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Five things we learnt from Super Rugby


Paul Cully

Ready for the Wallabies ... Dave Dennis of the Waratahs.

Ready for the Wallabies ... Dave Dennis of the Waratahs. Photo: Getty Images

1. The expansion teams are in the mire. The difference between the Rebels this year and last? By this stage in 2011 they had one more win and presumably a smaller wage bill. The Melbourne side awarded themselves the week off against the Brumbies, presumably as reward for beating the Blues, and are no closer to understanding what it takes to be consistently competitive in this competition. Much more sympathy goes to the Force, who might have been able to build something had James O'Connor stayed. As it is, not even their coach believes they can serve his ambition. Does anyone have Nick Mallett's number?

2. Bernard Foley has that little bit extra. Not for the first time this year the Waratahs fullback showed that priceless knack of offloading in contact, in the counterattack that led to Tom Kingston's try. The skill has become essential to get through modern defensive lines. Foley has pace, confidence and a refreshing lack of fear.

3. Dave Dennis will play against Wales. The Waratahs blindside breakaway is getting better as the season progresses and attention now turns to see how Michael Foley fits him into the team alongside captain Rocky Elsom. He could be an interesting prospect at No.8 if the injury gods continue to play their cruel game with Wycliff Palu.

4. Pat McCabe 1 James O'Connor 0. In the head-to-head clash with the most Wallabies repercussions, McCabe dominated O'Connor in Canberra and probably killed off O'Connor's chances of playing at No.12 in the big Tests ahead. O'Connor is a decent defender, but he is not ready to handle the traffic that comes through that channel.

5. Brodie Retallick will play for the All Blacks, potentially this year. Every now and again, a young tight-five forward comes along who is so good that you can pencil him in for Test honours way ahead of schedule. At 204cm the giant Chief dominates the lineout, but it is the 20-year-old's workrate that is really exceptional. He loves tackling, cleaning bodies out of the way and driving Sona Taumalolo over the line. The best second-row prospect out of New Zealand for a very long time.

4 comments so far

  • I agree Paul with 2, 3 and 4 at least. Haven't seen enough of the Chiefs player to comment. Dave Dennis had a good game against the Force and it will be interest to see whether Rocky matches him. I think JOC should play 10 against Wales but not sure about McCabe. He had a good game against the Rebels but i'm still not convinced. Great defender but more of a bash and barge centre - rarley passes!! Foley has impressed this year. Good shot for the Wallaby bench i reckon.

    Avoca Beach
    Date and time
    April 17, 2012, 11:15AM
    • 2. Not Test standard
      3. Not Test standard. Hands are bad in contact.
      4. Berrick at 12. O'Connor never to play at 12 unless injuries.
      5. Will only play this year if there are injuries. 20 is too young for a Test match lock. Test matches are not Super Rugby.

      Enjoyed the read but was more impressed by your insights last year.
      Out of form Cully? It's catching! Except for Higgy.Nice to see at least one Kiwi rates him because you Aussie scribes don't.

      Date and time
      April 17, 2012, 1:31PM
      • Be4rrick at 12? He's been terrible this year.

        Date and time
        April 17, 2012, 3:35PM
    • Was lucky enough to be in Canberra and watch the Rebels get their arse kicked by Brumbies last weekend . JOC had an shocker with so much traffic coming at him , just not big enough guy to play at 12 in the modern game . I'll back all the aussie teams generally , but can't get excited about the 'culture club' , feels so phoney and made for TV .
      Foley will not make the bench this year for wallabies .
      Berrick Barnes had ONE run only in the whole match last weekend . He's sitting deep in the pocket and looks to be avoding contact ( as I would after that many head knocks last year !) Pat Macabe at 12 for sure .
      Dave Denis , Pollcock and Hingers best loosies after 8 rounds . Rocky and Palu need way more game time before they join the fray .
      Retalic is a monster and looks to pick up where Thorn left off , and them's big boots to fill !

      Tah fan
      Date and time
      April 18, 2012, 7:01AM

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