RUCK & MAUL

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The Breakdown: fantastic week of rugby

The Waratahs have made some odd player selections this week, but they still look set to beat the Brumbies.

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The Rebels are back in the running for Wallabies star David Pocock. Our ever reliable Melbourne snouts have told R&M the Rebels are about to throw a ''massive offer'' at Pocock in the hope he can solve their back-row problems. The Brumbies are also chasing and hope Pocock will make Canberra his home. But the Rebels offer will be tempting. Remember, Pocock's close friend James O'Connor is at the Rebels. On the Force coaching front, Michael Cheika remains favourite. Several other candidates are being told ''thanks for your interest, but …'' and that the preferred candidate has until July 15 to accept. Also, the Perth push to have several Waratahs involved next year, including manager Chris Webb and coach Michael Foley, led one of the Force's leading officials to ask for a ''please explain'' from a higher-up. Then again, this bobbing and weaving Force official is the master of denial.

Blast from the past

The best rugby video of the year? Maaaate. Easy. Former Wallaby coach Eddie Jones's sensational spray after the recent Japan-French Barbarians match. Jones, now coaching the Japanese team, is in fine form, ripping into his team after the loss then turning on one of his players, who was sat beside him at the press conference. The player soon discovers the mistake of smirking. It reminds us how much we miss Fast Eddie and his always eventful, always informative media gatherings. Magic stuff, and never boring.

But wait there's more.

Hart murmurs

The Waratahs' selection of Grayson Hart at halfback tomorrow night was a brave one, especially as he will be combining with a rookie No.10, Bernard Foley. Our snouts tell us not everyone in the playing group is excited by this latest change. Some are astounded, and several believe it is ''desperation time''. This came after several players were offered reduced contracts for next season. The Waratahs are not a happy family. There is bound to be another Moore Park eruption.

Jitters for Mitchell

Waratahs winger Drew Mitchell has revealed the dramas of playing football in an interview in tomorrow night's match program. Mitchell gets prematch nerves and said the last meal he has before a game ''is more about putting something in so I can then have something to bring back up in the sheds. It's very rare that I wouldn't get sick before a game. If I'm not ill in the dressing room, then there's a pretty good chance it will happen out on the field.''

Lealiifano leads

Christian Lealiifano hasn't played for weeks but, somehow, he is still leading the Australian Super Rugby player of the year competition. With two rounds left, Lealiifano is on 17 points with David Pocock. Scott Higginbotham, Kurtley Beale and Will Genia follow on 15, then Liam Gill on 13. The top Waratah is Wycliff Palu on 12.

Samoan sledge

The best sledge of the week goes to Samoa's Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi, and his attack on referees after his country's international against Scotland at Apia Park last month. Tuilaepa went on radio to claim the officials had an attitude of racial discrimination. ''They think they know everything and then they send idiots to officiate an important game,'' he said. The PM also wants a clock installed at the ground. ''If the siren sounds and the referee continues the match unnecessarily, then a rock hitting his head would be justified.'' Cuckoo. Cuckoo.

Rumours

■ The Australian province serial-offending official known as ''Radio'' has done it again. Now he's texted private photographs of a player to another. The dressing room is furious and want him gone.

■ A high-ranking Waratahs official is to be headhunted as a spruiker for Fantastic Furniture after he recently explained over and over again in an interview that everything at NSW was ''fantastic''.

■ One Sydney club is unimpressed that numerous invited Waratahs dignitaries did not turn up to one of their functions. One pathetic excuse from a Waratahs heavy was: ''Bye round … need the break.''