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Wallabies: five things learned from Sydney

Brett McKay Columnist

By Brett McKay, Brett McKay is a Roar Expert

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    Wallabies coach Robbie Deans speaks to the media. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

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    Well, that was a bit of a letdown. There can be no question that the better team won, and there can be even less question that the final result adequately illustrates the difference in class between the two sides over the three Tests.

    When it came to the ultimate moments in the series, the British and Irish Lions were better equipped to deal with the situation at hand.

    Worthy series winners. Clinical. Unrelenting. Deserving. Well played, Lions.

    It also means that with everything that’s been said and done about the Wallaby performance on Saturday night, the five points today are all about the immediate and long-term future of the game.

    If body language means anything…
    Then Robbie Deans was a man resigned to his fate. Deans is a man that doesn’t give up much emotion on the best of days, but in the post-match press conference on Saturday night, he was even more ashen-faced and non-committal than normal.

    Where you might have expected an embattled coach to show some fight, and outline what he still wants to achieve with his young group, Deans offered only “Those decisions will be made by others” when asked about his future.

    Perhaps even more tellingly, Deans was asked directly if he thought he would be able to pull the Wallaby squad together after such a loss, and if coaches and players could regroup in time for the Rugby Championship.

    “I’ve no doubt the boys will regroup,” came the reply, again ignoring the chance to speak of his own involvement.

    It was a very strange situation, and there certainly wasn’t anyone in the media centre left of the belief that Deans would remain at the helm. We’d all just seen a dead coach talking.

    By contrast, Warren Gatland and Alun-Wyn Jones walked into the presser with a stubby and a bottle of champagne in their respective hands, had one last swig each before handing them off to management, and then took their seats to face the hordes.

    Winners are grinners, and losers can please themselves, as they say in the classics.

    An awkward meeting needs to be had
    The ARU board and the accountants need to get together rather soon and establish two major points between them: will it cost more to end Robbie Deans’ tenure now financially, or from a rugby perspective, after the Rugby Championship?

    If the decision is to be that Deans is no longer the man to coach the Wallabies, then do we make the change now, or at the end of his contracted term? If we’ve learned anything from cricket in recent weeks, perhaps it’s better to endure some short-term pain and rip the band-aid off now.

    And the sharks are circling. The reports were already doing the rounds that ARU CEO Bill Pulver and Deans were scheduled to meet, and that it might even be announced as soon as today that Deans would no longer be required.

    Pulver even attempted to play down any reports of Dean’s impending removal, saying that he and the ARU would “not be entering into any speculation or debate” about what moves may or may not be afoot, or which candidates may or may not be in line to be appointed.

    It’s not quite as damning as ‘Robbie has the full support of the board’, but it’s not far off.

    One thing a new Wallabies coach would have over Darren Lehmann is more time. Whereas Lehmann was installed just 16 days out from the First Ashes Test – which starts tomorrow night – the First Bledisloe Test, and the first round of the Rugby Championship, kicks off on Saturday 17 August.

    With four more weekend of Super Rugby to come, too, players wouldn’t be reconvening for another good few weeks yet as well. If the change is to be made, as most believe it will, then it might as well be now.

    Surely now we can end the charade…
    With a new Wallaby coach all but certain, a better but still unconvincing performance in the decider, and with his Super Rugby home changing the keys on him while he was gone, the number of people who think James O’Connor is a genuine top class flyhalf shrinks by the day.

    I nearly choked on a post-tour beer late on Saturday night when it was suggested to me that O’Connor might be headed back to the Force, now that the Rebels have given him the “don’t call us…” treatment.

    But it would seem heading back to Perth with his tail between his legs would be his only option if he does seriously want to play more flyhalf.

    On current form, there’s no way he would be ousting Bernard Foley, his good mate Quade Cooper, or young Matt Toomua, from their no.10 jerseys, even if the ‘Tahs, Reds, or Brumbies were interested in him.

    That only leaves the Force, even if they had Kyle Godwin in mind as a long-term flyhalf.

    Of course, we could just end the charade and get him back playing inside centre well. And he could still do that in Perth, if Godwin was shuffled in one.

    Either way, he’s surely played his last game in the Australian no.10 for a good while now.

    Is it time now?
    I’ve had this long-held belief that for no other reason than an endless supply of flyhalves and tighthead props, Australia should sail into Wellington harbour, plant the flag, and either remind New Zealand of their still-present mention in our constitution, or invade.

    After Saturday night, I’m starting to wonder if it’s not time to dust off those plans.

