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Is Liam Gill the answer to Wallabies’ woes?

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    There would be many things running through Ewen Mackenzie’s mind in regards to his team selection for this Saturday’s return Bledisloe Cup Test; one being who the right man is for the number six jersey.

    After being praised for his selection of Hugh McMeniman, it must be said that the man they call “madness” was not as his best on Saturday night.

    The injection of Liam Gill in the 51st minute brought a notable shift in the Wallabies forwards, as the ball retention for the New Zealand side was no longer straightforward.

    With Australia trailing 1-0 in the series and the Bledisloe Cup all but lost for another year, the addition of Gill to the blindside flanker position could provide some invaluable experience.

    In the 29 minutes Gill spent on the field, he made more runs than McMeniman (6) and was involved in six rucks/mauls, one more than McMeniman and the same number as his flanker partner Michael Hooper.

    Gill’s Super Rugby stats for 2013 show a similar work rate as he lead the competition in pilfers with 11, finished fourteenth in tackles made with 190 and had the fourth highest number of pick and drives with 27.

    While some may argue that Gill does not provide the aggressiveness and large body that McMeniman offers, perhaps it is necessary to look at the use of the two flankers as a pairing differently.

    For years the “big six” and “ball hunting seven” strategy has been employed by the Wallabies and with a drastic lack of silverware in the cabinet, it could be time to have two ball hunters on the park in attempt to slow down some of the All Blacks ball.

    Who knows, with a bit of luck the combination of Gill and Hooper could provide the platform for two Wallaby wins in New Zealand – a feat not accomplished since 1986.

    False hope you say? Maybe, but if no changes are made this weekend then the overriding smell of pessimism will hang around Australian rugby for another year without doubt.

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    The Crowd Says (110)

    • August 21st 2013 @ 3:02am
      ThelmaWrites said | August 21st 2013 @ 3:02am | ! Report

      Robbie Deans tried George Smith and Phil Waugh in tandem in 2009.

    • Roar Guru

      August 21st 2013 @ 3:08am
      biltongbek said | August 21st 2013 @ 3:08am | ! Report

      Yeah, but Gill and Hooper are both morebalanced players. They are both better at carrying ball, are also in my opinion better links to the backline.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 4:09am
        Ben.S said | August 21st 2013 @ 4:09am | ! Report

        Than George Smith?

        • Roar Guru

          August 21st 2013 @ 4:15am
          biltongbek said | August 21st 2013 @ 4:15am | ! Report

          Absolutely, they both have a lot more pace than Smith and I have seen some interplay where Hooper would do the run around with Foley and have enough pace to go untouched through the gap.

          Gill in my view is even better than Hooper, just less experienced.

          • August 21st 2013 @ 4:20am
            ScrumJunkie said | August 21st 2013 @ 4:20am | ! Report

            If Rugby was just about pace Mogg would be the greatest of all time.

            Brains count for much more – see GS, McCaw

            • Roar Guru

              August 21st 2013 @ 4:45am
              biltongbek said | August 21st 2013 @ 4:45am | ! Report

              Well GS is not available, is he?

              And suggesting Gill and Hooper is only about pace is a very limited view.

              • August 21st 2013 @ 5:04am
                ScrumJunkie said | August 21st 2013 @ 5:04am | ! Report

                Obviously GS is not available, cue SL rant about eligibility

                Never suggested Gill or Hooper were just about pace, you suggested they were better than GS because they were faster.

                Hooper is probably faster than Pocock or McCaw, he still has a way to go before he is as effective.

              • Roar Guru

                August 21st 2013 @ 5:16am
                biltongbek said | August 21st 2013 @ 5:16am | ! Report

                No mate, I didn’t say only faster. i said better all round players.

                You cannot argue the fact that GS is a superb pilferer, but similarly to Pocock they are both specialists and limited in other areas.

              • August 21st 2013 @ 5:45am
                ScrumJunkie said | August 21st 2013 @ 5:45am | ! Report

                GS was a chip kicker extraordinaire, and a pretty handy link player. He may not have the pace of Hooper or Gill, but is as wily with the ball as he is without.

