Michael Cheika’s 2018 Wallabies need another captain – and some new talent

Spiro Zavos Columnist

By Spiro Zavos, Spiro Zavos is a Roar Expert

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    The 2019 Rugby World Cup is drawing closer, so who should Michael Cheika select? (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

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    The Tests against Ireland in June mark the beginning of the countdown for the Wallabies and their assault on the Everest of winning the 2019 Rugby World Cup tournament in Japan.

    The squad that Michael Cheika selects and the changes he makes to the leadership group for these Tests against Ireland will be crucial in a successful conclusion to the assault on Rugby World Cup 2019.

    The Rugby World Cup 2019 tournament will be won or not won depending on selection decisions that Cheika makes regarding the Wallabies squad to play in the June Tests against Ireland. The reason for this is that Cheika’s Wallabies have only four campaigns before going to Japan.

    The squad that is going to go to Japan has to be put together now.

    We are now far enough into the Super Rugby tournament to give Cheika some perspective (he didn’t have earlier on) on the Test capabilities of the players he has to choose from.

    Michael Cheika (Image: AAP)

    To put the discussion of Cheika’s 2018-19 Wallabies into some perspective, here are some thoughts about selection policy that several great coaches have expressed.

    Alan Jones: A key factor in selecting a team is its shape. By this notion of “shape,” Jones (a very good selector in his own right) means that the best player for the position needs to be the first choice selection, rather than the forward or back who is not suited for the position but is one of the best players available to the coach.

    Bob Dwyer: Look for the player with the x-factor beyond the requirements of his position and ensure that you keep that player in his designated position. Do not, for example, waste a dynamic second-rower by playing him as a flanker.

    Fred Allen: “The secret of selecting,” Fred Allen, the only undefeated All Blacks coach, told the New Zealand rugby journalist Phil Gifford, “is not what the player’s doing now. It’s what he is capable of doing in the future.” In other words, always try to leave some growth in your team.

    Steve Hansen: “You can’t keep all the old guys,” Steve Hansen, the current All Blacks head coach told Gifford, “but you can’t get rid of all the old guys either. You have to have that experience to win Tests.”

    In other words, keep the old guys if they are crucial to winning, say, the Rugby World Cup tournament, and are demonstrably better in big Tests than other potential successors. Think Richie McCaw and Dan Carter in Rugby World Cup 2015. But move on when it is obvious that a player’s time is up.

    With these four factors in mind, ‘shape’, ‘x-factor’, ‘growth’ and ‘experience’, and accepting that they sometimes conflict, let us look at some of the decisions facing Michael Cheika in constructing his 2018-19 Wallabies squad.

    This discussion is not intended to be definitive about the players needed to be selected. It is intended to be generalised and illustrative of possibilities.

    The first issue to be resolved, to my mind, is the matter of who should captain the Wallabies.

    And the follow-up to this matter is the opinion that Cheika needs a new captain to take his 2018-19 Wallabies into Rugby World Cup 2019.

    There are a number of problems with Michael Hooper’s captaincy of the Wallabies, unfortunately.

    He does not get the best out of his players, on and off the field.

    Hooper was present, for instance, when Nick Phipps disgraced himself and his code at the Woollahra Hotel a week or ago.

    Any captain with gravitas or mana (a Maori word replete with meanings of status, prestige, pride and leadership, think ‘Buck’ Shelford) would have stopped Phipps well before he embarked on his mad-cap behaviour.

    On the field, too, Hooper is inclined to make ‘heroic’ decisions which frequently involve turning down easy penalty kicks.

    The players, moreover, do not take much notice of his instructions in tight situations, as he himself has acknowledged after many disappointing Waratahs losses.

    Michael Hooper

    Waratahs captain Michael Hooper (AAP Image/Jeremy Ng)

    There is only player right now who has the stature and the game to captain the Wallabies – and that player is Will Genia. When Genia speaks to his fellow players, they listen to him.

    His impact on the match, too, with his all-court game, is much stronger than that of Hooper’s. Example: the Rebels were holding the Crusaders 10-10 at Melbourne, after 30 minutes or so, before Genia, who had played brilliantly, left the field with an injury. The final score was 55–10 to the visitors!

    The Sky Sports bench produced another startling statistic regarding Genia’s influence: When he has been on the field for the Rebels this season, they have been +74, when he is off the field the Rebels are -110.

    Genia, it seems to me, must be made captain of the 2018-19 Wallabies, even if he is not available for the first Test against Ireland.

    Will Genia

    Will Genia of the Rebels (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

    We come now to the issue of where Israel Folau should play in a reconstructed Wallabies team, fullback or right winger.

    We know his preference for playing fullback through a tweet made by his wife, Kiwi netballer Maria Folau, during the Waratahs’ 24–21 loss to the Blues at Brookvale Oval:

    Folau is a great player (as he showed in the first half hour of the Waratahs versus Crusaders match) but he is not, repeat not, a great fullback.

    This is not unusual. The same analysis could have been about David Campese, another great winger who fancied himself in the fullback role.

    Folau has no positional sense as a fullback. He rarely, if ever, makes a try-saving tackle, as the Crusaders match revealed once again. His kicking out of hand is erratic. He is lazy on the chase for high balls. And so on.

    When the Crusaders followed their gameplan of kicking to Folau, putting him right in the game effectively, he was absolutely brilliant. But when the Crusaders threw out their gameplan and stopped kicking high balls to Folau, the fullback essentially faded out of the game.

    Compare Folau’s play at fullback with the highly skilled and devastatingly effective game of Ben Smith where the All Black is engaged in attack and defence seemingly throughout the game.

    The picture changes dramatically for Folau when he has the freedom to roam, run and leap as a winger, the position he played at the start of his Test career so sensationally against the British and Irish Lions.

    I would replace Israel Folau at fullback with Kurtley Beale and use, say, Dane Haylett-Petty as the winger/fullback on the left wing, in the manner of Israel Dagg. Or if Cheika wants speed over reliability, then he can opt for Marika Koroibete.

    Kurtley Beale has many of the skills (with the obvious exception of tackling, alas) that Ben Smith has as a fullback. He can create breakouts from broken play and, like Smith, can play the role of the blindside playmaker or first receiver very effectively.

