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The post-Pocock backrow: Same, same, or different?

Brett McKay Columnist

By Brett McKay, Brett McKay is a Roar Expert

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    Like all good revolutions and re-inventions, the Wallabies at some point were always going to be forced into working out what their backrow would look like in the days beyond David Pocock.

    Pocock’s looming 2017 sabbatical meant that the Spring Tour was probably going to be an opportunity for experimentation, but his broken hand will force Michael Cheika into action sooner.

    » Check out the complete 2017 Super Rugby draw right here

    Pocock was forced off in the 36th minute against Argentina on Saturday, initially as part of the re-shuffle while prop Scott Sio was off with a yellow card, but didn’t return after halftime and emerged in the second half hunched under a jacket and with his hand already significantly swollen.

    He had surgery in Perth on Sunday, has already been ruled out of the games against South Africa in Pretoria on October 1, and against Argentina in London on October 8. Depending on how his recovery progresses – and Samu Kerevi’s three-week layoff with a similar injury this season is being used as a guide – Pocock could be available for the final Bledisloe Test of 2016, at Eden Park on October 22.

    “It was quite swollen so it was hard for him to move his hands,” Cheika said post-match. “He wanted to play through, I had to take him off.”

    Of course, he’s not long back from the fractured eye socket suffered in the first of the three England Tests in June. Michael Hooper lamented Pocock’s luck in that unique way with words he has, while also highlighting the opportunities created.

    “He puts himself in such a great physical nick to play, that sucks for him,” Hooper said. “We’ve got guys chomping at the bit to get in and it’s a loss to the squad.”

    It certainly does, indeed, ‘suck for him’. But it sucks for the Wallabies too, because something they thought they might’ve had more time to prepare for now has to happen immediately. And rushed plans and the Wallabies don’t always go well together.

    Cheika’s options for the next two Tests at least, but also going into 2017, are to go back to a relatively traditional backrow, or fashion another hybrid backrow out of his playing stocks to best suit – and I use this term loosely – the current Wallabies game plan.

    So he can find a fetching opensider, a ball-carrying and lineout-jumping blindsider, and a physical wrecking ball No.8, or he can pick the three backrowers who tickle some obscure urge for him that week and let the rugby public come up with a silly name for it, like ‘Fapooper’.

    I’m not entirely sure the weekend’s win over the Pumas, or the other games on the peripheral, did anything to solve the issue, either.

    Against Argentina, Sean McMahon came on for Pocock after halftime, and had a storming game – he made tackles (and didn’t miss any), he carried strongly and left defenders in his wake, made metres, and got passes away.

    Hooper played a typically strong, typically Hooper-style of game, ticking all of the same boxes McMahon did, made 20 tackles for the game, and scored a try running a nice inside line off Quade Cooper in the second half.

    Dean Mumm was… Dean Mumm.

    Lopeti Timani might have played the most anticipated debut in recent memory, but he really didn’t get much of a chance to show anything in his 13-minute cameo. He carried a couple of times, made a couple of tackles, but played at blindside with McMahon No.8-ing up a storm.

    Meanwhile, in the NRC, Ben McCalman got through about 45 minutes unscathed in his return from a shoulder injury on Sunday, and left the field with Perth Spirit well and truly in command at 38-0 on their way to a big win over Queensland Country.

    Like the rest of his Perth teammates, he did nothing but tackle for the first 20-odd minutes, but also showed some nice touches around the park in attack as the tries started to rain down.

    The day before Scott Fardy played 60 minutes for the Sydney Rays, in a display best described at solid without being spectacular.

    But Rob Simmons was recalled for the Perth Test after two solid but not spectacular performances for Queensland Country, so by that measure, Fardy would seem to be in with as good a chance as any of starting in Pretoria.

    Pocock’s injury really doesn’t solve anything, and there is a real danger that Michael Cheika will keep playing selection lotto and we’ll keep debating this for the rest of the year.

    But somewhere along the way – hopefully sometime soon – the decision needs to be made about the backrow formation in 2017.

    Cheika can take the easy option and play Sean McMahon alongside Hooper and Mumm, and keep compromising the forward pack.

    Or, he could shake things up and realise that that combination is really just a carbon copy of something that was so 2015, and start a backrow that will improve the Wallabies ability to compete at the breakdown and make the gain line.

    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 (203)

    • September 20th 2016 @ 6:48am
      Daveski said | September 20th 2016 @ 6:48am | ! Report

      Like the Aussie cricket team of the 90s and the NSW origin side of recent years it certainly seems a lot harder to get into the Wallabies than out of it.

