Wallaby Watch - Season Wrap up - Green and Gold Rugby
Super Rugby

Wallaby Watch – Season Wrap up

Wallaby Watch – Season Wrap up

Now that it’s the end of the regular season, and on the back of my last Wallaby Watch yesterday,  let’s have a look at what our potential Wallabies team looks like. Reminder that this team has some players slightly out of position as we’re taking into account the Cheika factor. This team will account for all performances across the season.


1. Scott Sio (Brumbies)

A nice controlled game from Slipper. Made his tackles (8/8) and scrummed well.It is close between Sio and Slipper, but as Sio seems to be preferred at the Brumbies we will pick him for this too. Strong around the park and has been strong in the scrum.


2. Folau Fainga’a (Brumbies)

The firm front runner for the hooker position. I’d be surprised if anyone else gets a look in. His lineout throwing has been close to the best in the Australia conference, he is a strong ball carrier, can steer the maul and is apart of a strong scrummaging frontrow.


3. Allan Alaalatoa (Brumbies)

Has outclassed Tupou and Kepu this season and should be starting at 3 for the Wallabies. He has been a workhorse in defence making over 10 tackles most games at a high completion rate. Most importantly he has been great in the scrums.


4. Rory Arnold (Brumbies)

Has been the stand out lock all season. A great target in the lineout and a strong ball carrier. Having his Brumbies front row in front of him will hopefully mean the Wallabies can have the same success using the driving maul as the Brumbies did this season.


5. Izack Rodda (Reds)

Has been a standout for the Reds this season leading from the front as a workhorse. Seems to be a great lineout technician and will add another hard working player to the pack.

Lukhan Salakai-Loto

6. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (Reds)

This was probably the most difficult pick for the entire team. I think this comes down to who else is in the team and what the team needs. You could also select either Jones or Samu here. Jones brings another workhorse who is a great lineout option, Samu brings a little bit of x-factor and is a strong runner, off-loader and pilferer. Salakaia-Loto brings big hits and bustling runs. The reason I’ve gone for Lukhan is due to the fact that he brings some grunt. He does have the tendency to go missing in games but luckily we have strong bench options and workhorses like Rodda, Hooper and Alaalatoa to fill the gap he may cause. I would trial all 3 in the Rugby Championship and see who fits the team play style the best.


7. Michael Hooper (Waratahs)

With Pocock being injured for majority of the season, it looks like Hooper will be our starting 7 for the World Cup. You can’t really fault him outside of the fact he sometimes gets bullied in contact. He gets through an enormous amount of work and manages to make plenty of metres with ball in hand. He isn’t amazing at ruck time which is where you may look to play Samu at 6. I’d be looking to interchange Hooper and Pocock depending on who the opposition is.


8. Isi Naisarani (Rebels) 

Naisarani has been consistently strong all season. He makes the gain line a lot and draws in defenders when he runs. Could be the first line bending number 8 we have had in a long time. For me, McCaffrey has been great all season and I would also like to see him have a run at 8, that would leave us with 2 unproven player at international level fighting for our number 8 position but Naisarani gets first shot due to McCaffrey having a stint on the sideline and then coming back through the bench  meaning he lacked a bit of game time. I fully expect Chieka to run ‘Pooper’ here but you could also have Samu at 8.


9. Will Genia (Rebels)

Although he hasn’t been in the best form of his career, he is a class player and class is permanent. Directs everyone around the park and makes his forwards work. Adds experience and a nice kicking game.

Quade Cooper

10.  Quade Cooper (Rebels)

Okay, here me out on this one. Christian Lealiifano is currently the number 10 in form in the Australian conference but I think Quade can do some things that others just can’t. Cooper has been playing behind an average forward pack all season where Lealiifano has been playing on the back of a dominating one. With a center combination of Kerevi and Kuridrani, Cooper has distributing skills to pick the right man with the flat ball and put these devastating runners through holes. I’d be putting a dedicated 10 on the bench just in case Cooper is having a shocker. Another thing to test during the Rugby Championship.


11. Marikia Koroibete (Rebels)

Had a terrible start to the season, average mid season and then has been killing it in the last few rounds. No one had stood up and claimed that jersey for their own until Marika had at the end of the season. If he can sort out his defensive decisions he will be a great asset to the Wallabies.


12. Samu Kerevi (Reds)

Back at his favoured position this season, he looked completely at home. He has worked on his game and is now a better distributor and can put it on the toe. Has been locked into a Wallabies jersey all season.


13. Tevita Kuridrani (Brumbies)

Burst back into career best form towards the end of the season. Great runner and very solid defensively. If Kerevi and Kuridrani have all cylinders firing they may be the most devastating centre combination in world rugby.


14. Tom Banks (Brumbies)

This was a hard one. Rona has been great all season and Haylett-Petty has been good at 15 and has also played 14 for the Wallabies on numerous occasions. Banks get the 14 spot due to unreal form and purely not being able to leave him out. Hodge could be an option here also.