    Kurtley Beale

    Kurtley Beale of the Waratahs (AAP Image/Jeremy Ng)

    This brings us, in turn, to the centre pairing.

    The favoured combination these days is a runner/passer/kicker at inside centre and a defender/fixer, in the Conrad Smith mode, at outside centre.

    Samu Kerevi has great potential to be the strong inside centre in the Ma’a Nonu manner, although his latest performance against the Sunwolves was disappointing, to put it mildly. But he is young and if Stephen Larkham is as good an attack coach as he was as a player, he should be able to develop Kerevi’s game to that of game-breaker status.

    The same cannot be said of Tevita Kuridrani. He is past it. He has not got the legs or the game to last through to Rugby World Cup 2019 as the starting outside centre for the Wallabies. He was nondescript, again to put it mildly, against the Rebels at the weekend, as he has been throughout this season.

    But naming his replacement at outside centre is not an easy matter. The best choice it seems to me is Curtis Rona.

    Curtis Rona

    (Photo by Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images)

    And as an exciting talent to be developed in the Wallabies environment, I would suggest Cameron Clark, a speedster with high rugby intelligence and a range of passing and kicking skills. Clark has growth potential as a winger and as a centre. He is inexperienced in the 15-man game but he has the speed and skills to become an outstanding Wallaby outside back.

    Both these players, Rona and Clark, were excellent for the Waratahs in their sensational match over the weekend with the Crusaders.

    Bernard Foley and Will Genia are the obvious halves combination.

    But their back-ups are harder to identify. Jake Gordon (Waratahs), Joe Powell (Brumbies) and Michael Ruru (Rebels) could or should be the back-ups to Genia.

    Larkham has mentioned Ruru as a back-up possibility. He played splendidly for the Rebels in their strong victory over the Brumbies at the weekend.

    Larkham also endorsed Nick Phipps as a back-up probability. This sort of safety-first selection restricts the possibilities the Wallabies have, a year out from the Rugby World Cup 2019, to create a dynamic squad that has growth potential built into it.

    But the back-up number 10 is not so easily resolved. Michael Cheika has been derelict in this area over his time as Wallabies coach. He has gambled, so far, successfully, that Foley will not get injured.

    But an injury putting Foley out for some Tests is just about inevitable. Starting Beale is not the solution as it goes totally against the Alan Jones principle of shape.

    Coach Cheika now has to make several decisive selection decisions. He needs a player who can immediately fit into the Wallabies starting XV and guide the side around the field.

    That player is Reece Hodge. When he came into the number 10 position for the Rebels late in their match against the Brumbies, he gave an edge and direction to the attack that enabled his side to finish off their win.

    Hodge also has an enormous boot, both punting and goal-kicking. Bernard Foley showed once again against the Crusaders that any kick at goal over 45m is problematic for him. Hodge can boot goals from inside his own half, an asset for the Wallabies in tight Tests.

    The third number 10 should be Jack Debreczeni, a player like Hodge with a huge punt, who could develop really well with expert coaching from Larkham.

    This brings us to Quade Cooper.

    Reds Super Rugby player Quade Cooper

    (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    Under no circumstances should Cooper be brought into the Wallabies squad at this time.

    He is being paid $600,000 a year by the Reds franchise and Rugby Australia. Brad Thorn, the Reds coach, does not want him and rightly so. But Thorn is happy for Cooper to play for another franchise.

    Cooper refuses to take up offers from the Brumbies and the Rebels to finish off the 2018 Super Rugby season with them. This refusal is unacceptable behaviour, or should be, as far as Rugby Australia is concerned.

    This behaviour, too, confirms the problem that Cooper has presented various teams he has been involved with, namely that his interests seem to come before those of the team he is playing for.

    Now we get to the second major decision that Michael Cheika must make: how he resolves the intractable problem of Michael Hooper and David Pocock, arguably the two best forwards in Australia, playing in the one position, number 7.

    This is another issue that revolves around the proper shape of the Wallaby back three.

    With Hooper and Pocock on the field at the start of the game, the Wallabies back-row is out of shape. It lacks a dynamic ball-runner and lineout option at number 8.

    In Pocock’s late years he is no longer a tearaway player the role of no 7 requires. He is more of a negative force against an opposition rather than as a positive force for his side.

    His best position for the Wallabies now is to come on off the bench, either as a replacement for Hooper or to go into the number 8 position, with Hooper remaining in the side as the openside breakaway. Generally bringing Pocock on late in the Test will be a defensive move, say, to protect a lead.

    Romain Poite Bledisloe Cup Rugby Championship 2016

    (AAP Image/SNPA, Ross Setford)

    With Pocock no longer a candidate for the starting role at number 8, the position becomes available to a younger, bigger, more athletic player to become a starter. That starter should be Caleb Timu.

    Cheika should also take a punt on the youngster Rob Valentini, 19 years of age, 193cm, 113kg. He was dynamic for the Brumbies against the Rebels and the sort of smash-forward, uncompromising runner in the manner of Toutai Kefu.

    These players could be mixed with the usual picks like Jack Dempsey and strong candidate Angus Cottrell, 28, 191cm, 111kg, who has the same energy and fierceness that made Scott Fardy such a formidable Test player.

    The Wallabies are strong with second-rowers, and a combination of Rory Arnold and Adam Coleman, backed up by Izaak Rodda, is an obvious way for Cheika to go.

    I would make the observation, though, that Coleman has responded to the captaincy of the Rebels by muting his game. He needs to get some of the fire (but not the foul play) back into his game that brought him to the Test side when he played for the Force.

    Steve Hansen’s observation about the need to retain experience when this need is obvious comes into play with the selection of Tatafu Polota-Nau as the hooker of the team.

    If Jordan Uelese was not out injured and was available, I’d opt for Polota-Nau as the back-up hooker.

    As for the front-rowers, I guess experience kicks in with Sekope Kepu and Scott Sio.

    I like, however, the Reds combination of James Slipper and Taniela Tupou, a player with an x-factor (rare for an Australian forward) whose time has come to be a Test starter.