      Maybe that’s perception. There’s been quite a few debuts this year but you get the feeling that if not for injuries and players going OS we wouldn’t have seen guys like Hodge, Coleman or Alaalatoa in green n gold this year.

      My ideal realistic back row right now ? Probably Timani, Hooper, McMahon. McMahon offers not quite as much as Fardy in the lineout but not much less than McCalman, but playing with so much more energy around the park.

      Further into the future: maybe Holloway, McMahon/Hooper, Timani or Timani, McMahon/Hooper, Hanigan

      Right now back row is the richest breeding ground for NRC talent. Reid, Ward, Dempsey, Perry, Figg, Viiga, Koteka, Scott-Young, the big 8 from Bris city who’s name I won’t even try to type on an IPhone… Plenty of options in the future I’d hope.

      • Columnist

        September 20th 2016 @ 7:36am
        Geoff Parkes said | September 20th 2016 @ 7:36am | ! Report


        Scored two storming tries on Saturday against Melbourne but then faded out of the game a bit after that. He’s certainly a big, strong unit.

      • September 20th 2016 @ 9:19am
        Ray said | September 20th 2016 @ 9:19am | ! Report

        Holloway looks too loose, to be a test No. 8. He seems a typical Waratah selection, an allrounder like Hooper, Mumm, Foley, etc, but not a genuine specialist at that position.
        I want to see an 8 working in close and hard around the ruck in both attack and defence, not working the outside edges. Meters gained doesn’t count compared to how many players were sucked in to the tackle to stop him opening the next play. Does he hit hard in the tackles, not just stop the opposition eventually?

        • September 20th 2016 @ 2:23pm
          What! said | September 20th 2016 @ 2:23pm | ! Report

          Typical Tah allrounder?

          Unlike Brumbies Toomua (10,12), Fardy (4, 5 & 6).
          Rebel Hodge (12, 11, 14, 15).
          Forces DHP (11, 14 & 15).
          The Reds Kerevi (12 & 13).

          Hooper is an allrounder because his skills are not specific to 7 despite him only ever playing 7?

          I dont follow.

          • September 21st 2016 @ 4:37pm
            Timbo (L) said | September 21st 2016 @ 4:37pm | ! Report

            There are utilities, All rounders, specialists and natural positional pairings. It

            Most positions have natural skill pairings and there is an expectation that players can do at least 2 of them..
            14/15; High Ball, Speed, kicking
            11/13; Ball Running
            10/12; Play Making
            10/15; Kicking play making
            4/5/6/8; #6 generalist.
            6/7/8; Back Rower
            4/5/8 Lock

            I am a little frustrated with people’s (Roarers) perceptions of players’ positions based on Cheik’s baffling selections.
            DHP is a 15, not a 14
            Folau is an 11/13, not a 15
            Kerevi is a 13, not a 12
            Hodge is a 10/12/15, not an 11/14
            Pocock is a 7 not an 8
            McCalman is an 8 not a 6
            McMahon is a 7 although his improved line out skills and ball running make him a utility 6/7/8 back rower.
            Hooper isn’t really playing as a 7 – it is some kind of weird cherry picked selection of 7/12 roles, He can’t do the entirety of either, This makes him a specialist, maybe even a unicorn.

            Rory Arnold is not an all rounder because he plays 4 or 5, he is actually a specialist because he can only play 4/5

            The #6 position tends to call for a “Generalist” skill set. A back rower with the line out and scrum skills of a lock. Because of the speed, agility and fitness requirements of the back row you end up with lean, fast, jumping tall men like Fardy, Mumm, Dickson and Itoge. As good as Kaino is, I think he plays more like an 8 with 6 tendencies. He can do this because Reid is More like a 6 with 8 tendencies. – One of those balanced “pairings”
            The nature of the job requirements is they are able to fill in at 4/5 and 8. They aren’t the best at it but are able to fill in in case of an injury. They aren’t the best at any one skill, they are just good at all of them.
            What I see is a lot of Roarers comparing the #6 against the high skill standards of a 4,5,7 or 8.and bitching that they don’t meet them. Why aren’t Fardy or Mumm as fast as Pocock or Hooper? Why aren’t they as physical as Arnold, Coleman or Douglas?,

        • September 20th 2016 @ 6:16pm
          Morsie said | September 20th 2016 @ 6:16pm | ! Report

          What, like Keiran Reid?

      • September 20th 2016 @ 11:25am
        Perthstayer said | September 20th 2016 @ 11:25am | ! Report

        Daveski – “if not for injuries”…fascinating to me how media/Roar has ignored the many key changes Cheika has had to make that were not of his choosing.

