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Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News looks at Tolu Latu’s suspension, Scott Fardy’s decision to stay in Ireland, Pocock raring to return to the Brumbies and the high praise that a former Wallaby centre has for a future Wallaby star.


Tolu hit for six

Waratahs v Bulls 2014 Keith McInnes KMA3307

Waratahs hooker Tolu Latu has been suspended for six weeks after pleading guilty to “a dangerous charge into a ruck or maul” at the final moments of the Waratahs nailbiter against the Sunwolves.

The incident in question pertains to Latu attempting to clear out flanker and fellow Aussie Ed Quirk in the 79th minute, with the hooker proceeding to charge into the ruck, rather than binding, and injuring the knee of Quirk, which will keep the flanker sidelined for the next two months.

Latu’s offence was deemed by SANZAAR to be reckless and dangerous and “merited a top-end entry point of 10 weeks due to the vulnerability of the victim”, which was worked down to 6 due to his “good” behaviour and his initial guility plea.

The timing of this suspension will ensure that Latu will not return to the field until week 11 against the Sharks since the Waratahs have two byes during the suspension period.

The length of the suspension has shocked many, most particularly Daryl Gibson who was surprised about the outcome of the judiciary, but wary of the message that SANZAAR were looking to send with this decision.

“We have accepted the suspension from the foul play review committee,” Gibson said. “Naturally we are disappointed to lose him from the squad this early in the season.”

“While I was somewhat surprised at the duration of the suspension, it puts all players and teams on notice about what SANZAAR consider to be dangerous play and the hard-line stance they are taking. I am backing our team to step up and fill the gap Tolu will leave.”

The six-week suspension is the same length that Pierre Schoeman received for biting Richard Hardwick on the stomach and four less than what Joe Moody got for elbowing Kurtley Beale over the past 12 months.

With this in mind, Latu’s suspension seems a bit overblown and the incident was not worth the initial 10 weeks that was handed to him. Personally, I think the incident did not warrant being labelled as reckless, more of a careless act of not wrapping his arms whilst clearing our and a mid-range suspension of around four weeks would have been more sufficient.

Regardless of length, the incident adds to the rap sheet of Latu, who was yellow carded twice at international level last year and this suspension raises further questions about whether his temperament can be tolerated with a World Cup around the corner.

No Fardy party in Japan

Has Scott Fardy played his last game at Suncorp Stadium ?

Any hopes of Scott Fardy returning to the Wallaby fold for the World Cup have been put on hold, with the flanker re-signing for Irish club and European champions Leinster for another year.

Fardy was a key member of the Wallabies 2015 World Cup run and has represented his country 39 times. However, Fardy seems to have fallen out of favour with current boss Michael Cheika, who has not selected the blindside flanker since 2016.

Since leaving the Brumbies in 2017, Fardy has flourished in the new environment in Ireland, winning the European Champions Cup and Pro 14 in his debut season, culminating in his nomination for European Player of the Year.

His success ensured he was in high demand, with the flanker rejecting a move back to Japan in the search for more success and trophies.

“I had an offer to go back to Japan to where I was originally years ago, it was something I considered for a moment but my family have just settled here and I didn’t want to pick them up and move,” Fardy said.

“I made that decision a while ago and I’m happy to be here for another year and continue to go after trophies…Winning games is enjoyable and I’m enjoying that process…I’m still learning, even at my age, I come in every Monday for the review and I’m still learning something from the game we’ve played.”

Fardy’s decision to stay overseas does not come as a surprise to Rugby Australia officials, who indicated his enjoyment with his new surroundings late last year, along with the fact that his family had settled in nicely with the culture of the club.

“We’re enjoying it, my wife’s settled in well and the young fella’s growing up pretty quickly. We’re enjoying our time here in Dublin. With the squad, you’ve got and the leaders here and the staff as well, no one’s really selling you anything. With the senior players and junior players here, it’s easy to get caught up and enjoy your rugby.”

Go for Po(cock)

David Pocock

The Brumbies are expected to welcome back David Pocock for their clash with the Hurricanes on Saturday.

Pocock has had a less than stellar start to 2019, initially racing the clock to be fit with a hamstring strain before coping a knock on the head 5 minutes into the Brumbies opening round clash with the Rebels, causing the flanker to be ruled of out the contest with the Chiefs with a concussion.

Pocock was expected to be rested for the clash due to his past history of head and neck injuries, however, Pocock has pasted all the necessary HIA protocol tests and will be raring to go against the Hurricanes on Friday.

The return of Pocock is a significant boost to the ACT side who will be brimming with confidence after their performance against the Chiefs, and livewire fullback Tom Banks believes that Pocock’s inclusion will be invaluable to the Brumbies hopes of securing their first win in New Zealand since 2014.

