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How are the Aussie Super Rugby teams going?

pjbreck Roar Rookie

By pjbreck, pjbreck is a Roar Rookie

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    After the first third of the Super Rugby competition, it is about time I review the progress of the Australian teams. At first glance, the Australian teams have not been performing to the level that they should.

    The good news is the Reds are just hitting their stride, the Rebels are starting to come together, and, the Force are going OK considering their injuries.

    There may even be improvement at the Waratahs, and, with some backline shuffling, at the Brumbies too.

    The best Australian team at the moment is the Reds.

    They can be forgiven for the first two performances, as they were just getting into the competition, even the Crusaders lost in the first round.

    But how fantastic was it to see Cooper, Genia and co. cutting loose over the last couple of weeks?

    Part of their success has to be attributed to Beau Robinson. A lot of talk has been on how good Pocock is, but Robinson has lifted. His work rate is phenomenal.

    It was a tough choice when I made a pre-competition prediction between the ‘Tahs and Reds for top spot. With the Reds in this form, they should be there.

    One of the surprise packets this year has been the performance of the Force. The loss of key players over the last few seasons has spelt doom, but this year they are going far better.

    The big losses to the Reds and Stormers aside, their games have been strong. This has been largely attributed to excellent leadership provided by Nathan Sharpe. He is certainly in the best form of his career and should be one of the first picked for the Wallabies this year.

    James O’Connor has given the Wallabies selectors something to think about as a number 10 option. Giteau and Barnes should be looking over their shoulders.

    Also, Nick Cummins seems to have grown a leg. He has to come into contention for higher honours, as should the back rowers.

    As a new team made up of players from all over the world and rugby league, the Rebels were always going to struggle to get combinations going at the start of the season.

    But the sight of a rejuvenated Striling Mortlock (hasn’t his running and defence been missed at the Wallabies) and forwards doing the hard yards has lead to the team starting to gel. This considering the injury toll augurs well for the Rebels.

    The return of Rodzilla and Mark Gerrard will give the Wallabies selectors more options come RWC time. There is still a ways to go, but, I think as the competition goes on, this team will improve. They may not make the finals, but will certainly create some interesting results and scares for finals contenders.

    I have deliberately left the Waratahs and Brumbies until last. Both teams have been disappointing this year.

    Again on paper, the ‘Tahs have the cattle that should make them unbeatable. So why are they not leading the competition? A good win over the Reds is forgotten with a poor performance against the Cheetahs, and not what I would call a convincing win over the Brumbies.

    There are a few players that so far have not done anything to show they should be in the Wallabies – Beale, Tatafu Polota-Nau and Drew Mitchell being the exceptions.

    Once again they are turning fans away. This is not good for the Waratahs, the Wallabies or Rugby in general. The ‘Tahs need to be the team in the biggest city that draws in the crowds, continually dragging out the ‘winning ugly’ term needs to be dropped.

    So to my Brumbies. I have written previously about where the problems are so I won’t go into it again. Given that there are injuries to key players of Moore, McCabe and Elsom, perhaps I am being too harsh.

    What I will say is that there are positives around the side.

    I think the forwards in particular (except the shambles that was the lineout against the Waratahs) have been going well.

    Dan Palmer is starting to be and will be a great tight head prop, and again will put a smile on the Wallabies coaching staff faces as finally the front row stocks are improving.

    I still can’t see the Brumbies making the finals. Giteau continues to put himself before the team, and while his game improved against the Tahs, he needs to move (hopefully to the bench).

    Again, I cannot believe that with a player in the bin and hard on attack the shot at goal was taken.

    Granted it was a close match, but all it did was give the Waratah’s three minutes of breathing space and time off the yellow card of Carter, plus from the kick off position down the Brumbies half.

    At least Lealiifano at 12 worked well and with the hopeful return of Pat McCabe, should at least spell a victory to the Brumbies soon.

    My original prediction for the Australian conference was:

    1. Waratahs
    2. Reds
    3. Rebels
    4. Brumbies
    5. Force

    The current table is quite different, however the Brumbies are in my predicted position. For mine, the current table is the likely finishing order for the Australian conference.

