Let’s back Wallabies not bag them
(AAP Image/Paul Miller)
I love the Roar, and I am one of its most avid fans. But if you look at much of the reader contribution, you see that there is article after article about who should be Australia’s No 10
It never ends.
Come on guys, you are not thinking outside the square, which, after all, should be what we Roarers do.
As far as I can tell, we have been having that discussion since Mark Ella retired, despite the fact that we have been pretty well served in the intervening years. Frankly, I can’t see why everyone is so obsessed about it.
A couple of points.
Yes, we treasure running rugby in Australia.
Therefore we are always going to want to see backlines doing the razzle dazzle. It’s been a long time since the free spirited play of the Ella brothers, and while we have seen some great no 10′s in the interregum, (Lynagh, Larkham, Cooper, Knox, Lloyd Walker, to name but a few) …I think we are too hooked on the concept.
We generally play on dry tracks, so Australian Rugby lends itself to the running game …maybe we have become too obsessed with it – when was the last time you saw the Wallabies play even a competent game of wet weather Rugby?
Wallabies fans live in eternal hope that the next great thing will come along. The once in 20 years guy (Ella, someone, Lynagh, someone, Larkham, someone, Cooper, someone …) then we get a bit fuzzy because along come Beale and Barnes and O’Connor, but injuries get in the way and nobody can currently nail the position.
Every time someone gets close to being a good no 10, we then tinker and play him at No 15 and continually interchange players so that Cooper is often playing in the back pocket, Barnes is coming into first receiver, blah blah blah – O’Connor plays all over the park – Ashley Cooper never knows what number he has on his back – let’s play people in their best positions.
What we need to see is more emphasis on forwards going forward and creating a platform so that we can play good running rugby no matter who is at No. 10. Let’s take a bit of the pressure off those guys who are playing at No. 10.
The poor bugger is expected to completely control the game, like an orchestra conductor playing the most complicated music, and if he gets it wrong, we all hear about it.
We saw one beautiful set move last weekend, which resulted in Digby Ioane scoring a try under the posts, untouched by the defence. That is the joy of rugby.
We applaud that, but think back, and ask how many set pieces have you seen work that seamlessly in the last few years – not many, because we usually don’t set the platform well enough to create the time and space necessary for the inside backs to do the business.
Not really since the MacQueen era have we played with that kind of adventure.
Our kicking game has lost its focus. too.
How often do you see kicks that are designed to get the team into the red zone so that they can play those beautiful, elegant set piece moves from twenty out?
Usually, it’s aimless kicking into mid field where an opposition runner is gifted free space and time enough to get a counter attack going. Last weekend, kick after aimless kick went nowhere, when the kicker could so easily have found the stripe.
We shouldn’t have to be in a position where we make excuses for our scrum and rely on a saviour at pivot to get us out of jail. The sport has gone professional and you have to be completely reliable right across the park.
We can breed big forwards just as well as anyone else. What we need to see is those guys with some mongrel and some belief that they are on the right track. We put so much pressure on the guys who step into that pivot position, that creates expectations that some young guys might not be able to live up to.
After every Test match against the All Blacks, you hear the opposing captain talk about the fact that the All Blacks are unrelenting, that they punish every mistake, that they never give up etc etc – so why aren’t people talking about us in the same vein?
What is wrong with our psyche?
I’d like to postulate that we have, for so long, relied on nippy backs to win our games, that we have forgotten that the forwards are also a part of the equation.
We have always seemed to disdain 15 man rugby. Maybe now is the time to get it.
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