Report card revision: movement in the rankings

Brett McKay Columnist

By Brett McKay, Brett McKay is a Roar Expert


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    Queensland Reds player Quade Cooper (centre) is help by ACT Brumbies' Henry Speight (right) and Nic White during their round 10 Super Rugby match at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Saturday, April 20, 2013. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

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    After the completion of Super Rugby Round 6 I put out my early-season report card, using three simple subjective ratings: teams that disappointed me to that point, the teams going as I expected them to, and those I considered to be over-achieving.

    With only nine rounds of the competition remaining, and with the June internationals and British and Irish Lions Tour of Australia a bit over a month away, it’s time to re-apply those ratings and see how the teams have fared since the last report.

    There’s been much movement, for mine, and not a lot of it is in an upward direction.

    The Disappointments

    The Highlanders led this category for me last time, and they remain at the head of the queue this time, too.

    After Round 11 last year, the Highlanders sat in the last wildcard spot on 34 points, with seven wins. The lowly Blues were last on 12 points and one win.

    After Round 11 this year, the Highlanders are in worse shape than even the Blues of 2012. Their ten points have come via two byes and two bonus points, and it’s hard to see where their first win will come. Might even be getting worse.

    The Rebels are similarly continuing to disappoint me, and it’s actually hard to see how they don’t sit right down with the Highlanders.

    The month ahead for the Rebels is full of top-performing teams, too, and I can’t see them providing much more than ‘training run’ value.

    How much of it is due to ongoing club issues or inexperience is immaterial; they’re not playing well enough.

    The Western Force were tracking ‘as expected’ in the first report, but despite showing some good signs – I gave them a big wrap last week for just that – they remain consistently inconsistent, and thus disappointing overall.

    A surprising win over the Crusaders was let down by surprising losses to the Rebels, Hurricanes, and even the Waratahs, and it’s wins over those teams of similar mid-tier stature the Force need to start stringing together.

    And that’s without thinking about the flogging to the Brumbies.

    Finally, the Stormers and Sharks both sit among the disappointments this time around after I had them both in the ‘as expecteds’ previously.

    Two teams that were among the best in the comp last season just don’t look close to their 2012 editions, and now find themselves in that logjam of teams mid-table.

    Both are having trouble finding any real sustained form of attack, and have remained where they are on the table on the back of their defensive efforts. The Sharks did well to come back at the Chiefs as they did, and Pat Lambie does look a bigger threat running off Charl McLeod.

    They’ll need that threat if they are to repeat their 2012 Finals appearance this year.

    The ‘As Expecteds’

    A few weeks ago, I might’ve been inclined to list the Southern Kings as over-achievers, but a return to the Republic has brought with it a return to earth with a thud.

    Along with the Hurricanes, they remain in this category with no real surprise element likely to boost them in my ratings, and their respective table positioning is a fair reflection.

    Similarly, the Chiefs, Crusaders, and Reds remain with the same ranking as last time, and all look on track to feature in the play-offs this season.

    The Chiefs keep rolling along and, even despite twin losses to the Waratahs and Reds, remain comfortably atop the New Zealand conference. Only the Crusaders loom as a proper test before the June recess.

    The Crusaders started their African tour well with a tough win in Cape Town, and tight losses to the Sharks and Force were evened out by wins over the Highlanders and Rebels since.

    Moreover, the cavalry is returning, too, with Israel Dagg back in his preferred position and Daniel Carter back from the bench on Sunday. Kieran Read is thought to be close to returning, too.

    They’ll be there or thereabouts, the Crusaders always are.

    The Reds are tracking along nicely, too, and have essentially been sitting in the top wildcard spot from the last month. They’ve been through the full range in that time too; too good for the Chiefs, not quite good enough against the Brumbies, and maybe a touch lucky against the Blues.

    However, the Reds are going to be a danger side without doubt, and they carry class in several combinations across the park, namely all three rows of the scrum, and the halves. Discount and/or tip against them at your peril.

    The Brumbies, Blues, and Bulls round out the ‘as expecteds’, having all been listed as over-achievers last report. That’s not to say that they’ve regressed since, but rather my expectations of them have been adjusted.

    They are all literally running as I expect them to now.

    The ‘Over-achievers’

    Last time around, the Cheetahs headed this list, and this time they’re the lone inhabitants.

    Put simply, I cannot be more impressed with the way the Cheetahs have not just stayed on their winning ways, but have actually improved the way they’re playing. They’ve always been worth watching, but now it’s almost a case of them being a ‘must watch’ every weekend.

    The big difference from last year to this year is the Cheetahs are winning their conference matches. Where last year they lost seven of eight, this year they’ve already won three of five, including the scalps of the Stormers and Sharks.

    They’re only a point off leading the South African conference now, and have two byes and four home games between now and the playoffs. Cheetahs fans, the time to start believing is here.

    Still counting teams? Feels like I’ve missed one, doesn’t it?

