Wednesday's Rugby News - Green and Gold Rugby

Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News reveals the punishment for Scott Barrett, examines how Shaun Berne has re-sparked the Wallaby backline, tracks David Pocock’s race to be fit and explores the quest for the next Sevens superstar.

Barrett Banned


All Blacks lock Scott Barrett has been suspended for three weeks after his shoulder charge on Wallabies captain Michael Hooper during the All Blacks loss last Saturday at Optus Stadium.

Barrett pleaded guilty to the offence under Law 9:16, which states that a player must not charge or knock down an opponent without attempting to grasp the player.

“Having conducted a detailed review of all the available evidence, including all camera angles and additional evidence, including submissions from his legal representative, Stephen Cottrell, the Foul Play Review Committee upheld the Red Card,” Foul Play Review Committee Chairman Adam Casselden said.

The committee deemed that the action warranted a six-week suspension, however, it was reduced in half due to good behaviour and his immediate admittance of guilt.

“With respect to sanction the Foul Play Review Committee deemed the act of foul play merited a mid-range entry point of 6 weeks due to World Rugby instructions that dictate any incident of foul play which results in contact with the head and/or neck must start at a mid-range level,” Casselden said.

“However, taking into account mitigating factors including the Player’s exemplary judicial record, his expressed remorse and the fact the Player has pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity, the Foul Play Review Committee reduced the suspension to 3 weeks.”

The nature of the international schedule will mean that Barrett will only miss Saturday clash at Eden Park, serving the rest of the sentence in the Mitre Ten Cup.

“The Foul Play Review Committee adjourned the hearing to seek more evidence regarding the Player’s proposed schedule of matches. Upon reconvening the Foul Play Review Committee was presented with extensive evidence demonstrating the Player’s intended playing schedule,” he said.

“The player is therefore suspended for 3 weeks, up to and including Sunday 1 September 2019.”

His suspension has raised questions regarding his tackling technique, with teammate Dane Coles admitting that he needs to shake the habit of leading with his shoulder.

“Nothing against Scooter, but he’s got a little bit of a habit of using that shoulder,” Coles said.

“We know if you’re going to hit their head, you’re going to get done.

“We need to develop a technique to make sure we don’t hit them in the head and then we’ll be sweet.”

Burne-ing Bealeive


Wallabies fullback Kurtley Beale has praised the influence that new attack coach Shaun Berne has had over the Wallaby backline.

Despite being in the role for a brief period, Beale believes that Burne has created a flexible structure that encourages players to back their instincts and play what they see in front of them.

“Shaun Berne…just allows everyone to bring their own little spice to the attack,” Beale said.

“It’s great to have players with that type of ammunition, the creativity, it’s very important at Test-match level and it’s great to be able to keep linking with different guys, whoever’s been swapped in and out at training.”

The new combination of playmakers of Beale, Lealiifano and O’Connor (AKA the new-ish kids on the BLOC) allowed the side to play with a different approach and express their flair.

“Berney’s been great for us as a backline and for the side in attack, he’s brought a new edge to the game, a different approach, which is always refreshing,” Beale revealed.

“And he’s just allowing the guys to go out there and just be themselves and providing a structure that allows us to do that.”

This was especially seen with the inclusion of O’Connor, with the inclusion of a third playmaker providing a different threat and more unpredicatbility, according to Beale.

“It just brought a few different dynamics to how we want to play the game,” he said.

“(O’Connor and Lealiifano are) two players (with) a lot of unpredictability about their game and they certainly brought that on the weekend.

“It just gives the defence a different threat whenever you see them around the park.”

With a date with Eden Park looming (where rugby dreams for those not in black go to die), Beale admitted that they still had a mountain to climb if they wished to reclaim the Bledisloe, however, he was optimistic about their chances.

“It’s always a huge challenge for any team going to Auckland. For the Wallabies, it’s the pinnacle of Test matches, I think,” Beale reaffirmed.

“It’s one of the toughest environments to play at but there’s a lot of guys who have experienced that and we understand that we’ve got to go to an extra level going into the weekend and it’s an exciting challenge for everyone.”

Touch and Po(cock)

"Put me in coach, I'm ready"

“Put me in coach, I’m ready”

Wallabies flanker David Pocock has continued increasing his output at training as he continues to present his case for a recall.

However, it has been revealed that the selection panel will only consider Pocock if he is deemed capable of playing the full 80 minutes.

Whilst it’s unlikely that he would be rushed back into the starting line-up considering his extensive lay-off and the positive showing from the likes of Hooper, Naisarani and Salakaia Loto, a spot on the bench replacing Rebels forward Luke Jones seems to be his likely pathway for return.

However, Director of Rugby Scott Johnson has emphatically declared that he will only be considered if they have full confidence that he could enter the match in the early stages in case of an injury/card.

“The coaching team and selectors are taking advice from the medical staff,” Johnson told the Fox Rugby Podcast.

