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Nothing in rugby is ever clear cut

Kurtley - a tackle misser or just victim of a myth? (A Knight)
Expert
28th October, 2014
95
2273 Reads

When will the rugby stone-throwing in glass houses fraternity realise nothing is ever set in concrete within the 15-man code?

Nothing, nil, nought, zero, ziltch, zip.

The current Kurtley Beale affair is the perfect example, the 1984 Grand Slam Wallabies another.

After four hours of the code of conduct independent tribunal hearing last Friday night, and another two hours before the result was announced, Beale was fined $45,000 for a text message to former business manager Di Patston, and that was that.

It was also announced by the ARU, Beale was free to join the Wallabies on their five-match spring tour. Beale was expected to fly out to Heathrow on the next available flight.

But nobody had bothered to ask new Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, who had already left with the team last Friday, if he wanted Beale on board.

Cheika said no.

That decision came from left field. Beale had been a major cog in the Waratah machinery to win their first Super title in 19 attempts. And Cheika was the only coach to recognise Beale as a 12 – Robbie Deans didn’t, nor did Ewen McKenzie when it was handed to him on a platter after the Super success.

I’m not going to second guess why Cheika knocked Beale back. No doubt the reason will surface at some stage, but in the interim that’s Cheika’s prerogative. He ticked all the boxes with his decision-making to win the Super title, and we would expect him to tick all the boxes with the Wallabies.

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But I will make two predictions.

The Waratahs won’t retain their Super title in 2015 unless Beale is at 12, Israel Folau at 15, and both play the majority of the season with Cheika coaching the men in blue for the last time.

Prediction two. The Wallabies won’t win their third Rugby World Cup next year unless Will Genia is halfback, Beale at 12 and Folau at 15, with all three playing on all eight cylinders throughout the tournament.

In the meantime, unless there’s an injury crisis on tour, Beale will remain in Sydney preparing for a long 2015 season.

Let’s turn the clock back to a special era in Australian rugby.

When Alan Jones took over as Wallabies coach in 1984 for the Grand Slam tour he was faced with the legacy of the 1981-82 Slam tour that was butchered by the Queensland-led rift with NSW, and the ring-leader Paul McLean.

Mark Ella was clearly the best 10 on tour, but McLean played the first two Tests at 10. Eventually even the Queenslanders had to agree Ella was by far the best bet. But McLean “had” to be in the side, playing 12 against Scotland, but worse still 15 against England, deposing the world’s best full back Roger Gould.

Another shocking non-selection was the Sydney and NSW skipper-lock Mick Mathers, who led the dirt-trackers mid-week.

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The Slam tour results – defeated Ireland 16-12, lost to Wales 18-13, lost to Scotland 24-15 and lost to England 15-11 when McLean missed four very kickable penalties.

That touring side should have won the first Wallaby Slam, it was certainly good enough had the right selections been made, but they blew it. Jones defused any repeat when he appointed Queensland outside centre Andrew Slack captain over the very popular incumbent Mark Ella.

That was a mighty tough call on Ella, but in the interests of the team, Jones appointing Slack was a masterstroke. Not only did Slack grow a leg as a Wallaby, but he showed outstanding leadership, while Ella proved yet again he was a genius by scoring a record-breaking try in all four Slam Tests.

Those 1984 Slam results – defeated England 19-3, Ireland 16-9, Wales 28-9 and Scotland 37-12, playing great running rugby to score 10 tries to one.

Emphatic. Just as Michael Cheika will be on his Wallaby watch.

The next five Wallaby games throughout November will be the litmus test.