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Cheika’s fine line of selection

Brett McKay Columnist

By Brett McKay, Brett McKay is a Roar Expert

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136 Have your say

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    Anyone that’s been involved in the selection of sporting teams at any level knows that it’s a rare event to go from one game to the next with an unchanged line-up.

    The further down the pyramid you go, the harder the job gets; players go up and down grades, players’ availability changes, injuries take longer to get over, jobs happen.

    As you go up the pyramid the job doesn’t necessarily get any easier, and there may even be some common curve balls too, but the impact on the individuals significantly increases. Drop a player in a professional setup, and you’re potentially affecting his livelihood.

    At the highest level, all the factors above apply, but then you add scrutiny, debate, rumours and politicking of selection at its zenith.

    Any possible selection decision will be debated in the lead-up, and dissected and rationalised and debated even more in the aftermath.

    This is where we find Michael Cheika this week, as he mulls over his side to face South Africa on Saturday night in Brisbane.

    Since the twin Bledisloe Cup losses last month, armchair selectors have recommended anywhere between a bare minimum of changes and ‘drop the lot of them, they’re all bloody hopeless’.

    And that’s just the posts that aren’t calling for Cheika’s head first and foremost.

    A common rationale for change is that to keep doing that same thing and expecting a different result is the very definition of insanity. But the thing here is that chopping and changing has done nothing for the Wallabies in 2016. (Click to Tweet)

    In fact, the ‘same thing’ the Wallabies have been doing in 2016 is chopping and changing at the selection table.

    Cheika made five changes between the first and second Tests against England in June, and another five between the second and third Tests.

    Much was then made of the fact that the team for the first Bledisloe Test included 13 of the starting XV from the Rugby World Cup final. But that first Bledisloe team included seven changes in the starting XV alone from the third Test against England, plus whole new bench. The point being made was supposed to be about stability, but it overlooked 15 changes from the previous game!

    Another five starting-side changes were made for the second Bledisloe Test in Wellington.

    We decry the lack of cohesion in the Wallabies attack, and lament that ‘it looked like they’d just introduced themselves to each other in the change room’. Of course they hadn’t, but there really hasn’t been much in the way of combination developing in 2016. Israel Folau, perhaps, has been the only constant.

    And so here we head into another Test week, and it’s time to debate changes again. Injury has played a role in changes made this season already, and may yet play a role this week. But even if everyone was fit and ‘training the house down’ how many would we want retained to face the Boks?

    Cheika is on a hiding to nothing this week. Make a string of changes and he’s just shuffling the deckchairs, make no changes and he’s a selection dunce without a clue.

    So what does he do?

    In the hotly debated areas of midfield and backrow, he has to back his combinations wherever possible, while treading that inevitably fine line between too many and not enough tweaks.

    If Quade Cooper stays at 10 with Will Genia at scrumhalf, and Bernard Foley stays at 12, then why not play Folau at 13 properly and run him at Damien de Allende?

    If the ‘Pooper’ combination is to be abandoned – not before time, I hear plenty of you saying – then bringing in someone like Sean McMahon doesn’t make the side stronger than with Michael Hooper and David Pocock in tandem. If it’s not a strong, ball-carrying No.8 coming in, then Cheika may as well stick with Hooper-Pocock-Scott Fardy in the backrow and have them carry on doing bits of each others’ job.

    The risk of making too many changes is that that lack cohesion continues for another Test. And given the Wallabies’ record in 2016, a nod toward pragmatism perhaps isn’t such a silly idea this week.

    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 (136)

    • Roar Guru

      September 6th 2016 @ 6:32am
      Shop said | September 6th 2016 @ 6:32am | ! Report

      I think the most important changes should revolve around playing players in their preferred positions. This means the end of “Pooper” and “Fooper” for starters. I’m a big Hooper fan but I’d bench him for Fardy 6, Pocock 7 and Timani 8. Foley needs a rest and Genia and Cooper have a much better combo anyway. I’d also bite the bullet and tap Moore on the shoulder, he also needs a rest.

