The Roar
The Roar

Sam Taulelei

Roar Guru

Joined February 2008










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

What is the general consensus about what to expect with the Wallabies lineout this weekend?

What influence will referee Wayne Barnes have that may differ from Jaco Peyper’s interpretations last weekend, particularly in maintaining the 1m gap?

Will the Wallabies kick the ball out more, rather than contestable kicking, with Folau out injured?

What new innovation will we see from the All Blacks lineout? (the planned move midway through the first half that resulted in Ioane dropping the pass in Foley’s tackle was a thing of beauty)

Will the Wallabies start with Rodda or Simmons or Arnold? I commented last week that I thought the use of Simmons as an impact player didn’t make any sense, he’s the best caller and is the type of player who builds into a game and not someone who can change the course of a match off the bench as what Rodda and Tui can offer.

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

I expect both teams to reset after last week and improve in the areas where they were off the mark and rusty.

Set pieces is an obvious target for the Wallabies.

Greater accuracy on attack and defence is another. Despite their first half defensive effort the Wallabies still missed over 40 tackles for the match.

The injury to Folau robs the Wallabies of their most lethal strike weapon – in the air and out wide.

Who will replace him and how will they attack without him?

It’s not all doom and gloom for the Wallabies

Both sides struggled to find their rhythm with ball in hand during the first half.

Partly due to aggressive line speed, and inaccuracies at the breakdown.

The scoring of 5 second half tries implies a significant improvement but the truth is the All Blacks capitalised on 5 errors and the Wallabies could only do it once.

Nothing unusual in that, most tries are scored off errors. What was unusual is that the All Blacks failed to capitalise on the disruptions they created at Wallaby set pieces.

The best planned move they executed was from an attacking 5 metre lineout. Squire caught the ball at the front, while in the air he passed to Whitelock at the back, splitting the Wallaby forwards defending the drive.

Sam Cane ripped the ball off Whitelock and passed to Ioane on the burst who dropped it cold in Foleys tackle.

That’s it for the entire 80, despite stealing lineout possession and winning scrum penalties.

Much of the post match press reviews has been high in praise and scathing in criticism for the winner and loser.

Watching the game again without the emotional investment (and the sound turned off) I noticed how many mistakes the All Blacks made throughout and how many tryscoring opportunities were there for the Wallabies.

Compare last week to their first tests against France and Ireland and they look like two different teams.

The All Blacks weren’t that good and neither were the Wallabies that poor.

Bledisloe déjà vu, but were the Wallabies really that bad?


Minor quibble, in the first 10 minutes neither side won their own lineout.

Initially I thought the injury to Crotty was started when he got his timing wrong before fumbling the pass.

On second review I observed the traffic congestion he received the ball in was because the Wallaby inside backs were all standing offside in line with the scrum tunnel just as Read was about to clear from the back.

Unfortunate circumstance and outcome for Crotty who is now collating concussions, causing an obvious area of concern for his long term health.

I don’t know if it was a deliberate tactic but Coleman didn’t call a throw to himself once during that first half.
Rodda and Tui were their principal targets.

Hard to see what Kepu was penalised for at scrum time due to the camera footage but Robertson clearly hinged in his first scrum, which confuses me because when he engaged he held his side up well.

Amazing the difference re-watching the game on mute when your opinions aren’t influenced by commentary.

Questions for me are:
Why did Cheika wait so long to inject his bench?

Who was running the cutter when Toomua subbed on for Folau? Beale, Foley and Toomua didn’t appear to be clear with their responsibilities.

Why did the Wallabies not create contestable kicks and restarts when Folau was on the field?

The Wrap: Aretha, Sam, Winx and the Wallabies (spot the odd man out)

Did anyone else find it curious that all the kids that took the field with the All Blacks were brown skinned and all the kids with the Wallabies were white?

I’m assuming these are local kids from a club or school but it looked odd when the Wallabies are diverse in their ethnicity like the All Blacks.

Wallabies should be ashamed of last night's Bledisloe drubbing


I agree re: your comments about the Wallabies use of the ball.

Against Ireland in the first test, they would often use Folau as a first receiver to hold the inside defenders, with Foley standing very wide to create more space and time to get outside their defence. It also forced the Irish loosies to cover more ground in defence. Didn’t see that at all last night.

Against Ireland they created more kicking contests to exploit Folau’s leaping ability either in general play or from restarts but again that didn’t emerge until after Folau left the field.

Beale’s acceleration and angled runs on to a pass or across field searching for space/mismatches works best when he has runners in motion to cause hesitation in defenders minds of who to mark, but the communication and timing wasn’t there.

They created a few opportunities from turnover ball and if converted, the complexion of the contest would have changed but their handling let them down.

Defensively the Wallabies have restricted the All Blacks to just scoring one try in two consecutive halves across two games. The second half in Brisbane last year and the first half last night.

That is nothing to sneeze at. It fell away in the second half and while the players cop the flak, questions need to be asked of the coaches as to decisions around use of their bench when it was clear that players were tiring. It was not for lack of effort and commitment the Wallabies were beaten last night.

The unfortunate consequence of playing their first RC game against the All Blacks every year means the Wallabies can’t afford to be less than 100%. If they played the All Blacks as their third or even second game of the championship they’d be that much better prepared aerobically and physically.

Wallabies should be ashamed of last night's Bledisloe drubbing

What I like about the Wallabies?

Their starting XV is only one or two contentious selections shy of being their best since their RWC campaign.

Consolidation and combination has to be the selection theme for Cheika this year. Rotate a few on the fringe to build your depth in certain positions but allow this team time to gain experience and trust playing together.

