The Wrap: Super Rugby finals contenders scramble to avoid finishing eighth

Geoff Parkes Columnist

By Geoff Parkes, Geoff Parkes is a Roar Expert

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    Last week, I interviewed a woman of Chinese heritage for a new position and was instantly drawn to the mobile phone number on her CV.

    It contained more eights than the footy gear in Kieran Read’s wardrobe, reflective of the popularity of the number in Chinese culture, and the lengths that some people go to associate themselves with the fortune and good luck it brings.

    It is fair to assume then, that there is no Chinese influence at the Rebels, Brumbies and Sharks, with all three sides spurning a golden opportunity to snare the eighth playoff position ahead of the finals.

    In this competition, the eighth place-getter is ‘rewarded’ with a trip to Christchurch to play the Crusaders. This prospect is rather like a condemned prisoner on the gallows asking the hangman to hold off for five minutes to allow him a final cigarette. Simply delaying the inevitable.

    With only one round remaining, the Rebels hold on to that poisoned chalice, and have never been out of a play-off spot for the length of the competition. On that basis, it would be cruel for them to stumble at the death, but it is also fair to say that they have been the authors of their own recent misfortune, failing to cement victories that were well within their grasp.

    Dave Wessels Super Rugby 2017

    (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

    Despite making significant advances, it is clear that they have yet to bed down a style of play that is instinctively understood and executed by all players. Against the Reds, as for the Waratahs the week before, there was lack of clarity as to their best point of attack – was it to keep punching up the guts, offloading and supporting in close, or to go around the outside?

    This is nothing unusual for a side so early in its development, and also reflects the absence of their best player and decision maker – Will Genia – and the lack of a fly-half with sufficient game-management experience.

    The same problem can be ascribed to the Reds, although because they have the best scrum in Australia, they are far from the basket case that some fans believe they are or want them to be.

    The Brumbies at least made a decent fist of their attempt to snare eighth spot, their improved handling and continuity bringing them back into the contest against a Chiefs side that retains explosive scoring power.

    Tom Banks again showed why he deserved his Wallaby squad selection although, rather like the overall result, his best wasn’t quite as good as the Chiefs’ best. Damien McKenzie lit up Hamilton in the 30th minute by jetting into space, throwing a ‘behind the back’ pass to a supporting player, getting hammered for his trouble, bouncing back to his feet, regaining position to take another pass at pace before streaking away again to score a superb try. 24-19 Chiefs.

    It was thus left open for the Sharks to continue their late-season run towards eighth spot, but they too faltered, well held by a more enterprising and deserving Stormers side in Cape Town, by 27-16.

    Most impressive was Stormers’ debut fly-half Josh Stander, who assertively cleared his defensive area, kicked well for goal and varied his play shrewdly. As if Australia’s bare fly-half cupboard doesn’t need any more highlighting, consider that the obviously capable Stander, third-string this year at the Stormers, is aged 24, and already has four years of first-class experience with the Blue Bulls under his belt.

    If Rugby Australia officials are worth their salt, they will right now be scouring though Stander’s family records desperately trying to uncover a hitherto unknown Australian grandparent.

    So if none of the Rebels, Brumbies and Sharks want to claim eighth spot, who will win it by default? Another three blanks next weekend will see it retained by the Rebels, but with the Jaguares reacquainting themselves with their fragile side in Pretoria, perhaps the Sharks look the most likely at this stage.

    It all happened too easily for the Jaguares, racing the clock early to a 19-0 lead. But what looked like a Jaguares rout soon turned into a world of hurt and confusion, the Bulls’ 43-34 win more comfortable than what it might appear on paper.

    The Hurricanes looked better for the return of Vaea Fifita and English import Brad Shields to their starting pack, with Ngani Laumape a four-try beneficiary. Just as well Rieko and Akira Ioane announced their intention to re-sign with the Blues during the week – without them they remain nothing to get enthused over.

    The Sydney match started predictably with commentator Phil Kearns imploring Israel Folau to keep jumping and “don’t worry about what the IRB says, just do your job.”

    Israel Folau flies high

    (AAP Image/Craig Golding)

    Not for Kearns the minor detail that the IRB hasn’t been in effect since 2014 – which is about where his comments belong – nor the fact that at no stage has World Rugby made any decision that prevents Folau from jumping and competing for the ball.

