How to spice up the Bledisloe dead rubber? Give Quade a run

Will Knight Columnist

By Will Knight, Will Knight is a Roar Expert

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108 Have your say

    This weekend’s Bledisloe Cup dead rubber is as dead a rubber as a dead rubber can be.

    The lead-in this week has been loaded with coaches, players, ex-players and pundits churning out the fluff.

    Apparently there is no such thing as a dead rubber. The All Blacks are wary of an improving Wallabies.

    The Wallabies can make a huge statement by beating the All Blacks. The Wallabies need to make a fast start again. They can get the monkey off their back.

    It could be the start of a new era. It would help erase some of the bitterness from the protracted Super Rugby axing saga that led to the Western Force’s demise.


    None of that is going to get a pulse back in the Bledisloe body. After winning the two Tests during this year’s Rugby Championship, the clash in Brisbane on Saturday night has all the anticipation of a senate sub-committee inquiry into GST reform.

    There’s no narrative to infuse excitement into the contest.

    This match needs not only Don King to give it a bit of zing, but Dana White, The Rock, Nick Kyrgios, Shane Warne and Dennis Rodman.

    Or an Israel Folau same-sex marriage tweet.

    How would I spark up the dead rubber? Who could act as a defibrillator? Quade Cooper.

    We all know his history against New Zealand, right? A sneaky shot on Richie McCaw, sledging the Kiwis, getting under their skin. Public enemy No.1 in the Shaky Isles. And he was born in Auckland!

    So why not pick him for Saturday night’s clash?

    Yeah, I know, it reeks of desperation. It’s a tacky way to promote a Test match.

    It cheapens the Wallabies jersey? Well, Michael Cheika has handed Wallabies jerseys out like lollies this year. Injuries never help, but 11 players have won Wallabies debuts in 2017.

    Jordan Uelese got the nod on the back of 28 minutes of Super Rugby for the Melbourne Rebels.

    Richard Hardwick hardly had a stack of standout Super Rugby games under his belt. Eto Nabuli, Izack Rodda, Marika Koroibete, Lukhan Tui and Curtis Rona were similar.

    Quade Cooper after the Wallabies loss to Scotland

    (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

    It wouldn’t be ridiculous to pick Quade again. It’s not like picking someone randomly off the street – you know, the way Quade’s boxing crew pick his opponents.

    He’s still the second-best specialist five-eighth in Australia. If Bernard Foley went down injured, perhaps Cheika would go for Kurtley Beale at No.10. But he’s blitzing it at inside centre.

    Quade has got plenty of chances for Australia and muffed quite a few, but there’s not too many jumping over the top of him as Foley’s back-up.

    Put Foley on the bench. Give Quade 50-60 minutes to show his manic best and worst. Foley is one of Australia’s top-tier players, so handing him a bit of time off isn’t the worst idea with a European tour on the horizon.

    Another way to add some appeal – or more accurately, romance – would be to start the retiring Stephen Moore at hooker. It will be his 125th Test match, but last in front of his home fans in Brissy. He’s a grunt man – not a crowd-puller – but it would give another angle to promote the dead rubber.

    There’s room for a bit of showbiz in professional sport, right? Wins bring money. So if you’re not winning – and there’s commercial pressure – shouldn’t the door open to other ways to get the fans engaged?

    And these potential selection scenarios pose the question: is there a point in rugby where stability and pragmatism can make way for shameless promotional imperatives and naked commercialism?

    Is there room for a coach to be told to not pick his best team, but pick a team that will potentially add thousands more bums on seats and many more sets of eyes on the TV coverage?

    Surely a dead rubber is a chance to do that.

    Moreso these days, we are told that players are being picked with a view to the next World Cup. Or others are being rested because of the arduous workloads.

    So not selecting a best XV is already happening. In the Kiwis’ case, when they made mass changes for their trip to Argentina last month, that wasn’t even a dead rubber. You certainly get a bit of leeway when you’re winning.

    Coaches often have to become skillful at selling a message when at a team announcement – one of the most obvious ones pretending to rest a player when in fact they’ve been dropped. The coach has got to be seen to be sticking up for his players publicly.

    So perhaps making some selection shocks in the name of blatant promotion – such as picking second-best Wallabies five-eighth and No.1 most-maligned-by-New-Zealanders Quade Cooper for a dead rubber – isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds. It’s just all in the sell.

    Will Knight
    Will Knight

    An AAP writer for more than a decade, Will Knight does his best to make sense of all things cricket, rugby union and rugby league, all while trying to have a laugh along the way. You can find him on Twitter @WKnightrider.

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    The Crowd Says (108)

    • October 20th 2017 @ 7:13am
      Ad-0 said | October 20th 2017 @ 7:13am | ! Report

      I’m a massive Reds fan, but now, even I think the guy is a flake.