“He’s trained the last week or so and has improved, he’s doing more running.

“He’s out on the paddock in the next hour or so and after that we, as selectors, will meet and determine his fitness and availability for this weekend.

“So he’s integral to what we’re trying to achieve and he’s important to the makeup of the squad.

“At the same time it’s not worth…he will be picked when we think he’s fit to play 80 minutes of rugby.”

The discussion around where it fits into the line-up has seemed to be spoiled by Johnson, who seemed to reject the reunion of ‘Pooper’ as their style of play continues to shift towards the set-pieces.

“We haven’t had to get there yet,” Johnson said regarding where he fits into the side.

“We’re looking at combinations in the back row, it’s an integral part of the game.

“There are more lineouts these days so it’s important that we have a competitive lineout.”

Lock and Brumbies team-mate Rory Arnold backed his return to the Wallaby fold, believing that it would be hard to leave him out if he was ruled fit.

“I’m not a coach or anything and I’m not too sure how far away he is, but to have someone like him around the team – he’s world-class,” Arnold said.

Dreaming big


After months of scouting the country for Australia’s best young First Nations athletes, 133 budding Rugby Sevens hopes have been selected for a national talent camp with the hopes of finding the next big thing in rugby union.

Founded by former assistant coach Jarred Hodges, the Dream Big Time project has scouted some of the most remote parts of Australia in order to give them a shot at representing their country at the biggest stage of them all: the Olympics.

Hodges admits that the last three months of scouting and testing has been full of ‘blood, sweat and tears’, however, he reaffirmed that it was the best thing that he has ever undertaken.

“The best part for me was phoning 133 individuals to let them know they made the cut. They were so overwhelmed with happiness…some cried, others were speechless, and a few put the phone on loudspeaker so their family could hear the news,” Hodges said.

“If you lift enough rocks, you’ll find gold…It’s about providing choice for our people who haven’t always had a choice.

“What we’ve tried to do from the onset is increasing access and opportunity. Why should someone from Mutitjulu not have as much access and choice around sports as you do in Melbourne and Sydney?”

The chosen 46 women and 87 men will take part in the three-day camp in Sydney this month alongside coaches such as Glen Ella and Andrew Walker and established sevens players.

It will test their physical skills and decision-making ability, along with teaching lessons centring around the importance of leadership, recovery and nutrition.

Following the camp, two First Nations Sevens squads will be chosen to compete around the country, with Hodges hoping that multiple players will be picked up on full-time sevens contract with the goal of the 2024 Paris Olympics in mind.

However, Hodges believes that the program’s purpose runs deeper than simply winning rugby matches, with the hopes that it can promote healthy and active lifestyles with their community.

“The selected players will work within their communities using rugby to increase health and fitness,” he said.

  • Ian Rodger

    The Pocock news looks a bit rinse and repeat. Like we’ve heard this before and then on Friday he gets ruled out of the game again. I hope this team he can actually get back out there and get 2 games under his belt before the wc.

  • Patrick

    If Johnson is ruling out the Pooper then that’s all good to me. Hooper is an amazing player and has been playing his skin out, let him defend his spot against Brian.

    Worst case opponents can spend 65 minutes running themselves dead to try and keep Pocock at bay and then spend 35 minutes with the Energizer bunny running on 145%.

    • Max Graham

      I agree, but reckon the Pocock and Hooper together for the last 30 would be tough to play against.

      • Patrick

        Yes, in the right game, perhaps most games, that too would make sense.

    • Custard Taht

      As captain of the Wallabies, I can’t see Hooper not starting. The likely scenario is Pocock on the bench and the Pooper for the last 20-30mins.

      But Pocock has to be fit first.

      • Patrick

        I wonder about the impact of that, especially if there is a clear advantage to playing Pocock based on the game time he does have.

        I think he’s going to be fit for this one.

        • Custard Taht

          Pocock obviously has impact over 80mins, but I think the pooper for 80mins, hasn’t really worked well for the Wallabies.

          A fresh Pocock coming on for the last 30 would have massive impact during rucks, and basically allows hooper to play wider and take advantage of tired defenders.

        • Patrick

          Indeed that is one way it could play out. Or a fresh Hooper could come on and play either tight or loose as required with the impact of 1.5 subs for the price of one…

        • Custard Taht

          There are definte merits both ways, but realistically, Cheika isn’t benching the Wallaby Captain.

      • Braveheart81

        I really think this is the way to go. In a short stint I think Pocock is going to make a bigger impact in the last 30 minutes than the first 30 minutes. It’s very common for a new player coming on at that time to have an immediate impact at the breakdown and Pocock is better than all of them at that skill. Extra mobility in that last 30 will also benefit us. Clearly Pocock is more mobile than LSL.

        Hooper will continue starting and deserves to. His form is again right up with his best. It was only three games but topping forward runs, forward run metres, tackles and pilfers for the Rugby Championship is pretty impressive.

