Unbeaten in September! And other associated hyperbole

Brett McKay Columnist

By , Brett McKay is a Roar Expert

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    Well, this is definitely the week. A Wallabies win after a year of losses just has to be a green light to dial up all manner of wild claims and predictions.

    I mean, if you can’t be bullish after a six-point win over a surprisingly mediocre former force, when can you?(Click to Tweet)

    I kind of tried to do this a fortnight ago, but it only lasted a couple of paragraphs before the sinking reality took hold. But after the Wallabies solid – no, ‘stellar’! – 23-17 win over South Africa, now there’s no holding back.

    So here it all comes – positivity turned up to 11. And then maybe reined in a tiny dose of reality…

    The Wallabies are as good at the All Blacks
    Only one other international team is unbeaten for the month of September, and by logical association, the only conclusion to draw is that the Wallabies are playing at that same unbeatable level as the All Blacks.

    Actually, there is one other team. The Czech Republic beat Sweden in Rugby World Cup Qualifier, no less, on September 3.

    So yeah, the Wallabies are on that same high-performing plane as New Zealand and the Czech Republic. Praise doesn’t come any higher in international rugby circles.

    Everything we think might be true about Reece Hodge definitely is true
    Wow-wee, what a game! We all thought his was pretty good on debut two weeks ago in Wellington, but he was even better again in Brisbane for is first Wallabies start. And he didn’t even need the 60-plus metre penalty goal (or however far back it really was) to capture our attention.

    Could he be the Wallabies’ next long-term inside centre? Definitely.

    Should we wait and let him cut his teeth in international rugby on the wing, or at fullback or off the bench? Pfft, patience is for the weak.

    It was great to see Hodge’s prodigious kicking boot being utilised on Saturday night, just as it great to see his presence shoring up the midfield defence – which, to be fair, he also did a fortnight ago, and this time he didn’t have to worry about piddly little details like opposition attacking players running toward him.

    But what made Hodge’s game so impressive was actually his ball carrying in the 12 channel, and this is obviously where all the ‘future is now’ commentary is coming from. The way he ran straight and hard off both Quade Cooper and Bernard Foley was just so heartening that it was difficult not to think ahead to how handy he could be with 20 Tests under his belt.

    And sure, he’s got a few kinks in his game that still need ironing out, but there’s no doubt he’s a keeper. The Spring Tour might be a really good time to see how he does handle the centres, and from there, the world is his oyster.

    Believe the hype.

    Everything we think might be true about Adam Coleman definitely is true
    A fortnight ago, I praised Adam Coleman’s “commitment and physicality both in attack and defence, and he ripped into the breakdown too,” even despite that one “moment of sheer dunderheaded stupidity.”

    On Saturday, he cranked up the performance levels further, dialled back the dunderheadedness, and delivered 54 minutes of quality in all areas of his game.

    But the added bonus was his running the lineout, and even running it pretty well, to the point where it made you wonder that if Dean Mumm wasn’t need to run the lineout, then why was he selected ahead of Scott Fardy and the Wallabies breakdown presence weakened in the process?

    Like Hodge, Coleman looks to have a length Test career ahead of him, and while his star is properly rising, it’s impossible to overlook how fast Will Skelton, Rob Simmons and Sam Carter have slid down the pole. All are playing solid if not spectacular rugby in the NRC, and while ever Coleman can carry on like he’d stared his time in the Gold jersey, it’s hard to see the pecking order changing anytime soon.

    The Cooper-Foley combination actually kind of worked
    I remember writing in a comment somewhere before the Wellington Test that I thought Bernard Foley playing at inside centre had some interchange potential with Quade Cooper, and I could especially see situations where they swapped between first and second receiver once the Wallabies crossed the opposition 10m line.

    And though they managed to royally bugger the combination up in Wellington, Cooper and Foley managed to stay out of each other’s way on Saturday night, and actually worked quite well in unison.

    There were times when Cooper played 10 for one ruck, and then for Foley to play 10 at the next, particularly if they switched focus or direction. Sometimes Foley provided the width for Cooper to play the wide running options from 12, while at other times, Cooper gave Foley the width to find option runners on his inside or outside.

    The big benefit was that with Cooper playing flat at 10, Foley had to play a lot closer to the line, and that had the effect of straightening him up; he played much more north-south that east-west, which is always the preferred option. His try was a perfect example of how much dangerous a player he is when playing flatter and straighter.

    Would I want this combination to play for my life? Oh, Lordy, no! And I’m far from convinced that any great amount of time should be put into developing the combination much further even this season, simply because of the all the defensive adjustments and allowances that have to be made once the Wallabies switch from attack to the defence.

    But it did work pretty well against the ‘Boks, and both players deserve due credit for making it work.

    All the Wallabies’ issues are hereby solved
    Yep, this final point is undeniably, unequivocally, absolutely tru … ah, no.

    Even maximum positivity must have a ceiling, and this is definitely it, because like all good Wallabies wins, it probably raised more questions than answers.

    But it was genuinely good – if slightly unfamiliar – to finish the game with more points than the opposition for the first time this season.

    It gives the Wallabies much-needed confidence heading to Perth this weekend, and that can only be a good thing.

    Brett McKay
    Brett McKay

    Brett McKay is one of The Roar's good news stories and has been a rugby and cricket expert for the site since July 2009. Brett is an international and Super Rugby commentator for ABC Grandstand radio, has commentated on the Australian Under-20s Championships and National Rugby Championship live stream coverage, and has written for magazines and websites in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the UK. He tweets from @BMcSport.

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