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Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News looks at the battle for the starting halfback job, a Welsh legend labels a current Wallaby as the best of his generation, the special bond of two hookers and the local customs that the Wallabies have embraced


Half the battle

Will Genia

Will Genia

Scrumhalves Nic White and Will Genia will continue their battle onto the training ground as they tussle out for the starting halfback position.

Both players are in the rare position of having their spot in the matchday squad guaranteed, with coach Michael Cheika opting to select just two halfbacks in the 31-man squad.

Genia, who has played 105 test caps for his country, is adamant that he can still contribute regardless of what role he plays as he enters the swansong of his international career.

“The main difference is when you start the game, you can sort of build into it,” Genia said.

“When you come off the bench you want to bring energy and an impact into the game but you don’t want to try to do too much,” added Genia, who was in the first XV in just one of this year’s four Rugby Championship games.

“Whatever role I am chosen to play in, whether it’s from the start or at the back end of games, I am not particularly fussed. I’m happy to just contribute and do my best.

“I’m confident in my game and what I’ll bring if given the opportunity.”

Genia believes that the competition has been healthy for both players as a result of their similar playstyles and skills.

“I enjoy the working relationship (with White) because we very much see the game in a similar way,” he said.

“We have a similar sort of understanding as to how we want to play the game.

“Our styles really suit the type of rugby that we are playing at the Wallabies.”

If the worst happens and both go down, Genia revealed that Bernard Foley has been training as the third halfback option.

“Interesting you say that (about having two halfbacks) because Bernard Foley has been lined up as potentially the third halfback, he has been doing a lot of practice actually, feeding scrums, practising his passing, so if the worst comes to the worst we’ve got that cute little thing playing halfback as well,” he said.

Going to War for Poey

Photo by Keith McInnes

Photo by Keith McInnes

Welsh legend Sam Warburton has weighed in on the back row conundrum facing the Wallabies, believing that David Pocock should be an automatic selection.

Speaking with Fox Sports, Warburton praised the recovery of David Pocock and his skill-set, referring to him as one of the best of his generation, even better than Richie McCaw.

“Pocock, without a doubt,” Warburton said.

“I always say he was my most difficult opponent.

“But even with Richie McCaw, I didn’t play against anyone who was better than him (Pocock).

“For me, he was a real force.

“In the northern hemisphere, if you’re looking at openside flankers I think he’s the most highly regarded.”

Warburton believes that the current structure of the Wallabies forward pack means that it would ideal to run with the Pooper combination, suggesting that the increased athletism in rugby has meant that it’s not essential to have a giant blindside flanker.

“Because the Wallabies have got the luxury of such a big and athletic front-five and a No 8 that can carry, mind you those two boys can still carry, I don’t really know what sides are losing,” he said.

“Rugby players are becoming more and more athletic, it’s not so much of an issue if you don’t have a six-foot four blindside flanker playing anymore.

“It’s great to have one, but if you don’t have it it’s not an issue because you’ve still got six other guys who can ball carry.

“For me, you play the two of them together.

“We played against both of them in 2015 and we realised when you play Australia you’ve got to fight fire with fire in some departments and we picked two opensides to play against Hooper and Pocock as well to help us in that game.

“Those two together are a great combination.”

Cup cousins

Folau Faingaa 

Folau Faingaa 

Whilst Tolu Latu and Folau Fainga’a are locked in a two-horse race for the starting hooker role, both players are revelling at the special chance to play alongside each other.

Latu and Fainga’a are bonded beyond the rugby field as Faingaa’s father and Latu’s mother are first cousins, which has allowed for both players to gel and push each other harder than usual.

“It’s exciting time for our family,” Faingaa said.

“To do it next to my blood cousin is pretty exciting. We’re into each other at training all the time and giving each other shit. It drives us to be better. Everyone is overwhelmed.

“We get told not to be with each other because we always get up to no good,

“It was the same growing up. [We were] always doing stuff we weren’t meant to be doing. Tolu’s mum [shouted at us] when we didn’t listen. We play the same and always get told we’re twins.

“At training, everyone competes for that position. [We are] keeping each other accountable and trying to make each other better,

“It’s just pushing each other to be better every week. Whoever has got that jersey on it’s about doing your best for the team and the team comes first.”

For a long period of time during the Super Rugby season, it looked like the pair would be denied the special moment, with Latu battling on and off-field discretions.

