Wednesday's Rugby News - Green and Gold Rugby
Rugby

Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News examines the Springboks perception of Australian rugby, the delay of a Wallaby hooker’s return, the Brumbies looking for consistency, and the wake up that the Waratahs need.


Springboks’ soft perception

JP Smith makes a break

JP Smith makes a break

Reds prop JP Smith has given an insight into the mindset of South African rugby, revealing that they see their Australian counterparts as soft and easy to intimidate

JP and his brother Ruan joined the Reds last year after mixing their time between South Africa and Australia and his blunt assessment came as the Reds prepare to host the Stormers on Friday.

“I know what they think of Australian forwards generally,” said the former Stormer. “Soft. That’s my honest opinion, that’s what South African (forwards think) because they try and bully us.”

Smith believes that the key to neutralising the Stormers play will be to match their aggressiveness and take it to them early in the forwards.

“If you take that aspect away from them, they don’t know what to do. If you take their forward play away, they’re very niggly off the ball and they like to intimidate you and once they see you give in, they’ve got you, so it’s physical presence from the start — they want to dominate you.”

Smith’s Reds will be looking to bounce back after they were humbled by the Rebels 32-13 at home last Saturday.

Smith noted that losses to the Hurricanes and Blues would ensure that the Stormers would have extra motivation to win in order to salvage their trip, which ends next week against the team that beat the Reds last week, the Rebels.

“They have two Australian teams left and it’s not always pleasant for those boys when they don’t win their games, so I think they’re going to target us this weekend,” Smith said.

“These next three weeks playing against big South African packs is really going to test us…It’s going to test the depth of the squad as well… playing big South African props — 125-130kg is a big test, so we’re going to have to be very good.”

The Reds will be bolstered by the news that they will not have to face Springbok and Stormers pair Pieter-Steph du Toit and Eben Etzebeth, with Du Toit heading back for the birth of his child and Etzebeth ruled out with a calf injury.

Rebels hooker luxury

Anaru Rangi

The Rebels are set to welcome back Wallaby Jordan Uelese into selection contention in the next couple of weeks, after slowly recovering from tearing his ACL last year.

Uelese has seemed to be a forgotten figure within the Rebels and Australian rugby, and this has stemed from impressive performances from the other two Rebels hooker: Anaru Rangi and Robbie Abel.

Rangi and Abel have been instrumental in the success of the Rebels, helping to tighten up their set pieces into a serious weapon along impressing in general play.

The Rebels have improved to third in Uelese’s absence in terms of lineout success and forward coach Geoff Parling believes that the success comes down to the routine and form that the pair have found on and off the field.

“For the hookers it depends on what works for them, so there’s technical aspects but there’s also mental aspects as well,” he said.

“Some guys enjoy on their day off doing something extra well that’s there but other guys on a day off they just want to chill out.”

“If that works for them, that works for them. The guys have probably found what works for themselves and they’re sticking to it.”

In particular, Parling was full of praise for Rangi for his mobility along with his work in contact and at set pieces.

“Probably some of his contact work but he’s a guy who you see come up with some big moments with the ball in hand,” he said.

“I think one of the tries he scored against the Brumbies, just flying in with a pass off nine so think he really relishes those moments where he can fly into a tackle or fly in with the ball in hand.”

Parling was confident that the side would not fall in the same trap as the Waratahs when they face the Sunwolves on the weekend, knowing the threat they possess as a former player-coach in the last Japanese Top League season.

“There’s some good players, some very skilful players and they want to play with the ball in hand,” he said.

“The Top League is quite loose in general, people want to throw it around…We know they’ll be brimming, raring to go and we’ve just got to make sure we play our game.”

Brumbies craving consistency

James Slipper and Folau Fainga'a  run on

James Slipper and Folau Fainga’a run on

The Brumbies are confident that they can put the handbrake on their roller-coaster start to the season and produce some consistent performances as they get set to return from the bye against the Crusaders.

The ACT side has shown a glimpse of their talent, with wins over the Waratahs and Chiefs in the first couple of weeks. However, this success has been spliced in with losses to the Reds, Hurricanes and Rebels (twice).

As the side prepares to come back from the bye against the Crusaders, prop James Slipper admits that the side must perform better in pressure situations if they wish to have any finals aspirations.

“It starts at training for us. I think performing under pressure is one of the hardest things to do for any sport.”

“We’re learning how to do that probably a bit longer than what we wanted to. It’s a work in progress. It’s a big challenge this weekend to see where we’re at.”

