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'Me being too emotional': Noah Lolesio puts Carter talk to bed after Brumbies win

By AAP
Noah Lolesio of the Brumbies passes the ball during the round one Super Rugby Pacific match between Melbourne Rebels and ACT Brumbies at AAMI Park, on February 23, 2024, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

Admitting his emotions got the better of him last year, a cool and calm Noah Lolesio let his rugby do the talking as he steered the ACT Brumbies to a Super Rugby Pacific season-opening win.

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The Brumbies reaffirmed their status as Australia’s strongest side with a 30-3 demolition job on the Melbourne Rebels, whose future in the competition remains in extreme doubt.

Lolesio was key to the victory, outplaying his five-eighth rival Carter Gordon who beat him for a 2023 World Cup berth.

When the teams clashed last year a fired-up Lolesio shouted Gordon’s name as he scored a try, emphasising the battle for higher honours was personal.

But at AAMI Park on Friday night Lolesio, who spent five months with French side Toulon, showed his blossoming maturity.

In a polished display he orchestrated the Brumbies attack, including setting up a try for winger Corey Toole.

“You obviously notice a talent like Carter in the other team but you can’t get caught up in the other person,” 24-year-old Lolesio told AAP.

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“Obviously, last year I did that, a carry-on statement by myself, and I apologised to him a few weeks later.

“It was just me being too emotional there but it’s not personal or anything – I think Carter is a great player and he obviously had a great game last year and I thought he played well against us again this time.”

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Lolesio said his stint in France had revived his love of rugby after it was dimmed by his interrupted Wallabies career.

Having played 20 Tests since making his debut in 2020, he was overlooked last year entirely by then coach Eddie Jones which he said was “a bit of a hit on me”.

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“I’m probably just enjoying rugby more, my time over there and how the French lifestyle is, they sort of care less, if that makes sense,” he said.

“Obviously, they take rugby very seriously but then when it’s time to switch off and get away, they really do that and that’s probably the biggest thing I’d take out of it with my time over there, to just take rugby as it is.

“Just play footy and don’t overthink it.

“And after that, I’m just Noah, I’m not just a rugby player.

“Probably the one thing I’ve wanted to bring in this year is just enjoyment.”

With Joe Schmidt taking over from Jones as Test coach, Lolesi felt it was a fresh start for many players in the Wallabies sphere and hopes he will be judged on his Super Rugby performance.

“It’s a clean slate, not just for myself, for a lot of the boys throughout all the other Aussie clubs as well,” he said.

“I guess performance does the talking at the end of the day.”

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Poorfour 11 hours ago
The AI advantage: How the next two Rugby World Cups will be won

AI models are really just larger and less transparent variants of the statistical models that have been in use since Moneyball was invented. And a big difference between the Icahn centre’s results and AI today is that ChatGPT-like Large Language Models can explain (to some degree) how they reached their conclusions. In terms of what impact they will have, I suspect it will have two primary impacts: 1) It will place a premium on coaching creativity 2) It will lead to more selections that baffle fans and pundits. Analysts will be able to run the models both ways: they will see their own team’s and players’ weaknesses and strengths as well as the opposition’s. So they will have a good idea at what the other team will be targeting and the decisive difference may well be which coaches are smart enough to think of a gameplan that the other side didn’t identify and prepare for. For players, it places a premium on three key things: 1) Having a relatively complete game with no major weaknesses (or the dedication to work on eliminating them) 2) Having the tactical flexibility to play a different game every week 3) Having a point of difference that is so compelling that there isn’t a defence for it. (3) is relatively rare even among pro players. There have been only a handful of players over the years where you knew what they were going to do and the problem was stopping it - Lomu would be the classic example. And even when someone does have that, it’s hard to sustain. Billy Vunipola in his prime was very hard to stop, but fell away quite badly when the toll on his body began to accumulate. So coaches will look for (1) - a lack of exploitable weaknesses - and (2) - the ability to exploit others’ weaknesses - ahead of hoping for (3), at least for the majority of the pack. Which is likely to mean that, as with the original Moneyball, competent, unshowy players who do the stuff that wins matches will win out over outrageous talents who can’t adapt to cover their own weaknesses. Which will leave a lot of people on the sidelines sputtering over the non-inclusion of players whose highlights reels are spectacular, but whose lowlight reels have been uncovered by AI… at least until the point where every fan has access to a sporting analysis AI.

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