Is there a limit to ‘total rugby’?

Nicholas Bishop Columnist

By Nicholas Bishop, Nicholas Bishop is a Roar Expert

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    Total football. It was the mantra that took over the soccer world in 1974, and has dominated both the thinking, and most of the success in the game in Europe, ever since.

    Remember Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona in the late eighties and early nineties? Cruyff’s arrival as manager revived an ailing club and produced a ‘dream team’ which won five domestic titles and went to European finals on four occasions.

    Barcelona has ridden a wave of unrivalled success ever since.

    The club now enjoys one of the strongest footballing identities in the world, and the academy Cruyff built at La Masia to train and develop young players – based on the great Ajax production line of which he himself was a part – is recognised as the finest example of its kind.

    One of its greatest products, Pep Guardiola, joined the academy at the age of 13, played under Cruyff, and is now the torch-bearer for the Barcajax football philosophy worldwide.

    The founder of the toetaalvoetbal gospel was the Dutch coach Rinus Michels, back in the sixties and seventies.

    Working with Cruyff as a player at Ajax and later with the Holland national side, Michels designed a system to make the most out of his prodigious talents.

    Instead of just playing as an orthodox centre-forward in the front line, Cruyff was encouraged to move out to the flanks as a winger or drop into midfield to deliver killing passes.

    With several other players in the Dutch team, like defender Ruud Krol and midfielder Arie Haan, also able to play more than one position effectively, the theory of the constant interchange of positions was born.

    Even the goal-keeper was no longer immune, and Michels would have Jan Jongbloed covering the outfield beyond his penalty box as the very first ‘sweeper-keeper’.

    Much of this thinking has spread to other sports, and England rugby coach Eddie Jones for one is a known admirer and follower of Guardiola. The number on a player’s back is no longer the most reliable guide to his function on the field.

    When Cruyff returned from an injury to find his number 9 jersey in the possession of a teammate, he happily wore number 14 instead – in an era when players uniformly wore numbers 1 to 11 when they trotted out onto the field!

    The Wallaby defence system, in which very few players defend in their natural positions from a lineout, is one obvious example of how toetaalvoetbal has entered rugby thinking.

    In Australia’s win over the All Blacks in Brisbane, only outside centre Tevita Kuridrani defended in the channel indicated by the number on his back.

    Interchangeability is also a theme with the ball in hand for the Wallabies. Fullback Kurtley Beale often enters the line as a first or second receiver on the interior, while the experiment of selecting winger Reece Hodge at No.10 against Japan was repeated to a degree against Wales over the weekend – even though this time Hodge was wearing the No.11 shirt.

    Reece Hodge

    (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

    The inherent danger of the constant swapping of positions was fully highlighted at Cardiff, with the Wallaby attack often showing an imbalance to one side and losing its real width and potency.

    Two of Australia’s four tries were from close-range and a third came from a defensive breakaway.

    Australia’s first long attacking sequence occurred off a kick reception by Hodge in the fifth minute:





    The attacking shape over the sequence’s nine phases features, for the most part, Samu Kerevi on the left wing and Marika Koroibete on the right.

    Kerevi is the widest attacker on first phase at 4:38 and again on fifth phase at 5:17, and his basic instinct (like that of his centre partner, Kuridrani) is to cut back infield and straighten the line of attack.

    Throughout the entire sequence, Hodge remains in midfield as a provider rather than a striker, and the third frame clearly shows that the Wales defence is already beginning to write off the Wallaby attack on their right – they have cut both Sean McMahon and Kerevi loose in the five-metre channel, knowing they won’t have to defend speed or finishing instincts in that area.

    It also makes their defence on the other side a whole lot easier, and when the ball finally has a chance to reach Koroibete, the attack has run out of space and the ball is turned over.

    Different versions of this scenario recurred with far too much regularity for comfort.

    With Hodge shifted inside to do the exit kicking, alongside Bernard Foley, from Welsh kick-offs, running the ball out of their own 22 was not a real weapon for the Wallabies:




    Kuridrani and Kerevi are the widest attackers out in the first frame, so stretching the Welsh defence in that direction is not a true option, and the situation remains the same as the kicking exchange develops.