However, Fainga’a is proud of the way Latu has put the negative noise behind him and secured his spot back in the Wallabies squad.

“I always reach out to him every time he’s in Canberra to see how he’s doing,” Faingaa said.

“I’m obviously very proud of how he has coped and brushed everything [aside] and put his head down and worked hard to get himself to the place he is now. I’m very happy.”

Tattoo Taboo

Taniela Tupou and Kurtley Beale

Taniela Tupou and Kurtley Beale

The Wallabies have embraced the customs of Japan with tattooed players going the extra effort to cover up while bathing in public.

The side’s current residence in Odawara has an onsen (Japanese hot spring), which is accessible to those staying at the hotel.

This is significant in Japan as tattoos are associated with Yakuza – the Japanese mafia – and in public places, there is an expectation that they should be covered up, most notably in public baths.

The onsen is a popular relaxation area for players after training seasons and they have gone above and beyond to adhere to these expectations, with some taping up their tattoos whilst those with significant ink have donned the classic rashie when bathing.

World Rugby Tournament Director Alan Gilpin has praised the players for respecting the cultural heritage and customs of the host nation whilst in public.

“Many of the teams are very understanding of that and will be covering with various items of clothing,” Gilpin said.

“We’ve seen fantastic goodwill from players towards their hosts and from hosts towards the players and we don’t see it as an issue at all.”

The custom will not extend onto the football field, with World Rugby not providing any directive to do so since the ink is generally covered by the player’s jersey/shorts.

The other custom that the Wallabies have been adhering to is putting on different shoes inside and outside their team hotel, despite no direct directive from World Rugby to do so.

“I just love them, they’re so respectful,” prop Taniela Tupou said.

“If I see them do something, I just join them and I just love it. Love the food, love the people and love everything about Japan. The culture is awesome. We’ve been having a good week here of training and the boys are working hard.”

  • Who?

    Is there any greater sledge than being labelled, “that cute little thing,” by a scrumhalf? :-D
    .
    Not surprised that Foley’s been running as the emergency scrumhalf.

    • Bobas

      ‘The selectors aren’t letting me play Foley in 10 or 12 anymore, think Cheika think, how can I get him another cap’

    • GeorgiaSatellite

      I felt sure they’d have Hodge earmarked for that. Along with his duties as back-up lock.

  • Bobas

    Foley might know how to feed a scrum and pass off the deck but can he do both and at the same time run up a hill while DJ Asshat plays doof doof music.

    These are the things I contemplate when I’m desperate for a team announcement.

    • Missing Link

      Good to know I’m not the only DJ Asshat fan around here

  • Ant

    “Bernard Foley has been lined up as potentially the third halfback”

    Well that’s a horrifying thought…

    • IIPA

      You’d have Adam Coleman or Tevita Kuridirani instead I suppose?

      • disqus_NMX

        I’d have QC. The man can sure pass.

        • Yowie

          …even when we’re “backs to the wall” in our own 22.

          (I’m still a fan though)

        • disqus_NMX

          Yep, even then. I think he cops a lot of unfair criticism for his mistakes that other players don’t receive. And he’s also matured and doesn’t make the audacious stand out mistakes that he used to.

          Or look at it this way…. would anyone other than Ass Clown rather have Foley …even when we are on attack, 10 meters from their try line, and there is a simple 3 on 2 that even us guys wouldn’t manage to fuck up by running it into contact, or kicking it, or throwing a cutout that renders it to a 2 on 2? That’s a list of fuck ups that QC would never make, but you know Foley will on a regular basis, and you know Ass Clown won’t even realise it was a fuck up.

        • Yowie

          At least Foley is a solid kicker-for-goal.
          *catches up on taped Wallabies games since 2015*
          Actually scratch that.

        • IIPA

          I’d also have Lochie McCaff at 6 and Banks at fullback but alas none of these three are in a squad.

          A small yet significant detail

        • onlinesideline

          its incredible that we have Banks, Sefa, QC, MaCaff, Samu, Luke Jones sitting on the sidelines.

        • Bernie Chan

          We don’t need pace in the back-3, a playmaker or forwards with grunt….apparently…faark!

        • Who?

