Folau’s love of rugby could save the Waratahs in 2018

Spiro Zavos Columnist

By Spiro Zavos, Spiro Zavos is a Roar Expert

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    Hallelujah, Israel Folau is back where he belongs (AAP Image/David Moir)

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    The Maori have a poignant saying when a great person dies: “A mighty Totara has fallen in the forest.”

    Over the past years, a number of the greatest heroes Australian rugby has produced have passed away. As each one of these mighty Totara falls, an era passes away with them, hopefully not into oblivion but into the blessed memory of rugby lovers.

    We need their memory to remain part of the lore of Australian for they were men who put the running, the courage, the joy of playing and an unbridled love of the rugby game into every aspect of their lives. They lived rugby, on and off the field.

    There is a fear, at least from old-timers like myself, that with the passing of these old heroes something essential in the success of Australian rugby will go with them.

    These were not players, for instance, who regarded playing as a “tough day at the office.” They played and later became coaches and administrators, as the title of Simon Poidevin’s fine rugbiography, For Love, Not Money, suggested.

    My fear is that right now, with some exceptions, players and administrators have become totally obsessed with the money professional rugby is generating. For the most part, especially with the players and coaches, it is money rather than love that drives their rugby ambitions.

    My hunch, too, is that this decline in the passion for the game by the professional players is being reflected in the poor results being recorded on the field in recent times.

    Remember this. The last generation of players who were schooled in the amateur game (playing for love, not money) ended their careers around the 1999-2002 era. This is the last time the Wallabies were the best team in world rugby and, more importantly, when Australian rugby players, coaches and administrators led the charge to modernise the game and make it more accessible to players around the world.

    Last week, Sir Nicholas Shehadie passed away. Nick, as he insisted on being called, was only one of two Wallabies to be knighted. Sir Ernest Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop, another old hero on and off the field, a champion who was buried in his Wallaby jersey, is the other.

    A superb biographical essay has been written about Nick by Rodney Cavalier, ‘Redfern boy who had Sydney sport in his blood‘. Cavalier knew the great Shehadie through their mutual experience of serving on the famed SCG Trust boards and his account of his friend’s life is memorable, one of the great, insightful essays to be written by an Australian anywhere this year, or any other year.

    If you want to understand how the power of love for a great game can create greatness in a man, with rugby taking a ‘central position’ in his life, read Rod Cavalier’s essay/obituary on Nick Shehadie. It is masterly.

    The essay in graphic detail and deep understanding underlines how Nick Shehadie “lived a good life. The friends he made were friends for life. He had no false airs … Essentially unchanged, he was a kid from Redfern, the child of migrants, who married brilliantly, created his own family, soared to the heights and shed no one along the way. Nick was the best of Sydney and Australia.”

    What a tribute. And what a deserved tribute.

    Last December, Ken Catchpole, arguably the greatest halfback of all time, died. He joined others in the roll-call of old heroes, Terry Curley, David Brockhoff, and Trevor Allan, who have passed away in the past years.

    (Rugby Australia)

    To a greater of lesser degree, I knew these old heroes. I met Nick Shehadie in a pub in Mosman with a group of good old rugby boys that David Brockhoff organised every month or so.

    With Ken Catchpole, it was after a Bledisloe Cup Test at Homebush when we both were waiting in a massive queue, around midnight, to catch the train back into Sydney.

    Trevor Allan was a hero of mine from the time I saw him captain the Wallabies to defeat the All Blacks at Athletic Park, Wellington, in 1949. Although I was a tiny halfback for the convent school team, I experimented with wearing headgear (which was his trademark) to honour his memory. When I met him much later at a rugby function in Sydney it was as if (at least for me) we had been friends all our lives.

    What I had in common with these great Australian rugby heroes was an enduring passion for the rugby game. I found that even though I was a New Zealander writing about rugby for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Roar, they confided in me, told me things that informed my articles and welcomed any insights I might have to offer to deepen their understanding of what was happening.

    I also found that in many instances I appreciated their careers in rugby, on and off the field, more keenly than the current generation of Australian players and administrators have done. And just on this point, I was interested that the only words honouring Nick Shehadie I read from a contemporary rugby player came from Sonny Bill Williams, from the Blues training camp in Auckland.

    Sonny Bill Williams of the Blues makes a break during the round 14 Super Rugby match between the Blues and the Chiefs and Eden Park on May 26, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand.

