What the hell are you doing Cheika? - Green and Gold Rugby

What the hell are you doing Cheika?

What the hell are you doing Cheika?

Excuse me Mr Cheika? One question please Sir? Just what the hell do you think you’re doing?

There are some things I just don’t get:

  • Horwill reselected after the last 2yrs of performances? You kidding me?
  • Lock pairing of Horwill & Skelton? What the?
  • Only 2 accepted jumpers going into a test (Horwill & Fardy)?
  • Reselecting Palu?
  • Pocock on the bench behind Hooper?

And I haven’t even started on the Backs yet…

But here’s the thing: if a coach selects a wild-card (like Quade at 10) and the gamble pays off then he is a legend. If it doesn’t then he’s a fool. That’s the nature of footy in any code. Imagine if Beale had slotted that 3pter against the Lions? We would of won the series, Beale would be supremo and quite likely Dingo still the coach. Just think about that for a sec. But no, Beale slipped, missed and the doors slid open/closed in a different way.

Of all Cheks selections this coming weekend, for QC personally I hope the gamble pays off if for no other reason than he gets to expunge 2011 from his psyche. This is his chance at inner redemption from which to resettle his still-restless soul and become the fulcrum we all know deep inside he could/would/should be. Think of the heights he can rise to with a win this weekend?

Quade Cooper vs Argentina

This alone makes his selection commendable as a human touch as much as anything else. No matter what else happens in his life, QC can’t say Cheks gave him no shot at resurrection and this chance will motivate QC like nothing else could.

However personal generosity aside, why has this coach selected him at 10 for such a massive game? Why does he make such “out of the box” selections continuously?

For me the QC decision is indicative of the 4 things driving Cheks at the moment:

1. Bill is the main game. Make no mistake that this weekend whilst important is a sub-plot to Bill. Why? Well number one it’s Bled vs Bill and Bill counts. Number tow imagine the damage to a team if this WAS No1 and they bombed? Would/Could they recover for Bill after investing so heavily in this? Highly unlikely.

2. Because Bill is the main game, experimentation is still the driving opportunity in the lead-up to Bill. The opportunity is there so take it. Thinking otherwise is short-term. And to be fair, we won the Tri-Nations in 2011 too, but who gave a shite when we bombed Bill?

3. Denials to the contrary, the Super Finals taught Checks quite brutally that you can’t keep doing the same shite and think the opponents won’t get creative. Such predictability is death. So he is now quite deliberately not allowing his opponents to settle. To be clear, this is a non-core issue in that I don’t think it’s change for the sake of change alone, but if an opportunity for change is presented through other considerations then he will take it if for no other reason than to deny an opponent predictability. He doesn’t fear altering a side for a reason – he embraces it as a tactic.

4. This is the big one for me – it’s all about team culture and player expectations. Now I must confess I am a bit of a cynic about culture. I am wary of too much time on the mental and not enough time on the grind. But even I see that one of the greatest contributors to the decade long black hole of rugby we fell into post 2003 Bill was that there simply was that certain folk were allowed to be deemed “untouchable”.

Those amigos

Those amigos

This gave rise to the situation of breeding ultra-precocious crap represented by none-better than the 3 Amigo’s and the famous “hot-tub” pic and the rejoinder to every ARU contract reneg which was “I’ll go to league!”. That virus even led to the disgraceful downfall of a truly great servant to Aus rugby (Link). Now this malaise being broken has been contributed to by a number of factors: deeper pool of players from new Franchises and pathways and a more sensible selection policy.

But to be more precise, Cheks has broken that malaise in under twelve months. Think your spot is safe? Boom! You’re benched or not even in the 23. You think you can position things so you’re untouchable? Pow! And now suddenly no one is Tweeting before a game anymore and no one is missing a team bus are they? And has anyone missed a team photo-shoot lately? Hmmmm…

So in regards to Mr Cheks I say good luck to you. You make your selections that I don’t get and you swing your golf club as hard & often as you like as to-date the proof of your madness is in the pudding. The positive changes implemented under your tenure have not only resulted in a fair degree of success, but more for me has restored some faith and pride in Oz rugby with a side truly competitive, a scrum to be proud of, some toughness and selflessness in the play and a depth of players hitherto unforseen let alone experienced.