    That’s my team. But with a view to encouraging discussion, I will set out Paul Cully’s Possible Wallabies 23 for the first Ireland Test which was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on April 21, 2018:

    Scott Sio
    Tatafu Polota-Nau
    Sekope Kefu
    Rory Arnold
    Adam Coleman
    Jack Dempsey
    Michael Hooper (c)
    David Pocock
    Will Genia
    Bernard Foley
    Marika Korobeite
    Kurtley Beale
    Tevita Kuridrani
    Reece Hodge
    Israel Folau

    Interchange: Jordan Uelese, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Izaak Rodda, Caleb Timu, Jake Gordon, Samu Kerevi, Dane Haylett-Petty.

    Let the selection battle begin!

    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 (323)

    • May 14th 2018 @ 7:08am
      Adsa said | May 14th 2018 @ 7:08am | ! Report

      Jack Dempsey is not playing at the moment, so come the must win Irish series it would be foolish to pick a guy with no playing time under his belt and send him on to wrangle with the 6N champions. Dempsey should play grades, super rugby and see how his form is prior to even getting close to a gold jersey. Culley lives in dream time if he thinks Dempsey is a must pick with no footy played at this time in the season.

      • Roar Guru

        May 14th 2018 @ 11:29am
        PeterK said | May 14th 2018 @ 11:29am | ! Report

        agree, lets face it he has had 6 tests and played really well in 1 of them, none of the others have been notable.

        How can he be parachuted in after such a long injury layoff?

        • May 14th 2018 @ 12:50pm
          cinque said | May 14th 2018 @ 12:50pm | ! Report

          To be fair to Cully, he made that list thinking Dempsey would be playing now. It’s taking much longer than originally thought.

        • Roar Guru

          May 14th 2018 @ 3:00pm
          Cadfael said | May 14th 2018 @ 3:00pm | ! Report

          Same can be said for Pocock. He hasn’t played a lot since he came back. Will his injury heal in time. No one knows (except the Shadow).

          • Roar Guru

            May 14th 2018 @ 3:40pm
            PeterK said | May 14th 2018 @ 3:40pm | ! Report

            no big difference is Pocock has had many outstanding games at test level, also in the games he has played this year he has been very good except for 1 game

      • May 14th 2018 @ 6:12pm
        RTT said | May 14th 2018 @ 6:12pm | ! Report

        I saw Dempsey doing his rehab training a couple of weeks ago. He is a tremendous specimen and I’d be picking him in my wallabies squad and giving him every chance to play against the Irish.

        • May 14th 2018 @ 6:15pm
          Fionn said | May 14th 2018 @ 6:15pm | ! Report

          Yeah, well, no surprises there.

          • May 15th 2018 @ 4:04pm
            RTT said | May 15th 2018 @ 4:04pm | ! Report

            Of course he was man of the match v NZ last year after all

            • May 15th 2018 @ 5:00pm
              Fionn said | May 15th 2018 @ 5:00pm | ! Report

              Yes, and one man of the match performance from 8 months ago is an excellent reason to parachute him into the Wallabies set up after being injured since then…

    • May 14th 2018 @ 7:14am
      rugger said | May 14th 2018 @ 7:14am | ! Report

      Why cant our high performance unit develop tackling game of Kerevi and make he great 13 that he can be rather than turn him into 12?

      NZR High performance have given SBW better kicking game to turn him from forward in league to 12 in rugby.

      Kerevi is best 13 in the world but lack defensive nous to play there – all he needs is to pick up defence and we can have No.12 Hodge and 13 Kerevi playing in natural positions rather than learning new.

      Timu No.8 for mine with Pockock to start at No.7 and Hooper to finish off at 7.

      • May 14th 2018 @ 8:25am
        woodart said | May 14th 2018 @ 8:25am | ! Report

        all he needs to do is to pick up defense…..not that easy. as spiro says(correstly) folau hasnt picked up defense in his favourite position, after seven years! defense is far harder than attack to master, and far more important. people go on about sbw in attack, but it is his defense that is the reason that he is first choice for hansen. many of your top backs have been great attackers, but lousy defenders, folau, beale, cooper, speight ,etc.

        • May 14th 2018 @ 12:10pm
          Hello said | May 14th 2018 @ 12:10pm | ! Report

          Foley is number one for the worst tackler surely.

          • Roar Guru

            May 15th 2018 @ 9:45am
            Ralph said | May 15th 2018 @ 9:45am | ! Report

            Hello,

            Have you heard of Raymond Rhule?

            Or ‘turnstile’ as we have come to know him.

            • May 15th 2018 @ 10:05am
              Hello said | May 15th 2018 @ 10:05am | ! Report

              Yeah but he`s not an Aussie, right ? We are talking about Aussies.

      • May 14th 2018 @ 12:57pm
        Harry said | May 14th 2018 @ 12:57pm | ! Report

        “Kerevi is best 13 in the world but lack defensive nous to play there”

        Steady on. How can he be the best in the world if he lacks defensive nous, arguable the most important arrow in a 13’s quiver?

        • Roar Guru

          May 14th 2018 @ 5:33pm
          Fox said | May 14th 2018 @ 5:33pm | ! Report

          Yes Harry an oxymoron if ever there was one – Kerevi wouldn’t even be in my top 5 centres either at 12 or 13 because of his defence.

          35 missed tackles – not only the worst of any back but the worst in the entire Super Competition this year. You just cannot window dress that. Compare that to SBW last year who was the only back in the top 10 for tackles made for the season and Crotty wasn’t far behind.

          Goodhue has one of the best defensive records this season in the comp of any centre in the Australian comp and Rona is very good as well and Jack Goodhues from the Crusaders is also excellent along with the Lions 12 but Kerevi’s is very poor by any standard.

          What Cheika does will be interesting because Kuridrani has had a pretty average season this year to say the least.

          Poor defence at 12 and 13 is very costly in a game as that is where most line busts are made at pace.