    (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

    This is just one instance, it seems to me, one of many, where the professional rugby game in Australia seems to have blotted out the memories and the knowledge of the amateur era.

    Here is another instance. During the Chris Hickie era of boring and unsuccessful Waratahs rugby, a meeting (actually a confrontation) of the players and coaches and disgruntled fans was arranged.

    At the meeting, a stocky, white-haired man with an air of authority about him and deep knowledge of rugby practice and theory spoke passionately about the woes of the Waratahs on several occasions. He talked about the Waratahs ethic of running the ball and how it had been traduced under the current coaching and playing regime.

    His interventions, although warmly received by the Waratahs supporters in the audience (correctly so), were barely tolerated by the panel of Waratahs coaches and players. There was a general air of resignation about their attitude to the cogent arguments being presented to them.

    After the meeting, I caught up with the white-haired man, Terry Curley, one the great men in the history of Australian rugby and someone, now a friend, who had contacted me years earlier to discuss what was going on in Australian rugby. And what could be done about it.

    Terry had driven from the South Coast and was facing a long drive home. Despite this, we chatted for some time about what we had just experienced. He insisted that I continue the campaign I was running in the SMH (with Greg Growden) to get the Waratahs to play their traditional running rugby.

    For those who have never heard of Terry, this is what the Times wrote about his play during the 1957 Wallabies tour of the UK: “There was a stamp of greatness about the 19-year-old fullback, Terry Curley. His incisive break-through, his coolness under pressure, his safe handling, his positional play and his courage in checking the rolling ball were characteristic of his exhilarating displays.”

    This was the rugby man no one in the Waratahs camp had any knowledge of.

    This disregard for the history of rugby in Australia and to the Waratahs ethic of running the ball was exemplified when the Waratahs played the Rebels at Melbourne, in their first home match in Super Rugby. Melbourne sports writers, especially those involved with the AFL, wanted the match to be a failure in terms of crowd appeal.

    And, unfortunately, the Waratahs fulfilled their wishes. In the last ten minutes of the match, even though they were leading by a comfortable margin of points, the Waratahs put down a series of scrums in front of the Rebels posts and ground down the minutes until the game ended. The crowd was bored witless. The AFL reporters had a field day bashing the rugby game.

    When I think of the rejection of Terry Curley by coaches who should have known better, I also think of the generations of great players from the amateur era who have been virtually ignored by the players and coaches who have dominated the professional era.

    We have Glen Ella, for instance, coaching the England backs. Why isn’t he on the Wallabies coaching staff? And what use, either in coaching or administration, has been made of the charismatic Mark Ella?

    David Campese is now back living in Sydney. Will the Waratahs or the Wallabies use his vast knowledge of back play to improve the attacking play of these sides?

    David Campese

    (Photo by Getty Images)

    Bob Dwyer and Dick Marks, two champion coaches and in the case of Marks an outstanding centre for the Wallabies in the amateur era, have been involved with the ARU in setting a coaching regime to equal that in New Zealand. I have heard reports that nothing is being done about the actual implementation and writing of the scheme. What is happening here?

    Memo 1 to Raelene Castle, the new CEO of Rugby Australia: The way to revive Australian rugby and bring back the triumphs of the 1999–2001 era, when every trophy worth winning was won, including the Bledisloe Cup, is to invest in club and school rugby, the heartland of the game that has been neglected in the past few years. And to exploit the coaching talent of those who learnt and played their rugby in the amateur era.

    It seems to me, looking back over the professional era of rugby that started in 1996, that in Australia, particularly, a group of new professionals have seized the money-generating parts of the game as players and coaches and have rewarded themselves and their mates in the process.

    There have been too many selections of players and coaches based on a ‘job for the boys’ mentality. This has created a wide-spread disenchantment among the rugby public and a culture of back-stabbing and division in the ruling elite of the game.

    The outgoing chairman of the ARLC, John Grant, summed up the culture of rugby league in Australia this way in his last financial report: “There is a culture of self-interest, divisiveness and negativity that seems to be ever present.”

    This summary, with its emphasis on factionalism and self-interest, could be applied just as easily to the rugby game in Australia.

    Memo 2 to Raelene Castle: introduce a register of managers/agents of all the professional coaches and players in Australia. This will introduce some needed transparency in the movement of players and coaches among the franchises.

