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Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News looks at the Wallabies touch down in Japan, a legendary Wallaby raises concerns after their Samoan win, the 2020 Super Rugby draw and the Fijians hunting for Wallaby blood.


Wallabies take Japan

Bernard Foley from the tee.

Bernard Foley from the tee.

The Wallabies have finally landed in Japan after suffering through a 16-hour delay due to Mother Nature.

The delay was caused by Typhoon Faxai, which has shut down airports and trains in Toyko and cut power to more than 900,000 homes.

The full squad started their departure on Monday afternoon along with outside backs Tom Banks and Jack Maddocks, who will stay and train with the group until Saturday before shadowing the squad in case of injury.

Amongst the 31 players arriving on QF25 to Toyko, 17 were heading to their first World Cup.

One of those people is loose forward Jack Dempsey, who has revealed that centurion Adam Ashley-Cooper (both in caps and age) has given the young squad a crash course on what to expect.

“At the end of the day it’s just words, you have to go out there and experience it yourselves,” Dempsey said.

“But the guys we’ve got from London in ’15 have said it’s just like any other spring tour but on steroids, because it is all buzzing constantly for the six, seven, eight weeks.

“I’m pretty excited to see what it’s going to be about, especially in Japan, because it’s such a big rugby fan base.”

Dempsey was one of the standout performers during the win over Samoa, with the Gordon product pleased to get more strength and contact onto his injured shoulder.

“I wasn’t stoked with my defensive performance, so I think I’m going to try to focus on that and keep getting that strength in that shoulder,” he said.

“We trained really hard over the last few weeks and I did everything there, so in terms of running fitness I’m fairly confident.

“The next week we’ve got in Japan before the first game I’ll look to get that contact fitness up – that’s the missing piece of the puzzle.”

Dempsey has been the latest inductee into the BRB (Back Row Brigade) and he says that the intense competition has brought the mini group together.

“I’ve never been a part of a group, a back-row group, that is not only so diverse, with so much variety in the game styles, but also that we’re all aware of that,” he said.

“We all know what each other can bring and it bonds us a bit. It’s just up to Cheik to reach into the toolbox, depending on the game, to pick who he wants to pick. It’s very exciting.”

Not so Sterling

Mortlock intercept

Everyone’s favourite bald centre Sterling Mortlock has expressed his concern at the “one-dimensional” attack that the Wallabies showed during their win over Samoa.

Despite running in six tries, Mortlock was unimpressed with the lack of spark and variation in attack as compared to previous matches this year (which is generally what happens when you remove most of your starting team and play a glorified ‘B’ team).

“I wasn’t that impressed with the Samoa performance,” Mortlock told the Herald.

“In the first half it was a pretty decent performance but we didn’t assert ourselves in the second half. What I wasn’t impressed with was in attack we looked very one-dimensional.

“Perhaps that was an extension of the fact the guys have been on tour away and have had a pretty heavy workload during camp.

“When you do that you’re not as polished and likely to chance your arm but certainly most of the Test matches this year we’ve seen the Wallabies attack really throw caution to the wind with ball in hand and use a lot of width and lots of passes.

“Whereas against Samoa, I didn’t sense that was the case. That was my disappointment, I just found it hard to follow to be frank.

Despite the worry, Mortlock is still confident that the side can put a strong performance come World Cup time, convinced by their impressive win in Perth a month ago.

“In 2015 I was pretty optimistic leading into it but this year I wasn’t until I went across to Perth,” Mortlock said.

“I can definitely see this Wallaby outfit surprising a lot of people with a strong championship-style performance in the World Cup.

“That’s why I’m a little bit frustrated by the Samoan performance. I expected to see a really expansive attack and a different attack to what we’ve seen to the last few years. I didn’t think it was as high-risk high reward as we’ve seen in Tests before that.

“I’m hoping we get our set-piece right, which we’ve done in patches, and if we do that I think we can go deep into this tournament again with that attack.”

He couldn’t nail down just one team as his favourite, believing that this is the most open World Cup in recent memories.

“England in my view have always been a dark horse because I’ve got no doubt Eddie [Jones] is going to get them to peak at the right time … they can beat anyone quite easily,” Mortlock said.

“New Zealand are in great form and South Africa under Rassie Erasmus have got their act together.

“Once it gets to the quarters it will be must-watch.”

