Thorn’s big backline calls

Cam Stokes Roar Pro

By Cam Stokes, Cam Stokes is a Roar Pro

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    New Queensland Reds head coach Brad Thorn would’ve bristled with barely contained rage when he heard the news that Karmichael Hunt had again found himself in hot water with the law.

    Only recently re-signed by Rugby Australia for a further two years, Hunt was looking like a key plank in Thorn’s bid to reignite the Reds in 2018. The former teammates share a love for the physicality of the game, a trait Thorn will try to engender in everything the Reds do this year.

    However, if we take it as read that Hunt has played his last game for the Reds, which prior to the legal proceedings is not necessarily a certainty yet, his omission from the team leaves Thorn with some tricky questions to answer before the season kicks off in February.

    Having recently advised both Quade Cooper and Nick Frisby that they were surplus to requirements at Ballymore, the Reds backline was due to look considerably different this year even before Hunt’s likely departure. To assess the impact of losing Hunt we need to understand what Thorn’s intentions might have been for the cross-code star.

    Was Hunt due to stay at fullback, with Hamish Stewart being handed the reins at fly-half from week one, or was Duncan Paia’aua about to move in one spot, allowing Hunt to continue his development as an inside centre and with Stewart being eased in from the back?

    (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

    The reality is that the three players are each versatile enough to cover a number of backline positions, so it’s difficult to know exactly what Thorn had in mind. What is clear is that Thorn is a fan of those who did the job for him in the National Rugby Championship with Queensland Country, and a number of those players will be rewarded with first crack at the starting XV.

    It appears safe to say that there are two near certainties in the Reds backline for Round 1, barring anything unforeseen. James Tuttle led Queensland Country around the park all season, and it is likely this form was the deciding factor in Thorn releasing Nick Frisby. Tuttle will take the number nine jumper and with the backing of his coach should be looking to develop into a realistic Wallabies option by the end of the year.

    The other certainty should be that Samu Kerevi will lock down the number 13 for every match he is available. Thorn must resist the temptation to slide him in one spot and instead allow Kerevi to rediscover his tackle-shredding best from outside centre. Playing outside a ten and 12 that are both running and passing threats can only free up extra space for the best metre-eater in Australia.

    Outside of those two spots the other positions are up for grabs. It looks likely that Stewart will get first shot at fly-half, with his Country teammate Paia’aua outside him. The key here, though, is who replaces Hunt at fullback.

    (Sportography/QRU)

    Izaia Perese will demand a starting spot somewhere, most likely on the wing, but is he an option to go back to 15? Eto Nabuli doesn’t offer the kicking game, and Filipo Daugunu, as electrifying as he is, needs to be eased in on the flank. Lachlan Maranta cannot even be in the conversation unless something has dramatically changed in the offseason.

    If Thorn does opt for Stewart at the back, he will be looking for a 12, which is where he will be tempted to move Kerevi. Chris Feauai-Sautia is much more comfortable at outside centre, so perhaps the lack of options at 12 might make the decision for him. A super-sized midfield of Kerevi and Feuaui-Sautia is something we might see at some stage this year, though.

    The least likely option of all is that Quade gets a call inviting him back to Ballymore. Next to no chance, but another injury or two would make things interesting.

    So with the squad as it currently stands, Thorn appears to have two options for the make-up of his backline to start the Super Rugby season:

    1. Tuttle;
    2. Stewart;
    3. Daugunu;
    4. Paia’aua;
    5. Kerevi;
    6. Nabuli; and
    7. Perese.

    Or

    1. Tuttle;
    2. Paia’aua;
    3. Daugunu/Nabuli;
    4. Kerevi;
    5. Feauai-Sautia;
    6. Perese; and
    7. Stewart.

    It’s option one for me. Are there any combinations I’ve missed?

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    The Crowd Says (122)

    • January 4th 2018 @ 8:03am
      Dave_S said | January 4th 2018 @ 8:03am | ! Report

      Option 2 for me.