    I’ve actually found it hard to rate the Waratahs using my three-pronged system. They were disappointing last time around, have improved greatly as I expected they would, but still aren’t quite over-achieving due to some lingering inconsistency.

    I’ll give them an ‘as expected’-plus.

    Last week in comments, I said of Tahs’ Coach Michael Cheika, and his assistants, “…they refused to shy away from their plan when things weren’t looking flash in the opening rounds. He knew his plan would work, and would get the desired results, and he stuck to them. It’s excellent coaching.”

    Even with the composure deserting them at times in Pretoria over the weekend, that remains the case.

    There wouldn’t be many players in the squad who haven’t improved since the last report, but Bernard Foley, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Michael Hooper, and yes, especially Israel Folau have been the main beacons of progression.

    The 2013 playoffs might be too soon, but on this current form, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Tahs pushing for the post-season next year.

    Brett McKay
    Brett McKay

    Brett McKay is one of The Roar's good news stories and has been a rugby and cricket expert for the site since July 2009. Brett is an international and Super Rugby commentator for ABC Grandstand radio, has commentated on the Australian Under-20s Championships and National Rugby Championship live stream coverage, and has written for magazines and websites in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the UK. He tweets from @BMcSport.

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    The Crowd Says (120)

    • Roar Guru

      April 30th 2013 @ 2:59am
      biltongbek said | April 30th 2013 @ 2:59am | ! Report

      Nice one Brett, but I still feel the Cheetahs are going to implode, maybe it is due to past performances, but I have looked at our conference and it is going to be a close run thing between the top four.

      Even the Stormers are still in with a shot to end somewhere near the top of the SA conference.

      Their win last weekend perhaps just the catalyst for a successful antipodean tour.

      • April 30th 2013 @ 3:39am
        Shop said | April 30th 2013 @ 3:39am | ! Report

        Not so sure BB, I think the Cheetahs have the right attitude and ability to make at least the top 6.
        Unfortunately, have only seen a couple of games and they look like a very balanced side.
        The traditional SA powers on the other hand have looked very hot and cold.

        • Roar Guru

          April 30th 2013 @ 3:49am
          biltongbek said | April 30th 2013 @ 3:49am | ! Report

          Shop, I am hoping that the Cheetahs top the SA conference, we need the asminidtrators to be proven wrong about playing conservative rugby.

          Unfortunately the Cheetahs have some tough matches left.

          • April 30th 2013 @ 10:43pm
            Stanley said | April 30th 2013 @ 10:43pm | ! Report

            I agree. They stay true to their exciting brand of rugby and it would be great to see them stay at the top.

      • April 30th 2013 @ 6:22am
        mania said | April 30th 2013 @ 6:22am | ! Report

        biltongbek – your verdict on the weakest conf at the mo?
        i reckon SA is the most closely contested but have to begrudgingly admit that maybe the NZconf is the weakest this season

        • April 30th 2013 @ 6:36am
          Jerry said | April 30th 2013 @ 6:36am | ! Report

          The table doesn’t really support that Mania. The 4th place NZ side is 9th on the log, ahead of 3 Aussie sides and only 3 points outside the top 6.

          The Reds and Brumbies are out in front (though they’re a round ahead) but even with the improved performances of the Tahs, Force & Rebels there’s still a convincing argument the Aussie conference is the weakest overall.

          • April 30th 2013 @ 6:46am
            mania said | April 30th 2013 @ 6:46am | ! Report

            yeah jerry just a feeling i have from watching the past couple weeks and the nz teams getting owned and not having things all their way as they have in the past couple of seasons. brumbies and reds are deservedly at the top and the force have upset as well as the rebels coming close.

            • April 30th 2013 @ 6:59am
              Jerry said | April 30th 2013 @ 6:59am | ! Report

              It’s much more competitive, and it’s by no means a ‘weak conference’ based on overall performance this year but if you were gonna grade the 3 from top to bottom you’d have to say the Aussie conference is probably still number 3.

              Bear in mind that the Rebels & Force have played only 3 matches against NZ opposition and have lost 2 of them. They’ve still got 5 matches which will likely even things up a bit for NZ. And while they’ve been competitive, you could say the same thing about the Highlanders – they lose, but they’re usually making a game of it (eg a 1 point loss vs Reds).

              • April 30th 2013 @ 7:02am
                mania said | April 30th 2013 @ 7:02am | ! Report

                i hope so jerry. i’d love to see the nz teams click and just stop all these unforced knock ons. its really p!ssing me off! we’re taught to catch and throw it around at a very very early stage, yet thats whats killing our rugby at the moment imo.

              • April 30th 2013 @ 10:12am
                nickoldschool said | April 30th 2013 @ 10:12am | ! Report

                What if there was simply no weakest conference this year? Looks pretty even for me. Density in each conference may vary a bit but overall I think it’s pretty much the same across the board.