      There are too many other possibilities for the rest of the team, but trying to keep the right number on the back would go a long way to solving the cohesion issues.

      • Roar Guru

        September 6th 2016 @ 6:52am
        Machooka said | September 6th 2016 @ 6:52am | ! Report

        Yep… ditto Shop.

        • Roar Guru

          September 6th 2016 @ 1:10pm
          jeznez said | September 6th 2016 @ 1:10pm | ! Report

          Yep – count me in for another supporting those changes.

          My additional comment would be that while Cheika has made lots of changes – he has mainly rotated his locks and centres while not addressing the backrow issue that is glaringly obvious to most of us.

          Even when he has tinkered with the backrow it was swapping Fardy and McCalman back and forth which isn’t the player that is unbalancing the pack. The other sub he made in that space was replacing an injured Pocock with a similar player in McMahon rather than giving Timani the shot most of us want to see.

          • September 6th 2016 @ 2:58pm
            Cliff (Bishkek) said | September 6th 2016 @ 2:58pm | ! Report

            I read a lot of talk on Timani as a No. 8. I have no idea as I do not get to see him play as I am overseas in Africa. I was discussing Timani on Skype with a friend who watches the majority of the NRC and SR and his comment on Timani was as follows:

            Yes, Timani does “run hard” but he does that almost always without the ball. he simply can not catch it. he has no sense of position. In the four games i have seen him play (second row and 8) he has contributed ZERO to lineouts – no lineout takes, not even a lift, NOTHING. bloke can not play the game. yes, big, but can not play. NZ, RSA, poms, frogs, Irish, Welsh or Argies would massacre him in a test.

            He also states that he does not have the basic skills to become a good No. 8.

            He feels that this fellow may have a bright future – I was impressed with Izack Rodda, a young lock from Queensland. Big, tall, has a bit of mongrel and can play.

            So on the basis of that, a different perspective – are we still selecting without really looking?

            Another point raised during our discussion was that for the Wallabies to get back to a par of excellence – to a standard for a top team – there needs to be a large group of Wallabies dropped, a large number of recruits bought in and to have a large group – greater than the 30 – and build towards 2019 and 2023. According to my friend – the talent is there, the ARU needs to tap them now, shunt the old and poor and get on with rebuilding – with skills and continual matching of the good.


            • September 6th 2016 @ 4:36pm
              Browny said | September 6th 2016 @ 4:36pm | ! Report

              Timani certainly isn’t a primary target in the lineout but as far as our other back row options he’s comparable to McCalman, a bit behind McMahon, miles behind Fardy and Mumm while Pocock and Hooper aren’t really worth mentioning. It’s more that if you have Simmons, Coleman and Fardy as primary targets plus a secondary target in Timani and a non-jumper in Pocock or Hooper its harder for the opposition to track who will go up… the odds of a ‘blind pick’ of the jumper being correct theoretically just dropped from 33% to 25%… Not that I’m advocating it but if you went Simmons-Coleman-Fardy-Mumm-McMahon you’d have 5 guys who are all more than capable in the air…. of course that all goes out the window if Moore or TPN can’t throw straight… (and why Hanson should get a run…)

            • Roar Guru

              September 6th 2016 @ 7:11pm
              jeznez said | September 6th 2016 @ 7:11pm | ! Report

              Timani can carry – do I think he is the next great Aussie 8 – unlikely but I do think he is the only guy with Super Rugby experience who could do a job for at least the remainder of this season that would be transformational for this team. Does he have great hands, pace, an ability to play a link game – no. Could he come in and do a job that would help change the way we play – I think so and I’d really like to see.

              If Ita Vaea hadn’t been forced out with his blood clot issues then I probably wouldn’t be talking about Timani, although we’d still have our lineout complications.

              Of the crop coming through Holloway, Dempsey, Hannigan, Leota, Rodda, Lukhan Tui, Houston and Timu are some of the main names being flagged to develop. Not a one looks ready for the Wallabies yet and most are yet to nail down a Super Rugby spot. Note a couple of these are locks rather than 8’s but also fit the ball carrying issue we are trying so hard to resolve.

