Wednesday's Rugby News - Green and Gold Rugby
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Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News

Monday’s Rugby News looks at the race for the Wallabies fly-half position, the call to axe Giteau’s law, the re-singing of two young Reds and the hot potato of the ‘favourites’ tag heading into the World Cup.


Keeping faith

Christian Leali'ifano

Christian Leali’ifano

Christian Lealiifano is still the leading man for the Wallabies flyhalf position according to coach Michael Cheika.

Lealiifano had a less than impressive showing against the All Blacks last Saturday, missing two early penalties before being hooked in the early moments of the second half.

Despite that, Cheika has said that the 31-year-old has his ‘nose in front’ in the race for the starting job, ahead of the likes of Bernard Foley and Matt To’omua

“It’s been competitive — he’s (Lealiifano) got his nose in front because he’s played the majority of games so far but Foley is there and contesting at training, contributing in a big way,” Cheika told reporters at Fox Sports’ World Cup launch in Sydney on Tuesday.

“It’s a fine margin and also To’omua, who in the last couple of games has played very well as a finisher.

“He’s come in and got the team going forward, made a few line breaks himself, has moved forward in that position.

“So we’ve got good options there and that’s really good for us.”

Cheika revealed that former golden boy Bernard Foley has taken his demotion well, working overtime to try and regain his spot as the premier fly-half in the country.

“It’s a very difficult thing for a guy like him who’s probably been in that position, relatively uncontested for a while because he’s been playing well, and now he’s got that competition he’s reacted well,” Cheika said.

“He’s reacted well from a team perspective and also his individual routine in preparing to try and get his spot back.”

He also continued to float the possibility of an 11th hour deal for Will Skelton, believing that his overseas knowledge and experience would be invaluable to the squad.

“He’s an excellent player, he’s also performed against a lot of players we could be meeting at different times,” Cheika said.

“You often find a lot of those players that get that experience, come back a bit wealthier with knowledge.”

Cheika continued the Pocock dance (otherwise known as the neck rock and roll) with the public, earmarking the clash with Samoa on September 7 as his expected return to Australian rugby.

Pick the best we have

Kurtley Beale and Rod Kafer

Kurtley Beale and Rod Kafer

That’s the message from Wallaby great and Fox Sports commentator Tim Horan, who suggests that the Giteau law should be scrapped in World Cup years.

Horan offered up the suggestion whilst endorsing Saracens-based lock Will Skelton as a bolter for the Wallabies squad set to be named on Friday.

“I would select Will Skelton if we need to,” Horan said.

“I am a big believer in…I get the Giteau rule, I get the 60 Test matches.

“But I am a big believer in a World Cup year, you should be able to select anyone from around the world. Where they are playing, it doesn’t matter, get the best team that gives us the best opportunity to win a World Cup.”

He acknowledged the risk that this presents in that more homegrown players will chase the cash in Europe/Asia, however, Horan believes that it must be taken if we wish to win a World Cup.

“I would be (prepared to take the risk),” Horan said.

“We want to win the World Cup and yes we want our best players back playing Super Rugby, but if a player like a Samu Kerevi is away for the next five years, we would want him back, just for the World Cup year.”

Horan also backed the selection of Jordan Petaia and David Pocock in the 31-man squad, believing the injured pair would help inspire the squad.

“I wouldn’t say it is going to be a risk selecting Jordan Petaia, he is going to be a sensational player and could be one of the great players,” Horan said.

“Dave Pocock is going to be important, just because of the players who play around him. They get inspired by him when they see him run out onto the field

“The pilfers that he does, and the tackles that he makes, he just inspires people. But not only on the field, but also off the field. Having someone like a David Pocock in a gold jersey, about to run out next to you is pretty important.”

Young Reds Scott the Wright stuff

Angus Scott-Young UQ QLD Club GF Photo Credit QRU Brendan Hertel

The Reds have continued to tie-up their young forwards with the re-signing of recent Wallaby Liam Wright and promising back-rower Angus Scott-Young.

The pair has committed to Queensland and coach Thorn until 2021, joining the likes of prop Taniela Tupou, Junior Wallabies captain Fraser McReight and exciting halfback Tate McDermott (all 2023) to re-sign with the club in the last two weeks.

Wright became Wallaby no. 928 after coming off the bench for 20 minutes during the loss against the All Blacks and he was excited to extend his stay at the club.

“Despite the result, I was still incredibly proud to put on this jersey and run out there with the boys, it was one of the best 20 minutes’ of my life,” Wright said.

“I can’t wait to continue growing and developing alongside a great group of people, players and good mates as we work towards our goal of a Super Rugby championship for Queensland,”

Scott-Young had his own reason to celebrate over the weekend, playing an integral part in Uni of Queensland’s win over Brothers in the Hospital Challenge Cup, with the 22-year-old eager to continue following in the footsteps of his famous dad Sam.

“I grew up hearing stories of how Queensland was one of the most successful rugby provinces in the world during the 90s,” Scott-Young said.

“It’s always been a goal of mine to restore the Reds to this former glory.”

It continues the successful partnership that the pair have forged across their rugby career, having played together in the 2014 Churchie’s squad, which is one of the best high school teams in recent memory, along with one of the biggest massacres of rugby talent (Ponga, Croft and Perese all snapped up by that other code).

“They’re good mates and well respected within our group,” Coach Brad Thorn said.

“They’ve known each other since school. They’ve played U20s together for Queensland and Australia, plus with Queensland Country in the NRC. It’s important we continue to develop their rugby futures here in Queensland.”

Shedding the favourite’s tag

Gatland warm up   in Lions vs Force 2013

The rise of Wales to the world number one ranking has led to the All Blacks and England heaping them with the favourite’s tag heading into the World Cup.

Wales coach Warren Gatland looked to downplay the hype surrounding their historic rise to the top, referring to the achievment as ‘just a number.’

“It’s just a number, isn’t it,” said Gatland following their 13-6 victory over England at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.

“It is a nice accolade to have, but it is all about the next few months and backing that up by performing well in the World Cup, and we’ve a couple of games against Ireland to go as well.

“It’s nice for a day, but we won’t be shouting from the rooftops about it. We have got to keep things in perspective.

“Lots of journalists will be out there saying ‘this is a joke’ – probably Kiwi journalists more than anything! It’s just a number.”

However, Aussie Eddie couldn’t pass up the opportunity to put more pressure onto his Six Nations rivals, labelling them as the clear favourites to win their first World Cup.

“They’re favourites for the World Cup now. When you go to No 1, you’re favourites for the World Cup,” said the English coach.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen was not worried about the sudden demotion of his side, pleased that they had silenced their critics after their demolition job against the Wallabies.

“We just need to get ourselves in the right frame of mind to go over and win the World Cup, so I’m not too worried about that,” Hansen believed.

“It’s massive really because everyone externally was starting to get a bit shaky and starting to question whether the coaches still had it, the players still had it,” Hansen said.

“Where we had question marks, we no longer have question marks.”

  • Jason

    My 3 reasons for not bringing in Skelton:

    1) We don’t need him we have Rodda, Arnold, and Coleman as well as Jones and LSL as lock cover) PLZ NO SIMMONS!

    2) It’s a bit late to be adding a player out of the blue to the squad, especially someone who hasn’t been in ANY camps and hasn’t even been playing in Australia.

