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ThugbyFan

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Joined February 2016

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Rugby tragic who asked mum what the score was at moment of birth. Best match ever = Sydney Olympic Stadium, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heoO_5MvZ0w

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By 9:45pm AEST last Sat night I was spewing. All 4 of my picks got shafted, though in 3 of those matches my selected team was looking pretty good for the chocolates by the 65th minute. “Why, oh why is rugger played over 80 minutes?” My consolation was 3/3 for the Saffer sides. Now that I have read our expert’s results I don’t feel so bad. In fact, considering Digger’s mob “paid off the ref” and cheated their way to a shock win over the flower of Aussie rugby, aka TNT or Those Noble Tahs, his come-uppance was a lowly 2 picks correct which is lower than mine, Ha! 🙂

This week:
– The Red’s halves stocks scare me and damages the connect between a very good pack of piggies and a top backline. The Highlanders came alive when A.Smith and reserves rocked up against the Chiefs. On that basis and playing near the South Pole, I expect the penguins to murder the Reds.
– TNT to run riot over the Tokyo Boyz.
– Crusaders at home playing Hurrycane 3rd XV? Ha ha ha! Saders by Plenty!
– Big Brodie and M.Allardice against the NH-bound R.Arnold and S.Carter will be entertaining. Who wins depends on has I.Simone’s defence improved enough to hold ALB to just 1 try. Pick the home team but not with confidence. My main interest in this match will be can Rory look as mean and ugly as Brodie?
– The Shorks played good footy last week but the Blues were pretty impressive with a wiser coach. I’ll side with RT and pick a Blue.
– Another tough one. Are the Stormers really that poor or are there non-footy reasons on their minds? Can the Lions discover their 2017-2018 form with so many folks leaving the fold? Stormers will be playing for pride but I’ll go the Lions here.
– Wow the Bulls were ruthless like the Northern Transvaal/Bulls of old. I expect Nobes and Carlos to be crying in their vino after Los Jags after the Bull stampede.

In short: Highlanders, Tahs, Crusaders, Brumbies, Blues, Lions and Bulls. Again only 3 home winners, wtf is going on?

Super Rugby Round 2: Return of the Hairy Man

Thanx Cuw, I’ve never seen this Auma so will keep an eye out for him. I notice SBW has caused TJ Faiane to shift to #13. Strange tactics as I consider M.Nonu to still be one of the best #12 on the planet.

I would only put Nonu at #13 if SBW was there with him, now that certainly is a quality beefy centre pairing.

Super Rugby Round 2: Return of the Hairy Man

G’day RT and TM, I too backed the Blues at home to make them Sadies from the South feel all blue, but your boys lost their mojo in the 2nd half. A tough one to lose. Not to be outdone my Tah boys promptly did the same thing at their Brookie-home. Played good footy to look like winners but ran out of gas and nous in the last 15 minutes.

In both matches the losing teams ran many more metres with the ball but tight play by the opposition forwards won them the chocolates; and both of our teams also coulda/shoulda won with a late penalty but missed. Blues and Tahs = brothers in arms.

Just an aside, I thought the Blues looked pretty good while Otere Black was on the field, then he left midway for Harry the Plumber to have a go. I just felt the Blues didn’t look as threatening once Black left. I also wondered why M.Nonu didn’t get a run at #12. Any thoughts?

And to keep you happy, I’m going for a Blues win against the guppies. 🙂

Super Rugby Round 2: Return of the Hairy Man

Hi David, I understand that S.Johnson and M.O’Connor will not just rubber stamp whatever M.Cheika wants but to be honest, their hands are tied if Cheika displays his usual pig-headedness. Read another quote from the horse’s mouth (M.O’Connor) “The most important thing is we have a healthy discussion and debate about combinations. It’s helpful just to have another set of eyes and perspective. Ultimately Michael Cheika is responsible for the side and he will pick the players he wants …”. I got this from an article on www.rugbypass.com.

Read the last line and tell me what you think. I read the messages as “Cheika will still have his lousy game plans and after discussions with the two other selectors, coach Cheika will simply say “the blokes I have submitted are the players best suited to play by my game plan, thanks for your input.” (which I will ignore).

I guess even if the 3 selector system stops bonehead selections such as B.Foley at inside centre and (10-penalties guaranteed) T.Latu as hooker then it has achieved something. But I just cannot see any sweeping changes to most of the personnel and no change to the losing game strategy of the last 3 years.

