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Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News

The final edition of Wednesday’s Rugby News for 2018 looks at more former Wallaby figures throwing their two cents in about the current situation, the Rebels face competition for their coach and Quade Cooper discusses his hopes as a new Rebel and his potential return to the Wallabies.

As this is the last one for the year, I would just like to give thanks to everyone at GAGR from my fellow news writers to everyone who’s either learnt, laughted or enjoyed reading any of my long drawn out news articles, makes the long nights/early mornings after work and university writing them worth it.


Cannon fire at Rugby Australia

Trying to clean up the Wallabies bloody mess

Trying to clean up the Wallabies bloody mess


The vultures continue to circle and tee off at Rugby Australia after the disappointing finish to an up and down (mainly down) season saw the Wallabies win 1 out of their 3 matches on the Spring Tour and revelations of dissent emerge within the dressing room.

The latest round of criticism comes from former Wallabies hooker and Fox Sports commentator Brendan Cannon who has been stinging of both Rugby Australia and Michael Cheika of their lack of action and change during the Wallabies slide down the World Rankings.

“They can’t sit back and let this decline continue without someone deciding to take the bull by the horns, say this is unacceptable and we need to do something to turn it around,” Cannon said. “Whatever that is – changing the coach, appointing a former Wallaby as a chairman of selectors on a panel, appointing new assistants – take a bit from each of the successful teams in the world and implement that.”

“On the professional side, there’s a number of systems that need to be reflected upon. In the space of three or four years, we’ve gone from being second in the World Cup to [sixth] in the world and each year our performances as a group and our individual skills aren’t getting any better.”

Cannon has been especially critical of Michael Cheika, taking issue with the unrestrained power that he holds over the selection of the Wallabies side, which he believes has left the side playing scared for the safety of their position in the side.

“What’s failed is that he’s been allowed to have too much control and that influences selection…Some of the skill levels of some of the really good players in the Australian side have started to fail and they’re making uncharacteristic mistakes but I can clearly see they are playing with an anxiety and fear.”

Cannon believes that Rugby Australia must change the support structure around him, starting with the appointment of an ex-player as the chairman of selections, to avoid the build-up of stress and external pressure on the players.

Cannon also floated the suggestion of the appointment of Scott Johnson, the current Scotland director of Rugby, who is someone he has described as “one of the smartest rugby brains I’ve ever been exposed to”, despite the lack of head coach experience as compaired to other options.

Dwyer state calls for cap change

bob dwyer avatar

Continuing on the theme of everyone who has every been involved with Australian rugby throwing in their two cents, former World Cup winning coach Bob Dwyer has provided his own suggestions on how to solve the Wallabies woes.

Dwyer believes that the continuing injuries that plagued the Wallabies across the international break calls for a change in the cap threshold for overseas players to bolster the depth of Australian rugby.

“We’re not that well off in depth that we can afford to lose top line players,” Dwyer said. “We probably need to look hard at who we can pick who is not playing in Australia, I know at the moment we’ve got the 60 Test rule (for overseas based players). For me, we can change that any time we want to.”

Dwyer’s belief for change comes on the back off the transformation that he has seen within Australian players playing overseas, particularily in the dramatic weight loss and improvement of lock Will Skelton.

“I look at all of the players who have played in the UK in recent years, or some who are still playing there, and you look at their condition now compared with their condition when they were playing in Australia,” Dwyer said.

“The perfect example is (26-year-old Saracens lock) Will Skelton. He doesn’t look like the same person as he was when he played for the Waratahs. That’s no good, that’s an indictment on us. Will is a different physical specimen.”

Dwyer also noted the changes in form that has been seen within the likes of Kurtley Beale and Matt Toomua as they have return into the Wallabies fold along with the performances of the forgotton halfback, Nic White for club Exeter.

With Rugby Australia meeting over the next fortnight, this seems like something that should be put into practice as we get closer to the World Cup, potentially the 60 cap law could be adjusted to be either Wallaby or Super Rugby caps to ensure the likes of Skelton and White would be available for selection.

Scarlets scavenge rebel forces

As a wise man once said, "I ain't going nowhere"

As a wise man once said, “I ain’t going nowhere”


As the Rebels continue to build their Forces ahead of the 2019 Super Rugby season, enemies from the north west have targetted their imperial leader.

Welsh club Scarlets have identified Rebels coach Dave Wessels, who comes off contract at the end of next year as their number one candidate to replace outgoing coach Wayne Pivac.

Despite the interest, Rebels CEO Baden Stephenson is confident that the former Force coach would reject the advances of the Welsh club and confirmed that they were in the process of tieing him down for foreseeable future.

“I am confident Dave is happy here in Melbourne and I am certainly hopeful he will stay,” Stephenson told RUGBY.com.au. “I am talking to Rugby Australia about extending his contract for another couple of years, and that process is well underway. He is certainly the guy we want to lead the club for the next few years.

“He is very, very committed to ripping into 2019 and we are very, very keen to keep him. He is enjoying the role and enjoying the challenge and wanting to build on what he started.”

Wessels has been heavily courted by European teams across his coaching career, most recently by Munster prior to joining the Rebels, and Stephenson was hopeful that the Rebels and Rugby Australia were able to present Wessles a clear pathway of career progression which could potentially lead up to an eventually rein as the Wallabies coach.

“If he continues to develop, hopefully, he does progress into the Wallabies ranks down the track,” Stephenson said.

