Five talking points from Super Rugby Round 8

Oliver Matthews Roar Guru

By Oliver Matthews, Oliver Matthews is a Roar Guru

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    We’re getting close to the half way point of the season and teams are fighting hard to build momentum and position themselves well for the run into the finals. Here are some of the big talking points to come out of a weekend of thrilling games.

    The Kerevi-Beale conundrum
    Samu Kerevi has been one of the stars of the Australian conference so far this season. He’s played every minute for the Reds and has consistently punched holes in each defence that has tried to stop him. He’s clearly best at #12 while at #13 his talents are wasted and his arguably a weaker defender.

    That’s fine at the Reds where Brad Thorn will continue to play him at inside centre but what happens back at the Wallabies when Mick Cheika has to fit Kurtley Beale into the equation? The Bernard Foley-Beale combination is looking good for the Tahs but is it worth giving Kerevi an opportunity at #12 and seeing what happens?

    Brumbies are back… kind of
    22 minutes into the Brumbies home match against the Reds they were down 0-15 and it was looking like their season really could be flatlining. Over the next hour though they came to life and showed the competition what they can do on their day. They racked up seven tries and could well have inspired their season back into life.

    Perhaps of most importance was the way the Brumbies forwards rose to the occasion. Sam Carter, Isi Naisarani and David Pocock were especially impressive but overall the forwards gave the Brumbies some much needed go forward. Previously they’d been trying to attack and go wide before earning that forward dominance but against the Reds they showed what they are capable of.

    They’ve got a long way to go and their real ability will face a tough test next week as they travel to the Highlanders but there’s some hope yet for the Brumbies faithful.

    Pocock is awesome
    Oh my how Australian rugby has missed this man. From his work at the breakdown to the effort he puts in from minute one to 80, to the way he makes players around him better, Pocock is a special player.

    Cheika will be licking his lips at getting him back in the Wallabies back row and if he and Michael Hooper can find a way to compliment each other then the Rugby Championship could get very interesting. This isn’t a given though and many will be watching to see how Cheika handles these riches.

    David Pocock

    (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

    Tahs are not the real deal yet
    Putting seven tries on any opponent usually means it’s been a pretty damn good day at the office and while the Tahs will have enjoyed the game against the Sunwolves, their fans shouldn’t be getting too carried away.

    Yes scoring seven tries is great, but this is the Sunwolves – everyone scores plenty of tries against the Sunwolves right? The concern is that they conceded 29 points….against the Sunwolves. If you let the Sunwolves score four tries against you then what are teams like the Lions, Crusaders, Hurricanes and Chiefs going to be thinking?

    If the Tahs want to be a real threat then they have got to tighten up their defence.

    Kiwi heartbreakers
    Both the Hurricanes and Chiefs broke some hearts this weekend. The Sharks and Blues fans must have felt that at last they were going to feel the sweet taste of victory over Kiwi opponents after they had fought so hard to earn the win.

    But in a great demonstration of what makes the Chiefs and Hurricanes real contenders for the title this year they were able to add resolve to attacking flair and steal wins in the dying seconds of their respective games.

    Being able to sneak these kind of wins is important across the course of a season. Knowing that you and your teammate s around you have the ability to find a way to win games that could so easily be narrow losses is key and not just because of the extra points.

    It helps bring a team together and is hugely valuable when they get into the real knockout games later in the season where it’s now or never time.

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    The Crowd Says (166)

    • April 8th 2018 @ 9:16am
      ajg said | April 8th 2018 @ 9:16am | ! Report

      The reffing at the end of the hurricanes sharks game. and at some points in the brumbies v reds game was sub-par for this level

      • April 8th 2018 @ 10:45am
        Harry said | April 8th 2018 @ 10:45am | ! Report

        I would just like to see some accountability and acknowledgement when obvious howlers occur from the refs. I recognise that they have a tough job but their performance in those two games was well below par.

        • Roar Guru

          April 8th 2018 @ 11:07am
          PeterK said | April 8th 2018 @ 11:07am | ! Report

          as was the reffing by gardner in the tahs – sunwolves game

          • Roar Guru

            April 8th 2018 @ 11:25am
            Nobrain said | April 8th 2018 @ 11:25am | ! Report

            As the one of the Crusaders game. The team from NZ had the benefit of one more meter inside of the offside zone all the first half. The two linesman from argentina wish to remain in Sanzaar payroll and never call anything against the visiting teams. Anyhow, the Crusaders have a fenomenal defense that makes the other team play under so mych pressure that they end up making the mistake . The Saders translates in points all the opponent errors.

            • April 8th 2018 @ 2:35pm
              cuw said | April 8th 2018 @ 2:35pm | ! Report

              @ Nobrain

              it seems certain “OLD LAWS” we are used to are being ignored in the name of fast rugger.

              the off side line is now very debatable . the 10m line from a penalty is rarely enforced.

              what happen to clear release after tackle?

              then with the ” NEW LAWS ” – what happened to the straight feed into scrum? and the scrum half not creeping onto the other side?

              and my biggest issue – what happened to yellow cards for repeat infringements?

              the count in Japan was 15:3 favoring Japs – yet the card was given at the end of the match.

              the count in Sharks v Hurricanes match was 16:5 yet the card came at the end of the match.

              the count in Lions v Stormers was 13:7 but he cards came at the end of the match.

              i have a feeling the refs are under orders to keep players on the park. this is not the case in Aviva ( and maybe Top 14 ).

          • April 8th 2018 @ 11:31am
            Reverse Wheel said | April 8th 2018 @ 11:31am | ! Report

            Gardner didn’t referee the clear release at the breakdown consistently. The wolves kept forcing penalties for not releasing without a clear release first but then he pinged the tahs for no clear release a few times. What was it in the end 15-3 penalty count?

            • April 8th 2018 @ 12:42pm
              Bakkies said | April 8th 2018 @ 12:42pm | ! Report

              Gardner shouldn’t be refereeing Tahs matches he is from NSW. If you are going to have Aussie refs pick one from another union. It does the refs no favour at all.

              • April 8th 2018 @ 12:55pm
                Agreed! said | April 8th 2018 @ 12:55pm | ! Report

                Neutral refs needed.

                Super Rugby is, after all, and international Rugby competition.

                It doesn’t help though when we only have three qualified Aussie refs in comparison to 7 NZ refs and growing.

                I’d like to see more Argentinian and Japan refs taking bigger games!

                Neutral refs needed!

              • April 8th 2018 @ 2:37pm
                cuw said | April 8th 2018 @ 2:37pm | ! Report

                @ Bakkies

                what do u think of the disallowed try to Stormers.

                as far as i am concerned – it was a repeat of the try given to Rebels against the Hurricanes.

                was there anything different in the interpretation?

              • April 8th 2018 @ 6:29pm
                Reverse Wheel said | April 8th 2018 @ 6:29pm | ! Report

                So you’re saying he favored them in the 15-3 penalty count against them?

              • April 8th 2018 @ 6:40pm
                cuw said | April 8th 2018 @ 6:40pm | ! Report

                yess – Gardener shud have sent someone to the bin way earlier than the 73rd minute.

                the funny thing i saw this weekend was that the teams who were winning handsomely – Waratahs , Lions – kept on infringing inside their 22m.

                At least Gardener did not take the match to a nucking futs level – by playing extra 7 minutes like Peyper ; the guy carded almost served his 10 minutes and could have come into play at minute 87.

                all that exertions for what? that must go into Harry’s Rugby Hell article. DUH

              • April 9th 2018 @ 3:42am
                Bakkies said | April 9th 2018 @ 3:42am | ! Report

                ‘Super Rugby is, after all, and international Rugby competition.’

                It happens in the Pro 14 with Frank Murphy ex Connacht player refereeing Connacht matches and Nige from outside Llanelli doing Scarlets matches. We don’t need to go back to the amateur era with home referees.

                I like the idea with they are doing with the upcoming test series’ having a referees team based in the same country for a few weeks.