Despite the inconsistent start to the season, Slipper pointed to their positive performances earlier in the year as evidence that the side was still heading in the right direction.

“We’re definitely confident,” he said. “We know when we play well we can be competitive, that hasn’t changed at all, it’s just probably our consistency that’s hurt us.

“One week we’d play really good footy, the next week we’d probably let ourselves down in certain areas…. In terms of confidence and belief in what we’re doing, that hasn’t changed at all.”

The game will be an emotional task, as it marks the first time that the Crusaders will return to Christchurch since the terror attack, which Slipper noted that the side was looking forward to the challenge.

“There’s no point looking at what they can do, everyone knows what they can do. So, it’s about turning up and playing a game you’re proud of, walking off the field knowing that you’ve done everything you can and we believe as a group that when we do that we can be competitive and if not, win the game,” he said.

“There’s no doubt about it, it’s going to be hard but it’s a challenge we’re excited by.”

Waratah wake up call

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

After their disappointing loss to the Sunwolves, Wallaby and Waratah lock Rob Simmons believes that the loss should serve as a major wake up call for the NSW side.

Simmons referenced the efforts of a similar team meeting last year, which lifted the side to the semi-finals, and believed that they were yet to get back to the levels of last year.

“There was a meeting we had early in the season last year where it was pointed out as a group what we thought we were doing and what was really happening,” he said.

“It really struck home with me if I want to make (mobility and work rate) my strong point and try and lead the way in those sorts of areas and since then I enjoy that part and I try to lead the way in that.”

“I think we probably need that little bit of improvement again. Where we were the end of last year, I don’t think we are in terms of our work rate yet and we should be getting there by this time of the season.”

The Waratahs are expected to be back to full strength as they get set to travel to Auckland to face the red hot Blues, who are coming off three straight wins at home.

The side’s chances and spirits were boosted with the news that All Black centre Sonny Bill Williams is set to be ruled out with a knee injury, along with winger Tanielu Tele’a, who was suspended for four matches following his red card last week.
.
However, in true Waratah fashion, they were crushed almost immediately as his absence will be most likely ensure that hulking winger Rieko Ioane will not be rested, like first thought.

Ioane was expected to be rested for the match under the All Blacks resting policy, which prohibits any current and potential players from playing six straight games.

However, this period is reset by the Blues bye in round 5, which ensure that coach Leon MacDonald is more than likely to release Ioane on the wounder Waratahs.

  • Jason

    Man I’ll be so disappointed if the Smith boyz don’t start for the Reds and really give the Stormers some stick! Plus the Reds locks are not small by any means.

  • NSWelsham in London

    Love it when i read an article to do with Australian Rugby and it talks about depth and the strength certain provincial teams have in that area. Now the question will be whether Cheika stands up and realises he doesn’t need to pick players based on reputation. I genuinely believe Australia have a World Cup contending outfit, as long as the right team is picked. I am so bloody excited for that test team to be picked for Game 1 of the Rugby Championship..

  • theduke

    Rangi has been the biggest revelation for me this year. He’s great at the ruck getting turnovers or slowing ball down for the opposition, throws a great lineout, and gets around the park. Would love to see him in gold this year.

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      At this stage he and Faingaa are the form hookers. Would be great if Uelese came in and played the house down though. He has the size to be Australia’s Malcolm Marx.

      • Happyman

        DBTB don’t have a problem with it if he is better than the others skill wise but IMHO the size thing is what has got Aus Rugby to the place where we are now. Have a hooker that can hit line outs and scrum efficiently.

        Get the primary roles done first.

      • Keith Butler

        No need to rush him back with Rangi and Abel playing well. Full recovery first and then let the competition for places begin. His time will come.

      • Singapore Sling

        ACL recovery is bloody arduous and while most can be back on the field within 12 months it take another 12 to get full confidence.

        I’ve read Rangi is considered too small for test Rugby but it’s hard to see where his size is limiting him at the moment.

        Krusty will pick TPN and Boofhead Latu!

        • disqus_NMX

          How can he be too small…. he’s 117kg according to google. That’s bloody big for a hooker. Especially one who’s as mobile as he is.

          Even if that 117kg was a misprint (Rebels homepage and Wikipedia agree on it though), I agree that it doesn’t limit him.

          It’s the same as Sean McMahon – yeah he was light weight for a number 8, but punched and drove through the line better than any Oz forward. Drives me nuts when we pick heavy guys because they are heavy, even though they don’t use that weight to advantage.