        • Cornchips

          I disagree, assuming he’s at his best he can deliver a lot of turnover ball, this will put the opposition more consistently on defense and making tackles. We are repeatedly told that this is more tiring and I think you want to tire the opposition as quickly and early as possible, thus his best impact is starting.

        • laurence king

          Aaargh! The pleasure of having choices like these, we have a well balanced bunch of forwards and replacements and now we have Pocock in the equation as well. A fantastic problem to have.

        • Braveheart81

          That’s not going to happen unless we revert to starting both Pocock and Hooper which I don’t think is the way to go given the form of Naisarani and the lineout success we’ve enjoyed playing more talls.

          Cleanouts are generally better and more accurate earlier in the game. That may be tiring for the opposition but likewise it is tiring and physically demanding to have Pocock getting smashed at the breakdown in the first half against fresh opposition. I don’t think that would be the best course of action for us to get the most out of Pocock this year.

        • laurence king

          Haven’t they also been pushing LSL into lock as Rodda goes off?

        • Braveheart81

          Yes. LSL has played 80 minutes each game but he has only moved into the lock for 5 minutes at the end of the Pumas and All Blacks games. LSL played 80 minutes in the backrow against the Springboks.

          Whether Pocock replaces LSL directly or they go the way they have been going already and he replaces a lock and LSL moves to lock, I think it would suit us in the back end of the game.

        • AllyOz

          I think Pocock (or Hooper) can come off the bench and not necessarily use the Pooper. We could use Pocock as an 8 or a straight swap at 7 (or even 6 and keep the 8 if we need that impact) depending on how the game was looking and who the opponent was – we aren’t locked into the strategy and should be flexible enough to apply a different approach depending on the conditions, and the state of the game

        • Braveheart81

          I don’t think we’re ever going to pick a 7 on the bench and plan to bring them on as a replacement for the 7. We’re almost always going to consider the 7 as an 80 minute player. If that’s what the game called for then sure, but I think you’re always going to be picking a bench with certain replacements at certain times being plan A. Obviously if injuries or otherwise change that plan you have to adapt.

          Pocock could definitely come on and replace Naisarani but I think we’d also be expecting him to be an 80 minute player more often than not.

    • sambo6

      I reckon they’ll be exhausted enough from just playing a game that last 100minutes….

      • Yowie

        Look, there are three kinds of people: those who are good at maths and those who aren’t.

      • Patrick

        That’s the secret plan.

  • GeorgiaSatellite

    Thanks Nathan. While I’m an early commenter (for a change), I wanted to mention a problem I’ve noticed in the last 3 Wallabies tests, and that is a breakdown with no halfback.

    I think it was LSL in the last one (about 5-10 mins into second half) whom I thought for sure would step in and clean it up before a Nun came through legally (for a change?), but he just piled on to the back of the ruck and drove it forward, leaving absolutely no one to pick it up and pass.

    Somehow we got away with it, but I’m worried that they’re being told to commit and “just let White/Genia do his job”. Only if White or Genia aren’t there for some reason, there’s no one to fill the spot. This is U13s game awareness for mine. I hope they fix it sharpish.

    • Max Graham

      Maybe there are mistakes, but there were definitely a few rucks where pigs or a winger went in to acting half and passed to a receiver. I don’t think they’re following an instruction to leave the ruck to the halfback exclusively.

      • AllyOz

        Korobietes try was one prominent example and there were several others.

        • Who?

          White’s try, too – Koroibete picked up the ball, just like his pick and go, made a half break and fed Kerevi.

        • Anonymous bloke

          There were quite a few in the last game, I think because White was running the ball/getting involved in other plays.

  • Human

    What are the odds on a WB red this weekend?
    Just to even things up?

    • Happyman

      Pretty high given the way the NZ media has been amping it up.
      I expect every potential Australian ruck infringement to be shown on the big screen repeatedly with howls from the crowd until the TMO steps in and gives a penalty.
      Every NZ infringement will be sorry we don’t have an angle of that.

      Make no mistake they are shit scared of this weekend and they don’t like it.

      I still expect the Nearlies to win but it will be closer than they would like.

      All fun and games.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Happyman, well I have been in NZ for officially 4 hours. every rugby conversation I have had so far has been, we were caught napping, our front row is too old, we are missing Brodie Retallick, sam whitelock is too passive, Kieran Read whould have moved on. They are concerned. But to be honest. I hate poking the bear. Everytime we beat NZ they copme out uber hard against us.

        • Yowie

          That’s properly funny. Do you have a violin with you for these excuse sessions?

        • Brisneyland Local

          No. But I genuinely belive they are a little shocked. As we have sucked dicks for 4 years. And now to beat them, they are worried that now they too suck dicks!

