. It’s true that in our imagination, we want them to fly across the pitch.

“We’ve been spoiled somewhat by [Tana] Umaga and then Wilkinson, so maybe we need to give them time…”

Previously Boudjellal had praised Ali Williams’ ‘negotiation skills’ after the player was caught buying cocaine. He had also defended Toulon centre Mathieu Bastareaud’s use of a homophobic slur, because it had “entered common language”.

Toulon are currently in 11th place.

THE THIRD SELECTOR

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 10.38.41 AM

In an exclusive report from FoxSports.com.au, Rugby Australia are expected to announce that Michael O’Connor will take up the role of the third selector for the Wallabies. 

Foxsports are report that the announcement of O’Connor will come in the next few days.

O’Connor would not confirm his appointment (must have learned that from the Jake White saga) but did say he would be interested in the role.

“I’d be interested,” O’Connor told foxsports.com.au.

“I’d be mad not to. I’ve got the time to do it. It’s a role that you need to have time and watch a lot of rugby, so I’m in a position where I could do it — there’s no problem there.”

O’Connor has previously served as a selector back in 2006-07 when John Connolly was the Wallabies coach and Scott Johnson was his assistant. He went on to spend seen years as the Australian Sevens Coach.

O’Connor will join the selection panel, which includes newly appointed Director of Rugby Scott Johnson and Wallabies coach Michael Cheika as they pick the squads for 2019 a head of the RWC later this year.

The need for an independent selector came to light last year after the worst Wallabies performance in 60 years, with four wins all season. This included three smacking from the All Blacks, the first loss to Ireland and Argentina on Aussie soil since long before I was born, the first loss to Wales since I was in high school (feeling old yet readers?) and the sixth straight loss to England since Eddie Jones took over.

Former Wallabies captain Andrew Slack was a strong advocate for the independent selector role.

“Everything in selection and the way you play the game you’ve got to have a balance,” Slack told foxsports.com.au in November.

“There’s times when you take ludicrous risks because you’re up against all that, so you’ve got to take risks.

“But by and large, I think the go to thing is to be balanced in your selection and decision making and I’ve said this for a long time about Cheika — and prior to that — the monopoly he has on selection is ridiculous, and they need an independent selector.

“It’s been talked about — nothing’s ever been done about it.”

O’Connor will be taking in a positive belief around the influence of the selector, he believes ultimately the calls live and die with the coach.

“I’m a great believer in the more eyes the better, but ultimately I believe that the coach has to have the team he wants,” O’Connor said.

“But I know as a coach, I could be influenced by other people’s opinions and it was always good to have that discussion with my staff about players.

“I think the more information the better and ultimately you’re responsible for the team if you’re the coach, you can take on the information or not. But it’s always good to have the discussion and play devil’s advocate about players and challenge the coach.

“I love being challenged on selection and why, and then I found that I had more clarity when I had the discussion if you were in 50/50 selection. 

“I’m a great believer in it, but not all coaches are.”

The roles of Backs Coach and Head of Strength and Conditioning will be filled after Scott Johnson joins the team next month.

BYE WEEK A BENEFIT FOR REDS

Jack Hardy  Reds v Chiefs trial 2019 (photo credit: QRU Media/Brendan Hertel)

Incoming Queensland Red Bryce Hegarty believes that a round one bye had be a blessing for the team, giving them essentially another week of preseason to work out their combinations with new players and players returning.

Hegarty is expect to be named at 15 for the Reds in their match against the Highlanders, with Hamish Stewart expected at fly half, there are still plenty of spots to be sorted out.

Hegarty and Sefa Niavalu recently join the Reds and their Spring Tour players have only recently joined the club after Cheika’s fit camp and some even didn’t get the chance to play in the practice matches.

“I think (the bye) was good for us to be honest,” Hegarty said.

“Everyone has their bye and yeah, it was round one for us but at least we can build on ourselves now.

“We got more work done, which was good and focussed on a few things that we wanted to fix up from the trial, so we’ve done plenty of good training and hopefully we can put that into practice in this weekend’s game.”

The Reds will be hoping that Hegarty can provide some experience and influence over a rather young back line this season, something Hegarty seems to enjoy doing, especially playing outside of Hamish Stewart.

“Hamish is a really good fella and really eager to keep bettering himself every week and I think that’s the most impressive thing about this group, is that everyone really wants to get better every single day and every time they train,” he said.

