Seven talking points from the Super Rugby semi-finals

Oliver Matthews Roar Guru

By Oliver Matthews, Oliver Matthews is a Roar Guru


83 Have your say

    So there it is then – after all those weeks of clubs from around the southern hemisphere (and Japan!) beating seven shades out of each other we have our two grand finalists – the Lions from the South African conference and the Crusaders from the New Zealand conference.

    This weekend saw two very entertaining semi finals and while the top two sides on the ladder at the end of the regular season have made the final, that doesn’t mean that there’s still not lots to talk about. So let’s get to it…

    Kwagga Smith – don’t underestimate the little man
    Huge ears and a first name that makes him sound like a marsupial from Western Australia, but damn this guy can play.

    His small size might leave many to assume that he’s all about pace and not power but soon after that assumption he’ll have knocked you on your arse and you’ll be watching him score another try.

    He grabbed two against the Tahs with one of them coming after he’d shrugged after four defenders from the Sydney siders.

    He’ll relish the chance to go up against the Crusaders, even more so after his unfortunate exit from last year’s final under an early red card.

    If he has another big game then the Lions are one step closer to toppling the favourites. Speaking of Lions who need to have big games…

    Kwagga Smith


    This is Elton Jantjies (last?) chance
    The Lions No.10 has infamously struggled at the international level and many are frustrated that he’s never been able to reproduce his Super Rugby form on the biggest stage of all.

    In the past few games he’s played very well for the Lions bringing a sense of control to his obvious attacking talents.

    After his most recent weak performance for the Boks, he might struggle to get much more time on the international scene. So winning the Super Rugby title is going to be crucial in terms of his legacy.

    There have been some who feel that he only performs well off the back of a dominant pack and can go missing in the really tough games.

    There will be no better test of whether this is true than a final, against the Crusaders, in Christchurch.

    Will Steve Hansen rethink Beauden’s starting position?
    The Canes vs Crusaders game was billed as the best of the best going head to head. So many tasty match ups and none more so than Beauden Barrett vs Richie Mo’unga.

    As many suspected, it was the Crusaders No.10 who came off looking best and to be fair, he did so by a country mile. He was in great form against the Canes and dominated the game and Barrett.

    Yes Barrett was playing behind a pack that was coming off second best, but surely the best of the best are able to make something happen in the toughest of situations?

    Barrett has not had the year that he would have hoped for – he’s definitely not failed by any means but he hasn’t been as all-conquering as previous years.

    On the other hand Mo’unga has been in career-best form.

    With the Rugby Championship just around the corner, will Steven Hansen reward Mo’unga with some starting opportunities in the famous No.10 All Blacks jersey?

    Beauden Barrett

    (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

    Three reasons why the Tahs are their own worst enemies
    There’s a lot to like about the Tahs but in three ways they showed in the game against the Lions that their biggest problem is themselves…

    1) Defence
    No team that made the finals conceded more points during the regular season than the Tahs and during the finals, the Tahs conceded almost 70 points in two games.

    Now the fact that the Tahs were able to do this and still make the semi-finals is impressive but it does tell you a lot about why they were always going to struggle in knockout rugby against the top teams.

    Throughout the finals there were examples where both from an execution point of view and an organisational point of view the Tahs were really all over the place.

    On the flip side no team scored more points than the Sydneysiders. If they can improve their defensive performances in 2019 then they could be a real threat for the title.

    2) Discipline
    As well as defensive weaknesses, the Tahs need to sort out their discipline. 29 penalty goals conceded this season and 183 penalties conceded is one of the worst records in the competition. Against the Lions they gave 15 penalties, 2 free kicks and had a man sent to the bin.

    That sort of record is just going to make things so much harder for any side and against the Lions it meant they had to try and score more and more points when they were gasping for air at altitude. Finals rugby is hard enough but giving away possession, territory and points so often makes it a lot harder.

    3) Commitment
    Of course the Tahs wanted to win and there’s no doubt that they worked hard even when things were going against them.

    However there were key moments where they just slacked off and it cost them dearly.

    One prime example is in 25th minute. The Tahs had scored twice and the Lions once. The game was tight and the next score was going to be an important one.

    The Tahs kicked ahead and in the next few seconds fans got to see one of the individual tries of the entire season from Aphiwe Dyantyi.

    But the point is that when he gathered the bouncing ball from the Tahs kick there was not a single blue shirt anywhere within 25m to 30m of him. He had time to look up, asses the situation, get up some speed and plan his perfectly executed chip ahead.

