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Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News confirms James O’Connor’s return, two key re-signings for Super Rugby clubs, Berne’s challenge to the Wallabies backs and the arch enemy name their squad for the Rugby Championship.


Joc-er returns

James O'Connor

After weeks of speculation, James O’Connor is set to return to Australian Rugby, with the outside back expected to be named in the Wallabies squad to South Africa over the next 48 hours.

O’Connor is set to become eligible for Wallaby selection once again after signing a long-term deal to the Queensland Reds, with the contract expected to last at least three years.

Plans for a return was hatched over two months ago when Australian men sevens coach Tim Walsh and former Wallaby Stephen Holies pitched his comeback to Australian rugby to coincide with the 2020 Olympics.

Walsh was essential in formulating the plans for his comeback, which would see O’Connor attempt to make the World Cup squad followed by playing and training with the sevens squad by December.

“We were looking for ball-players who can play centre,” Walsh said. “He’s got a fantastic defence, his speed is world-class, his kicking game speaks for itself and the age and experience he can add to the squad – there’s real value there.”

“I was very sceptical at the start but in the three months that we’ve been talking, I’ve observed that he is very self-aware, very mature, and has taken real accountability of the past, who he is and who he was. I’ve certainly been impressed.”

O’Connor’s desire to return enticed coach Michael Cheika and Scott Johnson to sound out his former coaches regarding his character, with Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond confirming that he has grown up since his departure.

“James would be first to say he didn’t handle fame and fortune in the best way, but he is now 28 years old and a more accomplished player with silky skills and a brilliant ability to assist with line breaks and hits,” Diamond said. “Whoever gets him is getting a little pearl.”

This convinced the selectors to welcome O’Connor back to the Wallaby frame, with Cheika making it known that he was open to his return if he was willing to sign with an Australian Super Rugby team.

This has set in motion his return to Queensland, who were eager to replace captain Samy Kerevi and outside back Duncan Paiu’aua, who is set to depart to Suntory and Toulon respectively.

Bill and Sim’s excellent re-signing

Billy Meakes in space.

Billy Meakes in space.

The Rebels and Waratahs have reinforced their squads for 2020, re-signing core players Billy Meakes and Rob Simmons respectively.

Meakes has been signed on a one-year extension, having been with the Rebels since the start of 2018 after the axing of the Western Force.

He was one of the standouts for the Rebels this year having played in all 16 regular-season games, recording a career-high in tries (5) which cemented his position in the number 12 jersey.

Meakes was thrilled at the prospect of remaining in Melbourne for another year, full of praise for the playing group and the support that he has received from the Rebels fans.

“I’m very excited to re-sign with the Rebels for the 2020 season,” Meakes said. “While 2019 ended in a very disappointing way, I feel that this current group can achieve success if we are committed to getting better and working hard every day.”

“The support that I have received from the Rebels fans over the past two seasons has been second to none and I can’t wait to continue my journey here in Melbourne.”

Simmons re-signs with the Waratahs for a further two years, having rejected lucrative offers from overseas clubs in Europe and Japan.

The second-rower has become an essential part of the Waratahs forward pack since 2017, with his re-signing largely down to how well his family has settled after his move from the Reds.

“I suppose both my family and myself have been enjoying our time down there and I thought why leave somewhere we’re enjoying?” he said. “We did, we had a look and I had some offers but our biggest decision was around that enjoyment.”

Simmons was excited about the changes that were underfoot at the Waratahs, with the 94-capped Wallaby looking forward to passing on his wisdom and knowledge to the younger players set to come through.

“I’d like to be able to pass on some of my experience to younger guys and let them learn off me and stick around and have some good depth around the club,” Simmons said.

“There’s a genuine interest in trying to improve themselves and use any resources they have available to them and experienced players and some good coaches and a genuine drive for everyone to try and get better is something that really excited me and yet another reason for me to stick around and everyone buying into that common goal.”

Berne down the door

Shaun Berne

Shaun Berne

New Wallabies backs coach Shaun Berne has challenged the Wallaby’s backs to stand out and “pick themselves” as they get set to start their Rugby Championship campaign.

Berne has refuted any responsibility or input regarding the selection of players, stating that his main role in the squad is to get players to play well-enough football that they will pick themselves.

“I am not sure how that will play out. There are obviously selectors and I am not a selector. In terms of the group, my job is to get them playing the best footy they can play and if they’re doing that, they’ll pick themselves,” Berne said.

“There’s quite a few options there. Although Israel Folau is a loss to any team, as statistics will prove, it is an opportunity for other guys and they’re all highly talented.”

Berne comes through the Michael Cheika/Eddie Jones school of coaching excellence, having played rugby at Randwick and NSW before securing a lucrative coaching gig in Australia after a short stint overseas.

His role as attacking coach will only last a few months before re-joining the Rebels after the tournament, with his main priority being to help players gel in their limited time that they have together.

“I hope to try to help the players be successful,” Berne said. “I can see there is so much talent in the room, they don’t need someone to come in and tell them how to play the game. There is a lot of experience and rugby IP in the room, my job is to help facilitate that and bring that out and to get them to play together.”

His work in the role so far has impressed halfback Will Genia, who has praised the impact that he has already had on the group on-field.

