Back row balance

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Fri Apr 05, 2019 10:13 pm

First topic message reminder :

So England have gone from a relatively bare cupboard to, a pretty much universally acknowledged, 3 class acts in Curry, Vunipola and Underhill. The problem now being 2 of those guys are pretty much out and out open sides albeit slightly different strengths.
We've seen a few coaches and Jones himself go with getting the best players on the pitch rather than worry about numbers on their backs but is it the right way to go leading to the world cup? With vunipola the antithesis of a lineout option do one of the flankers drop out or will dropping a world class 8 even come into the equation for a better pack balance?
Have we already got the guys cemented into the side or are they about to be parachuted in? For me the 2 guys who could force themselves in are Dombrandt an option at 6 or 8 or Willis a 6 who could cover 7 and 8. Useful utility options.
I'd personally love to see Willis Curry Vunipola with Underhill on the bench. Nuisance at the breakdown string carrying throughout and 4 if the hardest workers around.

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Post by miaow on Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:38 am

GeordieFalcon wrote:
tigertattie wrote:The backrow balance is a debate many countries have and ultimately it comes down to the tactics you want to employ.

For Scotland we seem to like playing with two fetcher types or 7s on the flanks - aka John Barclay at 6 and Hamish Watson at 7. This is because we want to play a pacey game and want to get to rucks to disrupt and hopefully turn over before the big lads arrive to clear out.

Wales don't play that way and they love a defensive set up so they'd be more suited to a chopper type traditional 6 like Lydiate

England may well prefer a almost playing with someone like a second number  to carry hard to keep the power game going.

It horses for courses in reality.

PS - Robshaw is one of the most under-rated players in England. He can play 6 and 7 and does a hell of a lot of unnoticed work. He really needs to be in the England squad for the WC.

Im a massive Robshaw fan....however I firmly believe we have to look at the new batch now. I think some of them can take our back row to another level.

Robshaw's definitely still underrated. Never going to be top drawer, but he's a really decent player and, importantly, a club/squad man. Someone who everyone likes, gels teams together, puts in the graft etc. I'd have him in the squad to tour, certainly, as he could end up leading the 'midweek' side in the easier group games, as well as doing a job from the bench/in case of injury, or even nicking a place in the starting 15 later on in the tournament.

Picking a bolter now is crazy and a recipe for disaster.

That sort of links on to Curry. Anything 'new' often comes with fresh eyes, intense focus, getting through on adrenaline etc. It's that second season syndrome where players start to settle that you see the cracks in their game. Curry might have the momentum to take him through to Japan as this is, ostensibly, one big season with the Summer training camps. However, there's enough of a break that it might disrupt his form - particularly if EJ does something like Lancaster did 4 years ago with the fitness and get all fundamental about players being a certain size/weight in spite of whether it actually suits the indiviual plauer (or team as a whole).

Curry's looked good but he's also drifted in and out of games at times. He's also very, very young - a bit like Itoje (and it comes with the position ofc) he's also given away a few silly/needless infringements, not least v Ireland.

To me, Underhill looks world class, and I would not want to face him. Curry looks good but young/hungry/raw. Different kind of player. Of the two, in the medium term, England would be better suited to picking Underhill to start (if his body can hold up - seems to have suffered quite a few injuries already). However, an Underhill 6/Curry 7 set-up would be an interesting one if you also go for Lawes and Itoje in the 23. Who England pick at 20 also matters: might make more sense to pick Curry there, in all honesty, but you want him getting the minutes in/having an impact from the start. I can see Curry being a bit of a penalty machine from the bench, to be honest, not least because he's so raw and wanting to make an impact. Itoje's had two years of learning to quell that and I'm not sure he's over the entirely - it's not a small/easy thing to 'learn' at test level. Some players never do!

So I wouldn't get carried away with Curry. Yes, looks decent, but I still think Underhill is better overall. Curry certainly went missing in the second-half v Wales and Scotland, for instance, as those were games I was keeping half an eye on him. Not saying he should have been the player to lead England in those difficult games, but it's easy to be a fairweather analyst, particularly with England as they look very good at times, but they're extremely hot/cold. Think there's a danger of building Curry up a bit too much here, pinning too many hopes on him - a bit like with Tipuric in Wales. People were crying out for more expansive rugby after Shane retired. Tipuric was seen as 'the man' to do that - but whenever he got a game, either in a reserve side or the last 5 minutes of a test, obviously he never lived up to the billing. Even now you get Welsh people (not least on these boards) criticising him because he doesn't live up to the version they have in their head of Tipuric in Welsh shirt - which is expecting him to pull off some of the mad running/kicking stuff he sometimes does for the Ospreys 4 times a game when he starts at 7 for Wales.

