The Wrap: The Wallabies secure victory in Canberra, but fail to win hearts

Geoff Parkes Columnist

By Geoff Parkes, Geoff Parkes is a Roar Expert

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    Like my first car, a tank-like blue Humber 80, Saturday night’s Canberra Test match took a long time to warm up, and even after it did, isolated spurts of smooth passage were punctuated by misfires and bunny hops along the way.

    Sure enough, the Wallabies finished the Pumas off clinically, and the final score of 45-20 accurately reflected the difference between the sides over 80 minutes. But whatever the positives, there remained the inescapable feeling that this was yet another missed opportunity for the Wallabies to win the hearts of fans.

    Three weeks ago in Dunedin, the Wallabies fell in the final two minutes to the All Blacks. Despite consigning the Bledisloe Cup to New Zealand for an astonishing 15th successive year, this match allowed fans to, at least momentarily, forget the things that irritate and upset them about Australian rugby – questionable selection, coaching histrionics, entrenched parochialism, the ARU and so on.

    The reason for that was because the Wallabies, for 80 minutes, provided them with a good dollop of what has been missing for too long – inspiration.

    To play inspired and inspiring rugby is not a simple matter of just wanting to do so; if it was that easy everyone would be doing it. Michael Cheika’s plaintive cry after half-time that his team had failed to register that they were in a Test match implied for some that such matters can be easily remedied with a rev-up, whereas the reality is that attitude is only one piece of a complex puzzle.

    The reason flanker Ned Hanigan fails to inspire is not because he lacks heart or won’t put his body on the line for his country, but because, at this stage of his career, he lacks the technique, skill, experience and strength to impose himself like a true international No. 6 must do, and as a result, deliver outcomes that excite people.

    In that respect, Hanigan is a metaphor for a side that is trying hard to get better, that is intermittently capable of raising eyebrows, but is hamstrung by chronic lack of depth in key positions, set piece weakness and collective skill deficiencies which forces compromise to defensive patterns and game plans.

    These are not failings that can be turned around overnight.

    Ned Hanigan Australia Rugby Union Wallabies 2017

    (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

    What inspires rugby fans are those ‘wow moments’ that invariably exist outside of the pre-determined team patterns. These include a player taking a game by the scruff of the neck or putting on a moment of audacious skill (Vaea Fifita versus Argentina) or herculean effort (Michael Hooper chasing down Jan Serfontein last week), or a thrilling try (Sean O’Brien for the Lions), or a whole team galvanising and lifting under adversity (a 13-man Wallabies defending against Wales in the 2015 World Cup).

    Australian rugby won’t gain traction off wins like this Canberra one: listless bumbling and uncertainty in the first half, before overcoming an Argentine opposition notorious for second half fade-outs who, despite the bravery of their captain Agustin Creevy, inevitably ran out of ideas. The June Test match against Italy was a similar example.

    A great late bust by Sean McMahon and a nice inside ball to Nick Phipps is in itself insufficient ‘wow factor’ to justify hefty ticket prices or make the many Canberrans who elected to stay at home regret their decision.

    Nor is play like the two best pieces of rugby from the match enough – Kurtley Beale and Rob Simmons respectively making arrow-straight incursions that created space on the edge for both of Israel Folau’s tries – if the 40 minutes in between fails to engage.

    If that sounds harsh, it is not meant to demean either the Pumas or the Wallabies – winning Test matches isn’t easy – but rather to reiterate that if the Wallabies are in the entertainment business then they must offer consistent and reliable entertainment value.

    By contrast, New Zealand fans are almost always assured of value for money from their side – win or lose – because there is always something happening or about to happen. No better was this illustrated than in the opening try against South Africa scored by the outstanding Rieko Ioane, with Aaron Smith lauded for his vision and perfectly executed left-foot kick, but where the key difference to the Wallabies was one of intent.

    Smith not waiting around for a team meeting like the Wallabies would have held, but instinctively nailing the responsibility to make something happen.

    A week ago it was Fifita who captured the imagination with his stunning running try. This week Liam Squire reclaimed the No.6 jersey and looked to be in imperious form before receiving a head knock, which then allowed Scott Barrett to be tested at blindside and pass with flying colours.

    Where all of this leaves Jerome Kaino is of immense interest. One feels that he still has much to offer, but the thundering of hooves from the youngsters must be deafening.

    This was one of those nights where the All Blacks had winners all over the park. Beauden Barrett relished the opportunity to play with freedom, Sam Cane the opportunity to play without Jaco Kriel in opposition, and Ryan Crotty the opportunity to get through a match without hurting himself.

    Beauden Barrett All Blacks New Zealand Rugby Union 2017

    (AAP Image/SNPA, Dianne Manson)

    The final try – which matched the All Blacks’ score of 57 last season – was great reward for replacement hooker Codie Taylor, who is becoming something of a specialist against South Africa.

    On the downside – and there were very few negatives for the All Blacks – prop Kane Hames proved the old adage that there is an inverse relationship between the level of cockiness at a pre-match press conference and performance; his early replacement a decisive win on points to journalist Marc Hinton.

    Despite coach Allister Coetzee’s gracious optimism post-match, it was all downside for the Springboks – a timely reality check that the woes of 2016 cannot simply be washed away through dispatching a French side of questionable pedigree or because you want to believe that things are better.

    Like Australia, there are serious questions of depth in key positions (eg halfback, fullback), selection (flyhalf, No.8) and one individual patently not of international standard. Raymond Rhule scored some spectacular tries in Super Rugby but any astute observer knew long ago that he had no propensity for the tackle and that a good side would be able to expose this.

    The sight of South Africa repeatedly kicking off deep to Squire, and Rhule rushing up to do anything other than tackle him was both bewildering and comical. Rhule finished the match with a total of nine missed tackles on his own. If he ever makes another Test appearance it will be proof that the problems of South African rugby run far deeper than what even the most pessimistic rugby fans might fear.

    While Rhule’s turnstile antics were entirely predictable, what was a shock was the disintegration of the Springbok set piece – particularly the lineout, which has been a reliable banker over many years. Don’t forget that this was a dry night with little wind; no excuse for players as accomplished as Malcolm Marx, Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert to create the impression that they’d only met for the first time during the national anthems.

    Eben Etzebeth South Africa Springboks Rugby Union 2017 tall

    (MICHAEL SHEEHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

    In the end, even the Albany streaker showed more fight than the Springboks, and while they will inevitably re-group and relish their return home, this result will be such a massive blow to their confidence and self-esteem that it provides a great opportunity for the Wallabies in a fortnight’s time.

    It is time for Cheika’s team to do something special. A win in Mendoza against the Pumajaguares will be no more or less than what is expected. An away win against the Springboks, however, is something else. Particularly if it is achieved through play that is daring or heroic; or preferably both.

    With the ARU and Andrew Forrest having broken bread and co-operating over Forrest’s proposed IPRC, there are encouraging, if tentative, signs that there is a pathway out of the administrative funk that has dogged Australian rugby’s recent history.

    Caution needs to be expressed in that there are unrealistic expectations in some quarters that Forrest’s competition is a potential life-saver for both domestic and regional rugby. It is entirely possible that it will be neither.

    If the SANZAAR experience should have taught Australian rugby anything, it is that a strong domestic structure, entirely separate from any regional competition, is essential, and that there is no magic bullet to be found in solving two separate puzzles with one move.

