This Wallabies side selects itself

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    The upcoming selection of the Wallabies to play New Zealand in Sydney should not come as much of a surprise to any level-headed rugby follower.

    Assuming there are no injury concerns between now and the opening Bledisloe Cup match, the way I see it is that the only real contentious selection comes at number eight. Otherwise, the side will pick itself.

    It would be remiss of me not to mention the fact that there will always be contentious selections when we have various state allegiances all endorsing their own brethren. If you can put that to one side for a moment, and as Wallaby fans you absolutely should, there really ought not to be any contention at all.

    Let’s start with the front row. Scott Sio, Tatafu Polota-Nau and Allan Alaalatoa should come as no surprise as the starting front-row come August 19th.

    One could argue Stephen Moore could or should be selected but that would be only for sentimental reasons. I believe Moore has hit a point of no return in his career and looks a shadow of his former self out on the paddock. It is evident by his stepping down as Wallaby captain that he sees the writing on the wall himself.

    Sekope Kepu arguably scored the best try ever seen by a prop earlier this year and he does certainly bring a lot more to his game than most tight-heads in world rugby.

    Still, Alaalatoa’s form is overwhelmingly more impressive. He will certainly be the starting Wallaby no three with the elder statesman Kepu to no doubt play an important role from the bench.

    On the other side of the scrum, our loose-head stocks in comparison have all of a sudden become a bit bare. It is quite the opposite to the state of affairs just a few years ago. Nevertheless, the competent Scott Sio, who has battled injury of late, will certainly start if fit, with the pound-for-pound best scrummager in the country, Tom Robertson, set to be his back up.

    To the second row, and the exciting promise of an Adam Coleman and Rory Arnold pairing is too much to ignore. This giant lock pairing might even make the All Blacks look up to take notice.

    In regards to the reserve lock, all I can say is, who cares? Take your pick. I just can’t wait to see Coleman and Arnold take on the almighty Whitelock and Retallick duo.

    Adam Coleman wins a lineout for the Wallabies

    (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    For many, the back-row always seems to be the hardest to select. You need to get the balance right and that can cause all sorts of arguments.

    The fact is that the captain Michael Hooper has earned his spot from five years of winning every individual award he possibly can, bar the big one. An award that, despite having been nominated for, he has not yet won. An award that even the great George Smith was controversially never even nominated for. It is an award that has eluded even three-time nominee David Pocock.

    Yes, that’s right. It is ‘The World Rugby Best Hair Award’.

    I do apologise, I of course mean the ‘World Rugby Player of the Year’ award. It is my contention that Michael Hooper will trump everyone and become the first Wallaby to win that award. You heard it here first.

    Mark my words, Hooper will be named the best player in the world within the next few seasons. This hopefully would finally put to bed all the naysayers’ absurd contention that despite being nominated for this in the past, and despite currently having won not just one but two John Eales medals, as well as four and possibly come September, five Waratah player of the year awards in a row, that somehow he ‘ain’t’ all that good.

    He is. Deal with it.

    At number six there is only one viable selection. Ned Hanigan. If you can’t see this then you really need your rugby spoon-fed. He is a genuine lineout man with a penchant for hard-yakka that you’d naturally expect from a boy born and bred in the country. His form, for the Waratahs and the Wallabies, has been a highlight of an otherwise unremarkable 2017.

    Now, to the only contentious selection that I can logically assume will be difficult for the coaching staff. Number eight. Do we go with Sean McMahon, a dynamic ball carrier and excellent defender, a player that has surprisingly turned his back on the Wallabies ahead of the incumbent brute that is Lopeti Timani?

    This will depend on the conditions. If it is forecast heavy conditions than Timani makes much greater sense. If it is forecast dry, I would go for the more dynamic McMahon.

    Either way, the one selected will make his presence known to the All Blacks with the unlucky one to add their own variety of starch later in the match.

    To the backline and I ask, is there really a need for discussion? The two vice captains – Will Genia and Bernard Foley – will obviously make up the halves combination. The centre pairing will simply have to be the untested but exciting duo of the returning Kutley Beale and the now injury-free Samu Kerevi.

    Unless you’ve been hidden under a rock since 2013 you’ll know that the try-scoring freak that is Israel Folau will wear the no.15. Folau will no doubt be supported by Dane Haylett–Petty on the blind side wing with the open side winger to be the elusive Henry Speight, now that Sefa Naivalu has been ruled out with injury.

    Dane Haylett-Petty Wallabies Australia Rugby Union 2017

    (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

    We could argue for days who might be our three substitute backs but I’ll suggest Nick Phipps, Reece Hodge and Marika Koroibete will be the most likely to warm the bench. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Curtis Rona on the pine either.

    However, I would be reluctant to split hairs over the back reserves because I don’t see them playing much of a role in the series ahead.

    The Wallaby side to take on the All Blacks will be as I’ve pointed out. When you think about it, it picks itself.

    But here is the kicker and the real point to the article.

    Despite that this is clearly our strongest XV, I cannot see anything other than an All Black victory. Take out any of the players I’ve selected and add your own version and it will just make matters worse.

    We cannot ignore the fact that, for the first time, no Australian sides could gain any success against New Zealand opposition in a whole season of Super Rugby. No matter what we think of Wallaby selection we cannot hide from that fact.

    There are no quick fixes, there are no miracle coaching cures, and there are no witty or drastic selection choices we can pull out to cause an unlikely upset.

    We are at the crossroads of acceptance. We can either choose to accept reality or delude ourselves based on a competitiveness that we once had with our trans-Tasman rivals.

    It’s not inspiring I know but for the time being we are going to have to accept a fate that we are programmed to never give into. We have to accept that for the time being we cannot win the Bledisloe Cup.

