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The Roar


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Joined October 2018









Savea is a big loss but this can potentially open the door for Sotutu for a start. Bench cover I would go with Papalii as he can cover 6 and 7 (8 at a push). The other option would be Akira Ioane. He played for Auckland on Saturday so having that game time could be an advantage for him getting the nod.

All Blacks will be without two key players for Bledisloe 3

Thanks Geoff.

On yesterdays game, I thought Australia looked very good in the first 15-20 minutes. They put some good heat on the NZ scrum and they showed some good intent out wide. The lack of pressure on the kick chase, the missed tackles and the skill execution eventually took its toll. With NZ, I thought Sam Cane was outstanding once again. The last 2 weeks he has had 2 of his best games as an All Black. Was pleasing to see all the new players from the All Blacks make a good contribution.

On the Rugby Championship front, I feel sorry for Argentina now. They play the All Blacks first up without any or very little match practice. The All Blacks would have had 4 games against Australia first up. Is there any talk of warm up games for the Pumas? I really would hope to see the Force put their hand up out of goodwill.

The Wrap: Player welfare no concern as All Blacks take it up a notch in Auckland

The team with the most improvement in them for Bledislode 2 is the All Blacks. They are at their favourite ground (with a new name for the week) and will be eager to bounce back after a draw. They know where they need to work on which is the physicality in the collision and I think being able to negate the defence tactic Australia used on Mo’uanga. There is a good chance Caleb Clarke wil start with Bridge getting a pectoral injury in the gym. Clarke could be the energy boost they need. Australia will be better this week and this is a massive game physiologically for them.

With Question 2, I think South Africa are being wise if they don’t come or delay their entry. It is a shame but I understand their reasoning with a lack of preparation. Being World Champs they have a lot on the line in their first showing after the World Cup. I am bewildered why an Australian team (especially the Force) hasn’t said we will play the Pumas to help them prepare.

The quick questions: Unlearn all your learned Bledisloe Cup learnings

Hey Nicholas. Thanks for a good article as always.

Nick White is a very crafty player and seems to be able to have a large influence on most games he plays. I really liked his adjustment on defence in your analysis and how he connected with other players instead of rushing off the line and not leaving a gap.

He exploited a weakness McKenzie has under the high ball and I do wonder whether Jordie Barrett was the better option there given his bigger frame, form and knows the Wellington conditions better. They said having McKenzie there once Beauden Barrett was ruled out was it would be less disruptive.

How Dave Rennie’s Wallabies moved on from Cheika-ball at the Cake Tin

How good was Scott Johnson? Have never heard him speak before and he was quality. Straight to the point and had a good sense of humour.

How Dave Rennie’s Wallabies moved on from Cheika-ball at the Cake Tin

Nick Evans is another one who was better or just as good as he was when after he left NZ Rugby. He was a legend for Quinns

How Dave Rennie’s Wallabies moved on from Cheika-ball at the Cake Tin

There wont be wholesale changes I do not think for either sides, but maybe a couple of tweaks.
All Black wise there is talk Ardie Savea could miss the game depending on when his wife gives birth. If this is the case, Sotutu would be my pick to start and I would bring Papali’i on to the bench. He can cover 6,7 and 8 at a push. Frizzell can also cover 8 if need be. Beauden Barrett will come back if fit and I think he starts at fullback as was original plan. Grant Fox (All Black selector) mentioned on The Breakdown there is a couple of injuries in the camp but didnt elaborate. Nepo Laulala may also be included if available but I thought Lomax was busy when he came on.
Australia wise I would be tempted to get the same starting XV as this will give all those players an extra confident boost. If Petaia is fit maybe find room for him somewhere in the 23. Given NZ were so effective at the breakdown would it be wise to have McReight on the bench to help counter that with his quickness around the field.

What changes should the All Blacks and Wallabies make for Bledisloe 2?

Australia came to play especially in that first half with long stints with possession. I think we saw some immediate Dave Rennie influence with how direct the Australians were and how physical they were on defence making it hard for Mo’unga in particular to get any flow to the NZ backline.

