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Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News pumps up Quade Cooper’s return to Suncorp, examines the crucial improvement in the Waratahs performance, looks at a tough choice for a sevens and Waratahs forward along with outlining the hunger of the Reds to win their Super W play-off for a shot at the Waratahs


Reds unfazed by returning Cooper

Cooper returns to the ground that he lit up

Cooper returns to the ground that he lit up for over a decade

Saturday, the 30th of April: the date marked on the calendar of many rugby fans as the return of the banished child of Queensland rugby back to where he made his name.

This Saturday marks the first time that Rebels fly half Quade Cooper will return to Suncorp to face the club that he played 12 years for and won a championship for in 2011, the Queensland Reds.

The clash marks the first time that Cooper comes up against Brad Thorn,  the man that many thought ended his rugby career after expelling him from the Reds squad to the bowels of club rugby in 2018.

Despite the natural interest and inevitable hype up of the Thorn vs Cooper narrative, current Reds fly-half Bryce Hegarty refused to buy into the drama, displaying the respect held for Cooper within the Queensland ranks and the importance of focusing on their own game.

“Not at all. The focus is all our game and how we want to play,” Hegarty said. “He’s been a good player for a long time in Australian rugby.”

“He’s got the respect of me and other players that he deserves but I don’t focus too much at all on him or any other player when I’ve got things I want to execute for the team…For us, this match is just super important for our season.”

The Reds are coming off a dominant display against the Brumbies last Sunday, with the side’s approach this week focused on ensuring that they back up this performance for their clash with the Rebels on Saturday.

“Hopefully, that’s what we’ve spoken about a lot and we want to pride ourselves on being that consistent team that constantly delivers and it starts on the training field,” he said.

“I think it comes down to playing for one another and knowing your detail, going into games and then building on that momentum and that consistency that we’re starting to get now.”

The Reds will be looking for their 3rd win in a row and they will have to do it without Caleb Timu, who was suspended for punching during his club match.

This could serve as a double blow to their forward pack, who are likely to be without Angus Scott-Young, who will face the judiciary on Wednesday night to try and reduce his ban for striking James Slipper.

Blue Wall’s a Tandy improvement for NSW

Rob Simmons lineout Waratahs & Crusaders 2019 (Credit Keith McInnes)

The rise of the Waratahs to the top of the Australian Conference has largely been credited to the transformation of the side’s defence under the watch of defensive coach Steve Tandy.

In the first 5 games of the season, the Waratahs have allowed just 13 tries, six less than 2017 and four less than last year.

The side has not allowed more than three tries in a singular game and back rower Ned Hanigan has attributed the improvement to the work of Tandy in bringing clarity and continuant to the area.

“It’s not that different, it’s just blokes staying more connected with one another and you’re just trusting the fellows inside and outside you have got your back,” Hanigan said.

“It sounds simple but really practising it and making sure you don’t have those rogue guys. That Blue Wall is what we refer to it as and you just keep turning up.”

Tandy praised the side for sticking tough and buying into the system, believing that their impressive win over the Crusaders was a true barometer of how far the side has come.

“The boys are getting more trust and connection in how they go about their business and around working together and making good choices around it and it’s just something that seems to be growing,” Tandy said.

“Coming up against the Crusaders, we knew that was going to be a real barometer around where we were defensively,” he said.

“They do a lot of passes, they run a lot of variety around their shape, they’ve got good ball carriers, so it was really nice to stand up to that sort of test.

“I thought our discipline was outstanding and we trusted our system. We only gave three penalties away in a game coming up against the Crusaders is pretty special.”

The Waratahs will look to continue their strong form when they host the Sunwolves for the first time in Newcastle on Friday.

This will be a true test of the side’s quality, arguably more than the Crusaders, due to the side’s past habit of failing to back up a big win, regularly playing below their ability and losing seemingly easy games to sides below them on the ladder.

Wells back (for now)

Michael Wells still weighing up his future post 2019

Michael Wells still weighing up his future post 2019

Whilst on the men from NSW, Waratahs and Australian Sevens back-rower Michael Wells has reinforced his commitment to the NSW side for the rest of the Super Rugby season, however, he refused to give any indication of where his future lies post-2019.

Wells has split his time between the seven and fifteen man games, having returned for the Waratahs off the bench against the Crusaders last week after playing the first six rounds of the World Rugby Sevens.

Whilst Wells has committed to the Waratahs and the 15-man game for the rest of the season, his future beyond there was unconfirmed as he ruled out doing a similar splitting of his time for next year.

