Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to talk all things Rugby.
G’day G&GRs and welcome to Friday, the one day a week where you can abandon all reason and logic and be among rugby friends, even if you’re from WA.
Today let’s revisit last week’s controversial Brumbies loss with ‘You Tankers’, take a deep dive preview for this weeks QFs with ‘It’s Showtime’. Hear from Australia’s first ever foreign coach in ‘Dingo Barks‘. Look at the candidates for the Orange #15 jersey with ‘Banks banks Yen’ and round it all out with ‘Friday’s Goss with Hoss’ the perfect aperitif to this weekend’s Rugby bonanza.
Well, well, well. How the mighty have ‘fallen’.
There is something really quite rotten in the State of Canberra. A team so desperate to win, so desperate to achieve token greatness that they will pursue the path of least resistance, that they seemingly ‘tank’ to avoid Australia’s Premier Rugby Province, the Oz powerhouse, the NSW Waratahs.
So it came to pass last week, Gaggers, when the might of the ACT Brumbies took on the ‘little engines that could’, Moana Pasifika with the top three spot all but certain and a QF match-up with the Tahs guaranteed as a result of said victory. Roll forward to full time and what do we get………… the Brumbies ‘lose’. That’s right they ‘lose’. They lost to a team backing up from the previous Tuesday night, they lost to a team that even the Rebels & Force could beat and let’s be frank, these two Oz sides would struggle to beat The Mudgee under 15s thirds, but beat MP they did, so it follows that the Brumbies would win, wouldn’t it? Unless of course the side from the frigid, barren, wasteland that is Canberra wanted to avoid their Rugby Kryptonite a week later, right, right, right?
Nope. They fumbled they stumbled, they ‘missed’ 27 tackles and generally played like a team not wanting to win? They alienated the ref, dropped more pill than a multi-national ‘big pharmo’ does to Hunter Valley chemists in winter and generally just shat the bed. As a result they get a gimme against the Canes instead of season 22 oblivion against the Tahs. So I guess in this instance it seems a good outcome don’t it.
You can run Brumbies, but you can’t hide, you want glory, come get it.
It finals time peoples and all that’s happened previously don’t matter a thing. Let’s jump in, look at the key players, the teams & match officials for this weeks showdowns. May the best
Tahs teams win. All times, teams and coverage courtesy of Australia’s leading rugby writer, just kidding, Nathan Williamson (check your match officials for the Brumbies v Hurricanes NW) of rugby.com.au
Crusaders v Queensland Reds
Friday 3 June 5:05 pm AEST at Orange Theory Stadium, ad-free, live and on-demand on Stan Sport
Referee: Brendon Pickerill Assistant Referees: James Doleman, Angus Mabey TMO :Glenn Newman
Even with The Padre telling the world the Reds have gone into an ‘origin/siege mentality’ as they bunker down and fester and imbibe the ‘underdog’ tag, there’s simply no way I can see the Reds getting up over the Crusaders this week.
Yes, the Reds were improved in in the second half of last week’s game and that may give them a ‘lift’, but for mine it’s simple, no Tupou, no O’Connor (in particular) means the chances seem slim. Hamish Stewart is a terrific player and IMO doesn’t get anywhere near the credit he deserves. But, he must take the heat off part time #10 Lawson Creighton and step into the distribution role more for this match. Jock Campbell must also insert himself more into the backline to create a variable attacking option. While Paisami is back from the pine, the Reds still need to be within reach with 20 to go for Hunter to do his thing and get the Reds an unlikely victory.
The Crusaders are laden with ABs. The forwards are battle hardened, no frills and just get the job done week in-week out. There backs are electric and quiet simply, no team are more experienced or more successful at the ‘pointy end’ of the season then the Crusaders and if that’s not enough, they are at home in Christchurch, which I believe is Polynesian for ‘frozen tundra shithole, that shakes a lot’
The shame for me with the Reds is that the season will not accurately reflect the stellar contributions of Dirty Harry Wilson or ‘Little Poey’ Fraser McReight, who both deserve more to show for their endeavours. You can find their stats here, but for example:
- #1 carries – 189 (39 clear of #2)
- #7 metres gained
- #4 off loads
- #9 tackles won
McReight’s contributions have been no less sensational and his jackling, link play, work rate, minutes played and overall effectiveness are a great precursor for him and us Wallaby fans. Unless of course Hoops stays on until 2027 or Charlie ‘Kenny Rogers’ (The Gambler) Gambler in which case he can bugger off overseas and change his name to ‘Liam’ as far as I am concerned. But before all that, to be any chance at all, Little Poey & Dirty Harry will have to play the games of their lives and get more out of their team mates, otherwise.
Having said that Little Poey will need to make his impact from the pine as the Reds welcome back one of their 17 on field co-captains, in the oft forgotten Liam Wright who has had a shite run of injuries this year. That selection alone tells me the Padre is going to take the Saders on where they least expect it – straight up the guts.