    3) It will devalue the jersey, he’s got less than 20 tests and only 4 years in Australian Rugby; he fails all the criteria, and unless he signs with a team he shouldn’t even be considered.

    Even if he was available for consideration he shouldn’t be picked for the above reasons.

    • Patrick

      I can’t believe you needed to even say this, except all too obviously there are actually people out there who would consider bringing him back.

      There is actually almost no reason to consider him, if he was a world class FB with amazing aerial skills or QC in a pale blue guernsey or indeed someone who had ever played a decent game in gold we might want to consider him but frankly lock is not our biggest problem.

    • onlinesideline

      1 – we just got done 36-0 again. I’d ask the question – how effective are these guys you mentioned ? Skelton is a massive line bender dragging 3 blokes along for the ride. So we change the lneout a bit.

      I’d also argue that a lock in Super rugby is universes away from test rugby locks. You dont switch 6s to locks. They were either good enough to be picked as locks at test level from the outset or not at all. Its more than just weight and height. Its a position with its own skillset.

      2 – Matt Giteau came in late, he did well. If Willy signed up he would a month to integrate and a furthur month in comp.

      3 – the days of valuing the jersey by denying overseas guys is over mate. Nice ideal but times have changed. Its just the reality.

      • Patrick

        I agree in principle on 2 and 3 but I don’t see any overseas candidates atm.

        I don’t recall Skelton ever dragging any ABs very far and this year’s crop of South Africans wouldn’t lose sleep over him either.

        • onlinesideline

          3 yeas ago he couldnt drag himself. I dunno.
          Mate TBH I think hes on such a good wicket over there, he’ll politely say no. Hes experienced wallaby camp, hes on good money. Doubt it will happen.

        • ozrugbynut

          Same. Why would you commit back to Oz rugby in the state it’s in for a mere shot at a bench spot. Appears like a press gang the way it’s playing out in the media at the 11th hr.

        • Damo

          Saracens might release him on the proviso that he was not to participate in hill sprints at training!

      • Keith Butler

        I guess we’ll have to wait until Friday to see whether Big W is in or not. I also agree with most of the point you and Jason make. Being a Rebs supporter i’d just add some comment about Luke Jones. I have never thought of him as a 6. He paired up with Pyle and Neville before he went to France and played his rugby there at lock. When he returned to the Rebs, they had Coleman, Jeffries, Phillip, and RHP so Wessels slipped him in at 6. With Coleman going off to the Irish I can see LJ moving back to the second row. The only way he’ll make it into the squad is as a 5/6 fighting it out with LSL, who’s In the driving seat.

      • Who?

        I debate the whole thing about Giteau doing well. He choked our backline. We only scored one try on the width the entire world cup – and he was the scorer!!! The ball was never released! He ran sideways and didn’t contribute greatly on attack.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          All the Australia backs run sideways except for Kerevi. I think it must be something they’re taught

        • onlinesideline

          L.E.A.G.U.E

        • onlinesideline

          ok maybe did well is debatable but as a player the point is he had to integrate into the squad with just a few weeks and Im saying the same time period would be enough for Big Willy

        • Brumby Runner

          Won’t get any debate from me Who? MG never played an outstanding game from 2011 onwards, either Super or test level.

        • disqus_NMX

          I agree Giteau wasn’t great. But Nic White integrated very well in a very short time, there’s no reason Skelton can’t. The only question for me is that at least half the players that go overseas and tear the house down, then come back to merely underwhelm, while only a handful continue to tear it up back here. Which one is Skelton? Going on his weight transformation, I’d be willing to back him as a changed player.

        • Who?

          I’m not, with my Giteau comment, saying that the Giteau law should be invalidated, I’m just saying that he wasn’t a great option.
          .
          In terms of Skelton, he may be useful. It’s really hard to know. But Eloise is saying it’s now too late to change LSL from 6, given we’ve no more games before the squad’s announced, and only one more warm up. She’s right. It’s too late to bring someone – anyone – in, hoping they’ll work.

        • Parker

          Right, let’s stick with the player who is not working. That kind of certainty is really reassuring, eh? If reassurance is more valuable to you than success, then go for it.

        • Who?

          I’m not saying we can’t change LSL, I’m saying we don’t have time to experiment. I think LSL’s under direct threat from Pocock, if anyone. Under threat from known options (though, let’s be honest, this is Cheika, who’s saying that Foley’s a nose behind Leali’ifano for selection, even though Christian’s record this year has almost as many wins as Foley gave last year).
          .
          But reality is that we should’ve had a pretty good idea of what each player brought before now, and, two days before the squad’s announced, we shouldn’t be speculating about completely changing the eligibility requirements that have been set for years and which other players have sacrificed to meet in order to bring in someone who may – MAY – possibly be a decent bench option. The time for experimentation is over. Skelton missed his opportunity, and he wasn’t in a hurry to come home (he signed an extension this year).
          In fact, if you read Cheika’s words from before TRC, he was very clear. He would try a few things, but for the most part he wasn’t going to experiment. He wanted momentum. After win the win over Argentina, it was all about momentum. Carrying momentum into the Perth game. Carrying momentum out of Perth. After the loss in Auckland, it’s about maintaining belief. Not winning momentum, but that’s as close as you can get to maintaining momentum when you’ve had a loss.

        • onlinesideline

          exactlyyyy

        • Max Graham

          What about the 80% of rugby that doesn’t involve running with the ball. Gits was excellent.

        • Who?

          What did he offer that other options wouldn’t have provided? Such as Toomua? Beyond a left footed kicking option for a coach who still doesn’t believe in a clearly implemented kicking regime..? As was illustrated on the weekend, when most of our kicking was aimless?

        • Kristian Thomas

          a. he can read the game and respond accordingly
          b. he organised our defence. Foley can’t really organise anything without a ball playing in centre to take over a lot of the work

        • Who?

          SO Toomua – who had been the incumbent 12, who is at least as dominant a defender, couldn’t have covered off all that?
          Further, AAC’s an excellent defensive organizer, TK’s one of the best defensive 13’s on the planet, Horne was in the squad…
          And Beale was still in the squad (he was the reason why Foley gets praised for the game against England – it was really Beale providing the spark).
          Giteau didn’t provide anything that wasn’t already covered in the existing team.

        • Kristian Thomas

          You’re right… except it was noticeable that we were just so much better organised when Gits was on the field. He held us together better than any of the others.

        • Max Graham

          How about defence smarts, just for one thing? Have you ever watched how hard Gits worked to get into position after a tackle?? The man was a pro.

        • Who?

          So Toomua, the previously incumbent 12, who is excellent defensively, didn’t offer what Gits did?
          .
          My point isn’t that Giteau was a terrible player. I was a fan. I thought he was pushed out too soon by Deans. However, by 2015, he was 4 years out of the Wallabies, wasn’t playing in Australia, and didn’t offer anything that wasn’t already covered other than his proclivity to run sideways (stealing space from his outside backs, who then became ornamental) as opposed to remaining more direct like Toomua.

        • Max Graham

          Gits was better than Toomua in 2015 at everything except tackling. He was a very smart defender and worked his arse off to get to where he needed to be. I think he was a key reason for that team’s over-performance and perhaps his absence is part of the reason we’ve sucked since.

        • Who?