      • September 6th 2016 @ 8:06am
        The Slow Eater said | September 6th 2016 @ 8:06am | ! Report

        Makes too much sense so unlikely to happen ?

        • September 7th 2016 @ 1:09am
          McCaw was onside? said | September 7th 2016 @ 1:09am | ! Report

          It doesnt make sense.

          Its just a “the grass is always greener” selection and it wont improve the team because that is not the problem.

      • September 6th 2016 @ 9:00am
        Nobrain said | September 6th 2016 @ 9:00am | ! Report

        Bringing Folau at 13 is beyond at this stage. Takes a long time for 13 to develop, specially in defense . I agree with you that playing musical chair with some of the positions will only bring disorder.

        • September 6th 2016 @ 12:48pm
          Rollaway7 said | September 6th 2016 @ 12:48pm | ! Report

          With Foley at 12 it will put a target on Folau’s back, easy pickings. Then everyone will blame Izzy for not delivering in that spot.

          Put Kerevi at 12 and Falou at 13 which will give cooper two targets and spit the defence.

          Trust me there is not a centre on the planet that fears foley in attack or defence… at any level.

          Im with Brett, leave the back row, SA is a step down from the All Black loosies. BUT OFR GOD SAKES, drop foley.

          Foley and Phipps can cover from the bench.

          Something needs to happen in the locking pairs too…. don’t know what.

          • Roar Guru

            September 6th 2016 @ 1:27pm
            Nobrain said | September 6th 2016 @ 1:27pm | ! Report

            Foley is not on my team. The only game I remember him playing good rugby was against England in RWC15, we have not seen good staff from him since then, have we?

      • September 6th 2016 @ 9:04am
        Browny said | September 6th 2016 @ 9:04am | ! Report

        Yep. I”d add you your list our best running centre, Kerevi and our best defensive centre, Kuridrani, and our best fullback-who-isn’t-a-fullback played in a position that suits him so Folau to wing with a license to roam. That’s 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 locked down, at least allow for some stability. Don’t go too crazy with the tall blokes, pick any 3 of Simmons, Douglas, Coleman and Arnold but don’t have a completely new combination each week. Hanson deserves a run (and Ready should at least be in the squad…), Hodge should be given a start and DHP should be played in his actual position of fullback or not at all.

        That’s most of a team there…

        • September 6th 2016 @ 10:13am
          rl said | September 6th 2016 @ 10:13am | ! Report

          I’m in furious agreement with this entire thread

        • Roar Guru

          September 6th 2016 @ 1:19pm
          jeznez said | September 6th 2016 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

          Agree Browny – I think 98% of the team picks itself with the major points being a Fardy, Pocock, Timani backrow with Hooper on the bench. A Simmons, Coleman, Douglas locking trio, Kerevi/Kuridrani in the centres, Hodge and Folau on the wings and DHP given a shot in his natural position of 15. Genia at 9, I don’t care which of our flyhalves is at 10 as I’m not overly happy with any of them but give Cooper a run and Foley a rest on the pine seems sensible at this stage. Captaincy to Pocock and Ready onto the bench along with a genuine TH reserve prop.

          Phipps is a frustrating player but his service generally deteriorates as he tires so playing him off the bench is ok and then we just need to name one more outside back reserve – take your pick this week but inject the pace of Naivalu there when he qualifies on Sunday week.

          • September 7th 2016 @ 6:25am
            Skirttheissue said | September 7th 2016 @ 6:25am | ! Report

            Phipps is a ‘tosser’…………?

            • Roar Guru

              September 7th 2016 @ 5:59pm
              jeznez said | September 7th 2016 @ 5:59pm | ! Report

              Louwrens is the one I have hope for but need to see him start playing significant game time at the Force if he is to force his way onwards

        • September 6th 2016 @ 2:59pm
          Cliff (Bishkek) said | September 6th 2016 @ 2:59pm | ! Report

          Or add Kellaway!!

