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Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News looks at the Pumas social media fallout, the return of James O’Connor and the women’s World Cup expands in 2025.


Un-social media

Michael Cheika, Mario Ledesma and Mick Byrne

Michael Cheika, Mario Ledesma and Mick Byrne

Argentina’s preparation for Saturday’s clash with the Wallabies has been thrown into chaos as Pablo Matera has been sacked as captain after ‘discriminatory and xenophobic’ tweets emerged earlier today.

Matera, along with two other senior players Guido Petti and Santiago Socino, has been stood down after tweets from 2011-2013 were made aware to Argentine Rugby Union.

“The Argentine Rugby Union strongly repudiates the discriminatory and xenophobic comments published by members of the Los Pumas team on social networks and meeting urgently, the Board of Directors resolves: First, revoke Pablo Matera’s captaincy and request the staff to propose a new captain to the Board of Directors,” they said in a statement.

“Second, suspend Pablo Matera, Guido Petti and Santiago Socino from the national team until their disciplinary situation is defined.

“Third, initiate a disciplinary process for the three mentioned players, in charge of the disciplinary commission of the Argentine Rugby Union.

“Although the messages were expressed between 2011 and 2013 and do not represent the integrity as people that the three showed during this time in Los Pumas, from the Argentine Rugby Union we condemn any expression of hatred and consider it unacceptable.”

Whilst I won’t post them here, if you look hard enough you can find the tweets and probably understand why I’ve opted against it.

Matera has since taken the tweet down and suspended his account, issuing an apology via Instagram.

“I had a tougher time. I am very ashamed. Apologies to all those who were offended by the atrocities I wrote,” he said.

“At that moment I did not imagine who I was going to become.

“Today I have to take charge of what I said 9 years ago.

“I’m also sorry to my team and my family for the moment they are going through my actions and thanks to the people who love me for their support.”

It had been suggested that the tweets had been resurfaced by angry Argentinean after a supposed ‘lack of respect’ shown after Maradona’s death.

JOC’s In

James O'Connor

James O’Connor

The Wallabies are treating the Pumas game as a grand final of sorts, with Dave Rennie expected to name a strong side for Saturday’s clash.

The main talking point that will likely come out of Thursday’s team selection will be the return of James O’Connor, who has confirmed his fitness for the final test of the year.

“First things first, I’ll be fit this week. I’ve got to get through selection but we’ve got there in the end,” O’Connor told reporters on Monday.

“Being an older player now, you put a lot of work into your body off the field and you just want to do the little things right.

“I came into this campaign and I was given a lot of responsibility and I was very happy with how my game was moving forward and my game was progressing and how we were growing as a team.

“To be cut short and forced to watch from the sidelines, it was very tough.”

With the double P’s cementing their connection in the centres, there are questions surrounding what happens to stand-in flyhalf Reece Hodge with O’Connor’s return imminent.

Whilst he praised his Reds teammates, O’Connor conceded that Hodge had done enough to earn his spot somewhere in the backline for Saturday’s clash.

“I think he’s definitely earned his spot and [should] stay there [in the starting XV],” O’Connor said.

“I’m not a selector so I won’t be pretending where I would put him but I have my ideas and we will see where that plays off. He definitely deserves to be out on the field somewhere.

“In saying that, we still have some really damaging centres that have been doing a really good job for us and the back three as well.

“I’m happy I don’t have to make that decision.”

Guard still up

Allan Alaalatoa 

Allan Alaalatoa 

With the Pumas in chaos after the ghosts of Twitter’s past reared their heads, the Wallabies are refusing to let their guard down.

Argentina will be without captain Pablo Matera, Guido Petti and Santiago Socino for the clash on Saturday after they were stood down on Tuesday.

The news caught the Wallabies off-guard when asked about it on Tuesday (the press conference was basically at the same time as the Pumas statement).

However, adversity is not something new to the Pumas, with prop Allan Alaalatoa expecting them to rally in Matera’s absence.