    Less predictable was Sunwolves fly-half Hayden Parker hooking a conversion attempt across the face of goal like a weekend golf hacker, not the sharp-shooter who had nailed 38 consecutive shots at goal before this one. He would go on to begin his next streak with a superb sideline conversion in the second half.

    That kick was the result of Sunwolves winger Akihito Yamada breaking out a goose-step before skinning (and embarrassing) Folau on the outside to race away and score. Yamada also scored a spectacular first-half try when Bernard Foley showed that he had learned nothing from Kurtley Beale at Twickenham last year – just because you want a rugby ball to bounce out doesn’t mean that it actually will.

    77-25 is as comprehensive as it gets, and there was much to like about the support play of the Waratahs’ forwards as the game opened up in the second half. But tougher tests – and ultimate judgment of the Tah’s season – await them.

    The round began in Christchurch, marking the return to rugby for Read who – for a bloke who hasn’t played top level rugby for seven months – made a fair impression of a rugby player. The match was won early, Crusaders halfback Bryn Hall throwing a couple of excellent scoring passes before Scott Barrett finished off a great team try after the half-time siren.

    CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - JULY 29: Kieran Read of the Crusaders looks on during the Super Rugby Semi Final match between the Crusaders and the Chiefs at AMI Stadium on July 29, 2017 in Christchurch, New Zealand.

    (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

    There were also plenty of talking points late, Ben Smith, ignoring the fact that his side was 23 points down in the 76th minute, chasing down Manasa Mataele as if a World Cup final was hanging in the balance.

    Man of the moment Wyatt Crockett played spoilsport, declining a shot at goal from a last-minute penalty, despite an adoring crowd baying for him to tee it up. I guess one thing you learn after 200 Super Rugby matches is not to let your ambition get ahead of your ability.

    Despite this 45-22 loss and a few slow weeks, the Highlanders have too many classy players not to make an impact during the finals. Losing three tries to five against a side as good as these Crusaders is no disgrace.

    At this stage however, anything other than Scott Robertson and his men claiming yet another title on the fourth of August would be a major surprise.

    Referee rage continued, Rasta Rasivhenge this time finding himself in the firing line for missing an apparent touch on the ball by Chiefs’ lock Tyler Ardron that may have allowed a final opportunity for the Brumbies to push for a win.

    Talking points abounded. What would be the point of the Brumbies pumping themselves up with a famous last-minute victory anyway, when Hamilton is consistently voted by visiting sports teams as the most boring sporting city with nothing to do at night?

    Rasivhenge had controlled the match confidently, was one metre away and was secure in his (non) decision. But what about the TMO, why didn’t he get involved? Fox Sports’ Stephen Hoiles was incredulous; “I find it really frustrating that we’ve got the technology, we all saw it but we can’t use it.”

    Note that this is the same Stephen Hoiles who said, not five minutes later; “the last thing we want is a World Cup ruined by TMOs and stoppages.”

    To be fair to Hoiles, his frustration is understandable, and he reflects what seems to be a widely held view, that TMOs are too intrusive and inconsistent.

    But Hoiles and fans can’t have it both ways. The same people who want the TMO to stay out of things also want the TMO to get involved when it suits them; naturally in situations that go against ‘their’ team.

    What if the same incident occurred in the third minute of the match, would anyone seriously consider the TMO involve himself then? It might feel that the stakes are higher in the 80th minute than the third minute, but the reality is that each minute carries the same value.

    So we have a situation where TMOs are being criticised for inconsistency, from people who are inconsistent in their criticism. Good luck to World Rugby picking a way through that maze.

    Then again we could just leave it to the referee, accept how – as in all sports – the odd decision will go against our side, and get on with the game.

    Rob Simmons yellow card

    (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

    The matter of red cards ‘ruining’ rugby also got another airing with Semisi Masirewa sent packing by Federico Anselmi for a dangerous tackle on Bernard Foley. As a result, the Sunwolves’ competitive first half dissolved into fresh air.

    The push to introduce a new card sanction system so as to keep 15 players on the field and not ‘ruin’ matches is – to borrow a phrase my grandmother was fond of using – all arse about face.