        Cheika’s coaching shortfalls have been shown up by the fact the players he was not selecting have turned out to be the stars – Coleman, McMahon, Cooper. I can only imagine the glories that may come from him being “forced” to put Folau in the centres/wing and DHP at full back.

        It’s horrid for Pocock to be injured but it is a blessing for WBs. Pooper hasn’t worked against the current two best teams in the world, and unless WBs are prepared to be the best of the worst then it needs stopping. Hopefully this is Timani’s time to step up.

        • Roar Guru

          September 20th 2016 @ 12:23pm
          PeterK said | September 20th 2016 @ 12:23pm | ! Report

          Add Kerevi and Hodge to that list.

          Cheika should have introduced new blood into the squads last year and given a test or 2 to see if they were ready.

          Cheika being too loyal and valuing experience (regardless if it is experience losing) over talent too much.

          The only new blood who has not performed better than the incumbent is Arnold and may yet improve.

          • September 20th 2016 @ 2:39pm
            What! said | September 20th 2016 @ 2:39pm | ! Report

            Well theres nothing like making things up.

            So he wasnt selecting Cooper?
            What, for 1 game?
            Or are we talking in 2014 & 2015 where Cooper played about 70% of tests and was out of form?

            He wasnt selecting Kerevi? So whos the guy that keeps starting in 5 of the 7 tests?

            Hes not selecting Coleman?

            McMahon hasnt been selected? Despite him being up against Pocock and Hooper he has been.

            Hodge? Hes starting after debuting this year.

            Yes Cheika has had a few shoetcommings but dont name players hes brought into the team and say that he hasnt been selecting them when they have been STARTERS for the majority of the tests theyve played except for McMahon who has guys like Hooper and Pocock as his direct comp.

            And Pooper hasnt worked against NZ and Eng?
            But the rest of the team did?
            Or was it the AUSTRALIA didnt play that well and you are just singling out something in particular for your own agenda?

            About 9 debutants this year. More than any other RC side.

            • Roar Guru

              September 20th 2016 @ 3:15pm
              Train Without A Station said | September 20th 2016 @ 3:15pm | ! Report

              When Cheika was coach in 2014 & 2015 he coached 16 test matches.

              Cooper was selected for 7 of those. Only 3 of those times at flyhalf though.

            • September 20th 2016 @ 6:19pm
              Perthstayer said | September 20th 2016 @ 6:19pm | ! Report

              In 2016 – No, he was not selecting Coleman, no he was not selecting Cooper, and no he was not selecting McMahon.
              No it wasn’t just Pooper misfiring vs England, but so what? Are you saying if the others plated well then the Pooper combo would have worked?

              I should have added Hodge as he has been a beneficiary of Giteau and AAC’s injuries, but Kerevi was an original thought by Cheika (as was DHP).

              • Roar Guru

                September 20th 2016 @ 11:16pm
                PeterK said | September 20th 2016 @ 11:16pm | ! Report

                Kerevi only got in because Beale, Toomua, CLL were all injured and he could not use Gits for the june tests.

                DHP only got in because so many wingers wee injured and Mitchell was not available.

                In nearly every case barring Arnold and Coleman the only reason new blood was used was due to injuries / unavailability not because they were chosen over incumbents.

        • September 20th 2016 @ 6:19pm
          Deloz said | September 20th 2016 @ 6:19pm | ! Report

          Totally agree with playing DHP at fullback. It’s his position and he looks world class to me. Shift Folau to wing as he played Origin with lateral bombs. He can catch and score tries off those all day. Hodge to inside center and Samu K outside. Interchange Foley and Cooper like a boxer changing stance in the fifth. Easy to see what’s required from the cheap seats 😉

    • Roar Guru

      September 20th 2016 @ 6:48am
      Fionn said | September 20th 2016 @ 6:48am | ! Report

      Fardy at 6, Hooper at 7 and Timani at 8 with McMahon coming in off the bench to smash the opposition when they start getting tired would be my preference.

      Dean Mumm was a joke on the weekend: missed 7 of 17 tackles and turned the ball over twice.

      Does anyone know what Fardy has done to fall out of favour with Cheika?

      • September 20th 2016 @ 7:44am
        Fin said | September 20th 2016 @ 7:44am | ! Report

        I was asking myself the same question. From what I have read Fardy does a fair bit of talking on the field. He hasn’t played the last two and we’ve been better dealing withe ref. Maybe it is discipline?

        To be honest I assumed Mumm came back in to call the lineout. With Coleman doing that it makes even less sense. Same with recalling Simmons, although he had a solid game he wasn’t any better than when he was dropped. Maybe Cheika is working on the idea that Coleman is not the finished article yet or that he is not an 80 min player.