    They didn’t lose the game because of that moment but they did lose a good lead because of letting in that try and that gave the home side confidence after being torn to shreds in the opening 15 minutes.

    Israel Folau

    (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

    Lions can’t start slow next week
    One of the most impressive things about the Lions performance today was that they were 14-0 down after 10 minutes and then won the next 70 minutes 44-12.

    The Tahs have leaked points all season long so giving them such a lead isn’t necessarily a death sentence. Giving the Crusaders a two try lead is something entirely different.

    The Lions started slowly against the Tahs and they started slowly against the Jaguares in the quarters as well.

    In both matches they used their own skill and their fitness at altitude to overcome their opponents as they desperately tried to suck in oxygen.

    They need to figure out what it’s going to take to switch on from that first whistle and get into the game from that first contact.

    Otherwise they are going to be trying to chase down the best side in the competition and no one has done that recently.

    Anyone else scared of Malcolm Marx?
    This guy is incredible. His performances this year have marked him out as one of the very best hookers in the world and he is worth his muscular weight in gold.

    In the tight and the loose he is so impressive but it doesn’t stop there. Against the Tahs he was a regular threat at the breakdown.

    He’s like Pocock – if he can get himself set and his hands on the ball there is nothing the opposition can do to move him.

    It’s going to be exciting to see him run out in the Rugby Championship especially his battles against the Kiwis where he’ll be wanting to stamp his authority.

    The final against the Crusaders will be an early taster of what August will bring and if Marx can have another big game along with the likes of Smith and Jantjies then maybe, just maybe the title will be Johannesburg bound.

    Malcolm Marx

    (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

    Oh, and can anyone figure out how to beat the Crusaders?
    So used to performances like the one against the Canes are we that it’s easy to forget to mention the Crusaders.

    But they deserve a mention for sure after making one of the best sides in Super Rugby look average and lost.

    The way in which the lads from Christchurch broke the Canes down piece by piece until all that was left was some yellow shirts “tumble weeding” their way across AMI Stadium was incredible to watch.

    There have been some who have called it all a bit boring but if you watched the way they played on Saturday evening and think it’s boring then you are lost and you need to have a long hard think about yourself.

    The way they seem so comfortable defending on their line, almost serene in the belief that not only won’t they let the opposition in but that there’s a decent chance of a counter attack is mind blowing.

    Let’s hope that the Lions bring their very best to the Final because we all want a fantastic match to wrap up the season.

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    The Crowd Says (83)

    • July 29th 2018 @ 2:10pm
      Fionn said | July 29th 2018 @ 2:10pm | ! Report

      Great article!

      Marx, if he stays injury free, is a future world player of the year, probably dual world player of the year. He’s the best attributes of Pocock combined with the best attributes of Bismarck du Plessis combined with the best aspects of a number 8. It’s a joy to watch him play.

      As for Mounga, I think he’s another future world player of the year, and I suspect will force Barrett to fullback and DMac onto the bench by the RWC.

      Also, pretty hard to see the Lions beating the Crusaders. How many of the All Blacks squad and matchday 23 will be made up of Crusaders?

      Would love to see Leinster play the Crusaders.

      • July 29th 2018 @ 2:29pm
        Highlander said | July 29th 2018 @ 2:29pm | ! Report

        Concur re Marx, you can take out ‘one of the best’
        Currently a no contest for best rake in the game.

        • July 29th 2018 @ 3:10pm
          Pistol Pete said | July 29th 2018 @ 3:10pm | ! Report

          big fan of codie taylor (and dane coles of course) but I can’t help smiling and dreaming while thinking; what if malcolm marx was a kiwi? he would slot in so “nice” in the blacks pack 😉

          the only question about marx status in the game at the moment is if he is the best player in the world overall?
          anyone who is into stats can build a very convincing case that marx is indeed the top dog.

          • Roar Rookie

            July 29th 2018 @ 3:32pm
            Kirky said | July 29th 2018 @ 3:32pm | ! Report

            Pistol!!!! ~ Ease up mate, “the best player in the World” ~ What are you smoking? , Marx is a good player no doubt but c’mon, the best, I doubt it!, maybe but just maybe be in the line as the possible best Hooker going around but he sure as hell isn’t the best player!

            • July 29th 2018 @ 3:39pm
              Fionn said | July 29th 2018 @ 3:39pm | ! Report

              😂 righto, Kirky. If he was a Kiwi I suspect you’d admit that he is making a pretty good case as the best player in the world.