        • September 6th 2016 @ 5:53pm
          PiratesRugby said | September 6th 2016 @ 5:53pm | ! Report

          Well I’m glad at least the tide of public opinion has turned against the wholesale selection of the 2014 waratah team in the wallabies. Douglas can stay where he is (he’s earned it) but Skelton, Mumm, Hooper, Phipps, Foley should be ‘rested’. Having said that, TPN should probably start instead of Moore. Pocock captain and playing at 7. Timani at 8 for a while. Kerevi at 12, Kuridarani at 13, Folau and hodge on the wings and DHP at full back.
          Unfortunately, that’s just not going to happen. Chieka will persist and persist with his favourites, even as the losses continue to mount. And Foley has the nuts to say he’s just going to do his own thing at 12. You mean play like a second rate fly half? We’ve seen enough of that not to find the idea funny anymore. Will he continue to take the kicks with his penetrating 35 metre range? Will he manage charge downs in both halves?
          Get rid of Chieka now. Not just before the next RWC. He just won’t learn. We are losing games and we are losing fans. And now the refs hate us too.

        • September 6th 2016 @ 11:33pm
          Who? said | September 6th 2016 @ 11:33pm | ! Report

          Exactly Browny. Exactly what I’ve been saying for six months. Folau back to 14, where he won his first Wallaby caps. On the right wing, where he excelled for the Broncos and Qld. DHP in his real position of 15. Kerevi and Kuridrani at 12 and 13. Kuridrani is miles ahead of Kerevi and Folau in defence at 13. Folau has to be back to cover the high ball. And he runs in the 13 channel anyway, so if he’s got that roving commission, he’s going to run at (and through) de Allende anyway.

          Agree with your locking selection, too. Well, not Douglas (he’s done the least of the Wallaby locks this year), but the other three.

          And I agree with you that wing is actually a problem position. We don’t have great depth there currently. I can’t think of many who are banging down the door for selection – not specialist wingers. Not when we’re selecting converted centres (Horne and AAC), guys who’ve been around for ages and have gone overseas (AAC and Mitchell), guys who don’t normally play wing (people talking about Kuridrani, plus Hodge and Phipps – though I think Phipps is a natural winger). There’s not a huge amount out there (don’t say Naiyaravoro…).

      • September 6th 2016 @ 10:54am
        Nigel said | September 6th 2016 @ 10:54am | ! Report

        Agree, but Chrika will not give Timani a go????? Would love to see Pocock at seven, Handon given a start at hooker, Moore is in meltdown, Cheika has ruined his game with trying to turn him into a rude toughie, you are not playing anymore Coach!!!!

      • September 6th 2016 @ 11:13am
        Worlds Biggest said | September 6th 2016 @ 11:13am | ! Report

        Well put Shop, some changes are required. I would love to see some bigger bodies in there to bend the line but not holding this will happen.

      • September 6th 2016 @ 2:19pm
        Buzzard said | September 6th 2016 @ 2:19pm | ! Report

        It wont happen..Why do you blokes keep on saying the POOPER must go ..It wont go, until Pocock leaves end of 2016..

      • September 6th 2016 @ 3:36pm
        CUW said | September 6th 2016 @ 3:36pm | ! Report

        @ Shop :

        first u advocate players in their positions – then u say play Timani at 8 ; kind of a catch 22 isn’t it?

        as far as i have seen Timani has rarely played at 8 in super rugger. how do u expect him to go up against an 8 who does it every weekend for club or province or super team?

        i would rather play Mccalman at 8 , rather than playing him at 6. else keep pocock there, coz for me he has more experience at 8 now than any others in auzzy.

        one out of the box thingy may be to look at how the NZ provincial teams are currently playing two 6s in the 3rd row. in such a case maybe auzzy could go with Fardy and Timani at 6 and 7 with someone like Mccalman or Pocock at 8.

        • Columnist

          September 6th 2016 @ 4:58pm
          Brett McKay said | September 6th 2016 @ 4:58pm | ! Report

          CUW, though the Rebels have played Timani at lock this year, he’s absolutely a no.8 and they even see him as that – they played him at no.8 on the weekend in the NRC..

