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A.J. Woodgate

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Joined April 2018

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Lifetime Waratahs supporter, newly converted AFL player and supporter following the Swans.

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If you think thats mad, Banks is getting 1.4 million a year in Japan

Israel Folau returns to Test rugby

Well that is the challenge isnt it. If you are a talented player in a pacific nation, schools, mostly in NZ, will offer you a scholarship and an opportunity for a rugby career and a western education. It is developing nations vs first world countries, its an unfair playing field.

The other issue is that many players at super level hold out on representing teams they are eligible for, via birth or heritage, because they want to represent Aus or NZ. And again the upside of playing for Tonga is pretty limited. Random tests here or there outside the world cup and generally getting smoked.

This is why the Drua is a good outcome for Fiji, many of the players are Fiji based players, so they don’t need to move to Aus, NZ or Europe to play decent rugby.

At the end of the day its the individual players choice. Mack Hansen is now playing for Ireland. CJ Stander played for Ireland. The Tuilagi Brothers play for Samoa, whilst Manu plays for England. Sione Tuipolotu, Melbourne born, with tongan heritage has a Scottish grandmother and now plays for Scotland.

It is very hard to draw a line and say this player moved over at 14 so can play for Aus, but this player moved over at 19 and should be playing for Fiji.

Ultimately the point is that many many players in world rugby have heritage from these islands and more often than not they get better opportunities by representing Tier 1 teams. So these rule changes give players a chance to represent their heritage if they so choose (and if they are 3 years past their last test with their previous test country)

Israel Folau returns to Test rugby

There are plenty of guys that grow up on the islands that move across for Rugby. These are the players from the 2019 RWC Aus and NZ squads that spent most of their childhood in their home country.
– Vaea Fifita
– Marika Koroibete
– Nepo Laulala
– Ofa Tu’ungafasi
– Shannon Frizell
– Sevu Reece
– Tolu Latu
– Taniela Tupou
– Isi Naisarani

The intention of the comment on the best player on the field is not to say they are at that time the best player on the team sheet but rather have the best performance in that particular game.

Israel Folau returns to Test rugby

Yeah he isnt a lineout option because of his weight. Like anything it is a trade off. Seklton at his best, the physicality is worth that trade off, just need to pick a jumping 6, and maybe that option does not exist, Holloway, Swinton. But when he is playing well he is hugely influential around the park. Also don’t underestimate his lifting ability, he can lift players much higher than others can. Its small but something.

Simmons is old and I wouldn’t be bringing him back but I trust him more than Frost at this point, but agreed need to give him a go eventually.

Burning World Cup questions ahead of Australia versus England

Yes England have had two sub-par six nations but that speaks to the standard in that competition recently. Gone are the days of the Tri-Nations being a quasi annual world cup. This year both France and Ireland beat NZ comprehensively (yes long season for NZ) with NZ looking completely at a loss in both tests.

In the six nations England got a red against Ireland in the 2nd min and were trailing just 15-18 in the 72nd minute. They were also decent against France.

How many times have the Wallabies had a poor trinations or rugby championship and gone north and won 3/4 tests.

This England team is pretty dangerous. Not unbeatable but certainly not a soft team that will roll over

ANALYSIS: England are running on empty when it comes to steel-edged confidence and street snarl

Each to their own but in my opinion the way Skelton (red cards aside) and Arnold are playing right now they are clearly Australias best two locks. Coleman not far behind. Simmons by far the best lineout operator of the group.

I love Holloway as a player, but he is too small to be our starting test lock. I know he is the same height as Itoje, but both Lawes and Hill are over 2m tall. And Itoje is an athletic freak.

Burning World Cup questions ahead of Australia versus England

Yeah it is still minimum 30 tests.

Burning World Cup questions ahead of Australia versus England

You are 100% right, and their depth there is impressive.

The Irish backrow is decent too although they keep selecting O’Mahony, I assume primarily for his Lineout work and his best days around the ground are well behind him.

Burning World Cup questions ahead of Australia versus England

I think we are going to see Smith at 10 and Farrell at 12. This was what Jones went with before Farrell got injured, he has done it before with Ford and Farrell. He has also picked a very inexperienced group of centers so suggests he sees Farrell at 12 with Marchant at 13. You cant really play Marchant at 13 in this series because if you play Farrell at 10 and Marchant at 13 you are playing Uncapped Guy Porter at 12 and Fraser Dingwall at 13. That is a nightmare against Karevia and whoever the Wallabies play at 13.