              • July 29th 2018 @ 9:59pm
                adam smith said | July 29th 2018 @ 9:59pm | ! Report

                Hi Fionn, please don’t take anything Kirky says seriously? Most of his comments lack common sense, & mostly bias nonsense. Everyone of the 40+ Kiwis I spent Saturday night watching the semi’s were unanimous, that Marx is close (top 3) players in the world right now.

              • July 30th 2018 @ 9:37am
                Jacko said | July 30th 2018 @ 9:37am | ! Report

                Typical Fionn….Someone disagrees with your opinion about a player so they must have some hidden agenda or its just because they are Kiwi’s…or just plain bad judges eh? Always attacking anyone who disagrees with you!

            • July 29th 2018 @ 4:27pm
              Johnny Boy said | July 29th 2018 @ 4:27pm | ! Report

              Both Sumo and Mils Muliaina reckon Marx is the best player in the world right now. I find it hard to disagree with them. He’s certainly more influential than any other player in the world at present.

            • July 29th 2018 @ 5:18pm
              Henry said | July 29th 2018 @ 5:18pm | ! Report

              Of course he isn’t. That title can only ever be applied to a NZ player – we all know that.

            • July 29th 2018 @ 7:51pm
              Jacko said | July 29th 2018 @ 7:51pm | ! Report

              there has only ever been 1 Hooker make player of the year and that was the first award….There has also only ever been 2 other hookers nominated for POTY so Hookers struggle to be awarded that acolaide…..I’m not convinced a hooker can influence a game strongly enough to be considered best player but to me Marks is certainly looking to be the best Hooker going around……Unproven to a certain extent (14 tests)at international level but looks to be superb with a long career

              • Roar Guru

                July 30th 2018 @ 5:52am
                taylorman said | July 30th 2018 @ 5:52am | ! Report

                Hookers havent been that strong in the padt fifteen years though. We would only have Mealamu or Coles with a chance at world POTY. SA only Bismarck. Oz no one really, Kearns still the best since he played probably? , Argie has Creevy, Ireland had Wood. About it?

                None bar probably Bismarck warrants world best player.

                Marx is up there with Bismarck already and could win it this year if he plays the way he has. Has a mean set of skills and an attitude to match. Two or three matches ago owned the match, was out on his own.

              • July 30th 2018 @ 3:23pm
                Utah said | July 30th 2018 @ 3:23pm | ! Report

                Open sides get nominated every year, and Marx has many of the attributes of a great openside. His number of pilfers this year says he certainly can influence a game enough to be considered.

              • July 30th 2018 @ 5:22pm
                Jacko said | July 30th 2018 @ 5:22pm | ! Report

                Agree about the turnovers but thats not the traditional role for a hooker so the seagulling on the wing etc wont be getting done. i want to see more of his running game before judging him as a hooker but he is doing damn fine at this point and i cant think of any other hookers who would be rated above him at the moment…i think he would probably make a decent loose forward

              • July 30th 2018 @ 5:29pm
                Fionn said | July 30th 2018 @ 5:29pm | ! Report

                I actually think that Marx runs the ball as well as most international number 8s.

                Honestly, Jacko, I see the hooker’s responsibility as throwing into the line out, being a strong scrummager, being a fourth loosie around the park and dominating the breakdown. Marx is the only guy who excels at all of those things. For a long, long time I thought Marx was the best front row forward in the entire professional era, but I think that Marx has probably overtaken him. In that match vs the All Blacks in Cape Town last year almost won them the match, largely singlehandedly such was his dominance.

              • July 30th 2018 @ 8:40pm
                Highlander said | July 30th 2018 @ 8:40pm | ! Report

                Excels at the lineout – I think not
                Wonderful footballer but lets not guild the lilly, has been a train wreck at intl level with throwing

              • July 30th 2018 @ 10:06pm
                Fionn said | July 30th 2018 @ 10:06pm | ! Report

                His line out throwing had improved immensely by the second half of the internationals last year.

                You also have to consider the fact that everyone was out of form under Coetzee for large parts of the last few years.

      • Roar Guru

        July 29th 2018 @ 3:04pm
        eagleJack said | July 29th 2018 @ 3:04pm | ! Report

        I read with interest a while ago, and I’m sure it’s not a new assessment, that junior English training camps identify what they believe to be the player of the future. A mix between a 2, 8, 10 and 15. The player that most closely resembles that wears the coveted “35” shirt at camp.

