Campo: It’s time Australian sides threw caution to the wind

David Campese Columnist

By David Campese, David Campese is a Roar Expert

 , , , , , , ,

95 Have your say

    Digby Ioane celebrates the Reds win over the Western Force AAP Image/Dave Hunt

    Related coverage

    We’re heading into what will be a very interesting Super Rugby season with a number of important questions on the table: most importantly, will the Australian sides finally break away from their defensive mentality and show us some real attacking rugby?

    Rugby at this level is very much a team sport.

    Most of our Super Rugby sides have a couple of star players, but the problems they’ve faced in previous years is that they haven’t all played as a tight unit. Instead, the Australian sides have tended to take the defensive option with the fear of making a mistake.

    This is where our teams contrast with a side like the Crusaders, who set the benchmark for effective team play.

    If one of the Crusaders stars, like Dan Carter, for instance, has an off day, someone else will step up and take charge. This is the formula for winning rugby and it’s been disapointing that Australian sides haven’t risen to the challenge.

    The exception, of course, are the Reds, who were the standout team last season. But even then, they largely rode on the backs of Quade Cooper and Will Genia for much of the competition, and with Cooper out injured, they will find it very difficult to win back-to-back titles.

    Their opponents this weekend, the Waratahs, have been dissaponting in recent seasons.

    They offer a lot, but generally provide little, especially in the way of exciting, attacking rugby. Teams have a responsibility to play entertaining rugby to keep the crowds coming back, and on this front, the Waratahs have been very poor.

    They often play stupid rugby, as if they’re trying to work out which patterns they want to play while they’re on the field. Much of this is due to the Waratahs’ forwards, who tend to want to dominate. This is a legacy of Phil Waugh’s captaincy.

    The backs weren’t getting quality ball, and as a result, they’ve been afraid to try new things. And that is counter-productive in modern rugby.

    You need to be able to try things without worrying too much about what happens if they go wrong. The Waratahs backs, in particular, have been scared to try things, fearing that the opposition will capitalize. With Barnes at 10, the waratahs have a great opportunity to change all that but Barnes must have the support of the players around him and the team must think the same. If this doesn’t happen, Barnes will be under pressure to play a defensive role which is what they should avoid.

    Hopefully this season the team will focus more on scoring tries than winning by kicking goals. When New South Wales rugby is strong, the Wallabies are strong. So it’s crucial that they lift their game this season.

    The Rebels have some good attacking players, Beale and O’Connor in particular. But it remains to be seen if they have the combinations in place to work as a team. They haven’t got the forward pack they need, especially now they’ve lost Greg Sommerville, which was a big blow.

    Most games these days are won up front. And while the Rebels have great individuals, as a team, it might take another year or two until they find their feet.

    The case of O’Connor is a curious one: he wants to play closer to the action, and he keeps telling people that. But his best position is on the wing. When he comes in closer, he actually puts the defense under less pressure. He gets the ball and he’s isolated. He needs room to move in to utilise his natural speed.

    Both the Force and the Brumbies will struggle.

    It’s going to be difficult for Jake White. It’s a unique culture down there in Canberra, and the Brumbies have always had a chip on their shoulder. They need a mix of experience and youth, but I don’t think they have the old heads to do it.

    Not much has changed in rugby since I played. Most teams have the same backline movements. It’s going to take an Australian team to make bold changes, to take some risks, and to throw caution to the wind for them to really stand out in 2012.

    This is the first of a new exclusive weekly column by David Campese for The Roar.

    Have Your Say

    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (95)

    • Editor

      February 22nd 2012 @ 8:19am
      Zac Zavos said | February 22nd 2012 @ 8:19am | ! Report

      Welcome to The Roar, Campo!

      We have a powerhouse pack of rugby columnists on the site now: David Lord is upfront, with Andrew Logan coming off the bench, Brett McKay in the powertrain, and Spiro Zavos running his angles from the side of the scrum. Campo joins us, naturally, on the wing from where he observes the game through his own unique lens.

      Complementing this team is the growing base of fan columnists, live bloggers and commenters – all of whom provide that special magic that makes The Roar what it is.

