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Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News looks at a possible change for the Wallabies, O’Connor’s role heading forward, the Reds lockdown Thorn and added motivation for the Wallabies to score tries during the Tri-Nations


Alaalatoa ready to go

Allan Alaalatoa 

Allan Alaalatoa 

Brumbies prop Allan Alaalatoa is ready to step up as he firms for a starting role on Saturday.

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie had opted to start Taniela Tupou in the opening two games, with the pair sharing a half each during the last match.

However, reports from The Herald have revealed that 7A’s is set to get the nod with directions from Rennie to ‘empty to tank’ in the first 40 minutes.

“Understanding that we may only get 40, we empty the tank,” Alaalatoa told reporters.

“That’s going to be the best thing for the team, getting more efforts out of us over a short amount of time.

“Both of us offer different skill assets and it’s a huge positive for the team, for both myself and Nela.

“We continue to tell each other off the field that we have to continue to push each other and challenge each other on the field.”

Having become a regular 80 minute player for the Reds, Tupou concedes that they need to learn to adapt in order to match it with the might of the All Blacks.

“It’s a bit weird. I’m so used to playing 80 in Super Rugby and coming off at 60 or 40 it feels like I’ve done something wrong,” Tupou said.

“But we have obviously have a world class tighthead in Allan and it doesn’t really matter who starts or who’s on the bench. We work really well together and that’s something we’re trying to build here, at the Wallabies.

“Whoever plays, it doesn’t matter. We will just support them. It’s been good.

“Hopefully I get some more minutes this week. Let’s see if I play first.”

Perfect (at) 10

James O'Connor

James O’Connor

Wallabies fly half James O’Connor has rejected suggestions that he should move into the centres, looking to embrace the roles and responsibilities that he shied away from for so long.

The opening Bledisloe was the first time that JOC had worn the Wallabies No.10 since the final match of the 2013 British and Irish Lions series.

Having returned to Australia as a centre following his exodus to European rugby, O’Connor admitted that he essentially ran away from the position after losing confidence in his abilities.

“After that [British and Irish Lions] series…I just didn’t have the understanding I do now of how to control the game,” O’Connor said.

“I felt I went into my shell and didn’t fire my shots as I had at Super Rugby before.

“In terms of running away, I didn’t want to play 10 any more, so I moved to 15 and played a little bit on the wing. I always knew in the back of my mind 10 was the goal.

“I made 12 a good home for the time being. I learnt all the skills there and what I needed from my 10 and from my outside backs. It’s been a natural progression as I’ve matured, using my mind more and less of my body, and playing more for the team than looking as an individual.”

Whilst suggesting that it could ultimately be a possibility that Rennie eventually shifts him to 12, O’Connor is adamant that he is best placed in the ten jersey.

“I feel like this is my best spot to give my all,” he said.

“I’m comfortable there now and I feel like I’m bringing my own element to 10 and really enjoying it.”

Continual Thorn

EDIT Brad Thorn 122A1683

After their Super Rugby AU grand final appearance, the Queensland Reds have retained the majority of the coaching staff for 2021, headlined by head coach Brad Thorn.

Under Thorn’s helm in 2020, Queensland won their most amount of games since 2013 and remained unbeaten at home throughout the entire Super Rugby AU season.

Thorn is joined by assistant coaches Jim McKay (attack) and Michael Todd (defence), Damian Marsh (Athletic Performance Manager), Gina Nelson (Team Physiotherapist) and Thomas Barker (Team Manager) all recommitting for next season.

“We’re pleased to have Brad and several of our key staff remain at Ballymore,” QRU CEO David Hanham said in a statement.

“In an ideal world we would’ve liked to do a longer deal with the coaching team, but due to all of the uncertainty the coaching staff and Board have agreed that the initial extension should be for 12 months, with a review once there is certainty on the broadcast and competition structure for 2022.

“We made a decision five years ago that led to investing and rebuilding our football academy and connecting to our club and school talent pathways in Queensland. We knew Queensland had the talent, we just needed time.

Thorn was pleased to recommit to Queensland, believing that they are starting to reap the benefits of their heavy investment into the pathways and rugby community.

“I’m honoured to be staying on with the club,” he said.

“I’m very happy to have Jim McKay and Michael Todd by my side again, plus all our team staff for next year too.

“We’ve invested in our pathway in bringing guys through. It’s good to have a consistent squad with minimal changes for next year. They’re all mates and you’re seeing that connection out on the field.

