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SS NSW Tah-tanic heading for an iceberg?

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    I was flabbergasted to see this The Sydney Morning Herald headline a few days ago: “Waratahs show Mowen the exit door to clear the way for Elsom.”

    As the article says, Mowen has been playing for the Tahs for over three years now, and has been playing so well the media had been speculating for awhile that (with all the injuries) he might get a gig in a gold jersey. Further, he has been a good part of the Tahs’ forward pack, who are well regarded in the Super comp as an integral art of why the Tahs are so competitive.

    Tell that to Tahs management, who apparently can’t fit him in (although the SMH on Monday said some officials were surprised Mowen might go – so much for the new Tahs company being different to the old NSWRU incarnation). The speculation that it is to allow Elsom into the team appears to miss two points.

    Firstly, speculation that a personality clash between Rocky and Phil Waugh means Rocky won’t come to the Tahs if Waugh is still there.

    So why punt a great talent if it can’t even be guaranteed you’re getting Elsom (given Waugh still hasn’t indicated if he will play again next year)? Secondly, Elsom isn’t exactly guaranteed to play every game.

    He clearly has had injury problems ever since he came back from Europe, and has barely gotten on the field this year for the Brumbies, after a problematic year last year. So surely Mowen is likely to be needed to fill in for Elsom if he breaks down for the Tahs next year?

    Perhaps the salary cap mooted by the ARU will also play into this? But then surely there’s plenty of readies now that Kurtley Beale has headed to the Rebels for the “business and networking” opportunities (not the cash).

    This came on top of seeing that Sosene Anesi is going after the maximum two years allowed for a marquee player (which he was from memory), but perhaps worse, Sitaleki Timani and Pat O’Connor are also going.

    Timani was also being talked about as being on the verge of making the Wallabies, although again I think this is more media speculation than reality. But this means two players talked about as potential Wallabies are being let go (or got better offers, but who’d know from the dearth of media coverage).

    I have also read that Josh Holmes is off contract at the end of this year, which is strange given Luke Burgess is heading to France. Surely the Tahs need to lock in Holmes and McKibbin with him going. Apparently not, instead we get speculation (apparently driven by the relevant agents) that the Tahs were looking at Andy Ellis.

    So here we are with a number of good players leaving the Tahs, and questions about how the team is going to be placed next year.

    Chris Hickey is coming to the end of his three-year contract, and by all accounts is ready to go (although he is giving strange noises not saying he will definitely go).

    Talk is Michael Foley will replace him, but no one will say that is the case. Instead, it is likely the Tahs (new management and all) will wait until the Super season is over before making any decision. Perhaps too late given what seems to be going on with deciding who is in the team next year.

    I haven’t been Hickey’s greatest fan. I don’t regard him as a bad coach, but also can’t say he has been a particularly great coach. I have always felt he hasn’t gotten the best out of this team.

    The new coach, whoever they are, will need to mould the team to suit their style and vision for the Tahs. However, at the rate we are going a certain amount of moulding will already have been done. The question is by who?

    Who at the Tahs is making these decisions, which will impact on the ability of any new coach in 2012? If that coach doesn’t get the chance to properly affect the roster until this time next year, there’ll be some interesting discussions about meeting any KPIs for season 2012 if I was an applicant.

    Unless Foley really is going to be next year’s coach, and this is all being done with his input. But he has never struck me as a Machiavellian operator likely to be doing so. If he was the coach to be, I’d expect it to have been announced.

    So the good ship Tah-tanic sails on through recruiting seas, no one at the helm, hoping not to strike any icebergs in the near future until the new captain comes to the wheel.

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    The Crowd Says (49)

    • June 14th 2011 @ 6:47am
      cookie said | June 14th 2011 @ 6:47am | ! Report

      Letting Mowen go is a mistake..
      In the expanded format it is being shown time and time again that you need depth. Given the number of injuries the Tahs have including to Palu and Elsom assuming he came they would be dumb to let him go.

      Whoever failed to stump up the cash to keep Beale is ignorant at best. I do wonder how the tah’s would be going without him.

      Given the major concerns about Barnes future, the fact that Beale is gone. ( i suspect they were keeping Beale in mind as the alternative 5/8)
      Let’s face Halanghau isn’t exactly cooper let alone barnes… it leaves the tah’s precariously vulnerable to a rudderless ship which had been their major issue for years..

      Assuming barnes, beale and Halanghau were not playing …
      Can anyone tell me who is the next in line for the No. 10 Jersey?

      • June 14th 2011 @ 7:01am
        Ben S said | June 14th 2011 @ 7:01am | ! Report

        I agree. Mowen has positional versatility. He is also a good lineout forward, is consistent, and a big lad, but reasonably quick with it too. He’s the quiet sort of player that does quite a lot of unseen work – a good squad player.

      • June 14th 2011 @ 10:09am
        cm said | June 14th 2011 @ 10:09am | ! Report

        The Tahs have proven for years that they can lose perfectly well without a world-class 5/8th. 🙂

        It was just a few weeks ago that Halangahu equalled Manny Edmonds’ record for the most number of Super appearances by a Tahs fly-half – 43!

        It looks like they’re letting go young people of the calibre of Kurtley Beale (who has proven time and again that he’s an ordinary 5/8 at the top level), Beau Robinson, Ben Mowen, Sitaleki Timani and Pat O’Connor so they can keep expensive oldsters like Waugh, Vickerman, Anesi and Elsom. So much for the future.

