Will the real threat to the All Blacks come from the North in 2019?

Nicholas Bishop Columnist

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    A lot can change in a couple of months. The All Blacks’ drawn series against the British and Irish Lions already seems like a distant memory, and normal service has been resumed with something of a vengeance in the Rugby Championship.

    A brief comparison of All Black results from this year’s tournament (to date) with the 2016 competition illustrates the point:

    Tournament 2017 2016
    Round 1 (scores/tries) 54-34 [8] 42-8 [6]
    Round 2 35-29 [5] 29-9 [4]
    Round 3 39-22 [6] 57-26 [8]
    Round 4 57-0 [8] 41-13 [6]
    Totals (average score/tries) 46-21 [7] 42-12 [6]

    New Zealand has conceded nine more points than they did one year ago, but they have also scored on average four more points and one extra try per game compared to 2016. Despite the winning margin shrinking from 30 to 25 points, the situation looks remarkably similar.

    The Kiwis continue to exert a Svengali-like spell over their opponents in both the Rugby Championship and at the Super Rugby level, which begs the question: is constant exposure to New Zealand rugby really as beneficial to Australia, South Africa and Argentina as it is commonly supposed to be?

    Excepting the game against the Wallabies in Dunedin, the teams which have come closest over the past 12 months to upsetting the All Blacks have been the Lions, Ireland and France.

    Game Result/Tries
    Ireland (Chicago) – November 2016 29-40 [4]
    Ireland (Dublin) – November 2016 21-9 [3]
    France (Paris) – November 2016 24-19 [3]
    British & Irish Lions (1) – June 2017 30-15 [3]
    British & Irish Lions (2) – June 2017 21-24 [0]
    British & Irish Lions (3) – June 2017 15-15 [2]
    Totals (average scores/tries) 23-20 [2.5]

    The overall margins are far closer than in the Rugby Championship, while the sharp drop in the number of tries the All Blacks score against European opponents is particularly notable – even if the defences in five of the games were coached by Andy Farrell.

    Neither Ireland nor France meet the All Blacks more than once a year if they are lucky (on the November tour), while the Lions only play them once every 12 years! The evolution of a game theory and practice independent of New Zealand has been of positive benefit to European rugby in this respect.

    Of course, it is not complete independence – a procession of high-quality Kiwi coaches and players have informed developments in all the major European rugby-playing nations, especially the Celtic cousins of Ireland, Wales and Scotland. All were all coached by New Zealanders in last season’s Six Nations.

    But a strong sense of that independence is implied in recent comments such as those made by Sean O’Brien, the Lions’ Test number seven in the summer, when he claimed that the Lions were capable of winning the series 3-0:

    “Do I believe we – the players and coaches – could have done better? Yes. Do I believe we could have won the series? Yes. Do I believe the Lions’ squad in 2021 will be better for this? Yes. If we don’t look to build on and improve on the tour to New Zealand how can future Lions’ squads get better?”

    O’Brien’s comments were backed up by Billy Vunipola, who would have been the Test number eight had he been able to travel to New Zealand, and whose brother started all three matches at loose-head prop:

    “I guess if he (O’Brien) is saying it and the authority he said it with, he’s probably right. For me to sit here and say the Lions would have probably won is wrong. But personally, my opinion is that if Eddie Jones went as coach they would have won 3-0.”

    As a dyed-in-the-wool Australian, England coach Jones has always had that fractious mixture of admiration and a ‘healthy disregard’ for New Zealand rugby:

    England rugby union coach Eddie Jones

    (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara, File)

    “There’s a certain brand of rugby that we need to play to win the World Cup and it’s not going to be popular. We’re going to play the rugby that suits us.”

    When he was asked if he thought too many teams were trying to copy New Zealand, the England coach replied: “One hundred per cent.”

    Whether Sean O’Brien, Billy Vunipola and Eddie Jones are right about the Lions tour and New Zealand rugby in general is not the point. Their desire to show their own character and find their own way forward is a point of strength which the Southern Hemisphere nations in the Rugby Championship are finding harder to locate, given that they are so much closer to the orb of New Zealand influence.

    That is especially true of South Africa, who have now lost their last three games against New Zealand by a combined score of 155-28. Despite a more promising start to their season in 2017, the Springboks’ chickens most definitely came home to roost in the 57-0 rout at North Shore City last time out.

    The Springbok game has historically been based on punishing defence and powerful set-pieces, in particular in the play developed from the lineout. In Auckland, they missed 32 tackles and lost more than half of their nine lineouts. ‘Mannetjies’ Roux and Louis Moolman would be spinning in their rugby graves.

    Not only are the Springboks moving away from their traditional points of strength, they are also finding it difficult to replace them with newer Kiwi-type attributes. Added to the political factors which already have a hand in team selection, it is an uncomfortable, limbo-like situation for South African rugby.

    The Springboks have a tradition of producing very sound partnerships at half-back. Their successful sides have always featured a player who can run the game strategically from nine or ten, most recently the outstanding Bulls’ scrumhalf Fourie du Preez.

    That is not the case with the current Springboks, and their struggles with strategic control and the provision of accurate linking play between forwards and backs made for painful viewing at North Shore City.

    In the first half South Africa won plenty of usable attacking ball, but most of it was wasted by mediocre decision-making:

    These two examples are illustrations of poor linking play between forwards and backs – a scenario where New Zealand sides excel – and uncertain decision-making and vision at first receiver.

    In the first example, Elton Jantjies has a full back-line out to his left and a potential 5-on-3 if he overcalls for the pass from Malcolm Marx immediately. However, he waits for one more phase and by then the space has disappeared.

    In the second the ball should stay in the forward pod because there is no overlap and the All Black defence is fully primed to drive upfield and make an offensive tackle, but here Jantjies calls for the ball and then leaves Jesse Kriel high and dry outside him. The ball was lost to a turnover on the following phase.

    The first New Zealand try in the 16th minute was the outcome of another questionable decision at first receiver – see the first sequence on the highlight reel here:

    Jantjies passes deep to Jan Serfontein even though Ryan Crotty has signalled his intention to rush. Serfontein does well to spin out of Crotty’s initial challenge but he is quickly mopped up by Beauden Barrett, leaving Raymond Rhule to be wiped out by surrounding All Black defenders at the tackle.

    From the tapped penalty, Aaron Smith kicked through for Reiko Ioane to score – a visionary tactic favoured by none other than Fourie du Preez in his pomp for the Bokke!

    The lack of a well-grooved link between backs and forwards set the scene for the All Blacks’ second try, with Jean-Luc du Preez simply passing the ball straight to the onrushing Nehe Milner-Skudder instead of Kriel.

    It was not all Jantjies’ fault either. In the 23rd minute, scrumhalf Francois Hougaard was guilty of missing both of his potential receivers (Eben Etzebeth and Malcolm Marx) with a promising attacking situation forming on the short-side:

    Less than 20 seconds later, another opportunity was wasted by failed communication between the Springbok first receiver and his forwards:

    The lack of a decisive strategic controller in the halves of the traditional Springbok type is costing South Africa dear. When The Boks kicked, they tended to create exactly the sort of opportunities it is imperative to not offer to a New Zealand kick return team (see the highlight reel in the 36th minute).

    Elton Jantjies boots the ball down to the All Blacks’ 22, but after assessing the situation Damian McKenzie sees a simple advantage in the two-versus-two out to his left:

    Two passes are enough to release Rieko Ioane and Sonny Bill Williams against the mismatched Marx and Rhule, and superior passing and support from backs and forwards alike is enough to do the rest.

    Both the Super Rugby and Rugby Championship competitions are working very much to New Zealand’s advantage. Every time a New Zealand team wins at either level, it reinforces a psychological sense of inferiority among their opponents from South Africa, Australia and Argentina.

    Teams from all three countries have been persuaded to adopt New Zealand practices in order to try and compete, adding Kiwi attributes such as ball-handling forwards and interchangeable roles between forwards and backs while losing a portion of their rugby heritage in the process.

    Meanwhile, coaches and teams from the Northern Hemisphere are beginning to emerge rather bullishly from New Zealand’s thrall and it may well make them the All Blacks’ most formidable opposition at the next World Cup.

    A sizeable body of playing opinion (not just Sean O’Brien) felt that the summer series was the Lions’ for the winning on returning to UK shores but for a few coaching tweaks, while Eddie Jones has continued to cut his own path with England.

    South Africa has yet to show that what they gain from playing the up-tempo game will compensate adequately for what they appear to have lost at the set-piece, in defence, and in strategic control in the halves.

    The Springboks, like their outside-half Elton Jantjies, are very much ‘a work in progress’ with no end in sight.

    Nicholas Bishop
    Nicholas Bishop

    Nick Bishop has worked as a rugby analyst and advisor to Graham Henry (1999-2003), Mike Ruddock (2004-2005) and most recently Stuart Lancaster (2011-2015). He also worked on the 2001 British & Irish Lions tour to Australia and produced his first rugby book with Graham Henry at the end of the tour. Three more rugby books have followed, all of which of have either been nominated for or won national sports book awards. Nick's latest is a biography of Phil Larder, the first top Rugby League coach to successfully transfer over to Union, entitled The Iron Curtain. He is currently writing articles for The Roar and The Rugby Site, and working as a strategy consultant to Stuart Lancaster and the Leinster coaching staff for their European matches.

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    The Crowd Says (498)

    • September 27th 2017 @ 4:17am
      Jeffrey said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:17am | ! Report

      ‘A sizeable body of playing opinion (not just Sean O’Brien) felt that the summer series was the Lions’ for the winning on returning to UK shores but for a few coaching tweaks”

      I’m sure the NZ players and coaches felt the opposite was even more true, but were gracious enough to keep that to themselves unlike the two big mouths from the North. The Lions were good, but let’s get real here. They had virtually everything go their way in the last two tests.

      I am not willing to write off SA and Australia come 2019. I think Australia are a tighhead and a quality no 8 away from challenging England for that no 2 spot. SA has all the talent in the world and they usually come right at world cups. Ireland I am not so sure about. Do they have the depth to maintain their current standard for the next two years? I doubt it.

      To answer your question, I would say that the biggest threats to NZ in the next world cup will be England, Australia and SA so it’s pretty much the same as it’s always been.

      • Columnist

        September 27th 2017 @ 4:29am
        Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:29am | ! Report

        It’s always interesting to hear what the players felt about the experience after a tour like that. The fact that a number of the Lions felt they could have done better is a positive sign for NH in general – clearly they weren’t happy with a drawn series. Whether 3-0 was ever a realistic possibility or just a pipe-dream we will never know.

        Australia have a tight-head prop, but they need depth and development in a number of other forward positions in order to be really competitive.

        Your last couple of paragraphs seem to indicate that you think that Australia and SA will be challenging simply because they always have done in the past. Precious little evidence of that right now beyond the blind faith that ‘she’ll be right’!

        • September 27th 2017 @ 5:18am
          P2R2 said | September 27th 2017 @ 5:18am | ! Report

          ….I agree with Jeffrey, the BIL were lucky to:
          a) win the 2nd test on a dubious penalty against Charlie Famuina and with 14 men (Red card deserved)
          b) a French Ref who changed his mind…

          Many NZ fans and the players felt they were diddled…but that is how it goes and for SOB to carry on like he did is just pathetic.

          • Columnist

            September 27th 2017 @ 6:28am
            Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 6:28am | ! Report

            Much of what you say is true, but it also true to say that the Lions’ performance confounded a lot of well-informed New Zealanders who thought it would be an easy home black-wash!

            • Roar Rookie

              September 27th 2017 @ 8:06am
              Paulo said | September 27th 2017 @ 8:06am | ! Report

              That is also true. We had been use to playing the same olpposition and style and got complacent maybe. It would be interesting to have the series played out now, do you think it would be the same result?

              • Columnist

                September 27th 2017 @ 4:19pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:19pm | ! Report

                I had the same thought this morning funnily enough. I still believe both sides would win matches, so I don’t see a clean sweep either way. I think the Lions would need to upgrade their coaching in certain areas to take the series however 🙂

            • September 27th 2017 @ 11:54am
              StevieB said | September 27th 2017 @ 11:54am | ! Report

              I heard a comment the other day that BIL were ahead for a total of 3 minutes in the whole 3 tests, including a red card, then the Charlie penalty plus how many injuries in all blacks backline? Crotty, smith, sbw out, ioane for last game

              Let’s not mention the fiasco at the end, you play that series with decent refs and its 9/10 all blacks win, lions can count themselves bloooooody lucky

              • Roar Guru

                September 27th 2017 @ 1:33pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | September 27th 2017 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

                The BIL’s scored more points in the last 15 minutes in all three Tests. I think that is more telling.

                Being ahead at halftime or at the 60-minute mark is of little value, as anyone who watches the AB’s regularly should know.

                Both calls in the end of the second and third Test were correct according to the laws of the game.
                And the French refs gave the AB’s some really soft penalties and missed a fair few penalties the BIL’s should have had.

              • Roar Guru

                September 27th 2017 @ 2:14pm
                taylorman said | September 27th 2017 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

                Maybe but for one of those last fifteens we had already had a player off for forty five minutes, something weve never had to go into the last 15 with before.

                For the other, the test was over earlier.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 4:08pm
                ClarkeG said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:08pm | ! Report

                Not sure how it plays out that what occurred at the end of the third test was correct according to the laws of our game.

                I’ve heard/read various attempts to explain away what happened including one view that held that the French version of the laws are different to the English version.

              • Roar Guru

                September 27th 2017 @ 4:19pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:19pm | ! Report

                Well, I take half a step back and admit the laws – and the interpretations – of the game are more than confusing, so to be perfectly fair ClarkeG, I don’t think I or anyone can tell this is the way it is with a 100 percent straight face.