“We’ve reconnected with the state and the Queensland Rugby community. We’ve seen a lot of growth in our game this year, but our focus remains on improving and continuing the build. We are looking forward to the challenge ahead in 2021.”

Added motivation

Reece Hodge scored an early intercept try

Reece Hodge scored an early intercept try

If the Wallabies weren’t already amped up for the upcoming Tri-Nations, they have just received an added boost with the Australian Rugby Foundation (ARF) committing $5,000 for every try scored by the Aussies during their four test matches.

The Australian Rugby Foundation (ARF) is Rugby Australia’s national fundraising body and charity partner, designed to support the organisation as well as rugby in Australia through increasing investment in all aspects of the rugby community.

The campaign raised more than $155,000 in 2019, and ARF executive director Peter Murphy was hopeful that they could double the figure in order to continue to provide opportunities for thousands of kids across Australia.

“This campaign has achieved some huge wins for grassroots Rugby over the past two years,” he said in a statement.

“Our Classic Wallabies and Wallaroos have been able to deliver dozens of free kids’ clinics to thousands of kids in rural and metro areas across Australia.

“In 2021 we want to amplify those experiences so that more children have the opportunity to be part of our great game.”

Interim RA CEO Rob Clarke was proud to associate with the organisation, believing that it represents all that is good with rugby.

“We’re very grateful to have the ARF on board as our Charity Partner during the Tri Nations campaign,” he added.

“The foundation does a fantastic job of connecting our top teams with our grassroots and that’s what the spirit of rugby is all about.”

  • skip

    JoC played 10 against the Barbarians in 2011 after the RWC and I thought he made a decent show of it but that’s a long way from starting against the Lions, Sexton and co with the experience he then had. It’s good to see him playing well anyway.

    • Geoffro

      I am fan but would like to see` Lolesio get a shot with JOC as backup.Its a tough call for Rennie as JOC has been solid but I think the youngster could bring that edge

      • Huw Tindall

        It’s just a matter of timing for Lolesio to get blooded. Probably not Bled 3 though…especially with Toomua out who was clearly a leader in the backline. Will be interesting to see how lnog they persist with JOC though as he’d be outside chance of making 2023. He’s getting on but would have to be in absolutely startling form to keep Lolesio and Harrison out. The battle of the young 10s is actually what I’m looking forward to most across the next few years. Would have been great to see what Lolesio could have done without his injury. For mine Harrison performed above and beyond having to steer around the Tahs who probably had the worst squad in Super AU at the start of the season. Great talents and lucky to have them both.

        • onlinesideline

          Under Rennie I hope that 2023 is not a consideration whatsover. Winning the Bled year in year out and being at the top of the RC, SMACKING the Poms should be our top prioroty. From that will come a good showing in a once every 4 year comp that is over rated and just a huge money spinner for the Unions. Win now and consistently and good things will follow.

        • Too Little Too Late

          I couldn’t agree more, every test match is something special and should be savoured for what it is – our best 23 vs. another countries best 23. Ignore what 2023 could look like and concentrate on the here and now.
          Building squad strength with an eye on the future is a practical approach but never cheapen the value of a test match.
          The younger ones coming though need to make their case through performance in super or training sessions so that it becomes impossible to ignore them.

          Looking forward to Saturday’s match. I hope it’s a cracker and on to Bled 4 with it all to play for

        • Hoss

          Damn straight my Hungarian buddy. Four years of winning and the RWC takes care of itself. As opposed to 4 years of ‘building’ and you crash out in the QF’s – FFS.

        • onlinesideline

          especially when that building consisted of picking the same players that continually lost, year in year out for 4 years straight – I cant even think about it, it was that inane. Its been blotted.

        • Hoss

          I hear you its like picking at an old wound again – just let it heal. breath Hoss, breath.

        • onlinesideline

          piiiifftt……no words…just a national embrassment

        • Ian Rodger

          YES, This! 100%, we want to be the best team every year not just the one year there is a world cup!

        • Missing Link

          agreed, unleash Lolesio against Argentina. the kid is good but we don’t want to drop him into a game where NZ want to lock the Bledisloe away for another year. we need to be going into next week 1-1.

        • Geoffro

          Noah stood up against a team half full of internationals in a high stakes match in his last outing.I’m sick of the AB perceived aura,give him a run,he’s the best flyhalf we have available

        • Hambone

          I’m with you. Bring him off the bench, a little bit of an unknown to mix things up in the last 20-30 could be exactly what we need.

