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Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News sees Steve Hansen fire shots at Michael Cheika, expansion plans for the Rugby Championship, resting plans for the Super Rugby season revealed and Karmichael Hunt’s role at the Waratahs becomes clearly.


Hansen’s dis(ney) at “emotional” Cheika

Michael Cheika

♫ Who’s the leader of the team that plays for you and me?
M-I-C-K-E-Y-C-H-E-I-K-A ♫

At least this is the view of New Zealand coach Steve Hansen, who referred to Cheika as “Mickey Mouse” and mocked his emotional fragility.

These comments were made during a fundraiser in Wellington on Monday during an interview in which a quote from Wallaby great Mark Ella was brought up, stating that Mickey Mouse could coach New Zealand to victory, due to the embarrassment of riches that he had to pick from.

In response, Hansen would state “they’ve got Mickey Mouse coaching the Aussies” and would go on to detail how easy it was to rile Cheika up in the leadup to their Bledisloe encounters.

“Michael Cheika, who by the way isn’t a bad bloke, he just gets a bit emotional, and as you well know we thought we’d get him emotional and take his mind off the job,” he said. “The plan was not to call him by his name but just say he’s the Australian coach. Then he went on a tirade about not respecting him.”

“I guess what we’re trying to do there is take his mind off the job and while I say he’s not a bad bloke, he’s got to control his emotions. I think he’s got a good side, he does a good job of the coaching, but sometimes he just lets himself down there.”

Hansen would go on to say that they have tried similar tactics to aggravate Warren Gatland during the British and Ireland Lions tour with little success stating “we probably had him where we needed him and then the bloody Herald made a picture of him as a clown, which I didn’t think was right, so I had to back off.”

However, it seemed that Hansen adopts a different approach to current English boss Eddie Jones, choosing to praise the former Wallaby coach in the lead up to their encounters and revealed that he was in constant communication with Jones throughout the season.

The contrast in treatment and respect between the two Australian coaches is drastic and telling of the views of a lot of fans in how he has handled himself during his tenure as coach, especially over the past year.

Rugby Championship set for expansion

Puma's celebrate a try, watched by the Wallabies

Puma’s celebrate a try, watched by the Wallabies

As plans for the creation of a World League continue to come to fruition, SANZAAR has floated ideas about expansion to the Rugby Championship that would see the competition expand from four to six teams.

This move would look to mirror the Six Nations and would see two new entries into the Championship, likely Fiji and Japan and would see matches between these nations, plus the usual Spring Tour and Mid Year Tests making up the qualification phases for the World League finals in November.

At the launch of the Super Rugby competition, SANZAAR boss Andy Marinos revealed that all four current competitors in the Rugby Championship were open to the idea of expansion and it was going to be a move that would be examined in future meetings.

“There is an open-mindedness from SANZAAR and each of the national unions around The Rugby Championship and that is one of the things we are working on at the moment,” Marinos said. “The format has been pretty set over the last six to eight years – since Argentina came in – so we are certainly looking at that.”

“When we are looking at new markets we have looked at doing it through Super Rugby… is there a possibility that we could do that for international rugby?”

The shift to a Six Nations style of competition would appear to be detrimental to the Bledisloe Cup, as the current format allows for two, more recently three clashes between the Trans-Tasman nations.

It’s been revealed that both nations are in agreement that at least one home Bledisloe match for each country is mandatory in the World League schedule, due to the excessive cash windfall it provides both countries.

This would be essential for both nations to give the concept their tick of approval, with reports suggesting that the likely schedule will have two Bledisloe matches, with only one of the two Tests between the arch-rivals counting for World League points.

Flexibility the key for rest plans

Duncan Paia'aua Reds v Brumbies Super Rugby Round 3 2018_Sully_024
As the Super Rugby season officially launched for 2019 on Tuesday, one of the key talking points was the resting of current and fringe Wallaby players throughout the season.

With the 2019 World Cup on the horizon, an agreement was struck late last year between the four Super Rugby clubs and Michael Cheika that would ensure the systematic resting of players in various games throughout the year.