      As always – Roarers, please send us your feedback and ideas for the site.


      The Roar

    • Roar Guru

      February 22nd 2012 @ 8:26am
      Hoy said | February 22nd 2012 @ 8:26am | ! Report

      Welcome Campo. Love your work.

      I would think there is nothing worse as a player than playing in a boring team. Surely the backs want to run the ball. That is what backs are there for.

      I have said elswhere here, I don’t think Barnes is the great attacking weapon people think. He is a solid player, good defensively, although his head has taken a battering and this could affect his game in the future. I think his first and second option are always hoof the ball forwards. That has to change for the Tah’s to play attacking rugby.

      Rob Horne is touted as the next big thing in Australia, and has been for a while, “if only he could stay injury free”. Can you be the next big thing on the back of playing a total of 3 consecutive games? I am yet to see him do anything for the Tah’s or the Wallabies that convinces me he is anything but a young bloke given a chance. Perhaps if his body holds together for a season, my opinion might change, but I fail to see why he is picked for national duties at all.

      I also think it will be very interesting to see how the Reds go without their main creative force Cooper. Harris is good, but I think only a solid 5/8 as well. I do prefer attacking 5/8s. Maybe I will be surprised. I hope so. If they don’t fire until Cooper comes back, it could be too late.

      I disagree about O’Connor. I think 12 is his best spot, and he would be better at it now, if he was groomed for that role nationally when he first came on the scene. It remains to be seen if Beale can shake his injuries as well, and have a lasting impact this year at his new home. I can certainly understand why he left the Tahs. As I said, it must be boring for players in a team who play boring rugby. Perhaps winning is all they care about, but surely as a player I would prefer to have a good crack at rugby, rather than slot penalties and kick the ball in general play all day.

      The Force I think are in trouble. 2 marquee players, 3 if you count the Fijian winger. Sharp on the way out, Pocock will have to carry a heavy burden to get them anywhere this year. Good luck to them.

      • February 22nd 2012 @ 8:42am
        johnny-boy said | February 22nd 2012 @ 8:42am | ! Report

        You could say Hoy, that like his position in the Wallabies, Pocock is carrying ‘overburden’, especially given he’s playing for WA :). Graham, like Deans is one of those weak coach types who rely on hanging their hats on star players hoping they will perform miracles to cover up their poor coaching. Given Pocock appears to be a little obsessive, best to keep him focussed on his job with minimal outside stress or the edges might fray imo.

        • February 22nd 2012 @ 9:42am
          Harry said | February 22nd 2012 @ 9:42am | ! Report

          Graham was disgracefully defensive last year with the Force … recall their approach to playing the Tahs in Sydney which was pure “defend and hiope for a mistake or intecept”. The Force actually recorded their best win in NZ aginst Otago when they threw caution to the wind and attacked, and the comination (about 4th choice) of Stannard and Swanepool in the halfs really jelled (poor move to let the latter leave). Lets see how they go this year but I’m not optimistic given their trial form and lack of backline cut-through.

    • February 22nd 2012 @ 8:27am
      johnny-boy said | February 22nd 2012 @ 8:27am | ! Report

      It’s hard to understand why some people (SamT excepted) are still bagging out on the Reds as pretenders. Jealousy I guess.
      Burn baby burn !

      • February 22nd 2012 @ 10:59am
        Danny said | February 22nd 2012 @ 10:59am | ! Report

        The Reds were simply lucky last year – have a look at the table they played in the Aust conference where the bottom 3 sides were 12th, 13th and 15th on the overall table. They played all those teams twice and avoided playing the Sharks (2nd best team in SA on 57 points) and Highlanders (3rd in NZ on 45 pts). They ended on 66 points, topped the table and had home ground advantage. Only the Crusaders have ever won the final away from home, in 16 years! That’s luck. Yes they were good but without this luck they’ll come 3rd or 4th this year and will have to make history to win it.

        Compare the Crusaders who played all NZ teams home and away with the lowest NZ team Chiefs in that conference 10th on 40 points, a tally that would have placed them 3rd in Australia. Crusaders ended on 61 pts after not playing the Rebels (last on 24 points) nor Lions (2nd last on 29 pts). The conference system rewards weak conferences. It stinks.