    Whatever happens off the field, what will win back the hearts of Australian rugby fans is the performance of the Wallabies. Whatever inspiration the team found in Dunedin needs to be re-captured and projected to fans, who are desperate to fall in behind a team that plays not only winning rugby, but rugby that inspires them.

    A good place for them to start would be a tape of the Albany Test match. Not to identify Springbok weaknesses, or marvel at the All Black’s ruthlessness, but to draw inspiration from the performance of referee Nigel Owens.

    Owens’ most recent outing in Dunedin was, by his standards, curiously indecisive, but this performance was as good as any I’ve seen from any referee. Right on top of his game, accurate, relaxed, confident but not arrogant, getting the basics right while adding his own flair and personality, fully understanding how his role was to enhance the experience for both players and fans.

    Plenty in there, one would think, for the Wallabies to learn from.

    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 www.geoffparkes.com. 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 (222)

    • September 18th 2017 @ 6:33am
      Adsa said | September 18th 2017 @ 6:33am | ! Report

      Great read Geoff, not much to add as you summed the weekends footy up very well.

    • September 18th 2017 @ 6:37am
      Daveski said | September 18th 2017 @ 6:37am | ! Report

      Morning Geoff !
      I feel maybe you’re being a tad harsh. First half wasn’t great rugby save for one excellent Wallabies try and some good charges by the young Argie 8. Part of that was poor Wallabies skills and part of that was Sanchez employing a territory first game plan.

      But part of it, a large part is my next point. The second half was much better from a green and gold standpoint but still the scrums continued to be a disgrace until Lacey threatened both sets of front rows with the sin bin. He should have made this call mid way through the first half. Magically things improved !

      Scrum resets and wasted time for aborted engagements and collapses were the true blight on this game. At professional level it’s well past time World Rugby:

      Calls time off from the moment a scrum “fails” until the half back feeds the ball in on the next one.

      Starts fining teams that are party to too many collapses.

      The ABs are just brilliant.

      If Rhules selection is a quote thing they should be playing Mahuza, Mpimpi, Llyeds or even Senatla.

      • Columnist

        September 18th 2017 @ 7:22am
        Geoff Parkes said | September 18th 2017 @ 7:22am | ! Report

        Hi Daveski

        I usually get accused of being overly optimistic!

        There was some good rugby towards the end of the game and both Folau’s tries were excellent team efforts.

        But there were large periods too where I struggled to engage with the game. Every match is different of course – different conditions, opponent, referee etc – but I’m looking now for the Wallabies to recapture the performance level of Dunedin.

        • Roar Guru

          September 18th 2017 @ 10:50am
          sheek said | September 18th 2017 @ 10:50am | ! Report

          Geoff,

          Gee, you’re overly optimistic! (smiley, smiley, smiley)

        • September 18th 2017 @ 12:12pm
          Phil said | September 18th 2017 @ 12:12pm | ! Report

          I’m with Daveski,Geoff.The main reason it was hard to get into this game was because of the diabolical scrums.Lacey was far too lenient and allowed the crap to go on way too long.As I don’t have a clue about what goes on in the front row,I am not even sure who deserved to be blamed,although Lacey seemed to direct most of it at the Argies.
          When there was some play,it was quite enjoyable.

          • Columnist

            September 18th 2017 @ 12:47pm
            Geoff Parkes said | September 18th 2017 @ 12:47pm | ! Report

            Cheers Phil. No question, the scrums were diabolical.

    • September 18th 2017 @ 6:40am
      DLKN said | September 18th 2017 @ 6:40am | ! Report

      I’m still trying to figure out how Bernard Foley got man-of-the-match in Saturday. Sure, he was ok, as is his way usually as a boring, colour-by-numbers flyhalf. But best player on the ground? Really? Or was it for his goal-kicking?

      Creevey and the Argie 6 were both streets better than Foley for starters. In my view, Foley wasn’t in our best half dozen at least. For Australia, I’d have ranked higher than him – TPN, all 3 of our locks, McMahon, Genia, Kuridrani and Folau.

      Does anyone know who decides these awards? Sometimes they get it right, but giving it to Foley on Saturday night was just laughable.

      • September 18th 2017 @ 7:06am
        Daveski said | September 18th 2017 @ 7:06am | ! Report

        The Bag Bernard Foley Starter Kit:

        Plays poorly – claim that’s how he always plays and Cooper never got so many chances.

        Plays well – claim you can’t believe how much praise he gets for “doing his job”.

        • September 18th 2017 @ 7:29am
          Fionn said | September 18th 2017 @ 7:29am | ! Report

          Daveski, do you seriously believe he was the best player on the field?

          I’d have said all of those players mentioned above ahead of him plus Hooper. When he was awarded motm the peoole around me in the stadium laughed out loud as the had been criticising him for his awful tackle misse at he start + the fact the teams scored so many tries and Foley had a hand in so few + his inability to get us out of our 22 in the first half.

          He wasn’t ‘bad’, but neither was he particularly good. He was okay, a mixed bag.

          • September 18th 2017 @ 8:35am
            Daveski said | September 18th 2017 @ 8:35am | ! Report

            I think Sean Mac was easily our best. Foley I would have had somewhere in the middle of the next group with Folau, Sio, Kepu, Hooper.

            He kicked 7 from 7, threw the key pass for Folau’s first, a nice little grubber almost presented a try for Marika and he made that steal off Sanchez on the line to save a try. Apart from one horrid 22-drop, his re-starts were really pinpoint. Thought overall he was pretty good but not MOTM.

            • September 18th 2017 @ 8:43am
              Fionn said | September 18th 2017 @ 8:43am | ! Report

              I thought McMahon was fairly average in the first half. I’m not necessarily disagreeing that he was the best player, but I thought that our front row was really, really good, and Kepu was by far the most impressive in the set piece and around the park. I think I’d give it to Kepu overall. McMahon definitely the best in the 2nd half.

              That makes me think, McMahon often plays far better in the second half against a tired defence than in the first half. I think he should be wearing the number 20 jersey and be the bench impact player that we need.

              • Roar Guru

                September 18th 2017 @ 9:36am
                PeterK said | September 18th 2017 @ 9:36am | ! Report

                agree

                far too much credit goes to the flash plays hence the backs and loosies.

                Kepu was behind the very good oz scrum that the argies were scared to engage with hence all the resets when they kept pulling back or dropping.

                Kepu played very well in general play as well.

                Kepu was my best for the wallabies.

              • Roar Guru

                September 18th 2017 @ 9:39am
                PeterK said | September 18th 2017 @ 9:39am | ! Report

                the reason I can’t rate Mcmahon as best wallaby is that the breakdown was still lost, far too many turnovers.
                McMahon did not secure them (part of his job alongside others), he didn’t clean out players either, he didn’t make pilfers, he hung back so he could run the ball.

                He plays just the same as Hooper, can’t play them both at the same time

              • September 18th 2017 @ 12:17pm
                Phil said | September 18th 2017 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

                Also agree with Kepu,Fionn.I couldn’t believe when I saw the player ratings on Foxsports website and there were 8’s and 7’s for Folau,Hodge,Genia,McMahon,Beale etc and Kepu got a 6.Think they were watching a different game!

            • September 18th 2017 @ 3:16pm
              ThugbyFan said | September 18th 2017 @ 3:16pm | ! Report

              “I think Sean Mac was easily our best.” Daveski, was S.McMahon on the park in the 1st half?