Go you good thing. I for one have faith in you.

  • Patrick

    Actually, I think Cheiks is paid a bonus linked to ratings…

    • Jimmydubs

      Or GAGR has a side arrangement where they redirect advertising ‘clicks’ income to Cheiks

      • Bobas

        GaGR is rolling in it. Cheiks orders 10 mccaw stubby holders a day.

        • Kiwi John

          Bobas, my shop link isn’t working. Do you know where I can get those McCaw stubbies? I’ve got a couple of Aussie mates here that I’d like to buy one for. I may even send one to the man himself, he’d appreciate it I’m sure

        • Bobas

          The bank called and said there could be a series of catastrophic events leading to a zombie apocalypse if they had to add another zero to the GaGR war chest, so they stopped selling them.

          I’m actually not sure mate sorry.

  • Patrick

    On a more serious note, I agree, how great is it to have players knowing that they really WILL be replaced if they don’t perform. Guys like Palu, Skelton, Douglas and QC may or may not “pull it off”, but they’ll know for damn sure they are out there to prove it, and guys like Toomua and White come on knowing that they can play their way into the starting team. Fantastic.

    • Hambone

      its the way its meant to be no… big BIG game looming tomorrow… cant wait

      • Patrick

        I am one up one most of you, 09:25 (that’s am!) kick off here, only downside is the possibility of ruining the whole day….

  • Excellent and true.

  • Rob Malcolm

    Great points all. If he can get the QC mojo back to 4 years ago (without the off-field crap) then we really will have a bona fide miracle-worker in our midst.

  • Lachy Brown

    Don’t underestimate the Cheika. He’ll expect him to tackle like Stirling Mortlock, run straight like Jonah Lomu and throw long passes at speed to Izzy…like Quade Cooper.

    • TheMountain

      and throw hospital passes to everyone else… like Quade Cooper?

      • bad ass

        What utter trash. Hatcheting a good player because of some bias or dislike you have for him. Put on your black blouse, go to Auckland and join in the booing of the Wallabies there.

        • TheMountain

          So um… Yeah mate, hate to say i told you so but… well

        • bad ass

          Told me what? Are you still hatcheting QC? You know nothing about rugby if you think he is the reason we lost. We had two yellow cards the week prior.

        • TheMountain

          nah mate, the errors, hospital passing and crap defence. doesn’t pain the picture of a starting wallaby to me…

  • sebastian francis

    Amen. I hope Quade brings it.

  • Greg Dodwell

    I’m not a coach … and … how about factors like expected ground conditions at Eden Park, how well some of the “lads” trained Tues. afternoon, the outcome of the coaching team meeting Tues night? Is it true Cheiks is in line for a tasty bonus if (excuse me, once) Bill is won? Gotta admit, I felt a little queasy reading that QC is flyhalf … but you know what, even if the Wallabies lose against the NZ 1st XV, I’m confident they’ll still play a mighty game with heart, balls, mongrel and commitment! So glad Cheika’s shaking things up!

    • Seb V

      “heart, balls, mongrel and commitment” – I don’t think the likes of Palu, Skelton and Douglas have shown this at Test level yet. But the potential is there and I hope Cheika gets the best out of them. Cooper is less of a risk then those in my opinion.

      • mark conley


        • Seb V

          He’s named on the bench if you didn’t notice.

        • mark conley

          Seb, what i was querying was that you included him in the list that (lacked), “heart, balls, mongrel and committment”;

      • PC Joy

        “Those” are the biggest risk to Cooper.

        • chris

          You don’t really watch do you.

    • moaning expat

      I’m loving Cooper at 10. I’m a still amazed at the negativity. 1 I think he deserves it – his last games in NH were great and he’s been over critisized last time out. 2- I don’t think you can underestimate the public interest in terms of money. You can’t tell me QCs involvement won’t increase ratings by a decent factor. Probably.by a serious factor.
      As for checks getting a big boney for winning bill? What kind of comment is that? . I for one would be pretty upset if he didn’t get one.
      Last I checked (pardon the pun) motivation dedication pride and pride in the jersey doesn’t mean cash motivation can’t be involved. I like the company and people I work for but I’m not doing it for free and the end of year bonus is a factor. But not the only one.