      I don’t see Stewart is ready to be a starting 10, preferable to ease him in through 15.

      A 12. SK and 13. CFS combo looks most suitable. Reds will need a more experienced head closer to the action than 13, and sadly KS is now the “wise old head” in this squad of backs.

      But it would be absolute bl00dy mindedness not to bring back Quade, now. It would not be a sign of weakness for Thorn to do so – he could not have predicted Hunt’s case.

      Time for Thorn to swallow his pride.

      • January 4th 2018 @ 8:21am
        Dave_S said | January 4th 2018 @ 8:21am | ! Report

        Regarding Quade, all this assumes Hunt is gone for good.

        If not, maybe go for Hunt at 10? Cheika supposedly had this as a Plan B for the WBs vs Japan. Hunt has all the necessary skills and is a natural on-field leader (off-field issues aside). It means that we’d have a tough-tackling 10, and our best centre combo retained as per last year. Stewart covers 15.

        But I can’t see Thorn keeping Hunt, even if he’s allowed to.

        • Roar Rookie

          January 4th 2018 @ 11:41am
          piru said | January 4th 2018 @ 11:41am | ! Report

          He does have a nose for the white line

          • January 4th 2018 @ 4:48pm
            mtiger said | January 4th 2018 @ 4:48pm | ! Report

            WIn

          • January 4th 2018 @ 10:17pm
            Rhys Bosley said | January 4th 2018 @ 10:17pm | ! Report

            You made me snort …

            • Roar Rookie

              January 5th 2018 @ 1:37pm
              piru said | January 5th 2018 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

              Well when in Rome…

          • January 5th 2018 @ 12:13pm
            marfu said | January 5th 2018 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

            He shoots, he scores !

        • January 4th 2018 @ 11:45am
          redbull said | January 4th 2018 @ 11:45am | ! Report

          Hunt was a great rugby league fullback and a serviceable but unspectacular 5/8. I would assume similar results for similar positions in rugby.

          • January 5th 2018 @ 7:43am
            Jake said | January 5th 2018 @ 7:43am | ! Report

            RedBull

            KH never played 5/8. He did play 3 games as HB but never #6.

            • January 5th 2018 @ 12:26pm
              redbull said | January 5th 2018 @ 12:26pm | ! Report

              I could swear he played more than a few games at 6 in a year when Lockyer was injured. Cause I remember thinking at the time that Lockyer really did make him look good by getting the ball to him as he came in from the back, which he was superb at. More research required obviously.

            • January 5th 2018 @ 1:17pm
              Bakkies said | January 5th 2018 @ 1:17pm | ! Report

              A league 5/8 is not the same as a Rugby flyhalf. In league the 5/8 stands where the inside centre is positioned in Rugby.

              He did play flyhalf for Biarritz

          • January 5th 2018 @ 11:19am
            Bang said | January 5th 2018 @ 11:19am | ! Report

            I’m glad you blokes never spoke to Steve Larkham … you’d have told him he was too tall when he was a 9 and couldn’t kick when he was a 15 and I wonder what you’d have told him when he was a wallaby 10 … but I can guess.

    • January 4th 2018 @ 9:23am
      Fionn said | January 4th 2018 @ 9:23am | ! Report

      Duncan P is on record as saying he doesn’t really feel comfortable at 10. For me, this is a huge red flag and reallt indicates he should stay at 12 and that Stewart should be at 10.

      Either way, if Hunt is out then I cannot see how Quade cannot be invited back into the squad. Sounds like the Reds will have to keep paying him, and there are almost no other leaders in the backline.

      • January 4th 2018 @ 9:26am
        Rhys Bosley said | January 4th 2018 @ 9:26am | ! Report

        “Duncan P is on record as saying he doesn’t really feel comfortable at 10. For me, this is a huge red flag and reallt indicates he should stay at 12 and that Stewart should be at 10.”

        That doesn’t mean anything, he might just have had being deferential to his teammate Quade when he said it. And he has just spent the entire NRC season at 10 with Country, given that they won I’d say he is more comfortable there than six months ago.

