Food for thought for Michael Cheika

David Lord Columnist

By David Lord, David Lord is a Roar Expert


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    My first sightings of Wallaby locks were Dr Phil Hardcastle, Joe Kraefft, Grahame Cooke, Rex Mossop and Alan Cameron in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and none of them were tall timbers.

    Garrick Fay was the first in the ’70s at 197cms for his 24 caps, then the King of them all – John Eales – at 200cms from 1991 to 2001 for 86 caps and two World Cups.

    In the early 2000s Nathan Sharpe stood at 200cms and played 116 Tests. Justin Harrison’s 201cms for 34 made him another genuine tall timber.

    And in recent times Will Skelton’s 203cms (18 caps) and Dean Mumm at 196cms for 56 caps both played their part.

    But right now, what was rare has become a tsunami – a tsunami of tall timbers.

    Rory Arnold’s 208cms has been joined by Adam Coleman’s 204, Izack Rodda’s 202, Rob Simmons’ 199, Matt Philip’s 199, and Lukhan Tui’s 198. It means far too many quality footballers will miss out on the four and five jerseys – and therefore miss out altogether.

    But what about the six and eight jerseys?

    That’s food for thought for Wallaby coach Michael Cheika.

    Wallabies coach Michael Cheika

    Michael Cheika (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

    Imagine a Wallaby lineout with four 200-plus centimetre jumpers that even Tatafa Polota-Nau must surely find.

    These days the Wallabies avoid lineouts like the plague because of the combination of inaccurate feeding and a poor lineout technique.

    But with half the lineout over 200cms, and Sekope Kefu handy at 188, lineouts would be a breeze.

    Then it would be up to Cheika to get the blindside flanker, and No 8, up to speed for modern day rugby.

    That wouldn’t be difficult with all of the above tall timbers very mobile.

    It’s too early for the Bledisloe Cup, and Rugby Championship, that’s not the time to start experimenting on a major scale.

    But the end of the year northern hemisphere tour would be ideal, then link with Super Rugby coaches to try aspirants for the six and eight jersey.

    How about a Wallaby scrum of (1) Scott Sio, (2) Tatafa Polota-Nau, (3) Sekope Kepu, (4) Rory Arnold, (5) Adam Coleman, (6) Lukhan Tui, (7) David Pocock (c), and (8) Izack Rodda?

    That would be the most feared pack in international rugby.

    If the backs can stay injury free with (9) Will Genia, (10) Bernard Foley, (11) Tom Banks, (12) Kurtley Beale, (13) Reece Hodge, (14) Dane Haylett-Petty and Israel Folau the custodian – that is potential Rugby World Cup winning material in Tokyo next year.

    The return of Matt Toomua from Leicester to the Rebels is another major plus, but purely as a benchman to cover fly-half, inside centre, and fullback.

    Rob Simmons to join him on the bench to complete the amalgamation of the big men.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn't get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world's great sporting spectacles

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    The Crowd Says (121)

    • August 7th 2018 @ 6:49am
      timber said | August 7th 2018 @ 6:49am | ! Report

      Wishful thinking I’m afraid.
      There’s a reason no.8s and 6s tend to be a certain size and physique, roughly in the 190-196cm range, because bigger men usually lack the speed, aerobic work rate and agility to compete in the loose.
      A pack needs balance, not the biggest men you can cobble together. By the same token, the ABs should put Patrick Tuipulotu at no.8 and Scott Barrett at no.6 but that would be a major step down from the incumbents.

      • Roar Guru

        August 7th 2018 @ 9:54am
        jeznez said | August 7th 2018 @ 9:54am | ! Report

        spot on, there should only be 3 locks in a 23, important as they are shoe horning guys without the speed and work rate into back row positions is an even worse decision than playing dual opensides.

      • August 7th 2018 @ 11:20am
        scubasteve said | August 7th 2018 @ 11:20am | ! Report

        6 ideally has speed to sit in outside channels and also defence. 8 needs to break the line and has fast acceleration for defence out of the line. Being a little shorter helps get them a little closer to use the shoulder in the clean out. We see Tui and to some degree Hannigan suffer at 6.

        You shouldn’t be looking to fix a throw in problem with more jumpers. What about better line out calls and accuracy on the throw?

        How quick can the big guys get up off the ground?

        Also, you note Touma as bench for cover on 15? I am not sold on Touma’s speed and return. Something a 15 needs to have.