                His reading of the game puts him in a level above.

                Hooper and Gill are very talented players, and could go on to be greats. At the moment I’d pick Pocock or GS ahead of them every time.

                Pocock and George are immovable objects at the ruck. Something we are lacking at the moment.

              • Roar Guru

                August 21st 2013 @ 7:00am
                Simon Levingston said | August 21st 2013 @ 7:00am | ! Report

                GS is available, it is just a matter of the ARU having a meeting, deciding he should play, and give him a call on the phone…that isn’t too hard is it?

              • August 21st 2013 @ 10:36am
                Pyes said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:36am | ! Report

                The reason you guys are losing against the ABs is because all of your arguments are based on out-dated game plans.
                You have 3 young and outstanding 7s who are excellent on the pilfer, but the most effective style of rugby being played at the moment is about winning the ruck collisions and pushing past the ball. I don’t see that in either Hooper or Gill. NZ has bigger and more experienced players controlling this area and they are dominating it right across the park. Kimlin, Palu or even Samo might even out the balance.

              • Columnist

                August 21st 2013 @ 12:30pm
                Brett McKay said | August 21st 2013 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

                Simon, it’s no harder than you understanding the current policies, no…

              • August 21st 2013 @ 3:56pm
                Tane Mahuta said | August 21st 2013 @ 3:56pm | ! Report

                You are one stubborn guy Simon.
                Your wrong.
                G.Smith has retired.
                G.Smith also has club commitments. At first he was only allowed to play half a season of super rugby. They then negotiated with his club for the rest of the season and the Lions series. His club reluctantly agreed.
                Now if you cant grasp this I dont know what to tell except your completely wrong and just cant accept it. Its that simple. You ARE wrong.
                You carried on about how SA had an advantage because they could use players from all over the world. Not stopping to think WHY they were all over the world and NZs and Austs were not. Nek munnit the SA captain is calling for a hault to using overseas players because of the increased drain from SA. This was explained to you before but you wouldnt listen and still wont listen even when its the SA captain telling you. You also used G.Smith as the only Aus example but wont accept that he is eligible but just not available due to his retirement and his club commitments.

                Its clear you wont listen so I dont know why I bother.

              • August 21st 2013 @ 4:19pm
                ThelmaWrites said | August 21st 2013 @ 4:19pm | ! Report


                The Wallabies tried a different game plan for the rucks in last week’s Bledisloe. It was apparent that to avoid the All Blacks tactic of counter-rucking and slowing the ball, they worked on the first “tacklee” going to ground and presenting the ball quickly to the arriving players. It didn’t work because the backs didn’t have the understanding and the skills to make use of the quick ball.

                I’ll elaborate more at the end of the thread when I have time, later today.

          • August 21st 2013 @ 9:19pm
            Ben.S said | August 21st 2013 @ 9:19pm | ! Report

            Have you missed Smith’s entire career? He’s one of the best ball handling and ball playing 7s of the modern era. Hooper can barely chuck a ball sideways. Bizarre comment frankly.

            • Roar Guru

              August 21st 2013 @ 9:23pm
              biltongbek said | August 21st 2013 @ 9:23pm | ! Report

              Ben, we simply need to accept we don’t agree on many things, you have your opinion and I have mine. I rate Hooper and Gill, you rate George Smith.

              He isn’t 26 years old anymore, he may have had more qualities then, but not anymore.

              • August 21st 2013 @ 11:49pm
                Ben.S said | August 21st 2013 @ 11:49pm | ! Report

                He’s not 26, but he was still playing 1st receiver for the Brumbies this season. When Hooper and Gill become renowned for grubber kicks and their excellent passing game I’ll take note.

