Now, where was I?
Happy Friday G&GRs. I am back from a week of absolute crushing, soul-destroying, boredom from COVID isolation. I got to stare into an abyss of ‘nothingness’, watching my will-to-live slowly slip away. At least now I can empathise with those who live in South Australia. My thanks to Yowie for covering at short notice and for clearly not trying to be entertaining or informative in any way – mission accomplished Mr Y.
Test footy is back baby and what a weekend we have, wall-to-wall international rugby.
Today we kick off with a G&GR EXCLUSIVE as I get to go one-on-one with Dr Evil, Eddie Jones (with sincere thanks to the CEO of Carparking at RA, Nathan Williamson for arranging) in ‘Sympathy for the Devil‘. We will dive into a preview of Test #1 of the Wallabies v England with ‘Rule Britannia?’. Celebrate a win for ‘the old guys’ in ‘No Country for Old Men’. Take a look at this weekend’s international fixtures and coverage with ‘Rugby-palooza!‘ And wrap it all up with Friday’s Goss with Hoss now packing for the Brisbane test.
SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL.
‘Please allow me to introduce myself………………..’
Well G&GRs earlier this week I was given an exclusive interview* to go Hosso e mono with English head coach Eddie Jones via ‘Zoom’, as he prepared his side for this weekend’s first test blockbuster live from Perth. My thanks to RA and English media management for the opportunity:
H – Dr Evil, thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me & welcome to the humble pages of G&GR.
E – ‘No problem Hoss, great to be among your readers and please stop calling me ‘Dr Evil’.
H – Sorry ’bout that. Mr Evil, you’ve been in Oz for a week now and must have had this series highlighted in your diary for an age, just what can we expect from your side in the opening test?
E – Total and utter physical domination.
H – Come again?
E – (Sighs and I think mumbles ‘simpleton’) Look, we are going to bash your lot – ok. Pure and simple, the Wallabies are as soft as NATO’s response to Russia.
H – Bit harsh Dr, you watched any SR rugby this year, think you’ll find the brutality of the Oz sides went up a few notches
E – (sipping his Earl Grey with a slice of lemon). ‘Brutality’, surely you jest! If and I do mean ‘if’ you actually manage getting the ball to the wider channels once my legion of British Beefcake does you over, Owen Farrell’s shoulder charges will stop you in your tracks.
H – You meant Owen Farrell’s ‘tackles’ didn’t you?
E – Same thing.
H – Jeez I don’t know Doc. Consensus among many learned journos has your mob out of form over a couple of years, a bit ‘light on’ up front and players like the once mighty ‘Super Mario’ Itoje look to be shadows of their former self, just where will this grunt come from?
E – Look you uppity antipodean, we are England, our game is based around aggressiveness, physicality and stiff upper-lipidness.
H – Aren’t you Australian too? Anyway, you seem to be wound a bit tight this time mate, could it be that your team is actually shite and likely to be touched up 3 zip, thus ending a 8 nil run you’ve had against Cheika-led Australian sides?
E – Not when I’m coaching England I’m not and yes, I do miss Mick, from an English Rugby view, it’s really surprising & disappointing you lot let him go, although I am looking forward to dominance against the Falkland Island Silver Medallists soon (let’s out an evil laugh and strokes Owen).
H – Right…….So can rugby fans expect anything new from England this tour?
E- What, you mean our scores not being divisible by 3?
H – Well yes.
E – No.
H – A lot written about the ability and free spirit of Marcus Smith with some comparisons to a young Quade Cooper. What’s your take on Master Smith?
E – Exciting prospect isn’t he. His ability to read a game and unlock our attack will provide headaches for the Orange team.
H – So he’ll have licence to ‘play what’s in front of him’ and some ad-lib rugby then?
E – Oh hell no. He’s instructed to hoist up ‘bombs’ and kick for the corners for scrums.
H – So you can apply ‘brutality’ then?
E – Now you’re getting it.
H – Right, I think that’s about all we have time for today Doc. Thanks for taking the interview.