“I think that’s one of the things I’ve most enjoyed since I’ve been here and it certainly pushes me to prove myself every single day and get the most out of it that I can.”

The Reds head off to Dunedin today, to get an extra day of training in a head of Fridays match.

“I think it’s great that we’re going to Dunedin (on Tuesday) night,” Hegarty said.

“I think the schedule, the time difference in the country at the moment is probably the biggest reason we’ve done that, so getting there as a group and being really tight is a positive and we’ll have only each other for the next four days.

“It’s our opportunity to start the season how we want to start.

“Pre-season there’s always a lot of talk about what’s going to happen and you can’t really comment until you’ve played a competition game.

“We’ve really circled this game as a huge game for us and it’s certainly a game we want to get off on the right foot and progress our season well.”

 

KEPU FIT TO TRAVEL

Kepu gets the fend going.

Kepu gets the fend going.

The Waratahs will be happy after their veteran prop Sekope Kepu was cleared to travel to Japan this week as his team prepares to take on the Sunwolves. Another veteran is still under the injury cloud, with Adam Ashley Cooper still recovering after a head knock he received on Saturday night.

AAC’s injury would have made the return of Kurtley Beale a little easier in terms of back line set up for coach Daryl Gibson, but the loss of Kepu would hit a lot harder.

The Tahs currently have a collection of props in the Rehab Group, with Tom Robertson expect to be out for the season, and Shambeckler Vui out for at least a few more weeks, Gibson couldn’t afford to add Kepu to that list.

The Tahs would have been forced to start recent debutant Chris Talakai and call up a reserve prop from club land.

Kepu took a knock to the throat on Saturday night during the match against the Hurricanes but Waratahs assistant coach Steve Tandy said that he would be right to travel.

“I think he is good to go,” Tandy said.

“AAC is going through return to play concussion protocols but after that, pretty good (on the injury front).”

Tandy pointed out that his team were positive after their close loss, but were ready to go again and make up for it this weekend.

“It was a decent start point for us defensively,” he said.

“We had to defend a lot of sets. Obviously discipline is one thing we have to look at. We conceded too many soft penalties and gave the Hurricanes too much field position,” he said.

“But I think the way the boys fronted up and had to defend for long periods, they did that pretty well.

“It is a work in progress, it was a decent start but ultimately we lost the game, so we are bitterly disappointed with that, and it is something we need to keep building.”

Asked about how to react to the unpredictable Sunwolves throwing the ball around “willy nilly”, (Via. RUGBY.com.au)

Tandy said: “Willy nilly is not giving enough respect, the way the Sunwolves play.“

“I know it was 45-10 on the scoreboard but they had some opportunities to score more points, they were 10-3 up,” he continued.

“They’re really lively, they do play and if a couple of things stuck and we are not on the money, they will score points.”

 

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Dylan, You’ve really got to ask what Toulon were doing grabbing Savea and expecting so much. By the end of his time in NZ he wasn’t even being selected for the Hurricanes so why the French are expecting him to run wild is beyond me. I hope he’s managed to save his pay because he may not be getting much more.

    I’m thinking that with Johnson and O’Connor being such mates the whole selection panel saga may get bigger and not smaller. I still think it’s going to be interesting to see how Cheika handles this. I do like that O’Connor is talking about accountability and I hope this applies to Cheika this year, and to the selection panel as well. Not holding my breath as RA and accountability seem to be disconnected.

    You know I get that players are asked a lot of questions by reporters but I wish they’d just shut up at times. let the actions on the paddock speak for you.

    It’s going to be interesting to see how Beale is managed this year. His best years in the NH were at 15 and he’s proved a disaster at 12 for everyone except Gibson and Cheika.

    • Dylan Langes

      Yeah that was interesting about Savea, when he wasn’t being picked in the Canes, still got and AB call up then got dropped all together. I always thought he was weak defensively, which was alright at the ABs because the other players around him could cover that.

      I think we need a selection panel, but if it goes sideways you know Cheika will find a way to blame this process
      “If i was allowed to pick the team I wanted we’d be less shit, and if the refs did everything I wanted we’d be alright and if Steve Hanson and Eddie Jones stopped making fun of me that would be great”.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Pure Gold. Keep that quote because I reckon it will be close to Cheika’s first losing press conference.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Bang on mate. You can frame that quote and pull it out later.

      • John Miller

        “Ultimately I believe that the coach has to have the team he wants.”

        I have little confidence much will change at the selection table in 2019.