    To assume that our best XV, (and the side I’ve named is the best we have at our disposal), derived from the worst domestic season we are likely to ever see could possibly beat a team made up of five vastly superior New Zealand franchises is as far-fetched a notion as I’ve ever seen in sport.

    I want to go on record as stating I truly hope I am as wrong as a man can possibly be.

    Alas, I choose to live in reality. All we can hope is that they account for themselves with honour worthy of our national jersey.

    Based on the names above I have no doubt they will. But to expect these Wallabies to win on this occasion after the season we’ve had domestically? I say c’mon! Get real!

    Nevertheless I will be cheering them on as strong as ever. Go the Wallabies!

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    The Crowd Says (285)

    • Roar Guru

      August 7th 2017 @ 8:59am
      Machooka said | August 7th 2017 @ 8:59am | ! Report

      Yeah baby… you’ve broken your duck!

      Suffice to say, I haven’t read said article yet as I was just so excited to see it I needed to post immediately 🙂

      • Roar Guru

        August 7th 2017 @ 9:18am
        Machooka said | August 7th 2017 @ 9:18am | ! Report

        Excellent read Tragic… and I concur with your thoughts as to the upcoming Wallaby selection as it pretty much picks itself.

        Yep, pretty much (again) a no-brainer with the only contentious issue, and it has been for many seasons, who plays 8?

        I have been screaming out for donkeys that the Wallaby needs a true 8, an old school 8, a wreaking ball 8, a smart 8, and an 8 that can play the outside channels. Will it be Timani, who has the potential but hasn’t grabbed it both hands, or will it be McMahon that steps up. Likewise, when considering who coaches the Wallaby, will it be someone else entirely different? Who really knows eh, except Cheika himself.

        Thanks for the love on Hooper… but be now prepared for the backlash and the fashion police. 😉

        Again buddy… excellent read! 🙂

        • August 7th 2017 @ 9:22am
          Fionn said | August 7th 2017 @ 9:22am | ! Report

          I agree that the team is a ‘no-brainer’ 😉

          Sorry, couldn’t resist, you’re a champ, chook. If this is the team selected (and I think it will be close) then I hope I am wrong on all accounts, and you and RT are correct.

          • Roar Guru

            August 7th 2017 @ 9:36am
            Machooka said | August 7th 2017 @ 9:36am | ! Report

            Haha Fionn… but it’s also correct in your context too!

            If the Wallaby get a brain then that’s a big part of our recovery.

            Our cattle are reasonable but…

            I often say it’s what’s between the ears that makes a good player great… will we see that during the upcoming RC!?!

            For mine… ffs I’m hoping so 😉

            • August 7th 2017 @ 1:24pm
              Rebellion said | August 7th 2017 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

              Hannigan starting and Phipps as reserve half.
              Perhaps Hitler deserves to win a Nobel Peace Prize?

          • Roar Guru

            August 7th 2017 @ 2:00pm
            stillmissit said | August 7th 2017 @ 2:00pm | ! Report

            Fioon the selection is a no brainer if you accept that Hooper is 1`st picked! Who is going to stick their head in the BD in place of Hooper as he will be in the centres ready to make a break? Which he ain’t bad at but is that what we want from a #7?

            Compare him to Albertus ‘Kwagga’ Smith, Mattt TOdd and half a dozen others who are better than Hooper at #7 at the breakdown and then you know why we need Pocock, Hannigan and Timani or Holloway. My preference is for Holloway long term but not this season. Will Jack Dempsey make the ‘finishers’ if not who will be the breakaway on the bench? I thought McMahon did not play after his injury.

            Hooper is the problem due to his capablity at just about most things in the open but close to useless at the BD. Is his high profile due to our love affair with anyone running with the ball, whilst ignoring those that do the hard work? If we don’t get fast ball and t/o ball at the BD, it is not the only problem we have but it makes a huge difference.

            • August 7th 2017 @ 4:33pm
              Fionn said | August 7th 2017 @ 4:33pm | ! Report

              I agree that the Wallabies have ALWAYS looked more threatening with Pocock than with Hooper.

              The team that played France last year (the alleged “B-Team”) is a perfect example of this.

        • August 7th 2017 @ 10:35am
          Rugby Tragic Too said | August 7th 2017 @ 10:35am | ! Report

          thanks mate do you reckon a fit Jed Hollaway or a qualified Isa Nasairani might be the longer term answer at no 8?

          • Roar Guru

            August 7th 2017 @ 10:58am
            Machooka said | August 7th 2017 @ 10:58am | ! Report

            Bugger… you’re not him!?!

            You’re someone else!!!

            I’ve been duped. Violated. Fooled.

            Can this rugby season get any worse???

            • August 7th 2017 @ 11:16am
              Rugby Tragic Too said | August 7th 2017 @ 11:16am | ! Report

              I’m the orginal RT back from a 3 or 4year hiatus.

              says a lot about your ideology that you have to play the man not the ball…

              • Roar Guru

                August 7th 2017 @ 11:34am
                Machooka said | August 7th 2017 @ 11:34am | ! Report

                Ffs… if you can’t grasp the utter dismay I felt when realising you weren’t him then I’m sorry you don’t get.

                As to playing the ‘man not the ball… ‘… really?

                And that ‘says a lot about my ideology’? WTF???

                How would you feel if you suddenly found out Santa Claus was an imposter, and was really some big old fat b@$t@rd who enjoyed kiddies sitting on his lap in return of a promised present?

                But hey that’s probably just my ideology getting in the way eh!?!

