Can Mick Byrne and Brad Thorn kick-start the Wallabies?

Nicholas Bishop Columnist

By Nicholas Bishop, Nicholas Bishop is a Roar Expert

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    I will always remember the look on Martin Johnson’s face. It was the press conference after England’s ignominious exit from the 2011 World Cup.

    Being the deeply honourable man that he is, Johnno took full responsibility for England’s failure and fell on his own sword.

    He did not blame anyone else and he tried to sound upbeat about his experience as England manager over three and a half years, but his eyes told a different story. The light in them had gone out.

    Meanwhile, the ‘suits’ in the RFU hierarchy washed their hands of the debacle and faded seamlessly into an ever-grey background. Johnno was left to carry the can alone.

    But Martin Johnson’s ultimate failure was not one of his own making, it was a failure of vision by those very administrators who did not hold themselves accountable.

    They appointed England’s best-ever captain as a head coach without constructing the essential support system he needed around him.

    It is a huge step to move from a successful playing career to one where you are observing, teaching and organising. It may be the same sport, but the habits to be learned are very, very different.

    I hope sincerely that Martin Johnson’s fate does not await Brad Thorn. Thorn, like Johnno, played in the second row and was one of his country’s greatest-ever servants in that position.

    When Graham Henry was appointed as New Zealand’s head coach back in 2004 (after another painful inquest at the 2003 World Cup) he concentrated on development in two basic areas of his new All Black team – leadership and tight forward play.

    Mike Cron was brought back from Wales to spread his scrum gospel across the provinces, and Sir Graham found two tight forwards around whom he could build his foundations in Carl Hayman (immediately) and Thorn (on his second tour of duty in Union from 2008 onwards).

    Both Hayman and Thorn were granite-hard competitors of the type New Zealand had lacked in the late nineties and early 2000’s.

    Between them, Hayman and Thorn locked up the right side of the New Zealand scrum for years – ask Ireland’s Mike Ross and he will tell you all about Thorn’s value as a tight-head scrummager.

    Hayman ruled the set-piece and Thorn ruled the breakdown, and that gave the All Blacks a physical, aggressive base from which they could truly expand their game.

    This photo taken on July 31, 2010 shows New Zealand All Black lock Brad Thorn (top) crashing through the tackle of Australian Wallaby winger James O'Connor (bottom) in their Tr-Nations and Bledisoe Cup rugby union Test match, in Melbourne.

    Brad Thorn – possibly the best dual code player in history.

    They have been expanding ever since, and their very rare failures have tended to coincide with moments when the base has temporarily been forgotten – such as the selection of Jerome Kaino in the second row against Ireland in Chicago last year.

    As the new top man at the Queensland Reds, Thorn like Johnson before him is stepping into the great unknown, an abyss from which the celebrated success of his playing career will not save him if he cannot prove he can win.

    Unlike Johnson, he has some support upon which he can rely to provide guidance – an experienced head coach in his own right in Tony McGahan already within the Reds’ coaching team, and a mentor from further back in his League days with the Brisbane Broncos, Wayne Bennett.

    Thorn certainly has the right attitude to the process that is about to unfold:

    “Taking advice is crucial because I know there are massive gaps [in my knowledge]…Sometimes coaches will block that out. When I meet people who know more about things than me, I love being around them to learn.”

    Undoubtedly, Thorn will bring good on and off-field habits to the Reds from the winning cultures with which he has been involved as a player, and he will bring a hardness and discipline to their play from the philosophical base of strong set-pieces, and increased work-rate in defence and at the breakdown.

    The Reds fell down in all these areas in 2017, but should be capable of very significant improvement with 14 capped Wallabies in their ranks, other fringe national candidates like Andrew Ready, Taniela Tupou, Adam Korczyk and Izaia Perese, and a solid leadership core composed of Stephen Moore, James Slipper, Scott Higginbotham, George Smith, Quade Cooper and Karmichael Hunt.

    Should things go well in 2018, I believe that for Brad Thorn, Queensland will be just a staging post en route to the Wallabies’ coaching staff. He may even end up at its pinnacle.

    While New Zealand are constantly strengthening their grip on the rest of the Southern Hemisphere on the field, off it their coaches are providing the main hope for catch-up.

    The other primary coach with All Black experience working in Australia is, of course, Mick Byrne. Byrne is already part of a national coaching think-tank with Michael Cheika, Bob Dwyer and Dick Marks, and he has been co-ordinating coaching efforts at the national level with those on the Super Rugby rung below it.

    I have previously detected signs of Byrne’s influence in the angles of running and footwork in Australia’s forward pod play, and the new offloading emphasis in the outside channels, but of course ‘Mick the Kick’ started as a kicking-and-catching coach based on his experience in the AFL.

    He has been trying to find new ways to make of Israel Folau’s outstanding aerial ability, showcased in his spectacular Aussie Rules style leap for the score from a crosskick against Scotland in June

    The simplest method of achieving that aim is to have Folau chase contestable Wallaby kick-offs of the kind New Zealand have perfected, with any of Dan Carter, Aaron Cruden or Beauden Barrett delivering a flat chip just over the opposition 10m line for Kieran Read to chase with his patented ‘bull-rush’.

    I previously discussed the more controversial aspects of Read’s technique in my article about the third Lions Test in June here.

    Although there is always the danger of committing a ‘charging foul’ when the take-off zone is so far away from the actual point-of-contact with an opponent in the air, Read timed it to perfection to effectively bring New Zealand back from the dead against the Wallabies in Dunedin:

    In the 77th minute, it is replacement #10 Lima Sopoaga who suddenly switches the direction of the restart for Read to chase. Read’s take-off point is at least three metres away from the Wallaby receiver, substitute second-row Izack Rodda at 77:02.

    Although it is Read who gets the first touch, it is really his momentum through contact in the air that ensures Rodda (and Israel Folau) knock it on in the follow-up. This is clear from the slow-motion replay after the All Blacks use the turnover to score their match-winning try.


    Byrne has been introducing the same flat, contestable switch KO for the Wallabies.


    These two examples both come from the first match in Sydney, and feature Bernard Foley delivering the flat restart with Folau chasing in the wide 15m channel out to the right. On both occasions, Folau does not take the ball cleanly, but his ‘charge’ does enough to upset the receiver (New Zealand’s Sam Whitelock) so that he cannot control the ball and Australia regain possession. It is a policy straight out of the All Blacks playbook!

    Byrne has also been varying the receiver and the direction of the kick, with either Reece Hodge or Rob Simmons using the same charging technique to reclaim the ball on the other side of the field – here from the second match against South Africa:


    When it works, the change in momentum can be quick enough to create a cheap score a few phases later:

    In the 26th minute, Folau chases the flat KO from Foley and wins the ball cleanly over Springbok wing Courtnall Skosan. That sets up Adam Coleman on a burst which takes him all the way into the heart of the South African 22, and Kurtley Beale applies the finishing touch against an unstructured defence on the very next phase.

    Summary
    For better or for worse, Australia has entrusted a large portion of their international future to All Black coaches.

    They have already committed to Mick Byrne, whose influence has spread well beyond his starting remit as kicking coach to include the creation and use of turnover ball and handling and running skills among the forwards, and a key role in developing Australian coaching below Test level.

    I also suspect that Brad Thorn may have an important role to play for the Wallabies if success comes early in his reign at the Reds.

    In order to achieve that success he will have to sidestep the scenario that befell another outstanding ex-player with little or no coaching experience in Martin Johnson.

    Both Byrne and Thorn have the pedigree from their association with New Zealand in one of its ‘golden periods’ from 2007 onwards.

    The only question is: when Thorn and Byrne have taught all they have to teach to Australia, will New Zealand rugby have already moved on to another level yet again?