        • January 4th 2018 @ 9:52am
          Fionn said | January 4th 2018 @ 9:52am | ! Report

          It doesn’t mean anything when a player says he’s not comfortable playing in a position?

          … right.

          As far as I am aware he spent the entire NRC season at 12 outside of Stewart at 10, Rhys.

          • January 4th 2018 @ 10:11am
            Rhys Bosley said | January 4th 2018 @ 10:11am | ! Report

            Fair enough re Stewart playing 10 in NRC, my mistake, but one comment by a player in the media without any other context still means nothing – except to those who want it to. The coaches wouldn’t have put DP up to play 10 in the Baa Baas game if they didn’t think he could do it.

            • January 4th 2018 @ 10:28am
              Fionn said | January 4th 2018 @ 10:28am | ! Report

              The “coaches” (and by that we mean Cheika) had Reece Hodge play at 10 against Japan despite him being unable to pass left to right consistently, Rhys. It was a Baa Baas game and they clearly wanted to see how he would do.

              The fact that he doesn’t even play at 10 at NRC level is pretty indicative. Especially when his teammate who plays 10 at NRC is in his team for the Reds, and the same coach coaches both teams.

              I would just be a bit surprised if he runs on at 10 in round 1. I think 12 is more likely, and probably the better decision too.

              • January 4th 2018 @ 8:05pm
                Rhys Bosley said | January 4th 2018 @ 8:05pm | ! Report

                I think you will find that Larkham has a fair bit to do with trialling the younger players at 10, as he was the one complaining at the beginning of last year of the lack of Super Rugby quality flyhalves in this country. Hence his needing to recruit of Hawera.

                I tend to think that our World Cup winning former fly half may know a bit more about the qualities of a suitable fly half than either you or I do, so I will take it that he thought both Paia’aua and Hodge have the potential to do the job. And I think they both acquitted themselves well. Of course they both have things to iron out in their games, but then none of our older fly halves have managed to become complete players after all these years, have they. It is worth giving younger blokes a go, instead of just flogging the same mob of dead horses.

                As for whether Paia’aua will play 10 or 12 with the Reds, that is a different question as to whether or not he can effectively play 10. I strongly agree that the plan was likely that he would stay at 12, where Thorn played him at NRC, because they have another 10 in Stewart. However, that is all up in the air now that Hunt is likely out, isn’t it, with there being reasonable odds that one of them will have to play fullback. I don’t know much about Stewart but I presume that since the author of the article suggested him as a fullback option, that he can play that position. That would leave DP at 10, something that I have no problem with.

              • January 4th 2018 @ 9:08pm
                Fionn said | January 4th 2018 @ 9:08pm | ! Report

                ‘I think you will find that Larkham has a fair bit to do with trialling the younger players at 10’

                Are you basing that on any inside knowledge whatsoever or just the fact that he complained about the lack of 10s + recruiting Hawera? Honest question.

                So the fact that Nicholas Bishop doesn’t think that Hodge displayed the abilities of a 10 is meaningless, because he wasn’t a World Cup winning flyhalf?

                Each to their own re. Hodge’s performance at 10. I think he did okay but he made some poor errors also, and until he improves his left to right pass he simply cannot be a 10.

                I really do not like the practice of putting natural 12s at 10 and expecting it to work. Nathan Grey at 10 didn’t work. Didn’t Tim Horan play at 10 ineffectively at various times? Giteau was never really a 10 either.

                I just don’t see Paia’aua as a 10. I’m happy to be proven wrong, however, and for him to prove himself as capable of playing in that position for the Wallabies. That would honestly be a true godsend.

              • January 4th 2018 @ 9:39pm
                Rhys Bosley said | January 4th 2018 @ 9:39pm | ! Report

                “Are you basing that on any inside knowledge whatsoever or just the fact that he complained about the lack of 10s + recruiting Hawera? Honest question.”