    I can’t see the Brumbies moving too much higher, unless they go into decline. So my new table is:

    1. Reds
    2. Waratahs
    3. Force
    4. Brumbies
    5. Rebels

    Hopefully some of the momentum being gained by the Australian teams will feed into the Wallabies this year.

    The leadership of Sharpe, the skills and commitment from the Reds and the growth of the Rebels as a team feeding into the Wallaby team can only be a good thing.

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    The Crowd Says (17)

    • March 30th 2011 @ 10:23am
      Deez said | March 30th 2011 @ 10:23am | ! Report

      As much as I love the Reds, we also have to keep in mind that they haven’t yet been tested against the best from the foreign conferences – the next few weeks should prove telling (should beat the Lions away, but I have a feeling will struggle against the fierce defence of the Stormers). Great to see that they are still chancing their arm though (those back-of-the-hand passes and crossfield kicks in goal are what make this game exciting – even if they don’t always come off. Keep it up!).

      Rebels are just starting to come good and I agree will only get better with time. I haven’t watched much of the Force this year, so can’t really comment here, but the Tahs and Brumbies have been attrocious. I think it’s just a slump though – watching the Tahs put it all together against hte Reds a few weeks back suggests to me that they are just a few games away from being back at their best. And the Brumbies have enough talent in their line-up to suggest that with a few tweaks they will be back at the level soon.

    • March 30th 2011 @ 11:13am
      Hammer said | March 30th 2011 @ 11:13am | ! Report

      that was a stupid prediction at the australian conferance wasn’t it

    • Roar Guru

      March 30th 2011 @ 4:08pm
      PeterK said | March 30th 2011 @ 4:08pm | ! Report

      You are being too easy on the Reds, and too hard on the Tahs.

      First of all you say Force had big losses to Reds and Stormers. They lost by 1 point to Reds, hardly a big loss.

      Reds have played 1 quality team so far NSW and they lost that badly. I will wait to judge until they play more quality teams.

      You state that the Tahs have the cattle to make them unbeatable. What a joke. Reds have as good a team on paper. Crusaders EASILY have the best team on paper laden with AB’s. On paper Crusaders are easily the strongest team.

      Brumbies dont have a strong team ATM especially with Elsom and Hoiles and Moore out.

      There is not much between the bottom 3. You do have to remember that Force have won 1 , drawn 1, and lost 3.
      Rebels and Brumbies have won 1 each. Rebels are still to have a bye which will lift their position.

      • March 30th 2011 @ 6:54pm
        TommyM said | March 30th 2011 @ 6:54pm | ! Report

        Rebels have won 2- Canes and Brumbies. 2 more than most predicted for the whole season I’ll add!

      • March 30th 2011 @ 8:18pm
        Ben S said | March 30th 2011 @ 8:18pm | ! Report

        ‘You state that the Tahs have the cattle to make them unbeatable. What a joke. Reds have as good a team on paper. Crusaders EASILY have the best team on paper laden with AB’s.’

        You keep saying this and it is totally unfounded and disingenuous.

        The Crusaders are the best because they play innovative, accurate and powerful rugby, and because they have great player development pathways, not because they are laden with All Blacks. It might have escaped your attention, but players like the Franks brothers and Sam Whitelock, for example, only became All Blacks last season. You ignore the fact that players like Crockett, Flynn, George Whitelock, Eliis etc are hardly legendary All Blacks, and then Fruean and Maitland aren’t Test players either. Dagg is off form and McCaw has been injured.

        The Waratahs have a core of youth and experience, and a blend of solidity and verve, but they are poorly coached and some players lack key skills. That is why they are not as good as the Crusaders, because in terms of caps and experience they match them man for man.

        • Roar Guru

          March 30th 2011 @ 9:05pm
          PeterK said | March 30th 2011 @ 9:05pm | ! Report

          hahahaha what a laugh.

          Since the players made the AB’s last year they are the current and in form AB’s rather than players past it like Waugh.

