The Wallabies’ confusing game of halves

Brett McKay Columnist

By Brett McKay, Brett McKay is a Roar Expert

 , , , ,

251 Have your say

Popular article! 6,445 reads

    Much has been written, posted, and commented upon since the Wallabies’ outstanding 27-19 win over New Zealand on Saturday night, and The Roar’s servers are certainly breathing a little easier after the volume of traffic since full-time in Sydney.

    While the win was excellent and deserving of celebration, the Wallabies will know the job is only half done – maybe not even half done, if you consider the enormity of the task that is beating the All Blacks at Eden Park.

    Then there’s the prospect of facing a wounded All Blacks side. Never mind the records and all that business, the thing that might just be grating the All Blacks the most is the fact that they are currently playing well short of their best. They had won games against Argentina and South Africa, almost despite this, but when expected to ‘bring it’ on Saturday night, they were found wanting.

    It’s hard to see the All Blacks producing another sub-par performance, but in reality they’ve produced three on the trot in The Rugby Championship. Experience suggests that makes them more dangerous.

    The bigger question for the Wallabies this week and beyond is just what to do about their halves.

    Nick Phipps was very good against South Africa in Brisbane, and again against Argentina in Mendoza. He didn’t have the best night in Sydney, and was rightly hooked after being sent to the naughty chair in the 53rd minute.

    Nic White went on and promptly played the best 17 minutes of his Wallabies career.

    53 sub-par minutes doesn’t completely cancel out two very good games though, and suggestions since Saturday night that Phipps should never pull on Wallabies gold again are as big an over-reaction as Michael Clarke retiring after the Ashes series loss.

    The Bernard Foley conundrum isn’t so clear though. He didn’t play in Brisbane, was okay in Mendoza, but was found wanting in Sydney.

    The point here is that Phipps and Foley contributed to each other’s night to forget.

    For instance, what came first, Phipps’ erratic delivery, or Foley’s extraordinary depth in the pocket? The answer is actually the latter, and Foley’s depth only increased as the game went on. Within the first minute of play, after the Wallabies regained the ball from the All Blacks’ mistake from the kickoff, Foley was already standing six and seven metres behind the ruck.

    The third pass he received from Phipps – around 40 seconds in – was just in front of the New Zealand 10m line, but Phipps was standing on the faded NRL 30m line when he let it go. Factor in angle and width, and we’re already talking passes pushing 20 metres in length. The Wallabies were already losing the gain line in chunks of metres.

    As the game went on, and the midfield organisation evaporated, Phipps was being asked to pass further and further, and this is where his accuracy started failing him.

    Three obvious examples stick out:

    • The quick pass to Matt Giteau, who wasn’t watching.
    • The flat, long pass that bounced short of Dean Mumm, killing off a Wallabies’ attacking raid.
    • The wide pass that saw Foley tackled in-goal by Kieran Read.

    I could point out mitigating circumstances in all three, but it won’t change what happened on the night.

    Regardless, for most of the time they were on, it looked to me as though Foley was always stationed on the end of the Phipps’ range. If you’re being asked to throw passes to the limit of your length for 50 minutes against the best team in the world, who are themselves frustrated and trying to get back into the game, accuracy will suffer. So passes went high, and passes bounced, and passes missed their mark.

    And because he couldn’t trust the service, Foley had to give himself more room.

    Phipps’ execution let him down; of course it did, but Foley didn’t help the situation. That’s not to excuse Phipps, just to examine why someone who played well in previous games suddenly wasn’t.

    But Foley wasn’t helping himself much either. As the game went on, and it became clear the All Blacks were there for the taking, the Wallabies needed their flyhalf to step up and guide them. But for far too much of the time he was on, Foley played way too laterally. He was already too deep, and his sideways instincts meant the Wallabies weren’t making the advantage line and were essentially being herded toward touch. Foley would force Giteau sideways, and outside backs had nowhere to go.

    Worse than that, the forward runners had no clear direction, no real idea except to charge into the defence and hope someone was behind them.

    In the first 90 seconds Matt Toomua had the ball in his hands, the Wallabies played flatter, the forwards were organised into pods inside and outside, and with similar options around Giteau wider out.

    They made 35 metres in 11 phases from the lineout just inside New Zealand territory, well into the All Blacks’ 22m, before Phipps and Michael Hooper tangled themselves and conceded a penalty for obstruction.

    From that point, the Wallabies had direction, and despite Phipps’ stupidity shortly after, it felt like the Wallabies were not just going forward, but asking questions.

    White went on after Phipps’ timeout expired, nailed a 48-metre penalty goal, and his confidence only grew from there. When Read charged up out of the line in the 72nd minute, White took the invitation to step back inside for the match-winning try.

    So what does Michael Cheika do for Eden Park?

    Certainly, the evidence gathered over the three games tells us that Toomua has to start somewhere, and on Saturday’s effort, probably flyhalf.