Sometimes, a player like Wilson or Robshaw can be just as effective as a player like Curry. It's a bit foolish to be building him up so much, particularly as he's 20, which is very, very young. He's done enough to make the plane to Japan, and might even start at 7, but you really want to judge a player after 25-30 tests (like we're doing with Itoje - remember when, at a similar point in his career to Curry, people were suggesting he should be Lions captain? Seems a bit silly now, doesn't it...) to see how potential and initial buzz translates into consistent performances. That's how you get a better indiciation of a young and talented player's quality.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:50 am

So you're not impressed with Willis then miaow.

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Post by miaow on Wed Apr 10, 2019 2:51 am

Where did you get that from?

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Wed Apr 10, 2019 4:23 am

Just a question. I'll rephrase it you prefer to what do you think of willis then?

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Post by miaow on Wed Apr 10, 2019 4:37 am

Good player, similar to Robshaw. A grafter who goes largely unnoticed/unloved but can be all important to support more talented players/help facilitate the 'gameplan' players like Billy Vunipola. Maybe a bit more to his game than Robshaw, but lacks the physical presence Robshaw seems to have. Seems hungry to play at the top level as well.

In a strange situation, a bit like Hadleigh Parkes - lots of pro experience but coming into the top tier (international rugby) as an older player, so in some ways has similar experience issues to Curry, but in a different manner.

Not sure EJ/England have nailed down who they want to play 6 but maybe, based on fitness alone, he stands a chance of nicking in ahead of Robshaw if it becomes a straight fight. A bit like the Lions in 2017, Robshaw's injuries have come at a bad time for him personally, as they've let someone else in.

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Post by miaow on Wed Apr 10, 2019 4:40 am

I misread - thought you wrote Wilson. I was talking about Mark Wilson.

Which Willis are you talking about? Jack Willis, from Northampton?

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Wed Apr 10, 2019 4:48 am

Not sure Wilson is that unloved by the rest of this board. I'm very much in the minority of thinking he's overrated and given an easier ride than shields. A blind eye turned to an extent. But yeah I meant jack willis of wasps. One of the players identified as a potential bolter.

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Post by Rugby Fan on Wed Apr 10, 2019 4:50 am

miaow wrote:I misread - thought you wrote Wilson. I was talking about Mark Wilson.

Which Willis are you talking about? Jack Willis, from Northampton?
Wasps. He was our next cab off the rank, until sustaining a multi ligament injury to his right knee at the end of last season. Wasps have certainly had some bad luck with promising flankers, also losing Sam Jones to a career-ending injury.

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Post by miaow on Wed Apr 10, 2019 5:00 am

That's the one. Getting the clubs mixed up - think I must have watched him win man of the match against Northampton a few weeks ago? Or maybe I'm just mixing up the dark kitted clubs in the east of England.

Looks a good player. Physical. Can't say I've seen enough to comment more than that but if someone like that can not only cope with the physicality of the Premiership, but hand out some domination for a lot of the time, they should be able to step up to test level. Looks just about impossible to move at the breakdown.

The test is how a player like that - so physically powerful in the league - can step up to the test arena. In my opinion, Sean O'Brien never really fulfilled his promise. He's been a very good test player, yes, but far too inconsistent, doesn't have the all round game of some of his peers/opposition, and I'm not sure he was ever the most natural 7. He broke through at 8 for Leinster and smashed everyone he came up against with ball in hand - he never quite did that for Ireland. Willis, and players like him, face that same issue: are they as unmovable over the ball when they're playing higher intensity, with less margin for error, with more pressure from the situation and the standard of opposition etc.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Wed Apr 10, 2019 6:31 am

Ah. So it's not that you disagree with him being a bolter/good enough more that Its too hard to call which youngster if any Jones would turn to? I think people's opinions on this, certainly mine, is coloured by the fact he was about to be capped before his injury.

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Post by miaow on Wed Apr 10, 2019 7:06 am

I really cba to engage with you 7.5 when every comment is designed to 'trip' someone up. You're looking for something that clearly isn't there. I can't take you seriously.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Wed Apr 10, 2019 7:13 am

You're seeing stuff that isn't there miaow. Just wondered what you meant about the bolters and willis in particular.

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Post by miaow on Wed Apr 10, 2019 8:21 am

I did see something that wasn't there, you're - I took your question at face value, which was a mistake.

The World Cup/modern rugby has little place for bolters. The last time it was tried in a big tournament was arguably NZ in the Lions tour - with very mixed success. Yes, Jordie Barrett played well and had a hand in scoring some tries, but a lack of experience/cohesion played its part in them failing to win what should have been a very winnable series. Likewise, Itoje wouldn't have helped England in 2015 etc.