          We’re going to have to agree to disagree. Gits was an awesome player in his day, but I’m absolutely certain he didn’t contribute anything more to that team than other players might have done, given the opportunity.
          He wasn’t the equivalent of White this year (where White returning is a clear first squad choice this time).
          .
          But to claim his non-selection in 2016 and beyond is why the Wallabies have sucked is extraordinary. How about the failed defensive systems, the failed attacking plans, the lack of coordination in coaching staff (Larkham found out Hunt was debuting at 12 only when the team was named), the lack of tactical awareness in coaching staff…

      • Jason

        Giteau is debatable at best; and to suggest Skelton is somehow equivalent to Giteau is insanity!

        Our Rodda, Arnold pair have been as good as any of our locks since one of them kicked a goal in the 2000’s. LSL has played Tests at both 6 and lock, so is a viable option.

        • onlinesideline

          I was only comparing that giteau only had a few weeks too not as players. Maybe Gituea had a bit longer.

          But on Saturday night did you see Rodda smash through the All Black pack like a Will Skelton special or an Eben Ezerbeth ? I certainly didnt.
          Why are you accepting this guy as good enough. We got done 36 – 0. We are accepting mediocrity. We need some monster dudes in the lock position. For a lock Rodda gets schooled often. The Poms and Saffas are going to rag doll him.

        • Damo

          OLS I personally wouldn’t Include Skelton, but you have argued his case quite well. The madness here is that we are even having this conversation 2 days before the squad is picked. What’s even more bizarre is that the national coach has introduced the idea himself. Almost like he is thinking out loud or asking himself some kind of Dorothy Dixer.
          People on this site have been trying to look inside Mr Cheika’s head for years now- and he remains the surprise that keeps on giving.
          When I look at the teams that will have serious RWC aspirations I think the common threads are
          Stable set piece + breakdown collision power
          Skilled , coordinated marauding backrows. Effective in both A&D
          Smart 10’s
          Real gas out wide.
          You don’t have to be a genius to see these assets reflected in a game plan which uses swarming defense and then take advantage of the errors this creates. And it is this approach which has so frequently picked apart the Wallabies game plan in the last 3 years. Not just the AB’s but also England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland.
          My question then, are the Wallabies planning to match this defense + counter attack game plan at the WC, in which case what back row, 10 and back 3 does he choose to do this job. or does he have some different cunning plan that will tip the WC on its head. Pigs might fly- and we seriously do not have the skill sets or the rugby IQ to execute something clever in any case.
          To be honest from my point of view I don’t mind who they pick as long as we take away a squad that is able- and more importantly willing- to consistently execute the Salta (18) and Perth model every time they play. I will be happy with that even if it only takes us to the QF’s.

        • Brumby Runner

          Some pigs do attempt to fly. Etsebeth has recently taken to the air to try to avoid a player tackling him.

        • NSWelsham in London

          been watching Skelton closely since he has been at Saracens due to them being my adopted team (North London based). As a player, him and Arnold in the row would be world class, Skelton has been immense and has limited game time for both Itoje and Kruis, whilst winning player awards at the European Champions.Would have loved to see him in the squad…. The big issue for me though is we dont have a big enough player base at home to just allow players to come play for Australia whilst being o/s (Giteau Rule excepted). It would break my heart to see the only professional rugby being played in Australia be at Wallabies level due to the best 15 all playing in Europe. Lets bring him back for next W/C when he is ready to bleed Gold..

        • Jason

          Why are you accepting this guy as good enough. We got done 36 – 0.

          This was more or less the same team who beat NZ 47-26 the week before…

        • onlinesideline

          I lke what I saw back when he started . I like him even more. If Saracens can deal with his limited jumping so can we.

          The fact that the difference between week and week 2 Bleds was Rory Arnold goes to show that we need some locking depth. He played teh house down in Bled 1 and look at us in Bled 2. Having a guy like Big Willy would be great at certain times in the comp. If he is lock 4 in teh 31 man squad and subbed intelligently which is the big caveat, I reckon we will benefit alot.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      I’m with you mate. I see this as a distraction more than anything else. I don’t care how good he seems to be playing club rugby up north, there’s no guarantee that this will translate to anything in tests. The opposition at test level is so much better than the opposition at club level in every position that it means nothing.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      I’m with you mate. I see this as a distraction more than anything else. I don’t care how good he seems to be playing club rugby up north, there’s no guarantee that this will translate to anything in tests. The opposition at test level is so much better than the opposition at club level in every position that it means nothing.

    • Troy

      To your three points:

      1- LSL hasn’t set the house on fire, except for Perth he’s excelled at underwhelming!
      2- As others have already said, look how quickly the likes on Nic White have integrated. A month is a long time
      3- Don’t agree, in effect you’re saying he’d give less than the other bloke.

      We need a third lock, I’d agree with you there No Simmons…

      • Human

        Rodda, Arnold, Coleman = 3 locks.
        Add Jones and LSL for cover at lock & 6.
        No Skelton needed.
        I agree with Horan that we should pick our best regardless of where they play…Skelton still is not needed.

      • Jason

        1) LSL is playing at 6 not 4 or 5 (unless you’re suggesting Skelton will play 6)?

        2) If he was coming over the should have come at the start of the RC, not with zero games before the RWC.

        3) I’m saying he deserves it less than a guy who’s been in Australia, a guy who’s turned down the big money in Europe, a guy who’s put in here. Maybe he’d give more than a guy currently in the squad, but he’s not put in that work up to now.

    • HK Red

      Totally agree with all you say. Also I’m concerned Horan is losing his mind.

  • Patrick

    My wish list, in rough order of priority:
    1. No Skelton
    2. Banks
    3. Naivalu or Petaia or both
    4. Jones
    5. No Foley
    6. No AAC
    7. No Simmons

    Bonus point wish for Folau (obviously no possibility but whilst I’m wishing).

    • onlinesideline

      Really ?

      My wish list

      1. Skelton
      2. Banks
      3. Naivalu
      4. Petaia

      Think we need a 3rd opinion mate.
      And not the ” not only are you dumb but ugly too” type

      You still in Europa ?

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        Where is this support for Naivalu coming from? Has no form to speak of all year (admittedly he played at the Reds). Compared with Speight who was our form winger.

        Simmons has played well.

        • onlinesideline

          i just think some players respond well to extended camps as opposed to weekly grind of normal season. I really think Sefa is one of those players. I thought he had crazzzzy potential. And campaingns like this see guys like him come out like jack in the box, spring loaded, busting at the seams …. perfect for knock out footy.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Agree he had huge potential. Just never really channeled it consistently unfortunately.

        • Gipetto

          The Tahs were excrement before they got Simmons.

      • onlinesideline

        Adrian where you been mate ?

    • ozrugbynut

      No LSL!

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      I’d say both Naivalu and Petaia as they play different positions. Agree 100% with No Foley and AAC. I’d also say No LSL at 6. I don’t know enough about Skelton to say No but I tend to agree as I don’t think he offers anything the other locks available to Cheika have (whether they’re picked or not is another matter) Simmons is interesting. He gets a lot of flack but he also steps up at times. I’m tending to Yes but caveat it with a bench player at best

      • AllyOz

        I think he is a better ball runner but it’s not necessarily a core skill and, if you include on this basis, you then have to make compromises in other places. Specialists are good for some things but more often than not a generalist is required.