          • May 15th 2018 @ 4:49pm
            Cinque said | May 15th 2018 @ 4:49pm | ! Report

            Guessing you meant Godwin

            • Roar Guru

              May 15th 2018 @ 11:47pm
              Fox said | May 15th 2018 @ 11:47pm | ! Report

              Yes a typo I was going to write gown Goodhue first then Godwin and got one name stuck in my head:)

      • May 14th 2018 @ 3:10pm
        Sydney Potae said | May 14th 2018 @ 3:10pm | ! Report

        How can he be the so called BEST IN THE WORLD ? if he has no idea in defense . Its the oldest saying in the game Defense WINS GAMES , He is a good not great 13. Every age grade player should understand & be able to execute defensive patterns . He dosent even know the mechanics of making an effective tackle , Half the team dont have the skill to do the job they are so handsomely paid for . So many factors are to blame for this like coaching & systemic failures but if we persist in calling a Player the BEST there is when he is not why should these guys try to learn their roll and the skills it takes to do the job . Get him OFF your pedestals on the field & teach him to Tackle and read the opps attack , Basic school boy rugby in New Zealand anyway

      • May 14th 2018 @ 5:07pm
        cinque said | May 14th 2018 @ 5:07pm | ! Report

        Is there any chance that Cheika will revisit Bled 1 and try the triple turnstile of Foley – Beale – Kerevi?
        Don’t think that’s out of the question, with say Rona &/or Kurindani to come on if down 21-3 after 20 minutes.
        Beale & Kerevi are in some sort of form plus I think they might defend better knowing traffic will be coming their way, channelling Bled 2.

      • May 14th 2018 @ 5:52pm
        Faith said | May 14th 2018 @ 5:52pm | ! Report

        Kerevi is not even in top 5 13s in the world … Crotty, Ringrose, ALB far much better that the one-dimensional Kerevi … plus many other players who slot in there …

    • May 14th 2018 @ 7:17am
      JImbo81 said | May 14th 2018 @ 7:17am | ! Report

      Totally agree Spiro. I find it harder to drop Kurindrani at 13 and far easier to drop Foley for Hodge but either way.
      Let’s hope Uelese is available at Hooker to partner Tupo in the front row. U stoppable!

      • May 14th 2018 @ 1:35pm
        Reverse Wheel said | May 14th 2018 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

        Hodge isn’t playing at 10 and isn’t playing all that well elsewhere.

        • May 14th 2018 @ 2:23pm
          Cynical Play said | May 14th 2018 @ 2:23pm | ! Report

          I don’t think anyone can say Hodge is currently in form in any position. He does however know the WB setup and is versatile, so he will be in the 23 for test 1 as Cheika has already indicated the first test selections will conservative given the limited prep time.

        • May 15th 2018 @ 10:06am
          Hello said | May 15th 2018 @ 10:06am | ! Report

          Bernard Foley doesn’t play 10, so what is the big deal.

    • May 14th 2018 @ 7:29am
      StuM said | May 14th 2018 @ 7:29am | ! Report

      Really, what’s the point in engaging in rugby selection debates, when MC is just going to churn out the same losing side he does every year? I wish RA would make Alan Jones the sole selector.. At least then there’d be major possibilities to dissect before & after.

    • Roar Rookie

      May 14th 2018 @ 7:31am
      Don said | May 14th 2018 @ 7:31am | ! Report

      I hear what you are saying about QC and moving Spiro but a part of me says Good On Him for standing his ground.

      It’s no small thing to uproot and relocate .
      And when the money is the same for staying home the decision is even tougher.

      WC knows he isn’t part of any Wallaby plans even if a move south is mooted as a first step back.

      • May 14th 2018 @ 7:41am
        Fionn said | May 14th 2018 @ 7:41am | ! Report

        Yeah, the idea that RA should be able to just tell a man to leave his home and move to the other side of country is just bonkers.

        And if they refuse to uproot their life they’re behaving unacceptably?

        Righto.

        Also, I’m yet to see any evidence that Quade was even offered his current salary by the other teams. Do you know for a fact he was, Spiro?

        • May 14th 2018 @ 7:55am
          bluffboy said | May 14th 2018 @ 7:55am | ! Report

          “And if they refuse to uproot their life they’re behaving unacceptably?
          Righto.”
          Yes it is unacceptable. He is a professional rugby player. The expectation for playing for your “Local” team is ideal, but like any job, you must follow the money and opportunity. To say he is doing the right thing by saying in the club scene and receiving 600K, when the opportunities are there to play at the elite level for the same or even less, say’s to me, he is all about the money and not the game. Yes I know what you will say, he has a limited time to make money and on that you are right, but he is doing nothing for his stock value or his legacy.

          • Roar Guru

            May 14th 2018 @ 8:29am
            Shop said | May 14th 2018 @ 8:29am | ! Report

            Money is important, but it isn’t the only thing that decides where a pro rugby player plies his trade. Maybe QC puts his home life in QLD higher on his priority list than playing at the elite level?

            Brad Thorn should be backing himself to get the most out of QC (something McKenzie was able to do) instead of just dumping him.

            • May 14th 2018 @ 8:42am
              Jacko said | May 14th 2018 @ 8:42am | ! Report

              Shop Mckenzie did that in 2011…its 2018 now and Cooper is not the player he may once have been 7 years ago

          • May 14th 2018 @ 8:50am
            elvis said | May 14th 2018 @ 8:50am | ! Report

            So if you signed a contract for a job in Sydney and moved there, you would be ok with your employer going “oops sorry I meant Perth, be a good boy and move”?

            • May 14th 2018 @ 9:04am
              bluffboy said | May 14th 2018 @ 9:04am | ! Report

              Yep, I would.
              What I’m not ok with is taking a job and not following my employers direction.
              If the description has change and doesn’t suit, find another job. Life it’s funny how it works.

              • May 14th 2018 @ 9:36am
                Fionn said | May 14th 2018 @ 9:36am | ! Report

                His employer is the Queensland Reds. His job is to play for the Queensland Reds. Aus doesn’t have central contracting.

              • May 14th 2018 @ 12:13pm
                Hello said | May 14th 2018 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

                Give it up bluffboy, it aint working.

              • May 14th 2018 @ 1:34pm
                DNZ said | May 14th 2018 @ 1:34pm | ! Report

                He doesn’t need to move though. He signed a contract to play for the Reds. He is honouring it. They don’t want him, not his fault. I don’t see why he should move.

              • Roar Guru

                May 14th 2018 @ 2:08pm
                Mango Jack said | May 14th 2018 @ 2:08pm | ! Report

                I think he realises he will never be selected for the Wallabies again, even if he moves. Therefore why not stay where you are settled, play a bit of park footy and collect your cheque? Thorn just wants to recoup some of the money.