        • Mica

          I hear that Dane Coles is considered small for a hooker too and in spite of being a bit of a grub in the way that he plays the game, he’d have to be close to the best hooker in the world when fit.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Nathan,
    No real surprises with the Boks, they’ve always been like that and bullying other teams is part of their DNA. To be fair, it’s what every forward wants, they just do it better.
    Good to see some depth at 2, I hope the Wallaby selectors take note of this and the depth elsewhere and stop looking off shore and at the NRL where results have been mixed at best.

    So Simmons and the Tahs have had a wake up call. WTF! Not sure why they didn’t think this at the start of the season and maybe this inability to understand the season starts in Feb is part of the collective stupidity that is holding them back.

    Brumbies need a win. Stop talking and just do it.

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      I think I saw JP getting absolutely dominated in a bit of push and shove by Matt Philip. JP had this mask of anger and concern on his face while Matt, standing about a foot above him, was just sneering cynically.

      If he’s going to talk that sort of stuff then he needs to back it up.

      Part of the issue with this new generation of Boks forwards as, I think, they don’t have the same number of enforcers as they did in the past.

      With the exception of Thor and Marx, who is actually no Bismarck du Plessis in this fashion, they don’t seem to have the enforcers they did previously, as fantastic as their forward pack is.

      Eben Etzebeth is no Bakkies Botha.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Yeah and I think they suffer without them as it’s so much of their phsyc

      • Keith Butler

        We hear this term ‘enforcer’ time and time again. Back in the 70s and 80s when I was playing it would have an entirely different meaning. What does it mean in today’s game? Personally, i think it’s now totally meaningless.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I don’t but I think it’s changed from someone who ripped peoples eyes out (ala Richard Lowe) to someone who comes in and hits the players off side at a ruck and is prepared to go fisticuffs if they object. It’s also someone who is happy to pick the place for a slightly late hit, slightly high hit etc to just try and bully the other team into being less effective

        • Keith Butler

          An interesting interpretation KRL and probably correct. Don’t recall playing against many Richard Lowe types but definitely one or two nut jobs. Swansea brings back ‘fond’ memories.

        • NSWelsham in London

          I think of the Bismark Du Plessis hit on Dan Carter, nothing illegal just total enforcement to ensure the best player is rattled early on in the game. Love it..

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObE3x79QVs8

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Personally, I disagree. I think there ar elfreses that are skilful, good runners and even have a bit of power – think Kieran Read, Faletau or Sam Whitelock. These guys always make the highlight reels.

          Then I think there are forwards that never make the highlight reels. But nevertheless they are amongst the best players in their team week in and week out. They do this through their relentless, tough, tight forward play. Their efforts are actually what allows the flashy players to succeed.

          The best example is Scott Fardy. As respected as he was, he neve got the applause of a Pocock or a Hooper or a Stephen Moore. Yet over 2013-15 I think he was probably our single best player. He probably didn’t affect as many turnovers as Hooper, run as effectively, or have the highlight reels of big tackles. But Fardy’s presence allowed Hooper to wander into the wider channels by almost always being the first guy into rucks, smashing guys off, slowing down opposition ball, always making plenty of hard tackles and having a singleminded determinedness to destroy opposition mauls.

          And I do think the difference between a blue collar player (like a Hanigan or even a Palu) and an enforcer, is that the latter inspires fear in the opposition. These guys generally play on the edge and concede a lot of penalties as a result.

        • Keith Butler

          Thanks. Maybe meaningless was a poor choice of words. I like your description of forwards/players that never make the highlights reel. They are the core of a good team. Also nothing wrong with playing on the edge. But once it becomes the rule and rather than the exception they become a liability.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Yeah, I can also tolerate guys like Botha committing penalties when he was physically dominating the opposition in a way that I couldn’t when it was Skelton lumbering around like a moronic thug or Mumm being stupid.

        • Mica

          Vickerman for me.
          The look he used to get in his eyes when the teams were lining up before a test match.
          It looked like he was just eyeing up the opposition players that he was going to smash at ruck time.
          Melon was another one who was great at getting through the hard graft and grunt work.

    • Singapore Sling

      I bet I’ve read “wake up call” 100 times over the last few seasons regarding the Tahs. Maybe they need professional help to treat this narcolepsy.

