Fruean on fire as Crusaders win in shootout over Tahs

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    The Crusaders' Robbie Fruean (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

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    It was a simple case of Crusader centre Robert Fruean, sporting a new mohawk haircut, scalping the Waratahs on their own hunting ground yesterday.

    In an electric man-of-the-match performance that smacked of an All Black debut season, Fruean scored twice and set up a third for winger Zac Guildford in the 37-33 win at Sydney Football Stadium.

    The first was taking a high pass on the Waratahs 10-metre line, bursting through four close defenders without a hand on him and outsprinting three more to the white line.

    The second was just as magnificent. Fruean handled twice and had just millimetres to move on the touchline.

    But he left Waratahs centre Tom Carter grasping at air and again outpaced the defence.

    In between he again left Carter in a sprint down the left touchline before transferring inside to Guilford to touch down. All up, Fruean travelled a game-high 141 metres during his bursts.

    Worth repeating. Electrifying.

    To the Waratahs credit, they never waved the white flag which the 30,663 home crowd, the best this year, really appreciated.

    To be within four points after 80 minutes was no mean feat when the Waratahs were over-run by a far better side that has tournament form of reaching the last decade of Super play-offs, and winning seven, five of them under current Wallaby coach Robbie Deans.

    The Waratahs haven’t won one, and have been beaten in two finals by the Crusaders in 2005 and 2008.

    It would be safe to say any team that beats the Crusaders in the upcoming play-offs will be the 2012 champions.

    And the Crusaders will only get better, now World Cup winning skipper Richie McCaw is back on duty for the first time since that historic win.

    The three-times IRB International Player-of-the-Year came on in the 56th minute, and while classy number eight Kieran Read, one of the best in the world in his position, has done a top job at the helm in McCaw’s absence, the Crusaders stand taller when McCaw’s calling the shots.

    The other Crusader bonus is new fly-half Tom Taylor. Not only has he pushed champion No 10 Dan Carter to inside-centre, but has taken over the goal-kicking from international rugby’s record-holder with 1250 points just ahead of England’s Jonny Wilkinson with 1246.

    And Taylor has yet to make his All Black debut. So far this Super season, Taylor has kicked 34 goals from 40 attempts. for an excellent 85 percent success rate, watched by an applauding Carter.

    That was the only area where the Waratahs constantly competed. Their goal-kicker Brendan McKibbin landed six from six yesterday to keep the home side in touch, giving him 23 from 25 this season, for a whopping 92 percent.

    But as a team, there are only flashes of Waratah brilliance and 80 minutes is a long time to paper the cracks.

    Magnified by the injury loss of Drew Mitchell, Lachie Turner, Bernard Foley, Dan Vickerman, Pat McCutcheon, Paddy Ryan, Damien Fitzpatrick, and Chris Alcock, with Rob Horne suspended.

    No franchise can afford such devastation, and it’s hard to see the Waratahs figuring at the business end of this tournament, leaving the Australian Conference battle between the Brumbies, and the Reds.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn?t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world?s great sporting spectacles

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    The Crowd Says (124)

    • April 30th 2012 @ 6:37am
      Riccardo said | April 30th 2012 @ 6:37am | ! Report

      Fruean was awesome David.

      He may make the AB squad this year but will require more consistency, particularly on defence, to unseat the incumbents for a regualr starting spot.

      Thought the Tahs at least tried hard in this game but the really impressive thing about these Crusaders for me is that they are just hitting their straps this season for a formidable run to the finals.

      • April 30th 2012 @ 6:55am
        mania said | April 30th 2012 @ 6:55am | ! Report

        spot on riccardo – fruen had a great game but needs more games like this before he can be considered an AB. it was only the tahs and Fruens hasnt exactly been mr consistent in his career to date. would make a great impact player though.
        tah’s played well above of their usual drol and were in this game up until the last few minutes. crusaders were lacklustre and looked like they felt all they had to do was turn up. tah’s could’ve won this had there been less errors.

        • April 30th 2012 @ 7:42am
          kiwidave said | April 30th 2012 @ 7:42am | ! Report

          And centre is a position in which NZ have a fair bit of depth at the moment. Fruean is probably 3rd with Ellison 4th.

        • April 30th 2012 @ 7:48am
          thurl said | April 30th 2012 @ 7:48am | ! Report

          Fruean scored acouple of tries, sure, but that won’t make him an All black this year. You need to balance his effort with the glaring errors he made. Letting AAC past him leading to the Tahs try for one and the pass that luckily made to into Gulfords hands should have been made earlier to Carter ranging unopposed on his inside.
          Until he can learn to use his support instead of going alone, he won’t be an All Black

        • April 30th 2012 @ 8:54am
          Red Kev said | April 30th 2012 @ 8:54am | ! Report

          While I agree that Fruen needs more games to be an All Black contender what I consider funny is that if he was Australian he’d have a stranglehold on no.13 and would have had it last year too. Who would you rather – Horne, AAC, Tapuai, Fainga’a, Smith, Cummins, McCabe … or Fruen? The centres barrel really is bare for Australia.