              Our resident Brumbie Mr Fionn has landed it spot on, put some big boys in at the start and bring S.McMahon off the bench to terrorise the tired opposition post 60 minutes. This is pretty much what the AB do with their #7, keep Sam Cane in to take on the tough stuff then bring Ardie Savea at the death to apply the “coup de gras” in the last 20 minutes.

              • September 18th 2017 @ 5:46pm
                cuw said | September 18th 2017 @ 5:46pm | ! Report

                so u want to bring on Mcmohan for Hooper? 🙂

        • September 18th 2017 @ 8:24am
          Dan in Devon said | September 18th 2017 @ 8:24am | ! Report

          Does that include Sean Fitzpatrick who, at half time, questioned Foley’s decision-making and lack of leadership?

        • September 18th 2017 @ 10:00am
          Taylorman said | September 18th 2017 @ 10:00am | ! Report

          I think all anti Foley claims need to be sent directly to Michael Cheika, c/- Wallaby headquarters, Australia.

          It is a bit weird though. How come Cheika is not the target here? The ONLY reason Foley is running around out there is because Cheika wrote his name on a piece of paper. Cheika wants him to play, to start, every test.

          Its almost like…we’ll keep the coach, but we’ll raise flaws about the player himself ‘just in case the coach we love happens to read them’.

          Gotta admit its a weird situation.

          I guess it worked with Mumm 1.0 so fair enough. Get into em!?

          • Columnist

            September 18th 2017 @ 10:22am
            Geoff Parkes said | September 18th 2017 @ 10:22am | ! Report

            I don’t think that’s the only reason Taylorman. There is no depth. If it isn’t Foley then who is it?
            He has shortcomings but to my eye he is far and away Australia’s best 10.

            • September 18th 2017 @ 10:36am
              Taylorman said | September 18th 2017 @ 10:36am | ! Report

              Yes agree, for me thats the only reason he is there. Its obvious the push is for Cooper and its possible he could make the same improvement late in his career that Beale seems to have.

              But for now Cheikas not in the Cooper camp, and if its not based on form then something seems to be going on. And its not the first coach Coopers not aligned well with.

              I mean whats with the disconnect…Cheika…’Coopers not enjoying his rugby’ to which Quade has no inkling of what hes on about.

              Dont know about you but that doesnt seem to be a close relationship rigby wise.

              • Columnist

                September 18th 2017 @ 11:28am
                Geoff Parkes said | September 18th 2017 @ 11:28am | ! Report

                Yes, that sort of thing in the public domain doesn’t look good does it?

                For mine, Cooper pre-knee injury would be the man, but I think Cheika is right to overlook him now.

              • September 18th 2017 @ 12:41pm
                Daveski said | September 18th 2017 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

                As a Foley man through and through I concur with that Geoff. A younger, less injured Cooper would be hard to keep out of the starting XV the last 12 months.

                Geez 10 and 13 looked Ok for the Spirit yesterday. What worth giving Lance a bench spot and Meakes a run say in Argentina?

              • Columnist

                September 18th 2017 @ 12:51pm
                Geoff Parkes said | September 18th 2017 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

                For some reason Daveski Lance has never really been given the opportunities at higher level. One of those unfashionable guys who never quite captures the selector’s imagination, but every time you watch him play you can’t help but thinking, here is a quality player.

                I know he’s had untimely injuries too, but I agree, I think he’d be great value for the Wallabies.

              • September 18th 2017 @ 12:52pm
                marto said | September 18th 2017 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

                Cheika doesn’t get on with a lot of players…He has killed many many international careers because of his power greed and stubbornness..

                George Smith ( should be 7)
                Nic White ( way better than Phipps)
                James Horwill
                Scott Fardy
                Liam Gill ( Reserve 7 )
                Matt Toomua
                Joe Tomane
                Greg Holmes
                Scott Higginbotham
                Quade Cooper
                Sam Carter
                Luke Jones
                James O`Connor
                Christian Lealiifano

                ( Above players Chuckles has destroyed their careers)..

                ( Below Chuckles is slowly killing these blokes careers )..

                Lopeti Timani
                Sam Carter
                James Slipper
                David Pocock
                Joe Powell
                Samu Kerevi
                DHP
                RHP
                Meakes
                Rona
                Ruru

              • Roar Pro

                September 18th 2017 @ 5:20pm
                Matt Davis said | September 18th 2017 @ 5:20pm | ! Report

                This is spurious stuff marto

                Cheika doesn’t get on with a lot of players…He has killed many many international careers because of his power greed and stubbornness..

                George Smith ( should be 7)
                Is in his late thirties, doesn’t want to play international rugby any more, and fair enough
                Nic White ( way better than Phipps)
                Was not better than Phipps in 2015, left as the Brumbies signed Cubelli
                James Horwill
                Had dropped some notches, wasn’t performing when given opportunities
                Scott Fardy
                Starting until he decided to leave
                Liam Gill ( Reserve 7 )
                Was a clear third best behind Pocock and Hooper, challenged for that 3rd place by McMahon and decided to leave
                Matt Toomua
                Never cemented a starring role, never cast aside either, could be back and hopefully better
                Joe Tomane
                Left for the money, did not ever look head and shoulders better
                Greg Holmes
                Is 34 years old…
                Scott Higginbotham
                Not exceptional at an international level, and not young enough to work on
                Quade Cooper
                It’s been explicitly said in the media they are on good terms, but he isn’tplaying well enough
                Sam Carter
                Others playing better than him
                Luke Jones
                Others playing much better than him
                James O`Connor
                Lol what?
                Christian Lealiifano
                You’ve got to be kidding right?

                ( Above players Chuckles has destroyed their careers)..

                ( Below Chuckles is slowly killing these blokes careers )..

                Lopeti Timani
                Has had chances, will continue to get chances, must take a chance soon
                Sam Carter
                In and around, but probably 4th or 5th best lock in Aus right now
                James Slipper
                Has a season ending achilles injury?
                David Pocock
                The guy is practically on holiday?
                Joe Powell
                Young, in the squad, getting experience
                Samu Kerevi
                Perhaps getting more opportunities than he’s earned, clearly being worked on
                DHP
                How?
                RHP
                Perhaps the one player on the list that merits it, but must be thereabouts
                Meakes
                First season in Super Rugby and he’s in the squad, clearly in and around but logically down the pecking order behind Beale and Hunt
                Rona
                Again, what?
                Ruru
                Genia, Phipps, Powell, Gordon, Ruru is probably the fair pecking order of halfbacks right now

              • September 18th 2017 @ 5:37pm
                Fionn said | September 18th 2017 @ 5:37pm | ! Report

                Matt, I’m sorry, but…

                Nic White was way better than Phipps in 2015. What planet are you living on? Also, White went overseas because Cheika told him he wasn’t interested in him. White signed to go overseas and after, and as a result of, this they signed Cubelli. White was and is better than Phipps.

                Fardy was not starting until he went overseas. Fardy barely started in 2016, mate. Dean Mumm was preferred, and it was pathetic and an utter joke. Word on the street in Canberra is that Fardy signed overseas as he was told he was no longer wanted. Go check out the player lists from 2016, he was rarely started after the England series. And in one of the few that he was (Bledisloe 2) Cheika took him off at about the 35min mark after Coleman was yellow carded in order to bring in Mumm.

                34 years old is not super old for a prop.

