Why I want to see the Barbarians beat the Wallabies

Simon Douch Roar Guru

By Simon Douch, Simon Douch is a Roar Guru

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    The Wallabies’ fixture against the Barbarians gives Michael Cheika two options: accept that mistakes have been made and try and strengthen his team, or continue his inept, stubborn selection making.

    Through the debacle that was the June Test series, Cheika had the chance to narrow his selection field – and he did just that, just not in the way expected.

    The two most notable omissions from the Test squad were Quade Cooper and Sam Carter, two players of immense skills and international experience. Both were outcast to the NRC, and while they have both put on brave faces, that’s got to be a bitter pill to swallow.

    Fast forward several months and Rory Arnold and Lopeti Timani are also watching their countrymen do battle with players of lesser ability getting the nod in positions that they deserve more.

    Now, in an exciting revelation, Barbarians coach Alan Jones has named Cooper as captain of his side to face the Wallabies.

    Quade Cooper Australia Rugby Union Wallabies Test Rugby Rugby Championship Bledisloe Cup 2016 tall

    AAP Image/SNPA, Ross Setford

    Cooper has been targeted in defence (admittedly, a good tactic for an opposing team) and constantly been on the receiving end of late shots, cheap shots and all the rest in the NRC. Yet his skills are as good as ever, he reads the game well, his goal kicking is consistent, and he has the x-factor that is so painfully absent from our current national flyhalf.

    If Cooper, alongside the names mentioned previously, plus a few from the ‘discontinued’ Force franchise, were to put together a decent 80 minutes and beat the Wallabies in Brisbane, it would be one of the sweetest losses ever.

    Yes, that seems weird to write.

    Regardless, this loss would present an ideal opportunity for Cheika to seriously strengthen the Wallabies, especially if his ‘top team’ is outperformed by a Barbarians side full of his rejects. If Cooper and co. play well, with some passion, and ultimately, win, it will put some serious pressure on the national starting side and, more so, Michael Cheika.

    There is a constant battle for Cheika to maintain performance while building towards the future. Under that guise, we accepted Ned Hannigan’s introduction to international rugby in June. But it should have ended there.

    He always plays hard, and that is one of the first essential ingredients to a successful rugby career, but poor Hannigan has had too long in the cauldron. His reputation has been burnt and now he faces the near-impossible task of winning back the favour of the public while continuing his rugby education on the run.

    Cheika fast-tracked Hannigan’s development and it wasn’t even necessary. With a good crop of locks, David Pocock returning, Sean McMahon possibly staying in Australia (hopefully), Timani improving and Michael Hooper not going anywhere, it seemed almost cruel to throw the 22-year-old in the Bledisloe Cup arena.

    It’s definitely not the position which is most desperate need for a younger, incoming player. Why not throw Joe Powel into the squad to get some tutelage from an ageing Will Genia and Nick Phipps? Tom Banks could thrive after a few months with Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau. Even get Nick Jooste in for a little experience with plans to be our next flyhalf, post-Japan.

    Just to clarify, I mean training experience, not game-time experience.

    To his credit, Cheika has nailed Jordan Uelese’s introduction. It does help that Uelese is an absolute freak of nature, who apparently throws his weight around during training. That is definitely a man with a long career ahead of him.

    Looking to this weekend, the Wallabies are playing the Pumas in Mendoza and should come away with their second victory of the Rugby Championship. Put aside any negatives about the team and their 2017 record, it’s great to see the Wallabies play with a bit more cohesion and consistency.

    Hopefully, the darkest days are behind us.

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    The Crowd Says (36)

    • Roar Guru

      October 7th 2017 @ 3:14am
      Harry Jones said | October 7th 2017 @ 3:14am | ! Report

      Thanks for the article.

      Interesting stat BEFORE Round 6 of RC:

      Number of players used:

      All Blacks: 36
      Arg: 30
      Aus: 29
      SA: 29

      Players to have played all 5 tests:

      All Blacks: 9
      Arg: 14
      Aus: 15
      SA: 15

      This week, SA named one newbie (Wilco Louw).

      Looks like NZ did the most chopping and changing.

      • October 7th 2017 @ 4:22am
        Taylorman said | October 7th 2017 @ 4:22am | ! Report

        Yes I guess youre going to see the ABs as outliers in the latest version of this comp in these sorts of stats. NZ can afford to batter deeper because of depth and the results theyre getting.

        Hansen has even said players are getting their ‘turn’ in many cases, something he wouldnt be saying if the ABs were back with the pack competing for every point.

        • October 7th 2017 @ 11:02am
          Akari said | October 7th 2017 @ 11:02am | ! Report

          The results alone suggest that Hansen has got it right and gets the right people in at the right time. Can’t say the same about the others, including Cheika’s personally selected favourites.

      • Roar Guru

        October 7th 2017 @ 7:50am
        Machooka said | October 7th 2017 @ 7:50am | ! Report

        Thank-you!

    • Roar Guru

      October 7th 2017 @ 7:08am
      Rabbitz said | October 7th 2017 @ 7:08am | ! Report

      Well it’s been a while since we’ve had a “Cooper is the messiah” article.

      Thanks for the belly laughs.