E – No problem Hoss, do you take your tea with or without lemon?
*interview may not have ‘technically’ occurred.
Teams, times and details courtesy rugby.com.au
The wait is over and the teams are out!
I admit it, I really love that nervous excitement and energy that the lead into the first test of the season brings, especially so when it’s the start of a three test, back-to-back series against those stuffy, entitled invaders: England.
With the Wallabies team named and the lack of many Reds players making the game day XXIII stronger, there’s a lot to like about our chances. Sure a few players were out of the selection race with either injury (The Abattoir, HJH, Holloway & co) or have recently returned from injury and lack game time (James ‘Jon Snow’ O’Connor for example) but I like the starting XV we have named, with one ‘question on notice’: where is Dirty Harry Wilson? I guess only Moses can answer that one for us, but on first impressions, it’s a head scratcher that he misses the 23 entirely.
Just on that XXIII with a bench split of 5-3. It initially looks to me to be a bit ‘thin’. I think you need more ‘cover’ from the three fairies. No problem with Jake ‘The Commissioner’ Gordon ahead of Tate ‘Joe Dirt’ McDermott (too many people on here confuse the ‘effort’ from Joe Dirt with the actual ‘quality’ of performance from him), but surely JOC must be there in lieu of Noah? JOC can cover 10-15 at a pinch, while Noah is a tricky one. The kid needs game time, but is a specialist #10 only. Sure you could argue Jordan ‘of Nazareth Petaia’ is utility cover, but we are an injury or card to 12-13 from being exposed a wee bit.
For all that, I like the starting forwards. Big, fit, abrasive, confrontational, skilled and with combinations among our forwards. Plus a couple of weeks with Chuckles McKellar drilling them on the finer points of mauling (good read here from rugby.com.au on Chuckles’ ambitions for our maul) then you can see why combinations and especially Brumby combinations are important to our chances.
I like The Lip starting at #9 as he currently has the best all round game of any Oz #9. Last year also showed what Quade ‘Lazarus’ Cooper and Kerevi are capable of in the 10-12 jerseys. The only one who could count himself lucky to be in the run-on squad, based on SR form, is the ‘Ginger Ninja’ Andrew Kellaway; however, I am a big fan of his and I am sure he will go well.
So, do we have the team, tactics, belief and skill to Rule Britannia in Perth first up? A dry track, big crowd, improved SRP performance, improved player fitness (all Oz sides looked leaner and more ‘cut’ this season during SRP) nearly three weeks in camp with Moses & co and to be frank what seems a team on the rise (in Orange) against an English team that at best is trapped in a stagnant mediocrity or at worst declining, all point to a first up Wallabies win.
Fearless Prediction: Wallabies by 16 and 1-0 lead into Brisbane.
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN?
A couple of good news stories in the Wallaby side named this week with 33 year old Cadeyrn Neville & 29 year old Dave Porecki named for their international debuts.
Neville, who in rugby terms is like 85, is a story of what could have been so near, yet so far. With this his fifth Wallaby Camp attendance over his career, it would have been easy for him to be jaded, bitter or simply ‘give up’; instead he finds himself just one sleep away from what must have, at times, seemed a lost hope, but will now find himself running onto a packed Optus Arena wearing his national jersey.
Good read here on ‘Nev’s’ journey from Iain Payten of SMH
Porecki at 29 is similarly a tale of a well-travelled rugby path, that also culminates in national selection. With him leaving the Waratahs in his early 20s to play in England for a five year stretch, before returning to NSW in 2020 to reignite the embers of desire to one day wear the Cadbury Orange.
Both players were likely Northern Tour participants at the end of 2021 but separate injuries cruelly robbed them of that honour and I am sure all on G&GR wish both gents nothing but good fortune and long careers, they certainly have earnt & deserve the opportunity.
Enjoy the experience, go well & remember, two tests gets you an official G&GR nickname, so a lot to play for gents.