Michael O'Connor is a brilliant choice as the third Wallabies selector

Nice article Geoff, and I hope Nicolas isn’t eating shoe leather as he waits for the Wales vs England bash-up on Saturday.

I feel M.Cheika is in a real quandary if W.Genia and Q.Cooper continue in this vein. If they keep this form for SR2019 then Cheika has two problems (a) how to drop his fav B.Foley and (b) who to put in at IC. Surely the so-called additional two selectors are not daft enough to have Cooper at flyhalf and either B.Foley or K.Beale at Inside Centre ? That is the sort of selection that Cheika has gotten away with when he wanted to white-ant any flyhalf whose name does not have BF initials. The “Mouse” has done this time after time so hopefully S.Johnson and M.O’Connor will stamp on that rubbish immediately.

I wouldn’t write off B.Foley yet for WB honours this year. I think a lot of his problems last year were a result of he was flogged to death, Foley looked (and played) like an extra from “The Walking Dead” from September onwards.

It’s likely too late for RWC2019 but I would like to see R.Hodge as the long-term IC for the WB. The OC can be a pick between S.Kerevi, K.Kuridrani and J.Petaia whoever is in top form at the time.

The Wrap: Cooper and Genia go ‘back to the future’ in Super Rugby opener

G’day Jez, Izzy Folau obviously has been getting coached in clearing kicks. Since mid SR2018 he has been putting in more clearing kicks for both the Tahs and WB. A couple of his kicks at Brookie went well over 45m on the fly then rolled. One of his 1st kicks he booted it ~18 m from his line and it went over the sideline just before the quarter line of the Canes, that’s over a 50 m gain.

So refreshing after enduring B.Foley’s popguns for so many years.

Was the Waratahs loss an ominous insight into the year ahead?

G’day David, I always remember the brilliant 1980-81 WB midfield of Mark Ella-Michael Hawker-Michael O’Connor which was sadly disbanded by idiot selectors and coach Bob Templeton wanting to slot his fav Queensland boys into the side. Of course that would never happen now, a WB coach favouring players from his state side. 🙂

Anyway I suspect all of these changes are more a smokescreen by RA, and the good ship WB aka Titanic Australis holed and frantically sending SoS signals, will continue sailing in the same direction under the total command of Capt “Bligh” Cheika.

My pessimism mainly stems from this is the playbook of the corporate types running RA. Lots of weasel words, tinker at the edges and then declare “Look, we have listened”, but basically continue as is. A bit like the recently concluded Banking and Finance RC.

Add in the words of M.O’Connor as reported on the RA website ““The most important thing in this role is understanding what the Head Coach is looking for, the way he wants to play and then finding the players that fit into that framework and having that discussion.”

So basically the rotten game plans of M.Cheika remain which is 70-80% of the problem.

Michael O'Connor is a brilliant choice as the third Wallabies selector

Brass, no Indians are allowed to play in the BBL so who gives a rat’s about what’s happening in India. I also don’t see your point about the economy of the Indian IT industry and its relevance with cricket in the BBL in Australia. The BBL is looking in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Napal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and England for leggies. But if it makes you happy then point taken, no rice paddies in England.

The BBL is looking for unknown “wonder-kids” in the sub-continent because Australia is pace-obsessed. No stereotype, it’s a fact of the BBL, sad but true.

Australia need a bowling all-rounder in ODIs

Jez, spot on with 2nd rowers fighting for a WB spot. As for the backrowers there is also a shedload of players fighting for spots in the RWC2019 squad. To name a few: 6 = N.Hanigan, L.Jones, RHP (trio can sub as lock also), J.Dempsey, P.Samu, A.Scott-Young; 7 = D.Pocock, M.Hooper, A.Cottrell, L.Wright, T.Cusack 8 = C.Timu, I.Naiserani, S.Higginbothem and R.Valentini.

And let’s not forget M.Wells who has been preferred by D.Gibson over J.Holloway as a No8 because the Tahs couldn’t afford two backrowers out wide waiting for big runs rather than poking their heads in breakdowns in the middle of the field. Wells may be a small #8 but he has a huge heart.

