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The Roar

Sam Taulelei

Roar Guru

Joined February 2008









Enjoyed reading this Geoff.

Point you raised about NZRU and RA serious desire to control their own future and destiny isn’t lost on me despite all the noise surrounding NZRU’s announcement last week.

What is the future for Super rugby beyond 2020?

SANZAAR and any professional sporting competition requires certainty more than anything else to operate with confidence.

Certainty you have guaranteed funding to cover expenses and cost of running teams. Certainty you have freedom of travel. Certainty you can open venues to crowds. Certainty you have a full season to play and broadcast.

Pandemics are stubborn buggers to get rid of, the Aratipu report merely acknowledges what we already knew – there is no future for Super rugby.

ARU were presented with a report commissioned by RUPA with Global Sports Media six years ago, which is remarkably similar to what NZRU have adopted, the main difference being there was no question about participation.

It was a ten team trans-Tasman competition leaving South Africa out and no PI team invitation.

ARU didn’t pull the trigger back then, and now finds itself in the same position again – trying to secure their future.

I want Australian teams to be included and I also want them to be stronger as I can’t escape the feeling that South Africa will benefit the most if both countries go it alone.

The Wrap: Super Rugby goes up a level, as Australia and New Zealand eye each other off

Yes that’s right. Foxtel outsources to NEP Australia and whomever secures the rights for rugby can do the same

Roll up, folks, it's time for another round of rugby broadcast negotiations by media

In a week where rugby lost one of its true gentlemen and icons in Brian Lochore, if your question was posed to him I believe he’d answer it succinctly and simply – only one team can win the world cup and if it’s us then good on us.

Tournament play isn’t an accurate gauge on the global strength of a sport. So many variables can influence teams fortunes – timing of teams development, refereeing decisions, luck, favourites being knocked out early.

I agree with Riccardo’s comments about the state of international rugby reflecting the governance by World Rugby who are still hamstrung by inequitable member voting. Combine that with the dysfunctional relationship for control of players between club and country, and it’s hard to see any imminent changes to the old world order.

That has little to do with the consistent level of success achieved by the All Blacks.

In 2007 after suffering some pretty brutal taunts from opposition supporters on this site about our early exit and inability to win another world cup, I responded that when we finally work out how to play and win a tournament don’t be surprised if our dominance of international rugby extends to the world cup.

Winning a third world cup in a row over 12 years is extraordinary, winning three championships in a row in three years is equally meritorius – marked by the fact it doesn’t happen very often. It’s also unfair to compare a young tournament like RWC to FIFA which has produced nine different winners over 21 world cups.

Argue all you want about the relative strengths and global reach of a sport, the eventual winner will still have survived stern challenges.

Anyone but the All Blacks

Hi Geoff

One finalist out of a potential three is a poor return.

The Brumbies, Rebels and Waratahs had the pick of the bunch for player quality and as such carried higher expectations from fans as well as themselves.

The Brumbies appear to be the only team that has evolved since last year, they’ve added more subtleties and a wider running game they showed us towards the end of last season when they narrowly missed the finals. They still have their lethal weapon driving maul at their disposal but are a better balanced side. Importantly we’ve also seen some individual players kick on from last year in their development as well.

That’s the criticism I have most of the Rebels and Waratahs. Which players have significantly improved their game from last season to this season?

The Tahs under Daryl Gibson have stagnated and the Rebels fell into the trap of becoming a very good one trick pony at the start of the season and not adding more variety to their game as the season wore on.

For all the talk about the tight competitiveness of the competition this year, the quality hasn’t always been top drawer across all conferences apart from a few exceptions and some of the players habits I’ve seen in Super rugby this year has demonstrated more than ever the difference between Super and test rugby.

The Wrap: Only one Australian finalist a poor Super Rugby return

Although the NZRU have created a precedent in bending their own rules that we won’t understand the impact of until more time has passed with Sam Whitelock’s retention. He becomes the first NZ player allowed to play in another competition (Japan) while contracted to NZRU and will skip Super Rugby in 2020.