          Since when did the players have to be legendary AB’s or Wallabies for that matter. That type of player is 1 in a generation and you are lucky if you have 1. Crusaders probably have 2 and with a future one if SBW stays playing for them. So even by that measure they are richly laden. They ARE easily the best team on paper.

          Tahs dont have 1 legendary player, they have maybe 1 world class player. Reds have maybe 1 world class player.

          Thanks for highlighting this fact.

          • March 30th 2011 @ 10:27pm
            Ben S said | March 30th 2011 @ 10:27pm | ! Report

            I’ve already explained this to you: there is no such thing as a current All Black because there is no current All Black squad. Even if that ‘point’ had any real validity to it it would be undermined by the fact that the Waratahs provided the largest collection of players to the most recent Wallaby match day 22.

            I’m going to repeat: The Crusaders are the best because they play innovative, accurate and powerful rugby, and because they have great player development pathways, not because they are laden with All Blacks.
            Players fit into the programme and the side grinds on and on. The Crusaders create All Blacks, All Blacks don’t create the Crusaders. Take Matt Todd as an example, and then consider the fact that Israel Dagg has struggled. The Crusaders machine wrings out the best of average Super players like Crockett, Flynn, Ben Franks, George Whitelock etc.

            Kurtley Beale was one of the better Test players in the world last year, and Turner and Mitchell have proven time and time again they are very good Super players. Then you have an experienced and proven Wallaby front row, Burgess and Barnes etc… The list goes on and on…

            All you’re doing is repeatedly attempting to make excuses for consistently mediocre results, but you don’t have an argument. What you’re saying simply doesn’t stack up on any level.

            • Roar Guru

              March 30th 2011 @ 10:37pm
              PeterK said | March 30th 2011 @ 10:37pm | ! Report

              Just like SBW was a product of the crusaders pathway.

              Just because you explain something doesnt make you correct, that is pretty arrogant.
              Like talking down people.

              The Crusaders easily have the strongest squad, and yes they play to their potential.

              The Tahs dont but even if they did they still would struggle to beat such a star laden team playing so well. Crusaders have the best cattle its that simple.

              I’m not making excuses but its ludicrous for people to claim Tahs have the strongest team on paper and they are failures if they dont win the comp.

              Were they failures last year when they finsihed 3rd higher than Crusaders?

              Just because you have a stance on something doesnt make it right. I still stand by that the current or if you want the most regular test players from the previous season and STARTING is far more relevant than no of caps or having played 5 mins in a test 3 years ago.

              • March 30th 2011 @ 10:52pm
                Ben S said | March 30th 2011 @ 10:52pm | ! Report

                ‘Like talking down people.’

                I’m sorry, I obviously mistook your geniality for sarcasm.

                ‘Just like SBW was a product of the crusaders pathway.’

                What’s your point?

                ‘The Crusaders easily have the strongest squad, and yes they play to their potential’

                That is the point – no they don’t have the strongest squad.

                ‘a star laden team’

                Star laden? Just repeating things endlessly does not make it true.

                ‘Just because you have a stance on something doesnt make it right. I still stand by that the current or if you want the most regular test players from the previous season and STARTING is far more relevant than no of caps or having played 5 mins in a test 3 years ago’

                Doesn’t even make any sense and you’re contradicting yourself.

              • Roar Guru

                March 30th 2011 @ 10:57pm
                PeterK said | March 30th 2011 @ 10:57pm | ! Report

                So Ben S you are seriously saying Tahs have a stronger squad than Crusaders?

                So man for man which players are better I bet you pick more Crusaders.

                If not then which teams are stronger than Crusaders?

                They have the most stars.

              • March 30th 2011 @ 11:14pm
                Ben S said | March 30th 2011 @ 11:14pm | ! Report

                Now you’re making things up. I haven’t at any point suggested the Waratahs have a stronger squad, although I think it’s pretty even: Robinson, TPN, Baxter, Mumm, Waugh, Palu, Burgess, Barnes, Horne, Cross, Mitchell, Turner, Beale… Is that a team of rookies? Am I missing something here?