Queensland: Beautiful one day, paying the bills the next

Rugby1st and Fionn, Izzy Folou has always had a shocking left-to-right pass whether moving or standing still. His pass into the crowd in Saturday’s game reminded me of other howlers of his. He did similar wayward passes and killed off promising moves twice in last year’s match against The Lions in Sydney, and who can forget his catch the kicked ball and pass to no-one while standing still within his 22, allowing a grateful AB chaser to pick the ball up and run in a try.

You would think that players earning such big bucks would admit to their faults and practice, practice, practice with skills coaches, it might take 3-4 years but eventually his passing would improve. It’s the same with catching high balls, lineout throws and all forms of kicking. Who can forget the story of the WB2003 bete noir Johnny Wilkinson going out on a freezing Xmas day and practicing his kicking? That devotion won him a place in history.

On the upside with Izzy, I find it strange that all the Izzy-slaggers are silent about the improvements in his kicks over the last couple of years. He has gone from no kicks at all to regular punts 40-50 up field and some very good sideline finders from his 22. He obviously has been practicing with kicking coaches so kudos to Izzy on that front. 🙂

Nine talking points from Super Rugby Round 1

Spot on Luis, and Mickey “Mouse” Cheika must think B.Foley is one of Australia’s best Inside Centre also or Cheika is so welded onto the so-called dual-playmaker system that he prefers M.Toomua at #10 and Foley at #12, rather than anyone of about 4-5 centres he had available on the EOYT. An absolute disgrace which I hope the trio of selectors stamps on immediately.

As for Q.Cooper, I like most of Australia rugby fans love “Wade” when he has the ball in hand. A good runner with the ball and has a pass either side to die for. However Cooper’s defence is pretty ordinary and he has clashed with certain coaches so “Mickey” has perfect excuses to exclude him from the WB. But even Cheika must realise that to go to a RWC with just one “qualified” 5/8th is a disaster waiting to happen.

I always find much mirth listening to scribes and even Cheika hinting of Cooper’s frailities in defence, yet they see no problem putting B.Foley and K.Beale in a side and the massive turnstile in defence it leads to. This sort of rubbish selection is the main cause of poor N.Gray’s “musical chairs” defence system which is killing the chances of a WB win in most games. For the next two games, why not get rid of both of them and play Q.Cooper at 5/8 and M.Toomua/ S.Kerevi/R.Hodge/K.Hunt and it’s a much stronger team in attack and defence. If Bernie and Kurtley feel put out then call it”rest time”for them. 🙂

Nine talking points from Super Rugby Round 1

Dan, I thought Quade played ok, he directed the traffic and lets face it “winners are grinners” he did enough for his team to win. A new team so it will take a few matches to feel his way in but I thought Cooper, Billy Meakes and Tom English ran good lines and constantly stretched the Brumbies’ backline.

Am not a Quade fan and I still wish he learned how to tackle around the legs, but the reality is the guy is a class act with the ball.

Quade Cooper reflects on a year hiatus from Super Rugby

Hi RT, is that healthy? Two teams fighting over the NPC over 30 years sounds like the 6 (?) sides are there to make up the numbers.

Anyway, having tipped 0 from 2 on Friday night I should put a sock in it I guess. 🙁

Super Rugby Round 1 expert tips: Guess who’s back, back again

I have to digress Ronan, while a late-order slogger is nice Australia has 7 blokes who are out and out batsmen (well 6 + Alex Carey who is OK with the willow), if they can’t do the job then you’re clutching at straws hoping that the presence of some slogger will lift the above 7 to do their job. If A.Carey doesn’t hit the ball hard enough, then P.Handscomb keeps and take Josh Phillippe as the reserve.

I also don’t get some of the comments here, many want some medium pacer who can belt the ball yet a look at the top sides in ODI and T20 show it’s the spinners who are winning the games. Listen to the Indian and English commentators, they all say the secret to slowing down a run rate is to take wickets, especially in that middle 15-35 over section on absolute true pitches with no seam or swing to help the hapless bowlers. On that reckoning Australia need one or two good wicket-taking spinners, not some trundler who can hit 20 runs off 10 balls but gets flogged for 45 runs off 5 overs. And this is where Australia is in a hole, if we have top-grade spinners in Shield and grade cricket, then our batsmen will learn how to play against these spinners. But don’t hold your breath, the attitude in Australia towards spinners in red-call cricket absolutely sucks then we wonder why we can’t beat anyone and blokes like R.Jedeja can clean us up.

