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Joined August 2020

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Lovely to hear from you.

Unfortunately I couldn’t name every player outstanding in SRNZ, the list is never ending. Aaron Smith is annoyingly so good at what he does, Sotutu is phenomenal and is rumoured to start in Bledisloe 3 due to Savea’s absence.

Exeter have just made winning so easy; they have beaten some wonderful teams. A game which really stood out to me was an away game at Sale, in my opinion who have an unbelievable team- a team with the Curry brothers, Du Preez trio, Faf, Manu, Ross, Oosthuzien, De Jager does not win nearly enough games as they should do. I suspect that they are a team of individuals rather than a tribe like Exeter or Sarries. Anyway, what stood out to me in this game was that Sale dominated the first 30 mins physically, yet Exeter remained so calm and easily won in the end; they never look like losing. In regards to England selection, it seems that Jones has a settled squad, but he is always hell-bent on improving and bringing new blood. Therefore I can only see some of the Exeter players being eased in ( let’s see what they pick v the Baabaas) but hopefully they get their chances.
For the Vunipolas, only time will tell. Ellis Genge and Marler are strong back ups, but pressure is on Billy more- Dombrandt, Simmonds, Earl and Curry can all play 8- however Jones will definitely weigh in that Vunipola has 50 caps. I do like the idea of Billy as an impact sub, however.

Northern hemisphere rugby series: How will England line up?

Fully agree with you, although Tuipolotu and Frizell really stepped up. I thought that Aus would take advantage of Tuipolutu and Va’ai’s inexperience but to their credit they played decently and PT carried well. With Whitelock and Scooter back soon, it’ll be interesting to see how the AB’s front up physically. You are right though, the Boks and England are nearly always physically on it every game. This is why England have dominated the AB’s for more than the best part of 120 mins out of the last two games; if the tight five of NZ are playing poorly, usually we saw that it leads to defeat or near defeat like the Wellington Bledisloe, the Semi final and Ireland 2018 all spring to mind of how the All Black machine became beatable with sheer physicality and grit.

How Dave Rennie’s words came back to haunt him at Eden Park

Can’t wait for both teams to face the NH teams. Like you say, England and France away will be awfully tough; be interesting to see a) Cane, Ardie vs Curry, Underhill , b) Ollivon,Aldritt vs Hooper and Wilson. The list of enthralling back row battles is never ending but Sam Cane looks scarily phenomenal at the moment. I thought Hooper was very good today, missed a few on BB but actually kept Cane quiet at rucks in all fairness. Another exciting battle will be Philip and co against northern lock powerhouses like Ryan, Lawes and Itoje- Philip looks class already and I am very convinced with some polishing, with Wilson, Hooper (he’s easily one of the best flankers with Cane, Underhill, Curry and PSDT) and Philip, they have a nucleus for a gun forward pack in a few years time.

Caleb Clarke's performance to the Wallabies' defensive wobbles: Four talking points from Bledisloe 2

The shots on BB were worth waking up early in England for….

Caleb Clarke's performance to the Wallabies' defensive wobbles: Four talking points from Bledisloe 2

Absolutely HJ; still looking bright for Aus. Harry Wilson has been phenomenal and loves a big shot, I loved him sitting down Beauden considering the other Aussies couldn’t get a finger on him. Matt Philip is showing real steel both in defence and attack, the WB’s have a gem in him given they’ve lost some good lock options.

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

Agree, Banks’ defence and composure under the high ball has been awesome. He just needs to back himself in attack more often

All Blacks produce second-half blitz to claim dominant Bledisloe 2 win

Hanigan had a mixed game, but in all fairness if it wasn’t for him Australia wouldn’t have got their try plus he did win a few penalties at the breakdown, much to where his critics say he is ineffective.

Caleb Clarke's performance to the Wallabies' defensive wobbles: Four talking points from Bledisloe 2

Wonder if Fainga’a thinks he’s in the top 6 best hookers in Aussie rugby like Khawaja says he’s in the best 6 batsmen for Australia. Seriously speaking and on a tangent, Khawaja has to be there with Finch, Smith, Marnus, Warner and Maxwell as Australia’s best 6 batsmen??