          • September 6th 2016 @ 6:29pm
            CUW said | September 6th 2016 @ 6:29pm | ! Report

            i will take ur word for it ( since i hardly watched rebels anyway …. being rubbish as they were.)

            but i still maintain my view , that a 8 who has not played much there going up against a 8 who’s played there week in week out , is asking for trouble.

            but , goig by what u say , it seems rebels and auzzy in general were silly too. they could have easily played adam thompson in 2nd row and given Timani some exposure.

            there is not a single top class 8 in auzzy (forget world class) and the super teams are to be blamed for that.

            • September 6th 2016 @ 7:52pm
              Crash Ball2 said | September 6th 2016 @ 7:52pm | ! Report

              “An 8 that has played there week in week out” is not a pre-requisite for a Cheika coached Wallabies side.

      • September 6th 2016 @ 3:51pm
        Reds Tragic said | September 6th 2016 @ 3:51pm | ! Report


      • September 6th 2016 @ 7:20pm
        Gilbert said | September 6th 2016 @ 7:20pm | ! Report

        On point Shop.

      • September 7th 2016 @ 1:16am
        McCaw was onside? said | September 7th 2016 @ 1:16am | ! Report

        Its entirely predictable.

        People dont like players being picked out of position.

        Team loses.

        Fans dont think about what really went wrong and blame what they want to, which is what they didnt want in the first place.

        How about you actually think about whats going wrong rather than blaming the easy targets.

        The problem with Aus is clearly not Fardy-Pooper. In 2015 they did extremely well with Fardy-Pooper and in 2016 there has been so many things going wrong and players playing poorly that pointing at Fardy-Pooper first is like “WTF?” to anyone actually paying attention imo.
        You may aswell blame the socks they are wearing.

        Aus won the RC, beat NZ, beat Eng in Eng, beat Wales in Wales, beat Arg and made the WC final with Fardy-Pooper.

        Now theyve lost a few games and true to Roar form you point the finger at the Fardy-Pooper combo.

        Oh well, I cant expect any better because I will never get it here.

        Needless to say…youre all barking up the wrong tree.

    • September 6th 2016 @ 6:38am
      The Electronic Swagman said | September 6th 2016 @ 6:38am | ! Report

      I admit that the changes are dizzying. I await each week to see what rabbit has been pulled out of the hat. What we don’t see are the major structural changes that need to be made to align the Wallabies with fundamental rugby philosophy.

      These are the simple tenets that you need a ball playing, line bending No 8, jumpers who can jump, a reserve half back with a crisp pass and backs playing in positions in which they can defend. For all the advances the ABs make, they don’t change those fundamentals.

      It is an irony that until the structure of the Wallabies returns to a more classic selection pattern then real change in playing style won’t evolve, and weekly changes in personnel will continue.

      • September 6th 2016 @ 7:18am
        Buk said | September 6th 2016 @ 7:18am | ! Report

        Good conventional wisdom in a lot of that Swag. But conventional wisdom seems to be a bit lost at times.

      • September 6th 2016 @ 10:58am
        Nigel said | September 6th 2016 @ 10:58am | ! Report

        Exactly, however coach is not a party to any of the standard orthodox thinking….. He has been schooled by the best lately and I think if he doesn’t win a couple of games he won’t be on the spring tour…..he will fall on his sword voluntarily as he is realising that the schoolboy rugby approach is not working!!!!!

        • September 6th 2016 @ 3:39pm
          CUW said | September 6th 2016 @ 3:39pm | ! Report

          well, BEN RYAN just told FIJI to look for a new coach , so ….. 🙂

      • Columnist

        September 6th 2016 @ 11:04am
        Brett McKay said | September 6th 2016 @ 11:04am | ! Report

        I reckon you’ve nailed it, Swaggie. Every team announcement feels like a lottery, which in turn becomes ‘how will we play this week?’

