Not quite 99 problems, but the Wallabies only have time to fix three

Brett McKay Columnist

By Brett McKay, Brett McKay is a Roar Expert

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    The Hume Highway between Sydney and Canberra has been good to me over the years; the couple of hours of dual carriageway provides plenty of time to think, and more than a few columns have written themselves at 110km/h.

    It was the same story on Sunday, with plenty of time to contemplate what I’d witnessed the night before. But with so many issues within and around the Wallabies’ performances against New Zealand, things didn’t quite flow as nicely as I’d hoped.

    With so many ‘what went wrong?’ thought-bubbles floating around, it was and still is easy to jump from one to the next without actually solving anything.

    That in itself reminded me of something.

    Before the June Tests, Eddie Jones told me that when you take over a team, there’s always 50 things that need fixing, but only enough time to fix three. And the key – and what sorts the good coaches from the really, really good coaches – is the ability to work out addressing which three things can have the biggest impact on the team.

    That’s the challenge for Michael Cheika this week. He’s obviously not taking over, but he is effectively starting again. All the ‘what were they doing for four weeks?’ questions are valid, but reviewing that now doesn’t help what needs to happen this week. Plus, there isn’t the time anyway.

    The Wallabies have probably already identified that they were comprehensively thumped at the breakdown, and annihilated in the lineout, and smashed in defence, denied the gain line and any semblance of go-forward.

    They would already know that the depth they were forced to play at meant their already limited kicking length was further eroded. And that they didn’t kick well anyway. And that they then missed too many tackles. And that they were then thumped at the breakdown. Rinse and repeat for 80 minutes.

    But what are the Wallabies’ three things? Is it even possible to find three that will have an impact within a week?

    The three I’d be targeting are making the gain line, the breakdown, and the lineout.

    Addressing these three elements will almost certainly necessitate changes, but changes on their own won’t make a lot of difference. As it was, Cheika made eight changes to the starting XV alone from the last Test against England in June. And named a whole new bench. Mass change didn’t work last week, and it’s hard to see how it works this week.

    That’s not to say some changes wouldn’t be justified. More than a few reputations took a beating on Saturday night, and the questions being asked are generally on the money. Where the line falls between too many changes and not enough is anyone’s guess, though. (Click to Tweet)

    Changes in the midfield will be required, obviously. Even though Cheika says he still sees Israel Folau as a fullback, he probably needs to play outside centre. Not necessarily because he’s the best option at 13, but because Dane Haylett-Petty is a better option at 15, with a kicking game that the Wallabies desperately need, but have dumbfoundingly ignored to date. And yes, Folau hasn’t done a lot of defending at 13, but neither has Bernard Foley, and look how many times the All Blacks ran at him in Sydney.

    The gain line and breakdown go hand in hand to a degree, and one of the reasons Foley played so deep was because the Wallabies essentially never made the gain line. Compounding the issue was a lack of breakdown presence, which couldn’t produce quick ruck ball in order to play on the front foot.

    And it’s certainly true that the All Blacks’ incredible defensive line speed and intensity were factors in the Wallabies’ woes. But they also brought a fair amount of it on themselves.

    Ben McCalman has always been a serviceable player, but he isn’t that big, ball-carrying No.8 the Wallabies need, nor does he bring the breakdown intensity of Scott Fardy, the man he replaced.

    Kane Douglas started with plenty of intensity, but none of that translated into gain line metres. Is it time to see if Lopeti Timani can be the rampaging ball-carrier that so many want him to be? It can’t hurt. If he can bend tackles against New Zealand, then he’ll bend tackles against anyone.

    The question then becomes does Timani add enough at the breakdown? Timani 8 would bring the curtain down on the Michael Hooper-David Pocock double act, and getting Pocock back to his roots would have to help the breakdown situation. But Timani would probably also mean the Wallabies need a Fardy-type player back at blindside, for both the left-edge ball carrying and breakdown presence he brings.

    And that, in turn, would also give another prong to the lineout. Keiran Read’s post-match assessment that the All Blacks “just got in front and jumped quicker” would’ve been funny if it wasn’t so accurate. The Highlanders turned their own lineout troubles around by getting in front and jumping quicker than the Brumbies in the Super Rugby quarters, and indeed, Eben Etzebeth has made a career out of the tactic.