    Ben Alexander’s best impression of a whack-a-mole game was just unpleasant, and Sekope Kepu didn’t fare much better when he came on, either.

    Therefore, here’s the first challenge over the next month for whoever is the Wallaby coach: identify the best tighthead in the country, add a zero to his contract, and start playing him now.

    If that’s James Slipper, or Paddy Ryan, or whoever, then put them in now. Tighthead is an area Australia has struggled with for years now, and we simply can’t have any more repeats of what happened on Saturday night.

    Of course, if Alexander and Kepu are still the best options, then find the best scrummaging coach in the world and treat them to a month of winter in Australia. If these two are the future, then some serious remedial work is needed. Urgently.

    On the other hand, we could set sail for the east…

    Regardless of the result, the Lions Tour has been superb
    From the spike in tourism, to the seas of red, to the estimated $100 million spent in Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney on consecutive weekends, the Lions Tour and their wonderful supporters have put rugby back on the map again in Australia.

    The result hasn’t gone the way Wallabies fans had hoped, but rugby now holds the ground records at Suncorp Stadium, Etihad Stadium, and the post-Olympic configuration of ANZ Stadium as well.

    More than 389,000 people watched the Lions across the nice games in Australia, and after a steady build-up, it consumed the media for the decider in Sydney.

    The result has ensured the ongoing future of the Lions Tour, and that is something that can’t be overstated. Had the Wallabies won, the nay-saying few sprouting misconstrued beliefs of a “glorified Barbarians side” would only have grown more vocal.

    In reality, the Lions Tour is the last bastion of the traditional rugby tour in the current professional calendar, and even if it seems overly corporatised now, it’s still a tradition that can’t be lost.

    It is, of course, something of a windfall for the ARU, too. The challenge now is going to come in the form of what to do with, and how to maximise the effect of, this swelling of the coffers, possible coach severance notwithstanding.

    It is absolutely imperative that the ARU use this windfall wisely across all levels of the game.

    [Ed’s note: Brett’s article was submitted before Robbie Deans was sacked as Wallaby coach]

    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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    The Crowd Says (151)

    • July 9th 2013 @ 1:41am
      Eiger said | July 9th 2013 @ 1:41am | ! Report

      The dumbstruck look on Ben A’s face as he was sent off said it all really.

      • July 9th 2013 @ 1:55am
        Reginald Munday said | July 9th 2013 @ 1:55am | ! Report

        I don’t know why he was dumbstruck. He was warned that any further infringements would result in a yellow and that’s what happened. The most unbelievable part of that was that Deans, in one of his final acts of monumental stupidity, didn’t hook Alexander until AFTER the yellow was dealt. Completely unbelievable stuff.

        Alexander has been a great servant to the national side but, unfortunately, it’s time for someone else.

        • July 9th 2013 @ 5:28am
          Bmwwilliams said | July 9th 2013 @ 5:28am | ! Report

          I’ve got my fingers crossed Palmer comes back from France battle-hardened and ready for the World Cup.

          Scott Sio will hopefully have fulfilled some of his considerable promise by 2015 as well. Throw in Paddy Ryan, maybe Slipper and Robinson and we…still won’t have enough depth to win a World Cup.

          • July 9th 2013 @ 8:29am
            Jereme Lane said | July 9th 2013 @ 8:29am | ! Report

            no question that alexander was getting hammered but i thought a yellow was a bit harsh after two shortarms against the whole pack and two penalties against alexander. especially after that considering the lions were penalised for 3 maul infringements defending in their own 22 right before and after half time and he didnt even warn them. poor captaincy from horwill there too not even a word of complaint to the ref. then in the second half, every time the lions won the scrum he penalised the wallabies but then when all the replacements came on and the wallabies were winning the scrums he ordered a reset. that was a joke. anyway i guess you can’t complain when the coach picks ben alexander over 2 much stronger and capable tight heads.

          • July 9th 2013 @ 11:32am
            formeropenside said | July 9th 2013 @ 11:32am | ! Report

            Palmer’s problem was fitness and mobility, not scrummaging. He was good for 4-5 scrums and 50 minutes, but after that his scrmmaging became average, and his work around the park statuesque (and not in the good way).

            I dont know that going to France will fix that. It certainly did not assist Rodney Blake, who came back from France a worse scrummager than before he left.