        • August 7th 2018 @ 2:06pm
          Boomeranga said | August 7th 2018 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

          You’d maybe switch Foley or Beale back to FB in preference to playing Toomua there.

    • August 7th 2018 @ 6:50am
      Adsa said | August 7th 2018 @ 6:50am | ! Report

      Coleman, Arnold, Pocock, Tui and Timu is a back five I would like to see David. Clown though is wedded to picking Hoops first and then making everyone fit around him, I have a hunch Ned Hannigan will be a big part of the Clown show this year.

      • August 7th 2018 @ 7:21am
        Oy vey said | August 7th 2018 @ 7:21am | ! Report

        Neither Tui or Timu are good enough to scratch Hooper’s butt, but don’t let reality get in the way of your bitter hatred of Cheika.

        • August 7th 2018 @ 8:29am
          bluffboy said | August 7th 2018 @ 8:29am | ! Report

          I would think that neither Tui or Timu are calling themselves openside flankers.
          But don’t let rational thinking get in the way……

          • Roar Guru

            August 7th 2018 @ 9:50am
            jeznez said | August 7th 2018 @ 9:50am | ! Report

            I think the comment is whether we have people capable playing 6/8 at a level that is superior to playing the two 7’s. I dream of the day that we can shift the quicker/stronger open play 7 to the bench to play a finishing role.

            With Holloway, Timu, Naisarani, Valetini, Hanigan and Tui all showing some promise it is possible we may reach that point next year – Cheika has boxed himself in by making Hooper captain though.

            He’ll also have challenge with Hardwick continuing to develop and McMahon potentially coming back.

            • August 7th 2018 @ 10:00am
              Fionn said | August 7th 2018 @ 10:00am | ! Report

              Dempsey too.

              I don’t think we should Valetini into test rugby. He is so young.

              • Roar Guru

                August 7th 2018 @ 10:06am
                jeznez said | August 7th 2018 @ 10:06am | ! Report

                I keep forgetting Dempsey – need to see him make it back to Super before he’ll be back in mind.

                Definitely don’t want us rushing Rob but do think he should be brought around the squad to get a feel for it sooner rather than later.

            • August 7th 2018 @ 10:26am
              bluffboy said | August 7th 2018 @ 10:26am | ! Report

              Yep to me that is what Adsa was saying.
              You’ve probably nailed the issue with the setup at the moment Jez and it’s a tricky one.
              Hooper is diffidently unorthodox as far as a traditional openside, but does have something to offer for sure. Pocock more of the openside we are all use to and is in great form. So if we are to beef up Blind and Eight with height verses speed verses power, tricky with openside being the captain that will need to share that position if it’s for greater good of the team.

              • Roar Guru

                August 7th 2018 @ 11:44am
                jeznez said | August 7th 2018 @ 11:44am | ! Report

                Will be interesting to see what happens with Pocock (who is 30) after the world cup.

                Will the likes of Gill, McMahon, Samu and Hardwick (I keep hearing rumours that two of those are returning) leave the new coach with the continuing issue that the 7’s are a cut above the 6/8 candidates.

                Hopefully some of those heavier bodies come through and we can play a bit more traditionally

              • August 7th 2018 @ 11:53am
                Fionn said | August 7th 2018 @ 11:53am | ! Report

                Personally, I wouldn’t assume that all of them will necessarily be back, or better than the 6/8 alternatives.

                Guys like Cusack and Wright have to be considered as well because they’re guys tall enough to improve the line out and with a bit more bulk could be considered 6s as well as 8s.

                You’ve got to imagine we will lose some of these guys overseas though. We can’t have a place for all of them in the Wallabies:

                Smaller guys: Hooper, McMahon, Gill
                Medium guys: Cusack, Wright, Dempsey, Hanigan
                Big guys: Timu, Valetini, Naisarani, Holloway

              • Roar Guru

                August 7th 2018 @ 12:23pm
                jeznez said | August 7th 2018 @ 12:23pm | ! Report

                Fionn – I’m not assuming anything, just pointing out that even as Pocock moves on the new coach will continue to have a plethora of 7’s that he may be tempted to cram into the squad.

