Wednesday's Rugby News - Green and Gold Rugby
Rugby

Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News looks at the fresh players in the Wallabies squad, the forgotten flyhalf in the Wallabies squad, a raid on a trio of the West’s finest talent and the last hurrah for a dual-code superstar


Fresh Meat

Matt Toomua warm up

Matt Toomua warm up

With the Wallabies finishing off their final days in (World Cup) Survivor: Noumea, Michael Chieka is set to deploy the freshest legs in and out of his squad against Samoa at Bankwest Stadium.

It was reported in yesterday’s news that Jack Maddocks and Rob Valentini have been drafted into the side with the expectation of playing on Saturday, with the pair set to be joined by the likes of Joe Powell, Bernard Foley and Matt Toomua in the matchday squad.

Toomua has detailed the rigorous training schedule that the squad has undertaken over the past ten days, which has essentially been eat-sleep-rave-train repeat.

“Very, very busy. It’s pretty much get up, train, eat sleep, get up, train, eat, sleep,” Toomua said.

“Session start at 6am for training and getting done late in the night too but it’s been great and everyone is working hard now for the World Cup.”

The Wallabies are well aware of the dangers that Samoa presents, with the memories of 2011 still burnt in the minds of players and fans alike.

Toomua was itching at the bit to start in the test match, with the flyhalf/inside centre one of the six guys in the squad with Samoan heritage.

“We have about five or six Samoan guys, who come from Samoan heritage, in the squad, so I am sure my Dad (Ieru) will be torn,” Toomua said.

“He will probably be wearing half-half. If I have a chance to play against the Manu, Dad will be very excited. We will have a lot of family in both camps I think.

“Any time you get to wear the gold jersey is important, so obviously…people are looking at the World Cup, that’s only natural, but we do have a Test this weekend against a cherry strong Samoan team at home.

“It’s our last opportunity to play in front of our fans before we head up to Japan. It will be a huge opportunity for the guys picked. We are looking forward to it.”

The forgotten fly half

Bernard Foley

Bernard Foley

Exiled fly half Bernard Foley has opened up after he was usurped for the starting position in the Wallabies World Cup squad.

He finds himself in the reverse situation to four years ago, when he skipped ahead of Quade Cooper for the prized position on the eve of the 2015 World Cup.

Despite the relegation, Foley has taken the decision on the chin and believes that it was the best move for the team heading forward.

“It’s always tough not playing,” Foley said.

“But I’ve just really enjoyed being a part of the squad and trying to help out. It’s all for the best for the team.

“As selfish as it is wanting to be in the team, you’re actually really wanting them to do well and the team to succeed.”

He was full of praise for his replacement, Christian Lealiifano, suggesting that his battles both on and off the field can inspire the squad heading into Japan.

“I’ve really enjoyed having Christian here,” he said.

“The experience he brings and the experiences he’s had on and off the field can only be a valuable thing for this team.

“I’ve enjoyed playing against him at training and that’s the best thing in this team, the competition in every spot is immense and every week you’re not sure who’s going to be picked and who is going to miss out, so for us it’s exciting times and that competition is only a strength in our bow.”

Foley has often been the whipping boy at both state and national level for poor performances, however, the 29-year-old has chosen to block out any outside noise and concentrate on trying to earn his spot in the matchday 23 for the opening World Cup match in three weeks time.

“I don’t really listen to that,” Foley said.

“I don’t want to be living that roller coaster of the highs and the lows and reading peoples’ feedback and opinion.

“We’re so privileged to get this opportunity to go on the biggest world stage this year and we know how much it means to Australians and how much they like getting behind the Wallabies.

“I’m remarkably privileged to have this opportunity to go up there and support them and hopefully make them proud.”

Raid on Western(os)

Andrew Deegan passes

Andrew Deegan passes

A trio of the Western Force’s most promising players have been snatched up by the East Coast Mafia (ECM) with fly-half Andrew Deegan heading to the Melbourne Rebels, whilst Junior Wallabies Michael McDonald and Carlo Tizzano are expected to join the NSW Waratahs.

Deegan confirmed his departure on Tuesday, replacing the outgoing Quade Cooper.

“It was a very tough decision but just at my age and the point I am in my rugby career, there was a lot of going back and forth with (Force coach) Tim Sampson and (GRR head of rugby) Matt Hodgson,” Deegan said.

“I just think unfortunately it has led me to leave the Western Force but I am looking forward to a new endeavour and a new challenge by heading down to the Rebels.

“It was a very tough decision but just at my age and the point I am in my rugby career, there was a lot of going back and forth with (Force coach) Tim Sampson and (GRR head of rugby) Matt Hodgson,” Deegan said.

“I just think unfortunately it has led me to leave the Western Force but I am looking forward to a new endeavour and a new challenge by heading down to the Rebels.”

Deegan is set to be joined in Melbourne by a pair of halfbacks in former Force scrum-half Ryan Louwrens and disgruntled Queenslander James Tuttle, whose unfortunate run of injuries saw the 23-year-old slide down the depth charts at Ballymore.

The news of his exit is set to be compounded by the loss of McDonald and Tizzano, who are set to depart to Daceyville and sign with the Waratahs over the next couple of days.

McDonald steered the Junior Wallabies to the final of Under 20s World Championships and is expected to battle Jack Gordon for the starting no.9 jersey as Nick Phipps marks his territory in football fields (and bars) across Europe.

Tizzano, in my opinion, is one of the most exciting prospects coming through the system, with the 19-year-old loose forward fighting off older rivals to earn a spot on the bench in that much-heralded Under 20s side.

Final Walk

Andrew Walker, Brumbies v Fiji

Andrew Walker, Brumbies v Fiji

Dual code superstar Andrew Walker is set to officially retire from rugby union when he takes the field during Randwick’s clash against Argentina at Coogee Oval on Saturday afternoon.

Walker began his career in the mighty myrtle green and he was convinced by former teammate Stephen Holies to return to finish off his storied career at the place he calls ‘mother earth’.