“He’s very good at facilitating the way we want to play the game,” Berne said. “He understands how we try and play the game and the little tweaks and changes and things like that.”

“He’s very good in terms of his on-field coaching, getting guys to understand why they’re doing things, getting guys better at doing things and he’s very good at communicating all that sort of stuff. So I think it’s been really enjoyable having him in here and he’s had a really big impact on the group already.”

All Blacks TRC squad named

Photo Courtesy of Keith McInnes

Photo Courtesy of Keith McInnes

The All Blacks have named four new players in their 39-man squad for the Rugby Championship.

The new faces include Crusaders backs Sevu Reece and Braydon Ennor, Chiefs loose forward Luke Jacobson and Highlanders fly-half Josh Ioane.

The All Blacks have named the extended squad with the plan to rest the majority of their Crusaders contingency for their opening test against Argentina on July 21.

Two Crusaders players that have already been excluded are Lock Scott Barrett and Ryan Crotty, who have been ruled out of Saturday’s Grand Final against the Jaguares along with the majority of the Rugby Championship.

Barrett is expected to miss 6-8 weeks, whilst Crotty’s injury is more severe, leaving the centre racing the clock to be fit for the start of the World Cup.

They are joined on the sideline by Tim Perry, Damian McKenzie and Liam Squire, who have all had a hampered and disrupted 2019 as a result of injuries.

Other notable exclusions from the extended squad were Squire’s Highlanders teammate Waisake Naholo, along with the immortal Ma’a Nonu, who has somehow been overlooked for offload merchant Sonny Bill Williams.

Coach Steve Hansen was excited but ready to take on the challenge that lays ahead of the squad.

“We’re going to try and do something that’s never been done before and that’s to win three Rugby World Cups in a row. However, that’s not a given. We’re going to have to be hungry for success and we’re going to have to work incredibly hard and smart to achieve this,” he said.

The squad is as followed: Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles, Liam Coltman, Codie Taylor, Owen Franks, Nepo Laulala, Joe Moody, Atu Moli, Angus Ta’avao, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Ofa Tuungafasi, Brodie Retallick, Patrick Tuipulotu, Samuel Whitelock, Jackson Hemopo, Sam Cane, Vaea Fifita, Shannon Frizell, Luke Jacobson, Dalton Papalii, Kieran Read (Captain), Ardie Savea, Matt Todd, TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Brad Weber, Beauden Barrett, Josh Ioane, Richie Mo’unga, Jack Goodhue, Ngani Laumape, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, Braydon Ennor, Jordie Barrett, George Bridge, Rieko Ioane, Sevu Reece, Ben Smith.

  • NSWelsham in London

    Geez that All Blacks squad look the goods, serious depth in their positions. I wonder, this question being focused on our Kiwi Brethren, KRL et al. when was the last time you saw a Wallabies squad get announced and think to yourself, shit we are in for a fight to win games this year?

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Not for a while unfortunately. I’m hoping there will be a bit more of it this year

      • Missing Link

        honest answer 2002, right?

        • Custard Taht

          Maybe 2003 RWC was the last time.

        • From NooZealand

          Yeah – 2003 and mainly ’cause of HD coach John Mitchell and the “genius” Carlos Spencer allowed the Wallabies to outperform the Darkness.

        • Who?

          You’re forgetting the cause of the attacking issues there. It was the attack coach. He needed an ‘x factor’ 10, because he never knew how to create a structure for a backline. The same failings that hit you in the 2003 RWC hit us in the 2011 RWC and 2013 Lions tour, because your 2003 Attack Coach was our 2008-2013 Head Coach. :-(

        • From NooZealand

          Maybe, but remember that the AB’s put more.than 50 points in previous games to the Boks (in Sth Africa) and The Wallabies (in Australia) and RD himself was a back for the AB’s. But we gain nothing, my friend, visiting our history classes. The objective is to learn from those.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          2004 and 2005 teams were ok and I thought Deans would bring out more but yes it has been a while

      • From NooZealand

        Yeah – 2003 and mainly ’cause of HD coach John Mitchell and the “genius” Carlos Spencer.

    • From NooZealand

      I really would like that to be the situation, but no. Whether Crusaders win or loose this Saturday. This will be a good measure of a SR team vs a near test team.

  • Geoffro

    I detect that you think Sonny Bill over Nonu isnt the right call.I’m with you there,Ma’a has been great this year while hardly sighting SBW but he has a history of rubbing coaches up the wrong way so its probably not a form thing.Shame

    • Sevenwithasixonmyback

      Nonu may well miss the Championships, but the ABs would be nuts not to take him into the RWC.
      His form for the Blues was mostly positive – he certainly couldn’t be expected to carry the team – and his game overall has remained consistent. No real reason to drop someone with so much experience and so much regard. Perhaps it is just some payback for nicking off overseas.

      • Geoffro

        Sonny Bill will probably get injured anyway as usual.I reckon Nonu has another WC in him but as you say he may be out of favour with the hierarchy

      • Geoffro

        Sonny Bill will probably get injured anyway as usual.I reckon Nonu has another WC in him but as you say he may be out of favour with the hierarchy

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        I don’t think he’ll make the team unless there are injuries. The ABs always look forward not back. We’ve learnt that lesson too often in the past

        • Yowie

          You could always try playing a lot of players out of position?