                Quade is playing easily well enough to be in the squad (and I would argue starting, but that is a different issue). There is no other flyhalf in the squad.

                Timani has taken his chances. He is surely disheartened as even when he plays a solid 6 or 7 game and does his job he is dropped and yet Ned Flanders is selected again and again despite being terrible and a passenger every match, and before Flanders it was Dean Mumm. Even McMahon is given far more chances despite not performing as well.

                Phipps has been terrible in 2017, and was never very good from 2014-16 and should be nowhere near the squad, he couldn’t even get start consistently for the Waratahs. After Louwrens’ injury Ruru was the form halfback in 2017, Powell second.

              • Roar Guru

                September 18th 2017 @ 5:42pm
                PeterK said | September 18th 2017 @ 5:42pm | ! Report

                Matt – fair response

                Only take exception on 2 players.

                Luke Jones was the best performed, and in form mobile lock / 6 utility when he left.

                He was better than Mumm and Dennis.
                He didn’t win the collisions in contact in the one starting test he got against ireland.

                No issue that different skills for balance were wanted like Fardy at 6, different skillset.
                An issue that if you are not a cheika favourite then you get 1 test to shine.

                However he is far far ahead of someone like Mumm or Hanigan. He is not eligible so be it.

                The other issue is better players like Timani (over Mumm 2.0) don’t get a genuine opportunity. Players with major flaws like Phipps stop potentially better players like Ruru , Powell, Gordon getting opportunities against lower teams like Italy, Fiji.

              • September 18th 2017 @ 5:47pm
                Fionn said | September 18th 2017 @ 5:47pm | ! Report

                Peter, do you seriously believe Phipps was better than Nic White in 2015?

                Aside from one poor clearance kick I would argue that Phipps was the best halfback in Aus from 2014-15.

              • September 18th 2017 @ 5:51pm
                cuw said | September 18th 2017 @ 5:51pm | ! Report

                James Horwill captained the Quins to a win over Wasps last night ( and away from home).

                he looked fine and happy 🙂

              • Roar Guru

                September 18th 2017 @ 6:01pm
                PeterK said | September 18th 2017 @ 6:01pm | ! Report

                Fionn – There were others I disagreed with but they were not as clear.

                It is not a matter of better it is about who is able to execute Cheika’s game plan better.

                Cheika didn’t want a halfback to kick , he wanted one that was to every ruck in a high tempo game. Quite conceivable to say Phipps fulfilled this better than White.

                Agree on Fardy over Mumm in 2016, forgot about that

              • September 18th 2017 @ 6:09pm
                Fionn said | September 18th 2017 @ 6:09pm | ! Report

                Sorry, I obviously meant that White was the best halfback from 2014-15.

                Surely it was easier to simply ban White from kicking the ball. Ever. Instruct him never to kick than it is to teach Phipps how to pass and how to get tactically astute and calm under pressure?

                Cheika didn’t have any interest in trying to see if he could work things out with White. If he had then White would have been the better option purely based on the fact that he was calmer than Phipps and had a more accurate pass.

              • September 18th 2017 @ 9:06pm
                Daveski said | September 18th 2017 @ 9:06pm | ! Report

                I reckon Phipps during the Tahs run in 2014 was playing a bit better than White. But not much between them.

                White for a little bloke had a huge boot and there’s the trouble…. I once did an ink spot test, there was an ink spot that looked like a box kick and I said instantly “Nic White”…. God he loved a box kick.

              • Roar Pro

                September 18th 2017 @ 8:37pm
                Matt Davis said | September 18th 2017 @ 8:37pm | ! Report

                Fionn/Peterk

                Some fair points, i think Phipps is a better role player in the way the Wallabies are playing than White, and to be quite honest i never reeeealllly rated White that highly. Phipps, however, is great as a tempo changer, don’t think he should start. Also i contend that Cheika did give White an opportunity, but i can see what you mean.

                Sort of forgot about the Fardy thing last year, he deserved to be dropped from memory, but maybe didn’t deserve to not come back.

                Regardless he’s going to be 35 at the next world. With guys like him and Holmes, you can’t really fault Cheika for not bringing in some young players and exposing them at this level. What’s letting them/us down is in my opinion less Cheika, and more the development pathways that were put into place 10, 20 years ago-that’s where i think we lose to NZ.

                My initial point was more that the wholesale criticism of Cheika as the harbinger of death within Australia rugby is not based in evidence, and not productive, and not useful.

                Second to that, who can blame some of these young guys for taking an opportunity to play in a different Comp, experience a different culture, and make a truckload more money?

            • September 18th 2017 @ 12:48pm
              Johnny J-Dog said | September 18th 2017 @ 12:48pm | ! Report

              I would have love to have seen Jono Lance given a chance.

            • September 19th 2017 @ 8:16am
              Bakkies said | September 19th 2017 @ 8:16am | ! Report

              ‘Matt, I’m sorry, but…’

              Exactly a lot of hot air and excuse finding in that post by Matt.

      • September 18th 2017 @ 7:07am
        paleocortex said | September 18th 2017 @ 7:07am | ! Report

        Agree with you DLKN. I would have at least the 8 you listed ahead of Foley, plus Hooper.
        McMahon got my man of the match by a country mile. Cheers

      • Columnist

        September 18th 2017 @ 7:28am
        Geoff Parkes said | September 18th 2017 @ 7:28am | ! Report

        My view on man of the match DLKN is that I don’t understand why so many people find it so important.

        We all watch and form our own impressions – is it because we like to have our own views validated by an award? Which is usually decided by a quick straw poll of a handful of journalists with ten minutes to go.

        I get it for kids rugby. And it’s another sponsorship avenue. But for elite professional players? I think most of them would be happier with a quiet word of appreciation from the coach.

        • September 18th 2017 @ 7:34am
          Fionn said | September 18th 2017 @ 7:34am | ! Report

          Geoff, I think it’s important because it demonstrates who the ‘establishment’ is supporting. A lot of fans are unhappy with the job Foley is doing for the Wallabies and would like a change at flyhalf (check out Mark Ella’s article from Saturday in the Australian).

          However, if he is receiving awards (an undeserved one in this case, in my opinion) we know there is zero chance of any change occurring. It reaffirms the fans’ view of Aus rugby as old boys club where people just look after their mates (usually Waratahs and high profile players like Genia).

          There is also the fact that certain fans like to defend their favourites based on ‘he won motm’ like it is aj objective award and means anything.

          • Columnist

            September 18th 2017 @ 7:41am
            Geoff Parkes said | September 18th 2017 @ 7:41am | ! Report

            Fionn, I’m not sure how 3-4 rugby journo’s giving a quick opinion on the run constitutes ‘the establishment’?

          • Roar Guru

            September 18th 2017 @ 9:42am
            PeterK said | September 18th 2017 @ 9:42am | ! Report

            Fionn – Thta goes to far in the conspiracy vein.

            Paul Cully gave it to Kepu and that is in the SMH.

            Also as you say Mark Ella, mind you he is pretty biased towards Beale, has been his whole career.

            • September 18th 2017 @ 10:03am
              Fionn said | September 18th 2017 @ 10:03am | ! Report

              Geoff, Peters.

              Fair points.

              It just irks me. The same old ‘in group’ winning everything and being praised all the team.

              Despite being Waratahs ( 😛 ) don’t think that TPN or Kepu have ever gotten the credit they deserve.

