Dissection of the 2013 Australian Super Rugby Squads – ACT Brumbies

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By Selector, Selector is a Roar Rookie

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    Happy New Year rugby fans! What better way to start this highly condensed year of rugby than to take a look into the Australian forecast for the 2013 Super Rugby competition.

    To look ahead into what is in store for us this season, we first must take a glimpse back at the year that was. 2012 was one of the biggest years for change and unrest across Australian rugby in recent memory.

    From midseason coach sackings, to mutiny within the Wallabies ranks, it has been a roller coaster ride for all fans.

    There were certainly positives from last year’s transitional season, the Wallabies considerable injury toll has not only unearthed some new talent, it has also forced the ARU to reconsider the way it manages the five Australian franchises.

    The Western Force and NSW Waratahs both received much needed cleanouts from the top down, which should benefit both franchises and Australian rugby overall.

    With Quade Cooper coming to an agreement with the ARU and the major signing of Israel Folau from the clutches of the NRL, rugby has been headlining on most sports pages for the past month. It has made for some interesting reading and is putting some real interest into the 2013 Super Rugby season.

    2013 will be a year for optimism and belief. I am putting my faith in the Australian conference this year, hoping that most teams have found the right staff and game plans to match their squad’s strengths.

    I am predicting two Australian teams will still be alive come finals time and for one of those teams to battle it out for the Super Rugby trophy in August.

    Now let’s take a look at our local teams and their chances of success, starting with the ACT Brumbies.

    Best team
    1. Ben Alexander
    2. Stephen Moore
    3. Dan Palmer
    4. Sam Carter
    5. Scott Fardy
    6. Ben Mowen
    7. David Pocock (c)
    8. Fotu Auelua
    9. Nic White
    10. Christian Lealiifano
    11. Henry Speight
    12. Pat McCabe
    13. Andrew Smith
    14. Joe Tomane
    15. Jesse Mogg

    16. Siliva Siliva
    17. Ruaidhri Murphy
    18. Etienne Oosteinzen
    19. Ita Vaea
    20. Ian Prior
    21. Matt Toouma
    22. Tevita Kuridrani

    Other Squad
    23. Scott Sio
    24. Leon Power
    25. Peter Kimlin
    26. Colby Fiangaa
    27. Robbie Coleman
    28. Zack Holmes
    29. K Situai
    30. Tom Cox

    Extended playing squad
    31. Josh Mann-Rea – hooker
    32. Ruan Smith – prop
    33. Jordan Smiler – blindside
    34. Mark Swanepoel – scrum half
    35. Stephan Van der walt – outside back

    S Sio, R Murphy, S Fardy, D Pocock, J Mogg, E Oosteizen

    Jono Owen , Jerry Yanuyanutawa, Anthony Hegarty , Ben Hand, Michael Hooper, Cam Crawford, Dylan Sigg

    Season chances
    The Brumbies are going into 2013 with plenty of optimism and self-belief in their ability. Jake White has taken a youthful team and has created an ideal squad, with each player understanding his role on the park. They will no longer be taken lightly by any team, however I think that Jake will have prepared his team for this and adjusted his game plan accordingly.

    The culture is back, and the talent is there, however the Brumbies have to deliver a big season and improve on their seventh place finish if they are going to return to a championship team like the glory days.

    Without McCabe for the early part of the season, the Brumbies’ more experienced players in the backline will really need to take charge and show their worth.

    Predicted finish – conference second – overall fifth

    Key player
    Christian Lealiifano has developed into the key player for the Brumbies. He was unpredictable and electric in his attack, and how he returns from a serious ankle injury will be the key to the Brumbies’ season.

    However he has to be very wary of the ever improving Zack Holmes, who showed his talent in the 10 position and will be looking for more opportunities in 2013.

    Up and comer
    If Siliva Siliva can stay fit and strong he will be a great asset for a Brumbies team loaded with up and coming players. He is a strong ball running hooker, with all the necessary skills for the set piece.