                My point is that your constant denials have serious flaws: simply being a Test starter five months ago has no relevance to rugby today. It literally has no relevance whatsoever for the simple fact that so much time has passed and things have changed. It also has no relevance due to the fact that certain players don’t play every game on the European tour.

                You also seem to think that being a Test bench player, and not a starter somehow undermines a players credentials as does the fact that you might be a 30 or 60 cap Wallaby but not have been in the most recent Wallaby squad. If Andy Ellis has started the most recent All Black Test (which he didn’t) and Burgess was a bench player for Australia that does not suggest that Ellis is better than Burgess.

                This talk of stars is a nonsense. Stars don’t make a team, which is one of the first points I made. That is why the Crusaders are such a threat, not because of stars, but because of the team, their ethos and the way they are directed by the coaching staff. The Bulls have been utterly crapulent this season and yet possess a squad including Bakkies Botha, Matfield, Spies, Du Preez… Contrast that with the Highlanders, and then think of the Hurricanes… Hore, Nonu, Smith…

              • March 31st 2011 @ 4:05pm
                Funk said | March 31st 2011 @ 4:05pm | ! Report

                So if i get this right according to Ben, Dan Carter and Richie Mc are not current All Blacks??? I’m sure it was only a season or 2 ago that DC came back from injury srtaingh into the abs? And I am absolutley certain Ritchie could sit out the whole season of super rugby with an injury and the walk back into the ab squad.

    • March 30th 2011 @ 7:38pm
      Republican said | March 30th 2011 @ 7:38pm | ! Report

      In a word mediocre due to talent being spread even further to supplement to many top heavy elite teams for a code that does NOT have the support or profile of the remaining competing footy codes on offer here.

      • Roar Guru

        March 31st 2011 @ 11:11am
        Peter Breckenridge said | March 31st 2011 @ 11:11am | ! Report

        I tend to agree, however, the spread is needed longer term. it will hopefully create growth in playing numbers, thus lifting the overall player skill level (well you hope it does).

    • March 30th 2011 @ 11:15pm
      Short-Blind said | March 30th 2011 @ 11:15pm | ! Report

      pj my prediction at the start of the season for OZ conference was REDS, TAHS then FORCE. Nothing I’ve seen thus far has made me change my mind. I’m surprised that others are surprised about how well the force has played (last week excluded). For all those arguing about NZ vs OZ squads/players – whats the point. NZ does have a larger number of quality players hands down – as it should – because Rugby is THE game in NZ where almost every athletic male wants to someday play for the nations iconic AB team. Add in quality development avenues, coaching and the pride in the jersey then it is a wonder that NZ gets beaten at all. Only SA has the level of rugby passion (as a nation) as does NZ (and yes they are No 2 in the world). Unfortunately in OZ rugby is a minority game and we just dont get the athletes + we have limited development pathways and overall poor coaching (Rod McQueen aside). I’m really surprised that the Wallabies do as well as they do. BTW the Crusaders are looking unbeatable and should win the comp by a mile – they would probably beat the AB’s with a team like that!

    • March 31st 2011 @ 7:02am
      Geoff Brisbane said | March 31st 2011 @ 7:02am | ! Report

      Weaker conference with lack of real quality cattle at some levels. Hard to really judge how things really are until teams are on the road away from the comforts of home.My expectation for the next year 2012 is that everyone plays all other teams once and the top 8 play it out for the finals which is why this current concept favours the weaker conference and isn’t a real indicator of depth or lack of.

      Crusaders are a champion TEAM. Tahs are not simple really. Reds are working towards becoming a champion team but really haven’t played the tougher teams yet.

      • Roar Guru

        March 31st 2011 @ 11:05am
        Peter Breckenridge said | March 31st 2011 @ 11:05am | ! Report

        I agree the crusaders are a Team, and not just the starting 15 or even the extended 22. their whole squad is well drilled and know and can execute the game plan.

        I also agree with the Reds building. It will still take another year or so for them to be a good team, but they are at least heading in the right direction.

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