The Australian Super Rugby coaches have already had discussions and submitted rough plans with Cheika about who may be rested for what games, but these plans would not be set in stone, rather reflecting the situational circumstances that were affecting the clubs at the time.

“We have had ongoing conversations over the last couple of days, we’ve had a number of email dialogues with Michael and it’s just working out when we pencil games in for players to have off…And understanding that circumstances can change and injuries and that sort of thing.” Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said.

Rebels coach Dave Wessels has had similar conversions with Cheika, revealing that the rest plans would look to learn from the controversial conditioning plans by New Zealand, which implemented a mandatory seven-week rest period at the start of the season which left the Kiwis underdone and lacking confidence heading into the 2007 World Cup.

“One of the things I spoke to Cheik about and he has done a good job of engaging all the stakeholders and talking about it. One of the things when the All Blacks lost in Marseille in 2007,” Wessels said.

“They felt that players then subconsciously put the brakes on and didn’t compete for every moment, and as a result of that didn’t go into the World Cup humming. Cheik has recognised that.”

These plans were met with some resistance by players like Samu Kerevi who didn’t want to miss too much of the season as he missed the majority of last year due to injury but ultimately were accepted as a necessity to ensure that the players were at prime fitness for the World Cup.

“Personally, I don’t want to miss too many games, I feel like that’s where you get a lot of experiences especially those type of games against any overseas opposition or touring. But I understand from a performance point of view, trying to rest us for the World Cup but hopefully that all works out and I don’t miss too many important games but this year every game’s important.”

Hunting for the inside role (on the bench)

2017-Brisbane-City-v-Greater-Sydney-Rams-3
As he begins his redemption road back from the wilderness of Queensland club rugby, reformed outside back Karmichael Hunt is set to be unleashed off the bench for the Waratahs, or as Cheika would refer to it, as a “finisher”.

This comes off the back of Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson stating that he was convinced that Hunt’s best position is at inside-centre after a solid performance at the position during the Waratahs first trial match on the weekend in their loss against the Highlanders.

“We see him as a 12,” Gibson said at the Super Rugby launch. “He plays 12 a little bit differently to ‘KB’ in terms of that playmaking role. He can carry the ball forward well and has some excellent qualities, which is [what] we earmarked him to bring to this team. We think he can add value.”

This is an interesting revelation from Gibson, as it firmly puts the three test Wallaby behind incumbent Kurtley Beale, potentially limiting Hunt to only 25-30 minutes of action off the bench. However, this didn’t seem to faze Gibson, noting the importance of quality squad depth during a World Cup year.

“With this season being a World Cup year, rotation and management of the squad are going to be a really important factor,” he said. One of the things we learned last season is that we played our best players too often.”

“Kurtley played 18 straight games for us and something like 31 for the entire season. We know we need to manage that dynamic and make sure that if we can win through to those playoff stages we are in good condition and a good space to try and go further.”

Gibson is hoping to take the side one step further than last year in which the NSW side fell in the semi-final after being overrun by the Lions.

“We are wanting to be better than what we were last year … that’s the first thing,” he said. “To do that we will need to be a lot, a lot better and that’s why we have earmarked a few areas we can be better in. One of those is defence and we know last season we were called lightweight, told that our forwards aren’t the biggest, so we have our challenges there.”

  • NSWelsham in London

    For the players that are being rested, kind of insinuates that they are a shoe in for selection. I understand the All Blacks doing it as their team is solid and performing well but for the Wallabies, resting the likes of Spanners makes him think he can rest on his laurels. 5 or 6 players currently could be considered as necessities for the World Cup 23, the rest need to buckle down and prove to their coach and the Australian public they deserve the chance to be on that plane otherwise whats the point for the Banks etc. of the world to try and push for selection when they can see that 4 guys in their position are being rested on yesteryears form which was sub par to begin with.

    • Huw Tindall

      Oi stop nicking my first mover timezone advantage mate!

      I see your point around rested players seemingly pre-determined for selection but I think it’s as much a case of giving these guys a rest from rugby not just in RWC years. The frontline Wallabies play more games at a much higher intensity than any other players in Australia. Therefore they need to be rested – regardless of whether they are a shoe in for selection. I honestly believe that too many minutes is bad for players in a long season. They’ll just be mentally and physically fatigued by the end of the season. Keep them lean and hungry.