15. Dane Haylett-Petty (Rebels)

So the reason I’ve gone for Haylett-Petty over Banks at 15 is due to Coopers selection at 10. A very reliable guy at the back, has a big boot and can take some pressure off Cooper at 10. This could realistically be Haylett-Petty, Banks or Beale as all have been good this season.

As for the bench, I’ll put down a couple of options for each as small changes to the starting lineup could change the bench considerably.

16. Alex Mafi, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Jordan Uelese – Mafi has been the form hooker behind Fainga’a but is untested. TPN has experience but looked off the pace last time he was in Australia and Uelese hasn’t played much rugby this year but has alot of potential.

17. James Slipper – Slipper has been great all season and is a firm second place (if not ahead of Sio) for the Wallabies. Great scrummager, strong around the park.

18. Taniela Tupou, Sekope Kepu – X-factor verses experience. Really depends on personal preference. Both have had off games this year but Kepu has been more consistent.

19. Adam Coleman, Matt Phillip, Rob Simmons – All decent options but I think even though he hasn’t played much rugby this year due to injuries, Coleman is the obvious choice.

20. David Pocock, Pete Samu, Lachie McCaffrey – I see McCaffrey as much of an 80 minute player but he is an option here. The obvious choice is to do with Pocock but he could well be starting at 6 or 8. Cheika may opt for a 6/2 split where you can have Pocock and Samu on the bench.

21. Joe Powell, Tate McDermott, Nick Phipps, Jake Gordon – All have been putting there hands up throughout the season but Powell has been the most consistent so I expect him to get the nod here.

22. Christian Lealiifano, Matt Toomua, Bernard Foley – Lealiifano has been in great form for a while now and report are that Toomua was playing well in the UK also. Foley hasn’t been at his best and I would leave him out as Lealiifano and Toomua can cover 10 and 12. My preference here would be Lealiifano.

23. Kurtley Beale, Reece Hodge, Sefa Naivalu – Realistcially you’re probably going to take Naivalu out straight away due to only playing on the wing whereas Beale and Hodge can cover 10-15 in neccesary. Beale probably gets the nod here due to being able to come off the bench and spark something if the Wallabies are trying to chase the game.


Let me know in the comments what changes you would make to this team and who what team you’d choose!

  • Steve

    Thanks for this series Michael – has been great discussion.

    Some creative licence here vs. the team of the week totals, and not ones I necessarily agree with, but I guess that’s the point.

    Genia is well behind Powell in terms of totals but I understand the reasons for his inclusion.

    Cooper has been living far too long on the basis of ‘he can do things no one else can do’. He does them less and less and the negative things more and more.

    In terms of DHP to cover Cooper’s deficiencies, he didn’t do that effectively at the Rebels so I don’t see the logic that he will do it at the high level.

    For mine neither is near the 23.


      So if Quade Cooper overall has the Best/top 3 attacking Stats in the comp for Try assists, Line break assists, offloads, beaten tackles and so on…… Along with an average middle of the pack defence……. Who do you suggest in Aus rugby is doing what he can do? I see no-one even close attack wise while the lot of them are average defenders! (a very common theme for 10s anyway)
      And as often pointed out, all this behind a woeful pack! Just once I’d LOVE to see some statistical input to back up people’s ideas….

      • While that’s true, how does his season break down between first and second half, along with the Rebels form? I suspect it dips hard and that’s a worry.

        Also, you’re rather comparing chalk and cheese. QC has played behind a poor pack with a side that has made their scoring chances from him and the backs. Lilo has played behind a relatively dominant pack that has made their scoring chances up front with driving mauls. That’s a broad generalisation for both teams of course, but it reflects a difference in the style of play and a difference in what the 10 is expected to do.

        Ask me if I’m surprised that the former has much better stats for all of those things you quote and I’ll say no, because that’s not how the other team played. How were they at kicking from hand? Kicking conversions from outside the 15m lines? Kicking accurately to the corner? I suspect neither of us have the stats for that, I can’t find them after an admittedly cursory search. But I’ll bet dollars to donuts that CL is better than QC at most if not all of them.

        I don’t think there’s a better player, per se, from these two to go to the RWC. I think there’s a better player depending on the game plan. If you want wild, throw the ball about in the backs rugby, pick QC, and live with the fact he’s high risk as well as high reward. But look at what happened to his stats as the Rebels fell apart too and ask if, at test level, defensive coaches can get to him and stop him working well. If you want boring, dare I say English-style, rugby then pick CL. He can also feed a backline and those other things, but he plays field position much more.