          • Roar Guru

            April 8th 2018 @ 6:28pm
            Fox said | April 8th 2018 @ 6:28pm | ! Report

            Yes Pk the clear forward pass for the Tahs first try – even from behind you could see it was passed forward because the support player overran the carrying player as he was tackled

            And in the Reds game – which was a turning point IMO – was the try that was disallowed and ruled as a knock on in lead up play and footage clearly showed it was nothing of the sort – that try at that time was crucial

            The fact that he didn’t even check it with protests from a couple of Reds players was pretty ordinary.

            And as for the new breakdown laws – is any ref really keeping them ?

            And its seems outside backs can be be offside for half the game with rush defences with no penalty or not as many as there should be – go back a watch any game – the outsides backs on both sides are offside half the time even before the ball has come from the ruck – and sometimes the inside backs as well.

            • April 8th 2018 @ 6:47pm
              cuw said | April 8th 2018 @ 6:47pm | ! Report

              ” Yes Pk the clear forward pass for the Tahs first try – even from behind you could see it was passed forward because the support player overran the carrying player as he was tackled ‘

              i think a standard or precedent was set when the refs allowed Leitch to pass to someone in a previos match.

              these days , all refs are setting new precedents.

              a try was disallowed to Stormers – which imo – was identical to the try given to Rebels.

              guess i will have to folllow GEOFF PARKS’ advice to not think of referee.

              a little hard – coz im not a rugger player.

              • Roar Guru

                April 10th 2018 @ 12:17am
                Fox said | April 10th 2018 @ 12:17am | ! Report

                yeah cuw – that Leitch pass was just the worst refereeing this year

            • April 8th 2018 @ 8:13pm
              Crash Ball2 said | April 8th 2018 @ 8:13pm | ! Report

              ”And as for the new breakdown laws – is any ref really keeping them?“

              Tackler through the gate: yes. Although, even with this change, there have still been some wonderful tackle / jackals affected across both Northern and Southern competitions this year.

              This aside, there is frankly no change in the ref’s approach to the tackle contest from previous seasons. Net, zero. Like before, defenders with first hands on the ball, who have entered correctly through the gate and shown fresh air, continue to have the right to contest if they survive the cleanout. Every ref across both 6 Nations and Super Rugby has adjudicated this way. There is no less time or opportunity for defenders contesting possession. Ruck exponents are not suddenly rugby’s latest dodo. Not one example of a breakdown infringment this season has been provided by anyone that illustrates a ruck penalty conversant with the “new law” that wasn’t covered by the incumbent laws. Total storm in a teacup.

              • Columnist

                April 9th 2018 @ 6:20pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | April 9th 2018 @ 6:20pm | ! Report

                There is no less time or opportunity for defenders contesting possession. Ruck exponents are not suddenly rugby’s latest dodo. Not one example of a breakdown infringment this season has been provided by anyone that illustrates a ruck penalty conversant with the “new law” that wasn’t covered by the incumbent laws. Total storm in a teacup.

                Just plain wrong I’m afraid CB. I’ve had to analyze a great many games this seasons under the new laws (both for The Roar, The Rugby Site and in my day job) and in the vast majority of cases there is a big difference. The stats prove it, and individual examples prove it. It will also be a part of my article (largely on David Pocock) this week! Being the intelligent player he is, DP has realized this pretty quickly.

                The average ball retention rate at ruck-time is up by approximately 4% to 96-98% (depending on region), which in practice means that the number of ball steals in a game have diminished by around one third.

              • April 9th 2018 @ 11:20pm
                Crash Ball2 said | April 9th 2018 @ 11:20pm | ! Report

                Nick, can you pinpoint a specific breakdown infringement in the last Super Rugby round that relates wholly to the “new” rules rather than the incumbent ones?

              • Columnist

                April 10th 2018 @ 1:25am
                Nicholas Bishop said | April 10th 2018 @ 1:25am | ! Report

                Have a look at my new article this week – a lot of it deals with David Pocock’s shift in attitude at breakdown time… But the overall stats have surprised me in their consistency – even the NZ teams are beginning to look more at the counter-ruck etc…

              • April 10th 2018 @ 7:19am
                Crash Ball2 said | April 10th 2018 @ 7:19am | ! Report

                Thanks Nick. Will do.

      • April 8th 2018 @ 3:38pm
        Winston said | April 8th 2018 @ 3:38pm | ! Report

        yeah I know, why the Sharks didn’t get a yellow card a lot earlier is beyond me.

      • April 8th 2018 @ 8:56pm
        Boonzie said | April 8th 2018 @ 8:56pm | ! Report

        It seems Pocock also found Richie’s cloak of invisibility ! Playing off the ground and joining from offside seem to be ok ! Hopefully it doesn’t wear out before he puts on the gold.

    • April 8th 2018 @ 9:26am
      Crash Ball2 said | April 8th 2018 @ 9:26am | ! Report

      Yep, Pocock was – again – immense.

      “If he and Michael Hooper can find a way to compliment each other then the Rugby Championship could get very interesting.”

      They can: one with the 7 jersey. One with the 20.

      But the RC isn’t the first Gold outing. Now, against an abrasive, attritional and muscular Irish pack who have traditionally dominated their Aussie opponents in the central arm wrestle, mauls, rucks and set piece – particularly in the open 30 minutes of trench warfare – which openside should logically start? Hmmm…

      • Roar Guru

        April 8th 2018 @ 10:47am
        eagleJack said | April 8th 2018 @ 10:47am | ! Report

        More than happy for Pocock to be handed the 7 jersey with Hooper on the bench. But I’m still not convinced we have a quality 8 to warrant not running the Pooper (as much as it has obvious flaws).

        I know you are a fan of Timani CB2 but has he really impressed you? Too much like his brother for mine. Big, strong and lazy. Shirks the tough stuff, weak in defence. Naisarani isn’t eligible yet, and Mafi never will be. Higgers? Maybe. Or do you run with one of the Reds youngsters?

        It’s not a simple scenario. I imagine with abrasive locks like Coleman, Tui, Rodda et al you can probably get away with the Pooper more so than in the past. I think it’s the way they will go.

        • April 8th 2018 @ 10:51am
          Fionn said | April 8th 2018 @ 10:51am | ! Report

          Eagle, I think Timu has to be our number 8. Pocock is the best 7.

          That would leave Hooper competing with a host of names such as Timani, Cottrell, Dempsey (when he comes back) and Higgers for the 6 jersey.

          Hooper is the best player of the lot, but the question is, is he the best option at 6?

          • Roar Guru

            April 8th 2018 @ 10:58am
            eagleJack said | April 8th 2018 @ 10:58am | ! Report

            He’s definitely not a 6!

            Yeah I’m really liking Timu, strong ball carrier, good offload. Definitely in the mix. But would probably like to see him off the bench first to see how he goes with the step up in level. He’s only just locking down a starting position at provincial level.

            • April 8th 2018 @ 11:01am
              Fionn said | April 8th 2018 @ 11:01am | ! Report

              And Pocock is definitely not an 8, which is where the problems stem from…

              I don’t think we have much of a choice but to play Timu. No other 6/8 who can also jump at the line out and is eligible is playing anywhere near his level.

              • Roar Guru

                April 8th 2018 @ 11:08am
                PeterK said | April 8th 2018 @ 11:08am | ! Report

                very much agree

              • Roar Guru

                April 8th 2018 @ 11:11am
                eagleJack said | April 8th 2018 @ 11:11am | ! Report

                That’s true about Pocock but he is an 8 in number only when playing for the Wallabies. Hooper plays the 8 role wearing the 7, if only he was a bigger body he would excel locking the back of the scrum.

                As I said it’s a tough one. Definitely not a black and white scenario. Timu could be the guy, and on form he deserves it, but to go from the NRC to the starting Wallabies 8 is a big leap in less than a year. Not saying it can’t be done though. It’s good to see him putting his hand up.