    Raelene Castle at a Rugby Australia press conference

    (AAP Image/Daniel Munoz)

    Memo 3 to Raelene Castle: never ever agree to another contract like the one-sided, massively expensive deal that the ARU signed with David Pocock to pay him a huge amount of money not to play for the Wallabies in 2017, but allow him to play for the Japanese Top League club Panasonic Wild Knights.

    Pocock has come back from his Japanese stint with a dicey knee that needs to have an operation. He will be out of Super Rugby for about 12 weeks.

    I know that David Pocock is a revered figure in Australian rugby but the contract he signed with the ARU was all about money. As simple and as obvious as that.

    As Peter FitzSimons has written in the Herald: “Can I ask the obvious? If you are going to pay your finest footballer full-freight to take a break and freshen up, to effectively be paying him to rest, why would you allow him to pick up extra coin by playing a torrid season overseas, just before he gets back to you. What am I missing?”

    Right on, Fitzy.

    All is not lost, though, in the current generation of players. Stand up and take a bow, Israel Folau.

    Israel Folau Wallabies Australian Rugby Union 2017 tall

    (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

    Israel Folau was allowed by the ARU to miss the Wallabies tour of Europe. In his four months of time off, he gave up the opportunity to play in Japan. He has married. He has rested from playing and he has trained. And he has discovered a love for the rugby game that his great predecessors playing for the Wallabies who have passed away in recent years would have been proud to share with him.

    Talking to the SMH’s Georgina Robinson, Folau revealed that his involvement with the Waratahs and the Wallabies has changed his attitude from his childhood days when rugby league was the code he loved.

    “It does surprise me. When I first came to rugby I signed a one-year deal, not thinking about the long term, but coming to try to make the most of the opportunity … I certainly didn’t think I’d be five years deep into playing the game but it’s something I enjoy and really love. Now I’m looking to try to improve, get better as a player.”

    Over the weekend, playing at home, the Stormers 28 (three tries) defeated the Jaguares 20 (three tries) in the opening match of Super Rugby 2018.

    Next weekend at Allianz Stadium, the Waratahs, coming off a disastrous season in which they won only four matches, play the Stormers.

    I’m expecting a revitalised home side, with Israel Folau leading the charge, will play with the enterprise, passion and skill of the old heroes of Australian rugby to start their 2018 Super Rugby campaign with spirited victory.

    Spiro Zavos
    Spiro Zavos

    Spiro Zavos, a founding writer on The Roar, was long time editorial writer on the Sydney Morning Herald, where he started a rugby column that has run for nearly 30 years. Spiro has written 12 books: fiction, biography, politics and histories of Australian, New Zealand, British and South African rugby. He is regarded as one of the foremost writers on rugby throughout the world.

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    The Crowd Says (103)

    • February 19th 2018 @ 7:07am
      Daveski said | February 19th 2018 @ 7:07am | ! Report

      I’m pretty sure Poey isn’t out for 12 weeks and that you’ve fallen into the common trap of misinterpreting his contract.

      Other than that this was an exceptional read. You’re right in many ways rugby doesn’t do a great job of honouring its older players and they fly under the radar. Part of that is media, the Daily Tele for example loves writing stories about old leaugies whereas its only the Ellas and Campo you ever hear about rugby wise.

      But I’m sure the ARU and organisations like the Waratahs and Reds could do a bit more to promote a sense of history amongst present day players.

      Folau does look absolutely primed for a big season.

      • February 19th 2018 @ 8:28am
        Fionn said | February 19th 2018 @ 8:28am | ! Report

        I just hope his playing minutes are managed.

        Last World Cup Folau went in injured and never found good form. We were still able to make the final due to our back row + some top European players playing well, coupled with the NH teams all being poor.

        In 2019 the NH will all be strong and it doesn’t look like we will have top European players to improve our team. We will need Izzy firing on all cylinders if we want to make a deep run – we saw on the spring tour last year how Cheika’s Wallabies fall apart when Folau isn’t there.

        • February 19th 2018 @ 9:36am
          John said | February 19th 2018 @ 9:36am | ! Report

          Injured ankle AT the World Cup which required surgery and 3 months out.

          • Roar Guru

            February 19th 2018 @ 10:04am
            PeterK said | February 19th 2018 @ 10:04am | ! Report

            yes in first game against Fiji

            • February 19th 2018 @ 10:06am
              Fionn said | February 19th 2018 @ 10:06am | ! Report

              Doesn’t change my point that his schedule has to be managed well if we want him to give him the best possible chance to the World Cup in top form.