    • Patrick

      I forgot to mention Fardy, who should be at 3, because if we start crunch games with Beale at 15 it won’t matter who plays 6.

  • onlinesideline

    oh really where you based ?

    • Patrick

      France next to Geneva

      • onlinesideline

        You lucky bugger. How far to the chairlift ?

        • Patrick

          Depends on which! Chamonix, ~70 minutes from door to chairlift, Flaine or Contamines or grand Bornand closer to 50.

        • onlinesideline

          mmmm – Ill pretend I didnt read that. Switzerland / France fav place in europe

        • Patrick

          Yes they are great, took me a few years to get to Zermatt but it blew my mind, so beautiful (and some good skiing!).

        • AllyOz

          Lived in Lausanne for a year (though I made it to Zermatt on the first weekend I was there. Truly beautiful place. i told my boss I was going into the Vaud for the weekend and he said, why would you want to go there, it’s like the Lord of the Rings country. That made me leave even earlier.

        • Patrick

          Well you did well with Zermatt but whilst the vaudois might be a bit orcish the land between Lausanne and Fribourg (Lutry, Grandvaux, Montreux) is gorgeous.

          Almost makes me not mind my regular 4 hour commute to Zurich!

        • AllyOz

          I lived in Epesses – on a second floor apartment above a Caveau (not sure of the spelling but I guess we call them a cellar door here) in the middle of the terraced vineyards. It was magic (and surprisingly cheap for Switzerland)

        • Patrick

          I can’t believe you left, frankly. But then again I left Australia to come here.

        • AllyOz

          I also played for the might Stade Lausanne rugby club. One of the best rugby clubs I have been involved with (but they have all been great to be honest)

  • nameface

    https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2019/aug/19/kearnan-myall-england-players-mental-health-training-camp
    Unrelated to any of the above, but this article was published today. Myall is a perfectly solid lock, and sheds light on the reality of mental health problems in pro rugby (beyond the platitudes about awareness with no action accompanying it).

    • Keith Butler

      Yes it made very disturbing reading.

    • onlinesideline

      thanks for read
      Conversation is a huge conversation.

      I often wonder just privately (not anymore) iif these guys feel a level of futility with respect to what they actually do. For me, the modern game, because its become so compartmentalised and data driven, could be at fault in redcuing these guys down to robots. That cant feel particularly healthy.

      Furthurmore, and I hope anyone isnt offended by this association, but its pretty clear that after military conflict it just doesnt bode well physcologically for humans to be at war ie destroying your opponent. Obviously rugby doesnt invlove killing people, but I think we underestimate the level of violent mindset those forwards have to host in the modern game. We dont know what the headspace is in training at this intensity and playing at this intensity. Maybe there is something fundamentally unhuman about many aspects of rugby. Because lets be honest its organised and legal violence.

      Im a bit of a mystic myself (as you can all tell – NOT) but we do have an unconscious and even though this guy said he was playing the house down, maybe thats the material side of him speaking thats bought into rigby, a profession, a job. But life aint that simple.

      The question is, even though rugby has good strong values, that we could liist, is the concept of rugby a natural pursuit. Because nature always has the last laugh.

      • Nutta

        The concept of rugby – competitive body-contact sport – is perfectly healthy in my opinion. Just like the concept of acknowledging there is a higher power than me and it’s a good idea to be nice to each other (aka religion) is also perfectly healthy. Both concepts seek to reward effort and keep you humble.

        How those concepts then get twisted by those who seek to derive power from them – be it commercial, sexual or whatever – that’s what is perfectly unhealthy.

        • onlinesideline

          so can I be as presumptous as to suggest what you are perhaps implying is that it has been the professinal rugby era that is largely responsible for hijacking the healthier version of the sport. I wonder. If the professional / commercial era never happened dont you think that rugby would still look very similar. Every generation just keeps improving on the previous in everything we do. Im not sure commercialism can take the blame for guys feeling unfufilled in rugby. Bear in mind, the idea I put forward that some gain no meaning from it, is just an opinion of mine and they are also free to leave the sport and do something else if its not for them.

        • juswal

          I have been pondering whether professional sports franchises are unhealthy places for adults. It’s such a juvenile lifestyle, barely appropriate for high schoolers.

          Here’s your daily schedule, your diet, turn up in your blazer for this sponsor event, now it’s time for your media training, and tsk, you’re wearing the wrong T-shirt on the plane.

          You know the team is losing because the coach is out of his depth. But he gives interviews blaming your lack of fitness/commitment/maturity. Angry fans abuse you, drunks heckle you, blog commenters deride you. You have to keep turning up and smiling.

          The bloke beside you in the scrum is getting paid twice your wage. Then you lose half a season to injury. People start talking about you as dead wood that needs to be cleared out.

          A grown man can find a better way to spend his life.

        • onlinesideline

          100% mate. I have honestly thought often it would be a bloody awful existence. Isnt it interesting that when asked, most guys say that the one thing they love the most about international rugby is the people they meet and the friendships they forged often for life. You never hear them go overboard about the actual rugby itself. Just an observation. Ask a professional surfer same question and Im sure you’ll hear that surfing itself is right up there as being the reason they do it,

        • Nutta

          There was a fantastic interview with Francois Pienaar a few years after he won the World Cup where he openly referred to golf as his sport and rugby as his profession. Telling.

        • Gun

          There’s a saying among pilots that when you begin you live for flying but as you progress somewhere along life’s path you end up flying to live. I’d say it’s true of most jobs where people start off loving it.

        • Nutta

          Firstly I call out my aspiration to be an existentialist. I appreciate the thinking of Satre et al and their insistence on good-faith decision making in and of yourself. For me, ‘your’ happiness depends on you – not on your wife, your kids, your job etc. It’s on you. You decide what environment you put yourself into and you are accountable for the outcomes.

          So to that end, I am a rugby player because I choose to be a rugby player. For a little while I was a professional player and I had to make a decision when it was time to step away from that. I am now a happy lower-grade weekend warrior well-past whatever mole-hill my peak arguably was. I do a couple of gym sessions a week, do a little cardio, train on Thurs nights, try and share a little knowledge with guys who want to learn, then go out on a Saturday and contribute as best as a broken down never-was with shite knees can! When the swollen and short-temper of Sundays becomes too much to take anymore (ie when it causes trouble at home) I’ll decide to stop doing that too.

          If someone is feeling unfilled in ANY environment than the onus is on them to do something about it for themselves. To that end, it is not professionalism that made anything ‘bad’ but rather professionalism has had influence on aspects of the game that some participants have not or can not adjust to. In the same way, amateurism also has problems – such as the fact my club probably feels indebted to an old war-horse like me and so possibly picks me but leaves out the young guy they should pick because he has 10yrs of contributions to make.

        • onlinesideline

          its true that you have to look after yourself and make these decisions for yourself and if it’s not for you, then you shoudl move on. But often even though these guys look like giants and are “fully grown men,” in reality they really arent. Hell, I didnt start thinking properly about life until I was in my mid 30s. Most of these guys have to deal with this stuff in their mid 20s. Question is, do they have the emotional awareness and tools to act on their emotions at that age. If you are not so sensitive to the black dog and the idea that your job could be the cause, it could creep up on you at a fast rate of knots. Its not until someone gives you the helicopter view, a good mate (there should be more of this), a Doctor, that you gain a new perspective and become aware what the hell is going on. You and I both, after living a little, can see what perhaps these younger guys cant.