“He’s a world-class player,” he said. “The thing he brings is the turnovers he can bring it just helps us as a backline to attack unstructured defences. “That’s what we try and do and he’s the best at getting turnovers.”

Banks was quick to quell the hype surrounding their emphatic victory last week, stating the importance of backing up a performance like that and attempting to do it week by week.

“Knowing you can put in a performance like that, now the hard thing is to back it up. That’s what we’re trying to do this week, just not be complacent and really go again this week,” he said.

The Hurricanes are expected to welcome back All Blacks Beauden Barrett in place for his brother Jordie along with flanker Ardie Savea. “Beaudy is in the conversation. He’s been gunning to play, so he’s ready to go.” said assistant coach Jason Holland. “Every time you get an experienced All Black back it’s a big lift to the boys and that’s what’s happened this week.”

Petaia receives Wallaby wrap

Jordan Petaia makes a break

Jordan Petaia makes a break

Former Wallaby Tim Horan believes that teenage superstar Jordan Petaia has the ability to become a Wallaby great if he continues on his current trajectory.

Petaia was one of the Reds best, if not the best, during their hard-fought loss against the Highlanders in Dunedin last Friday and Horan believes that the star teenager will draw the crowds back to the box office ahead of their opening home game against the Crusaders.

“It was a fantastic performance and something that Australian rugby’s been looking for – who are the next couple of stars that are coming through,” Horan said. “I think another 5000 to 7500 people will turn up here on Saturday just to watch Jordan Petaia.”

The breakout performance had many believe Petaia to be a bolter selector for the Wallabies World Cup squad, with Horan echoing similar thoughts if Petaia is able to put a similar level of performance together consistently.

“One game doesn’t make a player and he would know that, he’s young enough to know that and he’s got some reasonably experienced players around him – like Samu Kerevi – to lead his way and make sure that he keeps his feet on the ground and understand that it’s about stringing five to 10 games together like he did on Friday night” Horan said.

The partnership of Petaia alongside Wallaby inside centre Samu Kervei were dominant in the performance against the Highlanders and the strength of their connection could be essential for Petaia’s chance to be one of the youngest players in World Cup history (7th youngest if he debuts in the initial game against Fiji, 2nd youngest try scorer if he manages to score during the tournament).

“There’s a lot of depth. You’ve got Tevita Kuridrani, Karmichael Hunt’s playing very well there, you’ve got Kurtley Beale,” Horan said.

“But we’ve really performed well in World Cups where we’ve had combinations of players – whether it’s Jason Little and myself early on, whether it was myself and Daniel Herbert in ’99 or whether it’s the Giteaus and the combinations later on…You need people who have been playing together.”

  • Jason

    I’m sorry but did anyone actually believe there was anything short of a plane crash could result in Scott Fardy being called up into the squad?

    Cheika hounded him out of Australian Rugby — he was almost built for playing in Cheika’s back row, Fardy was hands down the best performing back rower in Aussie Super and Chikea still refused to play him. Why would anyone thing Cheika would even think about selecting him!

    • Nathan Williamson

      With Johnson and O’Connor, we could dream that he would be reconsidered and that could persuade him to come him, but like all dreams involving the Wallabies, they generally blow up in your face

      • I find it telling he’s signed for one year, he could easily have signed for 2-3 and seen out his career.

        I guess Leinster might be saying “let’s take it year by year.” But he might be looking for a swan song back home after Japan and the departure of the Ass-Clown too.

        • Ed

          He may also want to finish his rugby career in Japan, particularly with his connection there. Less taxing on his body for good money.
          If he did come back, it would be great to see him back in CBR.

        • You could well be right, Japan seems like an attractive option for many people the money is good and the injury risk is lower.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Thanks Eloise. I love hearing people other than my self calling him an Ass Clown!

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          We all think it mate

        • I am to please!

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Bang on Eloise, I think O’Connor’s comments about the coach getting the team he wants means that him and Johnson will just bide their time until Cheika is gone and then start from scratch

        • Dud Roodt

          I think it’s probably got a lot to do with the new rules in Irish rugby around foreign players

        • Could well be. I’m not 100% sure what they are, except I know they tightened them up and it’s led to some apparently poor choices in some of the provinces.

    • Steve

      Fardy is a good example of the damage done by Cheika that can’t be undone with a couple of simple new appointments.

      A lot of the others he chased out of Aus aren’t coming back any time soon…White and Gill the first names to come to mind

      • Dud Roodt

        Didn’t Nic White say just yesterday he wanted to come back?

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          It wasn’t clear whether he was talking about 2019 or 2023 though.

