All Blacks

TRC 2016 New Zealand v Australia

TRC 2016 New Zealand v Australia

When the boss put the call out for volunteers for Bledisloe two pieces the silence hung thick in the air. Days later I found myself with some time to spare so I grabbed the template and pasted it into the editor. Interestingly the old post we use as a template is the 2013 Waratahs v BI lions game. Cheika was the coach and he’d just called Bernard Foley back from the Aussie Sevens team for the match. The article was upbeat and Cheika was enthusiastic and full of confidence. Three and a bit years later and Cheika and Foley have a Super Rugby title but I’m not sure the confidence and Enthusiasm are still around.

So what about the key matchups.

No bullshit: Cheika v Hanson

Cheika - not that nasty

Cheika – what you looking at?

A lot of people on the internet say Steve Hanson and his coaching team have the easiest job in world rugby. And on the face of it it seems to be true but, year after year with an ever changing array of players the maintain their dominance of world rugby. They have consistently replaced injured or retiring players with no net loss to the team. that doesn’t happen by accident. This year New Zealand have single-handedly changed the way they and the world play rugby. It seems that in general play any player can fill in in any position. Sure the halfback and flyhalf are still steering the ship but if the don’t make it to the next phase no problem. Who ever happens to be there can do the job. Or make the break, or off load, or kick, or clean out the ruck anything really.

Michael Cheika still seems to be trying to play the style of play he used for the 2013-14 Waratahs. Part of me wonders what would have happened if Ewen McKenzie was still coach? Could he and his team come up with a game plan to beat the All Blacks and implement it or would they just have one game plan that they’d use over and over again? Because from the outside that seems to be what’s happening.

After the 3-0 English series Cheika claimed the the players weren’t fit enough for his game plan. Most people thought Aussie players should be fitter. I thought ‘well you picked the team’ and ‘ Why did you persist with the wrong game plan for three games?’ The way rugby is played has changed isn’t it time Australia moved on too?

The battle tof the backrow: Fardy Pooper v Kaino, Cane and Read

phipps and read wallabies vs all blacks

The All Black backrow mightn’t have a cool name but what the do have is three good players with balance. The wallabies are trotting out our three best backrowers this game but the balance is way out. Fardy is a genuine lineout option and a very good blindside flanker who’s only fault is he talks too much. Australia’s backrow problems start and finish with the two openside flankers occupying the other two spots. The problem being which one you drop and the ‘real’ number eight you’d replace one of them with. The only fit players on the horizon are Sean McMahon, another sub 185cm notta*, and Lopeti Timani who at 193 cm is tall enough but hasn’t played in the backrow this year and doesn’t regularly jump in the lineout. Neither fix our lineout issues and only Timani would make a difference to our scrum.

Kaino, Cane and Read don’t play out of position, work as a unit and offer two and a half lineout targets to Australias one and two halfs. Read is probably the best eight in the world and probably has been for five years.

* A notta – A term penned by GAGR legend Lee Grant meaning notta 6, notta 7 and notta 8 but a bit of all three.

The Halves: Genia, Cooper v Smith, Barrett

Quade Cooper Australia v South Africa 2015

Credit – Sully

During the week I called for Quade Cooper to replace Foley at flyhalf and I got what I wanted. Well kind of. Foley has been moved out one to a position he’s never played to cover for the three injured inside centres from last match. The move to bring the Genia – Cooper  partnership seems to be Australia’s best chance to make a dent in New Zealands dominance. But with both players coming back from injury and not having played together in a fair while it could backfire badly. Then again after losing by a record margin last week what do we have to lose.

Aaron Smith is a world class but Beauden Barrett is in career best form (at least I hope he is) and is nearly impossible to control at the moment. The two kiwis would be hard for the 2011 Genia Cooper combo to control. Can the 2016 version find some of that form and compete?



Last week was ugly. Can a largely unchanged forward pack and a rookie centre pairing make any difference? With Cooper and Kerevi in the back line we’re a pretty good chance of scoring more points but, we’re also a good chance of missing more tackles. The first goal for the Wallabies should be to stay competitive but frankly I can’t think of one area where Australia has the upper hand at the moment. Even I can’t back the Wallabies to win this one.


New Zealand by 15


All Blacks

1. Scott Sio (19)
2. Stephen Moore – captain (106)
3. Sekope Kepu (67)
4. Kane Douglas (24)
5. Adam Coleman (1)
6. Scott Fardy (34)
7. Michael Hooper (55)
8. David Pocock (57)
9. Will Genia (67)
10. Quade Cooper (58)
11. Dane Haylett-Petty (4)
12. Bernard Foley (31)
13. Samu Kerevi (2)
14. Adam Ashley-Cooper (115)
15. Israel Folau (42)
1. Joe Moody (14)
2. Dane Coles (40
3. Owen Franks (81)
4. Brodie Retallick (51)
5. Samuel Whitelock (76)
6. Jerome Kaino (70)
7. Sam Cane (35)
8. Kieran Read – captain (88)
9. Aaron Smith (51)
10. Beauden Barrett (40)
11. Julian Savea (44)
12. Anton Lienert-Brown (0)
13. Malakai Fekitoa (16)
14. Israel Dagg (52)
15. Ben Smith (52)



16. Tatafu Polota-Nau (65)
17. James Slipper (78)
18. Allan Ala’alatoa (1)
19. Dean Mumm (47)
20. Will Skelton (15)
21. Nick Phipps (43)
22. Reece Hodge (0)
23. Tevita Kuridrani (35)
16. James Parsons (6)
17. Wyatt Crockett (49)
18. Charlie Faumuina (37)
19. Liam Squire (2)
20. Ardie Savea (3)
21. TJ Perenara (20)
22. Aaron Cruden (40)
23. Seta Tamanivalu (2)

Where: Westpac Stadium Wellington
When: Sat 27th August 5:35pm (AEST)
Referee: Romain Poite (France)

All Blacks

Just another Rugby tragic. Shane "Sully" Sullivan has been in man love with the game since high school in the 70's. He inflicts his passion on family and anyone who will listen. He can't guarantee unbiased opinion but he can tell you the Reds are Awesome! To read non-rugby content head to

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