Bolters are more of a risk than they are a benefit - 6 months before a RWC, if you haven't integrated a player into a squad, that's either:

- A comprehensive failure of the coaching staff to recognise and provide a pathway for talent: from the academy and age grade systems up to the clubs.
OR
- The player has broken through out of (almost) nowhere and is too young/inexperienced at playing professional rugby in general to be considered a safe pick

The only mitigating circumstances I can think of might be where injury has hampered a youngster's development - particularly between the ages of 19-23ish. If they've been out of the game, but then come flying back seemingly from nowhere, there may be a case for having a look at them. But hopefully they were always in their coaches plans, even if injured. The first point - coaching ineptitude - is a poor excuse.

That's my opinion and one many coaches and pros in and around the game seem to share - much to the chargrin of fans/parts of the media who love the fantasy aspects of selection.

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Post by Taylorman on Wed Apr 10, 2019 8:58 am

Rugby Fan wrote:
Taylorman wrote:..Mccaws, Conrad Smiths, Nonu's, Dan Carters...
They played against the Lions in 2005. Kaino's last Test was against the Lions.

So? None of them mentioned a thought of staying on for the Lions, though wed probably won if they had mind you, part of my very point- we have to teplace early leavers.
And dont think Nonu and Smith did but havent checked. Doesnt mean Reads going to be swayed cos he hasnt played them... he would have said so. Nonu came back for the workd cup. Not the Lions. The north arent THAT much of a drawcard funnily enough.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:08 am

Fair enough miaow. I do agree to an extent that to drop a player into a system they have no familiarity with its a much bigger risk than someone within the squad stepping in. It's something that Jones has considered in the past such as picking Wigglesworth over others as he had had more involvement with training. The other side of the coin is leading up to the world cup there will be the warm ups and plenty of squad time. It can work as the performances of Underhill, Cokanasiga and curry prove. Willis is thus a guy who would have been picked and is clearly talented enough to step up. With no one really nailing that 6 spot and the way he's playing I think he'll go.

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Post by miaow on Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:48 am

Taylorman wrote:
Rugby Fan wrote:
Taylorman wrote:..Mccaws, Conrad Smiths, Nonu's, Dan Carters...
They played against the Lions in 2005. Kaino's last Test was against the Lions.

So? None of them mentioned a thought of staying on for the Lions, though wed probably won if they had mind you, part of my very point- we have to teplace early leavers.
And dont think Nonu and Smith did but havent checked. Doesnt mean Reads going to be swayed cos he hasnt played them... he would have said so. Nonu came back for the workd cup. Not the Lions. The north arent THAT much of a drawcard funnily enough.

Think you've got a chicken and egg situation here. Which came first?

Rather than the players leaving for money being the problem, I thought NZ's fabled factory line of 'building for RWCs' and effectively retiring most players (bar McCaw/Carter level) if they're over 28/29 at the end of an unsuccessful tournament was the de facto operation.

This has been mentioned as a strength for a long time (and I do actually agree it is a good system on the whole) as it allowed younger players to be ready for the next tournament - no hanging around watching the old guard get over the line for another Tri Nations or even a Lions Tour, stopping their development. The old guys are going to be past their peak in 4 years' time, NZ trusts its development, and therefore it ruthlessly introduces the next in line to either sink or swim.

That's how we ended up with the likes of Byron Kelleher, Greg Somerville, and to a lesser extent Carl Hayman in the NH after 2007. You can add Rokocoko and others in there as well and going back further with someone like Christian Cullen. I'm sure it went on earlier but 2007 is when it really felt like rugby started changing and became something a lot more visibly corporate, and the NH was bringing in a lot more SH talent.

Now, with the money in the game, it's become a well established pathway for SH players to come up north after a RWC, but in the past it certainly felt like a case of NH money seeing an opportunity in the ABs selection policy and capitalising on it, rather than poor little NZ desperately trying to hold on to their stars, only to see a mass exodus scupper their plans. The issue isn't so much the likes of Read leaving - it's when you're losing the Savea's (admittedly he had been dropped for a while though), Piatau etc. in between tournaments and in their prime.

But that's not the situation being discussed - it's the one you're trying to conflate with the point about Read so your righteous anger has more gravitas.

Nonu and Smith definitely played in 05. Nonu got sin binned for a late charge on Gavin Henson. Conrad Smith just sticks out in my memory as well - looking as old/young as he does now.