“I call this Mother Earth, this is where it all started,” Andrew Walker said when asked about Coogee Oval.

“I’m probably going to finish it here — hopefully walking off, not getting dragged off in an ambulance.

“Hoilesy said ‘We’ve got a game against Argentina, we’ve got a lot of young kids here, it would be good for you to come back and talk about what it was like for you to play at Randwick and how passionate it was,

“I was here when the All Blacks played, and I said ‘How good would it have been to play in a game like that’, so that’s how it came about.”

The 45-year-old’s retirement at the ground he referred to as his ‘Colosseum’ will be a fitting farewell, with his first taste of rugby coming at the ground in 1988 when Randwick hosted the All Blacks.

“I remember that ABs game, the Wicks were right in that game, it was the Australian team anyway, and [Grant] Fox kicking all the goals got them home (25-9),” he said.

“The crowd was green and so fanatical about Randwick, and I absolutely loved it. That was my first live experience of rugby union, I was a leaguie from the bush.

“I was 17 when I played first grade for Randwick and went right through. This was my first ever club, it wasn’t professional then, and I’ve stayed here.”

Randwick coach Hadley Jackson will bring Walker off the bench with the hopes that he can inject his vast experience and trademark speed into the contest against what is expected to be a near-full strength Pumas.

“He brings 30 years of professional experience at the highest level in both codes, that’s something our 20-year-olds who are extremely talented with big futures ahead, he can impart that knowledge on them, he’s going to be a huge part of the group for the whole week,” Jackson said.

  • Jason

    Why on earth cast Jack Maddocks and Rob Valentini out of the squad only then to call them back up a week later.

    • Brisneyland Local

      Because it is Cheika the Ass clown

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Welcome back mate

        • Brisneyland Local

          Yes too much work and not enough play, makes Brisney a boring old fart!

      • Keith Butler

        Welcome back. Your erudite commentary has been sorely missed.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Hello KB.

        • Nutta

          erudite? Bloody hell that’s stretching it out a bit. Stick that on the Roar and they will think you’re abusing them!

        • Keith Butler

          Having or showing great knowledge or learning. BL to a tee. Just the way of expression can at times, ok all the time, can be somewhat rude.

    • Huw Tindall

      What are the selectors meant to do? Have a squad of 45 go everywhere? Clearly for the Samoa game they were going to rest a lot starting 23 so that means you have to bring in players outside the squad.

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        But as Jason said, why get rid of them in the first place? I doubt it saved that much money (and conserving RA’s finances has never seemed a priority of Cheika’s). It just looks dysfunctional, and I would imagine that Maddocks and Valetini would have benefitted from another week training with these guys if they are likely to play.

      • Dud Roodt

        I know I’d certainly rather a few players from outside our World Cup team play in this game than risk injury to the entire World Cup squad. But, people have to be upset with Cheika about something, so let this be it for today I guess?

        Edit: people also forgetting that in the 2011 test against Samoa there were a handful of players who then didn’t make the RWC squad (Robinson, Davies, Giteau)

      • Braveheart81

        Clearly they should have been sitting in Noumea twiddling their thumbs so punters don’t complain about it on a website forum. Match preparation starts on the Monday of test week and they were flown over for that. They were surplus to requirements prior to that when the focus was on RWC preparation.

        Given they’ve spent the majority of the season in the test squad it is not like they are unfamiliar with the structures. People just love to complain about Cheika.

        • Brumby Runner

          He gives us plenty to complain about BH. I sincerely look forwward to the day I don’t have to complain about, or even give a thought to, him again.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          You know, in that comment you neglected to articulated why it made sense to eject them from the squad for a week, only to call them back in. If there is a logic reason, it’d be nice to hear it.

        • Braveheart81

          Because they weren’t needed for the first week in Noumea. What is the logic of taking them to Noumea for an extra week when they aren’t required for that entire week?

        • Who?

          Because by the end of that week, maybe Cheika would broken enough players to give them a spot? :-P
          .
          .
          Honestly, whatever goes on at present, with all the ill will Cheika’s managed to accrue, and all the ill will bought by Clyne and (to a lesser – but arguably higher than deserved – extent) Castle, they’re on a hiding to nothing. Cheika’s results mean that any selection is heavily scrutinised. RA’s financial situation – where losing a court case could supposedly see the game bankrupted – means that spending millions of dollars on camps in SA and New Caledonia seems wasteful (i.e. why not Townsville?). So we end up with a situation where Cheika’s understandably questioned for not taking along players to a camp (players who may end up as RWC cover players, some of whom maybe could’ve been in that initial RWC 31) but it’d be equally fair to question why they were taken had they been taken (because that’s wasteful spending).
          RA and Cheika have backed themselves into such a negative place in standing with the Rugby public that it’s pretty well beyond them (or anyone else’s guidance to them) to do anything right.

        • Braveheart81

          The New Caledonia option was cheaper than the available options in North Queensland and Darwin.

        • Geoffro

          Unlīkely.Noumea is far from the cheapest destination in the South Pacific

        • Brumby Runner

          I’ll believe that when I see the figures.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Well, technically, no player is needed In Noumea the week prior to the match, even if they were going to play.

          If these guys are likely to play this weekend then they probably should have been there training the entire time. If they’re not going to play, why bother bringing them back? Let them stay in Aus and play NRC.

        • Braveheart81

          The first week of the 10 days in Noumea was RWC preparation. It involved the RWC squad plus a few extras.
          On Monday they split into two groups. The squad required for the Samoa game to prepare for that (for which Valetini and Maddocks were added) and the remaining players not required (about 16 by my count) are continuing RWC preparations for the last 3 days in Noumea.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Yeah, your post still hasn’t explained why the ‘few extras’ who also missed out on the World Cup squad were require in Noumea, while these other guys were not. If it was WC prep only why were the ‘few extras’ not back in Aus playing NRC. There is no more point in them being there than Maddocks and Valetini.

          I still think that if these guys are going to play against Samoa they would have benefited from the extra week in the time environment. If they aren’t going to play, it defeats the entire purpose of them being brought back into the squad.