Super Summer

Filipo Daugunu

Filipo Daugunu

The Super Rugby draw has been announced for 2020 with the main taking point coming from its starting date.

The competition is set to kick off on the 31st of January, with the Blues kicking the season off against the Chiefs.

The move to a January start will represent the first time (in recent memory) that Super Rugby will not stop for an international test window, with the test matches for Southern Hemisphere nations shifted to July.

“Super Rugby is one of rugby’s premier tournaments and features many of the best teams and players in the world,” SANZAAR chief executive Andy Marinos said in a release.

“In 2020 the movement of the inbound Test window from June to July does allow for Super Rugby to be played uninterrupted.

“However we have to kick-off earlier than in the past to accommodate the 21-week tournament prior to the July window. With all this in mind, we have again worked with the national unions and teams through this complex logistical process to provide a draw that is fair and equitable.”

The opening round for Australian teams will commence with a clash between the Brumbies and Reds, otherwise known as the Henry Speight revenge game, which will be held on the same weekend as the Sydney Sevens.

The other significant change is that evening games in Australia will start 25 minutes earlier, moving from 7:40 pm to 7:15 pm in an attempt to make the games more appealing to families.

As part of this push, the Brumbies and Reds will both play games throughout the year on a Sunday afternoon.

The nomad Waratahs will continue their bold strategy of a state team playing games outside of the capital city, with games set to be played in Newcastle, Wollongong and a game in the country which will be announced soon.

“After one of the closest Aussie Conference races on record last season, we are looking forward to seeing our teams take their performance to another level in 2020,” said Raelene “Queen of the” Castle.

“One of the key changes for the 2020 season is the introduction of earlier kick-off times for night matches in Australia, which we believe will be widely welcomed by Rugby fans and will give young families an opportunity to get out and enjoy the night at the Rugby and be able to get the family home earlier, or to tune in earlier on FOX SPORTS if they can’t make it out to the ground.”

To see the full draw, click this link.

Fijians eyeing off big scalps

Fiji Cultural Challenge

Fiji Cultural Challenge

Fiji coach John McKee has reaffirmed that Fiji have their eye’s on making the World Cup knock-out stages and are looking to cause some upsets, starting with knocking off the Wallabies.

The Wallabies and Fiji will replicate the previous World Cup with both teams set to start their campaigns against each other when they meet in Sapporo on September 21.

McKee believes that the side has transformed since their last World Cup encounter, with the flying Fijians sending over a much deeper squad led by the likes of Semi Radradra and Leone Nakawara.

“The team (in 2015) was nowhere near as settled,” McKee said.

“Having been through a few cycle, we have had consistency in selection and we have brought on some younger players. So the platers have got more combinations through playing together.

“Also our depth has improved. When you look across our squad we are pretty strong 1 to 31, and there are now some pretty tough selection calls.

“In 2015 probably 1-20 were pretty strong but when you went 21-31, we started to drop off a bit. So you would be pretty nervous if you got an injury in some key positions. This time I am confident on our depth.”

He pointed their competitive 35-17 loss to the Wallabies two years ago as a sign of improvement in his side.

“Having played Australia in 2017 is helpful for us. There were lessons from that game that we can use going into this game,” McKee said.

“If we hadn’t played since the game at Cardiff in 2015, it would be a distant memory. But for a lot of the squad, the 2017 game is relatively fresh in our minds and that for us is more of a focus point than the 2015 match.”

McKee pointed to Radradra as the not-so-secret X-factor, believing that the “special” talent can help takeover and transform a match.

“Everyone will be watching out for Semi, that’s for sure,” McKee said.

“He is not going to be able to catch people by surprise. There won’t be any “who is that guy you’ve got playing no.13?”

“He is quite a special rugby player and he has some great qualities. He is one of the players in the squad who you’d say is a genuinely world class player. He would play for a lot of the tier one teams, they’d like to have a player of his quality.

  • Wallabrumby

    Snorks comments about the Samoa game has made me think about something inevitable that will occur in Aus rugby in the coming months. And its a real mind bender.

    As I know how the majority of our G&G commentators think about our beloved current coach, I would like to pose a killer “would you rather” riddle here

    Would you rather?

    1. The Wallabies get bumped out of the world cup (even in the finals) and coach C walks as he promised
    2. Wallabies win the world cup and Mr C and Mrs C decide to keep coach C on for a further 4 years.