        • Brumby Runner

          He quite pointedly said he would be aiming at RWC23 even though if he signs for a Super side in 20 he would be eligible for RWC19. I think he was saying that RWC19 is out of the question with Cheika at the helm.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Absolutely Jason, I’ve heard from others that Fardy challenged Cheika and Grey and that’s why he wasn’t wanted. Not sure how true it is but it sort of makes sense.

      • Adrian

        Possibly true KRL, but he definitely had a row with Larkham at Brumbies

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I think that was overblown, unless you have info that I don’t. Fardy apparently thought he should have been made captain (he should have, in my opinion) and signed abroad, so Larkham dropped him for a round.

          That was the extent of it, as I understand it.

        • Adrian

          Agree DB, that’s all I remember too. I put the link in to point out that it wasn’t necessary just a falling out with Cheika and/or Grey.

      • Adrian

        There were better stories at the time, but this is one, and it doesn’t quite say it all:
        https://www.thestar.com.my/sport/rugby/2017/03/08/larkham-puts-brumbies-on-notice-with-fardy-omission/

        • Who?

          Not debating any of this, just giving benefit of the doubt, but, if the story’s true, if Larkham’s not listening to senior players about on field tactics, that’s horribly disappointing. Given he benefitted from playing under Macqueen, who was so very focused on taking IP and knowledge from players.

        • Adrian

          All part of the mess that has been, and hopefully not a mess to come!

          I’m optimistic as distinct from certain that a lot of this will settle down Who

      • Jason

        I really don’t think the reasons whatever they are justify the utter exclusion of a player. Cheika does it still with Higgers last year – a strong running 6/8 who can line-out and has those silky skills… ‘nah he’s not the right fit for what were trying to do.’

        Cheika is too stubborn, both ways. Poor Ned Hanigan is the laughing stock of Test Rugby yet Cheika keeps giving him tests caps (I think he’s beyond 25 now!), but he also refuses to consider a host of alternatives at those positions.

    • Gottsy

      In the lead up to the 2015 World Cup, James Horwill was immense and one of our best tight forwards. Was also rewarded by Cheika by getting the boot, it’s no surprise

      • Brisneyland Local

        Hear Hear!

  • BadAtCricket

    Re: Fardy – Leinster, not Leicester who most definitely are neither Irish nor European champions. (Obviously this comment won’t mean anything to those who come along after you fix it :) )

  • Greg

    Thanks Nathan.

    The Latu starting point of 10 weeks seems over the top but there it is. He has an issue he needs to address before he should play again in gold.

    If that is worth 10 weeks…. what is a neck roll on Brian worth?

    • Having looked at what we can see, 10 weeks as a starting point seems high. I wonder if the judicial panel have another angle that shows Latu apparently targeting Quirk’s knee, which ups it into “dangerous and reckless” rather than just “entering without binding” and the higher starting point?

      If so, well targeting a player’s knees when he’s bound in the ruck seems like it merit’s 10 weeks or so to me. If not, they’re really upping the ante. I don’t have a problem with it per se – new season, new starting point for these sorts of things – but some consistency over the season and into the World Cup would be nice.

      • Huw Tindall

        There was some extra footage about which suggested that he didn’t attempt to wrap sufficiently. Led with shoulder but then grabbed his leg as he stood up. So a very let wrap! I’m fine with that. Can’t shoulder charge into a ruck or maul or anything!

        The whole shoulder charge thing is a nightmare though as we all know you lead with the shoulder in the tackle with arms ready to wrap. Good luck seeing all this in slow mo in obscured footage.

        Given all this 10 weeks seems rough IMO. In fact any suspension means he should have been red carded technically! He wasn’t in an MMA leg hold on the ground. Drove in low without sufficient wrap. Malicious and targeting of the knee specifically? Probably not. Just the leg. Hard to believe he tried to invert his knee with a shoulder charge!

        • The only footage I saw, I honestly struggled to see the contact which is why I wondered whether the panel had seen any other footage. Past experience has shown they do in some cases.

          Like I said, if it’s just a failure to wrap, it seems tough unless that’s going to be the new standard. If they saw something where they think they saw him change his body angle to hit the knee – and I am speculating I don’t know what they saw – then it seems more like it’s in line with what’s gone before. Even if we never saw that footage.

        • Huw Tindall

          Unfortunately it’s the usual lack of clarity or transparency leading fans like us to guess and speculate and potentially worry about consistency and application! Decision can have such a big impact on the game I think they should make more effort to educate the fans rather than be some sort of black box operation where we just accept it on the face. There are enough cases to doubt the consistency of the citing process already.

        • 100% agree with that.

