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  # 1999234 19-Apr-2018 12:02
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I really like Tafua. He's more 'solid' than exciting, but he is a beast on defense, he seems to love smashing people, but perhaps lacks a bit of the pizzazz of Ioane on attack.

 

Luke whitelock would have to start though wouldn't he?




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  # 1999242 19-Apr-2018 12:23
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wratterus:

 

I really like Tafua. He's more 'solid' than exciting, but he is a beast on defense, he seems to love smashing people, but perhaps lacks a bit of the pizzazz of Ioane on attack.

 

Luke whitelock would have to start though wouldn't he?

 

 

Tafua is very "direct" and he only knows one direction. Agreed about defense. He reminds me a little of Kaino. Tafua is a more natural 6 I think, but has played pretty well at 8 too.

 

I am unsure about Whitelock. He was better last year. Akira wasn't particularly amazing last year, but has been on fire this year. Regardless, I trust SH and co to make a smart decision.

 

 


 
 
 
 


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  # 1999453 19-Apr-2018 18:52
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Interesting to me, just saw on the news Brad Shields is contracted to play for NZ teams until his contract ends with the Hurricanes.

Is he leaving because he couldn't make the All Blacks or didnt even attempt to? He is a good age - mid twenties - and would be in a small group who are close to selection?

Jon



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  # 1999458 19-Apr-2018 18:57
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jonherries: Interesting to me, just saw on the news Brad Shields is contracted to play for NZ teams until his contract ends with the Hurricanes.

Is he leaving because he couldn't make the All Blacks or didnt even attempt to? He is a good age - mid twenties - and would be in a small group who are close to selection?

Jon

 

I think he was on the very cusp but not QUITE good enough and though he tried for quite some time, in the end other players kept leap frogging him. In the end I think he resigned himself to not being able to make the cut. He is easily good enough for England and is set to bolt for them. As has been said many times before, you could fill two top international teams with players not good enough to make the AB's but close. 

 

 


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  # 1999631 19-Apr-2018 23:05
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networkn:

 

wratterus:

 

I really like Tafua. He's more 'solid' than exciting, but he is a beast on defense, he seems to love smashing people, but perhaps lacks a bit of the pizzazz of Ioane on attack.

 

Luke whitelock would have to start though wouldn't he?

 

 

Tafua is very "direct" and he only knows one direction. Agreed about defense. He reminds me a little of Kaino. Tafua is a more natural 6 I think, but has played pretty well at 8 too.

 

I am unsure about Whitelock. He was better last year. Akira wasn't particularly amazing last year, but has been on fire this year. Regardless, I trust SH and co to make a smart decision.

 

 

I'd be happy with any of those. Tafua or Ioane for excitement of different sorts. But I'd also look to Whitelock as the safest choice for his work ethic, organisation and consistency. Whitelock is apparently the current number three tackler in the most successful tackling team - both stats though Highlanders have played less games than anyone else.

 

 

 

I'm not so happy that none of the NZ games really interest me this week despite the potential for an upset or two. I expect the Highlanders to win but the Blues could pull one out of the hat. There has to be some advantage to the Reds playing at home and they might be motivated to get their game together against the Chiefs.

 

Overseas, the Waratahs v Lions could be the best game this week and there's a slim chance the Rebels can surprise the Bulls in South Africa.

 

 


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  # 2000162 21-Apr-2018 09:28
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Watched the third best team play the fifth best team in the NZ conference last night. When the Highlanders scored after 35 seconds, I thought "here we go again". But the Blues produced a mini fightback in the middle of the first half, and were in danger of going into the lead at one stage. But then normal transmission was resumed, with the Highlanders converting chances into points and the late charge by the Blues proving too little, too late.
Seeing ex Blues players, such as West and Lee flourishing at other franchises, I wonder whether the likes of the Ioane brothers might eye a move next season.
Maybe the Blues need to go to the same 'Fairy Dust' supplier that has changed the Warriors and get some of that magic.




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  # 2003378 27-Apr-2018 10:41
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https://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/rugby/super-rugby/103403708/more-injury-woes-for-blues-as-all-black-patrick-tuipulotu-their-latest-defection

 

I am starting to have serious doubts about Umaga's credentials for the Job. Week after week after week it's Blues defense which loses them games and as has been said many times, defense wins championships. 

 

At the very least their Defense coach needs to go. Too many players making superman type defensive moves leaving games for other players to go through. Coaching to beat the Blues would be a relatively straight forward job, focusing on drawing defenders and short sharp balls to get into the gaps left behind. 

 

They don't need to "express themselves" they have good attack on the whole. 

