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Markus

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I have never seen anything from Gordon that supports the wraps some people have on him. He has shown some good performances, and justifiably surpassed Phipps last season, but nothing that screams guaranteed Test selection.

Interestingly the comments on Powell all seem to revolve around his lack of a running game, as if passing is not 90% of a scrumhalf’s game and as if we have just come to accept Wallaby scrumhalves being completely unable to pass off the deck.

Super Rugby 2020 preview: NSW Waratahs

“The assertion that the brumbies scrum will be dominant is Wrong.”
Is it? The Brumbies scrum was dominant last year and has retained the same starting and bench front rows. The Reds scrum as stated was 2nd worst last year and has had quite a bit of change in their matchday 23 front rowers.

Super Rugby 2020 preview: Queensland Reds

A recent “team of the decade” exercise showed just how off claims of the Rebels ever having the best squad on paper are. That Debreczeni was their pick for best flyhalf despite regularly losing the starting spot in his years there, including to their reserve scrumhalf, was not encouraging.

Super Rugby 2020 preview: Queensland Reds

Quicker, much bigger boot than Lealiifano, and as you say shows a lot of composure for someone who has only just turned 20. CLL’s experience will be sorely missed in the short term but Noah shows a far greater capacity for growth in his game if he adapts well to this level.

Young gun Noah Lolesio set to be given the Brumbies' flyhalf reins

With Genia and Phipps gone, Powell should finally get a fair shot at Wallabies selection after showing the most consistent form for the last two seasons.

It will be great having Nic White back in Australian but not sure returning to the Brumbies was the best outcome. Powell is a clear frontrunner now and Lonergan is one of the most promising young halves coming through. White coming back for two years is likely to see one of the two leave the club for greater opportunities.

Joe Powell has more than just Super Rugby wins to worry about this season

26 is former Chiefs (then Harlequins and London Irish) winger Asaeli Tikoirotuma. Was pretty dangerous when the Chiefs were Super Rugby champions, but that was 7 years ago now and I assume he has lost some pace since then.

The big questions coming out of the shortest ever Australian rugby pre-season

Almost a full strength team announced there, only McCaffrey really missing.
Surprised Cusack is starting over Brown, I thought his form last season would have him as frontrunner, and that Cusack would be in and out with Sevens qualification.

The big questions coming out of the shortest ever Australian rugby pre-season

Okay yeah moving Beale with an eye for Barnes to be the starting flyhalf would make more sense, even if Barnes did end up at centre more often than not.

They weren’t wrong about Beale’s defence, 10 years later and while he has improved it still isn’t good enough.

Can Isaac Lucas become the new Stephen Larkham?

Out of interest, why did the Tahs shift Beale out of flyhalf in the first place? Especially when their longterm replacement was Halangahu?

Can Isaac Lucas become the new Stephen Larkham?

Wessels has definitely been criticised for failing to deliver on the promise he showed with the Force, despite having the best players from two teams at his disposal.

Gibson is gone now, and I don’t think I ever saw anyone defending his poor coaching record the same way people defend Thorn.

Plus their teams did perform better. Not as well as they should have, but better than Thorn’s Reds.

The big questions coming out of the shortest ever Australian rugby pre-season

Yeah it is a toss up between Valetini and Samu to start, Samu getting the nod with strong form at the end of last season and a more experienced head. I am still expecting a lot of rotation between those two and McCaffrey.

Wright struggled at 12 last year (in fairness it was his first rugby since schoolboys) while Simone grew as the season went on. Wright may be a 12 longer term but also looked dangerous on the wing for the Vikings. Wright, Pulu and Banks makes for a lightning quick back three.

The big questions coming out of the shortest ever Australian rugby pre-season

Brumbies probably looking something like:

1. Scott Sio
2. Folau Faingaa
3. Allan Alaalatoa
4. Darcy Swain
5. Blake Enever
6. Pete Samu
7. Jahrome Brown
8. Lachie McCaffrey

9. Joe Powell
10. Noah Lolesio
11. Toni Pulu
12. Irae Simone
13. Tevita Kuridrani
14. Tom Wright
15. Tom Banks

16. Connal McInerney
17. James Slipper
18. Les Makin
19. Murray Douglas/Nick Frost
20. Rob Valetini
21. Ryan Lonergan
22. Bayley Kuenzle
23. Andrew Muirhead/Solomone Kata

Still the best front row and very strong bench front row. No lock will be up to Arnold but some solid workhorses, I think Swain is a better lineout operator than Carter was. Solid back row.

A lot of the backline depends on Lolesio (or Kuenzle) making the step up in Lealiifano’s absence, but an almost unchanged starting backline from last year outside them should help ease them in.

Overall I still think a stronger and more settled 23 than the Reds. A lot of promising youngsters in that Reds 23, but who still need to show they can either make the step up or deliver consistently week in week out.

The big questions coming out of the shortest ever Australian rugby pre-season

A lot of his highlights as a centre from his junior days also just seem to be him breaking tackles simply by being the biggest guy on the field.

It may not be impossible for him to show similar at this level – we know Naiyaravoro still made plenty of professionals look foolish in defence – but I will wait to see first.