          • September 18th 2017 @ 10:38am
            Taylorman said | September 18th 2017 @ 10:38am | ! Report

            Geez, too many spy vs spy movies methinks…

          • September 18th 2017 @ 12:22pm
            Phil said | September 18th 2017 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

            Fionn,there also some who knock Foley just for the sake of it or because they love Quade.I also don’t think he deserved MOM but he did play well and kicked well.Credit where it’s due,please.As Geoff,says,who else have we got?

        • September 18th 2017 @ 9:37am
          Ed said | September 18th 2017 @ 9:37am | ! Report

          There is a bias towards backs re man of match awards. Seven tests this year – all backs.
          Coleman has been one of our better performers in the tests he has played this year. I would have had Kepu, Coleman, McMahon and Hooper ahead of Foley on Saturday.
          This is not to dis Foley as he didn’t pick himself, rather it is the process of selecting the award.

          • Roar Guru

            September 18th 2017 @ 9:45am
            PeterK said | September 18th 2017 @ 9:45am | ! Report

            Honestly I didn’t rate Colemans efforts any higher this game than Foleys.

            I had Kepu, McMahon and Folau ahead of Foley.

            I had Sio, TPN, Coleman, Simmons, Hooper all equal with Foley on the next rung.

            Foley was the second best back.

        • September 18th 2017 @ 10:37am
          Taylorman said | September 18th 2017 @ 10:37am | ! Report

          Yeah agree, its a bit of tokenism for me for the player. Something to give the kids, grandkids.

        • Roar Guru

          September 18th 2017 @ 11:03am
          Machpants said | September 18th 2017 @ 11:03am | ! Report

          Nz certainly don’t bother with it

        • September 18th 2017 @ 6:55pm
          cuw said | September 18th 2017 @ 6:55pm | ! Report

          @ Geoff Parkes

          ” My view on man of the match DLKN is that I don’t understand why so many people find it so important. ”

          i think this whole thing is a TV gimmic , most probably copied from cricket ( i cant think of any other game that has it)

          maybe one needs to look into past and see when exactly did it come to being.

          with the advent of T20 cricket now has whole heap of awards – most of which tend to reward the sponsor more than the player , for being part of the show.

          if u take IPL there is things like Stylish player , Best catch , most sixes , mom , etc. each is sponsored by some brand.

          i saw something very funny in the Caribbean T20 tournament , where a Muslim player from Bangladesh or Afghanistan as MOM was given a bottle of RED RUM !!! just imagine if it was SBW 😛

          • Columnist

            September 18th 2017 @ 9:49pm
            Geoff Parkes said | September 18th 2017 @ 9:49pm | ! Report

            I think that’s right cuw, it’s as much for the sponsor’s benefit as anyone else.

            That said, it was a prized reward back in amateur club days, free grog for the rest of the night…

            I recall also our cricket club twisting things around a bit, where the man of the match got a tub of mussels without the mussels – so basically vinegar – mixed with a couple of shots of whatever the barman fancied…

            Wasn’t really a great incentive to play well….

    • September 18th 2017 @ 7:11am
      moaman said | September 18th 2017 @ 7:11am | ! Report

      Geoff;
      I actually really enjoyed the press conference Hames put on; I thought at the time it was it was a good reminder that journos (and us couch potatoes) aren’t actually out there with our sleeves rolled up and that perhaps we forget that sometimes!
      That Hames apparently failed to deliver was of course quite fitting as well.Players need a jab every now and then and a reality check.Hopefully it galvanises him to go off and work on his scrummaging!

      The ‘wow’ factor you write about was there for all to see in that audacious back pass that Barrett flicked to (a possibly unsuspecting) Milner-Skudder.It took a player of that level of agility to gather that pass….and make it look all too easy.But it wasn’t.
      Apparently the crowd ‘gasped’.I’m not surprised because I think I did too.And you just knew from that moment on there was only ever going to be one result.

      • September 18th 2017 @ 7:17am
        Fionn said | September 18th 2017 @ 7:17am | ! Report

        That was a stunning try.

        And yet I’ve still seen a few people question Milner-Skudder’s benefit to the team. Go figure…

        • September 18th 2017 @ 7:43am
          moaman said | September 18th 2017 @ 7:43am | ! Report

          Fionn;
          Interesting point regarding NMS.
          I think there should be a question mark over whether or not he makes the starting XV.His pace appears to be down since his achilles injury—and Hansen’s refusal to consider him as a 15 limits his utility value to the team as well.
          Don’t get me wrong–I think he is a very good winger but NZ has a cupboard full of good wings….it’s not unhealthy to question a player’s involvement in the general scheme of things.

          Geoff.
          Yeah I laughed too—so refreshing when players actually speak honestly.On that note i was impressed with Retallick and Whitelock post-game…and especially pleased they credited Luke Romano with the plan to overcome the Bok lineout.
          Quite a facinating article came out this morning about the AB Think Tank and a real insight as to how it operates…..https://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/rugby/all-blacks/96938007/all-blacks-hail-luke-romanos-role-in-the-great-springboks-lineout-heist

          • September 18th 2017 @ 7:57am
            Fionn said | September 18th 2017 @ 7:57am | ! Report

            I don’t know, he is solid in a way that the Bus and Naholo, for all their pace and power, have never seemed to me. And he has X factor in a way that other wingers don’t seem to.

            It’d be interesting to see if his speed has declined, I haven’t seen him enough to tell.

            • September 18th 2017 @ 9:28am
              jameswm said | September 18th 2017 @ 9:28am | ! Report

              NMS was seriously slow when he got in space, and he knew it. Just no stride length, it was like watching a so so runner at the end of a 400, when lactic really hits.

              • September 18th 2017 @ 10:04am
                Fionn said | September 18th 2017 @ 10:04am | ! Report

                I’ll have to rewatch, James. It’ll be sad if his international career is prematurely cut short by injuries.

                Is there anything you can do in rehab to regain speed after the injuries he has had?

              • September 18th 2017 @ 10:44am
                Taylorman said | September 18th 2017 @ 10:44am | ! Report

                Ues Jameswn, very short legs too which used to be to his advantage, but if he cant recycle them as quickly then hes in trouble speedwise, the shorter stride be omes his enemy.

              • September 18th 2017 @ 10:57am
                Old Bugger said | September 18th 2017 @ 10:57am | ! Report

                Nah guys, you’ve got it all wrong. NMS was never renowned for his speed – his forte was the side-step and a short 20m burst to the try-line.

                If you faced him in a one-on-one, inside your 22m zone, my money would be on NMS to score because he would have you falling over yourself, when you see him go one way, you follow and then, he’s gone the other way. Just like he isn’t another Savea or Lomu – NMS get’s past his opponents with a deft side-step rather than, try and go through them.

                He will do for me anytime……

              • September 18th 2017 @ 7:57pm
                Jameswm said | September 18th 2017 @ 7:57pm | ! Report

                Quick off the mark for sure. In a 100 race he’d lead to 20-30 and get mowed down. Poor top speed.

              • September 18th 2017 @ 6:41pm
                Taylorman said | September 18th 2017 @ 6:41pm | ! Report

                Ok OB, trust you on that one ? as other than that he looked sharp and looked like he was enjoying it. Agree with the step, its a thing of beauty.