                I have listened to what other referees are saying about these situations and they all agree that the correct calls were made, but I am sure we can find refs who say something different.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 4:49pm
                Jacko said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:49pm | ! Report

                Sorry neutral but a touch judge over rulling a TMO and REF is ever correct….However tell me one thing. The final decision was scrum to ABs for Lions knock on…Therefore if he knocked on and the retreating player grabs it then he has to be offside does he not? You cant knock it on into your own player behind you can you???

              • Roar Guru

                September 27th 2017 @ 5:22pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | September 27th 2017 @ 5:22pm | ! Report

                We have talked about this before Jacko…

                What I think we can agree on for now is that ref team handled the last situation poorly in Test three. Their confusion and a rather amateurish behaviour put a little bit of a sour taste of a fantastic Test series. It could have been handled better and hopefully, the refs will learn from that. But we must also give the refs some slack because their job is extremely tricky and the pressure they are under is immense.

                If you really want to dig deep into the finer details of that last call I recommend you listen and watch this show from the Kiwi YouTube rugby channel 1014:

                They spend a good twenty minutes with a pro referee and goes through every single detail of that call. And don’t worry, there is a Kiwi (the brilliant Steve, such a great host and he comes through as genuine good Kiwi rugby man) asking the ref most of the questions.

            • September 27th 2017 @ 11:56am
              StevieB said | September 27th 2017 @ 11:56am | ! Report

              And Naholo and Skidder too out injured, you’re grasping nick, big time

              • Roar Guru

                September 27th 2017 @ 1:34pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | September 27th 2017 @ 1:34pm | ! Report

                And the BIL’s had no players out through injury? Only the AB’s?

              • Roar Guru

                September 27th 2017 @ 2:19pm
                taylorman said | September 27th 2017 @ 2:19pm | ! Report

                Not as bad. Vunipola wasnt a tour casualty, so they had time to both prepare and replace, only Hogg was.

                ABs were key onfield test injuries. Several of them. So yes the Lions had injuries but not as bad, particularly when adding in the red.

                Nobodys fault but the lady luck factor was with the Lions more. And good on them.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 1:45pm
                Fionn said | September 27th 2017 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

                Neutral, Billy Vunipola (pretty much the best forward in the NH for the last 2 years) played the entire series, right???

              • Roar Guru

                September 27th 2017 @ 2:29pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | September 27th 2017 @ 2:29pm | ! Report

                The main point is that injuries are a very central part of the game and if we are only gonna count wins or draws when the opponents have their ultimate 23 pretty much all results would be void.

              • Columnist

                September 27th 2017 @ 4:21pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:21pm | ! Report

                I don’t believe in ‘if only’s’ Stevie, only in the situation in front of you. (The Lions had plenty of if onlys of their too…)

        • September 27th 2017 @ 6:03am
          Julius said | September 27th 2017 @ 6:03am | ! Report

          “The fact that a number of the Lions felt they could have done better is a positive sign for NH in general – clearly they weren’t happy with a drawn series.”

          The Lions were in the lead for just three minutes in the entire series. They were also aided and abetted by some of the most biased and incompetent refereeing in modern times. The idea that nonsense spouted by deluded players–one of whom wasn’t even on the tour– is a “positive sign” for NH rugby is laughable.

          • Columnist

            September 27th 2017 @ 6:06am
            Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 6:06am | ! Report

            If they gain confidence from it, it’s far from laughable – confident people tend to be more successful than those lacking self-belief. It makes them more, not less dangerous opponents for the AB’s 🙂

            • September 27th 2017 @ 8:54am
              Jacko said | September 27th 2017 @ 8:54am | ! Report

              Its false confidence tho Nick…The next Lions side wont have many of these guys still in it to take all this confidence into the next match…Anyone can say we should have we would have but to be honest its the greatest form of arrogance to claim that sort of thing from the other side of the world…We would have won with a different coach is nothing different to saying…I didnt like our coach…We should have won is being totally ignorant of all the decisions that helped them to a DRAW….If these players were ABs saying that you would be hammering them for their arrogance and saying they need to take the reffing out of the equation…Did SOB mention that if he had been sent off like he should of for knocking out Naholo????? Would they still have won???

              • Columnist

                September 27th 2017 @ 4:25pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:25pm | ! Report

                We’ll have to wait and see how much of the confidence bred from the Lions result will have on NH rugby generally Jacko – the EOYT should be one big indicator.

                The Lions always have a problem in keeping the rump of their players together over a four year cycle, and that difficulty has only increased in the pro era with shorter careers.

                I do suspect that England will be the big test for the AB’s from now until the 2019 WC though.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 4:55pm
                Jacko said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:55pm | ! Report

                Im not sure you will be able to read any confidence gained from an England v Aus or SA match as I would expect England to beat both of those teams at the moment and if they dont then that confidence goes straight out the window. Ireland are playing very good rugby at present and as you say Scotland are on the up . France and Wales seem to be letting the NH down at the moment.
                Agree England will be the major test for the ABs but off hand I think they only clash once prior to the WC.

        • September 27th 2017 @ 7:40am
          Highlander said | September 27th 2017 @ 7:40am | ! Report

          Sorry Nick – clearly they were happy with a drawn series – 2 minutes to go, chance to kick for the line potential rugby immortality – they took the soft option

          • Columnist

            September 27th 2017 @ 7:54am
            Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 7:54am | ! Report

            Tbh H’lander O’Brien wasn’t the only player dissatisfied with the draw – quite a number have said much the same thing in private.

            • September 27th 2017 @ 11:07am
              RUSerious said | September 27th 2017 @ 11:07am | ! Report

              Have you spoken to any All Blacks about what they thought of the series ‘in private’? I’m sure their opinions would be just as revealing.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 1:52pm
                Neil Back said | September 27th 2017 @ 1:52pm | ! Report

                You think as revealing as O’Brien telling us that by the second and third tests, the side had lost such confidence in Howley that he was effectively ignored, and Sexton and Farrell were calling the attacking plays.

                I think that’s pretty damning. I also don’t think any New Zealand player could offer up anything close to such a revelation. And I don’t think there was or is anything like the weakness to AB coaching as there was with the Lions.

                I said before the tour that the weakest selections of all in that tour party were Gatland and Howley.

              • Columnist

                September 27th 2017 @ 4:25pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:25pm | ! Report

                Yes it would be good to hear what their thoughts are too!

              • Columnist

                September 27th 2017 @ 4:26pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:26pm | ! Report

                Good points below Neil…

            • September 27th 2017 @ 1:19pm
              Akari said | September 27th 2017 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

              They would say that after the event, wouldn’t they, Nick?

              I was actually disappointed to read about SOB’s comment as I learned to respect him as one of the best in his position on the tour. He however sounded like he was trying to rewrite history to suit his own ends. Why he would do that escapes me. If he had a problem with the coach, it’s a pity he didn’t raise it when he was in NZ. As to Billy Vunipola, he is just too fat and heavy, hence his being injury prone IMO. He wasn’t in NZ and didn’t play a game and this makes his flippant opinion laughable. I don’t think he’d make a good comedian though unless he’s talking about his diet and his fitness routine.

              I thought the ABs were vulnerable in the 3rd test and yet they could have given the BILs a thrashing in that test if they held on to the pill and scored those ‘tries’. But the coulda/shoulda didn’t happen. SOB should just accept the reality that the BILs didn’t win the series and weren’t IMO close to winning the series until the red card in the 2nd test.

              Don’t get me wrong, though. I enjoyed the tour. The BILs exposed a lot of things that weren’t quite obvious until then, eg, Richie Mo’unga’s and Damian McKenzie’s poor performances at 10. The plus side is that Mo’unga has learned and is a better 10 now.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 1:43pm
                Rugby Tragic said | September 27th 2017 @ 1:43pm | ! Report

                Akari, I think your assessment is very fair …

                It is not so much that the BIL’s taught the AB’s a lesson, it was more to the point that they were better focused on their objectives. Everything they did on defence had been tried against the AB’s before, they were not presenting anything new per sec but the AB’s did not handle it well, perhaps due to the unsettled mid field.

                Many will say it was the pressure put on by the BILs, maybe they are right but being at test two and test three, I really did not feel that the AB’s were ever going to lose the series (they didn’t of course but that’s arrogance for you).

                In test 3, the decider, it just felt at the ground, that in spite of Savea dropping the pill with the line open to which there were large groans, it was just a matter of time before the AB’s took charge. I guess that is why many of the Kiwi supporters felt so flat after the game.

                Anyhow that series has been, and gone, what lays ahead is going to fascinating to watch unfold. I don’t know if the EOYT will tell us too much .. 2018 is when all starts to get really serious!

              • Columnist

                September 27th 2017 @ 4:29pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:29pm | ! Report

                Ofc if O’Brien had mentioned his concerns as volubly during the tour, he probably wouldn’t have gotten another game!

                Billy Vunipola is no longer either fat and heavy btw, he is one of England’s core 80 minute players. I think you would be surprised in the improvement he’s shown.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 4:58pm
                Jacko said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:58pm | ! Report

                But what does he achieve by bringing this up weeks and weeks after the tour? It all just seems like a big whinge TBH

              • September 27th 2017 @ 6:00pm
                Akari said | September 27th 2017 @ 6:00pm | ! Report

                Ok and thank you Nick for the update on Billy.

              • Columnist

                September 27th 2017 @ 6:04pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 6:04pm | ! Report

                Cheers Ak.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 7:07pm
                soapit said | September 27th 2017 @ 7:07pm | ! Report

                about as much as we’ve achieved discussing it jacko. it doesnt have to tho does it?

          • Roar Guru

            September 27th 2017 @ 1:38pm
            The Neutral View From Sweden said | September 27th 2017 @ 1:38pm | ! Report


            There were still three minutes left to play after Farrell equalized the Test three.
            And if Rhys Webb only had passed the pill to Elliot Daily in the last minute, the Lions would have won the series.

            • September 27th 2017 @ 3:58pm
              Jeffrey said | September 27th 2017 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

              No offence, Neutral but you seem anything but neutral to me.

              • Roar Guru

                September 27th 2017 @ 4:12pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:12pm | ! Report

                Is it all that praise for the AB’s that I have written in hundreds of comments, or maybe the love I show for McCaw when I keep on repeating that he is greatest ever to anyone who bothers to listen, that gave it away Jeffery?

              • September 27th 2017 @ 4:57pm
                Jeffrey said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:57pm | ! Report

                I’ve just not seen you be objective at all when it comes to the Lions series. You conveniently ignore the impact of the red card ( well deserved btw) and always only focus on the areas that the Lions were hard done by or dominated in. Perhaps you have emotionally invested a little too much into the series and are trying to justify your 2-1 pre series prediction by overrating how the Lions performed.

                The comment above is case in point. That pass wouldn’t even have happened if the referee had not reversed his penalty a minute earlier, something that I have never seen done ever before for a non foul related incident. So why bring it up? Kiwis could then say that if Jordie had stepped inside a second earlier, he would not have been pushed out and the ABs would have won the game in the 80th minute. It’s futile and ridiculous.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 5:01pm
                Jacko said | September 27th 2017 @ 5:01pm | ! Report

                You do FAKE praise better than a pollie Neutral…An example of your praise is…..The ABs are great but why do they stand offside all game…Always the same…a little complement then followed by a negative about them….I dont care who you like and dislike but stake your claim and stick to it…

              • Roar Guru

                September 27th 2017 @ 5:43pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | September 27th 2017 @ 5:43pm | ! Report

                Well, what can I say, I don’t really support any Test team in rugby. Of course, I like the big upset like most people do and I smiled big when Japan beat the Springkos for example, but you will not find any Lions jerseys in my house (only some old AB’s jerseys from when I was a teenager).

                Maybe I have taken a little bit too strong stance on the Lions series, but I get seriously miffed by the fact that so many Kiwis – who know their rugby inside and out in normal circumstances – chose to be so blind when it comes to the Lions series. So I think I should balance things out a little and tell the story from another side.

                Just three weeks ago I was out drinking and bumped into some English lads. They sang the old song of cheating and poaching Kiwis and yada yada yada, and I had none of it and told them that they were speaking rubbish.

                And for an even fresher example, look at my comment on Geoff Parkes column after 57-0 last week. I criticized him and some other Kiwis for not praising the AB’s enough, so there is another side of my opinions that are there to see for anyone who bothers.

                Bottom line is: I am very secure in my neutral rugby identity.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 5:51pm
                Neil Back said | September 27th 2017 @ 5:51pm | ! Report

                ‘stake your claim and stick to it’

                Spoken like a true bigot

            • September 28th 2017 @ 2:40pm
              mzilikazi said | September 28th 2017 @ 2:40pm | ! Report

              “if Rhys Webb only had passed the pill to Elliot Daily in the last minute, the Lions would have won the series.”

              Interesting that you bring that up, NV. I have not seen that fact mentioned by many of us on Roar…maybe I have just missed the articles where it has been “thrashed over” thoroughly.

              • Roar Guru

                September 28th 2017 @ 3:23pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | September 28th 2017 @ 3:23pm | ! Report

                I have not seen that fact mentioned by many of us on Roar…

                What else is new MZ? 😉

                Same same that we have read a thousand times about Savea and Barrett bombing tries in the first half, but we don’t hear about Farrell’s two horror passes that bombed two tries for the Lions in the first half.

                Another thing that is rarely mentioned is that even if the AB’s would have gotten that penalty late in the third test, Barrett still had to kick it that penalty… The ultimate pressure penalty kick… from a kicker who seemed to be more than shaky, especially on the easy ones in front of goal.

                But at the end of the day, I am kind of happy that Webb messed it up because the Roar would have turned into a radioactive zone if the Lions had scored a try in the last minute.

        • Roar Guru

          September 27th 2017 @ 8:36am
          PeterK said | September 27th 2017 @ 8:36am | ! Report

          NB – Once again a very good article.