                Sad though that we are once again waiting for a player (Naisarani) to become eligible to represent the Wallabies. Seems like a constant.

              • April 8th 2018 @ 6:17pm
                Jameswm said | April 8th 2018 @ 6:17pm | ! Report

                I’m not convinced with Timu’s defence.

              • Roar Guru

                April 8th 2018 @ 10:46pm
                Fox said | April 8th 2018 @ 10:46pm | ! Report

                Agreed Fionn

              • Roar Guru

                April 9th 2018 @ 11:35am
                Fox said | April 9th 2018 @ 11:35am | ! Report

                “Hooper plays the 8 role wearing the 7, if only he was a bigger body he would excel locking the back of the scrum.”

                This is a great;point Eaglejack and one of the problems with entire issue.

                Hooper has more skills around the park of an 8 and Pocock is really specialist 7 but as you rightly point out – Hooper lacks the bulk at the back of the scrum of an 8 and a bit of height as well as a lineout disruptor and/or option as does Pocock at 8.

              • Roar Guru

                April 9th 2018 @ 3:34pm
                Timbo (L) said | April 9th 2018 @ 3:34pm | ! Report

                The 8 Role includes the ability to be a battering ram and a brick wall. Higgers (now injured), Mafi and Naisarani are great examples of this. Jed Holloway and Wells are starting to demonstrate skills in that role as well. I have never seen Hoops do either of these things.
                He is an agile runner and a proficient 1-on-1 tackler in open play but “Hard-Man” is not in his bio.

              • April 9th 2018 @ 7:03pm
                Baz said | April 9th 2018 @ 7:03pm | ! Report

                Pocock doesn’t play as a number 8. If you play him at 8 you are effectively losing a ball carrying forward. He will play over the ball and concentrate just on that. We need him at 7. I think last weekend answered that question. Our 8 needs to be a mobile ball carrier who can create. Naisarani, Timu or even Hollaway. Need the height for a line out option. There is some flexibility with the 6 but I would be looking for size. That leaves Hoops on the bench. But that won’t happen. Cheik will play Pocock at 8 and Hoops at 7.
                If you want to beat the Kiwi’s, take a look at what Mafi did against the Hurricanes (in the first half) . We need a Mafi type at 8 who has the speed and size to break the line.

              • April 9th 2018 @ 8:37pm
                Fionn said | April 9th 2018 @ 8:37pm | ! Report

                Mafi is one of a kind and perhaps the best number 8 in world rugby.

                However, a Timu or a Naisarani (when he’s eligible) is the next best thing.

            • April 11th 2018 @ 10:28am
              PK said | April 11th 2018 @ 10:28am | ! Report

              Oh dear, here he goes again ..unless it`s a Waratah, like a Hanigan or a Robertson or a Dempsey all other players have to start from the bench to see if they are up to test level..FFS

              • April 11th 2018 @ 10:51am
                Ray said | April 11th 2018 @ 10:51am | ! Report

                2 of those 3 players you mention started their test careers off the bench

          • April 8th 2018 @ 11:18am
            Ed said | April 8th 2018 @ 11:18am | ! Report


            We both want Poey to start as 7 as he is our best player there.
            However, we know Hooper will be first picked with Folau, Foley and Beale. Tis likely to be Pooper again, something Ireland (and New Zealand) will have a plan for.

            The following is for all Roarers – how many yellow cards has Pocock has been given in Super Rugby and tests. Hooper has been sent to the naughty chair eight times in tests. I dunno what his rate in SR is.

            • April 8th 2018 @ 11:34am
              Reverse Wheel said | April 8th 2018 @ 11:34am | ! Report

              Hooper is our captain and one of our best players. You can’t bench him, it’s insane. You also can’t not start Pocock. What to do? Maybe give Cheika some leeway while he tries to work it out.. .

              • April 8th 2018 @ 11:38am
                Fionn said | April 8th 2018 @ 11:38am | ! Report

                It’s a poor situation to be in, but perhaps Cheika shouldn’t have made him our captain when he wasn’t clearly the best player in his position.

                We don’t want to be in the position that the 2008-11 Boks were where Smit’s captaincy compromised the team as he kept a clearly superior Bismarck du Plessis on the bench, or else was played out of position at prop.

              • April 8th 2018 @ 6:30pm
                Reverse Wheel said | April 8th 2018 @ 6:30pm | ! Report

                He was the best player in his position because Pocock was off in Africa finding himself.

              • April 8th 2018 @ 12:55pm
                Bakkies said | April 8th 2018 @ 12:55pm | ! Report

                He has to start Pocock at 7 but he won’t which puts the lineout at risk. He would have a case if Hooper contested the breakdown like he used to at the Brumbies and a more regular lineout option.

                Ireland use five jumpers including Stander and Leavy. Every backrower is strong over the ball.

              • April 8th 2018 @ 1:05pm
                Fionn said | April 8th 2018 @ 1:05pm | ! Report

                6. Fardy, 7. Pocock, 8. Timu would have been a very good back-row.

                Cheika made his bed and has to sleep in it, and will be judged on his results.

                But Wallabies fans deserved better imo.

                Maybe Dempsey will come back strongly, he jumps well at the line out and looks like he can compete at the breakdown, who knows?

              • April 8th 2018 @ 8:24pm
                Crash Ball2 said | April 8th 2018 @ 8:24pm | ! Report

                “ Maybe give Cheika some leeway while he tries to work it out…”

                3 seasons and a post-RWC mid-40% win rate is enough leeway. Time to embrace change Michael.

              • Roar Guru

                April 9th 2018 @ 3:38pm
                Timbo (L) said | April 9th 2018 @ 3:38pm | ! Report

                Easily solved, Get another Captain.
                He might be one of the best players but probably not the best for team dynamics and structures in the forwards.
                He has been anemic against anyone with a decent forward pack, Ireland for example.

              • April 9th 2018 @ 7:14pm
                Baz said | April 9th 2018 @ 7:14pm | ! Report

                Hoops is a great player but at what position and against who. Pocock is better over the ball Period and IMO Hoops doesn’t have the size to play 8. A dilemma no doubt but I think the 6 might be the only spot where he could fit.

              • April 9th 2018 @ 10:01pm
                Baz said | April 9th 2018 @ 10:01pm | ! Report

                Why does the role of Captain last longer than a season as is the case with cricket. A captain should be picked each year based on form and relevance. We should be picking the best players at each position and choosing the best leader available…if we want to win.

              • April 10th 2018 @ 1:04pm
                GoldenDave said | April 10th 2018 @ 1:04pm | ! Report

                What if Hooper (or Pocock) was turned into a Hooker? Anyone think that is possible or is it simply too late in their careers?

              • April 12th 2018 @ 9:59pm
                AGbanger said | April 12th 2018 @ 9:59pm | ! Report

                It’s only a hypothetical conundrum… pocock has consistently demonstrated that his body isn’t up to playing long seasons of international rugby. He’s injury prone. He’ll play a couple of good games and then leave the hard work to Hooper who’s proved that he’s good enough and reliably durable..

              • April 13th 2018 @ 9:40am
                Baz said | April 13th 2018 @ 9:40am | ! Report

                @GoldenDave – yeah thought that he was quick enough to slot into the centers. He seems to spend most of his time out there anyway.

                @AGbanger – the fact that Pocock is injured so frequently could also be a function of how he plays the game and the fact that he is stationary over the ball at the breakdown. If Hoops spent the same time over the ball he may also suffer a few more injuries. I do know this, they are both great players and playing side by side they exhibit the perfect contrast of loose forward work ethic.

            • Roar Guru

              April 8th 2018 @ 11:51am
              eagleJack said | April 8th 2018 @ 11:51am | ! Report

              I’m quite certain that the majority of rugby fans will have Hooper, Folau, Foley and Beale in the Wallabies 23.

