The Wrap: Rebels’ Cox drives a stake in the ground, Barrett nails the Blues

Geoff Parkes Columnist

By Geoff Parkes, Geoff Parkes is a Roar Expert

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    Anyone thinking that Cyclone Cook may have helped even things up in Christchurch got it wrong.

    The big wet only reinforced the gulf in skill and strength between the Crusaders and Sunwolves – the home team now last man standing in the unbeaten stakes.

    The Reds hosted the Trekkies in a rare, fan-friendly Saturday afternoon time-slot in Brisbane, and an entertaining 12-try match resulted. Quade Cooper took an unusual option from a penalty 7m out from his own line, hoofing a kick across the field to where Karmichael Hunt was able to send Izaia Perese galloping away for his second try.

    The Kings once again showed plenty of endeavor and skill in the second half, including Makazole Mapimpi gloriously turning Hunt inside out for a great try, but the Reds, led by a sterling effort from ‘old man river’ George Smith, were never really in danger of losing. It was a much needed win for Nick Styles’ men 47-34.

    This column has given Fox Sports comments man Phil Kearns a rest over the last few weeks, but it was too good to last, Kearns describing an injured Kings player, rolling on the ground in obvious pain, as “soccer-ish”.

    I guess it could have been worse; he could have described him as a “girl”, or maybe even “softer than a buffoon who believes that just because he has a microphone he’s entitled to talk nonsense.”

    For the second week running the Blues came out on the wrong side of a cracking New Zealand derby, another intense and skillful contest where the difference between the sides was… you know who! The SANZAAR judiciary is owed a debt of thanks, not imposing further sanction on Beauden Barrett following his red card the week before. To do so would have robbed fans of seeing a young man in complete control of his running game, and adding plenty in defence for good measure.

    As it happened, Barrett found himself in the naughty chair once again, although on second look, he appeared to be unlucky, making legal contact with an arm, rather than cynically slapping the ball down.

    Jumping ahead to Bloemfontein, where Cheetahs fullback Clayton Blommetjies showed no ill effects from a giant bird crapping on his head, to spark an early 24-0 lead over the Chiefs. By halftime the Chiefs had got it back to 24-14, and by 60 minutes they eventually found the lead, courtesy of trademark interplay and backing up, where they eased home from there.

    The heavyweight South African derby didn’t quite have the fizz expected, which was all down to the Lions muscling up in defence; ready and waiting to snuff the Stormers out time and time again, and keep the Newlands crowd subdued.

    Beauden Barrett slips past Brumbies defence

    Despite – or perhaps because of – being up against elite locks Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit, Lions tall man Franco Mostert was irresistibly abrasive, in an inspired man of the match performance. The Stormers remain a good side but normal order has been restored in the republic; 29-16 to the Lions.

    Paying the price for an unsuccessful tour, the Bulls pulled a very poor home crowd at Loftus. Perhaps the ‘stay-at-homes’ knew something, the Jaguares putting in their worst shift this year, starting the match with a kick-off out on the full and a penalty conceded from the scrum, and not getting a whole lot better, before losing 26-13.

    Notable was Handre Pollard nonchalantly taking that 50m penalty back another five metres, to find better footing, before drilling it over with plenty to spare.

    Superficially, the Rebels upset 19-17 victory over the Brumbies in Melbourne would appear to have come at the perfect time. It was a message from a squad determined to show that they belong in this league and are prepared to fight for their survival.

    The truth is somewhat less dramatic. Coach Tony McGahan recounting how the playing group had only one discussion about off field matters early in the week, before putting it to bed and knuckling down to find a way to extend the good aspects of their play against the Chiefs and Waratahs into an 80-minute effort.

    Even so, McGahan and captain Nick Stirzaker were flummoxed by their forward’s 78th minute scrum effort, which marked a massive turnaround on what had occurred throughout the match, and provided the penalty that Reece Hodge nailed to seal the win; both men having no idea where that scrum effort came from.

    The Rebels were aided by a surprisingly sterile effort from the Brumbies who, after appearing to have turned a significant corner last week against the Reds, lacked the dash and daring to again find the same level of performance.