    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 (351)

    • October 11th 2017 @ 4:55am
      Riddler said | October 11th 2017 @ 4:55am | ! Report

      Cheers nick. .

      Personally as a qld fan am very happy about thorn’s promotion.

      Looking forward to the oncoming season because we really do have the best roster of talent I feel..

      Just need a head coach to get that to gel.

      As for byrne, I agree, we are starting to see his work show.. The hands and running lines are definitely improving.

      As said before, am excited and happy about where the wallabies can go..

      Ps on a side note I thought ra’s go at Lancaster said so much about his well known teflon character.

      • Columnist

        October 11th 2017 @ 5:15am
        Nicholas Bishop said | October 11th 2017 @ 5:15am | ! Report

        Hi Riddler

        Yes I think Thorn will bring more substance to the Reds’ effort next season – they will be no pushovers for anyone with him at the helm!

        Spot on about Rob Andrew – well-known as the ‘teflon man’ in English rugby circles. Despite two WC failures on his watch, apparently none of the blame sticks to him at all. ‘Not his department’ 😀

        • October 11th 2017 @ 5:55pm
          Cuw said | October 11th 2017 @ 5:55pm | ! Report

          from planet Rugby

          ” “To this day, I simply do not understand the thinking behind the fast-tracking of a player from international rugby league to international rugby union when so many of the things that had made him wildly successful in the 13-man game were of questionable relevance in the 15-man version.”

          This is a common refrain when it comes to the whole, sorry Sam Burgess affair. It has been muttered by every England fan in existence, and at least seven times in the annuals of this column.

          But you don’t expect it to come from the man who held the post of ‘RFU Director of Professional Rugby’ during the meteoritic rise of the young bloke who has taken the rap for England’s abortive performance at their own World Cup.

          Yes, this is an extract from Rob Andrew’s astonishing new book: ‘Rugby: The Game of My Life: Battling for England in the Professional Era.’

          Perhaps we’re being a little harsh. Apparently he almost persuaded Wayne Smith to set up shop at Twickenham. That would have saved England from Stuart Lancaster and Stuart Lancaster from himself. Sadly, due to factors entirely beyond Andrew’s control, this never came to pass – “instead, we were treated to a slow-motion car crash” that was Rugby World Cup 2015.

          We also learn from his book that he didn’t even want to be part of RWC 2011: “I was tempted to stick two fingers up to the union and watch the World Cup from the safety of my lounge on the basis that if things went pear-shaped, I would be well out of it.”

          As we say, astonishing! “

          • Columnist

            October 13th 2017 @ 9:09pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | October 13th 2017 @ 9:09pm | ! Report

            I’d also add that Rob Andrew had nothing to do with the recruitment of Wayne Smith. That was purely Stuart’s initiative (we had a long discussion about it), and despite Wayne deciding to stay in NZ, they remain friends to this day.

      • October 11th 2017 @ 8:37am
        nickbrisbane said | October 11th 2017 @ 8:37am | ! Report

        Who is the backline coach?

        • October 11th 2017 @ 9:13am
          Mike Julz said | October 11th 2017 @ 9:13am | ! Report

          Larkham

        • October 11th 2017 @ 9:25am
          Handles said | October 11th 2017 @ 9:25am | ! Report

          It will be Mooney.

          • Roar Guru

            October 11th 2017 @ 12:12pm
            jeznez said | October 11th 2017 @ 12:12pm | ! Report

            Yep – Phil Mooney is back which I think is just as significant as Thorn’s appointment. I rate him very highly for the work he did last time he was in the Reds set up.

            • October 11th 2017 @ 12:57pm
              Jimbo81 said | October 11th 2017 @ 12:57pm | ! Report

              Spot on. Mooney was the architect of the Reds attack. He coached Wests to a GF win, won an under 20’s World Cup and he deserved more time with the reds. His 2nd last game where the reds smashed tournament favourites the bulls at Suncorp will never be forgotten.

              Cannot wait to see his set play moves implemented at the reds.

              • October 11th 2017 @ 7:46pm
                Gepetto said | October 11th 2017 @ 7:46pm | ! Report

                Mooney loved the up and coming players and brought them on too soon. he didn’t seem to understand the need for a nucleus of experienced match hardened players.

            • Columnist

              October 11th 2017 @ 5:13pm
              Nicholas Bishop said | October 11th 2017 @ 5:13pm | ! Report

              Sounds good Jez – and more genuine coaching support for Thorn.

              • October 11th 2017 @ 7:38pm
                Fin said | October 11th 2017 @ 7:38pm | ! Report

                Hi Nick,
                Phil Mooney has turned down the QRU offer for the Reds assistant. He is happy working at schoolboy level, and maybe doesn’t want to be burnt by the QRU again.

              • Columnist

                October 11th 2017 @ 7:48pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | October 11th 2017 @ 7:48pm | ! Report

                Interesting decision Fin – who will look after the attack without him?

              • October 11th 2017 @ 9:48pm
                Fin said | October 11th 2017 @ 9:48pm | ! Report

                Not sure. Mooney is committed to coaching at Brisbane Grammar School. A good rugby nursery. Produced more Wallaby captains (7) than any other school. Stephen Moore was the latest one.
                Being a past student there himself, Mooney has a spiritual connection to the place as well.

              • October 11th 2017 @ 10:11pm
                Fin said | October 11th 2017 @ 10:11pm | ! Report

                Nick,
                Thinking about this a little more – Don’t be surprised if Paul Carozza gets the attack coach position at the Reds.
                He has worked with BT in the successful Queensland Under 20’s set-up for the last 2 seasons (they have won the national comp in both seasons), and he is also the current attack coach supporting BT in the QLD Country NRC team (leading the comp at the moment as well).

              • Roar Guru

                October 12th 2017 @ 10:29am
                jeznez said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:29am | ! Report

                Very sorry to hear that. Hope they find someone else of quality

              • October 12th 2017 @ 8:01am
                nickbrisbane said | October 12th 2017 @ 8:01am | ! Report

                Makes sense

    • October 11th 2017 @ 5:38am
      Mike said | October 11th 2017 @ 5:38am | ! Report

      Wish Thorn the best. With a bit of luck he’ll have a few other reds Cheika has overlooked performing well and back in the wallabies, like quade, hunt and higgers

      • Columnist

        October 11th 2017 @ 5:40am
        Nicholas Bishop said | October 11th 2017 @ 5:40am | ! Report

        If the Reds win more then 50% of their games next year – which I think is a reasonable expectation – you would think the three you mention would get catapulted back into WB contention, plus others like Slipper (probably) and Frisby, Perese and Tupou (possibly).

        • Roar Guru

          October 11th 2017 @ 1:09pm
          Fox said | October 11th 2017 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

          Hi Nick – KMH is already in contention NIck with Cheika already hinting he may come off the bench in Brisbane

          A really important game for the Wallabies this one and as to your question at the end Nick – I think we are already seeing signs that the AB’s are moving forward with their game. Not where they want it to be as Shags says but he claims he is pretty happy.

          Thorn IMO will be climbing up that coaching food chain very quickly I have a gut feeling for a few reasons.

          There has been a lot of negative stuff about SBW lately and i just don’t agree with it.

          No one has mentioned that his defence was immense in the last game and how many defenders does he draw for other players to go through holes?

          We have not seen the best of him this year except in the 1st Lion test. That red card was set back clearly for him. Shags backs him 100% and that’s good enough for me.

          I thought Dempsey really stood up for the Wallabies in the last game but I do worry about their defence out wide. Puma found lots of holes there and after your excellent article on Beale’s defence against SBW he was – I not trying to be mean – but he was pretty ordinary in defence the next game against SA. – not sure how he won MOM in that game – Hooper for me I don’t think his defence has become a tour de force by any stretch.