“That’s the first time we’ve heard about it but just thinking about it now, I’m sure those boys will come out and try to do their country proud this weekend,” Alaalatoa told the media.

“Pablo being their captain is going to be a huge loss for them, (but) I’m sure all three of those boys will still play a vital role in their preparations.

“They’ll use that as more of a motivation. Thinking from our perspective, that’s probably the way we’d go about it…use that as motivation.”

With the Tri-Nations essentially out of reach, Alaalatoa is refusing to consider the game as a ‘dead-rubber’, believing that they have 25+ million reasons to put in a good performance.

“Every time you get the opportunity to wear the Wallabies jersey, it’s always an honour,” he added.

“We’ve been playing well so far, but we just haven’t been able to get the result.

“That’s our driving force heading into the weekend, making sure that we prepare really well, and making sure we put in a performance that we’re proud of, that our country’s proud of and that are family and friends are proud of.

“To finish on a high is huge for us and to go off to a break off the back of a good result.”

World Cup expansion

Grace Hamilton Wallaroos with Japan

The 2025 Women’s World Cup has received a major boost with the number of teams increasing from 12 to 16.

The landmark decision falls in line with the commitment that World Rugby has put into growing and accelerating the development of the women’s game through its women’s strategic plan for 2017-2025.

“In 2017 we set out an ambitious eight-year plan to accelerate the development of women in rugby…and an ambition to improve and expand the number of teams competing in pinnacle events,” World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said in a statement.

“We have seen in recent years that more teams are making a statement at international level and unions are continuing to develop their women’s high-performance programmes.

“Expansion of the Rugby World Cup opens additional…playing pathway opportunities for unions at the highest level of the game and creates added incentive for unions worldwide to continue to invest and grow in their women’s programmes.”

The Wallaroos are already in Canberra as they start their preparations for the 2021 tournament, set to train at the AIS.

Their squad contains 16 debutants as Dwayne Nestor looks to build chemistry and connections in a squad that has been unable to physically meet as a group in 2020.

Full training squad: Iliseva Batibasaga (NSW), Emily Chancellor (NSW), Georgia Cormick (Rebels), Lori Cramer (Reds), Piper Duck (NSW), Georgina Freidrichs (NSW), Anita Faimasui-Brown (NSW), Aleena Greenhalgh*, (Reds), Grace Hamilton (c & NSW), Ariana Hira-Herangi (WA), Eva Karpani (NSW), Grace Kemp (ACT), Atasi Lafai (NSW), Michaela Leonard (ACT), Ashlee Makim (NSW), Nareta Marsters (Reds), Arabella McKenzie (NSW), Averyl Mitchell (Reds), Lillyann Mason (NSW), Jemima McCalman (NSW), Tiarah Minns (Rebels), Layne Morgan (NSW), Gabby Peterson (ACT), Pauline Pilae*, (NSW), Trilleen Pomare (WA), Hilisha Samoa (Reds), Oneata Schwalger (NSW), Christina Sekona (Reds), Cecilia Smith (Reds), Tayla Stanford (ACT), Maya Stewart (NSW), Ashleigh Walker (Rebels)

  • From NooZealand

    1) I think it is going to be a very interesting game;
    2) I like the way Alaalatoa uses these interviews to give a glimpse of the team’s disposition;
    3) GO THE WALLABIES

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  • Patrick

    What a disaster for Argentina and whilst yes, the sentiments expressed in the tweets are awful, there is surely a better way to deal with 9 year old tweets (leaving aside the fact that the whole thing seems to have been inspired by someone who probably should be getting treatment not being on social media) than punishing the whole team and tarnishing what was until then probably the greatest year in Argentinian rugby history??
    :(

    • formerflanker

      Pablo was 18 at the time.
      Surely the passage of time, a matured person, his apology and sincere withdrawal of what he said should be sufficient to have stopped Argentinian Rugby falling into the cancel culture trap.