                I didn’t know that we needed inside knowledge to form opinions, you formed yours that DP and Hodge aren’t suitable, and tgat it is Cheika’s fault, entirely on an utterance by a young player in an interview and that DP “doesn’t look like a 10” to you. I would have thought Larkham’s statement and position in the Wallabies as a coach and former player, might be a bit stronger a clue than that.

              • January 4th 2018 @ 10:29pm
                Fionn said | January 4th 2018 @ 10:29pm | ! Report

                ‘I think you will find that Larkham has a fair bit to do with trialling the younger players at 10’

                This isn’t an opinion, Rhys. This is you making a statement of fact.

                I see little evidence that Larkham has much input into selections—e.g. the fact that according to Wayne Smith, desperate to get Banks into the squad from June.

                But regardless, difference between trialling a player in a position once or twice and determining to have them there all season.

              • January 5th 2018 @ 7:20am
                Rhys Bosley said | January 5th 2018 @ 7:20am | ! Report

                “This isn’t an opinion, Rhys. This is you making a statement of fact.”

                No it isn’t and I can’t be bothered continuing to participate in such pettiness. Have fun.

              • January 5th 2018 @ 11:26am
                Fionn said | January 5th 2018 @ 11:26am | ! Report

                If you say so. I interpreted it as a statement rather than an opinion. If that was a misinterpretation then my apologies.

        • Roar Guru

          January 4th 2018 @ 9:54am
          John R said | January 4th 2018 @ 9:54am | ! Report

          Nah he didn’t. DP played at 12, and Stewart at 10.

          probably a fair indicator of how Thorne is going to play them at the Reds.

        • January 4th 2018 @ 10:12am
          TC said | January 4th 2018 @ 10:12am | ! Report

          Really? Where did Stewart play for Country?

      • January 4th 2018 @ 10:24am
        Dave_S said | January 4th 2018 @ 10:24am | ! Report

        Duncan might simply have meant he didn’t feel “ready” for 10, at that stage. Relatively, he is considerably more experienced now. In any event I’m not sold on the idea of young players telling the coach where they will and won’t play!

        But, like the WBs, the Reds could opt for a basic distributor at 10 (Stewart) and someone with a bit of spark at 12 (DP).

        That still leaves filling 15 as problem. It’s too important a position to fill it in the basis of “who have we got left?”

        • January 4th 2018 @ 10:32am
          Fionn said | January 4th 2018 @ 10:32am | ! Report

          Duncan just doesn’t really look like a 10 to me. He seems more like, dare I say it, a young Tim Horan. He’s a runner with a good distribution game as opposed to a player who is just as comfortable picking out players, running himself and kicking.

          He said very clearly ‘I’ve never felt more comfortable playing rugby, especially in the number 12 position. I think I’ve found my spot at 12 and feeling very comfortable and enjoying my rugby’.

          • January 4th 2018 @ 11:16am
            Dave_S said | January 4th 2018 @ 11:16am | ! Report

            Fionn I agree he looks more like a 12, ideally outside QC, but the Reds will struggle to field even 4 decent backs, assuming QC and KH are out.

            I’m not insisting that DP is the only option for 10, but it has to be in the mix of options, and shouldn’t be ruled out on the basis that he prefers 12.

            He accepted the 10 jersey in the Baas game. If Cheika again selected him to play 10 for the WBs, would he knock it back, or say “gee I’m excited to give it a go”?

          • January 4th 2018 @ 11:27am
            Jacko said | January 4th 2018 @ 11:27am | ! Report

            Fionn he did say that but it was a while ago now…His possibility of playing for Aus against the Baabaas had him saying that he was excited to play in the 10 position and he has learnt a lot from QC and he will be excited to come up against him and he felt he could step up and control the game from 10 even tho he was a Newby and he must have learnt something from the experience ………From that I get that he would be keen to play anywhere the coach tells him to play and that maybe his attitude to the no 10 has changed…..I like what I see at 12 from him but it wouldnt be the worst experiment to see him at 10 for a few games…….I believe he was always pencilled in for 12 this season but Hunt changes a lot with his latest night out……..