Harry Wilson looks like the abrasive hard nose loose forward that will really benefit in a Rennie system and I can see him being a key component moving forward. I think both captains deserve a special mention (not because they made a call to go for a drop goal) for their tireless efforts. Both get a lot negative criticism, but both get on with the job and are prepared to battle. I think Hooper is the youngest ever to play 100 test matches which says something. Cane was the All Blacks best player.

Next Sunday cannot come quick enough.

The Wrap: Eight and a half crazy minutes light up the Bledisloe Cup

Positive beginning for the Wallabies. I thought the All Blacks would win by 20 or so. I think we are going to see a real positive and much needed step forward in the Wallabies. Rennie will take a lot of of this game. Wilson and Dangunu had strong games. I think the last point mentioned about the All Blacks bouncing back next week is a valid one. Eden Park is their fortress and they will want to keep that strong record against Australia there.

Drop-goals, debutants and an impending All Black bounceback: Five talking points from Bledisloe 1

If Rennie can build the same sort of culture he did with the Chiefs, the Wallabies will restore a lot of their creditably they have lost in recent years. What excites me is they have a lot of talented youngsters. I really hope they get the chance to play with some freedom and not get shell shocked.

As a NZer, I am backing the All Blacks and think they win comfortably but I think over the course the next couple of months we will see a resurgent Wallaby team.

A new dawn rises for the Wallabies, just don't expect blue skies straight away

I love the way he plays. Barely has a bad game. Plays well above his weight.

He unfortunately doesn’t fit the South African profile they want for their game plan ever though as a player he has a lot of other attributes to offer with his speed.

And Kwagga is a good name.

Kwagga Smith may not get picked for the Boks

I can see the tactic/reasoning of having Jordie on the wing. He is there to contribute with his aerial game and be a good link in the backfield. This year he played really well at fullback for the Hurricanes and looked as though he had settled in a regular position (he has been moved all over the backs in the last few years). Playing one position really gave him some certainty and his form was immense.

All Blacks go for both Barretts in Bledisloe 1 starting XV

The All Blacks definitely have the most to lose. A proud home record, a cup they have held since 2003 which the value highly and all the comments the NZRU have made about competitive Super Rugby teams are good reasons. I expect the All Blacks to win but I can see it being a tough grind given this is the first international of the year. I think their fire power in the backline will win out in the end. I really hope the Wallabies play without any fear and knowing how Rennie coached the Chiefs I think this Wallabies team will have some resolve with a blend of youthful exuberance.

With the Rugby Championship going ahead, I am 50/50 given how quickly things can change with COVID-19. I am sure all unions are desperate to get the competition played but am a little concerned about Argentina and South Africa’s preparation.

The quick questions: The Bledisloe Cup is upon us

Your article raises some good points Nicholas.

The move in terms of logistics (travel, time zones) makes real sense and so do the similar styles of play you get with a traditional South African game plan and the Northern Hemisphere style. The other factor is that a large amount of their squad currently ply their trade over there and I have heard stories of a lot of their school boy talent already being signed by Northern Hemisphere clubs.

One thing that does bewild me though with the South African style of play, a lot of their games are played in the day and good conditions that promote expansive rugby. I dont know the stats but a lot of games played over there (Super and International Rugby) end up being high scoring. This does show they are capable of playing a wide style of play but guess you stick to what you do well, which worked very effectively in the World Cup last year.

Why South Africa was right to move north

He offers a good point of difference with his low centre of gravity and ability to punch through the midfield.

I hope he gets a couple of test starts this year. Having him there gives the All Blacks are really good go forward option from set piece.

Laumape earns surprise All Blacks recall

We also beat the World Champs in the tournament they were crowned World Champs with Mo’unga at 10 and Barrett at 15. I think Barrett was man of the match in that game.

Richie Mo’unga: Fantastic flyhalf or Beauden Barrett imitation?