          He has he been good since coming back though to his credit in attack. Allows Foley to concentrate on trying to control the game more IMO

          Well the results are in Nick 🙂

          Ioane was the best attacking back in RC and clearly backed up by the stats and some and especially when he played one less game – Folau and McKenzie next with McKenzie possibly pipping Folau in the last game – he was already ahead in line breaks and defenders beaten. What did I tell you about Iaone? 🙂

          No substitute for out and out serious top end gas Nick with lightning acceleration- McKenzie is in that category as well.

          If you look at most of the ABs best attacking players over the years there they are very quick 100 metres and some had that added ingredient of lightning acceleration which is a serious edge.

          Kirwan 11.05 (lightning over 50m),
          Savea 11.00
          Cullen 10.99,
          Gear 10,95,
          Sivivatu 10.95,
          Lomu 10.79
          Howlett 10.68
          Rokocoko 10.66 40m 4.53

          Today
          Neholo 10.86

          Barrett
          McKenzie
          Ioane

          Couldn’t find records but according to Hansen Barrett and Neholo are the pretty much tied for 2nd spot
          But Ioane is the fastest of them all so looking at Nahoho’s time that is seriously quick

          McKenzie has to be in there as well and especially when Chiefs winger Pulu ( reputedly the quickest in NZ super sides) has gone on record saying McKenzie is quicker than him in sprints they had at the Chiefs – so what the!

          Habana 10.4 sec

          No substitute for natural gas Nick and the AB’s have 4 of the quickest in game right now and though it isn’t talked about, I think it is all part of the speed at which they can play and open up defences in flash on tuenover ball – though not the only reason of course. And Savea is still around as well.

          I think your idea of getting Folau to challenge for the kick off is a good one and I am surprised they don’t use him with short kick-offs. Read is the best in business at the kick-off though – he has down to a fine art like his lineout steals.

          I think the Wallabies definitely need to use Folau in the air in attack more and I am surprised they haven’t over the years but Byrne will fix that as you suggest – Cheika won’tor he would have long ago.

          In the Wallabies game i am actually looking forward to the tight five battle and see if Hames and Lalalau can continue their upward curve. Hames was good last game. Hansen said he is really happy with there scrum work at present.

          Will be good battle that one and promise to be great game.

          • October 11th 2017 @ 1:36pm
            Connor33 said | October 11th 2017 @ 1:36pm | ! Report

            Interesting stats re 100m.

            • Roar Guru

              October 11th 2017 @ 3:24pm
              Fox said | October 11th 2017 @ 3:24pm | ! Report

              Yeah I agree Connor – Neholo’s gas would surprise some I think

              • October 11th 2017 @ 8:14pm
                FactCheika said | October 11th 2017 @ 8:14pm | ! Report

                Not sure all of these times are accurate/reliable?

                Where did you get 10.79 for Jonah, Fox?

                His PB was 10.89 – but by his own admission this was hand timed at a school sports carnival when he was in high school. (From his biography)

                Acceleration is the bigger factor, which you usually get more accurately from 40m times in testing for pre-season – these are done with electronic timing, although surfaces vary (grass or tartan track).

                The ability to use pace well, through footwork and instincts also plays a big part.

                Ricky Nalatu probably had a better 100m PB than all of these guys, but he never did much for the Reds in the early 00s.

                Likewise Brett Stapleton when he went to the Force.

              • Roar Guru

                October 11th 2017 @ 11:36pm
                Fox said | October 11th 2017 @ 11:36pm | ! Report

                Gee factcheika are you seriously going to quibble over Lomu’s PB time when you are disputing roughly one tenth of a second? Man you need to get out more bro:)

                As a point off interest, one his of high school coaches said he ran a 10.6 100m in training before an event when he was interviewed soon after Lomu was selected as an AB so who knows but lets agree he was bloody fast

                Yes I agree acceleration to your top speed is big factor but then if acceleration is how quickly you get to top speed off the mark which in running it is – then how high that top speed is still plays a big part. deadly combo though if you have both.

              • October 12th 2017 @ 11:56am
                BOGGLES THE MIND said | October 12th 2017 @ 11:56am | ! Report

                ^ You are the expert on GAS mate..

              • Columnist

                October 12th 2017 @ 5:57pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | October 12th 2017 @ 5:57pm | ! Report

                .

              • October 12th 2017 @ 7:33pm
                FactCheika said | October 12th 2017 @ 7:33pm | ! Report

                Do you have a link from the high school coach? I’ve never heard that 10.6 stat before – and I’m a big Jonah fan reading a lot of his background stuff, biography, documentaries etc. The 10.89 stat is the one more widely published.

                And even a tenth of a second does make a difference if you’re using it to compare to other wingers and their stats, it the stat you’re quoting isn’t correct.

                I could say Bolt has a PB of 9.48, but it’s not. It’s 9.58. 😉

                Also there are so many variables with these stats – hand timed vs electronic for example. As a general rule you add on 0.25 secs to a hand timed recording (to account for reaction time to the gun by the person timing etc) to get it’s rough electronic equivalent.

                So comparing all of these stats across wingers becomes a bit tricky and as I said – you need to take with a grain of salt.

                Agreed on acceleration and top speed combo – but for rugby it’s the shorter distances that are more relevant (60m or less). 100m has the element of speed endurance (the ability to reach top speed, hold, then decelerate at a slower rate than the people you’re racing against through endurance).

                Some of these guys could be quicker than others over 100m, but not over 60 and subsequently not on a rugby field.

                I’m a massive fan of quick wingers (and a bit of an athletics nerd) so just trying to put some of these stats around PBs etc into perspective.

          • October 11th 2017 @ 1:41pm
            jameswm said | October 11th 2017 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

            are they hand times or electric, spikes and a track or footy boots and a field?

            • Roar Guru

              October 11th 2017 @ 3:23pm
              Fox said | October 11th 2017 @ 3:23pm | ! Report

              Electric and some are track times but it still collates on the field regardless as is evidenced in the games they played and their reputations for serious speed on the field.

              Fastest on the track unlikely to suddenly not going to be one of the quickest on a professionally groomed dry rugby track even if the turf slow him down slightly. Gas is gas period.

              • October 11th 2017 @ 6:07pm
                Cuw said | October 11th 2017 @ 6:07pm | ! Report

                i think 100m is not that good measure for XVs rugger as opposed to 7s.

                its not very often one gets to do a length of the field – most of the time its the speed over 60m that matters.

                in 7S of course u can do a full length if ur quick like Isles , Baker , Senatla , Norton ….

                the ideal gas men for XV rugger are those who have a very quick start and max out around 60m. BB for eg. strides away from would-be tacklers in the first 20m .

                also not forgetting – we are talking of a straight sprint. but more often the ability to change direction without losing the speed has a big impact on the outcome.

                this is where guys like DMac and NMS have the edge. they can run thru a maze very fast. i think it is their low center of gravity that helps .

                but there is a marked difference running on grass with boots compared to spikes on Tartan/Mondo track.

                also there is a marked difference in running on a newly laid Tartan/Mondo compared to one that has been used for a few years , especially if it is open to the elements.

            • October 13th 2017 @ 12:40am
              Rebellion said | October 13th 2017 @ 12:40am | ! Report

              There is so much BS regarding Lomu
              He was a tremendous athlete and quick for his build but as a rugby player he would have been lucky to break 12 seconds for the 100m and he was a poor defender
              Don’t get me wrong he was a true great of the game and was deadly until 2001 but he was never a player feared for his speed – only for his size and strength. Guys like James Small and Ben Tune had no problems handling him.
              Of his era, Eales was by far a more dangerous opponent.

          • October 11th 2017 @ 2:33pm
            Kibuib said | October 11th 2017 @ 2:33pm | ! Report

            Out and out gas, I’d have to say Koroibete and Tom Banks have to be up there, and maybe Naivaku before the injuries

            • October 11th 2017 @ 3:03pm
              Fionn said | October 11th 2017 @ 3:03pm | ! Report

              Until we’ve seen a decline in speed from Naivalu since injuries we have to operate under the assumption that he is still the fastest person in Australian rugby. He definitely was the fastest we’ve had.