        • February 22nd 2012 @ 11:14am
          Jay said | February 22nd 2012 @ 11:14am | ! Report

          Yeah but the Reds lost to two of those bottom teams which undemines your argument somewhat.

        • Roar Guru

          February 22nd 2012 @ 11:49am
          Hoy said | February 22nd 2012 @ 11:49am | ! Report

          I don’t understand why people can’t accept that they won the competition without putting a bloody “but…” next to it. They are Super 15 champions. They beat who they played, and got to the final, and won the final.

          Saying they were lucky is like saying Ireland were lucky that Pocock didn’t play in the game at the world cup, because then the sky wouldn’t have fallen in blah blah blah. Stupid mute point.

          They were lucky they didn’t have that many injuries, although they lost some key starters, they filled in well, with no names, and still won. Yes they were lucky. I think the World Cup shows that to win a rugby competition, luck plays a massive part.

          Good teams lose. The Reds won the comp. Get over it. Look forward. This year will be diffierent for all teams with different challenges. Injury, travel etc. All adds up to rugby fest 2012. Can’t wait.

          • February 22nd 2012 @ 12:05pm
            Rugbug said | February 22nd 2012 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

            Just like many Australian roarers here are doing re the WC win.
            Sorry Hoy you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

            The Reds won last year but even the most ardent Reds supporter must surely acknowledge that this years task will be much harder than that of 2011.

            • Roar Guru

              February 22nd 2012 @ 12:39pm
              Hoy said | February 22nd 2012 @ 12:39pm | ! Report

              I haven’t seen anyone say the All Blacks only won the world cup because they only played their side of the draw etc. But if you say so… Anyone saying the All Blacks didn’t deserve to win is deluded in my opinion.

              It will be just as hard, but more disappointing if the team doesn’t do well, because their fans have tasted success at long last.

              But to keep saying they were lucky and begrudging them winning is stupid I think. Every team is going to have a different year this year. If they don’t win this year, doesn’t support your argument that they didn’t deserve it last year.

              • February 22nd 2012 @ 1:14pm
                Rugbug said | February 22nd 2012 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

                Playing on the majority of the top teams on the road in your opinion isn’t harder than playing them at home Hoy?
                I don’t believe they were the best team in the competition last year and I make no bones about that and I have outlined my reasons why on many occasions and it seems now others are finally starting to also voice their opinions too.
                They did win and good on them however the skewered draw certainly worked in their favour and that can not be denied. The draw is not their fault and I do not blame them for it, they made the most of the situation and that is all they can and did do. However i still very much doubt that they would have beaten either the Blues or Crusaders in NZ or the Shrks in SA that is my opinion Hoy and I stand by it.
                This year the total opposite can be said it is working completely against them and in all honesty I think it is unfair on the Reds not only do they face 4 of the top contenders away they also miss two easy beats much like the Crusaders last year. The conference system is unfair and I believe the Reds have been dealt a tough hand in 2012.
                The Tahs have the perfect opportunity to not only top the Aus conference whilst in my opinion being the second cab of the rank they could also finish top dog simply due to having a rather sweet draw, of course it is up to them to make the most of it as did the Reds last year and we all know the Tahs are their own worst enemy

              • February 22nd 2012 @ 1:19pm
                Justin said | February 22nd 2012 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

                RB – Do me a favour and do back through all the winners of Super Rugby and do an analysis on the draw of the winner and tell me what the result is. I dont know what it is but I imagine there were teams who won due to having a slightly easier ride than another team. Again you state they wouldnt have have beaten X Y and Z but they beat the top team in SA last year so who is to say they couldnt have beaten the next best?

                For heavens sake there have been times when teams have won more games than another team yet missed the finals.

                Its swings and roundabouts.

