Planet Rugby

Who's hot...and who's not!

09th July 2013 16:34

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Hot Not July 10 2013

Hot: Corbs - Not: JOC

It's time for our wrap of who has their name in lights at the moment ... and who is making the headlines for the wrong reasons in rugby this week.

They're on fire!

British and Irish Lions: Silencing the critics who questioned whether the tour still had a place in the modern era, the Lions 2-1 series victory was sorely needed. They did it in some style, running in four tries and forcing Robbie Deans to pack his bags. The legend roars.

Warran Gatland: Coming through what he described as "vitriolic abuse" to become the first winning Lions coach for 16 years is some feat, so hats off to Admiral Gatland for backing his own judgement ahead of the third Test. Would it have been nice to see Brian O'Driscoll playing? Sure. Would it have changed anything? We'll never know. The result is all that counts.

Ewen McKenzie: We all saw it coming. The worse kept secret in world rugby was confirmed when a real Aussie was given the Wallaby job this week. The 2011 Super Rugby winner now has the task of lifting the team and making a new start in the Rugby Championship. Fans Down Under will hope that he does a better job with the Wallabies than he did with trying to revive Stade Franšais. Expect to see Quade Cooper wearing gold soon.

Leigh Halfpenny: Man of the Series is a title that really tells you everything, but Halfpenny didn't take the top prize solely for his goal-kicking. His two assists in the series decider marked him out as an all-round excellent full-back. Cardiff Blues will now pay him anything to stay.

Alex Corbisiero: Sometimes, you really do not know what you've got until it's gone. Perhaps if Corbisiero had been involved in Melbourne the Lions may have wrapped things up earlier, but regardless, the new Northampton Saint was outstanding in Sydney. A try and a pasting at the scrum dished out, his work was complete.

Highlanders: A six-try performance to climb out of the Super Rugby basement - that'll do.

Crusaders: If Friday's game in Christchurch - that saw the defending champs give a five-try hiding - is anything to go by, then the Crusaders are the team to beat in the Super Rugby play-offs.

Bulls: Frans Ludeke was the first to admit his team weren't at their best, but victory against the Sharks means that the three-time champions are in pole position for a home Super Rugby semi-final.

Cheetahs: Qualifying for the Super Rugby play-offs for the first time in your team's history = hot. All together now...Cheetaaaaaaaaahs!


Broken Thermostat:

Playing on when you're seeing stars: Hands up if you expected to see George Smith return to the fray after his wobbly-legged departure from the field in Sydney. No one? Neither did we. Just how the 33-year-old passed the Pitch Side Concussion Assessment is beyond us. We're in no position to question the doctors who examined the flanker, but Smith wouldn't be the first athlete to 'beat' the test. You didn't need a white coat and a degree to see that Smith was not 100 percent and he admitted after the game that the head knock affected his ability to play the role expected of him. Beyond the sporting merits of his performance and the bravery of his eagerness to continue, surely common sense dictates that a guy who just got knocked out shouldn't be anywhere near the kind of impacts that are part of a Test match.


Brrrr....someone turn the heater up

Wallabies: That was not the plan. But, when you're relying on some magic from two players whose attitudes are in dire need of a shift and working with a pack not up to the heat of the battle, how are you supposed to win? Now 12 years of gloating from British relatives await. Farewell Dingo, welcome Link.

James O'Connor: As the old line goes, JOC's ego has been writing cheques his body/skill/image/agent could no longer cash. It was just a matter of time before his antics off the field caught up to him and now one of Australia's most talented players is struggling to find a team to play for. Only the Western Force are interested in signing the 23-year-old, who has grown so unpopular within the national side, even his Test career is under threat.

Robbie Deans: The writing has been on the wall for a long time now. With the Aussie public calling for a local to get the post and his rivals working behind the screens to undermine his position, Deans would have struggled to keep his job even if he had won the Lions series. Having the courage of your convictions is key to being a great coach but there's a fine line between sticking to your guns and stubbornly refusing to acknowledge your planing isn't working out as hoped.

Butch James: Good ol' Butch diving into a tackle and connecting with the target around the neck...some things never change. At least he was apologetic and pleaded guilty.

Wilhelm Steenkamp: The Bulls lock is lucky that Mr. James has chilled out a bit over the years because his reckless head-first dive into a ruck that connected with the Sharks pivot could easily have had ugly consequences for both players.

Sharks kicking: The visitors were probably the better team at Loftus on Saturday, but ended up losing by a single point after missing 13 from the kicking tee. Tenth place in the standings = not hot.

By Ross Hastie and Ben Coles

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