Five talking points from Super Rugby Round 16

Charlie Lawry Roar Guru

By , Charlie Lawry is a Roar Guru

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    Here are five talking points to come out of Super Rugby in Round 16.

    1. The Brumbies aren’t finals material
    The conference system is an unmitigated mess. As we look forward to next year’s rejig, one element remains a problem – the automatic finals spot for conference winners.

    The Brumbies getting a free pass to a home final because they topped the group is borderline embarrassing. An overall points table would see them in ninth.

    No doubt they’ll try to make the best of the format quirk. Their defence is solid if nothing else. But I think we all expected a little more endeavour under the tutelage of Stephen Larkham. Their last-minute loss to the Reds on Friday made for grim viewing.

    2. Koroibete at the ready for Rugby Championship
    Marika Koroibete is staking a real claim for a Wallabies wing spot. The former NRL flyer has been steadily improving and capped it off with a first half double on Friday against the Force. It was surprising not to see him feature at all in the June Tests given Michael Cheika’s rotation of outside backs.

    Week by week, he’s becoming more involved and more influential. He’s an abrasive ball-runner with the ability to finish, and he’s strong in defence. In a struggling team, he’s been a standout performer. Play him while he’s hot, Cheik.

    Marika Koroibete of the Storm runs with the ball during the Round 20 NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and the Sydney Roosters at AAMI Park in Melbourne, Saturday, July 23, 2016. (AAP Image/David Crosling)

    (AAP Image/David Crosling)

    3. The Force are going down swinging
    It’s the saga that’s dragged on and on throughout the season. Who’ll get the chop ‒ the Rebels or the Force? The ARU has sat on its hands, hoping the decision will be made for them.

    Well, if it was purely on merit, the Force would survive. They’ve shown infinitely more fight than their Melbourne rivals. Friday’s 31-22 victory in Perth was a case in point. It can’t be easy to play with such an uncertain future, but the men from the west are doing their darndest.

    With just one round remaining, they sit second in the conference. If they roll the Tahs in Perth next week ‒ and that’s a fair shout on current evidence ‒ there’s every chance they’ll end up with the same amount of wins as the Brumbies. What then?

    4. The wheels have fallen off at the Waratahs
    No Australian team has covered themselves in glory this year, but the Waratahs are perhaps the biggest waste of potential. No team has a showcased a larger gulf between their best and worst form. Unfortunately for the Tahs, we’ve seen far more of the latter.

    They’ve shipped an obscene amount of points, including 40 or more in each of their last three games. The majority of these have come in the first half, forcing them to play catch up.

    Their penchant for comebacks suggests it’s not an issue of fitness. But they demonstrably don’t have the poise to build a game from scratch, or when it matters. You’d be tempted to call them valiant defeats, but valiance doesn’t really apply when you’re the one handicapping yourself.

    After next week, the Waratahs lose both defence coach Nathan Grey and forwards coach Cam Blades, and lack the funds to replace them. This puts even more responsibility on the shoulders of head coach Daryl Gibson. Someone pass me a drink…and keep them coming.

    5. Australian rugby hasn’t earned a holiday
    Any fan will tell you, the basic skills in the Aussie conference have been wretched. It’s not a new problem ‒ poor handling, aimless kicking, non-existent support play, passes behind the man, passive defending, indecision, and ill-discipline are all too prevalent on these shores.

    The Wallabies aren’t in shape for the Rugby Championship. Contractual obligations be damned, I say. Every professional rugby player in Australia should be forced to attend a rigorous skills bootcamp from now right up until the opening fixture of next season.

    It’s a damning indictment of the talent pool, coaching and apparent desire currently on offer in this country. At a time when world rugby is in relative good health, we’re stumbling backwards.

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