      • Patrick

        Surely even if he was 40 at the time he should have been given a chance to make up for it

      • onlinesideline

        Maybe an apology – its a conversation.
        But your reference to “cancel culture trap” I’m not sure applies here. For simple fact that everyone on both sides of spectrum would agree that saying ” its a good day to run over….” is absurdly revolting. Cancel culture is blotting peoples platform to express if it doesnt comply with the PC of the day. I think you’d agree free speech has reached its linit when incitement to murder based on race is expressed. (and I hate PC too). I mean his tweets are bordering on insane.

        • Patrick

          I think one gets so used to this cancel culture shit that one forgets that there are actually things that people should get in trouble for saying!

        • Jason

          I agree, but at the same time, should everyone be punished for everything they said or did at 20 years old. Especially nearly 10 years later.

          Like if he did a Folau and was posting dumb shit at the time, 100% sack him, don’t ask questions just sack him. But maybe something he posted as a kid some 10 years ago doesn’t require such a harsh response, at least without checking to see if he’s changed as a person or perhaps finding out the context behind them or something.

        • Patrick

          Sorry lack of detail in my comment, I mainly agree with you.
          I think that the tweets are offensive and that he should have been stripped of the captaincy definitely.
          But I have a real problem, like you, with this reaction to something that was several years ago, and for me, it is also relevant that they were plainly surfaced maliciously.
          I think he should have been stripped of the captaincy and required to come up with some pretty compelling remediation such as sponsoring rugby opportunities for immigrants in Argentina.

          Honestly I would have said stuff like that at school and many others as well – including some who are now upstanding business leaders. We just had the luxury of speaking ephemerous words into a conversation not immortal tweets :(

        • GeorgiaSatellite

          That depends. Certainly, an early apology or acknowledgment of wrongdoing might help. Or even early deletion of the post. But if one only does that because one got busted, it takes the gilt off the gingerbread somewhat. What surprises me in this day and age is that the team management didn’t scour Matera’s social media posts before appointing him. Is it a case of ‘oversight’ or ‘overlook’, I wonder?

        • Jason

          While yes they are especially bad, they are ultimately the tweets of a dumb kid. I think a better response would have been to call him in, ask him what he thinks about them now and assuming he’s grown as a person (his subsequent comments would suggest he has), we can then move on.

          I think there are a few things at play here, one these were the posts of a dumb kid, he was 18-20 when he made those tweets — like no one has ever written dumb vial things on the internet, obviously this is bad. Then there is that he did these things nearly 10 years ago.

          Now the question is does something he did 10 years ago when he was essentially a kid, justify sacking him. I was an asshole to someone at the shopping centre car park a few years ago, I was having a bad day and they heckled me a little bit, so I got in their face and told them to fuck off, should I be sacked for that in another 5 years time?
          I think what he said was bad, but I think / hope that he’s grown as a person and MAYBE we don’t need to go quite this far.

        • onlinesideline

          Im sure he has grown. What I think is at play here is that the authorities know that there are always people in society who wont care whether it was 9 years ago or not. True, it is a long time ago etc etc. BUT the authorities have to err on the side of caution or put another way have to take their que from what effect this act would have on the most impressionable segments of society.

          If they took their que from the most forgiving segments of society – resulting in a less than hard line penalty, this would or could be setting themselves up for future perceived moral failings. Which is something all heads of industry obviously want to avoid, the old bringing the code is in disrepute fear. Their is always politics involved and being a captain of a code makes your moment in the car park irrelevant in comparison for that reason ( with the greatest respect)

        • Yowie

          I was an asshole to someone at the shopping centre car park a few years ago, I was having a bad day and they heckled me a little bit, so I got in their face and told them to fuck off, should I be sacked for that in another 5 years time?

          Her teacher and the rest of her Year 8 class were pretty shocked when you pushed over her wheelchair though mate.

        • There is a difference between being suspended for a little while (probably actually only one game, because it will be sorted out over the summer break) and having his wrist spanked and stood down from the captaincy – which is what I think will happen – for some tweets a decade ago that even as an angry 18 year old he probably shouldn’t have made – and sacked from playing professional rugby for repeat offences.