    To only score one try when holding a two-man advantage for ten minutes, then a one man advantage for another ten, was as curious as it was disheartening for coach Steve Larkham who, post-match, pointed to a disjointed training week as something he needs to fix moving forward.

    No, the significant play in the great Super Rugby stoush of 2017 was made, not by the Rebels players, but owner Andrew Cox, whose withering Friday night press release made a few things abundantly clear.

    The Rebels aren’t going anywhere.

    He isn’t going to sell the license back to the ARU only to have them shut down all of the great development work that is being done in Victorian rugby.

    If there were any ARU concerns about the Rebels future in a reduced Australian Super Rugby presence, which their comments now seem to indicate, it would have been material to tell him before he purchased the license, not afterwards.

    Prior to the stadium gates opening, Cox spent time on the field, mingling with the non-playing members of the Rebels squad. Here was a relaxed and happy man, joking with the guys, seemingly without a worry in the world. If Bill Pulver or Cameron Clyne had been looking on, they would have observed the exact opposite of someone under pressure and fed up with the situation, about to cower away.

    Reece Hodge of the Rebels

    In fact, the Rebels were blindsided by the ARU’s announcement last Monday, having previously received assurances that any issues around Super Rugby did not concern them. Club sources indicated to me on Saturday night that their belief is that the ARU tried to 1) sugar coat last Monday’s bad news announcement with some good, ie announcing that the Brumbies were in the clear, and 2) soften the blow for the Force by intimating that there was still a decision to be made and that it was a close run thing.

    If so, that’s a highly flawed strategy, which has only resulted in the lawyers coming in and the ARU losing control of the agenda. Management 101 dictates that if you have bad news, get it out there and be done with it, and then get on to the next phase.

    And also, to be sure of your ground before you start telling people they’re about to be fired!

    The Rebels are totally confident of their position, in both a business and legal sense. Cox’s stake in the ground has made that much clear. And now, just for good measure, while they have a tough trip to South Africa coming up, it doesn’t hurt that they are working themselves back into a better place on the field as well.

    All of which places things very much back in the Force’s hands. They too are not in any mood to disappear quietly, and there is a groundswell of emotion and tribal support with which to support their legal effort.

    That there is still chatter around about the prospect of the Brumbies being merged with the Rebels – despite there being clear communication from the ARU that the Brumbies are secure in their own right – shows just how muddled the situation remains, and points to more difficult days ahead.

    Geoff Parkes
    Geoff Parkes

    Geoff is a Melbourne-based sports fanatic and writer who started contributing to The Roar in 2012 under the pen name Allanthus. His first book, A World in Union Conflict; The Global Battle For Rugby Supremacy, was released in December 2017 to critical acclaim. For details on the book visit Meanwhile, his twin goals of achieving a single figure golf handicap and owning a fast racehorse remain tantalisingly out of reach.

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    The Crowd Says (92)

    • April 17th 2017 @ 5:04am
      DavSA said | April 17th 2017 @ 5:04am | ! Report

      Franco Mostert is making a big name for himself. The Bok selector s have so many options in the second row . Crusaders looking ominous

      • Columnist

        April 17th 2017 @ 7:50am
        Geoff Parkes said | April 17th 2017 @ 7:50am | ! Report

        It says something about the special qualities of SA rugby Dav doesn’t it?
        So many players lost overseas but still 4 world class locks at home to choose from.

        • April 17th 2017 @ 2:48pm
          cuw said | April 17th 2017 @ 2:48pm | ! Report

          i think he was almost lost , but stayed becoz of injuries to the test players. i think he was capped last year but not sure how much he has played.

          they have many trees – last year under 20 2nd rowers are giants ; wait for them to challenge the test players come 2019 🙂

    • April 17th 2017 @ 5:37am
      Ben said | April 17th 2017 @ 5:37am | ! Report

      Beaudy Barrett was the undoubted star of the match but the unsung 2 try hero Mark Abbott was just as sensational in a completely different manner.
      He was in the engine room doing it all but also appeared everywhere on the field. His workrate was extreme.
      SBW showed glimpses but is still chipping away the rust.
      Canes lineout malfunctioned and the midfield was stuttery.
      We actually didnt play that well but as you mention, Beaudy was the difference.