              • September 18th 2017 @ 7:13pm
                cuw said | September 18th 2017 @ 7:13pm | ! Report

                @ Taylorman :

                not sure if it is the size of his legs. its all to do with the power generated and striding.

                the latest sprinting sensation from USA – Chris Coleman is like 5’8″ and he beat Bolt.

                i think NMS has lost a yard of pace. he was quite quick in 2015 before world cup.

                its like James says, he had no top gear once in space, and the saffa caught up quickly.

                NZ will need a couple of quick support runners, if NMS gets into space with more than 30m to the line 🙂

          • Columnist

            September 18th 2017 @ 8:00am
            Geoff Parkes said | September 18th 2017 @ 8:00am | ! Report

            Thanks for that link. To think it’s not that many years ago when we all used to complain about the AB’s never challenging the opposition lineout!

          • September 18th 2017 @ 8:45am
            Highlander said | September 18th 2017 @ 8:45am | ! Report

            NMS seriously struggled to fit back into the defensiive pattern when he regained fitness at the Hurricanes, got caught out on multiple occasions.
            Pace seriously down post injury too, but that step is still sweet.

            Lots more to do to lock down a long term AB spot for mine

            While NZ play the 2 FB system though, he will be a good back up behind Smith, J Barrett and Dagg

            • September 18th 2017 @ 8:56am
              Taylorman said | September 18th 2017 @ 8:56am | ! Report

              Yes agree Highlander that intercept and initial twenty yards was poor, he got caught quickly by Skosat far too easily, Id even say he’ll have been thinking that when Barrett switched the ball back.

              That will be a deal breaker for a winger. If his initial twenty is poor then he’ll struggle. Pre injury he was known for his straight out pace as well as his footwork and bag of tricks.

              • Columnist

                September 18th 2017 @ 9:06am
                Geoff Parkes said | September 18th 2017 @ 9:06am | ! Report

                Agree that his pace does seem down, but on the other hand Skosan is electric, so probably harsh to use him as a benchmark.

                I’m sure the AB’s are monitoring this closely, and either the numbers aren’t as bad as what it might appear to us, or else he is still on a recovery path and is expected to improve more?

              • September 18th 2017 @ 10:06am
                Taylorman said | September 18th 2017 @ 10:06am | ! Report

                Yeah but he had to turn slightly where NMH launched forward into the pass and was clear. Admittedly he did start looking for support but he knew fairly early he wasnt going to make it. His little legs even told me that.

                If Reiko, B Smith etc were in that position no way would they have seen anthing but tryline, and would have powered in. Pretty sure of that looking at the replays.

              • September 18th 2017 @ 10:29am
                Jerry said | September 18th 2017 @ 10:29am | ! Report

                NMS was never express pace.

              • September 18th 2017 @ 10:51am
                Taylorman said | September 18th 2017 @ 10:51am | ! Report

                No but he was quicker than that. Anyway, I think its highlighted an issue that needs to be dealt with. That we can expose those sorts of things while not losing because of them makes it a workeable issue.

          • September 18th 2017 @ 11:43am
            ClarkeG said | September 18th 2017 @ 11:43am | ! Report

            Did he have achilles issues as well? I thought it was a fractured foot.

            He has had hamstring problems.

            • September 18th 2017 @ 7:02pm
              cuw said | September 18th 2017 @ 7:02pm | ! Report

              as far as i can remember , he had about 3 -4 injuries over the period 2015- 2017.

              i think he came back in 2016 and got injured again . same in 2017.

              first i think was shoulder , after that it has been foot and ankle. but what i know is what is reported , so…

              when he ran , it looked as if he had no top gear – and the saffa wing closed quickly.

          • September 18th 2017 @ 6:02pm
            cuw said | September 18th 2017 @ 6:02pm | ! Report

            @ moaman

            yessss he has lost easily a yard of pace. in 2015 he would have gone to the line untouched.

            and sadly from what i have seen in miter 10 , so has Savea.

            but interestingly , i thought Folau has gained a yard in the argie match, since his ankle troubles in 2015. 🙂

      • Columnist

        September 18th 2017 @ 7:32am
        Geoff Parkes said | September 18th 2017 @ 7:32am | ! Report

        Hi Moa

        Don’t get me wrong, I got a laugh out of the press conference too. I’m the first to complain when the players give rehearsed, ‘nothing’ comments.

        But, as you point out, if you’re gonna talk the talk, you end up looking a bit silly if you don’t walk the walk.

        He looks like the type of personality who will brush it off and be better for the experience.

        • Roar Guru

          September 18th 2017 @ 8:13am
          Sam Taulelei said | September 18th 2017 @ 8:13am | ! Report

          Initially I thought Hames was found a bit wanting, watching live and that was certainly the reaction from fans and reviews post match.

          I then rewatched the game but with the volume low.

          The perception of Hames poor performance hinges on the first two scrums on the Boks feed.

          It’s not as obvious on the first scrum but clear as day on the second that Ryan Dreyer was driving in on an angle and wasn’t penalised. What made it worse was that Owens was standing on the loose head side and ignored it. Dreyer starts square and then finishes pointing east-west. Coles and Read mention it to Owens who dismisses their concerns.

          The third scrum on the Boks feed, Hames forces Dreyer to hinge and he’s popped up together with Marx but no penalty against them. The Beast walks round creating the illusion of dominance but it didn’t matter as the scrum pressure from Hames produced back foot ball for the backs resulting in a penalty and the first try to Ioane.

          The fourth scrum (1st All Blacks feed) you can hear Owens telling the Boks to stay square, and Dreyer collapses due to pressure from Hames.

          The fifth scrum the All Blacks are beautifully stable, straight and start to walk forward.

          The sixth scrum Dreyer is penalised for angling in and going down.

          Outside the scrum Hames grassed one pass on attack but cleaned out well and carried a few times.

          I think he’s been singled out because he dared to be assertive responding to a reporter and everyone has deemed his efforts underwhelming because of the first two scrums that should have been penalised against the Boks.

          I’ve changed my opinion of Kane Hames.

          • September 18th 2017 @ 8:29am
            Taylorman said | September 18th 2017 @ 8:29am | ! Report

            Hmmm, was waiting for an opinion on that. Tried to look at his performance after the first scrum but being a back the dark arts evaded me again so I gave up, getting sidetracked by other stuff, should have turned the volume down!?

            I was concerned for him after the Press conference as he didnt need to react to it. If all the players did that- and it wasnt that bad a comment anyway- we’d have a real balmy.

            But it only serves to put pressure on himself and the impression he was poor will stick because of it, and the first instances.

            Now the reporter will probably feel he has right of reply…and on it goes.

            The age old lesson…do your talking on the field.

          • September 18th 2017 @ 8:35am
            moaman said | September 18th 2017 @ 8:35am | ! Report

            Sam;
            Excellent analysis and thanks for that.It’s easy to take things at face value especially when it pertains to areas we have no expertise in….the front row is a complete mystery to me.
            Hames soared in my estimation when I heard that presser last week.I will have to keep a beadier eye on the scrums from now on.
            I did note however one of those scrums when the Bok front row was popped and the Ref just let play continue.I think the Refs have a secret policy to let the ball come out occasionally……

          • Columnist

            September 18th 2017 @ 8:41am
            Geoff Parkes said | September 18th 2017 @ 8:41am | ! Report

            Thanks Sam, appreciate the closer look.
            Away form the scrum he made other mistakes as well – handling and giving away a cheap penalty.

