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Pretorius return much needed against Raging Bulls

David Lord Columnist

By David Lord, David Lord is a Roar Expert

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    Sarel Pretorius’ long overdue recall for the Waratahs looks set for Friday night and the tough encounter with the in-the-pink Bulls at Allianze Stadium.

    Pretorius debuted with a man-of-the-match performance against the Reds, only to be pipped 25-21 at the post by a runaway try after the final hooter by flying winger Dom Shipperley.

    Those 75 metres Shipperley travelled seems to have defined the season for the underwhelming Waratahs, who were gutted at the time, and for a long time afterwards.

    Pretorius should not have been a subsequent casualty.

    The South African marquee half-back has been cooling his heels on the bench for the last six games while replacement Brendan McKibbin has been keeping the Waratahs in touch with some superb goal-kicking, but not fulfilling his major role as number 9.

    On April 14, I wrote Sarel Pretorius must start for the Waratahs.

    It looks as though that will happen, but it should have been much earlier.

    Fly-half Berrick Barnes will relish the swifter, more accurate, service from Pretorius with the added bonus of trailing his half-back who thrives on making a break from set or broken play.

    Pretorius is a very street smart rugby footballer.

    Those are the qualities he brings to the selection table. And it’s high time Waratahs coach Michael Foley not only re-recognised those talents, but dropped others who have been retained too long on a promise of better things to come.

    In 10 games this season, the Waratahs have only beaten the Rebels twice, Sharks, and the Force.

    Poor pickings.

    They’ve lost to the Reds, Highlanders, Chiefs, Force, Crusaders, and Brumbies. It’s been a story of same old, same old – the Waratahs have largely contributed to their own demise.

    Pretorius will put some bottle into this side. So too Rocky Elsom, who has come off the bench in his first two games of the season.

    He was appointed captain pre-season, and must take over as skipper starting Friday.

    Daniel Halangahu and Benn Robinson have not rattled too many cages while they’ve been at the helm.

    Outside-centre Rob Horne is back from suspension, so too flanker Chris Alcock, after an appendix operation. Two stiffeners.

    On paper it appears all too late to make the play-offs, but you never know.

    What the side desperately needs is a good win against a top side. The Bulls are just that.

    But if the Waratahs play anything like they did against the Brumbies, the Bulls “could well declare at half-time”.

    And that would be that. Shut up shop time.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn’t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world’s great sporting spectacles

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    The Crowd Says (27)

    • May 8th 2012 @ 8:12am
      Albo said | May 8th 2012 @ 8:12am | ! Report

      Seems a rather short article. It seems like you just wanted to say “I told you so” but had to fill it out a little longer to make it look like a proper story.

      I used to be a big McKibbon bagger, but I think he has done a very good job this season and has deserved his starting spot. I agree in some regards to this change because of the nature of the opponent, but when you’ve been fulfilling the role of No. 9 very well (sorry to disagree with you there David) and you have a +90% kicking percentage I’d say that’s very much deserved.

      I don’t think the Rebels did us any favours by bringing it to the Bulls. They’ll be a much tougher opponent this week.

    • May 8th 2012 @ 8:29am
      JM said | May 8th 2012 @ 8:29am | ! Report

      Good Morning,

      Pretorious is a decent player. Probaly just up to Super standard,but a one trick pony. Good running game,poor passing,defense & kicking.

      Surely there is a player of equal ability in Sydney Club Rugby? Or one that could be developed over a season or two?

      He’s most likey a great guy but what has Pretorious contributed to The Tahs this season?

      • Columnist

        May 8th 2012 @ 8:31am
        David Lord said | May 8th 2012 @ 8:31am | ! Report

        JM, he’s been on the bench for more than half the tournament,

    • May 8th 2012 @ 9:07am
      The Bone said | May 8th 2012 @ 9:07am | ! Report

      Cant wait to see Alcock back in action, Jono is just a club rugby player. I thought Berrick played hard last weekend, taking the ball to the line. Cmon Tahs stand up or have a good mad monday in May

      • May 8th 2012 @ 9:56am
        Justin said | May 8th 2012 @ 9:56am | ! Report

        Yes looking forward to seeing Alcock, he has game alright…

    • May 8th 2012 @ 9:49am
      David of Canberra said | May 8th 2012 @ 9:49am | ! Report

      David, I went to the game against the Brumbies on Saturday night and from my seat right behind the tryline in the first half, observed that Adam Ashley-Cooper was not in the game at all – no powerful runs, no breaking of tackles – his intensity seemed to be lacking.

      With the benefit of your experience, is he worthy of a Wallabies jumper based on current form? His form for the Brumbies last year was dreadful (not surprising, given the issues within the team) but he clearly retained the confidence of Robbie Deans.

      I know he gets shuffled around positions because of his versatility but he’s not in the same league as Kurtley Beale as a full-back, he’s not got the same footwork as James O’Connor as a winger – would you say that outside centre is his best position?