      As for the Aus conference..
      The top Aus team get beat by a team all the kiwi teams have put 50 on…whats goin on?

      • April 17th 2017 @ 7:51am
        taylorman said | April 17th 2017 @ 7:51am | ! Report

        SBW wasn’t just rusty he was terrible, not passing when he should have…pity he actually has to unload rather than just pass to someone after he gets a break.

        Then he made Laumape look good not knowing how to cover and ending up punching the goal post padding.

        Then he spills the albeit high ball that allows Barrett to kick through and score.

        So if he’s got time to put plaster on his jersey, subject his side to unnecessary distraction all week, answer to the worlds media about not liking the fact that banks, who have been doing it for centuries, charge interest, then it should be expected that he be prepared to play.

        He wasn’t.

        He should be dropped to have a good think about his priorities. A public display of his newly found belief system, or wanting his team to win.

        Sorry but as a long time suffering Blues fan, I couldn’t give one hoot about his beliefs. I respect his right to have them, but not at the expense of my team.

        • April 17th 2017 @ 8:01am
          Pilferer said | April 17th 2017 @ 8:01am | ! Report

          Yep your right taylorman hes has no excuses for not being in peak form after 1 and half games returning from a Achilles rupture .

          • April 17th 2017 @ 8:12am
            taylorman said | April 17th 2017 @ 8:12am | ! Report

            More the need to focus on his game then.

            • April 17th 2017 @ 10:01am
              Jacko said | April 17th 2017 @ 10:01am | ! Report

              Come on Tman. He is a has been….as in has been a WC winner…twice…has been a Super rugby title winner…twice…has been an NRL title winner…Twice….Tman get rid of him as we can clearly see he never does something 3 times.
              patience Tman he will come right

              • April 17th 2017 @ 10:34am
                taylorman said | April 17th 2017 @ 10:34am | ! Report

                Watching the replays it looked a bit to similar to Benjis efforts, as though the game now moves too fast for him to think quick enough to do the right thing. That could be the time out factor as Ben says.

                Let’s see how it goes as this stuff has died down, banks and interest hardly a riveting topic to begin with anyway.

              • April 17th 2017 @ 3:09pm
                mania said | April 17th 2017 @ 3:09pm | ! Report

                Canes softened sbw up all night. As my old coach used to say, “give him the message” sbw got hit all night and ended up offload shy as he didn’t want to expose his ribs imo.
                Barrett’s a magician

          • April 17th 2017 @ 11:20am
            ClarkeG said | April 17th 2017 @ 11:20am | ! Report

            No one expects him to be in peak form but a lot better than he was in this match would be nice.

        • April 17th 2017 @ 11:41am
          ClarkeG said | April 17th 2017 @ 11:41am | ! Report

          I tend to agree he was worse than rusty. Yep he was terrible at times. I saw the punch on the padding as well and thought he might now have a problem with NIB sponsorship.

          But seriously he was in good company.

          I made a note of all the errors that the Blues made throughout the match. It makes ugly reading and shows why they can’t beat other NZ sides.

        • April 17th 2017 @ 11:49am
          Rugby Tragic said | April 17th 2017 @ 11:49am | ! Report

          Haha! TM .. you are right off course…. we lost because of one man ………………………………………………………….. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
          Beauden Barrett! … how do you stop him??

          • April 17th 2017 @ 7:18pm
            davSA said | April 17th 2017 @ 7:18pm | ! Report

            Break his legs RT …All I can think of . Remember that flyhalf ? Dan who ????

            • April 17th 2017 @ 9:09pm
              Rugby Tragic said | April 17th 2017 @ 9:09pm | ! Report

              davSA, the guy is a serious talent and I guess the worry about opposing teams, he is going to improve, he is only 25 years old now (26 in about 6 weeks). I don’t recall a single player who can influence a game so much on his own. I am in awe.

              Then what about his brothers?? Scott 22 (already an AB), Jordie 19, (destined to be a superstar), Blake 21 (he harbours ambition to become a professional rugby player…. Sign him Tana! lol) and Kane (out for long term concussion).