    The only change is that Michael Hooper takes up position as the outside chaser on Hodge’s third kick, leaving him vulnerable in the one-on-one with Wales wing Steff Evans – just imagine if it was Rieko Ioane returning that kick, not Evans!

    The chase for Foley’s well-placed attacking diagonals also tended to work better when Hodge was back on the wing, putting his speed to use, not playing inside or making the kick himself:




    In the first couple of frames, Kuridrani does not have the speed to beat Evans to first touch, in the second pair Hodge gets to the ball before both Evans and Leigh Halfpenny, and is unlucky not to ground the ball for a try.

    The result of Hodge’s use as an extra playmaker rather than a finisher was both an imbalance in the Australian attack, and a lack of true width to one side of the field:


    In the Wallabies’ first attack at the beginning of the second half, both Hodge and Koroibete are on the right side of the field, with the two centres paired on the left.

    Right at the end of the first period, Kerevi arguably had an opportunity to take Liam Williams on the outside and score in the corner, but instead chose to step inside and set up another phase of play.

    As it happened, it didn’t matter, because Hooper squeezed over on the opposite side of the field six phases later, but at least on that occasion he had Hodge for company, back in his natural position outside him!

    Summary
    There is a limit to the interchangeability of positions, however enticing the vision of ‘total rugby’ may become.

    Even the Dutch national side of the 1970s depended on a heartbeat of players who could play their core roles to a very high standard – the midfield crafter and passer (Wim van Hanegem), the pitbull hustler (Wim Jansen) and the box-to-box marathon runner (Johan Neeskens).

    The attraction of adding yet another playmaker from the back three on top of the existing duo of Bernard Foley and Kurtley Beale may be a sacrifice to style over substance, particularly if Michael Cheika and his coaching team continue to select the two Ks, Kerevi and Kuridrani, in the centres.

    It means either one will have to spend time – too much time – filling in as the widest attacker or chaser.

    A more balanced arrangement would see Karmichael Hunt at fullback, replacing Kerevi, adding a third pair of hands when necessary in attack, and allowing Reece Hodge to fulfil the more natural requirements of his role out on the wing.

    That is the arrangement I expect to see against England at Twickenham this coming Saturday.

    Nicholas Bishop
    Nicholas Bishop

    Nick Bishop has worked as a rugby analyst and advisor to Graham Henry (1999-2003), Mike Ruddock (2004-2005) and most recently Stuart Lancaster (2011-2015). He also worked on the 2001 British & Irish Lions tour to Australia and produced his first rugby book with Graham Henry at the end of the tour. Three more rugby books have followed, all of which of have either been nominated for or won national sports book awards. Nick’s latest is a biography of Phil Larder, the first top Rugby League coach to successfully transfer over to Union, entitled “The Iron Curtain”. He is currently writing articles for The Roar and The Rugby Site, and working as a strategy consultant to Stuart Lancaster and the Leinster coaching staff for their European matches.

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    The Crowd Says (260)

    • Roar Rookie

      November 15th 2017 @ 5:08am
      tsuru said | November 15th 2017 @ 5:08am | ! Report

      So Nicholas, as I understand you, you’re saying striving for “total rugby” is good, but it needs clear planning of how it is done. How many national teams do you think are working towards “total rugby”?

      • November 15th 2017 @ 8:06am
        Goatee said | November 15th 2017 @ 8:06am | ! Report

        Nick. A compelling read. Thank you.

        For those of us who are old enough to remember both the 1974 and ’78, FIFA World Cups, the Dutch national side were a joy to watch… and ALMOST made Brazil look pedestrian. There could be no greater compliment. Although they never won a WC (they were finalists twice) they won a legion of admirers through their approach to the game. Trying to imitate and perfect the Cruyff turn (see link) on the playing fields and in the school playground was high on the agenda for both myself and many of my friends at that time!

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYtzf7YD8oY

        As you have highlighted, their system was dependent on players that were solid in their core roles but who also possessed the skill-set required of other roles. It also helped to have ‘once in a lifetime’ players, all in the same team… Cruyff, Neeskins and Kroll who today, would all be contenders for an all-time World XI.
        However, I believe the effectiveness of their team was dependent upon two key factors, Firstly, continuity of selection, which was essential for the cohesiveness of the team, and secondly, high quality players with both the skill-set and ability to change and adapt roles.