      • July 9th 2013 @ 5:28am
        mania said | July 9th 2013 @ 5:28am | ! Report

        yeah considering he blatantly collapsed. in fact the collapse was so blatant it looked more like a dive. how u dive when your bound in a scrum i dont know but benA managed it.
        spend some money on slipper and ryan and wb’s wont be disapointed

        • Roar Guru

          July 9th 2013 @ 8:02am
          jeznez said | July 9th 2013 @ 8:02am | ! Report

          I still think Slipper is better at LH than he is TH but Harry Hindsight suggests he can’t have been any worse than BA was on Saturday. A real shame that Palmer was injured for the series. I know people laugh at me when I say it but I think Ma’afu would have been our best chance against Corbisiero on the weekend.

          • July 9th 2013 @ 8:13am
            bmwwilliams said | July 9th 2013 @ 8:13am | ! Report

            jez it wouldn’t have made any difference had Palmer not been injured – he wasn’t named in the squad and BA wasn’t properly shown up until the last game so can’t imagine any scenario where he would have got a look in

            • Roar Guru

              July 9th 2013 @ 8:17am
              jeznez said | July 9th 2013 @ 8:17am | ! Report

              I thought Palmer was in the squad and Alexander got massively shown up in the first test. As soon as we knew Corbisiero was going to be back for the third test we knew BA was going to be in trouble.

              Feel free to look at any of my posts from the moment the third test Lions side was announced. Pretty much the only players I mentioned were BA and Corbisiero – I could see it, am pretty sure that Vlades knew it was coming too.

              • July 9th 2013 @ 8:41am
                bmwwilliams said | July 9th 2013 @ 8:41am | ! Report

                He definitely wasn’t in the initial squad ( but believe he was injured before the final 6 was announced.

                Far be it from me to disagree with your scrum opinion – Just suggesting that the series was not marked by a willingness to rejig the starting lineup.

                I still fully expect Palmer to be our starting tighthead in 2015.

              • July 9th 2013 @ 9:11am
                Harry said | July 9th 2013 @ 9:11am | ! Report

                I have long thought that Palmer is our best scrummaging tighthead in Australia, however he’s done himself no favours by repeatedly being injured when Wallaby selection rolls around. A real shame for all.
                Other options are (in roughly descending order) Kepu, Slipper and Ma’afi – I agree wih Jeznez (who is more knowledgeable than I am on scrums, even with his NSW bias) that he can be OK at tighthead. Trouble is he isn’t much chop around the park.
                I am unconvinced about Ryan despite the usual hyping obtained his Sydney Uni/Tahs heritage. Still needs a lot more experience and dues paying. His game against the Lions was good experience.
                Laurie Weekes, currently at the Rebels, is a possibility. He’s been around awhile and done some learning. It is absolutely no coincidence that the Rebels improved form coincided with his starting regularly and being fully fit and Weekes providing the Rebs with some semblance of stability at the scrum. Of course it being Australia this went completely unremarked upon.

              • July 9th 2013 @ 9:43am
                Justin3 said | July 9th 2013 @ 9:43am | ! Report

                Weekes is interesting, like to see him now with a continued run after injury. He is the forgotten man to a degree.

                Jez any thoughts on his technique?

              • Roar Guru

                July 9th 2013 @ 1:23pm
                Jiggles said | July 9th 2013 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

                Harry I think Slipper is better than Kepu at THP.

                Kepu had suspect technique against Corbisiero, however it was his awesome strength which saved him. He always gets set with shoulders below his hips and his feet slightly back from square. I think you really have to hand it to him that he can scrum ok with horrible positioning like that. If he could work on that, he’d be a much better player.

              • July 9th 2013 @ 11:38pm
                Pick & Go..!! said | July 9th 2013 @ 11:38pm | ! Report

                Jeznez, you could be right about Ma’afu being a better opinion to Alexander at tight head.

                But having a 2nd look at the reply of the game, Horwill looked like he was carrying a leg injury. So I don’t think he would of been able to help Alexander or anyone at scrum time??

              • July 10th 2013 @ 12:08am
                ohtani's jacket said | July 10th 2013 @ 12:08am | ! Report

                Kafer mentioned at the start of the match that Horwill was carrying a calf injury.

              • Roar Guru

                July 10th 2013 @ 2:11pm
                jeznez said | July 10th 2013 @ 2:11pm | ! Report

                Thanks BMW – I stand corrected although I’m going to give RD the benfit of the doubt and assume he only missed the squad through injury. To be fair I don’t know if he is back from injury even now.

                Justin – not sure on Weekes’s technique, haven’t watched it closely enough. Since moving to HK I don’t have the rewind and rewatch live play option that I have grown accustomed to either! I will say that the Red’s with the relatively weak Daley and Faingaa had some memorable scrummaging performances with him as the third member of the ‘Tripod’ they certainly punched above their weight and having seen the other two fall away without him it seems likely that Weekes can take a significant portion of the credit for when they were doing well.