      • May 8th 2012 @ 10:03am
        mania said | May 8th 2012 @ 10:03am | ! Report

        dave of c – AAC can cover the entire backline. deans wont drop him (hopefully) as AAC has done everything asked of him. should beale or joc get injured aac is a very handy player.
        i admit that aac has had 2 quiet seasons so far and needs a fire up his a55 to get back into the game.
        one thing u dont take into a/c is aac’s proven temperament at test level. he can be a big game player and rarely panics. test players grow when putting on a national jersey and play better, become stronger, faster. its a long season for test players whose body clocks are set for peaking mid to the end of the super comp.
        aac at the very least has earned the right to prove his worth in a test match even if it is for 1 game.

        • May 8th 2012 @ 11:17am
          David of Canberra said | May 8th 2012 @ 11:17am | ! Report

          Fair points, mania, however, can AAC play fly-half?

          • May 8th 2012 @ 11:39am
            mania said | May 8th 2012 @ 11:39am | ! Report

            Dave of C – he has the skill set for it. cant see why not but it’d be a huge gamble. he has good vision btu whether this translates to a good 1st5 i’d be guessing

          • May 8th 2012 @ 11:53am
            Justin said | May 8th 2012 @ 11:53am | ! Report

            No and he never will.

            • May 8th 2012 @ 11:59am
              mania said | May 8th 2012 @ 11:59am | ! Report

              justin – your not a fan of AAC?
              what really p!sses me off is AAC could’ve been a great player if he were allowed to stay in one position and build a rapport with his team. AAC i feel is what habana was last year. in the worng team and being stifled because of the game plan. both intelligent players that just need to right environment to shine,
              theres heaps wrong with aus rugby but this is one of those side stories that will never make the headlines and people will just think of AAC as an average player.
              AAC has done everything asked of him. maybe he shouldnt have been such a team player

              • May 8th 2012 @ 1:19pm
                Justin said | May 8th 2012 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

                I dont mind him actually. He has been cursed with the “utility tag” though. I actually think he would have been a better league player, left centre and use his big right palm.

                He hasnt the flair for 15 nor the skill set or vision for 10 or 12. I think he is best on a wing and then 13. He is just that level down from being a real gun at Test level. Defends well, runs strongly but doesnt like to pass the ball at all hence wing being a great spot for him.

    • May 8th 2012 @ 9:55am
      Justin said | May 8th 2012 @ 9:55am | ! Report

      The Tahs clearly didnt do their homework when they bought Pretorious. I am have not seen a worse pass on a 9 for a long time in pro rugby.

      Having him at 9 will ensure that Barnes or whoever plays 10 has to stand within about 5 metres of him or the ball may not make it. His left to right pass is about reserve grade standard at best. The ball never spins cleanly, a sure sign his technique is rubbish.

      His running is goo and thats about it. Unfortunately McKibbin had a shocker on Saturday. Either way this wont help the Tahs backs get on the front foot, he just isnt good enough to be a 9.

      • May 8th 2012 @ 12:58pm
        jameswm said | May 8th 2012 @ 12:58pm | ! Report

        Agreed.

        He throws some really wobbly ones. He’s also a defensive liability.

      • Columnist

        May 8th 2012 @ 1:12pm
        Brett McKay said | May 8th 2012 @ 1:12pm | ! Report

        Justin, if you get the chance, have a look at Cronje, the Lions backup scrumhalf – makes Luke Burgess and Pretorius look laser-like in their delivery…

        • May 8th 2012 @ 1:16pm
          Justin said | May 8th 2012 @ 1:16pm | ! Report

          Thanks Brett, I look forward to seeing him now! Geez he must be ordinary!

          • Columnist

            May 8th 2012 @ 1:29pm
            Brett McKay said | May 8th 2012 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

            honestly mate, I haven’t seen more ‘rainbow’ throwing since my very last day on the cricket field…

    • May 8th 2012 @ 10:10am
      Gary Russell-Sharam said | May 8th 2012 @ 10:10am | ! Report

      David I disagree with your assessment of McGibbin as a poor passing halfback. I have watched him for over 5 years now and he has a swift long pass that hits the mark most times. Pretorious is no match in the passing area of halfback play. He may offer a bit more in the darting from the base of the ruck or scrum but he doesn’t kick for goal. If you are comparing the two and you stack up their talents McGibbin would be the better halfback he has a wider range of skills. I doubt that the recent defeat by the Brumbies could be laid at his feet I would suggest other areas of the Tahs game is found wanting. McGibbin and Barnes play quite well together and have reached a good combination, It is out wider that the Tahs falter. And I have to say I thought that they were beaten in the forwards also. If Foley thinks that changing around his halves is the answer, well, that just tells you what the Tahs are up against and is indicative of their season and their performance. IMO the halves are the least of their worries.

      • May 8th 2012 @ 10:33am
        Justin said | May 8th 2012 @ 10:33am | ! Report

        Certainly McKibbin cant be blamed for the loss but he was poor on Saturday night. His passing and his options were both well down on his Crusaders effort which was very good.

      • May 9th 2012 @ 12:53am
        PeterK said | May 9th 2012 @ 12:53am | ! Report

        the tah forwards overall were far better than the brumbies. Look at possession stats, the forward runs, metres, linebreaks. The lineout was better. The scrum marginally ahead. The breakdown down was failry even except for pilfers / turnovers Hooper far better than Jenkins.

        It is the forwards job to get possesion and make hard yards , they did that. It was the inept tahs backline in attack and defence that let them down. The brumbies played as a whole team and the backline was brilliant.

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