          He absolutely can pass, but I’ve gotta say, when he went to 9 for the Rebels this year (and he did it a fair bit when they were getting dominated in the contact and the scrumhalf got dragged in, usually in the last quarter, often when you’d see 13 Rebels inside a very tightly focused photo), he didn’t look great there. Being able to pass in general play and from the base are two very different things. Until the Samoa game, I’d have still said that Phipps’ best pass ever was the one he gave to the Badge for his ‘going vertical’ bit of meat at Twickers, which Phipps threw at full pace on the run. Quade’s passes from the base were overshadowed by what I’ve seen over the years from Slipper and Robinson.

        • I didn’t see enough of the games to say, so I’m going to ask – when Cooper was acting as 9, who was he passing to and where were they standing? Same for Slipper and Robinson?

          Just about everyone can pick the ball up and pass from the ground. Doing it reliably and fast over a distance is hard though. Usually when you a see a forward do it, it’s a short pass to another forward, so if it’s slow and not really precise it doesn’t matter that much. It can’t drift THAT far out of his reach, and it can’t take THAT long to get there. But when it’s a back, it’s more usually to another back so it’s a longer pass, more room for all those little issues to mount up.

          No particular skin in this (although I’d have taken Quade ahead of Foley) and honestly, probably have picked a 3rd scrum half ahead of either of them. I’m going to start with Lilo, have Toomua as my inside back pine sitter. If Lilo gets injured in the warm-up, Toomua starts, if it’s more than 48 hours ahead of the match, call up Quade. But a third 9 in the squad so I can rotate the 9’s a bit makes more sense to me.

    • Nutta

      Is he big enough to play 9?

  • sambo6

    “The other custom that the Wallabies have been adhering to is putting on different shoes inside and outside their team hotel, despite no direct directive from World Rugby to do so”

    I’m pretty sure there’s no World Rugby directive not to shit in the street…..but I’d like to think grown men representing their country will be able to do the right thing…..

    • Tah Tragic

      Sambo I think you are trying desperately to turn a good news story into a negative. Japan is a very different and conservative culture and there are plenty of ways trip up and unintentionally offend. I applaud the fact they are making an effort.

      • sambo6

        Ha. Nah mate, I’m not trying desperately to do anything. Im making a light hearted joke about the wording of an article suggesting that grown men need a directive from a global body before they act politely.

        Of course I applaud they are acting respectfully, but I don’t expect that’s becuase World Rugby directed them to….

        Also, I travel to Japan regularly, I love the place, but thanks for the tips….

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Nathan,
    I’m not too concerned about the whole Foley at 9 thing. I doubt it’s anything more than a backup if both Genia and White go down in a game. I’m pretty sure a replacement real 9 will be flown in if there’s a real long term injury.

    Feel for you guys this week. It’s all noise until Friday and tbh I’m focusing on that not the rest of it.

    Did you hear the Wales Attack coach has been sent home to answer betting questions? That’ll throw a spanner in the works and while it’ll be talked down in importance it’s bound to be an issue and opens opportunities for Australia

    • Bernie Chan

      Foley would be the worse passing halfback in Test history is he gets any time at #9…his left-to-right pass is not good even at flyhalf!

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Yep

    • Avid

      Interesting change of comment from Hansen saying its not a big deal to come second to SA this w/e.
      Whodawhat ?!

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Mind games mate. TBH I think he’s correct but he will want to win

      • Hansen doesn’t answer press questions particularly honestly… especially if he thinks they’re stupid. Not that he particularly lies, it’s more in the territory of mind games.

        But that was a REALLY stupid question. If NZ lose this match and win the RWC – I know no one has done that before but either of those teams could win and one of them will lose this weekend, so it’s certainly possible for it to happen this time – then will anyone care come 2nd November? Conversely, if they win this weekend and lose in any of the knockout stages, will anyone care at that point? Welcome home AB, you got knocked out in the QF but at least you stuffed the Bokke – yeah, right. Even if it’s “well, you lost in the final to X, but at least you stuffed the Bokke” it’s not going to matter.

        So while I’m sure he’d like a win this weekend, it really is no big deal. The RWC distorts a lot of things.

        • Avid

          Consistency is king over a RWC for sure, and thankfully some chinks in NZ armour.

  • Yowie

    Warburton praised … David Pocock …, referring to him as one of the best of his generation, even better than Richie McCaw.