              • April 30th 2013 @ 10:20am
                Jerry said | April 30th 2013 @ 10:20am | ! Report

                Well, it’s possible that all 3 teams could somehow finish more or less equal but it’s unlikely. Bear in mind that ‘weakest’ is a very wide descriptor. I’d agree that more or less all 3 conferences are very close.

              • April 30th 2013 @ 10:59am
                Chivas said | April 30th 2013 @ 10:59am | ! Report

                That’s my thinking too Mania. We all know how to catch and pass. First thing you do when you are five so by the time you hit your late teens you can catch it from your boot laces to on the edge of your reach in traffic. It’s real sloppiness.

                If they have to go back to some basics, like all hands for the first couple. Forwards knocking on I have no time for. Short pass in the guts or slightly longer on the chest. It’s almost like they are looking and thinking about everything else before they have caught it. I’d be out there with a cattle prod. I don’t care too much about other teams, but the BS the chiefs put on the park against the reds and then worse the Tahs. That to take nothing away from either the reds or the Tahs.

              • April 30th 2013 @ 12:12pm
                soapit said | April 30th 2013 @ 12:12pm | ! Report

                and having a weak conf could help ur position on the table with more games against supposedly weaker teams.

                the way to do it is to only count point gained against teams from other conferences

              • May 1st 2013 @ 5:04am
                mania said | May 1st 2013 @ 5:04am | ! Report

                fully agree chivas. this is just real basic skills that are letting the chiefs and other nz teams down. real low brow errors, its frustrating. agree bout the cattle prod.

            • April 30th 2013 @ 7:02am
              ohtani's jacket said | April 30th 2013 @ 7:02am | ! Report

              In 2010, the New Zealand sides struggled so much that only the Crusaders made the top six. The Aussies had three sides in the top six and South Africa sealed the top two spots and an all-South African finals series. This was the year before the conference system, but there was the same type of lamenting from the reactive NZ media. The All Blacks went on to have one of their best seasons in recent memory. It may or may not happen again this year, but the Super Rugby season is only half over and the Aussie conference is on the verge of being overrated. If an Aussie team can’t hold onto the overall top spot, I can’t see one winning.

              • April 30th 2013 @ 7:07am
                mania said | April 30th 2013 @ 7:07am | ! Report

                OJ – 2010 was my favourite season for a long time. boks had handed the AB’s their as’ses on a plate the year before. 2010 AB’s were p!ssed off and it showed in the 3N’s in that AB’s owned the boks in all the matches and only lost the one in hongKong to aus due to stephenDonald having a nightmare.
                that def was a case of super rugby not a sole indicator of national strength.

              • April 30th 2013 @ 7:41am
                Riccardo said | April 30th 2013 @ 7:41am | ! Report

                Granted it’s early days and a lot depends on the June window and the Lions tour, in particular.

                You’re not concerned though OJ that the recent losses to Australian sides (there was a similar blip against the South African sides not so long ago too) have a similar pattern in that we have been dominated at the breakdown?

                There’s daylight behind McCaw and Read before the next incumbents. Messam and Vito have been a little anonymous although recently Shields and Luatua especially would suggest the blindside should be well attended.

                Chuck in Hore’s injury and lack of form and there may be a lot required of the locks to make up the difference.

              • April 30th 2013 @ 8:43am
                Shungmao said | April 30th 2013 @ 8:43am | ! Report

                Good post Riccardo.

              • April 30th 2013 @ 9:16am
                rl said | April 30th 2013 @ 9:16am | ! Report

                riccardo – I was at Suncorp on Friday night and can certainly attest that the Reds did not dominate anyone at the breakdown!! Braid was an absolute pest, and his backrow partners were very imfluential, even if their stats don’t reflect it. My first sighting of Luatua, and I’m impressed. Plenty to like in the Blues effort overall, and the ABs coaching crew will have noticed.

                As Brett alludes to above, some key AB figures are only just making their starts for the year. Having learnt the lessons from a famously disastrous effort some years ago, I think the NZ teams have worked out how to manage playing personnel through a long season. In a few more weeks these blokes may be hitting their straps, whereas the Aussies may lag.

              • Roar Guru

                April 30th 2013 @ 10:50am
                Jiggles said | April 30th 2013 @ 10:50am | ! Report

                rl I agree with your thoughts on Luatua. It was good to see him in the flesh and he moves around the park pretty well for a rookie. Not sure if we will see him in the RC but you’d expect Hansen to bring him through on the EOYT.

                And as for OJ, well I completely disagree with his belief that an Australian team needs to finish first. No Australian team will win it this year regardless of where they sit.

                I doubt many Brumbies and Reds players will make up the match day 22(23) but even so they will be in Robbie’s extended squad for over 5 weeks sitting on their behinds doing nothing. There is no way either team can come back and win with only one game before the finals.

