Wallaby Squad Questions - what the front row? - Green and Gold Rugby
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Wallaby Squad Questions – what the front row?

Wallaby Squad Questions – what the front row?

Why has Tolu Latu been selected in the Wallabies to travel to South Africa?

I’m confused at this for a number of reasons. Why is Latu selected when he starts from the bench every game behind the preferred hooker for the Waratahs? What has Latu achieved at Super Rugby and Test level that makes him a player that warrants selection? How can a player that is suspended for 6 weeks for foul play and then caught hiding the fact he was charged with mid-level drink driving still selected in the Wallabies team?

Let’s start with the team Latu plays in, The Waratahs. Damien Fitzpatrick has started every game throughout the Super Rugby Season. Fitzpatrick is consistent but for me his biggest challenge is getting across the gain line with the ball after contact. All other facets of his game including throwing, scrumming, tackling, work rate and attitude would warrant a look into the extended Wallaby squad. Unfortunately there is substantial depth this year within the Australian conference but I am still taken aback that the reserve hooker gets the gig over Fitzpatrick. This is a kick in the guts for Fitzpatrick and or a questionable selection by Daryl Gibson for selecting Fitzpatrick over Latu.

Latu hasn’t had time to find form this year playing only 6 games for the Waratahs. Plus he’s only been capped by the Wallabies a total of 12 times. Hardly the match fitness and test experience that would warrant a call up in a World Cup year. His discipline on the field this year resulted in a 6 week suspension for shoulder charging into a ruck. He is a liability at ruck time when he tries to pilfer for the ball resulting in unwanted penalties.

Then the drink driving charge that saw him miss further games until he was sentenced. This last one came at a challenging time for the Waratahs and Australian Rugby with the Folau headlines smacking us in the face at every opportunity. Adding fuel to the fire for every sports journalists primed ready with pen in hand for the next incident seems irresponsible and another opportunity for Rugby Australia to draw a line in the sand but no, we’ll reward him with selection.

This is not Latu’s fault for being selected. I’m sure he does everything possible to play his best rugby for the team but I feel for the competing players that have missed an opportunity who were in form this season. It’s nonsense to select Latu as an experienced player warranting his selection in the Wallabies. Unless you are a 50 plus test player and are a true leader within the team my preference would be to select in form. Enthusiastic players that can earn their stripes in the Rugby Championship leading into the World Cup.

Brandon Paenga-Amosa

BPA is MIA

Brendon Paenga-Amosa was amongst the Wallaby set-up last year playing 2 tests and is considered a reliable tough hooker but was outplayed by Alex Mafi throughout the year. Thorne rewarded Mafi by starting him for the Reds and in my opinion was one of the inform hookers in the Australian conference. Mafi carries the ball well, tackles with aggression; his throwing is accurate at lineout time and has the energy that young Rugby players display when they are given an opportunity. Surely Mafi’s form earned him an opportunity at getting amongst the Wallaby set-up?

The Rebels had impressive depth with their hookers consisting of Anaru Rangi, Robbie Abel, Hugh Roach and Jordan Uelese all getting a run in 2019. Rangi has a slighter build than other hookers but you can’t argue with his aggression into the tackle and the ability to time his runs onto the ball. Rangi’s throwing into the lineouts has also improved as well as spearheading a consistent scrum this year. Roach was also reliable when he managed game time and given some extra minutes could challenge any hooker within the Australian conference but what do these players need to do to get an opportunity to be selected in the extended squad? Not play? Jordon Uelese is a promising player but only played a couple of games returning from injury and no doubt has a big future but again, what has he achieved a test level that warrants his selection into the Wallabies? It would be frustrating from a player’s point of view to give your all and the player that hasn’t played all year gets selected for higher honours.

The same goes for Tom Robertson. I believe he is a good front rower that has test experience but has hardly found form this year in a scrum that was performing better with Harry Johnson-Holmes and Chris Talakai. Why does he warrant selection over a Tetera Faulkner or a Harry Johnson-Holmes? When the Rebels were flogged by the Crusaders a number of weeks back, it was the scrum that stood up to the test not giving an inch even when the backline forgot they needed to tackle. Doesn’t Faulkner as a past Wallaby, Johnson-Holmes or Sam Talakai deserve an opportunity over Robertson who has returned from injury and been turned inside out every game played this year.