              • April 8th 2018 @ 12:24pm
                Ed said | April 8th 2018 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

                I agree they should be in the 23 EJ.
                I just question whether Hooper should be captain as he has a greater chance than most of our other players to spend time in the bin, not a spot where you would want your leader to be.

              • Roar Guru

                April 8th 2018 @ 12:40pm
                eagleJack said | April 8th 2018 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

                Yeah fair call Ed, it’s certainly not ideal that he receives so many yellows.

                Not using it as an excuse, but it would be interesting to see how many of his cards are a result of a team warning. With him simply being the next to infringe.

                We also see significantly more yellow cards handed out over the last couple of years. This weekend saw 5 of 6 games have a yellow. They’ve almost become the norm.

            • Roar Guru

              April 8th 2018 @ 2:35pm
              Cadfael said | April 8th 2018 @ 2:35pm | ! Report

              Hooper is it for the time being. He didn’t have a bad game, in fact like Pocock, he doesn’t turn in bad games. But Hoops is the encumbant and is the captain. Pocock plays 6 or 8 (though he is not suited to either) or he plays off the bench.

              • April 8th 2018 @ 3:46pm
                Fionn said | April 8th 2018 @ 3:46pm | ! Report

                What silly reasoning. It doesn’t really matter if ‘Hoops’ has a bad game (and actually, he does actually have bad ones). What matters is who the better 7 is.

                The captaincy cannot be used as a shield by which to protect Hooper as he shouldn’t have the captaincy if he isn’t the best player in his position, especially when there are massive questions surrounding his leadership (of which being the most yellow carded international player of all time is just one).

              • Roar Guru

                April 8th 2018 @ 3:57pm
                Cadfael said | April 8th 2018 @ 3:57pm | ! Report

                Both Hoops and Pocock are excellent 7s, they just play different games. It just depends on the type of game the coach wants. Like it or not, the current captain comes into it the reckoning.

              • April 8th 2018 @ 4:02pm
                Fionn said | April 8th 2018 @ 4:02pm | ! Report

                And I repeat: ‘The captaincy cannot be used as a shield by which to protect Hooper as he shouldn’t have the captaincy if he isn’t the best player in his position, especially when there are massive questions surrounding his leadership (of which being the most yellow carded international player of all time is just one).’

                Is Hooper currently outplaying Pocock at 7? Based on the past two rounds the answer is, no, Pocock is the superior openside flanker. Their careers before Pocock’s sabbatical would also indicate that he is the better player.

                One of the Boks’ big issues in 2011 was that their captain was keeping a superior player on the bench precisely because he was the captain. It’s a terrible position to be in. You can’t be captain unless you’re indisputably in the team.

              • April 8th 2018 @ 6:16pm
                Lewis said | April 8th 2018 @ 6:16pm | ! Report

                Reading this repeat regurgitated rubbish week in week out has finally annoyed me enough to comment. Quoting yourself doesn’t make what you say the first time correct.

                The only thing Pooey does better than Hooper is grab a few more turnovers. Hooper hits harder, runs faster, works harder, finds more space, offloads better, makes more opportunities and generates more points for the team overall and I would expect that he is instructed to focus on these other more rounded things rather than just hang around and try and find a few pilfer opportunities. Get over the “traditional” number on the back thing and blinding anti Tahs bias and try and see what is needed in a modern rugby side. Number 7 doesn’t mean someone that can get a few turnovers, it is a spot in the team to be filled by the person that deserves the spot and can offer the most for the side.

                Hooper deserves to be picked first before nearly every other forward in the Wallabies.

              • April 8th 2018 @ 6:55pm
                Crash Ball2 said | April 8th 2018 @ 6:55pm | ! Report

                “The only thing Pooey does better than Hooper is grab a few more turnovers.”

                Which ironically follows:

                “Quoting yourself doesn’t make what you say the first time correct.”

                Bravo sir.

              • April 8th 2018 @ 7:29pm
                Reverse Wheel said | April 8th 2018 @ 7:29pm | ! Report

                I don’t agree that it simply comes down to who is a better 7. It’s about what makes the team better. If Hooper at 7 and Pocock at 8 is better for the team than Pocock at 7 and random guy who no one can agree on because there are no standouts at 8, then you do it, even if Pocock does happen to be a better 7.

              • April 8th 2018 @ 4:07pm
                cuw said | April 8th 2018 @ 4:07pm | ! Report

                the current issue of England 😛

              • April 8th 2018 @ 6:33pm
                Fionn said | April 8th 2018 @ 6:33pm | ! Report

                ‘Hooper hits harder, runs faster, works harder, finds more space, offloads better, makes more opportunities and generates more points for the team overall and I would expect that he is instructed to focus on these other more rounded things rather than just hang around and try and find a few pilfer opportunities.’

                Going through that…

                Hooper probably hits harder. He goes for more dominant tackles, but at the same time he misses more tackles as a result of this. And gets yellow carded more. Both are very good defenders.

                Runs faster… Yep. But since when is an openside flanker’s worth determined primarily by their speed? If that was the case then Kwagga Smith would be the best 7 in the world, Savea would start for New Zealand, and McCaw would have been nothing special towards the end of his career.

                Works harder… if by that you mean he runs the ball more in the wider channels? Both are extremely hard working in defence. Hooper is more effective in attack but I’m not sure the stats say he ‘works harder’. While Pocock works far harder at the breakdown (one of the key areas of the game, and one in which the Wallabies struggle).

                Offloads better… again, this might be a really relevant point if we were discussing potential Wallaby centres. But this is an ancillary skill for a 7, surely.

                Makes more opportunities and generates more points for the team overall… how do you measure this? Hooper scores more tries. However, Pocock creates space for the team by tying up multiple defenders at every breakdown he contests. This creates space on attack and also makes the opposing team’s attack worse.

                If you think that all Pocock does is ‘just hang around and try and find a few pilfer opportunities’ you might want to check out this article:

              • April 8th 2018 @ 7:16pm
                Lewis said | April 8th 2018 @ 7:16pm | ! Report

                Your argument works and I agree with you if all a coach and the selectors want from the player wearing number 7 for the Wallabies is someone contesting every breakdown. Can you not see or accept that the current modern game may need – or at the least the abovementioned people in charge want – a slightly more diversified player which is why Hooper gets selected and that the number on a loose forward’s back may not mean what it once did and have to predetermine the player’s skill set?

              • April 8th 2018 @ 8:56pm
                Crash Ball2 said | April 8th 2018 @ 8:56pm | ! Report

                The “traditional” versus “modern” argument is itself a meaningless diversion. The key criteria is: what capabilities does this team most require in relation to its own incumbent strengths and weaknesses and those of their opposition on any given day.

                If we take Ireland, for example, in the first 30 minutes, will the Wallabies most require: pace in the three quarter channel or muscle and leverage in up front battle? Dancing feet on the flanks or power and height in the set piece. General industriousness or raw boned power? And even if one chose the former in each instance, who really should be providing such capabilities? Almost half the team are designated backs, if they can’t beat a man, run a support line, make a cover tackle, rush a catcher – change their selection pecking order.

                As for the “man in charge”, several seasons of unflinching parochialism, unyieldingly poor selections and simplistic, one-paced game plans, have left many singularly disenchanted with what he wants.

              • April 9th 2018 @ 7:28am
                Fionn said | April 9th 2018 @ 7:28am | ! Report

                Hooper isn’t more diverse though, he excelles at ball running in the wider channels at the expense of his core forward tasks at the breakdown.

                The ‘modern game’ still requires you to do the forward basics well: have a strong scrum, have a strong line out and be strong at competing at the breakdown – both in terms of ensuring you win your own balls and slowing down your opposition ball.

                Unfortunately for Hopper he may be one of our best players, but he’s far worse at these roles than Pocock, who was the best 7 in the world before his sabbatical and has played awesomely since returning. This debate reminds me of Waugh vs George Smith.