        • Geoffro

          Yes but you know they wont if we are in the game (bar injury) Start him and if he’s obviously out of his depth , hook him.Like it or not,these guys are pros and dont need mollycoddling

    • Geoffro

      I am fan but would like to see` Lolesio get a shot with JOC as backup.Its a tough call for Rennie as JOC has been solid but I think the youngster could bring that edge

  • Nutta

    Qld coaching and Thorny – I think it’s garbage folk cite the Covid uncertainty for an excuse to only give 1yr extensions. To me it smacks of bad faith in environments where folk talk incessant palaver about culture. To be clear, my work background involves large teams and large sites wherein particular critical skills folk are particularly valuable. I look at it completely the other way in that it is especially when things get dicey that you need to ensure your couple of critical people are both feeling secured and are actually secured because that’s the one time you can’t really afford the downtime and dislocation of losing them on-top of every other risk.

    When you tell someone in your organisation that it’s because of the uncertain environment that you can’t secure them, then you are in-effect saying we are happy to risk losing you because we actually don’t value you enough to move to protect you in uncertain times AND we know you can’t get a job elsewhere. Now that may be true. But if you’re going to play the game of talking up culture and loyalty etc (like footy clubs do) then at least have the honesty to admit your transactionality for the opportunism it actually is.

    Otherwise it’s just hollow management speak and you just joined the ranks of those you pretend to despise for their lack of culture, trust and loyalty.

    So why do they really value him and the team so little as to only offer 12mths is the real question.

    Funnily enough I have those conversations with my staff (as it is also had with me) occasionally and I think we are a better workplace culture for it. Occasionally someone reacts badly. And that’s ok because it shows where they are at as well. As a side note, I usually find it is middle-aged women who handle such forthrightness and honesty the best. It’s generally the over-puffed self-important blokes who react poorly.

    • Hoss

      Yep, you cant be ‘half pregnant’ – you’re either in or out and the Padre should be give 3 years minimum to see this side reach their potential and dominate Oz rugby.

      • Nutta

        What’s the alternate? We are all broke and the contract doesn’t stand anyway as there is no-one/thing left to sue.

        • Hoss

          Yep – i go on and on and on about ‘opportunity cost’ of not doing something. Such a tepid offer to the Padre nearly invites other parties to talk to him – ‘Brad, we like what you’ve done at the Reds, young squad, culture, results etc – we are at the start of a similar rebuild, how does 5 years at $800k pa sound to begin with’……or he goes ‘Yikes – one year i’d better start looking around and secure something for next year and beyond now’ don’t want to be out of work end of next year.

          For mine i see a Saders like dynasty building up north – the sort that has players wanting to play for them and not necessarily for top coin, but to be part of something bigger than themselves – a real Rugby Nursery. But it looks like self-inflicted wounds again from QRU might prevent that.

        • Geoffro

          Keeps em on their toes.Can work both ways.If Cheika had been on a shorter contract we may not have had extended pain

        • Mike D

          Or we may have had another knee-jerk appointment when he finished up.

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          Yeah but then you might not have got Rennie and he could well be coaching the ABs with Robertson instead. Probably dodged one there

        • idiot savant

          Hes got a year to make his case. Lets see how he performs under pressure. Not sure about the dynasty of players eschewing coin for jersey. In the last 3 years the Reds have lost 4 top five eights – Lolesio, Pasitoa, Lucas, Carter Gordon. Thorn hasn’t been an attraction to the last 3. And is this dynasty talks a little of the old double bluff? Knowing all along that the Tahs are coming and boy do they have some talent.

        • Yowie

          …the Tahs are coming and boy do they have some talent

          So much talent that they are guaranteed Wallaby spots!

        • Singapore Sling

          I’d forgotten Noah Lolesio attended TSS….we’ve lost some talent at flyhalf. Carter Gordon is a real loss too.

        • Reds Revival

          I suspect that the QRU would have wanted to make it longer, but probably their Legal team wouldn’t allow them a longer agreement at the moment. It certainly wouldn’t look good for them if changes in the next 12 months mean that they have to pay out a coaching team for multiple years because there is no competition in place. Everyone would be screaming poor due diligence in that situation (much like a 4 year deal with IF).
          I know that QRU were very keen to retain Carter Gordon, but he probably saw that he was behind a few others for the 10 jersey, so decided to chase coin in Melbourne. I really don’t think you can blame Thorn for that. He had been identified as a future Red, and was in their Academy. It was his decision to move, not sure QRU could have done much more to let him know that he was part of their plans…

        • idiot savant

          True on both counts. Though, really only JOC is ahead of Carter and he would’ve been guaranteed bench/injury spots next season at the least.

