In the aftermath of the All Blacks’ trouncing of the mentally absent Wallabies, all rugby-loving Australians forensically examine the carcass of defeat.
But for this budding rugby pathologist, I would be happy determine that the cause of death was manifold:
1. A complete lack of mental application to the task at hand. It was clear the Wallabies were not switched on at the start of the game which cost them points.
2. No plan B. The Wallabies were wayward; they kept moving from side to side without getting the All Blacks on the back foot first. No wonder we got picked off in defence, the All Blacks were rarely in two minds as to what they needed to do.
3. Lack of tactical nous. Australia had the possession and field position to really apply pressure on the All Blacks, however it appeared as if Genia and Cooper were playing a Super 15 game in a Wallaby jumper.
As Dan Carter showed again, there is no shame in slotting the odd field goal to get a return on your real estate. No pressure like scoreboard pressure.
4. No leadership. I can’t recall the last winger to captain Australia, perhaps Rocky Elsom might be the first?
The amount of time he spent as a seagull was not what was required, especially when poor old David Pocock was left alone at the breakdown to fight for the ball. Rocky simply was not in the game when it counted.
5. The breakdown; as stated, Elsom was absent, McCalman is a solid worker but is not working in combination with Pocock.
There was little to no counter ruck and we were dominated in this facet of play. Can’t expect to win a Test when you don’t engage the enemy in battle.
6. Pat McCabe is a winger. I love his direct play but he is not yet a 12.
Anthony Faainga is and has the proven combination at Super 15 level with Cooper. Give him a shot. I don’t recall any pundits praising the Brumby backline this year?
The remedy; Robbie Deans must really start living up to the old ‘reward for effort’ motto he espouses and play the guys who put in the effort.
Drop Elsom back to club rugby, reward Higgenbotham and Samo with a Test start. Swap Faainga and McCabe.
As for the game itself; be more urgent, more direct. Respect the opposition and earn the right to play with width.
Bring on Brisbane.