              • April 9th 2018 @ 3:46am
                Bakkies said | April 9th 2018 @ 3:46am | ! Report

                I don’t care if people are the incumbent. It is not like Cricket where you used to give people a lot of tests to build form and partnership. It is about building a winning team which the Wallabies haven’t had since 2002. The fact that players like Dan Leavy (if you have seen the photos of him at school he was 70 kg dripping wet) can dominate the breakdown is no excuse for Hooper to no play that role. If you aren’t going to do that then get out. Liam Gill was basically sacrificed because of this bloke.

              • April 9th 2018 @ 3:50am
                Bakkies said | April 9th 2018 @ 3:50am | ! Report

                ‘Can you not see or accept that the current modern game may need – or at the least the abovementioned people in charge want’

                Well Lewis you are losing the argument due to the fact that the Wallabies aren’t winning enough Rugby matches and the other forwards aren’t doing the breakdown work to cover for Hooper’s hard tackling game.

              • April 9th 2018 @ 7:37am
                Lewis said | April 9th 2018 @ 7:37am | ! Report

                We aren’t talking about the other forwards. If the Wallabies had any defence to be proud of over the past few years then their win ratio would be much much higher. This lack of defence is not due to Hooper or his contributions.

              • April 9th 2018 @ 7:59am
                Fionn said | April 9th 2018 @ 7:59am | ! Report

                That’s deflection, the issues aren’t just defence though. The breakdown is another absolutely huge issue. Whenever Pocock doesn’t play we get owned at the breakdown, which is the most crucial area of competition in the game.

              • April 9th 2018 @ 8:25am
                Lewis said | April 9th 2018 @ 8:25am | ! Report

                The deflection was Bakkies changing the subject from: (i) my initial point of you quoting your earlier posts as support of the same point made in your later posts and (ii) the discussion and views on who has a better more rounded game and may warrant fist selection at flanker rather than who can pilfer better and on that basis alone should wear number 7 due to “traditional” views on what a 7 should do. No one is right on this latter point as it is all subjective views.

                I didn’t raise that “deflection” new topic Fionn, so raise your issue with Bakkies if you really have one.

                It’s clear you and I will not agree on this Hooper and Poey point and that is fine, nothing wrong with differing opinions. Anyway as you can see I don’t post on here much and I have a job to get to now so will be leaving for a while. I just hope I don’t log back on this evening and someone else with a long held grudge against the current Wallabies captain has asserted that it is now Hooper’s fault that we have famine and disease or war in the Middle East.

              • April 9th 2018 @ 8:38am
                Bakkies said | April 9th 2018 @ 8:38am | ! Report

                Nonsense. The Wallabies poor defence is significantly linked to their inability to slow down ball to help the defence realign.

                That is one of his Hooper’s main tasks as a openside flanker. Be first to the breakdown to slow down ball not stand in the back line flicking his hair and shouting at his team mates.

                I don’t care about him being captain we know how he got the role and he isn’t a captain’s bootlace.

              • April 9th 2018 @ 8:44am
                Fionn said | April 9th 2018 @ 8:44am | ! Report

                ‘I just hope I don’t log back on this evening and someone else with a long held grudge against the current Wallabies captain has asserted that it is now Hooper’s fault that we have famine and disease or war in the Middle East.’

                This is trying to create a false narrative. There is a small minority of people who think that Hooper is a bad player and criticise him as such, but it is a small minority.

                Most simply point out that he’s unlucky to be playing in the same position as our best player.

              • April 9th 2018 @ 8:53am
                Lewis said | April 9th 2018 @ 8:53am | ! Report

                Well Bakkies’ post from 11 mins ago has perfectly done the job of responding to your last post for me.

              • Roar Guru

                April 9th 2018 @ 9:16am
                PeterK said | April 9th 2018 @ 9:16am | ! Report

                Lewis – Pocock is a significantly better link player than wide running Hooper.

                In their head to head match.

                Pocock 8 carries, 8 passes, 2 offloads, 13 metres run, 3 defenders beaten
                Hooper 9 carries, 4 passes, 0 offloads, 12 metres run, 0 offloads.

                Pococks run it tight or slightly wider and keeps the ball alive passing it to backs or other forwards.
                Hooper runs wider and doesn’t look to link but runs himself.
                Normally the opensider is the linkman between forwards and backs , Hooper doesn’t do this role so someone else has to.

              • April 9th 2018 @ 2:38pm
                Malo said | April 9th 2018 @ 2:38pm | ! Report

                Hooper is the best link forward in the world, look at how many try assists he creates or scores. He is faster than Pocock. Who cares because Pooper is a certainty.

              • April 9th 2018 @ 9:28am
                Fionn said | April 9th 2018 @ 9:28am | ! Report

              • April 9th 2018 @ 11:59am
                Bakkies said | April 9th 2018 @ 11:59am | ! Report

                Are you auditioning for a spot on the RA board Lewis?

              • April 9th 2018 @ 12:08pm
                Fionn said | April 9th 2018 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

                Bakkies, have you had much of a chance to see Gill play since since he went to Europe?

                I was really upset when he went. I actually thought he was Australia’s best 7 in his final Super Rugby season. The most well-rounded 7 we had produced since George Smith.

              • April 9th 2018 @ 4:10pm
                Bakkies said | April 9th 2018 @ 4:10pm | ! Report

                Haven’t seen many of his matches since he went to Lyon apparently he has starred.

                I believe his contract is up again. Not sure if it has been renewed.

              • April 9th 2018 @ 8:48pm
                Tommo said | April 9th 2018 @ 8:48pm | ! Report

                This whole argument is ridiculous.

                In any other country bar perhaps NZ, Pocock would not only be the first player picked in his number 7 jersey he would also be captaining his national team.

                Hooper doesn’t hold a candle to Pocock in one single facet of his being.

              • April 10th 2018 @ 8:15am
                Baz said | April 10th 2018 @ 8:15am | ! Report

                Don’t get rid of Hooper as captain. That is too hard. Add Pocock as a second captain. Dual captains.

          • April 8th 2018 @ 12:53pm
            Cinque said | April 8th 2018 @ 12:53pm | ! Report

            This obsession with numbers is so 20th century. Tahs played Miller at 6 vs Sunwolves. He is a Hooper. So you say they played twin 7s, like Scotland did.
            As you wish. Basically they both chose a mobile, fast backrow to gain in the loose at the expense of the set piece. A no brainer vs Sunwolves.
            Will Cheika risk going with three prime lineout targets? We will see.

            • April 8th 2018 @ 12:56pm
              Bakkies said | April 8th 2018 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

              The Scottish backrowers jump at the lineout

              • April 8th 2018 @ 1:22pm
                Cynical Play said | April 8th 2018 @ 1:22pm | ! Report

                Anyone can jump if they have lifters. I’ve seen hooper win several line outs

              • April 8th 2018 @ 2:05pm
                Train without a station said | April 8th 2018 @ 2:05pm | ! Report

                But not anybody can be a good jumper…

              • April 8th 2018 @ 1:27pm
                Fionn said | April 8th 2018 @ 1:27pm | ! Report

                He’s 182cm, he will be out jumped by 191cm Peter O’Mahony, 185cm CJ Stander, 188cm Josh van der Flier, 188cm Sean O’Brien and 191cm Dan Leavy.

                Pocock can technically be lifted/jump as well. The reason he isn’t used like that is because he isn’t very effective at it.

                We have used the Pooper before and know it compromises our line out. The only question is, is it good enough around the park to make up for this?

              • April 8th 2018 @ 2:39pm
                cuw said | April 8th 2018 @ 2:39pm | ! Report

                ” Anyone can jump if they have lifters. I’ve seen hooper win several line outs ”

                LOL – but there are guys like K Read , P O’Mahony , J Tipuric .. who jump unassisted.

                they are some of the best defensive lineout jumpers – becoz u dont need to commit lifters.

              • April 8th 2018 @ 6:19pm
                Jameswm said | April 8th 2018 @ 6:19pm | ! Report

                No one jumps unassisted any more.