“He is pretty aspirational but he is also realistic. He knows we have to get some success, and he’s only 36 so he knows he has time to grow. But listen Dave is a high-quality coach and I know we will be doing everything we can to keep him.”

Super Cooper Gold ambissions

2018-Brisbane-City-v-Canberra-Vikings-1

New Rebels signing Quade Cooper has outlined his goals to return to the Wallabies frame along with rejecting any suggestions that his social media posts on his departure from the Reds were built off any disdain to the club.

Cooper signed with the Rebels after spending the year in Queensland Rugby purgatory, as a result of a disagreement with coach Brad Thorn which saw him sit out the entire 2018 Super Rugby season.

However, his departing post caused some drama after portraying him palming off Thorn, which Cooper has rejected any suggestions of bitterness, rather stating that the post was built off his love for the club.

“That was different to what you guys made it out to be,” Cooper said. “That was a situation in a place that I love and I’ve been there a long time. I gave a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of blood and a lot of sweat to that team and organisation. I was forced into that situation and I just stated the facts. There is no love lost there, you know? I still hold that place very dear to me, but the future is here.”

Cooper also stated that he still desires hopes to pull on the gold jersey in 2019, however, his main priority was the repay the faith put into him by the Rebels.

“Every player that is playing the game… whether that be Super Rugby, grassroots, you’re at school, the ambition is to represent your country,” he said.

“I have been fortunate enough to do that 70 plus times so I wouldn’t be playing the game if I didn’t want to be the best that I could be. Whether that eventuates down the track… who knows.

“All I know is that I have signed here and that my coach has a lot of faith in me. But I will do the best that I can here, get my first cap for Melbourne and then we will go from there. If the work that I put in here is enough then who knows… I might be fortunate enough to add to those caps.”

  • sambo6

    Well…it might be that someone has pressed the wrong button, but I suspect even old RugbyHeaven.com.au has given up on Australian rugby…..go and have a look…all the stories are rugby league stories….

  • Ad Tastic

    I’m glad Bob D said it, but I’ve always thought we should be using European club rugby for us rather than against us.
    Let them offer our big players, the big money while we concentrate on balancing the books and developing talent. You don’t expect our best Socceroos to be playing in the A-League so why should Rugby be any different.
    It’s a shame really, because during the 90s League was in disarray and a newly professional Rugby had a massive opportunity. Whats obvious is that opportunity has been blown and its no use shutting the gate after the horse has bolted.
    We need to start dealing with the reality of what we have rather than what we want.

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      Problem is that we don’t want to face a mass exodus of players – reaching 30 caps can easily be done is 2-3 seasons now.

      I believe the number of caps should be irrelevant and it should be based of years to service of Australian rugby:

      I suggest a rule of 7 years in Aussie rugby (what we have now) regardless of caps should qualify you. Then we gain access to the loyal servants of Aussie rugby, rather than just the superstars / coach favourites. It also means that players that are unfairly overlooked for years can still be eligible. Also gives an incentive for Aussie players to remain at home for a few extra years, even if they are our of favour with the current coach (especially relevant right now with perhaps the most favourite playing coach I have ever seen).

      • disqus_NMX

        Good call DBTB, time makes much more sense then whether or not you got picked for the Wallabies a lot.

      • sambo6

        Good suggestion. As a slight tweek, i’d say perhaps base it on super rugby caps then..perhaps 60 super rugby caps for an ausie franchise…..as ‘years’ could be open to interpretation…I.e. Do they have to play NRC as well as super rugby? How many club games do they need to play?

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          In my opinion, I would say signed for 7 years to a super rugby club – therefore, players that suffer lots of injuries won’t be outside based on technicalities.

        • andrewM

          Why just a Super club? As we have seen with Cooper this year, why not NRC as well? What about GRR players from the Force? The absence of a salary cap in that competition may also make it attractive to leave Super Rugby but not be lost to Australian Rugby

      • Bakkies

        There already is a mass exodus. Skelton won’t solve the lineout when Cheika is playing his midget back row.

        • Brumby Runner

          Too true. Would almost certainly add to the lineout woes as he is most likely still not as good a jumper as the lock he would replace, be it Coleman or Rodda or Arnold or simmons off the bench.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I don’t want Will Skelton back. There are other players we could use, however.

          If you think this is mass, then imagine it if they make it 30 caps.

      • I Should be Coach

        Love it. 7 years is perfect. They make SR at 18 they can go OS at 25. 3-4 years there and they typically come back to retire. By them leaving it allows for younger guys to develop and gain much needed experience. But RA needs to somehow enforce in the future that if a Wallaby coach wants a player for a test, regardless if it’s outside the international season, they are released.

        • Patrick

          That is not so hard. Tell them they are ineligible if they don’t get such a clause and work with their agents on supporting them to get it included. It will reduce their market value by a little, but not that much.

    • RF

      We won’t be able to get the cat back in the bag if that happens.

      We can’t compete with England and France. We can compete with Ireland and Wales.

      • Ad Tastic

        That’s exactly my point. We can’t compete. We are signing the Folaus, Pococks and Hooper’s to European size contracts and we just don’t have the Rugby economy in Oz to justify that.
        Firstly, there is an international window so we can get them back for Wallaby duty and secondly most Euro leagues have a limit on foreign player eligibility. I don’t think it can get that much worse to be honest.