      • Greg Dodwell

        @moaning expat I agree when Quade is “on”, he’s brilliant. When it comes to click-count on this site, Quade’s king. He hasn’t played enough Super 15 or Test games in 2015 for me to feel confident in his playing ability.

        • moaning expat

          Vwey fair point bit Neither has nick white played much test rugby and what he has played has been sub par. His super rugby was just ok
          Yet everyone singing his praises for 10 minutes.

        • Keithy

          Agree – for mine White is the biggest threat to our success this weekend. He is average at best in Super 14 and disastrous at test level. 10 minutes doesn’t make a career, if he can feed Cooper decent ball I am sure Quade will play well. I’m a Tahs man but I fear half the momentum behind Foley’s rise has simply been that he’s not Quade. I feel Quade has the skills to flourish in the nthn hemisphere come WC time. Start of which we will see Saturday.

        • moaning expat

          I just hope QCs performance on this forum is looked at objectively. He’s been given the opportunity though to perform in the tightest test there is pre WC. I think even quade can appreciate the fact if he fails here he has got no one else to blame but himself. Cheks has given him the rope to hang himself. But I’ll be bloody annoyed if the team fails and the blame gets shoved on his shoulders. And I’m a tahs fan. Foley and white don’t have it.
          If qc fails I’d pick giteau at 9

        • chris

          You know it won’t be looked at objectively! You speak sense that few on here do. Nick White terrifies me but fingers crossed..if in london see you at the Sun in Richmond world cup days!

        • chris

          Best 10 mins he’s ever had in an ocean of mediocrity. Even my diehard Brumbies friends back home not sad about his departure.

        • TheMountain

          I have seen Quade individually lose more matches at test level than I’ve seen him win…

        • chris

          Really?? It’s a team game..but it’s always his fault to some people, forget the scrum falling apart in front of him!

          I think the stats show that when QC has started at 10 he has the greatest winning percentage of any Wallaby 10, over 70%.Better than Larkham,Lynagh and Ella during a period that we haven’t been great..

    • Dally M

      Yes, when Cheika negotiated his package it there was quite large incentive bonuses for the Rugby Championship, The Bledisloe and Bill.

  • I’mAnIdiot

    I expect a massive forward game. With Skelton playing, he can tire the defense. I respect that Chelka has gotten rid of comfort zones. It is the RWC yr n i hope his plan is the greater mgmt of player fatigue.

  • Bobas

    The back line has been my fantasy back line for quite some time. The balance it brings in defence and both regular and counter attack is undeniable. White has a distance kicking game to rival Latham, Gerrard and Mogg… I just wish Simmons was fit so we could see he and Horwill and the Fardy pooper start and have Skelly remain as a finisher with Mumm and McMahon replacing the jumper or jumpers.

    I feel sorry for Tomane, because decision making and catching-wise he is a very good winger but probably does not involve himself enough in the crash ball and rucking, I still think a hat trick in SA against their best super rugby side should book his tour to the world cup, he’s like a younger D.Ioane…

    • Chinese Dave

      I’m sure Tomane will be on the plane, and also that he’ll get some play time. He’s too good a talent to leave behind. He’s only 25 so he’ll get a chance to be a full time starter next WC and in the meantime, he’ll make a contribution and be involved with the team.

      • Braveheart81

        I can’t see both him and Speight making the RWC squad. It will only be one of them because they offer such similar things.

        • Chinese Dave

          Yeah, that’s a good point which I ignored, I wasn’t thinking of who he was competing with for a spot. You’re probably right.

  • Tah fan

    Time to shut the haters up.
    New team, new game plan, new strengths. Bring on the darkness!

  • The Rant

    If he was betting like this in a casino – alarm bells would be going off in the managers office. Will he break the house?

    • Old_Laurentian

      Alarm bells may well be going off In the ABs camp. Didn’t see this one coming any more than we did.

  • Gooddog

    Chieks – “Fark it – I’m gunna win. With this team. In your house.”

  • Gooddog
    • astamax

      OMG Brilliant.

    • Nutta

      Looks a bit like my dad…

      • Will

        A bit like mine as well….wait….what?!

        • Nutta

          I used to comment to dad that he shouldn’t get around with no shirt on and on all fours like that. It confuses the locals.