              Banks is probably 2nd based on what I’ve seen, with perhaps Koroibete and Beale afterwards.

              Beale and Banks are exceptionally fast over 10-20 meters, which is no small thing. Their acceleration is wonderful.

              • Roar Rookie

                October 11th 2017 @ 3:11pm
                piru said | October 11th 2017 @ 3:11pm | ! Report

                I know it’s probably not so relevant, but it’s easy to forget just how fast Lomu was.

                In his prime (and we now know that his prime was maybe 70% of his potential due to his illness) he’d still be among the quickest wingers in the world.

              • October 11th 2017 @ 3:18pm
                Fionn said | October 11th 2017 @ 3:18pm | ! Report

                Attempting to tackle him wouldn’t have been fun. 🙂

            • Roar Guru

              October 11th 2017 @ 3:27pm
              Fox said | October 11th 2017 @ 3:27pm | ! Report

              No question about that Piru and 121kg no less- that is a turbo charged freight train coming at you.

              • Roar Guru

                October 11th 2017 @ 4:50pm
                Fox said | October 11th 2017 @ 4:50pm | ! Report

                Last line to Fionn obviously above

              • Roar Rookie

                October 11th 2017 @ 5:55pm
                piru said | October 11th 2017 @ 5:55pm | ! Report

                So many of the legends you look back on and think “were they as great as I remember?”

                I think with Jonah you can safely say he was.

              • October 11th 2017 @ 6:21pm
                Cuw said | October 11th 2017 @ 6:21pm | ! Report

                He was blessed a multiple times physically but not in health.

                men as big as him do not have the speed in most cases, and men who have that kind of speed are not so heavy.

                for eg .Bolt may come out as not only the fastest but also the biggest sprinter – but he was like 95kg this year.

                all others are ranging between 75 – 90 kg. Justin Gatlin was said to be around 80kg and the new kid Christian Coleman is only 71kg.

                a more acceptable comparison maybe with those giants of Decathlon. but even then it is hard to find men as huge as Lomu. the best Decathlete atm – Ashton Eaton is like 85kg and he runs the 100m in like 10.25s.

                perhaps there shud be a sprint event for those field athletes – hammer , javelin , discus , put….

              • Roar Guru

                October 11th 2017 @ 7:14pm
                Fox said | October 11th 2017 @ 7:14pm | ! Report

                I don’t think you would get any argument from anyone there Piru – a freakish athlete

          • October 11th 2017 @ 3:01pm
            Fionn said | October 11th 2017 @ 3:01pm | ! Report

            Nick Bishop has been pretty critical of stats in isolation “proving” anything.

            I wouldn’t say Ioane proved himself a better attacking player than Folau. I would say he is better on the counter due to his speed, but that Folau is better against set and structured defences.

            Interestingly, Milner-Skudder isn’t very fast at all, but when he’s in form I think he is probably the best attacking player in the All Blacks.

            • October 11th 2017 @ 4:01pm
              Jacko said | October 11th 2017 @ 4:01pm | ! Report

              I dont see many situations where 100mtrs of pure speed is needed. You only need to look at McKenzies try v SA on Saturday to see that the first 10-15 is the most crucial in most situations. Ioane is very quick but to me he does not yet enjoy the contact like THE BUS but at 19 he has plenty of things to learn.

              • Columnist

                October 11th 2017 @ 5:23pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | October 11th 2017 @ 5:23pm | ! Report

                A rare occasion where we find ourselves in agreement Jacko 😀

              • October 11th 2017 @ 8:38pm
                Fionn said | October 11th 2017 @ 8:38pm | ! Report

                Nick, Jacko, we have 3 people in agreement on the Roar! 😛

              • Roar Guru

                October 11th 2017 @ 11:37pm
                Fox said | October 11th 2017 @ 11:37pm | ! Report

                Nice one Fionn

              • Roar Guru

                October 12th 2017 @ 6:12am
                taylorman said | October 12th 2017 @ 6:12am | ! Report

                Yeah but hang on….?

            • Roar Guru

              October 11th 2017 @ 4:18pm
              Fox said | October 11th 2017 @ 4:18pm | ! Report

              Yeah agree Fionn about McKenzie but disagree about Ioane – the stats are very impressive And this stuff about Ioane not enjoying the contact area is nonsense – go back an look at the way he drives through the line out wide everytime he gets the ball in traffic. 102kg and 189m or 6ft 2″ !!!

              Hard to argue IMO when he is way ahead in defenders beaten let alone other stats.

              TRIES
              Ioane 5
              Folau 5
              McKenzie 4

              CLEAN BREAKS
              Ioane 17
              McKenzie 16
              Folau 13

              DEFENDERS BEATEN
              Ioane 35
              McKenzie 33
              Folau 26

              METRES
              Ioane 649
              Folau 643
              McKenzie 450

              I think when you factor in that he played one less game these stats IMO show Ioane was the most best attacking player in RC IMO.

              Also no one could take away Folau’s ability to break defences or McKenzies for that matter -but the number of defenders Ioane has beaten and clean breaks in one less game tell you he has no issue with structured defences and he is huge guy like Folau, and like Folau, unless it a is clean tackle around the legs he is hard to bring down –

              Just watch the footage against the Boks when he carries in the tight – always beats his first man with lightening step of his left foot that he has and then it take at least two or three to get him down in most cases.

              I think he is the best attacking player in the world right here and now- just my opinion – although in terms of setting up an attack coupled with his own speed and attacking prowess – Barrett is arguably the very best of all of them.

              On SBW’ defence – he was the only back in the top five tackle count and the only one in the top 10 for the RC – that’s some stat for any back and he makes many count as well driving players backwards.

              IMO I think he is not far off his very best despite what some might argue and that’s why Hansen knows his very best form isn’t far away.

              • October 11th 2017 @ 5:09pm
                Taylorman said | October 11th 2017 @ 5:09pm | ! Report

                And even better…he’s a Blues man, born and bred! ???

              • October 11th 2017 @ 8:38pm
                Fionn said | October 11th 2017 @ 8:38pm | ! Report

                The problem with stats like defenders beaten is that it pretends things are black and white in rugby, but they’re not, they’re shades of grey.

                For example Ioane possesses a really underrated step and I often see him ‘beat’ a defender or two, dart past them but then get tackled 5 or so meters up the field. When Folau makes a break it more often has him going 20+ m.

                When Ioane makes a clean break he is more likely to accelerate away from the chasers and score those 80m tries that Folau will do so less frequently. That first one he scored against the Lions or the one on the weekend against the Boks are prime examples. I don’t think Folau would have scored either of those tries, or almost certainly not the Lions one.

                I don’t think Ioane doesn’t enjoy the contact area, I just think he isn’t as strong as Folau. Folau might not be a Mortlock, but he is good at powering through contact and the gaps, whereas Ioane seems to slow down, beat them with his footwork and then speed up again, rather than run through at full power.

                Against a structured/set defence 10m out I would rather have Folau running the ball than Ioane (remember, one of Ioane’s tries was Folau’s incompetence at defence). Running off quick turnover ball or a kick return I would rather have Ioane.

                I think they’re just good in different ways. I think Folau, Ioane and Liam Williams have got to be the three best wingers in the world though. Two of those three + Ben Smith at fullback would make my world 15.

              • October 11th 2017 @ 9:08pm
                Fionn said | October 11th 2017 @ 9:08pm | ! Report

                Obviously that is supposed to read ‘there are shades of grey’

              • Roar Guru

                October 12th 2017 @ 6:15am
                taylorman said | October 12th 2017 @ 6:15am | ! Report

                Instead of ‘three shades of gray’?