      • October 20th 2017 @ 8:37am
        Drongo said | October 20th 2017 @ 8:37am | ! Report

        He is the best 5/8 in Australia and should be the Wallabies no 10. He out played Foley in every game they both played in last year but Cheika still went with Foley. A continuing selection error that has cost us development and success.

        • October 21st 2017 @ 9:06am
          PiratesRugby said | October 21st 2017 @ 9:06am | ! Report

          Drongo, QC is far from perfect and needs to put his shoulder into tackles a bit more. But he runs rings around Foley. He is faster, a much better passer, better kicker and when he commits to it, a better defender. Cheika is running a sheltered workshop for underwhelming NSW players. The fact that Suncorp will be half empty is of no concern to him or the ARU. Cheika is the captain of the ship and Australian rugby is the Titanic.

        • October 21st 2017 @ 4:17pm
          Redsback said | October 21st 2017 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

          Especially in wet weather, he should be there. Are we really going to run it from our own 5m line in the wet? For precisely this reason, it made sense to pick Hunt at Fullback for this game and move Folau to the wing at Koroibete’s expense. But alas, they are Queenslanders and, despite anything Cheika says, he has a clear and obvious bias against them. That there can be not 1 Reds player starting a game in Brisbane is an abomination. I’m disappointed to have bought my ticket before the team was announced. No Quade was obviously not a surprise, but no Hunt is just a stupid decision.

      • Columnist

        October 20th 2017 @ 9:34am
        Will Knight said | October 20th 2017 @ 9:34am | ! Report

        Yeah not a massive fan. It’s more in hope than empirical evidence that Quade will turn a game. Like Glenn Maxwell for the Aussie ODI and Test team…

        • October 21st 2017 @ 12:09am
          Ad-0 said | October 21st 2017 @ 12:09am | ! Report

          He’s a massive talent, but he crumbles once the pressure gets turned up. His weaknesses are all between the ears I’m afraid.

          • October 21st 2017 @ 9:01am
            PiratesRugby said | October 21st 2017 @ 9:01am | ! Report

            You mean he might miss all his kicks or make two intercept passes to the opposition hooker?

            • October 24th 2017 @ 4:36am
              Ad-0 said | October 24th 2017 @ 4:36am | ! Report


      • October 20th 2017 @ 9:48am
        enoughisenough said | October 20th 2017 @ 9:48am | ! Report

        Yeah sure you are a massive Reds fan mate. Fact is the Reds are a far better team with Cooper in the side than they are when he’s not there. This is an inarguable fact, but guys like you never let your facts get in the way of your bias against Cooper. Its kind of pathetic, but whatever floats your tiny little boat I guess.

        • October 20th 2017 @ 11:55am
          Kane said | October 20th 2017 @ 11:55am | ! Report

          Bias against Cooper?

          “Fact is the Reds are a far better team with Cooper in the side than they are when he’s not there. This is an inarguable fact”

          All that tells me is that Cooper is better than his back up. Surely the Waratahs are far better with Foley at 10 than without him?

          The real question is are the Wallabies a far better team with Cooper at 10 than Foley?

          I think the answer to that is no, they may be better or worse but not far better.

          • October 21st 2017 @ 4:19pm
            Redsback said | October 21st 2017 @ 4:19pm | ! Report

            Why don’t we just compare the record of the two? Without looking it up, I’m certain Cooper’s record is better. He’s abetter player than Foley

        • October 21st 2017 @ 1:42am
          Ad-0 said | October 21st 2017 @ 1:42am | ! Report

          Sorry to trigger you, fella. Just my humble opinion.

        • October 21st 2017 @ 10:58pm
          double agent said | October 21st 2017 @ 10:58pm | ! Report

          That’s because when he’s not there they play a halfback at 10 or a club player.

      • October 20th 2017 @ 11:11am
        JB said | October 20th 2017 @ 11:11am | ! Report

        I’ve done some Quade bashing on here before, for me I think he’s playing his best football now and has really matured. For those still pushing Cooper, the verdict is in Foley has now outperformed at an international level for a sustained period anything Quade did, super rugby gives quade the time to play his game behind the line it falls apart against quality opposition particularly under pressure. I Like the idea of Quade getting a start though there is no doubt he’s exciting to watch. He’ll have a hell of a highlight reel when he retires a bit like Carlos Spencer.

    • October 20th 2017 @ 7:24am
      Ned Flanders said | October 20th 2017 @ 7:24am | ! Report

      You failed to mention half of my Waratahs team being handed a jersey….

      We are special too ya know

      • Roar Guru

        October 20th 2017 @ 7:25am
        Harry Jones said | October 20th 2017 @ 7:25am | ! Report

        Is there a secret handshake?

        • October 20th 2017 @ 8:27am
          Cynical Play said | October 20th 2017 @ 8:27am | ! Report

          Yes. … Doh !!