              • April 17th 2017 @ 9:33pm
                davSA said | April 17th 2017 @ 9:33pm | ! Report

                totally agree RT . Through a lifetime of watching Rugby every decade or so you watch a player and just know you are looking at greatness. Sure Richie McCaw was acknowledged as one of the all time greats but he kind of crept up on one over the years. Others who made that big impact on me was JPR Williams , Danie Gerber and David Campese . There were more but these stood out .

      • Columnist

        April 17th 2017 @ 7:53am
        Geoff Parkes said | April 17th 2017 @ 7:53am | ! Report

        To be fair Ben, the Rebels only lost to the Chiefs in the last few minutes, but yes, your point is fair enough – what actually is going on?

        I guess the glass half-full view is that the Aus conference is really close!

    • Roar Guru

      April 17th 2017 @ 6:52am
      Machpants said | April 17th 2017 @ 6:52am | ! Report

      Great wrap. And Beaudy did indeed grab at the hands not slap the ball. But that is illegal as he was in the ruck and off his feet.

      • April 17th 2017 @ 7:56am
        Kitch said | April 17th 2017 @ 7:56am | ! Report

        Nah bro he was on his feet competing for the ball and in the process of being cleaned out he reached out and clipped pulus arm!…clear as day on the replay…as opposed to being on the ground! Any yellow or red needs to be confirmed by tmo bc of the potential impact on a game if the refs call is wrong!

      • Columnist

        April 17th 2017 @ 7:57am
        Geoff Parkes said | April 17th 2017 @ 7:57am | ! Report

        Interesting take on it Machpants.

        I read it that he was on his feet as he reached out, then was cleaned out, and was falling over in the process of being cleaned out when he made contact.

        So perhaps a tight call either way – but nothing at all like the two instances against the Tahs, which were clear YC’s.

        • April 17th 2017 @ 8:06am
          taylorman said | April 17th 2017 @ 8:06am | ! Report

          Come on Geoff where there’s smoke there’s fire, the guys been doing it all week ?..besides, perfection doesn’t really sit well with him. Better to have flawed genius…like DaVinci, Michaelangelo, Beethoven, McCaw, you know, all the usual suspects…?

          • April 17th 2017 @ 8:13am
            taylorman said | April 17th 2017 @ 8:13am | ! Report

            Oh…and Cooper!?

          • Columnist

            April 17th 2017 @ 8:14am
            Geoff Parkes said | April 17th 2017 @ 8:14am | ! Report

            You’re starting to sound like Digger now T-Man.

            His young daughter was getting a selfie with BB, until he pushed her out of the way and got his own mug into the middle of it!

            • April 17th 2017 @ 10:36am
              taylorman said | April 17th 2017 @ 10:36am | ! Report

              Digger should have slapped him Geoff. Chook would have.?

          • Roar Guru

            April 17th 2017 @ 9:19am
            Machooka said | April 17th 2017 @ 9:19am | ! Report

            Ha TM… I knew about the other guys but didn’t realise McCaw was a ball slapper.

            That’s some legacy eh 🙂

            • April 17th 2017 @ 9:27am
              taylorman said | April 17th 2017 @ 9:27am | ! Report

              The worst kind! He slaps from the side when you’re not looking!?

            • April 17th 2017 @ 11:59am
              Muzzo said | April 17th 2017 @ 11:59am | ! Report

              Hi Chook,
              Nah Richie, is not really a ball slapper, but apart from him having political ambitions, he’s seems to be doing OK, in his chopper, enviroment. Cheers

        • Roar Guru

          April 17th 2017 @ 8:32am
          Machooka said | April 17th 2017 @ 8:32am | ! Report

          This sounds very much like a ‘Little Britain’ sketch, where the Minister goes to aid of a very distressed young Sth. American boy in the public toilets. Apparently he too also slipped. No sure there was any slapping though.