        • onlinesideline

          Additionally these long contracts block other players coming through on merit because the coach feels sub consciously the need to include these big multi million dollars contracts that the powers that be wrongly promote. (Ironically to secure high quality players for the team)

        • RF

          We can compete with Ireland though and we adopt their model too. Fixed teams, retain top talent and develop young players. Works for them

        • Ad Tastic

          Maybe so. But the Irish have an advantage in that the PRO 12 is all played in the same time zone, unlike Super Rugby. And qualifying for the European Cup gives them access to the biggest TV markets in the game. Pretty convenient.

        • RF

          Agree. Our future is dependent on a new top level competition structure. Super Rugby is a major problem

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Nope common sense isn’t on the agenda

    • Happyman

      unfortunately if you go down that path you will end up like Fiji they had three days in camp before playing Scotland

      • Ad Tastic

        Brazil have been sending their best soccer players to Europe for 50 years. Can’t see how it’s hurt the sport there.

  • John Tynan

    I’ve read a few times now people calling for “appointing a former Wallaby as a chairman of selectors on a panel”.
    I don’t see why it has to be a former Wallaby, surely this just perpetuates the old boys network?
    The person needs to be a good selector – period.
    They need to be able to negotiate and empowered to dissent when required.
    They need to hold the coach/es to account on a game plan which dictates selection, not the other way around.
    A good player does not a good coach or selector make (hey, Steve?)

    • RF

      Agree completely. It’s all a knee jerk reaction to a failing manager

    • Custard Taht

      It has to be an ex-wallaby. If you haven’t played at an international level, your not allowed an opinion.

      • John Tynan

        Just gave away your nom de plume, Burkey. ;)

      • Brisneyland Local

        So said Mr Burke!

        • Custard Taht

          And you can add Drew Mitchell to the list. So, if we add together their comments, you need to be part of the inner sanctum and played at an international level to have an opinion.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Fuck them they are part of the problem.

        • Custard Taht

          But as an outsider who has never played for the Wallabies, how do you know what the problem is?

          Don’t tell me you have watched the games and seen the results. The results aren’t a true measure of performance.

        • Brisneyland Local

          CT heaven sake dont bring commonsense to this argument! ;-)

        • Custard Taht

          I am publicly interviewing for the role of Chief Propaganda Officer for RA and Cheika. I feel as though I have a lot to offer, and firmly believe I have the ability to put shit in a pot and turn it into food.

        • Brisneyland Local

          So you were previously an Army chef!
          We called them Fitters and Turners.
          Fitted food into a pot and turned it into shit!

        • Custard Taht

          Not an Army chef, but have seen them at first hand.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Really do tell?

        • Custard Taht

          Not a lot to tell really. Spent some time in the infantry mid 90s to early 2000’s before switching to the RAAF for a few years before medical discharge.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Which Bn?

        • Custard Taht

          Mostly 3rd…a little bit of time with the 4th and a little bit with 25/49RQR.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Mate over those years I am sure we might have crossed paths at those units.

      • Ad Tastic

        Haha! I think the new chairman should be an Aussie with a health care background and a passion for Rugby. They should also have spent time living in the UK and the USA.

        Hang on a minute… That’s me and my mates!!!

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Bang on John. This old boys network is part of what’s killing Australian rugby so why the hell would you keep it going

  • RF

    The old boys club are really making the most of the situation to push the amateur era panel mentality which most sides have moved far beyond. Players are afraid of losing their spots? They should be.

    Appoint a manager to run the team. If you don’t back him replace him.

  • Custard Taht

    Cheika’s position has surely become untenable. He has lost the support of everyone but the RA board and his loyal fab five.

  • The Jackal

    Genuine question around Cheika’s selection decision and the inability of Australia to select overseas based players and how much that handicaps us.

    Who wins a tri-series between these sides?

    Test Team v England
    Sio, Latu, Kepu, Rodda, Coleman, Dempsey, Hooper, Samu, Genia, To’omua, Maddocks, Foley, Kerevi, Haylett-Petty, Folau, Polota-Nau, Ainsley, Ala’alatoa, Simmons, Hanigan, Phipps, Naivalu, Koroibete

    Australian Based Players Not Selected to play on Tour
    Slipper, BPA, Longbottom, Philip, Carter, Tui, Hardwick, Valetini, Powel, Cooper, Petaia, Hunt, Kuridrani, Daungunu, Banks, Mann Rea, R. Smith, JP. Smith, Blyth, Timu, Ruru, Lealiifano, Speight

    or Australian players based overseas
    T. Smith, Hanson, Holmes, Jones, Skelton, Fardy, Gill, McMahon, White, Barnes, Naiyaravoro, Giteau, Tomane, Morahan, O’Connor, Fainga’a, Ma’afu, M. Ala’alatoa, S. Timani, G. Smith, Louwrens, Harris, Mogg

    • Bakkies

      Louwrens and the Smith twins aren’t eligible. They broke their residency qualification period by going abroad.

      • Brisneyland Local

        When do the Smith Twins become eligable?

        • onlinesideline

          good question BL
          do you think hey have the goods to play top level and win ?

          Personally I do not think Sio, Kepu, AAA are good enough. The way they were pushed by the Poms near our line which led to a try in the right corner – man. Thats no world cup winning scrum. Not good enough. They need to be called out like everyone else. They have avoided the mircoscope so far for some reason.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Only one way to find out when the become available. They are big beefy Saffas. Stereotypical front rowers, abrasive agressive and hard. I think in time they will be good.
          Yes Our forwards are sailing under the radar because there are much other bigger targets (Cheika, Grey Larkham, foley Beale). But they were very average.