ANALYSIS: Key match ups and strategy, plus who will win and why, for July's three massive rugby Test series

FYI Johnny Hill played this season for Exeter Chiefs. He moves to Sale next season, so has yet to play with De Jager. In fact De Jager has left Sale so they wont be packing down together next year either.

ANALYSIS: Key match ups and strategy, plus who will win and why, for July's three massive rugby Test series

100% TJP.

Announcing the termination of the contract prior to completing the process is at least to me, obviously risky and unnecessary. Yes, Castle had to respond to the media and restore confidence in RA. But surely this could have been done without jumping the gun.

As for the contract issue, I am no legal expert, however if adding specific social media clauses for Folau was the intention of RA, they must have seen some value in it. I do understand that contacts are never iron clad and there were larger legal issues at play here. But RAs intention to include it clearly shows they saw value in including it, even if it were to simply formalise the arrangement.

The siege on Castle in review

Cheers TJP

The siege on Castle in review

Thanks for the comment Gray-Hand. My opinion on the matter, and it is just that, is that Castle and RA could have taken a more considered approach. I am not suggesting that the end result should be debated, nor that the elements of the process were questionable, or that the final outcome could have been changed. Jumping to action first and thinking second seemed, at least to me, to put RA under pressure and stress that could have been avoided. What to your mind, would have been the harm of slowing the process down, suspending Folau initially rather than terminating his contract whilst they conducted an in-depth analysis of the situation and their courses of action?

Maybe I’m an idealist, but as many pointed out, including Castle herself, this was a unique and new issue, brought about by a rapidly changing society. There was no case study to lean on, no road map, and it was highly publicised and public. Maybe RA gets criticised for not acting fast enough but to my mind, taking time to act in a novel situation is reasonable.

The siege on Castle in review

Would love to hear your thoughts Ken. Hopefully, this has not been interpreted as defending Folau or Chieka in any way, only intended as an assessment of her role in managing those issues.

The siege on Castle in review

I agree Harry. I didn’t get into it here but there are a number of reasons why a change may be for the best, primarily if the organisational strategy has changed and a new set of skills is required. But as you pointed out it seems as though there is no plan. Certainly, none has been communicated and that is what makes this so frustrating. I really think she was on the cusp of kicking some goals and seemingly in response to a global crisis the board and influential figures seemed to think that instability was more viable than solidarity.

The siege on Castle in review

This whole Castle saga has become far too polarised. It is not a simple matter of shes either succeeded or failed in her role. Could she have done better to this point, I think undoubtedly, could she have done worse, absolutely. As many have pointed out context is important, and Castle inherited a pretty tough job. However, accepting a tough job and collecting the large remuneration package to go with it, should not afford her greater concessions on measures of success or accepting lower standards. The notion that Rugby is still suffering from the prior mismanagement, does not excuse further mismanagement.

It is completely unreasonable to expect any leader in any business and industry (except maybe epidemiology) to have forseen the impact of Covid-19. The dire situation facing rugby right now is the culmination of a global disaster no one would have reasonably prepared for, years of poor financial management. It is unlikely Castle could have righted the ship financially to prepare Aus rugby for this even if she knew it was coming when she took the job. And she is handling the situation right now as well as anyone could, although that is not hard, given there is virutally no action that can be taken to resolve this as of yet. Hopefully she and her team are developing plans to help get rugby back on track not just in the short term, but for the future. Maybe she could take a bigger paycut, I feel like $100k will still tide her over.

The suggestion that her handling of the Israel Folau situation was anything but terrible is entirely incorrect. Weather you agree with the moral or ethical issues at play is irrelevant. Her snap reaction, to appease a small but loud segment of the community cost RA huge sums of money. Acting without undertaking proper due diligence exposed RA and eventually cost them millions of dollars. Similarly the mishandling of the Stephen Larkham contract is another example of poor attention to detail that cost RA money it couldn’t afford.

Her relationship with head coach Michael Chieka was a disaster. There is no doubt he caused a significant amount of that stress and tension, however as the CEO it is her reponsibity to make these relationships work. It may not have been possible but she didnt seem to get close at all.