                This isn’t something that Cheika is Robinson Crusoe on, Eddie Jones often played George Smith and Phil Waugh as dual opensides, Dwyer occasionally put out Jeff Miller and Simon Poidevin

                Hopefully some of those out and out 6/8 types develop to the point that they demand selection

              • August 7th 2018 @ 12:29pm
                Fionn said | August 7th 2018 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

                Didn’t Eddie stop doing that after the 03 World Cup?

                But I agree though, it will be interesting. I think McMahon has demonstrated a bit more line out prowess than Pocock and Hooper though (I could be wrong there).

                It would be good for rugby if we could get McMahon and Gill back, but who knows whether at that stage of their careers they will be willing to take the inevitable pay cut…

              • August 7th 2018 @ 12:43pm
                bluffboy said | August 7th 2018 @ 12:43pm | ! Report

                The biggest problem with unorthodox combinations is if you can’t dominate the game to force the other team to play the way you want them too, it’s all over or at the very least pushing the proverbial up hill.
                I don’t necessarily disagree with 2 openside, it’s the fact the Wallabies haven’t been able to dominate and force their game plan consistently.

        • August 7th 2018 @ 11:55am
          Reality Check said | August 7th 2018 @ 11:55am | ! Report

          Hooper is a useless number 7. He has been dominated by so many of his opposites it`s hard to count on one hand .If Cheika must pick him, put a 20 jersey on him. Otherwise out.

          • August 7th 2018 @ 10:09pm
            Markin said | August 7th 2018 @ 10:09pm | ! Report

            Or give him a run at 10 – he’s got a massive motor, physical coordination, some ball skills. He can’t kick but neither can the incumbent (in general play)

        • August 7th 2018 @ 1:39pm
          Cliff Bishkek said | August 7th 2018 @ 1:39pm | ! Report

          Oy vey, it is not a “bitter hatred” of Cheika but the knowledge that we know reality and that the Clown has shown his colours during each and every year of his tenure, which is a rollicking laugh.

          And clearly you need a reading and comprehension lesson, Adsa did not Tui & Timu as openside flankers!! Bit short on Rugby knowledge are we?

    • August 7th 2018 @ 7:03am
      riddler said | August 7th 2018 @ 7:03am | ! Report

      few here would be able to name the no.8 of the 91 wc winning team without google.

      troy coker was that guy. great player but not in the class of tuynman.

      from memory, tuynman did his knee in the sydney test against england

      dwyer said that first half was the best 40mins of rugby he had been involved with. david, please correct me if i am wrong.

      during the wiorld cup a few got tried at 8. another little remembered fact, eales even got tried there!

      imagine what the negative/prefer to lose brigade would be saying about cheika if he did that during the world cup!

      how much did we beat western samoa by?

      dwyer and tempo finally settled on coker and the rest is history.

      while i am a big fan of rodda, he doesn’t have the skillset nor level of eales.

      (sidetrack: very few of us will remember that debut of eales at ballymore against wales in the same year. his mates and teammates from ashgrove and brothers in the top left of the mclean stand chanting campealesy at every thing he did)

      man of the match debut in a record breaking win against wales.

      he was a revolution against some fairly handy locks including robert norster. (once again from memory, being at the game, no google)

      as much i would love rodda to be the next eales. pushing him to 8 is a stretch too far.

      rodda is a quality lock and will become a key figure of our tight five over the next 10 years, i believe.

      • Roar Guru

        August 7th 2018 @ 9:44am
        jeznez said | August 7th 2018 @ 9:44am | ! Report

        Can see Darth beat me to it

      • August 7th 2018 @ 10:35am
        John P said | August 7th 2018 @ 10:35am | ! Report

        Coker was 120 kilos and 198 cm. Cheika wants a midget backrow. So Dwyer was clever Cheika not so.

      • Roar Guru

        August 7th 2018 @ 12:52pm
        Train Without A Station said | August 7th 2018 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

        Dwyer didn’t have the luxury of 4 full time professional teams to choose from and a full international season in it’s own right and all games televised.

        To try and compare what Dwyer did without criticism and what Cheika could do now is ludicrous.

        Also ignores the fact that Dwyer didn’t as far as I’m aware coach the team to a 40% win rate across any calendar year.

        Actually he did. And was sacked after 2 seasons…

      • August 7th 2018 @ 1:23pm
        timmypig said | August 7th 2018 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

        Wasn’t it Tim Gavin who missed the 91 RWC because of a knee injury? I thought Tuynman had more or less retired by then …… ?