        Far from ideal, and far from what you want to see in any International team…

      • September 6th 2016 @ 11:51am
        John said | September 6th 2016 @ 11:51am | ! Report

        Spot on – Michael Cheika take note otherwise there is no doubt that the Springboks will win on Saturday in Brisbane and blaming the referees, the opposition, etc, just won’t cut it anymore.

    • Roar Rookie

      September 6th 2016 @ 6:54am
      samalavich said | September 6th 2016 @ 6:54am | ! Report

      Hey brett some good points there , and I agree that a certain amount of pragmatism is required. I do think for example that the number 8 that we want to see – the big physical ball runner who can jump in the lineout – isn’t there quite yet or not for the starting spot at least. I have along with many suggested Timani looks like a promising candidate, but think it would be best to introduce him from the bench initially. He hasn’t been playing 8 so at this stage even though I think the pooper/fardy combo is unbalanced it’s the best starting option for the time being. Another contentious spot would be 12, assuming quade stays at 10 – and u can’t really drop him after throwing him to the lions – this position has been like a revolving door and at the moment I think it is a key for the operation of the backline so you have to go with someone who has experience playing in the position preferably with prior experience with the players next to him either side. Logical choice for me is toomua. (Sorry if I mention players not in the squad – haven’t seen it yet). Beyond that i think if the goal is to win then you should stick with much the same team … yeah you could boot moore but I don’t think that would have a positive effect on the team in the middle of a tournament. Couple of specialist wingers would be good too. Anyway I think that pragmatism should then be forgotten about with the bench. Cheika needs to identify players he feels have the qualities to be part of the team he wants to build, even if they aren’t there yet. Accept that they will make mistakes but back them to learn and give them chances to apply what they learn. They need a exposure to this level and done in a smart way, not be thrown in the deep end.

      • Roar Rookie

        September 6th 2016 @ 7:16am
        samalavich said | September 6th 2016 @ 7:16am | ! Report

        Ok just saw the squad… no toomua… 12 is looking… difficult. Maybe Godwin… ummmm back to Kurindrani/kerevi combo???

        • Roar Rookie

          September 6th 2016 @ 8:06am
          Shane D said | September 6th 2016 @ 8:06am | ! Report

          Toomuas concussion issues look like ruling him out for the rest if the RC Samalavich. Inside centre has taken a real hammering this season hasn’t it!

          • Roar Rookie

            September 6th 2016 @ 2:37pm
            samalavich said | September 6th 2016 @ 2:37pm | ! Report

            12 is the new 13 it would seem… very unlucky number. For aus/nz anyway. Well there’s a good chance van rensberg could be the boks 12 so you’ll need a solid defender..

        • September 6th 2016 @ 9:07am
          Browny said | September 6th 2016 @ 9:07am | ! Report

          The only viable 12 options I see are Kerevi, Godwin or Hodge. I’d probably prefer the K-K centre combo with Hodge on a wing (if DHP is at 15, otherwise Hodge at 15) and perhaps give Godwin a run coming off the pine.

          • September 6th 2016 @ 10:23am
            Bakkies said | September 6th 2016 @ 10:23am | ! Report

            Subtlety is need against the Boks. That’s where the Argies were successful. Light centres ran them ragged. Might be an argument for Kerevi at 12 Janse van Rensburg is picked there.

        • Columnist

          September 6th 2016 @ 12:02pm
          Brett McKay said | September 6th 2016 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

          I’m certainly worried about Foley’s ability to supply the outside backs. I actually wonder if Cooper mightn’t be a better option at 12 once the Wallabies get into the ‘Boks half on attack. I just think he’s better equipped to find and create gaps..

          • Roar Rookie

            September 6th 2016 @ 2:43pm
            samalavich said | September 6th 2016 @ 2:43pm | ! Report

            He might be a better option at 12 than foley brett but I’d suggest that with the top 3/4 12s out there are still a few others who are also better options. I think the best option is to recognise that they are both 10s and leave it at that

            • September 6th 2016 @ 2:57pm
              poyns said | September 6th 2016 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

              Again , you’re picking a player out of position. Pick QC at 10 and make him defend there.