        • Brumby Runner

          But, still, where’s the consistency BH? Phipps and HJH called over before Round 1 of NRC, but Valetini and Maddocks had the benefit of playing NRC last weekend. Surely, they ought to have all been called in at the same time? I’m sure though that you will have a strong insight into Cheika’s thinking and be able to offer an explanation.

        • Braveheart81

          My guess is that HJH and Phipps are closer to being RWC shadow squad players than Valetini and Maddocks and were wanted for as much of the camp as possible (after playing the Shute Shield grand final).

        • Dud Roodt

          Why take them to a World Cup camp if they’re not in the World Cup squad?

        • Huw Tindall

          That concerns me about the post Chekia era. Where will people go complain?

        • Who?

          I’ll give the new coach (whoever it might be) a year to bed in systems, then make a call. I’m sure I’ll find something else in the interim. For now, we’ve still got Clyne. :-P

      • Jason

        We aren’t talking about a squad a 45, we are talking about 2 guys who were probably 90% likely to be called up in a few weeks — that was known well beforehand. It’s not like they are injury cover or something.

    • Howard

      They haven’t been part of the squad since before TRC. They may have been brought in late to cover injuries/niggles that we don’t know about

      • Brumby Runner

        That, of course, is the biggest worry.

  • Dud Roodt

    Great story about Andrew Walker. I’ll be at the game on Saturday and very much looking forward to it. Has a real feel of the old days about it.

  • Nutta

    It’s interesting to see Cheks learn from history. The last time we fronted Samoa like this we were physically and emotionally assaulted in such a way that i really don’t think many in that squad ever actually recovered from it let alone recovered in-time for the Bill. So Cheks is bringing into critical and high-profile roles those who won’t either be similarly scarred or who are fundamentally dispensable from what he sees as his core squad for the Bill anyway: Poet, Joey, Valentine, Tooms, Maddog, Foley… Very Machiavellian of him. Pragmatic.

    In terms of Andrew Walker, he was possibly the most raw talented footballer I ever came across (same age-group). The things he could do were freakish. If he gets a half-chance, expect some true skill-class.

    • Mart

      Love watching Walker. Pure class

      • Greg

        He was a wonderful player!

      • Max Graham

        I don’t want to sound racist…… but here goes. What is it about Indigenous footballers? They appear to be genetically designed to excel at football; regardless of code. Thurston is arguably the best league player of all time – socioeconomic preferences has sadly limited the volume of Indigenous players in rugby, but they still include some of the most naturally gifted players we’ve seen. Andrew Walker was amazing! And we probably only saw glimpses of his absolute best. If I was a mining magnate with billions of dollars and plenty of time, I’d throw a bunch of it into finding and developing Indigenous rugby talent. If I was lucky I’d get multiple superstars out of the same bloody family! Then I’d buy the Reds and ban blue jerseys at the ground. Full strength beer too. Maybe those little hotdogs from Ikea!!

        • Dud Roodt

          I don’t think it’s racist to say that Indigenous people appear to be natural athlete’s.
          I reckon RA is nuts for not going through Australia trying to find great natural talent and directing it towards rugby (like the AFL do)

        • Max Graham

          It was only a few years ago that there was only one junior development officer in Qld outside of Brisbane.

        • Who?

          You mean after they centralized them all, so they were all run out of Ballymore? The rubbish they spun to us was that we’d suddenly have THREE guys available to us, but they were covering two other regions, and those other regions were geographically much closer to where they were based…….
          None of the state bodies have great track records. :-(

        • Max Graham

          Qld rugby was broke in 2006! Maybe the costs of developing Nathan Sharp, Drew Mitchell, David Pocock, Richie Brown, Josh Valentine, Tom Hocking, Junior Palosesa, Rudy Vedalago, Tai McIsaac, Brendan Cannon and the other regular starters for the Western Force in 2007 was all too much. ;)

        • Who?

          The centralisation of the DO’s was around 2015, so 2006 is a little while before then… They’ve been decentralised again since.
          Aren’t all these sub-unions broke every few years..? Didn’t the ARU/RA (it was in transition between names at the time) bail out the Tahs in 2014?! Hence why NSW didn’t pay the ARU/RA levies for a while, though every other region had to pay them (and received nothing for them)..?

        • Hoss

          3,2,1………..ignition

        • Nah.
          Bothering to reply would be like pissing in my own beer..

        • Who?

          Aren’t RA already doing something like that, with their 7’s program? Identifying over 100 Indigenous players to bring through the 7’s program on an alternative (high speed) pathway?
          .
          Going off comments from blokes who played with him over the years, perhaps the biggest shame about Andrew Walker’s career is that he wasn’t mic’d up on the field. Those old Brumbies tell stories of him commentating what he was doing as he played at the highest level. I remember 8 year olds doing that at school, but can you imagine lining up against the British and Irish Lions, and calling, as you do it, “Walks dummies, Walks steps him, Walks chips, regathers… and he scores!!!”
          If only that was mic’d up! :-)

    • Geoffro

      We recovered well enough to win the tri nations and ran third at bill after being knocked over by eventual champs.That game was a classic ambush but dont think the current Samoa team will be able to pull off a repeat.Great sendoff for Walker who last hung up his boots in 2008 :) Prob see him running around for some Brissy mob again next year

    • AllyOz

      It will be interesting to see how he can perform against Super Rugby athletes at his age. I am five year older but I know my body couldn’t do it five years ago – he has the advantaged of being talented in the first place whereas I wasn’t and having kept up involvement in the sport – I only made it to forty.

      • Nutta

        For outright speed for sure – he is a 45yr old

        But for ball-handling and general deception? Lloyd Walker made fools of even the best defences and that guy was slower then Tom Lawton ffs. Don’t ever underestimate an Old Bull…

        • AllyOz

          I am not writing him off Nutta, just acknowledging that he is a lot more talented and has looked after his body a lot better than I have.

      • Max Graham

        He might struggle after a few minutes. A few years ago he was playing in Darwin, which is pretty decent standard – maybe 3rd grade Sydney. He still looked good!