“At the moment my future is at the Tahs for the rest of the season and I will weigh that up after the season,” he said.

“It’s probably not sustainable flipping. Credit to the Sevens guys, they are genuine athlete and if you’re committed to Tokyo and you want to do the Olympics it’s probably a matter of getting your feet into the system and giving time.”

Despite having a background in sevens, Wells noted the difficulties that he faced making the transformation back to the shorter format, in the process warning those that wish to chase a spot on the 2020 Toyko Olympic team that it won’t be an easy task.

“It does take a lot of time to adapt to it and respect needs to be paid to the blokes who are playing sevens at the moment. You need time in there to get used to it.”

Wells has made a similar transition in the past, signing with the Brumbies after the 2016 series and believes that he still needs to ease back into the contact-heavy nature of the fifteen a side format.

“It was nice to come in that way and I adjusted a lot easier coming back to XVs than I did to sevens…I think I got nine tackles in 30 minutes. I don’t think I made nine tackles in the whole circuit series,” Wells said.

“There’s more contact, tighter quarters, bigger bodies (in XVs). I’ve gone from being a big body in Sevens to being a medium to small body in the forwards in XVs, that’s taken a bit of adjusting to.”

Reds desperate for Waratah blood

Reds looking for another chance at the defending champions

Reds looking for another chance at the defending champions

Queensland’s women team are desperate to earn a shot at redemption when they face the Brumbies in the Super W playoff on Sunday.

Both sides will be facing off for the opportunity to de-crown the reigning Super W champions, the NSW Waratahs, with the final set to take place at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday, April 7.

The opportunity to face the Waratahs comes as extra motivation for the Reds, who narrowly lost their only match with the Waratahs 15-12 in the regular season along with being defeated by the NSW women in the initial Super W grand final.

This was emphasised by hooker Averyl Mitchell, who understood and felt the need for revenge despite being in her initial season playing with the club.

“The players that have come through this year, they’re carrying that and I didn’t quite understand – you want to win every game you play, I don’t think there’s been anything be it a warm-up drill or anything that I don’t want to win – but you don’t really realise how strong that drive is until we played them the first time and we want to win really badly,” she said.

The Reds were still focused on getting past the Brumbies first, who they beat in a close contest 12-0, and she believed that the side needs to improve their performance and match ACT’s physicality if they wished to advance to the final.

“Obviously they’re really, really physical and really gave it to us. They’ve just come off a win in Perth, they’ve worked really hard to put together some good performances so we’re certainly not taking it lightly, we’ll be looking to improve on our performance two weeks ago,” she said.

Along with her playing commitments with the Reds, Mitchell also works for the club as a graphic designer and was still trying to come to terms with the opportunity that she had been given.

“When you first start playing, obviously everyone’s different, but for me it was always about, it’s the sort of thing that when it is really hard…when you close your eyes that’s what you see,” she noted.

  • Nathan Williamson

    Having just listened to the podcast and finding out that Michael Cheika reads GAGR, let me be the first to say

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9984d6b2c65b765449ad98a4b2121cebb12e64bdcc9de3e94632c7c610849854.jpg

    • Gallagher

      Well I’ll know that’s bogus if he doesn’t pick Quade over Foley, he’s not reading Wallaby Watch each week is he!

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        He reads it to ignore it

        • Funk

          Does he read it, then pick his team in spite of it?

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          To be honest it wouldn’t surprise me. He looks like he wants to be a contrarian, prove he is the the smartest in the room and like he needs to prove everyone wrong and reinvent the feel.

          Typical inferiority complex.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Might be related to Thorn. …

    • Andrew Luscombe

      Perhaps he’s one of the commenters also. Nutta? Hoss? Anybody?

      • joy

        Me?

      • Missing Link

        Cheika can’t be that funny and entertaining, surely?

  • skip

    So the Waratahs have a new defense coach and they’re leaking fewer tries? Glad Grey is still at the Wallabies then.

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      Their defence was shite last year though, without Grey. Might just have to do with picking better defenders (Hunt, AAC) in the backline, and also the fact that in world cup years the Kiwi sides play their B teams most rounds.

      • Footyyy

        Cmon, DHP isn’t THAT bad.

        Contrast with a defensive backline of 9. Genia, 10. Cooper(!?) 11. Maddocks, 12. Meakes, 13. Hunt, 14. Izzy, 15. DHP. And yes, I know I just listed Cooper in a ‘defensive’ backline…

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Really? I personally think DHP is probably the worse defender of them all. He’s class in attack and contributes so much under the high ball, but I’m not convinced he knows how to tackle or defend.