        • Nutta

          This is why I have a real problem with paying 15%-20% for a “Manager”. That’s their fkn job that they are well paid for, but they are held to no level of accountability. I have a real issue with the management industry as a whole for largely the reason you cite inasmuch as they Player recognises they need specialist help and oversight, so appoint a Manager to protect and promote their interests. The player did the right thing. That sort of relationship is arguably fiduciary in nature (in my opinion) and that Manager then singularly fails to fulfill their task. I can see some massive civil suits in a few years coming from ex pro-sportsmen/women against their Managers not acting in the best interests of their clients whether it be from CTE, depression or even through to premature exposure to physical environments their physique (or emotional state) were not yet ready for (eg James Slipper debut was against Martin Castro-Giovanni FFS or even Ned Hannigan being played in a human crow-bar role before he is physically ready for it surely shortening his career)

        • Who?

          They could always have their parents look after their cash. I remember reading of one bloke, when he was playing for the Broncos he only had a pre-paid mobile phone… Voldemort!!!

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Well said mate.

      • juswal

        Hell of a post

      • AllyOz

        There are a couple of things I have done for hobbies or pastimes, primarily rugby and music. I coached a bit after I retired from playing (and the last couple of years of playing too) but never did either as a professional career. I used to think that I would like to be involved in rugby professionally as a coach or development officer – some sort of paid position in something I loved was the basic argument. That was until I went on holidays and spent the weekend with a mate and his wife. He had gone on to coach in English Premier Rugby and was a head coach. He never said anything negative and he was genuinely enjoying the role. However, for me, that experience put me off and I thought that a role in coaching would very quickly turn my passion into a job – a highly pressured job. I would be fine as an amateur coach but doing it for a living would mean it became work very quickly and I wouldn’t have enjoyed it.

        I think it must be the same for a lot of the blokes coming through as professional rugby players. They really enjoy rugby as a sport in high school, they are really good at it, people give them status because of it and they have potential to earn really good living. But it’s not surprising to me that what was once something that they loved becomes a chore. I know a lot of people who, when I was travelling a bit for work overseas, that thought it would be great to be flying off to Europe and Asia and staying at good hotels. It was something I personally had never had much interest in doing and never really enjoyed (though I am grateful to have had those experiences). It became old really quickly. When I think of the modern super rugby player, particularly one with a young family, it must become a chore pretty quickly. Buenos Aires and Johannesburg and Christchurch are great places to visit but when you have long range flights, adjust to different time zones, just see the inside of the hotel and the training paddock, treat injuries, off to the game, play, potentially lose and then rinse and repeat.

        I loved playing rugby but by the end of the regular season, if you hadn’t made the finals I was ready for a break for a while. Playing 40 week seasons, playing injured, training in all conditions, going through long analysis session and then being open to criticism from keyboard hackers like myself that were never very good themselves but claim we have the knowledge to question not only people’s ability, but their level of passion and commitment and what they do in their private lives outside of work – well, I could see how that might get to be a drain pretty quickly.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Mate, I think you’re spot on. I’ve got a friend who has a 1 handicap at golf and I asked him if he’d go professional. His answer was that he loved golf a a sport but didn’t think he’d enjoy it so much as a profession.

        • AllyOz

          I also think we potentially lose a lot of junior players through the GPS system. I had some limited involvement in club and schools rugby in Brisbane and some of the boys in the school firsts team would be doing 12 -15 training sessions of some sort per week. Not all on ground training but weights and recovery sessions as well. In club land, only the Premier Colts and Premier Grade players would come close to that back then. A lot of those boys would never play rugby again after they finished school – that was the pinnacle for them. Others would maybe play 1 – 2 years of Colts 1 – maybe get an academy place but very few would transition through to the grades or if they did they wouldn’t be interested in training (our 5th grade side had 3 Qld Schoolboys who became tradies and would just show up to play some touch on Thursday night). The grades seem to be filled with people who played 3rd and 4ths at school or came from country areas.

          I find it very strange because for me, schoolboy rugby and rugby league was enjoyable but it was only when I started playing senior rugby that I really started to get into it in a big way. I think it would be even worse now in terms of participation. My mate with kids at GPS schools are pushing them to make the A’s and 1st and I say to them the best lesson they can learn is to enjoy the game – play it as well as they can by all means but if they are going to retire at 18 because they are burnt out then they are going to be missing out on their best years both in terms of performance and enjoyment.

        • Who?

          We’ve talked about this issue before, and it’s something that concerns me. But for someone who’s been inside the GPS system – and still has positive feelings towards it – to hold that position, I don’t think there’s any better evidence that we should be concerned.
          .
          On your post above that one, the difference between music and Rugby is that one makes you fit but can hurt you, the other can hurt you by allowing you to be unfit! Both can involve brutality and artistry. Both can create great touring stories, and turn travel into a grind. My son’s retired from Rugby (as a teenager – loves the game, hates the contact), but he won his Eisteddfod for the second straight year. :-)

        • AllyOz

          I used the term musician lightly to be honest. I am a bagpiper, we cop the same jokes as banjo players. Strangely the one form of injury I hated most was anything to the fingers. Imagine those movies where they say “Not the face, don’t hurt the face” – I changed it to don’t hurt the fingers (and managed to limit it to just four broken fingers over a course of a 25 year playing career.

          Great that your son is doing well at Eisteddfod (and great that you can spell it as I couldn’t so copied yours). Sometimes its just a matter of finding your thing but I think everyone needs some form of physical or outdoor pursuit too as we aren’t entirely designed for the cave but also for the plains so I hope he finds that too. He sounds like a coach in the making if he has that love for the game.

        • Who?

          Piano teachers HATE football. My son’s teacher always panicked he (or his mate at 10) would injure a finger in the lead up to Eisteddfod and exams. Thankfully, neither of them had issues – they kept their fingers clean.
          .
          Piping’s not easy, in many ways… Technique, skill, but then the other side where it’s like drumming when you can actually read music (most drummers, in my experience, can’t) – it’s loud, the neighbours get grumpy, it’s not great for your hearing… We struggle with making noise, I can’t imagine how much more difficult it is to play ‘live’ on pipes (as in, making noise, not just using a practice set).
          .
          Coach in the making? We’ll see how motivated the boy is when he’s a bit older. Did some reffing, too (but hard to make it work this year). Did ref some touch at school last term, they were impressed. HIs response? “I reffed Rugby, counting to six is easy!” :-D

        • AllyOz

          The pipes are certainly one of the more physical instruments to play. The blowing thing is more of a technique than a physical difficulty – sometimes you have 10 year old boys and girls who are able to do it. But if your technique isn’t correct then it can be hard work. I teach and I have one bloke, big solid 30 yo farmer, and he can only just get out one tune and that’s a bit rough. I have had international rugby players unable to get a squeak out of them. I have a fond memory of when I was in Moree. I was part of a local squad that trained against the Welsh team before they played NSW Country – must have been 1995 or 1996 and the next day I played NSW Country onto the field for the game (not sure why they thought that would be significant for the welsh). After the game there was a big marquee set up and I played a bit and was having a few drinks etc and some of the Welsh players asked if they could have a go. So blokes didnt get very far but, by far the best effort was Euan (not sure of spelling) Evans (winger and captain at the time – bit of a Welsh legend from memory and I think a British Lion a couple of times). He had enough wind that I could actually hold the chanter and play a tune while he kept the bag full. The other players were very impressed. God I love this game…do other people get to have experiences like the ones rugby has given us?