You jibe against the Lions/the NH is also just straight up sad. Keyboard warrior stuff. SBW - himself very much a well travelled sportsman across codes, countries, and even disciplines - specifically came back for the Lions tour. Had Nonu not played and won in 05 I'm sure he would have stayed - but then the selection policy may well have seen him discarded, who knows? It feels like he's only returned to NZ now because there's a realtive weakness in the NZ midfield, with no pair or individual able to nail down either shirt since Nonu and Smith left.

As all of the originally mentioned players had played a key part in winning a Lions Tour, I'm sure the lure of the French Euro - or retirement and a legacy of undeniable greatness, in McCaw's case - was greater than playing another season or so in the SH, sacrificing what was to be a huge amount of money. It's very rare for a SH player to be available for two Lions tours - a testament to how good the NZ stock were who broke through in and around 03-05 from a young age, as well as their durability - and not something Kieran Read has to worry about. With rugby going to way it is in terms of attrition, it'll probably become an even rarer worry as retirements come earlier and earlier.

Anyway, this feels like I'm meandering pointlessly along a river of denial, so I'll wrap it up.

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Post by miaow on Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:00 am

No 7&1/2 wrote:It can work as the performances of Underhill, Cokanasiga and curry prove. Willis is thus a guy who would have been picked and is clearly talented enough to step up. With no one really nailing that 6 spot and the way he's playing I think he'll go.

I think the example of Itoje is a good one to consider here. Judge a player after 20 odd test games - as with any experiment, the wider the sample/data, the more robust the conclusion. Not sure Cokanasiga has proved anything other than he is a talented but raw rugby player. I'd say the same applies to Curry, to a lesser extent. Underhill looks ready and has done for a while to me. Needs gametime but I wouldn't expect him to have a period of adjusting, as I would expect from the other two - a few players, like Warburton, Manu Tuilagi etc., are like that. 'Test match animals' is what they're now being called. Underhill's got it in a way not many England players do.

As for Willis going I'd be very, very surprised.

5 or 6 back row positions for the 31-man squad. Give or take one or two for injuries, do you really think he's in the top 7 or 8 choices?

In order, I make it:
Billy V
Underhill
Curry
Wilson


Based on the 35-man squad selected for the 6Ns, there's also:

Nathan Hughes (stands a really good chance having filled in at lock)
Shields
Clifford
Ben Earl (outside chance/looks more like training fodder)

Not selected but been picked by EJ in the past:

Robshaw (good chance)
Sam Simmonds (would need injuries)
Zach Mercer (likewise, injuries)
Haskell (not bad in a scratch situation but old/injured for most of season)

I'm sure there are more that I'm missing who are in contention as well. You have Itoje and Lawes in there able to fill in at 6 so could easily end up with 5 out and out back-row options and 3 hookers instead. Nathan Hughes maybe makes it in as #6 having played lock, as I said. But either way, unless Willis can add something significantly better than any current England player, wanting to pick him feels like a classic case of the grass being greener.

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Post by Rugby Fan on Wed Apr 10, 2019 2:47 pm

Brad Shields poses an interesting conundrum for Eddie Jones. He was open to the idea of selecting him, to the extent it was evidently a factor in the player moving to Wasps. You'd imagine he liked the fact Shields had NZ rugby nous, had been a Super Rugby club captain, was a genuine line-out option, and could cover No.8, as well as lock at a pinch.

However, you can only exert authority as a leader if you've earned the respect of players around you. Shields had that with the Hurricanes, but he had to start from scratch with Wasps and England. I get the impression that Shields hasn't really been calling too many shots, as he's been trying to establish himself as a player.

There are some signs that he's getting back to his Hurricanes form. However, purely on playing ability, he isn't far enough ahead of Wilson and Robshaw, who are most likely his direct competition. In some ways, Wilson has become the kind of player Jones wanted Shields to be.

For me, if Shields is going to make a case for selection, it has to be because he can help stop England losing control of a game. Wasps go up against Exeter, Saracens, Bath & Quins, so that's where he has to start showing he can do it for his club. For all I know, Jones already likes what he sees but I do wonder whether Shields has enough time left before the World Cup to show he can be an integral part of the England leadership group.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Wed Apr 10, 2019 5:36 pm

I'm not sure the 20 games to judge comes into when thinking about world cup selection though. I agree covering positions comes into though I'd admit. When thinking about the number of caps it won't come into it for any of the 3 I mentioned there; they'll all go if fit. The thread was more what people would like anyway rather than 2nd guess Jones which is challenging to say the least. Everyone will have a thought and that's what I find interesting about it. So many class players for England to choose from and from that so many different combos with different strengths. Don't mind the view of different teams combos though as Taylor joins in.

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Post by yappysnap on Wed Apr 10, 2019 7:37 pm

I do think the Hurricanes are missing Shields atm.