        • Greg

          Especially in defence. Don’t pass up that opportunity!

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Maaaaate, that’s the Aussie way not our way

        • Who?

          Unless you’re talking about fullbacks at outside centre during crunch world cup matches….
          ;-P

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I’m hoping we’ve learnt that lesson. Fucking Mitchell, worst coach ever

        • Who?

          Sure it wasn’t his attack coach, Mr R. Deans..? Test player doesn’t mean top coach…

        • Max Graham

          The average age of the team that won in 2015 was 43.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Not sure it was that old but there is always older guys and young ones coming through

      • UTG

        Nonu got completely bossed by Kerevi in Brisbane. I for one would be very happy to see him line up against the Wallabies while someone like Laumape sat on the sideline.

    • Gun

      This is progressively becoming the Nearly Black rugby site. Have we fallen so far that there is nothing of substance or interest to discuss with the Wobs or Oz rugby? Should be a moratorium on the very mention of the unmentionABles. We’ll hear enough about them in the next few months in the conventional press.

      • Geoffro

        My apologies for talking up the enemy but if speaking Rugby they do warrant a slight mention.

        • Gun

          Fair enough. 10 years in the Middle East mixing with our colonial cousins has altered my perspective for the worst.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Well Gun, we talk about them here, because they are clearly the best in the world and are what we aspire to be. Lets face facts. The Wobs are pretty shite, and with with Cheika as coach they are not going to improve. Just think an attack coach, that doesnt have any input to selection or the game plan. He is a glorified water boy. I do not see any other team functioning this way in the world.

        • Geoffro

          and at least we’re not talking about…(no I’m not going to mention his name)

        • Brisneyland Local

          100%

        • Custard Taht

          I saw a documentary called “The Waterboy” based on the life of Bobby Bouche…..that guy had some H2gO.

          I have never spoke ill of waterboy’s since.

        • Brisneyland Local

          No one ever would want to make him angry!

        • Yowie

          haha

          “Captain Insaino shows no mercy”

        • Gun

          All true although the Wobs have been poor, in truth, for a long time and we’ve still found things to talk about. I’ve written this year off in truth and am ready to watch the yearly ritualised self flagellation the enemy will inflict on us.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Gun, looks like me and you, and many others on the blog will be there self flagellating.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I won’t be :-)

        • Brisneyland Local

          YEah you will. Just a little. On our behalf maybe.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Just to prove I’m a team player mate – and because it’s fun

        • Brisneyland Local

          Choice Bro! ;-)

        • Custard Taht

          I heard eating Corn Flakes was a cure for flagellation….so I gave it go, the self flagellation continues unabated, but the tennis elbow and calluses on my right arm and hand, have improved significantly!

        • Brisneyland Local

          Pure gold.

        • Brumby Runner

          Gun, I am mystified about how an opposition can inflict self flagellation on us. Can you enlighten please?

        • Yowie

          Jedi mind-control, obviously.

          Do try to keep up.

        • Who?

          We punish ourselves by watching knowing that we’re going to be flogged? We inflict the pain of the defeat on ourselves, rather than turning away..? That’s my guess.

        • Gun

          We choose to watch.

        • Brumby Runner

          Ah, ok. I thought by “us” you meant the Wallabies.

      • Missing Link

        I still hate seeing them win, it’s just I realised that hating when they win has no influence on the Wallabies improving their chances. I used to think there was some correlation.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Mate nothing to do with that. I’m not as convinced Nonu has been better than the others picked. His distribution has been good but he hasn’t busted defences apart and his defence was missing at times. I think the selectors just want the way SBW play more than they want the way Nonu plays.

      • Geoffro

        I reckon he’s played better than Sonny this year…oh wait.A bit difficult to really shine in an underperforming outfit.

    • I understand why Hansen has picked him – if he’s fit, he has been great. But he hasn’t played enough for my money to get into the squad. NZ has an overabundance of 12’s (and every other position pretty much). But maybe this will be make or break time for SBW, we’ll see.

      • Geoffro

        Hansen made it pretty clear a few months ago that he would be selected if he proved his fitness and I understand that they want continuity with their incumbant players from the last couple years which is why Ma’a was left out due to his being away.I was a bit aggrieved as I’m a Nonu fan not so much SBW but realise they can make those calls in a winning outfit.I truly hope Cheika doesn’t go down the same track with our incumbant test players

        • He did. I’m just never sure, with any coach, that what they say in a press conference is the whole truth. And while I thought SBW at his best was amazing – just as a fan of the sport, we haven’t seen that on a rugby pitch for a little while now, maybe the BIL series maybe before that even. Nonu, on the other hand, has looked solid to me. Oh well.

          I haven’t properly digested the new squad announcement yet. At least one incumbent in on Cheika’s mates rules though by the look of it.

  • Gottsy

    I really hope that JOC makes a go of it and the Reds set up know what to do with him. He has come along in leaps and bounds since leaving, and would be a great story to see some redemption earned.
    The kid is seriously talented, and if used correctly will be a good addition to the back line.
    Fingers crossed all the fuddy duddies give him a fair go

    • Geoffro
      • AllyOz

        Sharpe looks worried about what might happen??