                Anyhow, I still stand by my comments as to the content of your article but just not who you are… really are 😉

              • Roar Guru

                August 7th 2017 @ 8:48pm
                RobC said | August 7th 2017 @ 8:48pm | ! Report

                ROTFLMAFO MrChook

                I just laid an egg

              • August 7th 2017 @ 11:37am
                Rugby Tragic Too said | August 7th 2017 @ 11:37am | ! Report

                wait.. what did you say about Santa Claus?

            • August 8th 2017 @ 11:27am
              Muzzo said | August 8th 2017 @ 11:27am | ! Report

              Hahaha Chook, & who needs to go to Spec Savers? lol… …… Geeez Buddy, one more blooper, and, hell, you’ve, made ground on me, & I’m old, so you tell me!!! Hahahaha Dam near fell out of my chair mate.. Hahaha. Good one. Cheers.

          • August 7th 2017 @ 11:49am
            Daveski said | August 7th 2017 @ 11:49am | ! Report

            Holloway looked great for Sths against Randwick on Sat. Naisarani is a gem. They are the sort of guys we need at 8. Don’t mind RHP either and long term like the look of U20s captain Reece Hewat.

            • August 7th 2017 @ 12:05pm
              Rugby Tragic Too said | August 7th 2017 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

              2019 RWC. a backrow of Hooper or McMahon, Hanigan or Timani and Hollawayr or Nasairani.

              Now thats got many bases covered

          • August 7th 2017 @ 7:28pm
            Rebellion said | August 7th 2017 @ 7:28pm | ! Report

            You’re living in last season RT thinking Holloway deserves a mention. I was looking forward to him, Dempsey and Andrew Ready coming on even further this season but that was not to be.

            Unfortunately your logic is flawed and the only defence of your blatant Waratah bias is loose comments like “Foley is way better than Cooper” or innacurate comments like “Cooper can’t tackle” – when he is superior to Foley statistically speaking. Not very convincing or clever in anyway.

            I would turf Hooper, Hannigan, Phipps and probably move Genia to the bench to see how Powell goes.
            If we were wanting to win a few matches I’d put Cooper on the bench and see how he goes with Folau running off his shoulder from the right wing.

            I may not be correct but there are a lot of people who would agree with me and a lot of people who disagree with Chieka and the NSWRU (ARU) who are voting with their feet – in the stands and on TV

            • August 8th 2017 @ 1:42am
              mikeylives said | August 8th 2017 @ 1:42am | ! Report

              “he is superior to Foley statistically speaking. Not very convincing or clever in anyway.”

              Fair enough. Cooper vs Foley has a higher tackle completion rate in 2017

              HOWEVER, Cooper (v Foley 2017) also has:
              More minutes (912 vs 790)
              Worse goalkicking % (67.3% vs 81.1%)
              Less tries (0 vs 3),
              Less line breaks (2 vs 11),
              Less run metres (373 vs 690) and less run metres per run (avg 1.5m less),
              Less tackle busts (19 vs 22),
              Less offloads (15 vs 24) – offloads used to be Cooper’s strength
              More turnovers (26 vs 21)
              Less average kick metres (31 vs 36.1)
              More handling errors (29 vs 26)
              AND a red card.

              Foley has limitations, but Cooper is in average form and is one of the weaker 10s in the comp this year.

              Now the Fox sports stats monkey is off my back…. Our real problem with the ABs is in the FORWARDS not the backs. Can we please talk about how we develop a great pack rather than harping on about state based selection bias.

              • August 8th 2017 @ 6:30am
                Rebellion said | August 8th 2017 @ 6:30am | ! Report

                Well if you want to discuss the forwards you need to address the merit in selecting Robertson, Douglas, Hannigan and starting Hooper. Dean Mumm’s former mortgage on a test jersey and the disgraceful decision to select a poor Palu in the RWC15 squad.
                Rather than writing another essay – you can search for my earlier posts on how Hooper’s inclusion damages the team’s effectiveness at the breakdown (that effectiveness kept us in the contest against great sides for decades) for the sake of a couple of flashy 10 metre runs.

                The state selection bias is worse than I have ever seen it and more deserving players are flocking overseas because they can’t get a go – McMahon, Gill, Higginbotham in 2016, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Chieka forced Pocock to take a leave of absence

                It’s gone as far as I actually think it would be beneficial for the Wallabies if Waratah players were not available for selection.

              • August 8th 2017 @ 11:19am
                mikeylives said | August 8th 2017 @ 11:19am | ! Report

                Mostly fair comments.
                Strongly disagree re: Palu. He was so undervalued and was our last decent ad line maker. Our pack is dramatically under-powered without him. There is no decent 8 in Australia since he left.
                Hooper is a conundrum. So good, but is he good enough for his size in the pack? I think so.
                We desperately need another big metre munching 8 and a few dominant props and another quality lock to partner Coleman (not sure Arnold is the answer).

                Think you have a case re: Robertson. Douglas has not shown the great form of 2014 since. Mumm was never an international player.
                However, it’s not like these guys were keeping out a Read or Kano. The stocks behind them are equally bad. Who should be picked in their place? How do we improve the stocks behind them? Before you rant again about McMahon – I think he has huge potential, but throwing the toys and taking an overseas payday is not the way to go about it. He has not set the world on fire in the games he’s played yet (outplayed against England and Abs so far) but he is still young.

                Another elephant in the room is that players on ARU contracts are getting paid big salaries. If they are out of form, can the ARU afford not to select them (I mean literally in an economic sense) and put new players on ARU contracts? Players should get ARU top-ups based on the number of games they play for their country, not based on their potential 2 years ago. We should also pay impact forwards more.

              • August 8th 2017 @ 11:25am
                mikeylives said | August 8th 2017 @ 11:25am | ! Report

                “and I wouldn’t be surprised if Chieka forced Pocock to take a leave of absence” – wt f?