But he'll take a season or two to settle at Wasps and in England. There was an article years ago where a player or ex player talked about moving clubs abroad and basically said you should write off the first season. So assuming that's the case, Shields will only start to get back to his old form at the RWC, which probably isn't good enough.

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Post by miaow on Thu Apr 11, 2019 12:19 am

No 7&1/2 wrote:I'm not sure the 20 games to judge comes into when thinking about world cup selection though.

Of course it will, that's nonsense. RWC's are the biggest test for a country and its players. You need a reliable squad you can rotate both v weaker teams and then when you inevitably suffer injuries if you make it out the group. More than that, it's the standard of rugby, the pressure that's built up every 4 years towards the tournament, and having to play back to back games with little rest time if you're to go on and lift the trophy.

This is an excellent video that might help you out. It's certainly more scientific that I'm going to be here:

All in all, you want talent, yes, but experience and pedigree plays a massive part as well. England got their preparations horribly wrong in 2015, but just as important was the lack of winning experience in the team when it came to big games - v Ireland in 2011, v Wales in 2013 etc. Robshaw's decision to go for goal against SA with the clock ticking down, and the criticism he received in the media, led him to go for the corner v Wales.

I'm not sure the Premiership is a particularly good breeding ground for the international game. Very physical and attritional, yes. But so many good Premiership players don't have the same impact for England - for a number of reasons, some of which led to the old thread getting locked, so I won't bring those back up. But unless someone like Willis is exponentially better than someone like Shields, and you'd prefer them coming on in a semi-final with 25 minutes to go, why would you take him? Or better yet, because Shields is a relative newcomer to England/test rugby - Robshaw.

No 7&1/2 wrote:The thread was more what people would like anyway

Well yes, by all means. But talking about bolters seems like a fantasy. You're free to do that, but others are free to say 'not going to happen' for practical reasons.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Thu Apr 11, 2019 12:54 am

Ok. So we had 2 bolters last time. Let's see if there are any this.
Still not sure I get your 20 games thing though. How would you see it affecting thinking? Jones thinking in a 50 50 choice lets go with the guy with 20 plus? Or just a line in the sand of they are too much of a risk? Granted a bit of a side step to the back row.

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Post by miaow on Thu Apr 11, 2019 1:16 am

Who were the 2 bolters last time and who are the 3 you think will go this year?

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Thu Apr 11, 2019 1:28 am

Slade and Burgess. 3? Depends who you consider bolting. Willis is the 1 guy for me.
What are your views on the 20 cap thing?

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Post by miaow on Thu Apr 11, 2019 1:59 am

Were you not talking about bolters here?

No 7&1/2 wrote:When thinking about the number of caps it won't come into it for any of the 3 I mentioned there; they'll all go if fit.

Slade's a bolter I suppose. Capped in 2014, only a season and a bit of Prem rugby under his belt. Good utility player at that time, as he is now - but more importantly had been prominent in the age grades and was (is) clearly seen as a real talent an asset to English rugby. Was Burrell injured as well in the run-up, effectively giving Slade his place in the squad? Or was it someone else? In any case, Slade only played against Uruguay - a game where England were already out of the tournament. It wouldn't have been ideal for him to be playing in the knockout stages but, as it was, England didn't have to worry about that as they had far bigger issues than just quality and experience of their squad depth.

Burgess on the other hand? Absolutely the perfect case for why you don't pick bolters. A combination of Mike Ford messing him around to protect his son, and then the RFU making sure their golden goose got picked before he was ready, ended Sam Burgess's Union career before it began. Had he been given the time and freedom to develop as a player - rather than thrust into the limelight in the pressure of a RWC - he may well have found himself a place on the Lions tour, such was his raw ability.

It's made out like he was either dreadful for England, or really good and unfairly blamed. In reality, his positioning was shocking, his ball protection/presentation when tackled was dreadful as well as he tended to just throw the ball away/look to offload off the floor. Scott Williams had the upper hand against him in the England v Wales game - him going off was incidental to Wales gaining the lead.

Anyway, I'm not sure you could have picked a better example than Burgess for why you shouldn't pick a bolter for a RWC before they're ready.


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Post by miaow on Thu Apr 11, 2019 2:02 am

No 7&1/2 wrote:What are your views on the 20 cap thing?

Think I've already said it, haven't I?

