The team Michael Cheika must pick to win the Bledisloe Cup

Rob Davison Roar Rookie

By Rob Davison, Rob Davison is a Roar Rookie

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    Ahead of the Rugby Championship, there are plenty of positions in Michael Cheika’s Wallabies side up for grabs, especially after the disappointing series loss to Ireland in June.

    That said, the hoodoo of Australian Super Rugby teams losing to our neighbours across the ditch was finally broken this year, with the Waratahs, Brumbies and Rebels getting up.

    Hopefully, we are able to carry some of that momentum into the Test series and take the Bledisloe back for the first time in 16 years.

    So what line-up should Cheika pick if he wants to beat the mighty All Blacks?

    Front row
    1. Scott Sio
    2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa
    3. Sekope Kepu

    Although he did not play the entire season for the Brumbies due to injury, Sio has good scrum technique at loose head and is not afraid of a fight. Paenga-Amosa is in due to Jordan Uelese having a knee reconstruction, and he’s a hard ball-runner with a good throw at the line out.

    Kepu is the Mr Consistent, week in week out he gives 100 per cent.

    Second row
    4. Rory Arnold
    5. Adam Coleman

    Two of the toughest guys in the team, these tall timbers will throw their bodies on the line no matter the circumstance. Coleman had a great year in Melbourne as captain and will grow in his leadership role at the national level.

    Back row
    6. Pete Samu
    7. Michael Hooper (c)
    8. David Pocock

    These three make it more difficult for the line out, but they are the most in-form players. The Hooper and Pocock combo worked well in the June series and Samu, who is about to play for the Crusaders in the Super Rugby final this weekend, had a breakout year.

    9. Will Genia
    10. Bernard Foley

    Genia is coming back from a broken arm but, when in form, he is the prime halfback choice and can add some spark around the ruck – if he doesn’t do any box kicks.

    Foley is the inevitable choice at flyhalf, no doubt for that selection.

    12. Kurtley Beale
    13. Reece Hodge

    After years of being in and out of the Wallabies squad, Beale has been in fine form this season for the Waratahs, having found is true position at inside centre. He can continue the growth of pairing with Foley.

    Although not playing at outside for the Rebels, Hodge is a utility who can play anywhere, and is a hard ball-runner with a big boot for good measure.

    Outside backs
    11. Marika Koroibete
    14. Dane Haylett-Petty
    15. Israel Folau

    These three played extremely well in the Super Rugby season. Koroibete is a human wrecking ball, Haylett-Petty a traditional winger and Folau is unstoppable in open space and great under the high ball.

    There are a few surprises, but this is the starting team that should do it.

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    The Crowd Says (114)

    • July 31st 2018 @ 3:51am
      Riddler said | July 31st 2018 @ 3:51am | ! Report

      Cheers Rob..

      Personal changes for me are

      Thor for kepu.. kepu to bench

      Rodda for Arnold .. arnold out of 23

      Tui for Samu.. Samu to bench..

      13 is a struggle.. I am not sold on Hodge like so many others.. no obvious choice there as rona is struggling.. how much has Hodge played at 13 this year for the rebels.. apologies didn’t watch their games unless when they played qld or tahs.. and he played ten then..

      Banks for dhp.. dhp to bench..

      • July 31st 2018 @ 8:35am
        Fionn said | July 31st 2018 @ 8:35am | ! Report

        Arnold has been our best lock in Super Rugby, especially in the second half of the season. I personally don’t see how we can go for any other locking combination but for Arnold and Coleman.

        01. Sio
        02. Polota-Nau
        03. Kepu (just…)
        04. Arnold
        05. Coleman
        06. Hooper (if sufficiently recovered)
        07. Pocock
        08. Timu
        09. Genia
        10. Foley
        11. Koroibete
        12. Beale
        13. Hodge/English
        14. Banks
        15. Folau

        16. ??? Latu or BPA or Faingaa
        17. Alaalatoa
        18. Thor
        19. Rodda
        20. Tui
        21. Powell
        22. Toomua
        23. Hodge/English

        • July 31st 2018 @ 9:30am
          bluffboy said | July 31st 2018 @ 9:30am | ! Report

          What no Samu????