      • laurence king

        Need their hearing checked

      • Mica

        Damn – I can’t up vote this twice, but you definitely made me chuckle. :)
        It really is just media management wankerisms.
        Do they really think that anyone believes this rubbish when they say these kind of things?
        How about identifying the issue and implementing appropriate mechanisms to rectify.
        If all that is required is waking up then WTFU!!!!!

    • Tah Tragic

      The problem is the Tahs keep hitting the snooze button.

  • Keith Butler

    The Rebels made a good choice in signing up Parling onto the coaching team. A first class line out operator when he was playing and has the knowledge and experience at the very top level to pass on.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Not trying to be a smart arse but has he really? I think one of the problems here (and getting that way in NZ) where all these ex-players come in because they have great skills but haven’t been able to teach them to others. Very few top line players make good coaches mate.

      • Keith Butler

        I reckon, yes, stick to his area of expertise though. Rebels line out in past seasons has been a bit of a dogs breakfast and has improved imo. Still early days though in a coaching career. I agree that very few players make top coaches, Martin Johnson being an example. If they do it’s only after doing the hard yards.

        • laurence king

          I think sometimes, it’s the less talented player who makes the best coach as things just don’t come as easy.

        • Keith Butler

          Very true. A guy at my old club, retired early coached at junior level and the gradually worked his way up the ladder. Ended up at Bath.

        • laurence king

          And still has all his teeth, no aches and pains from old sporting injuries and hops out of bed in the morning nice and sprightly.

        • Mica

          Also they have to deconstruct the skill and practice it to get to the top level rather than just playing on instinct. Having to go through this gives you the ability to impart the knowledge in much greater detail.

  • Brumby Runner

    Reds’ chances will be boosted by the omission of Peter Steff Du Toit. He looks to have been in exceptional form in the snippets of the Stormers’ games I’ve seen.

    There is something about Rangi’s game that reminds me of Dane Coles. I wonder if he’s modelled himself on Coles?

    The Brumbies have been quite consistent. Unfortunately, they are consistently losing games, not winning. While their attack has looked fairly ordinary, except against the Chiefs, it is in the defensive areas that they are not muscling up. Looking at a good walloping this weekend, I fear.

    The Tahs’ problems this year start with the fact that there is no Naiyaravoro to rely on for a couple of tries each game. The game plan hasn’t changed from last year it seems, but they don’t have the finisher needed.

    • laurence king

      The Rebels, Brumbies and Reds seem to have a lot of young talent coming through, however that doesn’t seem to be the case for the Tahs. NSW didn’t seem to take the NRC seriously and for the state with the most rugby players ( I think I’m correct in that assumption) there just doesn’t seem to be any pressure on the incumbents in the Tahs side. Where’s the talent. There are a few of the current side going overseas next year, so where are the new players going to come from? I think Gibson is a good coach but I think that bringing on new talent has been the major failing of his tenure

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Nailed it mate

      • Happyman

        Mate the NSW age based and school teams have been poor for the last couple of seasons the NRC under 19’s final was played by QLD v QLD country. The NSW teams were not in the hunt one NSW parent commented to another from QLD after the fist game that his boys were not even close and he was thinking of sending his boy north for the intensity.

        • laurence king

          Sad indictment of the systems and coaching in NSW, All things being equal in terms of standards, NSW should be the provider of quality young players. Something clearly amiss.

        • Happyman

          Perhaps but I would also point out that Sydney has about 9 NRL clubs fighting like a seagull over a hot chip for anyone who can run pass and tackle.

          The other issue os the number of boys who leave to go overseas to play. I can think of about 6 from Brisbane at colts age level who have been recruited overseas for either education or rugby acadamies and I would not know all of them from Brisbane let alone Sydney.

        • laurence king

          Which makes it imperative that coaching and pathways are world’s best practice to make up for the losses.

        • Bernie Chan

          True about the NRL…and they watch all the big school rugby games even in Bris. Of the two ‘gun’ flyhalfs from the 2018 Bris GPS season, one is already contracted to the Storm and the other singed for Canterbury Crusaders of NZ rugby.
          Another thread mentioned one UJ Seutini…he left Oz very early and now plays Top 14 rugby in France…was supposedly the next flyhalf/playmaker after QC…

      • Brumby Runner

        HJH and Shambecklar Vui are both very promising front rowers. Out wider there are players like Cam Clarke and Newsome who will conceivably be looking at higher honours between RWCs. Mitch Short has a lot of admirers in the No 9 spot. I think the Tahs will continue to be well represented in the Wallab y squads in the near to mid future.