    The Wallabies made the job easy for the Kiwis though, by starting with Rob Simmons and a secondary jumper in Douglas, and occasional options in McCalman, Pocock, and Hooper. Getting in front and jumping quicker was always going to work, and you could see all night what kind of pressure Simmons was under from Read and Sam Whitelock. If Read didn’t get up quick enough, Whitelock still made it a contest in the air.

    More genuine lineout options are desperately needed. But that doesn’t mean picking a lineout-only option like Dean Mumm is going to fix anything. Mumm doesn’t address either of the ball-carrying or breakdown problems, and his selection on the bench was one the Wallabies didn’t need with Fardy there too.

    A functioning lineout can help build a base from which other aspects of the game can flow. A solid set piece is needed to win quality ball, and from there the breakdown and gain line components follow.

    Just focussing on defence – as “easy” as Nathan Grey worryingly thinks that is – and making backline changes won’t matter a jot if you can’t provide a platform from which to use the ball.

    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 (287)

    • Editor

      August 23rd 2016 @ 12:49am
      Patrick Effeney said | August 23rd 2016 @ 12:49am | ! Report

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    • August 23rd 2016 @ 6:10am
      Qualify said | August 23rd 2016 @ 6:10am | ! Report

      1. Sio
      2. TPN
      3. Kepu
      4. Coleman
      5. Fardy
      6. McMahon
      7. Pocock
      8. Timani
      9. Genia
      10. Cooper
      11. Mitchell
      12. Kerevi
      13. Folau
      14. AAC
      15. DHP

      McCalman, Mumm and Simmons should be left out alltogether. Dead weight.

      • August 23rd 2016 @ 6:17am
        Brendan F said | August 23rd 2016 @ 6:17am | ! Report

        all good except i believe Kepu should also take a seat and give Slipper a crack. He had some fire in his belly when he cam on.

        • August 23rd 2016 @ 9:15am
          The Sheriff said | August 23rd 2016 @ 9:15am | ! Report

          Slipper is a loose head; Kepu a tight head.

      • August 23rd 2016 @ 7:14am
        Joe Blow said | August 23rd 2016 @ 7:14am | ! Report

        Pretty good but Fardy is not a test lock and McMahon and Hooper offer much the same in the set piece.
        Douglas stays as he was involved in almost the most number of breakdowns of any Wallaby last week and he does a lot of the unseen grunt work. Fardy goes to 6 and McMahon is out of the 23. His time will come soon but they cannot carry him alongside Pocock and Hooper in a 23 when the lineout is a big issue. It is right now.
        Hooper to be injected in the second half.

        • August 23rd 2016 @ 10:33am
          Ruck said | August 23rd 2016 @ 10:33am | ! Report

          Fardy isn’t a test #6 either. In fact, he isn’t a test anything!

          Maybe he could play Left Right Out.

          • August 23rd 2016 @ 1:12pm
            Sulzberg said | August 23rd 2016 @ 1:12pm | ! Report

            he’s also worth 4 penalties a game.

        • August 23rd 2016 @ 8:06pm
          Qualify said | August 23rd 2016 @ 8:06pm | ! Report

          Haha “not a test lock” – I reckon you dont have any of those at present. I only put Fardy there because he is half decent and has experience. Plus I reckon he still jumps better than Simmons. The thing with McMahon is his explosive running, high workrate and he is taller than Hooper.

      • August 23rd 2016 @ 10:14am
        Terry said | August 23rd 2016 @ 10:14am | ! Report

        Yeah leave simmons our only decent lock and limeout caller out.. You goose

        • August 23rd 2016 @ 11:33am
          Ruck said | August 23rd 2016 @ 11:33am | ! Report

          Fardy isn’t decent anything. If you want a decent lineout caller/jumper you have any number of good locks who would do a better job than Fardy at 6.

          We are already all over the Wallabies, why would I need to weaken the more? I want a tough contest for the AB’s, not some whipping boy.

          I managed to get tickets to Eden Park before the sold out in about 5 minutes. I thought we’d lose in Sydney and Eden Park would be a decider. Now, instead of going to a serious, no smile dedication to an AB win, I’m going to a carnival.

