SPIRO: Horwill, Genia, Cooper: They’re baaccckkk!! And Kurtley’s out

Spiro Zavos Columnist

By Spiro Zavos, Spiro Zavos is a Roar Expert


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    What a difference a week makes. Last week the partisan Queensland rugby media were writing off Quade Cooper for poor kicking, poor tackling, poor passing, poor running, you name it they claimed it.

    Now after guiding the Reds to a terrific victory over the Bulls, with help from James Horwill and Will Genia, Cooper is back in favour.

    What this tells us is that form is a moveable feast but class is permanent.

    I have been a constant critic of Cooper as a number 10. I have also been a constant advocate of his rugby skills and from time to time have indulged myself by calling him the ‘Paginini of the Pass.’

    I have argued that Cooper’s best position in Test rugby may well be on the wing, as a Shane Williams/David Campese striker and playmaker inside the red zone.

    There are two problems with Cooper as a number 10. One of them is his tackling, or to be more precise his reluctance to make effective tackles.

    The other problem is that his rugby genius is more off-the-cuff, rather like his hero Carlos Spencer, rather than organising his team’s attack around a well thought-out game plan.

    So with Cooper, in the past, there have been too many magic passes either attempted and sometimes achieved in terrible positions for the receiver.

    This sort of pass-the-parcel play can work even in the high-tempo stress of Super Rugby. But in the even more stressful atmosphere of Test rugby disaster lies, as it did during the 2011 RWC, when the playmaker keeps on putting players under even more pressure from his off-loads than he is under.

    This season I’ve noticed that Cooper has been under-playing his hand for the Reds. While some commentators found this to be a sign of a loss of confidence, I reckon that it is a sign of maturity.

    The reason why Dan Carter is rated as arguable New Zealand’s greatest fly-half is that he underplays his hand, distributes, takes the tackle when he has to and then strikes when the opposition least expects it.

    Cooper who was brought up in New Zealand unfortunately did not get much rugby coaching there. The New Zealand system has always been for fly halves to be distributors in the main who can strike when the opportunity presents itself.

    The flyhalf who is an out-and-out striker like Spencer is generally not favoured. Even though Spencer was a more talented number 10 than Andrew Mehrtens, Mehrtens was more often preferred to him because he was a better distributor.

    Getting back to Cooper, he is playing now more like Carter and remember Carter’s game was developed and matured under Robbie Deans.

    My guess is that the new Cooper will interest Deans much more as a starting number 10 much more than even the 2011 and 2012 models.

    And this brings us to the second aspect of the Cooper dilemma. His ineffective tackling. Deans has stated that unless Cooper plays in the line, he won’t be considered for the Wallabies number 10 position.

    The good news here is that this season Cooper has made some effective tackles. Two in particular against the Bulls helped the Reds to pull off their terrific victory.

    I call it a terrific victory because the Reds haven’t played well this season, even though they’ve kept winning most of their matches.

    Sides that are slightly off form can be very vulnerable to the basic kick/chase/pressure/penalty game of the Bulls. And the Reds came through the game for a victory that was in balance until the last play of the match.

    Part of Cooper’s more assured play this week and last week is due to the presence of Will Genia back again after an injury.

    Let’s be emphatic here. Genia is far and away the best halfway in the world and when his career is over I have no doubt that he is going to be ranked in the pantheon of the greatest Wallaby halfbacks in the modern era that include Connor, Hipwell, Farr-Jones, Gregan (in that order in my opinion).

    Genia has a great pass: he can run brilliantly: his defence is strong: he takes the high ball expertly.

    The only fault in his game is that he can be rattled a bit and then is inclined to kick away possession (as he did in the big matches in the 2011 RWC tournament) with stupid chip kicks.

    But the space he creates enables (or should enable) playmakers like Cooper to do what they should do and that is run the game according to the team’s game plan and the situation of the game.

    It was good too to see Horwill come back so strongly. The Reds and the Wallabies have missed a strong presence at number 2 in the lineout, pushing in the scrums and making bursts in open play.