    But did White do enough to start? I’m not so sure on this one. Phipps had an off night, for sure, but his Brisbane and Mendoza games should give him some credit, and a chance to prove Saturday night was a one-off.

    Where Foley and Quade Cooper fit into the puzzle from here on is anyone’s guess.

    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.

    Do you find yourself logged out of The Roar?
    We have just switched over to a secure site (https). This means you will need to log-in afresh. If you need help with recovering your password, please get in contact.

    This video is trending right now! Submit your videos for the chance to win a share of $10,000!

    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 (251)

    • Roar Guru

      August 11th 2015 @ 4:09am
      Lindsay Amner said | August 11th 2015 @ 4:09am | ! Report

      I would add that the All Black off games go back not three in a row but four, to the Samoa pre championship game. They have not become a poor side but they are doing a pretty good impression of one, when the Wallabies don’t have the best night and are still able to beat them comfortably. If they can’t turn it around this weekend then I don’t see them defending their World Cup title.

      • Roar Guru

        August 11th 2015 @ 7:08am
        Simon Levingston said | August 11th 2015 @ 7:08am | ! Report

        Lindsay, I agree, the All Blacks vs Samoa was revealing as the Samoan big men upset the All Black ball flow and dominance at the breakdown. One could forgive the All Blacks for almost losing to Samoa as it was very hot and steamy in Apia, the pitch was concrete hard, and it was the first game together for NZ. Nevertheless Samoa also had to deal with the same conditions and lack of combination.
        Brett and Lindsay, i would like to digress for a moment, that Samoa in the Pacific Nations Cup came second to Fiji, who I thought were very good. Fiji are being well coached, is it by South African forward coach? They seem to be very strong at the breakdown, their rolling maul is very good, the line out was excellent and surprisingly they dominated in the Samoan scrum, which is no mean feat, to win the series. I can see no respect for Fiji and they seem to be overlooked, especially in England, who think PI teams are easy beats and thought it would be good to play them, an easy team, as the opener for the World Cup. I like it when England turn up thinking they already have it won …..I am predicting a possible upset.

        One can watch the Pacific Nations Cup final 2015 between Fiji and Samoa on you tube where one gets to see why Fiji wins the Cup. The physicality and power displayed by these two teams in my opinion is quite astonishing, with Fiji (and Samoa) with all their professional players being able to play flat out for 80 minutes.

        • August 11th 2015 @ 8:10am
          Daveski said | August 11th 2015 @ 8:10am | ! Report

          Former Eastwood coach John McKee is looking after Fiji. Excellent coach, astute, big on fitness and a tough nut.

          Conditions won’t suit but Fiji and Samoa will be a challenge for all teams. Tonga are probably more 25-30minute nuisance value level.

        • August 11th 2015 @ 10:42am
          Nico'larse said | August 11th 2015 @ 10:42am | ! Report

          I also saw Fiji play NZ Maori and thought OMG its not just England and Wales to worry about in the Group of Death but Fiji too! They looked bloody good and I expect them to offer plenty. I would love them to catch England unawares but please not us.

        • August 11th 2015 @ 11:24am
          apelu said | August 11th 2015 @ 11:24am | ! Report

          Samoa rested most of its first choice players during the PNC.

      • August 11th 2015 @ 7:56am
        ohtani's jacket said | August 11th 2015 @ 7:56am | ! Report

        I disagree with this.

        The All Blacks were fine against Argentina. They’ve had much uglier performances against the Pumas. The only blight on them in that game was their defence of the rolling maul. And they were much better in Johannesburg than they were in Sydney.

        Perhaps Bret was referring to their ball retention or something similar.

        • Columnist

          August 11th 2015 @ 9:51am
          Brett McKay said | August 11th 2015 @ 9:51am | ! Report

          I don’t know they were ‘fine’ against Argentina, OJ, and this is the point I made to Sam last week. The scrum was very good, certainly, but I thought their general execution in Christchurch was similarly scratchy to Johannesburg and Sydney..

          • August 11th 2015 @ 9:58am
            ohtani's jacket said | August 11th 2015 @ 9:58am | ! Report

            They had more knock-ons than in Sydney or Jo’Burg, but five tries is a solid All Black performance by any measure and they’ve had much uglier Championship games against Argentina playing inside NZ.

            • August 11th 2015 @ 6:57pm
              somer said | August 11th 2015 @ 6:57pm | ! Report

              I concur OJ, they won with ease against the Pumas and dominated all facets of play apart from the rolling maul.
              I think we’re in danger of judging the ABs with to harsh a brush if we consider that a bad performance.

    • Roar Guru

      August 11th 2015 @ 4:50am
      RobC said | August 11th 2015 @ 4:50am | ! Report

      Thanks Brett.

      Forget passing. WE NEED KICKING!!!!

      btw 3rd in-goal fubar was not Phipps fault. Kaino was disrupting it

      Eden Park. To quote my 4 year old’s favourite movie. We need TRIPLE SPEED! And be ready to defend across all corners of the field.