        • Who?

          That first scrum for the try, that was Kepu at THP and Latu at hooker. Sio struggled, but Kepu and Latu buckled. When Taf came on for Latu, the scrum was suddenly secure, and drove England back on their own feed (though their #8 then took a 25m run downfield). When 7A’s came on, England stopped driving through the THP and started driving through LHP, where Ainsley was.
          That was by far our worst scrummaging performance all year. Our poorest performances have all either had Ainsley there, or Kepu at THP. Sio and 7A’s have been very solid all year, Tupou’s been solid, Kepu’s been very solid at LHP. Our front row is fine, provided it’s picked in position.

        • Huw Tindall

          The props have been dicked around all season swapping sides of the scrum. Kepu played last LHP then back to THP. Happened to everyone but Sio. No wonder we got bossed. They are specialist positions. ATOP PICKING PLAYERS OUT OF POSITION!! The only exception may be wing and full back where you essentially play then 2 full backs like NZ, Aus, Eng and a lot of sides.

        • Bakkies

          From the date they joined the Reds. The both joined overseas teams when they left the Brumbies so their eligibility went back to zero. Same for Louwrens who is now in Japan.

        • Brisneyland Local

          So what was their start date and how long must they wait?

        • Bakkies

          Wiki says that they only played for the Reds this year but if they played NRC and club Rugby in Qld last year it would start from then. If that is the case they will be eligible in 2020.

          If Louwrens comes back he will have to wait five years.

        • Brisneyland Local

          I am pretty sure they did play that previous NRC. 2020 hey. That is ok. I would bring them into the world cup training squad. They would be great for oppossed training, and it would start bringing them into the team environment (provided Cheika is gone) priot to them becoming avail.

        • Singapore Sling

          Does Australian citizenship taken precedence over the residency requirement?

        • Bakkies

          Provided they have taken it out and there is no indication they did. They went to Paarl Gim in SA while at school. Ruan had a stint in Japan in 2013 in the off season which can affect residency had he stayed at the Brumbies. Ruaridhi Murphy has that issue with his residency as he moved to Aus a child but had broken residency periods by going back to Europe to play Rugby which affected his eligibility for the Wallabies. He hasn’t got Aus citizenship.

      • andrewM

        So Bakkies are you saying Australian Rugby lost talent by axing the Force from Super Rugby? Who would have thought??

        • Bakkies

          Started before that. Look at the ex Brumbies talent that has been abroad for years.

    • Adrian

      A bit of depth in there

    • idiot savant

      Depends who is coaching them!

      I like the back row and the halves of the overseas side (5 players with rugby brains) but they will run out of steam after 60.

      The Australian based side just might give the test side a run for their money. Swap Longbottom for Tupou and The tight five will match the test side for set piece and might win the breakdowns seeing Pocock is missing from the test side. More speed in the back 3 too. And with Cooper and Hunt as playmakers… Id like to see that game.

      • Patrick

        That’s fine, because I know another team that runs out of steam after 60 minutes too.

    • Keith Butler

      I’d add Paul Alo Emile to the overseas players and possibly Lopeti Timani and Hugh Pyle.

      • Bakkies

        Alo Emile is capped by Samoa.

        • Keith Butler

          Cheers. Didn’t know that.

  • Miss Rugby

    “Rebels CEO Baden Stephenson is confident that the former Force coach would reject the advances of the Welsh club”

    Interesting as walesonline.co.uk are reporting that Wessels was interviewed for the job a few weeks ago. That doesn’t sound like hes rejecting advances. Apparently an announcement will be made to players within the week regarding the new coach.

    • Silver Ghost

      In the time old fashion of building your negotiating position, Wessels may be entertaining other options to get a better deal out of the Rebels.
      Just a thought!

      • John Miller

        If the latest news is correct, Wessels has taken the Scarlets option off the table before the Rebels offer has been finalised. Both parties have publicly expressed the desire to press forward. If this is correct, it sounds like an understanding built on goodwill rather than leverage to eke our every possible advantage. Wish more Australian head coaching appointments ran this way.

        • Silver Ghost

          That’s great to hear John – a bit of old fashion good faith. Wow, that’s a concept that could catch on!
          Hope it’s settled soon and we see the Rebels back in preseason with all the new recruits.

      • Perth girl

        Perhaps he realises that RA are nearly bankrupt and Stupor Rugby wont be around for much longer! Why would Wessels bother being interviewed if he is happy where he is and has a year to go on his contract? Alot can happen in a year!

        • Bakkies

          Agreed the only secure coach from next year is Sampson. McKellar is up at the end of next year but a potential extension could be affected by Super Rugby uncertainty.

    • John Miller

      The Australian are reporting that Wessels has formally rejected the Welsh offer stating he was hoping to stay in Australia.

      Scarlets had approached Wessels for the head coach gig after Rob Penney decided to stay in Japan and he did interview but the negotiations never got to numbers stage.

      DW’s contract with the Rebels runs out at the end of next season and he was simply exploring options.

      Seems he is aiming to extend his tenure and Aussie citizenship beckons. In a month of bad news, this is a refreshing development.

  • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

    Cannon is always prepared to speak his mind and say it as it is. Not like some of the other stooges at Fox that is an extension of RA’s publicity machine e.g. Drew Mitchell.

  • Huw Tindall

    Have waited for the red mist to fade before suggesting any change to the Wallabies but this it.