        Cheik will dig his heals in until his picks are rubber stamped and then still blame the selection panel for the ensuing disaster.

    • Adrian

      I don’t think Cheika and Johnson are good mates KRL.
      Cheika uses the word very broadly…

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Mate that’ll just make this whole Selector group even more of a rockshow. pretty sad actually

  • Huw Tindall

    If I was Gibson I’d have seriously considered resting Kepu against the Moondogs. Sure they’d need a club land rookie on the bench but there must be someone knocking down the door or an experienced head in the Shute Shield? I think they all need 3 rest games out of the season (if the 20% figure being bandied about is correct). Don’t know if they can be cheeky and say he only played half a game so that counts as half a rest game.

    Now we’ve got the 3rd selector I’d like to know how the 3 will work together and if there will be an official voting system e.g. majority wins or if Johnson and O’Connor will just place some pressure on Chek for certain players. Maybe they’d have more say in selection of the squad but leave the matchday up to Chek. Really curious to see how it pans out. Anyone know how the cricket panel of selectors works?

    • Brisneyland Local

      In cricket, I believe that the selectors pick the squad, in consultation with Coach and previously captain (but not Tim Paine these days).
      The coach picks the final 11. Captain picks batting order!

      • Huw Tindall

        Makes sense as the whole panel won’t be on tour watching the players. In this case Johnson and O’Connor won’t be at the team hotel and training. If the role is to get around and identify wider talent I can see them shaping th squad but unless they really get involved Chek will still get his pick of those in the squad.

        • Brisneyland Local

          I very much think Johnson will be at the games. That is what he is getting paid for. O’Connor on the other hand can act remotely. He really has to just watch the games and make comment. However I think if Johnson and O’Connor say Play genia at 9, and Cheika says “No” Phipps is the 9* I think there will be a serious discussion. And possible an over rule. * Note this is a hyopothetical example!

      • joy

        So selectors pick the squad, Cheika the fifteen, and Hooper their position on the field.

        Selectors pick Hannigan for the bench and Cheika starts him. Selectors pick Pocock and Hooper, Cheika picks Pocock and Hooper and Hooper sends Pock to No8. That’ll work.

        • Brisneyland Local

          I was only citing the cricket policy. I sure as shit hope that it doesnt work that way at all. Pewrsonally I dont want Cheika coaching at all. His selections are shit, his game plans are shit, his behaviour is shit. But he is what we have. Personally I hope Hooper has no part in the selection either. Or the game plan, or for that matter is not captain.
          you see where I am going with this.

        • Dylan Langes

          100% on this with you. I don’t want Cheika or Hooper picking the team.

        • Brisneyland Local

          I dont want Hooper picking the Team, or the onfield tactics. Gee Pocock and Genia had to keep talking him down from going for the sidline and taking the points on offer!

        • Dylan Langes

          Lets be honest he shouldn’t have been named captain. It should have been Genia or Pocock

        • Brisneyland Local

          Concur. Someone with a rugby brain.

        • Brumby Runner

          BL, needs a rugby brain to recognise a rugby brain.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Yep it must only be us on GAGR that have them! ;-)

    • Ed

      Dylan could provide with a way how the resting should work. Kepu played 56 minutes last week and I reckon he will have to play more minutes a game when Tahs play Saders, Reds, Brums, and the South African road trip – Bulls and Lions at altitude.
      Whether Tahs coaching staff say Kepu has played ‘X’ minutes means he only has to sit out two games as example. Wouldn’t being on the matchday team mean the player has not rested, even if they come off the bench for a game or two?

      • Brumby Runner

        Exactly. A rest means not in the gameday squad in my books. All props only play 60 minutes as a rule, so a 56 minute shift actually only equates to a 4 minute rest if that sort of rorting was being considered.

      • Dylan Langes

        So I can’t comment to how the RA High Performance department is set up around resting. To be honest I don’t believe they know what they want.
        I know the English model for International players can play up to 30 full games (previously 32) in a season including test Rugby or up to 35 involvements if its less than 20 minutes.

        If training loads are managed properly then I don’t imagine too many players would need to be rested too often. Realistically you could do wellness checks on players and rest them as their bodies need to recover on an individual basis.

        • Brumby Runner

          That would be a recipe for disaster I’m afraid. Leaves the door open for certain players (favourites), or even whole teams to be treated differently to the others. This process urgently needs a whole lot of transparency added to it.