        • Geoffro

          Don’t blame him , sure he’s hoping James would have the good sense not to try run through them,being the meat in a Thorn/Nonu sandwich doesn’t sound like fun

        • Geoffro

          Don’t blame him , sure he’s hoping James would have the good sense not to try run through them,being the meat in a Thorn/Nonu sandwich doesn’t sound like fun

      • AllyOz

        Sharpe looks worried about what might happen??

      • Greg

        He is stepping off his right foot and will go clean between them…. otherwise, not a prayer!

        • Geoffro

          Ma’a has the shoulder braced !

      • Greg

        He is stepping off his right foot and will go clean between them…. otherwise, not a prayer!

      • Custard Taht

        What the hell is a tight 5 defending in the backs…..bloody seagull.

    • Geoffro
    • Damo

      I’ve watched him quite a bit playing for Sale this year. He is still quick off the mark and has a bloody good step. Playing at either 12 or13 he had a really effective partnership with Faf fe K. who runs a lot. They created a lot of opportunities for outside runners. I look forward to him working with McDermott in the same way. (And maybe with Willy G for the W’s). Samu & TK would still be my RWC starting 12 and 13 though.

      • Gottsy

        Me too mate, which is one of the reasons I’m happy that he’s coming back. Have also heard from a few other aus players over this side of the world through mutual acquaintances and he really has come a long way.
        Also, as we’ve seen before, it is a long tournament, and having depth in the backline could be crucial

    • RedAnt

      I really have mixed feelings about this, so maybe I’m an old fuddy duddy. No question he’s talented – I remember being at a game when he was at the Rebels, against the Highlanders I think, and the Rebs were really struggling, JOC came on at half-time and really took control and the Rebs ended up winning – but also no question he screwed up. Yes, he may have matured etc, but I just don’t think it’s fair he can walk back into the Wallabies squad without having played any rugby in Australia for a few years. I don’t think it sends a very good message to all the guys slugging their guts out all year, one or two of whom will now miss out on a chance for higher honours.

      • idiot savant

        And it sends a message to his Reds team mates that its alright to snort cocaine in Paris, just not in Brisbane!

        • Yowie

          It’s only “cocaine” if it’s from a particular region of France. Otherwise it has to be called “Sparkling Nose Powder”.

      • Gottsy

        I think you’re half right, because it also sends a message that if you fuck up, but then work your arse off and turn your life around there’s a way back

  • AllyOz

    Some thoughts
    1. Reading the full JOC story raises a couple of issues. It appears that he was originally courted by the 7s coach looking to bring in some play makers for the Olympics. The Olympics is held from 24 Jul – 9 Aug 2020 and you would imagine he would want the player to play on the 7s circuit for much of the year. So JOC might make the Wallabies RWC squad and then potentially spend next season with the 7s squad and not actually appear for the Reds?? So maybe they are only signing him for 2021 onwards effectively. That may be the wrong read of it entirely but that initial involvement from Welch suggests that it was 7s that wanted him first.
    2. Its a very strong All Blacks squad. Sevu Reece was awesome last weekend, there seems to be an endless supply of fast finishers coming through that system. Crotty will be missed if he doesn’t make it though. I am trying to think of an Australian player who would make the run on side for the ABs on this years form alone and it’s difficult to identify one straight off. That doesn’t mean we can’t beat them though (well it probably does but…)
    3. Good to see both Meakes and Simmons retained. Neither are probably the top priority but keeping a player like Simmons in the system should be good for development of younger players. Meakes comments about “the current playing group” are not that clear to me as I am not sure who their next 9/10 will be.
    4. It almost sounds as if Shaun Berne has been employed as the Wallabies Alfie Langer, a sixteenth player to communicate on-field tactics from the coach to the players. He was a decent player in his day – I watched him play for Bath in the level below the Heineken Cup (Challenge Cup maybe) after he had left the Waratahs. I think he played 12 outside Butch James.

    • Geoffro

      JOC has got other problems now hoping the nickname “little Pearl” doesn’t stick with him.Shame Crotty was injured but the guy who replaced him Ennor (albeit after a backline shuffle) is a real talent and Goodhue just slotted seamlessly into second five…..geez it’s annoying.

      • Yowie

        Haha, perhaps “Little Pearl” is rhyming slang.

        He does have very nice hair after all.

  • AllyOz

    Some thoughts
    1. Reading the full JOC story raises a couple of issues. It appears that he was originally courted by the 7s coach looking to bring in some play makers for the Olympics. The Olympics is held from 24 Jul – 9 Aug 2020 and you would imagine he would want the player to play on the 7s circuit for much of the year. So JOC might make the Wallabies RWC squad and then potentially spend next season with the 7s squad and not actually appear for the Reds?? So maybe they are only signing him for 2021 onwards effectively. That may be the wrong read of it entirely but that initial involvement from Welch suggests that it was 7s that wanted him first.
    2. Its a very strong All Blacks squad. Sevu Reece was awesome last weekend, there seems to be an endless supply of fast finishers coming through that system. Crotty will be missed if he doesn’t make it though. I am trying to think of an Australian player who would make the run on side for the ABs on this years form alone and it’s difficult to identify one straight off. That doesn’t mean we can’t beat them though (well it probably does but…)
    3. Good to see both Meakes and Simmons retained. Neither are probably the top priority but keeping a player like Simmons in the system should be good for development of younger players. Meakes comments about “the current playing group” are not that clear to me as I am not sure who their next 9/10 will be.
    4. It almost sounds as if Shaun Berne has been employed as the Wallabies Alfie Langer, a sixteenth player to communicate on-field tactics from the coach to the players. He was a decent player in his day – I watched him play for Bath in the level below the Heineken Cup (Challenge Cup maybe) after he had left the Waratahs. I think he played 12 outside Butch James.