          • January 4th 2018 @ 11:49am
            redbull said | January 4th 2018 @ 11:49am | ! Report

            Yes absolutely Fionn. A great runner and offloader. A good tackler as well. O’Connor was meant to be the second coming of Horan but maybe Paia’aua will be it.

            • January 4th 2018 @ 2:00pm
              Realist said | January 4th 2018 @ 2:00pm | ! Report

              I agree James O’Connor had the potential, but to say DP could be the next Tim Horan is just laughable

              That’s like saying Bernard Tomic is the next Rod Laver

              • January 4th 2018 @ 3:15pm
                Fionn said | January 4th 2018 @ 3:15pm | ! Report

                Tomic displayed very little potential in terms of being a future world beater as young professional (despite what the Aussie media and commentators were saying) and zero serve and volleying ability, whereas DP has shown himself to be a good runner and distributor, and a decent tackler.

                While he is exceedingly unlikely to be anywhere near as good as Tim Horan at this it is possible.

              • January 4th 2018 @ 4:20pm
                Dave_S said | January 4th 2018 @ 4:20pm | ! Report

                Horan is a very high benchmark, but also had the good fortune to play alongside some equally outstanding talent who helped him play at his best, so we have to be realistic in any comparisons to him.

                But I agree DP shows potential to be a very handy inside back, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him be a long term WB at 12 and even transition to 10 later in his career.

              • January 4th 2018 @ 8:08pm
                Rhys Bosley said | January 4th 2018 @ 8:08pm | ! Report

                Lets say he has the potential to be the next Matt Toomua, very handy at the international level at both 10 and 12 and somewhat underrated. Nothing to snort at.

              • Roar Rookie

                January 5th 2018 @ 1:36pm
                piru said | January 5th 2018 @ 1:36pm | ! Report

                Nothing to snort at.

                I see what you did there

              • January 6th 2018 @ 12:41am
                Rhys Bosley said | January 6th 2018 @ 12:41am | ! Report

                Yes, I am apparently quite a wit, but unintentionally in this instance.

          • January 4th 2018 @ 8:12pm
            Rhys Bosley said | January 4th 2018 @ 8:12pm | ! Report

            “He said very clearly ‘I’ve never felt more comfortable playing rugby, especially in the number 12 position. I think I’ve found my spot at 12 and feeling very comfortable and enjoying my rugby’.”

            Yes well Horan most likely preferred 12 but stepped up to play 10 when it was required of him too, as have many other inside backs who prefer one position or the other, so I doubt that DP will baulk at the opportunity to extend himself. And we need to remember that all he would be doing is playing a slightly different role in a rugby back line, it isn’t like he has to understudy the male lead in Swan Lake …

            • January 4th 2018 @ 9:11pm
              Fionn said | January 4th 2018 @ 9:11pm | ! Report

              From memory that wasn’t very successful. It both robbed the Wallabies of their best 12 and meant we played an fairly ineffective 10.

              I think that the differences between 10 and 12 are pretty significant, Rhys. Not only do you need a wider array of skills at 10, you also need more vision and much more, and much faster, decision-making abilities. Less emphasis on being a running threat, offloading and defence relative to 12 (all of which seem to be strengths of DP).

              As I said, I hope if he’s played at 10 that he proves me wrong.

              • January 4th 2018 @ 10:07pm
                Rhys Bosley said | January 4th 2018 @ 10:07pm | ! Report

                Not true, the positions are very interchangeable when the 12 is played as a second five-eighth, rather than an inside-centre. That is why so many players have successfully covered both, Toomua, Leialifano, Giteau, Farrell, Carter, Beale all spring to mind.

                Of course those who get more practice in one spot will probably be better at it, but the range of skills you describe are necessary for both playmakers. The fact that Paia’aua looks more like a 12 you now, is probably because that is where he has been playing.

                Your mentality, which appear to be that a player is supposed to arrive “with it all” for a particular position, precludes training people into the role. No player does arrive fully groomed and few even end up that way by the end of their career, making the expectation unrealistic.