      • Roar Guru

        August 11th 2015 @ 5:01am
        biltongbek said | August 11th 2015 @ 5:01am | ! Report

        Yep, agree with that, exiting and kicking from the red zone is becoming an obvious issue, Foley is a favourite of mine, but in Europe tactical kicking is going to be vital, you don’t want to risk set piece and rucks with NH referees in your own half.

        The manner in which they interpret scrum domination and ruck play is not something we are used to in the South. And the European teams will exploit that.

        • August 11th 2015 @ 5:36am
          Birdy said | August 11th 2015 @ 5:36am | ! Report

          Well if the ‘South’ aren’t used to the refs by now seeing as at least half their international games every year are reffed by NH officials when will they be?

          • Roar Guru

            August 11th 2015 @ 5:41am
            biltongbek said | August 11th 2015 @ 5:41am | ! Report

            Well, go look at the manner in which Ayersa kept scrumming in this ast weekend, and not once was he blown for it by Messiuer Poite.

            • August 11th 2015 @ 11:21am
              The Sheriff said | August 11th 2015 @ 11:21am | ! Report

              Mr Poite gave the Pumas a free ride, I thought. He makes up his mind about the scrum at the first scrum and thereafter punishes the pack which seems to bend initially. Totally inconsistent at the breakdown too.
              A Springbok penalty for “sealing off” looked identical to TWO Pumas going down over the ball at other times.
              We will have to suffer him.
              Strange that no-one has complained about Mr Barnes who had a pretty good game but could have tidied up the back of the rucks a bit. Both sides seemed to spend more time than allowable on the wrong side.
              That was the problem with Phipps’ pass to Foley in-goal There was a body in his way when he went to pick up the ball. Yellow card, I would have thought.

              • August 11th 2015 @ 1:56pm
                HiKa said | August 11th 2015 @ 1:56pm | ! Report

                Poite penalized Ayerzza in the first scrum! He then correctly pinged the young SB prop who struggled with what Ayerzza brings.
                “more time than allowable” … That is the point of the discussion of NH refs. They allow more time in the ruck contest, so that is what we will see plenty of at the RWC.

              • Roar Guru

                August 11th 2015 @ 5:04pm
                biltongbek said | August 11th 2015 @ 5:04pm | ! Report

                Koch struggled against a prop who scrummed illegally, watch the replay if you didn’t see it.

      • August 11th 2015 @ 5:09am
        Bakkies said | August 11th 2015 @ 5:09am | ! Report

        It was ridiculous that he wasn’t pinged for not rolling away.

        • August 11th 2015 @ 5:14am
          Jerry said | August 11th 2015 @ 5:14am | ! Report

          Watch it again. Kano makes the tackle and gets away from the ball. He’s then removing himself from the tackle when Phipps comes in and stands over the top of him so Kaino stops rolling – he had to, if he rolled one way he’d have interfered with the ball, if he’d rolled the other way he’d have interfered with Phipps. There’s nothing more Kaino could have actually done to prevent interfering.

          • August 11th 2015 @ 5:38am
            Birdy said | August 11th 2015 @ 5:38am | ! Report

            The philosophy today, Jerry, is tough titty. If you’re in the wrong position regardless of how you got there you’re likely to get pinged.

            • August 11th 2015 @ 5:47am
              Jerry said | August 11th 2015 @ 5:47am | ! Report

              Not if you make a legimate effort not to interfere. And in this case, the reality is Kaino didn’t interfere. His initial movement meant that Phipps was able to get to the ball and clear it immediately. Phipps poor pass had nothing to do with Kaino.

              • Roar Guru

                August 11th 2015 @ 6:12am
                RobC said | August 11th 2015 @ 6:12am | ! Report

                Kaino was pinged for doing less at 69′ at the ruck base. The one that White nailed for three points.

              • August 11th 2015 @ 6:21am
                Jerry said | August 11th 2015 @ 6:21am | ! Report

                That wasn’t Kaino, it was Laulala. And while I thought that was a pretty rough call, the ball rolled over the top of him so even though he’d actually rolled out to the side, you could say he affected play.

                Barnes was reasonably consistent, if it didn’t affect play he wasn’t gonna call it. There was one a few minutes after the Kaino one where Horwill was doing much the same thing on the AB side. Aaron Smith points to him appealing for a pen and Barnes says he’s not affecting play.

              • Roar Guru

                August 11th 2015 @ 6:26am
                eagleJack said | August 11th 2015 @ 6:26am | ! Report

                Kaino should have been pinged. Simple as that. Phipps, to his detriment, didn’t milk it enough.

              • August 11th 2015 @ 6:28am
                Jerry said | August 11th 2015 @ 6:28am | ! Report

                I agree that if Phipps had milked it – e.g. falling over Kaino when reaching across him – he could have bought a penalty. But that’s gamesmanship (and not much different than diving, I reckon) not anything Kaino’s done wrong.

