Do the Wallabies shuffle or stick?

Jack Quigley Columnist

By Jack Quigley, Jack Quigley is a Roar Expert

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    Games against Wales always seem like a pretty big deal, such is the tradition and passion associated with the red jersey and the parochial Welsh crowd. But generally, as far results go, back-and-forth contests these are not.

    Going into the clash at the Millenium Stadium, the Wallabies have only succumbed to the Welsh twice in the last 26 years. Only the All Blacks can boast a more dominant streak – they haven’t lost to Wales since the 1950s.

    But it’s still a big game, even more so when you place it in the context of the first game of the United Kingdom tour. For the Wallabies, there are several personnel decisions to be made and what Wales opt to do could shape how those play out.

    Firstly, who kicks goals? Foley is the incumbent but has struggled to land the ones that count. Reece Hodge was given the tee against Japan and went 9-from-9 as he routinely sent the ball into orbit via the goal posts.

    Goal-kicking always plays a part on the spring tour. Games are generally not as open and free-flowing as the Rugby Championship and so the need to accrue points whenever possible increases.

    Wales’ coach Warren Gatland appears set to shift Liam Williams from fullback to the right win in order to accommodate sharp-shooter Leigh Halfpenny at No. 15.

    Against Japan, the Wallabies went big in the centres and enjoyed a great deal of success. The Japanese defensive line simply couldn’t cope with the physical challenge of Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kuridrani together.

    With Israel Folau on sabbatical, it looks likely Kurtley Beale will stay at fullback, meaning the same centre pairing will likely line up against Wales.

    The temptation must be there for Michael Cheika to bring in Karmichael Hunt to offer a more reliable defensive option at 12.

    The centres weren’t tested defensively against Japan but they will be on Sunday. The Welsh have The Lions’ player of the series Jonothan Davies at 13 and Owen Williams looks set to play 12 for the hosts as Gatland searches for more creative options in attack.

    Wales managed only one try against Australia in their last meeting and were completely nullified in the 2015 World Cup pool match at Twickenham.

    Wales have even taken the unprecedented step of holding an opposed scrum and lineout session against rivals England in order to prepare both sides for the incoming southern hemisphere invasion.

    The 40-minute session was held behind closed doors and was monitored by referee Nigel Owens. Kiwi Glenn Jackson will be in charge for the weekend’s game, a referee that has struggled at times with managing the scrum contest.

    The Wallabies scrum has impressed recently, showing signs of getting back to the dominance it enjoyed during the 2015 World Cup, but when you’ve got potentially slippery underfoot conditions and a former fly-half holding the whistle, the importance of having a reliable goal kicker is amplified.

    Across the back row, Wales are suffering from a lack of depth at the open side flanker position.

    Sam Warburton is still out with a neck injury, and backup Justin Tipuric has also missed training this week, casting doubt over his inclusion.

    Ned Hanigan appears likely to get the nod at blindside flanker for Australia.

    Despite his best efforts, Hanigan has struggled to make an impact at Test level since debuting against Fiji earlier this year. With Wales set to name two-metre tall Aaron Shingler at 6, however, the Wallabies will likely go with Hanigan for his height to offer a second option at the lineout alongside Rob Simmons.

    The time for tinkering appears to be over for Cheika, though he may be cautious of showing Eddie Jones his full hand this weekend.

    The Wallabies have some scores to settle on this tour but, before Twickenham, there is a job to do in Cardiff.

    Jack Quigley
    Jack Quigley

    A long time sports writer and podcaster, Jack has spent the majority of his media career covering football and rugby. He recently joined The Roar on the back of penning a viral Facebook rant aimed at the Wallabies which attracted 60,000 likes and more than 6,000 shares. You can follow him on Twitter @Jack_Quigley.

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    The Crowd Says (40)

    • November 10th 2017 @ 7:29am
      Cynical Play said | November 10th 2017 @ 7:29am | ! Report

      If Hunt is not needed as an injury replacement, my feeling is he might be used to replace Kerevi at some point, but with Hunt going to 15 and Beale going to 12. I think this might become an good option if Kerevi can’t reproduce last weeks form and would allow a change of attacking options. I can’t see Cheika pulling Beale or Kuridrani or Foley, so it will be Kerevi. Again, barring injuries, I see McCalman being used as a finisher either as a straight swap for McMahon at the 65min, or for Simmons around the same time with Hannigan going to 2nd row and McCalman at 6. I’m not sure if Philip will get on, barring injury, until the final 5-10mins if we are in front.

      • Roar Rookie

        November 10th 2017 @ 12:19pm
        Dave_S said | November 10th 2017 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

        Hunt is also an indirect potential replacement for Kuridrani – Hunt to 12 (or to 15 and Beale to 12), and Kerevi shifting out to 13. I agree it is less likely, tho.