            Perhaps he was unlucky to strike a night when the team went so well, he stood out by comparison?
            Certainly he was very impressive on debut in Sydney last year, and the people that matter have a high opinion of him.

          • September 18th 2017 @ 9:35am
            Highlander said | September 18th 2017 @ 9:35am | ! Report

            Nice Sam, thanks
            After that first scrum, which went more sideways than forwards, despite the Justin Marshall observations, agree Hames did well, thought Coles had a real crack at Marx at scrum time forcing at least one pop.

          • September 18th 2017 @ 9:36am
            Old Bugger said | September 18th 2017 @ 9:36am | ! Report

            Sam

            Cheers because I also, was worried after those first 2 scrums. But as usual, everyone got together, sorted out the concern even if it meant a mention to Owens because thereafter, Nigel started watching the Bok front-row, with more interest. I guess his early replacement in the 2nd half, also adds to the view that Hames, was struggling.

            But, just to add to your analysis, Crockett also had difficulty with his first couple of engagements against Dreyer however, after a few words amongst themselves, the AB scrum lifted once again and the rest, as they say, was history. I recall, that the ABs actually pushed the SBs off their own ball to secure, a tight-head.

            The overall outcome was the SBs, either got penalised or got shunted and that just added to their woes, especially with their line-out, in such disarray. The AB forward pack did their job – they laid the foundation, across the park.

          • Roar Guru

            September 18th 2017 @ 9:50am
            PeterK said | September 18th 2017 @ 9:50am | ! Report

            Owens never penalised Moody for constantly angling in on Sio either despite it being right in front of him and clear as day.

          • Roar Guru

            September 18th 2017 @ 11:09am
            Machpants said | September 18th 2017 @ 11:09am | ! Report

            I didn’t watch him so much in the scrums, but around the park he was slow and gave away a couple of stupid penalties. By the end of the first half he was clearly totally knackered, he was lumbering in between rucks nothing more. He needs to up his fitness big time

          • September 18th 2017 @ 11:29am
            rebel said | September 18th 2017 @ 11:29am | ! Report

            I was concerned abiut the SA TH angling in on Coles also, about as blatant as you can get. Not much Hames can do in that situation as if he follows him, he gets pinged for angling. Luckily this tactic inly lasted two scrums.

          • September 18th 2017 @ 7:15pm
            cuw said | September 18th 2017 @ 7:15pm | ! Report

            Dreyer as far as my memory goes, was the most penalized prop in super rugger.

      • September 18th 2017 @ 8:34am
        Taylorman said | September 18th 2017 @ 8:34am | ! Report

        Oh look Milner Skudder came through some heavy Touch rugby in his youth and that exchange was simple for him, his reactions being what they are.

        He’ll have performed far more crazy passages than that to the tryline and its only the occasion that made it look special. He’ll have lived in that zone for years.

        • September 18th 2017 @ 8:55am
          Rugby Tragic said | September 18th 2017 @ 8:55am | ! Report

          Hi TM .. Somewhere I thought I read that you believed the International Player of the year’s award was Maro Itoje’s to lose (am I wrong?). The award is based on international test only as I understand it.

          If that was your opinion, sorry but I’d disagree. My disagreement is not so much that Itoje is not a good player.. I actually think he is but not sure he is anywhere the ‘best international player of the year yet’. If you are talking locks, I think Retallick is so far ahead of the field in that position, its not funny … when did you last see him have a bad game?

          • September 18th 2017 @ 9:11am
            Taylorman said | September 18th 2017 @ 9:11am | ! Report

            Yeah its not a convincing argument, but based more on two things…mainly around the way its scored…three, two and one point each test per judge across about ten? Of them, plus availability during the rateable tests.

            Itoje had a very good 6N and a very good second and third test…I say good in terms of where the judges are likely to allocate their points, not because Im a fan.

            Few Lions that stood out 6N stood out or played the Lions tests.

            Liam Williams for e.g had an average 6N, but good Lions series, bar first test.

            Hogg had a great 6N, but didnt play the Lions…no points there.

            Davies could be up there, did well in both.

            Vunipola, good 6N, didnt tour.

            So for me Itojes by default the most likely to pick up the most points in the period to date.

            Of the south I dont think anyone from SA, Oz, or Argie looks as likely yet. Beales missed a few, Folaus the best bet there. Kolisis been good till now, not so good in the later RC matches.

            Of the ABs, B Smith injured and out for season, Barrett is now pushing for numbers after a poor Lions series. Retallick probably leads Itoje now so agree with you there. Retallick for me especially after that try! Coles was out, Crotty as well.

            They dont tend to go for Props so neither have I.

            So yep, after the Lions tour Id have had Itoje leading Retallick as hed have more points being the end of his season. But now Retallick, Itoje, possibly Folau and a late Beale surge?

            Sound about right?

            Possible argument for Cane but he will always be overlooked by the backs in the judging group as he doesnt stand out.

            In the end I believe you end up with top six and then theres some secret squirrel meeting to pick the top dog…that must have been fun to watch over the years, especially when they got it wrong!

            I think the six are probably somewhere in the above though I might be missing a NHer due to the AIs last year.

            • September 18th 2017 @ 9:21am
              Taylorman said | September 18th 2017 @ 9:21am | ! Report

              Oh…and if Lions arent counted(theyre tests for us but not the Lions) then thats all shot, but Itoje and probably Hogg lead the NH, Retallicks still best bet here.

              • September 18th 2017 @ 11:27am
                Rugby Tragic said | September 18th 2017 @ 11:27am | ! Report

                You know Itoje and Retallick’s careers both took off when they were 21/22 years of age. Not sure that they both will finish their careers as locks though. Brodie is now 26, his best years are ahead of him and won his IRB International Rugby Player of the year at 23. Maro is 22 and the new kid on the block. He won the International Newbie of the year last year so will be 23 when this year’s announcement is made. One would imagine that both would be in the mix this year …

                Itoje is same height as Jordie Barrett at 6’5″ and I reckon long term will be a better No 6 (my opinion only) whereas Retallick at 6’8,1/2″ is a true lock.

                What amazes me is that locks are not meant to have soft hands and ber as co-ordinated as big Brodie. Amazing sight scoring that try to only A Smith and Ioane near him. Since when are locks allowed to have sufficient pace to match is with the pretty boys?

              • Roar Rookie

                September 18th 2017 @ 1:05pm
                piru said | September 18th 2017 @ 1:05pm | ! Report

                When you cover 10 odd metres per stride it adds up

              • September 19th 2017 @ 8:46am
                Bakkies said | September 19th 2017 @ 8:46am | ! Report

                ‘Oh…and if Lions arent counted(theyre tests for us but not the Lions)’

                They are counted as caps but split separately. Conor Murray is with a shout for a nomination at least.

                ‘What amazes me is that locks are not meant to have soft hands and ber as co-ordinated as big Brodie. ‘

                Australian locks used to be like that especially when Eddie was coaching but were told to muscle up as they weren’t doing their core roles around the park and at scrum time. Coleman is the closest that Australia has to getting the right balance.

            • September 18th 2017 @ 11:10am
              Rugby Tragic said | September 18th 2017 @ 11:10am | ! Report

              On your reasoning, fair enough .. I think Itoje has a chance but I think it will be very open, definitely not a lay down misere…

              I’m not sure if the BIL tour game count as that BIL are a composite team which is a closed shop to others other than the 4 nations represented.