        • Happyman

          Mate enjoy the South Island beautiful place. You are correct on Retallick all of the great teams had great lock.
          Think Eales Australia 99
          Martin Johnson England. 03
          Matfield South Africa 07
          Thorn New Zealand 11
          Retallick New Zealand 15

          As said I think they will win a close one but I still believe we actually shade them on the bench.
          Our replacement Props are better
          Hooker is about even
          Our Lock is better
          There loose forward is better.
          Halfback about the same
          There outside back is better.

          PS can’t believe you are missing Ballymores last hurrah this weekend. You my friend are father of the year material.

        • Brisneyland Local

          To be honest, I work Mon to Fri interstate. So I am only home on the weekends. Work is giving me the shits at the moment, so the opportunity came up to piss off for the week. And Skiing in Queenstown was the family consensus. This is our 3rd or 4th time here. I love the South Island, I am starting to get reasonable at skiing. Kiwi food and and wine are great. And I am banking some time with the fam. Pure Gold

    • Hoss

      TAB has Nearlies at $1.15 and Gold @ $5.50

      • AllyOz

        That’s worth a punt. I won’t put the house on it, maybe just the caravan (or a small one man tent).

        • Hoss

          Go all in – foods overrated anyway.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Hello from NZ. That is worth a lazy $50 i reckon.

        • Hoss

          Lifestyles of the rich & shameless.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Allegedly your honour! Just checked in to our apartment. Gear unpacked, Pedro’s house of Lamb ordered. Pinot in hand. Happy as a pig in shit.

        • Keith Butler

          Lucky bugger. Enjoy.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Yep as sore as fuck now. 5 hours of skiing and I should have remembered I am an old man.

        • Keith Butler

          Muscles you never thought you had. Remember ‘Benz zee kneezs’. Recovery with a nice glass or three of whiskey.

  • Steve

    Thanks for the efforts Nath – Although points deducted for whoever came up with today’s terrible puns!

    I really hope Poey gets back to his best, although with Hooper in the side as a certainty the question we then have to ask is – Is he a better 8 than Naisarani, or a better 6 than LSL & Jones? As Johnson said, given the lineout the answer could well be a no.

    Colour me intrigued on Shaun Berne – When it was announced, I was pretty sure Cheik just wanted to give his Randwick mate a free holiday before they both get booted, but the attack definitely looked the goods last weekend. If they can keep this form up I will happily eat my words. For mine, the biggest improvements have been around selection, bringing in players who can make the right decisions in attack and create space, like the SBS, “By strength and guile”.

    “Play what’s in front of you” is hardly a revolutionary idea.

    • Who?

      Don’t forget, this is Cheika’s attack, implemented by Berne. Not Berne’s attack. So whilst Berne deserves some credit (as Beale’s giving him), Cheika wrote the system, so also deserves credit (meaning Berne’s only done half the job, so perhaps there’s still some sense that he’s done it a bit easier than he might have done).

  • Sevenwithasixonmyback
    • Dud Roodt

      I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t trawl through my facebook for photos of me. It’s creepy

    • Brisneyland Local

      Have a hard on!

  • onlinesideline

    I’m gonna say something here which alot of people could find ridiculous.

    I would prefer Pocock be left out and phased into the side gradually in Samoa and the pool games of RWC

    1 – dont fix which aint broke. Its working and working well. There is a pyscological element to repicking teh same side , knowing that this is the side that put the darkness to the sword. We can do it again here in Auckland if we want to.

    2 – Like Folau, IMO Pocock has some deficiencies. Great pilferer, impactful defender BUT he is not a player who beats the man wile running THAT easlity, he is an average offloader and when trucking it up, I wouldnt say he is world class in getting over the advantage line. These aspects are the very things we have desparately needed. Look at the extent ISI is bending the line and how its central to our new play.

    3. We have some very low to the ground, powerful pilferers in Latu and Thor and the starting props are in there too. Pilfers are great but again at pivtal moments but they dont or rarely win your games. The get you possession. But its what you do with that possession that counts.

    We just put 47 points on the ABs without Pocock and without Folua our supposed 2 best players, forward and back respectively. IN FACT, its fair to say that they are the only 2 wallabies that would have been included in a world XV a few months ago. But how clearly has the fact that rugby is a team game and best played when all 15 players are employing a winning strategy, just be exhibited.

    Im not arguing that in certain cases individuals cant make a huge difference, It can, but the 10 is proving to be more important than a 7 for us, isnt it.

    Leave him out and back the proven winning team. If Cheika and Co dont they will regret it.

    • Keith Butler

      I guess the next question is what happens if Pocock is declared unfit. Should the coaches be trying out a new 7 to take some of the load off of Hooper. I’ve been a bit critical of his play in the past, 110% effort no doubt but not that effective. His last couple of games, however, have been a revelation. A genuine on ball 7 reflected by the fact that he was targeted by the ABs. He could probably do with a spell on the bench or a complete rest but I can’t see it happening.