          • Columnist

            April 17th 2017 @ 8:54am
            Geoff Parkes said | April 17th 2017 @ 8:54am | ! Report

            Typically Sydney-centric view from you Chook, bringing Alan Jones into the conversation…

            • April 17th 2017 @ 9:02am
              taylorman said | April 17th 2017 @ 9:02am | ! Report

              Now there was a real man…oh, he’s still around??

            • Roar Guru

              April 17th 2017 @ 9:14am
              Machooka said | April 17th 2017 @ 9:14am | ! Report

              Come to think of it… probably was a wee bit of ball slapping!

              • April 17th 2017 @ 9:21am
                taylorman said | April 17th 2017 @ 9:21am | ! Report

                Oh goodness me Chook, and here’s me innocently thinking your iPad got ‘stepper’ wrong. ?

      • April 17th 2017 @ 12:09pm
        ClarkeG said | April 17th 2017 @ 12:09pm | ! Report

        The referee did indicate the penalty was for playing off his feet. It was not for intentionally knocking the ball forward as the commentators would have us believe. The ball didn’t go forward anyway…it went nearer to Barrett’s own goal line.

        Barrett was initially on his feet in the ruck until such time as Nanai tipped him ( which in itself is illegal) at which point Barrett knocked the wrists of Pulu and the ball was lost forward.

        I thought it was a harsh yellow card.

      • April 17th 2017 @ 8:02pm
        Ben said | April 17th 2017 @ 8:02pm | ! Report

        If you look at the Blues first try Scott Scrafton was lying at the bottom of the ruck when he grabbed at the ball, pulled it in off the competing Canes player on his feet and gave it up to his halfback. No way was that a legit turnover and possibly a card and at the least a penalty.

        • April 18th 2017 @ 10:16am
          taylorman said | April 18th 2017 @ 10:16am | ! Report

          I would look at it, but alas, its against my religion.

          Instead, when the video is played, I will place a band aid over one eye. 🙂

        • April 18th 2017 @ 11:08am
          ClarkeG said | April 18th 2017 @ 11:08am | ! Report

          You’re right about Scrafton but May should not have been playing the ball as well – he has one knee on the ground.

          But Scrafton is more on the ground that May is for sure.

    • April 17th 2017 @ 7:26am
      Daveski said | April 17th 2017 @ 7:26am | ! Report

      Some great rugby again this weekend. Terrific to see such an entertaining match in the Suncorp sun, great comeback by the Chiefs and Dylan Lleyds is a one man highlight reel.

      The Super Rugby crowds in Aus are a serous concern and 8000 for the Rebels against the Brums is not good. I get Easter Sat night might not be the best schedule but I’d say it’s a factor not a cause. I reckon the Tahs might struggle for too many more this Friday against the Kings. What’s a ticket cost in Melb, certainly for Tahs games anything not behind the posts isn’t cheap.

      • Columnist

        April 17th 2017 @ 10:08am
        Geoff Parkes said | April 17th 2017 @ 10:08am | ! Report

        Someone will correct me if I’m wrong Daveski but I think it’s $25 for behind the posts and in the corners – which, because it’s such a compact stadium, still gives you a pretty good view of the game.

        Good call on Lleyds; he stood out when we saw him in Singapore against the Sunwolves. Electric pace and very inventive, and now, after that pass coming off last week, his confidence is obviously through the roof.

        • Roar Guru

          April 17th 2017 @ 8:42pm
          Harry Jones said | April 17th 2017 @ 8:42pm | ! Report

          Geoff, you may not know that Lleyds played 10 at Bishops (the school of Flo, Fleck, Vickerman, Nizaam, et all) and was v v v v good. I think he has aspirations of playing 10 again

          • April 17th 2017 @ 9:14pm
            davSA said | April 17th 2017 @ 9:14pm | ! Report

            I saw a few clips on you tube and boy was he impressive . Problem now is that from the beginning of the season we only had Jantjies and Lambie as serious contenders for nr 10 . Suddenly add Bosch , Du Plessis , Cronje and of course Pollard to the mix and there is a some good depth. Either Lleyds plays flyhalf or he plays wing and sticks. we don’t need another Lambie situation.

          • Columnist

            April 17th 2017 @ 9:42pm
            Geoff Parkes said | April 17th 2017 @ 9:42pm | ! Report

            Thanks Harry, that’s really interesting.