              • August 8th 2017 @ 4:32pm
                Rebellion said | August 8th 2017 @ 4:32pm | ! Report

                I think Hooper’s inclusion as a starting 7 would be justified if you had two other ‘hard on the ball’ players in the pack like Bismarck or Fardy’s role in RWC15.
                Andrew Ready looked like he was stepping up to this role on 2016 but has fizzled this season and Fardy is leaving (Chieka) plus he can lapse into the same discipline issues which has plagued Higginbotham at times through his career.
                While we don’t have these players and while we do have fetched of the calibre of Pocock and to a lesser extent Gill – I can’t see why Hooper should have a mortgage on 7.

              • August 14th 2017 @ 10:02am
                wally said | August 14th 2017 @ 10:02am | ! Report

                Rebellion – you forgot Skelton.

        • August 7th 2017 @ 1:31pm
          Murray Hadtie said | August 7th 2017 @ 1:31pm | ! Report

          Hey Chook do you think RT, could be your answer on the selection panel??? Some pretty good selections there!!

    • August 7th 2017 @ 9:06am
      RahRah said | August 7th 2017 @ 9:06am | ! Report

      The best side we have available? Absolute Bull dust, these assertions are based on certain premises that are just plain wrong. Click bait at best or writing under a nom de plume for Ahab Cheika.

      • August 7th 2017 @ 9:28am
        Dave_S said | August 7th 2017 @ 9:28am | ! Report

        Well what’s your side (from the named train on squad) RahRah?

        Even allowing for close calls I can’t imagine anyone coming up with more than about 3 differences unless they’ve gone totally left-field.

        • August 7th 2017 @ 9:32am
          Fionn said | August 7th 2017 @ 9:32am | ! Report

          I know for a fact that a lot of us would produce a very different looking side.

          • August 7th 2017 @ 9:37am
            Dave_S said | August 7th 2017 @ 9:37am | ! Report

            From the named squad, Fionn? I would have Cooper, Higgs and maybe Fardy instead, but those ships are well out of the harbour.

            • August 7th 2017 @ 9:51am
              Fionn said | August 7th 2017 @ 9:51am | ! Report

              From the named squad we can’t have a 10-12-13 of Foley-Beale-Kerevi, it’s madness.

              Hanigan is nothing, Simmons would be a better 6.

              If you can’t have Beale in the midfield he needs to be on the wing or, preferably, fullback.

              • August 7th 2017 @ 10:37am
                Rugby Tragic Too said | August 7th 2017 @ 10:37am | ! Report

                Don’t confuse the no on his back with his role. The game has moved on from your traditional ideas of no’s on backs and roles.

                He will play 2nd receiver in attack and he will play in the back 3 in defense from set piece.

              • August 7th 2017 @ 10:41am
                Fionn said | August 7th 2017 @ 10:41am | ! Report

                Sounds like an excellent recipe for defending against a counterattack off of turnover ball.

              • August 7th 2017 @ 11:10am
                Ruckin' Oaf said | August 7th 2017 @ 11:10am | ! Report

                “Defending” might well be a very optimistic description.

              • August 7th 2017 @ 11:17am
                Rugby Tragic Too said | August 7th 2017 @ 11:17am | ! Report

                speaking of defense, tell us how Quade Cooper should be in the side perhaps?

              • August 7th 2017 @ 12:16pm
                Pete said | August 7th 2017 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

                Well he has better defensive stats than foley in super rugby this year… don’t believe me go look for yourself.

                No idea how Hannigan is there… did Mumm give him the pictures he had of cheika??

              • August 7th 2017 @ 12:12pm
                Ruckin' Oaf said | August 7th 2017 @ 12:12pm | ! Report

                Hey Rugby Tragic,

                Only if you want a better defender than Foley.

                But that doesn’t seem to be your priority.

              • Roar Guru

                August 7th 2017 @ 12:13pm
                Timbo (L) said | August 7th 2017 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

                Protecting a 10 with weak defense is common. They tend make pretty good fullbacks and are good for counter attack. The same way Cruden is used in the Chiefs.

                But when you have a 12 and a 15 cowering in back play as well, you know the balance of your side is pretty messed up.

              • August 7th 2017 @ 12:15pm
                Rugby Tragic Too said | August 7th 2017 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

                foley is twice the defender that quade is.

                in fact he’s twice the player.

                thats why he’s the VC and quades not even in the squad anymore.

              • August 7th 2017 @ 2:30pm
                Dan in Devon said | August 7th 2017 @ 2:30pm | ! Report

                Foley is a different kind of flyhalf to Cooper – but to say he is twice the player is just pure fantasy. Foley plays a lot flatter and has a solid short passing game and is good off the tee. His defence is far from strong and does not match the standards of his NH counterparts such as Sexton or Farrell. Relative to Cooper, his long passing is clearly inferior and his exit kicking is weaker. In fairness to both Foley and Cooper, I feel that the real weakness for sometime has been at scrum half, where urgency, passing and kicking and decision making has been poor.

              • August 7th 2017 @ 12:31pm
                Dave_S said | August 7th 2017 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

                Fionn I’m not particularly impressed by Hanigan but I can’t see that Simmons offers anything more, on balance. Better in the lineout but that’s it. He’d be about the slowest 6 seen in a WB jersey. He would just be a 3rd unnecessary lock.

                If Foley is the 10 (he’s the only one in the squad) then we need a playmaker at 12 – only Beale can do that. Kerevi doeant have that game at this stage.

              • August 7th 2017 @ 12:36pm
                RahRah said | August 7th 2017 @ 12:36pm | ! Report

                Why? Ryan Crotty is not a play maker nor does he run away in defense. It worked well for the Crusaders

              • August 7th 2017 @ 12:36pm
                Ruckin' Oaf said | August 7th 2017 @ 12:36pm | ! Report

                “foley is twice the defender that quade is.”

