2018 Rugby Championship preview

109 Have your say

    The Rugby Championship is almost upon us for another year, and it’s no surprise to see New Zealand are primed to take out the competition once again.

    All Blacks

    The All Blacks are undoubtedly the best rugby team in the world, as they have been since 2010 when the Springboks last ruled.

    New Zealand will be looking for an improved performance than they showed in 2017, when they failed to win the series against the Lions, almost lost to Australia in Dunedin, almost lost to South Africa in Cape Town and then lost to Australia in Brisbane.

    In June, they defeated France 3-0.

    They had likely the strongest scrum in the world in 2017, and will be hoping to maintain that strength in 2018. They have a line-out reminiscent of South Africa during Victor Matfield’s career, a strong defence and the best counter-attacking game in the world.

    They do, however, have some questions to answer during the Rugby Championship.

    Is Beauden Barrett still the best 10 in New Zealand, or does his lack of game management, coupled with Richie Mo’unga’s form, mean that we should see 10. Mounga, 15. Barrett?

    Who will be New Zealand’s midfield? Sonny Bill Williams and Ryan Crotty were preferred last year, but will that remain the case?

    The All Blacks will, as usual, be looking to clean sweep the Rugby Championship.

    Rugby Championship prediction: First

    Player to watch: Brodie Retallick

    Rising star: Richie Mo’unga

    Brodie Retallick New Zealand Rugby Union All Blacks 2017

    (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

    Australia

    The Wallabies are in a strange position.

    After dire results in 2016 and 2017, they appear to be improving, despite having lost four of their last five Tests.

    The Wallabies’ scrum, for many years their Achilles heel, is now a strength. The line-out, which for many years was strong, has been inconsistent in recent years, but between Adam Coleman and Izack Rodda in the row and Lukhan Tui at flank, should be competitive in 2018.

    While the Wallabies have some of the best attacking backs in the world, there are questions marks around the defence, especially with both Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kuridrani injured.

    Australia should be aiming to beat Argentina both home and away, and a home victory over South Africa. While they are of course aiming to beat New Zealand I believe most fans would be happy with some close-fought losses.

    Rugby Championship prediction: Third

    Player to watch: Kurtley Beale

    Rising star: Taniela Tupou

    Hooper Beale

    (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

    South Africa

    If Australia has had a bad period since the last Rugby World Cup, then South Africa has had a diabolical one.

    A team that has traditionally been either the best or second best in the world has suffered through two losing seasons, including a defeat to Italy.

    However, with a new coach in 2018, the Springboks seem to be turning results around. They won their June series against England 2-1 and were playing with a level of passion and intelligence that has been missing in recent years.

    South Africa has never struggled to find powerful forwards, and this year it is no different. Their breakdown work, scrum and line-out should all be world class.

    In Handre Pollard they have found a 10 capable of guiding their team around the field, and who can also be trusted to kick his goals.

    They have also unearthed some brilliant wingers to assist the extremely talented Willie Le Roux at fullback.

    Additionally, they have one of the best players in the world in Malcolm Marx.

    Issues still remain on account of how many of the team’s top players are abroad, and the lack of Duane Vermeulen for the Rugby Championship will certainly weaken their pack.

    South Africa will be hoping to beat Argentina home and away, Australia at home (at least) and will be hoping for their first victory over the All Blacks since 2014.

    Rugby Championship prediction: Second

    Player to watch: Malcolm Marx

    Rising star: Aphiwe Dyantyi

    Willie Le Roux giving instructions

    (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    Argentina

    Argentina have, like Australia and South Africa, had a tough time since the last World Cup.

    Their form over 2016, 2017 and thus far in 2018 has not been impressive.

    There are reasons to hope for Los Pumas fans, however. After their dire performances against Wales and Argentina, they have a new coach, Mario Ledesma, who this year took Los Jaguares into the Super Rugby finals for the first time.

    Argentina has traditionally had a powerful scrum but this appears to have been lost in recent years. They will have to improve it quickly or else will have to score far too many tries through counter-attacking in broken play. I have not seen the quality of structured attack required to beat teams like New Zealand or even South Africa or Australia.