Moeroa could be as valuable as Maddocks to the Tahs

Exactly the point, two powerful centres can work well so long as they can be utilised appropriately. The backline selections for the Wallabies did not lend themselves to such a combination, and I do not think a rookie flyhalf would either (especially with a rookie centre in this case too).

Kata as a Digby-style blindside winger who can inject himself into the attack is probably the best approach if he does get picked in the starting backline.

Moeroa could be as valuable as Maddocks to the Tahs

Think Larkham was simply fast-tracked to top level coaching roles well before he was ready. He was brought in as a backs coach at the Brumbies which was fine, but then was suddenly head coach a couple of years later.

Then despite backline attack being one of the main weaknesses during his head coaching tenure with the Brumbies, he was suddenly promoted to backs coach for the Wallabies.

Nic Bishop’s recent analysis suggests Larkham has been a positive to the attacking structures for Munster which is great to hear, hopefully he continues to develop as a top line coach and we see him back in Australia at some point in the future.

Moeroa could be as valuable as Maddocks to the Tahs

Can’t see Kata anywhere but wing for the Brumbies at this stage. Simone had a good season last year and they would be keeping him at second receiver to take some heat off of a debutant flyhalf.

Even in the back three he isn’t guaranteed a start. Banks and Pulu are locked in, so Kata will be fighting for one position with Muirhead who has shown himself capable every opportunity, and Tom Wright who has showed threatening pace and footwork with that extra space out wide.

Moeroa could be as valuable as Maddocks to the Tahs

“Before that we wasted Phil Waugh behind Smith.”
Hardly wasted, Phil Waugh managed 79 caps for Australia despite Smith always being the better player than him, with Smith being constantly shuffled to accommodate both of them.
Waugh is actually the Hooper in this analogy.

How will Dave Rennie replace the Pooper combination?

“I don’t recall Slipper dominating anyone recently. Nor do I remember Sio dominating anyone, anywhere.”
For the Wallabies maybe, but you haven’t been watching the Brumbies at all if you haven’t seen either of these players dominating as part of the most consistently strong Australian scrum.

New-look Tahs targeting Super Rugby title

Mumm was a deceptively fast lock/flank. I don’t think he exploited this consistently enough throughout his time in Australia. He scored a few screamers in his career but was then disappointingly passive between those highlight reel moments.

Fardy wasn’t explosive with ball in hand but I think a smarter runner and better link man, more likely to set up other players similar to this in the 2013 EOYT.

How will Dave Rennie replace the Pooper combination?

I actually think if he develops the sort of vision that Fardy demonstrates, Valetini could very much fill a similar role.
I initially assumed he was a big tackle breaking ball runner, but he seems far more eager to commit his strength and explosiveness to defence and moving bodies. With the right technique I think he would be immovable over the ball as well. Add to that some supporting ball running in tight (not really a dynamic ball runner like Naisarani or Hooper) and you have a very balanced back row.
But this is still a lot of speculation at this time. Valetini has looked good in the NRC but serious injuries have limited his chances to see if he can deliver consistently at the next level. Still only 21 though so has plenty of time to grow as a player.

How will Dave Rennie replace the Pooper combination?

It may not have even been a case of needing to get anyone else.

If Hawera and Jackson-Hope were not going to be retained, and Lolesio (as seemingly the current front runner) would be left to play with the U20s last year, I would have expected Kuenzle or Hansen to be the ones on the bench behind Lealiifano, and to actually get some game time.

Or even Tom Wright (even though he is seen as an outside back for now), especially in games like the one against the Sunwolves where they were already up 33-0 with 15 mins to go.

New-look Tahs targeting Super Rugby title

Yeah Brumbies recruitment has managed their departures quite solidly. Even in the locks where they have lost Carter and Arnold they have a good blend of solid experienced workhorses (Enever, Murray, Neville) and promising young talent (Swain and Frost).
The big red flag is flyhalf, where none of this year’s squad has experience at Super Rugby level. I don’t know if the original intention was to retain Hawera in the short term to mitigate this, but they really dropped the ball in not blooding any of these players last season while Lealiifano was still running the show.
Waratahs likely to be in for a painful couple of seasons while they determine if their younger guys are up to this level.

New-look Tahs targeting Super Rugby title

Agreed, it should not be down to an opposition captain to demand a review of a dangerous foul play. Either let it be undertaken by a match official off-camera while play continues, and the decision updated by the time the sin bin offence completes, or continue as-is with the review happening after the game and the referees boss providing the feedback/training to the game referee to improve going forward.

'Waist-high' tackles among new rugby laws to be trialled

It would be interesting if concussions were measured in the old school days of American football when they wore the leather skullcap. Helmets are used as a weapon, tacklers leading with their head like a missile, which surely if anything would have significantly increased rates of concussion.

'Waist-high' tackles among new rugby laws to be trialled

Agreed, if play is held up for 10 minutes to challenge a yellow card decision that is detrimental to the game. Think it would be more reasonable for the TMO to conduct this review in the background for the 10 minutes the player is in the sin bin while play continues. It is not as if the players or even the referee have any involvement besides listening to the final decision.

And does the review option apply to situations where no yellow, or even a penalty, was awarded but absolutely should have been?

'Waist-high' tackles among new rugby laws to be trialled