      Like you I think there are more positions up for grabs than not with only the likes of Poey, Folau, and Genia pretty much dead certainties. Maybe some sort of compromise like playing these guys off the bench in some games if you don’t want to rest them totally.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      It’s been that way for years so why would it change now

      • NSWelsham in London

        World Cup Year – one could only hope ….

  • Huw Tindall

    For once I’m agreeing with SANZAAR. Can’t believe I’m saying that. TRC is a tired comp and has outlived it’s usefulness. 6 nations with Fiji and Japan would be great with home/away shifting each year. Fine Aus and NZ can play another game for Bledisloe Cup money but if the World League thing comes along anyway we should see an uptick in revenue so I could even live with the good old days of winner takes all one off Bledisloe games.

    Also I’m really looking forward to Hunt at 12. He seems to have outstanding communication and organizing skills which the Tahs could use. Foketi said as much for the 30 mins they were together and on top of the Highlanders in the trial. I do like what Beale brings and have been a big supporter but unless the forwards are killing it I feel he may be best used off the bench as a super sub. Now I don’t see this happening with the way things are but when Beale and/or Folau is rested he could really shine. This assumes Hunt can keep his nose clean which I dearly hope he does for all concerned.

    • Who?

      Agree. But with Beale, he could go to the backfield, with Folau..? Hunt at 12, Beale and Folau in the backfield, it works…….

      • Huw Tindall

        True! I guess with no Naiyaravoro this year our outside backs aren’t a lock. Could live with Beale 15 and Folau 14. Hunt and Rona/Foketi/Two-Dads at 12/13.

        • Adrian

          Agree Huw.
          I can see Hunt and Beale alternating between 12 and 15.
          I’m interested too in what he’ll do re wingers.
          I think that Rona could latch onto the moves they used for Naiyaravoro even though he’s not as big….but he is big

        • Brumby Runner

          That is way out there optimistic Adrian to think that Rona can do what Naiyaravoro did last year.

        • Adrian

          He’d do some of it ok, but agree, not all of it

    • Jason

      I’d tend to go the other way with the RC ideally reduce it back down to trinations, but that’s never going to happen. One of the real strengths of the Rugby Championship is that it’s not a one off game like the Six Nations you can’t just win one big game, you’ve got to do it at home and away.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    So the coach games begin. Probably not something Hansen wanted put out there but also all of them do it in different ways and it’s not really a surprise. Should spice up this years matches though.
    Not unhappy with the change to RC but I’m also not sure it will help Australia, NZ, the Argies or the Boks improve playing against a couple of weaker teams. It’ll definitely help them though. If it provides more time for a Super round robin so all teams play each other then I’m all for it as I think this is one of Superrugbys biggest weaknesses.
    Be good to see KB have some competition but I still see Kerevi as a better 12 than both of them.

    • Brisneyland Local

      I dont think it is a bad thing. Hansen is just saying what all of us have been for years.

      It only hurts because it is true!

      • John Tynan

        I reckon he was just playing to his audience, not expecting to be quoted on a slow news day.
        Good harmless banter I reckon.

  • Nutta

    Ok I’ll ask the obvious question – where else was Snorts going to play other than 12? Of course he is a fkn 12. Oh… wait… this is Oz rugby isn’t it? Well I’m sure he will enjoy a spell at 2.

    Will it be a true Nippon team for the S6N or will it be Pingers in a slightly different jersey?

    • Brisneyland Local

      Well if Cheika is running the selection I am sure he will play him as an 8.

      • Bobas

        Only if Pocock is injured

        • Brisneyland Local

          Yeah forgot about that.

        • Hoss

          Thats gold mate

    • RF

      Fullback or wing

      • John Tynan

        Wing because you don’t need pace for finishing, what you really need is to be able to shuffle in and tackle for spanners.

  • Brumby Runner

    A couple of thoughts about players being rested. First, it needs to be transparent. If it is done behind closed doors, what’s to stop a team from reneging along the way?