        Having written it like that, sorry Christian, there’s not a cat in hell’s chance Cheika will ever pick you – it’s not the “Australian Way” to kick consistently for position. But it would confuse the living bejesus out of defensive coaches for a little while, until they dig out their “this is how we defend against England” books instead of their “this how we defend against Australia” books.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Well as was covered every week, Quades personal form was pretty solid nearly all year…… with big upwards spikes when the forwards stepped up! Only 4 weeks ago he lit it up setting up every try but the Maddox one leading to the Rebels biggest ever points haul!
          But there was clearly coaches instructions to keep the ball tighter in the 2nd half of the season……limiting his involvements and ability to impact in the game…..and of note were the numerous world class blockbusting runners that Quade bought down during the season!
          Now as for kicking both CL and Quade have similar avg kick metres of about 30ms per kick. They also have very similar touches, passes and runs. Also I think your giving a little too much credit to the other Rebels backline…… Quade created the FAR majority of opportunities all season with something like 30 bombed tries Quade set up that team mates failed to convert!
          But it’s not CL I have issue with…… I think he’s a good option! It’s the ridiculously blind sheep thinking Foley should even be in the squad! Or Debrecini……
          BUT Quade has proved this year that if the forwards gain at least equality, he creates more threat and opportunities than anyone…… probably still in the world atm! While at the same time having a sufficient defense!

        • I’m certainly not advocating for Foley. I think we might get him but that’s because I think Cheika will pick him, not that I think he should pick him. Likewise, I think we’ll get Toomua or Beale as the utility cover for 10, 12, 15, and while I think Toomua was better in England than he showed in Australia, neither or them are up to it on current form.

          I would be happy with either of QC or CL starting at 10. I think we’d get a rather different style of play for the Wallabies and, if we get a sudden rush of a game plan to the coaching team, we need to pick a plan, pick players to execute said plan, and go for it through all the warm-ups, TRC and so on. Get what I hope will be the new combinations bedded in and playing together in matches which are, this year at least, less important, so come Japan they’re a little bit used to it.

          Although this is drifting off-topic, I think there’s something to be said in those build-up matches to picking an odd subs bench with a mix of back-row hopefuls and giving them a half each until we find a set that look a) balanced with a proper 6, 7 and 8 and b) test calibre, then running with them. It’s not ideal but we are where we are and there are lots of maybes without the experience (or not recently in some cases) at that level that make me leery of committing to my back row of the pack.

        • Gallagher

          “you’re rather comparing chalk and cheese. QC has played behind a poor pack with a side that has made their scoring chances from him and the backs. Lilo has played behind a relatively dominant pack that has made their scoring chances up front with driving mauls. That’s a broad generalisation for both teams of course, but it reflects a difference in the style of play and a difference in what the 10 is expected to do”

          I don’t understand how the Brumbies core tactic that involves the forwards can be attributed to a 10 performing or not performing? If Quade was behind the Brumbies pack and they where scoring tries off driving mauls, that has nothing to do with Quade, let alone Lealiifano. So you can only rate Lealiifano on what he IS asked to do, and based on that, he is solid. Quade was excluded from plays in the back half, and the forwards where more involved, and that tactic didn’t work. That’s nothing to do with Quade, that’s coaching.

          Lealiifano is solid. Quade is also solid, and better in attack. Foley is club standard. I’m with GTQR, the stats back that up. I’ll take Quade at 10 behind our excellent pack, Lealiifano on the bench to come on as 10, 12 cover, salivating.

        • As someone who played in the pack when I played my (schoolgirl) level rugby, it pains me to admit it, but we usually rely on the dainty people wearing 9 and 10 to put their foot to the ball and kick it down the field and over the white line so we can have a line out after the referee awards a penalty. It makes it much easier to set up a driving maul from the line out that way…

          We might get all the try-scoring glory, and do all the hard sweaty work, or the Brumbies forwards might to be more precise, but without CL accurately kicking the corners reliably, they don’t get to have the line outs in good places to set the mauls and score the tries.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          You just keep surprising me…… Lealifano has more kick errors than most in the comp……

        • My academic background is as a research biologist. That gives me a pretty solid training in statistics.

          As with the discussion on the Brumbies’ season stats, where they were near the bottom of the competition in a number of supposedly key stats, but top of the conference, I don’t just look at stats, I apply interpretation to them where possible – and I also question what they mean.

          What defines a kick error in the recording? Some are doubtless clear – you have a penalty and you kick for the corner and you miss, kicking the ball dead, or kicking too long thus missing touch. Kicking from hand and kicking out on the full. But is a kick that is too long and kept in play by the opposition? Is it still a kicking error if the captain told you to go for maximum distance, and we’ll pin them back if we don’t get the line out? I’m sure they’re both recorded as such, but I’m not sure they should be.

          The team’s style of play also makes a difference. If you have a successful side that is playing territory football, they might spend less time in their 22 on average (that’s pretty common for successful sides unless they rely on counterattack rugby) and they might kick more often (that’s common for sides that play territory rugby). That combination leads to more kicks from hand outside the 22. A higher total number of kicks out on the full could be a similar error rate, just a higher number because of their style of play.

          We’re pretty sure the Brumbies, and thus Lilo, are kicking to the corner more often that many sides, and a higher total number of errors in that facet could equally be a similar error rate to everyone else, just more opportunities.

          I don’t know where you’re getting your stats – I’ve just spent half an hour looking for this one and can’t find anywhere that’s recording it but there are lots of ways it can be misleading without looking carefully at it.