              • April 30th 2013 @ 11:10am
                Chivas said | April 30th 2013 @ 11:10am | ! Report

                You’re a dag Jiggs. Where do you think the backs are coming from…. The rebels and the force? Mogg, CL, Taps, McCabe, Toomua, Cooper, Genia, Digby…. That’s 8 of the backs all reds and Brumbies. Yes AAC and JOC will be there and maybe Folau and Beale.

                You can’t start bleating about selections yet when they haven’t been made. I would be surprised if Genia, Cooper, CL, Mogg, Ioane were not in the starting line-up.

                Your point on Brumbies and Reds being stuffed when they lose all their players is on the money. Which makes this whole debate about the strongest conference funny. It’s going to run for months and be as interesting as all the comments regarding Cooper and Deans…

              • April 30th 2013 @ 11:32am
                ohtani's jacket said | April 30th 2013 @ 11:32am | ! Report


                The New Zealand sides’ approach to the breakdown has certainly changed in recent times with sides seemingly reluctant to counter ruck at the risk of being penalised, whereas the Australian approach of having the arriving player attack the ball has proven increasingly successful, but I think it’s our defence around the ruck area that is letting us down. Since we’re not committing huge numbers to the breakdown, there shouldn’t be so many gaps around the fringes, but we saw that problem quite a bit on the EOTY tour too. Perhaps it has a lot to do with our younger players not being accomplished defenders yet.

                Wouldn’t worry about it too much at this stage.

        • Roar Guru

          April 30th 2013 @ 6:52am
          biltongbek said | April 30th 2013 @ 6:52am | ! Report

          Mania, I showed the stats of the cross conference matches on another article today.

          If you are looking at the past two years and considering each team have played 16 cross conference matches in the two years and 50% should be the mark of competitiveness, then Australia has 4 teams who have not won 50% of their matches cross conference, for SA one team has not made the 50% mark and all five NZ teams have made the 50% mark.

          So historically Australia has the weakest conference, this year however the Reds and Brumbies have been very successful.

          The Reds are this year the most successful cross conference wise and have won all their matches, the Brumbies have won 3/5 and one draw vs the Kings. But it is early season yet and there are still some ways to go, the Tahs, Force and Rebels have had some good showings, but are still behind the 8 ball.

          I don’t think the most accurate manner to look at a conference is inside the conference, but rather how your teams fair ouside of their conferences.

          The Nz teams started slow this year, overall by memory the stats for this year is 58% wins for SA, they trail the NZ teams 5-7, they lead the OZ conference 9.5-3.5, and the OZ conference leads the Nz conference 7-3.

          OZ is sitting close to 50% wins, mostly reliant on the successes of the Reds and Brumbies. And for NZ, the Higlanders havebeen the major disappointment.

          • April 30th 2013 @ 7:03am
            mania said | April 30th 2013 @ 7:03am | ! Report

            wow didnt realise the stats made it out to be so close. i thought on this seasons performance nz would be lagging behind.
            “Higlanders havebeen the major disappointment.” that would have to be the understatement of the season

          • April 30th 2013 @ 8:56am
            atlas said | April 30th 2013 @ 8:56am | ! Report

            biltongbek you posted on another thread (can’t find it now) about points required to make top six based on previous years – that ruled out the Waratahs, and of course each team below them.
            So if talking about conferences – Australia has three teams with no chance at all of making the top six. NZ has one, as does SA.

            • Roar Guru

              April 30th 2013 @ 9:03am
              biltongbek said | April 30th 2013 @ 9:03am | ! Report

              Atlas I worked out the likely hood of results and theteams with no chance are as you say the teams from the tahs down.

              The Stormers by winning the weekend have kept themselves in but only if they win at least two more matches in Aus and NZ, the have one game in hand on the teams just ahead of them, and they are 4 points behind a number of teams.

              The Hurricanes have a tough road for the rest of the tournament and in my calcualtions will fall quite a bit short for the play offs.

              The Shakrs are in the danger zone.

              Brunbies and Reds will almost undoubtedly have the top points and the Crusaders and Blues and Chiefs are all in with a shot, the Cheetahs and Bulls have a shot.

              There are a number of derbies which would ultimately decide who will be a wildcard and who not.

              I have a sneaky feeling the SA conference is going to cancel each other out, and you may find only one SA conference making it, and the other three all ending 7,8,9

              • April 30th 2013 @ 10:27am
                rl said | April 30th 2013 @ 10:27am | ! Report

                BB – I agree, it would appear a NZ team is going to nab a second wildcard spot. Sharks are definately in the danger zone with a crippling injury toll. The Cheetahs, despite having a bye up their sleeve, have a tough run home, including home fixtures against the Hurricanes, Reds & Bulls, and away against the Stormers.

                With Read and Carter coming back for the Crusaders, I think they will grab one wildcard spot. Its a matter of whether Sir JK can maintain the Blues form.

        • April 30th 2013 @ 7:14am
          Justin2 said | April 30th 2013 @ 7:14am | ! Report

          Why worry about weak or strong conferences. Enjoy the footy in the lead up to the finals. People are obsessed with the conference relative strengths….The comp is what it is.