              • Roar Guru

                August 11th 2015 @ 6:33am
                RobC said | August 11th 2015 @ 6:33am | ! Report

                Have another look Jerry.

                Laulala 18, is the fellow who’s not even in the ruck. He was pillar and was the chap the White kicked the ball into in penalty advantage. The Ref blew penalty against Kaino near the ‘H’, right where the ball rolled over his hands in the air.

                Laulala was involved in the previous ruck, closer to the corner to the TRC logo, where he tackled Fardy, who made a break. He too was behind the ruck near Phipps area, but to the side of the cycle. Not near it or over it. Laulala also kept on his stomach, and kept his hands to himself

              • August 11th 2015 @ 6:36am
                Jerry said | August 11th 2015 @ 6:36am | ! Report

                Ah, you’re right. Was Kaino.

                Still, the ball rolls over him unlike the earlier one. I think that’s a terrible call, to be honest. The ball rolls free almost as soon as Skelton goes to ground, there is zero opportunity for the tacklers to roll clear. If Barnes had pinged someone for using hands to knock it out, I could understand but he does signal not rolling away. Luckily it wasn’t a deciding factor.

              • Roar Guru

                August 11th 2015 @ 7:06am
                RobC said | August 11th 2015 @ 7:06am | ! Report

                np Jerry, its just banter.

                Oh but I think it does make a big diff. No penalty means:
                – After White’s try teh WB lead is only 5 points
                – AB has the pill for the last 5 or minutes, and are camped well into WB redzone
                – A converted try snatches victory at death, again.
                – Well assuming at 77′ WBs scrum against ABs feed, handed the pill to Aussie didnt happen 😉

              • August 11th 2015 @ 7:10am
                Jerry said | August 11th 2015 @ 7:10am | ! Report

                It would have changed the dynamics a bit, but realistically after White’s try the AB’s needed a try regardless and couldn’t get it.

                I thought Barnes was good for the most part. Like I said, I didn’t like that pen in the 69th minute, but even then I can understand the call and he was consistent at least which is really all you can ask for.

              • Roar Guru

                August 11th 2015 @ 7:21am
                RobC said | August 11th 2015 @ 7:21am | ! Report

                Scenario 1 Kaino penalty:
                – 8 points down five minutes to go.
                – There’s no time to score a try and penalty.
                – Esp when your gonna have to run the ball 80 metres

                Scenario 2. Jerome not pinged:
                – 5 points down five minute or more to go.
                – You are in the WB redzone. You have plenty time to dot, convert.
                – Then close out the match
                – SOP for ABs.

              • August 11th 2015 @ 7:25am
                Jerry said | August 11th 2015 @ 7:25am | ! Report

                They had time to score a try, which would have got them within a penalty. They couldn’t score the try, I don’t think they’d have been any more likely to score it if the margin was less.

                This is a bit odd btw, I’m supposed to be the one arguing the AB’s were hard done by (I would say ‘robbed’ but I don’t want to be accused of terrible puns).

              • August 11th 2015 @ 11:22am
                The Sheriff said | August 11th 2015 @ 11:22am | ! Report

                So what. In the wrong place. Stiff; yellow card.

              • August 11th 2015 @ 11:24am
                Jerry said | August 11th 2015 @ 11:24am | ! Report

                Derp derp derp. There’d have been about 8 or 9 cards to either team if that was the case, genius.

          • Roar Guru

            August 11th 2015 @ 6:22am
            RobC said | August 11th 2015 @ 6:22am | ! Report

            Watched it bunch of times. slomo, pause and frame forward. Kaino is sprawled under Phipps. Phipps reaches over him

            Ive seen that pinged a tonne of times.

            As he turns to pass. Kaino’s left arm is in the air. As Phipps passes, he pulls his arms down.

            Split second. Irrespective, that is blatant interference with the scrummie. Minimum a penalty.

            • August 11th 2015 @ 6:25am
              Jerry said | August 11th 2015 @ 6:25am | ! Report

              It’s not a penalty. He rolls clear of the ball, then when Phipps reaches over the top of him he stops rolling so Phipps can clear it. Then puts his arms down so as not to affect Phipps pass.

              Exactly what law has he broken? And how exactly could he have done more to avoid interfering with the ball being cleared?

              • Roar Guru

                August 11th 2015 @ 6:38am
                RobC said | August 11th 2015 @ 6:38am | ! Report

                Nothing. Like what Birdy said, you fall into the cycle zone, you are gonna get pinged. That is why when you ruck, you have to take care. Just like 69”

                If any part of your body is in the passing zone that should be equivalent to lazy runner. That is a yellow card. Kaino should have left his hands on the deck, or on his body.

              • August 11th 2015 @ 6:40am
                Jerry said | August 11th 2015 @ 6:40am | ! Report

                To some extent you’re right – but when a guy has made a legitimate effort AND not actually affected play, how is it a penalty. Phipps got the ball. He wasn’t impeded. No issue, move along.