    • November 10th 2017 @ 8:07am
      Davo said | November 10th 2017 @ 8:07am | ! Report

      Agree that Hunt likely to replace Kerevi at some point. Either at the 50 min mark, or straight after Kerevi makes a bad defensive error, whichever occurs sooner.

    • November 10th 2017 @ 8:51am
      waxhead said | November 10th 2017 @ 8:51am | ! Report

      Hey Jack –
      I’d be happy to give you a good reference to replace the appalling Tom Decent as rugby writer for SMH.
      Decent has not written one decent article for SMH and is a complete dunce.
      I vote for Jack to replace dumb ass Decent.
      Any other member here agree ??????

      • Roar Rookie

        November 10th 2017 @ 12:20pm
        Dave_S said | November 10th 2017 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

        Actually I don’t find any of the newspaper rugby writers to be particularly informative.

        Agree Jack would go well.

        • November 10th 2017 @ 3:00pm
          Shakes said | November 10th 2017 @ 3:00pm | ! Report

          I’m a massive Paul Cully fan. I rarely disagree with his assessments.

      • November 10th 2017 @ 1:08pm
        Decent is a Tab Lover said | November 10th 2017 @ 1:08pm | ! Report

        Because he has one arm twsisted behind his back to spew out hype surrounding the Waratah players.

        I agree his articles are horrible to read

        • November 10th 2017 @ 5:32pm
          Reverse Wheel said | November 10th 2017 @ 5:32pm | ! Report

          Nice effort with the nick. Still worth more than your comment.

      • November 10th 2017 @ 1:27pm
        Cliff (Bishkek) said | November 10th 2017 @ 1:27pm | ! Report

        Hey waxhead — what ever happened to Georgina Robinson that Campo gave a serve on when she supposedly became the SMH Head Rugby Writer after Growden retired. Maybe she writes but being overseas I have not seen any of her articles of late!!

        • Roar Pro

          November 10th 2017 @ 8:54pm
          Alexander Clough said | November 10th 2017 @ 8:54pm | ! Report

          Just looked it up and apparently the last thing she’s written for SMH was back in April. Possibly working on a book?

          • November 11th 2017 @ 11:39am
            AGbanger said | November 11th 2017 @ 11:39am | ! Report

            I think she might be on maternity leave..

        • November 11th 2017 @ 11:59am
          bridget said | November 11th 2017 @ 11:59am | ! Report

          I believe georgina is on maternity leave

          • November 11th 2017 @ 4:25pm
            Cliff (Bishkek) said | November 11th 2017 @ 4:25pm | ! Report

            Thanks!!!

      • November 10th 2017 @ 5:51pm
        Highlander said | November 10th 2017 @ 5:51pm | ! Report

        Decent is a mouthpiece for the ARU writing puff promotional pieces for the SMH.

        Must be a horrible job.

        Access traded off for constant promotion.

        He is truly awful.

    • November 10th 2017 @ 9:10am
      Jameswm said | November 10th 2017 @ 9:10am | ! Report

      or Allanthus/GP…

      • Roar Rookie

        November 10th 2017 @ 12:22pm
        Dave_S said | November 10th 2017 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

        Agree, Geoff and Brett are my preferred rugby writers.

    • November 10th 2017 @ 9:11am
      Fiji said | November 10th 2017 @ 9:11am | ! Report

      The Fijian Wallabies will comfortably beat Wales.

    • November 10th 2017 @ 10:17am
      PiratesRugby said | November 10th 2017 @ 10:17am | ! Report

      It will be interesting to see if Gatland targets the breakdown. Without Pocock and Fardy, we cannot expect the kind of breakdown dominance we enjoyed in RWC15. Hanigan, Hooper and Simmons make it tempting to exploit Australia’s breakdown weakness but without Warburton and Tipuric, Gatland is down to third stringers. That probably makes it an even contest.
      If Foley retains the kicking duties while Hodge is on the field then there should be a royal commission. Clearly ability and form mean nothing to Cheika and Putin is selecting the national team in order to demoralise Australia.
      Genia is in great form and will score a try. Beale mesmerises the Welsh and should split them open repeatedly. I’ll be interested to see how Koroibete goes in the NH.

      • November 10th 2017 @ 5:47pm
        DaveR said | November 10th 2017 @ 5:47pm | ! Report

        Pirates you are right about the breakdown issue. With the 3 flankers Hannigan, Hooper and McMahon we are going to get a good bit of breakdown ball as well as good attack, and the defense should be OK as well. But Wales are playing the tackling bulldozer Toby Faletau at 8, who tends to play tight in the set plays. At 113kg he is much bigger than any of our back rowers. It will be interesting to see if McCalman comes off the bench early, as he is a more traditional 8 and close to Toby’s weight now. McCalman has not had a lot of games in 2017, but has been impressive in his last 5 outings. If I was more confident of his match fitness I would have picked him at 8.

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