          • April 30th 2012 @ 10:25am
            soapit said | April 30th 2012 @ 10:25am | ! Report

            not just aus. he’d make pretty much every national team in the world except nz

            • April 30th 2012 @ 11:33am
              apelu said | April 30th 2012 @ 11:33am | ! Report

              He’ll probably end up with Manu Samoa

              • April 30th 2012 @ 7:43pm
                Jerry said | April 30th 2012 @ 7:43pm | ! Report

                He’s already played for the Junior AB’s (NZ A) so he’s not eligible for any other country anymore.

    • April 30th 2012 @ 6:49am
      DCR said | April 30th 2012 @ 6:49am | ! Report

      The weather was pretty good, a biggish crowd came, and two professional teams performed as well as they may. It was a pleasant outing. This year was always going to suffer a RWC hangover and for the Waratahs the legacy of the three wasted years under Hickey. No Beale, no flair in the backs, just crap. At least we know the major personnel problems are 10 and 12. But the biggest problems are elsewhere.
      Foley may look at the 2nd half kick-offs and Fruen’s mauling of Carter as the differences between the sides. If he does he will miss the real differences. I have lost track of the number of Crusader games where the Waratahs scored the first try. I cannot think of one where we scored the next one. That we got close was a fluke. From the 20 minute mark they were in control and they didn’t play that well. But they knew they would win. We knew we would lose. This game has been played a million times in the minds of both teams and the result is the same as it has been for ten years. We should have beaten them yesterday. But we didn’t for a second believe we could withstand their surges, nor crush their pack. Yet from what I saw we could have and should have. But we aren’t fit enough and tough enough. It begins with the coach. The progress under Foley, if there is any, is glacial. We are the soft option team.
      Fruens first try was scored from a lineout that some of our forwards didn’t even get to by the time the ball was thown in. Pillows.
      We kick rather than take a hit. Pillows. We cannot pass the ball from 9 to 11 or 14 without dropping it. Pillows. We will not work our way out of our half or quarter in possession. Pillows. We play for 30 minutes a game. Pillows. Why. Pillows. Foley has his head in the past. Great coaches even reasonable good ones have their eyes on the future. Pillows.
      I personally cannot see one reason why we didn’t just keep the pill and hit the ball up all day, one or two passes off the ruck. Sure it is hard and tough in there, but do you want to win or not. And there you have your answer. The Crusaders knew they just had to put on a bit of heat and the feathers inside the tahs would combust in fright. Pathetic really, and we fork out our hard earned to put up with it.
      Foley seems to be part of the problem. Give me my pillow.

      • April 30th 2012 @ 8:50am
        Harry said | April 30th 2012 @ 8:50am | ! Report

        You’ve nailed it DCR. I would only add they were directionless and without passion in the last few minutes of the match after their last try. Walking to lineouts, scrum resets, etc.

    • April 30th 2012 @ 6:58am
      mania said | April 30th 2012 @ 6:58am | ! Report

      agree DCR – “But they knew they would win. We knew we would lose.” if i had to hazard a guess this would be the reason. tah’s could’ve won this but i reckon they’d already gone home before kick off.

    • April 30th 2012 @ 7:10am
      Tui said | April 30th 2012 @ 7:10am | ! Report

      Sorry disagree big time. In fact I think you are clutching a few straws. Apart from the Tahs gaining an abnormal scrum ascendancy they were never in it for mine. It was more Crusaders mistakes and some questionable refereeing that kept them close-ish. Scoreline hugely flattered them.

      • Columnist

        April 30th 2012 @ 8:00am
        David Lord said | April 30th 2012 @ 8:00am | ! Report

        Good point Tui about referee Jonathan Kaplan. The Tahs have won only 3 games out of the 20 Kaplan has controlled. That’s far too high a loss ratio to be coincidental. Kaplan didn’t lose the Tahs the game, but on his track record he doesn’t instill any confidence in his rulings either.

        • April 30th 2012 @ 8:09am
          Jarmen said | April 30th 2012 @ 8:09am | ! Report

          Seriously David ???
          I would expect ref bashing and conspiracy from certain posters here at the Roar but from you really?
          Kaplan had a shocker and I mean that he was clearly only reffing one team for 3/4 of this match and it wasn’t the Tahs. Kaplan knows sour and disgruntled punters like yourself have it in for him when it comes to the Waratahs and to me it looked like he was trying his hardest to appease this ilk by overtly looking for fault in the Crusaders especially around scrums.

          The Waratahs lost this game because they just did not have the necessary skills to beat a Crusaders outfit playing in 2nd and 3rd gear for the majority of the match, at times they (Cru) just looked lethargic and that simply turning up and strapping on the boots was always going to be enough to beat the New South Welshmen.