      • Chiller

        Nutta, I’ve watched your posts for a while, and there is a serious ‘Dad’ thing that you’re just going to have to deal with at some point.

        • Nutta

          Dealt with ‘em. That’s why I can laugh about the bastard these days!

      • Parker

        The one with the bat or the bear?

    • Aron

      Hansen should have kept the moustache (that pet of his is going to get another flogging if they lose this weekend)

  • jamie

    Let’s not mess with Cheika’s formula that is, messing with the formula.

  • subfreq

    It would appear that Cheika is less concerned with the Bledisloe than the broader RWC roadmap.

    The damage was done to the AB’s last week with what was close to what will be our RWC first 15 except for maybe the halves (baring injury). He set damage to the AB psyche last week because we won.

    Now Cheika is hammering this home. By effectively selecting a team that has no chance of winning any victory they take will be slightly hollow. The AB prep was already going to be rampant in the light of McCaw and Carter playing their last game on NZ soil.

    It is borderline piss-take from Cheika, sticking two fingers up selecting a player who should garner boos and unceremonious treatment all night and I like it. It gives Cooper every opportunity to shine and if he does it could just be electric.

    As the picture below in the thread suggests. Lets bait the bear and stand up to what comes our way.

    • SpeedyG

      It’s an absolute masterstroke I will be looking to see the crowd behaviour anything unsportsman like will blight the final home match of the All Blacks so Quade will be even every opportunity…

    • Gringo

      10 man rugby for 30min, scrum will make a statement, Quade will kick for position; big boppers wear them out down the middle. Pocock comes on, Quade goes wide. Glory days!

  • Langthorne

    It looks like I’m the only one who likes the changes Chieka has made to the team. I will admit that two of the changes – Pocock to the bench, Douglas on the bench instead of a specialist 9 – do make me nervous, but overall even those could work. Chieka, and his team, have my confidence, so I’m able to view his changes in a positive light.

    A 6/2 bench, with Skelton and Palu starting, suggests that Chieka wants the forwards to smash it from the outset – big hits, pick and drives, forwards looking to power over the gainline, recycle and repeat. With very able reserves available, there is no excuse for Skelton or Palu not to go hard for the first half. There have been some suggestions that Palu does not perform in the gold jersey. That is complete rubbish – he has all the requisite skills and power, and has been consistently highly valued by his fellow Wallabies in their internal MVP awards. He is not an 80 min prospect, but that is ok – he can go nuts for 30 – 40 mins and then we can bring on, um, POCOCK! Likewise, Skelton attracts a lot of criticism, which I feel is more justified. He is more limited than Palu, so needs to show his worth by being outstanding in the rest of his game. He has it in him to do it, and knowing that he doesn’t need to conserve energy for an 80 min stint means this is his chance to do it against the best. Again, bring on the reserve at around half time. I have no issue with Douglas’ ability, nor his previous performances in gold (some good, some not). If he is fit, then he is a great addition.

    White deserves a run after showing some good form off the bench last week, and Phipps was up and down – no entitlement right Nutta?

    Mitchell played well last week, but his left foot kicking point of difference is covered by 9-12. Therefore, it is high time we see Speight doing the same stuff for the Wallabies as he has been doing for the Brumbies for years (check out the highlights videos if you don’t remember).

    Cooper at 10 is absolutely the right choice. I have been a critic of Cooper’s in the past (certainly pre 2011), but it is clear to me that he could be key to winning this weekend. He has improved in his previous weak points – his defence as a 10 is good, and he is much better at biding his time rather than looking for the miracle ball all the time. If he can take the line when needed (the way he used to), then he’ll be a handful for the Kiwis. Also, Cooper has shown that he has the skills and discipline to execute a variety of game plans. This week, I suspect we’ll be trying to play a long way from our own line. With the forwards getting him decent ball, Cooper has the kicking game to pin the Kiwis down.

    Toomua has only done good things so far this international season (apart from getting knocked out), so he deserves a start, and Cooper deserves to have our strongest 12 beside him in a Bledisloe Cup decider.

    Chieka wants to win, and has selected a team to do it.

    • moaning expat

      Spot on

    • McWarren

      My only disagreement is the inclusion of Douglas otherwise every change and associated risk is worth it. I hope all my previous concerns and criticisms of Palu and Skelton are proven wrong though I have my doubts.