    The biggest issue for Argentina is that they cannot select overseas-based players for their side. This means the squad is severely hamstrung when it comes to competing with Australia, who have four Super Rugby teams to select from as well as the Western Force, New Zealand, who have five teams, and South Africa, who can select from all their international based players.

    Between this and the travel schedule, it is difficult to see Argentina having great results in the 2018 Rugby Championship. Even so, they should be targeting home wins over South Africa and Australia, which they have managed before.

    Rugby Championship prediction: Fourth

    Player to watch: Agustin Creevy

    Rising star: Emiliano Boffelli

    Rebuild announcement

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    The Crowd Says (109)

    • August 13th 2018 @ 8:04am
      riddler said | August 13th 2018 @ 8:04am | ! Report

      cheers mate.. nice summary..

      i have us finishing first, kiwis second and a tie for 3rd between the argies and saffas.. they will lose their away matches against each other..

      well here is hoping anyway!! 😉

      • August 13th 2018 @ 8:07am
        Fionn said | August 13th 2018 @ 8:07am | ! Report

        It’d be nice 🙂 ! I think we can finish ahead of South Africa, but it won’t be easy.

        • August 13th 2018 @ 10:53am
          Cliff Bishkek said | August 13th 2018 @ 10:53am | ! Report

          Hey Fionn, isn’t SBW injured? I thought I read that he was out of the 1st 2 RC games.

          • Roar Pro

            August 14th 2018 @ 2:20pm
            Melburnian said | August 14th 2018 @ 2:20pm | ! Report

            Cliff, The NZ Herald was certainly reporting SBW was still out due to injury.

            • August 14th 2018 @ 6:00pm
              Jacko said | August 14th 2018 @ 6:00pm | ! Report

              SBW and NMS did not travel to Aus

      • Roar Rookie

        August 13th 2018 @ 7:34pm
        Kirky said | August 13th 2018 @ 7:34pm | ! Report

        The scrummaging is where it’s going to be at as a Forwards dominating game, therefore I can’t even imagine the Aussies mixing it successfully with the best tight five playing the game bar none, ~ I’m picking the Australian scrum will be dominated by the likes of the All Black Front row, and Retallick and Whitelock at the back of them, and it ‘ll be interesting to see who Shag picks as his loosies to partner Read in creating havoc all over the park, but it will all hinge on the starting lineup of the Wallabies!

        If Hooper plays, he and Folau will get the main source of attention with Folau being starved of the ball, the best teams practice those things.

        Kiwi’s to win easing up!

    • Roar Pro

      August 13th 2018 @ 9:33am
      Jonty Shonty said | August 13th 2018 @ 9:33am | ! Report

      Thanks for the summary Fionn. I think you’re right in that each team has questions and can improve.

      Win or lose, these are the things I’d like to see from the Boks:

      – An effective game plan giving the players direction.
      – Players not making mistakes, and choosing the right options.
      – Young players given game time.
      – Better defence.
      – Am proving he’s the best 13 in South Africa.
      – Physical forwards.
      – Quick ball.
      – Efficient kicking game.

      • August 13th 2018 @ 9:57am
        Fionn said | August 13th 2018 @ 9:57am | ! Report

        Yeah, I think the defence definitely has a few question marks..

    • August 13th 2018 @ 9:35am
      bluffboy said | August 13th 2018 @ 9:35am | ! Report

      Nice Job Fionn

      Interesting what you say about Malcom Marx. He is a beast and certainly one of my must watch guy’s, but I was surprised how ineffective he was in the final. The Sanders really did their homework there.
      I will be watching with interest how they or if they even capable of nullifying Izzy.

      • Roar Guru

        August 13th 2018 @ 9:45am
        taylorman said | August 13th 2018 @ 9:45am | ! Report

        Yes NZ sides have a tendency to reduce the main threats well. Kwagga Smith and Marx were reduced to passengers in thye final after stunning displays against the side that couldnt contain them a week earlier.

        Similar things happen to many players. Sexton and OGara himself come to mind where the can look great but can be made negligible on occasion. It makes comparing playings a very complex process.

        • August 13th 2018 @ 9:56am
          Fionn said | August 13th 2018 @ 9:56am | ! Report

          Sexton looked to do okay against the All Blacks in 2016 and again in 2017 when the All Blacks played the Lions.