            • May 14th 2018 @ 5:27pm
              timber said | May 14th 2018 @ 5:27pm | ! Report

              QC is within his rights legally, but since when has playing for the Wallabies been about legal niceties or sticking to the letter of your contractual obligations? If you want it badly enough then you make sacrifices, clearly, QC isn’t prepared to make those sacrifices.
              His choice concerning the priorities in his life but proclaiming in the media that he will never give up on the Wallabies does smack somewhat of grandstanding. Yeah, I really, really want to get back in the Wallabies, just don’t make me move State for a few months of the year.

              • May 15th 2018 @ 5:47pm
                Malo said | May 15th 2018 @ 5:47pm | ! Report

                They should have spent $2 mill on Eddie the Eagle or Eric the eel to play for the reds as it would have got better publicity than the ultimate fighter q.c.. that was the buy of the century by qru. You got conned by his manger, who signed the deal should never be employed again.

          • Roar Rookie

            May 14th 2018 @ 9:04am
            Don said | May 14th 2018 @ 9:04am | ! Report

            If QC didn’t have a contract with the Reds I’d agree with you bluffboy.
            However, Cheika got him back to Australia and along with the Reds he was signed to play at his “home” club.
            And until Thorny was appointed coach his employment was secure until the end of 2019.

            I’d like to see him at the Rebels and playing against the Tahs on June 29. But unfortunately that isn’t going to happen…

            I have a contract with my employer and if they told me there’s no longer any job for me they still have to pay me my wages until the contract runs out.

            The Reds told him that they were not going to play him. That being the case, and if QC was willing to move, they should pay out his Reds salary component and let him negotiate with the Rebels or Brumbies.

            Here’s another thought and it won’t sit well with most fans but is an entirely acceptable approach as a professional sports person; given the dearth of quality flyhalf talent in Aus rugby, why wouldn’t Quade be looking for the opportunity to negotiate more coin to move to Melbourne?

            Why should he accept the same money as he gets for playing for Souths in premier rugby? Like I said earlier, any promise of him being a chance of Wallabies selection is a pipe dream after seeing he wasn’t even considered the 3rd best option by Cheika last year.

            • Roar Rookie

              May 14th 2018 @ 3:39pm
              GC Red said | May 14th 2018 @ 3:39pm | ! Report

              Surely if RA wanted Quade playing, then I would have thought influencing a first year coach into giving the bloke a chance would be easier.
              Seriously, if he comes back and the reds improve… great.
              If not, then Thorne is vindicated. Its not like its going to have an impact on an already failed SR season.
              All of this talk of him moving so we can see how he goes is nonsense. Play him where he is contracted, costs you nothing, and its a win win.

              He either improves the team and we get another option at 10 for the wallabies, or he tanks and the coach is gets to say I told you so.

              By the way, I love the reds… but this is killing me.

          • May 14th 2018 @ 9:24am
            Wally said | May 14th 2018 @ 9:24am | ! Report

            Yes gone are the days were people will just do anything for the cash. There is a lot to being in an environment around family and friends…..its called work life balance, and any employer who doesnt get that these days is behind the eightball. I don’t know the guy but good on him for making his choice to stay near his familiar surroundings. For Quade he might well have resigned himself to his wallaby days are over, and he could be fine with that. We are not to judge him, and good luck to him.

          • Roar Rookie

            May 14th 2018 @ 1:37pm
            Comrade Bear said | May 14th 2018 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

            Maybe he is just waiting out Brad Thorn. Another appalling loss on the weekend….

            • May 14th 2018 @ 2:26pm
              Cynical Play said | May 14th 2018 @ 2:26pm | ! Report

              The Moondogs were working up to that win, no doubt, but can anyone explain how the Reds were so utterly thrashed. This the side that did the Lions so courageously. I think Thorn made a couple of selections blunders but still… how the feck did that happen..??!!..

            • Roar Guru

              May 14th 2018 @ 2:55pm
              Ralph said | May 14th 2018 @ 2:55pm | ! Report

              This is for CP, posted higher for text width.

              Thoughts and notes after the Moondogs, Reds game; I was going to post but then it got a bit over shadowed by the Waratahs, Crusaders.

              Sunwolves (SW) got the rub of the green in the first half, a super ‘flat’ pass leading to a try, a miracle bounce of the ball try and getting away with lying on the ball on their own try line. But a good crowd and big day with a deserved win. Getting ahead in the score seemed to inspire them to keep attacking and throw the ball around, which plays to their strength. Not sure they look as good chasing the score board (lack of confidence?).

              Sunwolves:
              * Their halfback often takes a step from the ruck, takes a lot of time from his attack line; probably used to having messy breakdowns.
              * Little at 12 had a huge game, wonderful stepping, skills in the tackle with extra metres and offloads to show off.
              * They can be lazy off the ball and don’t chase their kicks like they should (fitness?).
              * Also guilty of shuffling the ball along their attack line instead of drawing the defensive man properly.
              * Nice to see an old guy like Tanaka still giving it heaps (33).
              * What a game Hayden Parker had, 12 from 12 and not all sitters in front either.
              * They fixed up their line out from the disaster it has been.
              * Their attack was the difference for me, urgent, accurate and great skills in the mid field.

              Reds;
              * Won the open field kicking duals.
              * Were disorganised at times; one example being, in a ruck close to their own try line, both their 9 and 10 are on the ground at the previous ruck. Pretty hard to exit cleanly like that. At another I noted they are slow off the ball, to reset to their pods on attack.
              * Red’s really lacked patience on attack and their structure went missing at time, particularly on width. At 65 minutes their attack is really bunched, but by keeping it in hand anyway they recovered to score after 23 phases.
              * Red’s accuracy is wanting on attack. They work up the field well but seem to inevitably make a mistake.
              * What a warrior George Smith is, giving a huge 75 minutes.
              * Red’s maul was a huge weapon in this game but they didn’t play to it enough.

              Great result for Asian rugby, but until the set piece is a strength they will continue to struggle, especially if the ref allows a breakdown battle or it is wet. They need quick ruck ball to prosper.