              • February 19th 2018 @ 10:48am
                John said | February 19th 2018 @ 10:48am | ! Report

                agree. folau seems to be managing his schedule ok though – was a smart decision not to take up japan option. not many pleople would brush 7 figures to get married!

              • Roar Rookie

                February 19th 2018 @ 12:55pm
                Paul D said | February 19th 2018 @ 12:55pm | ! Report

                Managed how then? As already pointed out, he got injured in the RWC. He could have spent the 6 months wrapped in cotton wool and still have done his ankle.

                He plays as much as any top line player in any team. All meaningful fixtures when fit and sits out the pointless ones. He was rested from the warm up match before the RWC against the US. Should he have been rested from B2 in Auckland when we were 1 up and had a chance to win it?

              • February 19th 2018 @ 12:57pm
                Fionn said | February 19th 2018 @ 12:57pm | ! Report

                ‘He could have spent the 6 months wrapped in cotton wool and still have done his ankle.’

                I can’t work out if this is a serious comment, Paul?

                Obviously he could still get injured at any individual moment.

                But the more minutes someone plays the more chance there is of injury occurring. Especially when a player gets older playing a large number of minutes is going to raise the likelihood of them becoming injured, fatigues or susceptible to future injury.

                Clearly I mean he shouldn’t play 80 minutes in virtually every SR and every international match.

              • Roar Rookie

                February 19th 2018 @ 1:37pm
                Paul D said | February 19th 2018 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

                Well, when the Brumbies put their Super Season at risk by resting their top line players though the year despite them being fit to play, I guess the Waratahs will do the same.

              • February 19th 2018 @ 1:42pm
                Fionn said | February 19th 2018 @ 1:42pm | ! Report

                Not the Waratahs so much as the Wallabies. And Larkham did have a rotational policy last year, for better or for worse. I don’t see Pocock playing 80 mins every match for the Brumbies. Or at least I hope he won’t.

                Does Folau need to play 80 minutes every week for the Wallabies, or can he occasionally be swapped with a reserve?

              • Roar Rookie

                February 19th 2018 @ 1:50pm
                Paul D said | February 19th 2018 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

                “I don’t see Pocock playing 80 mins every match for the Brumbies”

                Of course not. He always spends a good portion of each season injured..

              • February 19th 2018 @ 1:51pm
                Fionn said | February 19th 2018 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

                Banks then, or Lealiifano.

                You’ve got to remember, we don’t have the player roster of the Waratahs. Sio, Kuridrani and probably Pocock our only starting Wallabies, and front rowers rarely play more than 50 minutes. Ala’alatoa is our only guaranteed Wallaby reserve.

                The Tahs have started Wallabies at 3, 4, 6, 7, 10, 12 and 15, and reserve players at 1, 6 and 9. The Tahs have the luxury of being able to rotate players more due to having a stronger team.

      • February 19th 2018 @ 9:19pm
        The Sheriff said | February 19th 2018 @ 9:19pm | ! Report

        What Spiro has implied and most old timers would argue, is that his contact was shit.
        Another Wallaby passed away recently too and he was revered by both Rugby fraternities because he played both codes with skill and passion. Len Diett. He went on to coach youngsters In both codes with the same passion.
        I believe that Chris Hickey is also still involved with the game though perhaps not at a professional level.
        I am slightly less despondent than Spiro about the current players. The ones I have spoken too have ‘caught rugby’ or been ‘caught by rugby’ and, in their own way, carry on the same traditions

    • February 19th 2018 @ 7:12am
      Fionn said | February 19th 2018 @ 7:12am | ! Report

      At the end of the day Pocock decided to take a break from Australian rugby to pursue his personal interests, as well as earn a bit of extra money in Japan. If he hadn’t taken his sabbatical we may have lost him overseas.

      Folau had a similar offer but chose to stay in Aus with his wife. Good on him. But he has more of his career left to play than Pocock, and that was his choice

      I don’t see why you felt the need to disparage one great Aussie player and praise another great Aussie player for essentially the same thing?

      • February 19th 2018 @ 9:26am
        rl said | February 19th 2018 @ 9:26am | ! Report

        I’m guessing Pocock’s negotiations were led by the same people who conducted the ill-fated “3 amigos” episode. I can just imagine how it transpired on Poey’s side of the table – they probably went in aiming to get half what they got!