          Hell, given how he’s reacted, with the apology and the long gap, if they say they accept his apology and reinstate him as captain next year, I wouldn’t complain and I don’t think too many in the world would. Yes, his posts back then were abhorrent, but it was a one-off, he was young, he seems genuinely apologetic.

          Honestly, I’m happy I’m old enough some of my stupid actions when I was under-25 aren’t on the internet for posterity. And I was never going to be an international rugby player to have them dredged up as a public figure later on!

        • Andrew Luscombe

          The tweets are a mild version of racist jokes that used to have currency in most english speaking countries until about 20-30 years ago. It obviously took a bit longer for them to become as unacceptable in Argentina.

          Teenagers push the limits, and that’s how they learn. It’s quite likely that the players all grew out of it partly by pushing things maybe in places other than twtter. That doesn’t justify the tweets, it just provides some context.

          Incidentaly this type of guilt and punishment for associations is exactly how bigotry and discrimination works. If you have dealings with someone who can be made out to have been a racist without too much difficulty you must be somehow a racist or approve of racists.. Organisations used to fear association with gay people and black people and would do anything to avoid it including in the sporting world. It’s not that long ago that major league baseball as a league refused to hire black people, not because they wrongly thought black people were no good, but because of the PR. Various organisations refused to hire gay people. Plenty of Aussie sports teams didn’t want black people, again because of the PR. That was all a load of BS driven mostly by PR.

          I’m not sure what legal basis there is for a sporting body to punish someone for something they did while not under contract. Whatever they do, they have probably already breached their contract. It’s interesting when PR can make reasonably large bodies that take the law seriously and have access to quality legal advice break contracts intentionally. Is that the world you want to live in?

          The legal system replaced lynch mobs for a lot of punishment purposes a long time ago, for good reason. Lynch mobs are crap at what they do. Completely inconsistent and out of proprtion.

          Having said all that I’d do the same as Argentine Rugby in this case, because we do live in an age of lynch mobs, and, as you said somewhere, lynch mobs have always been a factor.

          Good to see you don’t seem to be suffering anything serious ftom your Covid.

    • onlinesideline

      From one perspective though one could argue that because it in fact does tarnish a great year in Puma history including the team, the message is that despite the above, which is definitely sad, Argie rugby considers the tweets so disgusting, so revolting that anything less is unacceptable. He is the captain and without giving a whole speil, whether he was 18 or not, its the Argies message which is important. And thats we cant have a guy rep us with that history. And to be 100% honest, it was such a dispicable tweet that I woudl do the same if i was in charge. He was 18 and even though it was years ago, the message is loud and clear. Making him make an apology is just a slap on the wrist. In this instance it needed more. If not when in your books is the Argie decision justified ?

      • Patrick

        In hindsight there was some double standards in my reaction. I’d definitely want an Australian player sacked for that or at least stood down :(

        • onlinesideline

          ahhh – glad you said mate, because TBH based on previous posts of yours I was a bit surprised on you initial reaction.

        • Patrick

          I’m actually still on the edge on this one!

          As I said above maybe he should have been stripped of the captaincy and required to come up with some pretty compelling remediation such as sponsoring rugby opportunities for immigrants in Argentina?

          There but for the grace of technlogical inferiority /accident of birth goes… most of us I suspect

        • Andrew Luscombe

          Wait till you’re famous.

        • Patrick

          I have a fail-safe strategy for avoiding that

      • Andrew Luscombe

        But the next guy obviously doesn’t.

    • GoMelbRebels

      So, at no point in the last 9 years did he not think “hmmm, those tweets I made are probably pretty bad – best I delete them”? Yes, he was young and dumb then, but surely if he had really changed he would have thought back and removed the tweets and his account long ago. Not to destroy the evidence but to show he has changed.

      • onlinesideline

        that was my very first thought and assumed that he had indeed removed them and that the journos somehow dug them up. But like you say if still on twitter that says it all.