        • August 7th 2018 @ 2:30pm
          Laurence King said | August 7th 2018 @ 2:30pm | ! Report

          Yes, it was Tim Gavin

          • August 7th 2018 @ 5:32pm
            JohnB said | August 7th 2018 @ 5:32pm | ! Report

            And Gavin was another converted second rower. Terribly unfortunate as he’d really been playing well at 8.

      • August 11th 2018 @ 6:15am
        Tim Conroy said | August 11th 2018 @ 6:15am | ! Report

        I think it was Tim Gavin who got injured.

    • August 7th 2018 @ 7:10am
      riddler said | August 7th 2018 @ 7:10am | ! Report

      few here would be able to name the no.8 of the 91 wc winning team without google.

      troy coker was that guy. great player but not in the class of tuynman.

      from memory, tuynman did his knee in the sydney test against england

      dwyer said that first half was the best 40mins of rugby he had been involved with. david, please correct me if i am wrong.

      during the wiorld cup a few got tried at 8. another little remembered fact, eales even got tried there!

      imagine what the negative/prefer to lose brigade would be saying about cheika if he did that during the world cup!

      how much did we beat western samoa by?

      dwyer and tempo finally settled on coker and the rest is history.

      while i am a big fan of rodda, he doesn’t have the skillset nor level of eales.

      (sidetrack: very few of us will remember that debut of eales at ballymore against wales in the same year. his mates and teammates from ashgrove and brothers in the top left of the mclean stand chanting campealesy at every thing he did)

      man of the match debut in a record breaking win against wales.

      he was a revolution against some fairly handy locks including robert norster. (once again from memory, being at the game, no google)

      as much i would love rodda to be the next eales. pushing him to 8 is a stretch too far.

      rodda is a quality lock and will become a key figure of our tight five over the next 10 years, i believe.

      • August 7th 2018 @ 8:23am
        Darth Vader said | August 7th 2018 @ 8:23am | ! Report

        It was Tim Gavin the 8 who did his knee in 91.

        • August 7th 2018 @ 8:33am
          riddler said | August 7th 2018 @ 8:33am | ! Report

          darth avder.. spot on.. aplogies

          tim gavin,..

          my bad..

          • Roar Guru

            August 7th 2018 @ 10:10am
            jeznez said | August 7th 2018 @ 10:10am | ! Report

            Interestingly enough both Gavin and Coker were tall men and dabbled a bit at lock as well as playing 8

            • August 7th 2018 @ 5:04pm
              ForwardsWinMatches said | August 7th 2018 @ 5:04pm | ! Report

              Gavin was a fantastic number 8.

              Riddler, that team from Western Samoa you talk of had Frank Bunce at 13 and he tore Wales apart. They were no pushover.

    • August 7th 2018 @ 7:21am
      KiwiHaydn said | August 7th 2018 @ 7:21am | ! Report

      It’s not the size that counts David, it’s the way you use it.

      Surely the Will Skelton example has shown that being rather large counts for nought, if you don’t have skill, technique, fitness and controlled aggression to go with it.

      As Timber has said above “bigger men usually lack the speed, aerobic work rate and agility to compete in the loose.” Rugby is a dynamic game, with lots of moving parts and varied skill sets.

    • August 7th 2018 @ 7:37am
      Selector said | August 7th 2018 @ 7:37am | ! Report

      Whilst I think Tui can certainly make it as a international backrower, I think all other locks in the squad do not have the speed and athleticism to retain balance in the backrow.

      I am hoping that Timu finds his rhythm at international level, that Holloway continues his return to form and finds a new level, and Naisarani keeps developing, as one of these 3 would be most likely be my world cup 8. (also depending on the balance, I would consider Pocock too).

      My ideal backrow for the series/world cup

      6. Tui/Tui
      7. Pocock/Pocock
      8. Timu/Naisarani
      Hooper or Samu off the bench

      • Roar Guru

        August 7th 2018 @ 10:42am
        PeterK said | August 7th 2018 @ 10:42am | ! Report

        totally agree.

        Currently Timu lacks work rate at test level.

        His pros over Hooper are the lineout , ball carrier in tight and defender in tight, and better at clearing rucks.

        Hooper provides an enormous work rate, and speed so he is there in cover, as a support runner and so on.

        Currently Hooper is actually the better option however Hooper is not improving, there is no upside.