 

 

 

On another note I have been lamenting the defence of the Sunwolves as well, but boy did they stand up against the Crusaders, in the wet no less. I was expecting a trouncing but it wasn't nearly as bad, with a fair bit to the credit of the Sunwolves and the Crusaders not really applying the pressure we are used to seeing on attack


 
 
 
 


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  # 2003432 27-Apr-2018 12:03
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networkn:

 

https://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/rugby/super-rugby/103403708/more-injury-woes-for-blues-as-all-black-patrick-tuipulotu-their-latest-defection

 

I am starting to have serious doubts about Umaga's credentials for the Job. Week after week after week it's Blues defense which loses them games and as has been said many times, defense wins championships. 

 

At the very least their Defense coach needs to go. Too many players making superman type defensive moves leaving games for other players to go through. Coaching to beat the Blues would be a relatively straight forward job, focusing on drawing defenders and short sharp balls to get into the gaps left behind. 

 

They don't need to "express themselves" they have good attack on the whole. 

 

I totally agree about players leaving the line to "save" the game thereby allowing the other team to run though the hole. But that is a decision (or no thought required reaction) made by the players. I'd bet the coaching staff don't tell them to do that. Instead, they'll be telling them to stick to the system.

 

I'm a lot more sympathetic to Umaga's difficult situation. And I'm a lot more optimistic about the potential improvement in their position at the end of the round play and in a couple of years. For a start, many younger players will become a lot wiser with more experience. The Blues' overall results are not getting worse unlike Kirwan's last year as coach:

 

Year Position Wins
2012    12        4
2013    10        6
2014    10        7
2015    14        3
2016    11         8
2017      9         7

 

If they sack Umaga then we're back where we've been before: another change of coaching regime, a coach who goes on to greater things (a la Pat Lam) and no lasting improvement in the Blues. John Kirwan says he underestimated the time he needed to change the Blues: he originally thought three years and so he wasn't surprised when he was sacked for his own miscalculation. That's another reason why I'd give Umaga another two years to complete the job in five years.

 

If they sack Umaga mid season then we have other problems: the team would be negatively affected; we would be ignoring the relatively easy run the Blues have to the end of the rounds; and we would probably need a replacement announced to maintain any momentum.

 

The Hurricanes went through a change of culture at least as large as the Blue's need. It took more than five years to take hold. Mark Hammett took a lot of flak for some very needed changes - he did deserve the criticism for some not so useful changes. Anyway, it took from at least 2010 to 2014 to make the changes in management culture as well as team culture. Eight years on and I can say that the pain was totally worth it.

 

 




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  # 2003438 27-Apr-2018 12:14
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I don't think they should sack him, I just don't think he is as good as has been touted. I agree the issues lie deep at the Blues. Disagree with the coaching defensively though. If you bench players that continued to make hero moves in defence then it would stop. Problem is, right now, they are struggling to field a team at all, so they can't really punish players who aren't following the system.

 

I do think their defensive coach needs to go.

 

 

 

I think the issue lies up the top of the Blues, in the management team. Too many big name players. Warriors have been guilty of it too. A roster packed with talent but no culture of team first, which starts with not expecting the big players to change the game. 

 

Game changers are the ones that take a team doing the basics right, and add magic. For me the Blues have been guilty for a good many many years of going to the other way round. Hoping that a player sparks some inspirtational move that makes them do the basics properly. 

 

 


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  # 2003450 27-Apr-2018 12:36
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networkn:

 

If you bench players that continued to make hero moves in defence then it would stop. Problem is, right now, they are struggling to field a team at all, so they can't really punish players who aren't following the system.

 

 

Agree. You'd probably only have to do it three times in a row for everyone to get the message.

 

networkn:

 

I think the issue lies up the top of the Blues, in the management team. Too many big name players. Warriors have been guilty of it too. A roster packed with talent but no culture of team first, which starts with not expecting the big players to change the game. 

 

 

Agree about management. The Hurricanes board had to decide to make unpopular changes first and then appointed a coach. The Blues board approach appears to be to appoint a coach without deciding the entire culture needs to change.

 

I'm not so sure about the Blues having too many big name players. The northern provinces produce so many good players that there's a surplus available to other teams.The Warriors have never had as complete a roster of local players as the Blues have. So the Warriors have always have to import some big names to get what they need.


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  # 2003950 28-Apr-2018 10:42
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After watching the Sunwolves perform strongly and consistently against the Hurricanes, I'm anticipating them upsetting other teams this year.

 

The Hurricanes' bravura was fun to watch. Their defence has been impressive most of the last few seasons.