              • October 12th 2017 @ 10:22am
                ClarkeG said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:22am | ! Report

                Milner-Skudder should feel gray because on Monday he was in the World Team now he is not in the top three wingers. 🙂

              • October 12th 2017 @ 10:31am
                Fionn said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:31am | ! Report

                Clark, I think the problem is that both Milner-Skudder and Folau are right wingers. You could make an argument for either of them, but I’d personally go for Folau (but that’s perhaps my Aussie bias).

              • October 13th 2017 @ 12:56am
                Rebellion said | October 13th 2017 @ 12:56am | ! Report

                Sorry Foxsaker but you would name Steve Hansen a greater genius than Albert Einstein just because he took the All Blacks RWC tally to one beyond Australia and South Africa..

                Only 3RWC’s to 2 and you’re trying to proclaim a NZ rugby union winger better than a proven world class Australian rugby league winger – even though union has an inferior collection of athletes than league (by some distance).

                Are you an English major in science fiction by any chance?

          • Columnist

            October 11th 2017 @ 5:21pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | October 11th 2017 @ 5:21pm | ! Report

            Thanks Fox.

            Puma found lots of holes there and after your excellent article on Beale’s defence against SBW he was – I not trying to be mean – but he was pretty ordinary in defence the next game against SA.

            After KB’s defensive success against SBW in the line they switched him to the backfield since and he has missed a couple there.

            Still not convinced by the BB-SBW-Crotty combination. Compared to the previous midfield of DC/Cruden-Nonu-Smith I feel it lacks variety and is a little one-dimensional. And no real kicking game out of 12 or 13.

            Speed is one important attribute for a modern wing (as it always has been) – but look at relatively slow guys like Cory Jane, they still made the position their own without it.

            • Roar Guru

              October 11th 2017 @ 7:46pm
              Fox said | October 11th 2017 @ 7:46pm | ! Report

              Not sure about that Nick – Jane was clocked at 10.8 seconds for the 100m in an inter-school high school sprint competition and Hansen when talking about his speed called him “a little whippet, and very quick” in a press preference so I have to disagree there – at the peak of his powers he was very quick.

              But he slowed after his a series of injuries and he just wasn’t as deadly after that and I think he knew it too. That where ongoing injuries to guys with gas can be so damaging

              Sure speed isn’t everything but it is a hell of a lot when it is genuine serious top end gas off the mark.

              That acceleration is Barretts most lethal weapon as a fly half, that no other fly half in the international game has ( McKenzie i guess since he has played there for the AB’s off the bench) – so yes I think it can help make players rise above the pack if they have the rugby nous and skills to go with it. in their position.

              • October 11th 2017 @ 8:03pm
                Jerry said | October 11th 2017 @ 8:03pm | ! Report

                Cory Jane had lost pace when he was at the peak of his powers. He’d pretty much lost his pace by the time he became a regular All Black.

                It’s entirely possible to be a successful wing/FB without relative pace. Jason Robinson wasn’t that fast, nor is NMS. Both have good acceleration and a great step obv.

              • Columnist

                October 11th 2017 @ 8:12pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | October 11th 2017 @ 8:12pm | ! Report

                Yep that’s my view of it too Jerry – I think Jane 10.8 was set when he was a schoolboy!

              • October 11th 2017 @ 8:25pm
                soapit said | October 11th 2017 @ 8:25pm | ! Report

                jason robinson was fast jerry, might not top the 100m but he’d go well over 30

              • Roar Guru

                October 11th 2017 @ 8:37pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | October 11th 2017 @ 8:37pm | ! Report

                One of my favorite quotes is “High speed never compensates the wrong direction”. Running fast on a straight line can be very handy at times, but it is rarely a game-changer.

                Fox does mention that acceleration is probably more important than top-speed and I agree with that, however, the attribute II value the highest is lateral speed and ability to change direction.at full speed.

                It is a little bit like dog-fighting in the air. To be able to turn fast and be in control is way more important than top-speed. A big heavy fighter jet with record-breaking top speed will never stand a chance against a smaller and more memorable plan with lesser top-speed.

                Football’s greatest son – Lionel Messi – has a thousand different skills and gifts that make him so lethal, but his ability to change direction while running at full speed is one of his deadliest attributes. I would say that about McKenzie and Milner-Skudder also.

              • October 11th 2017 @ 8:41pm
                Fionn said | October 11th 2017 @ 8:41pm | ! Report

                ‘Football’s greatest son – Lionel Messi – has a thousand different skills and gifts that make him so lethal, but his ability to change direction while running at full speed is one of his deadliest attributes. I would say that about McKenzie and Milner-Skudder also.’

                Fantastic comment, Neutral!

                Might I say that when I had read the first sentence of that paragraph I was already planning my reply of ‘I think that Milner-Skudder and McKenzie do that amazingly!’ only to read what you said. I’ll add that I think Liam Williams does it fantastically also.

                Tom Banks and Beale are the two current Aussies who seem able to do it. In a couple of years Banks will be a seriously good Wallaby.

              • Roar Guru

                October 11th 2017 @ 8:59pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | October 11th 2017 @ 8:59pm | ! Report

                Thanks Fionn

                I think we can use Formula One cars as a good comparison also. It is possible to buy sportscars that are faster than them, but those sportscars would not stand a chance on a race track against a Formula One car.

                With all the names we mention, they all share similarities in their physics. Much shorter than the average rugby or football player and a very low center of gravity.

              • October 11th 2017 @ 8:59pm
                Jerry said | October 11th 2017 @ 8:59pm | ! Report

                Soapit – yeah, great acceleration without great top end speed (remember in 02, he couldn’t close the distance on Elton Flatley over 60 odd metres for instance). But as his career showed, top end speed isn’t the be all and end all.

              • October 12th 2017 @ 5:25pm
                soapit said | October 12th 2017 @ 5:25pm | ! Report

                jerry i also reckon his running style made him hard to pick up when he was about to step you.

          • October 12th 2017 @ 12:20pm
            Drongo said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

            Try to stick to the topic Fox.

    • October 11th 2017 @ 5:45am
      Kane said | October 11th 2017 @ 5:45am | ! Report

      I’m curious if Thorn’s appointment is another case of an ex great player being appointed a head coach with no real track record to prove they’re up to the job.

      Australia of all places isn’t where I see Thorn getting the support he needs.

      Hopefully he proves me wrong, great guy and I managed to play against him this year but I don’t see him being particularly successful.

      • Columnist

        October 11th 2017 @ 5:51am
        Nicholas Bishop said | October 11th 2017 @ 5:51am | ! Report

        I’m curious if Thorn’s appointment is another case of an ex great player being appointed a head coach with no real track record to prove they’re up to the job.

        This was the danger with Martin Johnson – England expected his mystique to somehow convert to great coaching. But he wasn’t given the right support and also he wasn’t given time. Both Graham Henry and Clive Woodward ‘failed’ at their first WC attempts (after 3 and 1/2 years) and succeeded at the second (after 7) – who is to say Johnson would not have been able to do the same?

        If BT can get enough support and advice from the likes of McGahan and Wayne Bennett I think the odds favour him, but it is a gamble.

        When did you play against him?

        • October 11th 2017 @ 6:30am
          Kane said | October 11th 2017 @ 6:30am | ! Report

          When the Red’s were in Dunedin earlier this year he went and played for his old clubs reserve grade team (Tier) against one of the competitions worst team (Zingari). There were several ring ins to help bolster the Zingari team (who would miss the chance to play against Thorn)

            • Columnist

              October 11th 2017 @ 6:35am
              Nicholas Bishop said | October 11th 2017 @ 6:35am | ! Report

              Great stuff! – many thanks for that. He really has that old amateur heart of ‘have boots, will travel’ eh?