          • Roar Guru

            August 13th 2018 @ 10:17am
            taylorman said | August 13th 2018 @ 10:17am | ! Report

            Yea probably the little matter of the 8 losses hes had, including the choked penalty that would have sown up their first home win in 13.

            Id say Hansen should be looking very closely at the Saders defence structure, which at the moment is the best around.

            • August 14th 2018 @ 9:35pm
              Henry Honey Balls said | August 14th 2018 @ 9:35pm | ! Report

              Sexton has also won more games against the ABs than most players, he certainly has the best win loss ratio against the ABs than any other out half at the moment. Of the 8 losses you reference at least a handful of them were as sub in the early part of his career too which weakens your point further.

              All out halves miss kicks, Barrett more than most. Sexton’s kick ratio is generally in the top bracket for international OHs.

              • Roar Guru

                August 15th 2018 @ 3:42am
                taylorman said | August 15th 2018 @ 3:42am | ! Report

                No one said Barrett was a great goalkicker. We expect him to miss. When supposed good kickers miss easy shots on home soil to win matches, thats pressure. If two wins vs NZ is more than most 10s and one was a rare Lions win, the other a Chicago match, then its not saying much. Its not about wins vs the ABs so much as is impact vs them, and in general, its been somewhere between average and poor. Its against other sides he gets his reputation.

                Players to impress vs NZ are players like Marx, Folau, Genia, Murray, AAC, Habana, De Villiers, Pocock, and probably a few more Ive not mentioned, all players that regularly turned up. Sexton has hardly raised a mention, another in a long line of poor NH 10s.

              • Roar Guru

                August 15th 2018 @ 3:52am
                taylorman said | August 15th 2018 @ 3:52am | ! Report

                Sexton also got no points in the test series las5 year so wasnt considered the sides goalkicker. Barrett was, and Id say Barretts %s over the series either closely matched or bettered Farrells, though not sure of the exact numbers. For a poor series in Barrett terms, Sexton wasnt a great deal better.

              • August 15th 2018 @ 7:11pm
                Henry Honey Balls said | August 15th 2018 @ 7:11pm | ! Report

                If he has any way decent a November series Sexton will more than likely be shortlisted as world player of the year. So far this year he has been one of the stand out players in world rugby. Instrumental in grand slam, European cup and away series win to add to his drawn series in NZ last year. You might not rate him but his record says otherwise.

        • August 13th 2018 @ 10:03am
          bluffboy said | August 13th 2018 @ 10:03am | ! Report

          Yep T’man.
          I think Cheika will basing a fair bit of his game strategy on Izzy ability in the air. I hope he has more up his sleeve, but they do tend to rely heavily on broken play and not sure the Allblacks or the Spring Bok will be as disorganised as last year. I do think the Wallabies set piece will be the big improved over last year, as will be the Allblacks with a Retallick, Franks and Moody all returning. But I can’t see where else the Wallabies can improve from last year, I do hope I’m wrong though.
          The Spring Bok will be completely different, to the point they will be the hardest to prepare for IMO. I think it’s going to be the best Championship in recent times.

        • Roar Rookie

          August 13th 2018 @ 7:37pm
          Kirky said | August 13th 2018 @ 7:37pm | ! Report

          Kwagga Smith is a good light weight loosie but he’ only any good if he’s allowed the space to play, sit on him and things change dramatically! ~ good player for all that!

      • August 13th 2018 @ 9:57am
        Fionn said | August 13th 2018 @ 9:57am | ! Report

        Folau played well against the All Blacks last year. I’m sure they closely watched how Ireland contained him in test 2 and 3 though.

        • August 13th 2018 @ 10:05am
          bluffboy said | August 13th 2018 @ 10:05am | ! Report

          Yes Fionn, perfect example.
          Have you wonder why Super Rugby sides didn’t adopt the same plan.

          • August 13th 2018 @ 10:45am
            Fionn said | August 13th 2018 @ 10:45am | ! Report

            Yeah, it is about odd.

            Maybe they have tried but just don’t quite have the execution?

            • August 14th 2018 @ 9:43pm
              HenryHoneyBalls said | August 14th 2018 @ 9:43pm | ! Report

              Folau has never really impressed that much against Ireland.