          Very predictable that you will raise the knee jerk reactions and ire where an implied notion that the lions could have won will be inferred just because you report player reactions in the NH and as you say indicative of the support for independence of their methods and way to play the game.

          • September 27th 2017 @ 9:37am
            taylorman said | September 27th 2017 @ 9:37am | ! Report

            Bit like those saying the W’s could have won that WC final huh PK? Or when the disallowed try to Speight could have been an oh so different result on the six try to one loss. And…queue several others…

            knee jerks are not limited to this side of the Tassy Im afraid…

            • Roar Guru

              September 27th 2017 @ 9:43am
              PeterK said | September 27th 2017 @ 9:43am | ! Report

              is that empty wind I hear whistling again?

              • September 27th 2017 @ 10:05am
                taylorman said | September 27th 2017 @ 10:05am | ! Report

                not sure, you posting from your toilet? 🙂

              • Roar Guru

                September 27th 2017 @ 10:11am
                PeterK said | September 27th 2017 @ 10:11am | ! Report

                more empty wind again

              • September 27th 2017 @ 10:46am
                Geoff said | September 27th 2017 @ 10:46am | ! Report

                Pretty accurate comment from Taylor to be honest Peter. You are a hypocrite on this issue and not particularly correct in your assssment anyway.

                It was never the issue that SOB and Billy said they could’ve won. It was SOB saying they “should’ve won comfortably” and Billy suggesting it would’ve been a whitewash that annoyed people. It was arrogant, unfounded and ludicrous talk in the public arena.

              • September 28th 2017 @ 7:59am
                zhenry said | September 28th 2017 @ 7:59am | ! Report

                Stick to the content.
                The above story is a typical AU filler (knock ABs), another ‘what if’ in a no game news shortage week.
                The Lions were dam lucky but they did some things very well, thanks to that dud NZ coach Gatland.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 1:13pm
                ClarkeG said | September 27th 2017 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

                Nothing empty about your retort Taylor. Touche. 🙂

              • Roar Guru

                September 27th 2017 @ 1:42pm
                PeterK said | September 27th 2017 @ 1:42pm | ! Report

                hahaha the empty wind has turned on some wind chimes

              • September 28th 2017 @ 8:05am
                zhenry said | September 28th 2017 @ 8:05am | ! Report

                This guy is a complete bigot regards the ABs but often writes good stuff about WBs.

              • Columnist

                September 30th 2017 @ 12:43am
                Nicholas Bishop said | September 30th 2017 @ 12:43am | ! Report

                Ive written so many complimentary articles about the ABs and NZ rugby in general that I have forgotten most of them. Its also why I contribute articles to the premier website on rugby coaching, which is based in NZ. Look it up 😀

              • September 28th 2017 @ 10:05am
                ClarkeG said | September 28th 2017 @ 10:05am | ! Report

                Hello Peter …can we assume you have wind chimes in or near your toilet then.

            • September 27th 2017 @ 4:32pm
              puff said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:32pm | ! Report

              Although a world cup can deliver a number of winning possibilities. This far removed, the only team, that can out smart and beat the AB’s are the AB’s. On song they are devastatingly proficient and in theory no other team will be playing at that standard by 2019. I wouldn’t right the Wallabies off either, as their only restraint to greatness is the coach.

          • Columnist

            September 27th 2017 @ 4:33pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:33pm | ! Report

            I do feel the Lions series was a result waiting to happen Peter, those games against Ireland and France anticipated it.

            Ofc if the AB’s wipe out Scotland, Wales and France this autumn maybe it will all be forgotten very quickly. But I would bet good money that Shag & co are itching to know where they stand in relation to England (especially) and Ireland right on that tour.

            • September 28th 2017 @ 8:19am
              zhenry said | September 28th 2017 @ 8:19am | ! Report

              Couch it in a way that implies impending doom to ABs, constantly in the hope AB players are influenced by reading it, and impending flowering of the WBs.
              Your technical stuff is informative but on the perifery your typical AU knock the ABs is underlying, I would have thought ‘what ifs’ are beneath you, but look you’ll get comments but not respect.

              • Columnist

                September 30th 2017 @ 12:25am
                Nicholas Bishop said | September 30th 2017 @ 12:25am | ! Report

                It does not imply impending doom at all, its a figment of your imagination. Try to look forward to the challenge not fear it or dismiss it, Im sure ABs love the challenge and re not apprehensive at all.

        • September 28th 2017 @ 1:25pm
          Dan from Fiji said | September 28th 2017 @ 1:25pm | ! Report


          The only evidence is the number of world cups won by SA and Aust vs England? Or the combined number of world cup wins by SH teams?

          To add to your summary “however the number of world cups won by SH teams may also reinforce a psychological sense of inferiority among the NH teams”

          • Columnist

            September 30th 2017 @ 12:23am
            Nicholas Bishop said | September 30th 2017 @ 12:23am | ! Report

            Yes that last comment is true too Dan – maybe an Aussie coach can help break that mould!

      • September 27th 2017 @ 5:11am
        mzilikazi said | September 27th 2017 @ 5:11am | ! Report

        ” I would say that the biggest threats to NZ in the next world cup will be England, Australia and SA so it’s pretty much the same as it’s always been.”

        Jeffrey, good comments….I would agree, and add one to your list…maybe a ray of hope of an upset win along the way from Fiji. I don’t think they will be good enough to win the RWC, but they could be able to mount a serious challenge to the main nations, especially in games where the big teams are just a bit off top form. I would love to see them “do a Samoa or Japan”.

        • Columnist

          September 27th 2017 @ 5:16am
          Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 5:16am | ! Report

          Fiji have always been good enough for at least one good win haven’t they MZ? Highlight in 2007 where they dispatched Wales at the group stage and threatened to cause an upset in the quarters against the Boks. That match against Wales was one of the most exciting WC games in history!

          • September 27th 2017 @ 9:43am
            Connor33 said | September 27th 2017 @ 9:43am | ! Report

            And Nic the Welsh and Au games in 2015 were a lot tighter than most would admit–making, surely, for the toughest group in WC history.

      • September 27th 2017 @ 6:01am
        Fionn said | September 27th 2017 @ 6:01am | ! Report

        I think Ireland, if they can avoid injuries, are in a pretty good spot to challenge New Zealand and England in any gives matches. Their first choice 23 are class, they just don’t have the depth of England or NZ.

        • September 27th 2017 @ 6:59am
          mzilikazi said | September 27th 2017 @ 6:59am | ! Report

          Yes Fionn, I too have hopes for Ireland. A good nucleus of class players, good younger players coming through, and a very strong coaching team.

        • September 27th 2017 @ 10:16am
          Jeffrey said | September 27th 2017 @ 10:16am | ! Report

          You are probably right, Fionn. I honestly don’t know enough about Irish rugby and shouldn’t have written them off. Was just basing my comment on how they have fared historically where depth of quality players was always an issue. As long as they can maintain their current standard of play come 2019, they will be up there.

        • September 27th 2017 @ 12:00pm
          StevieB said | September 27th 2017 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

          Probably one of their better teams but got to win a knock out match first

        • Columnist

          September 27th 2017 @ 4:35pm
          Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:35pm | ! Report

          Yep, a lot of very good Irish youngsters coming through now, it could be a good period for them…

          • September 28th 2017 @ 1:32am
            Chivas said | September 28th 2017 @ 1:32am | ! Report

            .. you sound more and more like an Australian rugby supporter talking it up before the Super rugby or a test series.

            Full of hope and pinning it on some hype or other… like a lot of very good young players (like it is something new and isn’t the same in every top tier country, every year around the world) which I personally admire and the resilience to come back after they lose again and again.

            I think what SOB, Billy Vunipola and yourself are doing is what any fervent supporter does…. talk themselves and their teams up, based on what the future holds and reinventing history about how good they were sometime after the event over a beer, telling stories to one another…but then rubber meets road and reality sets in.

            I have been hearing for years about teams that are going to topple the AB’s and take their rightful place on top of the roost. I’m afraid at this point the rumour of the AB’s losing their grip on that mantle is greatly exaggerated.

            My goodness they drew a series against the BIL, lost a game to Ireland and the difference is now 24 points instead of 35 in some games this year.. How that can be used to support any case for anything is beyond me. Stats damn stats and lies…

            I appreciate your rugby knowledge and sharing it, but you do seem to get all soft mouthed and dewy eyed when it comes to England and understandably so. But I can’t see how any NH team is becoming an unstoppable force about to shake the foundations of the AB’s, even with all these terrific young players coming through… I mean your pints are well made, but what is it that is really different to any other year, bluster and hype which now doubles for confidence.

            Eddie Jones may be a deity when it come to all things rugby in English fans and players eyes at this point.. but England have had decent coaches before. So nothing really changed there except the noise and bluster has gone up a couple of decibels…

            Anyway I look forward to the mighty NH teaching their SH counterparts how it’s done. I thought that was going to happen at the last World Cup.. but ok, now it’s going to be the next one or the one after.. in the meantime we will continue to hear about the threat of England and NH rugby.

            The good thing is they do play well and offer up a more than decent contest on most occasions (which is no different than in previous years) and with the Wallabies and Bokke falling off the pace a bit over recent seasons… it makes the NH sides look relatively strong.

            But for the life of me, I just can’t see they are any less or more strong than they have ever been. Much ado about nothing…

            • Columnist

              September 28th 2017 @ 2:36am
              Nicholas Bishop said | September 28th 2017 @ 2:36am | ! Report

              I think what SOB, Billy Vunipola and yourself are doing is what any fervent supporter does…. talk themselves and their teams up, based on what the future holds and reinventing history about how good they were sometime after the event over a beer, telling stories to one another…but then rubber meets road and reality sets in.

              Yeah, you’ve made the mistake of lumping my opinion in together with those of Sean O’Brien and Billy Vunipola. But that’s not what I said is it? I never believed the Lions could win the series 3-0, either before the event, during it or after it was finished. So let’s get that part of the story straight.

              Ditto the bit about getting soft mouthed and dewy about England. I’ll point out that England did go on an 18-match unbeaten run, beating the WB’s 3-0 away from home in the process, which surely deserves some credit. And they have won a WC away from home, so they can do that too.

              So yes, I do think Japan 2019 could well be their turn – and that they could be a better side than the AB’s going into the tournament. They are not that yet, but it’s a realistic possibility. The All Blacks are the best there is right now, but they are not so far ahead of everyone else as to be unbeatable. Lesson of the Lions.

              • September 28th 2017 @ 6:31am
                Fionn said | September 28th 2017 @ 6:31am | ! Report

                Well said, Nick. That brought a smile to my lips.

              • September 28th 2017 @ 7:36am
                rebel said | September 28th 2017 @ 7:36am | ! Report

                “The All Blacks are the best there is right now, but they are not so far ahead of everyone else as to be unbeatable”
                They never have been, yet there is always talk about fading aura’s or other sides false dawns. Anything is possible, but nothing is reality until it happens. Just like the ABs still setting records as far back as their last match.

              • September 28th 2017 @ 10:24am
                Chivas said | September 28th 2017 @ 10:24am | ! Report

                Hey Nic, not quite sure where I mentioned you agreeing or not with the opinions of SOB and Billy V? But lumping you together with them like likely lads around a few pints I did. Two of them full of bluster with a cheerleader in tow, based on the simple premise that bluster is some form of self belief and confidence, which I assume they were previously lacking, for this to be a tangible advantage. It maybe after a pint or two, but in reality I find real wins to be more important in terms of confidence building than imagined ones.

                Ditto about being a dewy eyed, soft mouthed English supporter. Many of your points to me at least appear to lack real substance.

                Yes the England side deserve respect and credit for being a top side. Not sure where I suggested otherwise. Maybe you are falling into the trap of reading something not there. I am more commenting on the points you are arguing as being something particularly important or noteworthy. The English always have been a more than decent side, the the Irish and French sides are also no walk in the park. What of it. nothing really new.

                But by the same token, weren’t the English going to excel, and put biased SH perceptions to bed last WC. So ageee 2019 can’t really be much more embarrassing for the NH sides than that. Actually as it turned out Scotland was the most likely.

                As for the AB’s coming closer to the pack and the English side breaking free to be on the same level as the AB’s… maybe, but the need to be arn that mantle not just talk about it over a beer or two.

                Much like the much heralded news that Iotje is the premier lock in the world and the BIL standout before a ball had been kicked. An athlete he may be, but I’d still have a Retallick all day every day.

                Every WC is open season on the AB’s, but they have travelled quite well over the last two.. but it is still anybodies to win same as every other one.

                Can England do it in 2019, sure they can as can any top tier team. I actually like the AB’s clashes with decent NH opponents.. because it is always an interesting clash of styles and as you stay is a good yardstick for Shag on how all encompassing the AB game really is.

              • Columnist

                September 30th 2017 @ 12:35am
                Nicholas Bishop said | September 30th 2017 @ 12:35am | ! Report

                This sounds just like a restatement of what you said before.

                I said before the Lions tour started that I thought the ABs would win 2-1 in a series of tight games. I still think that would the result if the Lions toured again before Xmas with the same management and players.

                Maybe now you can stop putting words and attitudes I dont have into my mouth? Thanks.

              • September 28th 2017 @ 12:29pm
                zhenry said | September 28th 2017 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

                The way you presented your article implies an agreement with OBrian and the trope of the impending doom of the ABs: Its part of the AUs rugby publics (mostly private school sourced) overall attitude of superiority but long enduring resentment of continuing defeat at AB hands.

              • Columnist

                September 30th 2017 @ 12:31am
                Nicholas Bishop said | September 30th 2017 @ 12:31am | ! Report

                So now Im part of the Australian rugby public and the private school system over there when Im living in the UK??