        • Andrew Luscombe

          He probably forgot about them. It’s hard to imagine hom going back over these old posts and thinking they are still good.

      • From NooZealand

        You read my mind.

  • onlinesideline

    What amazes me is he still left them up there. You’d think when made captain you’d chill on the settee of an evening, with BBC on the wireless and scroll down all your previous tweets just to cover ur butt. Its not like hes tweeting a lot. That’s almost dumber than the actual tweet.

  • Jason

    Am I the only one who thinks while yes the Tweets were especially dick headed but ultimately the tweets of a dumb 18 year old, that he made nearly 10 years ago, and probably don’t necessitate the Puma’s response?

    • Hoss

      An apology, some re-education time in those communities to better understand the challenges they face for sure. Whilst the comments are very poor he should be offered a chance for atonement and redemption.

      Instead we get ready, fire, aim.

    • Who?

      Pablo should talk with James Gunn. Equally stupid social media, equally over the top punishment.

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Thanks Nathan, Damn! that will make Saturday Interesting, I think the 100 points may be a tad too far but maybe the Argies will want the Wallabies as the winners and not the ABs so who knows they could just throw the game. That would be very funny.

    Triple A sounds more like a captain every time I hear him talk.

    Good to see the girls getting more development. I really like their play as they seem to rely less on power and more on strategy in the game and I like that.

    • Yowie

      Good to see the girls getting more development. I really like their play as they seem to rely less on power and more on strategy in the game and I like that.

      …not that women couldn’t play a power game, you know, if they wanted to.

      [This comment to be used in my “not a sexist” defence when I feel the heat for other bullsh!t I’ve posted]

    • Patrick

      I think it will be a disappointment in all honesty. The Argies must be absolutely buggered, they are coming out from an emotional rollercoaster and have lost their genuinely talismanic captain and an engine room senior player. Almost impossible for them to keep it together for 80 minutes.

      Ofc maybe they will come out on 110% adrenaline and blow us away… but the odds are against them.

  • Hoss

    Back from self-imposed exile to only realise I too am perhaps racist as I constantly yell ay the TV for those from the side of truth and light in gold to do horrible things to those ‘blacks’. I shall seek a monastic time out and perform a spiritual audit and realignment accordingly.

    Until then. Attended said Blacks v FISMS match in Newcastle last week and to be fair the score was right – BUT – these Nearlies ae not to be feared, they were poor and they were poor against an extremely poor FISM’s outfit. Said it before the AB jersey is worthy of respect – no arguments, but this current mob should NEVER be revered – they are ordinary and not a scratch on teams of recent yore. If not for Cane – who IMO was epic, Whitelock – who never puts in a bad shift they are an average outfit. On the night I thought their #3 had a ripper (dont know his name but I am guessing 2 consonants and around 8 vowels), The Barret that ate all the meat as a kid, the lock were also good. BUT – Sir Richie’s team would have dusted those Pumas by 75 the other night and NEVER taken their foot off FISM necks. This mob fluffed their lines, looked largely toothless and if not for super-sub the cup could still be in play this Saturday night. Yes it was incredibly hot (36 at kick off) after a 42 degree day on the coast, yes the FISMS were physically and emotionally flat and were terrible but you heard it hear first – this current AB’s are average and ripe for the picking. In fact England, a match hardened Saffa’s and a rising French would make a meal out of this lot.

    History will show a 127th Tri-nations championship win for the Nearlies but the ink on future pages will show this mob will be the ‘also rans’ in the AB legacy.

    The overwhelming feeling from the AB fans in the crowd was anxiety. Anxiety before the kick off, anxiety at blown opportunities and anxiety at 63 minutes with only 2 tries to show for 125% possession and territory – especially as the pumas showed sweet FA in attack . There was also (surprisingly for me) a lot of Kiwi heckling of their beloved AB’s. It was a fascinating insight into their fans rigorous expectations. Also as an aside – telling about the AB coaches that for a good 15-20 minutes the three of them (including Fozzy B Bear) stood at halfway and focused on FISMS drills. Now I get you want some intel v the opposition but with 30 minutes to go to kick-off what did they expect to see and exactly what would they do with that anyway? I accept I might be reading far to much into that event, but it sacked of (IMO) a coaching staff unsure of their own prep and plans and to an extent ‘reacting’ to what the FISMS might have up their sleeve, rather than trusting in their own.