    Siliva will find stiff competition from Mann-Rea for the bench spot this season. Mann-Rea has signed a one year deal as part of the EPS at the ripe age of 31.

    Also keep an eye on Mark Swanepoel, who is not a stranger to Super Rugby having spent time in the Force and Crusader systems before taking an EPS position with the Brumbies. He is a physical halfback with a strong pass and a good read on the game.

    I expect him to be the number one halfback at the Brumbies by the end of 2013, with White used off the bench to add life to the team at the back end of the game.

    Best buy
    Who else than the people’s champion? David Pocock was a fantastic acquisition for Mr White, who divulged that Poccok was one player he had always wanted to coach. With Pocock suffering a lengthy stint on the side lines, he has spent plenty of time in the off season experiencing the Brumbies’ culture and style. I believe this will pay some serious dividends for Pocock’s game and will quickly return him to the form that made him the best 7 in Australia.

    Biggest Loss
    Michael Hooper was the star of 2012 in both Brumbies and Wallabies colours. He was instrumental in the revival of the Brumbies and has put some serious pressure on Pocock as the country’s leading openside.

    The Brumbies were lucky to find such an adequate player in Pocock to take over the 7 jersey, but still don’t discount the loss of Hooper to the Brumbies’ structure.

    Have Your Say

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    The Crowd Says (80)

    • January 7th 2013 @ 8:11am
      DB said | January 7th 2013 @ 8:11am | ! Report

      Cant say I agree with the selection of the ‘Best’ starting 15

      I cant justify McCabe at 12 – EVER. He is to limited, might be great on the wing or at FB but not at 12.

      Toomua is a natural 10 and a very talented one at that, just needs to stay injury free! I would have Toomua at 10, Christian at 12 to provide dual playmakers and Tomane at 13 (which is where I see him long term and as a potential world class 13 for the Wallabies). Smith is solid but not dynamic enough and it allows for the young Kuidrani to have a run on the wing – watch out for this guy as well!

      • January 7th 2013 @ 8:28am
        mikeylives said | January 7th 2013 @ 8:28am | ! Report

        Toomua has never shown the goods at 10. Christian was going great guns at 10 before injury, why would you put him at 12?
        McCabe is very good at this level, but his lack of variation/passing has him exposed at international level when 2 opposition players hold him up and stop him getting over the advantage line.

        • January 7th 2013 @ 9:16am
          Selector said | January 7th 2013 @ 9:16am | ! Report

          Looking at the way McCabe and Lealiifano combined, before his injury, I think they are the best 10/12 combo at the brumbies right now.

          However I agree with you at an international level. Tapuai is a much better option than McCabe.

          • Roar Guru

            January 7th 2013 @ 10:16pm
            sheek said | January 7th 2013 @ 10:16pm | ! Report

            Even though Pocock might be second in line for Wallaby captain, that doesn’t mean that Mowen deserves to have the captaincy taken away from him.

            Pocock might be well content to just play as a member of the leadership group rather than as captain.

      • January 7th 2013 @ 10:10am
        Selector said | January 7th 2013 @ 10:10am | ! Report

        I agree with Kuidrani as a potential future Wallaby, but I see him more as a 13 and I would keep Tomane on the wing.

        I am a big fan of the three options at 10 that the Brumbies currently have, but when Lealiifano was directing traffic with two crash ball style centres the Brumbies were at their best. Although i suspec thtat with McCabe injured for the first part of the season, White will play the Toouma/Lealiifano combination.

      • Roar Guru

        January 7th 2013 @ 10:55am
        Mantis said | January 7th 2013 @ 10:55am | ! Report

        I agree with Mikey, I think Toomua will play 10, CL at 12 and McCabe at 13 when fit, Kuidrani or Smith until then.

        You also forgot to mention the comeback of Clyde Rathbone. I have a mate who has been training with the Brumbies for a few weeks and has said he is looking good. Don’t discount him for a bench spot or even the odd start.