        Australia, for all their improvement – and this has been significant since their last visit to Twickenham – are by Cheika’s own admission, still a work in progress. Beale is great and has become a more rounded player since his stint in the NH but aside from him and possibly Hodge (who appears to possess both the skill-set and temperament required to become a great player) the thesis, for ‘total’ rugby, is at present, looking a little premature, IMO.

        On the basis that continuity of selection is vital, I remain, at this stage, unconvinced that MC really knows what his optimum BR is. The loss of Demspey, who looked the goods, prior to his injury won’t have helped him in this regard. Dominance in the BR, with at least, parity in the set piece which will determine who comes out on top on Saturday.
        From England’s perspective, I’m anticipating that EJ will make the right call with regard to the balance of England’s BR. I suspect he will opt for Robshaw, Underhill and Hughes, which has a solid but balanced feel about it, though I would prefer Tom Curry as a starter (if fit), in place of Underhill, for greater mobility and capacity to complement the attack.

        In terms of your thesis, it’s also interesting that when EJ announced his initial squad for the EOYT, the forwards named were placed in two categories; Back Five and Front Row, while the backs were designated, ‘Full Backs’ and ‘Inside Backs’.

        Overall, I expect England to prevail in a tight game due to home advantage and greater depth on the bench.

        It’s going to be a cracker!

        • November 15th 2017 @ 8:27am
          Goatee said | November 15th 2017 @ 8:27am | ! Report

          To clarify… ‘Dominance in the BR…’ should really read as ‘Dominance at the breakdown…’ This, along with the quality of set piece, will determine who wins on Saturday.

        • Columnist

          November 15th 2017 @ 10:22am
          Nicholas Bishop said | November 15th 2017 @ 10:22am | ! Report

          Thanks for journey down memory lane G. I too enjoyed those Dutch sides hugely and their movement and interchange of positions was something to behold. Remember the 4-0 rout of Argentina?

          I think Eddie will reintroduce Itoje in the back-row at Underhill’s expense and play ‘heavy’, with Launchbury and Lawes in a mobile and combative S/R. We’ll see.

          • November 15th 2017 @ 4:04pm
            Cuw said | November 15th 2017 @ 4:04pm | ! Report

            nah – Eddie loves Underhill and he is a tackling machine. he is England’s |Sam cane.

            sometihng line this lineup.

            Brown / Watson , Watson / Rokoduguni , Joseph / Slade , Farrell , Daly , Ford , Youngs

            Hughes , Underhill , Robshaw , itoje , Lawes , Cole , Hartley , Vunipolla.

            George, Marler , Williams , Launchbury , Simmonds, Care , Brown / Watson , Watson / Rokoduguni , Joseph / Slade

            • Columnist

              November 15th 2017 @ 6:58pm
              Nicholas Bishop said | November 15th 2017 @ 6:58pm | ! Report

              Yeah not sold on those forwards CUW! Or for that matter on all the praise heaped on Underhill. If I had a choice between him and Joe Launchbury (which is what it effectively comes down to) I know who I’d have right now 🙂

              • November 15th 2017 @ 7:26pm
                Cuw said | November 15th 2017 @ 7:26pm | ! Report

                yeah but it will be a big losing face for Eddie if he was to put Itoje at 6 and Robshaw at 7 – after all that he said about Robshaw being 6.5 and what not 🙂

          • Columnist

            November 15th 2017 @ 7:02pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | November 15th 2017 @ 7:02pm | ! Report

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYPS5JuBmdc

            links to that famous Argentina game (sorry Carlos!), with Cruyff out on the left wing for the last two goals.

            • Roar Guru

              November 16th 2017 @ 3:06am
              Carlos the Argie said | November 16th 2017 @ 3:06am | ! Report

              Nothing to be sorry. It was a milestone for Argentine football. Thanks to that game, they realized they needed to change.

              Sometimes big disasters wake you up and make you accept reality. Argentina lived in its past glory and, as was and is typical, believed too much its own self promotion. This game told them the truth.

              In Argentina they used to call the Dutch team the Clockwork Orange, after the book and movie.

              I wonder if today they are relying way too much on Messi As glorious as he is, he is not a whole team.