It's a largely arbitrary number I chose that is a decent marker for some sort of stability in performance/maturity as a test player. It's generally going to mean a player has got over the buzz of winning their first caps in their first tournament (6Ns, AIs etc), as well as the trickier second season where maybe their form deviates somewhat as more opposition analysis is done on them. 25-30 caps is a pretty good marker of a player's long term standard and ability as a test player, but by all means it isn't the be all and end all - some players are going to mature as they get older and better, particularly front 5 forwards. But not just them: 9 and 10s will get more assured, wingers more aware of how to use the sparse time and space they get on the ball to maximise their attacking talents/finishing etc. 25-30 caps also suggests that player is establishing themselves in the starting XV, rather than making bench appearances, which is another key factor.

I suggest you watch the video I posted - maybe no the easiest thing to do if you're in work - as it's not only very, very good, but it's relevant to this point.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Thu Apr 11, 2019 2:39 am

Ah I understand the 3 comment. Underhill curry Cokanasiga depending on how you term bolter. As well as willis not capped.
That fits with the point of the 20 caps. All well below. At least 2 would feature very prominently in most England fans squads. Can't watch the video At the moment due to as you suggested work getting in the way!
Regarding that 2md season syndrome point does that not make the bolter a big plus. We've seen the 3 players mentioned play brilliantly. They may suffer from 2nd syndrome but I wouldn't mind a bolter suffering from that after winning us the world cup.

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Post by miaow on Thu Apr 11, 2019 3:23 am

Interesting, wouldn't really call any of the three bolters at this stage.

Curry's had a full 6Ns under his belt in a starting shirt as well as a few caps in the summer in SA. Underhill's had a few series of test rugby as well but has suffered with injuries. Without them he'd be well on his way to 25 caps - also hampered by the fact he wasn't picked when playing for the Ospreys, when he was clearly ready for the step up.

Cokanasiga: maybe? But, again, he's been built up as a test player for a while, showed what he could do in the autumn, and if EJ had rotated more in the last 12 months would surely have a few more minutes under his belt. But, if he gets picked ahead of Ashton, he'd sort of come under that label. But he's the only one of the 3. The fact is, his point of difference is such - and so suited to the way England will play - that his lack of experience becomes less of an issue. Wing is also one of the positions you can sort of get away with that, particularly the 'strike' winger/the one who will do less of the backfield positional work and more of the attacking stuff. In relation to Ashton, who's also very talented in certain ways but flawed in others, the difference isn't so vast that it's ridiculous to suggest JoeC gets picked ahead of him.

The point about the second season isn't an exact science. It's not guaranteed, and it's not an either/or. As much as anything, the summer break could easily disrupt Curry's flow and form. More than that, it's a case of introducing more info and responsibility to him as his experience and seniority grows: he'll never be less prepared in a practical sense for test rugby than now. The RWC is such that everyone has more responsibility and pressure heaped on them that is understandably very hard to deal with. If anything, I feel like the RWC is becoming 'the' thing rugby is built around more and more, with the other competitions - even the 6Ns - becoming less and less important. Huge pressure on a good RWC performance.

As I said, Curry looks good but he's also gone missing - through no fault of his own - when England have been on the back foot. I'd pick him ahead of Robshaw or Haskell at 7, for sure, as he's got more about him. But then bringing in someone else, like Willis? That's a real botler - and that's another question entirely.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Thu Apr 11, 2019 4:28 am

I wouldn't call any of the 3 bolters either. The comment was directed around the 20 caps comment.
Still don't know who Jones will favour with the 2 7s or of he'll play them together. Underhill got his chance in the autumn due to an injury to Curry. As it stands Curry is the guy with more caps and coming off a brilliant 6 nations where he cemented himself back into everyone's minds. Will be interesting to see how much pressure Mercer can put on Vunipola as well. Class player but very different. Another great point of difference.
Willis is going to be very good. Think you'll enjoy watching him.

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Post by Rugby Fan on Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:48 am

Jack Willis out for the rest of the season.

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Post by BamBam on Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:50 am

Rugby Fan wrote:Jack Willis out for the rest of the season.

Laugh

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Post by BamBam on Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:51 am

Obviously not funny but after all that debate

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:55 am

Jesus. Balls. Unlucky lad. He'd be on 60 caps now if not for injury.

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Post by miaow on Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:59 am

Unlucky for sure, but puts paid to that I suppose.

If you're selecting a 31-man England squad based on who's fit and available, who do you think makes it? If you want to include who you'd personally pick as well that'd be interesting, but who do England fans think will be in that squad in Japan?

Also, who is in the starting 23 and who are the 6-7 reserve players who stand a good chance of a call up?

I've done it for Wales in the Wales thread - think it's looking very settled, with a few first 15 positions up for grabs. From the outside England's squad looks a lot less settled or certain.

