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Thread: Stannard starting to grow into the role

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    Stannard starting to grow into the role

    Stannard starting to grow into the role
    Bret Harris | March 03, 2008 Stannard starting to grow into the role | The Australian
    JAMES STANNARD was never meant to be Western Force's starting halfback in the Super 14 series, but he is set to wear the No9 jersey for at least another week.

    At best, Stannard, the boilermaker from Brisbane, would have imagined himself deputising for former Wallabies halfback Matt Henjak.

    But the termination of Henjak's contract a couple of weeks ago put Stannard in the key scrumbase role.

    Henjak started in the Force's loss to the Sharks in Durban before his contract was torn up by RugbyWA and the ARU after his fight with winger Haig Sare. But Stannard has started in the Force's two wins against the Cheetahs and Lions in South Africa, despite the arrival on the tour of former NSW and WA halfback Chris O'Young.

    It was expected O'Young, who had been playing for Glasgow in Scotland, would be rushed in to replace Henjak as the first-choice halfback.

    But O'Young did not even make it on to the reserves' bench for the match against the Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday, with coach John Mitchell opting for a five-two split between forwards and backs.

    Mitchell is likely to revert to a traditional four-three split against the Crusaders in Perth on Sunday, which will create a vacancy for a back-up halfback.

    But Stannard is likely to retain his place and O'Young marking his return to the Force on the bench.

    An unheralded player, Stannard moved to Perth from Brisbane club Souths in 2006 and he deputised for Henjak with Perth Spirit in the defunct Australian Rugby Championship.

    While at 1.73cm and 82kg, Stannard is not the big type of halfback preferred by Mitchell, he has nevertheless performed well for the Force in his rookie season.

    Stannard's service has been reliable and he has struck up a good combination with five-eighth Matt Giteau. When you have a player of Giteau's calibre outside, you really just want a halfback who will get the ball in his hands.

    While Stannard does not offer a lot more than his passing game, he has made the occasional snipe around the rucks.

    Certainly, the fact the Force has struggled to score tries has not been Stannard's fault.

    The team scored only two tries, to fullback Cameron Shepherd and number eight Tamaiti Horua, in the 18-16 win against the Lions, despite dominating possession and territory.

    A penalty goal to Shepherd was the only score in the second half. It was not for the want of trying.

    Mitchell, who has instilled an attacking mind-set in his players, has complained about the policing of the rucks and mauls with teams attempting to slow down the ball.

    While this is a fair observation, the Force's biggest problem offensively is their inability to vary the point of attack.

    This stems largely from the inexperience of the Force's forward pack.

    Captain and second-rower Nathan Sharpe, backrower Scott Fava, who was the Force's best forward against the Lions, and hooker Tai McIsaac are the only old heads left in the pack.

    Too many Force forwards take the same direct route, running into opponents rather than space.

    The Force pack has been manful but has not been dominating the opposition.

    As a result, there is too much reliance on Giteau to make something happen out of nothing.

    Luckily for the Force, Giteau has been able to produce enough moments of magic to keep the team on the attack.

    Along with the Blues, the Crusaders are the most attacking team in the competition at the moment.

    The Force will need to find a way to shut down the Crusaders because it will be difficult to keep up with them in the try count.

    Wallabies back Scott Staniforth, who was a late withdrawal from the Lions game, is expected to be back to play the Crusaders and he will make a big difference in the midfield.

    Staniforth could start at either inside or outside centre, depending on the backline make-up.

    Ryan Cross played strongly at outside centre against the Lions so Staniforth may find himself at inside centre at the expense of Scott Daruda.

    Mitchell is likely to go with an aggressive backrow of Fava, Richard Brown and David Pocock at openside flanker to mark Crusaders captain Richie McCaw, while McIsaac will probably replace Luke Holmes as the starting hooker.

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    Having a 4-3 split on the bench I would play a backrow of Fava, Pocock and Horua. Horua had a really good game against the Lions and Browns ability to play at 6, 7 and 8 makes him very handy to have on the bench. God would I love a game as great as the last time we played the Crusaders in Perth. It'd be a hell of a lot better than a game as horrible as the last time we played the Crusaders in Christchurch.

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    I don't mind Fava Brown and Pocock with Horua off the bench.....It (Believe it or not) gets the experience on the park early, and we don't lose the versatility of Brownie in that mix...Horua can come on as an impact player if we're in the hunt, or a super sub to fix any issues if we're not.

    I'm happy with it!

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    C'mon the

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    I suppose your right. It's probably crazy to keep someone of Brown's fitness on the bench and not on the field for the whole 80 minutes.

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    Fava, Pocock and Brown, sounds like a nasty Accountancy firm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Lone Hydrangea View Post
    Fava, Pocock and Brown, sounds like a nasty Accountancy firm.

    or Lawyers..........

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    As Leela told Bender in the superhero episode 'aren't you normally on the supply side of crime?'

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