              • Columnist

                November 16th 2017 @ 7:57am
                Nicholas Bishop said | November 16th 2017 @ 7:57am | ! Report

                Well they used it to their advantage, beating the Dutch in the 1978 final.

            • Roar Guru

              November 16th 2017 @ 4:45am
              Carlos the Argie said | November 16th 2017 @ 4:45am | ! Report

              This was Gus Picot’s speech at Rugby World recently. Full of emotions and passion, but I am not sure what he said.

              It doesn’t go here, but I don’t know how to get it to you all:

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owxsy5ACC0M&feature=youtu.be

      • Columnist

        November 15th 2017 @ 10:17am
        Nicholas Bishop said | November 15th 2017 @ 10:17am | ! Report

        The AB’s undoubtedly (and have been for many years), England have shown some signs, and the Wallabies. All are slightly different in flavour according to national characteristics!

      • November 15th 2017 @ 5:52pm
        Curl said | November 15th 2017 @ 5:52pm | ! Report

        I just want to know where Cooper fits into all of this!

        Oops…did I say something?

        • November 15th 2017 @ 5:53pm
          Curl said | November 15th 2017 @ 5:53pm | ! Report

          PS. Nicholas, another great analysis.

        • Columnist

          November 15th 2017 @ 7:03pm
          Nicholas Bishop said | November 15th 2017 @ 7:03pm | ! Report

          Steady Curl, steady!

    • November 15th 2017 @ 5:40am
      riddler said | November 15th 2017 @ 5:40am | ! Report

      cheers nic.. will have a proper read in an hour or so..

      watching a great game between the kiwis and the french right now.. very enjoyable..

      • Columnist

        November 15th 2017 @ 10:23am
        Nicholas Bishop said | November 15th 2017 @ 10:23am | ! Report

        Who’s winning Riddler? Or is it a rerun of weekend’s game (not seen it as yet)…?

        • Roar Guru

          November 15th 2017 @ 10:24am
          PeterK said | November 15th 2017 @ 10:24am | ! Report

          mid week match it’s over now

          • November 15th 2017 @ 12:02pm
            Jp said | November 15th 2017 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

            Wow 60,000 for a mid week match, full of second stringers.. all blacks money grabs..

            • November 15th 2017 @ 1:24pm
              P2R2 said | November 15th 2017 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

              if you want the BEST the BEST get the money….how many would have turned up for AUS vs French BaaBaas??? 20K

            • November 15th 2017 @ 4:58pm
              Cuw said | November 15th 2017 @ 4:58pm | ! Report

              The scorers:

              For France XV:
              Tries: Lacroix 2, Chavancy
              Con: Trinh-Duc
              Pens: Trinh-Duc, Plisson

              For New Zealand:
              Tries: Squire, Duffie, Tuipulotu, Laumape
              Cons: Sopoaga 3, Mo’unga
              Yellow Card: Goodhue

        • November 15th 2017 @ 7:00pm
          riddler said | November 15th 2017 @ 7:00pm | ! Report

          nic the midweek game and it was a belter of a game.. very enjoyable..

          very surprised by the french team..

          if you get a chance have a watch..

          the french have unearthed a potential superstar in their no.7, macalou, last night..

          also their little winger lacroix, twin of jack nowell in so many ways, was pretty fast..

          well worth a watch matey if you can..

          • Columnist

            November 15th 2017 @ 7:04pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | November 15th 2017 @ 7:04pm | ! Report

            Cheers Riddler, will go look for a copy!

          • November 15th 2017 @ 7:47pm
            Cuw said | November 15th 2017 @ 7:47pm | ! Report

            that was a very good team . very experienced team and more importantly guys in good form in top 14.