        • MST

          There is some other footage on twitter from a different angle. It shows him diving hard into the maul, no arms at all, shoulder making contact with Quirks leg. It looks a lot worse than the footage we all saw on the replay.

          Rich Freeman has also said that he apologised to the sunwolves players straight after the game. That plus the enter of a guilt plea (even if only to get a reduced sentence) says to me that he knew he had done something wrong.

        • Monk EyBoy

          Its not a failure to rap, joining the Maul (or Ruck) you must bind. So no hanging out and then flying in to put the shot on an unprotected bloke blindside. I do however agree that angle given to us doesn’t show much so the citing commissioner’s footage must be a ripper. To cite it “must” reach the red card footage

        • Huw Tindall

          If we are going to be strict on players binding in the ruck there will be 20 yellow cards a game. It’s a war zone with players blasting straight into the opposition players to get them off the ball.

        • Who?

          This is a source of horrendous inconsistency since 2009, when that fair and well loved bloke Bakkies Botha destroyed Adam Jones’ shoulder by charging a ruck in the Lions series in SA. Bakkies copped something like 9 weeks back then (a huge suspension, given it was a rarely-penalized offence at the time), more than Latu’s copped, yet the UK Press were still in hysterics about it all.
          Yet as you’ve said, and given it’s never penalized, it happens constantly, and could be blown up at almost every ruck.

      • Andrew Luscombe

        You can see in this view, just as the final collapse occurs, Latu lifting Quirk’s lower leg in a way that caused the knee to twist as the maul fell over. You have to look for the leg coming up off the ground with a hand around it.

        https://www.theroar.com.au/rugby-union/video/the-moment-that-has-tolu-latu-in-strife-730421/

        Definitely a ten week thing.

    • Huw Tindall

      His disciplinary record isn’t actually that bad. Penalty magnet for sure but not a foul player. Only suspension was minor fistycuffs with Matt Toomua 3 years ago or something. Think one yellowcard after that for the push in face at end of last year.

      Agree with you Greg that if Latu’s action is 10 weeks then what about neck roles? If the law is applied half the team should be cited for entering the ruck wouthout binding and targeting a players leg. The de rigueur technique for ruck cleanouts is to lift the players legs and twist/tip them off balance and out of the way. And players fly into rucks full tilt. Sure as hell all those involvements do not include a bind on any other player at the ruck.

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        Didn’t he hit Taylor when we played the All Blacks last year?

        I think his discipline is atrocious. I hope the Tahs don’t offer him another contract. He is offering nothing.

        • Huw Tindall

          Not sure but he is a Kiwi so will allow that ;)

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Ouch!

      • Keith Butler

        The lack of proper refereeing of the ruck really gets my goat. Not binding, not staying on your feet, not supporting your body weight side entry happen all the time and should be penalised and carded for repeat offending. Teams the world over do it and get away with it unless it is too bloody obvious. During games you also hear a lot of calls “tackler release” but surely that should also apply to the tackled player as well who all to often holds on to the ball. Maybe the ref should just call “tackle”.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Not quite true on the tackle. The rules state that a tackler must release the tackled player straight away while the tackled player is allowed to place the ball and make it available. So if a player gets a knee on the ground then that is deemed a tackle. The tackler must release the player while the tackled player is allowed to go to ground and place the ball.

        • Keith Butler

          Thanks ref. Cleared it up for me.

        • Who?

          KB’s not totally wrong, KRL. The player is allowed to immediately place the ball once. They must then release and, to my reading of law, they should also attempt to get out of the way of play, the same way the tackler is to roll away.
          What saves most rucks (certainly rucks built by good teams) is that they are well supported and the cleanout blows past the ball far enough early enough that the tackled player isn’t a factor – in the same way a crooked throw isn’t a major issue if the defending team doesn’t jump and contest the lineout. But that doesn’t mean there’s not times when tackled players are given leeway.
          But in yet another contrast… I’ve seen games this year where jackals have started using their hands after they shoulder up to an opponent, and have been rewarded with turnovers. “Shoulder up”, as in, they enter the breakdown at the same time as their opponent, or even slightly after the ruck guard, there’s upper body contact and the guard initiates binding, but the jackal ignores that and grabs at the ball. Contact from two players entering the breakdown moving forward over the ball (‘closing’, to use the exact term in law) forms the ruck, not the binding, so to my mind, they’re late and should be penalized. I don’t recall this being a common issue under the old laws (i.e. when tacklers didn’t need to enter through the gate, etc).
          And sealing off, not supporting body weight, ‘collapsing the ruck’, entry from the side, all clear penalty offences that are often seemingly deliberately ignored at the top level. How can a bloke enter the ruck through the gate when they threw a short ball at the gain line to the runner who was immediately tackled? So often, the passer just throws his back knee over the tackled player and that’s seemingly allowed.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Yeah the tackled player does need to get out of the way and can’t lie all over the ball. They have to be allowed to do this and place the ball first. It can be a tricky area to adjudicate on but when players are wrestling on their feet and the person who took the ball in goes on one knee, that constitutes a tackle and the then the tacklers must immediately release while the player with the ball can place it and then attempt to roll away.
          Don’t confuse tackle with ruck on the jackle. A ruck isn’t formed until there is at least one player from each side in contact over the ball. In a tackle the first supporter of the tackled player can legally go for the ball with his hands no matter how many opposition players are there. It’s only the next one in that isn’t allowed because the first one forms the ruck. Also players with their hands on the ball before a ruck is formed don’t need to release once the ruck commences.
          I do agree that sealing off and weight on the feet seem to be loosely ruled on at times.