              • March 7th 2012 @ 1:42pm
                zackh said | March 7th 2012 @ 1:42pm | ! Report

                Well, everyone would know that the only reason All Blacks won the world cup was because of Home ground advantge…or else France would have beaten them…

        • February 22nd 2012 @ 12:11pm
          Loftus said | February 22nd 2012 @ 12:11pm | ! Report

          The Crusaders didn’t have any home games and had to share the points with the Hurricanes(I think) in their pool game because of the disaster,etc. The Crusaders were the best team last year.

          • Roar Guru

            February 22nd 2012 @ 2:09pm
            Jiggles said | February 22nd 2012 @ 2:09pm | ! Report

            Since when is Nelson not Crusaders territory?

            • February 22nd 2012 @ 2:17pm
              Rugbug said | February 22nd 2012 @ 2:17pm | ! Report

              If the Australian coach can acknowledge the Crusaders playing out of their skins in 2011 and not playing a home game i’m sure you could also acknowledge this too.

              “The 52-year-old Deans was yesterday giving his thoughts on the season ahead and while his main focus is on how the Australian teams go, he did say he was pleased for the people of Christchurch that they’ll be able to see their beloved Crusaders in the city once more. He thought the players would benefit from having home games again.

              ”They will be jumping for joy at being able to sleep in their own beds,” Deans said.

              ”Last year they didn’t have a single home game and yet they got so close to winning the title. It was a pretty impressive effort.

              He also thinks the team to beat will be the Reds however I don’t agree with him here, As I am sure you will not agree with the home games Jiggles


              • February 22nd 2012 @ 2:26pm
                Justin said | February 22nd 2012 @ 2:26pm | ! Report

                Home for the Crusaders is more often than not Christchurch. Having said that they do represent a region and that region got behind more so after the earthquake than they probably ever have. SO while not playing at “home” they had “home ground support” that was stronger than in any normal year.

                Hopefully that makes sense…

              • February 22nd 2012 @ 2:45pm
                johnny-boy said | February 22nd 2012 @ 2:45pm | ! Report

                Johnny-boy – give it a rest! You don’t need to say the same thing every thread. Thanks, Roar Mods.

              • Roar Guru

                February 22nd 2012 @ 3:20pm
                Jiggles said | February 22nd 2012 @ 3:20pm | ! Report

                They didn’t play in Christchurch but they still played with in their territory and as such had home ground advantage at Nelson. They still would’ve slept in their own beds after Nelson games.

              • February 23rd 2012 @ 9:30am
                Rugbug said | February 23rd 2012 @ 9:30am | ! Report

                Jiggles you do realise its a 6-7 hour drive from Christchurch to Nelson and by the time a night super rugby match is finished in all likeliness the last flight out of Nelson to Christchurch would long since have departed

              • February 23rd 2012 @ 10:27pm
                soapit said | February 23rd 2012 @ 10:27pm | ! Report

                this is the australian coach who is dyed in the wool crusader man. means very little when you think about it.

          • February 22nd 2012 @ 5:36pm
            JohnB said | February 22nd 2012 @ 5:36pm | ! Report

            But lost twice (in two) to the Reds

          • February 22nd 2012 @ 10:15pm
            guinness14 said | February 22nd 2012 @ 10:15pm | ! Report

            The Crusaders were the best team last year. These guys travelled all season, playing with jetlag and bought it home. They were not thrashed by no means but it was noticable on how buggered they looked in the final. Good on the Reds for the win, but I will still back my team,The Crusaders to be in the top 5 this season. Good luck to all teams this year. Bring on the Games. LET THE GAMES BEGIN.

            • February 23rd 2012 @ 10:28pm
              soapit said | February 23rd 2012 @ 10:28pm | ! Report

              check the trophy mate, it doesnt mention the crusaders heroics, only who won the comp.

              • February 27th 2012 @ 12:25pm
                peterlala said | February 27th 2012 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

                Canterbury fans are known for being one-eyed. guiness14, it’s good to see you are honouring that tradition.

        • February 22nd 2012 @ 12:25pm
          Justin said | February 22nd 2012 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

          Danny, as stated above they actually didnt do that well v the Aus sides. The also beat the best SA team in SA so who is to say they wouldnt have beaten them. The Highlanders? Well everyone has to miss playing 2 teams. Thats the draw.