            Obviously he has the ball skills and foot skills for 10, but his body shape and pace… he really looks well suited to the back three.

            • Roar Guru

              April 17th 2017 @ 11:23pm
              Harry Jones said | April 17th 2017 @ 11:23pm | ! Report

              Yes, and WP has Jean-Luc du P and Rob du Preez and Coleman, with a lot of injuries to outside backs, so it’s perfect

              His pace is really electric, but it’s his ball skills and smarts….

              • April 18th 2017 @ 2:16am
                Bakkies said | April 18th 2017 @ 2:16am | ! Report

                Damien Williemse is probably earmarked to be the next long term flyhalf.

    • Roar Guru

      April 17th 2017 @ 7:53am
      Machooka said | April 17th 2017 @ 7:53am | ! Report

      Morning G… and like not picking no fights but you do know that the ARU’s Chairman Cameron Clyne went to extraordinary lengths to say no assurances had been given to the Rebels by the ARU?

      BBBBBB is a slapper.

      Kearns is a big girl’s blouse.

      And buffoons have their place in the world… and we’re not soft thanks!

      • Columnist

        April 17th 2017 @ 8:01am
        Geoff Parkes said | April 17th 2017 @ 8:01am | ! Report

        Morning Chook. Clyne is obviously no fool, but the Rebels are very confident about their position.

        • Roar Guru

          April 17th 2017 @ 8:26am
          Machooka said | April 17th 2017 @ 8:26am | ! Report

          Again 🙂 … would that be the owner who is confident.

          He would be well compensated yeah?

      • April 17th 2017 @ 8:58am
        taylorman said | April 17th 2017 @ 8:58am | ! Report

        Gaw, there’s even another B tagged on! …is there no end to this guys genius?…6x B’s…unheard of in the history of mankind…well…recorded that is.?

        On a more serious note, but in the Tom English video, which we don’t get to see, is he talking to SBW?

    • April 17th 2017 @ 8:30am
      Rugby Tragic said | April 17th 2017 @ 8:30am | ! Report

      Thanks GP for ‘the weekly read’, I’m addicted!

      The long weekend released games of contrast, starting with the walloping in Christchurch which was alway to be. I think the Sunwolves are going to receive little respite over the next couple of weeks in Dunedin against the Highlanders then the game against the returning Chiefs.

      The Reds took their win on Saturday afternoon, a game I could not take live due to commitments but watching a replay, I am not sure Stiles, other than the win banked, would be too thrilled over the overall performance, in particular the lack of defence late in the 2nd stanza.

      Call it blind sided ignorance if you like as every expert in any publication I read had the Canes beating the Blues .. I didn’t believe it, as the Blues were at home, they were about to click, they had a few points to prove. I was wrong. Actually at this point I must concede I had taken the Blues in a multi but with 6.5 start! (I was clever and playing it safe), only to be let down by the Brumbies.

      It was a tough ending to a physical match, I thought with 10 mins to go, the Blues would hold on, tenacious they seemed. Yet it was Beauden Barrett who was the clear difference. What a player, but he looks better in Black than the Canes colours (Digger would disagree). With the blind leading the blind, I say again, that the Blues will take retribution shortly, then look out. Am I the eternal optimist? Maybe… we will see.

      By and large, Tana’s boys season has gone but they still have plenty to prove. Losing 2 at home is not great but for the rest of the season I’m looking for those ‘away wins’ ..

      Almost immediately following was the inept performance of the Brumbies. While pleased for the Rebels to be able to finish a game with a “W” after it’s name, if the Brumbies are the top Aussie SR side then the playoff’s will end early for them.

      The Chiefs win over the Cheetahs was quite remarkable where little Macca displayed great heart and courage. I thought Sam Cane’s comeback match was a beaut and his non panic leadership went a long way towards the comeback.

      Retired for the Bulls home win over the Jags but not before gluing my eyes on the screen to watch the Stormer’s match against the Lions which was a must watch after last weekend. It didn’t disappoint.