              • September 28th 2017 @ 2:46pm
                mzilikazi said | September 28th 2017 @ 2:46pm | ! Report

                A suitable and dignified response, Nic.

              • Columnist

                September 30th 2017 @ 12:27am
                Nicholas Bishop said | September 30th 2017 @ 12:27am | ! Report

                Cheers MZ, I try.

      • September 27th 2017 @ 6:07am
        Rhys Bosley said | September 27th 2017 @ 6:07am | ! Report

        Australia has no genuine international standard tall loose forwards like Reid, Squires and Dickson, mentally tough men in their late 20s and early 30s with the ability to steal a lineout, win at the breakdown and contribute to the running game. Fardy was the last and his contribution in 2015 was vital bit underrated, I can’t see Australia being a contender without a comparable replacement.

        • September 27th 2017 @ 6:57am
          Riccardo said | September 27th 2017 @ 6:57am | ! Report

          I tend to agree.

          Nick has alluded to depth and the bench is evidence of that.

          Arnold/Coleman should grow into a formidable duo but the Wallabies are really missing Pocock.

          Add to that a hot and cold Foley, even with Genia returning to form inside him. It continues to surprise me that Cheika has not interchanged some of the backs; there has been clamor on these pages regarding selection and it could make sens to try these this far out from Japan.

          The centres and back three, like the back-row, appear to lack balance.

        • September 27th 2017 @ 3:30pm
          MitchO said | September 27th 2017 @ 3:30pm | ! Report

          Rhys we will still likely lack back row balance in 2019 because the Pooper will be back. We are always gonna be in a tricky situation with Pocock and Hooper filling two out of three spots. but Nasarini whilst young (and currently Fijian) will do a good job as a 6 or 8 in two years time. Two full super seasons ahead of him and he’ll be old enough and experienced enough to get a job done.

          Forgetting Pooper for a moment. Aus will have a world class 7 whoever it is but we are still looking for a good 6 or 8. Timani could fill a role but he’s not going to be better than most of his opponents. Hanigan doesn’t look to have the stuff but he is so young we’ll know in two years time.

          All we have are young possibilities like Matt Philip, RHP and Lukhan Tui.

          • Columnist

            September 27th 2017 @ 4:36pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:36pm | ! Report

            The Hooper, Pocock and Timani B/R worked pretty well at the end of last year Mitch, so I wouldn’t give up on Timani just yet!

            • September 28th 2017 @ 2:14am
              Taylorman said | September 28th 2017 @ 2:14am | ! Report

              Yes but Pooper is always going to mean the Ws will continue to struggle at lineout time so it puts a lot of pressure on the 6 position who needs to either be a very good ball carrier and strong defensively, and/ or a lineout specialist.

              It only worked in the one test versus the ABs, Sydney 2015, then it was found lacking. Going forward Poopers going to be too predictable to be effective and they havent yet found a reasonable enough third prong in the back row to complement them.

              And take Hooper and Pocock out for injury and Ws loosies stocks fall off dramatically. Its a very tenuous position having a very short list of test able backrowers.

      • September 27th 2017 @ 6:15am
        Riccardo said | September 27th 2017 @ 6:15am | ! Report

        I think you might be able to add Ireland to that threat pattern Jeff.

        Given the drawn series and the obvious success of Farrell’s defense comments from O’Brien and Vunipola are probably fair but it’s probably equally fair to point out a couple of officiating decisions, especially at the bell, could have gone either way and may have altered the outcome.

        There have also been some uncharacteristic errors from the All Blacks this season, notably from the inside halves, which has seen opportunities go begging. Given the nearness of the scores in those last two Lions Tests converting any of those would likely have resulted in an All Blacks series win.

        The fact the All Blacks have had to come from behind in 2 of the Championship Tests may lend some credence to that hypothesis.

        The overall tenor of the article from Nick remains true for me though; progress has definitely been made “up North” and the threat they usually represent has intensified as a result.

        • Columnist

          September 27th 2017 @ 6:36am
          Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 6:36am | ! Report

          There have been some noticeable progressions in NH club rugby in both the Premiership and Pro 14 too Riccardo. There is far more ball-in-play (helped by the increasing number of fast track artificial pitches) and far less negative attitude. Maybe the penny has finally dropped.

          • September 27th 2017 @ 6:42am
            Riccardo said | September 27th 2017 @ 6:42am | ! Report

            Without doubt Nick.

            Do you think the plethora of New Zealand and Australian (and South African) coaching has had an influence in this regard?

            • Columnist

              September 27th 2017 @ 6:45am
              Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 6:45am | ! Report

              Definitely, it’s accelerated the catch-up process.

            • September 27th 2017 @ 4:17pm
              Cuw said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

              and the plethora of SH players , who make outstanding contributions.

              D Ribbans (22) as an eg. is a saffa playing for Saints ; came up with a MOM performance against Bath and I had not heard of him till that match.

        • September 27th 2017 @ 9:56am
          Connor33 said | September 27th 2017 @ 9:56am | ! Report

          Finally, some objectivity. I still don’t think 75% of NZ realized how good the Lions were. I thought they scored the best 3 tries of that whole series. Nic highlighted two do them in an article of the second test. Just brilliant. I’d be quite happy putting money on either England or Ireland winning the 2019 WC. This English team is better tha 2003, and it’s the best Irish team of all time.

          • September 27th 2017 @ 10:11am
            taylorman said | September 27th 2017 @ 10:11am | ! Report

            Thats true Connor but from memory more than that % of ozzie posters were just as doubtful.

            The only one I know of that consistently picked a Lions win was the Swede- 2-1, none picking a draw that I know of.

            • Columnist

              September 27th 2017 @ 4:39pm
              Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:39pm | ! Report

              I picked a narrow AB series win, in fact I think that would still be the result if the teams played tomorrow…

              • September 27th 2017 @ 4:59pm
                Taylorman said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:59pm | ! Report

                Yes draws over an entire series is a real pain isnt it?

                If played again right now Id think close, but tend to go Lions.

                ABs may have learned a lot from it and might not have injuries quite as bad but the Lions learned more and an additional series on top of that learning and a second chance so quickly to build from, Id have the Lions ahead.

                They have a quality that can stop the ABs playing for long periods of time, and no ones done that since 2009 over 3 tests.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 5:05pm
                Jacko said | September 27th 2017 @ 5:05pm | ! Report

                I think 3 zip to ABs if fair reffing…….Same as the series just finished would have been…

              • September 27th 2017 @ 5:42pm
                Taylorman said | September 27th 2017 @ 5:42pm | ! Report

                Ha ha, fair enough Jacko. My thinking is the Lions got stronger as the series progressed, despite our problems and I think would have made further gains with more time together, particularly in confidence and in the backs. They would have had to sort their scrum out but there you go.

                Obviously if we are talking actuals Im going to back em 3-0!

              • September 27th 2017 @ 5:52pm
                Cuw said | September 27th 2017 @ 5:52pm | ! Report

                it will be 2:1 if the red card stands tomorrow 🙂

                if not 3:0 with Peyper , Owens and Graces/ Gradener.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 7:34pm
                Connor33 said | September 27th 2017 @ 7:34pm | ! Report

                I picked a lions win.

              • September 28th 2017 @ 2:18am
                Taylorman said | September 28th 2017 @ 2:18am | ! Report

                True Connor but you seem to frequently pick against the ABs and so often get it wrong. The number of times Ive seen you say I think the Abs are going to lose this week is many, often when nothing supports it.

          • September 27th 2017 @ 12:02pm
            StevieB said | September 27th 2017 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

            Get to a semi final Ireland then maybe start to dream, baby steps baby steps

            • September 27th 2017 @ 12:32pm
              Connor33 said | September 27th 2017 @ 12:32pm | ! Report

              Stevie. – you do know that Ireland beat purportedly one of the greatest Ab teams of all time last year? Not many baby steps there…

              • September 27th 2017 @ 1:32pm
                Sammy said | September 27th 2017 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

                Did ya catch the following game after? Irish had nothing on home turf.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 1:42pm
                Connor33 said | September 27th 2017 @ 1:42pm | ! Report

                Sure did. And saw TJ’s forward pass as well. Something he does with some regularity.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 3:57pm
                Sammy said | September 27th 2017 @ 3:57pm | ! Report

                21-9 is a drubbing any day of the week. As fionn will tell you, the score is what matters. Was there 22-9 loss to wales close? How about the loss to scotland? Look i have no doubt they can beat anyone on their day, but they’re not this well oiled machine to fear yet. The Abs won’t take them likely anymore and will aim up in these tests like they do england. Which ain’t a good thing for the clovers.

              • Roar Guru

                September 27th 2017 @ 2:00pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | September 27th 2017 @ 2:00pm | ! Report

                The Irish had nothing on the AB’s in the second Test last year you say, Sammy? Hmmm…

                I remember an epic and very even Test. The Irish were held up twice on the try-line and spilled the pill twice when the try-line was wide open (just like Savea and Barrett did in the third Lions test, it happens when you are under real pressure).
                I think one could argue that the AB’s defensive performance in that second Test was among the best the AB’s have ever produced.

                And after that second Test, many Kiwi mates of mine (and I think a fair few Kiwi Roarers) started to talk about Ireland as a real rival and they embraced it, becasue it is good for the game and it good for the AB’s.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 9:45pm
                Matt M said | September 27th 2017 @ 9:45pm | ! Report

                I though the Irish were fantastic in Chicago, but they’ll need to string a few win together against NZ before they’ll be considered a rival in my view.

                One win in a hundred years of trying doesn’t cut it in my book.

              • Roar Guru

                September 27th 2017 @ 10:02pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | September 27th 2017 @ 10:02pm | ! Report

                The hundred year thing is a little bit misleading, hence they have only played each other 29 times ever.
                And the last three meetings have been real crackers.
                In these days when the AB’s dominate like never before, three competitve matches in a row is good enough, otherwise the AB’s would have no rivals at all anymore 😉

              • September 27th 2017 @ 10:30pm
                Matt M said | September 27th 2017 @ 10:30pm | ! Report

                Yes fair enough, the last 3 were certainly great games.

                I get the impression that NZ can be a little complacent with their defence sometimes. Probably a result of often running down teams in the last quarter.

                In Chicago the Irish ripped the kiwi defence apart. It was great to see NZ repsond in the next game.

              • Roar Guru

                September 27th 2017 @ 11:02pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | September 27th 2017 @ 11:02pm | ! Report

                With the win ratio – and dominance – this current stock of the AB’s have, who can blame for having an off day? If they won more than they already do, it would feel like fake and inhuman.

                That little mini Test series between the AB’s and Ireland last year was absolutely brilliant. Loved every second of all 180 plus minutes.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 4:29pm
                Fionn said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:29pm | ! Report

                I think the 2nd Irish – All Blacks test was closer than the score suggested, but the better team came away with the win. New Zealand’s defence was incredible that match, and against an Irish team that played really well.

                Sammy is right though. Ireland isn’t a well-oiled machine yet. Rather like the Wallabies of years such as 07, 10, 11 and 15 they can beat anyone in any given match, but they can also suffer some really, really poor losses. The same cannot be said of New Zealand (or even England at the moment) who will lose occasionally, but only against inspired performances.

                I have hopes that Ireland—or the Wallabies—can reach the tier of where NZ and England currently sit (although I still see NZ as a clear number 1). However, at preset we only see potential and glimpses of a really class team from Ireland—at other times we see a team that loses to Wales and Scotland in the same tournament.

              • Columnist

                September 27th 2017 @ 4:34pm
                Geoff Parkes said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:34pm | ! Report

                Sammy, to call that a “drubbing” is ridiculous.
                It was an excellent AB’s win, but very hard earned.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 6:09pm
                ebop said | September 27th 2017 @ 6:09pm | ! Report

                The Irish think the Chicago win was a drubbing

              • September 27th 2017 @ 7:51pm
                mzilikazi said | September 27th 2017 @ 7:51pm | ! Report

                But that was not a full strength AB’s team…and I would contest that it is one of the AB’s teams of all time…but would accept that this team are playing some of the best rugby the AB’s have played in my lifetime…and I can remember teams back to the late 50’s.

              • Roar Guru

                September 27th 2017 @ 8:19pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | September 27th 2017 @ 8:19pm | ! Report

                It was not a full strength Irish side either MZ.

                As stated in a comment above, if we are only gonna count wins against opponents that have their ultimate 23, pretty much every win for every Test team would be void.

              • September 28th 2017 @ 2:31am
                Taylorman said | September 28th 2017 @ 2:31am | ! Report

                Yes but its also the occasion Swede. The ‘stop off’ tests in normally obscure venues like Hong Kong, Chicago etc are about as close to friendlys as the ABs ever get. Theyre standalone matches designed to boost the game where rugbys not a big test playing sport.

                Theres no trophy, no series etc. that makes the AI Irish match more the ‘one to win’. Pre tour even the Irish were saying their best chances were they would lose Chicago and have the best chance in the second.

                The fact they won in Chicago should really have strengthened their Ireland match chances, yet the chips all now down the ABs took it from them. Id say few teams, if any can do that, find that resolve so quickly.

                Oz have actually found a way to be more competitive in the return matches in NZ ever since the bring your A game debacle a few years ago.

              • Roar Guru

                September 28th 2017 @ 3:18am
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | September 28th 2017 @ 3:18am | ! Report


                I certainly agree that the AB’s “comeback” in Dublin was special. That Irish team was oozing with belief and intentions and threw the kitchen sink at the AB’s, but the steel the AB’s showed was worthy of a team regarded as the best in the world.

                I believe the Irish would have beaten any other team in the world that night. I also believe that that victory was by some distant the one that pleased the AB’s camp the most last year. And if so, that is a compliment to both teams.

                About OZ. I predict that the Test in Brisbane in a couple of weeks will be a cracker. They had two shots at the AB’s now and they should have enough info to know what it takes to go all the way. If they actually can do it, well that is another question. But at least they should be as prepared as a team possibly can be if they want to get one over the AB’s.