I’m positive the players selected will give everything to represent the jersey well and I support them regardless but I’m confused at the selection of players that have spent more time on the sideline than on the field. Players that warrant an opportunity to gain being in the Wallaby set-up and have started ahead of the mentioned have been kicked in the guts. Why wouldn’t you look to play overseas with a selection policy such as this? The players selected are not a David Pocock that could walk back in to the test team due to his experience or number of tests played. The players selected with limited tests should not have been included over the in-form, enthusiastic youngsters coming through and this doesn’t reflect well on the new selectors.

Tom Robertson-G&G-Wallabies-Barbarians-51109

Robertson is back in Wallaby kit

 

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Great questions Christian and it would be good if we could get some answers to them. I’m not holding my breath on this though as even if Cheika did front up I’m not sure that I’d understand what he said. I’ve listened to a few of his talks over the years and while I understood every word he spoke I have always come away wondering what the hell it was he spoke about.

    To be fair I absolutely believe it is the coaches right to choose whoever he wants in his team, I don’t think forcing players on a coach is good for morale, team unity or that it is successful. However, I also believe that if you are a coach and your team isn’t performing then you should be held responsible for that. For some reason over here Cheika was able to divert all that to Larkham and not take responsibility. I really don’t understand that. As I predicted O’Connor and Johnson haven’t seemed to have had as much influence on the team as some people expected, although we can hopefully thank them for no Phipps and no Hanigan and if that’s all they achieved then in my mind it’s still a win.

    Rock on November and the changes that will bring in.

  • Custard Taht

    I think the biggest worry for Cheika and the Wallabies at scrum time is…….if the scrum has a wheel when Latu is on, he will fall asleep.

    • onlinesideline

      chuckled

    • Nutta

      Boom Tish

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Nice mate

  • Twoilms

    Because he’s clearly the most talented Hooker we have besides Fainga’a. Same reason Uelese is in the squad after playing only about 5 super games in his entire career.

    He wants one of them to step up, because if they can they will be significantly better than Mafi,BPA or Rangi.

    He certainly doesn’t deserve another chance but the rationale is obvious.

    Generally speaking, Cheika’s front-row selections are on point. It’ll be the brumbies front row starting, Slipper on the bench with Tupou and one of Uelese or Latu with a shot off the bench.

    The only real head scracher in the squad selection is AAC.

    • Joe Blow

      Yes. Both Latu and Uelese have shown that they are physically able to compete at test level. Those others are good Super rugby hookers but we need 3 who can start and be part of a dominant front row.
      FF, Uelese and TPN.

      • Brumby Runner

        12 months ago, FF wasn’t even in the picture. It was only because he was given the chance this year that he has shown he has the ability to play at test level. The same could be said of those who you say are Super standard. We just don’t know until they’ve been given the chance.

        • UTG

          12 months ago FF was playing for the Wallabies.

        • Seb V

          Not quite true. FF has not shown he has the ability to play Test level yet. He has excelled in super xv and given him a chance to prove that. Now I’m sure he will succeed but it’s not proven yet! The others need to do more at super xv before given the chance too.

        • Who?

          FF played an absolute cracking Test last year. It was the second half in Salta – he played an absolute corker that day. Then he was dropped………

        • Andy

          Wrong hooker. That was Latu in the second half. And he got sent off in the 78th minute for striking a player in the face.

        • Who?

          Wrong half then… I remember Fainga’a running the ball very well, and very consistently.
          That said, maybe I need some extra sleep…….

        • Joe Blow

          Maybe. The point is that both Latu and Uelese have played and were up to test footy. FF has had limited test time but seems to be our best on form.
          Rangi and Mafi may well prove to be good test rakes but no need to use them just yet.

    • Hoss

      100% agree and if Brian is either from the bench or misses out to injury Latu is our only other on-baller at ruck time – something i’d like to see Valentini or Naisarini develop, given their size.

      • Twoilms

        They are a bit tall for natural pilferers, i think.

        • Hoss

          Its more that i see value in them being disruptive and a big frame slowing down the opposition pill and requiring more numbers from the attacking side to move them – alah one Mr K Reid. He very rarely wins a turnover, but very successful in being disruptive and slowing the recycle.