    Horwill gets his hands on the ball a lot. This is a sign, in my view, of a tight forward who reads the game well and puts himself into positions where he can use his bulk and (in the case of Horwill) his bulk to good advantage.

    The other outstanding win from an Australian perspective of the weekend was the Waratahs victory snatched in the last minutes of play against the Blues.

    Nothing gives confidence to a side which is lacking in it than sneaking wins at the death stroke. And once again, the Waratahs came back from a big deficit at half-time for go over the top of the Blues who had shot most of their ammunition in the first half.

    Whatever Michael Cheika tells his players at half-time should be bottled and used by, say, the Wallabies when they are down after 40 minutes of play.

    The statistics of rugby say that the team that is in front at half-time will almost always win the win. The All Blacks, for instance, win something like 90 per cent of their matches when they are leading at half-time.

    So the Waratahs have been making things difficult for themselves but not turning up to play in the first half. To their credit, they have tried to get back into the match by playing ball-in-hand rugby.

    They had five long sequences of play, for instance, when the Blues struggled to put together more than one sequence of more than five plays.

    They are beginning to learn, too, that the sequence play is a means to an end. It is not a means in itself. A lot of teams get stuck in the pattern of their sequences, and the Crusaders up to the last two matches, tend to be like this.

    Moving an opposition from one side of the field to the other is the means. The end is to get mismatches to exploit.

    Carter is an expert in doing this, and in the last two matches he has regathered his mojo and the Crusaders are beginning to show the benefit of this. He is not going to South Africa with the Crusaders because his wife is due to give birth to their first child.

    How the Crusaders get on against the Stormers and Sharks, two extremely difficult matches, will probably decide whether they will make the finals or not.

    The Waratahs number 10 Brendan Foley, a Randwick player with oodles of confidence, is becoming more and more comfortable in the role of playmaker for the Waratahs in their new/old style of keeping the ball in hand.

    If I were Cheika I’d give a call to his former team-mate the incomparable Mark Ella to do some one-on-one with Foley to develop his understanding on the art of seeing where the numbers are on either side of the ruck, where the convenient match-ups are and how to do the double-around, a manoeuvre that is frequently deadly and is under-used (except by the Chiefs Aaron Cruden) in modern rugby.

    What an irony that bad boy Quade Cooper shows every sign of pulling in his head and concentrating on his rugby while at the same time Kurtley Beale is involved (allegedly) in another incident that does no good for his reputation or his future as a Wallaby.

    This incident looks, on the face of it, to be a bad one. All the details will have to emerge. But if what happens is what media reports suggest what happened, we could be looking at no Kurtley for the British and Irish Lions tour.

    This blow, if it does fall, will be softened a great deal by the excellent current form being shown by the Reds stars, an unlikely good boy Cooper and Genia and Horwill both doing well what they have done in the past.

    Spiro Zavos
    Spiro Zavos

    Spiro Zavos, a founding writer on The Roar, was long time editorial writer on the Sydney Morning Herald, where he started a rugby column that has run for nearly 30 years. Spiro has written 12 books: fiction, biography, politics and histories of Australian, New Zealand, British and South African rugby. He is regarded as one of the foremost writers on rugby throughout the world.

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    The Crowd Says (118)

    • Columnist

      March 25th 2013 @ 7:22am
      Geoff Parkes said | March 25th 2013 @ 7:22am | ! Report

      Fascinating to see how much better Cooper is with Genia inside him.

      Not sure Cheika did anything magical at halftime. Auckland stopped playing rugby and couldn’t hold onto the ball. Credit to Dennis for stepping up at the end and leading the charge with ball in hand.

      I know i say it every week but has there ever been a worse commentator than Kearns? He even accused the ref of taking instructions from the Blues players, when 1. the Tah’s knock on was obviously there, and 2. the ruling obviously came from Steve Walsh on the sideline. Moronic, partisan drivel, every match…

      • March 25th 2013 @ 8:23am
        Frank said | March 25th 2013 @ 8:23am | ! Report

        Agree he should just call the match as is!

      • March 25th 2013 @ 8:25am
        mania said | March 25th 2013 @ 8:25am | ! Report

        agree allnthus – kearns is pretty painful.