              • September 28th 2017 @ 10:29am
                Akari said | September 28th 2017 @ 10:29am | ! Report

                Take a bex and a lie down, Neutral. The WBs have two obstacles in the way before the return Bled 3.

              • September 28th 2017 @ 3:24pm
                Taylorman said | September 28th 2017 @ 3:24pm | ! Report

                Yes Swede agree Brisbane will be interesting, dont know why I didnt book for that one, too late now.

                I think the Wallabies are taking two steps forward one back this year so timing might be key for Brisbane. Im starting to think the W’s are due a key injury and may just get it on their away trip, leaving them open for Brisbane. think theyre overplaying guys like Folau, Foley, Hooper

              • Roar Guru

                September 28th 2017 @ 3:36pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | September 28th 2017 @ 3:36pm | ! Report

                think theyre overplaying guys like Folau, Foley, Hooper

                That is good point T-man.

                Will be interesting to compare WB’s and AB’s in November also. Shag is clearly preparing to have gas left in the tank for November, while the WB’s are gonna play an extra Test in Japan before they head for Europe.
                Will the WB’s have enough gas left in the tank when facing England and Scotland the last two weeks of the season?

          • September 27th 2017 @ 1:47pm
            Jeffrey said | September 27th 2017 @ 1:47pm | ! Report


            On what basis do you say that the English side is better than the 03 team? That team was a truly great team, we don’t know how good this team really is as they have not played NZ yet and were beaten pretty comfortably by Ireland in Dublin.

            I judge teams on how many world class players (best in the world in their positions) they have. I’m struggling to think of any English player who is world class. Maro and Farrell are probably the only two who will enter the discussion. Manu Tuialagi is another one but I can’t remember when he was last fully fit and played for England. That 03 team had at least five world class players. In fact, I would say that Ireland currently have more world class players than England does (Murray, Furlong and SOB).

            England are strong and may challenge NZ in 2019 but let’s not get carried away here.

            • September 27th 2017 @ 3:05pm
              Connor33 said | September 27th 2017 @ 3:05pm | ! Report

              It was a great team. Probably better forwards than the current English team, but not in the backs. Though we should remember that NZ put 50 points on AU that year. AU then convincingly beat NZ in the semi two months later. AU then push Eng to an extra time drop kick a week later. Was AU just 3 points and a FG goal from greatness? And let’s not forget how great AU were for beating the Abs the week before — surely the great yardstick to measure all greatness, because a team can’t be great unless they beat the Abs, right? But that’s your measure…;-)

              There’s no need to struggle, though. As for players, yep, agree on three players you mentioned ( but would be in any world 23), and have added others that provided points of difference in BIL and the Au series last year and in the November game:

              -Maro in world 23

              -Farrell in world 15 at 12, Beale would need to be on the wing

              -Itoje – probably the best player in the world right now. If you don’t think this player is world class, you’ll need to take off the black filtered lens. He’ll be one of the greats of all time.

              -Daly – probably the best back in the world…all class. Nick has highlighted his skills in BIL articles on the Roar before. You should read them, as I’m not getting carried away with the English — just looking and reading the facts and quality opinion from experts beyond our armchair standpoint.

              -Watson in world 15 possibly, but certainly 23.

              -Lawes possibly world 15 at 6, but certainly in 23.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 3:37pm
                Jeffrey said | September 27th 2017 @ 3:37pm | ! Report

                Sorry but how could anyone pick Marco in a world 15. Fantastic ball carrier but goes missing in his primary role which is to hold up the scrum.He is generally not rated as a scrummager and I think the LIons series proved that theory to be correct. He was dominated by the NZ tightheads during that series.

                Itoje the best player in the world? You accuse me of showing my bias but I see nothing but NH bias from you on this one. Please, he’s not even the best lock in the world. Retallick so clearly is and there are many others such as Coleman, Estebeth, Whitelock, Cruise etc who are comparable to Itoje. I would be more than happy to see him partner Retallick at lock but he’s definitely not the best in the world.

                Daly? You really are taking the piss here, Connor. To rate him above the IRB player of the year and others such as Murray, Ben Smith, Folau, Aaron Smith, Reiko Ioane etc is really a bit of a stretch.

                Lawes I can’t really comment on as I have not seen too much of him at blindside.

                Watson impressed me but is he a 1st 15 player (the only accurate definition of a world class player) ahead of Ioane, Folau, Ben Smith and even George North when on form? I doubt it.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 4:32pm
                Cuw said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:32pm | ! Report

                LOL a world XV is not about NZ or England.

                seems ur assertions are based who would make a 23 from those two countries only. like the teams the British press like to cook up when two eternal footy rivals go head to head 🙂

                I think it was this year when Eddie J said England has NO world class players and that the last was Johnny Wilko.

                However SCW thought both Farrell and Itoje are up there.

                Still it is a silly exercise IMO , since depending on the coach and gameplan the players selected will be different.

                for eg. in the most recent squad selected by Eddie J , there are like six 10/12 guys (including Piers Francis ). but in forwards there is not a single standout 6.

                looking at the squad selected by Cheika there are simillar oddities. even in the NZ squad certain things look uncovered ( like back up 10 / 15 against argies).

                also cricket has shown that merely selecting the best players in their position according to stats and putting them in a team , does not equate to the best team in the world !!!

              • September 27th 2017 @ 5:52pm
                Jeffrey said | September 27th 2017 @ 5:52pm | ! Report

                Apologies, you had Maro in a world 23 and not a world 15. I agree with that selection actually, he would be fantastic off the bench.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 6:05pm
                Jeffrey said | September 27th 2017 @ 6:05pm | ! Report

                *Mako not Maro.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 7:38pm
                Connor33 said | September 27th 2017 @ 7:38pm | ! Report

                Apologies at my end, too. I actually thought we were talking about Billy V–who was injured on the tour. The only player pushing Billy into the 23 would be Read.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 8:48pm
                mzilikazi said | September 27th 2017 @ 8:48pm | ! Report

                “-Itoje – probably the best player in the world right now.”

                Surely this statement needs to be qualified…best forward ..perhaps. The guy is still young and rash at times. Kieran Read ? Dane Coles ?

            • September 27th 2017 @ 5:16pm
              Taylorman said | September 27th 2017 @ 5:16pm | ! Report

              Id say its stronger in terms of depth and potential but certainly not in terms of the cast of players…Hill, Johnson, Dallaglio, Wilko, Robinson, Lewsy, Greenwood etc.

              Woodward spent years after the ‘gulp…70+ nil win’ vs Oz building that same side up to what it became in 2003 but after that it folded like a concertina with no backups, depth etc.

              This side looks to have a real foundation, is still young, and has a few years of good under 20s coming through.

              On top of that sits Eddie the Cheshire cat and millions in the bank.

              England are the ones to watch in 2019, and if Hansen knows better, every day until then.?

          • Roar Guru

            September 27th 2017 @ 1:47pm
            The Neutral View From Sweden said | September 27th 2017 @ 1:47pm | ! Report


            I think the first AB’s try in the third Test was spectacular. Maybe not an end to end team try, but Jordie Barret’s skill to set Laumape was amazing. One of these moments when even I as neutral just stand up and scream of joy and applauds it.

            • September 27th 2017 @ 3:28pm
              Connor33 said | September 27th 2017 @ 3:28pm | ! Report

              The Abs have brilliant individual players, but in terms of collective skill–looking at the backs as a whole–the BIL tries, and more importantly the build up, were superior.

              AU is now doing what the Abs are doing with Foley to Folau, but the bomb to an outside back is borrowed stuff from league with a six tackle limit. Nothing really innovative especially when the outside back is 6-4 and simply slapping the ball back. Just my opinion…

              I’m hoping the Aussies will only use it when we have the advantage from a penalty — go for the 50-50 bomb, nothing to lose if you get the ball back. Some of the AU games suggest this limited use of the league-like bomb.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 4:02pm
                Sammy said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:02pm | ! Report

                Daly? Is that the guy iione ran around twice? Watson over ben smith? Don’t think so. Pitty ben only 20 minutes in the series for the abs.

              • September 28th 2017 @ 2:40am
                Taylorman said | September 28th 2017 @ 2:40am | ! Report

                Yes and Lawes at 6? In 40 test starts has never played there, subbing twice. yet hes best in world at 6?

                Come on Connor, stop coughing up random nothings.

        • September 27th 2017 @ 1:27pm
          Akari said | September 27th 2017 @ 1:27pm | ! Report

          The overall tenor of the article from Nick remains true for me though; progress has definitely been made “up North” and the threat they usually represent has intensified as a result.

          Agreed, Riccardo.

          • September 27th 2017 @ 3:09pm
            Connor33 said | September 27th 2017 @ 3:09pm | ! Report

            It’s just a shame that some don’t quite get the nuances on tone supported by fact and informed opinion.

          • Columnist

            September 27th 2017 @ 4:41pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:41pm | ! Report

            That is indeed what I was trying to communicate Akari – thanks!

      • September 28th 2017 @ 12:04pm
        Wardad said | September 28th 2017 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

        The wee French refs Monsiuers Dubious and Flagrante le Crook had a fair bit to do with the lions drawing the series I would say ” just do what we agreed on oui?” what the hell is that ?

        • Roar Guru

          September 29th 2017 @ 5:37am
          Derm McCrum said | September 29th 2017 @ 5:37am | ! Report

          It means the ball was caught in an offside position from a knock on by a player moving back onside who didn’t materially affect play for the opposition so no penalty, scrum to black. Simples.

    • September 27th 2017 @ 5:18am
      mzilikazi said | September 27th 2017 @ 5:18am | ! Report

      Good evening Nick. What a great way to greet a new day here in Qld….reading such an interesting and thought provoking article.

      Won’t comment any more now, as it is a very hot week here, so have to get a lot done early outside….40 Deg C plus temps in many places today…will shatter Sept records.

      I ‘m sure there will be 300 plus contributions on this article…look forward to reading them all.

      • Columnist

        September 27th 2017 @ 5:21am
        Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 5:21am | ! Report

        40 Deg C plus temps in many places today…will shatter Sept records.

        Good luck with that MZ – too hot for me!

        • September 27th 2017 @ 5:43am
          Fionn said | September 27th 2017 @ 5:43am | ! Report

          35-40 degrees in the dry is my favourite temperature. Maybe why I love it in the deserts so much.

          I love playing tennis in 40 degrees (on a hard court in direct sun the surface temperature would be close to 50-60 degrees, because lots of people I would often struggle against can’t handle the heat.

          I’m heading up to the Top End (Darwin and surrounds) in January. I think that’ll be hot like I have never experienced before, however.

          • Columnist

            September 27th 2017 @ 5:49am
            Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 5:49am | ! Report

            35-40 degrees in the dry is my favourite temperature. Maybe why I love it in the deserts so much.

            Jeez Fionn – that’s impressive…. I think 🙂

            • September 27th 2017 @ 5:57am
              Fionn said | September 27th 2017 @ 5:57am | ! Report

              The flip side is, of course, that I feel uncomfortably cold in temperatures below about 22-24 degrees.

              Last time I was living in Ireland it was like a nightmare. I think I was cold every minute of every day I was outside…

              • Columnist

                September 27th 2017 @ 6:07am
                Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 6:07am | ! Report

                The flip side is, of course, that I feel uncomfortably cold in temperatures below about 22-24 degrees.

                Mate, that’s a good summer for us. Balmy!

              • September 27th 2017 @ 8:06am
                Ed said | September 27th 2017 @ 8:06am | ! Report

                How do you cope in Canberra for more than half the year?
                We get excited currently when the temperature hits 20, last month it was if it hit 15.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 8:17am
                Fionn said | September 27th 2017 @ 8:17am | ! Report

                It’s a struggle. Especially with how poorly the houses are built for the cold.

                At least it warm inside in Ireland.

                It is the late night tennis that is the hardest thing in the Canberra winter.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 9:44am
                RahRah said | September 27th 2017 @ 9:44am | ! Report

                I remember leaving Australia in the peak of summer to live in London, arriving in the middle of winter. I thought I was going to die of hypothermia, locals would always laugh at me sitting on the radiator panels with three layers of clothes on, shivering and complaining about how cold I was.

              • Roar Guru

                September 27th 2017 @ 10:03am
                PeterK said | September 27th 2017 @ 10:03am | ! Report

                I left Brisbane in the peak of summer (35 degrees) to live in Finland and it was -30 degrees that year so a change of 65 degrees.

                Funny I was so numb outside that I never felt the cold that much.

                Rolling in the snow after a sauna , digging the beers out of the snow and running back in the sauna to drink them was great. I am sure my heart changed gear multiple times.

                The ONLY time I truly felt cold was when out of the sauna I jumped into water cut into a hole in the lake. All my muscles seized up, lucky I had a rope on me and they pulled me out. Never did that again.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 11:26am
                mzilikazi said | September 27th 2017 @ 11:26am | ! Report

                Not a nice country to play rugby in either on many days, Fionn…high winds and rain, backs suffering hypothermia……especially Limerick and Galway. They get the full force of the westerly gales out there.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 1:53pm
                Ed said | September 27th 2017 @ 1:53pm | ! Report


                An Australian professor of architecture has referred to most of our dwellings as “glorified tents”. An Irish mate who moved here as an architect in 2002 told me he was gobsmacked at the poor insulation qualities of Australian houses after he arrived.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 4:36pm
                Fionn said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:36pm | ! Report

                That sounds about right, Ed 😛

                Rahrah, that was my experience.

                How long did you live in Finland, Peter? Were you working up there?

                mzilikazi, I absolutely agree. Sometimes it hurts the wind, the rain and the cold is so bad. Even in Dublin, which is relatively more protected.

