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Thread: Tahu can reinvent 13, says McKenzie

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    Legend Contributor Flamethrower's Avatar
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    Tahu can reinvent 13, says McKenzie

    Tahu can reinvent 13, says McKenzie
    AAP | Tuesday, 22 January 2008
    Tahu can reinvent 13, says McKenzie - Rugby news & coverage - Stuff.co.nz


    Timana Tahu will play his first game for the New South Wales Waratahs on Saturday but his coach Ewen McKenzie is already tipping the former National Rugby League star to reinvent rugby's outside centre position. Big call there Ewen

    The 27-year-old former Parramatta and Kangaroos back will make his rugby debut from the bench in a trial against Queensland at Campbelltown Stadium as part of an experimental Waratahs outfit.

    "(Tahu's) certainly got some great attributes to bring to the table," McKenzie said today.

    "He's got the chance to maybe reinvent that 13 position just a little bit in terms of how it's been played." Ahhh now it's maybe

    The Waratahs have signalled their game will revolve around speed in 2008 as they seek to take advantage of rugby's experimental law variations and the fresh legs of first five-eighth Kurtley Beale and winger Lachlan Turner.

    And McKenzie believes Tahu's own speed and natural football ability could signal the end of the trend of battering rams in No 13 jerseys.

    "The position in recent times has been used in a particular way, it's been used as a hard running position," he said.

    "The line running and football touches he can add could hopefully make it a very exciting position.

    "I think he could do it a little bit differently. . . that's not denigrating how it's been done, I just think he's got some nice things in his game which we haven't seen for a while."

    If McKenzie's right, it could leave new Wallabies coach Robbie Deans considering the prospect of a Matt Giteau/Tahu centre pairing for Australia.

    Having trained almost exclusively at No 13 since linking with the Waratahs at the end of last year, Tahu's transition will be helped by plenty of minutes in the NSW side's three trial matches before their Super 14 season kicks off against the Hurricanes on February 16.

    "We've got to try to manage everyone through the trials but we also know we've got to build match fitness as well so he can't come on for a 10-minute cameo," McKenzie said.

    "I haven't planned it exactly but it should be a reasonable time (on the field).

    "I think he's just got to get out there and feel what he feels on the field.

    "I think he's got pretty good instincts for football as far as going out there and seeing what he remembers under pressure. Gotta try and remember instincts

    "I'm sure he won't be without error but I'm sure he'll get some positive touches as well."

    Josh Valentine will get first shot at halfback against the Reds and is also expected to spend some time at first five-eighth.

    Big names Lote Tuqiri, Turner, Beale, Wycliff Palu, Phil Waugh, Rocky Elsom, Dan Vickerman, Matt Dunning, Adam Freier and Benn Robinson will be rested from Saturday's match, which kicks off at 7pm (AEDT).

    Waratahs: Ben Batger, Alfi Mafi, Ben Jacobs, Tom Carter, Andrew Smith, Daniel Halangahu, Josh Valentine, Ben Mowen (captain), Beau Robinson, Dean Mumm, Chris Thomson, Will Caldwell, Jeremy Tilse, Tatafu Polota Nau, Sekope Kepu. Reserves: Kane Douglas, Patrick McCutcheon, Steve Mafi, Al Manning, Daniel Palmer, Dylan Sigg, Laurie Weeks, Sam Harris, Rob Horne, Lachlan Mitchell, Sam Norton-Knight, Brett Sheehan, Timana Tahu.

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    Champion Contributor Jehna's Avatar
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    A natural born tactical thinker

    January 24, 2008

    THE man tasked with transforming Timana Tahu from NRL superstar into rugby union player has no hesitation in predicting his future in the code.

    "He'll be a sensation, no doubt," Waratahs attack coach Todd Louden says.
    "But all within time."

    Louden, who returned to NSW this season after helping guide the Bulls to a Super 14 title last year, has been the man principally responsible with re-tuning Tahu's immense talent into the 15-man game over the summer.