        Timu has a lot of upside so it is worth seeing if he can lift his work rate which would make him a better option over Hooper in terms of balance. If not Timu then Naisarani is a better option in 2019 who provides work rate, mobility , impact and a lineout option.

        IMO the Wallabies should play Timu to see if he can improve and it also allows the Wallabies to play the shape they would use when Naisarani takes over at 8.

        Of course neither of these will happen since Hooper is locked in.

        • Roar Guru

          August 7th 2018 @ 11:49am
          jeznez said | August 7th 2018 @ 11:49am | ! Report

          I agree Pete – which is why I think a Pocock, Hooper, Timu backrow is the best option right now.

          If we play a 6/2 bench we can have Tui and Samu as reserve backrow options if we play a 5/3 then I favour Tui for that bench spot.

          If the backline winds up Genia, Foley, Banks, Beale, Hodge, Koroibete, Folau then we can probably cover all contingencies with Phipps and Toomua on the bench.

          I probably favour something a little different but see the above as the compromise that I could see Cheika making

          • Roar Guru

            August 7th 2018 @ 12:14pm
            PeterK said | August 7th 2018 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

            the issue with that is the lineout is too weak, Timu as the 3rd jumper just isn’t good enough.

            IMO both Tui and Timu should start for the RC. This gives a good enough evaluation time and time to make the required improvements.

            You know what you are going to get with Hooper, and with Pooper and neither option is improving.

            There is an obvious need to move away from 2 opensides.

            Sure after the RC if one of them isn’t up to sratch put Hooper back in until next year when Naisarani takes 8 and either Tui or Timu go to 6 and Pocock to 7 with Hooper on the bench as a very good finisher.

            Also the same with Foley, he isn’t getting any better, the backline attack really struggles against rush defence like the irish used, and really struggles on exit kicking.

            Use Toomua and Beale as the 10 12 options ALL RC and see what they can deliver as a combo.

            Sticking with the old will continue to produce the same old results.

            • Roar Guru

              August 7th 2018 @ 12:27pm
              jeznez said | August 7th 2018 @ 12:27pm | ! Report

              Experimental and I could really get behind the team doing that (have seen FWM posting similarly) – but I just can’t see Cheika going that way

              I’m rather resigned to disapointment in selection having just spent all of Super Rugby frustrated by Gibson’s choices

              • August 7th 2018 @ 12:33pm
                Fionn said | August 7th 2018 @ 12:33pm | ! Report

                At least the team was playing better rugby in June. I won’t be so bothered about selections if we’re playing well.

                Some questions the coaches need to answer though:

                – how are we going to utilise our powerful scrum? do we have the set piece moves we need?
                – who will handle our exits and kick for touch?
                – how will we get Folau into the game when the other team doesn’t kick to him?
                – does Beale take over all tactical kicking from Foley?
                – what do we have to combat Barrett? He can be pressured with a rush defence – can we employ one?
                – how will we get over the gain line consistently when Tupou is off the field?

              • Roar Guru

                August 7th 2018 @ 1:14pm
                PeterK said | August 7th 2018 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

                The biggest issue I have with Cheikas selections is that they are based on whatever he values but to an extreme unbalanced view.

                With backs it is their attacking ability, running the ball ignoring the kicking and defence.
                Sure not all have to be good kickers or great defenders but when no one is a good tactical kicker and most of the backline are poor defenders it is an issue.

                With the forwards it used to be the tahs way of 2014 , big forwards getting over the ad line and keeping the ball alive – the days of Sitelki Timani and Skelton and so forth,

                then when he realised it won’t work at intl level he moved to work rates and reload ability being the new mantra behind selections – which means the Hanigans, Robertson, 2 opensiders getting selected.

                Core roles, and balance of a team get lip service, hence the devaluing of lineouts, the inability to clear rucks, not getting over the ad line.

                Actual overall performances of the team or individual don’t matter as long as the mantra metrics of the day for that player look good.

              • August 7th 2018 @ 1:17pm
                jameswm said | August 7th 2018 @ 1:17pm | ! Report

                Answer to first question is have Tupou and TPN on together as much as posssible. Our next best srcrummaging hooker is Uelese when fit, then Latu, but BPA and Fainga’a aren’t shabby by any means. And then use dominant scrum. Use it to win a penalty, so we can get an attacking lineout 40m upfield.