      • Columnist

        August 23rd 2016 @ 10:17am
        Brett McKay said | August 23rd 2016 @ 10:17am | ! Report

        Nope, good point. 11 changes to the starting XV is a much better approach..

        • August 23rd 2016 @ 11:51am
          PiratesRugby said | August 23rd 2016 @ 11:51am | ! Report

          Brett, we’ve got to decide what kind of team we need to be the best in the world (including beating the ABs) and work backwards. We need strong set piece, ferocity at the breakdown, 2 playmakers (one and half will do), tactical kicking and penalty kicking. We’re not going to beat the ABs with Foley at 10. It just can’t happen. We’ve just lost 5 tests in a row. Whatever we’re doing right now is failing miserably. Mumm, McCalman, Giteau, Simmons, Horne, Phipps are not going to be 2019 RWC winners. So lets dispense with them right now. Let’s start building something. That includes culture as well as players and gameplan. That means Hooper loses his entitlement to the 7 jersey and the vc. He’s just another player. At the moment, I see him as a super sub. That’s all. It may well be that 11 players need to be changed. It might be what we need for the long term good of the team.

          • August 23rd 2016 @ 12:23pm
            Richard said | August 23rd 2016 @ 12:23pm | ! Report

            Simmons will only be 32 in 2019 PiratesRugby ..If we can find a one better than him ,I`m all for it, but we haven’t got one and Cheika will not experiment with a new lineout caller anytime soon as we`ve seen..

            • August 23rd 2016 @ 2:26pm
              PiratesRugby said | August 23rd 2016 @ 2:26pm | ! Report

              I’m not saying Simmons is too old, I’m saying he’s not good enough. Let’s try someone else.

              • August 23rd 2016 @ 2:56pm
                Richard said | August 23rd 2016 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

                Maybe you should tell Chieka, because he has not tried anyone else consistently..

                He has tried Mumm and Fardy to no avail, and they are already 32 …

              • August 23rd 2016 @ 6:55pm
                PiratesRugby said | August 23rd 2016 @ 6:55pm | ! Report

                Skelton got a good run. Remember him? Our non-jumping, ruck-flopping penalty magnet. But I agree, Arnold, Coleman, Timani, Fardy, Jones, Pyle, Higginbotham all deserved more opportunity. Douglas has been a relative success. Fortunately, Chieka didn’t listen to me about him.

        • August 23rd 2016 @ 12:17pm
          Perthstayer said | August 23rd 2016 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

          Brett – For me the WBs backrow is a bigger issue than the 9/10 axis, kicking etc.

          For me it should be Timani 8, Fardy 6 & Pocock 7. A back row’s individual strengths & weaknesses should dovetail to form an efficient unit but it must be given time. Timani and Fardy have holes in their game but their contribution should be measured within the wider “back row unit” as well as by their individual failings/successes.

          My coach at junior school instilled this in me and 35 years later they are still the first selections I look at.

          • August 23rd 2016 @ 2:29pm
            PiratesRugby said | August 23rd 2016 @ 2:29pm | ! Report

            Perhaps we should look at what Tony McGahan is doing at the Rebels. He looks at the “back 5” including the the locks, breakaways and 8. I agree that we should try the 6.7.and 8 that you suggested. Unfortunately, Hooper is araldited to the 7 jersey.

            • August 24th 2016 @ 8:51pm
              Tombo (L) said | August 24th 2016 @ 8:51pm | ! Report

              It is about time someone finds some acetone.

          • August 24th 2016 @ 2:05am
            canadiankiwi said | August 24th 2016 @ 2:05am | ! Report


            That is the biggest and most physical back row the Wallabies can currently field- I agree with your selection.

            Now select the most physical second row- drop Simmons and Munn, as they are both cupcakes. Drop Skelton because a lock who cannot be lifted and jump is useless. Douglas, Arnold, Coleman, Another – pick the three most physical, nastiest second rows who are legitimate jumpers from the five Super teams.

            The front row is the only forward unit that is quality test standard, although Moore needs a rest.