              • April 8th 2018 @ 7:29pm
                cuw said | April 8th 2018 @ 7:29pm | ! Report

                in Australia 😛

                many dont jump .

              • April 9th 2018 @ 3:54am
                Bakkies said | April 9th 2018 @ 3:54am | ! Report

                ‘Anyone can jump if they have lifters. I’ve seen hooper win several line outs’

                He is going to be competing against O’Mahony at the back who can win lineouts like Read (and we have seen what Read can do to a poorly manned Wallabies lineout) without being lifted.

              • April 9th 2018 @ 3:59am
                Bakkies said | April 9th 2018 @ 3:59am | ! Report

                ‘No one jumps unassisted any more.’

                Yes they do to nick opposition ball or to catch pies that were thrown poorly.

              • April 9th 2018 @ 9:27am
                Fionn said | April 9th 2018 @ 9:27am | ! Report

                Scott Higginbotham is the only Australian back-rower who is anywhere near good enough in the line out to shore us up against O’Mahony.

              • April 9th 2018 @ 3:01pm
                cuw said | April 9th 2018 @ 3:01pm | ! Report

                some of the people who comment her – shud at least watch the not Heineken cup final round matches .

                Peter OM single handlely managed to disrupt the Toulon lineout by jumping in front – unassisted.

            • April 8th 2018 @ 9:33pm
              Crash Ball2 said | April 8th 2018 @ 9:33pm | ! Report

              “This obsession with numbers is so 20th century.“

              Actually no, it isn’t. There are a host of reasons why a player’s designated number – and the key skills and expectations that arise from that position – are important.

              If, for example, Pocock in the “”Pooper” alignment, fulfills the fundamental requirements of the openside flanker’s mandate (as even most fervent Hooper-philes accept), and he takes the field actually wearing the 7 jersey, then – based on the skills and class chasm between Pocock and other eligible Australian openside flankers, injuries permitting, the 7 jersey is “locked”. This means that Hooper then has to don either the 6 or 8 jersey to start in the team and the true and practical nature of the vast compromise to this Wallabies team is laid bare. Because then it’s clearly not a choice between “traditional” and “modern” opensides – which might be a valid argument if Cheika bit the bullet and actually selected one of Hooper or Pocock to start – it is actually a choice between one set of skills for another. Hooper’s unique attributes (pace, workrate, fleet footedness) for a range of important forward-centric capabilities (set piece, mauls, cleanouts, central running, weight and leverage in the tight). When the Wallabies inevitably get dominated again in these areas – as they have done for season after eye watering season under Cheika – the selection of a short, bantamweight blindside flanker or 8 is infinitely more likely to come under close scrutiny than that of the same bloke wearing the 7 jersey (who “traditionally” gets less grief than he rest of the pack for such trifling things – anyone seeing the irony here?) So if numbers really don’t matter, and Cheika is sticking with the Pooper folly this season, I’d be far more happy if he deployed David Pocock in the position he actually plays: 7. And then allows Hooper make his case provided with the backdrop of expectation that arises from the inherent capabilities of an international test 6 or 8. Best of luck with that.

            • Roar Guru

              April 9th 2018 @ 3:48pm
              Timbo (L) said | April 9th 2018 @ 3:48pm | ! Report

              I have seen Jory read take a fantastic line out catch but nobody is slapping a low number on his jersey any time soon.

              Hoops teds to be swapped in when they have exhausted all options and get desperate.

              Other sides have 4 primary targets to keep the opposition guessing.

          • April 8th 2018 @ 1:10pm
            Dave_S said | April 8th 2018 @ 1:10pm | ! Report

            We still have the same or similar problem that (in part) led Cheika to playing Pooper – a lack of 2 other international-class backrowers.

            Timu has stepped up (its early days but I would risk him).

            But none of Timani, Cotterell, Dempsey and Higgs are better than Hooper and Pocock at anything other than lineouts. Dempsey is the only one of those I would consider. I’ve put a line thru Timani and Higgs for the WBs, at best they are squad WBs.

            • April 8th 2018 @ 1:13pm
              Fionn said | April 8th 2018 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

              Only because Cheika stopped selecting Fardy, so he went overseas.

              This was a situation that was created, not inevitable.

              We had better hope that Dempsey comes back strongly.

              Someone like Cottrell who is tall enough to jump at the line out and compete at the breakdown, or RHP, who is tall enough to jump and can carry the ball, are both options who would probably do their jobs.

              • April 8th 2018 @ 1:57pm
                Harry said | April 8th 2018 @ 1:57pm | ! Report

                If I was selecting the Walls for next weekend I’d have in the back 5 forwards:

                Coleman, Rory Arnold, Rodda at 6, Pocock at 8, Hooper Bench Timu, Simmons. That assumes no Tui, Dempsey or McMahon.

              • April 8th 2018 @ 6:20pm
                Jameswm said | April 8th 2018 @ 6:20pm | ! Report

                Fardy just wasn’t that good Fionn. That’s why he wasn’t getting selected. Slow, ordinary ball runner and doesn’t dominate contact.

              • April 8th 2018 @ 7:36pm
                Reverse Wheel said | April 8th 2018 @ 7:36pm | ! Report

                Fardy was that good but his form had dropped away badly.

              • April 8th 2018 @ 9:52pm
                Crash Ball2 said | April 8th 2018 @ 9:52pm | ! Report

                Fardy’s form had dropped so far that he was an inferior performer to Dean Mumm or Ned Hanigan? Really?

                Fardy was far and away the top blindside flanker in the Australian conference in 2017. He is as good a lineout catcher as Mumm and better than Hanigan. He does just about everything else better than both (save one sideline winger fending run per game from Dean).

                Cheika’s “Scott’s going overseas so we can’t select him” justification might have held water if he didn’t then subsequently select Japan-bound McMahon all test season in 2017.

                The very same Sean McMahon whose displaced Wallabies test selection was clearly taking its toll, “The way I’m playing, lasting until I’m over 30 is probably not on the cards.” I guess there’s really no way for us, Joe Public, to know where McMahon really believes his main skills lie or what are the most important attributes of that jersey for a “modern” backrower, “I’d love to really keep focusing on and working on my over the ball skills as well, so I can get a bit more specific to that No.7 role.”

              • April 9th 2018 @ 7:33am
                Fionn said | April 9th 2018 @ 7:33am | ! Report

                Sorry Reverse Wheel and James, I think you’re both dead wrong.

                Fardy was pretty good in 2016 and clearly the best 6, and he had a fantastic season in 2017.

                He’s now playing for probably the best club in the northern hemisphere, and if you read any coverage of Leinster or Fardy in the Irish press they sing his praises until the cows come home and talk about him as being one of, if not he best, foreign player in Ireland, and consistently one of Leinster’s best.

              • April 8th 2018 @ 10:06pm
                ThugbyFab said | April 8th 2018 @ 10:06pm | ! Report

                Lurham Tui played a couple of times at #6 for the WB last year when M.Cheika finally admitted that N.Hanigan was as effective as a marshmallow and went for J.Dempsey and Tui instead. Calab Timu might get a run in the squad but he is still pretty raw at SR level. The only other blokes good enough to get in the WB23 as backrowers are Matt Philip and RHP.

                Last year Hanigan only got a starter spot in the Tahs and WB because of injuries to J.Dempsey and others. The same for the EOYT when people were going down wounded all over the place.

                I don’t see Dempsey as playing a part in the Irish tests so it wouldn’t surprise if the WB backrow is the Pooper an Hanigan and Cheika will just cotton wool his ears against the angst.

              • April 8th 2018 @ 10:28pm
                Crash Ball2 said | April 8th 2018 @ 10:28pm | ! Report

                “It wouldn’t surprise if the WB backrow is the Pooper an Hanigan and Cheika will just cotton wool his ears against the angst.”

                Nor would it surprise many. The bloke has doubled down so many times there are commas between each set of zeroes.