        Now, with Barnes looking increasingly like he’ll have to retire and Burgess off to France, the Rebels v Tahs clashes next year should be an exciting battle for the wooden spoon.

        In the end, it’s not the Tahs’ playing style that shits me, it’s their brain-dead management.

        • June 14th 2011 @ 12:31pm
          Coverted Rebel Supporter said | June 14th 2011 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

          I’m with you CM. Brain dead management and coaching, no vision, just sheen incomprehensible stupidity. Its the inevitable outcome old boy network, the old school tie, nod nod, wink-wink. My hope is that a financial crisis triggered by diminishing attendances will trigger a reform. Tell me I’m not in Koosbane?

          Ben Mowen has played his guts out this year, Waugh is the stubborn blockhead who needs to move on, his time is up, not the young gun. The Tahs have finished well, on the back of Kurtley Beale’s brilliance, some old heads and solid performances from reserve players like Alcock who have been given a break. They were chosen out of desperation and have delivered. Beale will be better motivated and managed in Melbourne, away from the Moore Park rabble.

          • June 14th 2011 @ 6:46pm
            Jimbo said | June 14th 2011 @ 6:46pm | ! Report

            I wondered why NSW were never in the mix for James O’Connor’s signature, despite the fact there was speculation linking him to each of the other 4 Australian teams. Did he ever say he wouldn’t play for NSW (which wouldn’t be completely surprising considering he is a Qlder)? I would have thought he would have been a walk – on replacement for Beale.

        • June 14th 2011 @ 7:09pm
          chester said | June 14th 2011 @ 7:09pm | ! Report

          Anesi has not been resigned

          • June 15th 2011 @ 10:37am
            mikeylives said | June 15th 2011 @ 10:37am | ! Report

            Thank god. Very fast player, but not up to it with catching/passing.

    • June 14th 2011 @ 7:34am
      chester said | June 14th 2011 @ 7:34am | ! Report

      Biggest mistake is Timani has signed with Japanese club and is leaving. He has been outstanding in the past 2-3 games,

      • June 14th 2011 @ 8:05am
        Ben S said | June 14th 2011 @ 8:05am | ! Report

        When had he signed that contract though?

        • June 14th 2011 @ 12:51pm
          Denby said | June 14th 2011 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

          Timani signed the contract well over a month ago. He signed before he was even in the Tahs starting side. I feel for the Tahs with Timani, Douglas was suppose to be there first choice second rower and he is having a horrible second year. Timani came from the Brumbies with barely any super rugby experience. He has floated round a few teams and not really been given much of a chance. They had no way to know he would stand up and play so well given the oppertunity and when they did know he had already signed on to go play in Japan.

          • June 14th 2011 @ 7:13pm
            Boonzie said | June 14th 2011 @ 7:13pm | ! Report

            he has a brother that’s pretty much the same size…. wonder if he can step up

    • June 14th 2011 @ 8:38am
      Mals said | June 14th 2011 @ 8:38am | ! Report

      I hope Mowen stays, he has played well this season. We don’t need Elsom v2011. Elsom circa 2006 – yes he would be a handy addition but the modern version is injury prone & too full of his own self importance!

    • June 14th 2011 @ 8:48am
      Chris said | June 14th 2011 @ 8:48am | ! Report

      So what you’re saying is that you don’t actually know anything. I tried counting the number of times you used phrases like “apparently”, “speculation” and “by all accounts”, but gave up in frustration. I know you’re not a professional jounralist, but publishing this sort of rumour and innuendo is appalling.

      • Roar Guru

        June 14th 2011 @ 1:52pm
        Bay35Pablo said | June 14th 2011 @ 1:52pm | ! Report


        Unless I could cite an article and put a link, I qualified. There were several “facts” I had read articles on but didn’t have the time to search for and find when I was writing the article (on a weekend, during a 45 minute nap by the 14 month old, and with the wife in bed with flu). However, I didn’t put anything in there I hadn’t read somewhere else (I’m not part of any rugby organisation, so by definition I can’t be talking from personal knowledge – I’m not picking these “facts” up by talking to my mates like say Danny Weidler), and I am a pretty well read rugby fan.

        Firstly, it’s not rumour and innuendo, it’s tying together a lot of media reports to raise an issue. If the media aren’t reporting “facts” (which I sometimes have my doubts about), then go blame them.

        Secondly, you do realise you are reading the Roar don’t you? It’s opinion! I am pretty balanced and reasoned in the articles I do post (if I do say so myself), so if you don’t like what I write you aren’t going to like anything I suspect (unless it agrees with whatever opinion it is you may have).

        Take your attitude and go read someone more suited to your temperament. I think Grouchy Growden is still writing for the SMH …..

      • Roar Guru

        June 15th 2011 @ 8:45am
        Bay35Pablo said | June 15th 2011 @ 8:45am | ! Report

        The penny just dropped.

        So “Chris”, are you involved in coaching, and coming to the end of your contract? All this a bit close to the bone … ?


    • June 14th 2011 @ 8:50am
      Damo said | June 14th 2011 @ 8:50am | ! Report

      But not as important as the important Roar bloggers?

    • Roar Pro

      June 14th 2011 @ 8:54am
      Grimmace said | June 14th 2011 @ 8:54am | ! Report

      Sounds like the cricket selectors are rubbing off on thë ‘tahs. Someone like Mowen deserves better than that.

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