      • Patrick

        Exactly. I’d love to see Skelton smashing them out of his way.

    • Patrick

      You are not the only one by a mile

    • Chiller

      Terrific post. Well thought out and articulated. Genuine knowledge.

  • Gottsy

    Still have no idea what the hell cheika is doing, but I like it.

    • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

      Yep. I’ve gone past the ‘WTF’ stage and now I’m entering the ‘YES’ stage.
      I’m backing him to have discussed this with his coaching staff, who I consider pretty smart, and they reckon, even with what’s a stake, that it’s well worth a shot.
      So…………I’m having an internal discussion with myself “let go”……..”no I’m comfortable here”……….” I sad LET GO”. And I’m letting go.

      • Gottsy

        Hahaha yeah I understand completely. At first I was shocked but then I realised that I didn’t really care as much about the Bledisloe as I do about bill. Hopefully he has the whole squad in tune and we can get it done

      • Nutta

        Hold on 3B’s. You just said WTF. I believe that’s the first time I’ve seen you swear…

        • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

          ‘What’s That For’? ……I swear.
          Actually on game day our lounge room converts into a ‘supporters hot spot’. Team colours, singing the anthem, raising a glass when we do something well. You get the idea.
          Luckily we live on acreage because anyone peaking through the windows would think it’s a mad house, what with the good Missus jumping up and down on the sofa, biting on a cushion and me yelling ‘colourful language’ at the TV. The old dog used to skulk out of the room and find a quiet corner, but now he’s stone deaf and snores peacefully through the entire Rugby experience.

  • Robson

    Every coach I know wants to win the next game in front of him and I don’t believe any level of experimentation is a bigger goal than that. Is Cheika any different? I strongly suspect he’s not. I strongly suspect he wants fervently to win this test match and the next one and the next one and the several dozen others that follow it. If he is experimenting with selections for this test to gain some sort of insight into the right combos for the RWC, I would be very surprised. He has made the selections he has, I believe, because that’s the way he functions and – as someone else has remarked – the uncertainty of his modus operandi gets the best out of the men who take the park. I think he is looking more for a formula that gets the best out of players and less of a formula to catch the opposition unawares; although there is a bit of the latter in it too. The Eden Park crowd will be as churlish as usual, but I believe Quade will be more than equal to it. And I also believe that Cheika knows that. The Pooper isn’t in the run on side, but it’s a very rare specialty and maybe Cheika doesn’t want to over use it and give the opposition time to work it out. If it has to be used bring it on in the last quarter and throw the ABs into immediate panic. Anyway that’s my thinking about the coach’s selections for this test match.

    • I think you might be right on all counts. Just imagine if QC has a blinder and Palu, Douglas and Skelton play out of their skins, the Wallabies then have incredible options in gameplans and positions approaching the WC. If they don’t, we can revert to a team that has just beaten the ABs

      • Aron

        Yep. We are going to be better informed after this game even if last week’s line up is possibly better.

    • Hakkon

      I reckon you might be on the money there – If we look at the reserves – he’s picked an entire tight 5… imagine rolling on all of that with 30 to go… (Maybe keep Squeak on.. but the effect would be much the same). Bring on Pocock and you get the Pooper, a new tight five and Fardy. To me it’s clear he wants to smash them into oblivion… If they lose Retallick or Whitelock – then their scrum is in further trouble.. I also like how he’s not giving them another big look at the Pooper – even though they’ve picked their team to combat it (Vito). For the first time in a long time, it seems as if the Wallabies have the initiative – NZ are reacting to what happened last week, Cheika has already moved on and is doing something different this week…

      Game on.

      • Benny A’s Tackle

        “Wallabies have the initiative.” Lovely summary, got to agree with you. Palu and Skelton signal a entirely different strategy; and the 6/2 bench just means we are ready to switch strategy with a couple of substitutions. The NZ war room is presumably a gasp.

  • Seb V

    Why is there so much focus on Quade, is he really an “out of the box selection?” I 100% disagree with his. He has proven his worth at Test level in the past and the other 10’s have not. Foley had his shot and it didn’t go well so I don’t think its a big call to give some-one else a shot. Quade is rightly next in line – maybe Toomua is hard done by but he is better served at 12. I think Palu, Skelton, and Douglas, and dropping the Pooper is 100 times more “out of the box” then selecting Quade.