        • March 25th 2013 @ 11:23am
          BetterRedThanDead said | March 25th 2013 @ 11:23am | ! Report

          Kerry O’Keefe and the ABC radio cricket commentary crew would be a welcome addition in lieu of Kearns et al. Am sure the ABC would lend them out for the off-season? Not sure what they know about rugby (Michael Holding in particular), however would be bloody entertaining.

      • March 25th 2013 @ 8:30am
        Harry said | March 25th 2013 @ 8:30am | ! Report

        You are right but I strongly suggest turning the volume off, it heighens your appreciation of the game, and NO Phil Kearns, or Marto.

        • March 25th 2013 @ 8:43am
          Darwin Stubbie said | March 25th 2013 @ 8:43am | ! Report

          That’s exactly what Ive been doing for a season or so now … Not a great option but far better than putting up with those foxsports clowns ….

          I’ve said it before – but a few years ago we used to get an option to just take the refs call and crowd noise … I really can’t see why we can’t get that back again …

          • March 25th 2013 @ 8:55am
            Harry said | March 25th 2013 @ 8:55am | ! Report

            Yep, really wish we could get that back, but total silence prefereable at the moment … we pay good money to Rupe for FoxTel, will email them now to ask why not, what about consumer choice etc.

            • March 25th 2013 @ 8:11pm
              Lano said | March 25th 2013 @ 8:11pm | ! Report

              Agree with all of you. To demonstrate the bias I was going to time how long they speak about the Tahs, Reds etc and not the visiting team, but bugger me, imagine actually wilfully listening to them. Jeez, they are hopeless, biased, and should just commentate.

      • March 25th 2013 @ 9:49am
        Bobby said | March 25th 2013 @ 9:49am | ! Report

        Also take into account the Blues were gifted two tries Factor that in when you think the Blues took their foot off the pedal.

        Re foxsports commentary – its the best light hearted entertainment one can find whilst watching rugby!! The calls from the Republic is just a drone and a nasal blow, from the isles has the risk of going into a borefest if the game is a borefest!! at least the Foxsports team will liven it up but I think many a Kiwi have been at the end of a few verbals from them so the love is not likely to be there for them!

        • March 25th 2013 @ 10:59am
          Freddy from Bondi said | March 25th 2013 @ 10:59am | ! Report

          Agree Bobby.. I guess its all subjective but IMO the FoxSports rugby commentary team are one of the best commentators of any sport (behind Phil Ligget (cycling) the ABC (cricket) and Simon Hill (soccer). They clearly know the game inside and out and have a laugh along the way.

          • March 25th 2013 @ 11:16am
            Justin2 said | March 25th 2013 @ 11:16am | ! Report

            Which guys you referring too?

          • March 25th 2013 @ 12:17pm
            DMac said | March 25th 2013 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

            I agree, I think people are too precious about it all. I understand the hatred towards Kearns – not because I don’t like him, but because he’s from NSW and so must be hated by default. I find them refreshingly honest myself. Compare it to NRL coverage, where it’s all about maintaining the hype regardless of what’s happening on the field.

            • March 25th 2013 @ 12:24pm
              Justin2 said | March 25th 2013 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

              The thing with Kearns that bothers me isnt that he is biased towards NSW its the fact the he isnt particularly amusing either.

              Even scarier is that as a Wallaby captain he appears to have such little insight and knowledge of the game, particularly the areas he should be well versed, ie the scrum. He has no idea what going on most of the time. Kafer knows more about what is happening up front than Kearns. He is really embarrasing.

              • March 25th 2013 @ 12:43pm
                Chivas said | March 25th 2013 @ 12:43pm | ! Report

                +1… That sums up my thoughts to a T. It casts doubt over his ability and how much it’s over inflated because he gave the fist pump to Fitzy.

