Been very busy lately, but Im back to spew some more convoluted shit which will probably never be read.

Watching the All Blacks attempt to score a try out of their own 22, 4 minutes into the second half, brought a tear of joy to my eye. I feel for them – in that they haven’t looked this rudderless in years (in fact, prior to this season, I can not even recall the last time they played so desperately).

The Springboks are looking good – but the Wallabies will be a sterner test. The winner of the Tri-Nations is almost always the team that can a) win all their home games and then either b) pick up an away win or c) string together 1-2 very close (bonus point awarding close) losses away. I think New Zealand will be a different beast when they are back playing at home (supposedly with Dan Carter back – whether he will have had enough game time to practice is another matter) and it is thus imperative that the Boks put the Wallabies away – comfortably, in Cape Town.

Whether Graham Henry has the energy or the will to produce anything these Tri Nations remains to be seen – I get the feeling they have almost written off this years competition – he looks like a man who is fed up with his job at the moment. In fairness – when your national teams coach’s biggest flaw is his ability to maintain the IRB #1 position – and only falter in one, albeit important World Cup Final, game a year – you really don’t have too much to complain about.

Im more worried, at the moment, for the (most probable) 5th Australian S15 team in 2011. With the Waratahs signing Berrick Barnes – the Reds are not even looking like they will have the quality to compete in the coming competition (let alone yet another team in 2011). Its a real shame the Super 14 coaches exhibit such a reluctance to dip into the Canberra/Sydney/Qld Premier division club competition when looking for players to fill out their rosters. How do they propose to grow the game in Australia when they are more interested in signing a League player or an overseas based expat (long in the tooth) than invest in some competent men who play week-in-week-out in a tough club comp?

My own preperations for the upcoming-off season for Rugby are fast approaching. Im 5 weeks away approximately, and Ill post up an outline of my initial plans fairly soon.

My cut is nearing the end, Im almost sporting a 4 pack :D

Really can’t wait to be done, and I start my Offseason rugby training in early September. Ill post up a preview of that closer to the time.

On the Wallabies – wow. They blew it big time. To start with a try so early in the test, and then basically let the All Blacks score 22 unanswered points was diabolical.

Luke Burgess had a shocker, and its a bit unnerving that his only replacement is the 1 test newbie Genia. The Wallaby scrum was also not nearly as formidable as it was against Italy and France (who both served it up to the All Blacks), which has to be disheartening for any Wallaby supporters.
I predicted a 3-5 point Wallaby win, and If I had my time again I probably would have done the same thing. That game was there to win, but they blew it.

Its looking like it will be a good Tri-Nations, and Ill do another match preview for this coming weekends clash in South Africa.

Team lists:

All Blacks

15. Mils Muliaina
14. Cory Jane
13. Conrad Smith
12. Ma’a Nonu
11. Sitiveni Sivivatu
10. Stephen Donald
9. Jimmy Cowan

8. Rodney So’oialo
7. Richie McCaw (capt)
6. Jerome Kaino
5. Isaac Ross
4. Brad Thorn
3. Neemia Tialata
2. Andrew Hore
1. Tony Woodcock

16. Keven Mealamu
17. Owen Franks
18. Jason Eaton
19. Kieran Read
20. Piri Weepu
21. Luke McAlister
22. Joe Rokocoko

Wallabies

15. Adam Ashley-Cooper
14. Lachie Turner
13. Stirling Mortlock (capt)
12. Berrick Barnes
11. Drew Mitchell
10. Matt Giteau
9. Luke Burgess

8. Wycliff Palu
7. George Smith
6. Richard Brown
5. Nathan Sharpe
4. James Horwill
3. Al Baxter
2. Stephen Moore
1. Benn Robinson

16. Tatafu Polota-Nau
17. Ben Alexander
18. Dean Mumm
19. Phil Waugh
20. David Pocock
21. Will Genia
22. James O’Connor

Back Three
Very little seperates the back three of the two sides. Sivivatu had an amazing Super 14 (when he returned from injury) and Muliaiina was one of the few shining lights in the All Blacks past 3 tests against France and Italy – often having to take responsibility and come up with something when the rest of the All Black team stuttered and faltered. A question mark remains over Cory Jane. He has pace, but in terms of International experience he is left sorely lacking. The return of Sivivatu also means this back three has had limited game time together. I think Australia edges New Zealand, just, in terms of the outside backs as a unit.

