Welcome to the week before what will be a major game for the Wallabies this season. Make no mistake about it, this week is a defining game for the Wallabies this year. Win and they are on track for a good season. Lose and their season is looking like going downhill. If they lose questions will be asked about the players, selections, coaching team and management.
However, it’s Wednesday which means it’s the day we put the disappointment of the last game behind us and we start looking forward with hope to the game this weekend. Good luck for the weekend whoever you follow.
Boks name their team early
Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber has made two changes to his starting XV for their Test against Australia in Adelaide on Saturday, with Warrick Gelant and Faf de Klerk coming in on the right wing and at scrum-half respectively.
Gelant replaces Jesse Kriel, while De Klerk has recovered from concussion which ruled him out of the second test against New Zealand and he takes over from Jaden Hendrikse. There are also three alterations to the replacements bench, which has a split of five forwards and three backs. Hendrikse replaces Herschel Jantjies, while Elton Jantjies comes in as the back-up fly-half and Frans Steyn provides additional cover for the backs.
“This is a very important clash for us to set the tone for the rest of the Rugby Championship and we feel that continuity in selection is important to build momentum in our campaign,” said Neinaber.
Nienaber expects a tough challenge from Australia, who will be eager to bounce back from a record loss Argentina in their previous Test. “Australia are always a tough force at home and the fact that we haven’t beaten them here since 2013 is evidence of that,” he said.
“Much like us, they will also want to bounce back after going down against Argentina, so we expect them to come out firing. The fact that this will be the first Test between the teams in Adelaide will serve as extra motivation for both teams this weekend, so we are preparing for another epic encounter against them.”
South Africa 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Warrick Gelant, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Joseph Dweba 1 Ox Nche
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Jaden Hendrikse, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Frans Steyn
To be honest this is a pretty good team and I think the Wallabies will have to be on top of their game in all departments if they want to take this one.
Where are the Wallabies No 10?
Now JOC didn’t play well against Argentina last weekend, but he didn’t cost the Wallabies the test match. The alarm bells were already well and truly ringing by the 24th minute when Los Pumas No.12 Jeronimo de la Fuente managed to skip through the Wallabies’ defence untouched, blow a hamstring and still make his way to the try line when he realised the Australian defenders had deemed it impolite to tackle an injured man. The axing of O’Connor for the Springboks, therefore, seems to be an extraordinary overreaction to the loss, particularly as the Wallabies selectors clearly don’t trust Noah Lolesio – at least not with the deep faith required at Test level.
The recall of Bernard Foley ahead of both Tane Edmed and Ben Donaldson – who have just been through Super Rugby and Australia A campaigns, demonstrates the Wallabies are firmly in the corridor of uncertainty when it comes to the critical playmaking position. Tane Edmed did have a tricky end to Super Rugby Pacific and an underwhelming Pacific Nations Cup campaign with Australia A. He has has the core skills and size to play Test rugby, but he struggled against the Chiefs in Hamilton and didn’t impose himself against Manu Samoa in Suva. Unfortunately with only four Tests against the Springboks and All Blacks left in the Rugby Championship they may need to hope for time on the end of year tour.
Now I personally am dead against Foley’s recall. I thought he was very poor when he last played for both the Waratahs and the Wallabies and he certainly hasn’t set the world on fire in Japan. I find it strange to hear that the issue we have is a lack of experience and then we refuse to give any experience to those same players. Even if Foley does somehow completely change his game and play well, he is certainly not the future for the Wallabies and is only making sure that the youngsters coming through continue to have no experience. Don’t get me wrong I’m not blaming Foley. I’m sure he will go out and give his best and it’s not his fault he is being picked. I am finding the selections of the Wallabies quite questionable in a number of areas and I’m not sure we actually know what in the hell we want with this team.
Super Rugby Team News
While the focus of fans has turned to international rugby, the coaches and staff at Super Rugby Pacific clubs are working to get their squads in order for 2023.
The ACT Brumbies have a new/old name and a new/old coach in Stephen Larkham, who has spoken about bringing a more attacking brand of rugby back to Canberra. They have lost Wallabies front rowers Scott Sio and Folau Fainga’a and backs Irae Simone and Tom Banks. The first three additions to the squad were pathways players winning promotion, so expect plenty more incomings over the next few months.
Rebels have lost their captain Michael Wells as well as their experienced Wallabies back Matt Too’mua while two youngsters are heading to the NRL. They have made a start on recruitment but have plenty more work to do.
Darren Coleman made an instant impact last season, raising performances and fan expectations. Welsh veteran Jamie Roberts has moved on along with a long list of other players, but Coleman has again leaned into experience by bringing in the likes of Kurtley Beale and Fijian veteran Nemani Nadolo. The selection that has raised most eyebrows is that of Wallabies hooker Tolu Latu, who comes home after a controversial and difficult time in France. The Tahs look short in some areas but have several players already lined up and awaiting official announcements.
Brad Thorn will be eager to add to his squad next year after they were found out in the knock out rounds. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, who was left out in the cold, has moved on, as has Alex Mafi, and Hamish Stewart, the latter joining the Force after the Reds were angered by an approach from the Rebels.
New coach Simon Cron has vowed to reshape the team in pursuit of a move up the table. The former junior Wallabies coach, Waratahs assistant and Shute Shield winning coach with Norths has been with Toyota Verblitz where he worked under New Zealand World Cup-winning coach Steve Hansen. Cron has targeted a prop, centre and lock as he aims to finalise his squad.
“We had a lot of turnover for a number of reasons but I’m excited about the boys I’ve got now,” he told the West Australian newspaper. “We’ve got to be smart around how we recruit, clear on who we sign. We have to think outside the box.”
Be careful what you ask for – You might just get it.
Life is full of unintended consequences. In this world there is very little that happens on a singular plane with no connection to anything else. Time after time we see people make a decision to resolve an issue and have other things go wrong that in some cases make the original issue minor by comparison. This usually happens because people get so fixated on a single issue they fail to see the connections and don’t take time to understand or even think about the other areas that will be affected by the decision.
This has been particularly true with the introduction of the TMO in rugby. I’m sure that no one who discussed this ever thought that so much time would be lost while the TMO adjudicates on an incident, or that it would become so polarising with the spectators, players and everyone else.
The issue rugby was trying to resolve was tied to both the accuracy of the referee decisions and the sheer dynamism of rugby with so much happening at any one time and decisions being subjective more than objective. I remember some of the discussions about the TMO when it was being introduced and it was mainly about whether a try had been scored or not. There were a number of games where tries had been awarded when they weren’t actually scored or where tries weren’t awarded when in fact they had been scored. The people running the game felt that a TMO would provide some certainty and stop the endless whinging of the referee ruining the game by getting calls incorrect – boy were they wrong!
Now of course the TMO’s role was extended firstly to plays prior to the try being scored, then foul play and now it seems the TMO is sticking his beak into every facet of the game. What’s worse we have people like that twatt Erasmus demanding 100% accuracy in a game where nothing is accurate and then putting up videos to show where things are wrong. Referees are human and they don’t like that sort of abuse so now they are spending more and more time checking the TMO to try and get it right so they don’t suffer the abuse from dickheads.
We complain about the lost time to the TMO but in actual fact it has been our own complaints of the refereeing that has led to the lost time occurring.
As I said “Be careful what you ask for – you may just get it!”