        • Nutta

          I have no doubt it will be a ‘last 10min’ type cameo. But full balls to him – he will be boots-on and I won’t.

    • Hoss

      Here you go mate – Cheik is learning

      1. James Slipper (90 Tests)

      2. Jordan Uelese (3 Tests)

      3. Sekope Kepu (105 Tests)

      4. Rob Simmons (97 Tests)

      5. Adam Coleman (33 Tests)

      6. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (15 Tests)

      7. David Pocock (c) (77 Tests)

      8. Jack Dempsey (11 Tests)

      9. Will Genia (vc) (104 Tests)

      10. Bernard Foley (69 Tests)

      11. Marika Koroibete (23 Tests)

      12. Matt To’omua (46 Tests)

      13. Adam Ashley-Cooper (118 Tests)

      14. Dane Haylett-Petty (32 Tests)

      15. Tom Banks (5 Tests)

      Reserves

      16. Tatafu Polota-Nau (89 Tests)

      17. Scott Sio (58 Tests)

      18. Taniela Tupou (15 Tests)

      19. Luke Jones (5 Tests)

      20. Liam Wright (1 Test)

      21. Rob Valetini*

      22. Nick Phipps (71 Tests)

      23. James O’Connor (47 Tests)

      *denotes uncapped player

      • Nutta

        I count 7 guys running on that Cheks would not be shattered to lose: Ulysses, Simmo, Poet, Dempsey, Achmel, Toos, Banks.

        • Hoss

          I 71.43% agree, but we can’t / wont win Bill without Brian and i am half thinking JD could easily usurp FKA at starting 6 in Japan with a good showing on Saturday. He’s better in attack, still a line out option, quicker and better at D.

          Having said that just about every serious contender for this year is playing their own version of the Pooper so it wouldnt surprise to see Brian and Lee Magors run on together

        • Nutta

          I said that CHEKS wouldn’t be sorry to lose. You know me; I would have Poet anyday and I agree on Dempsey over LSL. But that’s not the way Cheks sees it.

  • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

    The raiding of WA players have just started with a couple of other Force stars that have not been resigned by the Force for next year including McGregor, Fines and Stander. I expected this will become an annual raid of the Western Force players stock. I am especially disappointed for Michael and Carlos as the Force organisation has invested a lot of effort and resources in their development – we need these players to stay with the Force to demonstrate that young players can make the Wallabies without having to relocate. However you cannot fault players for doing what they think is the best for their careers.
    Despite the Director of Rugby, Scott Johnson, following the Eastern State controlled RA sucker punch by snubbing the Force after his appointed earlier this year this can be viewed an endorsement of the Force development program by the Eastern States. Clearly the privately funded Future Force developing program is delivering. We also have several players that used the opportunity that the Force gave them to make the RWC sides (Brache, Stowers, etc).
    The Force will need to adapt to this reality, we need to demand that Future Force players make a longer term commitment to the Force by signing them up over multiple years. This will provide a contractual poison pill that will discourage the Eastern States from raiding our young players. We also need to tweak our recruitment so that we target players that suit the fast and running style of rugby played in GRR but that may not be as attractive for Superugby teams or even secure players that are illegible to play for the Wallabies. There is no future for professional rugby in WA without the Force and if we allow these raids to continue we risk the future of GRR and the Force. It is a long term project but GRR need to develop into a competition at the same level Superugby.

    • Crescent

      Good luck with that. if not the eastern states, the up and coming talent will be targeted with big money offers from Japan and Europe. Beware the contractual poison pill – young developing talent may leave WA earlier and trek overseas or east – particularly if they are dreaming of pulling on the Wallaby jersey at some stage and they don’t think they will have enough of a chance to shine in GRR. It’s a double edged sword unfortunately.

      • Max Graham

        What Force player could get ‘big money’ in Europe? What young WA developed stars are coming through demanding attention? How many WA kids in the u20’s?

        • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

          Prior to the axing of the Force we used to have 26 U20 side, post axing 6. Thank you RA.

        • Sergio

          Masivesi Dakuwaqa is with Toulon I believe. Clay Uyen has gone to Pro D2 team, Valence Romans Drome. Another former Force U20’s player Sam Offer with Jersey Reds in the English Championship.

    • Forceright

      Its ever more apparent that Castle bleating about ‘working with Twiggy’ is a complete fallacy. They contribute pretty much zilch to WA rugby, and after declaring Force players eligible for Wallabies selection, Cheik & Johnson actively snub Force Players. The hypocrisy of trying to kill off the Force & then raiding players as they see fit? Stronger as 4? With Shute Shield & all the millions being thrown at the Rebels, how have Eastern States not managed their own player development pathways? Seems there’s not much faith in their own programmes. Its a bandaid approach fostered by RA that avoids dealing with the real issues of culture and a solid player base.

      • Who?

        Stronger as 4 is rubbish.
        Clyne working with Twiggy (because Clyne’s still the senior partner in the CEO/Chair relationship) was never going to happen. Things will never change while the incompetent fool is still in charge.
        .
        However… I don’t take Johnson’s failure to select Force players as active snubbing. More passive snubbing. Because, as we’ve seen, Schnoz and Mandrake were always going to largely select Cheika’s team, rather than forcing a team on Cheika. They put forward counterpoints and ask Cheika questions to make him think (such as, I’m sure, “Are you sure Hanigan’s giving you everything you think he is..?”), but there’s clear biases still at work in selection (just ask that good Melbournian, Mr Cooper).
        .
        Beyond that, I’m not surprised that Johnson’s not gone to the West, as it’s very hard to gauge how the Force players are performing in game situations against known oppositions. The advantages of Super Rugby are consistency of opportunity and consistency of opponents. If you play the Crusaders during the Super season, unless you play them immediately following a tragedy in their home town, you know you’re going to be facing a team that is consistently in the top 5 provincial teams in the world. The Force don’t yet have that advantage, other than in NRC (which I’m guessing isn’t the full Force squad – some off to the RWC, etc), which is clearly a step down from Super Rugby. Come next year, when GRR becomes a more complete competition, it will be easier to retain players, and measure results. Come 2021, I certainly wouldn’t be unhappy if RA has to go crawling to Twiggy, asking for Super Rugby to be integrated into GRR – a real possibility if the SARU decides to abandon Super Rugby.

        • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

          Cameron Clyne is overstayed his welcome – like a fart. How he survived so long is an indictment on the Board and members of RA.
          Last year Cheika at least had a closer look at a couple of Force players (Deegan, Ferris) this year we were just snubbed from the beginning. It is not Force players fault that they are not playing Superugby but would it be too much from RA to at least try?
          The Force NRC squad is a large step down this year from Superugby, however the Force managed to do well in the competition despite the obvious disadvantage of not having a Superugby team. RA already threatened to axe WA NRC team in 2017, so the time may be running out in the NRC for us as well. The sooner we charter our own path the better.
          I think it will take a couple of years for the GRR to develop the quality to compete as a Tier 2 competition on par with Superugby – however if Superugby continue to raid our team every year this will not happen as the Force is critical to the competition.

      • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

        It is hypocritical for the Eastern States (and their controlled entity RA) to:
        – axe the Force
        – contribute zilch to the development of WA players
        – exclude the Force coaches from the national professional coaching forum
        – snub the team through the year
        because the players are not “good enough” and then to raid the player group the following year.
        Is the Eastern States still out to sabotage GRR? Those that now argue that players are free agents that can choose to play where the want to, need to reflect how they will react if GRR’s sponsors used their considerable financial muscle to do the same?

        • Who?

          I agree RA’s rubbish, and they’re East-Coast-centric. But it might be stretching things to suggest that the eastern states control RA. RA’s incompetence is incredible, and their capacity to consistently work against all states is unending. I don’t know that the eastern states control RA, they just had more capacity to protect themselves from RA’s incompetence than the WARU had at the time.

        • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

          I base my suggestion on if RA is controlled by the Eastern States on the domination of QLD and NSW voting block when it comes to voting power and the appointment of Board members. When the Western Force were axed WA lost a Board member and we lost one of our two votes. As RA “owned” the Western Force franchise, we had the ridiculous situation where the Force voted to axe itself! Now that the Western Force cannot vote, the NSW and QLD block can push any change through without having to secure the support of any of the other states. There failure to act against the incompetence of RA can be laid before the feet of NSWRU and QLDRU as even if all the other states stand together they can not effect change.

        • Who?

          You’re right, but you’re wrong. Right, because the NSWRU and QRU appoint members to those boards. But those board members don’t necessarily follow the wishes of the state unions. And how are board members appointed to the QRU and NSWRU? It’s nigh on impossible for the Rugby public to find a way to influence board appointments at any of those levels, or influence decisions at that level. I spent a good while running committees for my sub-union, and we couldn’t get ANYTHING we wanted out of our state union.
          .
          Look at the conversation I had the other day with LBJ about NRC vs Shute Shield. Now, I look at that as a failure of leadership on the part of the NSWRU (where the WARU, VRU and QRU got it right), but it shows how angry the Shute Shield constituency can have nothing but pure hatred and contempt for their own state unions.
          .
          At this point, RA acts purely in its own interests, and is beyond the control of everyone else. Now, ideally, that would be a good thing – a strong central body. However, this being Rugby, of course we’ve got the worst of both worlds. We’ve got self-interest from people with emotional ties to regions (in spite of the fact that they are unaccountable to those regions, and often act against the wishes of the Rugby public in those regions), yet we have minimal central control of things that could improve the game (i.e. contracting, coaching pathways, etc).

        • Max Graham

          I’m not sure I agree. Why should Sydney Clubs with long histories and traditions give precedence to the NRC? It seems to some that the NRC wouldn’t suck if only the Sydney clubs gave up everything that was important to them. But would that Randwick and Waringah supporters just move their interest and dollars across to the NRC?

        • Who?

          Sydney clubs sit in the fourth tier, along with QPR, the WA comp, the SA comp, the Victorian club comp… They have equally long histories.
          If the NSWRU weren’t run by a bunch of imbeciles, they’d have taken responsibility for the NRC, rather than allowing clubs to bid for the franchises. Which hasn’t worked. I was at the QRU AGM where the QRU advised they’d banned all clubs from bidding for NRC franchises, and would take accountability for creating, building and running them. The NRC model in Qld has worked very well (how many titles?), Sydney’s been a disaster. Because where in Brisbane the clubs have been brought on board in order to finish their season early then buy into NRC, in Sydney it’s been allowed to be seen as competition (where NRC teams should represent regions, rather than compete within their region), as something coming to ruin the clubs. That should never happen, and shouldn’t have been allowed to be considered as a possibility.
          .
          And why wouldn’t Randwick and Warringah supporters be able to naturally follow their players across – as their season has finished – from the SS to the NRC? Sponsorship dollars, fair enough, there’s no obligation, that should’ve been taken on by the NSWRU (because no amateur club comp should’ve been expected to support running a semi-pro national comp – how does an organisation with a volunteer staff like an SS club do that?), but general fan support, turning out to games? That’s an issue of the constant structural disconnects in the game, between layers of administration. Which demonstrates that RA, the NSWRU, the SRU and the Suburban clubs aren’t in this together.
          .
          Our game is the last vestige of feudal government. We have a suzerain which believes itself appointed by ‘god’ to guard the realm, which does as it sees fit (regardless of the costs to its constituents). But it has little to no constituency of its own, living off the next tier down. Meanwhile, the next tiers down have nothing but contempt for the suzerain, and these vassals act purely in their own self interests – against their suzerain and their fellow vassal states. By the time you get to the common folk, those who attend the games, we’re all mere serfs. Holding our lords in contempt, and not even considered worthy of a hearing by those who are our lords.