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  # 2004332 28-Apr-2018 23:56
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Yeah, I felt the Sunwolves have played better defence in the last 2 weeks than in the last 18 months.  It was almost a shame to see the Hurricanes take it away so easily at the end and so quickly. Scoreline didn't reflect the game. 

 

If the Juagures were to beat a NZ team, there was really only 1 team they were to beat. The result was unsurprising unfortunately. 

 

The Blues were awful. Really really bad. 

 

 

 

Crusaders beat the Brumbies, not surprising. What was surprising and disappointing to me was that the Brumbies couldn't get 1 point from the Crusaders having TWO guys in the bin. Also disappointing for me was the negative way the Crusaders played to earn those Cards. 

 

If anyone else saw the game, the high tackle at the end of the game, I have seen instances where penalty tries have been awarded, because they take the offending player out of play and then determine if the tackled player would have scored. Is that only if it's within the goal area or within 5m or something? He was unmarked other than the player who tackled him high. Also I thought the second try from the Crusaders came from a forward pass by Crockett which wasn't picked up. 

 

The Crusaders are getting it done, but they don't look their normal selves. I think they would struggle against the Hurricanes.

 

 


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  # 2004850 30-Apr-2018 09:09
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networkn:

 

Yeah, I felt the Sunwolves have played better defence in the last 2 weeks than in the last 18 months.  It was almost a shame to see the Hurricanes take it away so easily at the end and so quickly. Scoreline didn't reflect the game. 

 

If the Juagures were to beat a NZ team, there was really only 1 team they were to beat. The result was unsurprising unfortunately. 

 

The Blues were awful. Really really bad. 

 

 

 

Crusaders beat the Brumbies, not surprising. What was surprising and disappointing to me was that the Brumbies couldn't get 1 point from the Crusaders having TWO guys in the bin. Also disappointing for me was the negative way the Crusaders played to earn those Cards. 

 

If anyone else saw the game, the high tackle at the end of the game, I have seen instances where penalty tries have been awarded, because they take the offending player out of play and then determine if the tackled player would have scored. Is that only if it's within the goal area or within 5m or something? He was unmarked other than the player who tackled him high. Also I thought the second try from the Crusaders came from a forward pass by Crockett which wasn't picked up. 

 

The Crusaders are getting it done, but they don't look their normal selves. I think they would struggle against the Hurricanes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agree about the Crusaders, on current form they are the 3rd or 4th best NZ team. There next 3 games are Rebels away, Waratahs home, Blues away so you expect 14 points or maybe 13. Then it is 4 derby games with the International break thrown in.

 

Can't see them finishing top of NZ conference on current form so will most likely be playing another NZ team in first round of playoffs

 

 




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  # 2007268 3-May-2018 16:36
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Three things I have been musing about.

 

I think this is the worst season I've seen for injuries. Blues have 20 players, many other teams are 10-15 players out. I am wondering if something has to change, though it's hard to see Steve Hansen saying he's happy for his guys to drop some weight and be less physical. It's somewhat fortunate we are so blessed for depth in this country. Is this the worst you guys/gals have seen?

 

Secondly, Julian Savea for me, just doesn't seem to be getting better? He always looks a bit awkward to me for the past year, like he is stiff or something? His direction changes seem almost clunky. For me he wouldn't even be my 5th or 6th choice on the wing for the AB's this year. I really like the guy and want him to find his magic, but despite being a bit more involved in general play, and the like, it sort of felt like overnight he went from the worlds best winger to unrecognisable. Does anyone know if he is nursing a long term low grade injury? I know Franks and Dagg and a few other players have admitted to playing through niggles that were impeding their freedom by a few %.

 

Who is going to get up for the game between the tahs and the Blues. At some point the Aussie teams will beat a NZ team again, I'd really hate to be the team to let that streak end (please don't let it be the 'saders on Friday!), but the Blues seem the logical and most likely. I don't even think people would be that surprised or disappointed. 


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  # 2007273 3-May-2018 16:44
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I'm looking forward to watching Blues v 'tahs. Think it could be quite a good battle. 

 

 

 

Crusaders haven't been their normal selves at all, but they have had a couple of key players out from injury who are back. The team looks pretty legit for this weekend...

 

 

 

Other than Dagg & Read, Swap Drummond for Hall and Taylor for Makalio and that would be pretty much my ideal starting 15. Otherwise Read at 8, move Tafua back to 6 and Samu on the bench. 

 

 

 

David Havili, Seta Tamanivalu, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, George Bridge, Richie Mo'unga, Mitchell Drummond

Jordan Taufua, Matt Todd, Pete Samu, Sam Whitelock (captain), Scott Barrett, Owen Franks, Andrew Makalio, Wyatt Crockett.


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