Unbeaten in September! And other associated hyperbole

Brett McKay Columnist

By Brett McKay, Brett McKay is a Roar Expert

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    Well, this is definitely the week. A Wallabies win after a year of losses just has to be a green light to dial up all manner of wild claims and predictions.

    I mean, if you can’t be bullish after a six-point win over a surprisingly mediocre former force, when can you?(Click to Tweet)

    I kind of tried to do this a fortnight ago, but it only lasted a couple of paragraphs before the sinking reality took hold. But after the Wallabies solid – no, ‘stellar’! – 23-17 win over South Africa, now there’s no holding back.

    So here it all comes – positivity turned up to 11. And then maybe reined in a tiny dose of reality…

    The Wallabies are as good at the All Blacks
    Only one other international team is unbeaten for the month of September, and by logical association, the only conclusion to draw is that the Wallabies are playing at that same unbeatable level as the All Blacks.

    Actually, there is one other team. The Czech Republic beat Sweden in Rugby World Cup Qualifier, no less, on September 3.

    So yeah, the Wallabies are on that same high-performing plane as New Zealand and the Czech Republic. Praise doesn’t come any higher in international rugby circles.

    Everything we think might be true about Reece Hodge definitely is true
    Wow-wee, what a game! We all thought his was pretty good on debut two weeks ago in Wellington, but he was even better again in Brisbane for is first Wallabies start. And he didn’t even need the 60-plus metre penalty goal (or however far back it really was) to capture our attention.

    Could he be the Wallabies’ next long-term inside centre? Definitely.

    Should we wait and let him cut his teeth in international rugby on the wing, or at fullback or off the bench? Pfft, patience is for the weak.

    It was great to see Hodge’s prodigious kicking boot being utilised on Saturday night, just as it great to see his presence shoring up the midfield defence – which, to be fair, he also did a fortnight ago, and this time he didn’t have to worry about piddly little details like opposition attacking players running toward him.

    But what made Hodge’s game so impressive was actually his ball carrying in the 12 channel, and this is obviously where all the ‘future is now’ commentary is coming from. The way he ran straight and hard off both Quade Cooper and Bernard Foley was just so heartening that it was difficult not to think ahead to how handy he could be with 20 Tests under his belt.

    And sure, he’s got a few kinks in his game that still need ironing out, but there’s no doubt he’s a keeper. The Spring Tour might be a really good time to see how he does handle the centres, and from there, the world is his oyster.

    Believe the hype.

    Everything we think might be true about Adam Coleman definitely is true
    A fortnight ago, I praised Adam Coleman’s “commitment and physicality both in attack and defence, and he ripped into the breakdown too,” even despite that one “moment of sheer dunderheaded stupidity.”

    On Saturday, he cranked up the performance levels further, dialled back the dunderheadedness, and delivered 54 minutes of quality in all areas of his game.

    But the added bonus was his running the lineout, and even running it pretty well, to the point where it made you wonder that if Dean Mumm wasn’t need to run the lineout, then why was he selected ahead of Scott Fardy and the Wallabies breakdown presence weakened in the process?

    Like Hodge, Coleman looks to have a length Test career ahead of him, and while his star is properly rising, it’s impossible to overlook how fast Will Skelton, Rob Simmons and Sam Carter have slid down the pole. All are playing solid if not spectacular rugby in the NRC, and while ever Coleman can carry on like he’d stared his time in the Gold jersey, it’s hard to see the pecking order changing anytime soon.

    The Cooper-Foley combination actually kind of worked
    I remember writing in a comment somewhere before the Wellington Test that I thought Bernard Foley playing at inside centre had some interchange potential with Quade Cooper, and I could especially see situations where they swapped between first and second receiver once the Wallabies crossed the opposition 10m line.

    And though they managed to royally bugger the combination up in Wellington, Cooper and Foley managed to stay out of each other’s way on Saturday night, and actually worked quite well in unison.

    There were times when Cooper played 10 for one ruck, and then for Foley to play 10 at the next, particularly if they switched focus or direction. Sometimes Foley provided the width for Cooper to play the wide running options from 12, while at other times, Cooper gave Foley the width to find option runners on his inside or outside.

    The big benefit was that with Cooper playing flat at 10, Foley had to play a lot closer to the line, and that had the effect of straightening him up; he played much more north-south that east-west, which is always the preferred option. His try was a perfect example of how much dangerous a player he is when playing flatter and straighter.

    Would I want this combination to play for my life? Oh, Lordy, no! And I’m far from convinced that any great amount of time should be put into developing the combination much further even this season, simply because of the all the defensive adjustments and allowances that have to be made once the Wallabies switch from attack to the defence.