    Shoot

    • Max Graham

      I’m sure on here would prefer to lose Cheika then to win the next 3 world cups. We likely won’t win and we will get a new coach. 6 months in I wager many will be demanding his sacking because he’s kept Hooper at 7 and captain, Banks isn’t in the team and he’s overlooking the dazzling form of the new Force reserve halfback who just carved up against the Balikpapan Puffer Fish.

      • Patrick

        Hooper will be dumped as captain on day 2, he’s one of the best players in the team for sure but one of the worst captains.

        • Geoffro

          There’s not too many alternatives with senior/suitable players bailing after WC so he’ll probably stay as cap for a bit I reckon.All goes as planned,Fraser McReight to captain us to the next WC

        • Max Graham

          I wouldn’t be so sure. The only people I see banging on the door are headed to Japan.

        • Brumby Runner

          Liam Wright will be the premier No 7 in the country in a year or two, but soon after to be overtaken by Fraser McReight.

        • Max Graham

          Maybe. Maybe Gill or McMahon will come back. Also, that Wilkins from the Rebels looked the goods until he got injured. Their season started its slide when he got hurt. And who else is coming through the production line? Maybe a few of them should switch to flyhalf!!

      • Geoffro

        Win or lose I reckon Cheika will go but anyone who would wish for poor performance just to see him shown the door needs to wake up to themselves a bit.

        • Dud Roodt

          I agree totally – but it’s certainly not beyond a lot of people, and I’m certain I’ve actually seen people wishing for it

        • Brumby Runner

          DR see my comment above to Geoffro. No one is wishing for poor performances. Cheika just keeps on giving them.

        • Dud Roodt

          That’s fie, but I wasn’t referring to that – I was referring to people on here who have made comments along the lines of they hope we don’t win the world cup so Cheika will go.

        • From NooZealand

          Yeah! three cups or Cheiks. Bloody hell, three cups for me.

        • Brumby Runner

          Geoffro, none of us had to wish for poor performances over the past 4 years, they were thrust upon us and still Cheika wouldn’t go (or RA wouldn’t grow the balls to sack him). It is time for the rest of the rugby community to wake up and deny the worst coach we’ve ever had any excuse or reason to suppose he will continue after the RWC.

    • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

      What would it take to get rid of Mrs C, Mr C and Coach C I would even settle for the latter two only as we can do worst that Mrs C.

    • Yowie

      All academic when NZ will win the world cup then every Kiwi I know will carry on like an annoying C

      • Geoffro

        Or not.At least we know we wont be flying the national flag at half mast if we fail to convert.I love those crocodile tears

        • From NooZealand

          No (crocks) tears from me, but will be sad for my relatives in Melbourne.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Absofriggenlutely

      • From NooZealand

        I promise I won’t … but I will quietly smile. https://media1.giphy.com/media/ahZZZZFGLGhvq/giphy.gif

    • disqus_NMX

      Ha, good question, but the reality is that it is nothing short of delusional to think the Wallabies have any chance of winning Bill. Everyone who got excited about Perth conveniently blacked out the reality of the red card. I for one, am really looking forward to a post-clown Wallabies, although I hold my fingers crossed the next coach isn’t a new version of dreadful.

      • Wallabrumby

        Yes highly unlikely, but so should such mind games be.
        I would love the Wallabies to win the world cup more than a lot of things, but if it meant a new coach I dont know if i care that much :)

    • idiot savant

      I think Cheik’s only chance of staying on is if we win the World Cup. My prediction is that Australia will make the semi finals and lose to South Africa. That might be enough to save him. I doubt though that the hierarchy want him. They did put in selectors and a boss over the top of him so they arent signs that they really want him. I expect Cheik will resign when the Wallabies bow out.

      • AllyOz

        I know it is a remote chance but the World Cup does see results that don’t always reflect pre-Cup form. We had a fair bit of luck against Scotland last time and then things fell our way so that we got Argentina, an opponent we know pretty well and have a good history against, in the Semi. So, if things fall our way, I wouldn’t be surprised if we get through to the finals. Equally, the way things are going and with Fiji in our pool, I think there is a chance (an unlikely one) that we may not even make the quarters.

        Ouch these splinters are painful.