Ned Hanigan returns as Dave Rennie makes four changes to Wallabies team for Bledisloe 2

IMO, the Wallabies can easily get the wood on the Kiwi forwards. Cane was the only one last week who stepped up for the AB’s, apart from that Frizell and Savea were suppressed by the work rate of Wilson in particular. Tuipolutu was ghostly, can’t judge Tupou Va’ai yet but without Whitelock, Scooter and Retallick, the Kiwi line out could be vulnerable, that said Australia’s is in even more concern. LSL and Philip did however outwork Whitelock and PT for most of the game last week.

Ned Hanigan returns as Dave Rennie makes four changes to Wallabies team for Bledisloe 2

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Ned Hanigan returns as Dave Rennie makes four changes to Wallabies team for Bledisloe 2

I disagree, the RC is vital for SA right now. With no scheduled tests before the Lions reach South African shores, there is so much SA can gain from playing each side this year. It’s early days, but the Aussies looked very northern against the AB’s in defence; it was pure aggressive line-speed from the Aussies and they won a lot of collisions- Rennie will emphasise this so much and I expect a lot of this aggressive defence to continue. All the Northern Hemisphere teams have this element of line-speed the Boks will definitely need to plan for. Ireland and Wales won grand slams in 2018 and 2019 mainly due to their brutal defence; England have composed two of the most brutal and unlikely wins in the last 4 years with the win in Ireland in 2019 and the semi-final win against NZ built on the cores of getting up and smashing the opposition straight. Playing Argentina will be a test of withstanding aggressive carrying and the kicking plays of Nicholas Sanchez. Then playing the AB’s will test getting thrown the kitchen sink at you, as well as experiencing proper rivalry before facing the Lions, which is something even bigger than the AB-SB rivalry. The AB’s are unmastered at blowing teams out of the water; Foster may be unpopular but a team that has Dmac, BB, Mo’unga, Jordie Barrett, Rieko, Will Jordan, Clarke, Reece and many more will only need a few of those to click to give plenty of tests for the defence. As to the SB team, I genuinely think it’ll be fine, and very competitive ( I can imagine them beating the WB;s or AB;s in a try less encounter for some reason) I don’t think PSDT is severely injured for the RC. The only issue is the loss of second rows, and as if South Africa doesn’t;t have enough beefy, brutal enforcers that can do a job alongside the brilliant Franco Mostert. The front row will be fine with Malherbe, Kitshoff and MM or Bongi. Lock replacement could be Dan Du Preez, but there is a high chance he has COVID since virtually all of Sale have it currently. JD Schickerling springs to mind as well as Marvin Orie. Back row options to side with Kolisi and DV are Botha, Coetzee, Kwagga Smith, Jean-Luc du Preez. Herschell can fill FDK if he has COVID too; Elton Jantjies is the only other big downgrade in quality loss like the loss of lock options. If DDA is unfit or unable to be released, perhaps Frans Steyn can fill in at 12 with LA at 13 to hold defensive stability. Not sure if Kolbe will be released but I would like to see Mapimpi, Nkosi and Willie Le Roux and Jesse Kriel alternating the 15 jersey.

Should South Africa participate in the Rugby Championship?

SA may not cruise the whole tournament; at least two away trips out of Cardiff, Dublin, London, Paris and Murrayfield each year. Despite that yes, I suspect only the English and French really have the guts to get a result down in SA, forgetting whatever history there is. Wales on a wet and cold night at the Millennium have turned over a few average at best SA teams in the last few years, Ireland spanked a poor team by 35 points a few years ago. I would imagine the Boks being more than comfortable in Wales, Ireland and Scotland, although the physicality and every home nation raising their game for the World Champs would be immense. Twickers and Paris are probably naturally the hardest places to go to but the Boks would then have history on their side there…… I would love to see the likes of Stander, Le Roux, Willemse and a few other native South Africans going against their country of birth…

Should South Africa participate in the Rugby Championship?