          I’m not saying we should just disregard it. But I’m equally saying you shouldn’t just look at it and say “OMG, CL is so bad, look…”

  • Twoilms

    Toomua should not be anywhere near the team.

    The rest looks reasonably good.

  • Mart

    That’s actually a pretty solid team. I’d be happy with that.

    I actually think Niavalu offers more than Koroibete but they’re pretty similar players

    Beale off the bench is solid.
    And imagine having Pocock come on with 10 before half time, they opposition would shit themselves at the ruck

    • Dud Roodt

      I’ve been thinking about this for a while and obviously the prevailing thought is that Pocock should start with Hooper coming on in the final 30 or so when defenses are tired to utilise his engine.
      The more I think about it, the more I think how good the alternative would be. Hooper starts with his energiser bunny style and effective defense (for all his critics – you can’t deny stats) and then Pocock comes on with 30 or 20 to go when players are exhausted and takes advantage at ruck time.
      Also has the added benefit of saving Pocock during the earlier stages where everyone is fresh.

      • Mart

        Exactly my thought. For a tiring team he would be a nightmare at the ruck

      • Brumby Runner

        IMO there’s an almost equal justification for either one starting and the other coming on in the second half.

        Two issues with it as far as I’m concerned.

        One; we really don’t need two No 7s in the 23. No 7s regularly play the whole game, and having one of Hooper or Poey starting and the other on the bench is just an invitation to finish with the Pooper or not play the bench player at all. No-one wants to see that shit arrangement again.

        Two; In the unlikely event they are both in the 23, it would be tactically better to have the one more likely to need replacement due injury start and the energy bunny type to come off the bench if circumstances require it. That means Poey to start and Hooper on the bench simply as injury cover.

        • Twoilms

          The real issue in the Pocock v Hooper debate is whether Pocock can get fit enough to even take to the field.

      • You can’t deny the stats but if you look at Tuesday’s News you can see two of us questioning just how useful the stats we see are, and in one case how reliable they are too, given there’s not even any cross-checking within the game.

        Hooper runs a lot, yes, but how much is useful? Just how effective is his defensive work? Not sure the stats we’re given actually tell us that, and some of the stats I’ve seen for Hooper seem to show him distinctly NOT do the job of a No. 7 in as far as I trust them.

      • Seb V

        I think Poey needs to start (if fit). He’s primarily fetcher and that involves interpreting the Ref’s boundaries around the ruck. Giving away a penalty as he’s testing these boundaries are a lot less costly in the first 5mins then the last.

    • Patrick

      Ooooor, hear me out on this, but what about playing the world’s best no 7 at no 7 for 80 minutes?

      • Mart

        Crazy talk. I’d be happy with that But not with him at 8

      • Twoilms

        the worlds best 7 who’s managed about 10 minutes of competitive rugby all year playing a full 80 minute test match, consecutively for an entire tournament?

  • Timbo

    Tight 5 look good.
    Loosies good work rate, mongrel and suck in defenders.
    Halves… hopefully the last few games were an anomaly? I’d like to see Gordon or Powell inside Lealiifano.
    Centres are exactly who we need
    Outside backs… Banks at FB with ‘insert fast wingers here’

  • Who?

    The biggest problem with that team is the coaching staff… Not sure I have confidence that they’d employ the right tactics to best advantage the team.
    But the team listed shows that whining about playing depth is ridiculous. Because almost every position has alternative options who would be at least serviceable if required.

    • Spot on mate. We now have the depth. Ewen McKenzie would be rapt with one like that.

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        ‘Serviceable’ won’t win world cups though. If we LSL run out at 6 against a team like the All Blacks who want to spin it wide, we will get destroyed as he just too slow out wider.

  • Jason

    We haven’t seen anything from Coleman that comes close to justifying a RWC spot, Simmons has been better but not by much. Sam Carter, Matt Philip, Luke Jones, should all be ahead of him, even Harry Hockings or Angus Blyth should be ahead of him. IMO anyone picking Coleman or Simmons are picking on past form not current.

    • You are probably right about Coleman. Fantastic player BUT others are in front of him this year.

    • rick with a silent P

      Hear hear. Agreed

  • Brumby Runner

    My main concern, like Who, is with the coaching team. The Brumbies have had an excellent season, especially the back end, and have developed their playing style and game plans (plural) to best advantage the players. Cheika’s game plan will be entirely different and if history tells us will again be pretty much a failure. The worry is that no matter who makes the team, the coaching will completely stuff them up and we’ll come home empty handed from both TRC and the RWC.

    The forlorn hope is that Cheika is quietly promoted (sidelined) to a position where he doesn’t have a hands on role and maybe Johnson takes over the head coach responsibilities.

  • That is an excellent squad and would do us proud. Not sure though about Cooper at 10. LLF may not be so spectacular BUT he is far more consistent. Likewise prefer DHP on the wing or the bench and Banks or Beale at Full Back.

  • rick with a silent P

    Coleman seems to have been a shadow of his former self most of this year.

    • Singapore Sling

      Coleman hasn’t been the same since he came of the field in a Wallabies test with a suspected shattered cheek bone that turned out to be a regular shiner. The only thing shattered was his hard man reputation.