      • onlinesideline

        not a chance in hell. Opportunities to get the Bled in Auckland come around once every few years at best for most players. This could be a career highlight for Hooper who hasnt won much at all. He will be at the ground early doing pushups and burpees. Where the bloke gets the energy is beyond me. IHe makes me tired just watching. He is central to Cheika’s team and will be to the end of his reign.

    • Anonymous bloke

      Given Cheika wants to play a possession game and the ABs will be looking to prevent things going our way this week, I’d have thought that having someone off the bench who will stiffen defence, slow down AB ball at the ruck and get us some turnovers would be a valuable thing,

      • onlinesideline

        but we played a possession game last week effectively, we can do it again.
        I dont think they see Poey as a finisher. Its either all in or nada.

        • Anonymous bloke

          Sure, but I expect ABs to be looking for ways to disrupt our game plan and to have 15 men the whole game. And re our backrow, Hooper looked (understandably) knackered at the end of the game in Perth, and I’m still not 100% sold on LSL at 6. Having DP on the bench for me adds value.

        • Hoss

          And a 14 man Nearlies side still got to within 7 of us with 20 to go.

          Poey from the pine with 25 to go is a smart move

        • idiot savant

          Not sure the Wallaroos would see it that way.

      • idiot savant

        My money is on the ABs kicking much less and holding the ball much more which means we need to prioritise our defence. To that end Pocock might be a better option than LSL in the second half.

    • AllyOz

      If Pocock is less than 100% then I wouldn’t risk it. I agree with all or most of your points and I think, in terms of pilfering that one of the issues when Pocock is on is that everyone else seems to leave it to him to do whereas it should be a skill that all players have. Player Hooper and Pocock as specialists with very specialists skill sets didn’t really work for us and limited Hoopers involvement – I think he is benefiting from playing more of an all round game. If Pocock is 100% then i wouldn’t mind having him come on at 7 to finish but would also be just as happy to leave it until Samoa.

    • Cornchips

      I agree with most of what you say re pocock’s game and it’s why I think if he and Hooper play then he should be seven. It allows him to hit both the defensive or attacking ruck early or make the defensive tackle. 8 is the ball carrier on the back of the scrum so should be a more attacking player and probably stick with Naisarani or take Hooper for pace. I think Hooper’space would suit him best at 6 though, he can better keep with a winger and be used there in attack also. So my back row for scrum purposes (which is only where the numbers count anyway) 6. Hooper 7. Pocock 8. Naisarani.

    • Jason

      Like Folau, IMO Pocock has some deficiencies.

      You could say exactly the same about Hooper. As for 3 the reason we have Latu is because we are going with Hooper not Pocock. I think either way we need to test out Pocock (or if he’s unfit his replacement in Wright).

      • onlinesideline

        Agree, thats my point. He is no messiah. Are we overstating the difference he will make. Like, what we have going on now is working for the moment. Phase him later I say.Leave Wright for Samoa – this is edne park bled on the line. Put last weeks team in bubble wrap and have them near exploding at KO.

        • Jason

          Nah, I think you can’t wrap them in cotton wool, gotta play ‘em in bledisloe 2.

          IMO we start Pocock — if for Hooper or Isi isn’t too much of a concern for me. But I’d like to see us with Hooper on the bench.

        • onlinesideline

          Hooper has never been bencehed in 5 year under Cheika, except coming back from hamstring injury once. Cheiaka see him as bread and butter of Wallabies and captain. He is in peak form and attracts 3 all blacks every time he trucks it up. He has teh highest workrate in the team and is the face of the wallabies. He is also Cheikas fave Tah. Buckleys he will see pine why Cheika is coach.

        • Jason

          We all know it’ll never happen. But a boy can dream right?

    • John Miller

      Valid points. Though, when fit, David Pocock is Australia’s best player by some distance. You don’t generally select Pocock for his tramline running or run metres – and I’m not convinced those skills are the fundamental requirements for Australia’s openside flanker (particularly given Isi Naisarani’s output from 8). It is also a little unfair to say his passing is poor. Indeed, Pocock is a more prolific passer and backline linker (as opposed to backline runner) than the incumbent Australian 7. Despite the hype, breakdown turnovers are not Pocock’s only asset. In last year’s Rugby Championship for example, from almost the same minutes on the park, Pocock made 31 passes to Hooper’s 19 (27 noted as “good passes” to 15). Pocock made 5 tackle breaks to Hooper’s 2 and 2 linebreaks to Hooper’s 3.

      In defence, Pocock made 50% more tackles than Hooper at a better tackle efficiency, and 500% more forced turnovers. On the other side of the ball, Pocock is Australia’s best offensive ruck securer as well – an area where 90% of attack begins; far less sexy than dancing feet in the three quarter channel, but every bit as important to the Wallabies attack and mostly forgotten when we talk about “offence”.