              • May 14th 2018 @ 5:21pm
                Cynical Play said | May 14th 2018 @ 5:21pm | ! Report

                Ralph, you’re a champion. Still hard to reconcile with the team that beat the Lions a few weeks ago. i still wonder if Stuart at 10 from the start would have sured things up as the game went on. We’ll never know. Thorn has a selection dilemma. Lance might be better at 15 of off the bench form here on. Would love to see Stuart > DP > Kerevi at some point

        • May 14th 2018 @ 8:39am
          Jacko said | May 14th 2018 @ 8:39am | ! Report

          Fionn its not even relevant whether he is being offered same money as if he wasnt then QLD has to still pay him what the contract calls for anyway. I agree 100% that he cannot be forced to move and that uprooting his family etc is a hell of a downside. I do however feel that if RA desperately wanted him playing so they could select him for Aus then surely add 50K to his current amout and that should be enough to entice him to either the brumbies or Rebel…both need help at 10…..but from what I see and hear he just is not interested, which to me means he does not feel he has a real chance of making the Aus team by shifting, and he see’s an easy life for the next 18 mths playing club rugby in Brisbane…..As much as I dont understand a top athlete playing Club rugby I fully understand his position in wanting to be settled in his life and lets face it…playing SR level is not that exciting if higher honers are not going to be offered as he has been their done that already

          • May 14th 2018 @ 9:38am
            Fionn said | May 14th 2018 @ 9:38am | ! Report

            You must have seen and heard a lot more than me. All I’ve heard reported is media speak in which he says he’s committed to the Reds.

        • May 14th 2018 @ 9:02am
          Malo said | May 14th 2018 @ 9:02am | ! Report

          Q.c should be sacked for being crap. Failed his contract for non performance.

        • May 14th 2018 @ 9:20am
          BBA said | May 14th 2018 @ 9:20am | ! Report

          I really doubt that Quade will end up with less. It is just what he is getting paid by each party. 3rd party will make an offer to Quade and QRU, if both parties accept then QRU should be paying the difference. Its just simple mathematics, and win win.

          However if Quade doesn’t want to move then that is where it stops.If the other party doesn’t offer QRU enough then they can say no, so it is all just market forces to me.

          So with Quade I doubt it is about money he doesn’t want to move from Queensland, whatever the real reason may be.

          • May 14th 2018 @ 10:12am
            Nobody said | May 14th 2018 @ 10:12am | ! Report

            Quade would like to play for the Wallabies, but clearly that isn’t going to happen. And now he can’t even play for the Reds. For which, reportedly, he has the all time point scoring record. If he no longer had the playing ability then that’s one thing, but to me it looks as if the reasons for dispensing with him were primarily political.

            Can you blame him if he adopts a cynical “well stuff you then, after all I’ve done for you” attitude when told he’s out and he should play for whoever will have him? What’s the point of signing a contract if you’re not going to hold the other party to the terms?

            What do Reds supporters say, do they want him in their team? If he’s now unpopular with fans, then perhaps he should pull his head in, but I thought he was still pretty acclaimed in Qld. Am I wrong?

            • May 14th 2018 @ 1:05pm
              Gepetto said | May 14th 2018 @ 1:05pm | ! Report

              Quade has about 275000 Facebook followers. I bet that’s more than the coach and the rest of the Reds combined.

              • May 14th 2018 @ 2:29pm
                Malo said | May 14th 2018 @ 2:29pm | ! Report

                Who cares he has to tackle players and not drop the ball

              • May 14th 2018 @ 4:51pm
                Bib said | May 14th 2018 @ 4:51pm | ! Report

                Foley probably needs to learn to do that also.

        • May 14th 2018 @ 9:48am
          Cliff (Bishkek) said | May 14th 2018 @ 9:48am | ! Report

          Fionn and with all of the comments on QC, it is simple. He has signed a Contract with the Reds whose management signed the same Contract, worked out with Cheika, so that he would come back to Australia as Cheika wanted backup on the No. 10.

          Cheika did not seem to think QC was the backup. But QC continued to play with the Reds or was willing to continue to play with the Reds. He has honoured his Contract.

          Then Thorn has a different opinion and says he does not want QC. Thorn makes this decision late in the timeframe of period before SR trials, etc. QC does not want to move and no employer has the “right to move” an employee unless it is in the Contract. Thorn more or less threw QC and Frisby under the bus in terms of the need to further negotiations with other interests and QC to look for an alternative. All was late in the piece.

          For me QC is correct in his decision. Reds admin and Thorn instigated the “no wanting QC”. And I have not seen the Rebels or the Brumbies offer QC a contract. In fact, Wessells has stated he does not want QC or is not interested.

          Spiro is off the mark – a long way off the mark. If it went to court – RA, QRU and Thorn would lose big time.

          • May 14th 2018 @ 10:04am
            Jacko said | May 14th 2018 @ 10:04am | ! Report

            Cliff why would it go to court??? Why would QRU lose??? The QRU are paying him every cent he is entitled to and he is doing what is asked of him….I dont get this court talk…no one is forcing him to do anything other than honour his contract…which I see him as doing …

        • May 14th 2018 @ 10:40am
          RahRah said | May 14th 2018 @ 10:40am | ! Report

          What, you mean like they did to the Force players?

          • Roar Rookie

            May 14th 2018 @ 11:21am
            Don said | May 14th 2018 @ 11:21am | ! Report

            I’d imagine the Force players actually had the option of playing club Rugby in Perth and still getting paid too. As long as they had contracts beyond 2017.

            However, they had some time for other clubs to assess their talent, rejig rosters and make offers to them. And because most wanted to continue to be professional rugby players, they moved.

            Whereas QC was told he wasn’t required well after every other club had finalised their rosters and he still had a contract with the Reds for 2 more years which needed to be sorted.

        • May 14th 2018 @ 11:00am
          Morsie said | May 14th 2018 @ 11:00am | ! Report

          I imagine that if a second string 10 in New Zealand was told that to keep his chances of All Black selection alive he was going to have to change provinces the mud wouldn’t have settled on the ground before furniture vans had pulled up he’d be gone so fast. Therein lies a huge part of our problem.

          • May 14th 2018 @ 11:55am
            Kane said | May 14th 2018 @ 11:55am | ! Report

            I think the second choice NZ flyhalf would be starting for every Super team except that of the starting NZ flyhalf. And even then he would be on the bench.