                Sure he is. Apart from completing fewer tackles that is.

                Is this another one of your ideas where the result doesn’t matter as long as you look good doing it ?

              • August 7th 2017 @ 2:00pm
                Fionn said | August 7th 2017 @ 2:00pm | ! Report

                Foley isn’t twice the defender Quade is Quade is statistically the better defender. Biased and rubbish narratives like this, that are disproven by the facts, is one of the primary reasons that Australian rugby fans can’t put a united front together.

                Regardless, my point is that you can’t have a 10-12-13 of Foley-Beale-Kerevi, all three of them are weak to average defenders. You can perhaps get away with a 10 with poor defence, but a 12 with defence as poor as Beale’s is too much of a liability at international level, especially without a Conrad Smith type defender outside of him.

              • August 7th 2017 @ 4:08pm
                Wendy said | August 7th 2017 @ 4:08pm | ! Report

                And with Folau our last line of defense, I feel it might be an ugly score line!

              • August 7th 2017 @ 4:18pm
                Selector said | August 7th 2017 @ 4:18pm | ! Report

                I think L Tui (I am aware he is injured right now) would make an absolutely cracking 6.

                Naisarani is my pick for a long term 8. Also excited about the prospect of RHP and Fakaosilea has potential IMO.

              • August 7th 2017 @ 9:44pm
                mzilikazi said | August 7th 2017 @ 9:44pm | ! Report

                Well done RTToo…you certainly got some discussion going. Very interesting.

                If I was coaching the Wallabies I would be working very hard on defence, and intense pressure on the opposition when they have the ball. No hanging off or shadowing ball carriers….straight in for as early a tackle as possible, with the triangle of tacklers concept in everyone’s mind. That is, if the first tackler in does not make a “clean kill tackle”, the ball carrier is easier prey for the next man in.

                Once the tackle is made, then very aggressive counter ruck play…as few easy balls as possible for the opposing team.

                Secondly, I would be working equally hard on using all ball gained totally effectively….that is, ball from set piece, kicks, penalties, and especially turnover…the solid gold ball…just look at the Crusaders first try at the weekend. Part of effective use of ball would be to make sure the good broken field runners are fully used. This is where the Wallabies have an advantage, IMO.

                Finally, a lot of work put into the passing game, especially the screen pass/second man pas, and sensible controlled offloads. And develop the tap penalty options…especially 5m out from the opposition try line. Why take the risk of a scrum or lineout problem, when you have assured possession…..and we are unlikely to be secure in either against both the AB’s and the Boks.

                Players I would want in the squad, not in order of importance;

                Hodge, for his kicking to touch…..to Hell with Foley doing this job…..and for long range penalties…every point must be taken.

                Folau…a world class broken field runner…but accept he has his weaknesses.

                Kerevi……the All Blacks were having real difficulty containing him before he went off injured last year.

                Kuridrani….a hard man in a tight game, and capable of scoring given a sniff of the line.

                Hooper……another world class player, who IMO had a slump in form last year, but has come back this year…harder to spot given he has played in a very poor Tah’s team. But I would not play him at 7 for the whole game….move him out into the backline and give Hardwick exposure at this level.

                Hardwick…he is, I feel a player of the future….I would have him over Hannigan on form this year.

                Kepu…seems to be written down to only a bench player.

                Arnold and Coleman…big strengths for the WB’s

                McMahon and Timani completing the backrow.

                Polata Nau …another hardman, who never takes a backward step

                Build around these key players the best we have to chose from : Genia, Powell, Phipps( interested to see some support for him), Foley, Beale, Moore etc.

                This looks like being one tough campaign, and only real “smarts” will give the WB’s any chance. The Super Final on the weekend was “scary” to watch….the thought went through my mind….”both of these teams could beat the Wallabies”.

                But we live in hope !

          • Roar Guru

            August 7th 2017 @ 9:49am
            PeterK said | August 7th 2017 @ 9:49am | ! Report

            From the name train on squad most would get very close to the same starting sides with some positional changes.

            Only a few positions in doubt

            6 One of Hanigan, McMahon, Korczyk, Dempsey
            8 One Timani, McMahon

            12 One of Beale, Kerevi, Hodge, Meakes

            14 Folau, DHP, Beale
            15 Beale, Folau

            given folau and beale will be there somewhere that means a difference of 3 players

            Now given anyone (not injured) that would expand
            Cooper at 10

            so 4 players (higgs at 6,8 or Fardy at 6) is already a contested selection

            • August 7th 2017 @ 10:35am
              Fionn said | August 7th 2017 @ 10:35am | ! Report

              I would have a different midfield, outside backs and loose forwards, even with the awful 34 man squad Cheika selected.

              • Roar Guru

                August 7th 2017 @ 11:58am
                PeterK said | August 7th 2017 @ 11:58am | ! Report

                3 different players and 2 positional switches like I said

                ie

                6 Not Hanigan or McMahon
                7 Hooper
                8 Timani
                12 Kerevi
                14 Folau
                15 Beale

                is my gues in what you are saying

              • Roar Guru

                August 7th 2017 @ 12:16pm
                Timbo (L) said | August 7th 2017 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

                Peter,
                Your back line is a more realistic for the side to function.
                Don’t Rule out Dempsey at 8.

              • August 7th 2017 @ 2:12pm
                Fionn said | August 7th 2017 @ 2:12pm | ! Report

                On the money, Peter.

                I would have said Simmons on the bench, but despite only having seen a bit of Dempsey (not heaps) Jamewm (whose opinion I respect) seems to think he is actually pretty good in the line-out and would be a serviceable 6 in terms of the line out. It just concerns me though because, unlike Higgers, Timani is very much a secondary rather than a primary target.