        • Max Graham

          Just to be a pedant, that Irish 6 is close to 2 metres and he turned over 3-4 big rucks in the third year last year. Fardy was one of our best too.

      • UTG

        Actually, when we look beyond 2019 stats, a year in which Hooper played predominantly alongside two other guys who play on ball in Miller and Wells (therefore, wasn’t required to play on ball as much as a traditional 7), Hooper compares very favourably to other 7s in terms of on ball work. RugbyPass, which provides analytics on how well 7s generate turnovers amongst other things, gives Hooper a score of 88 in their jackal metric which measures breakdown effectivness, chiefly turnovers generated, over a career. This is above other noted on-ballers Liam Wright (86), Matt Todd (84), equal to Peter O’Mahoney but behind Pocock and Ardie Savea as you’d expect.

        Now, this information may come as a shock to most of the pundits who frequent this frontpage and inaccurately deride Hooper but the fact is when we don’t limit our analysis to times when Hooper is playing alongside other fetchers he can certainly do the on ball work required of a 7.

    • Jason

      Because he’s clearly the most talented Hooker we have besides Fainga’a. Same reason Uelese is in the squad after playing only about 5 super games in his entire career.

      He wants one of them to step up, because if they can they will be significantly better than Mafi,BPA or Rangi.

      Yet we are fine with sending James O’Connor to the shadow realm for 8 years for less. But even if we accept that Latu and Uelese are the most talented hookers we have (and I’d not accept that suggestion) Latu is a penalty magnet last year being the most penalised player per minute played in Super Rugby by some margin and being top 3 on number of penalties, along with the second most carded player. Oh it got so bad that the Waratahs literally could play him because he’d give away too many penalties.

      The bottom line is both Latu and Uelese are complete unknowns, Latu can cost you a game due to his discipline — and I don’t want to even imagine what happens to your squad if you cop a 6 or 8 week suspension during a World Cup. And Uelese has played less Super Rugby in his career than Pocock has this year… and hasn’t exactly proven himself at test level.

      I’d much rather BPA/Mafi/Able/Rangi/Roach in their place all of those players have proven themselves. And have done much more to earn it than Latu or Uelelse, who were gifted their spots. If you don’t respect your player base and reward them when they do well why would they want to stick around. Guys like Fardy I don’t blame for leaving, he was the best and wasn’t getting picked.

      • Max Graham

        If Roach ever gets a test jersey it will be because of a comet or zombie apocalypse.

      • Twoilms

        I wasn’t saying it was the right thing to do, just that his reasoning was fairly obvious.

    • Seb V

      My thoughts exactly. I don’t mind seeing Latu in the squad despite the off field circumstances. He has talent and his impact from the bench in the wallabies last year was solid against the All Blacks (or maybe it was the year before?). All the other hookers are rookies. Hopefully he gets back into form. The selection of AAC is the only one that frustrates me.

    • Braveheart81

      Ultimately I think Latu and Uelese are playing for one spot and TPN will go to the RWC as one of our three hookers. I agree with you that Latu and Uelese have the most upside and why they’ve been preferred ahead of Mafi/BPA/Rangi.

      • Who?

        I’m terrified that you’re right. Many were talking about how Squeaky was over the hill 2 years ago, that he wasn’t going to make the RWC. I’m afraid the last few games I’ve seen from Taf – both in Gold and Sky Blue – indicate that the RWC’s a bridge too far for him, too.
        .
        But I think you’re right – Taf’s got his spot booked. So it’ll be between Latu and Uelese. Which is ridiculous, when every other position, we’ve heard, “We’re not experimenting, it’s about momentum.” So we’re picking between two blokes who have no match fitness, little form, and little positive experience. To be (hopefully) third choice hooker behind our form hooker (who’s only debuted in the last 12 months and was dropped after his last Test – when he played a cracking game) and an old guy who’s been a champion for us, but has had a long history of injury (worse than Pocock, almost like Palu!) and is creaking into the end of his career.

  • Braveheart81

    I disagree on Tom Robertson. The Waratahs scrum got instantly stronger when he replaced HJH. His return from a knee reconstruction has been really good in quick time. I think HJH is an enormous talent and will play a lot of tests but I don’t think this is his year. Roberston is certainly the 6th prop selected and barring injury will miss the RWC squad.