I hope your fridge is full and your schedule cleared because this weekend is simply wall-to-wall rugby. and you’ll barely have time to brush the Doritos from your shirt and top up the bourbon before the next match kicks off.
The Stan coverage is first class and includes the U20 international fixtures, Pacific Nations Cup fixtures and Tests involving SH powerhouses Oz, Nearlies, The Catholics & FISMs.
With the 2023 RWC knocking on the door, these tests are for more then just national pride, they truly are launching platforms for sides as the next 12 months will simply fly past and will be an indicator as to who’s on track and who has work to do:
NZ v Ireland
I would read no more into the MAB v Oirish ‘A’ result of Wednesday night then I do the Poms v French ‘C’ Team, the Barbarians two weeks back. Test footy will be a different animal entirely. Sure, there were some pointers for those in emerald to take note of, particularly the physicality of the Kiwis at ruck time, I noted early in the SRP season that the intensity of the Sheep Shaggers at rucks had increased significantly’, but the Irish are a skilled and physical side and only just missed beating France in Paris. The same French side that humbled the Kiwis late last year. What would be great for the series would be an Oirish win in game #1……
Fearless series result prediction: Nearlies 2-1
South Africa v Wales
With The Popes Lot buggering off up north I admit to not paying much attention to the Catholics of late, nor the Welsh for that matter. I would say though that the Saffers are always historically too strong for Wales, even on an off day & by plenty.
The Saffers will do what they do best. ‘Soften up’ the Welsh with their big units first, before getting it to their danger men out wide, including the return of one Cheslin Kolbe.
Fearless series result prediction: South Africa 3-0 in a canter
Argentina v Scotland
In what will be their first outing in a test match under Mr M Cheika, I expect the FISMs to be aggressive, confrontational and abrasive when they take on the Scots in Argentina. In fact I expect them to be too good for Scotland, who are also without Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg.
You cannot dismiss Scotland’s chances, on paper they still look a good outfit. But the FISMs at home & with Cheika stoking the embers of South American passion that lie within, well I just can’t go past Argentina for this series. Look for Matera to play a leading role after his successful and very impressive year with the Crusaders.
Fearless series result prediction: Argentina 2-1
Japan v France
I love watching the Nippon XXIII play. Equally this French team are something special and will be the only NH side to leave the south with reputations and a series win in tack.
Fearless series result prediction: France 2-0
But don’t just take my word for it, planetrugby.com has assembled a crack squad of 5 experts for their tips
FRIDAY’S GOSS WITH HOSS.
I echo Happy’s sentiments from yesterday’s Rugby News. Stan has got so much right with its coverage of rugby, but, please Stan, don’t now succumb to your inner Channel 9 ‘Footy Show’ type crap with ‘Rugby Heaven’. It is appalling viewing, ill conceived, puerile shite that appeals to no one but the clowns involved with its inception, broadcast and longevity. I love a good laugh, but Rugby Heaven ain’t it, not even close. It is contrived, try hard, scripted, dog vomit. You do the game and yourselves a disservice with crap like that.
In the same week Carl Hayman laid bare his current battles with CTE and with his partner painted a fairly bleak diagnosis for his future somehow Irish prop, Jeremy Loughman, was deemed to have ‘passed’ a HIA after being knocked senseless and having referee Wayne Barnes literally hold him up. More from stuff.co.nz
Worldrugby.com has all the match officials for the July men’s internationals. A word of caution, I am yet to hear anything ‘positive’ about the ability of one James Doleman who has Oz v SDs in Perth, hmmmmm, I hope we won’t be discussing his name come Saturday night, but……stay tuned.
Worldrugby.com has the current rankings listed, be interesting to see how this looks at the end of July don’tcha think!
Aussie A Side
rugby.com.au has the Oz A side for this weekend’s match against Samoa with Ryan Lonergan to skipper.
That’s it from me for the week, but with COVID, cards and injuries all to play out before our eyes, this weekend will be Rugby Nirvana.
Go the Wallabies
Hoss – out.