                All coaches can look for are the players who have the most of what they want for a particular position, and then try to develop them. That is clearly what the Wallabies coaching staff are doing with these lads, and I think it is a good approach.

              • January 4th 2018 @ 10:38pm
                Fionn said | January 4th 2018 @ 10:38pm | ! Report

                All of these players you mention, when they’re played at 12, function as second receivers the overwhelming majority of the time, and many of them have struggled to play at 10 despite being good 12s (Beale and Giteau come to mind—could never make the transition, and being played at 10 for so long really seemed to hurt Giteau’s confidence).

                No, the reason I think DP looks more like a 12 is because he seems to be primarily be a running player with a pretty good distribution and offloading game, as opposed to a distributor and kicker first and foremost. He seems more like Gits or Beale than Carter.

                Rhys, you seriously think Hodge ‘have the most of what they want for a particular position’? He has a slow and inaccurate boot (while being fantastically huge) and can’t pass consistently from left to right.

                I don’t think that players arrive ‘with it all’ whatsoever. I think that players have certain strengths and weaknesses and it is better for them to practice in the position that suits their strengths most, as opposed to forcing them to play in a position that their strengths suit less, thereby preventing them from reaching their full potential in either position.

                That all being said, hopefully he plays the house down at 10 if selected there, and Lealiifano does the same and we can have one of them at 10 and the other at 12. That should largely fix a lot of the Wallabies’ defensive and kicking issues. That would be a true godsend.

              • January 5th 2018 @ 6:52am
                Rhys Bosley said | January 5th 2018 @ 6:52am | ! Report

                I don’t even think what you say about Hodge’s kicking and passing is true. More likely some Roar “expert” saw him muff a kick and a pass or two and drew a hasty conclusion, most likely to support an argument for their favourite selection.

              • January 5th 2018 @ 11:24am
                Fionn said | January 5th 2018 @ 11:24am | ! Report

                Maybe. I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on his relatively strengths and weaknesses.

                9. Genia, 10. Paia’aua, 11. Koroibete, 12. Lealiifano, 13. Hodge, 14. Folau, 15. Banks would be a dream backline for me if Paia’aua did well at 10 and Hodge excels at 13, which I believe he definitely could.

              • January 5th 2018 @ 1:26pm
                Bakkies said | January 5th 2018 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

                Giteau’s problem at flyhalf in Australia is that he played outside scrumhalfs who couldn’t pass and players outside of him out of position. I remember Tony Rea and Andy Friend putting Leiliifano and Toomua at fullback. It nearly ruined both players. No wonder it took them a while to mature.

                Giteau was fine at Toulon when he had a decent 9 and a backrow working as a unit to protect him.

              • January 5th 2018 @ 3:05pm
                Fionn said | January 5th 2018 @ 3:05pm | ! Report

                Didn’t Gits have Genia throughout a lot of 2010, or was it only 08 and 09 he played at flyhalf? I think he was a fine 10 at Super Rugby level, but did’t quite have it at international level. Maybe I need to rewatch some of his matches at 10 for the Wallabies.

              • January 7th 2018 @ 8:34am
                Bakkies said | January 7th 2018 @ 8:34am | ! Report

                He played some games with Genia but it was too late. Deans took far too long to bin Burgess and made his mind up about Giteau. In 2011 he played against Samoa with a makeshift backline that was getting bullied.

      • January 4th 2018 @ 3:45pm
        ethan said | January 4th 2018 @ 3:45pm | ! Report

        I agree Fionn, Paia’aua is not a 10. Looks more comfortable at second receiver, like Kurtley Beale.

    • January 4th 2018 @ 9:34am
      Rhys Bosley said | January 4th 2018 @ 9:34am | ! Report

      I’d be going for Option 2 just to get CFS to outside centre, noting that he is also a wing option. He is an excellent player who was missed last season and having him at 13 would improve the defence over Kerevi in that position, while still leaving Kerevi available for attack.