    • RugbyReg

      agree. I don’t mind the Robertson selection, and he provides flexibility given he can play both sides.

      Don’t think Latu should have been selected.

      Nor AAC, but that’s irrelevant to this article.

      • Bobas

        I had a dream the team selected was pretty much as expected except Morgan Turinui was playing 13 for Kuridrani.

    • Jason

      I’m 50/50 on Robertson, is he the next best prop we have no, but I do see value in his selection. But the real worry for me is when you add all these little ‘quirks’ up — just sounds an awful lot like Cheika doesn’t even watch the Super Rugby season and just picks the guys he knows.

      • Braveheart81

        I reckon Robertson absolutely is the next best prop. His workrate is excellent and his scrummaging is solid. My caveat on that is the Smith twins at the Reds (and I get confused here but I think Ruan is the THP and better overall player) are a contender here. I don’t think Ainsley or Faulkner from the Rebels are better than Robertson in any facet of the game.

        • Who?

          I think you’re right about Ainsley and Faulkner. I have no idea why Cheika decided to select Ainsley as our bench THP last year in the opening Bledisloe. Talk about feeding a kid to the wolves… Ainsley’s improved, but he’s still nowhere near it. He wasn’t even the best THP at his club (Sam Talakai was better).
          .
          I have less issue with Robbo than Latu. He’s got good experience with the Wallabies, doesn’t make stupid decisions, hasn’t been an automatic bench selection, and has worked his way back from injury in a more healthy way than Latu (feels like he’s been playing more minutes per game than Latu, too). But the Smith boys did play pretty well this year. The advantage Robbo has is Test experience, was doing the job before injury (in Gold, at that), and not doing anything wrong coming back mean he’s got that foot in the door. So I think that guys like the Smiths are unlucky, but Robbo’s also probably unlucky enough to be the 6th prop in our squad (i.e. missing the RWC).

        • Max Graham

          Agree. I tried to hate him but he’s a very good player; particularly for a bloke so young. HJH looks the goods too. JP Smth is solid and that new Red who was injured after a couple of rounds looked the goods. I would put all of these well ahead of the starting LHPs from the 2011, 2007 and 2003 RWCs. The fact they’ll miss out speaks to the depth that seemed to come from nowhere.

  • ALJ

    Mafi was immense this year. The selection of Latu and Robertson raises questions about whether the “selection panel” set up has actually improved anything, or just created more bodies in a room where Cheika – a demonstrably sub-par selector – gets his way anyway

    • Twoilms

      ‘Immense’ is an exageration. Who would you have ahead of Robertson as 3rd string LHP? Does it really matter? Kepu is the 5th prop going to the RWC.

      • Jason

        Ainsley, Faulkner, Talakai, Johnson-Holmes, Smith boys (eligibility) would all be at worst on par with Robertson.

        • UTG

          Trob has hardly ever had an issue with scrummaging at test level for us. None of the guys you have nominated have proven their worth scrummaging at test level and a WC year is not a time to be dilly-dallying risking scrum penalties.

        • Steve

          Agree, props are really fiddling round the edges at this point, I don’t see anyone but Brumbies, Thor, Kepu going to RWC.

          (Cheika if you prove me wrong on this I swear to God I will quit)

        • Max Graham

          Jesus Christ!! Ainsley? Isn’t he a THP? Faulkner?! Seriously?! He doesn’t dominate in the Perth club comp. You’re drunk.

    • Jason

      Mafi was probably the second best hooker in the Aussie teams.

    • Max Graham

      He ran well, but the Reds scrum wasn’t nearly as strong this year and they blew opportunities often from botched attacking line-outs. I’m biased as hell, so if I’m bigging up a Tah over a Red it’s not because I want to.

  • Nutta

    Morning. good article and faitr questions to ask.

    The Latu question is legitimate on form. Refs look for Latu. Rangi and Mafi both have a better claim behind Fingers. Regarding not selecting Latu based on off-field indiscretion, the continued selection (when fit) of Hunt, Slipper and above and beyond all else Beale means any moral argument for non-selection cannot be sustained. RA have conclusively shown that and indeed backed themselves into a corner.