                The most eye-opening experience I had was when my friend from Russia was almost in tears mid-winter in Dublin as a result of the weather, with her choking out that she had previously thought Russia had the worst winter in the world, but at least she remembered what the sun looked like in an Irish winter 😛 .

          • September 27th 2017 @ 6:50am
            Canetragic said | September 27th 2017 @ 6:50am | ! Report

            Enjoy Fiona. 13 years in the top end myself and the wet is my favourite time of year. Damn hot though! Keep up the amber fluids is my tip 🙂

            • September 27th 2017 @ 6:57am
              Fionn said | September 27th 2017 @ 6:57am | ! Report

              Cheers, mate, I’m excited. Mum’s an archaeologist and her friends who work up there told me that the wet season is the most incredible time to be there.

              Other than visiting Katherine, Kakadu and Litchfield have you got any other recommendations? Is Darwin city with a few days? I’ve got up to 2 weeks before I need to get down to Melbourne for the tennis .

              • September 27th 2017 @ 7:10am
                Canetragic said | September 27th 2017 @ 7:10am | ! Report

                Darwins good for a few days, stokes hill wharf for a laksa and a beer in the evening while the thunderstorms roll in, check out the WWII tunnels while you are there, Parap and Nightcliff markets for a mango smoothie on the weekends. They used to have a 7s tournament but I think that was in Feb. you’ve ticked the main boxes for the big parks but also try to get out on one of the big top end floodplain wetlands. Air boat tours are a gas! Access can be challenging with the wet but worth seeing it! Enjoy!

              • September 27th 2017 @ 7:12am
                Canetragic said | September 27th 2017 @ 7:12am | ! Report

                Sorry about the Fiona Fionn. Damn auto correct!

              • September 27th 2017 @ 7:20am
                Fionn said | September 27th 2017 @ 7:20am | ! Report

                Cheers, mate, I’ll try and check out as much as I can. 🙂

                Don’t worry about it, it is something I’ve dealt with all my life living in Aus – from when each teacher read my name out on the roll for the first time to mates being ‘funny’. I just laugh when I read or hear it as ‘Fiona’ now as it conjures up so many memories, both good and bad.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 10:11am
                zubrick said | September 27th 2017 @ 10:11am | ! Report

                fionn i also lived in the top end for 16 years
                january can be the worst month of the year if the monsoon is late
                its like living in a sauna but once the storms hit everything is transformed
                the relief is palpable…the wet season is imho is the best time to be up there
                if you have time try barramundi fishing…hooking up a big barra gets the adrenalin going
                like nothing else
                there is also a great rugby fraternity in darwin games are played at rugby park marrara
                near the airport on saturday arvo and evenings
                when i played up there in the 1980’s there was a wonderful mix of talent…heaps of kiwis
                thursday islanders pacific islanders indigenous lads going at it tooth and nail
                if you play golf there is a 9 hole public course just north of the city gardens park golflinks
                accross the road from the casino

              • September 27th 2017 @ 1:24pm
                Bob Wire said | September 27th 2017 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

                Adelaide River which is close to Litchfield has a great pub, and a visit to the WW2 cemetery here is worthwhile, victims from the bombing of Darwin lie here.
                Years ago there was a shop in Darwin that sold rugby gear, I still have my T shirt I bought good logo: “Australia sux, New Zealand nil”

              • September 27th 2017 @ 2:42pm
                jameswm said | September 27th 2017 @ 2:42pm | ! Report

                Fionn I can also recommend the parap markets, I think every Saturday. Good food and some interesting stuff to look at. I was there in 2011 so I’m assuming it hasn’t changed.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 4:37pm
                Fionn said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:37pm | ! Report

                Cheers for the suggestions, guys 🙂 I’m really looking forward to it.

          • September 27th 2017 @ 12:49pm
            Wobblies said | September 27th 2017 @ 12:49pm | ! Report

            Fionn nice to hear… really, I bet you like walks on the beach, an umbrella in your glass and a hero in your …. too.

            • September 27th 2017 @ 4:44pm
              Fionn said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:44pm | ! Report

              I’m glad you enjoyed it enough to take the time to comment.

          • September 27th 2017 @ 2:29pm
            mzilikazi said | September 27th 2017 @ 2:29pm | ! Report

            “I love playing tennis in 40 degrees” and “I’m heading up to the Top End (Darwin and surrounds) in January.”

            Fionn, beware the combination of high temps, and high humidity. When my nephew was playing at college in the USA, they played in Florida in those sort of conditions, and he ended up in hospital with heat exhaustion and dehydration.

            Was a good player, this lad…ranked in the top 20 in US College tennis as a doubles player. Would have been interested to see how he went on the Pro circuit…he had a sponsorship offer…but he decided instead on a career in medicine.

            • September 27th 2017 @ 3:18pm
              Fionn said | September 27th 2017 @ 3:18pm | ! Report

              ‘but he decided instead on a career in medicine.’

              Not a bad alternative option 😀 !

              I don’t think I’d like to play in 40 degrees + humidity. 40-42 degrees in Canberra’s dry heat is absolutely fine, however.

          • September 28th 2017 @ 12:06pm
            Wardad said | September 28th 2017 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

            Lets see you shearing in 45+ heat outside and 50+inside a tin shearing shed packed full of sheep.Sorts the men out from the tennis players [ just razzin!]

      • September 27th 2017 @ 5:25am
        mzilikazi said | September 27th 2017 @ 5:25am | ! Report

        “Highlight in 2007 where they dispatched Wales at the group stage and threatened to cause an upset in the quarters against the Boks.” That match against Wales was one of the most exciting WC games in history!

        Yes Nic, those are the games I was thinking of…..from memory the Boks got one soft try, and the referee was tough on Fiji a few times.

        • Columnist

          September 27th 2017 @ 5:35am
          Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 5:35am | ! Report

          In a way. Fiji came closer than any side in that WC to toppling the Boks, even if the final score didn’t show it…

          • September 27th 2017 @ 6:18am
            soapit said | September 27th 2017 @ 6:18am | ! Report

            reminds me of samoa against england in 03

            • Columnist

              September 27th 2017 @ 6:36am
              Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 6:36am | ! Report

              Aye Soap!

              • September 27th 2017 @ 6:54pm
                soapit said | September 27th 2017 @ 6:54pm | ! Report

                my (uneducated admittedly) opinion of mike catt turned that game (for the better).

        • Roar Guru

          September 27th 2017 @ 8:44am
          PeterK said | September 27th 2017 @ 8:44am | ! Report

          Samoa against Scotland in 2015 were also a bit hard done by the ref.

          • Roar Guru

            September 27th 2017 @ 2:54pm
            The Neutral View From Sweden said | September 27th 2017 @ 2:54pm | ! Report

            Samoa-SA in the WC 2011 was a brutal epic and Samoa had very little luck with the ref in that game. SA won 13-5.

    • September 27th 2017 @ 5:40am
      Fionn said | September 27th 2017 @ 5:40am | ! Report


      To what extent do you attribute the scale of New Zealand’s dominance over South African, Australian and Argentine opponents at both Super Rugby and international level to psychological inferiority the rest of us feel against New Zealand?

      On a side note, I have nothing to back this up, but I feel like both Cheika and the Wallabies still haven’t recovered from the 0-3 series against England last June, and the team has been flustered and Cheika has been stressed and overly transformative since. I think that is a mental blow that is yet to heal.

      • Columnist

        September 27th 2017 @ 5:52am
        Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 5:52am | ! Report

        The problem with the inferiority factor is that it is constantly being reinforced. Australian and South African players as a generation are learning to lose to New Zealanders at all the professional levels of the game without any respite.

        I agree about the impact of last June’s England series – to lose three-zip at home is hard to swallow, despite the closeness of the result.

        • September 27th 2017 @ 8:55am
          Drongo said | September 27th 2017 @ 8:55am | ! Report

          The inferiority factor is also re-enforced off the field. The New Zealand influence in Australian rugby is strong. Two of the main writers on here are ex-pat Kiwis who support the All Blacks. Kiwis flood our discussion boards with their anti-Australian opinions. The comments range from the dismissive to the constantly negative and degrading (looking at you fox and TMan, to name only two of dozens). They influence the weaker Australians who jump on board the head-kicking bandwagon for parochial reasons (looking at you WA rugby).
          Great to read a contrary opinion that describes another way to go in contrast to the constant and thought-smothering ‘Kiwi or the highway, way’.
          NZ are a great rugby nation. And their success is based on a unique national rugby culture. But it is not the only way. Who do we want to be, the Borg or the Enterprise?

          • September 27th 2017 @ 9:21am
            Tissot Time said | September 27th 2017 @ 9:21am | ! Report

            Millennium Falcon

          • September 27th 2017 @ 9:27am
            Riccardo said | September 27th 2017 @ 9:27am | ! Report

            I watched the new Star Trek series on Netflix with my kids last night Drongo.

            Only the first one but thought it was pretty good…

          • September 27th 2017 @ 9:46am
            Jake said | September 27th 2017 @ 9:46am | ! Report

            To be fair, the kiwis haven’t much else to gloat about. I quite enjoy reading the insecure and chest thumping verbal diarrhea that comes from the kiwis. Highly amusing and a fascinating insight into their massive but highly fragile ego’s.

            • September 27th 2017 @ 11:27am
              rebel said | September 27th 2017 @ 11:27am | ! Report

              I get the same feeling reading yours and Drongo’s comments. Especially Drongo getting caught out badly during the Lions Series with his hypocrisy. Funny how quite people go when they get caught out.
              This site would definitely be less colourful without the biggots.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 5:12pm
                Jacko said | September 27th 2017 @ 5:12pm | ! Report

                Jake and Drongo always seem to somehow end up commenting together……

          • September 27th 2017 @ 9:52am
            RahRah said | September 27th 2017 @ 9:52am | ! Report

            Look at us all you want Drongo, criticism from the likes of you and the rest of your Eastern-centric parochials we wear as a badge of honor.

          • September 27th 2017 @ 10:15am
            taylorman said | September 27th 2017 @ 10:15am | ! Report

            Yes that’s true Drongo. While every single ozzie poster was bagging Foley- yourself included- I was the only one communicating his improvement levels.

            Which players have I bagged?, Ive commented on Folaus defence and think Cooper shouldnt be in the starting side, something Cheika agrees with.

            Like you, its only the opinions of posters Ive disagreed with, yet you fail to see yourself in that light. Peas in a pod chump.

            • September 27th 2017 @ 11:15am
              Drongo said | September 27th 2017 @ 11:15am | ! Report

              You are right and fox is in a different category. You never pretend to be a supporter of Australian rugby. You do actually, occasionally, post sort of semi-non-derogatory comments on Australian players and teams. Until someone stirs you up, then you cut lose, like Izzy on a typically devastating run to the line. Good comparison?

              • September 27th 2017 @ 1:01pm
                taylorman said | September 27th 2017 @ 1:01pm | ! Report

                not quite, but close, I leave Izzy in the dust… 🙂

          • Columnist

            September 27th 2017 @ 10:22am
            Geoff Parkes said | September 27th 2017 @ 10:22am | ! Report

            Hey Drongo, very flattered that you think my calling here is to unduly influence ‘weak Australians’

            Maybe have a read of this article mate. A few misguided readers thought the article was satirical and got a laugh out of it, but only you and I know that I meant every word….


            • September 27th 2017 @ 11:11am
              Drongo said | September 27th 2017 @ 11:11am | ! Report

              Yes, nice article and typically well written. Very funny. I like your articles Geoff and always read them. I also find them quite biased and one eyed.

              • Columnist

                September 27th 2017 @ 4:38pm
                Geoff Parkes said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:38pm | ! Report

                🙂 at least no one can ever accuse you of being inconsistent…

            • September 27th 2017 @ 4:15pm
              Muzzo said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:15pm | ! Report

              Hahahaha, Sounds like you are talking to a blind elk Geoff………………. No eye deer!!!!!! LOL.

          • September 27th 2017 @ 1:02pm
            Connor33 said | September 27th 2017 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

            Can’t disagree with you, Drongo. There are a few sensible posts from some sensible NZ posters, but hard to separate the ‘wheat from the chaff.’ What surprises me is that many don’t realize how much the Abs have moved the game towards a league-like game. Perhaps it’s led to their winning percentage, but I sure as hell don’t want AU rugby to head down the Ab path.

            – They’ve completely abandoned set-piece backline rugby and replaced it with simple short — aka rugby league — passing.

            – They kick more than most teams, which is smart, particularly when contested — but, again, not unlike league in its ploy.

            – And then rely on the quick tap, league-like opportunism. And then when they try a set piece backline play they stuff up the handling.

            I was Star Wars, not Star Trek–so I’ll stick with that sci fi and can safely say that their are no Jedi tricks employed by the modern Ab team compared to the great Ab teams of the 80s, 90s and early 2000s.

            • September 27th 2017 @ 1:38pm
              ClarkeG said | September 27th 2017 @ 1:38pm | ! Report

              Remind us of that set piece try from Wellington again in 2000…go on…why not.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 1:45pm
                Connor33 said | September 27th 2017 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

                What wonderful concurrence.

              • September 28th 2017 @ 11:47am
                ClarkeG said | September 28th 2017 @ 11:47am | ! Report

                OOhhhhh… I was so looking forward to a recount.

            • September 27th 2017 @ 2:20pm
              rebel said | September 27th 2017 @ 2:20pm | ! Report

              You do realise you have just done the exact thing the Drongo was complaining about “kiwis” doing.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 3:35pm
                Connor33 said | September 27th 2017 @ 3:35pm | ! Report

                What do you mean? Seriously.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 6:01pm
                rebel said | September 27th 2017 @ 6:01pm | ! Report

                Your comments could be described as degrading or dismissive of another country’s style of play.
                So you either agree with Drongo and feel that this is out of line, or you agree that followers of other teams can genuinely discuss Australian rugby without having ulterior motives or being biased and one eyed.