    There are no circumstances where it is acceptable for players to be attacked to the head or dropped into the ground head-first. It essential that a severe deterrent against this remains in place, to help shape player behaviour and to ensure that these types of incident are infrequent.

    Why should changes to the lawbook be sought because a small minority of players can’t play within existing laws? Masirewa is not a dirty player but he had no business going anywhere near Foley after he had passed the ball, let alone tip him up like he did.

    Surely it makes more sense to direct anger at Masirewa instead, and demand that he and others get with the program, and change their behaviour?

    It is also interesting to note, in the wake of a nasty incident involving GWS forward Jeremy Cameron, a renewed push in some quarters for the AFL to introduce an automatic send-off, that debate trending in the opposite direction to rugby.

    Perhaps what all of this shows is that sport, as in general society, can construct all of the rules and sanctions it likes, but as long as there are people prepared to operate outside of those laws, there will always be grief and dissatisfaction.

    Finally this week, congratulations to the Seattle Seawolves, coming from behind to claim the inaugural Major League Rugby title, over the Glendale Raptors, by 23-19, in San Diego. This caps of a hugely successful debut year for a competition that is soundly conceived and well placed for sensible expansion and success in coming years.

    Geoff Parkes
    Geoff Parkes

    Geoff is a Melbourne-based sports fanatic and writer who started contributing to The Roar in 2012 under the pen name Allanthus. His first book, A World in Union Conflict; The Global Battle For Rugby Supremacy, was released in December 2017 to critical acclaim. For details on the book visit Meanwhile, his twin goals of achieving a single figure golf handicap and owning a fast racehorse remain tantalisingly out of reach.

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    The Crowd Says (249)

    • July 9th 2018 @ 6:55am
      Onside said | July 9th 2018 @ 6:55am | ! Report

      X中的V111 (8 out of 10 in Chinese using Roman numerals)

      • Columnist

        July 9th 2018 @ 7:48am
        Geoff Parkes said | July 9th 2018 @ 7:48am | ! Report

        That’s a solid pass – I’ll take that Onside.

    • Roar Guru

      July 9th 2018 @ 7:01am
      Ken Catchpole's Other Leg said | July 9th 2018 @ 7:01am | ! Report

      English ‘Import’ Brad Shields.
      Cute, Geoff, cute.

      • Columnist

        July 9th 2018 @ 7:50am
        Geoff Parkes said | July 9th 2018 @ 7:50am | ! Report

        I still can’t believe Eddie played him at lock against the Boks, Ken.

        Hard to know where the Canes sit right now, they still have great scoring power but their pack still seems a wee bit unbalanced and it’s hard to see them winning in Christchurch.

      • Roar Guru

        July 9th 2018 @ 1:45pm
        Ralph said | July 9th 2018 @ 1:45pm | ! Report


    • July 9th 2018 @ 7:04am
      Moa said | July 9th 2018 @ 7:04am | ! Report

      Nice wrap Geoff.
      Nothing more to add, really.

      • Columnist

        July 9th 2018 @ 7:52am
        Geoff Parkes said | July 9th 2018 @ 7:52am | ! Report

        Just so you know how the process works Moa…

        A couple of hours to write and another three hours to edit, over and over to make sure there’s no spelling mistakes you can pull me up on 🙂

        • July 9th 2018 @ 8:06am
          Moa said | July 9th 2018 @ 8:06am | ! Report

          Awww Geoff! Thanks for that chuckle.😁

        • July 9th 2018 @ 8:29am
          KiwiHaydn said | July 9th 2018 @ 8:29am | ! Report

          You missed one, ‘of’ should be ‘off’ in the last sentence. 😉

          • Columnist

            July 9th 2018 @ 8:38am
            Geoff Parkes said | July 9th 2018 @ 8:38am | ! Report

            I forgot to mention KH, I always leave one error in, just to give blokes like you something to do all day 🙂

            • July 9th 2018 @ 8:51am
              KiwiHaydn said | July 9th 2018 @ 8:51am | ! Report

              Appreciate it Geoff. Am on holidays, so nice to have something meaningful to do! Thanks again for an excellent Wrap.

              Hoping to see an improved performance again under the roof by the Highlanders this week against the Rebels, to regain some momentum heading into the finals.