        • Huw Tindall

          Really interesting. The Kiwis seem stricter with mandated number of complete games off. Simple system. But logically with a bit or science you could achieve thr same sort of result.

        • Dylan Langes

          I know the brits were changing theirs as they change their season. I think it really should come down to the individual player than this is how many games. You will see AFL players play all 22 home and away games plus finals without being rested.

          I know they are different games but you can definitely mange players.

          but as you said, you need logic and science. something foreign at RA HQ

    • Dylan Langes

      I think you probably would rest Kepu if you had a back up, the last thing the tags want to do is risk a loss to the moondogs, it could happen haha. Maybe you would start Kepu on the bench and start Talakai. Unfortunately RA haven’t explained how the resting works.

      • Who?

        That’s because the sports scientist head coach hasn’t finished his planning yet. :-P

        • Dylan Langes

          Don’t think the head coach knows the meaning of the words “sports science”

          “I don’t have time for that nerd stuff, just make them run I say.”

  • laurence king

    Thanks Dylan for the write up, cheers. Its interesting concerning the selectors, I think it’s too early yet to make any judgements yet concerning Johnson and O’Connor. They obviously have to work with Cheika, but it’s no good coming out with ‘fightin words’ straightaway as Cheika is I’d agree going to be difficult, maybe petulant even (lol). The problem I see is that he has still got the same defensive coach and the same forwards coach (how did they not go). Maybe there’s still time.

    • Dylan Langes

      I think its too late to make changes now. We just need to see out the year and start fresh after the World Cup. Next time lets not give full autonomy to the head coach though haha

      • Brisneyland Local

        And not select a known ass clown!

        • Dylan Langes

          But who will Steve Hanson have to make fun of?

        • Brisneyland Local

          I am sure he will find someone. Besides, Cheika deserves to be poked fun of.

        • laurence king

          Cheika came in with some personality issues that weren’t widely known. Let’s hope the the next selection process is rather more thorough

        • Brisneyland Local

          Lets hope so.

      • Brumby Runner

        And put some accountability metrics into the contract. But this is RA we’re talking about. Say no more.

    • Adrian

      Agree, Laurence, too early to say.

      My mail is that no-one really gets over Johnson and that he gets what he wants, then gets thanked for it by those he has overcome.

      Excpect odd selections with the Johnson stamp on them

      • Dylan Langes

        Can’t be anymore odd than some of the ones we have seen in recent times under Cheika though.

        • Adrian

          What do you think the oddest Cheika selection was Dylan?

        • Dylan Langes

          I couldn’t tell you the oddest but i think theres a few,

          I think the selection of Rob Valentini on the spring tour as a development player was odd, when we have a plethora of back rowers, when he should have taken someone like Mack Mason, Andrew Deegan or Hamish Stewart.

          I think the idea to start Jake Gordon against Italy then drop him against England was odd. If Gordon is the future play him.

          I think the selection of Joe Powell was perhaps the oddest, it was an out of left field decision that didn’t result in the player given time to develop on the field, Phipps and Genia ultimately player 75-80minutes every match.

          Also the selection of Latu when he couldn’t even start for the Tahs, and he didn’t perform particularly well was odd also.

        • Adrian

          All a bit strange, I agree. I thought rotating Foley, Beale, Toomua through 5/8 and 12 was odd, especially as it made all 3 play worse.
          I thought Latu was in NSW SR semi-final team after working his way back in, but maybe not

        • Dylan Langes

          Yeah theres that to haha.

          I think he did but he didn’t start,Fitzpatrick out performed him. I don’t know why Fitz or Rangi weren’t called into camp

        • Adrian

          Fitz not rugged. Rangi held back because Cheika liked bigger guys I think. Many people agree with you re Latu v Fitz, but many don’t

        • Huw Tindall

          Watching the Rebels game Rangi does look relatively small for a modern 2 but he sure plays bigger than he looks. Got through a bunch of work and some bullocking runs not to mention his try. Fitz must be the best lineout thrower we’ve got though and is competent everywhere else although probably shaded by the other contenders.

        • Adrian

          I like Rangi a lot Huw
          Would be ideal in a 23 with any of the other bigger guys

        • Huw Tindall

          Could be a good shout there. Assuming Taf is over the hill our next best scrumming hooker is supposedly Latu though and can have a big impact off the bench. I would only couch that however if he can…
          (a) prove consistently he has overcome discipline issues (attacking the breakdown, no arm chop tackles, agro/pushing matches/easily wound up by the opposition), and (b) improve his lineout throwing with the required height/loop and accuracy to world class standards. As others have said above you need to world class set piece skills first and everything else around the park is a bonus.