      All said and done though, I’m not going to be overwhelmed with expectation from these somewhat green Reds this season. I suspect they will require a fair bit of experience to get up to speed and I will just be happy with them putting in respectable performances. For me Defence and discipline are key, they have been so poor in recent seasons and are markers of attitude, so if Thorn can get substantial improvements there I will be happy.

    • January 4th 2018 @ 10:02am
      scottd said | January 4th 2018 @ 10:02am | ! Report

      Has Magnay gone overseas?

      If so, this may be one way to entice him back?

      • January 4th 2018 @ 10:12am
        TC said | January 4th 2018 @ 10:12am | ! Report

        Nice call.

      • January 4th 2018 @ 10:14am
        Dave_S said | January 4th 2018 @ 10:14am | ! Report

        Yes he has departed for Japan. Reportedly there was some “flexibility”’in his contract. But in any case he’s a 13 or winger. Reds’ biggest problems are at 10 and 15. I could be mistaken but I don’t recall him playing 15.

        • January 4th 2018 @ 10:34am
          Fionn said | January 4th 2018 @ 10:34am | ! Report

          At least you let us have Tom Banks…

          • January 4th 2018 @ 3:43pm
            ethan said | January 4th 2018 @ 3:43pm | ! Report

            Maybe you guys will give us Aiden Toua back. I can hardly contain my excitement.

            • January 4th 2018 @ 4:08pm
              Fionn said | January 4th 2018 @ 4:08pm | ! Report

              Hahaha, I actually laughed out loud at this 😛

    • January 4th 2018 @ 10:49am
      DanFan said | January 4th 2018 @ 10:49am | ! Report

      Not a very good start to the season. Hopefully it is not downhill from here. Everyone would be hoping that Brad Thorn would do well in his first year but it looks like events may conspire against him.

      • January 4th 2018 @ 11:44am
        Dave_S said | January 4th 2018 @ 11:44am | ! Report

        Yes but some of it is Thorn’s own making – sidelining the Reds’ 2 most experienced halves, late in the piece and with no established backups … he’d be in the same position as if Hunt had kept his nose clean (badoom tish) but did an ACL in the first game.

        Fortunately the backrow stocks look deep enough to cover Smith not playing this year. But we better pray that Higgs stays fit all season, otherwise 6-8 will be pretty green, too.

        I think 4 wins is the best we can hope for, even if he relents on QC.

    • Roar Guru

      January 4th 2018 @ 11:33am
      jeznez said | January 4th 2018 @ 11:33am | ! Report

      I’m for Kerevi getting as much time as possible at 12 – think that is his natural position.

      However – the key question has to be who is seen as the best option for FB if Hunt isn’t there.

      Between Stewart, Paia’aua and Cooper there are options for 10.

      Interestingly Cooper is another option for the 15 shirt.

      Maybe:

      9. Tuttle
      10. Stewart
      11. Nabuli
      12. Paia’aua
      13. Kerevi
      14. Perese
      15. Cooper

      • January 4th 2018 @ 11:51am
        Dave_S said | January 4th 2018 @ 11:51am | ! Report

        jeznez, there’s a reason I look for your posts – I think you’ve cracked it!

        Thorn can save face by bringing Cooper back at 15 – he still has his preferred 10 (whoever that is) and covers the loss of experience and playmaking by subbing him in for Hunt.

        Fax that team sheet off to Ballymore please (I suspect they still use fax).

        • Roar Guru

          January 4th 2018 @ 2:27pm
          jeznez said | January 4th 2018 @ 2:27pm | ! Report

          Cheers Dave. Need someone with Instagram to load it onto Brad’s feed!

          • January 4th 2018 @ 2:47pm
            Dave_S said | January 4th 2018 @ 2:47pm | ! Report

            jeznez I suspect Brad’s “feed” stil involves a BBQ and half a steer!