              Is there anyone though that can beat these Crusaders at home? Perhaps only the Canes or (possibly) the Highlanders catching the Crusaders on a bad night.

              • Columnist

                July 9th 2018 @ 9:02am
                Geoff Parkes said | July 9th 2018 @ 9:02am | ! Report

                I think it’s fair to say that if the ‘right’ Jags team in the ‘right’ mood made the final, they’d be a handful. And we’ve already seen the Tahs play well this year in Chch.

                But yes, it’s hard to imagine anything other than another Crusaders title at this stage.

          • July 9th 2018 @ 10:07am
            moa said | July 9th 2018 @ 10:07am | ! Report

            I can’t believe I missed that.
            Ruined my day.Clear evidence I am officially in my declining years!

            • Roar Guru

              July 9th 2018 @ 11:09am
              Machooka said | July 9th 2018 @ 11:09am | ! Report

              Sadly, this happens to all of us! 🙂

    • July 9th 2018 @ 7:06am
      jameswm said | July 9th 2018 @ 7:06am | ! Report

      Interesting that the top 3 Kiwi sides will end up on the same side of the draw. Good chance for the Tahs/Lions/Highlanders/Jags to make the final.

      I think the Tahs are the only ones from that group with any chance of winning it.

      • July 9th 2018 @ 7:38am
        BBA said | July 9th 2018 @ 7:38am | ! Report

        While I don’t think the Highlanders are likely to make a final, however if they were to meet the Crusaders in a final in ChCh I think they would have a better chance than most of winning it. However winning 3 play off games away from home is a tough ask, with likely significant travel.

        However I agree, that if the Tahs finish in the top 2 they have a very good chance of making the final with minimal travel they do have a good chance.

      • Columnist

        July 9th 2018 @ 7:56am
        Geoff Parkes said | July 9th 2018 @ 7:56am | ! Report

        Fair call james, with the Jags blowing their chance of a home final, the Tahs are best placed on that side of the draw

        That said, they’re no sure thing this week against the Brumbies.

        • Roar Rookie

          July 9th 2018 @ 8:25am
          Paulo said | July 9th 2018 @ 8:25am | ! Report

          First step is to get to the final, if the Tahs finish second, they get home ground advantage for a spell. Once you’re in the final, you only have to beat one team once by 1 point. Can be pretty tough when it’s the Saders at home, but they showed earlier in the season they have the potential to do it. I have learnt over the years never to write an Aussie team off. Still haunted by the ball flying out of Goldies hands as he dived for the corner or Eales raising his arms in mimicry of the uprights he had just slotted a penalty through to breach Kiwk hearts.

          • July 9th 2018 @ 10:30am
            jameswm said | July 9th 2018 @ 10:30am | ! Report

            What about Toutai Kefu’s go go gadget arm?

            First step by the way will be to beat the Brumbies. Then likely Jags. Lose to the Brums we may still finish 2nd. Lions are at home against the Bulls.

        • Roar Guru

          July 9th 2018 @ 11:34am
          PeterK said | July 9th 2018 @ 11:34am | ! Report

          jags can get a home qf if they win and lions lose last round

          • Roar Guru

            July 9th 2018 @ 2:02pm
            John R said | July 9th 2018 @ 2:02pm | ! Report

            Fun fact: if the Jaguares host a final, it adds an additional $1m in cost for travel/accomm to SANZAAR.

            • Roar Guru

              July 9th 2018 @ 2:19pm
              Train Without A Station said | July 9th 2018 @ 2:19pm | ! Report

              Really? I find that extraordinary.

              If the away team had a touring party of 36 in twin share rooms (like the players have) at $300 a night which doesn’t even consider contra sponsorship that’s $40k for a full week.

              Return Business Class flights from Auckland with Qantas/LATAM would be under $8k per head. So there’s $288k.

              So $328k for flights and accommodation. Let’s say $400k to cover field hire, if a team has to get to Auckland, internal transport, etc.

              That’s also not going to be the price they actually pay as contra sponsorship would reduce a decent chunk of that (possibly only paying cost price).

              • Roar Guru

                July 9th 2018 @ 3:27pm
                John R said | July 9th 2018 @ 3:27pm | ! Report

                Staggering isn’t it. But that’s straight from the horses mouth mate. I think there may be a last minute factor at play as well.