                Harry – I like Ryan but agree he has to do a lot more to convince. He struggled badly against the Force in their most recent game and you need to be dominating at that level to really convince you have the ability to push for higher honours.

                Jiggles – agree Kepu gets away with strength – I’ve often said his body shape doesn’t suit top level scummaging which is tough for him as he can’t do anything about that. Ryan suffers from similarly long limbs and it will be a constant challenge for both of them.

                P&G/OJ – if Horwill was carrying an injury that hampered his ability to push then it was criminal he played knowing how strong their scrum was. To be fair I thought the BIL scrum was equally dominant in game 1 while the same two props were on the field so it isn’t obvious that he was an issue.

    • July 9th 2013 @ 1:58am
      sportym said | July 9th 2013 @ 1:58am | ! Report

      A great series, thoroughly enjoyed it, even though I had to deal with the fall out in London on Sat. Have to admit the Brits were good sports about it, we ended up kicking a footy in the park with a group of them.

      If the reports are true, be it Ewan or White, I am excited about the RC this year again! GO THE WALLABIES!!!

      JOC….. I would be more excited if the spent a few years OS, Wallabies need a fresh start, new team culture and have to play like a team, that excludes JOC. Cheika has shown what a change in culture can do, the wallabies need the same, no more Amigos, we cannot have Beale, Cooper and JOC in the team.

      • Columnist

        July 9th 2013 @ 10:13am
        Brett McKay said | July 9th 2013 @ 10:13am | ! Report

        Sporty that may well be his only option soon hading overseas…

        • Roar Guru

          July 9th 2013 @ 10:23am
          M.O.C. said | July 9th 2013 @ 10:23am | ! Report

          I think rugby should sacrifice him to the League Gods and pray for the return SBW – JOC might make an excellent league fullback, halfback or 5/8.

    • Roar Guru

      July 9th 2013 @ 2:33am
      biltongbek said | July 9th 2013 @ 2:33am | ! Report

      Brett, tight head props, or should I say tight head props are a rare commodity in world rugby these days. australia isn’t the only country facing that challenge, why else do you think Pieter de Villiers insisted on making John Smit play tight head?

      We even have Heyneke Meyer trying to convert Coenie Oosthuizen into a tighthead.

      Our cupboard is as bare as Australia’s.

      As far as Ewen McLenzie is concerned I have no doubt a Genia Cooper partnership will be the main feature during his tenure.

      That solves your halfback solution, Lealiifano or perhaps Tomane will be the 12, not sure AAC will be his first choice, and we might see a lot less of O’Connor and Beale in the gold jumper as well.

      • July 9th 2013 @ 6:22am
        Ruckin' Oaf said | July 9th 2013 @ 6:22am | ! Report

        Yep Jesse Mogg at fullback offers a heck of a lot. Keep either O’Connor or Beale as a utility back on the bench.

      • Columnist

        July 9th 2013 @ 10:20am
        Brett McKay said | July 9th 2013 @ 10:20am | ! Report

        Biltong, it will be interesting to see if the first McKenzie team has wholesale changes, or just tweaks for the first few Tests. it will be interesting to see what changes McKenzie feels he needs to make immediately ..

        • Roar Guru

          July 9th 2013 @ 1:13pm
          The Bush said | July 9th 2013 @ 1:13pm | ! Report


          I suspect he won’t go crazy with changes.

          Cooper at 10, Higgers in the backrow (who might have started this series had he been fit), Gill ahead of Hooper and Holmes in the squad. Beale will also be in trouble and I suspect Mogg might have taken his fullback position from him.

          I think the lineup will be this:

          1. Robinson
          2. Moore
          3. Slipper
          4. Simmons
          5. Horwill
          6. Mowen
          7. Gill
          8. Higgers
          9. Genia
          10. Cooper
          11. Cummins
          12. CL
          13. AAC
          14. Folau
          15. Mogg

          I think from there you’ll see the following players also used; Taps, Shipperly, Speight (once eligable), Kuridrani, Holmes, Hooper (McKenzie isn’t against two (2) opensides, not that I would), Kimlin and perhaps Pyle.

          • Roar Guru

            July 9th 2013 @ 1:24pm
            Jiggles said | July 9th 2013 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

            I think thats a sensible team.

            Link hasn’t been afraid to drop Simmons and put a rocket up him, so he will really have to perform at LHL.

            Douglas and MMM aren’t the answer in that position either.

