The Mole is of the strong opinion that the ARU have eyes bigger than their bellies when it comes to ‘growing the game’. They’ve expanded for the sake of expanding, not for the sake of winning more trophies.
Jerome Thion [France]: Thion is in the prime of his life as a second row: 33 years old, 115kgs, 45 starts for France and two World Cups. The Biarritz man has locked the French scrum with Lionel Nallet in a lot of big games but has been surplus to requirements since the defeat to Italy. Continue reading
There’s a Bennett, four Jones, three Williams and two Davies; yes, that Samoan team is full of familiar names. Ho ho ho – that’s funny! Continue reading
Graham Henry has named his squad, and the most striking news is that neither Sitiveni Sivivatu nor Hosea Gear are in it. As mentioned in the match review of the recent SA vs NZ test from Port Elizabeth, New Zealand have an absolute rake of top-quality wingers who would find a place in the starting line-up of many other teams in the world cup – the two lads join ‘Walk Away’ Rene Ranger, Joe Rokocoko and Lelia Masaga at poolside, or possibly in one of those big Auckland bars like the one that’s in the start of Once Were Warriors. If Uncle Bully tries to do a runner again, he’s not going to get very far. Continue reading
Scotland. Looking at their squad, you nod your head and take a breath in and think to yourself: “Y’know, there are some pretty serious players there.” I do, anyway. Then you remember the last couple of times you saw them play, and just how abject they can be.
Andy Robinson has announced his captain as Alaistair Kellock, which to my mind immediately rules out the likelihood of them starting their best lock pairing, Nathan Hines and Richie Gray. Kellock is a fine player in his own right, a good captain and seems like a lovely chap in the Rob Wainwright mould, but Gray is already looking like he could be Victor Matfield’s successor as the best No5 in world rugby, and Nathan Hines is long-established as one of the top front jumpers and tighthead locks in the northern hemisphere. Hines has great hands, a mean-streak a mile wide and ridiculous stamina – he played in more games than any other Leinster player last year [when you include his Scottish internationals] in one of the toughest positions on the pitch. Playing him at blindside, as Andy Robinson did during the Six Nations, gets him on the pitch but doesn’t take best advantage of his unique capabilities. Gray is going to have a great world cup – he’s both a phenomenal athlete and a proper rugby player, making tackles all over the park, dominant at lineout time and an excellent runner in the open field with an eye for the offload. The sky is the limit for this lad, and I’ve no doubt he’ll be piling up Man of the Match awards and contract offers from French clubs. Continue reading
Boks Club Baby Blacks; Eat Bones
South Africa sent a largely back-up team to Wellington under a vastly experienced hooker three weeks ago, and New Zealand returned the compliment yesterday. Kevin Mealamu captained a half-strength side missing a wealth of stars: Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Kieran Read, Brad Thorn and Mils Muliaina, the established spine of the side, were all left cooling their heels back in New Zealand. It’s a cliche in rugby circles that there is no such thing as a bad All Blacks side, and though any team would miss players of the calibre of those listed above, Mealamu, Tony Woodcock, Ali Williams and Jerome Kaino, all front-rank forwards, were present and correct. Continue reading
For What It’s Worth
When journalists go about choosing a squad for the world cup – and just about all of them have done it – there’s a distinction between those who try to pre-empt Declan Kidney’s announcement by picking the ‘right’ squad i.e. the squad that will go to the world cup, and those who pick ‘their’ squad, i.e. the squad that they would choose were they manager. Continue reading