                At 45ish% win tests since 2015, and with a tough Irish series, followed by a tougher Bledisloe, will Raelene Castle be similarly deaf? She’s already said: “Bledisloe is our priority.” Interesting statement based on the timing of these results.

              • April 9th 2018 @ 8:58pm
                Tommo said | April 9th 2018 @ 8:58pm | ! Report

                It’s interesting how everyone says Timu is raw at SR level and shouldn’t be selected for the Wallabies based on this. If he is performing the best at 8 out of anyone in the conference an is eligible for the Wallabies should it matter that it’s his first real SR season?

                Hannigan has done sweet f all over the past few seasons but he seems to keep getting gifted games for the Wallabies.

                Other pundits seem to keep singing praises of Dempsey, who admittedly is better than Hannigan (which is not saying much) but again what impact has he actually had at Wallabies level let alone Waratahs?

                A Fardy at 6, Pocock at 7 and Timu at 8 would be damaging and both Fardy and Timu can lineout jump if required. But yeah lets go with Hooper, Pocock and why not Hannigan at 8.

                Cheika will be the master of his own demise.

          • Roar Guru

            April 8th 2018 @ 10:43pm
            Fox said | April 8th 2018 @ 10:43pm | ! Report

            So Fionn and Eaglejack – you are suggesting Hooper will be,or should be, dropped as captain and be put on the bench? Just wee fly in the ointment there I think.

            Dropping Hooper to the bench means dropping him as captain- not would you do it – but do you really think Cheika will do that? I don’t some how – at least not for the Irish series – after that who knows, depending on the outcome.

            • April 9th 2018 @ 4:03am
              Bakkies said | April 9th 2018 @ 4:03am | ! Report

              Link had no problems dropping Horwill when he was captain.

              • April 9th 2018 @ 7:33am
                Fionn said | April 9th 2018 @ 7:33am | ! Report

                Or Genia.

                We all know that Cheika isn’t Link though.

            • April 9th 2018 @ 7:35am
              Fionn said | April 9th 2018 @ 7:35am | ! Report

              No, I don’t think he will bench him, but I think he should. I think we will see the Pooper as I can’t see him not picking Pocock as he’s our best player.

              • Roar Guru

                April 9th 2018 @ 11:28am
                Fox said | April 9th 2018 @ 11:28am | ! Report

                I tend to agree Fionn but I think the combination is past it’s used by date – Pocock may be Australia’s best player but he is not Australia’s best no8 IMO.

                And while Pocock is a wonderful world class player, he is not a genuine world class international no8 – because he plays the role more as a second 7 or the defensive 7 playing at 8 and there is an important difference IMO.

                Pocock is also not getting any younger and is starting to get injuries. Cheika needs to develop a long term solution at no8.

                Maybe Pocock could go to 6 and swap to the open side on defensive scrums to attack the contact area – Hooper has far more gas and get around if he has too.

                But then is Pocock the the best option at six either?

                It is a dilemma for Cheika and why I think you are right, we will see Pooper again, Byrne may tell him not to use it against the AB’s as they exposed the weaknesses of the combination by realising the Wallabies only had a couple of genuine lineout options so targeted the lineout where they disrupted and/or won a lot of turnover ball and especially in WC final.

                And with the lineout players the Boks currently have – they may do the same

                It is risk and reward combination that can work or backfire. But I think Cheika sees more reward in using it than ditching it – Hooper is captain and the best link forward he has and Pocock his best turnover specialist – He is stuck between a rock and hard place.

                Making Pocock captain would make life easier for alternative options but I doubt he will do that before the Irish series.

              • April 9th 2018 @ 11:35am
                Fionn said | April 9th 2018 @ 11:35am | ! Report

                Fox, you’re right about the complications, but I also think you’re right in thinking it has well outlived its used by date.

                Unless Pocock’s form declines hugely I would just pick him at 7, I would pick Timu at 8 and I would pick our best 6 at 6—whether that is Higginbotham, Dempsey, Timani or Cottrell. Hooper can be the ultimate finisher off the bench.

                I would like to see Pocock captain, but, honestly, I think that someone like Polota-Nau or Coleman would do just as fine of a job.

              • Roar Guru

                April 9th 2018 @ 11:51am
                PeterK said | April 9th 2018 @ 11:51am | ! Report

                Fox – Hooper is a great support runner and playing loose and cutting off attacks rushing at the 10.

                However that doesn’t make him a great link player IMO.

                For starters he doesn’t link between forwards and backs, he doesn’t promote the ball to the backs, in fact Pocock passes the ball on to a back more often than Hooper.

            • Roar Guru

              April 9th 2018 @ 11:00am
              Ralph said | April 9th 2018 @ 11:00am | ! Report

              If Hooper drops to the bench – who would you choose as captain then?

              • April 9th 2018 @ 11:35am
                Fionn said | April 9th 2018 @ 11:35am | ! Report

                I would pick Pocock, Polota-Nau or Coleman. I even think that Simmons would do a good job if I’m being honest.

              • Roar Guru

                April 9th 2018 @ 11:39am
                Fox said | April 9th 2018 @ 11:39am | ! Report

                Pocock because Coleman is still too hot headed at times – and if he is captain you make take that spirited edge of his game which the Wallabies right now. But he would be the next best after Pocock and maybe not a bad one with Pocock vice captain as cool head and Coleman grows into the role.

                Also when I said Hooper is the Wallabies this is with the backs in the sense he is a great support player due to his pace and can fill a hole in backline a backs are the tackled player in the ruck – I think Pocock does the job better in and around the forwards

              • Roar Guru

                April 9th 2018 @ 11:47am
                PeterK said | April 9th 2018 @ 11:47am | ! Report

                I wouldn’t pick TPN since he is O/S based, can’t play all tests, attend all training or all wallaby camps.

                The player needs to be certain of starting this year and next (barring injury) and either a forward or the halfback so near all the contestable action.

                The candidates to me would be Pocock, Coleman and Genia.

                I would have included Kepu however Tupou could easily over take him next year as a starter.

                Pocock – Hooper will be on the bench , Pocock may be regularly replaced at the 60m mark.
                Coleman – Has not shone as captain of the Rebels, also question marks around his temperament
                Genia – Has tantrums aimed at his players, also IMO his play deteriorates when he is captain.

                My choice would be Pocock with probably Hooper the replacement captain if he replaces him. Fatigue affects decision making and he would be a lot fresher than the other 2, also he would be certain to finish the game.

              • Roar Guru

                April 9th 2018 @ 11:48am
                Fox said | April 9th 2018 @ 11:48am | ! Report

                opps bit messy above link player I am talking about

              • April 9th 2018 @ 12:16pm
                Fionn said | April 9th 2018 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

                I’m not certain Tupou is likely to overtake Kepu. I mean, it is certainly possible, but Kepu is our best scrummager, is a very good ball carrier, is the best handling tight 5 forward, is probably our best tackling tight 5 forward and has good speed. I think he really is a world class prop and would be close to the best tighthead in the world after Furlong.

        • April 8th 2018 @ 6:24pm
          Crash Ball2 said | April 8th 2018 @ 6:24pm | ! Report

          I agree that it is the likely path that Cheika will take us down, EJ. But it will, again, be the wrong one.

          Timani did well a season or two ago when given the briefest of opportunities. I was desperate to see a Fardy, Pocock, Timani backrow alignment deployed. The closest we came was Fardy, Pocock, McMahon against France and they were outstanding.

          Timani is certainly the in the broad shadow of Mafi this season, but then, pretty much every Australian conference player is. Higginbotham is wrongly painted with an outdated “winger” brush when, in fact, his central running, set piece, breakdown cleaning and maul wrangling skills have been great this season (much as they were when he captained The Rebels several seasons ago): he might also be the best forward offloader in the conference. Timu is exciting as is McCaffery. I’ve always liked Cottrell, I’m pleasantly surprised by Wells but would have liked Holloway to have progressed a bit further than he has. RHP deserved a shot last year based on form but had struggled to get a gig in the new combined set up. The biggest travesty of course was Cheika’s ostracising of Scott Fardy – easily the form blindside in Australia last year. Clearly on the outer for reasons other than rugby ability. Point is, there are, and have always been, other options.