          They used 37 players last year, hardly lucky on that front and many of those were unheralded in the extreme. Brilliantly coached and led (Cooper, Genia, Horwill).

          The Crusaders had two chances to beat the Reds and didnt and lost to a couple of other lowly teams so only had themselves to blame.

          The Reds won and deserved it, thems the facts. The rest is just ifs, whats and maybes. In other words not worth talking about.

          • February 24th 2012 @ 10:52am
            stillmatic1 said | February 24th 2012 @ 10:52am | ! Report

            i hope you remember your last sentence throughout the year, justin. i may bring it up everytime your team loses and you spout on about the maybes, what ifs and whats!

            • February 24th 2012 @ 12:31pm
              Rugbug said | February 24th 2012 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

              I will also be reminding him if it does eventuate.
              In saying that I’ve laid it all out on the line so if they do deliver I will be in for one hell of a tirade, but hey why pussyfoot around lay it out there for everyone to know. Sadly many here at the Roar will wait until the seasons nearly finished and then they will start talking about how they knew the Force would top the table how could they not etc etc, it happens all the time on these forums

              Then again Still, Justin here also believes you can not judge a team by their previous season………..

            • February 24th 2012 @ 12:40pm
              Justin said | February 24th 2012 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

              Knock yourself out…

        • February 22nd 2012 @ 4:39pm
          sheek said | February 22nd 2012 @ 4:39pm | ! Report

          Inappropriate, sheek.

      • February 22nd 2012 @ 11:03am
        Tissot Time said | February 22nd 2012 @ 11:03am | ! Report

        jb the Reds will be there at the business end of the season. They have essentially unchanged personnel, they play as a team, their coach adopts game different game plans which the team delivers, the supporter base is large, they enjoy playing for each other and they have experienced and know how to win. All in all a few ducks in a row there that many other teams can only dream about.

        • February 22nd 2012 @ 11:12am
          johnny-boy said | February 22nd 2012 @ 11:12am | ! Report

          Fine summary TT. Lets make that two non Qld realists on the Roar

        • February 22nd 2012 @ 11:33am
          Rugbug said | February 22nd 2012 @ 11:33am | ! Report

          The Reds will be there at the business end but I believe it will be in economy (3rd to 6th).
          As I have noted many times here the Reds have a very tough draw this year it certainly is a much tougher road to the title in 2012.
          Winning against the top teams away from home and fans sreaming against you is much harder than playing in your own backyard where you have the support of your loyal fans.

          If the Tahs actually play to their potential and make the most of a dream draw they can and should easily top the Australian conference and possibly the overall table.

          • February 22nd 2012 @ 12:26pm
            Justin said | February 22nd 2012 @ 12:26pm | ! Report

            I think that 3-6 finishing may be right. From there you need to pull something special out in the finals to win the comp.

            • February 22nd 2012 @ 1:26pm
              Rugbug said | February 22nd 2012 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

              I agree with you here Justin it will be much tougher, the Crusaders finished 3rd and made it to the final and after a trip to SA then back to Brisbane in two weeks they hit the hay at Suncorp however it was not a pasting by any means.
              If the Reds don’t top their conference I hope for their sake they can finish 4th at least and gain a home qualifying final, I personally just don’t think this team will beat some of the other top contenders on the road let alone in a high stakes finals match.
              I stand to be proven wrong and I know a lot of people will be lining up to say I told you so but hey thats the risk I take by putting it out there. At least I can not be accussed of hiding behind a curtain and pop out at finals time and start posting like many do on these forums.

              For the record I believe the Tahs will top the Aus conference simple due to having a sweet draw with the Reds second due to a tough draw although a much more talented team IMO
              The Blues to take top spot over the Crusaders in the NZ conference and battle for the overall table lead with the Tahs
              Sharks and Stormers in that order to top South Africas conference I think the South Africans may struggle to get 2 teams in the 6 this year

              1.Blues / Tahs
              2.Tahs / Blues
              4. Sharks
              5. Reds
              6. Stormers / Highlanders

              Now thats putting it out their indeed but hey someone has to do it right.