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Post by miaow on Thu Apr 11, 2019 8:10 am

Squads ten to be:

17-18 forwards
5 Props
2 or 3 Hookers
5 Second rows
5 or 6 Back rowers

13-14 Backs
3 Scrum-halves
2-3 Fly-halves
3 Centres
5 Back 3

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Post by Taylorman on Thu Apr 11, 2019 8:12 am

miaow wrote:
Taylorman wrote:
Rugby Fan wrote:
Taylorman wrote:..Mccaws, Conrad Smiths, Nonu's, Dan Carters...
They played against the Lions in 2005. Kaino's last Test was against the Lions.

So? None of them mentioned a thought of staying on for the Lions, though wed probably won if they had mind you, part of my very point- we have to teplace early leavers.
And dont think Nonu and Smith did but havent checked. Doesnt mean Reads going to be swayed cos he hasnt played them... he would have said so. Nonu came back for the workd cup. Not the Lions. The north arent THAT much of a drawcard funnily enough.

Think you've got a chicken and egg situation here. Which came first?

Rather than the players leaving for money being the problem, I thought NZ's fabled factory line of 'building for RWCs' and effectively retiring most players (bar McCaw/Carter level) if they're over 28/29 at the end of an unsuccessful tournament was the de facto operation.

This has been mentioned as a strength for a long time (and I do actually agree it is a good system on the whole) as it allowed younger players to be ready for the next tournament - no hanging around watching the old guard get over the line for another Tri Nations or even a Lions Tour, stopping their development. The old guys are going to be past their peak in 4 years' time, NZ trusts its development, and therefore it ruthlessly introduces the next in line to either sink or swim.

That's how we ended up with the likes of Byron Kelleher, Greg Somerville, and to a lesser extent Carl Hayman in the NH after 2007. You can add Rokocoko and others in there as well and going back further with someone like Christian Cullen. I'm sure it went on earlier but 2007 is when it really felt like rugby started changing and became something a lot more visibly corporate, and the NH was bringing in a lot more SH talent.

Now, with the money in the game, it's become a well established pathway for SH players to come up north after a RWC, but in the past it certainly felt like a case of NH money seeing an opportunity in the ABs selection policy and capitalising on it, rather than poor little NZ desperately trying to hold on to their stars, only to see a mass exodus scupper their plans. The issue isn't so much the likes of Read leaving - it's when you're losing the Savea's (admittedly he had been dropped for a while though), Piatau etc. in between tournaments and in their prime.

But that's not the situation being discussed - it's the one you're trying to conflate with the point about Read so your righteous anger has more gravitas.

Nonu and Smith definitely played in 05. Nonu got sin binned for a late charge on Gavin Henson. Conrad Smith just sticks out in my memory as well - looking as old/young as he does now.

You jibe against the Lions/the NH is also just straight up sad. Keyboard warrior stuff. SBW - himself very much a well travelled sportsman across codes, countries, and even disciplines - specifically came back for the Lions tour. Had Nonu not played and won in 05 I'm sure he would have stayed - but then the selection policy may well have seen him discarded, who knows? It feels like he's only returned to NZ now because there's a realtive weakness in the NZ midfield, with no pair or individual able to nail down either shirt since Nonu and Smith left.

As all of the originally mentioned players had played a key part in winning a Lions Tour, I'm sure the lure of the French Euro - or retirement and a legacy of undeniable greatness, in McCaw's case - was greater than playing another season or so in the SH, sacrificing what was to be a huge amount of money. It's very rare for a SH player to be available for two Lions tours - a testament to how good the NZ stock were who broke through in and around 03-05 from a young age, as well as their durability - and not something Kieran Read has to worry about. With rugby going to way it is in terms of attrition, it'll probably become an even rarer worry as retirements come earlier and earlier.

Anyway, this feels like I'm meandering pointlessly along a river of denial, so I'll wrap it up.

Yes you can prod and poke around it all with this example or that but whether the departure of an individual suits us or not there are a significant number that we cant replace easily and that will already be costing us wins. Its a situation no northern side has to face anywhere near the impact of those numbers leaving.If they did their rankings would plummet in trying to cope, as per the oz and SA example. Simple. No need to trawl through the ins and outs of each player gone, theres too many to pitch a case. It is what it is and we have issues your sides have no experience of whatsoever in comparison.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Thu Apr 11, 2019 8:21 am

Switch that to the post 6 nations thread or start a WC thread miaow. It'll just be lost hear from people already shut off to the back row.
Same for you Taylor. Set up one around global funding etc. It may not get the response it deserves here.

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Post by miaow on Thu Apr 11, 2019 8:48 am

Taylorman wrote:Yes you can prod and poke around it all with this example or that but whether the departure of an individual suits us or not there are a significant number that we cant replace easily and that will already be costing us wins. Its a situation no northern side has to face anywhere near the impact of those numbers leaving.