Absolutely, Ioane played very well albeit the try butchering and the defensive error was not solely his fault. Goodhue seemed very very quiet and just seemed to tackle. ALB is criminally underrated but didn’t expect too much from him as an impact sub.

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

CVV, why do many South African fans not back a weakened Box team out in Australia? As an England fan, the ‘Sale 7’ have been impressive with Faf and the Du Preez trio all impressing. Unlike your native players, they will have enough hardened fitness albeit not test level of demanding rugby in uncertain times, hard grounds and generally hotter weather as you will arrive in Australia’s cricket season. I understand concerns about the depletion of De Jager, EE and the formidable RG Snyman all injured- the Boks won the WC partly due to strength in depth- although 3 world class locks short is an issue, PTSD could fill in if needed along with a Du Preez or Mostert. In the back row, however, there are no injury issues but more gametime. The Boks showdown in early October will be the first return to many SA based forwards. In Australia providing the Boks make it, I would like to see the likes of a Du Preez brother, a Coetzee, Smith and others along side Kolisi and Vermeulen. It will be interesting to see if the senior SA-based players are rotated and rested. The backs are generally intact with the exception of Pollard. This arises an opportunity for Willemse and Rob Du Preez and even Jantjies to stake their claim as a reliable deputy to one of the best 10’s in the world. Yes the Boks will be without a few standout players, but do you really think they won’t be competitive? No- NZ may have their number and a resurgent Aussie side may push them, but there should not be a fear of defeat for the World Champs- with a British Irish tour soon incoming, Bok management should blood some new players, while prioritising European based players to consistently start whilst SA based players start to slip into returning to rugby. I would not be surprised if we see some Bok success without their first teamers in action down under

New Zealand Bledisloe Cup fixtures confirmed for mid-October

SA’s turning point in my opinion was their 24-25 loss at home to NZ in October 2017. It gave them confidence that after a few good beatings from the Men in Black, perhaps they could compete again. Although they got thrashed by Ireland 38-3 and lost to an average Wales side that winter tour, 2018 was when the Boks really transformed themselves with Rassie coming in, and doing what he should do- pick the best players in their position regardless of what club and league they play in. England may have been down from their horror 2018 Six Nations, but they sprung up to South African shores with a very dynamic attack and still enough talent that had earlier won back to back 6 nations, beaten Australia 3-0 and won a Grand Slam. De Klerk, Dyantyi and Vermeulen were sensational in that home series for them in which they deserved to win 2-1- they didn’t go for the whitewash in the 3rd game and I say that as an England fan we only beat their weakened team. The Rugby Championship will be remembered as the 36-34 game in Wellington, but the Boks played decent rugby throughout, they still threw away 3 games- the 32-19 defeat to Argentina and 23-18 loss in an awfully low-quality game in Brisbane as well as the magnificent 30-32 game with the AB’s left you questioning that the South Africans should have won at least 5 out of their 6 games. Whilst they were building an awesome team, their consistency was not quite there and it continued with an ok winter tour. The England game will be known as the start of Farrell’s tackling ineptness and even World Rugby said they got it wrong. Having said that, the Boks should have taken the game with a firmer grip- the first half was dominated by the Boks and the game was lost due to the shaky line out and a few scrums where England just simply wanted it more. However the Boks showed their quality away from home again, with good, close wins in France and Scotland. The defeat against Wales in 2018 was another close game, but Wales had won it by the first half. 2018 was a roller-coaster game in which the Boks were very very competitive in every game they played, and could have easily won a lot of those lost games. But hindsight is a wonderful thing. Which South African really cares about 2018, they have and deservedly have a World Cup to show for it.

Picking a combined Springbok-Wallaby-All Black squad

Not too bad then for a team that made WC final in 2015 and swooped the AB’s in Perth whilst not losing a game at home to SA for a long time…..

Picking a combined Springbok-Wallaby-All Black squad

In my opinion, Hooper is dubbed a bad captain due to the WB’s poor record. Hooper has been talked about as one of the best flankers since 2015, been better than most AB Flankers, I think he’s ahead of a lot of the NZ back-row talent. Hooper is also a better player, not captain, than Kolisi too.