        • Roar Guru

          September 20th 2016 @ 8:17am
          Fionn said | September 20th 2016 @ 8:17am | ! Report

          Yeah with Coleman and Simmons in the team there is really no argument whatsoever for retaining a bad joke like Mumm. As much as I am surprised to say it, Simmons acquitted himself very well on the weekend—stronger in the set piece than Arnold and Douglas, and also higher workrate around the park than Douglas.

          I think that given we have genuine line out options at 4 and 5 now (both of whom call the line out) Mumm is jettisoned (thank God) and we bring back Fardy at 6 and Timani at 8. That gives us 4 line out options, a big number 8 to direct the scrum and a monstrous threat in McMahon to bring in off the bench.

          Also means we are strong at the breakdown.

          • September 20th 2016 @ 8:54am
            Fin said | September 20th 2016 @ 8:54am | ! Report

            Fardy is a chance but you can bet your house on McMahon starting at 8.

            I agree re Simmons. If Coleman can’t last the 80 surely you don’t need two back up lineout callers.

          • September 20th 2016 @ 10:11am
            Terry said | September 20th 2016 @ 10:11am | ! Report

            There is no way Mumm will be Jettisoned..Mumms dad will be very cross..Cheika hasn’t got the bottle to drop the son of an ARU board member..

            Mumm will be in all RC tests this year..

            • Columnist

              September 20th 2016 @ 11:20am
              Brett McKay said | September 20th 2016 @ 11:20am | ! Report

              Which board member is Mumm’ father?

              Cameron Clyne, Dr Brett Robinson, Bill Pulver, Elizabeth Broderick, John Eales, Pip Marlow, Paul McLean, Ann Sherry, or Geoff Stooke?

              • September 20th 2016 @ 11:27am
                Browny said | September 20th 2016 @ 11:27am | ! Report

                Brett, surely you know by now that you can’t let facts get in the way of a good conspiracy theory…

              • September 20th 2016 @ 11:52am
                William Tell said | September 20th 2016 @ 11:52am | ! Report

                At least we got easy access to the list of Board members – the ones to hold responsible for the state of the Wallabies and Oz rugby.

              • September 20th 2016 @ 12:10pm
                Buzzard said | September 20th 2016 @ 12:10pm | ! Report

                He was an ex member and close to Michael Chieka..
                Non-Executive Director
                Australian Rugby Union Ltd.
                2007 – 2013 (6 years) Sydney, Australia

                and now he is a
                Member Advisory Board
                2011 – Present (5 years) Sydney, Australia..
                Cant bite the hand or dump his son if you want to get fed… He feeds the NRC boys …

              • Columnist

                September 20th 2016 @ 12:26pm
                Brett McKay said | September 20th 2016 @ 12:26pm | ! Report

                I presume you’re talking about John Mumm, Buzzard?

                And how exactly is he “feeding the NRC boys” since you want to keep going down this line?

              • Roar Guru

                September 20th 2016 @ 2:19pm
                Fox Saker said | September 20th 2016 @ 2:19pm | ! Report

                Oh com’on Brett John Eales of course -the post-modern father of Australian rugby

                Admit it you know it’s true…has fathered the idea of playing rugby inside the minds of so many Australians no less

                Well clearly it’s not Ann Sherry ….oh now hang on a minute…Bruce Jenner springs to mind here!!!

              • September 20th 2016 @ 3:08pm
                grapeseed said | September 20th 2016 @ 3:08pm | ! Report

                Perhaps the implication is that if Dean is dropped, then Buildcorp will drop sponsorship to the NRC.

                Good to have you back BTW Buzzard, missing FOS now.

              • September 20th 2016 @ 8:49pm
                Adsa said | September 20th 2016 @ 8:49pm | ! Report

                I miss FOS!

              • Columnist

                September 20th 2016 @ 3:14pm
                Brett McKay said | September 20th 2016 @ 3:14pm | ! Report

                Having been lucky enough to get to know Tony and Josephine Sukkar a little bit over the couple of years, the notion that they would end a sponsorship over some hair-brained tinfoil conspiracy like this is about a laughable as it gets.

                I mean, seriously…

              • September 20th 2016 @ 7:29pm
                Boz the Younger said | September 20th 2016 @ 7:29pm | ! Report

                Mumm, from what I remember never a particularly remarkable Wallaby, came back from three years of English club just in time for the World Cup and marched into the national team after a few games with the Waratahs. And his Dad just happens to be closely with the ARU and with a major sponsor.