    • Nutta

      Your point is valid – I confess I only chose him as a focal point given his polarising popularity and to illustrate the point. The next “best” would have been the Pocock/Hooper struggle followed by the Locks combination. My point is that I admire what Cheks is doing by being so mobile in his selections in that it has created a situation of player depth & rotation, prevented over-capitalisation in one single moment, hampered the ability for opponents to prepare but most importantly created a self-renewing hunger in the Wobblies squad. The result of this is – to date – we are winning. So go you good thing! Go!

      • Seb V

        Great response Nutta!

      • YBT

        I agree with most of this. The one sticking point is this has, in my opinion, aided the AB preparation. These blokes know exactly how they want to play against a team with Quade at 10 – apply pressure in defence and buckets of it. Let’s hope Quade has Speight on his inside shoulder and a couple of running options outside every time he gets the pill.

        • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

          Seems to me that “apply pressure in defence and buckets of it” would be the way to go for the Nuns regardless of who has 10 on their back. No?

        • jamie

          If Quade is on, this will be our best backline in years. Loving the 6/2 split as well.

          Certainly has to be tested to see how it goes, especially if we’re running with Skelton/Palu. Neither of them can give 100% for 80. Skelton is getting there but I’d rather see 80 min from Kev than Skelton.

        • Braveheart81

          I think Palu will be subbed at half time for Pocock. I definitely think Skelton has more minutes in him these days than Horwill. Horwill was spent last week when he was replaced before the 60 minute mark (he played very well though).

          Mumm didn’t have the ability to give it everything for the 80 minutes either (few tight forwards do). It was notable that he was less involved particularly in the second half of the first half presumably with the knowledge that he was required to play 80 minutes.

        • Dally M

          And that will be the exact moment that Toomua strikes…hopefully.

          While they are focused on Quade he will draw the defence and then offload out the back and around the corner to Toomua & then out to Speight/Izzy cutting through….hopefully.

      • Damo

        I hope Cheiks has had Cliffy sitting in front of Totai K and Vermulen highlights reels all week i.e. gainline busts, smash the breakdown, no resting!

    • Simon

      Agree. He’s made far less errors than Foley in their respective games at 10. Doesn’t matter though. If we lose is going to be all Quade’s fault no matter how he plays. I’d love to see Quade and Gits involved in a big win just to prove Robbie Deans wrong twice in the same game.

  • Kiwi John

    I think Quade has grown up, however I can’t say the same for the Eden Park crowd and I think he’ll get a hard time. I’m preparing to be embarrassed by it now. IMO Toomua is by far the best No 10 in Australia and him and Giteau make a pretty formidable team. Cheika has made some bold decisions and this week will be interesting. I think his trials are working and more and more it looks like you guys will get out of your pool well, I so hope you beat both England and Wales.

    I agree Nutta that the aim of the game is Bill and if, at the end of the year the Wallabies have the Rugby Championship and the World Cup a lot of people won’t care that the Bledisloe Cup is still with NZ. The year will have been a success for the ARU. Not sure there won’t be some disappointed people here but that disappointment is what drives the rivalry and makes these matches so special. Here’s to a great game.
    I’m sorry but I hope the AB’s win and if we don’t I’ll be gutted. Still if we don’t and win the RWC the year will still be a success for me.

    • Nutta

      We will care if we don’t have Bled. Just because we lose something with aggravating regularity doesn’t mean we don’t still want it. I think it was the Dalai Lama who said “Don’t mistake my tolerance for acceptance”.

      But we will care more if we don’t have Bill.

      Don’t be bashful & sorry about wishing the best for your AB’s. They are consistently and inarguably the best team in the world. That’s worthy of praise and expectation on your part – and baleful glares on ours.