              He has played Ireland 6 times (3 in Oz 3 in Ireland) and is yet to score a try. He has only won 2 tests and lost 4.

              • August 14th 2018 @ 9:47pm
                Fionn said | August 14th 2018 @ 9:47pm | ! Report

                Maybe, Henry, but he was the player who Australia won the first test around. After that, Ireland contained him wonderfully.

                Folau was very good in 2013 agains them too. I miss the days when the Wallabies played good rugby like that.

        • Roar Rookie

          August 13th 2018 @ 7:40pm
          Kirky said | August 13th 2018 @ 7:40pm | ! Report

          You can almost see Shag Hansen suggesting to Joe Schmidt the Ireland Coach as to what the best method of taking Folau out of the game, when playing Ireland, ~ and it worked the only difference will be that the All Blacks will be better at it!

        • Roar Guru

          August 14th 2018 @ 8:59am
          John R said | August 14th 2018 @ 8:59am | ! Report

          That ties back into Campo’s point from the Fox pod last week.

          If there’s enough genuine threats out there, then go ahead and contain Folau, and that should create opportunities for others.

      • August 13th 2018 @ 10:04pm
        Leon de vos said | August 13th 2018 @ 10:04pm | ! Report

        Most forwards especially fetchers can be nullified by the decisions of the Ref around the breakdown..that’s what happened on the day

      • Roar Guru

        August 14th 2018 @ 2:15am
        Harry Jones said | August 14th 2018 @ 2:15am | ! Report

        It’s true Marx was “dampened” but in reality, he scored a very tough and brutal try, and whilst he never pilfered, he did slow ball well as the Lions clawed their way back into the match, and he threw very well into the lineout. He also had the best smash tackle of the game. Rugby just isn’t the kind of match where even a top 3 forward in the world can actually singlehandedly change the flow of the match; maybe a flyhalf-scrumhalf can.

        • August 14th 2018 @ 6:45am
          Riccardo said | August 14th 2018 @ 6:45am | ! Report

          Brodie Retallick

          • Roar Guru

            August 16th 2018 @ 6:13am
            Harry Jones said | August 16th 2018 @ 6:13am | ! Report

            Yes, but never single-handed, and I’ve seen a few games where he’s kind of quiet. Great great lock…

        • August 14th 2018 @ 7:03am
          Fionn said | August 14th 2018 @ 7:03am | ! Report

          Marx did it in Cape Town vs the All Blacks, Harry. I think in general rugby is such a team orientated game though that it is rare that a player can singlehandedly win it for the team. Pocock vs the Boks in the 2011 WC is one such example.

          But I think you’re right and flyhalfs and halfbacks have more opportunities to do so.

          • Roar Guru

            August 14th 2018 @ 10:45am
            taylorman said | August 14th 2018 @ 10:45am | ! Report

            Yes Marx was fantastic in that match, one of the best performances Ive seen from a tight forward. Thats why I said Hansen had better look at the Crusaders and how they managed to shut them down.

            Marx will be fired up for the next kiwi side he meets thats for sure.

    • August 13th 2018 @ 9:41am
      Jacko said | August 13th 2018 @ 9:41am | ! Report

      BB is no FB…Never has been never will be…..He played 10 all his life as a junior until the U20 WC where the coach…Anscombe….played his son at 10 but couldnt leave BB out so selected him at 15…since then he has been a 10….Has enough game management to win most tests and to be considered the best 10 in the world 2 years running so he must be doing ok….cant see why a rookie would be selected above a proven performer….mounga is probably a 3rd choice NZ 10 at the moment behind BB and Dmac…Dmac rated best 10 in SR this season and SR player of the year 3 years running now…Hopefully Mounga gets a run in the RC for some experience

      Really looking forward to seeing SA play as its hard to know where they sit in the RC after the coaching they have had for a few years now….Aus also on the up……Arg have a new coach and hopefully they start to improve instead of just showing some positives in games against the ABs and not much else

      • August 13th 2018 @ 9:56am
        Fionn said | August 13th 2018 @ 9:56am | ! Report

        It’s okay, Jacko, we get that you think that.

        Maybe you should convince all the rugby commentators, fans and media in New Zealand calling for Mounga at 10 and Barrett at fullback.