      And to further illustrate the point, having missed around a third of the voting period (did not play during the preceding end of year Northern Tour):

      2019 John Eales Medal

      David Pocock- 262
      Lukhan Tui- 139
      Dane Haylett-Petty – 132
      Scott Sio – 124
      Marika Koroibete – 110
      Will Genia – 101
      Sean McMahon- 89
      Michael Hooper – 80
      Tatafu Polota-Nau- 77
      Sekope Kepu- 73

      It is so, so good to hear that Johnson is not allowing the dual openside travesty in the starting XV to continue. And Pocock’s re-entry to the team via the bench seems the most sensible. But if Pocock’s re-enters the fray from long term layoff and injury within shouting distance of the way he did in 2018, he’s Australia’s best openside flanker and best player. You don’t sit your best player on the bench.

    • Alan Grouse

      He is too damn amazing to not have at least on the bench. In a tight contest his presence is invaluable in that he draws more opposition bodies into the ruck to defend the ball when he is about – on top of that he is a tackle machine and arguably the greatest the pilfer of all time. 1 great win out of a dozen shithouse performances has not made Poey obsolete

    • I don’t have a problem with that opinion. I think there’s an issue at 6 with LSL. Pocock is NOT the answer for a 6. Unpopular though it may be, Pocock is, in my opinion, a better fetcher, than Hooper – although Hooper has been been playing more like a classic 7 in the last couple of matches.

      Pocock at 7, Hooper on the bench, Naisarani at 8 and… I’m not sure at 6. I’m torn about picking someone with 0 caps and hoping he takes to test rugby as quickly as Naisarani or sticking with LSL and hoping he develops into the role.

      But if Pocock isn’t fit, to play at least a half, I don’t mind him sitting this match out too.

  • Hoss

    Morning ladies & gents,

    Well, I’ve deliberately kept my powder dry this week thus far. I must admit to savouring the win and watching the game 3 times now and just letting it soak in and nourish my withered rugby soul.

    So much too like and as an avid observer of the human condition i found comfort in a lot of ‘quiet actions’ of my beloved Gold. These little actions resonated in me that perhaps, just perhaps, our Wallabies have turned a corner in terms of belief and a harder edge and finally a real rugby maturity and the greatest delight of all – leadership, real, tangible, once more unto the breach – leadership and leadership on several fronts.

    Like all, I await the Thursday morning selections with great anticipation. Do they throw the blueprint out now that there’s a chance at the Kiwi Silverware, do they stay the course and remained focus on ‘The Prize’ and ring in the changes for the greater good ? Is winning form the only form that matters ?

    So many questions, so much anticipation and so much excitement – cant wait, as the Monkeys once lip-synched ‘I’am a believer’

    • onlinesideline

      I really genuinely think any focus on the “prize” is a myth. There may be some takeaways they gather but they know these oportunities come around very rarely and wrestlling this bloody trophy off the incumbants is ridicously hard. Its been 17 years. Thats the raising of a child. They wont even have one eye on the RWC. They know ultimately, its a bunch of things that have to congeal to win a World cup and some of them are out of their hands – the ref, the bounce of the ball, the weather. Id say its all IN this week.

      Speaking of which the weather forecast is showers. Bloody kiwis -they never play fair.

    • Damo

      Simple for me. Pick the best team possible for Saturday. Win, and take the momentum, confidence and just a bit of swagger as Bledisloe Cup holders into the RWC. It’s the kind of positive headspace this team has been playing without for the past 3 years.

      • Hoss

        Completely agree, but i reckon i can see a hybrid selection coming.

        – Spanners off the bench with Toomua & DHP as the other backs
        – Brian off the bench
        – Jones to start at 6 with FKA on the pine
        – Sanchez to maybe start – purely tactical, allow white to snipe against a tiring pack in the last 25.
        – ‘Pebbles’ (Valentini – smaller version of ‘The Rock’) to start on the pine

        I am comfortable with some game time and to mix it up slightly v the Nearlies, they wont quiet expect it and it gives a few RWC certainties (Spanners, Brian etc) some game time. Plus i dont mind some old heads for the last 25 especially at Eden park – wouldn’t surprise to see Methuselah in the mix from the bench either.

        • Keith Butler

          Cheika has had 3 opportunities to give Jones some meaningful game time but hasn’t done so. Can’t see that changing if Pocock is in the bench and Coleman covering at lock. I don’t think LJ will be on the plane to Tokyo. LSL is the new Ned.

        • Hoss

          I look at it the glass half full way. Cheik has also given FKA more opportunity to run into some form at 6 and his efforts against the Nearlies were much improved. Still a lot to work on, but far better, maybe now its a chance to see what Cool Hand Luke can do if given a start.

        • Keith Butler

          Have to say that from day 1 I’ve always seen Jones as a lock, same with LSL. I’d even give Holloway or Dempsey a go.

        • Hoss

          Dempsey still injured mate – i’d give either LSL / Pebbles a start

        • AllyOz

          Ned and LSL are contrasting. One makes it to just about everything and does nothing of note, the other can be effective but not nearly often enough.