      • Roar Rookie

        February 19th 2018 @ 10:42am
        Don said | February 19th 2018 @ 10:42am | ! Report

        Whilst I agree that Pocock’s contract is all too often misrepresented, I disagree that the decision had to be made lest we lose him to the NH.
        Pocock would have qualified under the Giteau rule had he chosen to play OS.

        So what would Australian Rugby have lost had they told Pocock that by all means he can take a year off and can do what he please? But we will only pay a “holding deposit” at best for the time he is unavailable.
        I’m a massive Pocock fan but I would not be making such concessions for any player.

        It also sends a bad message to the next tier of open sides that barring injury, the Poopers are going to be back in the 23 if you are to interpret that contracts represent the pecking order of Wallabies. It is a bit of a closed shop.

        One position Australian Rugby has never had a problem with top quality players and depth is at open side flanker.
        We have one of the best in Liam Gill tearing it up for Lyon. We let McMahon go. And each Australian SR side with maybe the exception of QLD (assuming we don’t consider George Smith as an option) has a 7 who could cover the backup 7 spot at test level.

        • February 19th 2018 @ 11:35am
          rl said | February 19th 2018 @ 11:35am | ! Report

          hard to argue with this. I’m not sure Pocock deliberately set out to commit daylight robbery, but they just handed the bags of gold to him….

          • February 19th 2018 @ 11:38am
            Fionn said | February 19th 2018 @ 11:38am | ! Report

            They’re paying him a yearly salary comparable to Folau’s. The only difference is that it was spread over three seasons, rather than two seasons.

            Thereby actually taking pressure off of RA’s cashflow. His sabbatical essentially saved the ARU having to pay him a full season.

            • February 19th 2018 @ 12:02pm
              concerned supporter said | February 19th 2018 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

              Correction Fionn,
              Mr Pocock was paid AUD $750 in 2017 for not playing.

              • February 19th 2018 @ 12:14pm
                Fionn said | February 19th 2018 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

                Pocock’s salary of $1.05 million per season was paid over three seasons instead of two.

                Therefore, he would have cost RA the same ($2.1 million) over three years if he had been paid $1.05 million in 2016 and in 2018, with him not being paid during his sabbatical.

                So technically you’re correct, Concerned Supporter, but you’re being extremely misleading to people who aren’t aware of the full story.

              • February 19th 2018 @ 12:33pm
                concerned supporter said | February 19th 2018 @ 12:33pm | ! Report

                Sorry Fionn,but here are excerpts from Georgina Robinson of the SMH.December 3, 2016.
                “That includes a three-year deal, understood to be worth more than $4 million. In the sabbatical year he will take home in the region of $750,000 for three, one-hour meet and greets with individuals of the ARU’s choosing.
                He will play some rugby, having signed a second, lucrative three-season deal with Japanese Top League club Panasonic Wild Knights.
                ARU chief Bill Pulver would not comment on the terms or value of Pocock’s deal – which he signed in March after turning down a reported $2.4 million-a-season offer from English club Wasps – but Pulver was unapologetic about securing the country’s top talent by any means necessary.

              • Roar Rookie

                February 19th 2018 @ 12:21pm
                piru said | February 19th 2018 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

                It’s enough to make you pull your hair out.

                How many times does this have to be explained?

              • February 19th 2018 @ 12:38pm
                Fionn said | February 19th 2018 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

                Sorry, concerned supporter.

                That changes nothing that I have said.

              • February 19th 2018 @ 1:02pm
                concerned supporter said | February 19th 2018 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

                Looks like you disagree with Georgina Robinson’s reporting..
                This morning I read the sparring match between you and our esteemed TWAS on the recent article by Will Knight on Adam Coleman and some Western Force players.
                Melbourne v Perth, you blokes hi jacked his article, {which I thought was poor} discussing,
                1/ livability comparisons
                2/ Traffic congestion.
                23/ Public Transport.
                All at huge length. I did read all your blogs, and did enjoy it.
                NOTE. Trams in Sydney were abolished in 1961 by the NSW State Government because of pressure exerted by both the Petrol Companies and Motor Vehicle Manufacturers and Retailers, that if public transport in Sydney was too good, people would buy less motor cars.

              • February 19th 2018 @ 1:11pm
                Ralph said | February 19th 2018 @ 1:11pm | ! Report

                Paid $750K for not playing you say .. Tell you what, I’d not play for $650, save yourself $100K.

              • February 19th 2018 @ 1:32pm
                Fionn said | February 19th 2018 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

                We did get a bit off topic there.