        • Who?

          Totally understand your first paragraph, it’s just that it’s uncommon to see a tackled player get a knee down without going to ground rather quickly afterwards, or without being caught in a maul first (especially if Jack Dempsey’s around to make sure he forms that maul!).
          What I’m saying with the ruck on jackal is that often the jackal is being beaten by the ruck, but is allowed to collect the ball, because he’s quick on the grab even though the grab is starting after first contact. It’s not a ruck guard – the ball carrier’s team mate – going for the ball, it’s defenders. And it’s not continuing to keep hands on the ball, it’s people who are being beaten by the ruck, but are in good position and look like they beat the ruck. But they didn’t…
          I was in a training course with a recent top level ref a couple of years ago, and his statement was, “Rugby’s a game played on your feet. Well, maybe not at the elite level, but at club level, it’s played on your feet.”

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Yeah although for me it as take the ball up into contact then go to ground and get it back fast

  • skip

    Latu got four weeks more than Moody…

  • Bixbyvegas

    Just for conversation here’s a question. In a pack with Pocock do players switch off a bit because he’s just that good they know he will cover a lot of work? Is this Brumbies pack better as a whole unit with Pocock running water?

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      No, interesting thesis but I don’t think so. The team’s results improved hugely after he came back in the second half of last season, and most of the Wallabies’ best years since George Smith left have been when he played more frequently.

      • Bixbyvegas

        I think its rather human to let the over achiever do more. I’ll keep this thought on the back burner, If we start to see comments about Valetini or Arnold “going missing” in coming weeks let’s revisit. I reckon I saw just this sort of thing in the Wallabies pack last year with Hooper & Pocock exhausted and the rest of the pack absent for multiple games.

        • Brendan Hume

          I reckon that was more because the rest of the pack just weren’t up to the standard required. Over a long period we’ve seen multiple tight 5 players in the Wallabies show little in terms of defence, ball carries or set piece dominance. Marry this with players like Hannigan at 6 (with his poor breakdown accuracy, limited power through contact) and two sevens playing at 7 and 8 and you’re going to have some problems.
          There seem to be some good players coming through – our hooker stocks are looking promising, our props are developing, we have some rising young prospects at lock. Hopefully this, combined with some more thoughtful selection in the back row and you’ll see the likes of Hooper and Pocock have less dominance of key passages because better players will be more involved.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Nah mate. The game improves because he leads by example. I do note there have been some talk about how Pocock, although good, is rather limited in the all round skills that a 7 needs these days and that he lacks some of the hard running hit ups of Cane and Savea and that he can lack dominance in his tackling and so needs a really good 6 and 8 (which he doesn’t get in the Wallabies). Personally I think his play and leadership makes up for that but it is interesting

      • John Miller

        Actually KRL, the many myths surrounding Hooper and Pocock’s respective strengths and weaknesses in many cases aren’t backed up by the evidence. Whilst Hooper’s dominant tackles metric is good, as we know, many of these hits are bum rushes on flat footed, hospital pass awaiting inside backs. For every Hooper highlight reel maker Fox replays endlessly to embarrassing OTT euphoria, is a misjudged, poorly timed “shoot” that goes unmentioned in the commentary box and leaves the defensive line in disarray (whilst usually never even reading as a missed tackle for Hooper either). In comparison to other Super backrowers, Hooper’s missed or ineffective numbers were disappointing across the 2018 SR season. He gets bumped off in straight tackles an awful lot: more than 1 out of every 4 attempts last season was either poor or missed altogether – not dissimilar numbers to Kwagga Smith who reportedly can’t get into the Boks based in his sieve-like defensive qualities. This season, Hooper’s already 4th in missed tackles across every player the comp (Bernard Foley: 1st). Between Hooper and Poey, the breakdown currency (going both ways) is patently obvious, so the question of “who’s the better defender?” is very, very easy to answer.

