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Laurie Fisher's departure may be the costliest for Australian rugby

Tight Five

On the move: Brumbies coach Laurie Fisher is leaving the club at the end of the current Super Rugby season.

On the move: Brumbies coach Laurie Fisher is leaving the club at the end of the current Super Rugby season. Photo: Rohan Thomson

1. What price can you put on departing coaches? For all the talk of players leaving Australian shores, the costliest exit may be Brumbies coach Laurie Fisher, who is bound for Gloucester next year. The Brumbies' lineout, drive, scrum and defence against the relatively new Chiefs tactic of setting up mauls in general play were the difference in an outstanding qualifying final of tiny margins on Saturday. Not only that, but Fisher worked lineout miracles with emergency hooker Ruaidhri Murphy in the few short weeks since he understandably struggled against the Waratahs. Murphy was like Phil Taylor with his arrows when he came on for the closing stages, even hitting Ben Mowen at the tail of one set-piece. Brilliant work.       

2. Henry's hype is justified. The word is the Brumbies were miffed by the criticism coming their way earlier this season for their style of play, but there is no doubt the evolution in their game that was being discussed then has accelerated in recent weeks. Their use of the ball in the 10 minutes with Tim Nanai-Williams in the bin was quite outstanding and the Brumbies bring you to the edge of your seat when they create room for Henry Speight. At 26 years old, as a winger he is entering his peak years and, with so much quality Super Rugby under his belt, he has every reason to believe he will make the huge leap to Test rugby with less trouble than most. There has been concern about the crowd numbers in Canberra this year and, while this is clearly a complex issue, Saturday's low figure of less than 15,000 may turn out to be a lag indicator if the Brumbies keep playing this way.  

3. Joubert's hard line raises eyebrows. There might be a few inquiries heading referees boss Lyndon Bray's way this week as coaches try to get some clarity on the threshold for yellow cards. Craig Joubert's explanation to Speight before sending him to the naughty chair in the Brumbies v Chiefs game seemed to indicate that if a side makes a break and the scrambling defender is adjudged to have stopped quick ball, then he is gone. That's a hard line and takes an unforgiving view of both Speight and Tim Nanai-Williams, who was binned very early despite the Chiefs having three men behind the ruck when he brought down Jesse Mogg on attack. To our eyes, both of those yellows, which changed the course of the game, were harsh, especially as both contained justifiable desperation rather a pattern of offending, such as we saw in the 30th to 35th minute when the Brumbies conceded four consecutive penalties on defence, three of them inside their own 22.   

15. Ben Smith (Highlanders) Click for more photos

Super Rugby team of the week - July 20

Paul Cully selects the best players from the weekend qualifying finals. Photo: AFP

4. Brutal and brilliant Bismarck. The Sharks probably would not have beaten the Highlanders had it not been for the input of Springboks hooker Bismarck du Plessis. He played a huge role in destroying the Highlanders' scrum, hit his targets to get their lineout drives going and showed deft hands to set up Tonderai Chavhanga down the left wing for his try. In fact, virtually every point that the Sharks scored had du Plessis' large fingerprints all over it. "World-class" is the most abused term in the game, but du Plessis is exactly that. He is the benchmark that every other No.2 in the world is trying to meet.   

5. Highlanders exposed Sharks' weak spots. It is hard to think of a game that highlighted such a contrast of styles. The Sharks went from set-piece to set-piece with relish, appearing almost unstoppable as they repeatedly walked over the Highlanders' scrum and then appearing equally vulnerable when the Highlanders took quick taps and opened up the game. Centre Malakai Fekitoa scored another outstanding try as the Highlanders stretched the Sharks and every time they built up some tempo it opened up gaps in Jake White's defence. There were some big men struggling to get back into the defensive line for the Sharks when the Highlanders injected pace and the Crusaders will look at that and see opportunities before the first semi-final next Saturday.     

1. Scott Sio (Brumbies)

2. Bismarck du Plessis (Sharks)

3. Jannie du Plessis (Sharks)

4. Sam Carter (Brumbies) 

5. Brodie Retallick (Chiefs)

6. Willem Alberts (Sharks)

7. Jarrad Butler (Brumbies)

8. Ben Mowen (Brumbies)

9. Nic White (Brumbies)

10. Matt Toomua (Brumbies)

11. Patrick Osborne (Highlanders)

12. Bundee Aki (Chiefs)

13. Malakai Fekitoa (Highlanders)

14. Henry Speight (Brumbies)

15. Ben Smith (Highlanders)

23 comments so far

  • So, Larkham let's Puss in Boots out of the cattery and guess what ? Magic happens.
    Moggy is the most talented rugby player in Australia next to Quade Cooper and McKenzie is a fool if he doesn't take Mogg on and develop his talents. Larkham couldn't teach a fisherman, let along a transgender surgeon about tackle.
    Folau clearly isn't that loyal to rugby and if he wants to go and play bore ball with the mungoes let him go. Mogg is just as good and could be even better. Given the right development he will put evil to the sword.

