The Wallabies had their last hit-out before the Bleidsloe Cup match tomorrow night in a Captain’s Run at Allianz Stadium, this morning.
At least that’s what they called it; Head Coach Michael Cheika was barking instructions as usual although Stephen Moore spent a long time with them at the end of practice.
A lot of time was spent on lineouts and restarts from the 22 and half-way–not giving away many secrets there.
There was some kicking practice at the end and you could see part of the reason why Cheika wanted Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell in his stable. They were the only ones who were kicking with their left feet – I mean, really kick.
When I asked Mitchell about it he said it would be useful to have a left foot and right foot option if he was at the back near Folau to help relieve the pressure, if needed. (You think, Drew?)
It was exciting to watch Michael Hooper and David Pocock working in tandem.
You have to admire the way Cheika has rotated a lot of players, relatively, in his three selection efforts in the Rugby Championship matches. Many of them were mooted in our Green and Gold forums but we never thought some would see the light of day, yet now we have the “Pooper” combo of Pocock and Hooper, that many of us wanted to see.
Stephen Moore and Drew Mitchell attended a press conference but didn’t give much away.
Moore said not to expect too much that was new in the Bledisloe match:
We’ve got a way that we want to play we’re trying to stick to; we’ve tried to buy into that in the last two tests and this is our next opportunity.
This is still early in the piece for us. We haven’t achieved anything yet; we’ve just got to keep our feet on the ground, keep our head down and keep working hard to get what we want.
On going for the lineout option instead of a penalty goal to tie the test against the Springboks:
We wanted to try to win the game, it’s as simple as that; so we went for the corner […] if it doesn’t come off you look like a bit of a mug but in that instance it luckily came off.
He said the Wallabies could do that again, depending on the situation.
Mitchell said if the Wallabies can stay on the same page for 80 minutes they should get the outcome they desire but they couldn’t go away from that plan because the All Blacks had punished them in the past when they did.
He admired the All Blacks in the way they react to changes in the game and even when players have to be replaced short-term through injury, or longer-term from the passing of the years, they stay on the cutting edge.
• Wycliff Palu did not train as he will be playing for Manly tomorrow and had a day off.
• Sam Carter told me he should be right to play in two weeks.
• Kane Douglas is training as though he never left the country—and looks as fit as a trout.
• Being around Waratahs’ training a lot I’ve seen Kurtley Beale with his jersey off a few times and I’ve never seen him so buffed as now.
• Tatafu Polota-Nau was signing an autograph for a little bloke and he asked him who his favourite player was and the kid said enthusiastically – “Izzy”. Taf pouted and said, “What about me?” and then said he was only kidding. He’s great with the youngsters, is Taf.
• Talking of Folau – he got a decent looking drop-kick between the posts.
• Matt Toomua used to have a pop-gun kick when he played for Eastern Suburbs but he is hoofing it a long way now and can Nic White hoist his box kick high, or what?
• There was a drone at Allianz Stadium today; it didn’t look like a spy drone because it was all white, not all black—and it didn’t appear to have a silver fern logo on it.
• There’s going to be a scrum record attempt at ANZ Stadium tomorrow but I reckon the scrum of reporters and camera crew was pretty big also.
• Steve Larkham looks like he could play tomorrow night. I sighed a bit when he wanted to send the ball to a player and dished out one of his long passes.
• Will Giteau be able to compete against the bulk and long arms of Sonny Bill?
• Will the Wallaby goal kicking be decent?
• Will the scrum improve with Sio replacing Slipper?
• Will Pocock be successful at no.8?
• Will our bench rise to the occasion again?
Photos by Lee Grant