      And I acknowledge you as a fair and welcome contributor to these pages

      • Dingleberry Hufflethwaite III

        Well said

  • Old_Laurentian

    Thoughtful article and on the money. More than I could say for Greg Growden’s pathetic piece for ESPN

  • Observer

    It’s a fairly solid back line really.
    Cooper and Toomua have performed well in the past as a paring.
    Kuridrani hasn’t really hit the mark yet but we may see a big game from him with Toomua on the inside and Speight on his outside.
    That’s a solid Brumbies combo there.
    You’ve got AAC who you know will just bust his guts and give us a solid performance and then Folau to inject himself from full back.
    Gits can cover scrumhalf as we saw and Beale can cover 10, 12, wing or full back however I wouldn’t be surprised to see AAC move into the centres should Toomua need replacing…. or perhaps even Hooper.
    In the forwards we’ve got a big pack and the majority of the starters from last week that did so well and pretty much the same bench to cover them all with the addition of Kane there to get some game time and see how he goes. There are some very able replacements there.
    I’m prepared to be surprised and have no doubts the ABs will be stinging a little from last week and will be out for some revenge.
    It’s always tough against the Darkness but any perceived weaknesses in this Wallabies team or lack of starch or ability to perform should be put on ice.
    The ABs have everything to lose.

    • harro

      Can’t see Hooper playing at 12. Sure, Dean’s did it once but Cheika has not done at all in his three years at the Tahs, even when Beale was out injured. It’s not that I don’t think he’d make a good 12 but his real strength is his high involvement, which is something the team would lose with him at 12

      • Braveheart81

        Also, Deans only did it because we only had 6 backs capable of being on the field due to injuries.

      • Skelton’s manager

        Skelton can always move to 12 and give Ma’a the repeated sensation of floating backwards in space

        • Patrick

          Except the other way around, I know who I trust to hit harder

        • TheMountain

          I trusted Schalk to hit harder, the only thing he hit harder was the deck

        • Patrick

          fair point, I certainly hope it works out that way.

      • Patrick

        Possibly because Cheika is not friggen batshit crazy??

  • RobC

    Thanks for the post. But I think we’re spending too much time focusing on QC

  • Funk

    I just want to point out that Cheika has a 100% win record against the AIGs!..and here’s hoping it’s still the same come Sunday morning.
    I think Palu’s really needs to step up for this game…he has normally been MIA V MIB…we need 45 – 50mins of him going as hard as his body will let him then bring in Pocock to finish off. Come on Cliffy, “Go hard or go home”

  • Dally M


  • Bizzare

    You had me until you promoted Link as a great servant of the game, any blame for his downfall lies with himself, you reap what you sow. As for the rest, Cheika is the first in a line of coaches where he has the luxury of having with the exception of Pooper, the best players available actually the specialists in their positions, the previous 3 coaches had great players, but as an example the 3 best backs were all fullbacks or wingers, the coaches put the best available players on the pitch, but not necessarily in their specialist position. This is where depth is showing, with expectations, Pooper is so good they have to be able to play together, even with Pocock playing out of position, pressure on Cliff or he stays at home. With Genia out this is for White to own and he has the opportunity this weekend. I’d guess that the game plan is parity or just ahead until Cliff is busyb at 50min then to come over the top with Pooper and Toomua, the Poopua?

    • Pclifto


      • Bizzare

        I figure that is how the game will finish and while there are comments about how other coaches learn to adapt to styles, ala the S15 semi, if the Poouma hits the field 10 behind or on par the opposition game plan will be out the window and it’s on for young and old!

    • Nutta

      I reckon that’s harsh on Link. Really harsh actually. But in this country we are allowed to have different opinions.

      • RobC

        noticed it too, then ignored it

      • bizzare

        I would have agreed except the way he went after the Wallabies job; unfortunately you are typically remembered by the great unwashed by the last set of perceptions, I don’t doubt Link has done a lot for rugby at a micro level, but at a macro level and in this context a comparison of Wallabies coaches, I can only go from what I have read on the press, which creates perception, which is reality. I think he was harshly done at the Waratahs, but he actively went after the Wallabies job, from how the Qld rugby position was set up early in the season, when RD was “safe” to his inference “I know how to beat the ABs” and the rest is history. Unless I missed something Di P stood up for herself and got a result. Link has been noticeably quiet, RD oozes dignity, EM head down, no smoke without fire? KB, not knowing anything other than from the media still not sure if he would have kept his job in any other work place in the country.

        • Parker

          Are you knocking EM for showing some ambition to “actively [go] after the Wallabies job”? I would have thought that a very good thing, made better by the high service to the country by getting rid of Robbie Deans.