            • Roar Guru

              July 9th 2013 @ 1:32pm
              The Bush said | July 9th 2013 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

              If MMM has a future, butI think it is at blindside or off the bench with versatility. Mowen hasn’t let me down and deserves a chance to put at least the same number of Tests under his belt as Richard Brown did! Higgers on his form will waltz back in if playing well.

              I am not sure if we need CL at inside with Cooper playing, but he’s got a great boot and is a very good player so I am reluctant to drop him. Kuridrani and Speight are the two bolters I am excited about – it will keep AAC and the non-Folau wing on their toes!

              I used to be concerned about playing small international packs (as this one is), but once you embrace the fact that we don’t have the strength or technique to combat other big packs, you accept that a mobile, breakdown and recycle orientated pack is the way to go.

              • Roar Guru

                July 9th 2013 @ 1:41pm
                Jiggles said | July 9th 2013 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

                Mowen and Higgers would work well in a back row. both can jump, Mowen can graft and is very good at the breakdown while Higgers is just starting to develop his carrying game into what we always thought it could be. He is making a larger impact at the ruck too, which is great.

                CL is like Taps, but can kick goals. I think he should be given at least till the end of the year to grow into the position and develop at 12. He can be a ball player and run lines, which I like.

                Mobile and recycle orientated is the way we need to go for sure. England play a very good game like this, and I think they will develop into a cracking team in the next few years. The Reds have been belting NZ teams because they are fast in and out of the breakdown, and change the point of attack frequently. This needs to be embraced at the national level.

          • July 9th 2013 @ 1:31pm
            Justin3 said | July 9th 2013 @ 1:31pm | ! Report

            As long as we have a proper 10 I am just as concerned with how we will play as to who will be playing…

          • Columnist

            July 9th 2013 @ 1:35pm
            Brett McKay said | July 9th 2013 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

            Even that team, though Bushy, only has two players that weren’t in the Lions series squad, and that’s what I mean. I don’t think we’ll see great volume of new players..

            • Roar Guru

              July 9th 2013 @ 1:55pm
              The Bush said | July 9th 2013 @ 1:55pm | ! Report

              That’s what I said Brett – “I suspect he won’t go crazy with changes.”

              My problem with Deans has never been as drastic as thinking every selection he made was horrible. My complaint has been his obsession with guys out of position and the backing of players who clearly didn’t have it (after too many failures).

              For example I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Alexander – maybe at THP, but people forget he plays LHP for the Brumbies! Perhaps, god forbid, he’ll be back in the Wallabies at LHP!

              Same with JOC; he’s not finished, he’s just finished as a fly-half (at least for now).

              • Columnist

                July 9th 2013 @ 2:15pm
                Brett McKay said | July 9th 2013 @ 2:15pm | ! Report

                yeah, fair points..

              • Roar Guru

                July 9th 2013 @ 2:36pm
                The Bush said | July 9th 2013 @ 2:36pm | ! Report

                Or do you think they should be moved on Brett?

                Now is the time to stick the knife into Deans… (joking)

          • July 9th 2013 @ 1:40pm
            Denby said | July 9th 2013 @ 1:40pm | ! Report

            If one of McKenzie’s first jobs is to install Simmons in the starting lineup we are in for a very long 2 years. Simmons was one of the worst performing players in the series, didn’t do much wrong, just didn’t do much of anything.

            I am not voting for Douglas to stay, just pointing out Simmons has been tried, tested and found wanting in a big way.

            • Roar Guru

              July 9th 2013 @ 1:52pm
              The Bush said | July 9th 2013 @ 1:52pm | ! Report

              So a 24 year old tight five player who has played less than 30 Tests has been “tried, tested and found wanting” for simply not being the best in the team, but Alexander is still being sent off for scrummaging mistakes and has played 50 Tests. Yeah, that’s logical.

              Simmons might not be the answer, but he’s no worse than Douglas (who I neither rate or dislike).

    • July 9th 2013 @ 2:45am
      SkinnyKid said | July 9th 2013 @ 2:45am | ! Report

      Anyone who thinks Ben Alexander was out scrummaged on Saturday knows little about front row play.

      He was ‘played’ out of the game in a master class of gamesmanship by the Corbisero and the rest of the Lions pack.

      I could talk about it for hours and most wouldnt get it but it wasn’t the actual scrummaging by Corbisero that wont the battle…

      • Roar Guru

        July 9th 2013 @ 2:47am
        biltongbek said | July 9th 2013 @ 2:47am | ! Report

        Yeah, unfortunately gamesmanship is a big part of frontrow play.