    Back to Pablo’s comments. Whilst in poor taste and not to be wiped away, he was 18 and a child at the time so some tolerance can be allowed for surely. For me, a nation who declares three days national mourning for a coke head, womanising, cheating individual of questionable integrity, who granted was good at what he did on the pitch, to then scream indignation from the roof tops over an 18yo’s infantile media posts of a decade ago – really ? A small modicum of perspective may be needed me thinks.

    Anyway congrats to the All Bla….umm, to the gentlemen in the darkish jerseys, not that there’s anything wrong with darkish jerseys, they are equally important as any other coloured jersey and if not more so – for winning the Cup, welcome back JOC2.0, the Clydesdale to 15 for me and I hope to see a performance form those in Gold to sustain us until the next test window begins

    Go you gold, sorry – men in lighter coloured good things.

    • onlinesideline

      Fozzy B Bear – lolol – perfect.

      While I differ with you on the Argie response to Pablo and & Co you make a very good point re the hypocracy of response to the tweets V response to Dago’s off field behavour by the wider Argie community.

      But you can hardly expect the Argentinian board to turn around at press time and say – “that after careful consideration and considering Maradona was a coke head, womanizing, cheating individual of questionable integrity, we have urged Pablo to make a public apology and make amends on the field in the upcoming test against the Wallabies”

      • Hoss

        Completely understand and yes Diego was a Deity in Argentina and i loved watching him in the 86 Cup. I screamed when he scored ‘that’ goal and beat 17 English players to do so, my point is just the hypocrisy.

        There is a fair and equitable price Pablo must pay for past indiscretions and he will emerge from this a better person and player. The road to redemption always starts at the base of a mountain.

        • Reds Revival

          The road to redemption always starts at the base of a mountain.
          Or at a bus stop.

        • Hoss

          I think we can both agree there is a bus stop in the vicinity of said mountain base.

        • Reds Revival

          Reminds me of when my brother went to Nepal. He caught a taxi as far as it would go up Mt Everest. There’s no point in wasting your breath if you don’t have to!

    • Yowie

      “All jerseys matter!”

      [Hoss 02/12/2020]

      Set the calendar reminder for recriminations.

    • Keith Butler

      Just got back from a meeting and was about to put pen to paper. In the words of Meatloaf ‘ you took the words right out of my mouth’. Football is ingrained in the Argentine nations psyche and any perceived slight to the game and its players from whatever source gets the full treatment so I guess the Argentine RU were in some way forced to act in the way they did. I remember the 86 FWC quarter final very well Maradona’s first goal was pure cheating but called The Hand of God. His second pure genius. After that he went from Demi God to Godlike status but ended up exactly as you describe. For complete absolution I suggest that before the FISMs play the G&G they do not have a warm up but stand in a circle with heads bowed in silence for 45 mins and wear shirts with 10 and Maradona on the just to confuse the opposition.
      Enjoy your time in the monastery but don’t forget your hair shirt and scourge.

    • Patrick

      I think this is spot-on:

      In fact England, a match hardened Saffa’s and a rising French would make a meal out of this lot.

      • Patrick

        Here is a potential World XV without too much thought that has no ABs in it, who would you really want in from the Nearlies?
        1 Tendai Mtawira
        2 Bongi Mbonambi/Jamie George
        3 Kyle Sinckler/Taniela Tupou
        4 Mario Itoje
        5 Bernard Le Roux
        6 Sam Underhill/Pieter Steph du Toit
        7 Charles Ollivon
        8 Duane Vermeulen
        9 Antoine Dupont (pending Faf de Klerk’s return to international rugby!)
        10 Romain Ntamack/Handré Pollard
        11 Johnny May
        12 Damien de Allende/Samu Kerevi
        13 Virimi Vakatawa
        14 Cheslin Kolbe/Korobiete/Semi Radradra
        15 Thomas Ramos

        Obviously one can make other choices. As for the ABs, BBt makes a very strong case for the 15 jersey, but apart from him are there any clear cases where a Nearly is clearly better than the guy I’ve named?