        • August 13th 2018 @ 10:10am
          Jacko said | August 13th 2018 @ 10:10am | ! Report

          i dont have to Fionn. Hansen and Fox ( selector) agree with me so the media means very little….for every article saying Mounga should be 10 their is another article saying dont be silly……….ROG called for BB to go to FB yet I do not remember ROG playing FB for ireland so a novice could play 10,. and he is just supporting his own player Even DC came out and said BB has earnt his spot over a few years now and should be the starting 10 and he is ex Sader…….

          • August 13th 2018 @ 10:28am
            Fionn said | August 13th 2018 @ 10:28am | ! Report

            Oh, for now they do.

            • August 13th 2018 @ 12:52pm
              Jacko said | August 13th 2018 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

              LOL yes we can only talk as of now….who knows what the future holds and as Bluffboy says below….Any of the 3 will do the job……You have been busy writing 2 articles in a week Fionn….Well done

              • August 13th 2018 @ 1:00pm
                Fionn said | August 13th 2018 @ 1:00pm | ! Report

                I suspect, Jacko, that if Barrett’s average form continues then Hansen may want to get a look at RM at 10 in this year’s Rugby Championship. Even if Barrett plays well Hansen may want to see the team with RM at 10 tried.

              • Roar Guru

                August 13th 2018 @ 1:05pm
                taylorman said | August 13th 2018 @ 1:05pm | ! Report

                Barretts form has been when hes been up against large better sides in the Saders and the Chiefs, and even the Brumbies, who I saw as the best finishing Oz side by end of pool play, and where many of his team mates also played poorly.

                Hes had poor matches before and has bounced back from that. Don’t expect him to continue poor form for long.

              • August 13th 2018 @ 1:22pm
                Fionn said | August 13th 2018 @ 1:22pm | ! Report

                Maybe, Taylorman. For all his exquisite talent, however, he is not the complete playmaker, and I think his game managemnt has been on a downward trend since 2016. In 2017 there was no other option as Cruden was going overseas and Sopoaga wasn’t good enough. Will Mounga be good enough in 2018 to push Barrett to fullback?

                Barrett is one of the best players in the world, so I’m not convinced that it will, but equally I wouldn’t be surprised if that is what Hansen opts for eventually.

              • August 13th 2018 @ 1:53pm
                Ged Farnan said | August 13th 2018 @ 1:53pm | ! Report

                BB’s perceived poor form certainly not helped by substandard service from Perenara.
                The ABs’ environment generally irons out the kinks so although I would love to see Mo’unga get a run at 10 I won’t lose any sleep with Barrett starting.

              • Roar Guru

                August 13th 2018 @ 2:17pm
                taylorman said | August 13th 2018 @ 2:17pm | ! Report

                Complete playmaker is purely a relative term. Most players are good at some things and not so good at others. Mouaga has definitely not done things Barrett has achieved so is simply another option. Everyones jumped on this bandwagon far too soon.

                Take away SR form and theres neither a good Mouaga nor a poor Barrett, and the selectors have to date shown that they value incumbants who have served them well the first shot.

                We’ll find out in due course anyway, but for my money I expect to see a big change in Barretts game.

              • August 13th 2018 @ 2:38pm
                bluffboy said | August 13th 2018 @ 2:38pm | ! Report

                Yes Fionn I think your right we will RM this year and maybe in a couple of games. I think Hanson will run Crotty and Goodhue outside him as an option for the World Cup as it will be better to have proven combinations come the cup.
                He will run the Sanders trio as a back up to his preferred BB SBW and ALB, keeping Crotty fresh and concussion free, hopefully.
                Crooty may get the first Test though given its importance.

              • August 13th 2018 @ 4:43pm
                Bodger said | August 13th 2018 @ 4:43pm | ! Report

                2016 and 17 world player of the year, he’s okayish. 🙂 Of course Barrett will be 10. Why would you change out your best player and play maker over the last two years before even the first international?

              • August 13th 2018 @ 9:41pm
                Jacko said | August 13th 2018 @ 9:41pm | ! Report

                tman you are spot on……What is a complete 10….i prefer attack by nature rather than defence so its BB or Dmac to start and see where it goes from there

              • August 14th 2018 @ 7:04am
                Fionn said | August 14th 2018 @ 7:04am | ! Report

                I guess you preferred Larkham to Carter then, Jacko?