            15 Scott Spedding, over 20 test caps and over 150 1st class games in both France and South Africa
            14 Gabriel Lacroix, over 100 1st class games
            13 Henry Chavancy, over 200 1st class games and capped by France ( i think)
            12 Jonathan Danty, over 50 1st class games and capped by France ( i think)
            11 Hugo Bonneval, over 100 1st class games and capped by France
            10 François Trinh-Duc, over 200 1st class games and 60 caps for France
            9 Yann Lesgourgues, over 100 1st class games
            8 Marco Tauleigne, over 100 1st class games
            7 Sekou Macalou, over 50 1st class games
            6 Wenceslas Lauret, over 50 1st class games and capped by France
            5 Romain Taofifenua, over 100 1st class games and capped by France
            4 Yoann Maestri, over 200 1st class games and over 50 caps for France
            3 Malik Hamadache, over 100 1st class games
            2 Camille Chat, over 50 1st class games and capped by France
            1 Dany Priso, over 20 1st class games

            Replacements:

            16 Christopher Tolofua, over 50 1st class games and capped by France ( I think)
            17 Mohamed Boughanmi, over 50 1st class games and capped by France ( I think)
            18 Lucas Pointud, over 100 1st class games and capped by France ( I think)
            19 Julien Le Devedec, over 100 1st class games and capped by France
            20 Fabien Sanconnie, over 50 1st class games and capped by France ( i think)
            21 Maxime Machenaud, over 200 1st class games and capped by France
            22 Jules Plisson, over 150 1st class games and capped by France
            23 Vincent Rattez over 100 1st class games and capped by France ( i think)

    • Roar Guru

      November 15th 2017 @ 5:59am
      Carlos the Argie said | November 15th 2017 @ 5:59am | ! Report

      Hehehe! Total football by Holland?

      Yes, they played quite nicely in 1974 but lost to Germany in the final. They crushed Argentina during the tournament.

      In 1978, Cruyff (and I think a few others) elected not to participate in the World Cup as protest to the military government in Argentina. They lost in the finals 3-1. I actually was at RiBer Plate Stadium when they beat Italy in a previous game.

      Holland never won a World Cup. They are not even going to Russia next year. So sad. 🙂

      I do think you have a point of needing multiple skills, but if I remember correctly, you discussed this before. The problem here is that some of the players you mention for the Wallabies don’t actually have the total rugby skills. It is not a case where total rugby fails but where the skills of some players fail. Total skills and not total rugby.

      This was another very provocative and nice article. I hope you don’t mind my different view of nuance and not substance.

      • Columnist

        November 15th 2017 @ 10:26am
        Nicholas Bishop said | November 15th 2017 @ 10:26am | ! Report

        This was another very provocative and nice article. I hope you don’t mind my different view of nuance and not substance.

        Not at all Carlos, not at all. Feel free to comment in any way you like.

        I’d agree that some of the Australian skill-sets are too limited to be of much value in a ‘total’ approach – although a lot of the tight forwards are coming along very quickly in that respect…

        • November 15th 2017 @ 4:09pm
          Cuw said | November 15th 2017 @ 4:09pm | ! Report

          @ Nicholas Bishop

          may be u need to look at Jürgen Klopp’s ” heavy metal football “. 🙂

    • November 15th 2017 @ 6:08am
      mzilikazi said | November 15th 2017 @ 6:08am | ! Report

      Interesting article Nic. Thanks. Always good to get your take on aspects of a game. Will read a second time later on…lot to digest in there.

      Thought that was a good game on Sat, with Wales showing a lot of heart, and often outplaying the WB’s. Pity about the handling errors on the Welsh side. I would think there is hope of better to come in the 6 Nations next year.

      For our part, we will have to lift, and play a very smart game on Sat. to have any hope v England.

      • Columnist

        November 15th 2017 @ 10:28am
        Nicholas Bishop said | November 15th 2017 @ 10:28am | ! Report

        Thanks MZ, I have a feeling Saturday could turn out to be Australia’s best chance of beating England since the last WC. They’ll be going in confident, and Eddie has some selection problems of his own…

        • November 16th 2017 @ 12:29am
          bloodypom said | November 16th 2017 @ 12:29am | ! Report

          Hi Nick, sorry but what selection problems are these?

          Are you referring to his back row?

          • Columnist

            November 16th 2017 @ 1:03am
            Nicholas Bishop said | November 16th 2017 @ 1:03am | ! Report

            B/R is one issue, the right midfield combination is another. EJ has said he wants to get more power and size somewhere in his backline, but both Teo and Tuilagi are injured.

            I very much doubt Ford/Farrell/Slade will be the answer to that problem. At Exeter, Slade plays with Ian Whitten who provides the power and bulk.