          • April 30th 2012 @ 12:38pm
            WQ said | April 30th 2012 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

            Well said Jarmen, I thought he was looking for reason’s to penalise the Crusaders. I felt the Crusaders had the momentum repeatedly taken away from them by the decisions he was making and I believe his previous record of controlling Waratahs games has got into his head!
            The last 10 mins of the game saw the Waratahs Front Row constantly collapsing with not a single penalty being awarded to the Crusaders, worse than this he refused to even walk around to the other side of the scrum to keep an eye on what was going on.
            I don’t think he has an issue with the Crusaders, I just think his previous record of Reffing the Waratahs to umpteen losses was in his head!

            • April 30th 2012 @ 1:14pm
              mikeylives said | April 30th 2012 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

              U sure it was the Tahs collapsing?

              • April 30th 2012 @ 2:57pm
                WQ said | April 30th 2012 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

                It certainly looked like a Waratah prop with his hands and knees on the ground just about every time it collapsed.

          • April 30th 2012 @ 2:25pm
            zhenry said | April 30th 2012 @ 2:25pm | ! Report

            I thought perhaps Kaplan had read Mark Reason’s article, earlier this week on NZ Fairfax, where he self righteously (check it out for your selves, he writes) accused the Crusaders of serial cheating. Before the RWC a full-on attack on Ritchie McCaw, and so on. Bloggers I don’t digress.
            Do all teams try and slow the ball down? When it suits them, all teams do. Does MR comment about other teams, or other No 7’s?

        • April 30th 2012 @ 8:52am
          Harry said | April 30th 2012 @ 8:52am | ! Report

          In the last few scrums Tilse clearly went to ground and should have been penalised. I have to ask why was Ben Robinson off the field?
          ANyway you can’t blame Kaplan for that one Tah fans. Thought he actually favoured you guys.

          • Roar Guru

            April 30th 2012 @ 1:05pm
            jeznez said | April 30th 2012 @ 1:05pm | ! Report

            Harry, my suspicion is that it was the Crusaders dropping those scrums. Certainly the time eaten up on the clock was helping them as the Tahs were chasing the lead.

            The camera angle never showed us the other side of the scrum where Ulugia was packing in which may have been more informative. The Tahs had just taken a tighthead with that front row to set up Pretorius’s try so the assumption that the Aussie pack were collapsing may not be on the money.

            Earlier in the game Kaplan penalised Robinson on a collapse that looked completely innocent and he missed Ben Franks in one scrum trying to bind on Kepu’s leg, then touching the ground and finally binding on Jenkins!

            I think Kaplan actually had a good game since there are plenty of complaints from Crusaders fans above and I wasn’t happy with his scrum or gate management. If a ref annoys both sets of fans then he has probably been alright.

            • April 30th 2012 @ 2:59pm
              WQ said | April 30th 2012 @ 2:59pm | ! Report

              jeznez, c’mon mate you have previously mentioned that I may have been a little one-eyed on this site. You don’t think that you may have watched a different game? Or in fact watched this one with a patch on?

              • April 30th 2012 @ 3:32pm
                jeznez said | April 30th 2012 @ 3:32pm | ! Report

                WQ my patch is surgically attached, I can’t help but watch through it!!!!

                Which part of my post do you take exception to?

              • April 30th 2012 @ 4:10pm
                WQ said | April 30th 2012 @ 4:10pm | ! Report

                Its all good, did not take exception to any particular point, just reinforcing that often it depends on the colour of the glasses somebody is wearing as to their opinion about scrummaging and where the infringement actually occurs.

              • April 30th 2012 @ 4:15pm
                jeznez said | April 30th 2012 @ 4:15pm | ! Report

                No worries mate, am well aware that I have a biased view.

                If the Tahs were the ones collapsing at the depth then it stands as some of the dumbest play ever being four points down with four minutes to play. Especially since their scrum was generally going forward when they stayed up.

              • April 30th 2012 @ 4:40pm
                WQ said | April 30th 2012 @ 4:40pm | ! Report

                Normally your suggestion would be a fairly safe assumption, accept in this instance the Waratahs had two reasonably inexperienced Props fronting up to basically an All Black Front Row, needing to pinch a tight head to have any chance of winning the game.
                You don’t think they may have been getting themselves a bit to low and could not hold themselves up? Just a thought given that the tight head kept going to his knees just before going to ground.

              • April 30th 2012 @ 5:24pm
                jeznez said | April 30th 2012 @ 5:24pm | ! Report

                As I said in my initial post a bit of camera footage of Ulugia’s side of the scrum would clear all this up nicely.

                I completely take your point that the collapse could have been them getting too low to try and disrupt but with a couple minutes still on the clock they would have been better served by a quick scrum going to the Crusaders and then trying to contest the breakdown. That is why I mean that if it was the Tahs doing it that it was not smart play.

                The telecast upset me in not showing the other side of the scrum where the problems were occurring.