        Malcolm Marx is that player. A beast at his core roles at 2, hard over the ball, hard runner close to the ruck and out wide, with silky skills to boot. Will be interesting to watch him develop further.

        • Roar Guru

          July 29th 2018 @ 3:11pm
          Lano said | July 29th 2018 @ 3:11pm | ! Report

          That is the most interesting post all season!!

          • Roar Guru

            July 29th 2018 @ 8:18pm
            eagleJack said | July 29th 2018 @ 8:18pm | ! Report

            Cheers Lano, it’s certainly an interesting concept and makes you wonder what we are doing to develop our younger generation. Article is below and well worth the read imo. Even kirky might get something from it 🙂


            • July 29th 2018 @ 9:12pm
              adastra32 said | July 29th 2018 @ 9:12pm | ! Report

              Interesting stuff – shame that Fletcher and Walton were given the boot by the RFU in June though.

            • Roar Guru

              July 30th 2018 @ 7:05am
              Lano said | July 30th 2018 @ 7:05am | ! Report

              Great article …will use this line!

              [This programme] is where the gifted are encouraged, the ambitious unleashed and the competitive challenged.

              • Roar Guru

                July 30th 2018 @ 1:26pm
                Ralph said | July 30th 2018 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

                Someone is very perceptive:

                That gifted people need encouragement.
                That ambitious people need a framework to unleash in.
                That competitive people need challenges.

        • Roar Rookie

          July 29th 2018 @ 3:51pm
          Kirky said | July 29th 2018 @ 3:51pm | ! Report

          Eagle Jack! ~ “Junior English Training Camps, identify what they believe to be the Player of the Future”, ~ What and who are the Junior English Training Camps”? ~ I can’t remember any English Training Camps, Senior or Junior teaching rugby, that has had anything fruitful to teach! ~ I would say that you or I or any genuine rugby follower could do just, that as we all know that there’s heaps of possible Players of the Future, any team in any Competition has a possible contender for that title!

      • July 30th 2018 @ 1:20pm
        Reality Check said | July 30th 2018 @ 1:20pm | ! Report

        How good is Kwagga Smith? He makes Hooper look like a schoolboy.

    • Roar Guru

      July 29th 2018 @ 2:14pm
      Machooka said | July 29th 2018 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

      Thanks Oliver… interesting points!

      Last, first… I described those Saders, during the game, as a machine v the Canes.

      Mind you, every sinew in my old body wanted Canes by plenty, but by then my brain took over control from my heart central, and made it perfectly clear… it was Saders time. Very impressive. Structured. SADERS!

      Without being offensive, disingenuous, or basically like ‘stay at home’ Lions… the predictability of the Final match-up will only be defined by how much da Bookies want to encourage a bet, such as the odds likely to be on the Final.

      Anyhow, forget world order and structure of the universe… ffs Lions would you please bring it for all the dis-enfranchised amongst us. Please pussy cats… please!

      • July 29th 2018 @ 7:52pm
        Marlin said | July 29th 2018 @ 7:52pm | ! Report

        Agreed – all this talk about Marx (I agree he is incredible) has to be tempered by the old maxim – a champion team will beat a team of champions every time – I just can’t see the lions or anybody else unlocking the Crusaders – they are a machine

      • July 30th 2018 @ 2:40pm
        Joseph said | July 30th 2018 @ 2:40pm | ! Report

        Not gonna happen this year Chook.. or the next.. Tahs were useless at the breakdown and up front. Hell, the Lions looked this hot last year and played the final on their own turf Ellis Park (altitude) and got creamed by the (travelling schedule) Saders to win ny 30am

    • July 29th 2018 @ 2:42pm
      Sylvester said | July 29th 2018 @ 2:42pm | ! Report

      I really don’t get this talk about Barrett being replaced in the ABs. Sure, he’s been sluggish at Super level at tines this season but Hansen knows what he’s capable of at international level – and that’s where it counts.

      • July 29th 2018 @ 3:22pm
        Danny said | July 29th 2018 @ 3:22pm | ! Report

        I agree Sylvester, though I suspect that Hansen may have a peek at Mounga against the Argies during the RC.

        • July 29th 2018 @ 3:53pm
          Sylvester said | July 29th 2018 @ 3:53pm | ! Report

          I’m not sure he will Danny. If Hansen sees DMac as backup 10, which is appears he does, he’ll be playing any games where BB is rested.