                Whether or not this is evidence of nepotism I guess we will never know, but I do know that if this was the Prime Minister’s kid getting a job as a consequence of such a perceived conflict of interest, his Dad’s re-election chances would take an enormous hit. When it comes to conflict of interest, perception matters as much as reality and the case of Dean Mumm is an appalling look for the ARU.

                It clearly won’t have the same direct consequences for anybody involved as it would in politics, but it does make an already strained relationship with the fan base more difficult. The commercial consequent of that could well be lower ticket sales, Aussies have a great sense of fairness and hate the idea that a better player may unfairly miss out on caps. I can’t’t imagine that it would be much good for morale amongst other players either and have to wonder whether good young players, like Luke Jones for example, have left Australian shores because they have missed out under these sorts of circumstances.

                All round in my opinion the situation is pretty poor form.

              • Roar Guru

                September 20th 2016 @ 3:16pm
                Train Without A Station said | September 20th 2016 @ 3:16pm | ! Report

                I think it’s more likely the other way around.

                John Mumm is employed by Buildcorp due to their experience with Australian rugby.

              • September 20th 2016 @ 3:36pm
                CUW said | September 20th 2016 @ 3:36pm | ! Report

                @Brett McKay

                for a fleeting moment , i thought Philip Marlowe was on ARU board 🙂

                then i read again ….

              • Roar Rookie

                September 20th 2016 @ 4:14pm
                Shane D said | September 20th 2016 @ 4:14pm | ! Report

                Don think that Buzzard understands how sponsorship arrangements work. They are done under contract. Suspect that the ‘select my son or the sponsorship ends’ clause is not there!

              • September 20th 2016 @ 4:45pm
                CUW said | September 20th 2016 @ 4:45pm | ! Report

                @ Shane D

                I wonder if AIG have put in a clause that says the NZ team must play in USA once in a while…..

                OR the Haka shud be formed in “A” shape ? ( was it ADIDAS who said that one 🙂 )

              • September 20th 2016 @ 9:51pm
                Lindommer said | September 20th 2016 @ 9:51pm | ! Report

                Ridiculous, Boz, just ridiculous.

              • September 21st 2016 @ 11:52am
                PiratesRugby said | September 21st 2016 @ 11:52am | ! Report

                Wow, look at Brett come to the defence of Mumm’s dad. Where were you when people on these pages were alleging all kinds of scandalous things about Ewen McKenzie? Too busy coming up with defences for that grub Beale and whoever else was in on that disgusting prank.

              • September 21st 2016 @ 2:42pm
                Browny said | September 21st 2016 @ 2:42pm | ! Report

                PiratesRugby, Brett isn’t actually defending Dean Mumm’s old man anywhere there.

                Terry said John Mumm is on the ARU board and Brett said that he actually isn’t.

                Buzzaard made some ridiculous claim that because John Mumm works for Buildcorp that if Dean is dropped they’ll pull their sponsorship, Brett rightly pointed out the stupidity of that statement.

                So Brett responds with facts to two nonsensical posts and you have a go at him? What has Ewen McKenzie got to do with Dean Mumm or Buildcorp? It’s not Queensland against the rest of the world.

            • September 20th 2016 @ 4:32pm
              Adrian Denyer said | September 20th 2016 @ 4:32pm | ! Report

              It’s more about “old school tie” in it’s broadest interpretation, when it comes to Rugby Union

      • September 20th 2016 @ 7:49am
        BennO said | September 20th 2016 @ 7:49am | ! Report


        • September 20th 2016 @ 8:03am
          Blindside said | September 20th 2016 @ 8:03am | ! Report


          • September 20th 2016 @ 1:36pm
            Akari said | September 20th 2016 @ 1:36pm | ! Report


            • September 20th 2016 @ 3:11pm
              Mango Jack said | September 20th 2016 @ 3:11pm | ! Report


      • September 20th 2016 @ 7:51am
        Whispering Jack said | September 20th 2016 @ 7:51am | ! Report

        Fardy has no ball carrying.

        The long term solution is Jed Hollaway at no 8, with Hooper no 7 and Pocock/mcMahon no 6.

        Two genuine hard working flankers and a ball carrying line-out merchant no 8. Think the only backrow that consistently outplayed the all balck backrow in the past decade: Dusatoir-Bonnaire-Harinordoquay… this almost brought them a world cup and that side had nothing but a great backrow.

        Jed Hollaway is the answer but until he’s over his shoulder injury I’d go Timani over both Mumm and Fardy.