                I’m not completely sold on Sio’s scrummaging, but I’m hopeful AA can become a powerful LH scrummager at test level. Who is our back up TH once Kepu retires?

                Exit Hodge, then Beale then Foley (or even DHP). Penalties Hodge then Foley.

                The last one isn’t as hard as you think. Guys like Rodda, Arnold, TPN, Latu, Coleman and Sio don’t go backwards very often. They just need to get the ball with some momentum.

            • August 7th 2018 @ 1:46pm
              Cliff Bishkek said | August 7th 2018 @ 1:46pm | ! Report

              Why do you not seem to recognise Samu? A man who can keep a bench spot and several times as a starting spot, with the great Crusaders Team. And yet you see no position for him in the Wallaby setup.

              For me he is a starter over Tui and possibly Timu but as a No. 8 Samu may not be the fit.

              • Roar Guru

                August 7th 2018 @ 1:51pm
                Train Without A Station said | August 7th 2018 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

                Samu ended the year as potentially 5th choice loosie at the Crusaders.

                Crusaders saw him as only a bench option. When Tafua was injured he remained on the bench and Bedwell-Curtis was selected to start.

                Just because he was in a good team, it does not automatically make him great. Plenty of just average players who can perform a role are mainstays in good teams.

              • Roar Guru

                August 7th 2018 @ 2:10pm
                PeterK said | August 7th 2018 @ 2:10pm | ! Report

                He is yet another small backrow player, Wallabies have plenty of them.

                Need a genuine lineout option which he isn’t.

              • August 8th 2018 @ 12:35pm
                Cliff Bishkek said | August 8th 2018 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

                So, are you saying that being one of the small players in height for the No. 6 position is a fault. Dempsey was not tall and not a lineout option.

                The ABs have 3 lineout options. Two x locks and a No. 8. Their 6s and 7s have not been real stand out lineout jumpers.

                Samu is as good if not better than Tui in aggression and tough play. Timu is tough and a No. 8 but he does go missing in terms of work-rate. Samu is tough and has a very good work-rate.

                Lineouts are won by lineout management. We have tall timber locks. Improve throws and systems to the front and back and get our players to lift correctly, then we might be competitive. The overall concept of height being the only prerequisite to a lineout is BS.

                I would think I would prefer Samu when the going gets tough to Timu who has a tendency to go missing. Tui, I am still not sold on, yet! Everyone calls for Dempsey coming back, well he is short!!

              • Roar Guru

                August 8th 2018 @ 5:50pm
                Train Without A Station said | August 8th 2018 @ 5:50pm | ! Report

                Dempsey is 191cm… it’s a little short, but taller than Samu…

                Samu makes about 11 tackles and 10 carries per 80 minutes.

                Timu makes 12 tackles and 10 carries per 80.

                So there goes any measurable justification for work rate.

                And no. Line outs rely on height. Otherwise you could just throw 2 talks up and you would never be able to angle a throw over them to a tall jumper.

                In fact the All Blacks play with 5 jumpers all over 190cm.

              • August 10th 2018 @ 12:30pm
                Cliff Bishkek said | August 10th 2018 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

                TWAS, I just opened the Super Rugby Stats from Fox Sports and looked at the stats of the 2 players. Both had 14 Games with Samu playing 550 mins and Timu playing 867 mins. Their stats come up quite even, very even in fact.

                And yet, Samu played in the tougher franchise and achieved roughly the same stats of metres per run, tackle breaks, turnovers – Samu (7) and Timu (8) with Samu in about 1.6 times less game time.

                For me Samu shows more grunt and aggression. But yes, he is shorter. Horses for courses.

              • Roar Guru

                August 10th 2018 @ 1:13pm
                Train Without A Station said | August 10th 2018 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

                So Samu in a better performing team was basically the same for performance metrics (tackle breaks and meters per run) and somehow that translates to more grunt and aggression?

            • August 7th 2018 @ 5:12pm
              double agent said | August 7th 2018 @ 5:12pm | ! Report

              What backline doesn’t struggle against rush defence?

          • August 7th 2018 @ 12:55pm
            Connor33 said | August 7th 2018 @ 12:55pm | ! Report

            So Jez and Pete, what did you think of Pocock, Hooper and Fardy at the WC?

            In my view, they were equal to the beat backrow at that tournament.

            Two of those three will be there next year—so, for me, the question becomes who best fits the Fardy mould?