              • September 18th 2017 @ 6:49pm
                Taylorman said | September 18th 2017 @ 6:49pm | ! Report

                Yes RT except the others did play tests for their countries while they were absent and they will be counted so in a way theyll be disadvantaged if not.

                Anyway, it is what it is. Retallick for me so far. I see Hansens resting him via Argentina.

                If he does get it this year hes a real chance to make or break Ritchies record for 3 wins of the award though I doubt anyone will ever break his eight nominations, thats absurd!

              • September 18th 2017 @ 7:32pm
                Rugby Tragic said | September 18th 2017 @ 7:32pm | ! Report

                Well mate the final assessment is made by guys much more qualified than us .. (or me anyhow), and while is may not mean that much in the scheme of things … if it happens to be a MIB, just makes me a bit prouder for a day to be a Kiwi…

                And yeah agree with you that Retallick might be the Kiwis best shot … he has really grown on my over the past few years…. always thought that Sam Whitelock was better than Brodie at lineout time but over other aspects, I think the big man has no peers….

                Actually great to see a big, big man striding out totally coordinated and in spite of his height he does more than his fair share of tackling too … must be hard for him to get down to the levels of opponents without conducting head highs!

              • September 18th 2017 @ 9:19pm
                Taylorman said | September 18th 2017 @ 9:19pm | ! Report

                Have you seen that photo of Sam Whitelock shaking hands with John Key in the changing rooms?

                Honestly it looks like a scene from Lord of the rings, Sam monsters him…

              • September 18th 2017 @ 9:30pm
                Rugby Tragic said | September 18th 2017 @ 9:30pm | ! Report

                Haha! TM when I get to Wellington next, must have a beer together, I’ll show you a photo myself with Sam Whitelock … yep he’s a big boy but not as big a Brodie …………….. by half an inch … 🙂

              • September 19th 2017 @ 8:53am
                Bakkies said | September 19th 2017 @ 8:53am | ! Report

                Tour games don’t count towards player of the year and those appearances barely get mentioned in career stats for players that have gone on Lions Tours. Martin Johnson for example went on at least four Lions tours but only his tests show up on the stats and bios.

    • September 18th 2017 @ 7:16am
      Fionn said | September 18th 2017 @ 7:16am | ! Report

      It’s sad what has happened to the Springboks. Some people have tried to explain it to me, but I still don’t quite understand how things can have deteriorated so much, so fast.

      Even more than the Wallabies’ decline it is sad for rugby.

      • Columnist

        September 18th 2017 @ 7:34am
        Geoff Parkes said | September 18th 2017 @ 7:34am | ! Report

        It’s complex Fionn, but a good place to start is that there are over 350 South African players overseas, including over 60 Test players.

        So in that respect, it’s like Australia but 2.5x worse.

        • September 18th 2017 @ 8:02am
          Fionn said | September 18th 2017 @ 8:02am | ! Report

          It’s a fair point, Geoff. But on paper they still have the second or third best players to pick from in the world.

          I understand there are other political issues, but even despite this they should be better than they are.

          Finally, aside from 2013, the Springboks haven’t really been the Springboks since 2009. That’s 8 years, and it predates the mass exodus to Europe.

          • September 18th 2017 @ 10:11am
            Rugby Tragic said | September 18th 2017 @ 10:11am | ! Report

            Fionn, the players are better than what they showed. Of that I have no doubt. I also believe there are a lot of talented players in SA but they lack progressive coaches. The ANC imposed quota system must have severely dented but not taken away the pathways for

            Allistair Coetzee and the political appointees was at fault in 2016. In 2017, as I understand it Coetzee had a choice but the result on Saturday, I guess confirms what guys like Biltongbek have been saying for a while …. that the victories the Boks have had this year was like papering over cracks.

            It will take years for the Bok game to evolve, and it must be revived with guys like Ackermann as coach and selectors. Brawn, and defence alone are not going to compete with the top countries now.

            The Boks are a young side and without guys like Whitely, Kriel, Combrinck who are in SA and I understand to be available to be picked they were always going to be light on experience. Those who are now plying their trade overseas has left a huge void of course and it will take time to rebuild … NZ are also in the same boat except that they have been able to hold onto key players.

          • September 19th 2017 @ 8:55am
            Bakkies said | September 19th 2017 @ 8:55am | ! Report

            There was an exodus back in 2009 the coaches were allowed to pick from those overseas.

            ‘The Boks are a young side and without guys like Whitely, Kriel, Combrinck who are in SA and I understand to be available to be picked they were always going to be light on experience.’

            Combrinck is playing in Japan due to the Super Rugby off season. There’s been a few players including Whiteley who have done that.

        • Roar Guru

          September 18th 2017 @ 9:52am
          PeterK said | September 18th 2017 @ 9:52am | ! Report

          except sa has about 10x more elite rugby players than australia

      • Roar Guru

        September 18th 2017 @ 10:06am
        Wal said | September 18th 2017 @ 10:06am | ! Report

        I was a pretty bizarre match. The Boks were (lineouts excluded) far more competitive than the scoreline would indicate.
        The first forty minutes was one of those ones where you blinked and it was 31- 0.
        The AB’s ability to convert every opportunity that has been missing so far in 2017, but has been a feature for the last decade, was on full show. It also shows how if a rush defence isn’t 100% it can be very costly. Ruan was pretty appalling but also isolated due to lack of inside connection as well.

    • September 18th 2017 @ 7:26am
      Bob Wire said | September 18th 2017 @ 7:26am | ! Report

      Geoff, I had a car like that, long gone now, unlike “my” team, the Wallabies, some things you keep for ever, always good to get a win, I fear I might have to wait for the “wow” factor to arrive. I note you mention Simmons contribution to Izzy’s try, great little off load that was.
      AB’s awesome in a word, Boks in crisis (again) they would be a better team without the off field constraints under which they labour, still beware Wallabies, Boks will front up in Bloemfontein.
      Puma’s looked jaded – too many frequent flyer points? They too are a up coming challenge for my team, they who will remain mine for better or for worse – go Wallabies!

      • Columnist

        September 18th 2017 @ 7:39am
        Geoff Parkes said | September 18th 2017 @ 7:39am | ! Report

        Hi Bob. Simmons has copped plenty of flak over the years, but that was a great piece of play which you’d love to see more of. Lovely pass from Genia too.

      • Roar Guru

        September 18th 2017 @ 9:55am
        PeterK said | September 18th 2017 @ 9:55am | ! Report

        pumas had a small amount of travel from nz the previous week, no jet lag, poor excuse

        they just look unfit in the forwards

        • September 18th 2017 @ 6:59pm
          Taylorman said | September 18th 2017 @ 6:59pm | ! Report

          Yeah its showed in all their finishes, just about every test the other sides put 20 on them second half it seems.

          • September 18th 2017 @ 7:49pm
            cuw said | September 18th 2017 @ 7:49pm | ! Report

            and trying to play like NZ , such as running out from thier own 10m does not help one bit.

            they need a more conservative style AND the better guys in europe for sure.

          • September 19th 2017 @ 8:24am
            Bakkies said | September 19th 2017 @ 8:24am | ! Report

            They need the better players like Figallo that’s for sure. Fernandez Lobbe and Ayerza have played their last tests.

            The biggest problem is that they have neglected their front row strength in development for a few years now and there aren’t many good scrummagers coming through. They need a stronger scrum to lay a platform and get in the right areas of the pitch not go down a man.

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