        • August 23rd 2016 @ 7:43pm
          Qualify said | August 23rd 2016 @ 7:43pm | ! Report

          Sorry Brett but the way I see it is you’ve got to start giving the younger better players as much experience as soon as possible. Winning this test should be a bonus considering the state this team and its coaching staff is in. And I honestly can’t place Simmons or Mumm next to any lock from the AB’s or Boks dito Fardy, McCalman and Mumm as loose forwards. So I reckon you’ve got to start identifying players who show more promise and build them up. How Simmons has accumulated as many caps as he has is criminal. Especially since your lineout has been dismal the last couple of years.

    • August 23rd 2016 @ 6:10am
      Sqn Cdr the Lord Flashheart said | August 23rd 2016 @ 6:10am | ! Report

      I’m confused about your breakdown assessment. The breakdown was one area that oz caused the ABs trouble. They flooded the breakdown, causing several turnovers (Pocock had six?) – that caused the problem of out wide defence lacking because the wallaby midfield didn’t stop the ABs ball getting wide. Obviously oz didn’t turn over all the ball but they did snuff out a lot of attacks there.

      Or are you more talking defensive breakdowns, where the ABs did slow oz ball down?

      • August 23rd 2016 @ 9:22am
        Nobody said | August 23rd 2016 @ 9:22am | ! Report

        I agree wholeheartedly Flashheart. I was beginning to wonder if I was the only one who noticed all the Wallabies turnovers. I’m sure it grates to not be able to afford Pocock at 7, but 8 is a critically important position and if not him there, then who? Gotta have someone with nous at 8.

        My opinion is that if there needs to be a “fix” to the breakdown, it should be in breakdown defence. I also think “making the gain line” is too ephemeral a problem to “fix”. You can’t fix it in isolation; it requires other fixes.

        If I were to pick three improvements for the Ws to make I would pick:
        – the lineout, agree with that
        – more and better tactical kicking (lineout improvement is an essential prerequisite for this)
        – tackling+positional defence (ok two, but they go hand in hand)

        And yes, those might require cattle changes, but I leave selection to the coach(es).

        • August 23rd 2016 @ 1:50pm
          Akari said | August 23rd 2016 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

          All good improvements, Nb. Darwin Stubbie brought to attention yesterday about Hopper’s misread of the ABs attack that led to Crotty’s try where Hopper turned back into the left to await for a change of direction in the ABs attack. It didn’t happen and the end result was Crotty’s try. It was a poor read by Hooper about where best to position himself in defence. As we now know, the WBs did more of the same another 4 times and the 5th was Kaino’s charge down try. Grey has a lot to work on to get the tackling defensive reads correct.

          • August 23rd 2016 @ 4:02pm
            Akari said | August 23rd 2016 @ 4:02pm | ! Report

            Sorry it was actually Shane D who drew attention to this defensive lapse from H.

      • Columnist

        August 23rd 2016 @ 10:18am
        Brett McKay said | August 23rd 2016 @ 10:18am | ! Report

        I thought I was pretty obviously talking about he breakdown when in possession, yes, m’Lord…

      • August 23rd 2016 @ 11:04am
        Crash Ball2 said | August 23rd 2016 @ 11:04am | ! Report

        The breakdown is the most frequent battlefront on a rugby pitch. Set piece and kick return aside, it is also the genesis of the success of both offence and defence. When we bemoan the effect of retreating gain lines, deep set flyhalves and foiled backline moves, we often fail to trace the root cause of the issue: lack of breakdown currency.

        Want Cooper positioned flat with multiple options running at pace? Get him consistent quick ball. Want your defenders set, numbers aligned, weight forward, with shoulders poised in defence? Slow down their ruck and commit multiple cleaners. Want Falou one-on-one out wide with a back peddling centre second guessing? Have a bustling 2nd or 3rd rower gather quick, well secured ruck ball, dominate the ensuing tight collision and again present clean pill.

        Pocock was talismanic on Saturday. And he was lonely. Against a collaborative and ruthlessly efficient AB gang effort, he was merely, stoically stemming the tide at the Bledisole rucks. Those that suggest Pocock is one dimensional , and therefore superfluous, fail to address the fact that the bulk of Wallabies forwards lack multi-dimensions – which would be OK, if they were awesome at their core roles. They aren’t.