Big selection dilemma coming up this year. I think Foster said a month or so again that he sees Beauden Barrett going back to first five.

Mo’unga delivered in Super Rugby Aotearoa, where as Beauden Barrett was starting to find his grove and looked better when he was at 10 for the Blues. I personally think Beauden has all the attributes to be a great fullback and have no issue with him there. I think Mo’unga should get first shot at 10 this weekend as I think the All Blacks are a little more controlled when he is on the field. He attacks a lot squarer. I think Jordie Barrett should start at fullback based on his current form. Beauden off the bench.

Aussie fans may want Beauden starting off the bench as he has had a few field days against them.

Richie Mo’unga: Fantastic flyhalf or Beauden Barrett imitation?

The legendary Elephant beer is a powerful drop.

The Wrap: Four rugby mates walk into a bar...

Great stuff Geoff. Awesome read. Great humour and tied in with the current climate really well.
I really believe NZRU is putting themselves in a corner saying they want competitive teams and then they are looking at the Force and a Chinese team. It makes me wonder if the powers to be have been speaking to Twiggy for awhile and have something in the pipeline.
Being from and living in South Auckland, I can see what a Pacific team will do for rugby and the people in the community, whether the team gets based there or not. Which ever consortium gets the nod in 2022, I just hope they have done some good background work and can make the team sustainable. There is a lot of opportunity there.

The Wrap: Four rugby mates walk into a bar...

Some good ideas there mate.

I am a fan of teams running out on to the field. It shows intent. One other thing that the All Blacks do better than other teams is they don’t wear their tracksuits very often out to the field. There’s something about that shows no elements are going to limit them.

On the field the best models I have seen to beat the All Blacks is how Ireland in Dublin in 2018 and England in the World Cup semi-final played. They suffocated the life out of them by winning all the collision areas and didn’t let them build any tempo on attack. Both times they were kept to single digit scores. Stopping their counter attack game is crucial. They don’t need as much possession to pile on points.

The start of these 2 Bledisloes in a way is a level playing field. A lot of new players and new coaches for both teams.

How to beat the All Blacks

A good read Daniel.

Hamish McLennan was outstanding on The Breakdown. Was very transparent and spoke really well. I really liked his point about how it was too hard to cut teams using that based currently the Rebels would stay and NSW would go given recent results. That just doesnt make sense.

On that what is bewildering for me is NZRU are looking at accepting bids from the Force and a China team at the expense of Pacific team. The NZRU has gone on about having a competitive competition, will that happen if the Force (no disrespect) and a Chinese team were involved. Money talks.

As South Africa head north, Australia and New Zealand must remember they're better together

Regarding Question 2: Surely between the UAR and RA a game against the Western Force would make sense. None of their players are picked in the Wallabies and the Pumas need some preparation. Even 2 games if time allows.

The quick questions: Cracks in the partnership?

That is a valid point Micko with the 2 codes in Australia. In NZ it is kind of the same but I do not feel the same disparity is there. You get staunch leaguies, staunch union fans and a lot who like both.

How to improve the match-day experience

Some great ideas here. I think one thing that works well is Sunday afternoon daytime rugby. I think there is big scope for that based on Super Rugby Aotearoa. I am not sure how that would go in Australia though with 2-3 NRL games in the same time slot.

How to improve the match-day experience

Aaron Smith is playing career best rugby and is streets ahead of any other NZ halfback. Other NZers, I am looking forward to seeing are Jordie Barrett, Codie Taylor and Patrick Tuipulotu. All three were exceptional in Super Rugby Aotearoa with taking on extra responsibility and leadership.

I think Boffelli will be an important player for the Pumas.

With South Africa is the Sharks fullback ( forgot his name) in the mix. He was good to watch earlier this year. I also hope Curwin Bosch gets a chance.

For Australia, I am excited about all the young blokes coming through. The one that I hope gets a chance is McReight. Seems to be a busy player. I know with Hooper being captain he may play a limited role.

The Rugby Championship: Players to watch