                They’d place holds on the likely combinations, but yeah no one saw the Jaguares coming through so strong.

        • Roar Rookie

          July 11th 2018 @ 2:00am
          JaguardoDixit said | July 11th 2018 @ 2:00am | ! Report

          It seems that jags are not too worried about traveling to Buenos Aires with the illusion of winning in QF and then traveling back to Australasia or South Africa. His goal was achieved, to qualify for the playoffs. Perhaps next year, if they can expand the base that plays SR and manage to add some “European” pumas for the June tests and the RC, they will aim to go further. Ledesma is testing a lineup with 10 modifications (many second options) for next Saturday, as he saw symptoms of tiredness in the players who were not seen before. The worst scenario would be, at most, to finish in the 8th position, travel to Crhistchrch, lose to the Crusaders, rest 7 or 10 days and start preparing their participation in the RC.

    • Roar Guru

      July 9th 2018 @ 7:14am
      Harry Jones said | July 9th 2018 @ 7:14am | ! Report

      Splendid wrap, Dr P.

      I saw a man, who appeared sane, bending awkwardly into the train tracks, ducking his head on the wrong side of T Tupou at speed, just kneeling into churning, burning knees, arms akimbo, out of some macabre death wish. I think it was in Brisbane. I feared for that man. I really think I’d card him, too.

      Sharks were just obeying Super Rugby bosses: make the last round super!

      • Columnist

        July 9th 2018 @ 8:01am
        Geoff Parkes said | July 9th 2018 @ 8:01am | ! Report

        Cheers Harry. Do you think the Sharks are wasting Bosch at fullback? I’d like a dollar for every time he’s joined the backline only to grubber the ball through. He doesn’t test the defence in the way that say Leyds does – either he lacks confidence or is better suited back at 10.

        • Roar Guru

          July 9th 2018 @ 1:17pm
          Harry Jones said | July 9th 2018 @ 1:17pm | ! Report


          Bosch appears to not love contact. I can’t prove it, but it seems like his kicks often are taking hard contact with defenders out of the equation. He’s not a willing tackler, either. I think he needs a few more kgs, and maybe a lot more Currie Cup game time, or even a spell in the Top 14.

          Just my opinion.

          • Columnist

            July 9th 2018 @ 1:45pm
            Geoff Parkes said | July 9th 2018 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

            That’s kind of where I was getting to Harry.
            Willemse, by comparison as a young flyhalf, seems much more robust at this stage.

            • Roar Guru

              July 9th 2018 @ 1:54pm
              Harry Jones said | July 9th 2018 @ 1:54pm | ! Report

              Good comparison. And Willemse plays 10 or 15.

              Bosch needs confidence …

          • Roar Guru

            July 9th 2018 @ 1:48pm
            Ralph said | July 9th 2018 @ 1:48pm | ! Report

            Give him a boxing contract to Harden him up.

      • July 9th 2018 @ 8:57am
        Ed said | July 9th 2018 @ 8:57am | ! Report


        What is the general feeling in SA re the SR conference system? Do the fans and players prefer it or would they like to return to the round robin format? It appears the kiwis would want a round robin format while us Aussies – most fans and the teams – want more local derbies via a conference system.

        Disappointing about the Shorks as they are the best performed non-NZ side in non-conference matches this year. They have accrued nine more points than the Tahs in inter-conference games.

        • Roar Guru

          July 9th 2018 @ 11:37am
          PeterK said | July 9th 2018 @ 11:37am | ! Report

          tahs have performed better against the oz conference than the sharks and about equal with sharks against the sa conference. Only against the nz conference have the sharks performed better.

        • July 9th 2018 @ 12:38pm
          woodart said | July 9th 2018 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

          think most Kiwi spectators want more local derbies, its the players and coaches that dont. players get bashed around more in our local derbies .

        • Roar Guru

          July 9th 2018 @ 1:21pm
          Harry Jones said | July 9th 2018 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

          Most people I know well are Stormers fans! So we just want a new coach! The conference system isn’t a bad idea to handle so many time zones. But I am not into so many SA derbies; prefer the contrast in styles with OZ/NZ teams. But … the Jags are a little tougher proposition than the Sunwolves or Blues. So maybe the SA Conference isn’t flying as high at the top, but there’s very few easy wins (except when my team travels!)