          • September 6th 2016 @ 3:49pm
            CUW said | September 6th 2016 @ 3:49pm | ! Report

            @ Brett McKay :

            imo , which may count for nothing , this obsession with the so called “play making 12” is silly.

            just find a good 12 who will first of all, hold the ball , then run with it or pass it when the opportunity arrives.

            u cant play like England and u cant play like New Zealand.

            also , dont undermine Cooper with another guy doing his thing. let him run the show – for better or for worse.

            I will have Genia , Cooper , Folau , Hodge , Kuridrani , (I dont know) , DHP. Foley and Kerevi on the bench.

          • Roar Rookie

            September 6th 2016 @ 7:13pm
            Shane D said | September 6th 2016 @ 7:13pm | ! Report

            Scary that we are concerned about a 10 who is playing 12’s ability to supply the outside backs!

      • September 6th 2016 @ 11:00am
        Nigel said | September 6th 2016 @ 11:00am | ! Report

        Pocock is not a number eight either!!! Timani was pressed into the locking position, he is a natural eight…..give him a go for Gods sake!!!

        • Roar Rookie

          September 6th 2016 @ 2:46pm
          samalavich said | September 6th 2016 @ 2:46pm | ! Report

          Agree nigel. I think if he’d had the chance to come off the bench in the last few tests he might have been ready for a start… or at least had the chance to show if he’s ready or not

        • September 7th 2016 @ 9:02am
          Akari said | September 7th 2016 @ 9:02am | ! Report

          Agreed Nigel and Timani needs to be given a go and there’s no better opportunity than the coming test for an intro for the big man. Don’t really care whether he starts or comes off the bench in the 1st half at 5-10 minutes.

    • September 6th 2016 @ 7:03am
      Jimbo81 said | September 6th 2016 @ 7:03am | ! Report

      I wouldn’t pick Foley at all. If anyone’s earnt an NRC season it’s him. He can’t find touch and had 80% possession and territory vs England (2nd test) and no try. Has Kerevi been practising his defence? Doesn’t matter, the boks aren’t going to run it.

      Godwin at 12 makes sense to me. Starting. This season is a write off, may as well build the combination that will beat England later this year:



      • September 6th 2016 @ 7:34am
        Bigmac said | September 6th 2016 @ 7:34am | ! Report

        Holmes is os
        Holloway injured
        Mitchell injured
        Cummins doing silly ads. Dont think hes playing.

        • Roar Rookie

          September 6th 2016 @ 9:46am
          Don said | September 6th 2016 @ 9:46am | ! Report

          Yep, the Badger is busy googling new words to call his balls so he can add it into his next undies ad.
          His google search history would be ugly. “…other words for sweaty balls…”

    • September 6th 2016 @ 7:34am
      Crash Ball2 said | September 6th 2016 @ 7:34am | ! Report

      Whilst, I agree, some positions confuse with the swiftness of their turnover, others baffle with the doggedness of their consistency.

      I suspect when most commentators bemoan Cheika’s “doing the same thing, expecting a different result” selection policy and game strategy, they so in relation to certain players who appear to be beyond scrutiny and accountability within this Wallabies lineup.

      • Columnist

        September 6th 2016 @ 12:09pm
        Brett McKay said | September 6th 2016 @ 12:09pm | ! Report

        Yeah, I can’t really argue that point, CB2

    • Roar Guru

      September 6th 2016 @ 7:38am
      sheek said | September 6th 2016 @ 7:38am | ! Report

      Good article Brett,

      You have articulated the problems facing Australian rugby, not just Cheika, very well.

      Back in 1978-79-80 the Wallabies won three consecutive tests against the ABs, unique on a number of levels, not least that it was achieved in three separate consecutive years.

      But here’s the thing.

      There were three different coaches (Darryl Haberecht, Dave Brockhoff & Bob Templeton), two captains (Tony Shaw & Mark Loane) & at least two conflicting styles of play – conservative 10 man rugby & run the ball.

      Last but not least the personnel changed enormously from test to test with 18 different backs & 16 different forwards.