                Or is here where you say Carter was better because he was ‘complete’? I don’t disagree, but attack was where Larkham outshone Carter.

              • August 14th 2018 @ 8:07am
                Jacko said | August 14th 2018 @ 8:07am | ! Report

                If anyone was a complete 10 it was DC. Had the lot when needed .Larkham also a very good 10
                I still have no idea where anyone gets the idea that BB is a great FB. He doesnt play FB. He was a 10 all his junior days until he went to the U20WC where the coach chose his son…Gareth Anscome….to be 10 and had BB at FB….but that is the extent of his FB days. Dmac is a far better FB than BB for being in the 15….BB may well be happy to drop back there when subs come on.
                How can you possibly say BBs form has been dropping since 2016????? POTY 2016…2017…..And the ABs record is not faltering a bit

              • August 14th 2018 @ 8:25am
                Fionn said | August 14th 2018 @ 8:25am | ! Report

                Because Barrett’s best moments, rather than usually setting up his outside men, tend to be his own vision for the gap and ability to attack the line.

                Can you please stop repeating that player of the year thing, Jacko. Lots of people, including in New Zealand, expressed shock that he won it last year.

                ‘And the ABs record is not faltering a bit’

                Personally, I thought New Zealand were far from convincing last year. Failed to win a home series (don’t blame the refs again, Jacko, we get that you are one of the few who still do this, but eve if it was the referee’s fault in that last decision the All Blacks played very averagely in the series); almost lost the Dunedin Bledisloe and then lost the Brisbane one, which could have easily cost New Zealand the Bledisloe; almost lost the return leg against one of the weakest South African sides of all time; performed very poorly against Scotland on the Spring Tour. This is in addition to losing to Ireland in 2016 before they were as good as they are now.

                The All Blacks are the best team, but if you don’t think they showed cracks over the last two years I think you’re kidding yourself. The games that they show cracks are often the ones where Barrett struggles against a structured defence.

                His best rugby against the Lions was in the first test when put at fullback.

              • Roar Guru

                August 14th 2018 @ 10:48am
                taylorman said | August 14th 2018 @ 10:48am | ! Report

                Interesting how the same folks who think BB is flake pine for the flakiest one of them all. Quades best moments were also the flashy bits. Couldnt manage a match to save himself. One long cut out to a try and everything else is forgiven.

                And while one flake is winning consecutive World POTYs the other cant make his club side. Go figure…

              • August 14th 2018 @ 6:28pm
                Jacko said | August 14th 2018 @ 6:28pm | ! Report

                Fionn you may think like Cheika does and want to shift everybody to different positions they actually play, NZ selects the best team available and backs them from that point on….Which theory has been the most successful????? As for this “ALMOST won the 2nd game last year well if you are 17 up after 20 mins you damn well SHOULD win….but you did an ALMOST yet again…..Not 1 current player for AUS has won the Bledisloe….Which team is doing it right?…and which all-over-the-place selection policy is NOT working…….Didnt win the Lions series??? Well we didnt lose it either did we???
                You say the ABs are playing average well thats funny because clearly their average beats the rest of the world…So this average team with an average no 10 who is getting worse and cant pass or cant control a game is still the no 1 team in the world….and you want to change them all and put a b unch of Crusaders in…thats not how the ABs work and we see the results of their option taking. As for me being one of the only people who still blames refs for losses well sorry but you were argueing with me very recently about a possible knock-on by a Chiefs player costing the Brumbies the game and a possible finals position………Pot, kettle Black

              • August 14th 2018 @ 6:44pm
                Fionn said | August 14th 2018 @ 6:44pm | ! Report

                I didn’t say it cost the Brumbies a win. I said that if the referee hadn’t made that call then the Brumbies could have won. That isn’t the same as saying the Brumbies lost because of the referee.

                The Chiefs won because they were the better team for the 80 mins.

                I think Beauden’s best rugby has been the limited minutes he has had at 15. You disagree. That’s fine. Time to get over it, Jacko.