    • Dud Roodt

      It’s very concerning. 2016 I thought he had a shot at being top #3-4 in the world. Shocking decline in form.

    • Tim

      He will become bigger and better next year overseas. Just like any Australian

  • Gun


  • If I had my way, Sami, Phipps, Powell, Simmons, niavalu and Foley would be nowhere near the RWC squad

  • idiot savant

    Nice try Michael but we all know that `Foley, CLL, and Toomua will have to catch the avian pork flu before Quade will run out at flyhallf for the Wallabies again. I cant see any of the 3 NSW selectors picking him particularly after the disastrous end to the Rebels season.

    I think you have the forward pack right. I think CLL will be trialled at 10 during the RC if only to put pressure on Foley. Im not sure we will see Toomua in the 23. Hodge is more likely. Cheik doesn’t rate Banks so I dont expect to see him in the starting side tho the other sectors might argue for him as a reserve (that Cheika wont use). Wouldn’t be surprised to see Phipps start to give Genia a prod. Hes been very poor in the latter half of the season. Looks tired.

  • AllyOz

    I think the forward pack is very solid indeed and your picks have it well balanced with some good ball runners and strong on set piece. If Pocock is fully fit I would probably switch him with Hooper but I think Hooper’s tireless work in defence and ability in attack are major assets for him and add a point of difference. He may cause some havoc late in a game amongst tiring forwards.

    I disagree with the selection in the halves. The confidence levels for this combination are well down and I am not sure we would want to take that into the RC. I think LLF would do the job and there is enough similarity between Sione and Kerevi that switching Kerevi in would have LLF fairly comfortable with whats outside him being similar to what he has had there for much of the year. Genia or Powell to start and the other to finish for mine. I would be comfortable with QC on the bench but he is probably more limited in the other positions he can play whereas Beale or Toomua are a little more adaptable. Toomua hasn’t been great since he has come back but I think it would be worthwhile to have in the squad. For mine, Banks at fullback.

    Having said all that I think its a pretty decent team. I am a bit of a fan for having a Brumbies heavy team and just subbing in players that can add to that. My fear though with that plan is that they won’t be coached by the Brumbies coaches so, if Cheik et al try and have that same team trying to play a dramatically different style or ” just hooking in and ripping in” then I could see it all falling apart. As I expected to all fall apart anyway then nothing has probably changed but the Brumbies have given me some confidence that, if we select well and play smart we can get a bit further than we might have based on the last year’s performances.

    • Brumby Runner

      They are my thoughts too on Lealiifano at 10.

  • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

    Put yourselves in Cheika’s shoes. He has 3 options:
    – Stay with those players (Tah core) that you have been loyal to in the hope they will play themselves in form. They are already a combination but there form is so bad that they only can get better and if they gel this team may work as they played together for an extended period and may get lucky
    – Go for a Brumby core and select Brumbies in key positions e.g. #10, #15 and forwards. At least you get a ready made combination but this team will not be good enough to beat the Crusaders, Hurricanes, Wales, Ireland or Boks – even on a good day. You need to supplement this team with players with more X-factor
    – Mix and match the best players from the Rebels, Reds, Brumbies and Tahs in the hope that a combination will develop during the Rugby Championships and RWC pool stages
    The latter is not an option as the Wallabies may not even make it past the pool stages. Will Cheika go all in (crash or burn) and risk it with his tried and tested Tahs (the players that got him the head coaching stint)? I think he will as he must make the finals to keep his job and the in-form Brumbies will not get him there. He left it too late to create a wider playing group where there is real competition for Wallaby positions.

    • Singapore Sling

      Krusty is not working for his job he’s toast even in the remote chance he makes the final. Does he select the best players on offer and is remembered as a dickhead who left it all too or continue the cronyism and be remembered as a complete dickhead who was incapable of doing the right thing?

      • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

        If he wins the final he would “validate” RA decision to keep him on as coach. If he makes the final RA would also see that as success. If he does not make it out of the pool stages he is toasts. If he makes the semi-finals it will be interesting to see what happens, however I think it would be an end to an era as Cheika and his favourites will move on.
        Cheika does not care at what kind of “dickhead” he is labeled with. He will pick the team that he thinks is most likely to get him through the pool stages and the one that he has been building since the previous RWC – this will include his tried and tested favourites such as Foley, Hooper, Beale, Phipps, etc unless injury force him to make changes. Just like Jake White did in 2007 when he won the RWC.

    • Brumby Runner

      A couple of fatal flaws in your reasoning I think H.

      The core Tahs players have had the gig for the Wallabies for over four years and have consistently failed. In what world would you think that they could get better, to the level required to win at the RWC? The one thing that is certain, is that they have been consistently poor.

      The Brumbies have beaten the Stormers, Bulls and Lions this year, one at home and two away. Why would you think that the core combination couldn’t at least handle the Bokke?

      Additionally, they are in far better form now than when they played the Hurricanes and Crusaders during the season. It remains to be seen if they have lifted to a competitive level against the top NZ sides.