          • July 29th 2018 @ 7:39pm
            jacko said | July 29th 2018 @ 7:39pm | ! Report

            I find it quite difficult to say who is best….Guys like DC, Cruden, Sopounga and Mounga are traditional 10s who control the game thru kicking and passing …they dictate where the attack comes from and are often safety orientated……Guys like BB and Dmac are not traditional 10s and can change to attack in the flick of the ball…….they play high risk and reward type rugby and can make errors in doing so…….In Dmacs first starting test he concedded a intercept……scored 2 trys and set up 2 trys……Would a more traditional 10 do that?…..thats Hansens dilemma I guess and whoever he selects I will be cheering for them come ABs kick-off

      • July 29th 2018 @ 3:22pm
        Pistol Pete said | July 29th 2018 @ 3:22pm | ! Report

        potential, control, and feel.

        any kiwi with an eye for the game can see that mo’unga brings exactly what has been missing in the blacks since carter retired. it is that simple.

        sure, barrett is tried and tested, and he has been amazing many times. but during a few too many blacks tests of late, his game management skills have gone missing.

        and with it shining jewel like mo’unga showing class and form, even hardcore canes fans will not moan if mo’unga gets a shot sooner rather than later.

        • July 29th 2018 @ 3:49pm
          Sylvester said | July 29th 2018 @ 3:49pm | ! Report

          Since Carter retired, BB has forced his anointed successor offshore, won world player of the year twice, and lost 3 tests. That’s a pretty reasonable record.
          I agree though that Mo’unga is in excellent form and should be on the bench if they persist with selecting Jordie Barrett.

          • July 29th 2018 @ 4:08pm
            Pistol Pete said | July 29th 2018 @ 4:08pm | ! Report

            no-one is saying that barrett is poor mate. he is a top player. but legit questions can be asked if he is the best man for the job sporting the blacks ten jersey. not because beauden is bad, but because mo’unga just shows too much promise. and beauden is a world class fullback…

            • July 29th 2018 @ 4:15pm
              Fionn said | July 29th 2018 @ 4:15pm | ! Report

            • July 29th 2018 @ 7:26pm
              jacko said | July 29th 2018 @ 7:26pm | ! Report

              Pistol a few good games does not make a career….Have a look at the SR season stats and you will find Mounga does not rate all that well. He is young…but older than Dmac… and will continue to get better and more experienced but to say BB is average and Mounga is DC is a massive stretch at this point in his career…….He looks great but not many 10s would look average behind that pack….give it time

              • July 29th 2018 @ 7:45pm
                Fionn said | July 29th 2018 @ 7:45pm | ! Report

                Anyone that is falling back on raw stats, especially those available to the public to ‘prove’ their argument has unfortunately already almost lost it, Jacko. There’s a reason everyone in NZ media are talking about whether or not he should start at 10 ahead of Barrett – because he’s obviously a better 10 than DMac, and perhaps better than Barrett. I don’t even hear Chiefs fans (aside from yourself) claiming McKenzie is better than Mounga as a 10.

              • Roar Guru

                July 30th 2018 @ 6:02am
                taylorman said | July 30th 2018 @ 6:02am | ! Report

                You keep forgetting one thing. Hes unriven at test level. Untilbyou are comparing like for like Mouaga is better than no one at test level.

              • July 30th 2018 @ 9:16am
                Jacko said | July 30th 2018 @ 9:16am | ! Report

                Sure Fionn I must have lost it eh? all because stats are raw…Give an opinion all you like but why attack me as having “lost it” just because you prefer Mounga over Dmac…..How the hell would you know what a decent 10 looks like anyway? You hate the best 10 Aus has and take every opportunity you can to attack him and guess how you attack him???? WITH STATS….its an opinion site Fionn……the only facts on here are STATS…You like to make claims about certain players and think we all have to agree with you where most of us like to see if a player has what it takes at Test level before proclaiming them as the next big thing

              • July 30th 2018 @ 9:45am
                Fionn said | July 30th 2018 @ 9:45am | ! Report

                If you thought that counted as an ‘attack’, Jacko, then I’m sorry for it coming across that way.

                I don’t hate Foley, I don’t rate him as a good 10. The fact that Australia’s best ever 10, Mark Ella, thinks that he shouldn’t be the Wallaby 10 because he isn’t good enough proves that my opinion is in good quality.

                What stats “prove” DMac is a better 10? I’m sure you could find 10 stats that indicate DMac is better, and 10 that indicate he is worse. You can make stats tell any story, people have written books about the ability of seemingly unbiased stats to mislead. That’s well known.