    Having read and listened to as much analysis of the Wallabies as I could our problems, beyond shit governance and interstate politics are two fold.

    1. Playing players out of position. They don’t know their roles and can’t build combinations. Applies to backs and forwards. Case in point Kepu played both sides of scrum this year and on the weekend Ainsley played his first game at 3. What chance do they stand?

    2. Musical chairs. I needn’t say more.

    In summary don’t pick players out of position and simplify the defence.

    This has been the story for 3 years now. These would be Chek’s and Grey’s responsobilities. Can’t sack Chek now realistically so bring in a selection panel. Grey goes I’m afraid. Even though I think the complex defence has been forced upon him a little to make up for too many shit tacklers being selected.

    Done. That’s it’s. Make it happen RA and a proper clean out and reset post RWC19.

    • Brisneyland Local

      I agree on all that but Cheika cant stay. even bringing in a slection panel wont change his shitty game plan. Also I dont think the Ass clown will cede control. Even if their was a selection panel Cheika would find away around it, or just tell RA to piss off.

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        Does anyone still want him coaching but RA?

        • Brisneyland Local

          I am sure Hooper Foley and Beale still do!

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          And Folau, AAC, Hanigan and a few other non performers

        • Brisneyland Local

          Yep spot on!

      • Huw Tindall

        Agreed. I think he probably should go now regardless of how much is his fault. He is at the top so ultimately is accountable. I do have my practical hat on though and it seems money could be a deciding factor i’m having to keep Chek. He could fall on his sword of course….

        • Brisneyland Local

          Lets hope he does but I dont think he is the kind to!

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Mate he still thinks he’s the right person to take the Wallabies to the RWC. He’s come out and stated that. There’s no way in hell that he will relinquish any of his control to anyone else.
        Unless he’s sacked we are stuck with the same shit dribble we’ve got now until we get kicked out of the pool stage next year.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Damn straight. Its his bat and ball!

    • Damo

      Huw, I’m pretty sure you are right. They won’t sack him now- unless Castle decides she has to make a big play from her own standing point of view.
      However I think RA will do something. They can’t control or dictate his game plan- he’s the coach… bla bla. But they can put a check and balance component into selections. A selection panel maybe. This could be spun from a PR point of view “assisting the coaching group in this critical world cup year…etc”.
      Probably also at least one casualty in the assistant coach ranks. Probably Grey.
      All supposition of course.
      However if there is a review on the selection front, shit where do they start. One thing that we learnt from these recent games is that all the Brit teams are gearing up for next year with big and importantly skilful packs. AB’s already have this.This is probably the starkest differentiation with Cheika’s mindset. Hooper gives 150% every game but his priorities seem to revolve around being one of the wide channel penetrators, which so often come to nothing because of skills failure by the playmakers, and feverishly plugging defensive leaks. In seasons past Hooper made a lot of narrow channel breaks. I’ve seen very little of this in the past season. Like others under this game plan he is covering too much territory.
      Selections like Samu and Hanigan and the overall Europe squad highlight that Cheika has no commitment to combatting the frontfoot ball programs the other top tier teams have in place. This is a critical platform no matter what the game plan. The NH tour would have been the perfect opportunity to give some other players some decent game time. In the limited test window between now and the RWC Cheika on his own won’t change anything in spite of really making no forward progress with the approach he has been taking. An oversight selection panel might be able to force Cheiks’a hand for the remaining tests before RWC but, the more I think about it, we have already run out of time.

      • Custard Taht

        I have been a wide channel penetrator all my adult life….all I can say is, sure it fluffs up your stats, but ultimately you are left with remorse, infections and a lack of feel and appreciation for the tight stuff.

      • Huw Tindall

        The euro squad really showed our lack of depth IMO.

        In the backrow Samu and Hannigan were all we had left in the tank really. Tui rulled himself out. Cottrell and Holloway injured. Naisarani not yet eligible. McMahon not eligible. Luke Jones just back. Only other back row options were Timu (fair question why he wasn’t perservered with) and Higgers (had his chances and never really taken them). Other mobile backrowers like Will Miller, Michael Wells, and Richard Hardwick are not needed in a team with Poey and Hooper.

        Second row only Matt Phillip could feel hard done by after a good Super and great NRC. NRC bolters like Darcy Swain can’t be thrown in the cauldron. For mine the second row is our biggest problem. Coleman has plateaued and would make the ABs, Boks or England sides. Rodda is still very young and has potential but he is no Itoje, Lawes, Kruis, Rettalick etc.

        Front row is actually OK but need to stop swapping LHP and THP. Ridiculous moving Kepu, 7As and even Ainsley to sides of the scrum they haven’t been playing regularly. Lack or Tupou against England was mind blowing as well. Probably missing Tom Robertson a bit actually. Good in the scrum and best defensive prop we have going (very mobile and makes his tackles). At hooker Taf is cooked and Latu, Fa’ainga and BPA (plus Uelese) are all jockeying for the same position but none have established first rights on the 2 spot. Stephen Moore looks great in retrospect!! Also Holmes and Slipper who played in RWC2015 as part of our excellent scrum.

        Maybe in 2019 we’ll see sense and play.
        1 Sio
        2 Pick your #2
        3 Kepu

        Slipper – LHP reserve
        Tupou – THP reserve

        Whatever the situation the props need to play all Super Rugby on a specialist position and not have that change at Wallaby level.

