Month: August 2016

The importance of Matt Giteau’s return to Australia’s attack

Australia’s attack excels at creating line breaks in the channels outside 13. Despite three defeats in their June series, they scored 10 tries to England’s 9 and created 39 line breaks to England’s 19 (per ESPN), looking most threatening when they moved the ball into these wider channels. It’s in these areas that Israel Folau is most threatening; while he is closer to the action at outside centre, when he plays at fullback (as he will on Saturday) he is able to make arcing runs from behind his centres and hit the gap before turning downhill. Bernard Foley’s range & timing of passing, along with his angles of running at first receiver, help put Folau into this space. Australia were reasonably successful in this area despite starting a centre partnership of Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kuridrani in two of the three tests; the return of Matt Giteau as a second ball-player to the midfield should make this even more of a threat on Saturday.

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2016 Mitre 10 Cup preview

New Zealand’s National Provincial Championship – this year branded as the Mitre 10 Cup – is always one of the most enjoyable competitions in club rugby, performing a key role in the nation’s talent development process. Nehe Milner-Skudder’s performances for Manawatu in 2014 served as a springboard to Super Rugby and international recognition in 2015, while the part played by Seta Tamanivalu in Taranaki’s championship victory that same season led to a place in the Chiefs squad and a cap for the All Blacks in June 2016. The competition also provides an opportunity – arguably unparalleled in world rugby – for age-grade players to prove themselves against top competition. The NZRU will undoubtedly be disappointed with a fifth-place finish in this year’s U20 World Championship, but the manner in which the side rebounded from sloppy pool-stage performances against Ireland and Wales to score nineteen tries in two emphatic knockout victories was indicative of the attacking talent at Scott Robertson’s disposal, and many of these young players will be heavily involved with their provinces over the coming weeks.

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