      This was always going to be a ‘toss up’ match for me but Ackerman’s Lions have shown themselves to be real contenders with that away win. At this relatively early stage, I think they might host the final in J’berg. Ok, they sit behind the Crusaders at the moment but the red ‘n blacks have only played the Landers and Blues of the NZ Conference thus far. A lot more will be learnt of Razor Robbo’s charges when they are confronted by the Chiefs and Hurricanes … bring it on.

      Thanks to Digger for his marathon efforts once more, like Connor the week before bloody great efforts to keep us amused and updated! Geoff, you and Vusi need to up your games if you want to stay in the blogging race for 2017.. 🙁

      • Columnist

        April 17th 2017 @ 11:20am
        Geoff Parkes said | April 17th 2017 @ 11:20am | ! Report

        Hi RT

        How’s that article of your own coming along mate? Almost another one here 🙂

        I think you’re right to be optimistic about the Blues. Not quite ready this year, but if they can find the right No 10, and also get a bit more consistent authority in the forwards then they’ll be the real deal.

        • April 17th 2017 @ 11:57am
          Rugby Tragic said | April 17th 2017 @ 11:57am | ! Report

          Sorry mate, just get verbal diarrhea occasionally…:(

          Yeap a half decent No 10 and on field leadership … while might lack a bit of depth, I think the pack’s Ok. Certainly the back row seems more balanced to me when Steven Luatua is playing. I think a huge loss to both the Blues and NZ Rugby from next year … not yet reached his prime …

          • Columnist

            April 17th 2017 @ 12:25pm
            Geoff Parkes said | April 17th 2017 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

            Yes I agree, he’s a massive loss. NZ rugby can afford these types of player losses far less than what some might believe.

            It was tough that he got penalised for that side entry close to the line. Not because it was a wrong call, but we see that sort of thing go unpunished many times each game.

          • April 17th 2017 @ 12:34pm
            ClarkeG said | April 17th 2017 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

            A half decent flyhalf and a dramatic reduction in poor decisions/errors by individuals.

            Francis was awful and Pulu is all over the shop. Umaga might stick with Gatland.

            Losing Luatua to 2nd division English rugby is a big loss for sure. Goodness knows how they will suitably replace him.

            • April 17th 2017 @ 1:26pm
              Rugby Tragic said | April 17th 2017 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

              Clarke, the last decent No 10’s Blues (Auckland) has were Spencer, before him Grant Fox and just before him the late Nick Allen who died from rugby injuries sustained in a club match, I think in NSW. Since about 2004/5 we have tried a variety but none have really made the job their own. I don’t know why the Blues catchment area cannot produce No 10’s

              Pulu if he can be instructed to move the friggin’ ball from the ruck area a bit quicker the players outside him have a chance to fracture unsettled defence lines but often his delayed clearances stem the momentum.

              Not only Blues but followed Steven Luatua’s career since his school and representative days. He really is a classy athlete who found it easy to move through the rep chain. That was until 2014 the year after he burst onto the AB scene. He was too young I guess but the ease of his moving through the ranks had me almost comparing him with Michael Jones (who I think is the best rugby player I have had the pleasure to watch play).

              Luatua even now is only 25, not yet reached his prime. If Hansen took him under his wing and nurtured, I’d be confident he would not have looked overseas. But Shag didn’t so we have lost him. I know, I know, the AB Coach cannot mother everyone……. but……

              • Roar Rookie

                April 17th 2017 @ 3:34pm
                System of a Downey Jr said | April 17th 2017 @ 3:34pm | ! Report

                Nick Evans was the last decent first five the Blues had and I’d argue he was a bigger loss to the ABs and especially the Blues than Luatua ever will be. Evans in the 2011 World Cup would have made things far more comfortable than they ended up being. He’s also carved up season after season up north. Steering Quins to premiership wins. I wish Luatua all the luck – and seeing as he’s going to likely be playing championship with freshly relegated Bristol he’ll need it.

              • April 17th 2017 @ 5:38pm
                taylorman said | April 17th 2017 @ 5:38pm | ! Report

                No time for ex NZers. He didn’t want to take Carter on at the top and bailed. At least Cruden stuck around and filled in brilliantly.