        • Hoss

          On current (last 6 months) world form mate with my last single, good crystal ball (wife has other one in her purse) it seems likely that:

          – top our pool and hit France in Quarters – win and hit Saffa’s /NZ in Semi. Than depends if Perth or Eden Park wallabies front up
          – lose our pool and hit the Poms in quarters and perhaps its goodnight nurse

        • Wallabrumby

          Yep I think if we hit England in the QF we are done for. If we get to that stage we have lost to Wales, so if we cannot win that game in the Pools then the WC might as well be gone already

        • Hoss

          Wonder if Eddie is a chance at another go at the Gold gig ? He’s leaving the Motherland at end of RWC – rip shit or bust isnt he ?

        • Who?

          We’ve never beaten England in a RWC QF… Lost to them in a QF in 95 and 07. Lost a Final in 03, won a final in 91, won a pool match in 15. We’ve never actually beaten them at the RWC game not played in England. If France have been NZ’s RWC bogey team, England are ours.

        • Damo

          Fiji, Wales, bang,bang. One way or the other we are going to know where we stand early in this tournament. Hopefully it’s not hello Narita group baggage check in on Sept 30. Nah…we’ll be right…

        • Hoss

          i am confident at a semi’s spot mate. Then its a duck-shoot from there. A Perth 80 in were in the big show, an Eden Park outing and well….

        • Damo

          My crystal ball (it’s quite an old model so it’s predictive function is a bit dodgy) says Wallabies will be tight, tough and disciplined in Game 1, which they will need to be to avoid the Fiji banana skin. They will learn a lot from that and I’ve got a feeling that the Perth 80 will be Wales. France then is doable. After that… I’m not sure we have the game plan or the physicality to go much further- given the teams that we will likely face in the SF. I asked “Crysty” what happens if MC starts spinning the selection chocolate wheel over there. He said “then you’re on your own mate”.

        • Hoss

          Don’t know why, but I fancy our chances v the Soap Dodgers later in the contest but would be anxious in a QF.

        • From NooZealand

          I like the “goodnight nurse” bit. I think that if you come vs South Africa, you come to back to Australia.

      • Wallabrumby

        Yes but the point is what would you prefer? To win and put up with the coach for a further 4 years?

    • Bernie Chan

      #1

      • Wallabrumby

        Big call mate
        Winning a world cup has to be worth it at any cost no?

        • Bernie Chan

          Actually…I don’t want us out of the RWC per se…I’d like us to win “Bill” (though we surely aren’t among the faves…)but sure want to see the back of Cheika. Maybe that should have been #1.5…

          Apologies…should be more careful and shouldn’t have been so hasty with the fat thumbs!
          Hear Latham is keen on coaching QLD if the opportunity comes up…hope he makes a good coach, but the recent Larkham (was he ‘handcuffed’ by Cheika…?) experience makes me a tad wary. Few great players seem to make great coaches?

        • Bernie Chan

          And though I’d like us to win…but not “at any cost”…bit naive perhaps…

  • Max Graham

    Who’s ever tried to play rugby after getting thrashed on the training paddock? I’m not at all worries about the Samoa game. With fresh legs we’ll tear Fiji up. Wales too. Semis or bust!!

    • AllyOz

      Samoa was about giving some players who hadn’t had a lot of game time a run in case of injury and probably trying out some different things (though I didn’t see any of that). It might also have been about supporting Samoan rugby too. While we didn’t perform overly well, particularly in the second half, i think it achieved what it was supposed too. I think your point about heavy training load is very accurate too.

      • Geoffro

        interesting to see Cheika asked if he was going to ease up on the workload a bit post Samoa match. (cant recall his reply)

  • Brisneyland Local

    Morning GAGR’s, dont usually post other peoples stuff. But another great article by Nick Bishop here. Well worth a read.

    https://www.theroar.com.au/2019/09/11/samoan-selection-sudoku-for-michael-cheika-ahead-of-the-rugby-world-cup/

    • Bernie Chan

      Always interesting to read NB’s analysis pieces. Not sure LSL has shown enough to suggest he is the solution to backrow balance issues…The “ship has sailed”, but a pity Fardy and Higgers were cast aside long ago. Jeez the Manu Samoa replacement props gave our front row a bit of a touch up.