        • Max Graham

          All I can say is that I love rugby and I love Australian rugby. I couldn’t care less about the NRC and didn’t go to the games when I had free tickets. I regularly watched Perth club games but no one talked or cared about the NRC when I was there. Check out the Randwick crowd this week against the Argies and think about how many would turn out to watch if it was NSW country instead. The NRC might mean something to someone but I haven’t met them yet.

        • Who?

          I’ve paid the same price for NRC tickets in my town as Super trials (we don’t get anything better than that round here). We had great turnouts.
          There’s three reasons why the Pumas will get a crowd this weekend. Firstly, it’s Randwick, so the locals will show up.
          Secondly, there’s only one Test in Sydney this year.
          Thirdly, this is the only Test side playing a game east of Anzac Parade this year. The rumours earlier this year were that only a tiny fraction of the Tahs’ season ticketholders managed to find their way to Bankwest earlier this year, it was too far away. We saw the Shute Shield crowd figures were half what they’ve been the last few years because the game was all the way out at Bankwest – and that was a final. So if people wouldn’t go west for the Shute Shield final or the Tahs, is it likely they’ll go all the way out there for a team that has even fewer NSW players, and Samoa..? No – they’ll stay in their ‘safe zone’ and go see Cheik’s buddy Mario roll out a team against Cheik’s old club, which will be fielding blokes who haven’t played near the top of their games in 5-10 years.

        • Max Graham

          I agree. But it’s the ‘locals’, or another way of putting it, the people who’ve always supported the club, that actually matter. Why should they stop prioritizing their club just because some new team comes along that they’re told represents their region. Tribalism is important. The AFL and NRL were built on a comps with long history and solid support. The NRC has none of that and can’t replicate it. It’s good quality rugby but it doesn’t represent anyone. If that makes sense.

        • Who?

          The trouble in NSW is all around selling to the ‘locals’ in the Shute catchments. The ARU and NSWRU didn’t control any of the initial NRC Franchising process nearly well enough, so instead of being something they were connected to, the tribalism of the clubs (especially those without direct ties to the NRC Franchises, as they tended to be owned by or aligned with a small number of clubs, not all of them) saw the NRC franchises established as hated rivals (who don’t even play in the same comp, and should exist to provide opportunities for their players) rather than as something to join with between Shute and Super seasons other than the Wallabies (who don’t spend the majority of their time in Sydney through that period).
          .
          I get what you’re saying, but the Qld teams do represent people. The Force represents people. Melbourne represents people. The ACT’s struggled, because they allowed it to be one club (rather than the whole union), but that club has (with varying degrees of success) tried to connect across the region.
          .
          Meanwhile, we’re about 40 years too late for a club comp based on the existing structures to work (it was tried through the 00’s, it didn’t work), and many of us have absolutely no ties to those clubs anyway. That wasn’t true for the NSWRL or VFL, before they went national.
          Whereas I can look at Qld Country, knowing it’s not the same team as the Qld Country Heelers (or, the NSW Country Cockatoos), but knowing that any Reds player of non-Brisbane origin will be in the Qld Country squad, and knowing that they always take around development players (regardless of whether those guys get a cap or not) from the regions (generally guys who made the Heelers team) in order to connect with the regions and spread IP and professionalism through the regions.
          .
          It’s just typical mismanagement between the suzerain and vassal bodies of Australian Rugby, that left us serfs in a position where a large group of serfs failed to see that the new county (NRC) inserted between the barony (SS) and duchy (SR) is connected with them, that it’s not a hostile takeover by foreigners.

        • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

          Why does the “locals” in NSW matter more than the “locals” in WA? I have been a foundation member of the Western Force and never have not missed a single game – even in the years that Richard Graham coached us and we played terrible rugby,

        • AllyOz

          I have been to a quite a few games and have enjoyed them. It’s a good standard of rugby and many of the players that I saw play have come through into the current Reds squad. I haven’t seen the same pathway from NSW, that may be related to Who?’s comments below, I am not sure but it appears to be much better supported in Qld and elsewhere than it does in NSW. I don’t support any of the Shute Shield teams and don’t have any affiliation or affection for any of them. I do though, support NSW Country, even though it’s not the traditional country selection because that is the team I always wanted to play for and that’s the area I wanted to represent.

          I would support my Brisbane club if there was a national comp based on Sydney and Brisbane clubs but that would not likely be workable because we lack overall depth and financial resources to support a 20 team comp. That would mean some would survive and others wouldn’t and I would rather they all survived in the existing format and that the NRC is our national comp for development of players to feed into the Super Rugby squads and, perhaps one day, forms the basis for a replacement comp if Super Rugby is abandoned.

        • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

          Do you love Australian rugby or NSW rugby as it does not appear that you support a national footprint in your comments above.

        • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

          Why did Auckland and Christchurch agree to spread the available talent across all 5 NZ Superugby franchises? Because they could see the bigger picture beyond their self interest and love the All Blacks. All it will take is good leadership and the ability to think a little bit further.

        • Huw Tindall

          Respectfully disagree Max. NRC is bloody good rugby of a much higher standard than Shute. Sure I get it’s hard to be passionate about new entities but if you love good rugby give it a chance. Even if it just remains as a development comp running at breakeven (as it does today) it’s worth it. Think Rugby Reg crunched some numbers and only 5 of the RWC squad hadn’t played NRC including guys like Two Dads who predates the the comp!! I mean Randwick were regularly running out Adam Frier at hooker this year. Says it all there!

        • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

          The self interest is killing the game in Australia and those with the votes are the only ones that can invoke any form of change or reform. RA is in desperate need of reform or a serious crisis whatever comes first

        • paul

          Self interest rules, as has been evident in Australian rugby for the last 20 years.

          It is the narrow based growth structure of the game in this country that is ultimately the problem.

          Put simply the reliance on the Wallabies for all your revenue and supporter growth can never work long term.

          The Force were doomed from the start they just didn’t know it, just as the Rebels will eventually fall by the wayside when the $’s dry up.

          We have ignored the Elephant in the room for 20 years now, that is Super rugby and its total failure to attract a greater fan base to drive growth across the board.