              • July 30th 2018 @ 10:43am
                Jacko said | July 30th 2018 @ 10:43am | ! Report

                no probs……Agree that Stats dont tell every story but they collect them for a reason. Dmac is like BB and Mounga is more like Cruden…both different types of players…I like attack so will choose Dmac but if solid and dependable is what you want Mounga looks to have that…as yet unproven at test level….Mounga has got better this year, no doubt about that and if hansen selects mounga over Dmac then I will support Mounga at test level and Dmac at SR level

              • July 30th 2018 @ 11:50am
                Reality Check said | July 30th 2018 @ 11:50am | ! Report

                Jacko, Bernard Foley the best 10?? Did you see him miss two tackles that led to two tries? One he didn’t even lay a hand on the winger when he was defending/hiding on the wing and the other one he didn’t even bother attempting to put his body on the line 5 meters out from his teams tryline. He just let the Lion player waltz straight past him. Pathetic. He gifted the Lions at the very least 14 points.

              • July 30th 2018 @ 1:23pm
                jacko said | July 30th 2018 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

                RC Best 10 in Aus….Not best 10…..i rate foley as a decent international 10….Not going to win you games on his own but not too bad at running a game…Lots of little things to improve…he is only the best in Aus by default tho as the other franchises dont seem to want to play any young 10s coming thru…Reds are starting to give Stewert a go and the Brumbies have at least dropped harwera to the bench but PLEASE REBELS give Maddocks a run at 10…he looks to have the goods but we wont know until he is given time there

              • July 30th 2018 @ 1:36pm
                Fionn said | July 30th 2018 @ 1:36pm | ! Report

                Jacko, I must say that I did feel a lot better when I started seeing Mark Ella calling for him to be dropped, and recognising a lot of the limitations in his game that I have seen. I was starting to think I was crazy from the amount of journalists singing his praises.

                I think he’s playing better than he was in 2016-17, and has massively improved his kicking, but I do wonder whether he would start for any of the New Zealand teams this year? Maybe the Blues?

              • July 30th 2018 @ 5:32pm
                Jacko said | July 30th 2018 @ 5:32pm | ! Report

                Yeah Foley is a bit of an enigma to me…He looks better the better his forwards go…Like most 10s i guess…but he lets you down at times and if you look at the SR season and the Ireland series, he had chances to do better than he does…His lack of accuracy in place kicks has cost the Tahs a couple of wins this year alone and he failed at that in the June internationals…..Then he comes out and plays great in the Highlanders game. and had a reasonable game against the Lions…Aus certainly need some other options even if its just to put some pressure on Foley to get things right…..I have seen him have some very good games so I know its there……we just need to see it more often and more consistantly……Yeah he would be better than the current Blues 10s but Oterre Black has yet to be seen…..Highlanders might want him too with Sopounga moving on as i am not convinced Gatland is the answer but Ioane looks good from the bit we have seen of him

            • July 29th 2018 @ 7:53pm
              Sylvester said | July 29th 2018 @ 7:53pm | ! Report

              I’m merely suggesting the approach of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. BB and the ABs have been going very well, so the idea of swapping out an experienced match-winner for a rookie is just madness.
              Also consider that a lot of ABs have flat Super seasons (Nonu, Dagg etc), but Hansen manages to get them firing when it counts.

              • July 29th 2018 @ 8:08pm
                Fionn said | July 29th 2018 @ 8:08pm | ! Report

                The question is really whether you’d prefer Mounga managaing the game and Barrett chiming in from fullback, or Barrett managing. Judging by the Lions series and some of Barrett’s performances for the Canes I suspect the former might be better. You’d have to test it a few times first though.

              • Roar Guru

                July 29th 2018 @ 8:16pm
                taylorman said | July 29th 2018 @ 8:16pm | ! Report

                ABs dont tend to apply that rule though. They insist on regular change to stay ahead of the pack, which is why Hansen is always introducing new players, ideas etc so theyre at least ready to step in for injury, or, challenge for the position.

                BB will get back to his better self behind the AB pack but Mouaga must be trialled as an alternative to BB and DMac at 10. No other side has players like that at 10 and we have two of them.

              • July 29th 2018 @ 8:23pm
                Fionn said | July 29th 2018 @ 8:23pm | ! Report

                I actually think Foley plays 10 like an inferior Beauden Barrett.