      Have the Wallas entirely rejected the “play what is in front of you..” clever rugby and become predictable? (Mortlock says “one dimensional…”)?

      • Who?

        I’ve no problem with what the Wallabies showed in setting up. You’ve got to program your first couple of phases. Not inflexibly, the 10 needs to have permission to overcall (which Foley usually relies on Beale doing), but there should be clear direction as to what’s happening unless a greater opportunity presents itself.
        .
        That said, we’ve played what, 5 games now? How long did it take teams to start to figure out what the Rebels were doing..? And the Wallabies, whilst having the advantage of being able to pick the most suitable Aussie players (rather than just those who are contracted – meaning they’ve got a better pack), have the disadvantage of stronger oppositions (including bigger packs) and, crucially, stronger analysis opposing them. Which can also reference what the Rebels did, and incorporate that into their planning.

        • sambo6

          Yep, if NB has picked the eyes out of our attack strategy already…then as have every other major team, so I really and truly hope that we’ve got some variations up our sleeve for the RWC. The last 4 years of evidence would suggest we dont. But here’s to hoping that im proven wrong

        • Who?

          The only way to proceed whilst having already had your game plan picked apart is to have a QB who can overcall on the snap. You obviously don’t want to run a game plan where the QB overcalls too often – Aaron Rogers was supposedly overcalling Mike McCarthy (head coach and play caller) something like 30-40% of the time last year, going audible, before McCarthy was sacked.
          .
          The question is, do we have a QB on the field with sufficient vision to see opportunities better than those presented by running the standard game plan? The vision to overcall? Genia and White can, to an extent, but you’re always pinned in when you’re at 9, distracted by the mess of bodies around you and monsters looking to crush you. Beale and JOC can, but they’re not driving the backline. The overcalling – changing of the play – needs to come from 10. Foley’s proven he can’t do that (he leaves that to Beale). Leali’ifano’s better. Cooper’s at home (and he wasn’t permitted to overcall during the season, they stuck to that game plan like it was Holy Writ). :-(

      • Brisneyland Local

        Looks like they have ditched that.
        LSL is not the solution to our back row problem. And I would kill for a Higgers or Fardy in face type.

        • Bernie Chan

          You, me and a multitude of Oz rugger fans wish we had a Fardy or Higgers…

        • Brisneyland Local

          So disappointing.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Nathan,

    The excitement is building and I can’t wait for the start of this tournament. All the thoughts, comments and opinions will mean nothing and it’ll be the players on the filed and what they do that matters. Going to be so much fun.

    It’ll be good to see the Super tournament go through without the normal break for test rugby. I think that’s a great move and will help keep people interested, although to be fair, if their team is winning they’ll still be interested. I’m looking forward to seeing how the Reds go and if they can start living up to some of the promises they seem to offer with the new players.

    • Brisneyland Local

      Hype and talk mean nothing! Its time to bleed!

      • Hoss

        Is that from Ivan Milat?

        • Dud Roodt

          He sure has a way with words that little scamp

        • Brisneyland Local

          No! It is from playtime!

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Loved his direct play and good to see he’s still got it

    • Patrick

      Yep. One of those out centers with whom you pretty much always knew what you were getting, and if you were opposite him it was rarely something you’d like!

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Hated him at times but only because he was so friggen good.Just a friggen machine and from what I’ve heard a real nice guy.
        Really sad but no one in the last 4 years has made me hate them because they were so good.

  • Moz

    Good morning all!
    Collected our tour shirts for the RWC, and fairly happy with the result!

    https://twitter.com/Mozza_sing/status/1169755464751411200/photo/1

    • Greg

      Damn…. I still can’t manage a perfect score.

      • Moz

        So obviously not a lawyer!

    • Hoss

      That’s farging brilliant – almost worth touring for the kit alone.

      • Moz

        Yes, pretty happy with them! Also put the Western Force logo on one sleeve, in case we run into any learned members of RA! 12 of us traveling, and we have one bright pink shirt as well, which is to be worn as punishment for the day for any worthy indiscretions !

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Thats gold

    • Keith Butler

      Absolute class.

  • GO THE Q REDS

    Just say it out loud Sir Stirling Mortlock…….. Foley sucks as a playmaker and the Samoan game was another eg added to the growing pile of inexplicable selection and then let down opportunities of Bernard’s Foley’s.

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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