          The above is a big ask for Latu it would seem so I wouldn’t be surprised if he isn’t in the 23 come international time. Will wait and see. Hooker is really the most up in the air position IMO. There isn’t really even an incumbent! Between Rangi, Uelese, Folau, BPA, Fitzpatrick and Latu there is surely two solid choices come RWC time.

        • Adrian

          Yes Huw, agree.

          I watched replay, and thought Latu was quite ok, only one penalty.
          Last seeming overthrow was actually between Hannigan hands but he didn’t grab it.
          Seems he gets pre-meditated stick, though he does look a risk everytime he does something.
          Interesting re TPH. I’m guessing he’ll come good and end up as 31st player in 31 man squad

        • Huw Tindall

          That whole experimenting with the 10/12 combo last year is when Chekia lost me. I was still on board in general and thought the pack selections bar 6 were fine and generally the best available players were selected. Then not selecting a 13 (English would have been solid) was just compounding things.

          Latu I wasn’t so fussed with as he’s been there before and can be amazing. Inconsistency and discipline are his issues though.

        • Adrian

          Agree completely Huw.

          I think that that 10,12 shuffle was a symptom of the disfunctional relationship between Cheika and Larkham….amongst other things.

          Irrespective of who caused what, I am pleased to see Johnson come on board, and I actually do believe that he, a 3rd selector and a new attack coach will make a BIG difference.

          I realise that not many people in here agree with that, but it is what I think will happen, not just what I hope will happen.

          IMO the out of form players will get back to their best in SR.

          I think the changes will revolve around Johnson insisting on a simpler game plan with selections to match. Could be little things like Lukhan at lock, not in the back row.

          Might mean a Pooper every few games, not every game, but both in the 23. Maybe co-captains or a new captain altogether.

          Might be even bigger things like selecting OS players.

          I don’t think it is out of the question that Cooper will be genuinely tried at 10.

          Whatever it is, I think it is in all probability more likely to work than not.

          Who really knows?

        • Huw Tindall

          Definitely a lot to look forward to this season with so many open questions. Definitely more excited this year than in 2015 – even though the Wallabies form is well down compared to 4 years ago.

        • Adrian

          Words from the Guardian in 2014 after Johnson had coached Scotland in a loss v South Africa

          “If Johnson’s selection was strange, his strategy was poor. ”

          …. story about dropping captain just before the game, dropping two others, then kicking 45% of possession.

          I reckon Johnson will be good, and that the changes will work

        • Dylan Langes

          I mean if you look at what Brad Thorn is doing at the Reds, right now he looks like a mad man, if he pull it off he’s a genius.

          I think you’re right Johnson will be good and that change is needed.

  • swingpass

    GeeRob in Fairfax(Nine) doesnt evem mention O’Connor, says John Connelly, Michael Foley and Andrew Slack are the front runners. Diffrent leaks to the 4th estate. So a schism in the RA board, surely not.

    • Dylan Langes

      O’Connor was a left field call but Christy Dornan aka the human tackle shield is reporting it as confirmed.

      • Huw Tindall

        Lolz was it Christy who got wiped out on the sideline at Tahs training?

        • Dylan Langes

          Yeah, pretty funny. He did an excellent write up on it.

  • Brumby Runner

    Castle says that Cheika is best when he coaches. Adrian, I’m afraid that is a very mistaken belief by Castle. On the evidence of history over the past 4 years Cheika does not know how to coah at national level. As others say time after time on this site, Cheika is a motivator and exhausts his influence over a team in the first twelve months of his association.

    I cannot for the life of me see that he will buckle to the majority view of the other two selectors. He is too stubborn as he’s shown over the past 4 years. Nothing good will come of the or for the Wallabies until he is gone.

    • Adrian

      My comments were about what I think will happen at the selection table.

      I could be right, and I could be wrong.

      I mentioned the Castle comment to indicate that I think Cheika will pull his head in and just coach.

      Again, I may be right, or I may be wrong, so right now it is an opinion.

      Cheika has just been reappointed, so I was writing about what is, not about what might be, or should be.

  • GeorgiaSatellite

    With 50% of the Aussie teams so far undefeated, I suspect this is the best I’ll feel all year.

  • John Miller

    I hope you are right Adrian.

Rugby
@DylanGLanges

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

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