            • March 25th 2013 @ 12:31pm
              Riccardo said | March 25th 2013 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

              “refreshingly honest”

              You’re having a laugh. Surely…

              • March 25th 2013 @ 10:36pm
                DMac said | March 25th 2013 @ 10:36pm | ! Report

                Not really. I hate the NRL, most overhyped, boring sport in existence. But I was travelling on Thursday and I was sitting in my hotel room, bored, so I put the Storm v Bulldogs game on. I watched Billy Slater jump in the air and karate kick a Bulldogs player in the head. And then I listened in disbelief as the commentators spent the next 10 mins reassuring us that there was nothing wrong with his actions, it was just reflex (because reflexively kicking someone in the head is ok apparently). And I thought, this is the NRL in a nutshell. Nothing is allowed to detract from the hype. Billy Slater is a god and so events on the field will be reinvented to protect his image.

                So yeah, I find it refreshing to hear Phil Kearns point out when McCaw is offside at the breakdown for the 47th time today, because I know he’s calling it as he sees it rather than trying to protect some hyped up image. Of course the kiwis will hate it, but they can always listen to their own commentators conveniently ignoring every one if McCaw’s indiscretions, so everyone’s a winner.

        • March 25th 2013 @ 1:20pm
          Sprigs said | March 25th 2013 @ 1:20pm | ! Report

          Nobody’s perfect.

          One NZ commentator makes the mistake of forgetting he is on TV –not on the “wireless” or talking to primary school pupils.

          He tells you every single obvious detail.

          In the recent game with the Hurricanes the guy mentioned Perenara’s name every time he came within cooee of the ball.

      • March 25th 2013 @ 3:28pm
        Emuarse said | March 25th 2013 @ 3:28pm | ! Report

        Clark goes close to it with his repetitive dribble.

    • March 25th 2013 @ 7:24am
      Simon Levingston said | March 25th 2013 @ 7:24am | ! Report

      Spiro, you are right Cooper is looking better in the last 2 weeks, well at least the first half of last week until Genia went off. Cooper, surprisingly also made a couple of tackles, wonderful stuff, but a worry as you have to comment that he actually made them. The key to Coopers success is tied to Will Genia. The question one has to ask themselves is how good would James O’Connor, Christian Lealiifano or Kurtley Beale look with Genia providing the same service? Not sure, but I would like to see those combinations first before making up my mind.

    • Roar Guru

      March 25th 2013 @ 7:46am
      AlBo said | March 25th 2013 @ 7:46am | ! Report

      Foley is a Sydney Uni player, no?

      I don’t want to put too much weight to my comment as I was forced to switch between the Reds match and the bloody Sydney A-League derby, but from what I saw of Cooper, barr the setup of the first try and his own, still didn’t greatly enthuse me.

      I am open to being corrected as I didn’t see about 40% of the game but I still felt like he didn’t have control of the game overall. He had moments of brilliance, but his passing seemed off still.

      Anyway great to see the Reds and Tahs get up over good opposition. I was at the game yesterday and the 16,000 crowd felt a lot bigger than that. Great atmosphere, great weather and a cracker of a match. AAC and Drew Mitchell seem to be relishing their senior roles in the team at the moment. They were very vocal to the younger guys around them and lead by example.

      • March 25th 2013 @ 9:22am
        Justin2 said | March 25th 2013 @ 9:22am | ! Report

        Yes I thought “Brandon” was a Uni player also…

        • March 25th 2013 @ 10:17am
          Handles said | March 25th 2013 @ 10:17am | ! Report

          And Des Connor was retired long before any usual definition of “the modern era”… but Spiro drops a clanger every week to see who is awake.

          • March 25th 2013 @ 10:47am
            Harry said | March 25th 2013 @ 10:47am | ! Report

            Now that I think about it, you are right – does it every Monday.

          • March 25th 2013 @ 1:22pm
            Sprigs said | March 25th 2013 @ 1:22pm | ! Report

            Older blokes think half backs of the past are better than more recent ones.

            It’s what happens. We all glorify our youth.

    • March 25th 2013 @ 7:47am
      mania said | March 25th 2013 @ 7:47am | ! Report

      no spiro, mehrtens was preferred because he was solid at the basics.
      coopers biggest disadvantage is the fact that he’s inconsistent. when on form he’s great but can u afford to wait 6-7 games for him to pull out a big game?

