Three arguments that aren’t helping the Wallabies

Djavion DGriffin Roar Rookie

By , Djavion DGriffin is a Roar Rookie

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    It’s Saturday afternoon and you don’t have the night shift. The ‘Arvo Test Rugby’, as the ARU have decided to brand it, is on and I’m thinking “What the hell”, sit down, crack open a rum and see how the boys go.

    Not to my surprise, there are errors, miskicks, turnovers and just plain bad structural formation from the Wallabies pretty much from the get-go. Admittedly, like most others, I was nervous but thought Australia would just have the game breakers to overrun the Scots in the last 20 minutes or so.

    Undoubtedly, and as I have written before, both the ARU and the Wallabies coaching staff have many hard questions to answer. The ARU, in particular, are a complete shambles and in any regular organisation, they would have carried their boxed up photographs and desk ornaments long out the door by now!

    The coaching staff of Micheal Cheika, Stephen Larkham and Nathan Grey also are near crisis point now where serious questions have to be asked on the platform for which they want to take Australian Rugby.

    But to put aside what true lovers of rugby know as the facade that is the ‘Rugby for Old Boys’, or the ARU, whichever you prefer. This talk is aimed at you, the fans and great lovers of this game.

    For god’s sake if you’re going to play the blame and complain game, at least do so as if you have some semblance of reality of the situation. This, of course, is a small minority, but feel free to correct me where necessary!

    Here are some of my favourites from the post-match comments across various social media outlets.

    “If only we hadn’t signed or developed all those rugby mercenaries of Pacific heritage or league converts who contribute nothing to the code”.
    So this one just made me chuckle after watching Saturday’s game. If you were being brutally honest right this second, who were the most effective players in the team?

    Israel Folau and Karmicheal Hunt, both from rugby league backgrounds, brought a much-needed spark to the backline and created genuine opportunities with Folau crossing for his second double in two Tests.

    Israel Folau Wallabies Australian Rugby Union 2017 tall

    (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

    Tatafu Polota-Nau was certainly more effective as a starter at hooker for the mind, with Stephen Moore seemingly now more energised off the bench.

    Quade Cooper was arguably more dangerous and threatening in his stint then Bernard Foley looked for the entire game and could even push for a starting position if Foley wasn’t a protected species. But then again this leads back to the ‘Booper Conundrum’.

    In the outside center position, the only two genuine options the Wallabies have are either Tevita Kuridrani or Samu Kerevi. While Kuridrani was average against Scotland, the crickets begin chirping when you ask the question of who else is a genuine contender to challenge him for the position, besides Kerevi.

    Lastly, young Allan Alaalatoa isn’t yet the complete product by any means but is certainly worth pursuing as a genuine starter for the Wallabies in the following years if given the opportunity.

    Next up, my personal favourite:

    “Generation Y lack that ‘Aussie Spirit’ and desire to win we once had and have become soft and overpaid show-boys”
    One has to concede that there is certainly one too many overpaid players who don’t earn their wage playing rugby in Australia at the moment, no denying this. Not that the vast majority are in the under 25 categories to me on this season’s showings.

    Having said that, I have and will always continue to believe that the so-called ‘Aussie Spirit’ term that is far more synonyms with War and courage on the battlefield, more so than the myth that has transcended to arrogance based on our golden sporting eras of the 80s to the turn of the millennium.

    We Australians love to muster up that there exists a desire within us as a nation to not give an inch in the name of victory or never giving up.

    While this notion sounds great in speeches and the media loves using it on repeat as a means to generate clickbait news about, the sad reality exists that no one country has a greater fighting spirit when it comes to any one sport.

    If you need simple evidence of this, Scotland had the spirit part in spades over the Wallabies on Saturday. They had superior line-speed, breakdown work and kicking options. But now, wouldn’t that equal a superior game-plan and tactics from the Scots and not superior desire?

    Misguided people love to say after a loss to the opposition that “the team lacks hunger, thirst for victory”.

    Quade Cooper after the Wallabies loss to Scotland

    (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

    No. It’s as simple as 2+1=3. Scotland simply knew their personal strengths and exposed the Wallabies’ glaring weaknesses. They had tight controlled rucking combined with an astute kicking game, thus limiting the dangers posed by the Australian backline.

    Coupled with our own disastrous kicking or basic rushed interplay and slow breakdown, results like Scotland will become all too common. The spirit part just gives you that warm tingling feeling player and fan alike.

    The funny thing about this statement though is that it wasn’t the debutants and new players who didn’t have the so-called ‘desire’. If anything, it was the far more seasoned campaigners in Will Genia, Scott Higginbotham and San Carter who really needed to step up and lead from the front didn’t.

    That grubber kick from Genia pretty much summed it up. On the other hand, young Ned Hannigan, Alaalatoa and Adam Coleman were in everything. Again, they’re by no means finished products, but if not these guys then I repeat the question: who do you play instead?

    If this so called ‘Aussie Spirit’ was such an x-factor for Australian success, the coaching trio of Michael Chieka, Stephen Larkham, and Nathan Grey are all from the golden Wallaby era! They should have the whole team playing on this laurel of astute running rugby the ‘Australian Way’ and the ‘Aussie Spirit’ would just be shining through as a result.

    That’s the thing though, isn’t it? It all comes back to a good game-plan based on exposing the other team’s weaknesses without giving way to your own.

    That’s a little thing three men by the names of Bob Dwyer, Alan Jones, and Rod Macqueen knew how to implement to perfection and something the current coaching unit sadly lacks.

    Lastly and really my conclusion to some of the misguided views of some out there:

    “Why is it that Cheika is always using the same ‘Dads Army’ players and not giving all the young blokes a crack at the International level?”
    Really? No Dean Mumm? Check. No Nick Phipps? Check. No Rob Horne (yet)? Check.

    There’s also no Will Skelton, Rob Simmons or Scott Fardy for that matter.

    Sam Carter Wallabies Australia Rugby Union 2017

    (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

    To cut Chieka a little bit of slack, he has attempted in the two Tests so far this year to blood younger players into the side. With regards to other players of the so-called ‘Dads Army’ in Will Genia, Micheal Hooper, Israel Folau, Steven Moore, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Sekope Kepu and Bernard Foley, I start seriously hearing those crickets chirping when I ask who else is better to step up and take their places.

    I am fully on the bandwagon for change within the circus that is the ARU and am now left wondering whether maybe Chieka and co. will have a gig by the end of the year.

    Out of all this and 2016, one wonders what it was that aligned for the Wallabies in their 2015 charge to the World Cup final or whether that was simply an anomaly now lost to time.

    The one fact remains, though: we should be debating ways to make proper sustainable improvements to the game in this country, not hypothetical non-arguments that have no true basis for the problems this code faces.

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