        Whilst an embarrassing number of All Black and Springbok forwards ruck, maul, pilfer, jump, catch, fetch, sprint, juggle, cartwheel exceptionally well in concert, Australian forwards aren’t so diverse – or aren’t as good at it. Whilst English forwards generally don’t possess great range, they execute their “traditional” roles very well and, under Eddie, execute the pointy end work as a single, like-minded collective. There is no room for the “extra” when the “standard” isn’t even being achieved.

        Forward play can evolve, but it first takes recognition and acceptance; then planning, effort and time. In the meantime, we require forwards that do their core jobs as well as possible. Pocock just happens to execute his core tasks as well as anyone on the planet. He is more important now than he has ever been to the Wallabies. Every stanza of Wallaby rugby that occurred sans-Pocock in 2015 illustrated the point in HD 3D at ruck time.

        Flooding the breakdown but leaving gaping holes on the flanks bespeaks poor judgement and effectiveness at the ruck (when those breakdowns are invariably lost) and poor defensive strategy generally – if the resultant lost contest leads to quick enough ball for the opposition to outflank you.

        That the Blacks knew Pocock was the singular genuine ground contest threat, and despite this, he was still able to wrest possession in several key exchanges, speaks volumes for Pocock’s phenomenal resilience at the games most frequent battlefront.

        Whilst turnovers are the metric many supporters parallel with breakdown effectiveness, it is merely the highlight-reel making, KPI-friendly tip to a massive ruck and maul iceberg. And no one player can dominate that area consistently without help.

        Impact at the collision point, technique and angle of the takedown, ability to get to your feet quickly, width of stance / pillars set, hands on the ball, withstand the cleanout, accept the pain – repeat. All fetchers know that if they are doing their job, they are the easiest static target on the pitch and they going to get bashed. Great fetchers revel in the exchange. And we celebrate.

        What gets a whole lot less air time is: slowing opposition pill, committing maximum cleaners, ensuring their halfback is looking at a chaotic mess of limbs rather than the Gilbert and fresh air, having their flyhalf look up and think twice before deciding to take the tackle or spin to a less well positioned centre, securing an offensive ruck low and with authority, hard shoulders under to affect a dominant one-man cleanout, damaging would-be jackals legally and with blunt-force. These are the dark, unforgiving places our team is getting dusted – much of the rest is the resultant effect.

        Pick backrowers for the up-front contest first. How fast they can run in the tramlines is way, waaaay down the list of priorities.

        • Roar Guru

          August 23rd 2016 @ 12:03pm
          PeterK said | August 23rd 2016 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

          great post Crashball 2.

          People forget how much Difference Pocock made last year.

          He has played very well this year as well, the problem is the rest of the pack not doing their core jobs not Pocock being one dimensional.

          I felt sorry for him and admired his sole effort at the breakdown against the NZ pack.

        • August 23rd 2016 @ 1:04pm
          Markus said | August 23rd 2016 @ 1:04pm | ! Report

          “Those that suggest Pocock is one dimensional, and therefore superfluous, fail to address the fact that the bulk of Wallabies forwards lack multi-dimensions – which would be OK, if they were awesome at their core roles. They aren’t.”
          Thank you for pointing this out. It is an issue that has plagued the Wallabies for quite some time.
          For years after the 1999 RWC and 2001 Lions Tour Australian teams sacrificed set piece strength for mobility, yet ended up with a pack that was losing not just set pieces but also the breakdown. This is now looking like much the same position the current Wallabies find themselves. Take out Pocock and you have a forward pack being beaten in every single aspect of set piece and general play.

          If Pocock is considered one dimensional, a player like Hooper would be every bit as one-dimensional, in that all he can do is run the ball.

        • August 23rd 2016 @ 1:20pm
          ethan said | August 23rd 2016 @ 1:20pm | ! Report

          Yep great post CB2. Worthy of its own article.

        • Roar Guru

          August 23rd 2016 @ 1:29pm
          B-Rock said | August 23rd 2016 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

          Agree with all of that CB2 – the breakdown is the cause of so many issues for Australia. We all focus on the high-profile ruck turnovers, but accuracy at the breakdown is critical for most parts of the game.