                Just cause Phipps messed up his pass, doesn’t make it a penalty.

              • August 11th 2015 @ 9:38am
                Bakkies said | August 11th 2015 @ 9:38am | ! Report

                ‘Exactly what law has he broken?’

                Offside to start with.

              • August 11th 2015 @ 9:51am
                Jerry said | August 11th 2015 @ 9:51am | ! Report

                1 – He’s caught up in the ruck. Hard to retire if you’re in a ruck.
                2 – Even if he is offside, he doesn’t affect play.

              • Roar Guru

                August 11th 2015 @ 10:52am
                Handles said | August 11th 2015 @ 10:52am | ! Report

                Jerry, you are trying to argue logic and equity. But the response from Rob and others is based on custom and practice. For many years, the onus has been on the tackler NOT to fall into the recycle zone. You hear players pleading that they were trapped, and the refs almost always respond by saying “you shouldn’t have been there in the first place”.

                And if you are in the zone, you are liable to get pinged, and if there is any suspicion that you waved your arms or made other action to deliberately interfere, you are almost certain to be binned.

              • August 11th 2015 @ 11:08am
                Jerry said | August 11th 2015 @ 11:08am | ! Report

                Well kind of.

                In the general sense, I don’t like those penalties as it’s kind of a ‘no fault’ penalty where the offender isn’t really able to prevent it happening. Most low (as in round the ankles or knees) tackles are going to end up with the tackler ending up on the defensive side. And when supporting attacking players arrive quickly – as they often do – this leaves the defender unable to actually get free.

                However, even though I don’t like those penalties, I can see the reason for them as a matter of policy – i.e. the need for quick ball outweighs the odd penalty where a defender hasn’t intended to offend.

                BUT in the specific case of the Kaino/Phipps incident, I’m not arguing the policy, I’m arguing that not only has Kaino not intended to offend, I’d argue he hasn’t offended at all. He didn’t prevent the ball being cleared quickly by Phipps and he didn’t interfere with the passing action of Phipps. Surely just being there isn’t sufficient to be a penalty if the attack isn’t actually interfered with?

              • August 11th 2015 @ 1:08pm
                soapit said | August 11th 2015 @ 1:08pm | ! Report

                jerry for years they have been reffing this as its the tacklers responsibility to not be there in the first place (as people were becoming too good at rorting the system pretending to make good efforts).

                the refs finally decided to bypass the decision of whether theyre efforts are legitimate (impossible to tell) and put the onus on them not to be there.

          • August 11th 2015 @ 6:56am
            Advrider-oz said | August 11th 2015 @ 6:56am | ! Report

            Rubbish! Is that the same issue in most every other ruck, where the kiwis did versions of the same thing and Barnes did nothing. BTW nor did AUSTRALIA. Yet A Smith had no hesitation in rucking an Oz player out a ruck.

            3 issues.

            It’s a long standing kiwi tactic.
            Refs do nothing
            AUSTRALIA needs to clear them out

            • August 11th 2015 @ 9:15am
              Warpath said | August 11th 2015 @ 9:15am | ! Report

              Do you really think that if Phipps had put the boot into McCaw like Smith did to Folau that it wouldn’t have been a penalty and a card to Phipps? And that the entire nation of NZ would have declared war on him?

              • August 11th 2015 @ 9:23am
                Jerry said | August 11th 2015 @ 9:23am | ! Report

                You got the win and you’re still b_tthurt over perceived unfairness? Get over it.

              • August 11th 2015 @ 11:25am
                Warpath said | August 11th 2015 @ 11:25am | ! Report

                Unfairness is unfairness. If we lose we get accused of sour grapes, if we win we’re supposed to just ignore it. What Smith did was blatantly wrong and should have been a card. The end result has no bearing on that.

              • August 11th 2015 @ 11:29am
                Jerry said | August 11th 2015 @ 11:29am | ! Report

                Can you point to when it happened in the match? I’d be interested in a second look.

            • August 11th 2015 @ 9:43am
              Bakkies said | August 11th 2015 @ 9:43am | ! Report

              People in glasshouses shouldn’t throw stones. I would have dragged Kaino by the collar and flung him aside like dirty waste, which is what he was to Phipps trying to clear the ball.

              I watched a Pro 12 game last year between Scarlets and Munster, Scarlets coached by Wayne Pivac did it cynically all game and it took until the second half for the ref to start pinging them for it. The Munster scrum half got carded for having to step on a cynical Scarlets playing trying to clear the ball.

          • August 11th 2015 @ 9:37am
            Bakkies said | August 11th 2015 @ 9:37am | ! Report

            ‘He’s then removing himself from the tackle when Phipps comes in and stands over the top of him so Kaino stops rolling – he had to, if he rolled one way he’d have interfered with the ball,’

            Well Phipps is the 9 and he was at his feet when he made an attempt to pass the ball. Of course he was in the way and should have been pinged.