        • David Creagh

          Any “defensive” backline that has Folau in it is flawed. That guy has not idea how to tackle or position himself in defence. I think I have only ever seen him make one try saving tackle. At fullback that is part of the job description and at wing almost a mandatory criteria.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I think he defends okay, although admittedly not great, for a winger. He’s surely no worse than Joe Roff, who is one of our best wingers of all time.

          Daugunu, Savea, Naholo – none of those guys can tackle either.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Not many backline players can tackle well. Not sure sprinting champs and touch footy players are built well enough to consistently tackle massive busses at will! Not many are known good defenders either. Statisticly your either a good defensive or a good offensive player, not both. Barret and McKenzie have been perfect egs of this for years!

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Mortlock, Nonu, O’Driscoll, Carter, Digby Ioane, Reiko Ioane, Ben Smith…

          I don’t see any reason why one can’t be a good defender and a good attacker. McKenzie is a poor defender as he is tiny, while Barrett is actually a pretty good defender for a 10 (generally one of the smallest players on the team).

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Yeah I see your point but some of those are certainly the exception. I see it every year….. all the good attackers end up topping the poor defenders list with more missed tackles than you can count. Barret has been fair so far this year but the last 2super seasons he’s 100% been one of the worst defensive backline players. Flip through fox stats and allready the biggest offenders are Janties, Mounga, Maddocks, Foley, Parker, McKenzie, Beale, Cooper, Sorrovi and others. I think it just comes down to physics.. .. Or Science. …..but it ain’t luck!

        • Footyyy

          We need a Ben Tune 2.0.

        • T.edge

          Do you remember that time George North picked him up against the Lions and carried him up the field!

        • Greg

          I do…. unfortunately George North ended driving himself headfirst into the turf.

        • Tah Tragic

          Hate to bring stats into the argument as you can almost prove anything by picking and choosing but … on the fox player stats it shows DHP as being the 2nd best defender at FB for tackle effectiveness so far this season (only a few games.) What is interesting is how far Folau is behind DHP. DHP 84% effective with 22 tackles, 3 missed and 1 ineffective. Folau is 64% with only nine tackles, 2 missed and 1 ineffective. This is after 4 games for DHP and 5 for IF.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Looking at longitudinal stats, DHP is a really poor defender.

          I’d love if he has improved majorly in the off season with new coaching though.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Also shows most FB have poor stats defensively tho…… but with Folou we have Attack stats twice as good as DHPs and class leading in just about everything from tackle busts, tries, line breaks, try assists, run metres and even offloads! Even everyone’s young media Tom Banks is rather underwhelming overall stats wise! That’s the thing about stats…… If your honest when looking at them. .. .they floor all these whimsical opinions based on one dodgy pass or a stupid missed tackle that instantly end rains itself in the fair-weather supporters mind…… therefore biasing there own opinion without even realizing it!

        • Missing Link

          Normally I’d shudder at the mention of Cooper and defence in the same sentence, however I’ve been watching him closely this year and he has vastly improved his tackling.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Considering facts like that Quade was the 3rd best defender of ALL players in the last Rugby Championship he played in, 2016 from memory……and his defence so far this year and even for South’s last year was exceptional for a 10…….id say it’s mostly the haters convincing themselves Quade is some abnormal deficient defender!

        • Other people have piled in here. Cooper is never going to make a list of brilliant tacklers in the game of rugby, but honestly how many 10’s ever will?

          He probably won’t even make the list of top 10 international number 10’s of the professional era over his career, although I’m willing to see stats that prove me wrong. But he’s not terrible. He definitely has unengaged games but overall he puts his shoulder in and makes a hit when someone is in his channel. The incumbent 10 and 12 in GAG fail to do that pretty regularly…

        • GO THE Q REDS

          “but he’s not terible”…….you seem to have a pretty low opinion of Cooper. Considering he’s the form 10 in the whole competition with more try assists, line breaks, offloads, tackle busts blah blah blah then just about everyone…… and that’s a pretty good list of playmakers hes amoung there with Barret McKenzie Ioane Janties and so on. Even the great Foley is being over shadowed. Jeez all the rest must be garbage.. ..

        • No, I rate Cooper, very highly, he would be my pick, even though I doubt Cheika will pick him, for the Wallabies 10 jersey.

          Please think about the comment in the context of this thread. And, indeed, my previous paragraph in what I wrote. Defensively, he’s not terrible is what I said. if you look over the professional era of SR, I doubt he’d make the top 10 defensive 10’s for most people. I actually said on the international stage over the same period.