    The former Randwick coach said the key aim of Tahu's education was to de-mystify the often confusing game of rugby to the 27-year-old and instead focus on how to apply his instinctive attacking brilliance in the new arena.

    "He's been unbelievable to work with. The beauty of Timana is that he really works and he is a great tactical thinker of the game," Louden says.

    "The biggest thing we are trying to do with him is limit the unnecessary frustrations of the difference between the two games.

    "We are trying to keep that down for him so that he is not always thinking, 'This is what I did in league, but this is what I have to do in union' more 'this is what I can do in union'."

    Tahu has been exciting Waratahs coaching staff with his touches of brilliance on the training paddock and has quickly found his feet. His link with Lote Tuqiri is particularly mouth-watering.

    "He is going to have his own challenges to the game but he is going to bring a really unique difference. He is so refreshing to work with it's not funny," Louden added.

    Another former league star, Waratahs defence coach Les Kiss, has been responsible for adjusting Tahu's defensive technique to the structures - and rules - of rugby.

    A noted big-hitter in the NRL with the shoulder charge, Tahu has been training heavily in always using his arms in tackles as per rugby regulations.

    The Daily Telegraph

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    "Remember lads, rugby is a team game; all 14 of you make sure you pass the ball to Giteau."

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    Champion goony's Avatar
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    i hope he dominates so much that ppl will start to realise that lote isnt as great as he is made out to be... if anything tahu is going to make lote look good

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    They just keep talking him, piling the pressure on

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    we'll see what the commentary will be like after the weekend trial

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    i rekon he will play just like cross does (quick of the mark with the ball, he will take 2/3 players out of play when he is running then he will have a good offload to lote to create something.) i dont think he will be any different in defence.

    then they will claim it as Tahus amazing style of playing 13.

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    Champion Contributor chook's Avatar
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    Timana is amazing. It's as simple as that really. I will verify this at Campbelltown on Saturday night and report back to you all.

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    I'm sure we can expect an un-bias and well thought out report

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    I'm with Jazza, I can't see how another rugby league center can come into the game and bring a whole lot that hasn't already been brought. Unless of course, he was an innovator in League (which I don't think is really the case) he was good, but really League outside centers are pretty much waht link said he wasn't going to be in union. I guess if he's going to set new standards for shoulder charges and runs around the winger, that's changing the position, but is it for the better?

    I don't see how, in his first season, he's going to be any better than cross in his second season or Mortlock (who's the best 13 in the world) You let us know how he does Chook, will you be mailing your hair to us or will it be sent by courier?

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    Quote Originally Posted by chook View Post
    Timana is amazing. It's as simple as that really. I will verify this at Campbelltown on Saturday night and report back to you all.
    Don't forget to take your sidearms.....I prefer a Colt 45 when I head back home!!

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    Shivering with anticipation I made the easy drive down the M7 to Campbelltown, passing through pleasant industrial smelling countryside and being overtaken by vehicles traveling in excess of the speed limit on a double demerit weekend. I pondered life's little quirks as result.

    On arrival in Campbelltown we were greeted by a friendly welcoming sign with the local constabulary making their presence known early on in the piece.



    Upon entering the grand place of battle I spotted Dr Sharon looking as svelte as ever, casting her professional gaze over her charges.




    To the game. For some reason number 8 Leroy Houston was announced as the dude to throw in for the Reds at the lineouts. Perhaps a ploy to unsettle the unflappable Tahs? Close observers will spot Big Will in the Tahs lineout. Big Will fans will be pleased to hear that he is as cranky at the refs as ever and also that the sizo of Elastoplast on his forearm has decreased since last season. Maybe he is angling for a new sponsorship deal?



    This is a lineout.



    At scrum time, the Reds seemed to have the better of it for the first 40 minutes as they smashed and wheeled the Tahs scrum pretty easily. Briefly in the second half the Tahs scrum was solid. This was during the thrid quarter when The Bennnnnn of Many NNNnnnn's came on. Bennnn must also have a twn brother named Bennnnn, as the ground announcer alerted the fans to one of the Bennnn's leaving the ground and then another Bennnnn left the ground 9 minutes later. Bizzarre, but that would explain the improvement in the scrum and also its loss of control when Bennnn ( or as this observer believes, his brother Bennnnn, who is the real talent) departed.




