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hogie

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Joined April 2020

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Retention is key and along with Walsh the Waratahs saw Emmanuel Meafou head to Toulouse where he is having a great season and Joe Brial is now part of the Crusaders academy and tipped to be part of the New Zealand U20’s squad…

Will the Waratahs taste Super Rugby success in 2021?

Excellent article! There are plenty of reasons to be excited for Tahs fans and whilst this year may not see trophy success it will be crucial for long term development.

I agree that 2021 is the year for Will Harris to make a mark as the premier number 8 and eventually rival Harry Wilson at Wallabies level as they did at junior level. Tep Moerea could see plenty of game time in the 12 Jersey by taking pressure of Harrison as a crash ball option and providing gaps for the quick outside backs. He was a star of school boy rugby before heading to the NRL and another player who needs to step up this year. I would like to see Donaldson moved to 12 to provide a second kicking option. I am hoping that by the season end Mark Nawaqanitawase has made the wing spot his own, as this will hopefully have meant his defence has improved as he can offer so much in attack.

First time Wallabies Bell, Swinton and Harrison at such young ages are now part of the senior Tahs in the group and will need to show this in the comp. Harisson in particular will have plenty of pressure in controlling games from fly half and kicking the goals but he seems to have the temperament and attitude to succeed.

I am sure the Tahs will surprise a few teams this year but key long term is retention of this young group.

Will the Waratahs taste Super Rugby success in 2021?

You are absolutely right with regard to Emmanuel Meafou who this season has looked impressive filling in for the Arnold’s at Toulouse. He seems to have many similarities to Will Skelton, in particular his size, and is a very different type of lock compared to other Aussies in the position so one to keep an eye on. Meafou’s form this year has been so good that there is talk that his contract has been extended to 2024. A concern may be that the FFR see him as a project player and cap him once eligible on residency grounds, in which case RA should be in dialogue with the player to ensure against this scenario.

The young Aussies to watch overseas in 2021

hindsight it does seem like a very odd move as from his early Super Rugby form and the lack of locks at home for the Wallabies that he would have been in contention for an International cap which would have raised his profile for potentially more lucrative contracts either in Oz or abroad. Lynagh is one to keep an eye on as he is seen as someone with genuine promise in England Rugby circles and as an Aussie it will be tough seeing the Lynagh name lining up for England…

The young Aussies to watch overseas in 2021

Thanks. You are absolutely right, goal kicking has been and is still a concern for the Wallabies. Lolesio, Harrison and O’Connor will likely continue as the goal kicker for their respective teams, and Lolesio in particular need to improve upon his 62% success rate in 2020. Interestingly, prior to the COVID shut down of Super Rugby Will Harrison was place kicking at 72% and following the restart increased his percentage for the year to 86%. It was evident that during the hiatus he went away and trained this area of his game and the results followed. Lolesio does have the added challenge that the majority of Brumbies tries are through the rolling maul in the corner making conversions of a higher difficulty, but this has to be identified as a key area he needs to improve upon. If he does, it is another step in the direction of him being first choice Wallabies 10.

For the good of rugby, we need more collaboration between the Wallabies and Super Rugby

As a Union fan I am disappointed but great that a decision has been made and he can now focus on the next chapter of his potentially exciting career. Best of luck to him!

Roosters officially poach Suaalii from Souths

I am in agreement and am not a fan of the State of Union concept but am pleased that Rugby AU are looking at ideas for an attractive match up that can take place post SR season and before the international season. For me any match up needs to be inclusive for players all over Australia to ensure that any match has the best talent available. I have not been able to check what the line ups would be but perhaps a City versus Country match could create a bit of a buzz. I also read Matt Toomua suggest a match with Pasifika players in Australia versus non-Pasifika players.

I am not sure what the answer is but happy that the governing body are open to looking at formats that fans can engage with,.

State of Union is a disastrous idea

Has the Waratahs captain been chosen for next year with Simmonds off to the UK? If not then perhaps this could be an interesting move at SR level. Other than Hooper there is nobody jumping out at me as a Waratahs skipper.

The 2020 Bledisloe Cup analysed – Part 1: The Wallabies

I am a huge Hooper fan and he is the clear number 7 at the moment. I do have concerns on his captaincy and had there been a viable alternative I think that Rennie would have made the change prior to the season. The captain needs to be the first name on the team sheet and at this stage alternatives such as Alaalatoa or Wright are not guaranteed starters. Had Rodda decided not to bail on the Reds, I think that he could have been in a great position to be Wallabies skipper. However I think he may has forever lost his shot at this now.