        Don’t get me started on the backs…They are probably a victim of the defensive musical chairs as well but jeeze we need kickers and tacklers. TK straight back in at 13. Hodge on and DHP wings. Izzy 15. Can’t play both Foley and Beale. Need a complimentary 10/12 combo. Maybe Foley/Toomua but would rather a straight running 12 like Kerevi. Lacks a bit of pace but that’s a bonus on a base of positional play, tactical kicking, and defense.

        • Who?

          I agree we should stop shuffling props, but I have to admit I really liked the prop combos we ran out towards the end of TRC. Sio/7A’s as a pairing (works, they’re club mates), and Kepu/Tupou to close out. It even worked with Folau Fainga’a at 2 between Sio and 7A’s, as that was a club combo.
          Back to locks, we could’ve looked at replacing Rory with Richie, or even calling in Horwill (has over 60 caps, was literally at the venue for two of the games (really enjoyed his commentary though!), in good form). We could’ve called up Carter. There’s no shortage of locks at present.
          We’re definitely short of imposing 1.94+m backrowers in the squad. Jones could’ve easily been called up (after all, Toomua’s not back until May!), and there’s others who are viable, but Cheika doesn’t seem interested in them. I wouldn’t argue that we could do with more big boppers (can you ever truly have too many?), but having them doesn’t mean Cheika would pick them. He doesn’t seem to have gone that route since he left the Tahs and the combination of Palu and Potgeiter. McMahon’s the closest he’s had to a crazy JacPot in the Wallabies, but obviously he’s nowhere near the same size.
          The backs… Still think my ultimate Wallaby backline with current players would be Genia/Cooper/Naivalu/Kerevi/Kuridrani/Folau/Banks, bench of White/Toomua/Beale. But it all depends on form (especially Cooper) and coaches. Cooper won’t be picked under Cheika, and I’m not confident that the current coaching team would use that backline anywhere near its potential. Think it could happen under Jake White, think he’d enjoy two big centre runners, some strong kicking…

        • Huw Tindall

          The end of TRC prop combos were great – importantly it was players playing in their Super positions!!! Would still be open to Slipper making an appearance if he bosses Super rugby this year.

          Rory, Richie, Carter aren’t any better than Arnold or Coleman though really. Nobody rally standing out. Lots of options but all only serviceable at Test level.

          I’m starting to think Pooper is unsustainable now. Even a Fardy type at 6 doesn’t make it right without a tight 5 who aren’t providing enough go forward on ball carries
          (e.g. Itoje) or additional presence at the ruck (e.g. Marx). Play Poey and Hoops a half each or horses for courses depending on the opposition.

          Backs we probably have too many options and no real idea which is the best combo! I’m erring on the side of experience, rugby smarts, and core skills as the most important thing over X-Factor. Means we get a more boring backline maybe but it’s rock solid under the high ball, can kick us out of our half, can defend in key channels, can do basic catch/draw/pass plays, and make the right calls 9 out of 10 times. Right now that means no Beale, Cooper, Marika, Sefa, Banks or Maddocks (both cut due to lack of experience). Foley MAYBE but only because of his experience and goal kicking. Old heads, even AAC, should be considered. AAC was a backline general and organised everyone. That is not talent.

        • Who?

          Completely agree about Slipper and the propping stuff. :-)
          No argument about the locks – but pointing out that, arguably for the first time in many moons, we’ve got more than 4 locks at a single time who’d be genuine options. Through Link’s time, we had Kev, Simmo, Douglas (who never showed anything at Test level) and we tried Skelton. Under Deans, we had Sharpie, occasionally Vicks, Kev, Simmo, and Chisholm. But only ever 4 of those guys at once. This is the largest number of serviceable locks we’ve had, perhaps ever.
          I’ve long thought it doesn’t work to play our 7 at 8 and a short 6 at 7. Hooper’s ineffective far too often. His defensive efforts directly contributed to two tries – one to Daly (he held Farrell for 2 seconds before the pass, Farrell was completely unimpeded in his efforts to get the ball away by having Hooper wrapped around his waist), and one to Farrell (Farrell was his man – he pointed Taf to the man inside, the men outside were all covered, but Hooper then bit on the inside runner, leaving Farrell with a saloon chair ride over the line). I love his effort, but he’s just not cutting it.
          Backs, agree we have heaps of options, but not at 10. And in terms of experience, rugby smarts and core skills, I’d argue Cooper wins. He’s got the best hands, as much experience as any of them, and the best vision. His game management is miles ahead of 2010 Cooper. But that doesn’t mean he’ll be in form next year, and I’m certain that Cheika’s decided Cooper’s not his man. The same way he decided that Fardy wasn’t his man. And that Mike Ross wasn’t his man (check Rossie’s interview on Off the Ball).
          Toomua is ahead of Foley in those three metrics, too. Maybe not Test caps, but overall experience.
          I don’t think we need AAC, because TK will be back. I really think most Aussies massively undervalue what TK brings to our backline, particularly in positioning and defence.
          The problem with no Beale, Marika, Sefa and Banks is that we end up with no gas. At all. I don’t think Maddocks is that quick. Hodge has some pace, but not enough explosive pace for the wing. DHP and Folau are both too slow.

        • Huw Tindall

          So wide but shallow depth at lock? :D

          What do you prioritise in the backs then? Pace or skills/nous? I’d take the latter everyday. Maybe room for 1 pace merchant but they can’t have glaring floors.

        • Who?