        Before you name Retallick, Barret-who-ate-all-the-pies and Whitelock, who are all excellent, remember that this team was bashed in tight by England and Argentina and that even Australia has gone toe-to-toe with them. So hard not to conclude that there are better locks out there!

        • Who?

          Switch in another LHP – Beast’s retired. ;-)

        • Patrick

          Oups, really I think you can take any of Mako Vunipola,Tadhg Furlong or Ramiro Herrera but clearly you would also consider Owen Franks here normally.

        • Who?

          So, Mako? Tadhg’s a THP. Just thinking about it, so are the Franks boys.
          I can’t think of many LHP’s right now…

        • Patrick

          Mako will do :) Not sure why I started thinking of THPs! :(

        • Mica

          Slipper!

        • Who?

          Thought of Slips, but wondered if I wasn’t being too parochial. Because I think our front row, the last 18 months, has been as good as anyone. With room to improve and grow.

        • Patrick

          Mate I could have put 10 wallabies in there but the cold hard reality of my betting record has taught me that my rugby knowledge is very gold-tinted so I forced myself to be limit it to Thor and Marika who have both recently demonstrated gamebreaking ability :(

          Otherwise one could argue for Hunter Paisami as a bolter, Matt Philipp, Slipper and lots of As all as well (none of our hookers at the moment sadly).

      • Patrick

        Here is a potential World XV without too much thought that has no ABs in it, who would you really want in from the Nearlies?
        1 Tendai Mtawira
        2 Bongi Mbonambi/Jamie George
        3 Kyle Sinckler/Taniela Tupou
        4 Mario Itoje
        5 Bernard Le Roux
        6 Sam Underhill/Pieter Steph du Toit
        7 Charles Ollivon
        8 Duane Vermeulen
        9 Antoine Dupont (pending Faf de Klerk’s return to international rugby!)
        10 Romain Ntamack/Handré Pollard
        11 Johnny May
        12 Damien de Allende/Samu Kerevi
        13 Virimi Vakatawa
        14 Cheslin Kolbe/Korobiete/Semi Radradra
        15 Thomas Ramos

        Obviously one can make other choices. As for the ABs, BBt makes a very strong case for the 15 jersey, but apart from him are there any clear cases where a Nearly is clearly better than the guy I’ve named?

        Before you name Retallick, Barret-who-ate-all-the-pies and Whitelock, who are all excellent, remember that this team was bashed in tight by England and Argentina and that even Australia has gone toe-to-toe with them. So hard not to conclude that there are better locks out there!

    • Huw Tindall

      If that bloke who wore the 10 jersey for Argentina wasn’t a soccer god he’d be considered a scumbag by most. Not defending Pablo and his racist mates but it’s a bit of a double standard to laud one and condem the other.

  • Alister Smith

    All the talk about the tweets at is interesting. My thoughts. I am glad Twitter wasn’t invented when I was 18 and I am glad I don’t use it now. It is interesting how this might rate compared to for instance an act of drunkenness in an airport, or sharing a photo of a large naked lady in a text and putting your team manager’s name below it. Or even IF’s comments (Yes there are some differences in the nature of the comments, the age of the player and the player’s response). I guess my view Is, allow the player to make a genuine apology, serve an appropriate suspension, make amends in some way and then allow them back to play. I think it is important to acknowledge this as an issue but also important to forgive errors.

    I personally couldn’t see how the team dishonoured Maradona but I don’t support soccer and I’m not Argentinian (and all I have really seen of his play was repeated slow mos of his hand hitting the ball. So I will leave that one to others.

  • Yowie
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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