The 2020 Bledisloe Cup analysed – Part 1: The Wallabies

Whilst second row stocks playing domestically is low, it is one of our strongest positions when taking into account overseas talent with Coleman, Skelton, Arnold brothers, Rodda, Hockings, Carter, and Jones. The departure of Hockings to Suntory is very disappointing as he is the type of lock that the Wallabies are craving at the moment as he is an abrasive runner and at 206cm would offer height in the line out that we are lacking. I would however expect Hockings along with Coleman and Rodda to be back in Australia in the next year or so to be in a shot for RWC squad. How Rodda and Hockings will be accepted is another matter. With Phillip playing in France next season it will be an opportunity to give players such as Blyth and Hosea a shot and potentially Brumbies duo of Swain and Frost depending on form. Could result in the second row being a massive area of strength in 2023.
The Fly Half position is an area that SR clubs need to give youngsters some game time, however the young talent to me seems to be at two clubs – Waratahs and Brumbies who between them have Harrisson, Lolesio, Donaldson, Kuenzle, Edmed, and Pasitoa. The Rebels having lost Deegan have an open spot as I am hoping that Toomua can be utilised in the 12 position, so will be interesting to see what they do here. The Reds obviously have JOC at 10, but I would be keen to see Stewart transitioned back into the position over time. He has improved leaps and bounds over last couple of years on his passing, and defensive positioning coming from having the pressure off with not being the principle playmaker. With his confidence back I would like to see him go back to IMO his natural position. Western Force I think have signed McIntyre and will be interesting to see how he has developed playing in France for past couple of years.
In terms of the centres I would like to see players identified clearly as either a 12 or a 13 and played in those positions regular for their club. Paisami I think could become a wrecking ball inside centre in the mould of a Kerevi or Nonu, and along with Simone, Toomua, Walton and Godwin need to be playing regularly for their SR teams in the 12 position. This would leave Petaia, Ikatau, Newsome, Kuridrani and Magnay in the 13 positions. The big question mark for me is Reece Hodge as he needs to find a regular position to play but i am not sure whether he is best suited to 12, 13 or 15…
In any case should be an exciting few years watching the SR teams and Wallabies develop…lots of potential!

The 2020 Bledisloe Cup analysed – Part 1: The Wallabies

Lynagh junior up north?

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

How was Skelton looking at the weekend? After getting in great shape at Saracens who have an amazing conditioning team there was a school of thought that when he goes to France he may not be in the same shape as there is not as much emphasis on conditioning?

Adding the Arnold Amendment to the Giteau Law makes a hell of a lot of sense

Completely agree on these but would also love to see McMahon given a go at some point, to give him a taste of what he has been missing…

Rugby Australia changes Giteau Law for 2020

This is why I love rugby for these type of conversations. Everyone has their own opinion and rarely will someone completely agree. For me I prefer seeing players playing regularly for their Super rugby team in a specific position. I was never in favour of the chopping and changing of players playing one position for their club and a different position for country. Based on this my preference would be as follows:
1. Scott Sio 2. Folau Fainga’a 3. Allan Alaalatoa 4. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto 5. Cadeyrn Neville 6. Rob Valentini 7. Michael Hooper 8. Harry Wilson / Isi Naisarani 9. Nic White 10. James O’Connor 11. Marika Koroibete 12. Matt Toomua 13. Jordan Petaia (needs to continually play 13 for Reds) 14. Tom Wright 15. Tom Banks / Reece Hodge (needs to continually play 15 for Rebels) 16. Jordan Uelese 17. Taniela Tupou 18. James Slipper 19.Darcy Swain 20.Harry Wilson / Isi Naisarani 21. Pete Samu 22. Tate McDermott 23. Tom Banks / Reece Hodge
This for me is our strongest line up but would want to see players such as Tupou, Swain, Hosea, Wright, McReight, Swinton, McDermott, Lolesio, Harrisson, Simone, Ramm, Maddocks be given opportunities to gain experience of test rugby, but not at expense of results…difficult if we only play the All Blacks this year. As a sidebar, in terms of overseas players in my opinion players that come into contention would by Rodda, Coleman, Arnold, Skelton, Kerevi and McMahon. This is in part due to lack of experience at locks and the quality of Kerevi and McMahon. Perhaps there is an opportunity to open up 2 overseas spots for non Rugby Australian contracted players to make each squad in addition to the Giteau rule? Alternatively if the Top League is involved in any “Champions League” style competition with Rugby Australia and New Zealand Rugby then could Australians playing in Japan or New Zealand be considered for Wallabies as they are playing in the same competition…

Dave Rennie's Wallaby XV: Who gets the nod from countless options from Super Rugby AU?

It will be difficult to get a number of players in for next season with contracts so perhaps as a short term solution the Force could make use of loan signings, so rather than players like Tizzano playing club rugby he can play super rugby. Similarly for someone like Pasitoa. Obviously not ideal for the Force long term in developing other franchises players but the chance to have the best aussie players playing regularly next season would be great. But ultimately will be great to see the awesome work that the Force have done in developing young Aussie players finally back in the main aussie comp.

As for the reds duo of Lucas and Hockings does anyone know what their current situation is and whether they are contracted for next year? For me it is a massive shame that they both have not played SR AU as we have seen the progress of many of the young guns in the past couple of months and I am sure both of these would have been no different had they made themselves available.