        • Reds Revival

          I believe that Isaac Lucas was still on the scene when Carter signed with the Rebels.

        • Singapore Sling

          I’m not certain of the exact dates but the media chronology was Lucas stood down May 15 and the Reds announcing Gordon leaving Aug 6.

        • Reds Revival

          I stand corrected then SS. Thanks for the info.
          It makes you wonder why they let Carter go, or did he surprise them with his decision?

        • Singapore Sling

          I’d heard Jim McKay had wraps on the kid and if he’d been given a couple of bench runs things might have turned out differently.

        • Reds Revival

          If his decision to stay was based on whether he got a starting gig at the Reds (straight from the Academy), then it would probably be a safe assumption that he wouldn’t have fitted into Thorn’s culture.

        • Alister Smith

          We are assuming that it wasn’t him putting the one year limit on it. It might be his management saying we are prepared to take the risk for one year but we don’t want commit any longer as there may be better offers from Japan, rugby league etc.

        • Hoss

          When will you learn the premise here is ‘ready, fire, aim’.

        • Singapore Sling

          The Reds would struggle to find the money to hire Grassy Grannell after the profligate signing of Suliasi Vunivalu. Thorn’s initial three year contract was a minimum wage deal and extending it was really the only option. Jason Gilmore is positioning himself well with the U21’s and assistant role at the Tahs.

    • idiot savant

      I think your analysis is correct – they are happy to risk losing him because they dont value him highly enough as a head coach (they may value him highly for other things). And that’s probably an honest assessment. He’s had 3 years and they came last in the Aust conference in the first 2 years. This year was more successful but questions remain. Thorn insists on personally coaching the lineout which is a basket case. He also insisted on bash it up with Kerevi for 2 seasons and it was only Kerevi’s departure that led to a radical new game plan that has proved successful. One wonders if that wasn’t driven by somebody else (ie Jim McKay). And there’s been rumblings and players leaving. Thorn is yet to show that he has strategic and game day nous at the level required to win a championship. The message is clear. Fix the above and long contract is on the cards. Thorn fancied himself as a tough bastard. Id say the board has matched him with a tough bastard decision.

      • Singapore Sling

        No mention in any of the news about Cameron Lillycrap. The Reds would have been uncompetitive at any level without the raft of scrum penalties earned under the guidance of Crapper.

        • idiot savant

          He is part of the furniture isn’t he?

        • Singapore Sling

          The Reds press release mentions everyone except CL. He’s also the one coach that Thorn has failed to single out for recognition….at least that I’ve seen.

        • idiot savant

          No he did single him out a couple of years ago. Said that he stood back and watched in awe. Was very complementary. I think there’s huge respect there, or was. Crapper has also always watched the up and comers in Premier league so he knows the local talent. But who knows, maybe he has other things going on in his life.

        • Singapore Sling

          Fair go IS. What could be more important than scrum coach at the Reds? It’s not like he’s the race starter at Flemington for the Spring Carnival.

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Thanks Nathan, some interesting selection choices for Rennie this week and I think the way he goes in his selections for this week will definitely give an indicator of where he sees the future of the Wallabies going. Looking forward to seeing this.

    I think continuing with Thorn is a good move for Queensland. To me he demonstrated a bit more this year that he’s willing to learn from his previous mistakes and that he really has got the ability to get more out of the team going forward. Here’s to 2021 and whatever competition that brings us

  • Hoss

    Dear Moses,

    I write you today not to burden you with the weight of expectation but to encourage you and our men of gold and to tell you I / we believe in you. We will ride every tackle, every scrum, every half break with you. Twenty three men in gold wont just take the field this Saturday, as a nation will ride with you. We will pick you up when you are down, we will help you find that extra effort when your lungs are screaming and your muscles aching. We will be right beside you, in spirit, in desire and in attitude – green & gold courses through all our veins. If your players doubt that, quiet themselves, slow their breathing and listen and feel the rumbling growl of 20 million Australians willing you on and draw on the power and the will that this Great Southern land emboldens you with.

    2020 has been a year where we have all been stuck in a quagmire of excrement. Those human emotions and aspirations of hope, excitement, joy, desire and the most basic of emotions ‘happiness’ are all but distant memories. Over the next two Saturdays you and the men of gold have the ability – yes, the ability, to change that for the silent masses who still love the Wallabies and for the mood of our nation overall.

    For the first time in a decade the Bledisloe is at our mercy, all the variables, the tangibles, the discretionary effort are controlled by you and yours and history will determine that cometh the hour, cometh the men.