      • August 11th 2015 @ 5:12am
        Jerry said | August 11th 2015 @ 5:12am | ! Report

        It totally was Phipps fault. He had to reach across Kaino to get the ball sure (and Kaino did enough to allow access to the ball) but Kaino didn’t affect the pass at all. Phipps was clear of him by that point.

        • August 11th 2015 @ 9:37am
          Bakkies said | August 11th 2015 @ 9:37am | ! Report


        • Roar Guru

          August 11th 2015 @ 12:28pm
          ClarkeG said | August 11th 2015 @ 12:28pm | ! Report

          Jerry I’m with you on this. It appears that Kaino has complied with his obligations under the law. Phipps just made a poor pass.

          This talk of Kaino being in the wrong position, being offside, being in the recycle zone and passing zone, lazy runner etc is nonsense as is Bakkies threat that he would drag Kaino by the collar and discard him as dirty waste.

          If I was the ref I would penalise Bakkies if he did that.

      • Columnist

        August 11th 2015 @ 9:53am
        Brett McKay said | August 11th 2015 @ 9:53am | ! Report

        Rob, I actually cut out a bit I had in there referring to Kaino, funnily enough..

        But regardless of his presence, Phipps still picked the ball up and passed before he’d properly located Foley. The end-on shot shows it up really well.

        • Roar Guru

          August 11th 2015 @ 12:26pm
          RobC said | August 11th 2015 @ 12:26pm | ! Report

          Brett, I think Kaino’s arms were distracting.. His body position made it awkward for Phipps.

          Phipps should have just stumbled over Kaino, looked at the Ref, or rucked him off. But he was so focused on clearing asap

          In any case, my general observation about Phipps, is he needs to evolve from ‘faid faidi’ passing.

          • August 11th 2015 @ 12:33pm
            Jerry said | August 11th 2015 @ 12:33pm | ! Report

            The thing for me is that if anything the fact that Phipps was too close to Kaino caused the bad pass. Foley was pretty close to directly behind him, slightly to Phipps’s left. This means Phipps needed to open his stance up (i.e. move his right foot further away from Kaino) in order to get his hips into the pass, rather than passing back across his body.

            • August 11th 2015 @ 1:11pm
              soapit said | August 11th 2015 @ 1:11pm | ! Report

              probably the bad pass occurs because of a combination of that and kainos presence. phipps contribution to the situation arent penalisable however.

              • August 11th 2015 @ 2:07pm
                Jerry said | August 11th 2015 @ 2:07pm | ! Report

                I don’t think you should bail a guy out just cause someone happened to be on the ground next to him. Kaino MAY have affected the clearance, but not enough to be a penalty IMO. I don’t think he affected the pass at all.

        • August 11th 2015 @ 2:03pm
          ethan said | August 11th 2015 @ 2:03pm | ! Report

          The commentators made a good comment about Phipps rushing. A scrumhalf should never pass the ball before they realise where the man is. Quick ballspeed is a great characteristic, but within reason. Better a pass to hand than a pass to ground.

          Nice article to Brett. I wouldn’t mind seeing Phipps get another game, but I do hope that’s the last we see of Foley. Toomua, Giteau, Cooper, CLL all ahead for mine.

    • August 11th 2015 @ 4:59am
      Redsback said | August 11th 2015 @ 4:59am | ! Report

      A couple of comments:

      1. Phipps should be able to throw 15m passes if he wants to be starting Wallabies halfback.
      2. Of the three best halfbacks in Australia, he clearly has the worst pass.
      3. Everyone comments that Quade sits in the pocket, but the reality is that Foley does the same and doesn’t have Quade’s upside.

      I think White and Toomua should be starting this weekend. In all honesty, I want to go back to the 2013 Sprin Tour combination of Genia, Cooper and Toomua, but in the absence of a fit Genia, I would go for White, Toomua, Giteau.

      I think Giteau showed enough on the weekend that he could cover 9, 10, 12 from the bench and he would be an ideal option to sit on the bench, for instance, against England, to allow us to have an extra forward. His cramping up on the weekend showed that he cannot be expected to be emergency cover for 9 if he is starting at 12 – it’s too much work, but he could cover it perfectly well from the bench and I think it is worth trying – even in an important pool game to give us flexibility in our forwards.

      • Roar Guru

        August 11th 2015 @ 8:18am
        Train Without A Station said | August 11th 2015 @ 8:18am | ! Report

        Yeah but I don’t already dislike Foley so it’s ok.

      • Columnist

        August 11th 2015 @ 9:56am
        Brett McKay said | August 11th 2015 @ 9:56am | ! Report

        I don’t think Phipps “clearly has the worst pass” at all. Right at this point, I don’t think there’s much between the three of them at all, in fact…

        • August 11th 2015 @ 10:54am
          NickF said | August 11th 2015 @ 10:54am | ! Report

          I agree Brett, the funny thing is that when a few posters say that his pass is the worst, it gets to the point that it is taken as fact, no opinion.