        • Keith Butler

          True, can’t say that i’m a great fan of either. I rate Jack Dempsey but as Hoss has pointed out he’s injured. Too many locks come 6s for my liking.

        • DLG

          LSL is the new Ned.
          Made the exact same comparison to a mate on the weekend…

        • laurence king

          Hoss, the player I’d like to see play is Petaia (don’t know his nick-name) whom I’d like to see replace Hodge sometime during the game. He’s fast and knows how to play wing, is a good defender and I think that he would play well alongside O’Connor.
          If Beale were to be injured, Hodge could shift back to fullback anyway so maybe no place on the bench this game for Banks. I think that he is not going to get meaningful time out of Cheika if he’s picked. I think he’d be better off getting a whole game against Samoa at fullback.

        • Hoss

          To be honest i’d forgotten about Das Wunderkid – and i am a huge fan and could live with that, me thinks he will get a start against Samoa instead.

          I am with Max from a few days back, Bastards fluffed his lines on the weekend and was awful on the wing. I reckon i read he missed 3 of 3 attempted tackles and the Nearlies streamed down his wing like piddle in a nursing home. It could be Wunderkid on the plane to radio-active Nipponville and not Bastards……..

        • laurence king

          I think that he’s needed as a replacement for Beale in case of injury, he’s certainly the best all round FB we’ve got so I hope that he catches the plane.

        • Hoss

          Not entirely without merit, but i reckon with the arrival,versatility and form of one Mr JOC (who can play 15 in his sleep) that there will be a few casualties that looked like certainties a few short weeks back – Bastards, Sauce and Maddocks will, IMO, all be having a break back in Oz.

        • laurence king

          If Banks misses out I think that would indeed be a pity

        • Hoss

          Agree to an extent, but i think the landscape has shifted somewhat in last 2 weeks.

          We are spoilt for choice a little now and some good players will miss out.

        • Keith Butler

          If Naisarani is Pebbles who’s Bam Bam. Brian bears an uncanny resemblance.

        • Who?

          BamBam is BamBam, as he has been since he was at the Force, before anyone called him Brian. :-)

        • Brumby Runner

          KB I read Hoss as saying Valetini is Pebbles, not Naisarani. More appropriate too, but Isi is a very good player.

        • Keith Butler

          Very difficult to keep up with the Hossman’s name games.

        • Hoss

          You should try being me – it’s exhausting. 13 personalities to control.

        • Damo

          Hoss, I’m ok with that- as long as the main objective is to win the game. I would love to see Banks get some decent game time at 15 as well but would probably still start Beale based on his performance last week. I still believe that our 1-10 “bought” the outside backs a lot of clear space last week, so maybe Banks would have gone just as well as Beale on the night.

        • Hoss

          Yeah mate, nobody should start out to lose a game. I post a bit further down that Bastards could miss the boat to Japan entirely with the arrival, versatility & form of JOC.

          Going to be very interesting the next 24 hours.

    • Keith Butler

      Damn the torpedoes full steam ahead. Play our strongest team and then rest them and play the reserves against Samoa.

      • AllyOz

        Agree. Samoa should be about getting some game time for those that have been part of the training squad but not had much of a run in the playing squad. This weekend is about putting together our best possible performance – Cheika is chasing momentum and the belief that hopefully comes with it.

  • RugbyM

    Baring any injuries, they have to name the same team. They just have to.
    Yeah, sure, Poey’s potentially available, but bring him on in the Samoa game for 20-30mins to reintroduce him to test rugby. Bloke hasn’t played anything since March…

  • Nutta

    Hello All.

    Random thoughts of a random guy…
    * Cheers Nathan
    * Poet must be fit prior to return but when he comes back he will be a benchie for 3 reasons:
    1) Hooper is Capt. Poet is not taking his spot
    2) Poet is coming back from a long lay-off. It will be incremental reintroduction
    3) Chek won’t go back to Pooper with Isi & LSL in the mix. He just won’t
    * Given all that, Poet will actually be Latte’s replacement as the resident Fetcher so expect Poet & Fingers (or even TPN) to come on at 25min to go to replace LSL & Latte (all things being equal) or perhaps replacing Latte & Rodda with LSL going to lock to close out.
    * Poet coming on at -25min would put the fear of God into most oppositions because of pilfers and the ability to win Refs when everyone else is fatiguing. He would be devastating at that role..

    • joy

      No points for Lukan getting his man?

      • Nutta

        Morning. I thought he reinforced on Sat night why he is so mis-placed in that back row.

  • Damo

    I reckon Beale’s comments above, if accurately recounted tell us a great deal.
    “Berney’s been great for us as a backline and for the side in attack, he’s brought a new edge to the game, a different approach, which is always refreshing,” Beale revealed.
    And he’s just allowing the guys to go out there and just be themselves and providing a structure that allows us to do that.”
    You would have to say from this – and of course as evidenced by the last 2 outings- that there has definitely been a game plan reset. I reckon this is a telling admission. Probably a bit late at 10 minutes to RWC midnight, but I guess the RC has been the first opportunity for the expanded Wallabies coaching/selection group implement the change. Anyway the players seem to be responding to it and better late than never.