              • August 7th 2017 @ 2:14pm
                jameswm said | August 7th 2017 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

                Peter I’d play Dempsey at 6. He is tough, likes physicality, very mobile, can offload, good ball runner and good jumper. I think he would combine well with Hooper and Timani.

                We bnow have a tough, physical locking combo. Add in Timani and there are 3 solid hitters. TPN doesn’t shy away, nor do Keps, AA or Sio. Of the 3 other locks in the squad, I’d go Rodda who is also a tough customer. Douglas is half useless and Simmons so so. I could live with Simmons – whose defence has got a bit more physical this year – as long as he doesn’t run the ball.

                I’d like to see Foley, Beale, Kerevi, Hodge, Speight and Folau in the back line. I’m not so worried about what number is on their back. DHP isn’t physical enough – Hodge is better at that role and has the massive boot. That backline is lacking physical defenders – ie Hunt – but we will have to live with that till he’s better. And have Kuridrani on the bench.

              • August 7th 2017 @ 2:17pm
                Fionn said | August 7th 2017 @ 2:17pm | ! Report

                James, agree completely.

                I think the midfield has to be Hodge-Kerevi or Kerevi-Kuridrani. I think I would be equally happy with either, although Hodge’s passing (particularly left to right) concerns me at 12 somewhat, but it is what it is.

              • August 7th 2017 @ 3:10pm
                Markus said | August 7th 2017 @ 3:10pm | ! Report

                I would prefer Kerevi-Kuridrani. Both get over the advantage line better than Hodge, Kerevi is a better passer and Kuridrani a better defender.

                Hodge is faster than both and of course the best kicker, but this may see him better suited to covering the back three.

      • August 7th 2017 @ 9:47am
        Cal from Queensland said | August 7th 2017 @ 9:47am | ! Report

        Agreed RahRah.

        The article is painfully condescending and many of the writer’s propositions are just absurd (i.e. Ned Hanigan being the only viable option at 6).

        This is no doubt the work of a blind Waratah’s diehard.

        • August 7th 2017 @ 10:08am
          PiratesRugby said | August 7th 2017 @ 10:08am | ! Report

          The success of the team selected will be the test of whether it was any good or not. All available evidence suggests that no Australian player will suffer injury from lifting silver ware.

        • Roar Guru

          August 7th 2017 @ 10:10am
          Machooka said | August 7th 2017 @ 10:10am | ! Report

          Oh yes, indeed, Cal from Queensland… he is without doubt another ‘blind Waratah’s diehard.’

          Don’t know why… but numbnuts come to mind having read your comment.

          • August 7th 2017 @ 10:32am
            Council said | August 7th 2017 @ 10:32am | ! Report

            Actually Birdy, I have a suspicion that this is the Tahs fan rugby tragic, not the Blues man Rugby Tragic, in which case Cals comments are fair.

            • Roar Guru

              August 7th 2017 @ 10:59am
              Machooka said | August 7th 2017 @ 10:59am | ! Report

              Bugger… absolute bugger buggery! 😉

          • August 7th 2017 @ 11:13am
            Cal from Queensland said | August 7th 2017 @ 11:13am | ! Report

            That was an incredibly puerile contribution, Chook. In any event, I wouldn’t expect you to be capable of perceiving a Wallabies team outside the prism of NSW rugby.

            • Roar Guru

              August 7th 2017 @ 11:45am
              Machooka said | August 7th 2017 @ 11:45am | ! Report

              Yes Cal… but I don’t apologise to anyone!

              Except my mother… oh, and my wife. My mates. The boss.

              Oh ffs!

              OK, I’ll apologise especially as to you being a Qlders like… and in this case correct as to the what the author, who I don’t know, never met, being as you so eloquently described, as ‘blind Waratah’s diehard’… your words not mine.

              My word to you was ‘numbnuts’!

              • August 8th 2017 @ 11:32am
                Muzzo said | August 8th 2017 @ 11:32am | ! Report

                Lol

        • August 7th 2017 @ 11:26am
          Perthstayer said | August 7th 2017 @ 11:26am | ! Report

          Cal – How dare you doubt these selections!

          Are you incapable of seeing reason!

          Now “put up and shut up!”

        • Roar Guru

          August 7th 2017 @ 12:18pm
          Timbo (L) said | August 7th 2017 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

          Cal,
          I think he is right. But it is based on players in Cheika’s squad.
          His squad is wrong.

        • August 7th 2017 @ 1:35pm
          Sage said | August 7th 2017 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

          Condescending? What would make you think that ……………”Take out any of the players I’ve selected and add your own version and it will just make matters worse.” or “Ned Hanigan. If you can’t see this then you really need your rugby spoon-fed”. Consider yourself told.
          It is very rare for anyone here not to recognise how good a footballer Hooper is. I can’t see that being a debate.
          But whether he should be Captain or our #7, that’s different and what has been rightfully discussed.
          Don’t confuse an opinion with fact.

        • August 7th 2017 @ 3:13pm
          Stephen C said | August 7th 2017 @ 3:13pm | ! Report

          Hannigan at 6 isn’t terrible, but it’s far from the only option – I would seriously consider Dempsey, Korczyk or even Simmons (on the basis of his last two games for the Reds). With our giant second row combo, I can’t see why McMahon couldn’t be considered at 6.
          It really should be Timani at 8. Give him some time to lock down that position, not just a game here and there when we run out of other ideas.
          I also think Hodge needs to be in the backline. We looked at our best on the Spring Tour last year when he was at 12. Genia, Foley, Hodge, Kerevi. Wings – take your pick, but I’d have Speight and Folau, with DHP at the back. But we all know that won’t happen.
          Beale should be coming off the bench – he covers 10, 12, 11, 14 & 15 – the perfect super-sub.