          Offensively, it’s a different kettle of fish. I haven’t really watched this year’s competition properly but from what I have seen, he’s #1 in Australia. The stats certainly back that up. I would put, from the highlights I have watched, Mo’unga and Beauden Barrett ahead of him. They make fewer critical mistakes, and they’ve played fewer minutes so “most X” stats can be misleading about impact on the games they have played, although highlights can be too. But the Crusaders being unbeaten with Mo’unga on the field, and having a swathe of their AB’s missing says something about his impact.

          Now, I think being in the conversation as to whether you’re first, second or third best pivot in this year’s SR – and that is honestly where I put him – is far from terrible. I haven’t seen enough of his tackling this year to comment. But, even if you just look at the 10’s and just this year. I bet he’s not top three in most people’s lists. And that’s the difference.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          You see once again Eloise, I find it very hard to see how you can have such a strong opinion or even a schooled one when you haven’t even watched the games this year! Replays don’t show positioning, talk, organizing, backing up, effect off the ball amount many things that all add up to a good effort!
          Mounga has been very very quite so far this year….. just being in the team that wins is not credence for applause. His actual contributions are not what has been leading directly to scoring opportunities and plays for his team. Conversely players like Quade, Janties and Hayden Parker have all had consistent positive impacts. Ioane, Barret and Lealifano would be perfect egs of playes who’ve had 1 great game but gone missing the rest. McKenzie has easily been the most tragic 10 of the season.
          But I’ll be honest it looks like your hedging your bet with Quade haters and supporters…..you know…. He sucks but he’s really good, but he sucks…….but he’s really good!
          And I’ll take that bet! I’d almost Garuntee Quade Cooper is in most people’s top 3 so far this year!!!

        • Yet again you are not reading the whole thing. I might be wrong, but you think Cooper is in most people’s top 3 defensive 10’s this year?

          I’ve already said he’s in my top 3 10’s in SR after all.

          As for having strong opinions… I’m a fan. It’s incredibly easy for me to have strong opinions.

      • Bernie Chan

        Adding Hunt and AAC surely improved the defence automatically…

      • skip

        All good points and while players have to take some responsibility the coach takes the most. That’s why changing a coach is usually the best way to improve a team in need of it.

  • Nutta

    The Tarts are right in not focusing too much on the Cru result for many reasons (4 top notch AiB on the sideline, in the distracting shadows of a national tragedy and simply a rare off day for them – that and the fact it is now history and living in the past kills a future). They are also right in looking for building consistency of 2nd and 3rd performances rather than simply coasting after one-off flashes in a pan (my old man used to caution against watching a new guys 1st game is 1st grade as an indicator or ability but rather to watch his 3rd after the novelty has receded, the D has adjusted and the bruises start to set in). That indicates the green-shoots of a maturity I have not heard from them in years. That said it was only one guy saying it. And I would not have made a public, direct reference to a ‘blue wall’ as yet.

    Similarly in terms of maturity, I urge against hyperbole in Quade vs Reds (erm Thorn). The passion and intent otherwise will be so high it will detract from good footy. May I suggest we calm down a little, allow the beast some space to breathe and we may get something worth watching. Otherwise the passion will choke it before it starts.

    I like Wells as a footballer. I thought he made huge steps forward last year as an 8 but he won’t fly under Cheks given he doesn’t bring the Palu size/presence to off-set the Pooper. Unfortunate timing. I hope he sorts himself out but that probably means OS unfortunately.

    • Gallagher

      Hyperbole means to exaggerate or make non literal statements, and I agree, stick to facts, Thorn is a douche

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    With you on this. Sure talk sides up. But FFS be real. Would be a giggle if the Sunwolves won though

    • GO THE Q REDS

      True but still…. the Sunwolves have been very competitive so there’s no reason why they couldn’t win on the day. …

  • Nathan Williamson

    Let me be clear, the crusaders was always going to be a tough clash and I’m not taking away from their effort, But the downfall of the Waratahs (and a lot of of Australian teams in the past), has been playing down to their opponents and losing games against the bottom team immediately after willing a big game (kings in 2017 anyone)

    • GO THE Q REDS

      Kings in 2017? That’s a long time ago. … . people forget that all these teams know how to play rugby. Anyone can win on the day if they execute things right and get a bit of luck. I think your overevaluating the Tahs of recent seasons by saying they get beat by worse teams. THEY have been one of the bottom teams and have been loosing games to both higher and lower teams on the ladder. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but there isn’t a single person on the planet who before the two games between the Saders and Sunwolves would say the Saders where an easier task!

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@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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