          • July 31st 2018 @ 9:33am
            Fionn said | July 31st 2018 @ 9:33am | ! Report

            I don’t think you want more than two 7s in your 23, and we already have Pocock and Hooper. I would never drop Pocock and I don’t see Hooper ever being dropped by Cheika. Also, it would be a sure fire way to destroy team moral by dropping your captain for a guy who doesn’t even play in Australia.

            Samu can be the backup should either be injured.

            • July 31st 2018 @ 11:03am
              RahRah said | July 31st 2018 @ 11:03am | ! Report

              Not a bad team at all.

            • July 31st 2018 @ 1:45pm
              jameswm said | July 31st 2018 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

              Nice to have 3 decent backup hookers. And two good locks on the bench, with Philip also steadily improving.

            • Roar Rookie

              July 31st 2018 @ 11:02pm
              Kirky said | July 31st 2018 @ 11:02pm | ! Report

              Cheika needs to be a bit careful as to how he handles Pete Samu because he’d be back with the Crusaders in a heartbeat and they’d welcome him back without hesitation ~, and if he’s good enough to play for the Crusaders, he’d be well and truly more than capable of running on for the Wallabies!

            • August 1st 2018 @ 3:24am
              Bodger said | August 1st 2018 @ 3:24am | ! Report

              Samu was probably our least effective player against the Irish, not sure why he makes the starting list least why he must start. Kepu and Tupou easily our form props, unfortunately play the same position. I’m a Sio fan, he did loads of hit ups against the Irish but just into contact and then to ground, hardly ever got over the gain line. Not picking Taf is madness, best forward for us last year.

            • Roar Rookie

              August 1st 2018 @ 10:00am
              ChrisG said | August 1st 2018 @ 10:00am | ! Report

              Fionn. Samu has been coming on at 6 or 8 for the Crusaders. I see him in direct competition with Tui and Timu. His exposure to world class coaching and players over the last 3years would have him in my team.

              • Roar Rookie

                August 8th 2018 @ 10:27am
                Kirky said | August 8th 2018 @ 10:27am | ! Report

                Chris G, ~ You know as I do that Samu is a very good player who as a rule comes on as an ”early Benchie” and more often than not he plays extremely well as he has done in the last two games for the Crusaders, he’s a great player roving around at the extremes of the field where he compliments the outside backs, he’s a ”rover” loosie and a very good one at that, I’d have him in any run on Team whoever he plays for!

                He, like the rest of the Crusader Fraternity had a blast after the game last Saturday, and to say the least he seemed to be back where he wished he still was if you took any notice of the ”Afters” when all the Bubbly was being sprayed around!

                Still can’t see his logic in leaving a great set up to head to Australia, makes no sense to me!

        • Roar Rookie

          July 31st 2018 @ 10:38am
          nothing if not critical said | July 31st 2018 @ 10:38am | ! Report

          I like that team. But you don’t rate Haylett-Petty?

          • July 31st 2018 @ 10:40am
            Fionn said | July 31st 2018 @ 10:40am | ! Report

            I do rate DHP, if Koroibete or Banks were injured he would be the next one I would start. But he isn’t as versatile as Hodge and English off the bench. Maybe you could argue that he should start ahead of Koroibete? But I prefer Banks’ speed and power through contact.

            • Roar Rookie

              July 31st 2018 @ 1:07pm
              nothing if not critical said | July 31st 2018 @ 1:07pm | ! Report

              Yes, tough choices. I think due to his experience and his steadiness under the high ball and ability to spot weaknesses in defense, DHP should start and Banks should be given time off the bench.

        • July 31st 2018 @ 11:05am
          Connor33 said | July 31st 2018 @ 11:05am | ! Report

          Fionn — for what it’s worth, we are 99% on the same page. And I agree with all you qualifiers re Kepu, just; Hooper, if fit; Hodge/English (the latter should definitely be in the 23 so if anything happens to a back line player, Hodge cover that—and English cover 13. And English can cover 12 or 11, or 15, right? Plus he’d have no ego.