    HJH is by no means anywhere near ready for a Wobbly jersey given his clearly and repeatedly exploited scrum weakness. He is great around ground, carries and tackles well and I understand he’s a fantastic team guy to boot. But he got handed his arse multiple times this year and that won’t do going into a Bill when we have the likes of Sio & Slipper as counter-points. Robbo rightly gets a nod over HJH in that tete de tete IMO. However the question regarding Faulkner or even Toby Smith to be fair (I know I know) is valid.

    • Keith Butler

      Toby Smith, now there’s one from left field and valid. Put in some very solid games for the Canes at the back end of the season.

      • Brumby Runner

        As did Michael Ala’alatoa at the Crusaders. Passed over for the ABs squad. He might like to reconsider his test aspirations here at home.

        • Keith Butler

          True. Can’t remember whether he’s LH or TH. Will he fill in for Franks for the Saders when he flies north?

        • Nutta

          Both brothers are TH’s. It’s trendy to swap about these days, but they are both genuine TH’s. But the issue with both 6A’s and Smithy s they play their Super outside Oz which makes them non-contenders (Bugger).

        • Brumby Runner

          Just a local RA/Cheika rule, Nutta. One that could be tweaked, amended, dispatched at any time.

          Having said that, we don’t need either Michael AAT or Toby Smith for the Wallabies atm, so I don’t think the rule will be relaxed for either of them.

        • Who?

          Agreed with all of that. I’ve long said that it’s nonsensical that we don’t treat guys playing in Super Rugby (and GRR) teams that aren’t Australian-based differently to those playing in Europe (i.e. in a competition that isn’t affiliated with RA). I don’t see why playing for the Canes makes you ineligible unless you’re Giteau-law eligible. It’s a very different thing to fly into a training camp from Wellington compared to Paris.
          Though, of course, right now, we don’t need 6A’s or Toby.

        • UTG

          I don’t think Toby Smith nor Michael Ala’alatoa would get a look in even if they were at home. That’s no slight against them, we have plenty of depth at prop and I’d take our likely starting props (AAA, Slipper/Sio) over most of the props in the AB squad.

        • Nutta

          I would have 6A’s over Kepu or Tupo ATM. The guy scrummages beautifully and his around-ground impact (even just his tackle-count) has those two beat hands down. Plus guys coming from winning culture bring winning culture.

        • UTG

          I wouldn’t have him over Kepu, myself. Unfortunately, I don’t think Kepu was managed very well by the Waratah coaching staff and performed admirably despite being run ragged as a 30+ year old. Although I take your point about Michael Ala’alatoa coming from a winning culture, Kepu has a good claim as the GOAT Wallaby tighthead and I think that experience off the bench is invaluable and beats out coming from a winning culture as an uncapped international. I’m afraid Pete Samu didn’t really bring much of the winning culture to the Wallabies last year.

          Based on what you want from your tighthead I can completely understand having Michael Ala’alatoa over Tupou. However, I think a lot of pundits would argue that Tupou is a real game breaker and has a tremendously high ceiling which could win you a test match.

        • Nutta

          If Kepu had been managed correctly I would have taken him for sure. He’s a grand scrummager (esp for a late-converted No8) and much of what little the Wobbs did right over the last 3-4yrs has hinged off him if anyone took the time to have a careful look.

          But he wasn’t managed well this year. He’s been left buggered, over-worked and shagged-out IMO. That’s a bloody shame but it is the situation as it stands now. Maybe he has the time to ‘get right’ in-time. But likely not.

          But GOAT Wobbly TH? Nope. Ewen McKenzie wins that one. Followed by Andy McIntyre.

        • UTG

          It’s not clear cut but I reckon Keps has as much a claim to stake as those two. I’ll concede it’s very much a subjective decision and maybe I am just partial to the new age props who are expected to do a bit more running and offloading.

          The good thing about the Tah’s torrid season this year and the lack of June Intls is that it has given Kepu an extended period to get right for these tests. I think he’ll have recovered enough to fill a bench spot adequately if required. I’ll be interested to watch the reserve tighthead battle between he and Tupou. Personally, I’d give Tupou these first two games to stake his claim with the hope he returns to his form against the Irish.