The All Blacks must consider Hayden Parker for the World Cup

Unfortunately no, because of the RWC the Japanese Top League 2019 season has been pushed back and will clash with Super Rugby 2020 season so unless the Kobe Steelers agree to an early release from their 2 year contract he can’t sign with a NZ Super rugby team until 2021.
He won’t even be playing for the Sunwolves in their final season next year.

The All Blacks must consider Hayden Parker for the World Cup

Don’t you have to be contracted to the NZRU to be eligible for All Blacks selection?

The All Blacks must consider Hayden Parker for the World Cup

Front row stocks looks really strong. Can’t remember when we’ve had such quality competing for a test start.

Locks look strong, only because Retallick is included. Really need Tuipulotu to impose himself on this tour as the second TH lock. If he fails to fire, there’s precious little time to blood or play another in the pre-RWC tests.

Loose forwards look good on paper, but only Ardie Savea is playing with good form in recent tests and that’s a concern.

Read is short of his best and with his back injury there are valid questions as to whether he will ever return to his best.

Squire hasn’t played with the same menace and freedom that characterised his play last year, hope that Fifita’s absence makes him hungrier to succeed at this level and challenge Squire and Frizzell. Neither of the blindside options are in commanding form, where you’d say he’s got to be the All Blacks 6.

Absence of Akira Ioane merely emphasises how open and contentious the loose forward combinations are compared to the closed shop that was the hallmark of the team 2012-2015.

The problem numbers in the backline are 12 & 14.

If Hansen persists with playing Naholo and Ioane as a wing pairing that puts a lot of responsibility on the fullback as neither wing have a strong kicking game to relieve backfield pressure. Neither are as consistent in the air as Smith, Dagg or Jordie Barrett in contesting the ball as well.

In Shag I trust, but I don’t yet see what it is that sets Jordie Barrett apart from his peers.

Apparently he has a good match temperament, we can see he’s solid in the tackle and has a great aerial and kicking game. BUT when he attacks with the ball from the back he doesn’t set alarm bells ringing for opposition defences.

He doesn’t have the elusive stepping of NMS, he doesn’t have the outright pace and acceleration of Cullen, he doesn’t have the attacking flair of a Muliaina. I just don’t get the fuss over the younger Barrett. I see a midfielder trapped in a fullbacks position.

I thought both Solomon Alaimalo and George Bridge were the form NZ fullbacks in Super rugby.

Hopefully Jordie will make his critics eat their words on tour and vindicate his selection.

All Blacks confirm squad for Bledisloe 3, Spring Tour

Interesting Dave

Was the post match comments from Barrett televised? Haven’t read or seen any mention of that game plan.

Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo’unga: How the All Blacks pieced the jigsaw together at Loftus

In defence of Barrett’s game management.

In the first half his first touch of the ball was to restart after Pollard’s first penalty after 4 minutes.

Next opportunity was 9 minutes into the match to relieve pressure with a kick for territory from a penalty.

Then it was another restart after Pollard’s second penalty after 13 minutes.

The first time he touched the ball on attack was from a scrum just inside their half after 15 minutes when SBW lost the ball forward in contact.

Reading comments during the game there was a lot of criticism at his next touch on the 18 minute mark when his cross kick from a midfield scrum went out on the full. That was his first skill execution error.

By comparison both Pollard and le Roux had multiple touches at that stage reflecting the absolute domination of possession and territory by the Boks forwards.

21 minutes in he returned a kick from de Klerk and kicked again from a penalty to win valuable territory for his team.

It was from that lineout the All Blacks were awarded a penalty and Barrett kicked his first penalty.

So after 25 minutes the All Blacks trailed by 3 points, the forwards had won little possession and were conceding territory.

Barrett then kicked beautifully for touch from a penalty just inside his half, to win a lineout 5 metres from the Boks tryline. A kick as good as the one later in the match from Mo’unga that led to the winning try.

The common narrative is that Barrett’s game management was inferior to Mo’unga.

However up until Mo’unga was substituted for Naholo after 50 minutes the Boks forwards had played the All Blacks backs, particularly Barrett out of the game. He was still able to kick six valuable points.