              • July 30th 2018 @ 9:21am
                Jacko said | July 30th 2018 @ 9:21am | ! Report

                Fionn why do you want to drop ben Smith? What has he done wrong? I have seen you write many times you believe he is the best FB in the world and now you think he should be dropped so BB back to 15 and you can bring in an unproven 10…..Seems like you want to weaken 2 positions there….Drop the best FB and put BB in his place……Move the best 10 and put a rookie in his place…..You select like Cheika does…..All on emotion not facts

              • July 30th 2018 @ 9:31am
                Fionn said | July 30th 2018 @ 9:31am | ! Report

                I don’t want to drop Smith, Jacko, and that’s a ridiculous comparison. Smith has played on the wing for a lot of his career, and I think him and Ioane on the wings with Barrett at fullback and Mounga at flyhalf may be the strongest for the All Blacks. It’d have to be tested first though.

                The facts in my eyes are this: Ben Smith is the best fullback in the world and Mounga is the best 10 in New Zealand, while Barrett is the best back in the world.

                Another fact: Barrett is an extremely accomplished fullback, Ben Smith was probably the best wing in the world when he played there (where he can do most of the same work – and arguably his best international season was in 2013 when he played wing with playmaking Dagg at fullback), and plays it just as well as fullback, while Mounga just plays 10.

                Therefore, best case scenario gets New Zealand’s best 10 on the field (Mounga), best back on the field in what I think is his best position (Barrett) and gets most the complete fullback/best winger on the field also.

                Better to have all three on the field, than just two.

              • July 30th 2018 @ 10:48am
                Jacko said | July 30th 2018 @ 10:48am | ! Report

                i guess we will continue to disagree on who is the best 10 in NZ rugby…i say BB then Dmac then Mounga……I also see BB as covering at least 2 positions….Dmac covers 3 or 4 as he even played HB at test level when Smith Sinbinned and mounga covers 1 position so I see versatility counting at test level…but will be cheering whoever Hansen selects

              • July 30th 2018 @ 11:16am
                Fionn said | July 30th 2018 @ 11:16am | ! Report

                Certainly a good position to have all three available for Hansen. Whatever he goes for, he’s got some top class players to chose from.

                I will say, though, that DMac and Barrett look like the perfect finishers off the bench. At present I think Barrett is a better player than DMac and Mounga the best 10, so as a Wallabies fan what would concern me most is playing against 10. Mounga, 15. Barrett with McKenzie coming on in the second half when the team is starting to tire and lose their shape.

                I think DMac is better attacking from fullback where he has space, and can attack off kick returns a little easier.

              • Roar Guru

                July 30th 2018 @ 2:27pm
                taylorman said | July 30th 2018 @ 2:27pm | ! Report

                Bit pointless an argument to compare the current and last two times world player of the year to a non test player who happens to be at 10 for the best non test side in the professional game and behind probably the best current pack.

                Its also a huge assumption that Mouaga will play as well at test level.

                Mouaga is only now firming up the thinking hes seriously test ten start quailty and then even if he is if Barrett goes back to wielding his magic behind the AB pack what then?

                Its back to Cruden vs Barrett and we know who won there and theres novway Mouaga is yet the 10 Cruden was.

              • July 30th 2018 @ 2:32pm
                Fionn said | July 30th 2018 @ 2:32pm | ! Report

                But if Shag had his time again I wonder whether he would have tried to get 10. Cruden, 15. Barrett? I suspect that he might have.

      • July 29th 2018 @ 8:11pm
        Kiwitruck said | July 29th 2018 @ 8:11pm | ! Report

        In my opinion BB has not yet worked out how to consistently play against the rush defence. You look at Ritchie’s game and you see a lot more taking the line on. This weakness in BB’s game will be exploited by opposition teams and could cause the AB’s some problems.

      • Roar Guru

        July 30th 2018 @ 2:35pm
        ThugbyFan said | July 30th 2018 @ 2:35pm | ! Report

        Sylvester da Cat, Pete the Pistol,Danny Boy and Wacko Jacko, one cannot write off BBBB, a World player of the Year who has been an incredible player over the years however ……………. Similar to here in another blog (a newpaper) someone thought that on his current form R.Mu’onga should start a test in the RC. This was my reply:

        “Dead right there Polish, Richie Mo’unga is a proper 5/8 who directs his backline, similar to A.Cruden. His game this year has improved to stratospheric heights. Barrett and DMac are fabulous players but don’t really direct the play so much as rip teams apart when/if the opportunity comes. BBBB has been off his game for most of the year, I suspect his nasty fall and concussion in the 2nd French test is still affecting him. I hope not but Bernie Foley had to take 3 months off footy last year to get over his head knock and even then it took him another couple of months to get his game back. Head knocks are serious, even Kiwi commentators are worried about how much longer Ryan Crotty will last. A shame as I think Crotty was one of the world’s best backline players for the last 5 years (and I am an Ozzie).