Picking a combined Springbok-Wallaby-All Black squad

Apologies for the error on Slipper- I was researching how many caps he had and I accidentally said he played for the Reds, his former team

Picking a combined Springbok-Wallaby-All Black squad

Good to hear from you Jonesey- Gelant, Fassi and Willemse are some damn good young prospects for the Boks to blood into in time before the Lions come roaring. Gelant and Willemse have had very limited game time and I liked the look of both. I haven’t seen Fassi play much in SR as an Englishmen. And RG Snyman I think has had the biggest impact out of the bomb squad- hopefully in time he can come back fresh to hit up against the BIL, a truly wonderful player.

My predicted South African XV for the Rugby Championship

Thanks for your comment, good to see you’re right in the discussion. I personally wouldn’t pick Simmons but someone with 100 test caps will likely be picked to offer some experience for the team- WB’s options at lock are so flimsy I would rather have Simmons for the time being to allow a platform for newbies to be blooded. But Simmons has been underperforming for a while sadly. TK is unlucky to miss out in this XV but I feel Petaia, him and Simone will get some looks into as Australia’s answer to Samu Kerevi, who could still be back in Aus Rugby for the 2023 WC.

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

Good to hear from you Grev- I’ve tried to mix it up with test experience and some new faces- I think Tupou will be given some starting opportunities, since the front row is somewhere where the Aussies have some strength in depth. I would not choose Simmons but the matter of fact is someone with 100 caps is going to have some experience to help the side, however little it is. I think Simmons will be phased out soon, but for now, the second row options are flimsy for the Wallabies. Wilson has impressed me and I think he will make a case to start too.

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

I can’t lie Terminator you’ve made some very interesting and credible points. Yes there is always everyone’s take and dissection on why the AB’s failed in the Semi. For me I think if anything it was a more of an ‘on the day’ thing and a 50/50 game in which the Kiwis were unlucky to play against a team that put in their best performance in their 4 year cycle. However your points about Hansen’s selections are very worthy of debate. I remember ( as an England fan) seeing Barrett at 6 and Cane on the bench- Cane was in good form until 2020 and I thought it was a risk having Barrett start- Barrett was ok in the game, catching up in a footrace with Jonny May…. I wholly agree that Mo’unga should’ve been given enough game time for a quality player and the only issue that he poised was his defence which England exploited. In regards to the back row issues, it does make me wonder whether the lack of competition the AB’s had caused Hansen to be more confident in making a few bold picks. In 2016 and 17, NZ had virtually no competition ( Kaino made his first start at lock against Ireland which sums up how much the AB’s took that game plus they beat them conformably in Dublin a few weeks later 21-9 in a brutal contest). The Lions series was competitive and I’m not blaming the referee, but his correct decision in the second test on SBW made it a bit hard for the AB’s to ever get a result. The 3rd test more controversial. But the monopoly of NZ in the Rugby Championship and frequently thrashing Australia and South Africa meant that they probably never expected to face a team with physicality like England nor did they face South Africa’s new bomb squad concept until 2018 and were tied 66-66 after those two gripping tests in 2018.

What will the All Blacks XV look like for the Rugby Championship?

If Hodge isn’t at full back, who is? I don’t think DHP has been living up to previous performances for a while now- Hodge has test level experience to play anywhere as an outside back.

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

Thanks for the feedback Plank- I just don’t rate any of the other second row options highly enough for them to warrant a starting place. You may as well keep Simmons for a few games otherwise rookies in the scrum, especially against the Boks and the Kiwis, will get a proper hiding. Banks and Maddocks are a bit hit and miss players and in all fairness, the only certainty in the back three is Koroibete. Petaia may have injury issues, but he showed he has ability against England and I think 13 is his position- TK and Simone will get their shots sooner or later. In my opinion, JOC has been very good for the Reds at 10 and has marshalled their attack superbly. Like him or hate him, it’s hard to see him left out of the 23. I haven’t seen enough of Lolesio to suggest he can start at test level and although Toomua can be inconsistent, I think Rennie will back his experience.

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

When was Samu a 7? 8 or 6 as a long shot in my opinion.

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