    Through horrific bushfires, drought, the toilet paper famine, Chinese pestilence, Trump re-election (you know it’s coming), the sacrifices and heartbreak that all families have endured through separation, isolation, loss of loved ones, personal freedoms and sacrifices – through all the adversity comes a golden beacon of light, of opportunity, of timing and of destiny.

    There have been false dawns before and many will be apprehensive, but I sense a dignity, an integrity, a calm and a drive in you and our boys that has nary been seen this century. I sense a bubbling sense of ‘no more’, a ‘want’, no, a collective imperative that it’s ‘our time’ and our time is now.

    I’d wish you good luck for Saturday however I know the harder you work, the luckier you get, so work hard indeed.

    Here’s to history recalling 2020 as a pretty ordinary year, but with one glorious golden exception

    Go hard boys.

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      Sounds a bit like sending thoughts and prayers mate.

      • Hoss

        Staunch agnostic mate, but i am open to some rank hypocrisy if it helps.

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          Religion and Lottery both for the optimistic hoper

        • Hoss

          And beauty products mate.

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          Oh yes. Especially for me

      • Yowie

        “thoughts and prayers” is usually for after a massacre.

        • Hoss

          So you’re saying Ms Arden is penning her thoughts and prayers to her team now you reckon ?

        • Yowie

          “Chun up boys. Don’t let a belting from the Aussies affict your spurits. Nobody could have preducted Tupou swunging Aaron Smuth around and launching hum out of the stadium like a hammer throw would hippen.

          Best wushes

          Jacunda”

        • Hoss

          ‘and what were the odds hid end up landing on a truck fill of portable dunnie’s eh, rather poetic’.

        • Yowie

          “Nobody would believe thit story! Even uf he signed an after-David attisting to the facts.”

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          Sigh!

        • onlinesideline

          Apparently you were spotted overseeing the Wallabies at training yesterday in the Hunter. You filmed it too they said, something to look back on in later years

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9y7L8kAuPxs

        • Hoss

          Mate if i was spotted running that fast someone must have dropped a chocolate nearby

        • Keith Butler

          Surely not Hoss. If it was Makers Mark, that would an altogether different story. You would have caught it and poured yourself a glass before it hit the ground.

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          Pffft! drafting commiserations to send to SCOMO

        • Hoss

          Dont’ know mate, ‘give it to Caleb’ aint much of a game plan and with Savea out who else is going to make those (illegal) try saving turnovers on the line that he does ? I am on record as saying the AB’s did not show much at the garden of Eden and are larger parts myth over substance at the moment and sooner or later that lack of substance will bite them.

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          I think Jordie at the back on the wing is wrong and causing a lot of the issues. Not sure it’s all about Caleb and if that’s the focus you risk getting bitten elsewhere. I guess we’ll see on Saturday mate

        • Hoss

          loser pays for the bottle of red next outing?

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          absofriggenlutely mate

    • Nutta

      Dear Moses

      Just bash them.

      Nutta.

    • Alister Smith

      20 million Australians? I thought we were up to 23 million plus or are you allowing for NZ and SA residents.

      • Yowie

        There must be 3 million “unAustralians”. People who don’t believe in mateship and a fair go.

        With Tracy Grimshaw’s help we’ll find each of them for naming and shaming purposes.

        • Greg

          And then there are the 20 dedicated Wallaby supporters all at this site!

        • Yowie

          Plus one chap with a leave pass who mostly supports the Wallabies depending on who they are playing.

        • Reds Revival

          And our Kiwi troll, Thomas.

        • Yowie

          Depending on whether his teacher allows tablet devices during class.

        • Thomas Murray

          Yet you can’t find decent players out of that 23 million,Thanks for the heads up Red

        • GeorgiaSatellite

          Your guys had a draw against a mediocre team? Shame on them.

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          Everyone except the ABs mate

      • Geoffro

        At any given time ? a count now of the people onshore due to covid would add up to a few

      • Hoss

        Not convinced about WA……….

        • Moz

          Hey!!!! Right, I’m letting Twiggy know. There goes your sponsorship!

        • Hoss

          Well, some are ok, happy to take the cash.

        • Greg

          So long as the records are shredded?

  • Yowie

    …with the Australian Rugby Foundation (ARF) committing $5,000 for every try scored by the Aussies

    Oh great. We’re 2 points behind NZ with seven minutes to go and a kickable penalty and Hooper goes for the corner so grassroots kids can get an extra $5,000.00.

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      he’d do that anyway mate. Kicking penalties has been drilled out of him

      • Yowie

        I think I know by whom, but would need to cheik first before commenting.

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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