          McCalman was one of the most perplexing choices in some time. He is a mediocre test player, and at age 28, he is who he is. Which is a decent player, but he offers very little against a team like the ABs. While I am not a big Fardy fan, he has a better work rate and is more valuable at the line out. Plus, making the switch disrupted the back row combination unnecessarily.

          As Brett says, we do need a strong running 8 to get over the advantage line. Just not sure if that person exists in Australia. Haven’t seen much of Lopeti but willing to try anything at this point.

          My team has some changes, due to underperformance in the forwards and injuries in the backs:
          1. Sio
          2. Moore
          3. Kepu
          4. Coleman
          5. Douglas
          6. Fardy
          7. Pocock
          8. Timani
          9. Genia
          10. Foley
          11. Mitchell
          12. Folau
          13. Kuridrani
          14. AAC
          15. DHP

          We need to get bigger in the forwards (Coleman, Douglas, Kepu, Timani), and am happy to sacrifice the dual-openside approach for more impact. Bring either McMahon or Hooper on in the 2H.

          • August 24th 2016 @ 2:34am
            canadiankiwi said | August 24th 2016 @ 2:34am | ! Report

            Best team selection I have read but I would drop Kuridrani and start 12 Kerevi and 13 Folau.

        • August 23rd 2016 @ 5:53pm
          Jellybelly said | August 23rd 2016 @ 5:53pm | ! Report

          Spot on. Rugby is won or lost at the collision. Pocock is an expert at the collision while the much vaunted Hooper avoids the collision. Must play Pocock at 7 and find a mongrel 8. Hooper can play in the backs if he can make the cut.

          • August 23rd 2016 @ 7:04pm
            PiratesRugby said | August 23rd 2016 @ 7:04pm | ! Report

            Chieka might try playing Pocock at 7. On past form he will do this while completely undermining the pack by playing say, Skelton at lock with Carter and Mumm at 8. And he will do it at Eden Park. When the inevitable disaster occurs, Hooper fans will say “see, Pocock at 7 doesn’t work”.
            We need Douglas and Arnold in the second row. Fardy at 6 and Timani at 8. Simmons and Hooper on the bench and Mumm at home watching the game on tv. The best 7 in the world can then play in his rightful role.

        • August 23rd 2016 @ 8:47pm
          riddler said | August 23rd 2016 @ 8:47pm | ! Report

          crash ball!! superb.. thank you for articulating this in a way far better than i ever could..

          when i read about people having a go a pocock, i am amazed.. do they not see what the other 7 did not do on the weekend..

          our usual looking at no.10 issue as solving all our problems is so far removed from reality..

          all this bolderdash of running rugby.. in 99 we let one try in the whole world cup.. against usa.. we won on primarily our defense..

          fix the piggies and then start looking at the backs..

          because as people sprout out verbatim when the other 10 plays.. he has back foot ball and therefore not his fault..

          stop the glorying of certain positions and win the breakdown and get fast ball..

      • August 23rd 2016 @ 2:50pm
        CUW said | August 23rd 2016 @ 2:50pm | ! Report

        @ Sqn Cdr the Lord Flashheart :

        think the problem was , by flooding the breakdown auzzy did not have enuf free players to use the pilfered ball, while by not flooding the breakdown nz had more in the defensive line.

        at the end of the day this is simillar to 7S rugger, its a numbers game. the moment u create an overlap (or extra numbers ) in either attack or defence , u have more chance of winning that battle.

        in super rugger for eg. there were some teams who comitted very few to breakdowns and opted to have a bigger defensive line. while there were others who committed more to breakdown and stop/slow good attacking ball.

        the requirement is to identify what works for u and then stick to it and practice harder to perfect execution.

    • August 23rd 2016 @ 6:11am
      Nobrain said | August 23rd 2016 @ 6:11am | ! Report

      Get quality ball from scrums and lines will be my priority number one, my number two will be not to miss so many tackles, and the third one is a change of attitude. With all that I do not think you can beat the ABs but at least you will be a decent opponent .