I am on the official G&GR Hansard as being a card-carrying Reds fan. I like the coach, like the culture, their humility and I love the way they play the game & I will be cheering my guts out for them, but I just don’t see a win here. Happy to be wrong, but…..
Fearless Prediction: Crusaders by 20, but give em hell Reds, give em hell.
Chiefs v NSW Waratahs
Saturday 4 June 2:35 pm AEST at FMG Stadium, ad-free, live and on-demand on Stan Sport
Referee: Nic Berry Assistant Referees: Jordan Way, Dan Waenga TMO :Chris Hart
The Chiefs were really the only NZ team to stick it to the Tahs early in the season courtesy of a Nic ‘The Pistol’ Berry howler in the 3rd minute, compounded by a Jamie Roberts transgression and both hookers departing the scene early due to head injuries. Add to that Gus Bell was the third ‘throwing’ option for line outs the Tahs ended up having HJH and The Commissioner throwing underarm (Kiwis should be used to that) into the lineout. At one point the Tahs threatened a massive comeback and were trailing 30-27 and had their tails up, until ultimately too many tackles, too few reserves and the Tahs were gassed in the last 15.
The Chiefs, well, the Drua may have done the Tahs a favour. A frenetic encounter in stifling humidity, plus travel may introduce some weary legs in the last 15 for the Chiefs side. I get they are professional athletes and Kiwi sides are always impeccably fit, still.
The Tahs welcome back Harry Johnson-Holmes to the run on side for this one and Porecki looks to have shaken off a neck complaint to take his spot at #2. Angus The Bull Bell starts at #1 and for all his improvement and potential he must show he can ‘adapt’ to referee perceptions and opposition tactics and impose not just his substantial physical will, but his mental will & alacrity as well. For when it’s all said and done the Chiefs are regarded as perhaps the biggest transgressors of scrumming laws in the competition and the Tahs will need to be alert and pro-active and I cannot understate how much better the Tahs are with Porecki at #2 – as he will be for Orange. The Tahs are still without Perese who failed a last ditch heath check to take his place in the side, but in Alex Newsome they have a vastly underrated and quick utility back who is always the quiet achiever.
So there it is. Chiefs at home, Hodor Retallick back in their ranks. Of all the Kiwi sides they have been the most inconsistent this year, but again, ABs throughout their ranks. At the time of writing the brilliant Sam Cane is listed to start at #7, but with late media reports Thursday state he may miss the team completely due to a ongoing knee issue. Should Cane be Able though the potential battle of him v Hoops & Kenny Rogers will be sensational viewing alone. I am not sold on the Chiefs 9 & 10 combo or their backs and I can’t and don’t eliminate fatigue in the back end of this game as a factor, as I am sure the Tahs will play an ‘up tempo’ style which both suits the Tahs and could expose a few weary Chiefs in the ‘championship minutes’.
Fearless Prediction: Keep the shooters in the holster Nic & go you Blue things. Tahs by 9 and arise Sir Dazza Coleman.
Blues v Highlanders
Saturday 4 June 5:05 pm AEST at Eden Park, ad-free, live and on-demand on Stan Sport
Referee: Angus Gardner Assistant Referees: Ben O’Keeffe, Stu Curran TMO :James Leckie
On form you simply have to pick the Blues don’tcha! The Blues side on paper and on form would beat most Test playing nations, such is their skill, danger, cohesion, willingness & ability to counter attack and season 2022 they have been imperious throughout.
Having said that, there are AB match-ups all across the paddock and dare I say a few trying to muscle out their counterparts for a AB jersey. Of particular interest will be the contest at #9 between Finlay Christie, Aaron Smith and the ABs ‘heir apparent’, Tongan (hmmmm) Folau Fakatava.
The Highlanders are the Forrest Gump box of chocolates of season 22. On their day they are capable of putting any side to the sword, but admittedly they haven’t had too many of those ‘days’ this year and while I think they will lift for this game, they wont lift enough.
Fearless Prediction: Blues by 15
Brumbies v Hurricanes
Saturday 4 June 7:45 pm AEST at GIO Stadium, ad-free, live and on-demand on Stan Sport
Referee: Paul Williams Assistant Referees: Mike Fraser & Mike Winter TMO: Richard Kelly
Will the real ACT Brumbies please stand up, please stand up………..
What an absolute humdinger this looks to be. All Wallaby front row v veteran AB front row members. Wallabies locks & loosies v AB locks & loosies. Everywhere you look there’s established Orange Warriors directly opposing a serial cheat of the famed Nearly All Black jersey. This could be one for the ages folks. But who wins and why?
To save the suspense, I’ll tell you now – the Brumbies, just.
Lets start with the fact that they are at home and the forecast weather for the ACT, a maximum of 10 degrees, so at kickoff that’s what, 4 degrees? Add to that a 60% chance of rain. So that brings the game back in a little ‘tighter’ than perhaps Kiwis traditionally play. I also think the Ponies bench is perhaps stronger than that of the Canes for those vital last 20. Having said that the Ponies MUST deal with the twin threats of Ardie Savea & Du’Plessis Kirifi if they are to get up.