    But it did work pretty well against the ‘Boks, and both players deserve due credit for making it work.

    All the Wallabies’ issues are hereby solved
    Yep, this final point is undeniably, unequivocally, absolutely tru … ah, no.

    Even maximum positivity must have a ceiling, and this is definitely it, because like all good Wallabies wins, it probably raised more questions than answers.

    But it was genuinely good – if slightly unfamiliar – to finish the game with more points than the opposition for the first time this season.

    It gives the Wallabies much-needed confidence heading to Perth this weekend, and that can only be a good thing.

    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 (111)

    • Roar Guru

      September 13th 2016 @ 5:29am
      Harry Jones said | September 13th 2016 @ 5:29am | ! Report

      It’s Happy Week on the Roar!

      Here’s more good news for OZ:

      – WBs have won 8 more TOs than NZ
      – Average missed tackles went from 33.5 (after Rd 2) to 26.6 (after Rd 3)
      – WBs have missed 4 fewer conversions than NZ and 7 fewer penalties than SA
      – WBs have knocked on 3 fewer times than NZ
      – WBs have won more lineout ball on their own throw than NZ
      – Doubled try total for season
      – More offloads in Rd 3 than NZ

      • September 13th 2016 @ 7:10am
        woodart said | September 13th 2016 @ 7:10am | ! Report

        in the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king

      • Roar Pro

        September 13th 2016 @ 7:13am
        Matt Davis said | September 13th 2016 @ 7:13am | ! Report

        The stats don’t lie Harry!!

      • Roar Guru

        September 13th 2016 @ 7:14am
        Who Needs Melon said | September 13th 2016 @ 7:14am | ! Report

        And that’s what I’ve always said, Harry. It’s not where they are at the moment that matters, it’s the direction they’re heading.

        And I’m sure if someone took the two data points of this weeks and last weeks game and plotted a trend you’d find that in another few games we’d be:
        – winning more turnovers than there are breakdowns
        – having a negative missed tackle stat
        – making conversions even when we haven’t scored a try
        – scoring a gigillion tries per match
        – more offloads than passes,
        – etc.

      • Roar Guru

        September 13th 2016 @ 7:44am
        Train Without A Station said | September 13th 2016 @ 7:44am | ! Report

        I think that just shows that winning TO’s is overrated.

      • September 13th 2016 @ 8:10am
        Wardad said | September 13th 2016 @ 8:10am | ! Report

        Clarification needed Harry , is it that the Wallabies have won more of their own lineout ball than the ABs have stolen off them ?

        • Roar Guru

          September 13th 2016 @ 8:20am
          Harry Jones said | September 13th 2016 @ 8:20am | ! Report

          Aha! You spotted one of the spins!


          • September 13th 2016 @ 8:38am
            jaysper said | September 13th 2016 @ 8:38am | ! Report

            OMG! That is brilliant Harry!
            I would never have spotted that one.
            I looked at it and thought that you’d just got the stats wrong, not managed to use weasel words to both lie and tell the truth simultaneously. Well done!

          • September 13th 2016 @ 8:39am
            Nobrain said | September 13th 2016 @ 8:39am | ! Report

            Stats does not always tells you the true. Get the ones from ABs/Pumas game and avoid the try count ,you will never be able to say that the margin was so wide.

            • Roar Guru

              September 13th 2016 @ 8:46am
              Machooka said | September 13th 2016 @ 8:46am | ! Report

              Oops Nobrain… I’m thinking you won’t be getting a Christmas card from TWAS this year. 🙂

              • September 13th 2016 @ 9:43am
                Nobrain said | September 13th 2016 @ 9:43am | ! Report

                ups!!! Well I will have to manage without them.

            • Roar Guru

              September 13th 2016 @ 1:56pm
              Train Without A Station said | September 13th 2016 @ 1:56pm | ! Report


              They’re more of an indicator over a long term.

              You can have single anomalies. You likely won’t have consistent anomalies.

      • Roar Guru

        September 13th 2016 @ 9:13am
        Carlos the Argie said | September 13th 2016 @ 9:13am | ! Report

        It is a pity that in rugby the things that matters, that pesky statistic, is the scoreboard.

        The rest of the “number crunching” is just that, chatter.

        • Roar Guru

          September 13th 2016 @ 9:24am
          Machooka said | September 13th 2016 @ 9:24am | ! Report

          Ah Carlos… the old scoreboard thingy eh.