        • July 9th 2013 @ 2:59am
          SkinnyKid said | July 9th 2013 @ 2:59am | ! Report

          yep, 100% agree. Corbiseros effort should go down as one of the greatest display of front row play seen in a very very long time.

      • July 9th 2013 @ 2:56am
        Ben.S said | July 9th 2013 @ 2:56am | ! Report

        Tell us more then. It’s not that complicated.

        • July 9th 2013 @ 3:05am
          SkinnyKid said | July 9th 2013 @ 3:05am | ! Report

          You know what I am talking about. The mind game. The bluff. The ref winnning. The flankers helping out.

          Alexander was bullied mentally and verbally more than physically. Was quite sad to watch.

          • July 9th 2013 @ 3:13am
            Ben.S said | July 9th 2013 @ 3:13am | ! Report

            Benn Robinson wasn’t exactly having a fun time against Adam Jones on the other side.

            • July 9th 2013 @ 3:19am
              SkinnyKid said | July 9th 2013 @ 3:19am | ! Report

              yep he had a poor night too….from memory Robbo was also the main reason Corbisiero scored. Could be wrong but wasnt Robbo playing right post at the ruck and chose to move out rather than protecting his zone.

            • July 9th 2013 @ 3:22am
              SkinnyKid said | July 9th 2013 @ 3:22am | ! Report

              actually I lie….What was Moore thinking?

              • July 9th 2013 @ 3:24am
                Ben.S said | July 9th 2013 @ 3:24am | ! Report

                I was surprised that AW Jones wasn’t given a try for the ball touching the post protector.

              • July 9th 2013 @ 6:58am
                Jerry said | July 9th 2013 @ 6:58am | ! Report

                I wondered about that myself, Ben.

                I guess you couldn’t really see if he got the ball down at the base of the post – perhaps Poite would have revisited that with the TMO if there’d been a break in play and the Lions hadn’t scored anyway.

              • July 9th 2013 @ 7:37am
                Justin3 said | July 9th 2013 @ 7:37am | ! Report

                Moore had to take Phillips or he would have strolled over. Fatty Robinson was useless there, not good enough. I want to see Sio given opportunity. Robinson only gets going with a red hot poker up his a$$

              • July 9th 2013 @ 10:58am
                SkinnyKid said | July 9th 2013 @ 10:58am | ! Report

                Justin3 – the posts (1st man either side of the ruck) job is to guard that space no matter what. Moore had no reason to play at phillips.

              • July 9th 2013 @ 11:17am
                Justin3 said | July 9th 2013 @ 11:17am | ! Report

                SK, Moore did exactly that, he guarded that space which Phillips would have walked through from 1m out if he had moved to Corbs.

                What would you suggest he do?

                Robinson was far too wide as a second defender in an on the line defence set up missed a fairly straight forward tackle and that was it.

              • Roar Guru

                July 9th 2013 @ 1:25pm
                Jiggles said | July 9th 2013 @ 1:25pm | ! Report

                either way it was really poor communication between Fatty-bob and Moore. They’re both 50+ Test vets and they should know better.

          • July 9th 2013 @ 7:41am
            Rich said | July 9th 2013 @ 7:41am | ! Report

            what a load of rubbish – review the tape – any TH that starts with his shoulders below his hips before engagement is in for a tough night at the office regardless of playing test rugby or school boy. What is quite strange Robinson is the complete opposite he starts with his head height above the oppositions head so his first motion is always down.

            AU not prioritising the scrum is nothing new. For years you have treated it as nothing but a restart and not a method of attacking.

            We all know that once the ref has a perceived view of dominance he is likely to continue to call it that way but offering such obvious cue’s as shoulders below hips is as simple as it gets.
            This is not a shot at BenA in any shape or form – any player that achieves international honours deserves respect but isn’t he a average scrummaging loosehead who is a frustrated backrower being asked to play tighthead because the stocks are so low?

      • July 9th 2013 @ 7:11am
        nickoldschool said | July 9th 2013 @ 7:11am | ! Report

        That’s precisely the main issue with most Aussie front rowers, they are easily ‘bulliable’ and don’t fight back. How many times have we seen them looking at their feet after a bad scrum, looking lost, confused and not fighting back. That’s 90% of their job to fight back and never accept bullying or show they are soft or weaker that he opponent.

        McKenzie will have to address that pretty quickly if we want the wallabies to exist during the RC because the kiwis, saffas and argues will clearly be targeting the scrum if they face the same guys who were humiliated on home soil and didn’t retaliate on Saturday.