Watching the game again this morning, focusing purely on Barrett, I’m not convinced he deserves the amount of criticism he’s received. Pollard made more skill errors but you wouldn’t think it by reading comments and match reports.

Mo’unga was good, but Barrett wasn’t poor in comparison, he wasn’t given any platform when playing at 10 to do much at all. Reverse their roles and would you think anything would have changed?

Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo’unga: How the All Blacks pieced the jigsaw together at Loftus

What has been noticeable to me about Mo’unga is that after an initial mixed starting debut against Argentina his last two appearances off the bench have been composed and authoritative.

He possesses that rare quality of appearing to have more time on the ball and make good decisions more often than not. Despite the circumstances surrounding his selection on the bench at Buenos Aires, his performance was so good it forced the selectors hands to find out more about his ability at this level.

He’s delivered again creating an interesting selection dilemma for Hansen and co.

Starting Mo’unga doesn’t only affect Barrett, but the whole midfield and back three configuration.

If Mo’unga, Goodhue and Barrett at 15 is seen as the future backline spine, who is the best partner for Goodhue, who plays on the wing?

Ben Smith is most people’s first choice pick somewhere in the backline, but since the second half in Wellington where he also played on the wing, he’s been unable to exert as much influence and impact as we’ve come to expect from him at fullback.

The game at Pretoria didn’t really flow to either wing, but he was also unnoticeable at Buenos Aires when the game was more open.

SBW, Crotty or Laumape at 12?

Does Hansen settle for the Crusaders combination or mix it up?

SBW didn’t have the best of games, but he’s played little rugby since his injury and to discard him off the back of last weeks game would be out of character for Hansen.

Is it too late for a bolter to be included in the squad and press claims for next year and beyond?

A squad of 51 certainly provides a wide scope and you never know what could happen with injuries between now and Japan 2019.

I’d like to see more of Mo’unga starting, I’d also like to see McKenzie given another opportunity, both of them can play flat to the line and put players into holes with their short passing game better than Barrett.

Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo’unga: How the All Blacks pieced the jigsaw together at Loftus

Regarding the Aaron Smith try, while the impetus came initially from Barrett, that 10 metre pass from Codie Taylor from left to right, using his non-dominant hand (he’s a right hander) under pressure was incredible skill from any player let alone a hooker.

If Taylor didn’t make that pass, no try scored, end of story.

Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo’unga: How the All Blacks pieced the jigsaw together at Loftus

Due to daylight savings change and setting alarm for PM instead of AM I missed the first 50 minutes of the Pretoria match.

So when I tuned in, it was just as de Allende scored his try. Looking at the scoreline, things were looking pretty grim.

As I had no idea how the match had transpired at that point, the quick response with Aaron Smith’s try provided hope that the team could claw their way back into the match.

Kolbe’s try was another dagger in the heart, until the All Blacks quick response with Ioane’s try.

I could see that momentum was switching towards the All Blacks, helped further by le Roux’s departure with HIA. Willemse is a fantastic talent, but he’s had little experience at test level, particularly in a tight match as this one.

I was surprised that following Barrett’s forward pass and the Boks winning the scrum feed, there was no thought to go for the drop kick to keep the scoreboard pressure on the All Blacks.

de Klerk was apparently suffering from cramps and substituted. At the time I was unaware of his physical condition and thought, the Boks think they have it won from here.

Then came the crucial call, du Toit and Mbonami were penalised for a lifting tackle on Tu’ungafasi, providing the All Blacks with another opportunity to set a driving maul to score from, which they did.

You could then see the panic set in amongst fans at the ground, and I’m sure doubt creep into the players minds.

In my head I was willing the All Blacks to secure the restart cleanly and get field position for a final push, unbelievably Perenara put in a box kick that none of his team were going to contest in the air and SA won possession. My heart sank as I couldn’t believe we had given the ball, and potentially the game away.

But then two get out of jail free cards.

The first, Koch wasn’t protected effectively at the next phase and Savea won the penalty for not releasing.

The second, Mo’unga’s kick for territory bounced kindly for him five metres short of the goalline.

An extraordinary finish. Three possessions from the Boks five metre line and three tries scored – the definition of clinical finishing.