The Brumbies are at near full strength with Sideshow Bob still out (he must have been close you reckon) and I reckon will look to play ‘Brumby Ball’, kick for the corners, slow it down and make it a set piece rumble. The last thing you want to get in with the Canes is an open, frenetic, unstructured shite-show, for they are the masters at that and will belt you while you try and figure out what’s going on.
The Brumbies need to assert structure, slow the pace and do what they do best. Do this, they will live to fight another day. Don’t do this and it could be a solemn farewell for coach Chuckles McKellar on home soil.
Fearless Prediction: Brumbies by 6
My first favourite Kiwi Wallabies Coach has a view of the upcoming ding-dong battle between those from a nation of people that are righteous & good against those from England.
The SMH reports
Deans, Australia’s most-capped Wallabies coach, isn’t convinced that England will give the men in gold a touch-up, despite winning their last eight matches against the Wallabies since that one-sided 2016 series.
“No doubt about it, Eddie will be looking at it and expecting to win. It won’t be straightforward,” Deans told reporters from Japan, having just coached the Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights to victory in the Japan Rugby League One final.
“I just think to beat Australia in Australia is going to be tough. The French failed last year. You could say it was their second or third [best side] but it was still a good combination. This Australian team are lifting their ambitions and are getting better around the contact areas. They’re not going to roll over. No Australian team is going to roll over to England in Australia.
Asked if Jones, a fellow ex-Wallabies coach, would have a few tricks up his sleeve, Deans replied: “I hope so. He’ll need them.”
I am reminded how much I liked ‘Dingo’!
BANKS BANKS YEN – BANKING ON GOLD
Is it just me or has no one yet nailed down the #15 jersey for the series against the Soap Dodgers? With Reece ‘The Clydesdale’ Hodge being either injured or largely inconspicuous in games, Andrew ‘The Ginga Ninja’ Kellaway being played out of position and found wanting in D in the centres, Jordan ‘of Nazareth’ Pataia having more positional changes than the Kama Sutra this year, I reckon the #15 gig is wide open.
To that end, what chance Mark ‘the Funky Bunch’ Nawaqanitawase getting a start. I mean after the Tahs win the whole thing he will be used to winning and at 193cm high and 110+ kg, being terrific in the air and a big kicking game he would be a good counter to the big units the Poms are likely to have in their back three.
One thing’s for sure, those players from an Oz team that go deeper in the finals (the Tahs) will also get that vital extra exposure to pressure, but also get additional time in front of selectors & coaching staff.
FRIDAY’S GOSS WITH HOSS
Clean out or grubby retribution?
When is a ‘clean out’ not a clean out? When you’ve been sat on your arse in a great tackle just prior, that’s when.
Interesting video with a back-story on rugbypass.com with a ‘clean out’ by one of The Catholics locks Eben Etzebeth. Royally and legally dumped in a thumping tackle preceding the ‘clean out’, watch the subsequent actions of EE on the guy who tackled him, fair or foul ya reckon?
Sio ya round?
Due to salary cap limitations, the Brumbies have added one ‘Scott Sio’ to their list of ‘departing players’ at season’s end. Whisper has it The Farce are looking for his services as one of ‘at least two’ Aussie franchises looking to secure the 64 test veteran loose-head’s services. Sio joins three other Wallabies in leaving the ACT at season’s end – Banks, Fainga’a Simone and of course coach Dan McKellar also leave the Ponies.
Why does this sound so familiar?
I reckon if you head outside and the wind’s just right, silence your soul and listen, really listen, you’d be a chance of hearing Raelene Castle laugh out loud all the way from NZ and do her best Buddy Holly – and say out loud ‘thutlle be thu day’
ESPN reports Tongan coach Toutai Kefu has placed a social media ban on all his players during camp including one ‘Dusty Springfield’ Folau. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice and I’ll give you a $4m payout…….fool me three times and well, we’ll let Toutai sort you out.
Argentina squad to
invade face Scotland
planetrugby.com reports Big Mick Cheika has named a full strength Puma squad to face Scotland in July. I’ll keep a close eye over these FIMSs matches. Big units, hot Latin blood, fast tempered & emotional and with Cheik as a coach who doesn’t mind fuelling the fires of passion, this could be interesting. Watch this space I reckon. Maybe a G&GR tipping contest as to how many cards they get?
‘Zed’s dead baby, Zed’s dead’
At time of writing the Senate race for the ACT was yet to be officially confirmed: however, Friday G&GR Rugby News fanboy and sometimes rugby player David ‘Brian’ Pocock looks increasingly likely to win the spot from Liberal incumbent Zed Seselja in what was previously an always Liberal stronghold. Poey, drop me a line when in, there’s a few grievances I’d like you to address when in Canberra and one or two personal grudges.
Until next week. Go well Aussie sides, go well.
Hoss – out