          Yet Super rugby a glorified wallaby trial and wage supplier was, and never will be able to do that.
          Its a bit like waiting for Socialism to make the masses rich and constantly wondering why only a few people ever benefit from it.

          All this NRC.GRR talk is just moving deckchairs around.

        • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

          Superugby needs to Wallabies to cover its losses. I agree with you that it is a very costly, tired, time zone confusing and ultimately doomed competition that is too heavily reliant on revenue generated from South Africa (a country that is quickly following Zimbabwe to the basket case).
          I have more hope for GRR provided that the competition can generate interest in China, Japan, Singapore and India. The format and spirit the game is played is highly entertaining and a wonderful family outing. These are fast growing markets and interest in sport will grow faster as leisure time increase with wealth. The idea to follow the European model with rich private owners driving the franchises with no salary caps allow them to attract the best players and fast track the development of the game in their region. This is still a long term plan as tribalism takes time to develop but if people of the calibre of Twiggy are attracted, they can take a long term view to build the competition.

        • Max Graham

          Most of the players and most of the supporters are from Qld and NSW. It’s a bit rich to complain that they’re using their domination to dominate instead of letting the tiny tail wag the dog. If all the ‘other’ states stood together and abandoned the east coast, we’d be left with the same situation where we won two world cups and had a bank vault full of cash.
          WA got a Bledisloe Cup game and has a team in the NRC. Just how much more do you think you’re entitled to?

        • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

          I put my love for rugby first. In a state that is so isolated like WA and where your also have your third largest player base in Australia is, it should be obvious that it is in Australia rugby’s interest to have a proven and well resourced pathway for junior players to develop to the top. Rugby union code would have been the second most popular football code in WA after AFL if RA didn’t made the dumb decision to axe the Force. Where else in the country does rugby union have the prospect to beat NRL and soccer? Definitely not in the so called rugby “heartlands” that is dominating the thinking of RA. If NZ followed this logic they would have focus their efforts and resources on Auckland and Christchurch at the cost of Wellington, Dunedin, Hamilton etc. NZ recent success can be traced back on their decision to develop a true national footprint where a player from anywhere in the country can develop to play for the All Blacks. South Africa is doing something similar by taking the game to communities that historically didn’t play rugby.
          The idea that players will move from WA to Qld and NSW to get noticed was the status quo prior to inception of the Western Force. That idea failed spectacular as only one WA born Wallaby, John Welborn, were delivered in more than a century.
          It is crystal clear for me that if your aim is that rugby union should not only survive but thrive in the state with your third largest player base (to quote a famous rugby benefactor) that it is critical for the only professional rugby union franchise in a more than 3,500 km radius, the Western Force, to survive. It will not cost you a cent – twiggy is paying, all it takes it to recognise that it is important for the Force to exist and if you are wise you would even realise that they deserve the support of the rest of the Australian rugby community.

        • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

          As the state with the third largest player base, I think we are entitled to have a professional rugby union team that is financially supported by RA just like the state with the most, second most, forth and fifth most players. What we do not deserve is the “coward punch” we got from RA in 2017 and what followed from then.

      • Max Graham

        I’m similarly furious that Cheika and co again snubbed eligible players from the Bowen Mudcrabs and Burdekin Cane Toads. From what I hear, Johnson didn’t once travel to North Queensland!!! It’s a disgrace!!

        • Dud Roodt

          There’s a rumour Cheika & Co. didn’t even make the finals of the Blowes Cup (I’m sure I don’t need to tell anyone this, but won of course by the mighty Bathurst Bulldogs) last weekend?!

        • Max Graham

          Outrageous!!!

        • AllyOz

          Bathurst..pfffft…only coz the mighty Narromine Gorrilla’s moved to another comp.

        • Geoffro

          He’ll probably front up to Coogee Oval on sat arvo.Look for Andrew Walker to get a late callup to inject a bit of pace into the wallaby backine

        • Dud Roodt

          I should bloody well hope so! The RA Chopper could land right in the middle of Coogee Oval just before kick off and take him straight to Stadium Australia

        • Geoffro

          The 88 side is scheduled to front up.Hed have time for a couple beers and a slag off at E Jones for not taking the time to attend with Poido,Campo and co postmatch and then they could all maxi taxi it to Parra by kickoff.Best keep the RA (ex MASH) chopper in mothballs.

    • Ads

      Jack McGregor is from Riverview, and is a product of east coast systems.
      Isakk Fines, born in Sydney, is largely a product of the QLD rugby systems.
      Brynard Stander is a product of the South African rugby system.

      None of these players (same as the ones you mentioned yesterday) have been raided. They saw an opportunity to develop in WA and took it. Good on them.

      The Force is currently an NRC level team. The normal progression is for players to move from NRC teams to Super Rugby teams. This is not called raiding by any other NRC team, and not called raiding when players move to the Force.

      • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

        I trust when the GRR use their cheque book to secure Australian Superugby players that you will be reminded that you view this as a normal progression of a player’s career… For me, if a franchise secure you coaching team and half of your player group and then come back for more instead of developing their own – i call that raiding and noted that Nathan used the same term.

        • Max Graham

          What overseas clubs were lining up to sign these players? The Force are an NRC standard team – the worst team in super rugby would put 100 on them. 2 or 3 of their squad might be good enough to step up to the next level next season; however it’s too soon to tell. But we need to get some perspective!

        • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

          Clay Uyen (Kalgoorlie kid) and Masivesi Dakuwaqa (ex-Fiji 7s) were signed up by overseas clubs although I couldn’t confirm it by a google search.

        • Max Graham

          Are you sure they didn’t just go on holidays and took their boots?

        • Dud Roodt

          Personally, if a player left their contract with a SR team and RA top-up to go to GRR – I’d say good luck with the career suicide.
          It’s the equivalent of someone leaving the NFL to join Canadian Football League – not the done thing unless there’s no other option

        • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

          That is similar to what South Africans said of players that selected to play Pro 14 for the Cheetah’s instead of Superugby when the Cheetahs was axed. The Cheetahs finished on top of the Currie Cup this year and is hosting the final. It will take time to raise the level of GRR and deep pockets to secure marque players, but there is a lot of potential to develop GRR into a Tier 2 competition. Superugby is in my view tired and on its last legs – it would be in the interest of Australia rugby to have a ready made alternative.