            At the moment neither of those apply for Quade. The starting flyhalf plays for a different team and he can’t even make the wider training squad of another.

            Somethings not right..

          • Roar Rookie

            May 14th 2018 @ 12:19pm
            Shane D said | May 14th 2018 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

            When the Crusaders had both Carter & Slade in their ranks the NZRU wanted Slade to move to the Blues. Slade was then listed as a ‘protected player’ by the Crusaders & didn’t move.
            It took a lot of negotiation for Slade to move to the Highlanders a few seasons later.

          • May 14th 2018 @ 12:23pm
            Hello said | May 14th 2018 @ 12:23pm | ! Report

            But Michael Cheika didn’t even pick him in the 2017 Wallaby squad of 45 , let alone back up flyhalf ( We`ve all seen it before from Michael Cheika , Foley is his man ) so why should Quade pull up stumps to go to Canberra for nothing. Good on him for sticking it up the QLD Reds and Super Coach Thorn.

            • May 14th 2018 @ 1:05pm
              Harry said | May 14th 2018 @ 1:05pm | ! Report

              “Good on him for sticking it up the QLD Reds and Super Coach Thorn.”

              Which in turn shows why Thorn is absolutely correct in not wanting to touch him with a barge pole.

              • May 14th 2018 @ 2:29pm
                Hello said | May 14th 2018 @ 2:29pm | ! Report

                He isn’t correct , as the weekend results show why that is so.

            • May 14th 2018 @ 4:07pm
              Akari said | May 14th 2018 @ 4:07pm | ! Report

              so why should Quade pull up stumps to go to Canberra for nothing.

              Well, Hello! bcos we need him in Canberra like desperately???

              • May 15th 2018 @ 10:16am
                Hello said | May 15th 2018 @ 10:16am | ! Report

                And if Quade plays the house down for the Brumbies will Michael Chieka pick him ?. No. The ultimate goal for a player is to represent their country. QC knows Cheika doesn`t want him so ” why should QC bother to pull up stumps to go to Canberra for nothing ”

                We all know Foley is the 10 till Cheika leaves. You get me now Akari ?, i know he would be great for the Brumbies, but he won`t go as for the reasons i stated above.

              • May 15th 2018 @ 10:41am
                Akari said | May 15th 2018 @ 10:41am | ! Report

                I got it the first time, H, and I wasn’t disagreeing with the points you made.

          • May 14th 2018 @ 4:32pm
            Big Red V said | May 14th 2018 @ 4:32pm | ! Report

            The difference being going 50 miles down the road and joining any number of clubs or 2,000 miles to join one club (sorry geography not my strength, I am estimating but hopefully you get the point).

            What seems to have been lost in all this QC speak is (i) the conversation would not even be in print IF we already had a viable alternative to Foley (who is ordinary at best) and (ii) I bet if Cheika said “you are a walk up start to be in the squad at the very least if you go elsewhere”, then he would have moved.

            The issue here is that he is NOT moving because what’s the point!!

          • May 14th 2018 @ 6:18pm
            Cole said | May 14th 2018 @ 6:18pm | ! Report

            Like Aaron Cruden. Oh wait.

            Quade doesn’t have a realistic chance of playing for the WBs again, that was demonstrated last year when they played Hodge there ahead of him, Hodges first game as a flyhalf at professional level I believe? And DP played flyhalf for the WBs against the Barbarians at Cheikas request we were led to believe.

            Quade should keep doing what he is currently doing, nothing other than keeping to his contract. What other Australian athlete would get in trouble for that?!

        • May 14th 2018 @ 11:17am
          Rugby in the West said | May 14th 2018 @ 11:17am | ! Report

          Bonkers or not when The Force were axed a lot of their players were expected to uproot and move to the other side the country otherwise too bad you have no job.It is not as though they did anything wrong as we all know.

          • May 14th 2018 @ 11:30am
            Train without a station said | May 14th 2018 @ 11:30am | ! Report

            No they weren’t.

            They could have stayed in WA for the duration of their contract.

            • May 14th 2018 @ 5:56pm
              timber said | May 14th 2018 @ 5:56pm | ! Report

              Not if they wanted a future in Super and International rugby, which is the point.

      • May 14th 2018 @ 10:43am
        freddieeffer said | May 14th 2018 @ 10:43am | ! Report

        Agree totally Don.

        Cooper is honouring his contractual obligations to Queensland rugby, as originally agreed to by both parties prior to the 2017 season, (including RA) for his current 3 year 2017-19 deal. The subsequent sacking of Stiles and appointment of Thorn as the new coach who no longer wants Cooper in the Reds squad in 2018- or 2019 is a matter for senior QRU to suck their thumbs on for 2 years.

        Cooper is playing QRU and RA for the fools they are. I’d do exactly the same. The rest is immaterial.

        Further, if the QRU had any moral decency and respect for Cooper, given they had to Back Thorn’s position, they would have made Cooper ‘redundant’, and paid his contract out. Then the market would dictate if Cooper would or would not be playing at SR level or not.

        • Roar Guru

          May 14th 2018 @ 11:40am
          PeterK said | May 14th 2018 @ 11:40am | ! Report

          IMO Cooper knows there is no chance that Cheika will select him for the wallabies unless multiple injuries occur.

          At his age then why shouldn’t he take the money on offer and play at an easier level, with more time with family and friends.

          If he wishes to continue playing after the contract he can play at nrc level to get a contract in japan.

          • May 14th 2018 @ 3:06pm
            BBA said | May 14th 2018 @ 3:06pm | ! Report

            I suspect you are right.

            I get the feeling that deep down Cooper has moved on and is probably preparing for his career outside of rugby, whatever comes next in his career after rugby, be it boxing or something else. That may be best suited by being in Queensland.

            • May 14th 2018 @ 4:57pm
              Jumbo said | May 14th 2018 @ 4:57pm | ! Report

              Possibly scaffolding..

              • May 14th 2018 @ 5:57pm
                timber said | May 14th 2018 @ 5:57pm | ! Report

                Maybe laptop repair..