          • Columnist

            August 11th 2015 @ 11:19am
            Brett McKay said | August 11th 2015 @ 11:19am | ! Report

            Well, that’s a regular Roar phenomenon, Nick. There’s numerous examples floating around of opinions that started out as ‘he needs to do more’ have evolved into ‘he’s not good enough’ and then into ‘he hasn’t been in form’, which is then even funnier when Player X plays really well at Test level, it gets followed up with ‘I’d been pleasantly surprised, because his domestic season was ordinary’!!

            And I’m not just talking rugby, to be fair. It’s like Chinese whispers, but confined to within one mind…

          • August 11th 2015 @ 11:29am
            apelu said | August 11th 2015 @ 11:29am | ! Report

            We all watched the game on Saturday. It’s not just his pass that is bad. He got tackled a few times standing over the ball. He is slow to the ball many times.

        • Roar Guru

          August 11th 2015 @ 10:55am
          Handles said | August 11th 2015 @ 10:55am | ! Report

          “Right at this point”… would have agreed on Saturday afternoon. But Phipps was not good on Saturday, he reverted to the passing form that he had last year. I liked your article Brett, but I think that you missed the fact that the balance of Phipps passing game – outside the fubars – was really ordinary.

          • Columnist

            August 11th 2015 @ 11:20am
            Brett McKay said | August 11th 2015 @ 11:20am | ! Report

            Handles, I wrote several time in the article that Phipps’ execution was off, and that he did indeed have a sub-par game. But I don’t think that can be viewed in isolation, which is why I included the points about Foley’s positioning, and the contrast with Toomua’s..

        • August 12th 2015 @ 12:31am
          Redsback said | August 12th 2015 @ 12:31am | ! Report

          By making the comment that I think Phipps’ pass is the worst, I’m not suggesting he is the worst halfback (I think he is the most limited of the three, but that is a separate issue).

          Genia clearly has the longest range and the greatest variety in his passing. His problem is that he doesn’t race to the breakdown like Phipps and when he gets there, he often meercats, checks out the opposition, has a look at his options and then everyone is set and it cuts the chances of even making the gain line, let alone making a break. He is at his best when he just plays on instinct and makes split second decisions, because it means he is almost as fast as Phipps.

          Phipps is fast, but perhaps too fast on occasions. He was too fast for his 10s to get set on a couple of occasions on Saturday, but he passed to them anyway. So, on reflection, we were all probably a bit hard on him because of a bit of laziness from Foley and, on one or two occasions, Giteau. He looked much better with Toomua on, playing flat. That said, his passing is horrible. You wouldn’t have heard it in Australia, but I had the rare privilege* of getting the Australian Fox Sports commentary overseas on the weekend and at half time, when Australia was clearly at a break, Kearns and Greg Clarke were hammering Phipps while having a chat not into their microphones. It was hilarious and honest. He was horrendous on the weekend. One of the worst performances I have ever seen by a halfback.

          White is a different case. I think he could be the best of the three. His pass is probably faster than Genia’s and has a similar range, but he doesn’t have his variety. He has the best kick of the three and he can kick goals. With his kicking game, I think he would be the ultimate halfback for a world cup in the UK. His problem, as we saw against the ABs in Brisbane last year, is game management. Clearly he has learnt from that and his time on the park on the weekend was faultless. It was an impeccable performance. Clearly superior to Phipps in every aspect and he deserves his chance to start. If he gets his game manegment right, as he did on the weekend, he will be very tough for Genia to remove when he is back to full fitness.

          *It’s a privilege to get them when you only hear them on rare occasions and what better occasion to have biased commentary than when beating up the ABs?

          • August 12th 2015 @ 2:30pm
            IFeelLikeImTakingCrazyPills said | August 12th 2015 @ 2:30pm | ! Report

            Spot on. As an old half back I couldn’t agree more.

            The thing is this isn’t an isolated “off day” for Phipps. Throughout the Super Rugby season there were numerous occasions where he would throw passes to no-one (the most glaring example being the first pass in the Semi against The Highlanders) and in general his passing seemed to go from bad to worse throughout the season. Regardless of where Foley stands or how he communicates a half backs number one job is passing consistently well and I don’t think Phipps has done this at all this year. Furthermore he has little to no kicking or running game and his defence which I think was the key strength of his game in 2014 (when I thought he was the No.1 Half) has also been fairly inconsistent with numerous tackles being misjudged or just ineffective.

            To be frankly honest on Super Rugby form Phipps would have been my 4th pick halfback at best this year.

            White deserves a chance to start at 9 with Toomua at 10 and Giteau (or CLL) at 12… or Cooper at 10 and Toomua at 12 (if Giteau is rested).