  • Nutta

    JOC – Good luck to him. I’m very reticent given the history and my normally serene and ever-forgiving wife snorted and said “I’ll believe it when I see it.” But I hope he goes well. Just don’t over-invest too much hope in him. Let’s just see how he goes.

    Nonu – This may be a tactic to simply get him fired up whilst getting rested after a long Super season a bit and to force $BW to actually play his hand re fitness. If $BW is the least bit in-doubt they won’t take him to the Bill and Nonu will take his place in a flash.

    Berne – I’m the first to admit a good teacher doesn’t necessarily make a principal and a good player doesn’t necessarily make a good coach. I know nothing of the guy as a coach. Here’s hoping he is great.

    Loved the Bill & Ted reference.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Mate I’m betting that unless there are injuries Nonu won’t be part of this team. NZ have learnt their lesson about going back to the past with players. The only time it’s ever worked was when Donaldson stepped up for the final of the RWC in Auckland and while that was good the other times have been a dismal failure.

  • Nutta

    JOC – Good luck to him. I’m very reticent given the history and my normally serene and ever-forgiving wife snorted and said “I’ll believe it when I see it.” But I hope he goes well. Just don’t over-invest too much hope in him. Let’s just see how he goes.

    Nonu – This may be a tactic to simply get him fired up whilst getting rested after a long Super season a bit and to force $BW to actually play his hand re fitness. If $BW is the least bit in-doubt they won’t take him to the Bill and Nonu will take his place in a flash.

    Berne – I’m the first to admit a good teacher doesn’t necessarily make a principal and a good player doesn’t necessarily make a good coach. I know nothing of the guy as a coach. Here’s hoping he is great.

    Loved the Bill & Ted reference.

  • Brumby Runner

    So Rob Simmons is talking up the good coaches at the Tahs. With Gibson and Cron both gone, I wonder just whom he’s talking about? Any clues?

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe Berne was an Assistant Coach at the Rebels this year. In charge of the attack, I wonder? If so, was he instrumental in the flat attacking structure used in the backs, or was that just all Quade? Will be interesting to see if the Wallabies adopt a flatter attack this year, and just how will Bernard Foley handle that if they do. My impression is that Bernard really likes to sit back quite a bit and prefers the second wave of attack.

    • Brisneyland Local

      I got the impression from the interview with Wessells that the flat attacking plan was his. Berne will have zero input to the attack plan. Cheika has already said as much. Berne will be the Alfie Langer water boy. Spanners Foley is going to do what ever Cheikmeister tells him too! As Spanners is not a playmaker. Or a defender, or a touchfinder, or a kicker.

      • Greg

        “Spanners Foley is going to do what ever Cheikmeister tells him too!”

        You mean those kicks and tackles are based on instructions?

        • Brisneyland Local

          Has to be. Otherwise he would have been dragged for it.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Hahahaha that’s gold. Maybe there’s someone coaching him that we don’t know

    • Who?

      Berne was the attack coach at the Rebels. His appointment to the Wallabies role made me wonder if the Rebels’ flat forward attack style, trying to run big forwards right at the gain line was a back-to-2014 Cheika style? Except that, by the end of the season, it was pretty clear the Rebels didn’t have the cattle to run that game plan. Amazingly, on Super Rugby Wrap, Hoiles’ assessment was on the money (he and, to a lesser extent, Mitchell, pointed out the failings in the forwards made it harder for Genia to appear in form and impossible for Cooper and the backs to have any impact).
      .
      Cheika has clearly said they’re running a new attack scheme this year, of his own design. Phipps said that Cheika went through it with them at their May/June Wallabies camp. It could very easily be that this attack scheme is very different to last year’s plan, it could easily be the 2014 Tahs/2019 Rebels plan. It could also just as easily be a completely different attacking scheme…
      .
      That said, BLL’s said that Wessels has taken ‘credit’ for the flat attack plan. And Wessels does seem to be his own man. So perhaps it’s just coincidental?