Twiggy, here's your 2021 shopping list

So an Australia A type set up…Could be an interesting concept playing teams such as the pacific islands and NZ Maori. I am also all for midweek fixtures rather than competing with every other sporting code in Australia over the the weekend.

Let’s be realistic about Rugby Australia’s new broadcast offering

RA are going in the right direction in terms of the packaging of rights and not looking to assign all rights to one player. Sport rights distribution post COVID will be more of a hybrid model with content being distributed across many platforms to achieve mass reach. It will come as no surprise of the large percentage of media consumption of millennial’s and Gen Z is through social media, so there needs to be a presence here, noting however that social platforms will at the moment not pay for rights but can promote content for mass views.

Also of importance is shoulder programming and this should be an area that RA have a close look at. Having a partnership in place with Amazon or Netflix for a behind the scenes look at the Wallabies. A common thread I see from non Union fans is that they have no idea who the Wallaby players are. The Game has some great characters who I am sure the generic Australia sport fans would find fascinating and get behind! Starting now with a new coach, new CEO, impact of COVID could be a great series to watch! Can either be produced by RA and sold or partner with an Amazon for “All or Nothing”

Let’s be realistic about Rugby Australia’s new broadcast offering

Is the “champions league” proposal for home and away fixtures or for a single country to host/tournament style event?

Champions League and State of Origin-style fixtures headline Rugby AU's bumper broadcast offering

Most important thing is how to get this content seen by the mass market whilst also maximising commercial income. Selling all or significant amounts of rights to pay tv to achieve media growth is no longer viable. All sport rights holders, not only RA, who have had a heavy reliance on pay TV need to adapt the way they distribute and commercialise their media business now off the back of COVID or experience steady decline in coming years. Not to say to ignore pay TV but look at a hybrid model cutting up rights for pay TV, free to air, subscription OTT platforms, direct to consumer streaming services (RA owned) and free digital publishers.

Hopefully this content is packaged in a way that reflects this and provides opportunities for other platforms.

Champions League and State of Origin-style fixtures headline Rugby AU's bumper broadcast offering

Good read and a key point is how the gamble will impact the current crop of players. Appreciate the figures being thrown around have been rejected by RA, but for existing players who have accepted pay cuts earlier in the season and still not being paid the full contracted amount it will likely cause unrest seeing a rookie receive the sums quoted. I am all for RA going after X factor talents but not at the expense of our current crop of players, who are keen to play Union and represent the Wallabies, or by breaking the bank. Ultimately Suaalii should chose the code he sees his future in – if he is good enough then either way financially he will do well.

Joseph Suaalii is the gamble Rugby Australia has to take

Absolutely no issues with a high % goalkicker coming from any playing position, be it fly half or prop. However much we all prefer running rugby and tries, goal kicking is an important facet of the game which Australia has struggled with too long especially in comparison with the NH teams. However this seems to have been noted and pleasing to see Dave Alred up at the Reds developing their kickers…shame for Lucas departing as this could have been invaluable for him in progressing his career.

Brumbies dealt massive blow with Noah Lolesio out for two months

In my opinion Lolesio has been the better footballer in terms of his match up with the other young Gun, Will Harrison. However for too long the Wallabies have had 60% to 70% goal kickers which frustrates when you look back at losses where the difference has been left out on the kicking tee. During the season COVID-19 break it seems that Harrison has put work into this facet of the game and it is paying dividends now. If Lolesio can improve this area of his game and start hitting the 80%+ mark then he has my vote for the 10 jersey. If not and Harrison keeps improving then it is his to lose and perhaps Lolesio is looked at as a 12 – similar to U20’s RWC.

Brumbies dealt massive blow with Noah Lolesio out for two months

Personally I am keen to see competition in positions rather than trying to fit as many talented players into a starting XV. Rennie needs to identify what position he sees players in going forward and this needs to be fed into SR. Banks and Maddocks both competing for Wallabies 15 jersey by playing that position in SR and not having one playing as an international wing when not played that position in the season. Similarly with Toomua and O’Connor if they are seen as Wallabies 12 then they should be playing here in SR and competing against each other. IMO this has been an issue in the past with selection of players outside of their regular sesson positions.

Does Dave Rennie opt for youth or experience in 2020?

I think that there is some merit to this approach. Start off with both countries having their domestic competition matches, and then follow up with a play off set up with all teams together based on rankings.

Broadcasters, especially dedicated sport broadcasters, around the world are crying out for live sport content at this stage which is why the Belarus football league, by continuing to play during this crisis (seemingly ignoring medical advice) has grown its global distribution ten fold. Therefore the earlier SH rugby can start the likelihood of decent broadcast deals in the UK, France, Italy, and Americas whilst other sports are on hold.

Optus put rugby broadcast negotiations on hold