            I think CLL deserves a chance at 12 off the bench at the very least but this seems unlikely for some reason which I can only put down to Cheika playing favourites with Beale but I continue to be happily surprised by Cheika’s changing selection policy and I really do hope CLL gets a chance to prove himself as everyone else has.

            In any event – Go Wallabies!

            We need this…

    • Roar Pro

      August 11th 2015 @ 5:01am
      KTinHK said | August 11th 2015 @ 5:01am | ! Report

      Good article Brett. Toomua or Lealifana should be the fly half. Inside centre should be Kerevi.

      • Columnist

        August 11th 2015 @ 10:07am
        Brett McKay said | August 11th 2015 @ 10:07am | ! Report

        Well Lealiifano is in Japan playing for a Robbie Deans-coached World XV this weekend, so that’s not going to happen. And nor will Kerevi be picked, with no lead-in matches..

    • Roar Guru

      August 11th 2015 @ 5:15am
      Harry Jones said | August 11th 2015 @ 5:15am | ! Report

      Excellent essay, B-McK.

      Australia isn’t missing many tackles this year, and the ones they are missing are being saved by fly-around scramble tackle-demons. That’s the upside of having opensides (plural) on the field. They love to tackle and are usually the fittest of players.

      Also, the Wallabies are showing good discipline, conceding fewer penalties (less than 10 a game) than last year, by a fair margin.

      They’ve left 21 points in missed goals on the field, too. That can be improved on. Kicking in general needs to improve; and then the WBs will be tough to knock out of the RWC.

      OZ kicked 18.6 times per match; the highest in TRC, but if they improved on 3-4 of those a match, they would’ve won even easier.

      • August 11th 2015 @ 5:49am
        Jerry said | August 11th 2015 @ 5:49am | ! Report

        I’m not sure they’ve got much chance of improvement in the goal kicking area. The NZ & Aus kickers are all much of a muchness – somewhere in the 70-80% range.

        • Roar Guru

          August 11th 2015 @ 6:17am
          Harry Jones said | August 11th 2015 @ 6:17am | ! Report

          It’s so “golf swing.” Mechanical fix.

    • August 11th 2015 @ 6:19am
      Connor33 said | August 11th 2015 @ 6:19am | ! Report

      Interesting stats, Harry. No doubt that whoever is the kicker will be practicing like there is no tomorrow this week — and over the next month before the WC. I think White’s stocks have just risen as a closing kicker with hitting two 48 m kicks from two Bled. games.

      Having White on the field may be more a proactive measure to having cleaner ball at the ruck because teams may be less hesitant to infringe knowing he can hit them from 50 plus.

      CLL also must come back into the frame if Foley can’t rediscover his Eoyt kicking percentage. CLL could cover 10-15 at a pinch. Toomua to 10. Gits at 12.

      This was Phipps’s worst game but Smith’s game was not much better. Phipps should be given another go, with White on the bench to come on around the 45 minute mark.

      • August 11th 2015 @ 6:33am
        Redsback said | August 11th 2015 @ 6:33am | ! Report

        Even at his best, Foley’s range is too small. That taken together with the fact that his general kicking is also too small, his goal kicking has now become woeful and that he has had a generally poor season for the Wallabies and I think there is no place for him in the 23.

        • Roar Guru

          August 11th 2015 @ 11:18am
          niwdEyaJ said | August 11th 2015 @ 11:18am | ! Report

          No place in the 31 either…. the x4 10’s/12’s that should be taken to England are: Cooper, Giteau, Toomua and CLL…. all can play both positions albeit Cooper isn’t a great 12…

          • August 11th 2015 @ 2:06pm
            ethan said | August 11th 2015 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

            Cooper should not be considered a 12 with the other options we have. But I agree on the 4.

          • August 11th 2015 @ 6:01pm
            Daveski said | August 11th 2015 @ 6:01pm | ! Report

            No way he won’t be in the 31. I doubt we’ll see CLL or Cooper there.

            • Roar Guru

              August 11th 2015 @ 6:36pm
              niwdEyaJ said | August 11th 2015 @ 6:36pm | ! Report

              It would have to be complete Cheika favoritism if Foley made it ahead of Cooper or CLL… he’s been by far the worst performer of the three and his upside doesn’t justify inclusion…

      • August 11th 2015 @ 2:12pm
        Phil said | August 11th 2015 @ 2:12pm | ! Report

        Agree with you Connor about Smith’s game also being poor.Can anyone tell me why Smith hasn’t copped a suspension for the high tackle on AAC?Looked pretty ordinary to me.

        • Roar Guru

          August 11th 2015 @ 4:31pm
          ClarkeG said | August 11th 2015 @ 4:31pm | ! Report

          I counted 5 glaring errors by Aaron Smith, including that dangerous tackle, and for those reasons he does not play in my team next week. Perenara to start with Kerr-Barlow on the bench.

          The selectors need to send a message to Smith that such stupidity and such basic errors will not be tolerated.

    , , , ,