        • Nutta

          That’s a fair argument. The game is a lot different now. I won’t get into the better/worse thing but simply acknowledge it is different. We used to play a lot more scrums and we packed them and cleared out far quicker than the stage-managed coordinated dance routines we see these days. I well remember the old catch-cry of ‘Get there then have your rest!’ and if both sets of front-rows were even remotely bound the Ref would call you in by threatening a penalty if you didn’t get on with it. It wasn’t infrequent of us to engage opposing front-rows with neither side even having the breakaways on yet.

          For me, if Kepu isn’t starting then don’t use him. At this stage of his career I suggest using him to set a tone, soak up the torrid openings of each half and then bring on a Finisher at 50-60min. Kepu is not the explosive power player which seems to be the rage for the closing 20-30min. That’s more a Tupou role (at his stage in his development). It puts 7A’s in an interesting spot.

          All that said, I really don’t recall a previous time where we had such a rich vein of form at 3 with arguably 3 realistic Wobbly options. That said, similar could be said about our Pigs in general. We have serious options throughout the pack. What a reversal on form this is to where we used to seem to always have a posse of smart halves and midfielders who were living off scrap ball to now where we have a pretty decent pack but struggle for a mob to use the ball intelligently.

        • UTG

          Yep, I’m totally fine with Tupou ahead of Kepu for an impact bench spot. Tupou has been targetted by refs at scrumtime this year (at times I think his sheer power has been mistaken for illegality) and if they’re intent on continuing to penalise him then perhaps you could make an argument for Kepu off the bench. Other than that Kepu is probably the fifth prop we take given he has shown he can play on both sides of the scrum at test level.

        • Braveheart81

          Tupou was by far the most penalised player in Super Rugby this year. This included giving away the most scrum penalties so I think it’s fair to say his discipline needs to improve everywhere.

          He clearly has the greatest ability to provide impact and I think he’ll generally be our reserve THP this year. You’d definitely consider Kepu for a game where you thought the scrum might really come under pressure though. His experience is pretty invaluable there.

        • Max Graham

          Thor’s key move is to initially take the other prop back/down, before driving on them. He got away with it but now the other prop and the ref are onto him. Have a look at the first two scrums against the Beast in the saffer test last year. First scrum won a penalty and shocked the world. Next scrum almost had his arse driven through his own ear. He’s still a kid so he’ll learn new tricks and finish up world class.

        • Who?

          Kepu’s got to go to the RWC. He has to start two games – our two ‘easier’ games in our pool. Start one at LHP, one at THP, to give 7A’s and likely Sio (whoever’s going to be the starting LHP) a rest. If he can do that, he’s more than contributed with the other guys around him. If he doesn’t play between now and then, that’s probably also ok…

        • Max Graham

          Scrums prior to the game going pro? Nah. Give me Patricio Noriega over any of those blokes that were basically playing golden oldies rules.

        • Geoffro

          +1 Andy McIntyre

        • Twoilms

          GOAT professional THP for sure though.

        • Nutta

          Pato Noriega and Cam Blades were very handy guys and Blades esp has a Bill to his name. But whilst all 3 guys are quite tight from a meat & potatoes POV, Keps does then arguably bring another element through better gravy given his general skills.

        • Twoilms

          Mike is eligible for the All Blacks and is not as good as Allan and probably Tupou.

          TH is probably the only position where it would be easier to get into the ABs than the Wallabies.

      • Max Graham

        There are 5+ better LHPs that aren’t left field that are better than Smith.

    • Funk

      I would have liked to see JP Smith get a shot in the squad, I think their (both brothers) eligibility has been sorted and they are now Wallaby eligible.

      • Nutta

        Fair points.

      • Hoss

        Spoken like a true Qld supporter Funky.

        I think the myth of the Smiffs far outweighs the reality. They are no better scrummages than 7A’s, The SS, Eric Clapton, The Abattoir or Methuselah, have much less impact around the park then any of the others and are good for a minimum 2 dump penalties a game. If they wore sky blue i’d never hear the end of it, although they may then play in gold…..

  • Red Block

    You get the feeling there was a lot of compromising going on in the selection room.
    ‘Ok you can have Latu but not Phipps’ or ‘if I can’t have Ned then I must have Two Dads.’
    Atm any change from previous regime is a positive step forward.
    But if Foley and Beale are named as 10 and 12, I’ll vomit.