          • July 10th 2018 @ 4:40am
            JRVJ said | July 10th 2018 @ 4:40am | ! Report


            If I may, how are the SA Rugby fans you come across (even if they are mostly Stormers fans) dealing with the rise of the Jaguars?

            My question is mainly if there is the perception that it is unfair that what is materially a national side is playing SR.

            (FWIW, I think the SA conference has gotten a tremendous shot in the arm now that the Jags have managed to be competitive).

        • July 10th 2018 @ 6:30pm
          Just Nuisance said | July 10th 2018 @ 6:30pm | ! Report

          Ed I can’t speak for the whole of South Africa but can give my own humble opinion on the conference system . It sucks ! The conference system and quotas in our rugby are 2 sides of the same coin in that they promote mediocrity . They both serve the same purpose ie . Giving players a chance when it has not been fully earned . The Lions are likely to win the South African conference and secure a home quarterfinal despite having lost half their games. Three NZ teams will finish above them . Quotas do exactly the same . They allow a player who has not yet reached the standards required a spot in a team at the expense of another who may be of requisite quality but unrequisite ( is that a word) skin colour . The conference system is a tacit acknowledgement that the Aussie and SA teams cannot meet NZ sides on equal terms. It would be far better to fix the problems , accept that we in SA in particular can meet , match and beat NZ teams but the bar which has been set pretty low needs to be raised . At present NZ teams are being punished by poor standards of the other sides.

          An interesting thought …..prior to the 3rd test SA vs England coach Rassie Erasmus on tv said that winning was not a priority and that testing combinations and processes are. ….Can you imagine Steve Hansen saying that . He would be lynched . Winning is always a priority in elite sport .

      • July 9th 2018 @ 10:19am
        ethan said | July 9th 2018 @ 10:19am | ! Report

        Funny you mention carding him in Harry, that was our reaction. No arms in the tackle, diving at the knee area. Tupou actually got a yellow card a week earlier for the exact same thing! Only difference is that Tupou didn’t get steamrolled, and Charles did.

        Not to mention Higgers being taken in the air in very similar fashion to Folau v Irish. But no YC or one match suspension. The Referee lucky dip continues.

        • July 9th 2018 @ 12:21pm
          Nicolai said | July 9th 2018 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

          ethan — Maddocks did not have a hand/arm/leg/body-part wrapped around Higgers the way Izzy had around the Irish — so no yellow card.

          • Roar Guru

            July 9th 2018 @ 12:34pm
            PeterK said | July 9th 2018 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

            he did

          • July 9th 2018 @ 1:25pm
            ethan said | July 9th 2018 @ 1:25pm | ! Report

            Incorrect. He went up to contest for the ball fairly, just as Izzy did, but when he lost the contest, he wrapped his arms around Higgers while still in mid-air, not too dissimilar to the way Izzy laid a hand on the Irish bloke while still in mid-air.

        • Roar Guru

          July 9th 2018 @ 1:23pm
          Harry Jones said | July 9th 2018 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

          Actually, I also found the “it was a fair competition” ruling on that Higgers undercut to be confusing. As is well known, I am not a fan of so many cards (it’s proliferating for mere mistakes) but I thought Higgers clearly was fouled, if we use the recent logic.

          • July 9th 2018 @ 1:31pm
            ethan said | July 9th 2018 @ 1:31pm | ! Report

            Yes all we want is consistency, but it seems that is too much to ask. As it stands each referee can rule it individually however they like – although I’m sure Angus Gardner would disagree with that statement.

    • July 9th 2018 @ 7:18am
      Daveski said | July 9th 2018 @ 7:18am | ! Report

      As always a fine start to the working week Geoff.

      There’s “dropping a player on his head” and flipping a player carelessly where his head hits our ground. I feel the Foley incident was the latter. And I’m talking about one of my favourite players here with recent concussion history and at the time I was baying for a penalty ( just not a red ).

      I note Masirewa got three weeks. If he’d been yellow carded and subsequently suspended for four or five weeks would that not be equal or even a greater personal deterrent to players? Would that not show WR/SANZAAR is just as motivated to protect the heads of players?