              • October 11th 2017 @ 10:29am
                Old Bugger said | October 11th 2017 @ 10:29am | ! Report

                Gees, BT looks like a monster standing beside, his team-mates…..!!

              • October 13th 2017 @ 1:09am
                Rebellion said | October 13th 2017 @ 1:09am | ! Report

                It just goes to show – Brad Thorn was a slightly above average age NRL player who became one of the greatest All Black locks of all time.
                A true representation of the gulf in class between the two codes.
                And to think AFL has access to an even greater talent pool than the NRL (no cause for embarrassment for NZ rugby fans)

              • Columnist

                October 13th 2017 @ 3:29am
                Nicholas Bishop said | October 13th 2017 @ 3:29am | ! Report

                Brad Thorn was a slightly above average age NRL player

                Really? Is that all he was? 🙂

              • October 13th 2017 @ 1:44am
                Jeffrey said | October 13th 2017 @ 1:44am | ! Report

                You mean the massive gulf in class like Will Chambers? A Kangaroo and Queensland rep but couldn’t even make the lowly Reds starting lineup. Nobody believes the old myth that league players are better when league poaches some of our best talent anyway as they can’t produce enough players to fill their teams. See Nelson Asofa-Solomana, Vunivalu, Hurrell, Roger Tuivasa Sheck, Andrew Fifita etc. I watch the NRL every week and am not overly impressed by your supposed superior athletes.

            • October 11th 2017 @ 7:05am
              Lostintokyo said | October 11th 2017 @ 7:05am | ! Report

              Great photo Kane, and a reason why Thorn can hopefully succeed, empathy with his players.

            • Roar Guru

              October 11th 2017 @ 9:38am
              Carlos the Argie said | October 11th 2017 @ 9:38am | ! Report

              That team has the colors of Boca Juniors, the most prestigious football club in all of South America. Bah, in the entire world! Galaxy! Believe me!

              • Roar Guru

                October 11th 2017 @ 12:24pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | October 11th 2017 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

                What could possibly go wrong when you select your team colors with the Swedish flag as inspiration? Absolutely nothing! 😉

                And congrats to Argentina for sneaking in through the back door to the Fifa World Cup in Russia next summer. That boy Messi can play…

                All Whites will face Peru in the playoff, a good draw I say. There is a chance I say.

              • October 11th 2017 @ 4:03pm
                Jacko said | October 11th 2017 @ 4:03pm | ! Report

                And Aus will face Honduras…Not a bad draw either. Certainly a good chance

              • Columnist

                October 11th 2017 @ 5:25pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | October 11th 2017 @ 5:25pm | ! Report

                Maybe that’s where all your best players have emigrated to Carlos!!

            • October 11th 2017 @ 11:51am
              ethan said | October 11th 2017 @ 11:51am | ! Report

              Great story and photos. Love his passion for the game – the man just wants to play!

              The more I think about the appointment of Thorn, the more I become optimistic about next year.

            • October 11th 2017 @ 12:10pm
              Connor33 said | October 11th 2017 @ 12:10pm | ! Report

              Brilliant. Thanks for sharing.

            • October 11th 2017 @ 2:36pm
              Akari said | October 11th 2017 @ 2:36pm | ! Report

              Thanks Kane. I now feel optimistic that BT will succeed in his new venture. What a man.

        • Roar Guru

          October 11th 2017 @ 12:20pm
          jeznez said | October 11th 2017 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

          Nick, Phil Mooney is the other piece of the puzzle. Ex Reds head coach now back in the fold to run the backs. Was the guy that re-built Qld the last time they were in the doldrums before being replaced by McKenzie.

          The likes of Genia, Cooper, Ioane and Higginbotham all came in to the Reds set up under his watch (Ioane having been at the Force and the rest coming from the ARC). He has a proven track record of talent identification and development and can get a back line to sing.

          He led the Panasonic Wild Knights to a championship before having Robbie Deans brought in over the top of him and stayed on as assistant in their subsequent title years.

          Have always been mightily impressed by what he did with the Reds last time and always questioned the decision to bring McKenzie in over him despite the title success that was achieved.

          • Roar Guru

            October 11th 2017 @ 4:20pm
            John R said | October 11th 2017 @ 4:20pm | ! Report

            Chook Fowler?

            • Roar Guru

              October 11th 2017 @ 5:43pm
              jeznez said | October 11th 2017 @ 5:43pm | ! Report

              Yep, Fowler joined in 07 during Mooney’s tenure. Another key plank of the title season under Link

              • Roar Guru

                October 12th 2017 @ 8:34am
                John R said | October 12th 2017 @ 8:34am | ! Report

                Wayne Smith is always big upping that bloke, saying his game plans were a huge part of the Reds success.

                Wonder what he’s up to now.

          • Columnist

            October 11th 2017 @ 5:27pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | October 11th 2017 @ 5:27pm | ! Report

            Thanks for that Jez – I don’t know al lot about Mooney but we always had a lot of respect for Jim McKay when he was WB attack coach, and IIRC he was a Reds man too…

            From what you’re saying it sounds like the Reds players will be enjoying the coaching in 2018!

        • October 11th 2017 @ 7:58pm
          Fin said | October 11th 2017 @ 7:58pm | ! Report

          Nick,
          McGahan seems to have lost some confidence after the last season down in Melbourne. He found it really difficult, and he had no intention of seeking a head coaching position elsewhere, so the opportunity to come home to Brisbane after 15 years away and coach the Reds in an assistant capacity was taken with both hands.

          • Columnist

            October 11th 2017 @ 8:14pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | October 11th 2017 @ 8:14pm | ! Report

            Maybe he will enjoy that behind-the-scenes, mentoring role better next season Fin?

      • October 11th 2017 @ 11:44pm
        Drongo said | October 11th 2017 @ 11:44pm | ! Report

        Thorn doesn’t agree with you on the support issue. He wants to make his life in this country because of the huge support he has always received here, even when he turned from a Kangaroo to an All Black.

        • October 12th 2017 @ 7:22am
          Kane said | October 12th 2017 @ 7:22am | ! Report

          Oh were you speaking with him?

          • Columnist

            October 12th 2017 @ 8:02am
            Nicholas Bishop said | October 12th 2017 @ 8:02am | ! Report

            🙂

          • October 12th 2017 @ 12:00pm
            BOGGLES THE MIND said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

            Qld or New Zealand…It was not a hard choice for Thorn.

          • October 12th 2017 @ 12:23pm
            Drongo said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:23pm | ! Report

            Yes

    • October 11th 2017 @ 6:16am
      mzilikazi said | October 11th 2017 @ 6:16am | ! Report

      Very interesting article, Nic.

      As a Queenslander I am very relieved to see the Stiles era ended, and Brad Thorn taking over.

      An interesting point about Thorn is that though he is NZ born, and a great All Black, his family came across to the “West Island” when he was a ten year old ?, and he went on to become a great player for the Qld Maroons. That alone will give him a huge respect base here in this state. Add to that his All Black status as one of their great players of the most desired type…hard ,rugged, “hewn from granite”.

      Also think he will be a players man, and will always take responsibility for sub standard performances, and not blame his players…….one of the sad aspects of Stiles tenure.

      So, good luck to the big man.
      r

      • Columnist

        October 11th 2017 @ 6:21am
        Nicholas Bishop said | October 11th 2017 @ 6:21am | ! Report

        Despite making their names in the AB world, both Thorn and Byrne have ofc strong Aussie connections MZ!

        I think Thorn’s ruggedness and emphasis on physicality will appeal to Michael Cheika in the long term. After all, MC started his career as WB coach by picking back five players for their dynamism and ability to produce quick breakdown ball – though that has changed lately…

        • October 11th 2017 @ 8:03pm
          Fin said | October 11th 2017 @ 8:03pm | ! Report

          Nick,
          Both Lukhan Tui & Izack Rodda have credited BT as the reason for their rise to Wallaby level at such a young age.
          Thorn has coached them at QLD under 20’s, QLD Country (NRC), and the Reds.
          They both say he demands that they play with a hard edge physically.