        • Roar Guru

          September 20th 2016 @ 8:14am
          Fionn said | September 20th 2016 @ 8:14am | ! Report

          Whispering Jack, I would go so far to say that work at the breakdown and set piece is actually far more important in a Wallabies number 6 than their ball-carrying skills, especially since we are likely to be fielding Michael Hooper, who is not a traditional 7—he has a high work-rate, makes a lot of tackles, carries well, but isn’t a fetcher.

          Mumm is horrendous, he sucks at ball carrying and is a pathetic tackler and does absolutely nothing at the breakdown. He is only marginally better than Fardy when it comes to line outs. How can you honestly say you would play Mumm over a workhorse like Fardy? Mumm is a joke.

          The line out is the most important attacking platform. Why do you support having a short number 7 and a short 6? We need to get into our heads that, first and foremost, we need to ensure our forwards are strong at the set pieces (both scrum AND line out) and are strong at the breakdown.

          As much as I like Hooper and McMahon, that is not their speciality. Fardy, on the other hand, is excellent at both.

          • September 20th 2016 @ 8:33am
            Mark said | September 20th 2016 @ 8:33am | ! Report

            Both Fardy and Mumm are 32 at the moment, no one can seriously consider that either will be around in 2019 for world cup let alone performing at the highest levels of intensity that their position requires.

            I would think that both 6 and 8 are crucial positions to settle the primary and secondary personnel for the next phase of building to RWC 2019.

            • Roar Guru

              September 20th 2016 @ 8:37am
              Fionn said | September 20th 2016 @ 8:37am | ! Report

              I agree that neither will be around by 2019, but the question is, do we have a better *true* option at 6 at the moment? I am all for selecting the youngsters when available, but I can’t see any other options right now. Therefore, I would stick with Fardy until someone else emerges, and then maybe blood them from the bench.

              Maybe when Holloway is back we have him, Timani, McMahon and Hooper to build around. But unfortunately we are not there yet. And Fardy gives us the best option of winning for the rest of the season.

              • Roar Guru

                September 20th 2016 @ 12:27pm
                PeterK said | September 20th 2016 @ 12:27pm | ! Report

                Timani would make a good 6 or 8.

          • September 20th 2016 @ 8:52am
            Whispering Jack said | September 20th 2016 @ 8:52am | ! Report

            Then lucky i’m advocating for two flankers and a ball carrying line out option no 8…

        • September 20th 2016 @ 8:18am
          Browny said | September 20th 2016 @ 8:18am | ! Report

          Considering Pocock’s sabbatical and his history for injuries I think it’s probably best to plan around him. If he’s here and fit, brilliant, but perhaps we should aim for less of a reliance on him. I like the prospect of a combination of the four youngsters in Hooper, McMahon, Timani and Holloway. None of them are out-and-out fetchers like Poey but they can do a bit and if you add Ready into the mix at 2, he’s a former 7 and pretty much still plays like one, then you’re spreading the load for that responsibility which I’m sure is harder to stop (thinking of how the ABs neutralise Pocock). Holloway, Hooper and Timani starting with McMahon as the super-sub feels right, but realistically you could probably have any combination depending on the opponent and what aspects of loose forward play you want to focus on against them.

        • Roar Guru

          September 20th 2016 @ 9:31am
          Train Without A Station said | September 20th 2016 @ 9:31am | ! Report

          Fardy is a superior carrier to Mumm.

          At least based on long term returns.

        • September 20th 2016 @ 6:29pm
          DCNZ said | September 20th 2016 @ 6:29pm | ! Report

          whispering jack,

          you are 100% right, as an AB fan i totally agree that Dusatoir-Bonnaire-Harinordoquay have outplayed NZ in the past. Didn’t Dusatoir make 43 tackles on NZ in the 2007 QF win in Cardiff.

          The only other player that matched Richie was George Smith. Legend.

        • September 20th 2016 @ 6:41pm
          Jerry said | September 20th 2016 @ 6:41pm | ! Report

          That French back row did outplay NZ at times, but not really consistently.

          • September 20th 2016 @ 7:50pm
            CUW said | September 20th 2016 @ 7:50pm | ! Report

            maybe the components changed too. am sure SERGE BETSEN was around in 2007 .

        • September 20th 2016 @ 7:44pm
          CUW said | September 20th 2016 @ 7:44pm | ! Report

          @ Whispering Jack :

          didn’t they also have REMY MARTIN ? could never forget that name 🙂

    • Roar Guru

      September 20th 2016 @ 7:08am
      moaman said | September 20th 2016 @ 7:08am | ! Report

      Particularly enjoyed the sardonic undertones on the piece.It certainly is ‘interesting times’ we are living in,isn’t it?

      McMahon needs to start–somewhere–surely? I would lean towards recalling Fardy and pairing those two up with Hooper as an interrim measure.

