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Will Genia: Why Pete Samu's Bledisloe omission is a 'huge head-scratcher'

By Ned Lester
Pete Samu. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

Eddie Jones swung the axe in the wake of a winless start to The Rugby Championship. The three victims surprised many, including former Wallaby Will Genia.

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Fullback Tom Wright started both of the Wallabies’ opening games but failed to make the Bledisloe Cup squad, as did Reece Hodge after a start against South Africa and Pete Samu after only a brief showing off the bench in that same game.

Samu’s omission took Genia by surprise due to the dynamic loose forward’s skillset being seen as a great addition to what has been an underperforming back row for the Wallabies.

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The unconvincing form of Australia’s back row, as well as an injury to Michael Hooper, has seen Rob Valetini be the only player named to start in both Tests to start the Wallabies’ 2023 campaign.

With selection very much up for grabs under new head coach Jones, the 16 minutes of action Samu received before facing the axe was barely a scratch on what the flanker deserved in Genia’s eyes.

“For me, it’s a huge head-scratcher why Pete Samu was left out of the squad,” Genia told the Aotearoa Rugby Pod. “He’s been such a consistently good player for the Wallabies over the last couple of years, granted he’s played a lot of his footy off the bench.

“The way Test rugby is going now, I don’t necessarily think you need a fetcher as much as you did in years gone by, I’d rather have size.

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“The thing about it is, you can slow the opposition’s ball down two ways, right? You’ve got David Pocock-style play, you can put pressure on the ball and slow it down or, you can slow it down by winning the collision with bigger bodies; making dominant tackles, flooding the ruck and slowing it that way as opposed to getting someone over the ball.

“I’d much rather go the route of having the bigger bodies, particularly in that back row and slowing the ball down that way.

“I think the All Blacks seem to have got their loose forward trio down and I think we’re still searching at the moment.”

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Genia went on to break down the available candidates for the Wallabies’ back row, saying while Michael Hooper had an underwhelming start to his international season, he’ll likely bounce back. Rob Valetini was seen as a success at No 8 and the return of Rob Leota could add the muscle that the No 6 jersey requires.

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Genia said for his starting openside flanker, he would in fact have opted for the dropped Pete Samu.

“Just to give him an opportunity,” Genia explained. “Again, someone who enjoys the physical battle, he’s dynamic in the ball carry as well, he creates a lot of opportunity with offloads in that space. I think we’ve got to get that balance right.”

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Comments

8 Comments
B
Bruiser 363 days ago

4000 players and staff later, Eddie will still be building for the world cup in 20 years

N
Nice One Bruvva 363 days ago

Trained and won matches with the Crusaders ... Good player.

0
007 363 days ago

Even more baffling is the omission of Harry Wilson - a specialist and out and out No.8, who is currently languishing in the Australia A camp.
Blindside: Valetini; 7. McReight; 8. WIlson - problem solved!

D
Don M 363 days ago

Will G is spot on. Samu's consistency and overall skillset is the key. Inexplicably he didn't make the final squad for the Japan World Cup, and was missed. Missing the cut again would be dead-set cruel.

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Nick 363 days ago

agree with will that its a bit stiff to drop samu (and hodge). But, I don't really see him as a 'physical' enforcer type. Yes, he is a bigger body then hooper/mcreight, but his talent is in being a dynamic ball runner/link player, not a defensive enforcer. He was tried at 7 against NZ last year by rennie and long and short of it, he missed alot of tackles.

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Jon 5 hours ago
Why Scott Robertson may need to ease big names aside for All Blacks' flexibility

> it was apparent Robertson was worried about his lack of experience at half-back, hence the decision to start veteran TJ Perenara and put Finlay Christie, the next most experienced number nine, on the bench. I don’t think it was this at all. It was a general scope he was putting over all the playerbase, he went with this cohesion factor in every position. > If the main priority is to build different tactical elements to the gameplan, then Ratima is the man in whom Robertson needs to trust and promote. This also I think is antagonist towards the reference game plans. The other plans do not need the speed of which Perenara (atleast) can’t provide, and I think personal is going to be the main point of difference between these games/opponents. That is the aspect of which I think most people will struggle to grasp, a horses for course selection policy over the typical ‘Top All Black 15’. That best 15 group of players is going to have to get broken down into categories. So it test one we saw Christie control the game to nullify the English threats out of existence and grind to a win. In test two we saw Ratima need to come on which dictated that this time they would run them off their feet with speed and the space did open up and the victory did come. Horses for courses. The same concepts are going to exist for every group, front row, lock and loose forward balance, midfield, and outside backs all can have positional changes that the players may be asked to accentualize on and develop. There might be some that _it_ will not ever click for, but they’ll hopefully still be getting to enjoy unbelievable comeback victories and late game shutouts to close it down. Knowing does not mean not enjoying.

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