        • AllyOz

          Piano teacher HATE bagpipers too (or our local one does anyway)

        • Who?

          Pipers are just misunderstood… And Piano teachers can be odd. Because it spans such a wide variety of styles. So you get a wide variety of people as teachers.
          My first teacher was in Grafton – she was great. And she ran a wide variety of instruments. I figure, if you can put up with people sounding like geese in pain (i.e. learning oboe, etc), then you can deal with most instruments (especially when played properly). My kids’ teacher is great. That said… I’d love to have had more access to learn jazz, and the same for my kids (particularly my son).

        • AllyOz

          I am from Maclean – typing you this from my office in Harwood

        • Who?

          No wonder you play the pipes! :-D
          Though I get you played them before you moved there… Was it on the real estate forms? “You’re moving to the Scottish town in Australia – what Scottish heritage can you bring?”
          We served 5 years in South Grafton (we weren’t affiliated with the prison, it just felt like a sentence). Looked at property on Palmers Island…
          But moved north 23 years ago.
          Our experience in the Clarence wasn’t typical, I spent most of my life before then between there and Sydney, and loved it. Beautiful part of the world. :-)

        • AllyOz

          Born and raised in Maclean from a piping family (came from Skye to the valley in the 1840s – so one of the originals [well not as original as some who have an obviously better claim). I moved away from 18 to 46 and came back and bought a farm (riverbank at Brushgrove) and took a job with the sugar mill about 4 years ago. In the 28 years I was away I worked in Brisbane and all about Country NSW and Qld, a little time in the NT and Switzerland. But I don’t think I found a more beautiful place (some pretty good ones though).

        • AllyOz

          Good to see you didn’t turn out a mass shooter (I spent 6 years at school in Grafton too and didn’t emerge with too many nervous ticks). Great place to grow up.

        • Who?

          I had another teacher with the same name, though… Not the one immediately related to the shooter.
          I didn’t fit in Grafton. Never found my place there.

        • AllyOz

          Very hard for the family I think. My uncle had a place two doors down from where the shooter was born. I think I went to school with one of his older cousins or uncles. Grafton, like a number of country towns, can be very clicky so I am not surprised.

        • Keith Butler

          Great posts today on this important subject. I was wondering how I could possibly add to it but then you came along and summed it up way better than I could. OLSL mentioned ‘handling stuff in their mid 20s’. I would go even further and say that they have to start dealing with ‘stuff’ as soon as they enter club academies at 18 or 19. It also makes me wonder how the clubs ensure that their players get the right work/life balance and how they help prepare their players for life after rugby. Fortunately, we do not see that many going off rails with tragic consequences.

        • AllyOz

          I think club rugby used to do that in some ways Keith. I played Souths in Brisbane in the early to mid 90s when those players like Horan and Little were coming through as young 18 y.o’s. At that stage they would play their colts with the club or, if good enough, come into 2nd or 1st grade but they had 10 – 15 mentors around them. Not all of them were good mentors I am sure but they could learn by watching both good and bad examples. Compare that to a JOC who went straight to Super Rugby exposure or young blokes who go in with people of their own age in Academies but rarely mix, either on the field or away from it, with older players. I think they are missing out big time.

        • Keith Butler

          Absolutely.

        • onlinesideline

          I think its more life during rugby. The reality is they are commodities or cattle in a numbers game that wants your eyes and your clicks. We the romans watching the gladiators who are fed outdated notions of glory while the powers that be cleanup. This reality must hit home eventually. There is only so many smacks to the head one can receive before you sit up and “hold on, whats going here?”

        • Keith Butler

          Unfortunately very true. At least here, there appears to be a stronger link between of super rugby clubs, the state unions and the national set up. In the England and France despite what others might think, the power is in the hands of the club owners, who imo are more interested in bums on seats and the money.

        • Keith Butler

          Just as an add on, there’s a very interesting article in today’s Guardian about two England players Manu Tualagi and Billy Vunipola hiding injuries from their clubs back in 2014/15 that lead to long lay offs for the pair of them. Wouldn’t surprise me in the least and adds credibility to stories circulated a few years back in the UK about players having pain killing injections before games when they were clearly not fit to play. Fear of losing contracts and money talks and I would hope that our super rugby players have not gone down this path.

        • onlinesideline

          Im sure more than 1 or 2 do it. It must be rife across football, NFL, NBL. Its big bucks. But this is their choice wholly and soley. The authorities cant be blamed for this stupidity.

    • Miss Rugby

      The part that grabs me is this

      “It’s nothing to do with being worried about the physical aspects of training, or the media. It’s a combination of pressure, scrutiny, what’s going to be said and what they’re going to be made to do within the confines of the camp. What are the longevity of those sort of tactics?”

      Given Cheika’s propensity for strong vocal motivation, possible with the aid of props like golf clubs, the string of injuries in January … I’d love to know if this sort of thing affects any of the Wallabies in camp. Especially when young guys come into the squad, I hope there are things in place to hope them cope mentally.

      • onlinesideline

        Is Cheika really like that. how do we really know ? The golf club thing was exagerated alot i think. He seems pretty chill except for maybe ripping the door off the hinge in SA and smashing the window in the box…actually maybe your right.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Nathan,
    Be interesting to see how Foley plays in his next chance. He must be hurting a fair bit and I’d say that’ll really push him in his next game. I don’t really have that much of an opinion on Skelton. I’ve never been a fan of his play and thought he always had more potential than he ever demonstrated. The big one for me is that I think he’d have a negative impact on the lineout and this is one area that has been working quite well. While he seems to have been rocking it up north, I’m not sure that’ll translate to anything more than average at test level.
    I get what Horan is saying I’m just not sure that bringing a lot of people in for such a short period will help team development and a team of champions is beaten by a champion team every day. I also think the impact here will be even worse than he thinks and killing the game here for 3 years between cups would mean getting them back for a cup year would be irrelevant.
    Good to see the Reds getting a settled team and I hope this really starts producing results on the field.
    I know it’s easy for me to say as NZ have been up the top of the rankings for so long but it really doesn’t mean anything on the day of a match so I don’t care that Wales is 1. TBH they’ve never got past the semis in the RWC yet so I can’t see the position lasting long anyway

    • Geoffro

      If they were to ignore the Giteau law I’d take Fardy over Skelton,thanks.Also think Spanners is very much in Cheikas mind as an integral part of his WC campaign.With the upcoming fixtures prior to WC and potential ranking points don’t be surprised if the abs drop to third on the rankings though I don’t see the conditions in Japan as being particularly favorable to the NH top seeded heavyweights :)

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        mate I agree on fardy over Skelton but Cheika really doesn’t seem to like him. Absolutely on Foley I think the only way he’ll miss out on Japan is if he gets injured.

        Yeah the ABs may drop lower down, especially as the NH team are all playing each other and we’re not playing anyone high enough to make the points. Honestly not an issue and once we win RWC again we’ll know we’re the best regardless of the points

  • A Dingo Stole My Rugby

    Does nobody remember why few tears were shed when Skelton left for the UK?