Literally no-one - and I really, really mean this - NO-ONE is suggesting otherwise. But that's not the point being discussed. You sound like a broken record.

Taylorman wrote:If they did their rankings would plummet in trying to cope, as per the oz and SA example.

Hmm, not so sure. Not many Australians playing overseas who would dramatically improve them. Likewise SA. But not to labour the point - both countries select players playing in the NH. SA don't even have a cap limit.

If you stopped the exodus, Ireland would be fine. England would as well, albeit with a bit of a turbulent period as their domestic league is very much reliant on SH talent to keep it the product it is. Wales is an interesting one: before Parkes and Anscombe, there was no real SH player brought in since Sonny Parker.

Honestly, the reasons the NH teams are doing well isn't the players, it's the SH coaches. You're confusing correlation - the likes of Habana, Ioane, Botha etc. coming over for an Indian Summer and lots of money - with causation for the NH's rise. The biggest reason is SH coaching expertise, although Schmidt, Cotter, and Gatland have learnt a lot of their trade in the North, of course.

Taylorman wrote:Simple.

It's not simple. You want it to be simple, but it's not.

Taylorman wrote:No need to trawl through the ins and outs of each player gone, theres too many to pitch a case.

Yeeaaahhh, why let evidence get in the way of a good conspiracy theory, eh?

Taylorman wrote:It is what it is and we have issues your sides have no experience of whatsoever in comparison.

Yep, no-one's suggesting otherwise.

The original point was Kieran Read's not exactly a massive, first team loss. Tbh, he looked shocking last autumn. Way off the pace. Whether that's a case of injury/form/fatigue, or a sign he's genuinely hanging on to the shirt by the skin of his teeth, is hard to say.

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Post by Taylorman on Thu Apr 11, 2019 9:19 am

No, that wasnt the original point. Read was an example of many others, and much younger ones.

Regardless, you have some points, meek though they are.

Bottom line is I guess we are fortunate that the 6N are compketely hopeless at turning young aspiring boys into complete and successful rugby players. That a country of 4 million can consistently output rugby players and sides that are each year better than all 6N sides combined bar the odd hiccup is a travesty.

Ive yet to hear a more convincing argument than, oh, in NZ its a religion or, worse, we scout the islands, despite supplying half their national sides with NZ borns, and if even the case, they have less than a million amongst them
All in total population.

We are fortunate in that we get to pick up soooo many easy wins, and then dine on them later.

Cant see why its not an embarrassment to be honest. What our coaches could do with that many young players. The imagination burns as mediocrity rules.

The fact that scouts are lining up EVERY SINGLE ONE of our All Blacks for duties somewhere illustrates how nad the local development really is. We celebrate when an AB signs for another few years. One down, 30 something to go.
Go figure.


Last edited by Taylorman on Thu Apr 11, 2019 9:47 am; edited 1 time in total

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Post by Cyril on Thu Apr 11, 2019 9:45 am

Miaow and Taylorman, why don’t you just PM each other your insults? Every thread gets derailed by one or the other (or both) of you. This is such a difficult forum to post on when you don’t have much time after a working day as it’s so full of shoite arguments.

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Post by miaow on Thu Apr 11, 2019 10:04 am

I'd be worried we'd end up sending each other naked selfies within 5 minutes...

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Post by Taylorman on Thu Apr 11, 2019 10:24 am

miaow wrote:I'd be worried we'd end up sending each other naked selfies within 5 minutes...

No worries there, Folau would give my seat to someone else and put me on his list, oh hang on, Im already on it.... Hug

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Post by mikey_dragon on Thu Apr 11, 2019 10:42 am

#snapchat

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Post by GeordieFalcon on Thu Apr 11, 2019 11:18 pm

Rugby Fan wrote:Jack Willis out for the rest of the season.

Where is that reported? Do we know what it is? Hopefully just a minor thing this time.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Thu Apr 11, 2019 11:20 pm

Twitter. Comes from the man himself.

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Post by Rinsure on Thu Apr 11, 2019 11:26 pm

No 7&1/2 wrote:Twitter. Comes from the man himself.

Was also in the Wasps media update pre-this week's Prem round:

https://www.wasps.co.uk/news/press-notes-thursday-11-april

Thomas Young and Dan Robson both out until the end of the season too, but both should be fit / available for RWC selection, unlike JW.


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Post by GeordieFalcon on Thu Apr 11, 2019 11:46 pm

Jack Willis has sustained a recurrence of a stress fracture of his ankle. He has undergone an operation to treat the injury and we are expecting him to be available for selection at the start of next season.

Ah right. Well hopefully its all fixed for the start of the season.

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