      My fear nevertheless is that you will be correct about how Cheika will approach the team selections and game plan.

      • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

        The Brumbies will have to live up to your expectation in the finals. The game against the Sharks will be tough but if they past that hurdle then it is the Chiefs/Jaguars – this will test you assumption that the “core combination” can handle the Bokke. Any team that can match or dominate the Brumbies forwards will beat them.
        I think Cheika is his own man and tend to be extremely loyal to his favourites.

        • While I think you’re right in the last bit, Cheika’s G&G side will have a lot of light blue underwear, I think there’s a difference between this pack with a core of Brumbies, strengthened in some key positions, and the Brumbies.

          While it might not handle the Bokke, the Poms, the Welsh and the Darkness, a pack with a core of Tahs will – probably – do worse. At least with the Brumbies there’s a pack that’s used to playing coherent, forwards’ centred rugby and trying to take it to the SA and NZ SR franchises up front. Given a bit more size and power they stand a chance at test level too.

        • Brumby Runner

          So the Brumbies have to prove themselves in the toughest games of the competition but the Tahs are all ok after being well and truly beaten in the lead up games to the finals. I suspect you are trying to present the Cheika take on matters, but there is just no consistency or justification for selecting Foley and Beale over Lealiifano and Banks based on season long form.

        • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

          I agree there is no consistency in Cheika’s decision making and a bias toward the Tahs players. Tahs tend to get more opportunities and Cheika give them more time to develop than players from other franchises e.g. his continued selection of Foley despite his obvious weaknesses (limited kicking game and defensive fragility) means that there are limited options for the #10 jumper. Compare this with Barrett that is continuously challenged by other #10s for the AB jumper. The good balance between consistency in selection and developing depth in every position have not been achieved – and to be fair to Cheika – Foley did not live up to the trust that Cheika placed in him.

  • Juan_Time

    Overall a pretty good read Moons. As much as I’d like a Quade with new maturity, his performance under pressure suggests he will struggle at Test level unfortunately. My respect for CLL as a player has grown this year and would like to see him given a good chance at the start. No.6 is a bit unclear as you say, and Jones has gone off the boil and not sure where Dempsey is (although I rate them both highly at their best). Can accept Lukhan who can real impact and good balance with Hoops and Isi. Second half and hooker are interesting questions. White and TPN are coming back from UK. Gordon is my current best bet (without knowing how White is going). Mafi has impressed me at Reds, and Uelese looks goods long term.
    Also I think Toomua is copping unfair bad press. He is a very solid player and excellent defender. I know not fashionable here to pick backs based on defensive capabilities, but would have him in my squad every day.

    • Callum

      Can confirm White has had another fantastic season albeit behind one of Europes best packs. Toomua has been mediocre but in a struggling team.And TPN…as a Leicester supporter the image of him lumbering off the bench again to overthrow another 4 or 5 lineouts and miss another simple one on one tackle still gives me nightmares.

  • Robbo_76

    Thank you for putting this together every week – i really look forward to it!

    I really like the look of this team and the overall depth! As much as i am a huge Quade fan, could see value in starting with CLL, although id not be disappointed to see Quade get a good go at this. I’d probably also swap out DHP for Banks at f/b and include Hodge there.

    My main comment is that i hope that the Tah senior players (Hooper, Foley, Beale) do not all continue in this team. If there is one thing that is constant in Wallaby and Tah performances since 2016, is inconsistency with an inability of that leadership group to change that at all effectively, neither in terms of more consistently starting games better, or adapting on the run during games. I would strongly push for Hooper not being Captain for this reason and would support Rodda, Kerevi, CLL as better options (although cupboard is quite bare)….don’t like my chances though

    • Brumby Runner

      I really like your thoughts on the leadership group.

      As far as the team is concerned, I am inclined towards Rona as the other winger if Banks takes the No 15 spot, but think it would be a choice between Rona, Naivalu and Pulu; not Hodge who has had a rather poor year and should make the bench at best.

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        Speight and Pulu have been our form wingers the second half of the season. They’re the most dynamic and have lower error rates than Rona.

        As for DHP, I’ve been a huge fan, but I do feel that father time has caught up to him. Maybe he gets in for experience.

    • Patrick

      Agree completely re the leadership group. This is perhaps our single biggest obstacle atm. Hooper for me must not be captain.

  • Singapore Sling

    Michael I think you’ve got a good side selected. My only change would be Prince, the player formally known as Tui. I don’t think he’s been consistent enough this year and I wasn’t a fan of him making himself unavailable for the spring tour last year. I’d pick Jones, McCaffery, Dempsey or a left field selection Timu.

    • RugbyReg

      you’d pick Timu over Salakai-Loto (show the man some respect) because Lukhan was inconsistent (which I disagree with)?

      It’s like going to a Who concert instead of a Beatles concert because the Beatles are a little loud.