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Nathan,
    Interesting that JOC was brought back more for the 7’s I wander how that’ll turn out. I do hope all the talk on his improvement is correct and I guess it’s just a wait and see.
    Good news on Meakes and Simmons resigning. I think Meakes has a lot of potential and I hope he gets the chance to deliver.
    Wow so we employ an attack coach who seems to be a fitness and skills trainer WTF. Only there for a few months and not a selector I struggle to see what impact he’ll make TBH.
    That AB squad looks good. I like that they’ve brought in some newbies who can learn and grow rather than be thrown in at the deep end. Always some dissenting remarks from those who didn’t get their favourite selected but based on the last 8 years of results I trust the selectors

  • Adrian

    My attack oriented squad of 33 for RC first game in SA
    -assumes 3 selectors, form, likely tactics, composure under pressure etc
    Alaalatoa
    Tuopo
    Kepu
    Sio
    Slipper
    Latu
    Folau Fainga
    TPN
    Rodda
    Coleman – but Skeleton if available & Philip if Coleman injured
    Arnold
    Lukhan Saleki-Lotto
    Jones
    Dempsey
    Hooper
    Samu-but Pocock if available
    Naisarini
    White
    Genia
    Gordon
    Foley
    Hegarty
    Kerevi
    Simone,but Hunt if available
    O’Connor
    Kurandrani
    Naivalu,-but Petaia if available
    Korebette
    Rona,-but Duaganu if available
    Hodge
    Maddocks
    Beale
    Banks
    Possibly selectors will have Uelese, Simmons, Valentino, Powell, CLL/QC, DHP instead of Latu, Dempsey, Gordon, Hegarty and Rona which is ok by me except for Simmons who has had a good year, but infers mish-mash tactics

    • Brisneyland Local

      If Tolu Latu is selected I will burn my jersey! Multiple criminal offences and still has a contract. Utterly despicable.

      • Max Graham

        Get your matches out. He’s the best scrummaging hooker in the country, and on form, deserves a spot. He’s a rugby player, not a priest.

        • Who?

          What form, Max? He’s done literally nothing this year. He’s been banned, banned and banned. Don’t think he started a match, played all his rugby off the bench. We’ve heard a lot about how well Fitzpatrick’s played, and how he’s unlucky he doesn’t get a run at a higher level, with the likelihood that’s based on size. We’ve heard nothing about Latu’s play because he’s done nothing.

        • UTG

          Who’s saying a lot about how well Fitzpatrick’s played? I don’t think I’ve ever read anywhere that he’s unlucky not to make it at the higher level.

        • Who?

          Pretty sure he got a fair number of honourable mentions in the team of the week articles on here. It wasn’t that he’s the best player in the conference – far from it. But that he was solid in everything he was asked to do, always gave 100%. The impression given being that his 100% is short of others’ 100%, but the consistency of his delivery of his 100% meant it’s a shame he’s not big enough and possessing of a high enough ceiling for him not to make it to the next level.
          So, not unlucky in terms of poor selection from above, but unlucky in that his ceiling is likely that he’s a Super quality player, not a Test player.

        • Brumby Runner

          There have been multiple calls for Latu to be included in the RC and RWC squads. I believe some may have been here on the front page, but certainly many more in the relevant forums.

        • Max Graham

          As soon as he comes on, the Tahs’ scrum goes from custard to excellent and they start getting over the gain line. More turnovers too. If your use your own eyes and stop listening to know-nothing muppets like Paul Cully you’ll come around to my way of thinking.

        • Who?

          I’m not listening to Cully, I’m trying to figure out how many games he’s played this year. Hang on, here we go. According to the Tahs’ website, he played 6 games. But only part of 6 games. He played 153 minutes. That’s barely more than Pocock! 25 minutes per game. In that time he was suspended for his second drink driving offence, and also for foul play at a breakdown against the Wolves.
          .
          If a bloke’s getting himself suspended, not starting, and though healthy all season plays not even 20% of the minutes of his captain, it’s hard to argue he’s worthy of playing for the Wallabies.

        • Max Graham

          Quantity over quality. Pek Cowan played every minute of the 2016 season…. for the record I would pick Pocock too.

        • Brisneyland Local

          He is a liability. Should not be on the paddock for both behaviour on it and off it. If RA continue to use him they confirm themselves to be the true hypocrites that we all know they are.

        • Max Graham

          If we pick on form or potential, he’s in the team. That’s a fact. Until he uses his position as a sports star to oppress vulnerable minorities, the RA is not in any way bring hypocritical. Plenty of other players have been given more chances in recent years. The RA would be hypocritical if they followed your handwringing advice. Time to settle down and cut back on the faux outrage, eh?

        • Brisneyland Local

          MAte trust me. No faux outrage here, my dislike of him is very real. Him (Latu) and Beale should never have been able to wear the green and gold for all of the criminal offences they have committed. On the field Latu has too many discipline problems hence the string of yellow and red cards. We have enough discipline issues with lazy players let alone genuine brain snaps that that fuckwit has.

        • Max Graham

          I bet you were one of those letter writers that tried to get Warnie sacked for cheating on his mrs.

        • Brisneyland Local

          NOt at all. That is a personal matter and is none of my business. WHere being criminally convicted is.

        • Max Graham

          He plays sport. You and I both know and like plenty of people who have broken a law at some time. Don’t say you haven’t. Funny how people have such high standards for strangers who play sport than for their friends and employees. Anyway, he’s in the squad. Guess it was picked on form after all.

        • Brisneyland Local

          I own multiple companies and employ over 150 people. I wouldn’t have and specifically have clauses built into my employment contracts that remove people from my employment who get criminal convictions. Drug possession, DUI, theft, fraud. These are all things that would have them immediately dismissed from the companies I own. I know people who have broken the law. I dont associate with them.