          Yep – it’s a wide pool, but it’s only waist deep for the giraffes. :-D
          Outside backs, I’ve said Naivalu/Folau/Banks, Banks at 15. Banks has been developing for a while now, and has always had a pretty good head on his shoulders. Naivalu’s a rugby player, he’s not done the league thing. Folau’s experienced. I’ve gone for 2 fast guys, though, honestly, with that arrangement (only one kicker), I’d probably expect Cooper might still drop back to provide another kicking option, which might push Naivalu into the line. But he’s a solid defender. Even if it were Toomua at 10, with only one recognised kicker in the back three, I’d consider dropping the 10 back (just as Barrett drops back when it’s Reiko and Waisake on the wings).
          I’m not aware of any major issues with Sefa or Banks, bar they haven’t been given much game time.
          Part of the Wallabies arrangement is that the current defensive system – especially for the back three – has absolutely no sense to it. They spend so much time running (particularly the #11) that they’ve got no energy left to think, to demonstrate any nous. What they’re being asked to do is something that isn’t replicated anywhere else – they don’t get to practice it except in the weeks they’re shuffled through the Wallabies. So it’s not surprising that it’s not always natural or instinctive for them.

    • Hoss

      Welcome to the Dark Side of the Force padwan.

      Like you i clung on as long as i could but eventually succumbed a few months back. Expect a badge in the mail and a discount Sizzlers Coupon as well.

      • Andy

        I’m in the same boat. I think if Castle and the board want to gain any credibility then major changes are needed as they pissed off that opportunity before the spring tour. They preached change and then rolled over at Cheika’s request. Now they are looking like a bunch of pussies without a plan.

    • Who?

      Ella said before the Test that there’s no issue with sacking Cheika now, in terms of the game and preparation… It’s just money.

      • Huw Tindall

        Yeah I’ve assumed that is probably true and the clincher om top of the time.

    • RF

      Of course they can sack him.

      Moving to the dark ages of a selection panel would be disastrous for our future.

      • Huw Tindall

        They may technically be able to sack him but it seems financially that is not feasible. Therefore the only way to avoid the selection problems is to add a selection panel (which includes Chek).

  • Brisneyland Local

    I am not renowned for my politeness. ;-)

  • Hoss

    Good morning downtrodden, weathered, brow-beaten, huddled masses.

    Today i unveil my official run for the RA Board, on a Central Platform of Make Rugby Great Again.

    – First point of order – build a wall around New Zealand. If those sneaky fuckers cant get out (in to our country) then our chances of winning the Bledisloe improve significantly due to forfeit
    – I haven’t spoken to Prime Minister Hardon yet, but i am sure she will acquiesce. If not i will station several frigate near that tiny rocky outcrop as ‘encouragement’
    – Failing that, i will introduce a Rugby Tariff on the Nearlies. The Wallabies will get to start the match, unopposed, 15 minutes earlier than the Nearlies in the interest of Making Us Great Again.
    – There will be NO Fake News allowed. All pending publications concerning the men in gold must go via the new head of promotions, one Mr J Goebbels for purification. Any dissent will be dealt with accordingly and harshly
    – Renegotiation of all existing contracts. From now on all OS fixtures will kick off at 2-3 am so the coverage is at an acceptable time for the Australian Market, in the real part of the world. Boosting rating numbers and advertising revenue available injection more money into RA coffers that can be frittered away on my whim accordingly.
    – Negotiate the first ever ’20/20′ Rugby Competition with FUXTEL. The Wallabies get 20 players on the field for both halves to aid in victory

    I beseech all Gaggers to get behind my push now and contact your local clubs and lets get momentum cracking.

    A failed bid will see us all experience yet Another Negative Unfulfilled Season, or ANUS for short.

    • Brisneyland Local

      Pure Gold.

    • Keith Butler

      I like your cunning plan Hoss. Will the Nearlies be in the sheds for 15 mins before running on for a belated Haka or stand like statues to allow Spanners and Co to run intricate passing moves round them before coughing up possession?

      • Hoss

        Its all in the art of deception KB. I will have strategically placed a set of Ugg Boots, rich in Australia’s finest merino wool, have some Barry White playing in their change rooms and dim the lighting – their instincts will take care of the rest.

        Plan B is to have a disabled toilet nearby, that’ll sort the play-makers.

        Its a cunning stunt.

        • Brisneyland Local

          That is because he is a stunning ……..

        • adastra32

          “Plan B is to have a disabled toilet nearby, that’ll sort the play-makers.” More like the ‘Players’ :-) A very cunning plan, Hoss.

        • Keith Butler

          It is as you say all about deception. Thumbing through my dogged eared copy of Sun Zhu’s “The Art of War” I came across this:
          “All warfare is based on deception. Hence when we are able to attack, we must seem unable. When using our forces we must appear inactive. When we are near we must make oy enemy believe we are far away and when far away we must make him appear we are near.”
          Cheika reads his copy every day but hasn’t quite worked it out yet

        • Alister Smith

          I have a different cunning plan. We follow Twiggy’s example and start our own World Cup but, unlike Twiggy, we don’t include any teams with a legitimate chance of actually beating us like he did by including the Crusaders. We hold it in Australia so we get all the financial benefits for ourselves. Believe you me, the world will sit up and take notice when we lose narrowly to Bhutan in the Quarter Finals of the New World Rugby Cup (Trademark) – they will now we are back on the road to world rugby dominance.

      • LED

        We’ll still lose….