      • March 25th 2013 @ 11:39am
        Chivas said | March 25th 2013 @ 11:39am | ! Report

        No Mania and Spiro Mehrtens wasn’t initially preferred. He initially played because he was uninjured. But I’m sure history is rewritten to suit a case. I’m not surprised at an Australian sports writer. I am more surprised that this comment is not corrected by you. I personally thought they were both great players. Mehrtens kicking washer consistent. To continue with the suggestion Carlos couldn’t organise the backs is laughable.

        He was legendary. He stood close to the line and attacked the line. Mehrts on the other hand stood much deeper aka Fox style. Unlike Fox, Mehrts could run and was a nice balanced runner. His tackling was on par with Fox.

        There would be very few in the world or in knowledgeable rugby circles in New Zealand who would deny Carlos’s skills over Merhtens. And as I’ve stated before, Cooper isn’t a shadow of Spencer.

        Merhtens and spencer were both class players and both deserve the accolades they receive. I feel fortunate to have seen their entire careers both live and on tv since before either of them had played for theAB’s.

        And Mania wasn’t Carlos from down your way? Horowhenua? That I can’t remember. I could google it, but where is the fun in that 🙂

        • March 25th 2013 @ 11:49am
          mania said | March 25th 2013 @ 11:49am | ! Report

          chivas – i didnt say i was anti carlos but i did prefer merhts. yes carlos was from my way, horowhenua.
          and carlos wasnt “more skilled” than merhts. kicking is a skill and mehrts was easily better. what carlos could do tho was ad lib and make up plays on the fly. carlos relied more on deceptive sleight of hand where as merhts relied on being very good at the basics.
          i agree they both deserve accolades and that QC is a wannabe shadow of what carlos was.

          • March 25th 2013 @ 12:35pm
            Chivas said | March 25th 2013 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

            Sorry Mania. Not suggesting you are anti-spencer. Just frustrated that the myth is perpetuated over here and never corrected. Spencer also worked very hard at the basics and was no light weight when it came to kicking. His place kicking was form related, but not the rest.

            As I mentioned the basics are different depending where you stand and how you take on the line. I also think they bought the best out in each other. My point is as a naturally gifted player with a wide range of skills, there were few who could match it with spencer and the suggestion that he was flaky is the myth that irks me.

            The easiest thing is to spot a hole and run at it. But you only get the ball a few times. Carlos created the hole and popped the ball for the runner. And.they weren’t running on to it. Players like Bull and Titi wily have fed off that all day. The blues at that point were flat footed. So spencer had to rein in his game. So he also played within himself. I mean the pop off the knee was genius and ahead of his time. He would have worked hard at that before he pulled it out on the field.

            If the blues didn’t have the country’s purse strings he may have played for someone else. Also you know how high a regard Fox held him in. And that is not to detract from Mehrtens but such different players and a really different game based on both.

            I’m not sure Mehrtens had the weight of the team on his shoulders like Spencer. Not because he couldn’t have shouldered it, but Wayne Smith and Robbie were already making huge inroads to establish the structures at Canterburt which are still evident today.

            And the point of all this is a comment on the hysteria around players like Cooper as of he is an international player and the lack of the same recognition of players who are and have taken the world by storm like Pocock, Palu etc. It may just be me, but I don’t understand the fixation on controversial unproven players and criticism of honest hard working respected and recognised imternationals.

            Is it culture, parochialism or just ego and the need to make big statements that make us go ohh, hmmm…

            Anyway. My thoughts for what they are. Have an awesome day.

            • March 25th 2013 @ 12:47pm
              mania said | March 25th 2013 @ 12:47pm | ! Report

              chivas – i shall; have an awesome day and thanx for your thoughts.
              i was never a fan of the kick off the knee. sure there was a lot of control but no power behind it. was not a fan of his banana kick either. i thought it tried to emulate joeyJohns but done badly.
              the era of carlos vs merhts was awesome. fully agree they brought the best out in each other.
              carlos imo had some shortcomings but he was still a great player. a real role model to look up to and someone to emulate.