        • Ads

          I wont need to be reminded because it already happened with players going to the Force that were developed on the East coast.

    • Max Graham

      Are you honestly complaining about the east coast teams signing players that were born and raised on the east coast? Whilst I disagree with the decision to axe the Force, they don’t provide a pathway to top level rugby and are only an option for players who want to get noticed by super rugby or overseas clubs. The idea that the super clubs ‘raided’ the Force is is along the same lines of the idea that the Force raided Brisbane and Sydney club rugby.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Nathan,
    I’m looking forward to a couple of those players showing Cheika why he should have picked them for the RWC. At least I hope they play with that attitude.
    It’ll be interesting to see if Foley plays and how he responds to his fall down the pecking order. It’d be nice to think it’s been a wake up call and he responds well but I’m not sure he will as I don’t think he believes he’s doing anything wrong.
    Players in WA who want to get into the Wallabies will always need to move East. I personally think that the GRR competition is going to make this even more so. I hope that one day RA goes back to Perth as I think that would be the best outcome for everyone. Can’t see it happening any time soon though.

  • Hoss

    Bonjour & Greetings from Noumea,

    I have kept quiet but with our camp coming to an end i was asked to attend and act as spiritual adviser / mentor, guru and social medial liaison officer to the squad on behalf of all the GAGR faithful and much to tell.

    This is how my diary looked for the 10 day sojourn My:

    * Daily

    – 5.30am kick-off. What the fuck was that !! Why didn’t some bastard on here tell me there were two 5.30’s in the one day. Felt like i had been hit with a defibrillator again – fuck me – not good start and i walked into the mess hall on day 1 with a morning boner awoken from my dream time dalliance. Spanners was into me, told him to fuck-off or i would discuss missed tackles and kicks out on the full, he’s been sheepish since – props loved it though

    8-30 – 12.30 Segall fitness camp – carrying large weights up stairs – fuck, i do that walking around all day anyway – told those limp backs to stop whinging and hook in. Couple of fit boys no doubt. I hung around with Dad’s Army guys in Two-Dads and Hodgie who i suggested had 3 old women trapped inside, quite possibly suffering osteoporosis trying to get out. Held my own. Kerevi is a huge machine, his shit would even have muscles.

    1-2 Lunch and light physio. I sat with The Abattoir everyday, made me look like a waif with my lunch portion v his.Shout-out for helping my self confidence. The brotherhood of the props are a good bunch and can consume a kilojoule or two. Gave them some advice to stop eating when they hit fingernail – farrrrkkkkk they are good on the tooth.

    3.30 – 5.30 Match day drills. Watching the big boys fly was illuminating, although i ended up changing FKA’s (he wasn’t real fond of it either) nickname to ‘WA’ – No Force – as he doesn’t hit the ruck hard enough, knowing how slow he was i was also able to scarper before he could catch me. I am deceptively quick over 2-3 yards.

    5.30-6.30 Physio, stretch & cool down

    6-7 dinner at mess hall – see above, rinse & repeat

    7.30 – 8.30 video analysis of Bled II or as we came to call it it ‘Game of Turds’ – as we, sorry, they were all shit.

    10 pm lights out, a few fart jokes and out like a light.

    Bonded – yep
    New appreciation for how hard these guys put in – yep
    Ready to ‘Bring Back Bill II’ – fuck yeah

    Boarding flight now.

    au revoir

    • Huw Tindall

      I’m going to do it. Yup. This is your best. Not just some of your best. Should write a Wallabies tour diary piss take a la the Cricket Warwick Told diaries by Tom Gleisner.

    • Geoffro

      You should be able to kick off a new volume/diary with this.May I suggest a title- “Hoss’ french letters from the edge”

      • Hoss

        Already copyrighted the name

        ‘Wallaby #32 – The Road to Redemption”

        The back cover already reads….

        ‘A stunning insight into the Secret World of the Wounded Wallaby and their road to Glory in the 2019 Rugby World Cup’

        The critics rave

        ‘Best read ever, actually i stole a fair bit of it for myself……’ Ben Elton

        ‘ Pleasure having ‘Hoss’ inside the camp, his ruminations in no small way helped us achieve greatness’ M Cheika RWC winning coach

        ‘I cant believe they charge $29.95 for this shit’ Kiwi Rugby Lover (still hurting from 59 – 18 loss in Semi’s)

        ‘Is it true he was originally called ‘Horse’ but was sued for false advertising?’ – Ex GF

        Available online soon from all good book stores

  • Gipetto

    Andrew Walker deserves a giant brass statue somewhere … probably more than one. He’ll probably switch to Aussie Rules next year

    • Geoffro

      Hope the statue is bolted down well or might go walkabout

      • Max Graham

        No one wants to hear this racist shit anymore.

        • Geoffro

          I’m not racist and am a big fan of Walkers.He’s referenced the term himself in relationship to his unscheduled absences.Sorry to offend your pc

  • GO THE Q REDS

    Foley should count his lucky stars he’s even inexplicable in the squad at….Quade Coopers expense of course. “Foley has often been the whipping boy at both state and national level for poor performances, however, the 29-year-old has chosen to block out any outside noise and concentrate on trying to earn his spot in the matchday 23 for the opening World Cup match in three weeks time.” Foley dismisses those comments despite mountains of evidence to support the situation!
    Perhaps a true sportsman would do something similar to All Black Liam Squire who made himself unavailable to the team as he didn’t think he could cut it at this moment!
    Will be immensely interesting how he handles another star studded backline this week Vs a rather underwhelming Samoan Team overall!

Rugby
@NathW1997

Loved rugby since the day I could remember, got the nickname Footy to show that, I watch Matt Dunning's dropkick every night before going to bed

More in Rugby