      • August 7th 2017 @ 10:34am
        Jimbo81 said | August 7th 2017 @ 10:34am | ! Report

        the team would be far stronger with a 7 that plays 7 (Hardwick) and a FB that kicks long and can play cover defence (DHP). Folau to one wing. Hooper t finish. Coleman for Captain.

        I reject 100% you assertion that your team is as good as it gets as 1) it has no exit strategy whatsoever as izzy cant kick 2) if we play a 7 that jumps in the lineout and attends rucks and mauls in the mold of Waugh, Wilson, Smith, Hodgeson, Kozycky (cant spell it sorry AK) we would go a lot better.

        • August 7th 2017 @ 11:32am
          Rugby Tragic Too said | August 7th 2017 @ 11:32am | ! Report

          so izzy, who played AFL, can’t kick?

          he can kick

          • August 7th 2017 @ 11:51am
            timber said | August 7th 2017 @ 11:51am | ! Report

            Sure he can kick, just not very well.
            If you’re basing your analysis on his past exposure to AFL rather than actually watching his kicking performances in Union then the accusation, ideologue, comes to mind.

            • August 7th 2017 @ 12:07pm
              Rugby Tragic Too said | August 7th 2017 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

              every time i see him kick he makes 40-50metres. what more do you want?

              • August 7th 2017 @ 12:08pm
                RahRah said | August 7th 2017 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

                a 5/8 who can do the same? 😂

              • August 7th 2017 @ 12:19pm
                timber said | August 7th 2017 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

                Accuracy and a less laboured wind-up please.
                It would also help if he positioned himself to be anywhere near the ball when his team is going backwards, tends to go MIA in these situations.

              • Roar Guru

                August 7th 2017 @ 12:21pm
                Timbo (L) said | August 7th 2017 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

                I have never seen him kick.

                A stat on a sample of one or none is not a stat. it is a data point.

                If he is such a great kicker, why doesn’t he do it all the time.

              • August 7th 2017 @ 12:23pm
                RahRah said | August 7th 2017 @ 12:23pm | ! Report

                Now you’ve lost all credibility and have shown yourself to be a Tah Tah’s shill.
                Foley can kick”? Seriously? He has no distance on his kick’s for touch and when he tries to put a little distance on it, he never puts the damn thing out.
                Great for the click bait though.

              • August 7th 2017 @ 12:37pm
                Rugby Tragic Too said | August 7th 2017 @ 12:37pm | ! Report

                dan carter missed kicks for touch.

                foley too but he has a reliable boot, it is a strength of his.

                plus he is an amazing attacking option, and he makes beauitiful covering tackles than normally go unheralded

                he’s the complete package

              • August 7th 2017 @ 12:39pm
                RahRah said | August 7th 2017 @ 12:39pm | ! Report

                “sigh”, now you’re just being petulant.

              • August 7th 2017 @ 1:21pm
                rl said | August 7th 2017 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

                I don’t mind Foley but “the complete package”? Oh my…..

          • Roar Rookie

            August 7th 2017 @ 12:38pm
            piru said | August 7th 2017 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

            so izzy, who played AFL, can’t kick?

            I wouldn’t be bringing up his AFL career too much, personally

            His stats compare horribly to other players in his position – particularly his kicking

            • August 7th 2017 @ 12:41pm
              RahRah said | August 7th 2017 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

              Hey Piru, pre season NFL. Any new recruits for your team?

              • Roar Rookie

                August 7th 2017 @ 12:50pm
                piru said | August 7th 2017 @ 12:50pm | ! Report

                hey rahrah – looks like we might have some decent D linemen, which we could definitely use.

                Started watching a show called Last Chance U over the weekend, you should check it out if you haven’t seen it already

              • August 7th 2017 @ 1:00pm
                RahRah said | August 7th 2017 @ 1:00pm | ! Report

                I’m ahead of ya. Watched the first season a while back and making my way through season 2. Some great players but my goodness, they ain’t the sharpest tool in the shed.
                Have you had a look at ballers? some great cameo’s appearances from current players, Tyrell Suggs, and many others.

              • Roar Rookie

                August 7th 2017 @ 1:54pm
                piru said | August 7th 2017 @ 1:54pm | ! Report

                I’m keen to watch Ballers, but they’re showing season 3 at the moment and I want to start from the beginning, waiting for it to be rerun

            • August 7th 2017 @ 12:42pm
              Rugby Tragic Too said | August 7th 2017 @ 12:42pm | ! Report

              he rarely kicks but when he does he kicks them long and usually accurately

              thats all you need from fullback/wing

              • August 7th 2017 @ 6:44pm
                ForceFan said | August 7th 2017 @ 6:44pm | ! Report

                In SR2017:

                Folau averaged less than 1 kick per 80 minutes played.
                Folau averaged 31 minutes per kick. (Hardly long)

                Foley averaged ~10 kicks per 80 minutes played .
                Foley averaged 35m per kick.

                DHP averaged ~5 kicks per 80 minutes played.
                DHP averaged 36m per kick.

                Hodge averaged ~6 kicks per 80 minutes played.
                Hodge averaged 39m per kick.

                (Stats from Vodacom app)

                It’s not what they are capable of kicking but rather what they actually achieve when under pressure.
                Folau doesn’t kick well when under pressure.

                ALL Wallaby kickers fail to find touch far too often.

              • August 8th 2017 @ 8:07pm
                Boomeranga said | August 8th 2017 @ 8:07pm | ! Report

                Interesting that when compared to DHP Foley averages 1m less over twice as many kicks yet Foley is considered pop gun to DHP a booming kicker.