            • September 27th 2017 @ 3:14pm
              Taylorman said | September 27th 2017 @ 3:14pm | ! Report

              Yes agree with the League tendency, comes with sacrificing some of the set piece focus to having a mobile tight five.

              I dont think we’re close enough to be too concerned yet as there are still good signs that a strong set piece based side can dominate a match, but certainly seeing forwards run and pas like backs and defend and haul the ball up in the backline, the similarities are obvious.

              I think its something that needs to have an awareness about it, but just not yet a concern.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 6:56pm
                soapit said | September 27th 2017 @ 6:56pm | ! Report

                jeez if abandoning your set piece gives you a scrum and lineout like the ab’s have at the moment cheikas should just abandon all pretence and abandon away!

              • September 28th 2017 @ 2:49am
                Taylorman said | September 28th 2017 @ 2:49am | ! Report

                Yes it might seem that way but over time the ABs have been able to build up an arsenal of players that can do both.

                We still have good core role set piece tight fives ‘that can play ball’ as well, so we are not yet at the point where we are basically picking five openside flanker types who dont set piece well, though Coles might be a case for that, and sometimes it feels even Retallick is as well!

                But this has been the case for NZ rugby for a while now. Our locks props and hookers know they must do their part around the field in a big way. Ive seen Hansen say at times player x is good in the tight, we just need to get him fitter and around the field more.

              • September 28th 2017 @ 7:06pm
                soapit said | September 28th 2017 @ 7:06pm | ! Report

                spose just another bit of evidence of the luxury hansen has. oz struggle to get some one who can tick half their boxes let alone dropping people for not ticking them all. (and yes he gets some credit for developing this luxury for himself before any defensive twisted knickers jump in)

            • September 27th 2017 @ 5:19pm
              Jacko said | September 27th 2017 @ 5:19pm | ! Report

              – They’ve completely abandoned set-piece backline rugby and replaced it with simple short — aka rugby league — passing.

              Firstly its impossible to have “set piece” rugby from oppositions mistakes before a whistle is blown.Its called PLAYING ADVANTAGE……
              Secondly PLEASE show me all these league tries that have all these passes in them…..League plays it too safe to throw it around like the ABs, or any SR sides do.

              Mind you League did originate from Union so of course there are simalarities, just not in their passing…or kicking for that matter.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 7:25pm
                Connor33 said | September 27th 2017 @ 7:25pm | ! Report

                First try against the Boks. Quick tap. Quick chip. Quick try. Now go back and watch some league — perhaps the Broncos for the past three decades — and you’ll see plenty of similarities: quick a ball can be thrown around when there a 6 tackles in a set. Wayne Bennett’s back coaching the Broncos as well — and I heard he had a few words to the Abs after the French 2007 fiasco. Not surprised that the Abs have moved towards a more simple league like game at all, really.

                Also, go back and watch the Ab over the past three decades and you’ll start picking up on what I am talking about–ie, pre 2007 and post 2007 Ab play.

              • September 28th 2017 @ 12:18pm
                ClarkeG said | September 28th 2017 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

                Jacko if you have to go back and watch the ABs and Broncos over the past 3 decades to pick up on what Connor is talking about then I would pass on that if I was you.

                If scoring a quick try from a quick tap is rugby league like then so be it but I would suggest you only need to watch highlights from this weekends games (north and south). There is fair chance you might see one.

              • September 28th 2017 @ 12:24pm
                Wardad said | September 28th 2017 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

                Connor33 theres no way a league team is going to take a quick tap and then chip kick from that position ,they are way more conservative than you think and unless time is running out theres no way they wouldnt use up their tackles first with that field position.

            • September 27th 2017 @ 7:19pm
              Connor33 said | September 27th 2017 @ 7:19pm | ! Report

              Rebel – there’s a difference between points that can be genuinely debated and then there’s those points that are clearly dismissive and degrading. If you think the 3 points I make fall into the latter category after making complements of Ab rugby in the article, I question why you’re even posting on this site to begin with.

              If you disagree with the 3 points I make after watching, say, the most recent SA game or any of the BIL games that are core to Nic’s artcicle, then dispute the points.

              Indeed, I welcome criticism. I’d actually like to be proven wrong. There’s no doubt that the other Sth hemisphere teams are beginning to move towards a modified form of league that the Abs now clinically employ. But I’d rather lose than move towards that model. I was back in AU this past week and watched some league and I have never been so bored…rugby shouldn’t go down that path. Like football, and what lies at the heart of Nic’s article, it’s different styles that make rugby so interesting…hopefully that continues…

              • Columnist

                September 27th 2017 @ 9:35pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 9:35pm | ! Report

                it’s different styles that make rugby so interesting…hopefully that continues…

                Agreed. Perhaps playing each other less often would help with the evolution of different styles!

              • September 28th 2017 @ 8:44am
                rebel said | September 28th 2017 @ 8:44am | ! Report

                So I take it from your response that it is possible for supporters of different teams to discuss the expoits of others. Therefore you disagree with Drongo which is the point I was making. There are both educated and uneducated opinions coming from supporters of all sides yet you and Drongo decide that it is only one particular supporter group that falls in this category. I wouldn’t question my validity of frequenting this site when you aren’t prepared to see things equally.

                In regards to the points you have made, you are entitled to your opinion. I disagree with the premise of the points and have not seen any other person in the world make a similar arguement. I and many people have debated the validity of the claims many times yet get a dismissive response. That’s not the debating I am used to, hard to be proved wrong when you dissmiss the proof. You obviously believe it and nothing anyone can say will change your mind. I am comfortable with that. However your last sentence above is contradictory to earlier comnents. You either don’t like the ABs style or you like different styles.

                For what it’s worth I feel that the ABs are going against the modern league style. Modern league is less about risk taking. It has safe one off hit ups into a wrestle, it’s all about completion rates. The completion rates is what has gotten the cowboys through the finals. There is a lot less risk taking and not much counter attack or lifting of intensity. There are also leds quick taps with sides acumulating points. This has been led by Wayne Bennett coached teams, so we can extrapolate this to the meeting after the 07 1/4 final Henry infuencing Bennett.
                In regards to kicking, this has always been part of rugby, but instead of aimless meters gained like in league, the ABs decided to make most of them contestable. This has now been adopted across most rugby sides, with the Lions doing it well in June. Watching League I constantly am baffled that their kickers struggle to put up contestable kicks. Their accuracy in this department is quite poor across the board, Cronks cross kick in Origin excluded.

                In summary to me I feel the ABs are the only side that is breaking away from the low risk league style game. The country having been influenced most by League with coaches like Muggleton, Les Kiss, Phill Blake and Peter Ryan, on top of many League players is Australia. Cheika also has a very strong League influence. England also has had a large League feel from players and coaches. The influence of the Lions defence coach suffocated the ABs in a league style approach.

                I used to love league a lot more before the wrestle came in and slowed the ruck down. The thing is the top sides started this so all teams followed so a lot of what we have now is a game of wrestling. This is what happens on all sports. That is why I am happy that NZ broke free from other country’s styles and are playing up tempo exciting rugby. It is natural that other sides will then try and emulate the successful ones, just like Aus were the innovators at the turn of the century.

                Like you I also enjoy different styles but I won’t then in the next sentence say that I hope one particular style should not be pursued.

          • Columnist

            September 27th 2017 @ 4:47pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:47pm | ! Report

            Who do we want to be, the Borg or the Enterprise?

            Great comment, love it!

            I think that’s what I enjoyed about those Australian teams of the early 2000’s and in the amateur era. They always had their own very distinctive style and because of that they led the world in a some areas of the game. They were never bullied by the AB’s either psychologically or physically. Apart from Dunedin, I get the impression that the current Wallabies and Springboks don’t go on the field expecting to win, in fact you get that whiff of ‘Here we go again’ when the score starts to mount up. Let’s hope the WB’s can repeat their Dunedin form in the third Bledisloe match!

            • September 27th 2017 @ 7:40pm
              Fin said | September 27th 2017 @ 7:40pm | ! Report

              I agree Nick. And it starts well before test and super rugby level. The cycle starts at schoolboys, then continues to Under 20’s, then into the professional teams. A lot of these players have played against each other at under age tournaments where the results have been similar for the last decade.

          • September 28th 2017 @ 12:15pm
            Wardad said | September 28th 2017 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

            And where are these denigrating to Aussie rugby opinions Drongo ?[ appropriate moniker that btw]

      • September 27th 2017 @ 10:02am
        Connor33 said | September 27th 2017 @ 10:02am | ! Report

        Yeah, I think ypu have something re England. That series was so much closer than has been reported, as was probably the WC game the year before.

        I would still take the WC win in England in their WC in 2015 over the AU series loss in 2016, wouldn’t you?

    • September 27th 2017 @ 5:43am
      Galatzo said | September 27th 2017 @ 5:43am | ! Report

      Hello again Nicholas. Of the many games you’ve analyzed, this was the easiest to pick apart because of its one-way result. Definitely an aberration, and I doubt the Boks will ever let themselves be humbled that badly again (the Wallabies are in for a torrid time next Saturday). What a weird RC it’s turning out to be – the WBs almost beat the ABs, they draw with the Boks, and then the Boks give up 57 points and score none? The Martians must be in control. Back to your headline question. I think the simplest answer is absolutely. I believe we’ll see some new thinking engendered by the Lions tour show up in the NH even before the RWC. We’ll see it the EOTY matches. Interestingly, Eddie Jones said months ago that he believed the ABs could be beaten. By that he meant by his team, England. A great shame that the number one and two teams won’t meet until next year. Meanwhile, the ABs won’t be beaten on their tour this year, not by France or a French XV, Wales or Scotland. However, I do believe Wales will beat the WBs, even with Warburton out, because of the spill over of the Lions’ success in NZ. Confidence is catching.

      • Columnist

        September 27th 2017 @ 5:56am
        Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 5:56am | ! Report

        Hi Galatzo.

        I think the end-of-year tours will be the most interesting for many a year, and the crux of it will be how much self-belief the likes of Wales, Scotland and Ireland will be able to take out of the Lions result and back to their individual countries. Even Scotland-NZ could be an interesting one if the AB’s pick a second team (as they have against the Scots occasionally)!

        • September 27th 2017 @ 6:03am
          Galatzo said | September 27th 2017 @ 6:03am | ! Report

          I’m always amazed how well Scotland, a soccer country, does with only 38,000 registered rugby players. NZ has 156,000 registered players, just about all of them talented. But even the ABs’ third string team could sweep this year’s EOTY tour.

          • Columnist

            September 27th 2017 @ 6:08am
            Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 6:08am | ! Report

            Scotland’s coaching is in a good place. Vern Cotter was the most astute appointment for many, many years and he has an able replacement in Gregor Townsend.

            • September 27th 2017 @ 4:41pm
              Cuw said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:41pm | ! Report

              got to wait and see if it works like the case of saffa Lions. lot of Ackerman’s sucess was due to the early work of Mitchell.

    • September 27th 2017 @ 5:46am
      Cynical Play said | September 27th 2017 @ 5:46am | ! Report

      Eddie the Ego talks it up. He knows he doesn’t have to back it up against NZ for some time. NZ are beatable no question. England are capable no question. Beating them once should not be the aim.

      When Shag puts B Barrett to 15 and gets Lima starting at 10 they will go up a gear.

      • September 27th 2017 @ 5:54am
        Fionn said | September 27th 2017 @ 5:54am | ! Report

        I reckon this is right.

        However, I think that by November next year Mounga might have displaced Lima as the starting 10 (depending on kicking percentages).

      • Columnist

        September 27th 2017 @ 5:56am
        Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 5:56am | ! Report

        When Shag puts B Barrett to 15 and gets Lima starting at 10 they will go up a gear.

        Is there any sign of this happening?

        • September 27th 2017 @ 6:57am
          Cynical Play said | September 27th 2017 @ 6:57am | ! Report

          It seems obvious to me. BB is s weapon best suited to 15.

        • September 27th 2017 @ 7:14am
          Canetragic said | September 27th 2017 @ 7:14am | ! Report


        • Roar Rookie

          September 27th 2017 @ 8:12am
          Paulo said | September 27th 2017 @ 8:12am | ! Report

          No, Hanson has said publicly it wont. Yet there is growing noise about it. Particularly arohnd goal kicking. When BB is on he is on. When he is off, he is way off. Seems to be a confidence player, which leads to a slippery slope. Maybe why Hanson publicly backs him though rather than raising internal doubt about his hold on the number 10.

          Personally would like him at 15 and Lima at 10.

          • Columnist

            September 27th 2017 @ 4:49pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:49pm | ! Report

            I suppose if Jordie takes over at 15 in time for the WC he will also take over the goal-kicking?

            • September 27th 2017 @ 5:23pm
              Jacko said | September 27th 2017 @ 5:23pm | ! Report

              There was a good article on stuff.co believing McKenzie will be fighting with Sopounga for the bench 10 backup. The kid was very good in his first SR stint at 10 and so good they put him to FB when Cruden had got over his injury

              • September 28th 2017 @ 3:49pm
                Taylorman said | September 28th 2017 @ 3:49pm | ! Report

                From memory Piutau has every intention of trying for the World cup, are Cruden and Faumuina in the same boat?

              • Columnist

                September 30th 2017 @ 12:18am
                Nicholas Bishop said | September 30th 2017 @ 12:18am | ! Report

                Cruden maybe? Will Faumuina be too old?

              • September 30th 2017 @ 2:22am
                Taylorman said | September 30th 2017 @ 2:22am | ! Report

                Yes possibly, comes from thinking bench players are the younger fitter ones waiting for their opportunity, Faumuina very much the exception?