              • May 1st 2012 @ 8:46am
                WQ said | May 1st 2012 @ 8:46am | ! Report

                Fair comment and agree they would have been better to forgo the scrum and try to upset the breakdown.
                jeznez, I am aware you have spent plenty of time in the tight five, as have I. Ask yourself the following, how many scrums have you been prepared to let the opposition just win, so those loose forwards that you drag along on your coat-tails could contest the breakdown just to give away a penalty?
                I reckon about as many as I was!

              • May 1st 2012 @ 10:14am
                jeznez said | May 1st 2012 @ 10:14am | ! Report

                But WQ, I spent many years in the backrow and have a fine appreciation for what they bring. I’d like to think that in that situation I’d have a crack at the tighthead but if I missed I wouldn’t collapse it for a second bite at the cherry.

                The final scrum right on the whistle I can understand the logic, but not the series of scrums with around three minutes to go.

              • May 1st 2012 @ 10:26am
                WQ said | May 1st 2012 @ 10:26am | ! Report

                Fair enough

        • April 30th 2012 @ 8:56am
          Red Kev said | April 30th 2012 @ 8:56am | ! Report

          Jonker is worse – never reffed the Bulls to a loss.

        • April 30th 2012 @ 10:33am
          geoffo said | April 30th 2012 @ 10:33am | ! Report

          Pathetic comment David. I’m not sure what game you were watching yesterday to suggest that Kaplan was favouring the Crusaders.
          You’ve been consistently attacking Kaplan’s reffing for years which doesn’t exactly instill confidence in your views. If this genteman is bent, as you imply,do you seriously think he’d be by far the most capped international ref in history? Or be voted no. 1 ref in the world on a number of occasions by the IRB, an independent body?
          The simple reason that the Tahs have only won 3 games with him reffing is that almost all these games were against NZ teams which they were going to lose even if you were reffing.
          This kind of vendetta against a single individual really undermines the quality of this website.

      • April 30th 2012 @ 8:04am
        Jarmen said | April 30th 2012 @ 8:04am | ! Report

        I concur Tui, David is being a little forthcoming with praise for the Waratahs.
        The Crusaders IMO did not get into top gear for long periods in the match and as DCR states above they just knew they were going to win, it was as simple as that.

        • April 30th 2012 @ 12:24pm
          p.Tah said | April 30th 2012 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

          could they not get into top gear because of what the Tahs were doing… pressuring them?

    • April 30th 2012 @ 7:21am
      Justin said | April 30th 2012 @ 7:21am | ! Report

      The defensive coaching, alignment and continual positional switching was incredible. Why is Tom Carter defending one in from touc? He is way too slow to be defending in that channel. If he is going to do that then he has to start on the outside and push up and in. Showing the sideline or gap to Freuan was hilarious, he took it every time.

      The backs were all over the shop though. Barnes appeared to be defending out the back. AAC was in at 13 at times, Carter was there way too often and Kingston was barely sighted putting in his worst match of the year. None of it made any sense and I think the coaches got too “clever” by half.

      As Kafe pointed out the Saders go to Read on KOs more than half the time yet the Tahs were badly beaten to most KOs. The coaches failed yesterday. The Crusaders, were too good, but only for about 5 or 6 key moments. The rest of the time it was an even battle.

      • Roar Guru

        April 30th 2012 @ 7:31am
        Who Needs Melon said | April 30th 2012 @ 7:31am | ! Report

        “Why is Tom Carter defending one in from touch?” Excellent point.

    • April 30th 2012 @ 7:37am
      kingplaymaker said | April 30th 2012 @ 7:37am | ! Report

      What a comically conservative world New Zealand rugby lives in where two long past-it players incapable anymore in attack will keep the superb SBW and Fruean out of the starting line-up this year, while a blank-firing non-wing will keep a dazzling wing in Rene Ranger out of the the same team. A backline with Ranger and Dagg on the wings, Taylor full-back and SBW/Fruean in the centre would be terrifying, a backline that will doubtless never comes to pass.

      Wouldn’t it be wonderful if New Zealand as they have such a low regard for these players could ship them over to Australia where there could be Genia, Cooper, Ioane, SBW, Fruean, JOC/Ranger, Beale in a world XV backline. It’s amusing to think that New Zealand could be keeping potentially the three best players in their positions in the world out of their own team!

      Robbie Deans should be delighted at the prospect.

      He just needs a couple of good backs and a couple of powerful forwards to beat the self-defeating All Blacks and outdated game-style Springboks. If Deans could win the Tri-nations this year he would be booked in until 2015 and by then the necessary missing stars would certainly have appeared for him to win the RWC.

      • April 30th 2012 @ 7:40am
        Justin said | April 30th 2012 @ 7:40am | ! Report

        Rnager and Dagg are way off the pace this year KPM… Iam a massive fan of Dagg but he looks like he has been drinking AACs water. He is kicking more than I have ever seen.