    Then, in NZ, I believe that any of the nominated players who haven’t reached their quota of rests by the final couple of SR rounds are banned from playing in one or both games to achieve their number of rests. That would need to be part of the deal here too, to make it work.

    On the revamped RC, maybe the Bledisloe should be kept completely separate, so that two tests are played where one is part of the RC and is part of the qualification for the World Tour (or whatever), while the other is the one and only Bledisloe match of the year.

  • Hoss

    Good morning, good morning, good morning.

    You know those days that just start just so right – well that’s my today.

    King Parrotts chirping for their morning feed, the sun sitting softly on your cheek, kids up and happy. The commute to work was great, traffic agreeable, the apple music machine set to ‘shuffle’ and it just keeps hitting the perfect song to capture the mood, a bit of Fooies, followed by some majestic story telling from Mr Paul Kelly than some Split Enz, 70’s west coast rock and you bounce into work and then……

    EA is in extra early and waiting for you in your office, tears in the eyes and folded note in her hand – I’ve seen this movie before. Your wife calls during same tear-fest and leaves a message – ‘baby, that milk you opened and drank from very back of the fridge was 7 days out of date – didn’t you notice ?’ – i thought it was some sort of Soy Yogurt health shit – I guess there will be a few trips to the porcelain throne today to experience a fair few Fecal Jackson Pollock’s.

    Oh well i had a few good hours anyway.

    Right – all things Rugby. Gotta love Shag. I mean i had NO idea of the thought and effort that goes into the dark arts – how fascinating and entirely interesting. And Nathan, i must correct you (i am of that era) it’s – ‘who’s the leader of the pack that fucked the Wallabies, C,H,E,I,K,A – H,O,U,S,E – Cheika’s House, Cheika’s House.’

    Good to see Genitals being considered in his actual possie for the Tah’s how very refreshing, maybe his form might mean a reshuffle of Gilbert & Dusty.. Equally to see CL speak his mind about Larkham and not stick to sports babble.

    Now off to the John.

    • John Tynan

      Gold Hoss!
      Also having a 180 degree day.
      I was going to jump on the pushy to work for the first time in about 18 months.
      Checked the bike on the weekend, good to go.
      Last night I laid out the cycling nicks (plus baggy shorts and shirt for the sake of unsuspecting public).
      Woke up to a bit of a drizzly Brizzly day – no problems because I sweat like a demon anyway, I end up soaked regardless.
      Went to put the cycling shoes on – probably should have checked them on the weekend too, as an 18 month old ant’s nest started running up my arm…
      Best laid plans and all that.
      As Arnie said in Commando (or maybe Sly in Rambo) “Utilise, Adapt and Overcome!”

      • Hoss

        I shudder at the thought of wrapping my ‘plus size’ frame in lycra. It would resemble a condom full of walnuts and half-set jelly sloshing around in low tide.

        • Parker

          Sounds like the perfect description of a MAMIL (pron. mammal)

        • John Tynan

          As someone much funnier than me once said: “I’ve got a 6-pack: It’s just that they’ve all been opened and poured into a plastic bag!”

        • Brisneyland Local

          Pure gold.

        • Hoss

          Light weights. Why stop at a 6 pack when you can have the whole keg !

        • Brisneyland Local

          I dont think we are ready for this Jelly.

  • Brisneyland Local

    Morning GAGR’s! Well some interesting bits here and from other sources to discuss today. Here we go:
    – I dont have a problem with what Hansen said. He is Correct. It is hard to argue with the truth. As I said before to KRL, it only hurts because it is true!
    – The rest plan in my humble opinion should really only effect about 3-4 players. The rest of them arent in good enough form or have the skills yet to be rested. Foley for example. No rest for him til he can pass properly, kick more than 20 m, and orchestrate an attack.
    – Interesting in other media sources, Glen Ella and David Campese have thrown their hat in the ring for the attack coach role. Ella having recently been the attack coach for England where they whitewashed us, seems to have some recent achievements. I am not sure of anything Camppo has done since the Natal sharks. But I think we could do a lot worse. Mind you Ella has been outspoken about RA and Chieka so on that basis I don’t think he will get it.
    – Saw Sk8tr Boy on the news this morning saying and I paraphrase : “ Having Larkham sacked wont affect the preparations for the RWC 19.” Really? Is he saying by having someone no longer there that disagreed with the plan, which actually make things better? Or that is code for saying “Nothing to see here move along! Smile and wave boys, smile and wave!” Just stupid commentating at a time like this. Everyone knows it is a shit show, no need to re-enforce that by adding inane commentary to it.
    Over to you GAGR’s!