        • January 7th 2013 @ 11:06am
          Selector said | January 7th 2013 @ 11:06am | ! Report

          I have completely missed Rathbone haven’t I. He looks like an absolute weapon from those comeback photos. I hope he does well, he deserves it and it will also be a great motivator for other people who have suffered from depression.

        • Roar Guru

          January 7th 2013 @ 12:24pm
          Who Needs Melon said | January 7th 2013 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

          Good call. Never write off a champion.

    • Roar Guru

      January 7th 2013 @ 8:30am
      Who Needs Melon said | January 7th 2013 @ 8:30am | ! Report

      First of all: Great series of articles Selector. Nice to read some rugby articles again.

      I think the Brumbies looks pretty good. I’ve just also commented on your Rebels summary and can’t help tie the two together and wonder what the Rebels could do with the now apparently spare Toomua. Or the guy you say is up-and-coming, Holmes.

      I do agree with DB somewhat in that it’s the centres that are a bit of a question mark. I really respect McCabe but you have to agree that he is fairly one dimensional. Smith is a good, workhorse type player – reliable but won’t set the house on fire. It’s not a disaster – they’ve got good players – but jeez I’d love to see someone like Tapuai or JOC at 12 for these Brumbies.

    • Roar Guru

      January 7th 2013 @ 8:42am
      stillmissit said | January 7th 2013 @ 8:42am | ! Report

      Have to agree Melon the Brumbies look good this season and I will make a prediction that they beat the Reds (best team – not anti red) home and away. Balanced pack without being star studded – pocock and moore being their stars and a good backline fed well by White and directed superbly by CL if he is OK.

      IF Jake White has another good season I expect him to come into contention for Wallaby coach.

    • January 7th 2013 @ 10:19am
      Blue Blood said | January 7th 2013 @ 10:19am | ! Report

      I think the brumbies look good for this year. I do object to the C next to Pocock name however. He is a great player but a poor captain. To be a captain you need to do more than just lead through your actions on the pitch. You need to be able to talk the talk and have natural leadership qualities. Pocock doesn’t. Many players don’t so it’s not a big deal as it takes nothing away from him as a player. But he had ample support and opportunity to show what he had at the Force and he was found lacking. He lacks the personality, charisma and ability to connect with all players that is necessary.

      Reports out of the Force is that they didn’t realise how poor Pocock was until they saw Hodgson in action. He has pulled the entire organisation together in 6 months. An established player told me a month ago that it’s not media spin, it’s like a new organisation; and that Hodgo has been central to a drastic cultural change that everyone knew needed to happen but no one had previously stepped up to do it.

      Has Pocock even been announced as captain or is this just an assumption?

      • January 7th 2013 @ 10:37am
        Jutsie said | January 7th 2013 @ 10:37am | ! Report

        I would really be surprised if pocock was made captain after how well mowen lead the team last season. Pocock has also indicated he would be happy to play under mowen and he doesnt come across as the type of egotistical player who would want the captaincy.

        • Roar Guru

          January 7th 2013 @ 2:20pm
          Jiggles said | January 7th 2013 @ 2:20pm | ! Report

          To be honest I dont think Pocock is a very good captain. He didnt impress at the force and was mediocre in his decision making for Australia. People see a talented 7 and get a jones because they want a McCaw for Australia. Mowen is doing a fine job.

      • Roar Guru

        January 7th 2013 @ 11:03am
        Mantis said | January 7th 2013 @ 11:03am | ! Report

        Id be mighty unhappy if they took the C from Mowen.

      • January 7th 2013 @ 11:10am
        Selector said | January 7th 2013 @ 11:10am | ! Report

        Just an assumption, I expected that it would come as a condition of his contract, knowing that being Wallabies captain is big on Pocock’s goals.

        I was happy with Mowen and would also be happy to him to stay as captain. In saying that you can’t guarentee Mowen a spot in the 15 IMO.

        • Roar Guru

          January 7th 2013 @ 10:19pm
          sheek said | January 7th 2013 @ 10:19pm | ! Report

          Very bad move to guarantee anyone captaincy. Especially if it doesn’t involve the playing roster. Perhaps I’m old school, but captaincy has to be earned.