              • February 19th 2018 @ 1:57pm
                Bakkies said | February 19th 2018 @ 1:57pm | ! Report

                ‘NOTE. Trams in Sydney were abolished in 1961 by the NSW State Government because of pressure exerted by both the Petrol Companies and Motor Vehicle Manufacturers and Retailers, that if public transport in Sydney was too good, people would buy less motor cars.’

                How Sydney of them to come up with that as a reason to scrap trams and fall for it.

      • February 19th 2018 @ 12:15pm
        Akari said | February 19th 2018 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

        Agreed, Fionn.

        I don’t know why Poey’s contract keeps being brought up as the decision was made over a year ago and it’s 2018 and Poey is back better than ever according to Dingo Dean. His injury could have been worst if he played in Europe.

        Welcome back Poey and I can’t wait to see you back on the field in a few weeks.

        • February 20th 2018 @ 2:38pm
          Malo said | February 20th 2018 @ 2:38pm | ! Report

          2018 Poey will be watching super rugby on tv but yeah what a great contract for the aru. 2 years out whilst McMahon and others leave in disgust.

      • Roar Rookie

        February 19th 2018 @ 1:14pm
        Shane D said | February 19th 2018 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

        Sabbaticals are going to become a more common contract feature. The NZR are looking to partner with clubs in Japan & Europe to allow their players to play there while still having an input into their workload, fitness & injury management.
        The ARU will more than likely look to work a similar scheme at sometime.
        The money on offer is simply becoming too great to compete with on a simple contract system.
        The ARU & NZR are seeking ways to retain players for the long term while still allowing them to set themselves up financially.

        • Roar Guru

          February 19th 2018 @ 5:59pm
          The Neutral View From Sweden said | February 19th 2018 @ 5:59pm | ! Report

          Sabbaticals are going to become a more common contract feature. The NZR are looking to partner with clubs in Japan & Europe to allow their players to play there while still having an input into their workload, fitness & injury management.

          Good luck to NZR convincing European clubs that you can have BBBBB for one year, make him the best-paid player in the world, but you will not have the final say on how much he plays and how he should train.
          Even NZR’s unofficial spokesperson Gregor Paul at Pravda (NZH) hammered this idea.

          • Roar Rookie

            February 19th 2018 @ 7:08pm
            Shane D said | February 19th 2018 @ 7:08pm | ! Report

            Agree it’s not going to be an easy sell but at least they are looking at outside the box ideas to try & retain players.

            • Roar Guru

              February 19th 2018 @ 8:39pm
              The Neutral View From Sweden said | February 19th 2018 @ 8:39pm | ! Report

              That is good news agree, no more sitting ducks just waiting for the NH to take over completely,
              I just wish NZR looked if this could be done within Sanzaar and SR before they look anywhere else (having a rather long debate about this with GP under his wrap today).

          • February 20th 2018 @ 8:44am
            Plebs71 said | February 20th 2018 @ 8:44am | ! Report

            TNVFS, the imagery conjured by Pravada (NZH) is compelling. All we need now is for Vlad to interfer in All Black selections and we would have the whole nine yards.

    • February 19th 2018 @ 7:29am
      Drongo said | February 19th 2018 @ 7:29am | ! Report

      ‘All about money’. Yeah, cause you do everything for free, don’t you Spiro.
      Wake up and see reality, these guys are retired for 50 years or more. ‘Cheap shot Zavos’.

      • February 19th 2018 @ 6:16pm
        JonD said | February 19th 2018 @ 6:16pm | ! Report

        Spiro was absolutely spot on when he wrote ….

        ” …… a group of new professionals have seized the money-generating parts of the game as players and coaches and have rewarded themselves and their mates in the process.

        There have been too many selections of players and coaches based on a ‘job for the boys’ mentality. This has created a wide-spread disenchantment among the rugby public and a culture of back-stabbing and division in the ruling elite of the game.”

        Too bloody true; and yes – in this instance – it is all about money.

    • February 19th 2018 @ 7:29am
      Malo said | February 19th 2018 @ 7:29am | ! Report

      Pocock is past his best, Folau will have a blinder year whilst Genia also on huge money is past it. Spiro is right the huge money the aru get should be pumped into schools and clubs. You will get greater spectator support and better players coming thru. The lack of talent coming thru as will be exposed again in super rugby is a huge concern. Give Cheika some cattle, either buy more leagues or improve our domestic comps ie clubs. It’s do or die and just spending millions on a few players and administrators whilst the rest eat crumbs is a farce.