    An update on everyone's favourite player. I can confirm that KwooWade Kwooper is huge. Enormous in fact. I reckon he is 103kg and not the 93kg thats been widely reported. Fans of Kwooper will be happy to learn that he attempted his patented stutter/sidestep/Charlie Chaplain routine to perfection, with the same result as last year. It fooled no none. His passes were perfectly spiraled and often landing a metre or two in front of his intended target. You can tell he has really worked hard during the off season.



    There was a profussion of players with a number between 20 and 29 on their backs for the Tahs and this caused me great distress and confussion. I'm pretty sure 21 was TimTam and 22 was Sam Harris. 20 was Luke Burgess and I felt he had a great game. At one point he had Valentine at Flyhalf outside him and this didn't really impede the Tahs attack. He looked incredibly fit and keen and fast. And he scored a try too. He also was polite to his mother after the game, a tip for us all really.



    TimTam came on after half time and I was suitably excited. I remained sitting down as to not embarrass myself in front of the 4000+ fans. I'd say the Reds had a good crack at trying to run attack at him to test out his defensive capabilities and they got passed him twice within about 5 minutes of play just after half time. I noticed that TimTam rushed up in defence faster than his other backs and that was probably the reason for his isolation. Ben Jacobs, (who also had a solid game) seemed to be his guide, sorted him out re positioning pretty quickly.

    TimTam was talking to the players around him too, so its good to see they introduced themselves and are showing the famous Tah hospitality to the new boy.

    TimTams was a bit tentative in his first tackle I thought and nearly got handed off by one of the Reds attackers but he threw his legs under the player ala Alfie Langer and tripped the dude. The Reds support spat TimTam out the back and keen onlookers noted that he limped a little after that and favoured one leg for the next few minutes. Everyone in the stadium who had a heart missed a beat. He walked it off like all good Tahs do.

    He had a lot of hands on hips action during his 40 minutes which I put down to lack of match fitness. Sam Harris was the same although he had an ok game. He shouldn't really kick for touch as Sam put one out on the full. I reckon because a Reds player did the same a few minutes earlier that Sam felt bad for the Queenslander and put the ball out on the full so as not to make his opponent feel bad. We Tahs are like that. We are nice people.

    On attack he was really impressive. Without being too biased (as a Tah and Eels fan) I thought he gave a really good show. His pace off the mark was top notch, he drew in defenders like Lote does and he kept his arms free most of the time and made offloads to support players. He even gave a nice little chip kick near the end of the game whcih almost resulted in a try that would make Kurtley jealous.

    Gods radiance shone down upon TimTam and chook. Had to wait about 35 minutes after the game to get a pic. Plenty of post game interviews for TimTam for both TV and papers. He looked buggered but he still took the time to sign some stuff and take photos for the little kids (and the big kids).




    Lachlan Turner fans ( I know that there are a lot of you out there) will be disappointed to hear that he didn't get a run during the game. But the Tah fitness coach took no pity on Lachie and made him do sprints for about 25 minutes after the game. Damn that boy is fast!!! He looked in top shape and he didn't spew up which I took as a good sign after all that sprinting. I lost a kilo just watching the poor bugger run up and down.


    Call of the night: Some drunk Reds fan calling out to TimTam when he was tackled, " Play the ball you bastid! "

    Overall, an ok game to watch. Skill levels were down for most players with occasional flashes of brilliance. Jacobs and Carter and Burgess looked fit and keen and fast. Hangers looked sexy but he hurt his leg (sexily). Batger was ok but he had an off night with the boot. The Tahs need a kicker, stat! TimTam did really well and Harris was good too. The scrum was shitzenhausen but I didn't recognise any of the frontrow cept for TPN and He Of Many NNNnnn's (and his brother). Al Manning has cut his hair off and was slow, but he scored try.