    • November 15th 2017 @ 6:20am
      soapit said | November 15th 2017 @ 6:20am | ! Report

      hi nic, thanks for the article. minor point, on tevita chase through to the corner the winger is a fair bit further back so had a head start on him compared to the hodge one.

      interesting to think of the wingers role as more specialist. its been a bit of a position that we’ve often shoehorned someone into that couldnt be fit elsewhere (oconnor, mortlock, aac to an extent) and usually had good success from that list so perhaps the instincts to play there have been underestimated a little.

      • Columnist

        November 15th 2017 @ 10:31am
        Nicholas Bishop said | November 15th 2017 @ 10:31am | ! Report

        Cheers Soap, yes there are some diffs in the two chases, but overall the WB attack did look rather one-sided and that’s why they din’t get around the Welsh D very often.

        When the AB’s put guys other than pure wings out on the edge, they all seem to be able to play like a true finisher! Think Coles or Fifita or Ben Smith…

        • November 15th 2017 @ 4:17pm
          Cuw said | November 15th 2017 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

          @ Nicholas Bishop

          a different take on ” When the AB’s put guys other than pure wings out on the edge, they all seem to be able to play like a true finisher ”

          i think when NZ have a non-back on one wing , they concentrate the fire power on the other wing and then slowly move into midfield with a series of breakdowns.

          by this they attract the defence inwards until they create an overlap or just man-on-man defence.

          last night When Squire scored he had just one guy on him. Duffie did not even have a man on him on the opposite wing when he scored.

          but later on in the match the french kept on defending but not committing a lot to the breakdowns , so when anyone including big wings like Seta ran , they had 2 or 3 to cover and push into touch.

          i think the big french guys were able to hold or repel the NZ attack at parity , rather than needing extra guys to hit the breakdowns. they spent a lot of time inside French 25 and also in the 5 but scored only 3 short-range trys.

        • Columnist

          November 15th 2017 @ 6:14pm
          Geoff Parkes said | November 15th 2017 @ 6:14pm | ! Report

          and Codie Taylor in the first Lions test. That was one heck of a finish!

          • Columnist

            November 15th 2017 @ 7:06pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | November 15th 2017 @ 7:06pm | ! Report

            And this young guy Asafo Aumua looks like the next step in ‘developing’ Dane Coles Geoff!

            • Columnist

              November 15th 2017 @ 9:02pm
              Geoff Parkes said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:02pm | ! Report

              Did you see the try Aumua scored against – I think it was Canterbury – a few weeks back? Forget about the number on his back, that was a swerve and pace on the outside that most wingers would die for.

              • Columnist

                November 15th 2017 @ 10:32pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | November 15th 2017 @ 10:32pm | ! Report

                That was a Mitre 10 game I take it Geoff?

              • November 16th 2017 @ 8:45am
                ClarkeG said | November 16th 2017 @ 8:45am | ! Report

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Wc5HWH7kH0

                The fullback he beats is George Bridge who scored twice for the Barbarians against the ABs at Twickenham.

          • November 15th 2017 @ 8:37pm
            Cuw said | November 15th 2017 @ 8:37pm | ! Report

            it would have been an easy finish had the pass been near his tummy rather than the toes.

            even a slipper would be proud of that catch 🙂

        • November 15th 2017 @ 6:46pm
          soapit said | November 15th 2017 @ 6:46pm | ! Report

          yeah for sure nic.

    • Roar Pro

      November 15th 2017 @ 6:28am
      Matt Davis said | November 15th 2017 @ 6:28am | ! Report

      Thanks for another insightful piece Nick.
      Would you say that the degree to which the team is trying to play with this much fluidity has increased in the last couple of games?

      I get the impression that the coaches are trying on some adjustments to the game plan-and as you seem to indicate here, Hodge’s development as a back-up 10 is continuing in-game (even out at 11).

      Why is it you would select Hunt at 15 and not a straight swap for Kerevi at 12? I would’ve thought it gives the same amount of directional flex in attack but de-clutters on defense.

      • November 15th 2017 @ 7:18am
        Connor33 said | November 15th 2017 @ 7:18am | ! Report

        Yeah, I toggle with things below. But Hunt for Kerevi is probably the cleanest swap given the players available.