      • September 20th 2016 @ 7:34am
        Connor33 said | September 20th 2016 @ 7:34am | ! Report

        I agree. That mix would be ideal without Pocock.

        • September 20th 2016 @ 7:52am
          Dave_S said | September 20th 2016 @ 7:52am | ! Report

          Yep and Timani to come on at 6 after 50

      • September 20th 2016 @ 7:48am
        BennO said | September 20th 2016 @ 7:48am | ! Report


      • September 20th 2016 @ 10:11am
        Dontcallmeshirley said | September 20th 2016 @ 10:11am | ! Report

        I agree – and then when Pocock returns you can bench Hooper.

      • September 20th 2016 @ 1:39pm
        Akari said | September 20th 2016 @ 1:39pm | ! Report

        McFooper could be the ideal replacement and rolls of the tongue easily too…

        • September 20th 2016 @ 3:40pm
          CUW said | September 20th 2016 @ 3:40pm | ! Report

          how about McFaT(i)

    • September 20th 2016 @ 7:13am
      Ralph said | September 20th 2016 @ 7:13am | ! Report

      Yeah I hear all the concern, but making up fun names for weird combinations sounds pretty good .. ?

    • Roar Guru

      September 20th 2016 @ 7:38am
      Harry Jones said | September 20th 2016 @ 7:38am | ! Report

      Good one.


      And….I dunno.

    • Columnist

      September 20th 2016 @ 7:42am
      Geoff Parkes said | September 20th 2016 @ 7:42am | ! Report

      Thanks Brett, it’s quite a dilemma isn’t it? I believe that part of the ‘problem’ is that Cheika sees Pocock and Hooper as 2 of his best 3 players, and McMahon in the next 2.

      He isn’t in a position of luxury to be not playing his best men, regardless of position/combinations. On that basis I can’t see him leaving McMahon on the bench, and on performance you’d have to say that he deserves to be playing.

      • September 20th 2016 @ 8:07am
        Whispering Jack said | September 20th 2016 @ 8:07am | ! Report

        are we forgetting that mcmahon has played enough test rugby for us to know that he is just a poor mans hooper?

        Is he an 80min player? Against england he was average to good when he started, as was he on the spring tour 2014, and on saturday he played well for 30min against a tired pumas side.

        if you watch Hooper and Pocock closely they are Mccawesque in their 80min performances. i’m yet to see mcMahon show that he is in that realm.

        I think we need to keep it in perspective. Yes he should probably get the nod now that Pocock is injured but i still think the jury is still out on whether he is test class… so lets see how he goes over an extended period of time instead of crowing about 1 good run.

        • Roar Guru

          September 20th 2016 @ 8:23am
          Fionn said | September 20th 2016 @ 8:23am | ! Report

          ‘McMahon is poor man’s hooper’.

          Yes, because Hooper often has 20+ meter runs straight through the opposition, with 5 of their guys hanging onto him and unable to bring him down. Clearly possesses and is inferior in the exact same skill set.

          Have you ever watched them, Whispering Jack? Other than both being young and high-energy they are not the same player. McMahon, while less fit, is so much more powerful and devastating than Hooper. They’re different players.

          • September 20th 2016 @ 8:55am
            Whispering Jack said | September 20th 2016 @ 8:55am | ! Report

            thye are similar players and offer similar roles.. its just that Hooper can do it for 80min week in week out and mcmahon struggles to put together the 80min performance we need from a test class flanker.

            McMahon is good don’t get me wrong, but Hooper is better.

            • Columnist

              September 20th 2016 @ 9:12am
              Geoff Parkes said | September 20th 2016 @ 9:12am | ! Report

              WJ, I think this idea that some players can’t play 80 mins is a nonsense.

              Sure, it’s the modern way to use all players off the bench for maximum impact, but to equate that to some players not having the conditioning or ability to play a full game if needed, is simply wrong.

              Mc Mahon is a ball of fitness and energy. 80 mins isn’t a problem.

              • September 20th 2016 @ 9:37am
                Whispering Jack said | September 20th 2016 @ 9:37am | ! Report

                Mcmahon iis not as effective deep in the second half as other options, as he does not have the fitness of Hooper and Pocock who both have hearts like phar lap. In this regard you either have it or you don’t. The great players like Hooper/pocock/Dusatoir/Mccaw/Smith they have/had the ability to never relally be out on their feet. Mcmahon does not have this and i’ve noticed in tests that around the 60min mark he appears to be out on his feet.

                Now with Pocock injured, Mcmahon is naturally a genuine option to start as this was what happened v england.