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      And we’d still beat any team coached by these current coaches and with the muppets they pick

  • Dave P

    with all the names being touted to get the boot, why is no one mentioning high performance manager Ben Whittaker? our performance and individual skill level at the professional level are surely under his jurisdiction.

    • John Tynan

      Patty Howard is free…

  • Singapore Sling

    I just saw mention of a new propaganda video staring Brad Thorn on the Reds site. Anyone else seen it?

    • Brisneyland Local

      Yes! It is strong thoroughly absorbent. But I think Reds fans would be better served by proper toilet paper!

      • Singapore Sling

        The Reds board have enlisted the esteemed marketing firm of Goebbels, Goebbels and Goebbels. I think this awkward little clip is the strongest evidence yet that the Reds are in trouble.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Pure gold!

      • Happyman

        Mate I will reserve judgement on the Reds they seem to have made some very good appointments at the lower levels.

        I will also state they have managed to screw it up with spectacular effect.

    • Gipetto

      I could not bear to listen to the clueless goon. Evidently Reds management think he is a drawcard. He sacked local hero Quade by phone and took the Reds to last place. He refused one of the Wallaby greats George Smith a farewell game. He is so bad RA may make him the next national coach.

  • Ian Rodger

    Just red dat McMahon signed for the Sunwolves for next season, so he probably won’t be back for the world cup.

  • Alister Smith

    Want to read some good news about Australian rugby. This is the best development I have seen in years. Well done QR and who ever else is behind it. Certainly with Dick Marks and Alec Evans and some of the others mentioned it looks like a great thing. I think, more than anything, this is what is needed to improve rugby in this country and it has some great names behind it. Some good things are happening in Qld and, as a NSWman (though not a Waratah supporter) I am a bit disappointed that this approach didn’t emerge down here.

    The article appeared on Foxsport page yesterday but I wasnt sure if there was Thursday News so I am just dropping it here for anyone that is interested

    ‘They don’t
    know how to jump in a lineout’: Reds launch plan to fix rugby… but who’s
    listening?

    While the Wallabies have lurched from one disaster to the next in their failed 2018 campaign, behind the scenes the Queensland Reds are completely overhauling the way the basics of the game are taught.

    Tired of seeing talented young players lacking basic scrum, passing and lineout techniques, the coaching advisory panel aims to arrest the mediocrity
    strangling rugby at the elite level. Alarm bells started ringing about the way rugby is taught and played in Australia long before the Wallabies posted just four wins from their 13-test schedule in 2018 and it’s been the struggling Queenslanders who have enlisted the help of Dick Marks, Alec Evans and David Clark to move towards a new centralised coaching syllabus from under-6 right up to the elite level.

    The key feature is an online video bank of correctly performed drills from all aspects of the game, allowing coaches of all levels to learn proper
    techniques before passing them on to their players.

    The newly appointed Queensland Reds Director of Coaching Pat Richards says: “There have long been plans in place to identify the talented kids who
    play the game, but this hasn’t been the case for coaches and in many cases the player’s skillset just isn’t there from a very young age.

    “I’ve coached representative U/15 sides where the kids don’t know how to bind in a scrum or jump in a lineout. They just haven’t been coached correctly,
    so the idea is to identify and nurture coaching talent. Believe it or not, it’s never been done before.”

    Along with Alec Evans, David Clark, QRU Chairman Jeff Miller, Pat Richards and Brad Thorn, the Reds Coaching Advisory Panel is orchestrating a
    test case with the backing of Rugby Australia to create a blueprint for the Reds’ long term success.

    “The system, in conjunction with Rugby Australia, would provide every coach in Queensland from U/6-U/16 with vision lodged on a centralised domain
    containing drills and games so any coach can log on and coach the required drills in the correct manner,” Richards says.

    The vision has been collected over three separate shooting dates at Easts Rugby Club and the University of Queensland in Brisbane in consultation
    with Professor Cliff Mallett from UQ’s School of Human Movement.

    Primary schoolchildren from Belmont State School from different age groups and genders with little exposure to Rugby performed the drills,
    tackling, bindings, jumping and passing.

    ‘A new structure for the way the game is coached, how it is delivered and the upskilling of those who are delivering it. This is what’s been
    identified as what’s going to make Queensland the best province in Australia and eventually the world,” Richards says.

    While a National Coaching Panel has been mooted by Rugby Australia in the past, it appears to have been bogged down in its implementation by politics
    between the various unions.

    The Reds have simply bypassed the political stoush and taken the baton, with the man who drove the National Coaching Committee in the 70s, Dick Marks,
    at the helm.

    “Queensland used to be innovative in both coaching and playing. Under Dick Marks and Alec Evans, Australia created a coaching identity and with it
    came a playing identity which was incredibly successful, so what we’ve done is brought some of the best rugby brains in the world back into the fold,” says
    Reds interim chief executive David Hanham.

    Rugby Australia has the vision, but at this stage the centralised coaching model designed to restructure coaching and how it is delivered is yet
    to be launched.

    “Our focus is on Queensland, the resources have been provided by Rugby Australia and we’ve simply taken them up on it and we believe put their funding
    to good use,” says Hanham.

    With the 2019 Super Rugby season and the World Cup in Japan fast approaching, Rugby Australia’s scheduled December 10 board meeting has plenty
    to discuss.

Rugby
@NathW1997

Loved rugby since the day I could remember, got the nickname Footy to show that, I watch Matt Dunning's dropkick every night before going to bed

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