        I feel for Kerevi, but he’s just not a starting test player (at the moment).

        • Roar Guru

          November 15th 2017 @ 8:40am
          PeterK said | November 15th 2017 @ 8:40am | ! Report

          Agree I would have Hunt at 12 and leave Beale at 15.

          NB If Hunt is at 12 and organisng the defence what do you think about Kerevi at 13 instead of TK.

          Without Folau Kerevi is needed more than TK for his attack.

          Hodge is NOT a playmaker but is a very good wing/fb. He should stay in position on the wing and Kerevi should stay at centre.

          • Columnist

            November 15th 2017 @ 10:35am
            Nicholas Bishop said | November 15th 2017 @ 10:35am | ! Report

            Kuridrani has done nothing to deserve being dropped Peter, and Kerevi has yet to prove he can handle the defensive decision-making at 13 (Hunt can’t do that for him!).

            The Two K’s in the centre would work far better with Folau at 14 instead of Hodge.

            • Roar Guru

              November 15th 2017 @ 10:39am
              PeterK said | November 15th 2017 @ 10:39am | ! Report

              Kuridrani missed 5 tackles / 12 against Wales and had little impact in attack.

            • Roar Guru

              November 15th 2017 @ 10:47am
              PeterK said | November 15th 2017 @ 10:47am | ! Report

              BTW IMO it should not have anything to do with deserving to be dropped.

              Horses for course, if a player is better suited against an opponent or to cover up a for a missing player then it is fine to replace a performing player.

              In this case Folau is sorely missed for his running attack. Kerevi can provide the same , TK can’t.
              Yes it may cause some defensive issues.

              • November 15th 2017 @ 5:00pm
                Cuw said | November 15th 2017 @ 5:00pm | ! Report

                Folau also causes defensive issues 😛

              • Columnist

                November 15th 2017 @ 7:09pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | November 15th 2017 @ 7:09pm | ! Report

                That’s how coaches inspire loyalty Petere – by being consistent in selection. Kuridrani has been a major plank in the the resurgence over the last few games, and I would not trust Kerevi (as yet) to defend Joseph and England’s speed out wide.

        • Roar Guru

          November 15th 2017 @ 9:53am
          Hoy said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:53am | ! Report

          I think Kerevi’s development has been buggered up a fair bit. He is a very good footballer, but I think they are using him wrongly, and by switching him in and out of the team, and between 12 and 13, he is getting ruined I fear.

          Looking at the picture above, he really should have gone for the corner, and used the inside support runner to score the try…

          Looking at the game plan we have, it really is stupidly difficult. I don’t know if that is by design, or just what happens… Why would we want Hodge, Beale AND Foley to do playmaking (I use that word loosely)? Too many cooks in the kitchen ruin the broth isn’t it? Hodge and Foley aren’t creative, and Beale is an opportunist. Stop making our winger pop up at second receiver to pass wide… it is just silly to me to have this system. It offers no advantage.

          • Columnist

            November 15th 2017 @ 10:36am
            Nicholas Bishop said | November 15th 2017 @ 10:36am | ! Report

            I think it is a case of too many cooks Hoy – and Hunt would probably be a better chef than Hodge anyhoo 🙂

            • Roar Guru

              November 15th 2017 @ 11:14am
              Hoy said | November 15th 2017 @ 11:14am | ! Report

              I think this is why Beale at 12 and Cooper at 10 don’t work well… Cooper creates opportunities for his outside men, and is constantly scheming to create these opportunities… Beale sees opportunities himself… the two are at opposite ends of the spectrum. They get in each other’s way.

              That’s aside from their defensive frailties…

              Why we want a winger now trying to play as a third ball player, when he isn’t very good at that anyway, is just silly. Go back to what worked before the idea of Hodge as a playmaker was installed in Cheika’s brain, and use Foley feeding structure, and Beale seizing opportunities.

              • November 15th 2017 @ 5:04pm
                Cuw said | November 15th 2017 @ 5:04pm | ! Report

                that is why they put KB at 15 at WASPS. he was cramping Cip’s style 🙂

              • Columnist

                November 15th 2017 @ 7:10pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | November 15th 2017 @ 7:10pm | ! Report

                As a matter of interest Hoy, have Cooper and Beale ever been tried together at 10 and 12 in a competitive match? Struggling to recall any instances….

