Australia’s flanker depth: sixes but no sevens

Reds flanker Liam Gill will head to French club Toulon at the conclusion of the 2016 Super Rugby season. Image via Queensland Reds

Reds flanker Liam Gill will head to French club Toulon at the conclusion of the 2016 Super Rugby season. Image via Queensland Reds

David Pocock on the ramage during the RWC semi-final. Image: ABC Grandstand

David Pocock on the rampage during the RWC semi-final. Image: ABC Grandstand

The Roar: The news that champion openside and maul-based try-scoring machine David Pocock is contemplating a sabbatical year of study at either Cambridge or Oxford is not so much of a surprise to the Australian rugby fraternity.

Pocock’s decision to re-sign with the ARU and the Brumbies for just the 2016 season was always going to fuel speculation as to his plans for 2017, but the concept of him taking a year off rugby to study or scratch his numerous charitable itches was always said to be on the cards, and was viewed as Pocock wanting to do something for himself in order to extend his playing career. It was, and still is, hard to argue.

The news on Wednesday about Queensland Reds flanker Liam Gill, however, was somewhat from left field

#RWC2015: Courageous Ireland suffer horror injury toll

Ireland players react to their gutsy win over France in Cardiff on Sunday. Image: ABC Grandstand

Ireland players react to their gutsy win over France in Cardiff on Sunday. Image: ABC Grandstand

Ireland have beaten France in their final Pool game of the Rugby World Cup, but it’s come at a massive injury and possible suspension cost to some key players. Here’s my reaction for The Roar, written straight after the game..

Ireland’s depth and resolve will be tested massively in the knockout stage of the Rugby World Cup, after they suffered serious injuries to three key players, and may lose another one to a citing, in their gutsy 24-6 win over France in Cardiff.

In the space of half an hour, Ireland were dealt the triple blow of losing playmaking lynchpin Jonny Sexton to a groin strain, and inspirational skipper Paul O’Connell before halftime, and then lost vastly underrated blindside flanker Peter O’Mahony after halftime. O’Connell and O’Mahony had to be stretchered from the field, while the pain and anguish on Sexton’s face was obvious as he gingerly walked off.

Spring Tour: Three lessons en route from Paris to Dublin

"But despite the early success, the Wallabies only attempted two other driving mauls for the match. And the Wallabies won 13 lineouts in Paris, too; it’s not like they didn’t have more than just three opportunities."

“But despite the early success, the Wallabies only attempted two other driving mauls for the match. And the Wallabies won 13 lineouts in Paris, too; it’s not like they didn’t have more than just three opportunities.”

ESPNscrum.com: As tempting as it might have been to take last week’s lessons and substitute ‘France’ for ‘Wales’ – because we all know they’d still apply – the Wallabies do genuinely have new issues to deal with before they take on Six Nations Champions, Ireland, this weekend.

Worryingly, and while the starting scrum held up quite well against France in Paris, many of the issues I outlined last week remained, particularly once all the bench forwards came into the game. From a Wallabies perspective, it was fortunate that France weren’t able to take advantage of this. And while it would be very easy to drop into yet another analysis about the Wallabies scrum, there are other areas to look at this week.

And so here are this week’s lessons, as the Wallabies lob back in the city that brought them undone off the field last season, the Irish capital of Dublin, namely that i). without gain line metres, flat passing is just ball shovelling; ii). trust Cheika knows where he wants the team to go, and iii). forwards need their thinking caps on…

ABC Grandstand: Wallabies flattered by tight loss in Paris

New French wunderkind Teddy Tomas bursts away from the Australian defence in Paris on Saturday. Image: ABC Grandstand

ABC Grandstand Digital: Dan Lonergan and I this morning on Grandstand Breakfast reviewed the Wallabies’ 29-26 loss to France in Paris yesterday morning our time, and tried to contemplate where Michael Cheika and the team might go from here.

Though the scoreboard indicates a tight affair, it really didn’t feel like that, and if anything, flatters the Wallabies. The French defensive and breakdown pressure won this game for Les Bleus, and won it pretty comprehensively, in all reality. Though they hit back to bring the margin back to 3 points, the Wallabies were never really a chance of winning this match. And so on they go to Dublin.

Also, we address the Kurtley Beale-shaped elephant in the room, with the midfielder recalled to the Wallabies squad over the weekend. Fair to say it’s not gone down well in all quarters…