          Is it time for a ‘cone of silence’ session… perhaps methinks? 🙂

      • Columnist

        September 13th 2016 @ 10:47am
        Brett McKay said | September 13th 2016 @ 10:47am | ! Report

        You can’t argue with the numbers, Harry..

      • September 13th 2016 @ 3:27pm
        Noodles said | September 13th 2016 @ 3:27pm | ! Report

        Harry is now officially appointed president of the ARU. If he keeps this up he will get Gonski’s job too

      • September 13th 2016 @ 6:28pm
        P2R2 said | September 13th 2016 @ 6:28pm | ! Report

        any +ve stat is got to be good for the WBs but in the real world, it counts for NOTHING…sorry Harry

      • September 14th 2016 @ 11:10am
        Ruck said | September 14th 2016 @ 11:10am | ! Report

        And this is why you are going to lose to Argentina.

        Blah, blah, blah. The Wallabies are so good. They’ve turned the corner. They’re now back on track. Blah, blah, blah.

        Truth is, it was obvious Nigel Owens was in the Wallabies pocket. Not sure what Cheika and Moore did in the week leading up to the test, but his performance was utterly embarrassing.

        For example.

        The Boks couldn’t buy a penalty. All of their penalties came by the way of the touch judges. I think they had to step in at least 3 times because Owens refused to penalise Australia.

        The Wallabies could do no wrong. They lived offside and refused to release in the tackle. But Owens wasn’t interested.

        Nigel Owens was so desperate to award the disallowed try, he got the TMO to have another look after he gave his original decision. Credit to the TMO for sticking to his guns.

        But what was perhaps the most blindingly obvious bias that Owens had was the accidental offside when Phiips kicked the ball into his forwards. Instead of just blowing the whistle and calling accidental offside, Mr Owens was profuse in his apologies to the Wallabies for having to call it. It was embarrassing. Obviously Cheika finally got the ref he wanted. One that only reffed one side.

        But, well done Australia. You beat the Boks, ref or no ref. Well done.

        Unfortunately, you will revert to type and refuse to do critical analysis and everything is rosy on Planet Wallaby…..until you get dicked by Argentina.

        BTW: I picked Hodge as your future 2/5 a week ago. Question is, will the Aussie media blow so much smoke up his proverbial that he’ll think it’s where the sun shines from? I think they will…..

    • September 13th 2016 @ 6:23am
      Kane said | September 13th 2016 @ 6:23am | ! Report

      Sorry Brett but the Czech Republic beat Sweden by 42 making them the most successful September team of 2016. Also there was apparently 400 in attendance which is more than I could count on TV in the Wallabies game 😉

      • Columnist

        September 13th 2016 @ 10:48am
        Brett McKay said | September 13th 2016 @ 10:48am | ! Report

        Meh, margins, schmargins…

    • September 13th 2016 @ 6:27am
      The Other Steve said | September 13th 2016 @ 6:27am | ! Report

      Since Saturday night I have expected Wallaby fans to declare the corner has been turned, the problems are behind the team, and bring on the end-of-year tour because the WB played in the World Cup final last November.

    • September 13th 2016 @ 6:37am
      Galatzo said | September 13th 2016 @ 6:37am | ! Report

      A fun read, Brett, but I’m backing the Wallabies when they play the Czeckies in Prague on Saturday. We’re now ranked No. 3 in the world after the way we utterly annihilated the Boks, and the Czech team is ranked thirty places behind us. We’ve got this one.

      • September 13th 2016 @ 7:28am
        Hugo said | September 13th 2016 @ 7:28am | ! Report

        If the Wallabies can beat the powerhouse Boks by six surely they’ll beat the Czechies by at least nine.

        • September 13th 2016 @ 10:03am
          Mac said | September 13th 2016 @ 10:03am | ! Report

          Ill go 12 point boys. Be a good game too I’d say. One team with nothing to lose is always a handful.

      • Columnist

        September 13th 2016 @ 10:48am
        Brett McKay said | September 13th 2016 @ 10:48am | ! Report

        Precisely, Galatzo. Could be the beginnings of a wonderful rivalry..

    • Roar Guru

      September 13th 2016 @ 6:59am
      moaman said | September 13th 2016 @ 6:59am | ! Report

      When I first began to frequent The Roar—this was the kind of article that appeared on a daily basis (sans the humour) or so it seemed to me at the time!
      It’s great to have a laugh and if you can laugh when the chips are low then all the better.

      It certainly makes a big improvement on all the doom and gloom we have had to wade through over the past fortnight or so!

    • Roar Guru

      September 13th 2016 @ 7:43am
      Red Kev said | September 13th 2016 @ 7:43am | ! Report

      Your best headline yet Mr McSport

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