        • July 9th 2013 @ 7:16am
          mania said | July 9th 2013 @ 7:16am | ! Report

          agree fully nos – aus front row gets bullied all the time and hang their heads when dominated. time for fresh blood. i like ryan, he shows fight @ scrum time and he’s handy in the loose. but slipper is reliable and a work horse.

          • Roar Guru

            July 9th 2013 @ 8:08am
            jeznez said | July 9th 2013 @ 8:08am | ! Report

            It’s why I love Palmer, he keeps his shape the few times he gets driven back rather than the collapse which is stupidly the first option for the vast majority of our Aussie props

            • July 10th 2013 @ 6:28am
              mania said | July 10th 2013 @ 6:28am | ! Report

              yes jeznez agree. palmer one time I saw him lose the hit and get driven back, but he didn’t collapse, fought back and would’ve won that scrum had the ball not been cleared quickly.
              that’s what I expect from Australians , fight and determination thru all odds. not this capitulation that the current wb’s front row do.

      • Columnist

        July 9th 2013 @ 10:39am
        Brett McKay said | July 9th 2013 @ 10:39am | ! Report

        Skinny, if gamesmanship is part of scrummaging as you say, doesn’t it stand to reason that Alexander WAS out-scrummed?

        • July 20th 2013 @ 6:21am
          SkinnyKid said | July 20th 2013 @ 6:21am | ! Report

          yes brett…thats exactly what I am saying.

          Just saying the actual physical advantage the Lions were getting isn’t as vast as people think.

    • July 9th 2013 @ 2:48am
      Gavin Fernie said | July 9th 2013 @ 2:48am | ! Report

      Fine article. It captures the troubled dynamics of Australian rugby in 2013.

      It is a case of more of the same. Ever since Al Baxter of the superb grimace and the weak scrummaging, and Bill Young of the appalling technique and the off Broadway acting ability conned referees that they actually deserved to be on the fiels; they certainly didn’t deserve to be multi-capped Wallabies, the Wallaby scrummaging has been weak.

      Daly and McKenzie were the last outstanding international class props the Wallabies produced. Why? Somewhere out there a couple of real scrummagers on both sides of the scrum must be found. Wallaby hookers consistently are of a very high calibre, from Whinger Kearns right through to Steven Moore. Why are the props so poor? They can’t all be lurkers playing league or footy, or surfing on the Gold Coast. Maybe Keith Murdock sired a real prop in Cooperpedie(forgive me, I am a South African). We are not awash with tighthead props in South Africa, so it could be a worldwide problem. The best props, with exceptions, are bought by the French and the U.K, which damages French tight forward play, and the Poms have more foreigners than appears healthy for their tight forward standards.

      It is not so much that a good British & Irish Lions squad beat the Wallabies in the recentseries; it is how much in disarray, how disorganized and confused the Wallabies appeared in Sydney.

      As a long time fan of Robbie Deans he must assume huge resposibility for his obsession with JOC at flyhalf. He is not a top class flyhalf. A flawed but distinctly of ‘FLYHALF’ calibre QC must have been a better, if high risk bet. JOC is in a bit of a quandary. If he insists on playing at number 10, he will disappear without trace. Lealifano looks like a top class flyhalf and JOC could still be a very good number 12, with AAC outside him. Mogg is a must for the future and Tomane and Folau are a breath of League fresh air.

      As fine a player as George Smith has been, he should never have come back on the field after his bad head knock. Hooper is a fine player and would not have let the Wallabies down. Poite was one eyed about the obvious weakness of the Wallaby props, but Hairy Jones, like all top props, milked it quite beautifully to his benefit as well as outscrumming his opposition into despair.

      Halfpenny had the game of his life. Could someone please tell me of the origin of his name.

      • July 9th 2013 @ 5:25am
        peterlala said | July 9th 2013 @ 5:25am | ! Report

        Halfpenny? It means half-a-penny, like half-a-cent. It used to be a coin, when we had imperial currency.

        • Roar Guru

          July 9th 2013 @ 8:11am
          jeznez said | July 9th 2013 @ 8:11am | ! Report

          Indeed, my only question is should his name be pronounced as commentators do half-penny or should it be pronounced as the coin was hay-penny (generally displayed as ha’penny)

          • July 10th 2013 @ 2:21am
            Northern Pom said | July 10th 2013 @ 2:21am | ! Report

            Its pronounced “Half Penny”. It is of Anglo-Saxon origin, being a nickname surname given to someone who had to pay the rent of one half penny

            • Roar Guru

              July 10th 2013 @ 2:13pm
              jeznez said | July 10th 2013 @ 2:13pm | ! Report

              cheers NP – I am right about the common name for the coin sounding like hay-penny though aren’t I?