Against Ireland they showed a greater fighting spirit and mental capacity to stay in the game. Continuous improvement in this space means there shouldn’t be as much of a gap between their very best and average performance, which has been so often the hallmark of the Wallabies.

In Brisbane last year their second half turnaround was remarkable, they improved their accuracy at the breakdown, defensive spacing in the backline and what hurt the All Blacks most, outmuscled them in the contact areas.

However that level of performance dropped dramatically in their next test confounding their fans.

They’re a team on the rise and timing well for Japan 2019. If tonight’s game was the 3rd match of the RC for them instead of the 1st they’d be much better prepared.

There won’t be a blowout like last two years and they’ll make their fans proud.

But the All Blacks will have enough to win a closer contest than some predict or expect.

Wallabies vs All Blacks Bledisloe Cup Game 1 preview and prediction


Haven’t seen the possession breakdown for the French series this year but from recollection we did better in the second halves for the first and third test and trailed despite the numerical advantage in the second.

Just which All Black team will we see this week?

Yep the All Blacks have been held to no points in a test match 8 times in their history.

Last time was when the value of a try was worth only 3 points.

Many great rugby teams since 1964 have beaten the All Blacks but none of them conceded zero points.

Tall order by Foley to first get the win and then hold them to nil.

New-look Wallabies hope to catch All Blacks on the hop

Great analysis Highlander

I had also noticed the drop in kicking during last years RC and end of year tours.

Eddie Jones had also called out how clever Hansen was coaching the team last year, deliberately learning how to play at a slower tempo and with less possession when everyone else was trying to play faster.

Their defence last year was stressed a lot, particularly by the Wallabies and with a new defence coach it takes time to absorb any adjustments or change in approach.

Will watch forthcoming tests with fascination.

Just which All Black team will we see this week?

Thanks for the article Fionn.

From a Kiwi perspective the selections that hold the most interest for me is the midfield.

This backline combination holds the key to how well the All Blacks attack and defend.

Since 2016, there have been six different combinations tried. Some have been forced through injury and suspension however public opinion is still divided on who are our best centres even if the coaches preference is for SBW and Crotty.

The best performing All Black sides are often characterised by a settled and strong midfield – Nonu/Smith, Mauger/Umaga, Little/Bunce, Osborne/Robertson

Forget who plays 10, their influence rides heavily on the tight five in front of them, but keeping the teams shape on attack and defence is controlled by the midfield.

I’m still concerned if the All Blacks have their balance right.

2018 Rugby Championship preview

I’m confused over Pulu’s Australian eligibility as Niue captured his eligibility when he represented them at Sevens.

He qualifies for Niue, Australia and NZ under regulation 8.1 but under 8.2 he is disqualified from Australia and NZ.

However World Rugby has seen fit to erase his national duties for Niue and clear him for Australian selection if wanted.

Regulation 8.7 doesn’t apply to Pulu as he’s not being selected for an Olympic Games.

It’s great for Pulu that World Rugby has granted him this dispensation, I just hope this precedent will be equally and fairly applied to other players who this could be applied to.

Brumbies make a splash with signing of Chiefs winger Toni Pulu

I’m not of the same opinion that Mo’unga NEEDS to start ahead of Barrett or even McKenzie who’s last test appearance was pretty good.

Hansen isn’t saying that Mo’unga won’t be given a chance, but he’s also not about to cast Beauden’s growing portfolio of development and work in the test arena over the past six years so quickly to the side.

Trust between coach and player sometimes requires a leap of faith, when public pressure to change personnel mounts and Hansen like any good coach will not allow himself to be influenced by public sentiment.

It’s a fantastic position for Hansen to be in, as there were concerns after Sopoaga announced last year he would be leaving after the 2018 Super rugby season for Wasps. The conversation has changed very quickly from who is going to be Barrett’s backup to who should be starting at 10.

Can the Wallabies bring the Bledisloe Cup home?


The All Black selectors could surprise and pick a bench with both Dmac and Mo’unga. Hansen’s usual preference for his bench options in the backline is to pick a midfielder with two specialist halves. However they’re blessed to have at their disposal multiple players who can interchange multiple positions.

B and J Barrett, DMac, NMS and Ben Smith can all play fullback.
Lienert-Brown, Crotty, Goodhue, J Barret and Ioane can play both midfield positions

That provides greater flexibility of choice.

Can the Wallabies bring the Bledisloe Cup home?

That’s a fair comment Jacko.

Leading up to the June series, TTT was ahead of his teammate Weber who was still working his way back to his best form from injury.

After June, Weber was more often than not preferred ahead of TTT at the Chiefs and was dynamic and energetic.

Both Weber and Bryn Hall have provided enough form to be considered but maybe the selectors see TTT as their longer term investment.

Can the Wallabies bring the Bledisloe Cup home?

“IMHO the AB’s scrum is the most underrated part of their game”

+1 For whatever reason, the All Blacks scrum is often underplayed as a threat by opposition teams and fans. On their own feed, it’s often solid and stable providing the ideal platform to launch an attack or clear in defence. On opposition feed more often than not they’ve disrupted, squeezed so the ball can’t be cleared or pushed the opposition off the ball.

The Wallaby scrum has improved a lot as well and is better than most people give credit for, however they are more prone to lapses in concentration which then raises those old stereotypes.

Can the Wallabies bring the Bledisloe Cup home?

Thanks Ed

In isolation, these type of statistics can be misleading in analysing a teams performance. You’re right cross referencing number of carries against gains over the advantage line provides more context as do other measures.

Curious that the Wallaby forwards clocked less metres gained in the first test against Ireland which is the only test they won. Perhaps it relates to the amount of contestable kicking in that game compared to the other two.

Can the Wallabies bring the Bledisloe Cup home?