CAMPO: Make Cooper the ultimate impact player, off the bench
Queensland Reds' Quade Cooper runs the ball in his Super Rugby return (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
One thing I’ve noticed about both the Super Rugby season and the Northern versus Southern Hemisphere internationals is the lack of impact that so called ‘impact players’ are having off the bench.
It seems like coaches are bringing players into defend a lead, rather than add some much needed energy to a tiring attack.
The Wallabies, of course, are a case in point.
No one off their bench is making even the slightest dent in the opposition when they come on. Instead, they’re just slotting in and doing enough to cover for the person they replaced.
If I were selecting a Wallabies backline, based on what I’ve seen so far this year, the first guys I’d pick would be Adam Ashley-Cooper at 15, O’Connor and Barnes in the centres, Beale at 10 and Genia at 9.
Then I’d bring Quade Cooper off the bench and into the game as a 20-minute ‘impact player’, in the truest sense of the word.
Cooper is an outstanding player, but he plays very much his own match. He very rarely plays as part of the team as a whole.
Can you imagine how sensational he’d be coming into the game when the legs of the opposition are tiring? He’d make a genuine impact on the game, and that’s what you want from your bench.
While on the weekend’s games, it was quite noticeable that the performances of the Northern Hemisphere teams were a lot better than the week before.
But they still can’t win. They can’t put that nail in the coffin.
Ireland and Wales… why kick the ball away at the end of the game and give it back to the opposition?! It makes no sense. If you don’t kick the ball, the other team can’t score.
The players have got to back themselves. But unfortunately, the Northern Hemisphere teams are lacking that killer instinct.
Genia was a standout for the Wallabies. While the Welsh had learned a lot from their loss the week before, with Gatland back at the helm, they still hadn’t figured out how best to keep Genia quiet.
Barnes also played well. He’s one of those players who always turns up to be counted. What he really needs is a couple of guys around him who are dangerous with the ball, which would make him much harder to defend against.
The more dangerous players in the backline, the more difficult it becomes for the opposition to get a read on who to focus their attention on.
The All Blacks have plenty of those types of players and they don’t really change their team around a lot. So as a result, they have a lot of confidence in each other and in their combinations.
It’ll be interesting to see how they all go once they go back to the Super Rugby season, then have to re-adapt into international play again.
Here in South Africa, the game against England on the weekend was another reminder of just how passionate the supporters are about their team. Every time there is a Test match on in South Africa, people wear their Springboks jumpers.
It’s a totally different culture and support system than it is Australia, which is why the Springboks fans are so critical of their coaches. There is an extraordinary amount of pressure on them to succeed.
The Boks played well for 20 minutes against England, but they couldn’t play to that same standard for the full 80 minutes. And again, the impact players that came into the game didn’t really have an impact at all.
It’s time that all international coaches thought more about how best to take advantage of the replacements they have at their disposal.
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