        • April 30th 2012 @ 7:46am
          kiwidave said | April 30th 2012 @ 7:46am | ! Report

          Ranger has been abysmal, he has occasional moments on attack but the rest of his game has gone downhill from last year. Dagg was under coaches orders in the Stormers game, and at least he has a fair boot on him.

      • April 30th 2012 @ 7:46am
        mania said | April 30th 2012 @ 7:46am | ! Report

        SBW and Fruen vs Nonu and conradSmith? SBW is looking good because the entire chiefs game is playing well. conrad looks good regardless of whether his team is helping or not.
        Fruen played well in the weekend but needs more games like that to show his consistency, it was only the tah’s after all.
        not sure which wing your attacking here KPM. Either way coryJane and kahui are much better, reliable big game players than ranger.
        obviously KPM you didnt watch the blues vs qld game. Ranger was average. nonu was immense. despite being hampered by his backs nonu attacked repeatedly and on defense he shut ioane out of the game. i was impressed with nonu putting digby on his butt twice and disapointed that digby didnt make a come back.
        and how bout this KPM? why doesnt aus trying producing its own players? dont the wobblies have enough kiwi’s in the australian national side as is?

        • April 30th 2012 @ 8:13am
          AussieKiwi said | April 30th 2012 @ 8:13am | ! Report

          I’m a fan of SBW, but I think he has gone up a notch this year. He s really playing as a team player rather than an indiviual. Its not that hte team is making him look good, so much as he is making a significant contribution (with others) to the team as a whole looking good.

          • April 30th 2012 @ 8:24am
            Jarmen said | April 30th 2012 @ 8:24am | ! Report

            Absolutely with you here on this point. I think SBW has been outstanding for the Chiefs this year and has really upped his game.

        • April 30th 2012 @ 8:14am
          kingplaymaker said | April 30th 2012 @ 8:14am | ! Report

          mania Ranger hasn’t been coached for years by the ABs top coaches while no one can blame anyone for performing badly in the Blues outfit.

          It’s a travesty to compare Conrad Smith’s performance with Fruean’s this weekend, like comparing a destitute shack to a magnificant palace.

          Of course Australia isn’t producing its own players but we all know that anyway.

          • April 30th 2012 @ 8:20am
            mania said | April 30th 2012 @ 8:20am | ! Report

            give it up KPM. conradSmiths been mrConsistent all this season. conrad has stepped up and evolved his game again with the duties of captain. fruen has a lot of catching up to reach the level conrad was at last year. this year fruen doesnt have a hope. fruen had a good offensive game this weekend but was still found out defensively. conrad as usual had an all round error free game.
            rangers drop in form – “Ranger hasn’t been coached for years by the ABs top coaches”? u have it backwards. ranger has to earn the right to be coached at the next level. until ranger improves his baseline skills and game then he’s not good enough to make the next step.
            its really a travesty how u belittle conrads contributions.

            • April 30th 2012 @ 8:26am
              Jarmen said | April 30th 2012 @ 8:26am | ! Report

              Ranger is rumoured to be headining offshore at the end of the season isn’t he?
              If this is true he won’t get a look in the ABs dressing room nor does he desreve one on current form.

              • April 30th 2012 @ 8:33am
                kingplaymaker said | April 30th 2012 @ 8:33am | ! Report

                Now what if Fruean followed him and SBW too frustrated at watching the current AB centres firing blanks all year? Then 34 year old Nonu/Smith and 31 year-old Kahui will lead the 2015 RWC charge.

              • April 30th 2012 @ 8:47am
                Ben S said | April 30th 2012 @ 8:47am | ! Report

                ‘Then 34 year old Nonu/Smith and 31 year-old Kahui will lead the 2015 RWC charge.’

                As opposed to other younger centres coming into contention? Hansen will persevere with Nonu, Smith and Kahui all the way through until the next WC?

      • April 30th 2012 @ 8:00am
        Riccardo said | April 30th 2012 @ 8:00am | ! Report

        Hogwash KPM.

        I am an avid Blues supporter and the AB’s greatest fan. As a Blues fan Rene can be disappointing. His game is incomplete KPM. On attack he can be devastating running with ball in hand. But his ball security is questionable in tight. He can tackle but is more often found wanting positionally when going backwards. As an AB fan it’s simple. He’s not ready for that big step up until he tidies up his game & plays consistently for the Blues.

        Fruean’s case is simpler KPM. He is powerful and fast but also IMO he is not ready for the gulf in class that is the AB’s mate. This is a poisition we have a lot of depth in already and he is down the pecking order. This is also the case wtith SBW, not least becasue he can’t make up his mind where he wants to be. He has come on this year IMO but how much of this is due to the fact that the Team he plays in tops the competition?

        Anyway, IMO it’s also about the combination, the pairing. How these guys are going to work as a unit within the backline. I would be absolutely astounded if Shag broke up the tried and true Nonu/Smith billing. This is the premier centre pairing in World Rugby!