    • October 11th 2017 @ 6:28am
      Connor33 said | October 11th 2017 @ 6:28am | ! Report

      While I am happy to see Byrne in AU’s coaching ranks, I hope he can supplement traditional AU play — rather than transform it. I think I saw Barrett kick 10 times against Argentina last week — many a time to no avail. I’ll switch on the afl if I wanted to see this ad nauseam. I’d rather watch AU’s set-piece play against SA any day of the week as there’s less 50-50 luck involved — i.e., knocking players out of the way like bowling pins (as depicted in the pics) and hope that the support players pick up the scraps. I’ll take a good unders line thank you…

      Byrne’s upskilling of the Ab’s pack (and provincial teams) cannot be denied, though. Quite exceptional. It took time, but seems to be worth it. I can now see the AU forwards showing greater willingness to pass and move in that direction.

      That said, I don’t want to see the end of set-piece rugby. Byrne and NZU hierarchy seemed to have vanquished it from the national side, though it still seems to exist at the provincial level after watching several NPC games.

      Augmenting what Byrne has to offer with traditional (clever) AU set piece play is where I think AU want to head — particularly as defenses become better — providing threats from turnover as well as lineout/scrum. As long as Larkham is there, I can’t see set-piece play falling off the radar…

      • Columnist

        October 11th 2017 @ 6:41am
        Nicholas Bishop said | October 11th 2017 @ 6:41am | ! Report

        New Zealand had the ideal balance in their coaching education with the likes of Byrne, Wayne Smith and Mike Cron Connor. Thorn may play the same role as Cron in Australia, even though he isn’t a specialist scrum coach. He has the same tight forward focus.

      • October 11th 2017 @ 6:43am
        mzilikazi said | October 11th 2017 @ 6:43am | ! Report

        “I can now see the AU forwards showing greater willingness to pass and move in that direction. ”

        Interesting point about Byrne’s influence, C33. We all , as coaches and interested rugby followers, look at what the best teams are doing, and adopt what is best, what is working well.

        Evidence that the Boks are doing this too….the Beast is “a different beast” this year IMO…he is showing some great passing skills, to add to his dramatic and crowd rousing charges.

        • October 11th 2017 @ 12:14pm
          Connor33 said | October 11th 2017 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

          So true re the Beast, and SA’s forwards generally. Marx, for me, has it all–particularly when you throw in his pilfering.

          • October 11th 2017 @ 12:19pm
            Fionn said | October 11th 2017 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

            If he stays uninjured I believe he will go on to become one of the best players in the world, and perhaps even win world player of the year sometime in the next couple of years.

            • Columnist

              October 11th 2017 @ 5:29pm
              Nicholas Bishop said | October 11th 2017 @ 5:29pm | ! Report

              After his last performance he must currently be the best #2 in world rugby Fionn 🙂

              • October 11th 2017 @ 8:53pm
                Fionn said | October 11th 2017 @ 8:53pm | ! Report

                Aye, Nick. As good as Jamie George and an in-form Dane Coles are I don’t think either of them are capable of what Marx does. I don’t mean to exaggerate but that was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen by a hooker, and to do so against the All Blacks is incredible.

                He’s possibly the most powerful player I’ve ever seen, and compares favourably even against guys like Bismarck du Plessis, Bakkies Botha, Brodie Retallick and Etzebeth. Did you see that point on the weekend that he almost succeeded in ripping the ball straight out of Whitelock’s arms when going in for the tackle? Or when Whitelock and Todd both tried to clear him out at the same time, and it was like Hanigan’s attempt to clean Retallick out in Bledisloe 1, where they succeeded in not moving him even an inch.

                It blows my mind that he is only 23.

            • Roar Guru

              October 11th 2017 @ 5:31pm
              The Neutral View From Sweden said | October 11th 2017 @ 5:31pm | ! Report

              Agree Fionn
              If he can deliver a couple of performances like he did this weekend every year combined high standards he will have a very fair chance to win the world player of the year award. His performance this weekend has put his name on everyone’s lips basically, and that is how you win those awards.

              • October 11th 2017 @ 8:53pm
                Fionn said | October 11th 2017 @ 8:53pm | ! Report

                I really hope you’re right, Neutral. It would be a great spark for South African rugby, and really good for the young man’s confidence. 🙂

                … You know me though, I wouldn’t be upset at seeing Joe Launchbury get a nomination 😉

              • Roar Guru

                October 11th 2017 @ 9:20pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | October 11th 2017 @ 9:20pm | ! Report

                If I try to predict the six name shortlist for WPOTY I go like this.(n no particular order)

                Jonathan Davies
                Rieko Ioane
                Maro Itoje
                Malcolm Marx
                Damien McKenzie
                Israel Folau

                Standout performances and strong highlights reels are usually what grabs the jury’s attention.

              • Columnist

                October 11th 2017 @ 10:39pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | October 11th 2017 @ 10:39pm | ! Report

                That’s a pretty good list NV.

              • October 11th 2017 @ 9:28pm
                Fionn said | October 11th 2017 @ 9:28pm | ! Report

                Davies was awesome in the Lions but was just so average in the 6N.

                I’d like to see Launchbury in there over Ioane, Folau or Davies, just because his form was more consistently good through the entire season.

                Folau has been excellent in the internationals but was so average for the Tahs.

              • Roar Guru

                October 11th 2017 @ 9:54pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | October 11th 2017 @ 9:54pm | ! Report

                My two cents:

                I believe they value what players do at the biggest stage a lot and Launchbury missing out on the Lions tour more or less disqualifies him (sorry to say that because I know you are a big fan).

                For the same reason will Davies almost certainly be on that list, 240 brilliant minutes against the AB’s in NZ will not be ignored. But as T-man has pointed out when we discussed this before, midfielders never win this award. If Nonu could not win it in 2015, I guess no midfielder can win it. So don’t expect Davies to win the award.

                What a player do or not do in SR is usually not a game-changer, so Folau will be on that list and if he breaks the try-scoring world record he will have a very real chance to win it.

              • October 11th 2017 @ 10:52pm
                Rugby Tragic said | October 11th 2017 @ 10:52pm | ! Report

                NV, Reiko Ioane, after a couple more games and I think will win the ‘rookie of the year’ ..

                As you are aware I thought Retallick was a shoe in for the big gong but unfortunately he has missed too many games through no fault of his own which will probably count him out.

                Marx was brilliant last game and while one would think he must be a chance his form has not been consistent enough this year, like his lineout throws but his turn will come.

                I have no idea who the nominees will be even, but for me, I think Folau should be in the mix due to his try scoring feats and perhaps Kieran Read. Itoje could also be in the mix but I think his better days are ahead of him. Sexton, Connor Murray of even O’Brien. I shouldn’t be speculating as I really do not know

              • Roar Guru

                October 11th 2017 @ 11:36pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | October 11th 2017 @ 11:36pm | ! Report

                Hi RT

                No doubt the prediction business is tricky, but Rieko should have the rookie of year award locked in already now.

                I think Retallick still has a chance to make the list, but his chances are slim due to the tragic circumstances you refer to.

                It might not be fair, but with a performance like Marx had against the AB’s, the whole rugby world take notice. Even up north his performance has been the big talking point this week, and that is what usually matters when the judges decide who is in.

                The scary thing about Itoje is that indeed better days are ahead of him, yet he is in with a very real chance to win it already this year, at the tender age of 22.

                Sexton, Murray, and O’Brien are good calls also.