          Jerseys aside, it is clear that in the Pocock/Hooper alignment, DP shoulders the core capabilities of the openside flanking burden. Which means that, practically, Hooper is the smallest, widest running, least set piece capable 8 in international test rugby.

          Individually, Hooper is amongst the finest, hardest working, most wholehearted and gifted footballers in the country. As a straight shootout for “best players”, he is top five most weeks, zero question. But that’s not the right way to select a full capability, cohesive and collaborative Wallabies starting team.

          If this Wallabies pack was, collectively, a hard hitting, hard running, lineout proficient, scrum dominating juggernaut who possessed a fierce ground game (going forwards and backwards), Hooper would be an automatic inclusion. They aren’t. We sacrifice power in the tight for pace in the three quarter channel, muscle in the central battle for illuseness in the tramlines, weight and skill in the set piece for workmanlike metronome.

          Hooper is intrinsically brave with great technique. When his timing is right, the results are highlight reel making (particular when he is rushing a player about to receive the ball). And Fox Sports never misses a chance to roll out the Hooper showreel and crank the tonsils up to “embarrassing hyperbole” level; usually with cut video pre-prepared and ready to run at the slightest inkling. But he gets it wrong an aweful lot. And against the big boys, even 5% off is ugly. Hooper came second across Super Rugby in 2017 for ineffective tackles – that’s all teams and every player. He is again sitting second across the entire competition in 2018. He was brushed aside early in the first half by a bantamweight Sunwolf (eliciting zero comment from the Fox cheerleaders who then, waxed lyrical for a full minute mere moments later when he’d laid a solid shoulder on a hospital pass-bound Sunwolves recipient. 11 tackles on Saturday, 3 misses.

          Hooper wasn’t even the strongest Wallaby backrower last year – the honours easily going to McMahon; with Dempsey probably next when he was fit.

          The Wallabies starting 6 and 8 don’t individually need to be better rugby players than Michael Hooper. They don’t even necessarily need to be “world class”. They just need to be better maul wrestlers, lineout jumpers, scrum leveragers, central running blunt instruments and square shouldered ruck cleaners physiologically adept and aligned to the key requirements of the up front forward contest. There are a whole host of options more qualified than Michael Hooper for these specific criteria. And Ireland, of all teams, is a team intractably designed to bludgeon and strangle – particularly in the opening exchanges.

          • April 8th 2018 @ 10:19pm
            Rugby101 said | April 8th 2018 @ 10:19pm | ! Report

            One of the most balanced assessments on the subject ever to appear on the Roar!

            • April 8th 2018 @ 10:48pm
              Crash Ball2 said | April 8th 2018 @ 10:48pm | ! Report

              Cheers R101.

          • April 9th 2018 @ 11:35am
            Fionn said | April 9th 2018 @ 11:35am | ! Report

            Great post.

      • April 8th 2018 @ 9:49pm
        ScottD said | April 8th 2018 @ 9:49pm | ! Report

        As a left field thought what about Ross Haylett Petty?
        Big enough, hard runner with ball good lineout option probably lacking most in speed and agility

        • April 8th 2018 @ 9:55pm
          ScottD said | April 8th 2018 @ 9:55pm | ! Report

          Sorry CB just saw your post. Looks like its not so left field. Totally agree with your post.

        • April 8th 2018 @ 10:01pm
          Crash Ball2 said | April 8th 2018 @ 10:01pm | ! Report

          Totally agree with this SD. Had a great season in 2017 and didn’t even get a faint whiff of test squad exposure in a (bizarrely) Hanigan augmented Wallabies backrow. Not sure I’d call Ned speedy or agile either but, impact-wise, RHP has it alll over him.

          Though, not getting the starting exposure at the Rebels this season so, tough to talk about current form.

          • April 9th 2018 @ 9:06pm
            Tommo said | April 9th 2018 @ 9:06pm | ! Report

            Can anyone, I mean anyone, actually explain Ned Hannigan’s inclusion in the Wallabies outfit?

            Like I mean seriously. Dean Mumm was perplexing but figured his old man had something to do with his constant selection. Hannigan is an absolute mystery to me. I lie awake at night asking the big questions like God vs Evolution, are there other life forms in the universe, what came first, the chicken or the egg and how the hell Ned Hannigan has played so many Wallabies tests already. He’ll be celebrating 50 caps in no time.

    • April 8th 2018 @ 10:03am
      Fionn said | April 8th 2018 @ 10:03am | ! Report

      Pocock has been the best player in Australia (when u injured) since 2009, when George Smith left.

      The only thing that surprises me is that some people are surprised at how he is playing.

      • April 8th 2018 @ 11:40am
        Jacko said | April 8th 2018 @ 11:40am | ! Report

        Fionn surely you can understand that after he has been out or away for so long people questioned his ability? Its up to him to prove himself after his 18mth holiday is it not?

        • April 8th 2018 @ 11:45am
          Fionn said | April 8th 2018 @ 11:45am | ! Report

          Jacko, that literally has nothing to do with what I said.

          I questioned people’s surprise at him playing so well coming back, not people saying beforehand that he had to prove himself.

          • April 8th 2018 @ 11:55am
            Taylorman said | April 8th 2018 @ 11:55am | ! Report

            I think anyone out of test rugby for 18 months has to prove themselves. And Pocock still does. This wasnt a test.

            • April 8th 2018 @ 11:57am
              Fionn said | April 8th 2018 @ 11:57am | ! Report

              Again, literally has no bearing on what I said… It’s a fundamentally different point.

              • April 8th 2018 @ 4:32pm
                Guest said | April 8th 2018 @ 4:32pm | ! Report


                Sorry mate but it is the same point. I’m surprised you can’t see that.

                Pocock’s ability has never been in dispute but after a year and a half away from the game including injury it is up to him to prove he is still the machine he has been in the past which so far he is doing…

              • April 8th 2018 @ 5:18pm
                Jacko said | April 8th 2018 @ 5:18pm | ! Report

                When you write……..The only thing that surprises me is that some people are surprised at how he is playing.
                I take it to mean………….The only thing that surprises me is that some people are surprised at how he is playing.

                Was that not what you meant?

              • April 8th 2018 @ 5:23pm
                Fionn said | April 8th 2018 @ 5:23pm | ! Report

                I can’t work out if you’re being ironic at this point?

    • April 8th 2018 @ 10:46am
      Peter Kelly said | April 8th 2018 @ 10:46am | ! Report

      Pocock starts at 7, Hooper finishes, isn’t that what Cheika called his reserves, having and Energizer bunny hit the field in last 20 would add some scoring ability when others are tiring. I think the Aussie teams are playing at times better than last year but lack a little consistency over 80, the Reds possibly the most intense just lacking attacking flair.
      I hope some of these improvements come through for Wallabies- really looking forward to hopefully a hard test series with the Irish as a lead in to a closer RC.

      • Roar Rookie

        April 8th 2018 @ 12:48pm
        Die hard said | April 8th 2018 @ 12:48pm | ! Report

        I agree but it is better to have a lock and six reserve bench. A seven is a luxury. The ABs sometimes did moving Mccaw to eight. The Wallabies might try that also

    • April 8th 2018 @ 11:40am
      Malo said | April 8th 2018 @ 11:40am | ! Report

      Pooper is a certainty.

      • April 8th 2018 @ 11:23pm
        Dontcallmeshirley said | April 8th 2018 @ 11:23pm | ! Report

        Only in the abscence of a viable alternative

    • April 8th 2018 @ 12:13pm
      moaman said | April 8th 2018 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

      Is that a current pic of Pocock? He looks like he has slimmed down.(Didn’t see the match).

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