    Laurie Fisher is not that big a loss to Australian rugby. He is too cynical and negative and focused on his forwards trying to cheat their way thru a game. It was a shock tho, albeit a joyous one, to see Joubert actually yellow card a kiwi rugby player for cynical deliberate cheating. Stranger things have happened but only on Ripleys Believe it, or Not.

    Commenter
    johnny-boy
    Date and time
    July 21, 2014, 8:05AM
    • Settle down Johnny-boy, I was and still am a big backer for Mogg, I was there at the Lions games telling everyone who would listen that Mogg was the man of the future for the Wallabies. I'm just a teeny bit sceptical of his consistency, and that is most likely the only reason for him not making Wallabies selection. That and Izzy's sizzling form and consistency. You can't just be good once in awhile, you have to be good week in week out, at home, away in South Africa, it doesn't matter.

      You can say what you like about Izzy but you cant turn a blind eye to 12 tries and a mountain of try assists this season.

      Commenter
      Lillee
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      July 21, 2014, 11:08AM
    • If Mogg were consistent his kicking, pace, jumping ball takes and incisive running would have him in the Wallabies for sure. Not consistent. Makes mistakes. That being said, if Folau slips away to League again he'll be there.

      Re Fisher: what do you want from your forwards? good scrum - check. Great defence - check. Form hooker of the comp barring knee injury - check. Can't see too much of a problem.

      Commenter
      Retz
      Location
      Brumby Land
      Date and time
      July 21, 2014, 11:51AM
    • @ johnny-boy

      Meantime in Qlds........

      Commenter
      Machooka
      Location
      inner west sydney
      Date and time
      July 21, 2014, 12:04PM
    • Any comment on the yellow card for the Brumbies player for cynical play as well JB? Mogg is very similar to the early version of Cooper. Brilliant one second & completely lacking in fundamentals & solid option taking the next.

      Commenter
      Shane D
      Date and time
      July 21, 2014, 8:56PM
  • Losing Fisher is a disaster for the Brumbies and Aust rugby. Why he was not part of the Wallabies coaching panel is a mystery? Australian rugby and its franchisers are a nepotistic group. Why is Fisher leaving and why is someone like Duncan Hall sitting on his hands in Brisbane. Two of the best forwards coaches in world rugby not involved in any capacity in Aust next year?

    In Hall's case it would not surpass me if a NZ or SA super team picked him up. Then we hear the bleats from the ARU about losing talent to overseas.

    I just hop the national comp will expose some talented coaches and we get new blood into the super and national sides.

    Commenter
    Hammer
    Location
    ACT
    Date and time
    July 21, 2014, 8:09AM
    • Paul - you are so right in identifying Laurie Fisher as a loss to Australian and Brumbies Rugby. While Stephen Larkham has been training those sublime ball skills and attacking angles of the past two weeks, Fisher has the the rolling maul, the accurate lineout and an attacking scrum causing all sorts of problems for the other teams.

      Scott Sio was more than a handful in the scrum against the Chiefs and could have been even more effective on the second shunt if he hadn't completed the demolition in the first squeeze. The timing of the backrow in the scrum for both the first contact and the second shunt had the Chiefs and, previously, the Force in all sorts of trouble.

      Not sure the Brumbies can get over the Waratahs but they will be a much better side than three weeks ago and I don't think they have yet reached their peak in the backline with Toomua playing more and more like Bernie each week (his ghosting in the past two weeks being the standout trait).

      Commenter
      PxD
      Location
      On the sideline
      Date and time
      July 21, 2014, 8:17AM
      • Paul, perhaps the yellow cards were "harsh" as you put it, but I think Joubert's clear message of being prepared to send players to the bin ensured the game was played in the right spirit and this, in turn, helped make it an absolute cracker. Both teams went out to play a fast game and were prepared to play ball in hand. I think Joubert did an excellent job in ensuring this and the yellow cards played a big part.

        Commenter
        Rugbyfan Jakarta
        Date and time
        July 21, 2014, 8:55AM
        • @ Rugbyfan Jakarta

          Yep.... I do tend to agree with your comments. In essence, a positive spin on what, at first, appeared to be a negative ruling/s. But, as Cully was alluding to, was this interpretation of the laws brought to both teams knowledge prior to the game ?
          If so, your comments are bang-on, if not, then this is of concern.

          Commenter
          Machooka
          Location
          inner west sydney
          Date and time
          July 21, 2014, 12:12PM
        • Hi Machooka ... thanks for your comments. Yes, what the ref says to the teams about how he / she wants the game to be played and what he / she will be looking out is always a mystery. I suspect it's mainly the same spiel each game but altered with some specifics depending on the teams playing (if they have a history of cynical play etc). Perhaps the ref's pre-match consultations with the teams should be broadcast so we know what the ref says etc. For now, it's all a mystery. Whaddya reckon?

          Commenter
          Rugbyfan Jakarta
          Date and time
          July 21, 2014, 12:30PM

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