  • BigG

    Have we not moved beyond judging Cheika in relation to the reasons McKenzie left?
    Cheika is trying combinations with a view to the World Cup rather than going all-out for the Bledisloe. Makes sense.

  • Ozzytraders

    Spot on, mate, the main game is Bill, but there is another speed bump along the way, called the “pool of death”. Come third, you go home, come second you are on the wrong side of the quarters draw, and probably end up playing both the Boks and the AB’s – don’t get me wrong, you still have to win every game on the climb to victory, but there are paths and there are paths…I don’t know about you, guys, but I’m barracking for the French on Sunday morning

  • galumay

    The only selection I have an issue with is QC, but I guess Cheika had to give him another run sometime to see if he was worth the risk. It just seems odd to throw him into a game against the AB’s at Eden Park, he is already under the pressure of playing for a place in the squad and trying to find form that has long eluded him and overcome what looks like a loss of self confidence – now his chance comes in the highest pressure cauldron in world rugby.

    I hope for his sake, as well as the Wobblies, that he can turn in a solid game, without crumbling under pressure or reverting to poor judgement, high risk plays.

  • PC Joy

    The quotes are from the NZ Herald

    Saint Rechie McCheat calls for crowd to boo Cooper.

    Headline: “Richie McCaw: Crowd can help us intimidate Cooper”

    “He’s the fly-half of their team and we want to make it as tough a night for him as
    possible. That’s what I’m worried about and if the crowd help out with
    that…… that would be good.”” he said.

    Apparently 15 All Blacks is not enough. He wants to add another 50,000 to the team.

    Meanwhile Cooper’s Grandmother springs to Australia’s defense telling the crowd to get over it.

    “If they boo, I’ll get cross” she said.

    “Wallabies captain Stephen Moore said of the noise around Cooper’s
    selection: “That’s all peripheral stuff, isn’t it? He’s had a good week of
    training. We’ve got full faith in him and we’re looking forward to having him
    out there tomorrow night.”

    Then Cheika weighs in with this..

    “He has also given a clear message to the recalled Cooper, a No10
    who has endured some painful nights at Eden Park, to play his normal game
    without worrying about making the World Cup squad. That is already a given, he

    Now that will settle Cooper and ease the minds of a few people here.

    • bad ass

      Ritchie may be a God to some but to me he has been a referee protected whinger. He is certainly not a gracious loser. Fancy asking the crowd to boo the opposition 5/8. Pathetic.

      • Derano

        QC said he had no problem with it. He doesn’t care about the noise.

  • Jj

    your a joke if you don’t believe in culture in a team. Btw green and gold, who let this joker write this article

  • HK Red

    And if Halfpenny hadn’t missed that kick on the buzzer in the second test, then it would still be one all and same result. Could have, should have, whatever mate.

  • alphonce

    no comment required

  • bad ass

    I love the fact the New Zealand AIG’s are going for Quade. The real battle should be up front. Quade should play his position conservatively with field position until the last 20, when every ones tired and the pooper is on the field. A bit like the rope-a-dope, they can unleash at the end.

  • Spank

    I guess we will know tonight. Like everyone I am hoping the team believes in itself enough to win it. Disappointed to hear though (from PR comments) that this is not a ‘test’ for Cooper and he has been assured (like Foley) that he is already on the plane for the WC. Really hope that reporting is wrong and that he still has to prove himself. I hope he turns in a blinder but really dislike the idea that certain guys apparently DON’T have to step up. Seems very ‘unCheika’.

  • Tony Dun

    Thanks Nutta great piece. Always enjoy your writing.

    • Nutta

      Cheers Tony. You don’t happen to be mates with Rupert Murdoch are you? I need a job…

  • Bradley Bullen

    Well it seems like the experiment worked As soon as qc was named in the starting 15 it was obvious this game was being thrown to lull the kiwis into a false sense of security. If qc goes to the World Cup the Wobblies will be lucky to make the quarters!

  • Bradley Bullen

    Seriously, if Quade Cooper goes to the World Cup in any other role than carrying drinks, the Wobblies won’t get out of the pool stage.


Underfed front-rower with no speed or ball skills. Started playing footy in the 70's and still going. Can't remember the last time I passed on a ball, beer or karaoke mike. Motto - "Meat and potatoes first. Then gravy. And you don't put gravy on the plate first Boy."

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