  • Bernie Chan

    Cheika has been quoted on fuxsports as they reported on his words at the “Off The Ball” roadshow in Ireland…jeez he is talking shit.
    Why he dumped Larkham…Made no sense!
    He didn’t watch any video footage of opponents in the 2015 RWC (yes, the one where we got very lucky…). Hasn’t watched Wales V Ireland…
    F@#$…it was worse than the Budget speech….

    • Bernie Chan

      Naivalu to #13…Happy to see Kerevi at #12 as I think it is his best position, but Naivalu has hardly any experience at #13…defending will be a challenge.

    • laurence king

      Yeh, I read the article and I missed somehow the reasoning concerning the sacking of Larkham. And I still fail to understand why the other coaches aren’t gone. Maybe, they just do as they’re told and keep their heads down

      • Bernie Chan

        Not suggesting Larkham is a great coach (his record at the Brumbies is not too flash…) but he couldn’t “make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear…”.
        Grey must be the ultimate “yes man”…how he keeps the Defence Coach role is baffling…

        • laurence king

          The other thing about the interview, Cheika spoke about not studying other teams. The opposition make up one half of the game and if they are stronger then they control the tempo of the game. This is probably the major contributor as to why we get so regularly smashed by ABs. Arrogant people are dills and Cheika seems truly blessed in this area.

        • Bernie Chan

          I don’t coach rugby (I played..) but coach football/soccer. After several years of coaching, I was discussing with QLDs senior coaching instructor an opponent Zone whose teams always troubled us via a different approach to ours. Never forgot his advice…”coaching is not just teaching the kids how to play, it is also about teaching them how to adjust to the way different sides will challenge them and to deal with the different approach…”. Cheika seems to think that all he has to do is have ‘his’ team pepared and the opponent doesn’t matter. I happen to think he is wrong…Surely playing ENG is different to playing (say) NZ or Wales…?

        • From NooZealand
        • Mica

          Also a smart coach tries to makes an opposition play the way that they don’t want to.
          The only way to understand this is to watch how they play so you can make an informed assessment of this.
          Surely he must get some intel on this either through his support staff or he is just being cagey with the media.

        • Who?

          He said he let the other guys do that. No real news there, that’s what he always did and said he did.

    • Who?

      So, highlights from the interview…
      Cheika saw Faithless at the venue.
      Mrs Cheika’s gotta be a bit worried him, bit of a Freudian slip early on! Met Mrs Cheika when she was on the check in desk…
      He only started playing Rugby because he wanted to play year round. Before that, he was a Leaguie. Which explains why he’s still so big on it.
      He claims Randwick is now Mini-Ireland…
      Had a good yarn about his early years. Great tales. But clearly knows how to ‘embellish’ a story (his preferred term), loves to play the raconteur.
      ..
      Poor Devin Toner, he doesn’t seem to have enjoyed Cheika’s nickname for him. Inkjet. Because you put toner in a printer…
      BOD said, “a relative unknown coming from Randwick, all I heard was that you were an absolutely FILTHY player, so you know, the hard edge that was going to bring anyway, you know if nothing else we were gonna get a little bit tougher…”
      Jonny Sexton… He’s on the record as saying, “Everyone’s a little bit afraid of Michael Cheika.” Cheika said here, “Some of the death stares coming from the bench…” In reference to his desperation to get on the field as a young player. He was asked if Jonny was banging on the door demanding he be put into the starting team, “Jonny didn’t knock, he just marched right in!”
      .
      Apparently this move was well practiced at training, and Cheika had forbidden them from using it. BOD didn’t care:
      https://www.youtube.com/embed/KzvnexjWJYg
      .
      Losing to Ireland was a key to losing the rest of the season. Ireland’s ability to win that third game (where Cheika thought the Wallabies did well, where they weren’t as good in the second game) knocked the wind out of the Wallabies’ sails. Normally the Wallabies build off their June form, they get better each game, and he thought that having a losing June meant they dropped their heads and failed to kick on through the rest of the year.
      His comments about not watching the 6N’s, Schmidt watching more Rugby, not watching other teams… They all came off the back of that statement above.
      .
      He’s clearly a good bloke. I don’t think anyone’s ever disputed that. The question is only ever whether or not he’s competent in his role as Wallabies coach…
      Oh, it’s also a question whether or not someone who doesn’t understand music – at all – is believeable and credible!!! Met and/or ate with Beyoncé, Brian May, Bob Geldof and didn’t know who they were (still struggles to remember their names).

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

More in Rugby