        And whilst predictably Hooper had more total run metres in 2018, per match, Pocock made 63% more tackles, 250% more tackle breaks whilst conceding only 2 penalties (same as number as Hooper) for 500% more forced turnovers. Pocock not only a vastly superior defender, heis a far more effective and frequent backline link man (something often overlooked) – Hooper acting as an extra three quarter channel and tramline runner.

        If everyone is fit and the selectors are serious in 2019, the 7 jersey is fait accompli.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Mate, I’m on board. I think Hooper is a very over rated player and I wouldn’t have him in my 23. I think he lacks dominance in the collision in both attack and defence and while he runs around the field a lot I don’t actually know what he does and I don’t find him effective. This is without even approaching his very poor leadership

        • Ed

          Those points you made about the collision was an area Hansen and co told Ardie to work on. He has to the point where he was one of the best ABs on the end of year tour. Ardie was also awesome against the Tahs.

        • John Miller

          Ardie absolutely dusted the Tahs backrow at Brookie. Agreed – he’s in white hot form.

        • Brisneyland Local

          You left out the point about him being a shit captain, and poor decision maker!

        • Nutta

          Yeh, but he just cost $6m so I reckon I’ll be eating my own fingers before I see SK8R sitting on a Wobbly sideline whilst Poey swans at 7.

          Crap. But fact.

        • Huw Tindall

          Can’t argue with that but unfortunately we are missing the stats coaches are looking at now like reload times (the one Eddie Jones first banged on about) and I’d guess that’s where Hooper gets in front. Covers so much territory and is the line on attack and defence faster than almost any bloke out there. Still, in the absence of the data Poey wins on the available evidence!

        • John Miller

          Good point HT. And there is zero doubt about the quality of Hooper’s motor. The bloke is a metronome. But Cheika seems to be focused solely upon effort with little regard for actual impact (apparently a reason for the continued selection of Hanigan). Attending a ruck is one metric, doing anything useful at it is quite another. In singularity, the reload is a flawed metric which segues seamlessly in Cheika’s flawed attack and defensive strategies over countless seasons.

        • Greg

          indeed… “loitering with intent” might get you into strife with the boys in blue…. but not much help at a ruck.

        • GeorgiaSatellite

          Plus, as I noted recently, Brian gets 2-3 opposition players committed to negating his influence (and still manages the stats you noted above). The same cannot be said about Steve Austin.

        • formerflanker

          I’ll declare my bias up front – I’m a Hooper fan.
          His speed to the breakdown is immense. Arriving first to a Tahs player with the ball gives them time to recycle and maintain possession.
          He does attack in the tight channels and uses footwork to get over the all important advantage line.
          Tramline running has been used successfully by many All Black back rowers (and hookers). He doesn’t seagull i.e. do nothing.
          His on-field decision making is not done in isolation: his coaches must take responsibility for game plans too.
          Sure I’d like to see him 15kg heavier and just as fast, but……

        • John Miller

          I’m a Hooper fan as well FF. But not in the starting pack this Wallabies team is deploying. No question Hooper attempts to run the central channels – and his illusive footwork is his key weapon in these instances. But equally, when tagged, he is easily ragdolled – not quite as embarrassingly as Ned Hanigan got deckchaired off a comedically ferocious run up against the lowly Moondogs last weekend, but about as often as he makes headway. And whilst the AB backrowers often trip the light fantastic in the 14 channel, they do so effectively because all of the core requirements within the pack (set piece, maul wrestling, tight running, breakdowns, gainline collisions), are more than adequately ticked off amongst the composite pack skillsets before they dallying with the “extras”. Michael Cheika ignores the fundamentals before accommodating the “extras”. Big difference.

          This is not Michael Hooper’s fault. He is a gutsy, talented, wholehearted footballer. The fault rests solely with Michael Cheika (and he has solely had mandate over every aspect of this dire Wallabies outfit). “Coaches must take responsibility” – for poor selections, poor game plans and abject results: Cheika should take responsibility. He hasn’t. And continues not to.

        • Pedro

          Hooper used to be legit. He’d bust tackles left and right and have the acceleration to make serious metres at will.

          This season we haven’t seen that and without that string to his bow he’s not an effective back rower. He’s more like a utility back.

          Hopefully he’ll get it back but his style of play always seemed to be short lived as it relief so much on pace, which tends to drop off, especially with the work conditions of forwards.

        • Who?