          • August 31st 2013 @ 2:30pm
            Matt said | August 31st 2013 @ 2:30pm | ! Report

            Saying Gill is better than Hooper is a ridiculous statement. Hmmm let me think did Gill win Under 20’s player of the year or Rookie of the year or Aust Super 15 player of the year ? All of these he had a chance to win and did not . Lets use the less balanced view of stats then Hopper beats Gilll in all stats other than pilfers and pilfers alone don’t make a well balanced 7. Seems to me you might be form QLD I appreciate it is your view only it’s just that when you have a tag of Guru I have to question in what your guru staus is? it’s certainly not Rugby. There is going to be egg of your face when he wins the John Ealses medal this year considering he cam 3rd last year and played less than half the polling games I think he is Abigail chance. Gill is no doubt a good player but not is the same league as Hooper in fact I challenge the guru to show me who has archived as much in Hooper in 2 years of test football including the greats!

      • August 21st 2013 @ 1:58pm
        Seb Vettel said | August 21st 2013 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

        When Pocock returns will it be Pocock Gill and Hooper. A trio. Since the other players are average.

    • August 21st 2013 @ 3:42am
      ScrumJunkie said | August 21st 2013 @ 3:42am | ! Report

      Hooper + Gill = George Smith. Might work.

      Would not agree if Pocock, Higgers, Palu or Kimlin were fit, but we are a bit thin on backrowers. Guess it comes down to Fardy, McCalman, Schatz or Gill.

      Someone should give Radike a call, I’d love to see him on that wallaby bench.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 8:30am
        Kebab said | August 21st 2013 @ 8:30am | ! Report

        Like McCaw GS is more effective than 2 Gills. Gill is the biggest myth since KBeale. Biltong you have lost all credibility. We got well beaten by the AB back 3.. Pocock and GS are way better players and we would have had a chance if these guys played rather than copping another flogging due to a crap backrow.

        SOS to GS

    • August 21st 2013 @ 3:44am
      Merican_Rugger said | August 21st 2013 @ 3:44am | ! Report

      My only concern would be at the lineout, which Gill shouldn’t hurt at all.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 4:15am
        ScrumJunkie said | August 21st 2013 @ 4:15am | ! Report

        I have one other concern, that you are giving up size for speed. That’s fine if the speed makes up for the size, or the size at your disposal isn’t effective enough.

        • Roar Guru

          August 21st 2013 @ 4:17am
          biltongbek said | August 21st 2013 @ 4:17am | ! Report

          Yeah true, but size means little if you don’t use it. If you add Gill you will hit more rucks and have better links to the backline in space.

          • August 21st 2013 @ 4:27am
            ScrumJunkie said | August 21st 2013 @ 4:27am | ! Report

            Agree, I’m leaning towards Gill, he played well when he came on. However we really miss Palu in that backrow, we need someone to do the hard yards.

            Interesting to see which way Mckensie goes.

            • Roar Guru

              August 21st 2013 @ 4:48am
              biltongbek said | August 21st 2013 @ 4:48am | ! Report

              I think Higgers is a bigger loss, he was in superb form this season.

              • August 21st 2013 @ 5:06am
                ScrumJunkie said | August 21st 2013 @ 5:06am | ! Report

                True, but we didn’t get to see him in gold this year so it’s harder to judge.

        • August 21st 2013 @ 4:01pm
          Tane Mahuta said | August 21st 2013 @ 4:01pm | ! Report

          Id drop Gill all together.
          I see absolutely no reason for having him on the bench when Hooper goes at full speed for 80.
          Id be going for a more well rounded player that is able to cover 6/8 rather than just 7.
          Id put Douglas on the bench to cover lock and use a big backrower to cover 6/8.

    • August 21st 2013 @ 4:12am
      bluerose (Rotuma Island). said | August 21st 2013 @ 4:12am | ! Report

      the answer to the Wallabies woes=a pack thats plays like F$#@&* maniacs, a pack that plays with a no holds barred attitude, a pack that plays like wild animals, a pack that plays smart/hard rugby and a pack that play as a pack.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 5:47am
        dwayne said | August 21st 2013 @ 5:47am | ! Report

        There’s your answer right there.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 7:09am
        Chui said | August 21st 2013 @ 7:09am | ! Report

        Spot on, but highly unlikely unfortunately

        • August 21st 2013 @ 1:18pm
          Kebab said | August 21st 2013 @ 1:18pm | ! Report