            • March 25th 2013 @ 1:51pm
              Hightackle said | March 25th 2013 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

              It irks you?
              I dont care, becuz Carlos as gifted as he was, could have shockers.
              Thats not a myth and Merthens was by far and away the more consistent and thats why he was often prefered.
              Carlos could win a game by himself but also lose a game by himself.

              • March 25th 2013 @ 3:52pm
                Chivas said | March 25th 2013 @ 3:52pm | ! Report

                Give me an example HT. the intercept pass… I don’t agree that lost them the game as what the other 15 did to get up is beyond me. But that is recognised on this side of the ditch. Tell me others over a career that spanned a good decade.

                When Auckland were in decline, he held them together not for a game, but season after season.

                But he was heavily relied on to do the heavy lifting. If you want to quote the short passes. For mine that is rubbish as it was for the coaches. He could have changed his game quite easily, but it’s what he was called upon to do. He never came out and said poor me, the team must play to my game as I’m the smartest and most gifted and everyone comes to see me (see QC).

                Anyway we all have our own memories. For mine there was a lot more to Spencer’s game than he was a flaky bit player who won and lost games. His was a style the coaches wanted to pursue and play off. When Smith started coaching the AB’s he too wanted to introduce a flatter backline, whicheans not standing so deep aka Mehrts, Fox et al. He had a meltdown and came back as assistant, but it was a greater challenge to move the playing style of the group than he had envisaged. Some years on we have made vast improvements.

                Anyway as I say for me they are memories and what these players contributed over a long time to the style and game as we know it today. And for that I appreciate Carlos’s loyalty and gifts both in on field generalship when it was completely missing and the skills and work ethic he bought, when as the key player and most gifted he could have rested on his laurels and been a dickhead. He wasn’t.

                If your memories aren’t the same, I figure you didn’t have the privilege of watching him quite so much at all levels.

                If he is a liability I’d take him any day over any current Wallaby player and most past.

    • March 25th 2013 @ 7:52am
      Fog said | March 25th 2013 @ 7:52am | ! Report

      If the Blues and the Waratahs were horses they would both be off to the catfood factory this morning after their performance yesterday. It was a shame someone won.

      • March 25th 2013 @ 10:28am
        DMac said | March 25th 2013 @ 10:28am | ! Report

        It’s hard to see through that blind hatred isn’t it?

      • March 25th 2013 @ 12:23pm
        Denby said | March 25th 2013 @ 12:23pm | ! Report

        I am normally critical of the Waratahs, in my opinion this was actually a much improved performance compared to previous weeks. The Blues put in some big hits and at times counter rucked very effectively. That was the best performance of the Waratahs for at least 18 months.

      • March 25th 2013 @ 1:23pm
        Sprigs said | March 25th 2013 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

        I thought it was an enjoyable game to watch.

    • March 25th 2013 @ 7:54am
      Red Kev said | March 25th 2013 @ 7:54am | ! Report

      That is a really interesting article Spiro, I enjoyed reading it very much.
      I have felt that although Cooper has been playing somewhat more solidly he is still prone to the pass to no-one and the panicky offload to someone else that loses the team ground. He is doing the basics of his role well about 60-70% of the time when it should be 90-100%. I would like to see an entire match without any of those silly mistakes and defending in the channel before I’d bring him back as the Wallaby no.10. Certainly he’s a better option than Barnes, Beale or O’Connor at 10, but Toomua and Lealiifano are ahead of him for selection at the moment.
      The end of the second half with the Genia-Cooper interplay down the short side was just great to see, hopefully they will grow back to their best.
      Horwill was excellent on his comeback which is great news for the Wallabies. I am unsure who will partner him in the Wallaby second row though, Pyle? Simmons seems unlikely. I hope it isn’t Douglas or Timani. I would think at the moment former-Wallabies McMeniman and Kimlin are the front-runners.

