Since his selection caused a bit of controversy I thought I’d have a closer look at the performance of Sitaleki Timani against the Welsh.
I gave him a 6 in my player ratings, and after going through his efforts with a fine-tooth comb I probably stand by that. He played a solid second-rower’s game: made his tackles, took a few hit-ups, threw a couple of nice offloads (one of which created a linebreak for KB). According to the stats on ESPN Scrum, Timani had six runs for eight metres gained, 10 tackles at 100 per cent success rate (although SMH stats says he missed two and I think he missed one) and three offloads in 70 minutes. Interestingly, he was never used in the lineout.
I think it proves he is probably up to international level, and could be a good long-term prospect. It wasn’t a rampaging performance that grabbed the headlines, but at the same time his workrate was good and his effort was virtually error-free. I would like to see him make a few more hit-ups coming onto the ball at pace and use that big frame of his. But that will come with confidence, I think. I would also like to see some lineout involvement, which should be a lock’s bread and butter.
Would Pyle or Simmons have done better? Maybe. Hypotheticals are wonderful things (and frankly I expect the comments thread to be full of them). All I will say is if either turned in the performance of Timani I would have said the same thing — a solid game for a young international lock, with plenty of room for improvement.
So have a look for yourself. Here is every contribution he made to the game (except a couple of cleanouts, which I omitted as they were pretty standard and I wanted to keep the video under three minutes).
What do you think?