      • February 19th 2018 @ 10:19am
        Markus said | February 19th 2018 @ 10:19am | ! Report

        Pocock was the Wallabies best before he started his sabbatical. And with all the rescuing of rhinos and hunting of poachers he got up to in his time off, he is probably stronger and faster than ever.

        • Roar Guru

          February 19th 2018 @ 6:57pm
          pformagg said | February 19th 2018 @ 6:57pm | ! Report

          Robbie Dean’s mentioned he added a linking game to his game/

    • Roar Guru

      February 19th 2018 @ 7:44am
      rebel said | February 19th 2018 @ 7:44am | ! Report

      Not good timing to bring up Poido For love, Not money.
      Also, I’m pretty sure no amatuer player of the past would knock back the money on offer today.

      • February 19th 2018 @ 8:05am
        Fionn said | February 19th 2018 @ 8:05am | ! Report

        All the players in Aus are knocking back likely far higher salaries overseas that come with less pressure in favour of playing in high pressure environments, long travel requirements and lower salaries.

        • Roar Guru

          February 19th 2018 @ 10:09am
          PeterK said | February 19th 2018 @ 10:09am | ! Report

          agree in the main, although a lot of the players once they peak in terms of selection at rep levels and hence marketability and contract value look at moving on unless they are a regular wallabies starter.

          Once they realise they won’t be a regular super rugby starter, or make it to wallaby level.

          I would not say the weaker props in oz super rugby would make far higher salaries in fact I doubt they get contract offers at all.

          • February 19th 2018 @ 11:43am
            Fionn said | February 19th 2018 @ 11:43am | ! Report

            I don’t blame that for that, Peter. I don’t think it demonstrates a lack of love for the Wallabies or even their Super Rugby team it just reflects the fact that (1) rugby is mostly about making your national side and (2) the fact that the careers of these players are short at the best of times and issues like concussions can vastly shorten them or end them at any time.

            I think that most of the Aussie props would be able to get a gig in one of Japan, France or the UK. They have big squads for big seasons.

            • Roar Rookie

              February 19th 2018 @ 12:23pm
              piru said | February 19th 2018 @ 12:23pm | ! Report

              I don’t watch a lot of NH rugby but caught Matt Toomua absolutely carving up over the weekend.

              And here we are complaining we don’t have enough 10s

              • February 19th 2018 @ 12:30pm
                Fionn said | February 19th 2018 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

                We don’t need him. We’ve got Bernard Foley mate.

                In all honesty I think between Lealiifano, Toomua and Beale we’d be fine for 10s and 12s.

                I’d be changing eligibility laws ASAP to be 8 years + 30 Tests or 0 Tests and then grabbing back Toomua instantly.

              • February 19th 2018 @ 1:00pm
                Bakkies said | February 19th 2018 @ 1:00pm | ! Report

                Fionn Toomua signed an extension with Leicester till 2020. Time to let him go.

              • February 19th 2018 @ 1:13pm
                Fionn said | February 19th 2018 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

                Bakkies, I said I’d change selection to make him eligible.

                Leicester has to release him in international level windows if he wants to play.

      • February 19th 2018 @ 8:13am
        bigbaz said | February 19th 2018 @ 8:13am | ! Report

        Yep, had a bit of a chuckle over that.

      • February 19th 2018 @ 12:33pm
        Akari said | February 19th 2018 @ 12:33pm | ! Report

        Good point, rebel.

        Peter FitzSimons (yes, the very one mentioned in this article) signed up and played for Brive in France in the mid-1980s and the stories back then was that French and Italian clubs were paying players, ie long before rugby turned professional in 1995? I am a Peter FitzSimons fan and have enjoyed his rugby articles, including about his time in France. Did he simply play for the love the game in Brive?

        • Roar Guru

          February 19th 2018 @ 1:28pm
          Hoy said | February 19th 2018 @ 1:28pm | ! Report

          Campo keeps saying he was rugby’s first millionaire doesn’t he? From playing in Italy?

          • February 20th 2018 @ 7:32am
            richard said | February 20th 2018 @ 7:32am | ! Report

            Craig Green,the AB winger upped sticks and went to Italy to play for Treviso at the end of the 1987 RWC.We can safely assume he was being paid for his services.

            Italy and France ( and maybe Japan) were at least semi pro at this time.