          • Roar Guru

            April 30th 2013 @ 7:20am
            biltongbek said | April 30th 2013 @ 7:20am | ! Report

            I don’t think it is an obsession justin, the Aussie media has been “showcasing” the successes of the campaign from their perspective thus far bit failed to mention their record against SA teams.

            I think it is all about providing a fair reflection on the compeition, don’t you think?

            • April 30th 2013 @ 8:02am
              Red Kev said | April 30th 2013 @ 8:02am | ! Report

              Not really, I think the Aussie media are looking at it as flavour to the Wallaby coaching job.
              In general the Aussie media is just responding to the unjustified criticism of the Australian conference from both NZ and SA of the past two years is all.

              • Roar Guru

                April 30th 2013 @ 8:09am
                biltongbek said | April 30th 2013 @ 8:09am | ! Report

                RK, you have to admit it has been overdone a tad.every opportunity the media amd commentators get they use to accentuate the Ozzie vs Kiwi results.

                I am not saying they shouldn’t do it, but geez, hold back a bit every now and then.

              • April 30th 2013 @ 8:15am
                Red Kev said | April 30th 2013 @ 8:15am | ! Report

                Hey you’ll never hear me praising the Australian media, I’m just saying I think they’re doing it more as background/build-up to the inevitable ARU decision on Deans or McKenzie.

      • Columnist

        April 30th 2013 @ 9:19am
        Brett McKay said | April 30th 2013 @ 9:19am | ! Report

        Biltong, what I didn’t mention is that the Cheetahs’ 7 wins is only matched by the Reds and Brumbies. All three have played 10 games, too.

        Your point on the SA conference is valid though; only four points between 1st and 4th…

        • Roar Guru

          April 30th 2013 @ 9:25am
          biltongbek said | April 30th 2013 @ 9:25am | ! Report

          Yeah Brett, the Brumbies are ahead because of 2 draws though and the Reds with their One draw as well, can’t remember the Bonus points offhand, but it does give advantage to the two Ozzie teams.

          • Columnist

            April 30th 2013 @ 9:30am
            Brett McKay said | April 30th 2013 @ 9:30am | ! Report

            Yeah, it does somewhat, the Brumbies have four BPs, the Reds three, and the Cheetahs three. If you remove the bye points, the Brumbies are on 36, the Reds are 33, and the Cheetahs would still obviously be on 31..

    • April 30th 2013 @ 5:28am
      Justin2 said | April 30th 2013 @ 5:28am | ! Report

      Decision time at the rebels – Beale is back, Woodward has been excellent at 15 and JOC isn’t a 10. Phipps isn’t a 9 and their back rowers are all fit. Makings of a decent side in all honesty so it will be interesting. The 5 day break will hurt this week though… Oh for some front rowers 🙁

      • April 30th 2013 @ 6:10am
        Jared said | April 30th 2013 @ 6:10am | ! Report

        I’d play Beale at 10 and O’Connor at 12. I think inside centre could be the best position long term for O’Connor

        • April 30th 2013 @ 6:42am
          Justin2 said | April 30th 2013 @ 6:42am | ! Report

          I agree Jared, u think that’s the best options fir them or James guys back to the wing and Rove’s

          • April 30th 2013 @ 6:55am
            Jared said | April 30th 2013 @ 6:55am | ! Report

            The rebels are struggling for centres more than wingers right now and I think O’Connor has the right skill set to be a good inside centre as he’s a strong and elusive runner of the ball and he’s got a good passing and kicking game which can help the men outside him and on top of that he’s also fairly good defender in the line but he has played some of his best rugby on the wing so it’ll be interesting to see what they do

            • April 30th 2013 @ 9:41am
              rl said | April 30th 2013 @ 9:41am | ! Report

              I’d love to see that happen – it would satisfy JOC’s desire to closer to the action, and satisfy my desire (and many others) to see if JOC can really cut it at 12. If it doesnlt work out, we know he can still play very well on the wing.

              BUT… a move to 12 would possibly mean less of his great broken play running.

            • Columnist

              April 30th 2013 @ 9:43am
              Brett McKay said | April 30th 2013 @ 9:43am | ! Report

              I wonder if O’Connor is becoming the modern-day Mat Rogers, a victim of his own versatility?

              • Roar Guru

                April 30th 2013 @ 9:48am
                biltongbek said | April 30th 2013 @ 9:48am | ! Report

                I believe so, in fact when I did my article on the Ozzie Back line for the Lions tour my remark was he is the ultimate bench option, very talented but has become a jack of all trades and unfortunately master of none.

                It is a waste of his skills not to have him specialise in one position.

              • April 30th 2013 @ 9:51am
                Jared said | April 30th 2013 @ 9:51am | ! Report

                I think you might be right there Brett, he hasn’t been able to settle in one position at club or international level

              • Columnist

                April 30th 2013 @ 9:52am
                Brett McKay said | April 30th 2013 @ 9:52am | ! Report

                I was going to say JOC was the new AAC, but I think we all knew that outside centre was always AAC’s best spot. I still to this day don’t know what Mat Rogers’ best spot was, and I don’t know what JOC’s is either..