        I am always surprised that for a bloke who seems knowledgable that you continue this tirade. While what you venture has some merit and potential we are at least a season away from seeing it, other than from off the bench.

        • April 30th 2012 @ 8:09am
          mania said | April 30th 2012 @ 8:09am | ! Report

          riccardo – its just nonu and conrad smith KPM has a thing against. if i didnt know better i’d say he was trying to sabotage the AB’s backline but i actually think he believes what he says about the best centre pairing in the world. nonu and conrad are proving what assets they are by performing at a high standard despite being in different teams. cant wait to see what they produce when they’re side by side again on the field.
          fruen might make the AB’s off the bench but i still dont think he has a complete enough game yet to make an AB’s starting line up.

        • April 30th 2012 @ 8:16am
          kingplaymaker said | April 30th 2012 @ 8:16am | ! Report

          An rather than a gulf in class with Smith and Nonu in the midfield! Fruean would have to go several leagues DOWN to get to that level. What is this perpetual assumption in New Zealand that a player is never ever ready? In fact new players normally only start because old ones are injured, however bad the old ones may be playing.

          • April 30th 2012 @ 8:23am
            Ben S said | April 30th 2012 @ 8:23am | ! Report

            ‘What is this perpetual assumption in New Zealand that a player is never ever ready?’

            Owen Franks, Sam Whitelock, Adam Thomson, Aaron Cruden, Israel Dagg, Sonny Bill Williams …

          • April 30th 2012 @ 8:27am
            mania said | April 30th 2012 @ 8:27am | ! Report

            KPM – u just dont get it. fruen is not an all round player. he’s suspect on defence and only plays well with ball in hand. there are long long periods of play where u dont have the ball. what does fruen do in these times? nothing. smith and nonu in these times make tackles and turn over ball. fruen doesnt have that instinctive nous of attacking rux and mauls.
            your only seeing the dynamic obvious offence that fruen is great at. your not seeing the subtleties that make a complete all round player
            “rather than a gulf in class with Smith and Nonu in the midfield! Fruean would have to go several leagues DOWN to get to that level.” this would have to be the biggest BS i’ve ever heard from someone who is supposed to know rugby.

            • April 30th 2012 @ 8:34am
              kingplaymaker said | April 30th 2012 @ 8:34am | ! Report

              mania show me the performance by Nonu or Smith this year to compare to Fruean this weekend? Fruean would have to go down a level.

              • April 30th 2012 @ 8:40am
                mania said | April 30th 2012 @ 8:40am | ! Report

                kpm – again u didnt watch the blues qld game or the hurricanes vs chiefs did u? nonu performed well above the blues level. knocked ioane on his butt twice and shut digby out of the rest of the game. conrad pick any week this season and conrads contributions far outstrip fruens on his best weekend.
                at least before you criticise conrad and nonu u should at least watch them play.
                fruen’s had one good weekend and your basing it on that? fruens inconsistent., i dont know how to make it any simpler for you.
                nonu and conrad have been consistent all season. and nonu deserves extra kudo’s for doing it in the blues outfit. every game nonu’s played he’s been attacking the line repeatedly

              • April 30th 2012 @ 9:03am
                kingplaymaker said | April 30th 2012 @ 9:03am | ! Report

                Well the idea that Smith’s performance this week outstrips Fruean’s is too surreal to be denied.

              • April 30th 2012 @ 9:20am
                Riccardo said | April 30th 2012 @ 9:20am | ! Report

                “Well the idea that Smith’s performance this week outstrips Fruean’s is too surreal to be denied.”

                This is the 1st semi accurate rant today KPM.

                Only semi accurate becaue you have aansweredn your own question in this statement: “…this week…”

      • April 30th 2012 @ 8:13am
        thurl said | April 30th 2012 @ 8:13am | ! Report

        “A backline with Ranger and Dagg on the wings, Taylor full-back and SBW/Fruean in the centre would be terrifying” Only to an All Black supporter. The problem here KPM is that players like Fruean and Ranger don’t do enough between their few brillent things. Some of the better international teams would chew them up.

        I still wouldn’t trade Conrads Smiths perceived lack of penetration with Frueans lack of organisation / concentration and defense. Throwing the first kid with a bit of promise into the backline is not the way to become and stay the #1 team in the world. International rugby is the pinacle and only the best should play there. To get there you have to show consisteny over more than just one season of Super rugby. In other words, you need an al round game. Obviously there are exceptions, but Fruean isn’t one of them and neither is Ranger

        • April 30th 2012 @ 8:26am
          kingplaymaker said | April 30th 2012 @ 8:26am | ! Report

          Fruean is no longer a kid.

          Why is this paranoia in New Zealand for introducing new players?

          If because of this paranoia they lose the Tri-nations this year because of conservatism, leading to the continuation of the formidable Deans’ contract until 2015, by which time he will have better players to work with, they could have lost themselves the 2015 RWC in advance.