      • Roar Guru

        July 9th 2013 @ 6:42am
        Who Needs Melon said | July 9th 2013 @ 6:42am | ! Report

        George Smith “never have come back on the field after his bad head knock”. 100% agree. Not enough is being written about this incident what with everything else going on but the concussion rules are a farce. The whole left side of his body was numb as he left the field. Disgraceful that he was let back on.

        • July 9th 2013 @ 7:39am
          Justin3 said | July 9th 2013 @ 7:39am | ! Report

          Agree, that’s disgusting that he was put back on the field.

      • July 9th 2013 @ 10:11am
        Harry said | July 9th 2013 @ 10:11am | ! Report

        Some sensible points however the last world class Australian tightheads were Saturday’s scrum coach Andrew Blades, and after him Ben Darwin, whose career was cut short with a serious neck injury in the RWC 03 semi. Since then we have had both Al Baxter and Ben Alexander each play over 50 tests as starting tighthead, despite neither of them being anywhere near the required standard of a genuine high quality test tighthead. Should add they are both gutsy triers and effective around the park, but however never were and in Alexander’s case, never will be, convincing scrummagers.

        • July 9th 2013 @ 12:08pm
          Bruiser said | July 9th 2013 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

          The embarrassing thing here is that Al Baxter is our most capped prop ever. Now that’s saying something.

      • Columnist

        July 9th 2013 @ 10:40am
        Brett McKay said | July 9th 2013 @ 10:40am | ! Report

        that’s a good post, Gavin, thanks for taking the time…

      • July 9th 2013 @ 12:53pm
        soapit said | July 9th 2013 @ 12:53pm | ! Report

        i cant see oconnor getting a jersey at 12 for the wallabies. just too small and would provide guaranteed quick go forward ball for anyone willing to run someone with a bit of size at him.

        dare i say its time to give him a go at 13. that try he scored was the exact type of run you’d expect him to be making from there. plus his passing game is really more suited to having less width needed.

    • July 9th 2013 @ 2:55am
      Ben.S said | July 9th 2013 @ 2:55am | ! Report

      I actually thought that removing Alexander from the game was a very brave call. People forget that Gatland chose to keep Vunipola on the pitch for 80 minutes last week despite his struggles and that could have seriously backfired. I think Deans has been a calamity, but Gatland made a lot of wrong calls this tour, and he based the entire series around one style of pretty one-dimensional play. There were no tactical innovations (apart from that pathetic 10-12 man lineout that he insists on using) and a number of quality players found the Gatland style of play totally alien to them. I think the Lions were the better side overall, but Deans aided the Lions with his own bizarre selections and tactical decisions. To that extent I don’t think there’s a huge amount of difference between the coaches, but winners write their own history and now Gatland is being heralded as a genius and Deans an imposter.

      As an aside, Dan Palmer featured in the same Junior RWC side as Corbisiero.

      • July 9th 2013 @ 3:02am
        SkinnyKid said | July 9th 2013 @ 3:02am | ! Report

        100% correct. By not putting Alexander on he basically told the ref he was right. Amazingly stupid.

        • July 9th 2013 @ 3:20am
          Ben.S said | July 9th 2013 @ 3:20am | ! Report

          Hardly. If the referee has an impression of a player, by changing that player you a) avoid the ref from penalising that player further. It’s basic logic and has happened in a number of huge Tests.

          • Roar Guru

            July 9th 2013 @ 6:42am
            Turnover said | July 9th 2013 @ 6:42am | ! Report

            I’m with you Ben S.

            Skinny kid, the ref didn’t need to be told. He was right. 84,000 people at ANZ knew that.

            • July 9th 2013 @ 8:57pm
              bennalong said | July 9th 2013 @ 8:57pm | ! Report

              speak for yourself!

      • Roar Guru

        July 9th 2013 @ 8:13am
        jeznez said | July 9th 2013 @ 8:13am | ! Report

        Ben, love that stupid lineout move – and I loved even more that we sacked the lineout (think it was Mowen from memory). That piece of play got exactly what it deserved.

        • July 9th 2013 @ 7:03pm
          Ben.S said | July 9th 2013 @ 7:03pm | ! Report

          I’m sure he first tried it with Ireland years ago, and from memory Wales scored against NZ using it in the Autumn (did they?) – but it is utterly ridiculous. Gatland doesn’t change over time. He relies on his assistants for detail and his one basic philosophy is the same it was years ago. Wales will get shellacked this Autumn.

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