    • AllyOz

      The things that confusing me is that both the current and the previous backs coach were nicknamed Bernie/Berney.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Nic,

    Fair call on Barrett and like every other punishment it seems they pick and choose the games the might miss. I’ve always thought it should be restricted to games at the level the they played when they got the card but at least this is one thing they are consistent on so I can live with it.

    I’d like to see Pocock off the bench this weekend, but only if he’s 100% right. I still think he brings enough to the team that even without a lot of game time he’s valuable and should be part of the squad. But I’d hate to see him start before he was right and then have to go missing for the tournament.

    That big Dream Time project sounds like a good thing and I think a great initiative. I hope it works out.

  • Scrum Stats, TRC overall

    Now The Rugby Championship is officially over I’ve combined the stats to see what there is to be said.

    There were 79 scrums in total over the six matches, that went to some sort of conclusion. There were also 28 resets (35.4%). It’s worth noting the last two matches pulled this average down – in one match it appeared the referee was loath both to reset scrums and to blow for penalties, in the other he was loath to reset scrums and went straight to penalties. As I’ve commented elsewhere, I’m not going to second guess what the referee sees at scrum-time, I’m just pointing out that there was a massive difference between the way those two matches appeared to be officiated at scrum time. I think 35% of scrums being reset is too high, and in the matches were I didn’t the officiating looked odd, the NZ v SA match had only 25% of their scrums reset. That didn’t feel too onerous. Why were most of the other matches up in the mid-40’s?

    The ball emerged a total of 67 times, (84.8%) always for the side putting in. Of those 67 times, 54 times the ball was played away cleanly and (by my armchair judgement) play crossed the gain line. A further 8 times, play cross the advantage line, but the front rows were down – whether or not penalties or resets should have been called is in the eye of the beholder. Of those 67 times the ball emerged, 5 times the win was what I categorised as dirty (as opposed to clean) – with a turnover, or other stoppage before crossing the gain line – and one of those was with the front rows down. That’s a total of 9 times (11.4% of 79 scrums) where the scrums went down without penalties or resets.

    There were 14 (17.7%) penalties for the side putting in and 6 (7.6%) for the other side. There were 2 free kicks as well (2.5%), both for the side putting in (both for early engagement).

    The AB picked up from 8 a lot, not just when they were down to 7 forwards. Argentina did too. All the sides did, everyone else did it more successfully than Australia in Ellis Park.

    I didn’t record advantage given and called over in the first weekend, in the last four games it occurred 28 times. The two French referees did this 5 times each, Australia v Argentina accounted for nearly half the total (12). Proving they’re dangerous off counter attack, the AB were offered 5 chances to take knock on advantage and scored 2 tries (40% success rate) for 12 points 2.4 points per advantage. SA and Argentina each scored once (penalty for SA that probably shouldn’t count but basically came from the next breakdown, so I’ve included it and a try for Argentina that was several phases but no stoppages), and scored at less than 1 point per advantage chance, Australia not at all.

    I started this exercise wanting to know what a successful scrum was according to the abbreviated stats we see. We normally see numbers in the 90%+ range so it’s pretty clear looking at these numbers it’s almost certainly any scrum where you put in and you end up with possession. So if there’s a strike against the head, legal scrum wheel, penalty or free kick against you it’s a loss, otherwise it’s a win. Resets aren’t counted, which is fine by me. If you see a number in the 80% range, that’s more likely to be scrums going to completion, with the ball emerging from the back of the scrum.

    Like a lot of the rugby stats we see, I’m not sure exactly what we should see – I think a successful scrum is not one that ends in a penalty or a free kick, it’s one where the ball emerges, so we should be seeing the 80% figure – but I think it’s a bit more than that. Is a scrum a success if the ball emerges and your 8 or 9 are under such pressure you can’t actually get the ball away and make the gain line? On that basis I’d report 78.5% success rate over all (62 clean wins), 17.7% PKs for the attack, 2.5% FKs for the attack, 6.3% (5/79) turn overs at or from the scrum and 7.6% PK for the defence. It’s messier than the simple one liner but it’s a more honest representation of what went on. And if we’re going to have stats to describe the games, surely that’s what we want?

    • GeorgiaSatellite

      Thanks for all your work, Eloise.

      • It was kind of fun to do actually.

        I’m sure forwards coaches look at scrums in a very different way but as a discrete piece of analysis for what we see as armchair fans compared to what it means it was interesting. I’ll be going back to just watching the matches this weekend though!

  • joy

    NZ press was off it’s rocker today until news of Wales win over England hit the desk. Drawing the Bledisloe has consequences, doesn’t it?


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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