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Thread: Holmes gives Tahs boss a headache

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    Holmes gives Tahs boss a headache

    Holmes gives Tahs boss a headache

    Rupert Guinness
    Thursday, January 25, 2007


    There is a little spot on the head of Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie that could well develop into a worrying irritation in the next few days.

    For whatever the outcome of tonight's trial match between NSW and the Crusaders, there is every chance he will be left scratching it as he tries to decide which of three players vying for the No.9 jersey is his best option.

    Josh Valentine, Brett Sheehan and Josh Holmes all realise their game tonight at Aussie Stadium could swing heavily for or against them in their bids to be the starting halfback and in the 26-strong Waratahs squad that flies to Johannesburg on Wednesday.

    Heading into tonight's clash, McKenzie was no clearer about where the three halfbacks stood in the pecking order and left the door open as to whether he would be come the Super 14 kick-off on February 2.

    "We are still open-minded. It's going to be close. I don't think there is necessarily going to be a right or wrong selection," he said.

    McKenzie would not rule out taking all three players to South Africa. It is a prospect that has arisen thanks to the developed versatility of the youngest of the three - 19-year-old Holmes. He has spent much of the off-season running with NSW in the outside backs as well as at halfback while Sheehan and Valentine travelled with the Wallabies on their end-of-season tour.

    Were Holmes not to stand out as the halfback choice tonight - and McKenzie to think about fielding a reserves bench with five forwards and two backs against the big forwards-driven South African opposition - the 2006 Australian under-19s, -21s and A representative last year could be seen a viable utility back.

    "We won't rule it out," said McKenzie when asked if taking all three halves to South Africa was a possibility. "We have to look at the coverage [of positions]. Every injury changes the thinking a little about who expects to cover what. Some, like Josh Holmes, have been training in outside-back positions in the off-season, so that is something he has been adding to his repertoire. If he is on the bench, he could play in different scenarios. We can play a 5-2 bench. We have done that in South Africa quite a bit."

    Holmes, who played the first 30 minutes of last Saturday's trial against the Brumbies, has taken the prospect on board. He has become faster and muscled up, adding 2.5kg.

    "I have put a bit of weight on in the off-season, on my thighs and have played a couple of other positions. 'Link' [McKenzie] said it might work to my advantage. Hopefully I am a more versatile player," he said.

    Starting tonight and in his second appearance for the Waratahs since returning to NSW from Queensland after last season is Valentine, 24, who played the last 15 minutes against the Brumbies, coming on for Sheehan, who had 25 minutes.

    Valentine, who has four Test caps from the bench, has a lightning pass and a dangerous midfield kick. And when he talks about the No.9 jersey, he is not just talking about the Waratahs strip vacated by Chris Whitaker.

    "It's hot topic. In Australian rugby it is, too, with George Gregan, Sam Cordingley, Matt Giteau a lot of people are striving for the No.9 jersey," he said.

    Sheehan, who played in the midweek Australia A games on the Wallabies tour and is known for his robust play, would not be surprised if McKenzie rotated all three halves to suit match tactics.

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    Champion Shaun's Avatar
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    Tahs have so much to offer at #9.

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    They can send Sheehan home if they want!
    May not be the best but he's not the worst either...and a good WA boy

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    Whoa whoa whoa whoa, whoa whoa... I thought you guys had the greatest number 9 of all time?

    From what I've seen, Holmes is the most level-headed of the 3 however that's only because I've seen Valentine play at test level and Holmes play trial games so there's an obvious difference.

    How I think they'll line up in week one*

    Valentine
    Halangahu
    Tuqiri
    Harris
    Turinui
    Hewat
    Norton-Knight


    *This is how I think they'll line up, not my preferred backline.

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    Player O'Regan's Avatar
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    Sage, What is your prefereed Backline?

    I'd just like to see Valentine at 9,

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    Veteran Contributor frontrow's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Sagerian]Whoa whoa whoa whoa, whoa whoa... I thought you guys had the greatest number 9 of all time?


    You mean Henjack, he`ll take that on board...

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    Veteran Sagerian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by O'Regan
    Sage, What is your prefereed Backline?