          Tui for Timu and we would have been completely on the same page.

          Some part of me wants Toomua on the pitch—heck could he play 13? I doubt it, but to have him out there at some point will be great. Just need Fardy to make a cameo at some point.

          • July 31st 2018 @ 1:09pm
            Fionn said | July 31st 2018 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

            I don’t think so. Arnold is unbeatable when thrown to at the line out due to his height, he is a good scrummager and is better around the park. Better ball skills, runs harder and bigger impact.

            The main argument for Rodda, in my opinion, is that he calls the line out. But I would rather have that off the bench given that Coleman will be the main caller. Rodda is quality though, but Arnold has certainly been our best lock in Super Rugby this year, especially in the second half of the season.

          • July 31st 2018 @ 1:49pm
            Fionn said | July 31st 2018 @ 1:49pm | ! Report

            Sorry, Connor, that was meant for Redsfan.

            I wouldn’t want Toomua at 13 as he just has never played there. Use him as a finisher for now I think!

            • July 31st 2018 @ 2:37pm
              Connor33 said | July 31st 2018 @ 2:37pm | ! Report

              All good. Heck, I’m happy for Toomua to go 50-50 with Foley. But who kicks? I guess Hodge. That means English could not come on for Hodge.

              Except for Powell, your subs finishers are equal to, some better, than the starters.

              • July 31st 2018 @ 2:44pm
                Fionn said | July 31st 2018 @ 2:44pm | ! Report

                Connor, Mark Ella wrote on his column that he thought we might see 10. Foley, 12. Toomua, 13. Folau, 15. Beale.

              • July 31st 2018 @ 3:14pm
                Connor33 said | July 31st 2018 @ 3:14pm | ! Report

                Hmmm. I’m not adverse to that at all. With Hooper’s running game, AU effectively has 8 backs and 8 forwards.

                With three play makers, the permutations for set piece would be infinite. Not quite, but given Hooper can be a ball runner, it could work. The hands would be incredible across that backline, too.

            • Roar Guru

              July 31st 2018 @ 6:20pm
              jeznez said | July 31st 2018 @ 6:20pm | ! Report

              Don’t think Toomua has actually signed yet so he wouldn’t be eligible? I read if he did sign that we wouldn’t see him until November anyway.

              Aim is apparently to be back for the back half of Super Rugby next year.

        • July 31st 2018 @ 12:44pm
          Redafan1 said | July 31st 2018 @ 12:44pm | ! Report

          You have got to be kidding me. Rodda has twice the mongrel of Arnold. Makes more tackles and better around the park. Part of a dominant scrum.

          • July 31st 2018 @ 1:49pm
            Fionn said | July 31st 2018 @ 1:49pm | ! Report

            I don’t think so. Arnold is unbeatable when thrown to at the line out due to his height, he is a good scrummager and is better around the park. Better ball skills, runs harder and bigger impact.

            The main argument for Rodda, in my opinion, is that he calls the line out. But I would rather have that off the bench given that Coleman will be the main caller. Rodda is quality though, but Arnold has certainly been our best lock in Super Rugby this year, especially in the second half of the season.

        • July 31st 2018 @ 4:26pm
          Realist said | July 31st 2018 @ 4:26pm | ! Report

          Very good side Fionn

          My only change would be Samu at 6 and Hooper on the bench for a 120% effort in the last 30 mins.

          I think English has been very underrated and has better hands than Hodge (although Hodge’s boot is supreme)

          Sad to think Hanigan and Phipps will eat through that side’s credibility like termites..

          • July 31st 2018 @ 9:44pm
            Fionn said | July 31st 2018 @ 9:44pm | ! Report

            Yeah, I can fully understand that decision!

          • August 1st 2018 @ 10:48am
            John P said | August 1st 2018 @ 10:48am | ! Report

            And Robertson

        • Roar Guru

          August 1st 2018 @ 9:32pm
          Kashmir Pete said | August 1st 2018 @ 9:32pm | ! Report


          Thumbs up!