    • August 23rd 2016 @ 6:25am
      John said | August 23rd 2016 @ 6:25am | ! Report

      Hi Brett,

      A good thought-provoking piece – thanks. I’m going to disagree with you. I respect you as a journo and writer but when the ABs score 42 points, and its the second Test in a row on home soil where the Wallabies concede over 40 points, then surely the defense is the first, second and third focus!

      I get your proposal – making the gain line, competitiveness at the breakdown and an effective lineout will put pressure back on them, but so what? They will win their share of ball. If our defense cannot stop them then are we saying a 20 point loss is an improvement? That’s like saying we were already effective since we only lost the second half by 10-5.

      Your analysis on both McCalman and Mumm / Fardy on the bench implies they were bad selections but you don’t actually state that. Is that what you’re saying?

      • Columnist

        August 23rd 2016 @ 10:25am
        Brett McKay said | August 23rd 2016 @ 10:25am | ! Report

        John, there’s no doubt the defence needs to improve. No doubt at all. 40 missed tackles in a match where the Wallabies had 45% possession means, as someone pointed out over the weekend, that the Wallabies essentially missed a tackle every minute in defence. That’s appalling.

        But I’ve focussed on the three areas I have, because if the Wallabies just address defence, then the breakdown, gain line, and lineout issues remain, and likely so would a heavy loss.

        Plus, Nathan Grey had already said fixing defence was “easy” as I was writing this, so the working assumption is that that’s now sorted.

        Re selections, the only one I thought was genuinely wrong last week was both Fardy and Mumm on the bench. most other changes I could kind of see the point..

        • Roar Guru

          August 23rd 2016 @ 1:33pm
          B-Rock said | August 23rd 2016 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

          If only fixing the defensive issues were as easy as Nathan Grey suggests it is.

          Comments like that from Grey make me worry about his approach to coaching.

          • Roar Guru

            August 23rd 2016 @ 2:49pm
            moaman said | August 23rd 2016 @ 2:49pm | ! Report

            That comment from Grey is risible and has to take the prize for the silliest comment of the week=no mean feat.

            • August 23rd 2016 @ 5:10pm
              JMB said | August 23rd 2016 @ 5:10pm | ! Report

              Like Cheika’s more than idiotic ‘Im not worried about the lineout’ earlier last week? Is Pulver giving them in how to divorce from reality guidance? On the back of what happened v England with Grey’s stupid intervention dare I say the problems with Aus rugby are scarily endemic across all levels. Don’t worry Hooper will just smirk and tell us they’ll beat them next week and all will be well. Bring your A Game NZ 🙂

            • August 23rd 2016 @ 7:03pm
              Dave_S said | August 23rd 2016 @ 7:03pm | ! Report

              Indeed Moa! If it was so easy to fix why was it broken???

        • August 23rd 2016 @ 2:01pm
          Akari said | August 23rd 2016 @ 2:01pm | ! Report

          Agree and also that Timani should have been on the bench last week for either Mumm or Fardy. As a newby and not having played as an 8 all season, it would be wrong to start Timani this week at 8. He should be on the bench and go on in the last 10-15 minutes solely for the experience.

    • August 23rd 2016 @ 6:29am
      Galatzo said | August 23rd 2016 @ 6:29am | ! Report

      Hi Brett. Cheik went into the game with a vertically challenged lineout and must have known he couldn’t beat Retallic, Whitelock, Read or Kaino in the air. So he gave up on lineout ball in favour of scrum and breakdown ball? But what made him think that our starting front five could outscrum the Kiwis? And what made him think that playing Pocock at 8 instead of 7, and a non-breakdown guy like McCalman, would somehow win us the breakdown? Maybe Eddie should have said there were four things a coach needed to fix, the fourth being the coach.

      • Columnist

        August 23rd 2016 @ 10:27am
        Brett McKay said | August 23rd 2016 @ 10:27am | ! Report

        Certainly agree with your points on the lineout Galatzo, which made Cheika’s comments last week that he ‘wasn’t worried about the lienout’ rather bewildering..

        • Roar Guru

          August 23rd 2016 @ 1:36pm
          B-Rock said | August 23rd 2016 @ 1:36pm | ! Report

          I wonder if the complacency from the coaching staff is just in public or if it reflects how they are preparing the team?

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