    • UTG

      What garbage, that’s not remotely close to how the squad was selected. But, hey any excuse for a good old Waratah Cheika conspiracy.

      • Max Graham

        Maybe not, but if Beale is named at 12 I will be looking for small blokes from NSW to run over in my work ute.

  • Max Graham

    Whenever I hear someone doesn’t rate Latu highly as a rugby player, I automatically dismiss their opinions on the sport of rugby.

    • Who?

      Latu is a bit of a Kyrgios. As in, he has potential, but five years into his career, he’s achieved very little. All promise, no delivery. 59 Tahs caps, but most of the past two years – certainly all this year – he’s only started off the bench.
      Some might compare him to Quade Cooper, in that some see what both do well, some see nothing but weaknesses (like cardings), and some can’t see beyond provincial biases. Except Cooper was the starting player for his Super title, and is still the starting player… Whereas Latu isn’t.

      • Max Graham

        Mate, have a look at the difference he makes to the scrum when he comes on. It’s Have a look at the ruck, look at the opposition’s slower ball and the turnovers that all of a sudden are more frequent. And have a look at the sudden ability of his team to get over the gain line.
        He’s not perfect and he gives away dumb penalties, but any suggestion that he’s not one of the 2-3 best hookers in the country is laughable. He is really, really good at rugby.

        • Who?

          He’s good at rugby like Kyrgios is brilliant at tennis. He can do it, but he’s inconsistent. He can play the big points, and then be completely without focus in the small stuff. And for those reasons, he’s unreliable, won’t win a Grand Slam (because it’s 7 straight games to win), and can’t dislodge a clear Super-standard (i.e. not Test standard) hooker as the starter at his own province.

        • Max Graham

          By that rationale, Kearns shouldn’t have got the NSW call up from
          2nd and instead the Randwick first grade hooker was the better player.

        • Who?

          Very different situation there. Kearns was much younger than Latu is now. Latu’s had a contract since 2014 – he’s played almost 60 Super games.
          .
          Kearns is actually closer to Uelese (or Taf!) being called up young. Big, inexperienced bloke selected over the top of a smaller established bloke (and let’s be honest, even in the amateur era, Eddie Jones was tiny for a hooker!).
          .
          Latu just needs to earn his stripes. His situation is more like Akira Ioane in NZ. Akira’s been clearly called out by Shag this season as ‘once again not having turned up to Round 1 fit and then looking tired all Super season’. Endless potential, but not showing the discipline to prove he’s earned the call up. Latu’s similar. His potential has been – rightly – talked up for years now, but his Super coach still can’t trust him enough to start a game with him. The coach trusts him for 25 minutes per game (that’s what he played this season – 153 minutes across 6 games, none of them starting, no injuries), meaning he trusts the other guy to have more than double that time on the field (55 minutes). He’s not an unknown quantity who needs a shot, he’s a known quantity who needs to prove that he wants it. Or maybe he just needs to show that he’s enjoying his rugby..?

        • Hoss

          All sage points mate. But using Mr Gibson’s examples in selections and game time during 2019 is akin to using Hitler as a bastion for upholding the principles of fairness and democracy. Not entirely reliable.

        • Who?

          Mr Gibson’s results are, I think, better than Mr Cheika’s over the same period (and Mr Gibson would have a similar ratio of Kiwi games in his competition to Mr Cheika, too!). With similar selection questions. And, sadly, until next year, we can’t look at how other coaches see these guys – Latu’s only had two coaches at the top level, Gibson at the Tahs and Cheika at both the Tahs and Wallabies.

        • Max Graham

          Latu’s coach is that guy that selects Ned Hanigan in the tight 5, right?

  • Jason

    90% of the Wallabies squad was selected before any Super Rugby was played this year. Other good examples would be Rob Simmons who is probably our 8th best lock, along with the nearly 50 year old Adam Ashley Cooper — just leaves you scratching your head.

    Cheika has even admitted he doesn’t actually watch the Super Rugby games, BPA has an outstanding two games against probably the second best forward pack in World Rugby and can’t even be found a spot in the squad, evidently this ‘selection panel’ is impotent or (we can only hope) giving Cheika enough rope to hang himself with. The biggest issue with Australia Rugby in the last 5 years hasn’t been our tallent drain (but yes that’s an issue).