            I’ve been saying for a while that it has to be a second rower convert—much like Fardy. But that No.6 has to support Pocock’s poaching, as Fardy did. At the same time, that No. 6 has to be a genuine lineout.

            Tui has the potential to be that player. His lineout could be better than Fardy, as could his ball running.

            If Cheika and co can work on his ruck work over the next 12 months, there’s no reason why a Pocock, Hooper and Tui backrow could not be the best In 2019.

            Rodda could play that role, Dempsey could also. But Tui’s performance in Bled 3 last year was exceptional. He should have the inside running….

            • August 7th 2018 @ 12:59pm
              Connor33 said | August 7th 2018 @ 12:59pm | ! Report

              I guess, Dempsey was a deserved man of the match. The injury is a concern. Very cruel.

            • Roar Guru

              August 7th 2018 @ 1:13pm
              jeznez said | August 7th 2018 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

              I really rated Fardy – your comment on having players contesting the breakdown hard is a critical point.

              Guys like Robertson, Simmons, Hanigan and Mumm all have/had some issues with their clean out. Keen that whoever comes in has a heavy ruck presence but it doesn’t just have to be the third backrower.

              We miss AAC contesting in those wider channels, and Kepu is becoming a bit of a flopper when tired (although still cleans out well when fresh, one more reason to play him off the bench).

              TPN, Sio, Alaalatoa, Latu, Tupou, Coleman, Arnold are all pretty good when it comes to making cleanouts – we do have a few guys that can lift our ruck intensity.

              • Roar Guru

                August 7th 2018 @ 1:18pm
                PeterK said | August 7th 2018 @ 1:18pm | ! Report

                Tom English is another who competes at rucks hard but can’t make the squad.

                I noted this above but the mantra of reload times and work rate means things like the lineout and breakdown suffer, that Cheika is happy to sacrifice those areas for one extreme.

                Every single forward should be competent and accurate at cleanouts, no excuse. Sure sometimes one person just can’t remove a player like Marx when they are in position but too many have very poor technique coupled with a lack of power.

              • August 7th 2018 @ 2:49pm
                Connor33 said | August 7th 2018 @ 2:49pm | ! Report

                Yes, agree re AAC. TK also is great at the breakdown. Hodge better be practicing. But having Hooper on field als gives AU a decent chance in the wider channels, same with Samu.

                Agree that TPN et al are all very good at the break down.

                Though, while Simmons I still not so good at thenbreakdown, do you think he saves the fuel for the scrum and lineout. If we have a 6:2 bench, I’m happy with Simmons being there.

              • August 7th 2018 @ 2:58pm
                Connor33 said | August 7th 2018 @ 2:58pm | ! Report

                Agree with English, PK. Bloody shame Cheika did not select him.

                Rona is ridiculously crap. English should go over to the UK and earn some coin.

                Speaking of which, do you think a relationship is building with Leicester vis a vis AU players. O’Connor is coaching right.

                I thunk AU could get the balance right by loaning players to the UK for 2 years and then bring them back. More thought on that Is required before fleshing put that one further…

              • Roar Guru

                August 7th 2018 @ 2:59pm
                jeznez said | August 7th 2018 @ 2:59pm | ! Report

                He isn’t saving fuel, he gets to plenty of breakdowns, he just has a tendency to miss his target and go off his feet too often.

                I think the rise of Coleman, Arnold, Rodda, Tui and Philip means that his set piece strength, defensive work rate and much improved carrying no longer guarantee him a spot – especially given weaknesses that we’ve pointed out across the squad on the clean out.

            • August 7th 2018 @ 1:24pm
              jameswm said | August 7th 2018 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

              Connor I disagree Tui’s ball running COULD be better than Fardy’s. It’s miles better, so is the physicality of his defence. Lineout close.Not as good on the ball I agree.

              Dempsey with Pooper lacks bulk.

              Jez, I’d like to see Kepu start the first test and only play 30-35mins. Let Tupou come on when the pressure’s off a bit. He can go hard for 5-10, then has half a game. I think he overall gives us more value now. That first test is a must win for us, treat it like a GF. It would also give him 25-30 mins to scrum with Taf, and that is something I’d like to see.

              • August 7th 2018 @ 3:04pm
                Connor33 said | August 7th 2018 @ 3:04pm | ! Report

                Yeah, Tui runs hard. Haven’t seen anyone’s quite bend the line against the Abs in the way he did in Bled 3 last year.