      • Singapore Sling

        Respect for what? Making 85 effective tackles in over 1000 minutes of rugby, OK. His run stats were good about 5m/run but he doesn’t get through the cover defence work. Timu was left field like I said but he bends the line better than Prince and is about the same with effort in defence. Jones or McCaffery are better loose forwards. Prince is a lock or out…..

        • RugbyReg

          Respect for what? For the reason he changed his name!

        • UTG

          Salakai-Loto holds onto the ball when he trucks it up, Timu more often than not does not…I know who I’d rather have taking it into contact.

      • Who?

        I’ve never played my guitar at 131dB – I don’t have enough HiWatt amps.
        Current coaching regime’s a lot like GW Bush’s version of “Fool me once” (Fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice, you, ya can’t get fooled again!).

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        Best reason not to pick him at 6 is that he has been thoroughly found out at that position for lacking speed at all levels. He has missed so many tackles on opposition backs. Not his fault, he is a lock and a thumping good one, I bet, after he’s been trained up a bit.

  • Though it pains me after the last two rounds to say it, I agree with Cooper at 10 and think he could be the key to unlocking the attack in front of a good gathering of forwards. (What’s the collective noun for forwards ?) That said, Foley always seems to have more of a go when the shit’s hit the fan like in most Tah’s games. Last, would love to see McCaffrey start at 8 as he’s clearly good at thinking on his feet and isn’t afraid to stick his melon into the frey.

    • Dud Roodt

      A “larder of forwards” I believe it’s called.

      • Patrick

        Or a “bevy”.

      • Reinforce

        or a “bustle”

    • John Miller

      Depends on the region. In Sydney it would be a “backline of forwards.” In Canberra, a “Pasifika of forwards”. In Melbourne, a “pretence of forwards” etc.

      • Who?

        That’s truly golden… :-)

      • Parker

        Brilliant. In Qld under ReverendThorn it’s a congregation.

        • John Miller

          Congregation. Brilliant. Wish I’d thought of it.

  • Nutta

    I’ll add my 2cents to the general consensus and thank you for your work Michael.

    Front row – Agreed with bench of Slips/Rangi/Kepu. Rangi earned it and Tupou has costly penalties in him.
    Locks – Agreed with Coleman on-bench
    Loosies – Hooper/McCafe/Nisi with Poey & CSL on-bench
    Halves – QC no. L’fano has earned it.
    Centres – Agreed.
    Back3 – Marika worries me. Whilst his metres and line-breaks are impressive, he’s a liability. I would have Hodge because that means my Backs Bench is Tatties & Beale to cover all possibilities.


      Tell me why Christian has “earned” it over Quade! (or did you mean to say his team has helped him earn it by winning more)…..

      • Nutta



        One is part of team that wins. The other is not.

        One is part of a backline that tackles. The other is not.

        One has shown he can lead a team that has multiple plans to manage the game. The other cannot lead a horse to water let alone have an alternate method of attack.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          See what I mean…. you’ve just paid credit to an individual by the work if those around him! Posative or negative…..that should only be applied with coaches and to a lesser degree captains! INDIVIDUALS should earn their spots…… not be given or loose them because of players around them!
          OR….. are you pushing for a 100% Brummbies team this year?

        • Nutta

          Dude it’s a team sport. Granted you absolutely have to look at individual skills (which for me L’fano wins anyway because he is a reliable defender who plays a higher percentage game) but we must also look at how well they gel and operate with those around them. Look at the likes of Danny Cipriani, David Knox or Carlos Spencer as examples in-point – they had beautiful individual skills within a certain scope, but couldn’t/wouldn’t operate within a broadly successful team. The best measure of that element is to ask if the teams they are in succeed. Seriously, would Dan Carter have ever got the accolades if not playing in the Crusaders? It becomes a bit chicken & egg no-doubt (which led to the others success) but that does not mean we only look at an individuals singular skills in isolation. So to that point, surrounded in a backline of dead set Wobbly class, did QC own it? The results are definitive to my eye.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Did Quade “own it”?
          Well according to the stats yes he did! In LOOSING team he had almost identical defensive stats as LF! In attack there was something like 30 absolute sure thing tries set up by Quade bombed, knocked on dropped cold over the line by his teammates! Considering Quade was allready the comps leading Try assist and other attacking stats…… I’d say if your looking at PERSONAL stats he did very well! Don’t get me wrong….. LF did well too BUT there’s no way I’m giving anyone credit or docking points like some blind sheep commentator because the guys around them won or lost! Quade is also the Wallabies most successful 10 in over 10 years…… So I spose you have that team stat going for your side of the argument…… Oh wait….

        • Nutta

          You raise very willing arguments in support of your man. No doubt on that. We just won’t agree on it.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          HMMM yes…… I just feel some opinions are based more on stats, facts and history than others……

  • LED

    You cant win the RWC with Quade at 10. Period. Every team in the world now knows how to rattle him and when he’s rattled he plays like he did in the Rebels last match. He got brushed off a tackle by the Chiefs half back for gods sake! Kicks out on full, missed tackles, crap passes all due to pressure. And that was a Super rugby normal round game – not a final and certainly not even the RWC quarter finals (as if we’ll even get there !?!). Foley and Lealiifano are the only options for the RWC.