          • April 30th 2012 @ 8:32am
            mania said | April 30th 2012 @ 8:32am | ! Report

            “Why is this paranoia in New Zealand for introducing new players?” because he’s not good enough?
            needs to a balance. experience vs youthful enthusiasm.

          • April 30th 2012 @ 8:42am
            thurl said | April 30th 2012 @ 8:42am | ! Report

            Frueans 23…. Still a kid
            Why is there paranoia you ask??? There’s no paranoia in introducing new players, but theres more to selecting than choosing someone who has a flash game once in a while.

            Heres one for you…
            Why is it that you chose to ignore the many, varied and well grounded arguements put out about your opinions, yet offer nothing in support of same??

            • April 30th 2012 @ 8:45am
              mania said | April 30th 2012 @ 8:45am | ! Report

              fully agree thurl – and KPM wheres my retraction when u said that “no one rated george smith anymore” when i and 3 others came out and proved u wrong?

              • April 30th 2012 @ 9:06am
                kingplaymaker said | April 30th 2012 @ 9:06am | ! Report

                No sentient human being could ever watch Smith and Fruean’s performances this weekend and think the former were superior, and that exemplifies the inability of AB supporters to see anything except what they are supposed to, and what the culture allows them to. To think and watch critically and independent-mindedly that is rather than follow and believe the party line without a second thought.

              • April 30th 2012 @ 9:45am
                Riccardo said | April 30th 2012 @ 9:45am | ! Report


                You need to be careful who you are admonishing as believing the party line or having the wool pulled over their eyes. As you and even Brett have alluded to in other posts you cannot be sure whom you are criticizing.

                As to your question about paranoia I would respectfully suggest that you are arguing predominantly with Kiwi posters who may have more of a vested interest and perhaps more hands on knowledge of the situation and environment.

                There are more factors to consider than an individual’s attacking game on a given afternoon. Not least of these: Consistency, defence, playing pattern and adhesion, off the ball work, hands, vision, team dynamic.

                There’s your second thought…

              • April 30th 2012 @ 9:54am
                Thurl said | April 30th 2012 @ 9:54am | ! Report

                To me KPM you obviously don’t have a critical or independant mind when watching Robbie Fruean or Rene Ranger.
                Yeap, Frueans performance this week stood out more than Smith’s, but that doesn’t propell him automatically into the All Blacks. I’m not too sure whose party line it is that you refer to but this from this mornings NZ Herald sums Fruean up pretty well.

                He was monitored closely by the All Black panel last year after some explosive early season form alongside Sonny Bill Williams.

                Not to put too fine a point on it, they felt he didn’t do anywhere near enough in between ball carries and would be chewed up and spat out by the best teams. To add weight to their suspicions, Fruean’s form tailed off badly in the second half of last year’s Super 15, even as the Crusaders launched their improbable run to the final.

                This year he has not hit as many high notes but he has still remained a constant menace to opposition defences.

                Whether he’s done anything to address the other shortcomings remains to be seen when Steve Hansen names his initial All Black squad, but you suspect his is a face that does not fit the picture

              • April 30th 2012 @ 10:11am
                kingplaymaker said | April 30th 2012 @ 10:11am | ! Report

                It’s certainly true that New Zealand can put out any old XV and still win until one of the following two scenarios unfold:

                1) South Africa develop an attacking game.
                2) The Wallabies get two more good backs and two powerful, high quality forwards.

                Until then Nonu/Smith can continue not performing in attack because no one will notice because the team will still win. Indeed, no one, with one strange exception, noticed last year.

                But should either scenario 1 or 2 arise, then they could well begin to lose BECAUSE of the failures in the backline to fire, and then, and probably only then, will they start to look objectively at what their backs are doing in test matches instead of luxuriating in their familiarity, experience, safeness, and so on. Let’s hope that by then all the talent they need hasn’t moved off-shore for exasperation at waiting behind worse-performing players…

              • April 30th 2012 @ 10:18am
                mania said | April 30th 2012 @ 10:18am | ! Report

                KPM –
                1) South Africa develop an attacking game.
                this is always a threat, and its a threat to worldRugby not just NZ. I hope they do develop some backs strategies. Boks are the underperformers of world rugby and unfortunately have always had the depth and players but never realise their potential. they have a massive brutal forward pack but a world class backline that never gets used. if boks backs can fire then see a revolution to how the game is played. looking forward to this day as it will truly test whether the AB’s are the best.
                2) The Wallabies get two more good backs and two powerful, high quality forwards.
                so when aus has some player depth? cant see it happening in the next 5 years, unless of course you mean that aus get the AB’s fringe players.

              • April 30th 2012 @ 10:36am
                kingplaymaker said | April 30th 2012 @ 10:36am | ! Report

                mania the new SA coach Heyneke Meyer is a cunning cookie and so I wouldn’t be suprised at all to see a more expansive Bok game.