              • Roar Guru

                April 30th 2013 @ 9:58am
                biltongbek said | April 30th 2013 @ 9:58am | ! Report

                In my humble opinion HOC would most likely excel at 15. Purely because he can join the line at any stage and weave magic from there, not that I am a fundi on backline play, but the way I see it JOC is at his best in unstructured play and perhaps the “structure” of fitting into centre or wing might curb his individualistic approach to create.

                But then I am a prop and the only “magic” I wove on the field of play was dummy and run straight anyway.

              • Roar Guru

                April 30th 2013 @ 12:51pm
                Jiggles said | April 30th 2013 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

                O’Connor is still a young pup though. He has plenty of his career left under a proper coach who will just put him at either 12 or 14 and leave him there.

            • Roar Guru

              April 30th 2013 @ 9:56am
              Who Needs Melon said | April 30th 2013 @ 9:56am | ! Report

              I’ve been on the JOCs-a-12 bandwagon for yonks. I’d love to see that happen.

              Having said that, I don’t think Beale is much better (if at all better) 10 than JOC is. But I think JOC could be a great 12. I’d love to see him played there, have a few blinders and oust Lealifano and Tapuai who are both probably the front runner for that Wallaby spot. I would’t mind seeing Lealifano shunted to the bench to cover 10 and 12.

              I don’t think Beale is going to make the Wallaby run-on team regardless of where he plays at this stage. I think the best he can do from here is make the bench as a cover for 10 and 15… although even that’s a long shot – he’s got a LOT of ground to make up and he hasn’t shown the form that won him the Wallaby 15 jersey in quite a while so it would be a real surprise.

              • Roar Guru

                April 30th 2013 @ 9:59am
                biltongbek said | April 30th 2013 @ 9:59am | ! Report

                And there is the counter argument for centre. Told you I know nothing about back line play 🙂

              • Columnist

                April 30th 2013 @ 10:01am
                Brett McKay said | April 30th 2013 @ 10:01am | ! Report

                Biltong, this just reinforces my point. You say JOC’s best spot is 15, Melon here says 12, and yesterday Spiro had him at 10. And he might yet end up at 14.

                It’s an almost identical debate to one earlier in the year about where Shane Watson should bat…

              • Roar Guru

                April 30th 2013 @ 10:11am
                biltongbek said | April 30th 2013 @ 10:11am | ! Report

                Brett, you might not want to put too much weight on my opinion when it comes to back line play, in the beginning of the season I also advocated O’Connor could be a 10.

              • April 30th 2013 @ 10:12am
                rl said | April 30th 2013 @ 10:12am | ! Report

                the good news for Aussie fans is we are having this debate about a player who is in form!!

              • Columnist

                April 30th 2013 @ 10:44am
                Brett McKay said | April 30th 2013 @ 10:44am | ! Report

                Ha, fear not Biltong, I’ve said it myself at different points in the last few years!

              • Roar Guru

                April 30th 2013 @ 11:16am
                Who Needs Melon said | April 30th 2013 @ 11:16am | ! Report

                I stopped short above of actually putting forward an argument as to why JOC should play at 12. I think that’s been debated to death before now and it’s open to interpretation as to what you think the criteria for a good 12 are. But…

                Tim Horan, Stirling Mortlock and Mark Ella all think JOC should play at 12. None are close to being his manager or have any home town bias or anything so I think we should take the word of the guys who are probably the best 10, 12 and 13 Australia has ever produced. If they don’t know what makes a good 12, none of us do.

                I will also say I am very against playing guys out of position in the Wallaby team. So if he doesn’t get some good game time at 12 soon then I DON’T think he should play there for the Wallabies.

              • April 30th 2013 @ 11:24am
                Chivas said | April 30th 2013 @ 11:24am | ! Report

                It’s ok Biltong, we take most comments about props on backs with the grain of salt it comes with :-). JOC has some amazing strengths, but if he could defend like McCabe.. then you could stick him anywhere. For mine he struggles defensively up in the line and while he has a beautiful step and turn of pace, he isn’t able to crash the ball effectively.

                So that leaves him on the wing or FB. If he bulked up a little and could crash the ball up as an option and improve on his defence to the point he consistently dominates in the tackle… then he would be an awesome 2nd five.

                How good are his wipers at FB? I think Mogg would have the inside running on that as a specialist. And I hate him on the wing because he doesn’t get his hands on the ball enough. So in all that I don’t have a preferred position, but he does have to be on the field.

                Fortunately, not my issue 🙂 RD can sort that out.

    • April 30th 2013 @ 6:28am
      Red Kev said | April 30th 2013 @ 6:28am | ! Report

      I am not sure the Brumbies can be “as expected” – they only have one loss so far this season – even as a Brumbies fan that would make your expectations of them ridiculously high Mr McKay.