        • Max Graham

          I would like to see these employment contracts you say you make people sign Mr Gekko. Don’t sound quite legal to me, but then again, I’m just a rugby fan and not a billionaire business mogul like your good self. Why not get the head of your HR team to look at the legislation – https://employsure.com.au/blog/can-terminate-employee-charged-criminal-offence/

        • Brisneyland Local

          That is what I have Barristers for. Your dripping sarcasm about being a billionaire does not become you. I worked fucking hard to get where I am, starting from nothing. My employment contracts are legal as is the running of all my all of my companies. Instead of being a smart ass about it and talk about things you think you know about. Why dont you pony up and actually demonstrate where you have runs on the board of doing these things. Because employing people is something I do on a day to day basis.

        • Max Graham

          You use barristers to negotiate employment contracts? That doesn’t sound likely; however perhaps you meant solicitors that specialise in employment law. I don’t doubt you employ people on a daily basis – I imagine you have incredible staff turnover. I wouldn’t claim to be an expert unlike your good self, but I know enough about Oz employment law to know a bullshit artist when I see one. And I’m looking at you. :)

        • dsb

          Yes but obviously not Pentecostal either!

      • Andy

        Fair play

    • idiot savant

      Welcome back Mr.Positive. You missed Robinson who has been training with the Wallabies in Brisbane. I dont think Hegarty has been.

    • Max Graham

      Your spelling is excelant!

      • Adrian

        Fanks

      • Dud Roodt

        *You’re

        • Damo

          Woops, no Max is actually right with his your- since you’re is ‘you are’ abbreviated. However if we were pedantic about spelling and grammar on this site we would have very few contributors- apart from Hoss who comes with his own unique language and glossary of terms.

        • Dud Roodt

          …that was the joke….

        • Yowie

          This type of humour is not appreciated by the members of the Pedants Society (formerly the Pedants’ Society, formerly the Pedant’s Society).

        • Dud Roodt

          Well, the Pedant””s Society can take they’re humour and shove it up there arses!

        • Max Graham

          Damn!!

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Adrian, great to see you back mate. How have you been? I think the real issue with this year’s selections will be the influence, if any, of O’Connor and Johnston. I think there is a core 20 or so that will be there but it’ll be the fringe players like Hanigan and co who may feel the pinch

      • Brumby Runner

        Adrian seemed to disappear as the Tahs chances of a Super final dwindled and disappeared. If nothing else, he was (is) a dyed in the wool committed Tahs fan.

        Maybe he’s now in a good spot to put that commitment and passion behind the Wallabies, but I fear he might yet be in for further disappointment if the Tahs don’t dominate the Wallabies’ selections.

        WTF am I saying. I definitely need a touch of reality or the disappointment will be all mine on announcement day.

    • Hoss

      Good to have you back Mr Adrian.

    • Huw Tindall

      Mate you’re a bit like Kieran Read – takes most of the season off then comes back for the internationals! Welcome back!

      • Adrian

        That’s what really counts Huw. I’m totally over provincial jealousies and conspiracies

    • Huw Tindall

      Is Rona in the Wallabies training squad now? If not that’s terrible as he was the form wing by seasons end both on the stats and reality.

      • Adrian

        Yes, I think he isn’t in the squad, which is a shame, but he’s in my team anyway

  • Funk

    What is it with the aigs and selecting wingers with domestic violence issues? Apparently if you’re on the piss and she gets lippy, it’s ok…as long as you “really sorry” afterwards!?!?!

    • Brisneyland Local

      Too much weights, not enough speed work!

      • Damo

        Maybe too many supplements!!

    • Custard Taht

      In their defence, cooking the man some eggs is not a difficult request.

    • Who?

      Thought they only picked good humans..? :-P

      • Funk

        I’m just wondering where TJ Perenara, and Brad Webber are…They were happy to shout from the rooftops, that they wouldn’t want to play in a team with someone who is “homophobic”, but keep nice and quiet when they play in a team with a DV offender?????
        This is the typical aigs sweeping sh!t under the rug as they always do, but they are happy to pile the sh!t on others for any offences.

  • idiot savant

    Now you’re putting me on the spot Adrian!

    Well I guess Id try and play to our strengths. What are they I hear you say? The Brumbies set piece, the Tah’s speed of ball movement, and… Kerevi. So thats going to drive a few selections.

    Then I’d try to address the weaknesses. Id replace Grey with Ryan as defence coach. Id replace Raiwalui with McKellar. Id also replace Cheika with Connolly just for the rest of this year. We have a crisis at 10 so band aids are needed there and we have to kick better.

    So my match day 23 to begin with would be Aalaatoa, Fainga, Slipper, Arnold, Simmons, Wright, Hooper, Higgers, White, Foley, Hodge, Kerevi, TK, Banks, Beale. Bench is Sio, TPN, Kepu, Rodda, Naisarani, Genia, CLL, DHP. Id also take along Tupou, Phillip, Holloway, Dempsey, Naisarani, Phipps, Toomua, Speight, Pulu, JOC which makes 33. Im assuming Pocock and Coleman are unavailable.

