Max Jorgensen and Corey Toole prove they are Wallabies World Cup bolters, round one analysis, highlights
The Wallabies might have a brand new coach, but Eddie Jones is not likely to reinvent the wheel and put a broom through the majority of Dave Rennie’s side.
So for those thinking that the heavy Brumbies contingent will be waved goodbye under Jones think again.
Jones doesn’t have the time to make wholesale changes, nor does he have to either.
The talent is largely there, it’s just about putting the jigsaw pieces together to unlock the missing five per cent of potential that is often the different between winning and losing. Mindset and a clarity of mind is what Jones will focus on.
But in most World Cup years, someone out of the blue puts their hand up and says ‘pick me’.
Nehe Milner-Skudder had an outrageous year in 2015 and the former NRL player ended up scoring in the World Cup final with sheer ankle-breaking ability.
On Friday night in Sydney, Jones saw two wingers making their debuts deliver similar eye-catching performances.
Max Jorgensen’s performance was the most highly anticipated debut since Israel Folau in 2013 – and even better, it was worth the wait.
Not only did Jorgensen finish brilliantly and go searching for the ball, he showed a calm head on the biggest stage of his career.
Nor was he the only one, with Corey Toole’s twinkle feet equally impressive down the left-hand touchline for the Brumbies.
His try was superbly taken while he almost sent Rob Valetini in for another five-pointer with a scrumptious ball.
Both backs are genuine World Cup bolters. But given that competition for places will be fierce and their similar frames, there likely wont be space for both flying outside backs.
Brumbies once again show who’s boss
All the talk was about the Waratahs in the off-season and you can understand why.
They were the big movers last year, recruited some good additions and have Wallabies littered throughout their squad.
One close defeat to the Brumbies doesn’t mean they’re a bad team, but Angus Bell’s injury, which is likely to see him miss the next couple of months, is a catastrophic blow.
While Tom Lambert held his own, Bell’s one of Australian rugby’s most influential players. And he’s only 22.
Darren Coleman has some tough decisions to make in the coming weeks, with Tolu Latu someone the Waratahs need on both sides of the ball. The pecking order at No.10 is another big question that will become clearer in time, too.
But what makes the Brumbies Australian rugby’s best side is their depth.
Despite missing two of their Test hookers, and losing a third within the opening minutes against the Waratahs, the Brumbies managed to not just steady the ship but own it as John Ulugia made a brilliant return.
And what about the debut of loosehead prop Blake Schoupp, who did a number on Archer Holz.
Up front the Brumbies won the forward battle and their physicality forced the Waratahs into errors close to the line.
Stephen Larkham deserves some credit with his selection too, with the introduction of Nic White and Noah Lolesio off the bench paying off.
Tom Wright, meanwhile, showed that there is life after Tom Banks, with the fullback’s skills, including his passing game, a feature of his match.
Pressure builds for Thorn’s Reds
Saturday night did not go to plan for Brad Thorn’s Reds.
Injury certainly affected the Reds’ chances of slowing down the Hurricanes, particularly in the tight-five, but their terrible discipline and defence on the fringes reflected poorly on Thorn’s side.
The issues started around the ruck, but they extended to the scrum where the Hurricanes got more and more ascendency at the set-piece the longer the match went on.
The inability to take the chances – poor kicking and simple passes dropped – also meant Tom Lynagh had very few opportunities to put his stamp on the match.
The heavy loss has put them under huge pressure heading into next week’s clash against the Force in Melbourne for Super Round.
After the Force showed character and a new mindset to come-from-behind to beat the Rebels, Simon Cron’s side will feel like they can do a job on Thorn’s side too.
If that happens it will be an uphill battle for the Reds, who face the Brumbies in Canberra a week later.
It will also put more pressure on the Queensland Rugby Union to make an early decision on Thorn’s future.
Law changes pass the mark
We got an early indicator of the law changes during the trial matches, but on first showing in the competition Super Rugby’s law changes proved positive.
Most importantly there was more urgency across the board for the game to play on.
In every match referees could be heard telling the players to move it along.
There did seem to be a slight difference in how referees handled the scrum, with some blowing up time after an initial scrum collapse and others now.
Ryan Louwrens even gave away a free kick for taking too long to get away his box kick as the caterpillar ruck formation blew up in his face.
Very little foul play meant proper introspection of the card system took place, but even when some did the game flowed quicker.
Blues and Chiefs set the pace
Anytime the Crusaders lose at home it’s time to sit up and take notice.
They will remain one of the competition heavyweights, but the tournament got another reminder of just how competitive it will be by the Chiefs’ incredible second-half showing.
The Chiefs came from 10-0 down to put on 31-unanswered points to leave Christchurch with the win.
Their victory showcased how lethal they will be with Damian McKenzie and Brodie Retallick in the side, while hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho is another monster in their pack.
Sam Cane, meanwhile, was also another strong performer as he fights to keep his place in the All Blacks starting side.
As well as the Chiefs, last year’s runners-up, the Blues, were the other standout side.
The Blues made the Highlanders’ defence, despite Billy Harmon’s comments post-game, look second-rate as Leon Macdonald’s side put on 60 points in Dunedin.
Mark Telea was the standout player of the round, scoring twice and regularly proving a handful with every touch of the ball.
Their Sunday clash against the Brumbies shapes as the match of the round next week in Super Round.