    Is that the sound of 5 million Kiwis doing a spit-take with their morning coffee?

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      nah mate, we don’t care what a player who has only ever beaten the ABs once when he had the rest of the UK behind him thinks.

      TBH most of us recognise that both Pocock and McCaw had different skills which were both phenomenal. Richie was lucky to work with a bunch of guys who complimented him well and he was better for the ABs while poor old Pocock has had to cover for other crap players as ell as his own game. In some respects that does make him better than Richie in some areas. I still know that if I had a choice of one or the other at any time I would have Richie in my team.

      • Frosty morning

        If a team had ever had the luxury of both Pocock and McCaw available would they have picked them both? Is the McCock more attractive than the Pooper?

        • Yowie

          Pocock and McCaw on the same team wouldn’t even get in each others’ way.
          Pocock could enter a ruck at 6 o’clock and McCaw could do the same at 3 or 9.

        • Anonymous bloke

          Actual laugh. Will never (NEVER) get old.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Bahahawahaha. Isn’t it weird that the referees (and NZ) never saw this the same way. Amazing how every referee ever was wrong and all the supporters were so right

        • Nutta

          Not amazing at all…

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Typical prop. See nothing because your head’s buried in a ruck or scrum but always happy to tell the referee he’s wrong. I get one of you in every game I referee :-)

        • Human

          Only one? The other three aren’t real props then.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Hahahaha or just not as loud as the one I remember

        • Nutta

          Im-Prop-stors

        • From NooZealand

          Nope. Though the ABs are playing Savea and Cane together.

        • Despite the joke from Yowie, I don’t think so. They would get in each other’s way, because they’re actually doing the same job. With Poey on the park, Hooper drifts off and does something and looks glamorous. But he doesn’t get into rucks and create a whole bunch of slow ball and turnovers. McCaw was doing that, Pocock does that.

      • From NooZealand

        Always. As much as I admire DP for his on and off the field activities, no way. How many games have each played?. Richie even played with a fracture in his foot in RWC 2011. Legend.

      • Human

        And Pocock cannot fly a rescue chopper

        • Yowie

          Only because they don’t make flying suits with big enough arms.

    • juswal

      Instant haemorrhage material.

      One of them tried to tell me once that McCaw was not just better than Pocock, “he’s the GOAT”.

      I said “he’s got a head like a torn ugg boot, but it’s unkind to call him a goat”.

    • From NooZealand

      We like David, but I can assure you we do not care. Let the stats take the lectern.

      • juswal

        The more you say you don’t care, the clearer it is that you do.

        • From NooZealand

          No, truly we don’t. I do appreciate his person in rugby and outside. He is even well known in my family and they do not follow rugby.

        • juswal

          Keep on with that passionate, insistent not-caring.

  • muppet

    “We’re brilliant in training”. You fellas have the words, so I thought I’d draw a quick pic. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/94c8209bd55f0839e5007e83b23dcba090d3bae3a2749c698e95d866a569202c.png

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      very good mate

    • onlinesideline

      more of this please mate – seriously. – brilliant

  • Jcr

    Ahh , it all makes sense . Those shit kicks of Foley over all these years where actually him practicing his box kicks . Brilliant.

  • Dud Roodt

    Aaaand The Pooper is back!

    *grabs popcorn*

    • Who?

      This is a better balanced Pooper than we’ve had for a while, if not ever. Pocock’s not an 8, but Hooper’s kind of a six…

      • Max Graham

        Yes!! Couldn’t agree more.

      • Dud Roodt

        I agree totally

      • Maybe. I’m not shocked (it’s not the back row I’d have picked but I’m not shocked) and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

        It’s certainly a lot better than the LSL, Hooper, Pocock variant that I was having nightmares about…

  • Tah Tragic

    SMH is reporting that the Pooper is likely to be back for the Fiji game. Poey at 6, Hoops at 7 and Man Bun to the bench. Isi at 8. Might be OK for the Fiji game but I hope the don’t continue with this into the finals. Poey does need game time.

  • Bernie Chan

    Great to hear that our Wallas are appreciating and sensitive to the customs in Japan. The people of Japan are incredibly polite and welcoming, but following local customs means a lot. I don’t expect our Wallas will be anything less than honourable guests, but hope GnG fans travelling to the RWC don’t carry on like yobs (as happens a bit too much in HK for the 7s…).

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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