          John, one quick question… #7 is supposed to be a linking sort of a player. You seem to have the stats in front of you (I don’t). How many passes did each give last year..? Because that’s as important as run metres…

        • John Miller

          Thanks Who. Pass stats were across 2018 TRC (both played almost equal minutes): Poey 63% more passes (30/19) with 80% more of these classified as “good passes“ (27/15)

      • Bixbyvegas

        He does lead by example, his shoulders are bloody broad and we’ve seen him carry teams over the line plenty of times. BUT did he get more out of that pack by running water (and advice), than if he was playing instead of Cussack? Elevating all 8, instead of just leading 7. I’ll keep this thought on the backburner. Lets see where the brumbies get to over the next month.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Nathan,

    No real surprises with Fardy as there’s no way Cheika and co would pick him anyway. Latu really needs to sort his p[lay out as being known as a serial offender means you get the 50/50 decisions go against you regardless. He needs to really pull his head in and be super careful for a while once he comes back. Good to see Pocock back and I hope he is ok. Still hope my Canes win though :-)

    Petaia certainly seems good but I’m not sure that blowing smoke up his arse as the next big thing is the right way to bring him along. Let’s wait and see some consistency especially once he’
    s known and teams put in plans to nullify him a bit.

    • Brisneyland Local

      Yep concur. I always get worried when they start touting the ‘next big thing’. That tends to put the mockers on them!

  • Brisneyland Local

    Morning GAGR’s. Well have just recovered from my morning gym session of trying not to spew whilst lifting heavy things in front of a bunch of ladies young enough to be my daughters, at the local PCYC. Man am I still paying for that over indulgence at Christmas time. My random thoughts whilst enjoying my wholemeal toast with vegemite:
    – Whilst I could not clearly see what Latu did, this guy has been a liability for a long time. His juice isn’t worth the squeeze. And whilst Gibson may be surprised around the 6 weeks, he knew the risk. So if you roll the dice you take the chances. Gibbo you threw snake eyes! Latu should never be allowed back in gold til he can two whole season without a card or a suspension.
    – Sad to see Fardy not coming back but completely understand that whilst the Ass Clown is in charge, he wont come back. And I am sure that is the case for multiple other players too.
    – Very happy to see Pocock back, not only are the Brumbies better with him, Australian rugby is better when he plays.
    – Just listened to the GAGR podcast this morning. The interview with Laurie Fischer was fantastic. A man that is a great servant of the game. Understands the game, has a common sense approach. Compare that to the ramblings of the Ass Clown! Laurie repeatedly used the word “Shape” of the game. That is also a common term used by Alan Jones (not that I am a huge fan of AJ, but when talking rugby he occasionally makes sense). I have never heard Cheika use this word. And I not sure he understands it.
    Over to you GAGR’s!

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Mate, I think almost everyone is just waiting for post RWC when Cheika pisses off and rugby in Australia can start moving forward again.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Yeah I hear you! But I would love to see some one fight the machine as much as us fans want to. I want to see someone stand up or the game and for the fans. I still have a small skerrick of hope that these new two may. But I am sure like all things involving the Wallabies, that hope is just my pride fucking with me!

    • Bernie Chan

      Fardy was never going to come back to get screwed over by Cheika again…
      If Cheika believes (not sure he actually does, he may just be pig headed…) he selections were better options, he is about the only rugby person in Oz who does….

      • Brisneyland Local

        So true.

    • formerflanker

      With Pocock back on the paddock, I sincerely hope the refs, assistant refs, TMOs and citing dudes all get together and stamp out the “Pocock neck roll”.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Lets hope so.

    • Keith Butler

      Poser! The Latu incident didn’t look much on the tv and
      certainly not a full on charge. The fact that Quirk has a serious knee injury might have had some bearing on the sentance. He is becoming a serious liability.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Well not really posing, just more trying to not look like an idiot!
        Yep I reckon the injury had a significant impact on the decision.
        But that being said, Latu has now developed a reputation.

        • Keith Butler

          The reason why I exercise with the ‘wrinklies’. Makes me laugh though watching the young bucks lifting weights way beyond their capabilities with crap technique just to impress the young ladies and spending more time checking their iPhones that actually working out.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Yeah that is why I go to the PCYC. Very posers. These days I go at 530 am as it is the only time I can go. Luckily enough that is too early for the posers! Mostly.

        • Old_Laurentian

          Ha I go to the PCYC too. Maybe we know each other!

        • Brisneyland Local

          PCYC Parramatta?

        • Hoss

          i hear you and its all upper body. their legs look like two knitting needles sticking out of socks.

          Precious dears.

        • Happyman

          Mate that is why they wear Jeans so they don’t have to do legs.
          I call them mirror boys all they do are pretend exercises.

    • Happyman

      With respect to Latu I got something on my face pages yesterday. It was from Skysports nz and it pointed out that of approx 80 odd tries that have been scored so far approx half have come from either attacking of defensive lineout.