      • April 30th 2013 @ 7:08am
        nickoldschool said | April 30th 2013 @ 7:08am | ! Report

        Agree RK.

        Most of us thought the Brumbies would be leading the show, there or thereabouts, but probably not outright n1 with only one loss in ten games. Lets not forget they didnt make the finals last year.

        I think they still had the ‘outsiders’ tag at the beginning of the season but have now grown to genuine contenders (they are equal fav with the chiefs for most bookies to win the comp). If you also take into consideration that they arent anymore the surprise package they were last year and everyone is now aware of they they can do, what they have been achieving so far in the comp is just outstanding. And guys like Mogg, Toomua, Speight or even Auelua, Mowen, Tomane and Lealiifano have continued to grow and are now genuine wallabies contenders. Over-achievers of the season for me.

      • Columnist

        April 30th 2013 @ 9:16am
        Brett McKay said | April 30th 2013 @ 9:16am | ! Report

        Simple explanation Kev – last time around I had the Brumbies (and the Blues and Bulls) as over-achievers, because I didn’t think they would be going as well as they were at that point. Since then, I’ve expcted to keep tracking at that same high level, and thus they’re now going ‘as expected’.

        For me, only the Cheetahs have over-achieved since the last report; they surprised people (and me) with their good start, and they’ve continued to surprise by going on from that..

      • Columnist

        April 30th 2013 @ 9:32am
        Brett McKay said | April 30th 2013 @ 9:32am | ! Report

        What I mean is that these ratings are since the first report, not for the season overall…

    • April 30th 2013 @ 6:37am
      Jerry said | April 30th 2013 @ 6:37am | ! Report

      “A surprising win over the Crusaders was let down by surprising losses to the Rebels, Hurricanes, and even the Waratahs”

      I don’t think many people were surprised by any of those losses.

      • April 30th 2013 @ 11:30am
        Chivas said | April 30th 2013 @ 11:30am | ! Report

        I agree, but it was disappointing. I know we can’t get out hopes up against a tired team on the way home. But the Force deserved that win and played well for it. I would have loved to see them slap the Canes… If for no other reason than to be able to wind up Mania 🙂

        • May 1st 2013 @ 5:04am
          mania said | May 1st 2013 @ 5:04am | ! Report

          puh lease chivas, no way u could wind me up more than the canes already do

    • April 30th 2013 @ 6:54am
      Bunyip said | April 30th 2013 @ 6:54am | ! Report

      I just can,t see the rationale behind the praise of Bernard Foley. Bar a few noticeable dashing runs he has been truly awful this year. The last game he , with a helping hand from the referees,he almost single handed guaranteed a loss for the waratahs. From the first minute when he kicked out on the full, thereby placing the waratahs under immediate pressure, he then was responsible for poor passes and poor decision making for the whole game. And then finally the dropped ball near his quarter, led to the try that sealed the win for the blues. Do as I have and watch the game again and count his errors. You will be amazed by their number and regularity throughout the match. I would not even have him in a club rugby side, his skills are so poor. For this game he was worse than McKibbin, which is rare, as McK is also an incredibly poor halfback. Can,t pass and makes poor decisions. The waratahs would be transformed into a great side with a reasonable 9 and 10. Although not brilliant, replacing them with Lucas, Volovolo?Barnes would be a start.

      • Roar Guru

        April 30th 2013 @ 7:01am
        biltongbek said | April 30th 2013 @ 7:01am | ! Report

        I admit his tactical kicking was very poor against the Bulls this weekend, but as an attacking fly half he isn’t the worst in the competition, he has made some telling breaks and had some very good offloads this season.

      • Columnist

        April 30th 2013 @ 9:39am
        Brett McKay said | April 30th 2013 @ 9:39am | ! Report

        Bunyip, I was critical of Foley in my last report, but since then he’s involving himself more, running to the line more, and generally creating more attacking options for himself and/or his outside men. If that’s not progression since the last report, then I don’t know what is.

        If you want to focus on the mistakes, then that’s fine, but you’d be marking him unnecessarily hard, in my humble opinion..

        • April 30th 2013 @ 11:29am
          Bunyip said | April 30th 2013 @ 11:29am | ! Report

          But the mistakes are major. They result in possession handed over on close to 10 times this match. From the kick-off his kick-out to the dropped ball that led to the match winning try. These are MAJOR momentum turners and they are way too many. Every player makes mistakes, but to assess the net worth of a player you need to compare the 2 columns of “positive inputs”v “negative inputs” each game. Such an assessment of BF (and BmcK) would surprise you. An erratic QC equally can undo all the good, but he is showing signs of overcoming these defects. I am not on an anti BF crusade, but i am still livid at how he did so much harm to the waratah effort that day. Before criticising the messenger, watch the game and count the errors!

          ps. For similar reasons I would choose Tomane over Digby on the wing for the wallabies. As we know that the lions will kick a lot, a back 3 of Mogg, Folau and Tomane would answer this tactic perfectly.

