Well ... watching BeIN Sport's round up of the Test matches from overnight it seems green is the new black.
Having just thrashed Canada all they have to do is turn up next week ...
Ok that's a little overstated but it will be a fascinating clash.
So what do the good guys do to fix up the fuck up from Soldier Field?
My conjecture as to selections as follows.
Don't expect too many surprises. Mainly the bench mix.
Not 100% sure on injuries so let me know if I'm wrong.
The top four on rotation. LH starting option open due to Moody's propensity to give away penalties. Mind you it might be good to have the option to drag the guy should a YC loom.
Franks to start as Charlie is a better impact benchie.
Coles starting. Taylor bench. Duh.
BBBR and Barrett.
JK, Cane, Read.
The interest for me is around the mix on the bench to cover locks and loosie.
Given the JK experiment did not go 100% to plan I'd be tempted to have a lock option. Either Paddy T - who would have benefitted from a couple of games in a row - or Luatua over Squire. You guys who watched v Italy will have to tell us Aus based Ferners if eithef of those is an option.
I expect Ardie as back up 7.
I'd pick Smith on reputation. How did he look last night? Regardless AS and TJP in the XXXIII.
Ioane Jr would be my choice.
The recent discussion about the relative worth of players in comparison to their peers made me look up some stats on backrow players in Super Rugby. Unlike baseball, it appears to be more difficult looking for a specific skill that you want from a certain position. Apparently, it's not as easy as "make tackles".
This is what I had to work with:
Open play kicks
*Frustratingly for flankers, I could not locate that stat for every player. Suffice to say that this year Pocock was clearly the best at it, followed by Savea.
I took every player who had played more than four games and 200 minutes to exclude the outliers, worked out their involvements against the above measures per minute played and ranked them.
Then I realised that if you play against weaker teams, your stats are more likely to look good, so I normalized the data depending on their final ladder position, i.e. if you play the Kings and Sunwolves, you're more likely to rack up big carry metres etc. than you are if you're playing against those who made the finals...
So the ABs are a historically successful team, and have been for some time. Winning streak records, World Cups, etc.
And now it seems they have attracted the scorn of pundits and fans around the world. We've had commentary about their nefarious tactics (eye gouging, niggle off the ball, constantly infringing), their cozy relationship with referees, issues with 'attitude' and 'entitlement' (eg shagging birds in disabled toilets), and a general longing from most fans that they will flat out lose.
Here is my theory, and maybe it's stating the bleeding obvious... this treatment isn't so much to do with the ABs, in fact it happens to most, if not all, historically successful teams.
Admittedly I don't have a huge number of examples to support this, but here are a few off the top of my head:
Australian cricket team of the early 2000s - set the record for consecutive test wins, and the 'hard edge' they were lauded for early in Steve Waugh's reign became a lightning rod for criticism. They attracted a pretty solid opposition around the world for boorish tactics (esp from Hayden, McGrath, Warne, Ponting, Waugh).
Golden State Warriors, 2014-15-16 - Went from darlings of the league to the most hated team around, even before Kevin Durant signed. Draymond Green went from a tough player to a dirty player, and people began delighting in their failures.