              • August 15th 2018 @ 9:26am
                Jacko said | August 15th 2018 @ 9:26am | ! Report

                Yes Fionn BB won 2 times POTY because of 6 mins per test at FB…what awesome 6 mins they are eh? .I have now got over it

            • Roar Rookie

              August 13th 2018 @ 7:48pm
              Kirky said | August 13th 2018 @ 7:48pm | ! Report

              Beauden Barrett didn’t just win the Player of the Year twice playing at first five just by turning up on the day!!

              He’s a better player at first five eight than any other playing the game at the moment, and he’s like Dan Carter in that he gets down and dirty by flying into rucks and mauls when necessary! ~ Very good player as we all know!

              • August 14th 2018 @ 11:51am
                Tauranga boy said | August 14th 2018 @ 11:51am | ! Report

                I agree with Fionn here. BB is very good but has shown deficiencies in structural team moves. We have to give RM a run – he may be better.There’s a World Cup next year. We’ve got to be ready for it. All Blacks were not convincing last season – they couldn’t beat the Lions at home and were shaky against the relatively weak Aussies and South Africans at times. I love D Mac’s brilliance but shudder at the thought of him as starting 5/8 or fullback. A fantastic bench man for the final 20 minutes.

          • August 13th 2018 @ 11:46am
            bluffboy said | August 13th 2018 @ 11:46am | ! Report

            Honestly, in picking your Battle, this was and is never going to be one. Either will do me. RM will get his chances, just like AC and BB got theirs when DC was the incumbent.
            I think it a bit petty but funny to be nit picking such talented depth.
            Would you honestly be nervous or disappointed with either selection.

        • Roar Guru

          August 13th 2018 @ 10:11am
          taylorman said | August 13th 2018 @ 10:11am | ! Report

          Doesnt need to, Hansens the only one that matters, as is Cheika, despite what everyone has been ‘convinced’ of.

        • Roar Rookie

          August 15th 2018 @ 9:09pm
          Blessing said | August 15th 2018 @ 9:09pm | ! Report

          Jacko is actually right about BB being a first five all his life. That is how he ended up playing FB for the U20. There is this misconception that he always played FB. Not true at all. I had to explain it to Nick Bishop the other week as well. Anscombe Snr realised that BB had freakish athleticism and found a way to fit him into the team so that Anscombe Jnr could play first five. It worked seeing as they won the U20 WC. Not sure it was such a good thing for BB though because he was then shifted between the two positions by the Canes. I think it affected his game development as a first five. I still think he will recalibrate his game and come good. The good ones always do.

      • Roar Guru

        August 13th 2018 @ 6:01pm
        pformagg said | August 13th 2018 @ 6:01pm | ! Report

        His best rugby has been at 15, when he was the super-sub.

      • Roar Guru

        August 14th 2018 @ 8:50am
        stillmissit said | August 14th 2018 @ 8:50am | ! Report

        Jacko: 5/8 takes on a very different complexion when you are behind a strong pack. The opposite is also true. Ask Foley?

    • Roar Pro

      August 13th 2018 @ 9:52am
      Andre Leslie said | August 13th 2018 @ 9:52am | ! Report

      I would be very surprised to see anything other than an All Blacks win. Hopefully we give them a test though!

      • August 13th 2018 @ 9:58am
        Fionn said | August 13th 2018 @ 9:58am | ! Report

        Agreed mate.

    • August 13th 2018 @ 10:04am
      Tooly said | August 13th 2018 @ 10:04am | ! Report

      Yawn . The ABs 6 wins , Pumas 6 losses , SA 4 wins Fijibies 2 wins .

      • August 13th 2018 @ 10:33am
        Jacko said | August 13th 2018 @ 10:33am | ! Report

        Tooly those may well be the results in the end but i dont believe it will be boring…….Aus could win 4…3…or 2 but even losses will be far from boring this year…….Aus has improved…particully in the forwards……SA is a bit of an unknown as yet with new coaching as is Argentina and Aus is playing SA in Brisbane where they have a good record. Also being a pre WC year some coaches will be trying stufff they wouldnt normally try….All in all a lot to look forward to

      • August 13th 2018 @ 4:39pm
        Fionn said | August 13th 2018 @ 4:39pm | ! Report

        Hope it is less predictable than you think 🙂

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