    His main skill;-set back then was his ability to disrupt mauls and surprisingly good hands for a big unit. But he was more renowned at the time for his utter lack of prowess at set piece – couldn’t be used in a lineout, due to his size, and a liability in the scrum, despite his size.

    We’ve heard and seen that while away, he’s lost weight and increased his fitness, and has played some good games for Sarries. But they still don’t go to him in lineouts, and the Sarries scrum is just lengths better with Kruis and Itoje in it. We’ve heard plenty of reports that Skelton hasn’t improved as a lineout or scrum exponent.

    So what would he actually bring that we don’t have? Arnold and Coleman are good at maul disruption. Naisarani bends the line as much as Skelton ever did.

    If Cheika insists on resurrecting the Pooper (come on, we all know he wants to), does anyone want a non-jumping, non-pushing lock in the team? Not me.

    • Bernie Chan

      I think we all remember! If Skelton hasn’t become a Test standard set piece lock (scrum & lineout…) then he shouldn’t be picked. As someone else has noted…give us Fardy instead!
      Petaia and a true wingers with speed….

      Horan was a great centre, perhaps our best ever….but an ordinary ‘expert’ pundit, though that might be because he gets paid by fuxsport…?

      • Brisneyland Local

        Timmy H tows the party line. Always has.

        • Bernie Chan

          Yeh…alas…

      • Parker

        Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Cheika swallowed his pride and brought back someone to fill the position where we are most lacking — Fardy instead of Skelton for a position where we have some depth. I’ll go back to my daydream now.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Bang on mate. Personally I think it’s just distraction talk rather than anything serious

    • Keith Butler

      Agree with most of your comments. Skelton was the most overrated lock to pull on a G&G jersey in recent years imo. His time at Saracens must be doing him some good though as towards the pointy end of the season, including both the finals that they won he locked the scrum with Kruis and Itoje was at 6, so there must have been some improvement there. Nonetheless, when he was a Tah his scrum effort and technique were crap.

    • I think Skelton is better than you’ve given him credit for at Sarries. And saying their scrum is better when two of England’s inked in locks for the last 4 years are starting, but he’s the replacement is not saying he’s not a good player to have on the bench.

      That isn’t the same as saying I think the Giteau law should be dismantled for him. Even though I have my doubts about bringing in a new player at 6, someone like Fardy, with test experience, with proven skill, with a current high level career playing in that position – he’s the player you break the Giteau law for if you’re going to do it.

      Australia are poorly served by their draw this year. The second hardest then the hardest match first up, then coast to whatever outcome of the pool stages awaits. If Fardy was a legitimate pick, stuff it; LSL, there’s the door, don’t let it hit you on the way out. Otherwise, thanks to Cheika not giving anyone else experience, I’m guessing we’re looking at the pooper.

  • laurence king

    I’ve been thinking about last weeks game, and I’m mystified about why Cheika chose Hodge (and AAC) on the wing.
    The wing as far as I can tell is an out and out strike position. So good defence is important because the player has to nullify the opposition’s winger. After all, on average, your side is only going to have the ball half the time. Hodge wasn’t put under a lot of pressure in the Perth game in this respect because of the weight of possession that the Wallabies had, yet he still missed tackles. This was always going to be a problem if possession evened up. What did Cheika think; that Hodge would somehow kick them out of trouble? Hodge always seems to be slow to get to the ball, and when he gets it, he lacks acceleration and deception to get out of trouble. So they kicked in behind him and had their winger get up fast (because he was fast) and close him down. We were just fortunate on a few occassions

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      I think Cheika likes Hodge because he’s got a big boot. Beale is one of his love children so he was always going to be in and because he’s had to put Kerevi at 12 Beale had to go to 15. Hodge was put on the wing because that was the only place left and he’s had him there in the past. I think he values his kicking game over the issues with lack of speed and was just hoping he wasn’t caught out. It’s like the small skinny kid at school, throw him on the wing and hope it doesn’t turn completely shit. Unfortunately it didn’t work because the ABs recognised the issues and targeted him

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      I think Cheika likes Hodge because he’s got a big boot. Beale is one of his love children so he was always going to be in and because he’s had to put Kerevi at 12 Beale had to go to 15. Hodge was put on the wing because that was the only place left and he’s had him there in the past. I think he values his kicking game over the issues with lack of speed and was just hoping he wasn’t caught out. It’s like the small skinny kid at school, throw him on the wing and hope it doesn’t turn completely shit. Unfortunately it didn’t work because the ABs recognised the issues and targeted him

      • Bernie Chan

        If only Cheika actually used Hodge’s massive boot…AAC is too slow for Test Rugby these days…If Cheika sticks to his “been training like champions” approach then Foley, AAC n Phipps are shoe-ins…

        • laurence king

          His big boot wasn’t much use to him the other night because as soon as he got the ball in defense, the Kiwi winger had closed him down.

        • Bernie Chan

          True that…I was alluding more to using a big boot for the exit (but we know, and the opposition know, that we don’t have an exit strategy…) and penalty kicks (punt and place kicks…). Your “gone fishing” plan may be a winner!

        • laurence king

          The really odd thing BC is, I can’t ever remember them using Hodge in that way.

        • Bernie Chan

          He was hardly used for his kicking prowess….we’d use the pop-gun boot of Foley et al and the ball would struggle to go 30 metres. I would have thought it’s not that complicated…when clearing you 22, the longest punter should kick the ball…? Hodge’s long range place kick was also rarely sighted…kind of odd considering it is one of his mooted strengths, and he sure isn’t a pure winger.

        • laurence king

          Yeh, bizarre. Perth proved that we’ve got the players to match it with the best. Eden Park proved that we need regime change

        • Does he have a long punt too? I don’t remember seeing it in action is all. I know he can kick from the tee a long way, but I don’t remember seeing him kick from hand all that much.

        • Who?

          The issue with his kicking from hand is he tends to be conservative, and make sure he clears that sideline by a good distance. He makes sure of his touch.

        • I wonder if he got shouted at a bit for trying to bite off too much territory. It’s something you hear on commentary here “He should have buried it into Row H” when a kicker misses touch.

        • laurence king

          If he were to go back to his old favourites, I think I’ll go fishing

        • Who?

          You could emulate Cheika’s efforts from the 2003 RWC. He was on a beach in Brazil…

        • laurence king

          In a tinny on Great Oyster Bay catching flathead is about as far as I’ll get. But that’s Ok

      • laurence king

        I think that he got dismantled the other night and the side can’t afford him anymore, we actually need proper wings.Those who have composure under these sorts of situations are more likely to be players that have the required skills for the position. Hodge doesn’t, and neither does AAC. We have potentially a world class backline and we’ve got a cart-horse out where a thoroughbred ought to be

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Mate I agree 100% neither Hodge nor AAC should be in the RWC squad. Mind you there’s a couple of others I don’t rate that high either but Cheika likes them so they’ll be there. If Hannigan gets picked I’ll be pissed

    • If you’re insane enough to believe in AAC as a current test player and valuable asset in G&G – and I’m not for one minute suggesting you’re the insane one here, but a certain long standing head coach, in case you’re feeling sensitive @disqus_4os8rcZMGw:disqus – then giving him some playing minutes makes a certain kind of sense. Get him on the park, let him stretch his legs. Over the Tasman Shag has done similar things for some of his squad who need form, but he’s also done it for some players who just haven’t had much playing time – only he’s sent them back to the Mitre 10 because they’re get a decent run out.