      • Roar Guru

        October 11th 2017 @ 12:39pm
        Who Needs Melon said | October 11th 2017 @ 12:39pm | ! Report

        Yes, we wouldn’t want to lose that “traditional (clever) AU set piece play”. 😀

    • October 11th 2017 @ 6:30am
      Galatzo said | October 11th 2017 @ 6:30am | ! Report

      Hello again, Nicholas. When the Wallabies had the ABs beat, that was the knock on that was heard around the rugby world, as your excellent analysis shows. As a WB fan I may yet have a bumper sticker printed that says, “Give us Read and we’ll beat you.” No other 8 in world is so influential. As for the new Q coach, Brad was the best ever league to union convert by far. He knows a hell of a lot. We’ll find out how he is as a communicator. And if Roarer Kane once played against him, I glad to see that Kane has recovered from concussion. When BT hit you, you stayed hit.

      • Columnist

        October 11th 2017 @ 6:42am
        Nicholas Bishop said | October 11th 2017 @ 6:42am | ! Report

        Brad was the best ever league to union convert by far.

        And to the best of my knowledge, the only League forward who has succeeded as a Union forward?

        • October 11th 2017 @ 7:22am
          Highlander said | October 11th 2017 @ 7:22am | ! Report

          Surely you are not suggesting the Sam Burgess selection was an error Nick ?

          • Columnist

            October 11th 2017 @ 7:32am
            Nicholas Bishop said | October 11th 2017 @ 7:32am | ! Report

            Sam Burgess was fine as a WC selection, and off the bench for a bit of impact H’lander. Even when he started against Wales in that fateful group match, England were leading 25-18 when he was subbed off! 🙂

            • October 11th 2017 @ 8:05am
              soapit said | October 11th 2017 @ 8:05am | ! Report

              and played at 12 in any case at least for his highest honours

              think jason robinson is the only one that could have a good case to pip thorn out of all of them

              • October 11th 2017 @ 9:51am
                mzilikazi said | October 11th 2017 @ 9:51am | ! Report

                Jason Robinson….not a forward, but leave that aside. I would say that he is the classic case of a successful transition between the codes….and I don’t think he had a Union background ever….born and bred in Yorkshire in Rugby League heartland territory.

                IMO he was close to being as important as Jonny Wilkinson in the winning of the RWC.

                Also see that he actually captained England.

              • October 11th 2017 @ 10:17am
                Jake said | October 11th 2017 @ 10:17am | ! Report

                Lote Tiquiri

              • October 11th 2017 @ 12:51pm
                soapit said | October 11th 2017 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

                yeah by out of all of them i meant backs and forwards.

                the captaincy sways it for mine

        • October 11th 2017 @ 7:22am
          Adsa said | October 11th 2017 @ 7:22am | ! Report

          Scott Quinnel?

          • Columnist

            October 11th 2017 @ 7:28am
            Nicholas Bishop said | October 11th 2017 @ 7:28am | ! Report

            He was a Union player before he ever went North ( and came back again)…

            • October 11th 2017 @ 7:57am
              Tones said | October 11th 2017 @ 7:57am | ! Report

              Peter Ryan? A very respectable Rugby resume after his league days

              • Columnist

                October 11th 2017 @ 8:02am
                Nicholas Bishop said | October 11th 2017 @ 8:02am | ! Report

                Wasn’t he a centre for Brumbies?

              • October 11th 2017 @ 9:18am
                Dave_S said | October 11th 2017 @ 9:18am | ! Report

                And then a good D coach

              • October 11th 2017 @ 8:17am
                Charlie Turner said | October 11th 2017 @ 8:17am | ! Report

                Backrower.

              • Roar Guru

                October 11th 2017 @ 12:28pm
                jeznez said | October 11th 2017 @ 12:28pm | ! Report

                Yep back rower and now defence/contact coach.

                Was a second row for the Broncos and a blindside breakaway for the Brumbies.

                Think he has the first player to win both an NRL and Super Rugby title and was the first forward to make a successful transition – albeit not achieving international honours.

              • October 11th 2017 @ 12:52pm
                soapit said | October 11th 2017 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

                if he was a bit younger and wasnt in such a golden period for the wallabies he would have had a good shot jez. he did good in rugby considering he was the first.

                not sure if he had played union before his league time?

              • October 11th 2017 @ 1:12pm
                AJM said | October 11th 2017 @ 1:12pm | ! Report

                Played union at Downlands with Horan, Robinson, Morgan, Brett Johnstone prior to league.

          • October 12th 2017 @ 12:05pm
            BOGGLES THE MIND said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

            Rocky Elsom, Berrick Barnes, Cliff Palu, Ryan Cross, Lote, Wendell Sailor, Mat Rogers, Timana Tahu hahahahahahahahaha

        • October 11th 2017 @ 7:31am
          Galatzo said | October 11th 2017 @ 7:31am | ! Report

          I’m thinking that Andy Farrell played in the (so called) scrum for a Brit league team then played flanker for Sarries. But most league to union switchers have been flyers like wingers or fullbacks. Some really fast guys, like Aussie Craig Wing, a wonderful schoolboy 10, played hooker when they went to league. I believe Craig is or was playing union in Kobe as a 9 or a 10. Quite a few Welsh crossovers, right Nicholas?

          • Columnist

            October 11th 2017 @ 7:34am
            Nicholas Bishop said | October 11th 2017 @ 7:34am | ! Report

            Yep a lot of Welsh Union players went North when the game was amateur G. A lot of traffic up the M5, then back down it again after 1995!

          • October 11th 2017 @ 7:39am
            riddler said | October 11th 2017 @ 7:39am | ! Report

            andy f. played predominantly in the centres in rugby, maybe 2 games at flanker.. he even went to the wc in 2007 with ashton’s team..

            great player, unfortunately had a very untimely injury so i think his union time was compromised..

            once again i err on the side of caution.. but league forwards to union is extremely rare..

            • October 11th 2017 @ 12:53pm
              soapit said | October 11th 2017 @ 12:53pm | ! Report

              farrel too slow to be good centree in rugby from what i saw. sbw and even burgess had ok pace

            • Columnist

              October 11th 2017 @ 5:31pm
              Nicholas Bishop said | October 11th 2017 @ 5:31pm | ! Report

              Faz moved around a lot in League – played prop, second row and loose forward before ending up at #6!

        • Roar Guru

          October 11th 2017 @ 12:24pm
          jeznez said | October 11th 2017 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

          .

          • Roar Guru

            October 11th 2017 @ 1:04pm
            Machooka said | October 11th 2017 @ 1:04pm | ! Report

            Fair enough… jeznez 😉

            • Roar Guru

              October 11th 2017 @ 5:45pm
              jeznez said | October 11th 2017 @ 5:45pm | ! Report

              thanks mate, they say brevity is the soul of wit..

        • October 11th 2017 @ 8:18pm
          Fin said | October 11th 2017 @ 8:18pm | ! Report

          Nick,
          Peter Ryan played at the Broncos and QLD maroons in the same forward pack as Brad Thorn in the 90’s.
          He defected to rugby (along with Andrew Walker) a year before Brad Thorn in 2000.
          He went on to win the Super 12 for the Brumbies in 2001 a starting backrow forward.
          He was a success at both rugby and rugby league as a forward in both sports.

      • October 11th 2017 @ 1:35pm
        NickoM1960 said | October 11th 2017 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

        Ray Price?

        • Roar Guru

          October 11th 2017 @ 5:47pm
          jeznez said | October 11th 2017 @ 5:47pm | ! Report

          He went the other way and there were a fair few who have successfully trodden that path. Most of them breakaways

          • October 12th 2017 @ 12:18pm
            NickoM1960 said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

            Gotcha, correct of course.

      • October 11th 2017 @ 1:36pm
        NickoM1960 said | October 11th 2017 @ 1:36pm | ! Report

        Chris Roche?

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