    Im disappointed that Foley never progressed but I think we have to have him but Id be giving serious minutes to CLL in the RC to see if Christian is up to test standard. Id also try JOC and Beale at both wing and fullback. If all that worked and JOC’s kicking is what it used to be Foley could go to the bench. Banks on the wing for his speed and he kicks for touch.

    Id prefer Dempsey to Wright but I think he has not regained form and Id want Hooper to try and use his speed as a ball runner in close against the big men leaving Wright to play a Fardy role to cover the breakdown with Higgers running out wide as an attack weapon. In fact Ive picked a pack of ball handlers and I would be encouraging lots of short passing. We dont have enough physically intimidating forwards to play that style so better to use speed and lean toward the Tahs approach. Id be using Kerevi as a general play kicker because he has 20 metres on Foley and it will keep them guessing. Hodge would have to play well to hold his place over the quicker Brums wingers but his tee kicking could be a match winner in RWC football. Of course some of these strategies are about curbing Cheik’s excesses but if I replace him with Connolly Ill just let Knuckles use his common sense!

    • Adrian

      Team ok by me idiot.
      I like the analysis too.

      My thinking is that it’ll be big forwards and a flat backline drilled by Berne. I think Reb backs went well when their forwards were dominant or had parity, but time will tell.

      I think we have the cattle for all styles except pass the parcel behind the advantage line.

      I think that the selections will match the tactics this year!

  • Although it’s not strictly relevant, I get quite a bit of my rugby news first via Apple News, which I have set with a Rugby filter. Who wouldn’t if they use it?

    So, yesterday, like today’s news item here, up popped the AB’s squad selection. From four different sources (one of the downsides of the system and a quiet news day I guess). Fux Sports led with AB select Six new caps. Everyone else led with AB select Four new caps. Thought I’d share that with you all so you could marvel with the ability of Fox’s reporters to count to four… and get it wrong!

    • Who?

      Was it their league reporter? They’re used to counting to six… :-P
      I do the same thing. As you say, only logical. :-)

    • The Jackal

      They have selected six new Test caps – Aumua, Moli, Reece, Jacobson, Ioane, Ennor. None of those have played any Tests. Moli & Aumua have played for the All Blacks in non Tests against the BaBas.

      So both statements are technically true. NZ just makes things confusing like that saying people are all blacks when they really aren’t. It would be like Billy Meakes or Duncan Paia’aua or Liam Wright being capped Wallabies from that farce BaBas game in Sydney a couple of year’s ago.

  • Chip Royce

    I’m happy that JOC has earned some level of redemption. That said, bringing him back and quick inclusion into the test setup is another horrible indication of the poor management of Rugby Australia and inability to develop young talent quickly enough. Perhaps the U20’s success is an indication that the tide is turning, however, the ARU really needs to get rid of these guaranteed contracts (Simmons, really?), and create a much more aggressive test side compensation scheme that creates incentives for players to stay home and want to develop and earn selection.

    • Who?

      Let’s be fair to Simmons, he’s the only experienced lock the Tahs have and he’s looking (according to Cron) to develop into a coaching role. Having him stick around as a senior player, heading into coaching, the same way Parling did in a specialist lineout role wouldn’t be the worst thing that the Tahs could do. It’s not like they’ve got any means of recruiting anyone to replace him, given they’ve got no coach.

  • Brisneyland Local

    Squad announced
    SQUAD
    Forwards

    Allan Alaalatoa (32 Tests, Brumbies, 25)

    Rory Arnold (19 Tests , Brumbies, 29)

    Jack Dempsey (10 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 25)

    Folau Fainga’a (7 Tests, Brumbies, 24)

    Michael Hooper (c) (91 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 27)

    Luke Jones (3 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 28)

    Sekope Kepu (103 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 33)

    Tolu Latu (12 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 26)

    Isi Naisarani (uncapped, Melbourne Rebels, 24)

    Tom Robertson (24 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 24)

    Izack Rodda (17 Tests, Queensland Reds, 22)

    Rob Simmons (94 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 30)

    Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (11, Queensland Reds, 22)

    Scott Sio (55 Tests, Brumbies, 27)

    James Slipper (86 Tests, Brumbies, 30)

    Taniela Tupou (11 Tests, Queensland Reds, 23)

    Jordan Uelese (2 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 22)

    Rob Valetini (uncapped, Brumbies, 20)

    Liam Wright (uncapped, Queensland Reds, 21)

    Backs

    Adam Ashley-Cooper (117 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 35)

    Tom Banks (3 Tests, Brumbies, 25)

    Kurtley Beale (83 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 30)

    Bernard Foley (68 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 29)

    Will Genia (100 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 31)

    Dane Haylett-Petty (31 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 30)

    Reece Hodge (33 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 24)

    Samu Kerevi (25 Tests, Queensland Reds, 25)

    Marika Koroibete (20 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 26)

    Tevita Kuridrani (58 Tests, Brumbies, 28)

    Christian Lealiifano (19 Tests, Brumbies, 31)

    Jack Maddocks (7 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 22)

    Joe Powell (4 Tests, Brumbies, 25)

    Matt Toomua (42 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 29)

    Nic White (22 Tests, Exeter Chiefs, 29)

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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