      • November 15th 2017 @ 7:43am
        Davo said | November 15th 2017 @ 7:43am | ! Report

        Yes, I think Cheika has shown in the past that he sees Hunt as a 12, and that is where he’ll be playing on Saturday. They seem to have been preparing for life without Folau well in advance, based on Hunt at 12 and Beale at 15. Kerevi, like Kurudrani, is really only suited to 13 at the top level. I suspect Kerevi won’t even make the bench for the England game, with Cheika preferring a more versatile player like Rona as reserve.

        • Roar Guru

          November 15th 2017 @ 8:42am
          PeterK said | November 15th 2017 @ 8:42am | ! Report

          If Cheika actually wants an impact player he would have Kerevi on the bench.

          There are enough versatile players starting so extra utlility players on the bench is not that necessary.

          • November 15th 2017 @ 10:58am
            Connor33 said | November 15th 2017 @ 10:58am | ! Report

            I agree re Kerevi on the bench for impact.

        • Roar Guru

          November 15th 2017 @ 10:05am
          Hoy said | November 15th 2017 @ 10:05am | ! Report

          After watching Hunt on the weekend, I worry the bloke is too much like a terrier… just into everything like a frenzied rat hunter…

          He needs to stay calm, pick him moments to be a demented mole, and bury his head everywhere it is dark.

          Playing like a kamikaze isn’t going to get you heaps of game time.

        • Columnist

          November 15th 2017 @ 10:38am
          Nicholas Bishop said | November 15th 2017 @ 10:38am | ! Report

          I think it makes more sense to select Hunt at 15 Davo – Hodge can defend in between Hooper and Kuridrani from lineouts (he was pretty good in that role v the AB’s at Brisbane), and leave Hunt and Beale to make play from the back…

          • Roar Guru

            November 15th 2017 @ 10:48am
            PeterK said | November 15th 2017 @ 10:48am | ! Report

            Hunt is better under the highball than Beale which is a bonus. Also a better defender.

            • Columnist

              November 15th 2017 @ 7:12pm
              Nicholas Bishop said | November 15th 2017 @ 7:12pm | ! Report

              Expect England to use a strong kicking game on Saturday, and Hunt at 15 would be a strong response to that…

      • November 15th 2017 @ 8:48am
        Davo said | November 15th 2017 @ 8:48am | ! Report

        Another reason to put Hunt at 12 this weekend is to build playmaker depth in that position for RWC. Beale doesn’t need more test experience there to be RWC ready, but Hunt does. This has just become even more important with Matt Toomua ruling himself out of RWC 2019 by extending his Leicester contract.

        • November 15th 2017 @ 11:54am
          Connor33 said | November 15th 2017 @ 11:54am | ! Report

          Seriously, is Toomua out for RWC. How many tests has he got u see his belt. Not 60. But Cheika has gotta consider a 30 test rule. Or 60 SR caps, so to bring Toomua back into the fold.

          Toomua could have been a top notch 10 for AU.

          • November 15th 2017 @ 1:29pm
            Fionn said | November 15th 2017 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

            I always thought he was more of a 12 than a 10, and Lealiifano was more of a 10 than a 12. Lealiifano could have been, and hopefully can still be, a top 10 for Australia.

            I think that Toomua could have been a good 12 for Australia.

            • November 15th 2017 @ 1:35pm
              Connor33 said | November 15th 2017 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

              Yeah, agree. But what made them so good at the Brumbies was their interchangeability.

              With Gatland now moving to two playmakers, may being Number 102 should be allocated to each playmaker.

          • Columnist

            November 15th 2017 @ 7:13pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | November 15th 2017 @ 7:13pm | ! Report

            George Ford said recently that Toomua was “by far” the best 12 he had ever played with (presumably including Owen Farrell, who plays there for England). Go figure.

      • Columnist

        November 15th 2017 @ 10:33am
        Nicholas Bishop said | November 15th 2017 @ 10:33am | ! Report

        Thanks Matt.

        I think it makes sense to move Hodge back to 12 on D (where he played against the AB’s in Brisbane) and leave Hunt and Beale to take care of the backfield chores.

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