The All Blacks bench made a positive impact, the Boks bench less so.

I was impressed with Erasmus comments after the game, he’s a very clear thinker and took responsibility for substitution decisions as well as owning the situation for not providing sufficient match play for players on the fringe throughout the season.

While there would obviously be positives to take out of the loss, they still lost and that hurts.

If I was a Boks fan, hearing common sense and accurate post match assessments from the coach like that strengthens my faith that the team is in good hands and better days lie ahead.

The Wrap: What the Dickens does Australian rugby do now?

Conor is right.

I’ve also written articles for the 1014 and all content is written by authors under their own name.

Nice analysis and milk bottle analogy Conor.

The All Blacks 10: Why Barrett and McKenzie are the future

“I’ll be writing another article showing just how that aspect (the prep phase for a wide attack) has declined since 2017!”

Is that a general assessment Nick or specific to the Wallabies?

In either case looking forward to reading that.

Port Elizabeth: Space just for the birds, not the Wallabies?

Great analysis piece.

After a loss it’s natural to focus on what the winning team did well and the losing team did poorly.

One vulnerability in the Springboks defence that the All Blacks gameplan specifically targeted is how they reload their defensive line from setpiece attacks. Their players aren’t spread evenly or effectively on both sides of the ruck so they’re exposed too often to mismatches with tight forwards clustered together.

Prime example of this were the first two tries conceded. Standard midfield setup from 12 and if the All Blacks win quick ruck ball they would switch play to the opposite side of their open side attack. The Boks loosies are sent round the corner leaving the front rowers exposed to defend on the blind.

The All Blacks used a variety of switch plays from scrums and lineouts, particularly when DMac entered the game as the footspeed of DMac and Barrett provided a double edged sword on attack.

While attention has centred around option taking in the final minutes, the All Blacks blew a gilt edged opportunity earlier when they attacked from a 5 metre scrum and went to their standard play off 12 to setup a midfield ruck. What was missed was that Goodhue ran the perfect line between the Boks defenders and Crotty just had to pass across his hips and the try was scored without a hand laid on him. This is what Hansen is referring to as many opportunities they had created but didn’t exploit.

Their attacking blueprint against the Boks was spot on, despite their loss and there are definitely cues the Wallabies can refer to and analyse for their upcoming match.

How the most basic of game plans helped the Springboks pull off the unthinkable

Unanswered questions:
1. When will this tournament be scheduled?
2. How do teams outside top 12 climb up without regular tests against higher ranked countries?
3. How will revenue be shared among participants?

I’m optimistic about this proposal.

Timing is crucial for an annual tournament featuring both hemispheres and an educated guess is that it will be the European clubs most affected with World Rugby already committed to shifting the June tours to July in 2020.

Notwithstanding that this tournament replaces the June and November series one obvious scheduling window is Sep/Oct when the RWC is held.

If that was the case it would provide international players with a 3 month off season every year.

Currently there is no revenue sharing for June and November tours, the host nation retains all takings from ticket sales, a long standing sore point for Steve Tew. Any revenue sharing arrangement for the LON proposal is an improvement for everyone.

My biggest question mark is around entry to the LON, this tournament at least provides tests for developing nations against the big guns but what about outside this tournament? How does Georgia, Romania, Canada, USA etc climb up?

League of Nations is an idea worth discussing, but…


Has it really been ten years since you graced these pages.

I remember when you first started like the rest of us posting comments on articles.

Congratulations – ten years on and still going strong.

Fan abuse is never great, but the message to the Wallabies is clear

So is there a trick to insert paragraphs when commenting in this new format?

Dominant All Blacks unbeaten but feel the heat of the challengers

For a starting test debut, Richie Mo’unga will probably not appreciate it now, but upon reflection he turned in a solid performance.

One that saw some skill execution errors, missed tackles as well as a few errors in judgement, but one he should derive satisfaction from, as his passing game repeatedly created space for his players outside, his decision making for the most part was sound and his goalkicking was accurate.