Midfield
I believe in this aspect Australia is firmly in control. Barnes/Mortlock have synergised well, in very short time, to develop into a potent unit. Both can kick out of hand, and Barnes distribution links in nicely with the hard running Mortlock. Nonu, on the back of a good Super 14, has so far been ordinary. The return of Smith is heartening for the All Blacks, but I believe the current form of the Australian centre pairing is enough to give them the upper hand in this respect.
In terms of the 9/10 axis, Australia again have the lead. Giteau, heralded by many as the best Flyhalf in the game at the moment, has been combining superbly with Burgess. Donald has so far had a shaky start to the International arena. In my view he will only get better, but I think that the Wallabies will be targetting him – and in Tri Nations a shaky, unconfident flyhalf is a weak link.

Backrow
Deans has opted for a slightly more conventional backrow, with the mobile Hodgson out for Palu (Brown switching to 6). The physicality of Palu preferred over pure mobility for this Tri Nations opener. So’oioalo, however, is back for New Zealand along with McCaw. The return of these two gives the All Black pack a completely new look. Expect the All Blacks performance at the breakdown to be greatly improved. Everyone in New Zealand will be hoping McCaw can be back to his best, but with only 45 minutes of Club Rugby under his belt it may be a lot to ask. If McCaw and So’oioalo can play to their potential, then I believe New Zealand’s backrow can match and possibly outperform the Wallaby backrow. Kaino will help to subdue the Wallaby runners around the base of the ruck, he had a solid Super 14 and deserves his place.

Tight Five
A lot has been said of the Wallaby tight 5 up to this point in the season. They have scrummed well, and are an incredibly mobile unit to boot (Benn Robinson secured multiple George-Smith-esque breakdown turnovers in the Super 14). Horwill and Sharpe compliment each other well, and both are used effectively as ball runners. Isaac Ross will be incredibly instrumental in contesting Wallaby ball at the lineout, and a lot will depend on his game. He is a rangy athletic lock, and if the game becomes loose he could play a bigger role. Eaton, on the bench, is superb cover if Sharpe/Horwill begin to prove too much. On the back of recent form, the Wallaby Tight Five are heading into the game as favourites.

The game will be hotly contested. This is not the same New Zealand team that lost to France and then stuttered to a shaky win against Italy. The All Black camp has been very quiet this past week, and will come out looking to win on Saturday. The Wallabies, on the back of 3 impressive performances, are beginning to look like a true force. On current form, one has to award it to the Wallabies. The All Blacks impregnable persona when playing at home has been damaged by their loss to France. I would never normally bet against the All Blacks at home, but the Wallabies current form is too strong to ignore. I believe if the Wallabies can establish a lead first, they can gain a mental edge over the under-pressure All Blacks, and can win it from their. For the punters out there looking for a big win – if you were ever going to tip the Wallabies to beat the All Blacks at home – you couldn’t be blamed for doing it this weekend.

Prediction – Wallabies by 3-5

The news today (apart from the Lote Tuqiri usual) is about how the IRB will be taking action against the Springboks protest (in the form of Armbands/headbands saying “Justice 4 all”) at Bakkies Botha’s 2 week ban.  Ill post a link to what got Botha banned, its a textbook cleanout in my book, but here it is for you to decide:

It is a sad day in my book when an international team needs to take matters like this into their own hands instead of just concentrating on the game.  You could tell it was distracting them, and it showed towards the end of the test where the niggles and fighting (which Jake White worked so hard to eradicate) began to rear their head.  The ban itself was ridiculous in my book, gone are the days when Botha was a dirty player.  He plays hard, but to ban someone for an absolute bone crunching (and incidentally shoulder-dislocating) hit is ridiculous.

Part of the blame has to rest on SARU.  It is their job to fight things like this off the field (their appeal to the ban was denied).  The Bok team is beginning to look more and more like a case of the senior players in the squad having to make a lot of the decisions and shoulder more and more pressure, pressure which the Coach and Administration should be handling.

Ill post a preview of the Tri-Nations as soon as the South African squad gets announced (Nz and Aus have been announced).

Spent the past 2 days gorging myself stupid, and tonight Im topping it off with home made pizza before I embark on my final 8 weeks of cutting (Ive been on a 2 week “refeed”/mental break, put on about 1.5kg’s which is what I wanted).  Im aiming for at least a “4 pack” (hahaa) before my Offseason training starts for rugby in earnest around mid-September.

Im following a low volume, high intensity, Max-OT esque workout regime for these next 8 weeks.  (Yes, Im using a 4 day split to lose weight, flame away).  Diet is simple and based on the T-Dawq 2.0 diet which can still be found floating around somewhere on the internet.  100g carbs on workout days, 70g’s on non-workout days.  All carbs come in at breakfast and post-workout shake.  Will be sitting at approximately 2350-2300 cals for the next 4 weeks, then drop it accordingley week by week after that.  1 cheat meal a week.