      • July 31st 2018 @ 11:06am
        Olly said | July 31st 2018 @ 11:06am | ! Report

        DHP would have to be the most underrated player in the wallabies backline. All round skills but what goes unnoticed is his running lines on and off the ball. The guy creates space by being the only guy who changes the running line of attack. I rate Banks but his game needs to expand to start at test level.

        Agree with the rest but I think they are easing Thor in. Timing is everything with a World Cup coming up.

        • July 31st 2018 @ 12:00pm
          Fionn said | July 31st 2018 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

          Able to put himself in space, kick and has a good rugby brain. But he doesn’t have the speed or strength through contact that I want in a winger if I can avoid it, nor is he a big defender. I wouldn’t be against him being played over Koroibete as I think Koroibete has been average recently too, but at present I think Koroibete’s strike power gets him ahead in my eyes.

          • July 31st 2018 @ 12:18pm
            numpty said | July 31st 2018 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

            agree re: DHP. He is solid and does all the fundamentals right but doesn’t threaten with ball in hand. Did he ever have good top end speed, I felt like he used to look more dangerous…? It seems to be the case that Cheika picks one dangerous attacking wing (ie: Naiyorovoro, speight, korobeite, Naivalu) and one who does the fundamentals right Hodge, DHP etc. I think this is a decent balance. I’d like to see Banks, Maddocks threaten in this spot soon, whether they are ready yet I don’t know.

            • July 31st 2018 @ 12:21pm
              Fionn said | July 31st 2018 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

              I think that Banks has the capacity to function as both a threatening winger and as the fullback who does the fundamentals well. Actually, I thought Perese looked like that too, but since he is apparently leaving for the NRL he is surely out of the conversation now.

              I agree that DHP looked much more threatening with ball in hand a few years ago too. What happened?

              • July 31st 2018 @ 1:03pm
                numpty said | July 31st 2018 @ 1:03pm | ! Report

                I don’t know, I was asking you Fionn. Wasn’t there an injury in there at some point? Agreed if Banks, Maddocks can be proven to perform in big games than I’d have them over DHP on current form. Didn’t get to see much of perese. I actually don’t mind Hodge at 13 either, ball runner that can straighten up the line and is more likely to pass than Kerevi or Kuridrani. Also less of a defense risk than other fit options. In saying that, Cheika and co need to pick and stick on a position for him or he will be another wasted talent imo.

          • July 31st 2018 @ 12:26pm
            soapit said | July 31st 2018 @ 12:26pm | ! Report

            i’d be trying hi at 10 before reece hodge to be honest.

        • Roar Rookie

          July 31st 2018 @ 12:19pm
          Boomeranga said | July 31st 2018 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

          I’m in agreement Olly. I think DHP adds some brains and judgement.

    • July 31st 2018 @ 4:00am
      Joe Blow said | July 31st 2018 @ 4:00am | ! Report

      No TPN?
      I am guessing it will be TPN and Latu as the hookers in the 23 backed up by BPA.

    • July 31st 2018 @ 4:58am
      Connor33 said | July 31st 2018 @ 4:58am | ! Report

      TPN is eligible, right? If so, he’s in.

      Tui has to start to complement the Pooper ground game.

      Why on its face it seem crazy, I just don’t understand why we don’t put Izzy at the front of the lineout or perhaps even Hodge? Surely both have got a better vertical leap than most in the team.

      Sure they could eat pulled into a ruck, but it’ll only toughen Izzy up. Hodge would be fine with it.

      • July 31st 2018 @ 1:39pm
        Adsa said | July 31st 2018 @ 1:39pm | ! Report

        Agree with selections of TPN and Tui Connor, but seriously having Hodge and Folau jump in a line out is just a foolish suggestion.

        Are you seriously saying that they should play (jump) in a line out against the Darkness in a test match? If you consider that both have never played in a line out , are not up to date with calls and or the tactics the opposition will use against them when the ball comes their way it just seems dream scheme stuff. Retallick would monster them if the ball was thrown to them. The All Blacks have a strong line out , like most things All Black, it is worlds best. A test match is no place for a line out novice.