          Pocock has to earn the right to captaincy at the Brumbies from his fellow players. Mowen has done nothing wrong.

          • January 8th 2013 @ 5:38pm
            Wilson said | January 8th 2013 @ 5:38pm | ! Report

            Exactly right. From what I hear the playing group at the Force were not surprised when Pocock was named as captain due to the politics, but they also weren’t impressed. They doubted his ability to lead anywhere but on the feild through his actions. His chat has always been poor and he is far from everyone’s cup of team. An unusual bloke who many admire but few can relate to. After a short time in the role it became apparent to everyone that he didn’t have what it took and spent the year leaning heavily on Sharpe who was trying his best to take a step back. In hindsight they should have given it to Hodgson a year early as many had hoped and then the Pocock uncertainty all season and him walking would not have been as shocking.

            I don’t think it is ever a wise move to come into a club and assume the captaincy. I don’t thibnk they will do it. Unless the ARU demand it? The power of politics.

      • January 9th 2013 @ 11:24am
        Jutsie said | January 9th 2013 @ 11:24am | ! Report

    • January 7th 2013 @ 10:32am
      kingplaymaker said | January 7th 2013 @ 10:32am | ! Report

      Seems tough on Vaea and Kuridrani to me: those two should be in place of the utterly pedestrian Andrew Smith and Fotu Auelua.

      • January 7th 2013 @ 1:12pm
        Selector said | January 7th 2013 @ 1:12pm | ! Report

        I disagree KPM, I feel like Smith has dramatically improved over the past 12 months and deserves first shot at the 13 jersery.

        I have also had the Vaea/Alueau argument several times, but I feel like Auelua offers more than Vaea, and I am even going to go out and say that he will be part of the Wallabies picture in 2013.

    • January 7th 2013 @ 10:37am
      Markus said | January 7th 2013 @ 10:37am | ! Report

      A strong start to the season will be vital, and with McCabe, Nic White and potentially Fardy not expected to be fully fit in time, there will be some interesting selections in the first few rounds.

      Mark Swanepoel was looking sharp in his final season at the Force, but I have not seen much of him since then. After Andy Ellis did not make the All Blacks squad, Swanepoel’s time in the ITM cup was limited.
      He could potentially leapfrog Prior, but I do not see him beating a fit Nic White for the starting spot.

      McCabe has his limitations as a player, but at Super level he has been able to play to his strengths much moreso than Test level. The Lealifano-McCabe 10-12 combo was definitely the Brumbies’ strongest last year.
      With McCabe missing the start of the season, the obvious selection seems to be Toomua at 10 and Lealifano at 12, but I just can’t agree with moving Lealifano out of 10.
      I’d prefer they start Robbie Coleman at 12 if they require a 2nd playmaker, or Andrew Smith or Rathbone for a like-for-like replacement – both are bigger than McCabe, and have played 12 previously.

      If Fardy doesn’t make the start of the season, I’m expecting Leon Power to take the other starting lock spot. I’d prefer Peter Kimlin, as he offers more around the park, but Kimlin seems intent on playing blindside flank. Etienne Oosthuizen is a big young guy, but I suspect needs a fair bit of work before he is ready to start.

      • January 7th 2013 @ 1:08pm
        Selector said | January 7th 2013 @ 1:08pm | ! Report

        Yeah Power certainly did nothing wrong last year, but Carter and Fardy formed a really strong pairing. Kimlin has never returned to form after his injury in 2009, he may prove me wrong this year though.

        • January 7th 2013 @ 1:34pm
          Markus said | January 7th 2013 @ 1:34pm | ! Report

          Power’s setpiece play was strong, but his workrate around the park was very poor compared to Carter Fardy and Kimlin.
          Hopefully a second pre-season will see improvement there.

          Kimlin was showing good form toward the end of last year, but Mowen Vaea and Auelua should all be ahead of him in the backrow standings. He would add valuable experience to a very green group of locks, though.

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