              • Columnist

                September 30th 2017 @ 7:03pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | September 30th 2017 @ 7:03pm | ! Report

                I do think he´s still clearly the AB´s number two tighthead, well as Nepo Laulala has played in the last couple of games. Faumuina has more to offer off the bench in terms of impact, Laulala looks more like a ready-made starting replacement for Owen Franks.

        • September 28th 2017 @ 12:58pm
          ClarkeG said | September 28th 2017 @ 12:58pm | ! Report

          These sort of selections are probably often determined by injuries or other reasons for unavailability.

      • September 27th 2017 @ 11:22am
        mzilikazi said | September 27th 2017 @ 11:22am | ! Report

        “Eddie the ego”……..good description, CP. He fits well with the English press.

      • September 27th 2017 @ 4:46pm
        Cuw said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:46pm | ! Report

        will not happen for 2 reasons.

        1 the current coach has not looked at him as a long term 15 – rather it is his bro who may be the heir apparent to Ben.

        2 the coach has backed him as 10. any change from that is a bitter pill for the coach.

        the only thing i dont get is why Hansen keeps pigeon-holing guys and making such public statements. he has said BB is a 10 and not a 15. he has said NMS is not a 15. he has said sees DM as a 10.

        what i dont understand is why he limits his options by going public ? perhaps its the ego with his win % and thinking the public will tolerate ….

        • September 27th 2017 @ 7:09pm
          Cynical Play said | September 27th 2017 @ 7:09pm | ! Report

          I reckon BB would be sensational at 15. He could size the while field up on attack and would be a huge weapon. He has all the kicks and he’s solid under the high ball.

    • September 27th 2017 @ 6:08am
      richard said | September 27th 2017 @ 6:08am | ! Report

      The question could be asked “is constant exposure to AUS/ARG/SA rugby beneficial to NZ?” There is a theory that,with these teams in a weakened state,they will drag NZ down.I would go further and say NZ struggled v the British Lions because they were playing at a level the AB’s hadn’t encountered for some time.

      • Columnist

        September 27th 2017 @ 6:10am
        Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 6:10am | ! Report

        Interesting viewpoint Richard, and quite likely a valid one. Maybe NZ would benefit from contact with the NH at club or provincial level?

        • September 27th 2017 @ 6:14am
          John said | September 27th 2017 @ 6:14am | ! Report

          Steady there Nick …..

        • September 27th 2017 @ 4:55pm
          Cuw said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:55pm | ! Report

          ” I would go further and say NZ struggled v the British Lions because they were playing at a level the AB’s hadn’t encountered for some time.”

          it was rather the tactics than the level of play.NZ clearly struggled to adapt to the disruptive tactics of Lions.

          for eg. i have never seen a single super rugger team start shouting like street-vendors in Thailand , at a lineout. of course come 2nd test they adapted by taking the trow quickly and not letting the calls get drowned by gibberish.

          they did not adapt to the slowing down at ruck ( albeit aided by lenient reffing) . a respected former England player privately thought that Hansen made a mistake by taking Kaino off in test 2 , the one guy who had the muscle to thwart the Lions loose forwards flapping all over the ball.

          the Lions showed the world how to nullify or at least slow-down the NZ game in just two ways. when they have ball slow it down to the max allowed. when u have ball play at ur pace.

          of course the whole thing may change with the ref on the day. i said before the series and say it now – Owens would have reffed differently the last 2 tests. it is not that the French refs are bad. it is just the way they ref in TOP 14.

      • September 27th 2017 @ 6:13am
        Fionn said | September 27th 2017 @ 6:13am | ! Report

        And yet we constantly hear about how good the New Zealand Super Rugby teams are, and in SR you play most of your matches against your own conference, and thus, one would have expected the All Blacks to have been best prepared.

        • September 27th 2017 @ 6:36am
          richard said | September 27th 2017 @ 6:36am | ! Report

          Yes,that makes sense.I am not baiting anyone,just putting out a theory I have seen on UK websites.

        • September 27th 2017 @ 6:37am
          Riccardo said | September 27th 2017 @ 6:37am | ! Report

          That early in the season against such quality opposition Fionn?

          To be honest I thought the All Blacks would be better but the Lions deserve credit for not only “bringing it” but growing as a unit throughout the Tour.

          Richard’s point is actually a good one given the frequency with which the All Blacks play that opposition; if they’re deteriorating as the article suggests this will be something the All Blacks wise men should be aware of.

          The All Blacks desire to play at pace suffered at the hands of that defense; the Wallabies got themselves into a good position using similar tactics. Hansen has given credit to both teams for this tactic and admits it’s a work-on.

          • September 27th 2017 @ 6:59am
            Fionn said | September 27th 2017 @ 6:59am | ! Report

            It’s a fair question.

            I just think that if the Kiwi Super Rugby teams really are as good as we constantly hear that they are (and I think that they might be) then being underdone isn’t an excuse.

            I think the result of the series reflects a bit more on specific choices Hansen made in strategy, selections and goal-kicking. Don’t forget, the All Blacks were leading comfortably at the 60 min mark in the 2nd test despite the RC, and it all changed when the Lions guy (was it Vunipola?) got a YC. I think the All Blacks thought they had it in the bag there. They got flustered, lost, and never regained their composure.

            • Roar Rookie

              September 27th 2017 @ 7:46am
              Paulo said | September 27th 2017 @ 7:46am | ! Report

              I think the issue was the style of play the BILs employed. The NZ SR teams had been playing tough games against each other but the BILs brought a different style which we werent use to. I think more exposure to the NH teams would help this.

              Without doubt my biggest concern is England at the moment. Bring on the end of year tour. Might not get Eng but atleast we are in the neighbourhood.

              • Columnist

                September 27th 2017 @ 7:53am
                Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 7:53am | ! Report

                Without doubt my biggest concern is England at the moment. Bring on the end of year tour. Might not get Eng but atleast we are in the neighbourhood.

                Maybe they’ll arrange a knockabout in the Twickenham car lot Paulo 🙂

              • Roar Rookie

                September 27th 2017 @ 8:14am
                Paulo said | September 27th 2017 @ 8:14am | ! Report

                Would pay to see it. Would make a great commercial for the next RWC too haha

        • Roar Guru

          September 27th 2017 @ 7:55am
          Sam Taulelei said | September 27th 2017 @ 7:55am | ! Report


          Based on results against the Super rugby teams, two losses and a draw would indicate the quality of the Kiwi teams against quality international opposition.

          As preparation for the test series, it was perfect for the BIL. There would have been little to gain from playing provincial sides as they did in 2005 and building a false sense of readiness and ability.

          I guess that is at the heart of Richards question. If you’re not being tested to your limits how can you truly know how good you are? If the opposition doesn’t test you in areas that is fundamentally at odds with your preferred style of playing, how can you learn to improve?

          Are SA and Australian teams testing Kiwi opposition and making them uncomfortable as the BIL did?

          • September 27th 2017 @ 8:15am
            richard said | September 27th 2017 @ 8:15am | ! Report

            Bingo,Sam.But you put it more eloquently than I could.I think the Lions took the AB’s out of their comfort zone,using an in your face defence,which the AB’s struggled to cope with.As much as it pains me to say it,I think Gatland out-coached Shag in this series.

            But,I am happy,as this is exactly what NZ needed going forward.I think everything has been too comfortable,for too long.And now the AB’s have new threats,they have something to focus on.And I think you get the best out of the AB’s when they are pushed.Interesting times ahead.

            • Roar Rookie

              September 27th 2017 @ 8:55am
              Paulo said | September 27th 2017 @ 8:55am | ! Report

              You can certai ly learn more from a loss or a draw than you can from a win. Think that is ine of the big benefits that the ABs can take from the BIL series… as nice as it would have been to win.

            • September 27th 2017 @ 12:18pm
              Northkiwi said | September 27th 2017 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

              I’m with Richard, that Gats outcoached Shag in the BIL series, at a strategy level. The main reason for my opinion is not the results per se, but the way Shag went into his shell tactically, and became much more conservative than usual, with different kick plans and being way more tentative on the counter. OK this was partly due to a very good defensive pattern, and also losses to injury, esp Ben Smith. Irrespective, Gats was able to get more from his team than Shag was, which is a very unusual situation. My feeling is that post-BIL, the AB’s are doubling down on their pace gameplan, as the blueprint for 2019. By then they will have worked it out pretty well, as it’s not going too bad already. Reiko Ioane will be one of the great players in this style of play.

              Are England or anyone else going to overtake the AB’s and/or have a plan that will counter theirs? England look most likely, but I’m far from convinced at this point. On a cold day at Twickers – maybe. Anywhere else? Hmmm. I’m kind of thinking that by end of 2018 Eddie may have outstayed his welcome, as tends to happen with someone of his intensity. He will need a great team around him to insulate the players and keep things fresh and enjoyable for them.

              Oz? I can’t see Cheika getting there, for a number of reasons, and SA don’t look very flash at all right now, although to be fair they have been hardest hit in terms of players lost to Europe, although the ABs, Oz, and all the PI teams would argue with that.

              As for O’Briens claim? Bloody good player but “should have swept” the AB’s? They say that to be a good No7 requires you to be wrong in the head, maybe thats an indication….

              • Columnist

                September 27th 2017 @ 4:53pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:53pm | ! Report

                Hmmm. I’m kind of thinking that by end of 2018 Eddie may have outstayed his welcome, as tends to happen with someone of his intensity.

                Smart comment NK. Apparently it’s already a race against time as Eddie goes through a succession of support staff who don’t want to woken up at 3 a.m by a text from EJ!

              • September 27th 2017 @ 5:00pm
                Cuw said | September 27th 2017 @ 5:00pm | ! Report

                @Nicholas Bishop

                also the number of players being called up. this was on Planet Rugby.

                ” Confidence trick

                “These young players are delicate. They are like flowers; it is how much water, how much sunshine. If you give them too much too early they grow up too quickly and their base foundations aren’t strong enough. You have to quietly build them up over a period of time until they are ready.”

                So spake Eddie Jones after noisily calling up Marcus Smith, 18, to his 33-man England training squad for a camp in Oxford. And this soon after Tom Curry became England’s youngest starter in almost a century, with Jones including him in a match-day squad that included 11 uncapped players.

                Don’t get us wrong. We’re not doubting the likes of Smith and Curry. The have the talent to bag 200 caps between them, and we readily acknowledge that Jones referred to Smith as merely “an apprentice” who’s attending camp to “clean the boots and hold the bags”.

                But Eddie’s invitations appear to be getting increasingly more scattergun of late. There’s now at least 80 players on his radar.

                Like all Aussie coaches, he’s keen on eking out ‘big reactions’ and seeing how players bounce back from rejection, and we can only assume it’s in this vain that he sends the likes of Kyle Sinckler and Jonathan Joseph away “to work on their game”.

                Most pundits had the pair down as nailed-on starters for the November Tests and the Six Nations; suddenly they’re not even cleaning boots or holding bags.

                To our untrained eye, the only thing Sinckler and Joseph are missing from their game is self-belief, and we can’t quite fathom out how that will bloom in the absence of water and sunshine. It seems really harsh. Counter-productive, even.

                Could Eddie’s own history of rejection be a factor in his increasingly ostentatious squad announcements? (Yep, here comes the cod psychology!)

                It’s said that he’s never really got over being sacked by the Australian Rugby Union, and you sense he derives pleasure from plucking unknowns from his vast resources whilst his former employers are being forced to lay off entire teams. And there’s also something deeper than banter in his remark that Argentina’s visit in November represent England’s toughest assignment of the year, not least because the Wallabies arrive in town the following day.

                Still, whatever is gnawing at Eddie’s soul is a fillip of England – he’s lost just one of his 20 games in charge.

                But he’d be best advised to swot up on his botany if he wants to extend that sort of form. Australian flowers tend to be a great deal hardier than English roses. For every Jonny Wilkinson, there’s around 60 Paul Sampsons.

                Remember him? Exactly. “

          • September 27th 2017 @ 8:20am
            Fionn said | September 27th 2017 @ 8:20am | ! Report

            I get the line of argument, but the Kiwi teams can test each other. It doesn’t need to be a foreign team.

            It took the Joburg Lions 40 mins to adjust to NZ pace against the Canes and then blew them away. They did a pretty handy job of coming back in the 2nd half against the Crusaders too, despite the RC.

            • Roar Guru

              September 27th 2017 @ 4:16pm
              Sam Taulelei said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:16pm | ! Report

              Of course Kiwi teams will test each other, but innately all Kiwi teams have the same DNA in how they approach and play the game.

              Teams from the North have a different DNA and as we witnessed in the BIL tour, all the Kiwi teams opposing them experienced a level of discomfort and stress not seen during the Super competition or at test level in the Rugby Championship.

              SA rugby used to stress Kiwi teams far more at set pieces, driving lineout play and the imposing physiques of players. Their rugby DNA was always different to NZ. They appear indecisive in how they should play to compete against NZ sides. Worst thing they could do is to completely ignore their DNA and try to reinvent themselves, far better to stay true to those qualities that suit their players and impose their will on the opposition.

              • September 27th 2017 @ 4:38pm
                Fionn said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:38pm | ! Report

                Interesting comment, Sam, and very eloquently put. I can’t disagree with anything you’ve written.


              • September 27th 2017 @ 5:28pm
                Jacko said | September 27th 2017 @ 5:28pm | ! Report

                The funny thig is Sam that now that its been pointed out how to pressure the ABs it will n longer be useful as the ABs will now know what can come at them from NH sides and will have learnt to adjust in future better than if the Lions series had been an ABs whitewash

          • September 27th 2017 @ 10:13am
            marto said | September 27th 2017 @ 10:13am | ! Report

            The Reds beat the Crusaders in 2017..

          • Columnist

            September 27th 2017 @ 4:51pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:51pm | ! Report

            Great post Sam, spot on.

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