                We can’t have Pocock going one out at the breakdown after Hooper make sure the initial tackle. It was amazing how many times, you would Fardy come is and support Pocock.

                That supporting player is crucial, particularly as teams have been targeting Pococks neck. Bit hard to do when you have two necks over the ball….

                Like the idea of Kepu coming off after 33. Call me cynical, but I’d Tupou was to get injured in the second half, Kepu would be permitted to come back on, right?

        • Roar Rookie

          August 7th 2018 @ 11:57am
          Don said | August 7th 2018 @ 11:57am | ! Report

          Boy, I’d love to see Caleb Timu given the opportunity Ned Hanigan had in which to show his ability at Test level.

          I fear Cheika will start him, drop him from the 23 completely, pick him again on the bench and drop him again before announcing his omission from the Spring Tour with a comment like “Caleb doesn’t look like he is enjoying his rugby and needs to spend some time playing NRC.”

          • August 7th 2018 @ 12:10pm
            Reality Check said | August 7th 2018 @ 12:10pm | ! Report

            Don .

            That’s what happens with most non Tah players when the Wallabies lose. 2016 was the worst year for Cheika sacking non Tahs after losses, but every single Waratah retained their spots or were put on the bench or some promoted after a loss. Rob Simmons ( as QLD RED then ) was dropped 3 times in 2016 because he wasn`t enjoying his rugby according to Cheika .Meanwhile Dean Mumm had the most missed tackle stats of any forward in the southern hemisphere that year. A true Wallaby team will not be selected until the Tah biased Michael Cheika is sacked or falls on his sword.

            • Roar Guru

              August 7th 2018 @ 1:06pm
              PeterK said | August 7th 2018 @ 1:06pm | ! Report

              Incumbent Tahs have been dropped by Cheika

              Robertson, Latu, Skelton, Horne

              • August 7th 2018 @ 2:47pm
                Reality Check said | August 7th 2018 @ 2:47pm | ! Report

                Only 4 Tahs in 5 years ? Not many Pete. 2 are still there and getting plenty of game time, one went to England after his last test and is now retired and the other one was Big Will Skelton.who was persisted with for sooo long until Checka finally realized he was not up to test standard.

            • Roar Rookie

              August 7th 2018 @ 1:44pm
              Don said | August 7th 2018 @ 1:44pm | ! Report

              I’m kind of over the whole Tah bias / Cheika double standards arguments.

              Just hope that we see genuine form given a chance and no one given a spot ongoing who’s form doesn’t warrant selection – no matter who…

              Don’t care where the players come from really.

              I’ll be open about it; I don’t have faith in Cheika to select a side without bias though.

            • Roar Guru

              August 7th 2018 @ 2:16pm
              Hoy said | August 7th 2018 @ 2:16pm | ! Report

              Arnold was the big one for me… was dropped, for no good reason, then I think Coleman got injured that next week, so Arnold was selected again, having not missed anytime, had two belting games, being just about MOM twice, and was dropped again… I couldn’t believe it.

              The Simmons one in 2016 was also very confusing… he was dropped, told he had to work on something in his game that my memory fails to remember, then picked the next week, after having zero time to work on that aspect of his game, then played, and was dropped, to work on his game again, then was selected again…

              Any wonder none of those blokes “enjoy” their rugby… Their heads are spinning…

          • Roar Guru

            August 7th 2018 @ 12:16pm
            PeterK said | August 7th 2018 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

            or treat him like Timani, who broke into the team in 2016 , played very well in the opportunities provided , then dropped first chance for Hanigan the new Mumm.

            • August 7th 2018 @ 12:47pm
              Reality Check said | August 7th 2018 @ 12:47pm | ! Report

              Of course Timani . Don’t get me started Pete, from memory Sio Slipper Alaalatoa Arnold and Kerevi were all dropped and recalled dropped and recalled in 2016.Their probably is more i`m sure.

        • August 7th 2018 @ 6:47pm
          Bodger said | August 7th 2018 @ 6:47pm | ! Report

          Timu hardly jumps for the Reds because he’s not good. Timu is not at this stage a skillful rugby player, decent runner at SR level.

          • August 8th 2018 @ 2:56pm
            Reality Check said | August 8th 2018 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

            ^ But otherwise he is still much tougher more skilled than weak Hanigan.