      For example, there were two flyhalfs – Tony Melrose & Mark Ella; three scrumhalfs – John Hipwell, Peter Carson & Phil Cox & three fullbacks – Geoff Richards, Paul McLean & Roger Gould.

      In just three tests.

      And there were no 7-8 replacements off the bench in those days. In fact, no replacements in any of those three tests.

      They say attitude is the most important emotion of all. It can hide a multitude of defects.

      I don’t know if this helps provide any answers. Probably not.

      But back in 1978-79-80 the Wallabies were able to somehow overcome all these conflicting problems within Australia rugby about philosophy & personnel, & be successful on the field.

      • Roar Guru

        September 6th 2016 @ 7:47am
        sheek said | September 6th 2016 @ 7:47am | ! Report

        I also meant to add that back in 1980 while the Mark Ella-Mike Hawker-Mick O’Connor midfield trio was wowing Aussie fans with their derring-do for the Wallabies, deposed test players Paul McLean & Andy Slack combined with veteran Geoff Shaw to help engineer Queensland’s only ever win over the ABs playing a more conservative approach.

        Both systems worked in their different ways!

        • Roar Rookie

          September 6th 2016 @ 9:57am
          Don said | September 6th 2016 @ 9:57am | ! Report

          And everyone played in their best positions Sheek.
          The only exceptions in those sides you mentioned were when Tony Shaw was played at lock. But he was a more than competent lock in a side that had 3 other jumping options with a good one being Loane at 8.

          Or unless we have a Michael Lynagh and Mark Ella scenario – how we wish…

          Cheika can take a lesson from the good Aus teams of the past. Players play best in their regular positions. If you have 3 good fullbacks – pick the one with the best boot to play 15.
          Pick wingers to play wing. If we are down on wing talent, only then do we consider the next best fullback who has also shown they can play well on the wing.
          If you have 3 great 7s. pick one to start and the best one of the 2 remaining who can cover more positions than 7 on the bench.
          Pick someone who has played 12 at 12.

          And if you are going up against perhaps the best lineout thief and lock in world rugby (Etzebeth) and a side with 4 genuine line out targets, then be sure to take in at least 4 jumpers ourselves and have a genuine jumper on the pine.

          • Roar Guru

            September 6th 2016 @ 11:08am
            sheek said | September 6th 2016 @ 11:08am | ! Report

            Yeah Don,

            Well said.

            I think Tony Shaw was the only real anomaly, as you point out. Cornelsen played eightman when Loane was unavailable, but then Corny was a freak. He could play the entire backrow competently.

            Duncan Hall was similar to Shaw, in that he played either lock or eightman. Poor guy wasn’t quite tall enough for lock, or mobile enough for eightman! But one helluva gutsy player. Shaw struggled with the same problem as he got older.

            Anyway, Cheika is mucking around too much with positional changes. It’s one thing if the player is competent in that position, but results suggest too many players are in their wrong position.

            Too bad if his best two players both wear no.7. He’s tried it with only limited success. Now he has to make the tough decision between either Pocock or Hooper starting. And that’s just one dilemma he has to solve.

        • September 6th 2016 @ 11:04am
          Nigel said | September 6th 2016 @ 11:04am | ! Report

          The sad truth is Cheika is not a coach, he’s been schooled by the best and he is still sulking over it and he will never get over it…..too emotions and now he is embarrassing as well!!!

          • September 6th 2016 @ 2:32pm
            DanFan said | September 6th 2016 @ 2:32pm | ! Report

            We need a like button for this site.

      • September 6th 2016 @ 11:50am
        RussNev said | September 6th 2016 @ 11:50am | ! Report

        Great Post Sheek
        I have always believed that John Hipwell was one of, if not the best number 9 Australia has produced, so I presume he must have been injured if he wasn’t selected. Also that was the first three years of the Adidas Wallabies with the 3 stripes down the sleeves of the jerseys. I wonder if the injection of the much needed sponsorship dollars had any bearing on the positive on-field results. I.e., cash payments being left in players boots after the games, has always been the rumour.

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