        • January 4th 2018 @ 4:56pm
          mtiger said | January 4th 2018 @ 4:56pm | ! Report

          Yes, bring Quade back at 15, why not, he is on the job anyway

      • Roar Guru

        January 4th 2018 @ 11:58am
        PeterK said | January 4th 2018 @ 11:58am | ! Report

        agree with all this but Thorn will be too stubborn.

        • January 4th 2018 @ 12:28pm
          Dave_S said | January 4th 2018 @ 12:28pm | ! Report

          I suspect you’re right Peter, but it would be a real indictment if it was sheer stubbornness – it is poor leadership to refuse to adjust to changing circumstances.

          • January 4th 2018 @ 1:49pm
            Charlie Turner said | January 4th 2018 @ 1:49pm | ! Report

            Thorns problem even if he softened on Cooper is the way he framed his position telling Cooper he is not part of his plans. If Thorn had told Cooper he was starting flyhalf provided he plays the coaches way and transitioning to the next generation the Hunt saga would be a lesser issue. With every injury and poor result the pressure on Thorn to recall Cooper will mount and it would be better for Thorn and the Reds if Cooper was brought in sooner than later. I doubt Thorn possesses the diplomacy and humility to manage this situation so hopefully Cooper reaches out.

            The upside of Hunts unfortunate arrest is his likely termination will free up finances and ease some pressure on the coaches and administration.

            • January 4th 2018 @ 2:26pm
              Dave_S said | January 4th 2018 @ 2:26pm | ! Report

              Yep, he is learning what it is to be a top line coach a little sooner than he expected.

              In some ways, the next month will say more about his coaching credentials than the rest of the year.

            • Roar Guru

              January 4th 2018 @ 2:31pm
              jeznez said | January 4th 2018 @ 2:31pm | ! Report

              Charlie – I think that will be something that really tells us how Thorn will operate. He can’t afford to be completely stubborn and needs to display flexbility. This is just the first spanner that has been thrown in the works. There will as you point out be injuries.

              I wonder within squad management what he is able to do. Is another fullback even allowed to be added to the EPS if there are fit members of the squad that aren’t playing in Frisby and Cooper?

              • January 4th 2018 @ 2:38pm
                Dave_S said | January 4th 2018 @ 2:38pm | ! Report

                jeznez that’s his biggest problem isn’t it, the Reds cannot ask for special dispensation when they have voluntarily sidelined Cooper (who could play 10, 12, 15) and Frisby (9, 10). They were always facing the problem of poor depth and few utilities.

              • January 4th 2018 @ 3:09pm
                Charlie Turner said | January 4th 2018 @ 3:09pm | ! Report

                You would think a player facing criminal charges and possible contract termination would be exempt from the numerical squad count. Regardless, who could you draft in at late notice. The last Reds marquee player/fullback, Goromaru was possibly the worst 15 to ever wear the big Q.

              • January 4th 2018 @ 3:41pm
                ethan said | January 4th 2018 @ 3:41pm | ! Report

                If they can’t replace Hunt with a big name signing they still have a couple of handy rookies they should be able to bring in. Jayden Ngamanu and Junior Laloifi have both been in the squad before. Both have represented Australia or Australia schools at younger ages. Laloifi was just about player of the NRC a couple of seasons ago. Not an ideal situation certainly, but there should be some options there.

            • January 4th 2018 @ 3:35pm
              ethan said | January 4th 2018 @ 3:35pm | ! Report

              I can’t help but think there is something more to the Thorn/Cooper issue than we are hearing. Blind Freddy can see Cooper is five times the player Maranta is, and even if Thorn no longer wants him as starting 10, would surely see the value of having a creative playmaker with a lot of experience to help guide his youngsters.

              There must be something more to it. Some off field issue.

              • January 4th 2018 @ 4:04pm
                Ruckin Oaf said | January 4th 2018 @ 4:04pm | ! Report

                It;s going to be interesting, the Reds first two games are against the Rebels and the Brumbies.

                Both Rebs and Brumbies should be putting strong squads onto the field next year.

                If the Reds start with a couple of wins great – but if they start with two losses ??

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