      • March 25th 2013 @ 8:21am
        Harry said | March 25th 2013 @ 8:21am | ! Report

        For the Lions we need a strong scrummaging tight 5 so choose between Robinson, Alexander or Holmes at loosehead, and Palmer, Alesxander or Slipper at tighthead. Moore is a lock for starting hooker. Second row in roughly descending order – Horwill, Kimlin, McMeniman, Carter, Simmons and Timani. MMM has a historic black mark against him as being part of the scrum of shame at Twickers in 2005 or 6 from memory, and only Simmons (who has been playing well for Qld the last couple of outings) is strong at the lineout.

        • March 25th 2013 @ 10:19am
          Handles said | March 25th 2013 @ 10:19am | ! Report

          Surely Timani played himself out of any (even top 6) consideration on the weekend? That was an awful display yesterday. Terrible, upright running, missed key tackles, and generally ineffective.

          • March 25th 2013 @ 12:21pm
            DMac said | March 25th 2013 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

            I didn’t see it that way tbh. The missed tackle for the try was as much AAC’s fault as Timani’s, if not more. Timani just didn’t have the speed to get across, whereas AAC came off the man way too early and went outside to cover a player who was already covered. If AAC had stayed in then there would have been no try. Timani put on a few big hits in the first half and did a fair bit of work with ball in hand. I thought he had an ok game. If I was going to pick on one of the locks it would be Douglas, who did next to nothing other than give away the odd silly penalty.

            • March 25th 2013 @ 12:26pm
              Justin2 said | March 25th 2013 @ 12:26pm | ! Report

              I’d have to watch a replay again but it looked for all money to be Timani’s man. He has a habit of lurking wide, thinking he is a flanker with pace. He isnt!

        • March 25th 2013 @ 10:26am
          jameswm said | March 25th 2013 @ 10:26am | ! Report

          How can you propose Slipper at TH when you want a strong scrum?

          Best scrumming THs in the country arre probably Palmer, Kepu, Alexander and Ryan. Alexander has good days at TH.

          • March 25th 2013 @ 10:46am
            Harry said | March 25th 2013 @ 10:46am | ! Report

            Take the blinkers off my friend, Slipper has done really well at tighthead for the Reds ths year. Improvement is undeniable.
            I used to hold the same (low) opinion of Alexander as a THP but his excelent play last year in that postion showed otherwise.
            All that said, for the Lions I would go with Palmer as it is absolutely critical we have a strong scrum as that will be the Oppo’s key attacking weapon. Palmer has showed himslf Australia’s best scrummaging tighthead.
            Re Timani, agree he wasn’t great yesterday and indeed most of this season yet he was good for the Wallabies on their tour last year. That count for more than a rather heat effected, loose and high-scoring SuperRugby game.

            • Roar Guru

              March 25th 2013 @ 11:18am
              Jiggles said | March 25th 2013 @ 11:18am | ! Report

              Kepu was gash yesterday and has been all year too… Robinson was also poor yesterday. Ryan should make the squad but none of the Tahs props should make the 22. None of tight 5 bar TPN should either tbh…

              • March 25th 2013 @ 12:23pm
                DMac said | March 25th 2013 @ 12:23pm | ! Report

                You thought Robinson was poor? Inconceivable!

            • March 25th 2013 @ 11:35am
              formeropenside said | March 25th 2013 @ 11:35am | ! Report

              Timani good on the EOYT? Well, except against Italy, and did he even play the France debacle?

              • March 25th 2013 @ 12:04pm
                Harry said | March 25th 2013 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

                Against England mainly FOS … one good game anyway … trying to be charitable.
                Gret to see Horwill play so strongly in his comeback.

        • March 25th 2013 @ 12:43pm
          Denby said | March 25th 2013 @ 12:43pm | ! Report

          I have not watched every minute of every game so far this year but I am surprised to see Slipper proposed as the Wallaby THP. He is good around the paddock but will be smashed by the Lions, same with Simmons and Alexander (if picked at THP, pretty good LHP).
          If he has made a huge leap forward since I last saw him play, I will be happy to be wrong but the Reds pack is hardly a dominant scrum, this is not who we should base our front row around.

          • March 25th 2013 @ 6:07pm
            formeropenside said | March 25th 2013 @ 6:07pm | ! Report

            Reds pack pushed around the Blues and Canes.