            • February 20th 2018 @ 10:13am
              DLKN said | February 20th 2018 @ 10:13am | ! Report

              I recall the league coach, Jack Gibson, in the mid-90s saying in response to the news that rugby players were going to become paid professionals, words to the effect of: “You mean they’re going to start paying tax, don’t you?”.

              • February 20th 2018 @ 2:27pm
                richard said | February 20th 2018 @ 2:27pm | ! Report

                I like that,and Gibson was bang on the nose.

      • February 20th 2018 @ 10:16am
        DLKN said | February 20th 2018 @ 10:16am | ! Report

        Spiro seems to have forgotten that a common joke in rugby circles at the time of Poido’s book suggested that the book would have been more accurate if it were titled “I Love My Money”.

    • February 19th 2018 @ 8:15am
      jeff dustby said | February 19th 2018 @ 8:15am | ! Report

      a good article that deserved better than the clickbait title. as per usual everything in Australian RU has to revolve around Izzy

      • February 19th 2018 @ 10:08am
        Jock said | February 19th 2018 @ 10:08am | ! Report

        A great winger and an average fullback.

        • February 19th 2018 @ 11:27am
          Lostintokyo said | February 19th 2018 @ 11:27am | ! Report

          Folau has broken Wallaby season try scoring records and was on target for the season all time rugby test match try scoring record until his decision to skip the end year Europe tour. Most tries scored from fullback. If he is average then we are spoilt for riches.

          • Roar Rookie

            February 19th 2018 @ 12:58pm
            piru said | February 19th 2018 @ 12:58pm | ! Report

            How many tries has he let in with his poor defensive positioning?

            Stats don’t tell the whole story – agree with Jock, a great winger, but an average fullback

            • February 19th 2018 @ 1:05pm
              Fionn said | February 19th 2018 @ 1:05pm | ! Report

              He is actually more dangerous on the wing where he has a bit more space to attack also.

              And it isn’t a criticism of him to say that he’s a better winger, as he’s probably our most important and best back (along with Genia), it’s just that his strengths are more in keeping with playing the wing/fullback hybrid role at 14 than at 15. In my opinion anyway.

              • Roar Rookie

                February 19th 2018 @ 5:04pm
                piru said | February 19th 2018 @ 5:04pm | ! Report

                In all honest opinions Fionn.

              • February 19th 2018 @ 6:13pm
                Malo said | February 19th 2018 @ 6:13pm | ! Report

                Bs he is a fullback as shown by his absence on the November tour. Stop this winger bs it will never happen

              • Roar Rookie

                February 20th 2018 @ 2:47pm
                piru said | February 20th 2018 @ 2:47pm | ! Report

                He’ll never play wing?
                Except he already has

                poor old Malo

              • February 20th 2018 @ 6:31pm
                Malo said | February 20th 2018 @ 6:31pm | ! Report

                When and how often, go watch twiggies team

              • February 20th 2018 @ 2:55pm
                CJ said | February 20th 2018 @ 2:55pm | ! Report

                Sorry to leverage off you but I completely agree with you Fion about Izzy. He is a great winger but his kicking skills are not world class. And he is under utilized attacking under the high ball cause BF is no JT. I also don’t think Pocock getting paid too much money on a one off contract is a metaphor for all that is wrong with Australian Rugby. It may be an error in negotiation (who really knows?) but it is not symptomatic of a wider malaise as far as I can see. But yes, losing players like Liam Gill and George Smith in the past has been. Maybe if they’d been paid what Pocock got they might have hung around. The main problems are the divide between coaching between ABs and WBs, the loss of good youngsters to Aussi Rules and League, the lack of development of players like Kurtley Beale who never consistently realized his potential and not having a selection panel for tests.

        • February 19th 2018 @ 3:40pm
          double agent said | February 19th 2018 @ 3:40pm | ! Report

          We sure missed that average fullback on the UK tour!

          • February 20th 2018 @ 10:19am
            DLKN said | February 20th 2018 @ 10:19am | ! Report

            It’s a pretty narrow view to infer that Folau’s inclusion would have saved us from those thrashings we copped last spring. He was in the team when Scotland beat us here, when we should have lost to Italy, when we failed to beat RSA, and when we had our annual pants-ing by NZ.

            • Roar Rookie

              February 20th 2018 @ 3:07pm
              piru said | February 20th 2018 @ 3:07pm | ! Report

              His lack of a kicking game would have been more of a liability than his running would have made up.

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