      This makes a serious point that if your lineout is not on point you are at a serious trouble particularly at the pivot points in a game.

      Given that Latu cannot hit a side of a barn with a handful of beans makes him a liability. End off discussion. As Hoss says Meat first then Gravy

      • Who?

        Fascinating stat, I totally agree. Latu’s the poorest thrower of our young hooker stocks.
        Oh, and it’s Nutta who says meat and potatoes before gravy. ;-)

        • Happyman

          Sorry Nutta

  • Gottsy

    I’m impartial, but to me, I saw Latu charge in with no arms and then twist Quirk’s knee around. He is looking at at least 6 weeks out with an MCL injury so I guess all is fair

    • Brisneyland Local

      Fair point.

  • Nicholas Wasiliev

    Finally back on the news chat this year!
    Latu: fair. His discipline has become a constant issue. Think the bloke has a lot of talent and his heart is in the right of place in terms of enthusiasm, but these moments are going to be his downfall if he keeps this up.
    Poey coming back makes that match against the Canes possibly the game of the round. Brums haven’t beaten them in NZ for a while but if they play like they did against the Chiefs (with Poey in form), that’ll be a tough outfit to overcome! Can’t wait!

    • Brisneyland Local

      Welcome back. Great to have you back in the mix!

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Welcome back Nic. It’s ok mate my Canes have got this

    • Ed

      Poey v Ardie – worthy of admission alone.

      • Bernie Chan

        Sure is…Ardie is playing great, what a beast in the collision areas, and Pocock is our best by some margin. For the Brumbies sake, hope that performance against the Chiefs is not a ‘1-off’ but a portent of the season ahead.

    • Dally M

      I have no issue with the penalty as Latu likely did it with intent to hurt someone, but you can guarantee you will see another incident the same or worse this weekend that will go unpunished.

      Consistency is all that one asks for…

    • Happyman

      Welcome back

  • Singapore Sling

    Fardy was a scapegoat for the 2016 England pantsing. The tight workload he was expected to and did carry due to Krustys small 7/8 (hooper/McMahon) during that series was ridiculous. He was falling off tackles in the last 10 minutes of the first and second test because he was totally exhausted. Krusty burnt Fardy badly, but hey he had Mumm and Hanigan pushing through so who can blame him.

    • John Miller

      At least Fardy saw a World Cup. Higginbotham was scapegoated after the first 40 minutes of the opening 2015 TRC match against the Boks at Suncorp. Aiming to show that Michael Hooper could command the 7 jersey in singularity, Cheika stupidly benched Pocock from the kickoff and full blame for the ensuing first half ruck bloodbath – courtesy of Messers Burger, Coetzee and a rampant Francois Louw, who laid on an opening 40 openside flanking breakdown masterclass – was laid squarely at the feet of Higgers, who wasn’t spotted in Gold again for several seasons (and then, only very briefly, before his Cheika purgatory sentence resumed). Pocock was injected in the second half to stem the Bok tide, which he definitively did, and voila! Cheika’s f*<$ing Pooper travesty was born. Its creation was solely to re-mediate Michael Hooper's clear skills deficiencies in the Wallabies backrow.

      Post 2015, it was important for Cheika to destabilise the Wallabies backrow because if Fardy had the 6 jumper nailed down and Pocock was a sure thing for one of the other two backrow positions (as when fit he always is), Hooper was going to get a forensic review each and every match. Diminish Fardy, dally with Dean Mum, create some backrow turnstiles and all of a sudden, no one’s focusing upon the openside slot anymore. Everyone is too busy being up in arms about the rugby tragedy playing out on the other side of the scrum.

      The most cunning and strategic sleight of hand that Cheika has ever shown has been in insulating his favourites through marginalising / discarding direct competition and distracting / diverting the selection conversation. The damage Michael Cheika has done to Australian rugby over his blinkered and parochial regime is incalculable. And still, the circus rolls on.

      • Singapore Sling

        I agree with all of that just don’t go drinking Bundy this afternoon.

      • Bernie Chan

        Yep…imagine a Fardy/Pocock/Higgers backrow compared to some of the stuffed up combos Cheika prefers…
        Ruck presence..tick.
        Lineout ability….tick..
        Heavy contact ability..tick.
        Line breaking…tick.
        Leadership…tick.
        Seriously, only Cheika thinks Mumm or Hanigan are better #6s than Fardy.
        But history shows Cheika wears some very severe blinkers…he also picked Foley at #12 and then blamed Cooper for the failings of his chosen #12.
        We won’t win the RWC, we might struggle to get into the Elimination Rounds, but after this RWC Cheika should be gone and the re-building can begin…I hope!

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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