          Until someone rewatches the game , further comments would seem irrelevant.

          • April 30th 2013 @ 12:43pm
            Simon Levingston said | April 30th 2013 @ 12:43pm | ! Report

            Bunyip, I agree with your comments about Foley and McKibben. Foley in particular had a very bad day at the office and I was surprised it took so long for Cheika to replace him with Volavola. Chieka will be looking to improve on these weak links at 9 and 10 with his own recruiting. Perhaps JOC is available to play at 10 for the Waratahs?

            With regard to the Lions, I wouldn’t be so sure about the idea they will be kicking a lot. Warren Gatland will have a crack squad with power, size and speed.

          • April 30th 2013 @ 2:41pm
            jameswm said | April 30th 2013 @ 2:41pm | ! Report

            Yep Foley had a bad day, but he did put Hooper into the gap for one try.

            McKibbin has been the king of momentum changers this year. He’s OK for a while and then kills you. Remember when he sliced that kick at the end of the game (Chiefs I think) and nearly lost it for us after the bell?

            I’d like to know what Grayson Hart has done wrong.

          • Columnist

            April 30th 2013 @ 2:58pm
            Brett McKay said | April 30th 2013 @ 2:58pm | ! Report

            Bunyip, since you study Foley’s play so closely, you can probably tell us if his mistakes have been decreasing, and his “positive inputs” have increased over the last six or so weeks?

            • May 1st 2013 @ 8:09am
              Bunyip said | May 1st 2013 @ 8:09am | ! Report

              I don,t plan to watch Foley, I just notice the all too frequent times that he undoes the good most of the rest of the team create. The kicks out on the full, the poor passes etc. I remember the game that he made a number of exciting breaks, but I also remember many mistakes the same game. I suspect this last game was his worst and that is a bad sign, because the trend is not good.( Even QC is improving every game this year. I struggle to remember even one mistake in his last game, while foley had over10)
              Unfortunately the aru stats sheet doesnt list “poor kicks”, “unnecessary kicks that give possession to the other team 15 metres upfield”, or” poor passes leading to loss of possession” It is these unlisted stats that tell his true net worth which is well into negative territory.
              If I hadn,t deleted all the Waratah games on the dvd I would rewatch them and see if my assessment was fair. I suspect you think I am unfair, but it is only what I see.
              I have an idea. From each game on (assuming he is picked), lets do an analysis of everything he does and see if his positive contributions ouweigh the negative.

              As an analogy I see BF as one of a number of bricklayers building a house. He gets his wall up faster than most and does a pretty neat job, but every lunch break he keeps backing his ute into the other walls and knocks them down. Thats how I see it.

    • April 30th 2013 @ 7:11am
      Bunyip said | April 30th 2013 @ 7:11am | ! Report

      The odd break he has made have been good, but when you trade that off with the harm he does to the side , it just isn,t enough. Please rewatch the game and see how time after time when the waratahs patiently and doggedly moved upfield a glaring mistake by him would undo the good work by the rest of the team. If I were a waratah I would have lynched him after the game.

      • April 30th 2013 @ 8:48am
        Fin said | April 30th 2013 @ 8:48am | ! Report

        You have had a dig at Foley on a couple of threads and to me thay seem a little unjustified. Foley IMO is having a great year. Take into account it is only his second season of super rugby and his first in the play makers role. He is directing a side under a new coach, who has thrown out the gameplans of previous seasons and is basically starting from scratch. He plays outside a 9 who is in pretty ordinary form even by his own standards.He is creating far more opurtunities for his backline than they had last year.

        He had a less than brilliant game on the weekend but it awas his first game at Pretoria and i believe only his second at that altitude (the other being against the Cheetahs last season when he played fullback). His knock on towards the end pobably came because Lucas had just been subbed on and he hadn’t seen pass that quick or straight all day.

        I don’t think Foley is a super star but i think you’ll see him on the plane in November and in my opinion it would be well deserved.

        • April 30th 2013 @ 9:01am
          Justin2 said | April 30th 2013 @ 9:01am | ! Report

          All fair points there fin. some posted think he should be dropped after that lat match which is ludicrous considering his form prior. he is an excellent player andwill develop given time

        • April 30th 2013 @ 9:37am
          rl said | April 30th 2013 @ 9:37am | ! Report

          I agree that Foley is coming along, and I reckon him getting hooked was at precisely the wrong time. Also agree that he would be far better served having Lucas starting inside him – Lucas’ poor kick choice was a rookie error typical of someone who is just not getting enough burn, so not getting that ‘feel’ for the game.

          But I disagree about Foley’s EOYT claims – while I won’t kick and scream if he is there, it will be at the expense of other players being rested or injured as a result of this years rep season. Then again, that’s basically how Hooper got his chance and now look at him go.