      There are fine lines everywhere in rugby, in scrums, at rucks, the offside line, the bounce of the ball. The tackle situation is another and I’m just not convinced making a team play a man down for 40minutes or more is the right way to go.

      That said Sunwolves defence especially in midfield was woeful and Semi not being there in the second half had nothing to do with the likes of Simmons and Holloway making big 50m busts through the guts of their pack.

      The Rebels were poor. I love Hodge but I think the likes of Tom English and Marika Koroibete would agree with me he shouldn’t be playing 10. If you are Wessels who do you go with this week, Hodge, Maddocks, JDeb or Adams?

      • Columnist

        July 9th 2018 @ 8:49am
        Geoff Parkes said | July 9th 2018 @ 8:49am | ! Report

        “I note Masirewa got three weeks. If he’d been yellow carded and subsequently suspended for four or five weeks would that not be equal or even a greater personal deterrent to players? Would that not show WR/SANZAAR is just as motivated to protect the heads of players?”

        Yes I understand your point Daveski. But what this approach misses is the added deterrent of a player knowing that if he oversteps the line and gets a red card he consigns his side to a probable loss – and all of the weight that carries with it.

        Assuming no injuries at the Rebels I expect that they will start with the same backline. I think we know what Jack D can do, I was expecting Adams to have got a few more opportunities than he has, and we have no idea how Maddocks will go there. So, for all of the question marks around Hodge at 10, I don’t think a compelling case can be made for throwing one of the others in at this late stage.

      • July 9th 2018 @ 9:54am
        Dontcallmeshirley said | July 9th 2018 @ 9:54am | ! Report

        Isn’t Hodge the Wallabies backup 10?

        • July 9th 2018 @ 10:33am
          jameswm said | July 9th 2018 @ 10:33am | ! Report

          We don’t know. Beale could be.

      • July 9th 2018 @ 10:24am
        ethan said | July 9th 2018 @ 10:24am | ! Report

        It astounds me that apparently none of Cheika, Larkham or Wessels has noticed that Hodge has a poor pass and no sense of fluid timing to release those outside him. Or perhaps they do see it, but are so bereft of quality options in the position they pick him there despite his shortcomings. We’ll once again be praying for the NRC to throw up a quality 10.

        • Roar Guru

          July 9th 2018 @ 11:40am
          PeterK said | July 9th 2018 @ 11:40am | ! Report

          I have to say I find it very very poor that qc may not be selected for the nrc qld teams on the basis he won’t be selected for the reds.

          That is very vindictive.

          • Columnist

            July 9th 2018 @ 11:59am
            Geoff Parkes said | July 9th 2018 @ 11:59am | ! Report

            I don’t think it’s about vindictiveness Peter. Australian rugby desperately needs to develop depth at flyhalf.

            Re my comments in the article about Josh Stander, at 10 for the Stormers, I bet the vast majority of Aus rugby fans will have no idea who he is, and fair enough, he’s the 3rd string 10 for the Stormers.

            But he hasn’t sprung up out of nowhere, he’s played Currie Cup for 4 years, he’s had a solid grounding at first-class level, and is clearly a very competent player.

            Australian rugby needs to identify 3-4 guys with long-term potential at 10 and get plenty of higher level rugby into them. If Quade is collateral damage then I’m afraid that’s rough for him, but there is a bigger cause.

            • Roar Guru

              July 9th 2018 @ 12:02pm
              PeterK said | July 9th 2018 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

              there are 8 nrc teams , he would be probably still the best 10 out of them.

              So it would be important even if to compare to him the other candidates, also QC may be selected from nrc into tests if Foley did suffer a serious injury.

              • Columnist

                July 9th 2018 @ 12:06pm
                Geoff Parkes said | July 9th 2018 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

                Understand that’s he’s got every right to play and expect to be selected if he’s still a superior performer to the up and comers Peter.

                But I also understand the reluctance to pick him, particularly if the Wallabies coach has indicated that he has moved on from him.

                (Just a small one, but allowing for Fiji, there are now only 7 Aus NRC sides)

              • July 9th 2018 @ 12:19pm
                Reality Check said | July 9th 2018 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

                QC is the best 10 in Australia. Foley is rubbish and continues to be rubbish at test level. Until Cheika is sacked we are stuck with a sevens player at 10 in our national team.