                Australia is really due some new talent. The last cycle threw up Cooper, Genia, JOC, Beale and with Ioane they are only two good players short of the golden 7 out of 7 good player backline. Some good forwards are due too. Unless the ARU recruiting is so bad they have all been pillaged by the NRL as teenagers, then some should be turning up sooner or later.

              • April 30th 2012 @ 11:08am
                mania said | April 30th 2012 @ 11:08am | ! Report

                you mean the cunning mayer that wants to bring back matfield to captain the boks?? and FDP whose been playing in Japan? i hope meyer is the the one to properly unite SA rugby but i doubt he can see past his bulls spectacles. thats just a guess and i hope meyer all the best but i have a feeling that he wont be able to get over his provincialism. not to mention the politics that almost always encroach and colour (no pun) SA rugby
                yeah aus is due some talent but will they be in time and will there be enough of them?
                a wise man hopes for the best but plans for the worst.

              • April 30th 2012 @ 11:13am
                kingplaymaker said | April 30th 2012 @ 11:13am | ! Report

                mania I wouldn’t write off Mayer too quickly. Certainly he should be better than De Villiers. I think South Africa are doomed as long as they continue to try winning with a ten-man kicking game. But if they start to play a running game, then the rest of the world should watch out.

              • April 30th 2012 @ 11:16am
                mania said | April 30th 2012 @ 11:16am | ! Report

                i’m not writing him off, i’m just making some observations on his decisions so far. i’m still giving him the benefit of doubt.
                first time i shall agree with you today, yes Boks could revolutionise the way the game is played. they handed the AB’s a good kick up the but that we needed in 2009

              • April 30th 2012 @ 12:47pm
                kingplaymaker said | April 30th 2012 @ 12:47pm | ! Report

                mania it won’t be long before this all plays out and at least the results may be more unpredictable than usual.

              • April 30th 2012 @ 12:51pm
                mania said | April 30th 2012 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

                yeah KPM. getting bored with the AB’s winning all the time. they need to play a team with steel to move up to the next level….and i’m joking….i never get sick of the ABs winning

              • April 30th 2012 @ 1:04pm
                kingplaymaker said | April 30th 2012 @ 1:04pm | ! Report

                mania between you and me both England and France have shot themselves in the foot by appointing very average coaches for the next few years. So out of the five countries that could have the playing resources to top the world, it’s only the southern three that are coached well enough to do so. So it’s more of the usual three suspects for the next four years I think. It’s nice that aside from Kaino the teams have kept almost all of their in-form stars, unlike the beginning of the last post-RWC cycle.

              • April 30th 2012 @ 1:21pm
                Riccardo said | April 30th 2012 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

                “both England and France have shot themselves in the foot by appointing very average coaches for the next few years”

                I take it you are aware KPM that Wayne Smith is about to sign on with England.

                IMHO this would be the smartest thing to come from Stuart Lancaster and the RFU since they had the good sense to implement a certain Tournament every 4 years. Very savvy indeed.

                Journo’s over here are already lamenting the loss of such a great analytical and tactical mind & he hasn’t even signed yet.

                If he does he is likely to see out the season with the Chiefs.

                If they have got him and he stays Smith is capable of turning England into the Team they like to think they are…

            • May 1st 2012 @ 4:47am
              mania said | May 1st 2012 @ 4:47am | ! Report

              KPM- i’ve already said that NZ is at its best time ever post a WC. never have our playing stocks been so good after the traditional WC exodus. i reckon there’s enough rookie talent to challenge all the AB’s incumbents and provide a new strong bench. things are very exciting for the upcoming tests.
              riccardo – wayneSmith would be a huge lose for NZ and an incredible gain for Eng. i think though he should go if his heart is set on it. wSmiths accomplished one dream, getting the AB’s the WC and someone of his talent should be on the international stage. his genius shouldnt be confined to lil ol NZ. as much as it hurts to adnmit it i would love to see what he can accomplish with a team like Eng, who at the last WC were victims of their own stupidity.
              i doubt wSmith will drop out of this chiefs season. he already turned down the role earlier in the year saying he would honour his contract. eng have come back saying the doors still open as they really want and need him. wSmith is all about integrity, honour and as history shows being true to himself. big ups 2 da man

      • April 30th 2012 @ 1:48pm
        Onor said | April 30th 2012 @ 1:48pm | ! Report

        i dont think renger is up for it.. fruens defence is useless and he gets selfish.. if I were picking an allblack backline.. it would be

        ben smith
        conrad smith
        rene ranger
        andre taylor

        there is no way fruen would go before conrad smith. SBW probably needs another year.
        and renger.. he’s a battering ram. so strong.

      • April 30th 2012 @ 9:28pm
        Jay said | April 30th 2012 @ 9:28pm | ! Report

        Deans probably will be relying on the AB’s to self-defeat cause he’s been doing a poor job of defeating them with the Wobs.

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