Lovely piece Brett, cannot fault this though I do want to wade in against Simmons. He is still being penalised for lineout infractions and that is not good enough. I would bench him for Horwill though I also suspect Horwill is now too slow and not penetrating but he shouldn't be, no solid reason why he should, but he was captain when he lost the gig so maybe he will step up. Phipps did have an uncharacteristically poor night but nerves, maybe? We did shut them down quickly, stopping momentum so the team is on the right track, just those handling errors, aaaargh! Beale did his thing, ran sideways, fooled no-one but himself and merely looked threatening.
The thing we never seem to be able to shake is the belief in kicking. Absolutely rubbish kicks, no intent to recover, nor put receivers under pressure, nothing tactically gained but still, up she goes, to nowhere. I watched the game with Dad in Canberra and we worked it out that team tactics are, with the ball in the air, nobody could score points with it, not much of a reason but we had a chuckle. A team near the top of the standings taking a punt rather than making it happen with ball in hand is going to be a nightmare to watch, and follow, and support.
I hope you are wrong about Higginbotham, especially against the Argies, his tendency to seagull and not being prepared to mix it up in the hard yards will be a major benefit to them. They are superbly drilled, fit and love the tough stuff, their bodies are hardened but Higgers, in the few S15 games when he was involved in pick and drive sessions seemed to get hurt, not enough to be replaced but enough for him to go absent for the next two phases. Hodgson for mine, 80 minutes of snarling graft, outright thievery and not one apology, give him vice a captaincy as well. He is just what Hooper needs, they would be fighting over who filched it, and move Fardy to 8. He and Matt can catch at lineouts too between Carter and whomever. You are perfectly right to argue with Spiro and Lord, they would merely rebadge the 'Tahs and bugger the rest of the provinces.
The Argies are on an exponential curve in improvement, nothing is in the bag, thoroughly enjoyed there play so far Here's hoping the ref refers to his dog next time he tries to rob them of a try AND they didn't spit the dummy, which has happened previously, they just turned around and got on with it. This is a Rugby team, a nation, on the move.
If Pulver thinks KB should stay, can he explain why? Because he is what to Oz Rugby? All I see is a decent S15 player who didn't make the leap to test level.
If anyone is thinking we are going to have easy wins against the Pumas, think again. They are playing skillful, fast, intimidating Rugby and just may promote the 'Boks into the lead by denying us and our cousins wins or bonus points.
Last Saturday night. A team foxing, already celebrating. Link is not the man to take us anywhere, in his defence, probably too smart, he out-thinks himself and needs someone to tell him when to get real. My choice, Nobody, John has a lovely balance of humility and cold-bloodedness more than capable of sacking/benching those who undermine the team.
Definition of stupidity: Keep doing the same thing expecting a different outcome.
Link needed to shake things up and
White/Beale - Phipps/Foley would have been a decent start, allows for a Phipps, Toomua, Foley option too, breaking the line,
Skelton for Simmons another,
Izzy to 13 and
AAC/McCabe to 15.
Would freshen/sharpen some minds anyway.
Time to step up, Eden Park size steps too, and that includes the off-field crew.