    I'd just like to see Valentine at 9,
    Valentine
    Norton-Knight
    Tuqiri
    Halangahu
    Turinui
    Lachlan Turner
    Hewat

    10 and 12 can swap, I'd like to see Hangers trialed at 12, he's aggressive, runs hard , passes well and is a brilliant tackler.

    Lachlan Turner is a young fella and blooding wingers is better than blooding flyhalves, etc so I reckon they bring him in now.

    This lineup allows the tahs to bring on the hard line running Sam Harris and guys like Chris Siale who would create a big impact off the bench.


    Quote Originally Posted by frontrow
    You mean Henjack, he`ll take that on board...
    I'm sure at least that's how Henjak sees it, greatest 9 of all time

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    Henjak
    blah

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    Veteran Contributor frontrow's Avatar
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    I know the urge is to go blah Krusher, but it is a new year so lets start with a clean slate and see how the Gobby one goes this year, he can only improve really, and with his best mate outside of him i reckon he is gonna perform much better this year...I hope...

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    Player O'Regan's Avatar
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    That is a fair team Sage, I do hope to see Hewat get a bit of a run at Fullback, well it will be a little bit more, now that Rogers has gone. Sage how was Hangers at Fullback? And I have not seen Turner play,, but I can not think of any other tahs winger.

    And if Henjak really does step up this year, he could potentially earn a Wallabies Squad call up, Or Australia A.

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    Veteran Sagerian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by O'Regan
    That is a fair team Sage, I do hope to see Hewat get a bit of a run at Fullback, well it will be a little bit more, now that Rogers has gone. Sage how was Hangers at Fullback? And I have not seen Turner play,, but I can not think of any other tahs winger.

    Hewat prefers fullback but it still worries me that he's our last line of defense, which is why I'd want Hangers at 12, he doesn't let too much past him.

    Hangers at fullback was pretty good, no better of worse than Two-Dads or Hewat, but I'd want to see both Two-Dads and Hangers closer to the action, hence Hewat is the odd one out.

    Siale plays a bit of wing too but our stocks seem to be pretty weak there.


    Quote Originally Posted by O'Regan
    And if Henjak really does step up this year, he could potentially earn a Wallabies Squad call up, Or Australia A.

    In that case I hope Henjak doesn't step it up this year, he's too slow (lazy even).

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    Player O'Regan's Avatar
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    I was just wandering if Hewats ankle plays up, who could replace him.

    Yeah Norton-Knight Flyhalf, would be good, Although Hangers is also a fair option.

    Yeah in the game I saw Hangers play, he crunched the Hurricanes guy a couple of times.

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    There's Hangers and Two-Dads, hell even Tuqiri's played some time at fullback now and then, pity he can't kick.

    A rumour floating around is that Norton-Knight is a little injury prone hence why he's not at 10, but on paper that's still the backline I'd have.

    The best hit I've seen Hangers put on was in the Crusaders game last year, it was magic!

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    Sage, how long has Turinui got left on his contract?
    I know the Tahs all rave about his "Rugby brain" but personally I reckon he is your weakest backline player.
    As I said before with all the forward injuries, I reckon you would be better off conceding '07 as a full development come rebuilding year to give your younger players the chance to step forward, they would be so much the better for it and a chance to get rid of some dead wood like Baxter, Turinui etc.
    I know a bit hard for a fan and with commercial considerations but from a pure Rugby supporter point of view that is my take on where the Tahs now find themselves a week away from the new season.

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    Veteran Sagerian's Avatar
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    No I absolutely agree with you on all points mate.

    Turinui definitely has a good head for the game, but there's plenty who have better rugby brains (Guys like O'Driscoll, Gits, even Staniforth comes up with alot of heads up plays). He's still a solid player but 2006 wasn't his best year, whether that was because Shaun Berne was his centre partner or not remains to be seen. I'm hoping with a more "Nathan Grey" style pairing in Sam Harris he might be in better positions to break the line again. *shrugs*
    (I think this is his last year on contract but I could be wrong)

    If Turinui was out I'd look at a Two-Dads/Halangahu and Sam Harris pairing.

    Players I'd be blooding this year include Josh Holmes, Kurtley Beale, Lachlan Turner Chris Siale and Beau Robinson. That's enough players to conceed a semi-rebuilding year. We probably would be able to get rid of dead weight like Baxter if you guys stopped stealing our bloody props.

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