      • October 7th 2017 @ 1:28pm
        Ruckin' Oaf said | October 7th 2017 @ 1:28pm | ! Report

        Right on, why keep stating the obvious. It’s a bit of a waste of time.

    • October 7th 2017 @ 8:03am
      Rod said | October 7th 2017 @ 8:03am | ! Report

      Never thought I’d read Sam Carter and immense talent in the same sentence. Maybe he meant Dan

    • October 7th 2017 @ 8:50am
      Hmmmm said | October 7th 2017 @ 8:50am | ! Report

      I was disappointed to read this am that cheika is thinking about naming cooper for the wallabies in the barbarians game. Typical of wallabies coaches treatment of cooper ie pick him for select games ie nz in nz or one off games like this to avoid direct comparison with his favorite Foley . I think Alan jones may have had an inkling if this so made cooper captain to try and lock him in. One extra game won’t break Foley and if it does so be it then our depth will be tested . Cheika should grow some and put Foley against cooper. Cooper v Foley is what the fans want and you may get a few more through the gate and heaven knows the aru could do with the revenue and alternative media interest to what they have had of late.

      • October 7th 2017 @ 9:54am
        The Sheriff said | October 7th 2017 @ 9:54am | ! Report

        Hmmmm, hmmmmm
        Better read the article tomorrow when you are feeling better
        Spare us more of this drivel.

      • October 7th 2017 @ 3:58pm
        Simon said | October 7th 2017 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

        Exactly. Give Cooper and Higgers a (slim) chance to prove him wrong. Good for the game.

    • October 7th 2017 @ 10:03am
      Tooly said | October 7th 2017 @ 10:03am | ! Report

      Why not throw in Lance the most complete 10 we have ? Copper is SH to brilliant in a flash Foley ordinary to fair from one game to next . The defence of these two is weak and beside Beale with Hooper out on the wing it’s a problem .
      Sam Carter is in my opinion the best lock we have to do the job of a big unit he is good in the lineouts , his defence is good and he makes yards with hard barging runs . Think Retallic , Launchbury , Etzebeth .He is not a great off loader but he and Arnold compliment each other and have been the best performing locks against NZ teams . Carter would find the Chekko’S wild eyed biffo what it is BS .
      Not only does the inane selection policy promote mediocracy it costs better players money and they leave . Beale left because he was spending all his time on the bench as did McMahon but suddenly Chekko rediscover them both .
      Chekko will dog it and not pick his boys but it would be interesting to see Stirzacher , Cooper , Hunt , Meeks and Hodge at FB against Genia , Foley , Beale , Kuridrani and Folau . Just as Timani , RHP , Smith , Carter and Arnold would be test for The Pretenders .

      • Roar Guru

        October 7th 2017 @ 12:05pm
        Timbo (L) said | October 7th 2017 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

        Pretty sure Lance has gone now. But are happy to be corrected. He is our most balanced 10.

        In my view, Cooper is one of the flashiest exciting attacking 10’s going around, and if that was all it took to get a Wallaby Jersey, he is a shoe in. But there are 80 minutes in a game and you need to defend for roughly half of them. You can’t have all of your players hiding on the wing or playing fullback(s) in defense.

        A significant portion of Roarers don’t seem to understand the “other 40 minutes” of the game and focus on the highlight reel stuff for their postulations about players.

        • October 7th 2017 @ 1:36pm
          Ruckin' Oaf said | October 7th 2017 @ 1:36pm | ! Report

          Hey Timbo I agree that half the game is about defence. As Jack Gibson once quipped “You can’t do much else without the ball”.

          My only problem is that there’s absolutely no justification for picking Foley on that basis. You could pick Lance, or Hunt or Toomua or Lealiifano if defence is the issue.

          But you can’t argue that defence is important and support Foley’s selection.

          • Roar Guru

            October 7th 2017 @ 10:27pm
            Timbo (L) said | October 7th 2017 @ 10:27pm | ! Report

            I can’t justify many of chieka’s selections. 1/3 of the team are attack only players and the other 10 are expected to back-fill the voids they leave behind.

            I prefer Foley over Cooper, the scales tipped by Quades nasty habit of collecting pokemon cards. Bernard has a couple also, so it is a race to the bottom., I think the law of averages work better with Foley’s more conservative game. Still prefer Lance, but as long as Michael CheikaTah is at the Helm, the anointed ones (the base)will start every game, Except maybe the non-capped game against the Baa Baa’s I think Cheika’s brain is too addled to try and predict that one.
            My tinfoil hat says he will start his “B” squad to prevent AJ from selecting them, that way he has scapegoats if they lose. I would prefer to see a full strength Wallabies side use it as a training run for the upcoming games.

    • October 7th 2017 @ 11:51am
      ScottD said | October 7th 2017 @ 11:51am | ! Report

      This is a great opportunity for fringe players to showcase what they’ve got. Unfortunately I predict that Cheika will “rest” his best players and then say with a straight face that the WB loss proves nothing. Trot out a few platitudes and then carry on.
      I am looking forward to the game though and hope it becomes a regular fixture. A bit earlier in the season would be good. This fixture could then be the equivalent of the NZ version of the “possibles” versus the “probables”.

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