              • Roar Guru

                July 9th 2018 @ 12:28pm
                Train Without A Station said | July 9th 2018 @ 12:28pm | ! Report

                I agree with that Geoff but it does NRC players no development benefit by playing against inferior players.

                There’s a number of older players who won’t be considered for Super Rugby teams that they select. Bris City selected Ed Fidow last year for example.

              • Roar Guru

                July 9th 2018 @ 12:57pm
                jeznez said | July 9th 2018 @ 12:57pm | ! Report

                Think that is spot on TWAS. NRC has to be about picking the best available players.

                The Young Reds, Brumby Runners and Gen Blue etc are the development squads to focus on youth.

              • Columnist

                July 9th 2018 @ 1:50pm
                Geoff Parkes said | July 9th 2018 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

                Don’t get me wrong guys, I agree it makes no sense just focusing on development and chasing younger and younger players.

                The NZ competition has gone more this way in recent years, but there is still a strong core of experienced hard heads in there, so they have a nice balance.

                And all sides are entitled to pick whoever they want if they think that will help them win.

                But on the other hand, Australia desperately needs to develop playmakers at 9 and 10. They have to come from somewhere.

            • Roar Rookie

              July 9th 2018 @ 1:55pm
              Shane D said | July 9th 2018 @ 1:55pm | ! Report

              Understand that but a young guy could learn a lot by spending a season with Cooper in the NRC.
              No matter what people think of his play he is a vastly experienced player & young 10’s need to soak up that kind of knowledge.

              • July 9th 2018 @ 5:47pm
                Akari said | July 9th 2018 @ 5:47pm | ! Report

                Agreed, SD, but that’s too sensible a suggestion to make and will likely be ignored. I believe that Duncan Paia’aua is a beneficiary of playing with QC last year.

              • Roar Rookie

                July 9th 2018 @ 5:51pm
                piru said | July 9th 2018 @ 5:51pm | ! Report

                Not everyone is capable of passing on their knowledge, I think if Cooper was one who is able Thorn would have kept him around (or at least tried to).

                Just being a talented player doesn’t guarantee you’re able to pass any of that onto anyone else.

              • July 10th 2018 @ 10:39am
                Reality Check said | July 10th 2018 @ 10:39am | ! Report

                “Just being a talented player doesn’t guarantee you’re able to pass any of that onto anyone else.”

                That perfectly sums up Thorn Piru

              • Roar Rookie

                July 10th 2018 @ 12:50pm
                piru said | July 10th 2018 @ 12:50pm | ! Report

                Possibly so – I haven’t played for him but you could be right

              • Roar Rookie

                July 10th 2018 @ 12:50pm
                piru said | July 10th 2018 @ 12:50pm | ! Report

                Possibly so – I haven’t played for him so can’t say but you could be right

          • July 9th 2018 @ 1:35pm
            ethan said | July 9th 2018 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

            I’m caught in two minds here. If QC is never going to be selected for QLD again, and not going to sign for another SR team, then I like the logic of not selecting him in the NRC – we need to be developing talent that will be selected. On the other hand, assuming he’s the best 10 in club rugby, and the best 10 in QLD, it is absurd that he won’t be picked. As others suggest, could even play his way into the WBs from NRC if there is an injury, so all things considered, should probably be selected.

            • Roar Guru

              July 9th 2018 @ 1:38pm
              Train Without A Station said | July 9th 2018 @ 1:38pm | ! Report

              On the same logic to not select him PI capped players like Ed Fidow for example should not be selected for NRC. They will never play for the Reds.

              • July 9th 2018 @ 6:54pm
                ethan said | July 9th 2018 @ 6:54pm | ! Report


              • July 9th 2018 @ 6:59pm
                ethan said | July 9th 2018 @ 6:59pm | ! Report

                For some reason it won’t let me edit my comment, so I’ll add more here. Each SR team gets a couple of foreign players right? So there is a chance someone like Fidow could still be selected for the Reds. However, in advance of the NRC, they have already decided someone like Fidow would not be selected, then there is no point selecting them. That much would be true.

            • Columnist

              July 9th 2018 @ 1:51pm
              Geoff Parkes said | July 9th 2018 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

              Agree ethan, there’s a strong case to be made on both sides of the argument.

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