        How is Folau best used when the WallyB’s win a line out, getting pummelled in the line out clash or steaming on to the ball out wide after the line out is won?

        • July 31st 2018 @ 2:53pm
          Connor33 said | July 31st 2018 @ 2:53pm | ! Report

          Yes, it’s not very sensible. But the theory is this: if the Abs win 95 % or more, you don’t have too much to lose on a defensive (1st) lineout 10 m inside the AB half. Put Folau at the front. Just mix it up.

          To use a tennis analogous, where’s Fionn, I was losing a second set 5-2 last week. My serve. Nothing to lose, so I decided to come to the net on every serve. The game went to deuce. I lost the set. I was prepared to throw the set, though, to win the third. Broke his serve in the first game of the set, then played a normal service game and was up 2-0; though it was breaking up the pace of the last game from the previous set that was still in the mindset.

          I don’t know, but we’re never going to win a Bledisloe without doing something different after 18 years. Cheika’s hit out tomorrow is a good example of some enterprise, though.

    • July 31st 2018 @ 5:25am
      swamprat said | July 31st 2018 @ 5:25am | ! Report

      Some ordinary players there. Some good ones for certain but hell we(England) would expect to defeat the Wallaby rabble these days and we just are struggling too.

      • July 31st 2018 @ 8:28am
        Fionn said | July 31st 2018 @ 8:28am | ! Report

        England surely don’t expect to beat anybody these days?

        • Roar Guru

          July 31st 2018 @ 10:24am
          taylorman said | July 31st 2018 @ 10:24am | ! Report

          True, when they come off a high they really trainwreck it dont they. No subtle downsides just…CRASH!…theyre suddenly everyones… 🙂

    • July 31st 2018 @ 5:29am
      Thunder stick said | July 31st 2018 @ 5:29am | ! Report

      Time to get serious.
      Can’t win with that back row. Hooper + Pocock doesn’t give enough gainkubeball running or line out flex.
      Tui at 6 and Holloway at 8.

      Pocock captain. Hooper is a fine player but not a leader and doesn’t make sound decisions.

      Haylett-Petty is the back equivalent of Hanigan. No idea why he continues to be selected. No gas, can barely tackle.

      Keep Koroibete, add Maddocks. Agree with Hodge at 13.
      TPN must start.

      In any event, no confidence they can win. The Tahs V Lions match showed that several Wallabies still fall off tackles, don’t respect the ball ( Foley between legs pass 10m out, what was that), poor kicking and lack of killer instinct. Lack of precision from pro players ( last pass by Foley v Ireland) means Wallabies are up against it.

      But I hope they can snare one victory.

      • July 31st 2018 @ 9:41am
        Cliff Bishkek said | July 31st 2018 @ 9:41am | ! Report

        Agree TS. The TAHS had 11 or 13 Wallabies or former Wallabies in the 23 for the game against the Lions and they still lost. Congrats to the Tahs on an effort but the loss still shows that the RA and all Franchise Bodies are moving no where in terms of improvement.

        Rugby in Australia is getting lower and lower. If it was not for the conference, the Tahs and the Lions would have been on the bottom or middle of the Final 8.

        Rugby players in Australia are still not good enough.

      • July 31st 2018 @ 11:26am
        The Sheriff said | July 31st 2018 @ 11:26am | ! Report

        Are you all picking players who have passed a fitness test?
        Hooper, Genia , Coleman et al?
        The team must NOT be carrying injuries.

    • July 31st 2018 @ 5:48am
      Julz said | July 31st 2018 @ 5:48am | ! Report

      Not a bad team. That backline can matchup with the ABs as long as Foley provides level headed control.
      It all comes down to the Forward pack, and I see you got the Pooper combo there. It worked before, can definitely work again bar injury. Unsure about 2 and 6, but would have Tui there at 6.
      All Blacks lineup would be the same old lineup we’ve always seen. With 6 and 13 the only toss up.

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