Will post a bi-weekly update with how Im going, and if anyone is interested I can throw up a basic outline of the early stages of my Offseason plans in a few days.   Also do a quick review on the Tri-Nations squads (when SA release theirs) in the week.

Websites I like

July 5, 2009

Just thought I would post this up, a few websites I frequent and ones that are worth taking a look at it.

For rugby news/headlines/opinions:

http://www.keo.co.za

Great South African based website, most of the news dealing with SA rugby but still a good smattering of International topics.  Some great debate on the comments under each topic as well.

http://www.rugbyheaven.com.au

Online branch of the Sydney Morning Herald’s Rugby news section.  I find it fairly biased and often quite innacurate when dealing with overseas issues, but its great for keeping up with Aus/Nz news.

For training/weights/etc:

http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=107034291

Official Rugby Training Thread.  A lot of the stuff on the bb.com forums is junk, but the Sports forum has a solid, knowledgeable community and thats a great thread for anyone looking to take their Rugby to the next level or just get in general shape for a friendly game with friends.

http://www.t-nation.com

More of a glitzy version of Bb.com (and a far superior one, according to its readers) but still good.  I read it more for entertainment than actual training information, as everything written is accompanied by an undercurrent of “we are just so much better” (especially its forums).

http://www.defrancostraining.com/index.php

Awesome site, Joe De Franco is an inspiration.  Not only does the site possess possibly the greatest free Sports program you will find (Westside for Skinny Bastards 3) but has a great Q&A section and you can both ask him a question or trawl through a few years of archived questions.

http://www.elitefts.com

Awesome resource, especially for athletes and powerlifters.  The least you should do is subscribe to their once-a-week round up newsletter which gets emailed to you.  Another place with a great Q&A section and years worth of articles to trawl through.

Just thought I would type out some thoughts, after prematurely turning off the TV in a blind rage.

This was the most ordinary performance I have seen from the Springboks since Peter De Villiers first Tri-Nations game in charge last season.  It was a limp Bok performance – bereft of gameplan or structure.

Constantly kicking to an obviously well drilled Lions back 3 wasn’t helping matters, as Kearney spent the first 25 minutes of the match punishing the Boks with well weighted kicks and precision counter assaults.

Ralepelle was doing fine, pulling him prematurely for Du Plessis was ill thought out.  By that stage the game was lost and all Du Plessis did was compound frustrations with his incessant ability to start a good fight.  Johan Muller failed to fill in Botha’s shoes – he was a lot of bark but no bite in the end.

Brussouw was superb, but good god – Brussouw IS NOT A BALL RUNNER, why must the Boks insist on using him as such?  Why he was forced to try and make the gainline in midfield over Kankowski or Smith amazes me.

Its also nice to see PdV has coached the life out of Olivier and has him back as a bloody De Wet Barry type crash ball runner. If the Super 14 proved anything it is the dynamic nature of Olivier – if only they could use him properly.

Nokwe is a good finisher – nothing else. Wings in the Bok side need to be able to create (due to 10 through 13 being able to do nothing), not just finish.  Kirchner had a solid enough debut, apart from a botched try, but Steyn played much better when he was on.

The Lions were superb, Vickery though proved he is over the hill.  He got lucky with the Bok scrum being penalised a few times early in the match until the ref cottoned onto the fact that as much as Gareth Rowntree (Lions Forwards coach) wants us to believe it, Vickery is not “back”.

Shaw bossed Matfield and the rest of the Bok pack, and was unlucky to get sent off.  If Du Preez wasn’t injured he would not have got a yellow.  Heaslip was powerful with ball in hand, and Martin Williams seemed to irritate the Boks to no end which probably meant he was doing a good job of openside flanker.  Riki Flutey was dangerous in the midfield, and Shane Williams sublime living off breaks and taking advantage of Ndungane’s poor defensive play to scoot in for 2 tries.

The match leaves the Bok’s to question both their depth and squad make up ahead of the Tri Nations.  My tip this year is the Wallabies, with the Boks/Nz battling out for 2nd and 3rd.

Ill make a post later in the week with a quick Tri Nations preview and a quick review of each sides squad (if anyone cares :P )

I thought I would start this off with a quick introductory.  I’m a young rugby player in Australia with a keen interest in all things Rugby Union (most notably the Springboks), Strength and Conditioning and Powerlifting.   I thought I would simply start this blog as a way to jot down my thoughts on certain matters, and possibly excite some debate.  My plan is to undertake my Level 1 S&C at some stage this year.

Anything I say is just my opinion, so if I ever incense you so much with my musings on Rugby or Strength related topics – there is no need to point out my (current) lack of Certification – I am well aware.

Hope you enjoy.

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