              • February 23rd 2012 @ 4:36pm
                Suzy Poison said | February 23rd 2012 @ 4:36pm | ! Report

                Rugbug, Pretty good prediction, however I think the Tahs are already struggling with injury, and depth. The Reds may have established a winning culture, but without Quade will struggle with a tough draw, So far have been very very lucky with injuries. Quade was the first big injury, and I believe their luck will run out, and they will not make the top six, this year.

                I disagree about your view on the Saffa teams. I predict there will be three Saffa sides in the top six. The Sharks, Stormers and Bulls in that order.

                My surprise packages this year, will be the Blues, Lions, Brumbies and the Bulls.
                I reckon the Blues are going to top the log. The Lions and Brumbies are going to shock some teams, and so are the Bulls. All and sundry are writing off the Bulls chances, but the Bulls have recruited some incredible up and coming talent, Names like centre, John Sadie, that Australians and New Zealanders have not heard of.

                1. Blues
                2. Sharks
                3. Crusaders
                4. Stormers
                5. Tahs
                6. Bulls
                7. Reds
                8. Chiefs
                9. Lions
                10. Brumbies
                11. Highlanders
                12. Canes
                13. Force
                14. Cheetahs
                15. Rebels

              • February 24th 2012 @ 12:37pm
                Rugbug said | February 24th 2012 @ 12:37pm | ! Report

                Your certainly placing some faith in the Canes Suzy they’rte my pick for the wooden spoon this year

      • February 22nd 2012 @ 7:22pm
        Onor said | February 22nd 2012 @ 7:22pm | ! Report

        probably cos they got the easier end of the draw last year!! Beat the crusaders in round 13 from a
        penalty that wasnt a penalty and then scored the winning try in the final from obstruction.

        I’m a fan of the reds. They are my favourite team in the oz conference. The only ones willing
        to throw the ball around and attack.

    • February 22nd 2012 @ 9:10am
      Mullet said | February 22nd 2012 @ 9:10am | ! Report

      Campo it will be great to read your comments about rugby in 2012

    • Roar Pro

      February 22nd 2012 @ 9:15am
      Grimmace said | February 22nd 2012 @ 9:15am | ! Report

      You hit it on the head Campo- “Australian sides have tended to take the defensive option with the fear of making a mistake.” Losing is fine, as long as you had a decent crack at winning.

    • February 22nd 2012 @ 9:23am
      kingplaymaker said | February 22nd 2012 @ 9:23am | ! Report

      Great stuff Campo and great stuff the Roar.

      It’s so bizarre that Australian teams even contemplate playing ‘kicking’ rugby. To begin with ‘kicking’ rugby relies on dominant packs and Australia has the least dominant packs of the three nations in Super rugby, and so kicking rugby is ineffective. Then on the other side, Australian rugby is known for its excellent backs, and it is through these and therefore running rugby that they should logically try to beat their opponents with the powerful packs.

      On top of this, the changes in the law interpretations two years ago, which within 12 months led to the 3-0 victory of ‘kicking’ South Africa over ‘running’ New Zealand being reversed into 3-0 the other way, mean that you’re very unlikely to be regularly successful with kicking rugby.

      The elimination of the four kicking teams in the RWC quarter-finals, England, Ireland, Argentina, South Africa, and the progression of the four running teams to the later stages shows that this change in the law interpretations has favoured running rugby.

      So there’s no reason whatsoever for Australian teams to play kicking rugby and bore everyone to death as well as losing because of it: they should run the ball and win.

      • February 22nd 2012 @ 7:28pm
        Onor said | February 22nd 2012 @ 7:28pm | ! Report

        Agree with you fully. Though. Even amongst our running rugby culture in the southern
        hemisphere.. there is still far too much kicking. I’d like to see a few more rules in place to
        speed the game up.

        1. Allow the props to place there hands on the ground to keep the scrum up.
        2. allow the loose forwards to break away from the scrum.
        3. A use it or loose it rule for the half back. Or the man clearing the ball away at ruck time.
        4. Allow the quick tap from any part of the field as long as it is in line with where the penalty is,
        as long as its not in front of that position.

    , , , , , , ,