    Quade is like Ronaldinho was for Brazil – an entertainer and unquestionably talented in certain aspects. But lacking in consistency under pressure that is CRITICAL in international rugby let along the RWC. With players like Quade, entertaining (read risk) comes first in their world and all round solid play is a distant consideration.

    We have seen again and again – Quade doesnt just lose games when the pressure comes on – he disintegrates.

    • From NooZealand

      With due respect, each in his own sport. Ronaldinho was much better that QC is in a more competitive environment.

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      ‘We have seen again and again – Quade doesnt just lose games when the pressure comes on – he disintegrates.’

      Same with Foley though unfortunately. Guess Christian is the answer?

      The Wallabies’ win rate with Quade starting at 10 is somewhere near 60%, with Foley well below 50%, despite Foley having the benefit of having started against much easier teams consistently (Argentina twice a year, for example).

      • Parker

        How dare you let facts get in the way of dogged prejudice.

  • Patrick

    I am looking forward, albeit with trepidation, to the rugby championship. If we see essentially the combos you suggest being tried out sincerely there, I will start to have hope.

    If we see Kerevi at 15 and QC at 12 with Lilo at 10, I’ll send all my Wallabies guernseys back to RA with a pile of shit thrown in for good measure (maybe not the one with Eales, Finegan and Larkham’s signatures though).

    • Reinforce

      The best thing about the Rugby Championships is we aren’t playing the ABs first. Don’t know how others feel but if we win the Bledisloe it would be an awesome year regardless of WC result.

      • NSWelsham in London

        totally agree here, hat first test against the ABs each year is always a horror show. This way we get to have our first test against the argies who are also in the same boat (jaguares discussion put aside) then take on the ABs in Perth and not Sydney which probably has a higher Kiwi population than most cities in NZ.. if there is an early upside to the RC, the draw is definitely

  • And what about Henry Speight? And who will be the BOLTER. Perhaps Irae Simone. He is young and powerful and will be around for the next WC or two. He would learn a lot by being part of the squad this time. Pity about Jordan Petaia as the injury will almost certainly rule him out this time. Like Simone though, he will be there next time.
    Right now we seem to have a lot of good young guns coming through.

  • Reinforce

    Cut and paste my selection. Love the pack and forwards bench. I do think Quade is best to launch our centres and would have CLL on the bench for 5/8 & inside centre coverage. Will Cheika and selectors be thinking the same or do they see something different? Obvious concern is going for what didn’t work last year and we all raise a collective sigh……

  • Gallagher

    Lets not forget, for those that don’t look at the wider skill levels and more than just ‘recent form’ in recent games, the Brumbies only won 2 of their first seven games this year! That consisted of losses to the Reds and two to the Rebels (key here considering the Genia/Cooper v Powell/LLF discussion).

    Gotta say, I LOVE the look of this team! For me the only SURE change is Pocock with Hooper to bench to carve up tired teams, as we can argue (in a purely positive fashion which is a great thing to be able to do!) Slipper, Powell, LLF, Beale, Hodge all day, and I plan too!

    • Twoilms

      Pocock will not be fit.

  • Huw Tindall

    Unfortunately as the season has played out we haven’t really learnt anything about the problem positions in the back 3, 6 and at 10. Every other position you’ve got a walk up starter and/or a strong contender e.g. McCaffrey/Naisarani.

    None of our wings or 15s have been consistently good. Do you pick out of position like with a Banks on the wing for sheer pace or have a utility wing like Hodge?

    6 is another conundrum. LSL is a lock running at 6. He’s got size but isn’t as athletic as proper 6s like Liam Squire. Brums have been rotating through players and Valentini is a the bolter with promise BUT he doesn’t have a lot of experience and isn’t a real extra lineout option. ASY at the Reds is too green. Cottrell at the Rebels is a solid Super player but haven’t seen enough to suggest he’d be a Test level threat. Tahs have experimented as well with Ned (who has played better this year) and Dempsey (not back to his best yet). With all that, and as much as I hate to say it, we could be running Ned at 6 again. At least the lineout will be improved with him.

    As for 10 if asked today who were the form options I’d say CLL>Foley>QC. CLL looks calm, is tough as nails, has improved his kicking in the second half, and has confidence. Foley you know what you’re gonna get. His best isn’t as good as QC’s best and his worst isn’t as bad as QC’s worst. Also he still has the best kicking stats of any of the kickers in Aus which won’t be overlooked. As for QC his an enigma. Easily the best in the first half of the season but when the Rebels started to struggle so did he culminating in a very poor game against the Chiefs last week where the Rebels bottled it. Toomua should be nowhere near the 10. I’d soon take one of our 2 excellent 10s out of the U20s side!

  • Gipetto

    I bet Simmons has the best workrate of the all the Australian locks

Super Rugby

23 year old Rugby tragic who plays for Merewether in Newcastle. Too young to remember a Bledisloe Cup win.

More in Super Rugby