      The issue is, picking slow players to defend a channel where speed is of the essence is, to be frank, dumb. OK, in Perth we got away with it, to some extent, because the forwards slowed the ABs possession down so much they never mounted a cohesive attack. Add to that, shifting ALB out to 13 from 12 and bringing Laumape in to 12 didn’t work as well as it did starting ALB at 13 outside SBW and then Laumape. Not sure if that was a slow possession thing or if ALB can’t make that switch in how he plays on the fly or just that the Wobs. were rampant in Perth and the ABs were rampant in Auckland. But once they could attack that channel, they did. Mercilessly. I heard the Kiwi commentary and they picked up on it after about 10 minutes and pointed it out every time. I honestly lost count of how often they said “And they’re attacking through Hodge’s channel again” – they gave up saying “that must be part of their strategy” about 20 minutes in because even they thought it was getting repetitive.

      I don’t mind a long kicker. Wales use Halfpenny in that role when he plays, for a while he was Wales’ main kicker but when he was injured out of the 2015 RWC Biggar stepped up and more or less kept it. England pick Daly in that role. His kicking percentage is poor, for a test kicker, from any range, but you don’t mind a 40-50% shot from your own 10 metre line with 10 seconds to go in the half… and that’s what he offers. But they both do their core jobs well and add that to the mix. They don’t get picked solely because they’re long kickers, although on occasion – a cold, wet day at Twickenham in February perhaps – they might get picked ahead of someone with a similar skill set because that chance of 3 points from range could well be the difference between winning and losing.

  • Hoss

    Good afternoon all,

    My IT Gurus have set up a page so that we might all vote for our Wallaby RWC 31 Squad and compare it with the real deal on Friday.

    The page is legit and can be found at: https://yourwallabysquad.com/

    I have listed a possible & probable 51 players to choose from (i apologise if there’s some I’ve missed, but its a pretty comprehensive list)

    It has been designed so that you can only pick a maximum of:

    – 17 forwards
    – 14 backs

    I will post the link and details again tomorrow so that all can see. Share it with your rugby mates, the more votes the better

    On Friday i will post the 31 voted for by you and the %’s of votes each of the 31 received and that should provide some good banter.

    We have given plenty of grief to selections since 2019, lets see how good we are, drumroll…………….over to you.

    Happy voting

    • Greg

      Just channeling the coach…. can I vote for Foley multiple times :-)

      • Hoss

        Just enter the override password – mcheikalovechild all lowercase.

        • Human

          I tried that and my computer is now repeatedly saying, ‘Hoss’. ‘Hoss’. ‘Hoss’

        • Hoss

          Wait till it starts self ordering bourbon and Doritos for wallabies tests……

        • And crashes after every game?

    • laurence king

      Thank you good sir. Much appreciated

      • Hoss

        Most welcome Mr King. Be a fun exercise

    • Who?

      What’s this requirement to use an email address?! Are you really Cambridge Analytica, working for Mr Cheika?!
      :-P

      • Hoss

        If it’s your privacy your worried about Michael Donovan of South Doonban Street, Doncaster West, 3466, 0444,678,9001 then don’t be……..

        • Who?

          So you won’t out me as being Michael Landon..?
          :-P

        • Hoss

          Your secrets safe.

          I asked my IT man the same he said it’s to stop multiple votes from one source – seemed ok.

          No ulterior motives mate just a conversation starter and I am really keen to see how our side looks v real deal. Be fun

        • Who?

          Your IT man assumes I don’t have half a dozen valid email addresses (and I do!).
          .
          Gotta have some fun, think it’s a great idea, but if there’s a chance to rib someone for a good idea, it’d be un-Australian not to do so, wouldn’t it? :-)
          .
          Edit – thought I’d have gotten more out of the Landon reference!

        • Hoss

          A. Damn straight
          B. I am sober

        • Who?

          Wouldn’t being sober make things easier to remember?! :-D
          .
          On the selection thing… I half wonder if it’ll be 18 forwards, 13 backs….

        • laurence king

          To fit Hannigan in

        • Hoss

          Vexed by that same question mate. But behind the scenes we hade to give the programme an ‘instruction’ re stopping at 31 selections. If we listed the 51 players in one group list it was simple, it would block any votes after 31. But to separate into ‘forwards and backs’ list it changed the dynamic and we had to nominate a ‘cut-off’ point, so 17 & 14 were the numbers we gave it. I am sure some Boffin in their mums basement will enlighten me, but……. I have the vision and I hand the plans to the builders.

          Now back to solitaire, ‘hit any key to continue’, where’s the farking ‘any key’……..IT i have a problem.

        • Who?

          All good – it’s a tough call for you, and I reckon it’s similarly likely to be a tough choice for Cheika. I think he’ll go 3 hookers and 5 props, which means he may want an extra loose forward, which would steal that extra back’s position in the squad.
          I’ve gone only two scrummies, that seems to be the consensus (Foley as emergency backup at 9, I can’t imagine Cheik leaving him home), whereas Kiwis are likely to take 3 9’s and ‘only’ 2 10’s (where we’ll go 3 10’s).

        • Hoss

          Yeah I’ve gone Spanners, Lilo and Two-cows (for his versatility and he looked ok in NZ)

        • Who?

          I reckon you’re right.
          We’ll have to make sure the G&GR Editors put your link into tomorrow’s news feed. :-)

        • Hoss

          Forgot to mention I put an ‘others’ box in the forwards list too for Players like Ned or McCaffrey – you can enter the name you want.

        • Only 6? Slacker. I have an iCloud address with 3 iterations that are all valid on their own and count as different.

        • Who?

          I gave some away when I stepped down from various roles in my Rugby club… :-(

        • Hoss

          Position of ‘Little Hoss’ already taken………

        • Who?

          I didn’t discover Bonanza until waaaay after my sister had seen Little House on the Prairie, which was well after I watched Highway to Heaven. :-)

        • Hoss

          There’s a show I’d long forgotten hwy to Heaven, wasn’t he an angel ????

        • Who?

          Yep. I was very young, so my memory’s a bit foggy… But that’s where I first knew who he was.
          Not many blokes can point at a career where they’ve had three long running lead roles like that. Impressive stuff.

    • onlinesideline

      any prizes – chickens or anything ?
      I’d be happy with some chopped liver, some pickles and maybe a little shnapps

      • Hoss

        First prize is fully paid 12
        Month subscription to Allan Jones radio show.

        Second prize is 24 months subscription to Allan Jones radio show…….

        • Brisneyland Local

          Pure gold.

    • NSWelsham in London

      voted – great idea mate

    • Thanks. I can guarantee my picks won’t look like the official squad but it was interesting to do.

  • I Should be Coach

    Good stuff Hoss. I’ll jump over and give my 2c worth. But whatever happens –

    #NOFOLEY

  • GO THE Q REDS

    Well it looks I may have gone against the “trend” by not picking Foley as back up 10. I couldn’t care less what “Cheika would probably pick”. It’s OUR team! And my memory does not forget Foley was diabolical as far as Test quality playmakers go all year! Quade should be their based on season form….. I mean he should even be ahead of Christian going on season form, not just who got to the finals…. and there’s too many sheep selecting “their” team based on what they think Cheika will do!

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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