                But if we are honest mcmahon certainly didn’t dominate that series and although he had some good moments he really struggled to last 80min whereas Hooper is a strong in the last 10min as he is in the first.

                Just keeping it real.

          • Roar Guru

            September 20th 2016 @ 9:31am
            Train Without A Station said | September 20th 2016 @ 9:31am | ! Report

            He does actually.

          • Roar Guru

            September 20th 2016 @ 12:34pm
            PeterK said | September 20th 2016 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

            Fionn – Whispering Jack is right.

            McMahon has not proven himself at intl level yet.

            He has had good cameos.

            But when given the chance against the top nations with big forward packs he has underwhelmed.

            On the spring tour in 2014 he started and did not make much impact against england or france.
            Starting against england in june he has improved but still not great performances.

            Hooper has performed against all countries.

            So it is a bit of a stretch to say he is better than Hooper if you evaluate actual full game performances.

        • September 20th 2016 @ 8:35am
          Browny said | September 20th 2016 @ 8:35am | ! Report

          I wouldn’t call McMahon a ‘poor man’s Hooper’. He’s a couple of inches bigger and is actually a reasonable lineout target. Hooper’s running makes him better in space and making those tackles out wide where he covers a tremendous amount of ground to get to the man. McMahon is better in traffic and is great in contact. He doesn’t make as many tackles as Hooper because he doesn’t play as loose but the ones he does make are normally pretty big. He make more carries than any of the other 7s, Hooper is a little better on clean breaks but McMahon owns everyone for defenders beaten and is a good deal better for metres run than Hooper. He passes about half as much as Hooper and he makes a few less tackles.
          Essentially he’s a little like Hooper in that they’re smaller flankers (McMahon has nearly a couple of inches on Hooper) who are great runners, it’s just that McMahon plays tighter, is a decent jumper, and a significantly better runner in traffic while Hooper plays a lot looser, is great at cover defense and linking with the backline because of his pace.

          • Roar Guru

            September 20th 2016 @ 9:32am
            Train Without A Station said | September 20th 2016 @ 9:32am | ! Report

            Currently at test level McMahon is “Hooper-Lite”.

            That being said he’s a bit younger. I wouldn’t be surprised if he usurps Hooper within the next couple of years.

            • September 20th 2016 @ 9:41am
              Whispering Jack said | September 20th 2016 @ 9:41am | ! Report

              I agree it could happen but at this point in time, no he is not better than Hooper because he lacks the 80min performance that Hooper continues to display.

              In saying that i hope Mcmahon gets the nod as Pocock’s replacement for the next couple of tests to see if he can prove me wrong on the 80min performance that I’m yet to see.

              he’s exciting theres no doubt.

              I might add that if i was in charge of the universe i’d be replacing an injured Pocock with the next best thing like-forl-ike, Liam Gill. and keep Mcmahon on the bench for impact.

              unf Gill took off to europe alas

              • Roar Guru

                September 20th 2016 @ 12:37pm
                PeterK said | September 20th 2016 @ 12:37pm | ! Report

                I wouldn’t.

                Either Hooper or McMahon should be picked at 7 not both starting.

                A no 8 that can make hard yards in tight that is a lineout option is needed.

                Look at how hard it is for the wallabies to get over the advantage line.

                Timani at 8 and Fardy at 6 with Pocock out is more balanced.

            • September 20th 2016 @ 3:45pm
              CUW said | September 20th 2016 @ 3:45pm | ! Report

              @ Train Without A Station

              i think McMohan has more power than Hooper and also able at lineouts.

              Hooper on the other hand is quicker than McMohan and has more “back” skills like stepping and offloading.

              i still believe that auzzy could have converted Hooper into a good center at a young age – seeing how he played.

              • Roar Guru

                September 20th 2016 @ 3:56pm
                PeterK said | September 20th 2016 @ 3:56pm | ! Report

                considering he was a centre as a junior up to 18 years of age that is no surprise.

              • September 21st 2016 @ 1:17pm
                Stin said | September 21st 2016 @ 1:17pm | ! Report

                He never played centre for Manly Roos. Always 7. Maybe Pius, but standard not as good.

              • September 20th 2016 @ 4:47pm
                CUW said | September 20th 2016 @ 4:47pm | ! Report

                he shud have stayed there – would have solved a lot of current problems auzzy have 😛

        • September 23rd 2016 @ 7:35pm
          Timbo (L) said | September 23rd 2016 @ 7:35pm | ! Report

          It feels like you guys are misusing stats again.
          McMahon can only play 30 minutes etc..
          1. As an impact player off the bench he is only going to get 30!
          2. The one time he started he suffered a neck injury.

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