    • Nutta

      Hey BL

      Sk8R is right though – either Larkham is truly shit and so they get better or the conflict was profound (shit v good) and the more congenial environment will mean they function & focus better. Consultants gold of ‘win win’.

      Ella as attack coach gets my vote straight up. In fact Ella as coach gets my vote especially because it will also kill a lot of the Jones and Papworth noise at the same time.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Yeah but Sk8tr boy said that no one actually saw any conflict between them. So either someone is bullshitting or Larkham was just bullied into quietness.
        Either way, We have no tactical nouse in the team. This new attack coach better be good.

        • formerflanker

          Where in Australian Rugby do we have any on-field tactical nouse?
          It’s all coached out of the natural game readers, and not taught to those with potential.
          It’s the no-mistakes policy. A team must always do it the coaches’ way.
          The only thing we are missing is the league equivalent of a ‘water boy” (AKA assistant coach) running behind the team during play.
          Oh wait – the U7s do that!

        • laurence king

          The Wallabies currently do lack in this area, and I would suggest that it could be a problem of picking ‘yes’ men.

        • Brisneyland Local

          I think we have a couple of players that have tactical nouse, but certainly other than Genia not in our play makers. You see Pocock and Genia constantly propping Hooper to take the points rather than going for touch.

        • Adrian

          I actually can’t think of one on-field thinker with the nouse of say Nick Farr-Jones or Eales or Cameron Smith.

        • Adrian

          Someone is bullshitting. They are all bullshitting all the time BL

          Good PR training.

          This group are pretty good at ‘ “keeping mum”

          That’s why people liked the Honeybadger…. irrespective of whether he could play or not……, he didn’t talk PR

        • Brisneyland Local

          Yep. Neither did CLL yesterday either. He gave them a bit of a serve as well.
          My sources are saying there is a divide in the player group as well. And a resonably serious one.

        • Bobas

          Cheiks end game (to deflect) is to put Cooper on the extended bench and if that fails a spot on the pine and bring him into the wing or flanker when his idiotic 6-2 benches fail.
          Failing that he’ll let Foley play outside him to stifle his options.

        • Brisneyland Local

          That is my concern.
          I hope that the other selector and Johnson then override that stupid selection. But we will see.
          I would so love to see Ella as attack coach.

        • laurence king

          Maybe he had issues with players being out of position in defense and being knackered as a result of the musical chairs defensive system. I can see how this would be a major philosophical difference. This difference alone would point to selection issues and that would street home to Cheika. Grey is the only defense coach who is prepared to reward poor defenders by hiding them, but this suits Cheika.

        • Brisneyland Local

          One does ones masters bidding.

      • Parker

        No question about Ella’s credentials, but why would you want to do that to him? Take a talented performer and put him under the Arse Clown. Recipe for frustration and discord. Sack Cheika, then install Ella. Scott Johnson can take over the head role.

        • Nutta

          I believe Cheks is a good man. I really do. Wholehearted, committed and dead-set trying his best.

          But it isn’t working. Part of why it isn’t working is because he is such a strong personality.

          So put in the calm-spoken, affable and unarguable dignity of someone like Ella and balance it out. Then treat 2019 as the transition year and give Ella the reins and the clean air to do his thing with Cheks gone after Bill.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        I think Ella would be good but I’m surprised he’s interested in being associated with the current crowd as it will tarnish his name forever. If I was him I’d be putting up my name for Cheika’s replacement rather than being part of the failure

        • laurence king

          Just love the Wallabies too much to watch it go down the gurgler I imagine.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          That’s probably true mate

  • RF

    Hansen really lets himself down at times. Referring to one of his international coaching peers as Mickey Mouse is hugely disrespectful and he should know better.

