How Ratten’s given the Wallabies a wake-up call
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Carlton coach Brett Ratten (Slattery Images)
Sacked Carlton coach Brett Ratten inadvertently gave the Wallabies a wake-up call at his media conference yesterday.
Proving himself a class act after 24 years at the club, and despite the grilling he copped from the Melbourne AFL media, Ratten said of his roster: “We are very fortunate in life. The players have great opportunities to control whatever they want to do, and whatever they want to be, as a person.
“Don’t wait there and have regrets. Do it now, and live in the moment”.
That’s what Carlton didn’t do against the lowly Suns, who waltzed away with a shock 12.7.79 to 9.13.67 win that triggered Ratten’s sacking, just like how the Wallabies played against the world’s number one ranked All Blacks over the last two Saturdays that has led to calls for Robbie Deans to be sacked.
Carlton players were pathetic, so too the Wallabies.
Both didn’t control whatever they wanted to do, or whatever they wanted to be.
Nor did they live in the moment.
The well-chosen words were lost on both.
Ratten didn’t come right out and say it, but his senior players were to blame for a really poor season. Deans can say the same thing about the Bledisloe series, now a decade long, that started well before Deans’ watch.
Player responsibility totally rests with the players. It’s as simple as that. No coach is responsible for players bombing elementary fundamentals of either code.
But last night on the Rugby Club, reinjured Wallaby winger Drew Mitchell was quick to refute any lack of character or passion among his team-mates.
“Clearly we are of the opinion we are not where we need to be at, but that sort of thing (criticising character and passion) really upsets not only myself, but probably the team as well”.
Mitchell went on: “Our character couldn’t be questioned at the weekend. Clearly some of our execution and perhaps our strategies could be questioned, but the boys absolutely put everything out there and gave themselves to the jersey”.
Strategies questioned? Deans’ fault?
Like Ratten, Mitchell is a class act. But if he’s right, why did the majority of Wallabies look so disinterested for most of the 80 minutes?
Perception can be dangerous, if wrong.
But despite what Mitchell said, a poor perception is what the Wallabies gave the 50,000-odd crowd at Eden Park and the millions of television viewers around the world.
The real truth is these All Blacks are not one of the greatest sides of all time. But they are a minimum 20-point better side than any other nation at the moment.
That doesn’t make them unbeatable.
But the Wallabies won’t ever beat them by kicking away prize possession, and kicking poorly at that, missing tackles, passing the ball behind supports, and giving away bone-headed penalties when the men-in-black have sharpshooters like Dan Carter and Aaron Cruden on duty.
That’s rugby suicide.
Does that show character and passion?
Next up in the Rugby Championship are the Boks in Perth tomorrow week. The Wallabies have beaten them in five of their last six meetings:
* Won 30-13 at Suncorp in July 2010.
* Lost 44-31 at Loftus in September 2010.
* Won 41-39 at Bloemfontein in September 2010.
* Won 39-20 at Sydney in July 2011.
* Won 14-9 at Durban in August 2011.
* And won 11-9 at Wellington in October 2011.
A week later, it’s the Pumas at Skilled Park for the first time since 2002 when the Wallabies won 17-6 and 24-9 away and home respectively under the coaching of Eddie Jones.
Those games have no bearing on that Gold Coast clash-to-be, but the 16-all draw against the Boks last weekend at Mendoza was very significant.
So let’s reserve judgment on the Wallabies’ character and passion until after the international against the Pumas.
A loss to either side would demand wholesale sackings because the Wallabies would have conclusively proved they have lost the character and passion required to wear the coveted gold jersey.
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