It’s a sad indication of the dearth of spinners in Australia when every 2nd T20 side in the BBL is fielding some kid found in a rice paddy on the sub-continent. Add that these kids are wildly successful against most of the local BBL batsmen, while in ODI/T20 Int Australia often falls in a clump as soon as India/England/Pakistan/NZ bring on their spinners.

It’s never going to change until wickets that will seam early and turn later are produced for Shield games. The SCG was great until the curse of drop-ins began. Perhaps CA should bring in some science boffins with a grant to find a better method to produce wickets.

So which spinners to pick for the upcoming ODI tours? The offie must be the best around who can genuinely spin the ball so that is the GOAT. The leggie has to be able to spin the ball off a good length and ideally have a mystery ball. Please don’t say Darcy Short, his fluke wickets off pies in T20 Bash-em-or-Get-out don’t count in ODI. The only blokes who are good enough are A.Zampa, Cameron Boyce (he can bat too) or Mitch Swepson. Zampa has the international experience and recently showed a wrong-un so he gets the chocolates but Swepson is a pretty good reserve.

So 7 batsmen (one is a wk and one or more can bowl medium pace darts), two speed merchants and N.Lyon and A.Zampa. Maxwell, Head and Short as pie chuckers if needed.

Australia need a bowling all-rounder in ODIs

First Round SR2019 and it’s tough with so many teams resting star players if one doesn’t get to watch the M10 or Currie Cup.

– Chiefs forwards look bigger and meaner (Brodie, take a bow), also I think the Highlanders will really miss L.Sopoaga at Wasps and his partner-in-crime for this match A.Smith.
– If the Ponies can play as good as they were at end of SR2018, then the Rebels are in for a long night. Add the Brumbies front row strength and a missing A.Coleman and the Rebels scrum will be in reverse gear.
– Of recent years this is 100% Crusaders, but the Blue Bags from Auckland have a confidence about them while the Crusaders are missing 3-4 ABs. I’m sure the Blues want a repeat of the Mitre10 final over them there Southerners.
– Tahs by Plenty. Hurry Canes will get seasick on the Manly Ferry or the new owners of the Hotel Steyne will fly Suzy the waitress over. Canes are resting heaps and they still have an awesome backline.
– Sharks want to start their season well and will eat the Tokyo Guppies.
– Bulls at home are a tough task and should win. ps: congrats to a brave call from Harry for his prediction of a 30 point win to Stormers.
– I’ll be brave here and against the expert panel will predict a good win to the Lions. Lions are fielding a reasonable team and the Jags have to get it back together after losing their gun coach and 5/8th Nicolas Sanchez.

In short: Chiefs, Brumbies, Blues, Tahs, Sharks, Bulls, Lions. Go Tahssssssss

Super Rugby Round 1 expert tips: Guess who’s back, back again

Fabulous to see the Roar expert panel is putting in the time and effort with their pearls of wisdom for SR2019. Many thanks boys, it’s much appreciated by all of we Roar punters I am sure.

Brett, I believe Rugby Tragic and Taylorman have scratched your name off their Xmas card list after your line “I generally have two rules when it comes to the early rounds: pick the home teams and never, ever pick the Blues.” 🙂

Super Rugby Round 1 expert tips: Guess who’s back, back again

Oh how Tragic Thou ist! You had me nodding my head with your first three selections (I too picked the Blues) and then you selected the Maldives Honeymooners over God’s Own, The Tahs (henceforth called GOTT). Oh my my! where did I put that voodoo doll?

But seriously I hope young Tragic has a fabulous year, lots of wins for his beloved Auckland Blues and good health to celebrate the wins with delectable food and great beer (and smite them Crusaders while you’re at it). I see Maá Nonu is at OC for this weekend, how good is your #12 TJ Faiane?

May the Tahs and Blues meet in this year’s SR final. What odds on that one? 🙂

Super Rugby Round 1 expert tips: Guess who’s back, back again

TWAS, I wonder if DP’s demotion is because he is off chasing French francs at Toulon come September or is there is some disagreement between Brad Thorn and DP?

Could 2019 yield the closest Australian conference yet?

G’day Brett, good to read your words of wisdom again. Just a couple of points that have run through my cerebrum of late.

No1. Is the Roar organising a Tipping Quest for SR2019? I haven’t seen any mention of one yet.