    If Schmidt succeeds him they may well become the internationally loved team that AIG and Adidas want them to be.

    • Brisneyland Local

      Cant be disrespectful if it is true!

      • Huw Tindall

        Truth is a defence in defamation cases after all

        • Brisneyland Local

          Absolutely. Has saved my ass many times.

      • RF

        I’m not a fan of Cheika but this just isn’t rugby. It’s a game built on a foundation of respect, at least outwardly.

        Hansen coaches the best team in the world, there is no need for this. They don’t need to find the “extra percent” etc. If they are well prepared they will win the world cup regardless of what anyone else does.

        • Brisneyland Local

          I dont think this comment was aimed at making it into the media. He was preaching to his converted. DOing the bit of shit slinging funny thing, and now it has ended up in the media.
          I really dont think his intent was to be public on this one. But alas it has ended up that way. so he now has to double down.
          But there is nothing he has said that I personally disagree with.

        • Adrian

          Agree 100% RF

    • Happyman

      This just in Steve Hansen is a dick.

      There is a reason why I have been to organised lunches where people are not allowed to use there phones.

    • juswal

      It’s weird how some of the people who criticise Cheika for poor judgement and self-control rush to excuse Hansen’s unprofessional and immature stunts.

    • HK Red

      Schmidt isn’t an option anywhere, is he? Thought he’s declared he’s retiring?

  • laurence king

    May I suggest as part of Larkham’s new job description, that of national selector.

    • Brumby Runner

      That would be truly ironic.

    • Adrian

      P-leeease!

      • laurence king

        Hahaha

  • Adrian

    What to do with Hunt?

    An Australian backline with the capacity to play two (or 3) different backline gameplans….instead of no gameplan….?

    I know, it is a revolutionary concept, but:

    If you had: Genia, Cooper, Korebette, Hunt, Kerevi, Folau, Beale as the run-on, and Gordon, Foley on the bench you could play a slightly deepish first 60 minutes, then a Tah style last 20 of Gordon, Foley, Kerevi (impersonating Naiyaravoro), Beale, Kurandrani, Korebette, Folau.

    With these guys in the squad +Toomua + Peteia + Naivalu you could also have a 3rd option of a heavy hitter/defensive backline.
    Just a thought…or thoughts

    • Brisneyland Local

      Really like it. I would remove Beale until his form improves. I would play Toomua instead of Beale. A good kicking option. Both in hand and place kicking. Doesnt run sideways

  • Bernie Chan

    In late news…seems Ant Faingaa is retiring to protect his health. Too many head knocks… 90 games for the Reds, 23 Test appearances…In cricket parlance..”played a good innings…” and will always be fondly remembered for being part of the 2011 Reds Super Rugby winning team. Genia, QC, Ant, Ioane, Rocket Rod Davies et al…what a backline.

  • Brisneyland Local

    NO I think your statements are spot on. The only one who had bad form before being moved around was Foley.
    Who would you pick for selector 3 be? And who would you want as attack coach?
    I wouldnt mind Lynagh as Selector, and Ella as attack coach.

    • Adrian

      Thanks BL.

      I like your selector/assistant coach nominees.

      My thoughts were Eales as 3rd selector, because Cheika probably respects him, because he is from the tight 5, and because he is a Queenslander.

      My other thoughts were Slack and Farr-Jones.

      My original attack coach thought was Gibson. I don’t mind the other widely touted OS based guys Taylor, Weismuller (or whatever his name is), or McKay. I guess I don’t really know enough to know. I wouldn’t have Campo.

      I’m wondering if it might be delayed until end of SR to avoid distraction and distribution re assistant. I don’t think it is needed until then actually.

      But yes, Lynagh and Ella would be fine.

      • Brisneyland Local

        I like MacKay, but dont want to be a biased Qld’er. He is tough and no bullshit. Great understanding of the game. But if Cheika has an input, the answer will be no. From sources close to MacKay they dont get along.

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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