                Plus, 2011… we had the Beaver!

                Better than Evans any day…all heart.?

              • April 17th 2017 @ 6:38pm
                Jacko said | April 17th 2017 @ 6:38pm | ! Report

                Yeah who would have foreseen the 2 no 10s in the NZ side for the 2011 WC final….Cruden started and the BEAVER finished.

              • April 17th 2017 @ 7:20pm
                ClarkeG said | April 17th 2017 @ 7:20pm | ! Report

                Tragic – Pulu’s delayed clearance from the ruck is a symptom of the Blue’s problems not a cause. It is actually the lack of momentum that causes him to do this.

                If you had heard what Luatua and his manager said about the offer from Bristol then you would know that NZR were not in the contest – it was a one horse race.

              • April 17th 2017 @ 7:29pm
                ClarkeG said | April 17th 2017 @ 7:29pm | ! Report

                Downey – how is it that Luatua will need luck?

              • April 17th 2017 @ 7:39pm
                cuw said | April 17th 2017 @ 7:39pm | ! Report

                this is the kind of deal u do at 35 not 25. this is what i hate about managers – they just screw up a players long term growth , by merely looking at the money.

                Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling was the best example where the manager looked at money and sacrificed the player’s growth .

                now Luatua will play in the 2nd division ; will be like playing with boys for him. if he returns to NZ he will be rubbish !!!

                at least Kaino lost weight and got quicker playing in Japan. Luatua will just cruise thru as RT says and lose all his fitness and instincts.

              • April 17th 2017 @ 9:49pm
                ClarkeG said | April 17th 2017 @ 9:49pm | ! Report

                cuw – he would not do this equivalent deal at 35.

                Agree though that he will not grow as a rugby player.

                If he returns to NZ after the 2yrs (he will be 27) it will then be too late for super rugby that year and thus it is unlikely he would be considered for the WCup.

              • April 18th 2017 @ 7:56pm
                cuw said | April 18th 2017 @ 7:56pm | ! Report

                maybe (the 35 was a figurative , 25 – 35) , but he can to it after another 2 appearances at world cups – say around at 32. like Nonu for eg.

                that is why i gave the Raheem Sterling example . at a certain age , u think of career development and at another age u think of golden handshakes. he cud have become the long term 8 , when read goes .

                some of these managers are really effing up thier accounts – sonny bill included !!

      • April 17th 2017 @ 11:54am
        Muzzo said | April 17th 2017 @ 11:54am | ! Report

        Hi RT, Geez mate that was some sort of game , between the your fellas team & the Canes. Great to see, they are really starting to “click”, especially the AB’s in the side. Tana, will get there, eventually, mate, as he is, apart from being a great bloke, a dam good coach as well. Cheers.

        • April 17th 2017 @ 12:04pm
          Rugby Tragic said | April 17th 2017 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

          Thanks Muzzo, it was an “Ok” game eh? … wrong result disappointed of course but that’s the way it is. Will be interesting to see how they hold out non NZ sides … I think they have two more local derbies v Crusaders and Chiefs … both at home.

          Muzzo, in each and all of the local derbies played, the Blues had their chances … just couldn’t nail it. I think they get one, they might get a few…. But at the end of the day… winning is the only currency, we are not doing that at the moment…

          • April 17th 2017 @ 2:47pm
            Muzzo said | April 17th 2017 @ 2:47pm | ! Report

            Don’t be to down on them RT, after all the local derby sides, are all of good quality. I myself, have been a bit despondent over the Landers, without really giving their injury problems, much in the way of consideration. Yeh true, it does give those “coming through”, a chance to gather some game time, & I suppose they have made a pretty good fist of it.
            What else can we do Bro? Just hold on to our beliefs that they, hopefully, will get better !!!
            I do think that a Super Rugby 15, where, hopefully, we will play all teams competing, in the round robin, will be a better concept. Cheers.

            • Roar Guru

              April 17th 2017 @ 3:42pm
              Machooka said | April 17th 2017 @ 3:42pm | ! Report

              Hi ya Muzzo… happy Easter old man. How’s the Chef? 🙂

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