    • UTG

      I think your memory of BPA is a bit foggy. Against Ireland he got hooked after 40 minutes because he wasn’t up to it. FF surpassed him by the time the RC was on and he wasn’t even the best hooker at the Reds this year.

    • Max Graham

      Simmons had a great year – possibly his best ever. He’s clearly in the top 3 in the country – either he or Rodda will be on the bench and the other on the park.

    • Max Graham

      Show me a link to where Cheika said he didn’t watch super rugby games and I’ll eat your arse with a spoon.

      • Jason

        There was an irish talk show where he said he doesn’t watch the games (meaning Super). Here is the part one of it, I don’t recall where in the show it was. https://youtu.be/FyscadzAsEg

        • Max Graham

          I bet if I trawled through that show, he would actually admit he doesn’t watch the opposition’s games. Something I find nuts! He travels the country watching super rugby games. I’d bet he very rarely misses one on tv, if not in person.

        • Jason

          After watching him selecting his teams and the way he coaches I believe he doesn’t watch the Super Rugby games or even his opposition. Did you not see the games against England… the ones where he made ZERO adjustments…

        • Max Graham

          But he does watch the Oz teams’ super rugby games and he never said otherwise.

        • Jason

          Like I said last time this topic came up, he has admitted quite clearly he doesn’t watch much Super Rugby. I even linked you to the video where he said it.

        • Max Graham

          You linked a 90 minute video you think he may have said it. I said he didn’t and I’ve seen him at games live, seemingly looking towards the field during the game. I’m going to need you to go further with your evidence; otherwise, I’ll think you’re making stuff up to suit your agenda.

  • Who?

    Hang on – I found it! I knew I remembered Fainga’a playing a great game and then getting dumped. I’ve gone back through notes I had last year. It was Bledisloe 3. I wrote, variously:
    .
    Folau Fainga’a had probably his best game in gold today. The all Brumbies front row had a cracking game around the park.
    .
    Sio, Fainga’a and 7A’s ran the ball brilliantly.
    .
    And leading into the EOYT…
    .
    So, Latu’s starting, Taf on the bench, Fainga’a dumped. NO idea how that works, when Latu’s copped a YC in his last two Tests, and Fainga’a outplayed him even without considering the YC last game.
    .
    So, wrong game, right description. That he played a blinder, was excellent around the field and carried well, and was then unceremoniously dropped.

    • Max Graham

      Good work – respect that!
      I like FF and think he deserves a shot. As much as I believe TPN is the Wallaby’s GHOAT, I would leave him at home this year and go with the 3 in camp.

      • Who?

        I’m not sure I call Taf the GHOAT (his throwing was far too poor for far too long, and improved towards the end, but still wasn’t where you’d expect for such an experienced operator), but if he were 12-24 months younger, then no question he’d be there. Honestly, if we’d had 2016 Squeaky, he’d be there too (by that point he’d significantly improved his handling and so was solid in the scrum, strong in the lineout, and a very useful linking player in attack). Just a shame about the timing.
        .
        Also, the timing is a bit of an indictment on Cheika. In that, he played Squeaky and Taf without blooding any young guys until far too late in the RWC cycle. SO we’re going into a RWC campaign with less experience than ideal, and the only real experience (i.e. more than 20 Tests) is a bloke who’s going to struggle with the pace of the game.
        .
        My concern with Latu is just that he’s done nothing this year, and it’s not for injury. I can give Uelese a pass on the grounds that the was injured, and picking on potential. But Latu’s also a pick on potential – I don’t see that we can afford to gamble quite so much. Which is on Cheika – he should’ve been more proactive sooner, to get that experience in the team. Given I wouldn’t want to pick two players on potential, I’d be looking to replace one with another player who’d shown good form through the Super campaign. I don’t have huge arguments either way about them, but they’d be Rangi/Mafi/BPA. All guys who had solid (if not FF level) showings through the campaign. Still potential (rather than experience), but at least match fit with some form on the board.

  • Spot -on comments about ‘Why Latu and whay Robertson’. Neither should be in the Wallaby Squad at all based on form!

Wallabies

Western Sydney born, raised in South Australia, now residing in Western Australia clinging to the hopes of Australian Rugby clawing its way back to bring home Bill or at least dominate in the scrums!

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