          • August 8th 2017 @ 12:51am
            Sam said | August 8th 2017 @ 12:51am | ! Report

            The AFL drop punt won’t work on a rugby ball. It’s too wide in the girth, too stumpy in the ends and when you strike with the correct AFL action the boot contacts the top of the foot below the laces

            Rugby kickers tend to take a slightly side on approach to maximise the pendulum effect from the hip and strike more obliquely toward the big toe. AFL footballers tend to follow straight through. On a Gilbert you lose too much kinetic force and you get an up-and-under without distance or accuracy.

            Long story short Folau’s AFL skills don’t translate that neatly.

            • August 8th 2017 @ 8:10pm
              Boomeranga said | August 8th 2017 @ 8:10pm | ! Report

              I think it’s more that AFL players usually don’t tend to just kick for distance. They are trying to find a team mate and maintain possession. Folau to me never looks like he is really trying to kick the skin off the ball but to put it somewhere.

      • August 7th 2017 @ 11:50pm
        In brief said | August 7th 2017 @ 11:50pm | ! Report

        What does Ahab mean? Does it have a racial connotation? Is that ok on this site now??

        • August 8th 2017 @ 12:03am
          RahRah said | August 8th 2017 @ 12:03am | ! Report

          Good bloody grief, what is the world really coming to? Everyone these days sees something to be offended about.

          Moby-Dick; or, The Whale is a novel by American writer Herman Melville, published in 1851 during the period of the American Renaissance. Sailor Ishmael tells the story of the obsessive quest of Ahab, captain of the whaler the Pequod, for revenge on Moby Dick.

          “Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.”
          – Ahab’s words to Moby Dick during the fatal third chase.

          I refer to Cheika’s senseless obsession with a solitary game plan that has led us to a ruinous end, the same as Ahab’s senseless pursuit of Moby Dick resulting in his own demise.

          Is that OK with you mate, or are you finding something in a literary masterpiece to be offended about?

          • August 8th 2017 @ 9:24am
            Charlie Turner said | August 8th 2017 @ 9:24am | ! Report

            Sadly for some Herman Melville never published in comic book form.

            • August 8th 2017 @ 10:58am
              MitchO said | August 8th 2017 @ 10:58am | ! Report

              No excuses though Charlie coz there are a couple of decent movies.

          • Roar Rookie

            August 8th 2017 @ 10:38am
            piru said | August 8th 2017 @ 10:38am | ! Report

            Well he was a ‘white’ whale – typical!

        • August 8th 2017 @ 12:04am
          RahRah said | August 8th 2017 @ 12:04am | ! Report

          My reply to your tosh is awaiting moderation.

        • August 8th 2017 @ 12:12am
          RahRah said | August 8th 2017 @ 12:12am | ! Report

          I suggest that in the interim you try and educate yourself, just a little, and acquaint yourself with Herman Melville’s book “Moby Dick”.

        • August 8th 2017 @ 12:40am
          Sam said | August 8th 2017 @ 12:40am | ! Report

          It’s a reference to Moby Dick. Captain Ahab was the Captain of the Pequod, driven by obsession to kill a whale he couldn’t kill. Cheika is Ahab and he’s kidding himself if he thinks he’s going to sink the All Blacks. Not racist but a very clever literary reference.

        • August 8th 2017 @ 12:01pm
          Big Steve said | August 8th 2017 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

          excellent trolling, well played sir.

          • August 8th 2017 @ 12:51pm
            Sam said | August 8th 2017 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

            Lol Big Steve… We all took the bait didn’t we! swallowed it whole so to speak…

    • August 7th 2017 @ 9:06am
      Rhys Bosley said | August 7th 2017 @ 9:06am | ! Report

      I hope that back line scores a lot of tries, because they ain’t making many tackles.

      • August 7th 2017 @ 9:09am
        Fionn said | August 7th 2017 @ 9:09am | ! Report

        I don’t think you understand the ‘Australian way’ of playing rugby, Rhys, it’s not about scoring tackles, it’s about scoring tries!

        • August 7th 2017 @ 10:27am
          PiratesRugby said | August 7th 2017 @ 10:27am | ! Report

          Apparently Australian rugby is about training well.

          • August 7th 2017 @ 12:38pm
            Dave_S said | August 7th 2017 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

            🙂

            It’s funny because sadly it’s becoming true.

        • August 7th 2017 @ 10:29am
          Charlie Turner said | August 7th 2017 @ 10:29am | ! Report

          This side won’t score tries. The Lions provided the blueprint to getting close to the All Blacks is built on resolute defence. Essentially it’s the same plan the MIB have used for years, pressure the attack with offensive defence, turnover, attack, draw, pass and support the ball carrier.

          • August 7th 2017 @ 9:17pm
            Rhys Bosley said | August 7th 2017 @ 9:17pm | ! Report

            I agree Charlie, unfortunately though Cheika is committed to playing 15 phase rugby league in the belief it constitutes “running rugby”. Unsurprisingly the statistical odd of a turnover during that many phases is high and the All Blacks know how to counter attack when it happens. He will only learn when it is too late.

    • August 7th 2017 @ 9:10am
      Fin said | August 7th 2017 @ 9:10am | ! Report

      First article RT? Congrats.

      It’s hard to see it being any different. Picking McMahon at 8 will confirm that Pocock will slot straight back there next season.

      Go the Wallabies!

    • August 7th 2017 @ 9:30am
      Dave_S said | August 7th 2017 @ 9:30am | ! Report

      Good piece RT, looks about right to me.

    • August 7th 2017 @ 9:30am
      Bib said | August 7th 2017 @ 9:30am | ! Report

      Do you even watch rugby?

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