          We need maniacs for sure in the backrow. This is the most timid backrow Oz has ever produced.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 4:44pm
        Tane Mahuta said | August 21st 2013 @ 4:44pm | ! Report

        I think the answer is that NZ is just simply better.
        Everyone keeps wondering why Aus cant beat NZ. Its because NZ is a better side by quite a margin.
        If I were to select a side from both countries I would say only 5 Australians would even be considered for now. The rest would be ABs.
        AAC, Lealiifano, Moore, Genia and perhaps Slipper. Even Horwill wouldnt feature on form.
        NZ are just much better. You all need to get over it and be happy when they beat NZ instead of expecting them to.
        The day will come when Aus is better again but right now NZ is the better team.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 7:44pm
        Nigel Imrie said | August 21st 2013 @ 7:44pm | ! Report

        Nils Bluerose! Any fakei left brother? Couldn’t agree with you more, if you saw the Bols v Pumas last weekend then the way the Bok forwards were throwing themselves at the Pumas is the way I would love to see our Wallabies go about their business however to get the boys to maintain that high tempo smash fest is proving to be an elusive dream! How is our Rotuman National Team cingular along?

        • August 22nd 2013 @ 2:26am
          bluerose (Rotuma Island). said | August 22nd 2013 @ 2:26am | ! Report

          hard to make Lovo for the Fekei in this side of the world, no Rotuman team for the time being.

    • August 21st 2013 @ 6:19am
      JK said | August 21st 2013 @ 6:19am | ! Report

      Where are your stats from?
      How did Hooper only get involved in six rucks all game ?

      • August 21st 2013 @ 6:34am
        Ash said | August 21st 2013 @ 6:34am | ! Report

        Whilst I’m A Liam Gill fan and want him in the team somewhere, I think a lot of people are being too hard on Hooper. I believe Hooper is gaining the street smarts about when and where to be effective.
        Hooper has said recently, that by watching George Smith play, he has learnt to pick and choose which rucks to attack.
        To hit every ruck for the sake of stats and appease people who don’t know any better is just plain stupid.
        I thought he was one of the only WB forwards to take it to the ABs last weekend.

        • August 21st 2013 @ 9:41am
          wannabprop said | August 21st 2013 @ 9:41am | ! Report

          Difference is, when Smith holds back, there’s someone else (from the back row) at least in there spoiling. You can’t have the whole back row holding off (leaving that dirty work to the 1st and 2nd rows ffs). The Wallabies have been schooled at the breakdown for years now (previously by the ABs, now by practically everybody). It used to be primarily due to a lack of physicality, now it seems to be poor basics/strategy as well. Gill should start in the absence of better (Pocock or Smith), with Hooper on the bench. 6 and 8 even bigger issue. Mowen better at 6 (also in the absence of better), and as much as it pains me, McCalman to 8. ‘Madness’ was supposed to bring the mongrel, but sadly lacking with the available options. Palu cops plenty of criticism (and no doubt past his best), but he makes his tackles, and still gets over the advantage line better than any of the current crop.

        • August 21st 2013 @ 10:33am
          Blinky Bill of Bellingen said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:33am | ! Report

          Ash – Good comment about Hooper learning from watching George Smith.

          I watched Hooper against the Nuns & thought I spotted him applying those valuable GS lessons of when to go and when to hold back onboard. Sure he may not have it down pat like GS just yet but he’s one smart kid. At least that’s my reading of him.

          • August 21st 2013 @ 1:48pm
            niwdeyaj said | August 21st 2013 @ 1:48pm | ! Report

            Going by Scott Allen’s stats the other day though, the issue is that he’s only “choosing” to get involved in a dozen or so rucks out of 150+ and thats the issue. Should be getting involved in at least 20-30% of the rucks rather and 6-8%…

            • August 21st 2013 @ 4:47pm
              Tane Mahuta said | August 21st 2013 @ 4:47pm | ! Report

              He was the first 3 to a ruck 5 times. He got involved in a lot more than that.

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