    Beau Robinson also looked fit and chased down everything that was rugby ball shaped.

    For the Reds, AJ Gilbert was a machine and Walker showed his class and experience at the back. He still has it, at least for trial games anyway. KwooWade was, well, KwooWade.

    A good time was had by all.

    Waratahs 26 Reds 10.

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    Immortal GIGS20's Avatar
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    Nice report Chook, It almost felt like I was at the game.....I could tell I wasn't because I didn't get mugged and don't feel like I need a hot shower to cleanse myself.

    All in all it sounds pretty typical for what you'd expect from a first hit out between two teams so far from the pace. Good to hear Cooper has adjusted his passing and no longer passes the ball a metre BEHIND the player now, this is obviously a better solution where players with warp engines might ba able to actually catch a pass.

    Tahu.....what can I say, you've obviously talked him up as is usual for any eastern states reporter, but it sounds (reading between the lines) as if he didn't suck too much! That's good, You guys need somebody to teach your backline how to not suck, especially with Lote still in the oraganisation. I'll be eagerly awaiting the Force/Reds match now so I can judge where each team is at. Sounds like both squads were experimenting a fair bit and nothing much was different from last year. Reds can't seem to buy a try (back to the drawing board for their backline) and Tahs scrum like 12 year old girls (Maybe they should buy another couple of props)

    Thanks again for the info Chook, it's most welcome in a time without anywhere near enough rugby on TV.

    ps glad to see you've got a haircut, are you weaning it into the inevitable shaving it'll be getting in April?

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    Quote Originally Posted by GIGS20 View Post
    ps glad to see you've got a haircut, are you weaning it into the inevitable shaving it'll be getting in April?
    That was Chook? And here was me thinking it was Matt Dunning.

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    Champion Contributor chook's Avatar
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    Thank you for your kind words. I was just practicing the headshave. I only got a number 4 though. I assume our arrangement will be somewhat less than that?

    I should also note that the Reds opted for scrums instead of quick taps when getting a short arm penalty and the Tahs went the quick tap instead of the scrum.

    Read into that what you will.....

    Tahs on attack in the first half repeatedly threw the ball wide and put a kick in towards the Reds 22m for a lineout. In the 2nd half the attack was more interesting as Tahu really did seem to give them something extra out wide instead of resorting to a kick. Anyway, thats what it seemed like to me.

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    Immortal GIGS20's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chook View Post
    Thank you for your kind words. I was just practicing the headshave. I only got a number 4 though. I assume our arrangement will be somewhat less than that?
    You assume correctly!

    Quote Originally Posted by chook View Post
    I should also note that the Reds opted for scrums instead of quick taps when getting a short arm penalty and the Tahs went the quick tap instead of the scrum.

    Read into that what you will.....
    I read this as typical trial shenanigans, probably an indication that the coaches think that the future of the Reds lies in the strengths of their forwards and the 'Tahs in the strengths of their backs. I guess the question would not be whether they changed at 1/2 time, but if they didn't change at 1/2 time, why not? I mean matches like this are all about trying things out and seeing what flies.


    Quote Originally Posted by chook View Post
    Tahs on attack in the first half repeatedly threw the ball wide and put a kick in towards the Reds 22m for a lineout. In the 2nd half the attack was more interesting as Tahu really did seem to give them something extra out wide instead of resorting to a kick. Anyway, thats what it seemed like to me.

    Again, they'll suck a million stats out of this performance, and probably try the same thing next week. They'll be looking to see what of the expected advantages they gained (and didn't gain) in each system and then tweak them for the final game plan.


    My real question for you Chook would be how effective was each play system in gaining metres and making breaks. Were the 'Tahs covered when chasing down the kick into the 22? Did they end up with better field position running it through the hands? Did they seem to be trying to land the ball infield, but outside the 22 with a bunch of onside players chasing it down (I think that could be a good play, force them to run from a way back, or throw it into the 22 and not kick it out......hmmm)

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