        My view would be give B.Barrett a rest for the whole Rugby Championship and play Mo’unga and DMac at 5/8, perhaps taking turns at starting against each opponent. So Mo’unga starts against Aus, SA and Arg then DMac starts against each side in the return fixtures. At the end of the day the coaches will have a better idea who fits into their plans and the team and B.Barrett gets a rest.”

        All comments accepted, even if you think I need a HIA. 🙂

        • July 30th 2018 @ 5:41pm
          Jacko said | July 30th 2018 @ 5:41pm | ! Report

          Thugby…hard to argue much of what you say…..I remember a bloke called LOMU who was not the best rugby player but could do things no one else could….Thats BB and Dmac….they are not your traditional 10s if we are looking at guys like DC, Cruden etc but they can do stuff that rips the heart out of the opposition……It all comes down to what they do when not ripping sides apart….To me Cruden was the complete 10…..had the control and had the genius……Dmac can develop above where he is and Mounga can also develop from where he is…so all good for the ABs

    • Roar Guru

      July 29th 2018 @ 3:19pm
      Lano said | July 29th 2018 @ 3:19pm | ! Report

      I thought the Tahs went off the boil from about the 20th minute after the Lions scored. They started with boyish enthusiasm and got two lucky tries near the end, Robinson’s a sneaky one I’d expect in an U18B game – still, points is points. Folau ended he season where he started: out of position on defence!

      • Roar Guru

        July 29th 2018 @ 3:25pm
        jeznez said | July 29th 2018 @ 3:25pm | ! Report

        They definitely struggled through that patch – I think that is part of competing at altitude, you need to fight through and get your second wind. Which I think they generally did but they’d been too inaccurate through that difficult period.

    • Roar Rookie

      July 29th 2018 @ 3:24pm
      Kirky said | July 29th 2018 @ 3:24pm | ! Report

      Be assured Beauden Barrett won’t be replaced by any one player, Mo-unga included as it should be remembered that the Hurricanes were nowhere near the team they have been for quite a period of time this Season and on their day they’ll beat any team but Barrett has been playing behind a strangely lethargic pack which, is very likely the reason he didn’t dominate as he usually would!

      Any player can be made to look good behind a pack such as the Crusaders they being the best Provincial or Club side on this Planet bar none, and although Mo-unga is a very good player, he’ll be second string in the All Blacks and the fact that Shag’ has a love affair with Barrett certainly helps!

      We all know that on the biggest stages, Barrett is unsurpassable and sublime to watch and to be honest I don’t think anything has changed, All Blacks and Hurricanes are two very different beasts and although the Hurricanes were run over yesterday, they are still possibly second only to the Crusaders all round!

      • Roar Guru

        July 29th 2018 @ 7:53pm
        taylorman said | July 29th 2018 @ 7:53pm | ! Report

        Well thats not strictly true. The trouble with Barrett is when hes flat the team is usually flat. Happened vs Boks when Cruden missed the plane, and Lions last year.

        So its no coincidence while hes been off lately the Canes have too. Looking at that backline youve gotta wonder how they didnt cause more damage in the last few matches and a lot of that will be BBs game management.

        Sure his pack isnt the strongest but to be shut down to that extent for so long Hansens gotta get a more standard 10 in there who can mix up the good with the bad, adapt to each play as it presents itself rather than require good conditions. The Cruden, DC, Sexton types ‘cope’ better. Hansen tends to favour Barrett a bit too easily for me.

        Last year when Smith got injured Cruden came on and Barrett went to fullback and that secured our best form of the series. Hansen said he toyed with leaving that combo for the remaining tests but wanted Barrett to steer the ship.

        He should have.

    • July 29th 2018 @ 4:39pm
      cantab said | July 29th 2018 @ 4:39pm | ! Report

      I’ve never been in the Mo’unga > Barrett camp. But I am now.
      I hope he gets to start away against the Saffa’s and Wallabies, to really prove himself.

      Interesting point of note, the Hurricanes lost their last 5 away games.

      • Roar Guru

        July 29th 2018 @ 4:45pm
        taylorman said | July 29th 2018 @ 4:45pm | ! Report


      • Roar Guru

        July 30th 2018 @ 1:32pm
        Ralph said | July 30th 2018 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

        It’s pretty late in the World Cup cycle for bringing anyone on at a position like 10.