(15161 Views / 0 Upvotes)
107 Replies

Australia batting first...for a change.

Finch gone cheaply (Boult got him).

Smith and Warner at the crease. This could get ugly - again.

Nicholls is in for Neesham who is still recovering from the Starc ball he copped on the forearm, and Ferguson is in for Henry.

(4798 Views / 0 Upvotes)
22 Replies

That time of year where it's a bit of fun to throw around ideas on the hypothetical World XV.

Paul Cully of Sydney Morning Herald gives a fairly decent attempt, with some good explanations too. As always there are areas of debate, for example I think Pocock at 7 and Read at 8 are a bit lucky.

As an aside - most of the players below (and fringe players mentioned in the article) will be involved in the Lions v All Blacks series - exciting times.

  1. Jack McGrath (Ireland)
  2. Dane Coles (New Zealand)
  3. Owen Franks (New Zealand)
  4. Brodie Retallick (New Zealand)
  5. Maro Itoje (England)
  6. Chris Robshaw (England)
  7. David Pocock (Australia)
  8. Kieran Read (New Zealand)
  9. Conor Murray (Ireland)
  10. Beauden Barrett (New Zealand)
  11. Liam Williams (Wales)
  12. Owen Farrell (England)
  13. Jonathan Joseph (England).
  14. Israel Dagg (New Zealand)
  15. Ben Smith (New Zealand)

(21297 Views / 5 Upvotes)
240 Replies

I hope they stick with the same team pretty much.

I relaly need an early night so if they can lose the toss and Aus have a bat and get rolled for about 78 and then we clean up the total for the loss of one wicket in 15 over, that would be just great, thanks!

(16946 Views / 1 Upvotes)
168 Replies

Nothing like a test series whitewash over the Number 2 ranked side in the word to gee ya up for a ODI series v Australia!

Really looking forward to this!!!

(13673 Views / 15 Upvotes)
70 Replies

13 from 14 after missing 800+ caps.

Chuck Bledisloe retained.

Perfect Rugby Championship.

A few noobs introduced.

Continue to fuck with the minds of the northern tinfoil brigade.

The only black spot(s) being the result in Chi town, and perhaps the performances at Eden Park and Dublin (and to a lesser extent Paris) where we won on defence (which is a good thing).

Generally a solid B+ for me.

On review we didn't mess too much with the First XV throughout with the exception of Italy. However injury allowed us some pseudo rotation.

I think we need to confirm a 3rd hooker.

Our top 4 props are good. Next in line needs some looking at. Ofa cops a bit of slack but he held up OK. Laulala and Moli bear looking at next year.

Locks. Top 2 are top 2. Romero has some work to do to stay in front of Barrett. Pat T was a bit of a disappointment on tour. Wanted him to meast it up. Think he suffered from lack of game time. Think he's one of those guys who gets better the more they play. So won't write him off. Bird in the background is worth remembering too.

Loosies: apologies from me to Matt Todd. I didn't think he was Test class. He is. He's not Sam Cane but he's not bad. Ardie at this stage has his niche in the pine.

We missed JK at 6 in Chicago. And I don't think either Squire or Dixon are his replacement. As I have said elsewhere I think Luatua is a more like-for-like replacement. Ioane may be a bench option.

Read was quiet, but hardly a passenger. A long term replacement 8 is needed too. Ioane is not that yet IMO.

Halfbacks. We're well served. We all know about Smith's form dip. Disappointing. But a month or two off to get his head right will do him a world of good.

TJ's form has been a huge plus.

Back up from TKB, Weber and Pulu and there's plenty of depth.

When you consider Lima Sopoaga is rated the 3rd 10 we're doing good there.

BB killed it this year. AC still looks really good even if he is not BB.

As always we need to consider who else is around. Need at least 4 10s one of whom can whitebait. DMac must be in the mix I suppose.

Midfield. Well after starting the year with this area as a point of major panic, whilst it's not a weapon currently it's not the weakness it could gave been.

ALB looks the part. Crotty makes whoever he is there with look good. Fekitoa has his moments. Moala runs hard and straight. Reiko (just for @GT12) looked comfortable in his outings. Tamanivalu may be a bit of a work on.

Given SBW will be around, Barrett Jr will have a full SR campaign, and Charlie Ngatai may be over his head knocks (hopefully - for his sake as much as anything else) we're not thin at 12/13.

Wings. We had our moments. Savea was up and down. He suffered a lot from reputation lag though. If he didn't score from 35m out and only beat one tackler he was "useless". Some of the criticism was justified some of it wasn't. Naholo had flashes but I'm sure we hoped for a bit more. Given we were forced to play Dagg at 14 says something about the depth and form of our wings.

Ioane could be additional cover here and if course NMS will hopefully be back. Nanai may be an option too.

BFA was excellent through the year. Dagg excellent deputy.

Considering though that Dagg was the best option at wing we need to look for depth in the back 3. As above NMS covers this and Nanai has been in the mix. Proctor may be on the fringes.

With regard to tactics I think teams have worked out that they can't kick it back to us. So they hold on to the ball more. Hence we've had to defend. And by crikey the defence has been awesome. Teams may have worked out that they need to hold on to the ball, they just need to learn how to hold on to it and do something with it to break that defence.

In a lot of ways we've slowly been dragged back to the pack from where we were at the start of the season .. or at least the chasing pack has caught us a little.

I think Aussie at Eden Park looked dangerous and have backed that up (even allowing for Ireland result).

Not sure of some of our tactics. Plenty of times I'd have liked to work the corners rather than a half pie kick which turned over possession 60m out. We did that too much against Aus at EP, Ireland and France. And they were all good enough to take advantage and mount attacks. Deeper kicks would have put more pressure on.

Anyway. My 2c.

Looks like your connection to The was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.