No2. If one digests as Rugby Lore that “forwards win matches” and “It’s the Props, stupid” then I suspect both the Tahs and Rebels will wish they offered a bit more coin to James Slipper as they slide slowly down the SR2019 table.

No3. Perhaps its the RL influence but all four Aussie teams have loads of quality backrowers. Some of the Aussie conference matches will be ferocious brawls this year, great to see. 🙂

Could 2019 yield the closest Australian conference yet?

G’day Scott, is the Roar putting on SR tipping contest this year? I’ve seen no reference to one for SR2019.

Super Rugby Round 1 teams: Tahs unveil new-look centre pairing, Ma'a Nonu set for Blues return

G’day James and Fionn, not a bad Brumbies team and I hope the Canberra fans turn up in numbers. Admittedly from May onwards I can think of better things to do on a Friday night than battling a Winter’s night in Canberra. Am surprised to see Pete Samu (a WB) on the bench as the Brumbies coach has declared no-rest for his top players in home games. And good point with T.Cusack, a quality backrower indeed. The only weakness that I can really see is at IC, Irae Simone, a great runner with the ball but defence not up to SR level.

The Bumbies must be rolling about laughing that they scored James Slipper over the Rebels and Tahs. The latter two teams’ coaches would have loved to get a prop of international experience into their squads. It’s the main reason why I reckon the Brumbies will win the Aussie conference and the Rebels and Tahs fighting it out for runner’s up medal.

My long-term beer-battered memory cells are fuzzy on this one but could it be that C.Peni lost his 23-squad spot because of his poor tackling technique. Didn’t he cop 4-5 weeks for ironing out a Kiwi winger last year?

Super Rugby Round 1 teams: Tahs unveil new-look centre pairing, Ma'a Nonu set for Blues return

Real, As Neil Diamond almost sang, it was “On a Warmish August night” in 2014, 12 all (4 penalties each) in belting rain at Sydney Olympic Stadium after God’s Own Team The Mighty Tahs fulfilled their destiny and won the SR title. I know, I was there drenched outside and inside but happy.

Hooper was roasted after the game for not taking a penalty just on half time almost under the posts. Some things never change. 🙂

By dumping Larkham, the Wallabies have been Cheika-mated

`TWAS, you have S.Larkham ahead of D.Gibson and D.Wessels as a SR coach? Apart from the continuation of White’s maul-a-plenty, what did Larkham do at the Brumbies to deserve such an honour?

With arguably the best backline in Aussie rugby at the time, the Brumbies backs were as threatening as a soft pudding. Not a good look for such a “great” attack coach.

By dumping Larkham, the Wallabies have been Cheika-mated

Don, I agree that it appeared that Robbie Deans had run out of ideas after 6 years as WB coach. While it looked like Deans had lost support from some within the dressing room, I always thought that the provincial coach available who had won a SR comp recently who was an Aussie and his mates at the SMH did a nice hatchet job on Deans. For nigh on 18 months said provincial coach was constantly promoted as the better WB coach.

Needless to say, once Link did take the reins I thought he did a pretty good job. The WB were playing smart rugby for a time; the WB scared the hell out of the AB a couple of times (I was at the 12-all draw in Sydney) though to be fair the AB and SB also spanked them a couple of times. Even so I reckon the WB of 2013-2014 were playing more clever and entertaining rugby than the dirge of the 2018 WB.

While some may get schadenfreude from the disaster of Link’s removal, it was a horrible way to go and left a bad taste.

By dumping Larkham, the Wallabies have been Cheika-mated

Jez, I remember Nic Bishop picked up on the same backline moves of repeatedly running pretty, scripted and ineffective plays at least 15m behind your gain line which almost guarantees your outside backs no room against the sideline. It fools the opposition nowt and just tires your own blokes for no return. Proponents of these moves say it’s better than bashing against a brick wall rush defence but I read that argument as head-in-the-sand stuff and refusal to see what the rest of the world is doing.

Sadly all alternatives require good coaching and a skills upgrade. Witness the plethora of tries scored by England and Ireland, nearly all from accurate kicks combined with switched-on co-ordinated chasers. It’ll be a cold day in hell before the WB are anywhere up to that standard. Our blokes find it simpler to boot the pill 35-40m up the guts, then have a quick breather. 🙁

By dumping Larkham, the Wallabies have been Cheika-mated