Comparing his starting debut to former players and peers, Mo’unga produced a more composed and assured performance on starting test debut than Aaron Cruden against Australia 2010, Tom Taylor against Australia 2013, and even Beauden Barrett against Argentina 2014.

He will improve with more time in the role and will demonstrate the same class and composure we’re accustomed to watching him produce for the Crusaders.

After the thrills on show from Beauden Barrett last month and the starring debut at 10 from Damian McKenzie against France, subliminally much was expected by fans from Mo’unga, despite the coaching staff attempts at tempering expectations.

While he didn’t score any tries or bust defences wide open, there was enough on show to hint at what lies ahead, which is good news for the All Blacks.

Dominant All Blacks unbeaten but feel the heat of the challengers

“He was nearly embarrassed by Teddy Thomas in the France series,”

Think you’re referring to the brilliant turn and chase of Thomas when Ioane intercepted. You can see after the try that TJ says something along the lines geez you almost didn’t make it and Rieko replies on camera “yeah he’s bloody fast”

Ioane’s midfield selection by the Blues was a reflection of the depth in their backline after injuries.

He’s not the quickest winger in the game but as evidenced in the setpiece tries scored against Wales last year and third test vs France he’s quick enough.

Why the grass is not always greener up north

Thanks Geoff.

Valid point about each SANZAAR country’s differing set of circumstances.

Regarding Cubelli, was his signing with the Brumbies under the ‘marquee’ player scheme introduced by the then ARU?

Fair enough for Argentina to select him by their rules.

The Wrap: A way forward for Australian rugby – how hard can it be?


Exploring your idea of eligibility, can RA make an executive decision without agreement by their partners around national eligibility within Super rugby?

This would also be unique in world rugby.

While Super rugby is promoted as an international provincial competition, the truth is player movement outside national borders is constricted if you want to play test rugby.

This is not isolated to SANZAAR, the Celtic nations and England operate within the same eligibility guidelines, regarding playing for clubs outside their national borders and representing their country.

Nice article Geoff. Much food for thought, some of which may be palatable to some and inedible to others.

I agree that the current rugby landscape in Australia is too fragmented to succeed.

It needs a revolution to break the cycle, but that will result in casualties as a result of systemic change. People’s instincts for self preservation is a powerful motivator to resist.

The Wrap: A way forward for Australian rugby – how hard can it be?

At the start of the season Ian Foster divulged that one of the areas they were focusing on was variations on how to beat the rush defence and how to play even faster in the second half.

The theory being that if they can increase the tempo without compromising their accuracy no team would be able to live with them.

That’s been the noticeable pattern in their victories this year apart from the second French test.

In light of the opening two games in the RC, the performance of the French in their series defeat contributed a lot towards to the All Blacks evolution.

Their defensive spacing around the breakdown is much tighter and they’re awareness and discipline of when to rush and when to just hold the line is resulting in less penalties given away for offside.

Commiserations to Wallaby fans, your team showed a lot of improvement from Sydney. However the gulf in quickly transitioning from defence to attack is still as wide as ever.

That’s the biggest test playing this side, you can play well and make just a handful of errors but each of them can lead to tries conceded and you’re staring at the scoreboard in disbelief knowing you now have to chase the game.

The All Blacks haven’t yet found their rhythm and accuracy in attacking from set plays this championship. But they’re building well and will take confidence into their next game against Argentina.

The Wrap: Bonus point Barrett a class above the Wallabies

From the skycam view I also thought that Franks was boring in on Robertson on the first scrum before it collapsed.

Skycam also supports this view on the second scrum.

On the replay which was shown from the standard sideline camera view it’s not so clearcut to me.

In the setup and at the engagement Robertson’s knee and feet are positioned in a straight line below his hip, his knee isn’t crocked to then extend in a natural pushing position – conversely this is exactly how Franks knee and feet are positioned.

Immediately on the engagement, Robertson bends forward from the waist down, his knee and feet remain fixed in their straight line position, like when someone tries to touch their toes without bending their knees. His arm is below Franks chest and elbow is pointing down.

If there is no resistance to push against then the first person to collapse isn’t necessarily the one at fault.

How the 'Guzzler’ chowed down on the Wallaby lineout at Sydney