Whilst I think Rennie is a good choice, from what information was leaked it seems clear that the decision to hire him was made months before it was announced without any indication of a formal or extensive search. The process is troubling here.

That also touches on the anti-kiwi bias. To me I dont mind having Kiwis in charge but it is not comparable to Guus Hiddink coaching the soccerroos, or americans involved in basketball australia or Eddie Jones in Japan. In all of those examples the nations are mid tier at best and it is obvious that overseas expertise might be more valuable than that grown at home. Australia is a tier one rugby nation, and whilst I do agree with tapping into elements that make New Zealand such a power house it is reasonable to assume Australia should be able to produce talent on its own (which it has if you look at Eddie Jones work in the test arena recently). Add to this the fact that New Zealand are our deepest rivaly and the bias makes sense, I do not agree with it and it might be silly to let the bias get in the way of decision making but it is not propsterous,

Fast five: Talking points from the latest raid on rugby's 'Castle'

It has been really interesting watching these two teams struggle so much after such prolonged success. Even with Injuries and rest the New Zealand franchises have always been able to sustain success due to an incredible player pipeline and development structure.

Chiefs big win over the Rebels knocked out the Highlanders today.

Super Rugby road to the finals: The playoff equations and predicted final ladder

Thanks JRVJ, glad you liked it. Yeah predictions are my own obviously. Which ones did you disagree with?

Super Rugby road to the finals: The playoff equations and predicted final ladder

It will be really interesting to see how selections go for the Rugby Championship. I think the Wallabies need to think long and hard about how they want to play and select players based on team fit. For instance if you pick either Karevi or Hunt at 12, you sort of need to pick a second play maker at 15, especially if TK is at 13. Not many teams have successful attack with one dimensional players, even as big and impactful as Karevi, at 12, 13, 15. Izzy isnt a play maker he is a finisher. And maybe this is solved moving say KB to FB and Izzy to the wing.

Waratahs big win only step one in pursuit of title

I worry about Kerevi defensivley at 13, on attack he is more than capable.

I think Hunt is a better fit at 13 then Kerevi but again he faces the same defensive issues and additionally I think he is so effective at 12 it is a waste to play him out of position.

Waratahs big win only step one in pursuit of title

Chieka has preferenced non Waratahs Locks for most of his tenure. Over the last two years espeically he has turned to Adam Coleman, Rory Arnold and Izack Rodda.

There has always been a sizeable anti-waratahs/NSW sentiment within all other areas of the rugby community and sometimes the evidence does seem overwhelming but often it is an issue of correlation not causation.

When I think of the Waratahs players who are most likely to be viewed as the beneficiaries of a bias the first question to ask is “who else”?

Truly test class players get selected regardless of team. The fringe or “out of form” guys get slammed. Hannigan for instance. As a Waratahs supporter I do not think he is ready for test rugby. But who else can you play at 6. Last year we tried Tui and Samu, neither worked particularly well. Now had they been Waratahs the coaches would be accused of bias. The issue is we do not have a player in the blindside flanker position who has stood up and owned that spot.

Foley at 10 is another and more complex example. Foley was outstanding at the world cup but I can agree his form has dropped since, but who else is there we can play at 10? Beale, Toomua, Lealiifano, none of those guys have proven at test level they can play the position any better than Foley.

At the end of the day I think Chieka’s indecisiveness with selection has a hugely negative impact on the team performance. Changing the team each week to see what sticks rather than building his team around his players is to me one of his biggest errors.

Waratahs big win only step one in pursuit of title

Harry Johnson-Holmes is turning into a very very good rugby player. And Hannigan is all of a sudden looking pretty sharp too, both still have a long way to go before they are test quality but its promising.

Waratahs big win only step one in pursuit of title

Completely agree. I am very interested to see if they both get included in the Wallabies. The issue for me is both of them are best at inside center and I am not convinced you could play either at 13 successfully.

Waratahs big win only step one in pursuit of title

That is a really valid point. Whilst I think it is an overreaction to boil down the teams scoring struggles to just Taqele’s departure he certainly added an x-factor to the team. The bigger issue is that the team has failed to adjust its style of play given they do not have him as a weapon this year.

Waratahs big win only step one in pursuit of title

You are right, he has had some misses this year. He is a far better thrower the Latu that’s for sure. He doesn’t offer a whole lot around the park however.

Waratahs big win only step one in pursuit of title

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