              • May 14th 2018 @ 8:13pm
                Drongo said | May 14th 2018 @ 8:13pm | ! Report

                He doesn’t really need a career. He is banking $2 million over 3 years. And he already has a property portfolio worth several million.
                You on the other hand, will probably have to work until you are 70.

              • May 15th 2018 @ 5:43pm
                Malo said | May 15th 2018 @ 5:43pm | ! Report

                How laughable. $2 mill and doesn’t play a game. Ra that is hilarious.

      • May 14th 2018 @ 3:17pm
        jimbo81 said | May 14th 2018 @ 3:17pm | ! Report

        yep

    • May 14th 2018 @ 7:36am
      Val said | May 14th 2018 @ 7:36am | ! Report

      A question if one is picking the Wallabies side today – at No 6 would you pick Hannigan (likely for Cheika) or Fardy (who was basically told he wasn’t going to be picked for the Wallabies)? I know who I’d pick and he’s just won a European Champions Cup!

      Was it only Cheika who made that decision?

      Let’s be honest about Quade – his form for the Reds was poor and he rightly got criticism for his play. Why would any sensible player then put his reputation further on the line to play in a poor Brumbies side behind a beaten pack and a Rebels side which is average. If in the off season he gets an offer to play and go through a full preseason with either team and turns that offer down, sure criticise him then but not for taking a sensible business decision and that’s what professional sport is!

      The challenge for the Wallabies is that the players are not improving – a comment as much on them as the coaches, which includes the Wallaby coaches as well.

      If Ireland bring their best players then this will be a very tough series for the Wallabies who will be lucky to win one test let alone the series!!

      • May 14th 2018 @ 9:45am
        Cynical Play said | May 14th 2018 @ 9:45am | ! Report

        Is Fardy eligible? Is so he should be in the squad. He’s games gone to another level in Europe. Mind you he has played alot of footy.

        • May 14th 2018 @ 9:50am
          Fionn said | May 14th 2018 @ 9:50am | ! Report

          His form was just as good for the Brumbies last year too. He was excellent, and the real leader on the field in a team that was bereft of stars and experience.

          But, no, he isn’t eligible.

          • May 14th 2018 @ 4:12pm
            Akari said | May 14th 2018 @ 4:12pm | ! Report

            But, no, he isn’t eligible.

            You mean he doesn’t meet the Giteau law? If so, isn’t it up to the ARU and Cheika to change the rules to allow Fardy to be selected and play?

            • May 14th 2018 @ 5:25pm
              Cynical Play said | May 14th 2018 @ 5:25pm | ! Report

              The South Africa decision to allow their OS players to be selected immediately strengthens the SA national team. Considerably.
              Perhaps the Giteau law needs to be amended to allow players like Fardy and Toomua and even Taquele to be picked if it suits the national rugby interest

      • May 14th 2018 @ 11:01am
        freddieeffer said | May 14th 2018 @ 11:01am | ! Report

        But if that’s the criteria being applied to Cooper, then apply to to the whole 2017 squad as well.

        Honestly, any credible assessment on performance would result in the Reds being unable to field a match day 23.

        It defies logic for Cooper to be singled out for poor performance.

        Can anyone articulate the benefits Jono Lance has brought to the Reds in 2018? The Reds have got zero backline spark, creativity and attack.

        Speaking of which, seeing Lance is heading o/s for next year, why has Thorn got him in the squad? Oh that’s right, experience etc

        Talk about hypocracy from Thorn…

        • Roar Guru

          May 14th 2018 @ 11:42am
          PeterK said | May 14th 2018 @ 11:42am | ! Report

          Cooper played too often with injury last year and look how that loyalty is rewarded.

        • May 14th 2018 @ 11:53am
          handles said | May 14th 2018 @ 11:53am | ! Report

          Your logic is no good Freddie.

          Thorn decided that Cooper and Frisby were not capable of meeting the standards of team behaviour that were required. Cooper’s performance for Queensland this year is not an issue, because he hasn’t played a game.

          Lance has played a role for the Reds this year. He was great in the wins against the Brumbies and the Bulls. Together with Lucas and arguably Toua, they provide an experience offset to what is a pretty young side.

          Thorn also nailed his colours to the mast by leaving both Smiths at home over the weekend for indiscretions. He is demanding a standard, and there is nothing hypocritical about that.

          • May 14th 2018 @ 12:32pm
            Hello said | May 14th 2018 @ 12:32pm | ! Report

            Except when sacking the best 10 in Australia before a game was played then two very good players that compromised the Reds team on the weekend. The Sunwolves have won 4 matches out 41 in their history.

            The paying fans and Members have had enough of Thorns antics.Thorn must be sacked now. He has no idea.

          • May 14th 2018 @ 12:34pm
            JP said | May 14th 2018 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

            handles

            Lance Lucas and Toua are not Super rugby standard.

            • May 15th 2018 @ 1:03am
              TwoTahs said | May 15th 2018 @ 1:03am | ! Report

              I agree with what everyone has said about Lucas et al, butif were looking for a backup ’19 halfback, from the limited opportunities I’ve had to observe him I suspect that Sorovi might be a bolter. Reminds me of a young Genia. Brash, bold and sharp. Unequivocally half back material. What have I missed? Why isn’t anyone talking about him?

          • Roar Rookie

            May 14th 2018 @ 3:55pm
            GC Red said | May 14th 2018 @ 3:55pm | ! Report

            You are making that up. No-one has stated anything about behaviour.

            Lucas and Lance were only ever mediocre in super rugby, Toua has been around the grounds too.

            Thorne has proved absolutely nothing with his selections this year. We have not improved as a team, and there is no proof that culture has improved under Thorne.

        • May 14th 2018 @ 6:10pm
          timber said | May 14th 2018 @ 6:10pm | ! Report

          I would have thought it pretty obvious by now that QC’s behavior and attitude, especially off-field, is his big drawback and why he’s unwanted by Thorn.
          Thorn’s decided that the odd x-factor play that he can still conjure on the field isn’t worth the arrogance and self-centeredness that will breed a toxic culture in the reds. Rather ironic that QC accused Robbie Deans of creating a toxic environment.
          For a reasonably big, athletic, agile guy, his defense is shocking, that’s not physical it’s attitude.
          I’m the superstar who doesn’t need to stoop to tackling. Tackling? That’s for journeymen.

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