          • October 20th 2017 @ 10:57am
            Marto said | October 20th 2017 @ 10:57am | ! Report

            10 Tahs, Ten Tahssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss..hahahahahahahaha

    • October 20th 2017 @ 7:45am
      waxhead said | October 20th 2017 @ 7:45am | ! Report

      Not interested in rugby journos trying to spark up any dead rubbers – go get a day job.
      Don’t care what you think is interesting.
      Not interested in your version of show bizz either.

      Huge interest will be sparked if the Wallabies WIN.
      Yes WIN Will – remember that – its objective no 1 of all serious sporting pursuits.

      And to that end the best way is obviously to first select your best team.
      Cheika hasn’t done it this week and you’re proposing to make the same mistake.
      Quade seems like a good committed guy but his form does not warrant selection this week.
      And neither do your silly articles Will 🙂

      • Columnist

        October 20th 2017 @ 9:27am
        Will Knight said | October 20th 2017 @ 9:27am | ! Report

        Good to see someone is revved up. Although I expected more chill ? from one called waxhead

    • October 20th 2017 @ 7:54am
      Mike Julz said | October 20th 2017 @ 7:54am | ! Report

      In order for Quade Cooper to be picked he has to be a Warratah first. Cheika logic.?

      • October 20th 2017 @ 12:08pm
        DLKN said | October 20th 2017 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

        Oh can you imagine if QC signed with the Waratahs?

        This website would explode.

        • October 20th 2017 @ 4:34pm
          Marto said | October 20th 2017 @ 4:34pm | ! Report

          If QC signed with the Tahs he`d be straight back in the Wallaby 23….

          • October 21st 2017 @ 8:41am
            Farmer said | October 21st 2017 @ 8:41am | ! Report

            No he would be the Waratah No. 22 ? Sitting on the pine!!

    • October 20th 2017 @ 7:56am
      Riccardo said | October 20th 2017 @ 7:56am | ! Report

      Mate, if you can’t get pumped for an International between the Wallabies and All Blacks at home you’re writing about the wrong game.

      • Roar Guru

        October 20th 2017 @ 9:19am
        John R said | October 20th 2017 @ 9:19am | ! Report

        Took the words right out me mouth.

        • October 20th 2017 @ 10:59am
          Marto said | October 20th 2017 @ 10:59am | ! Report

          Oh here come the Walltah tragics ^

      • Columnist

        October 20th 2017 @ 9:30am
        Will Knight said | October 20th 2017 @ 9:30am | ! Report

        I wanna get pumped. Nothing driving it. And I’m normally a proponent for being fired up for every Test – there are only generally 15 per year after all. But there’s tumbleweed for this one. Need a villain or something.

        • October 20th 2017 @ 9:45am
          Riccardo said | October 20th 2017 @ 9:45am | ! Report

          All I can suggest is pre-load Will.

          That should give you some skin in the game…

          • Columnist

            October 20th 2017 @ 9:54am
            Will Knight said | October 20th 2017 @ 9:54am | ! Report

            Always gamble responsibly?!?!

            • October 20th 2017 @ 9:59am
              Riccardo said | October 20th 2017 @ 9:59am | ! Report


              Making sure you imbibe quality product (Single malt or a good Aussie Shiraz) is being responsible…

              • Columnist

                October 20th 2017 @ 10:39am
                Will Knight said | October 20th 2017 @ 10:39am | ! Report

                Oh I see. I assume being almost a Ricciardo you shoey your Shiraz ???

    • October 20th 2017 @ 8:10am
      Not so super said | October 20th 2017 @ 8:10am | ! Report

      This match being in October reeks of being more meaningless than ODI cricket

      • October 20th 2017 @ 8:12am
        Fionn said | October 20th 2017 @ 8:12am | ! Report

        Not really. If the Wallabies catch that kick off in Dunedin then this match is a Bledisloe decider in Australia.

        Small margins.

        • Columnist

          October 20th 2017 @ 9:32am
          Will Knight said | October 20th 2017 @ 9:32am | ! Report

          For sure. And this fixture has got free air really. Nice little gap between NRL grand final and RL World Cup. No international cricket. But not enough meat to chew on this time around ?‍♂️

      • Roar Guru

        October 20th 2017 @ 9:32am
        John R said | October 20th 2017 @ 9:32am | ! Report

        The last two rounds of the Rugby Championship are in October as well, are they meaningless too?

        Just thought I’d check with you, because you seem to be in the know.

        • October 20th 2017 @ 11:04am
          Marto said | October 20th 2017 @ 11:04am | ! Report

          Keep talking it up John R. You are very good at talking up meaningless Irrelevant inanimate objects like Chuckles Nathan Grey Folau Phipps Hanigan Dempsey Simmons Foley Hooper and Robertson…………………………………

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