The Wallabies get 6 out of 10 for their 37-14 win over Fiji

Spiro Zavos Columnist

By Spiro Zavos, Spiro Zavos is a Roar Expert

 , , ,

199 Have your say

Popular article! 5,623 reads

    On the Friday before the Melbourne Test between Australia and Fiji, I was chatting with my son Zolton about how the match might turn out.

    “The Wallabies would have to be favoured to win by about 30 to 40 points,” Zolton suggested.

    I assured him that this was about what we should expect.

    You have to go back to 1961 for a Fiji victory against the Wallabies. Moreover, the Wallabies (despite the general dismay about their performances last year) are number 3 on the World Rugby rankings. Fiji is 10th.

    But the Wallabies were coming off two successive defeats (England and Ireland) at the end of 2016.

    And there was one other aspect to the Melbourne Test that nagged away, rather like a sporadic toothache. Back back in 2011, as part of a warm-up of matches to prepare for the RWC tournament, the Wallabies were defeated by Samoa at Parramatta.

    When first tier national teams play Tests against the Island sides there is always the nagging doubt (rather like playing France) that if everything goes well for them, they are capable of pulling off an unexpected victory.

    Because the unexpected can happen in Test rugby (ask the Springboks about their 2015 RWC loss to Japan), there is always lingering fear about predicting a certain Test victory for a dominant side.

    We know now that the unexpected did not happen. The bookmakers were correct with their odds on a Wallabies victory at $1.03 to $1.00.

    The Wallabies started strongly and scored a try within 4m.20s from the start of play.

    There was a lot to like about this opening onslaught. It suggested that the coaching staff had done a lot of thinking since last year and had come up with some answers for the Wallabies.

    The Wallabies unveiled a new formation from the kick-off, as Rod Kafer noted. And some clever things in their back-line alignments, especially around Karmichael Hunt, Bernard Foley sometimes playing the runner off Hunt’s passes and numerous positional switches for Israel Folau.

    Hunt played the role of second receiver fluently, aside from an initial error. He also alternated cleverly with the only indispensable Wallaby, Bernard Foley, as first receiver.

    This use of a playmaking inside centre to augment the playmaking number 10 has been a Holy Grail of Australian rugby since the heyday of the system back in 1984 when Mark Ella and Michael Lynagh excelled in their roles and gave a scientific and ruthless cutting edge to the back line attack of the Wallabies.

    I haven’t been a great proponent of Hunt as a Wallaby starter, certainly not as a fullback. He seems to me to be heavy-footed, if I can put it that way. He is not particularly quick, a clumper rather than a fluent runner.

    He is abrasive, though. And as he demonstrated in his first Test, he has a sharp passing game and can straighten a back line that has a tendency to drift. This squaring of the shoulders by the inside backs when they attack the opposition is the key to successful attacking play with backs and forwards charging on to the set-up passes.

    I’d like coach Michael Cheika to continue the experiment of the two playmakers (Foley and Hunt) with a proviso. I’d like to see some with more genuine pace at outside centre.

    When Samu Kerevi comes back, he could be this player. But who right now is for Cheika to decide.

    Reece Hodge, perhaps, although his defensive work needs to ramped up. Possibly Dane Haylett-Petty who is a terrific all-round player, rather like Conrad Smith, who has all attributes, especially the defensive skills and know-how about reading plays to be a stand-out player in this position.

    Where would Tevita Kuridrani play in this sort of lineup? On the wing, I would suggest. His block-busting, bull-dozing style is best suited to a position where he doesn’t have to worry about feeding wingers or making crucial defensive decisions.

    I know, I know. Haylett-Petty plays all his rugby at full-back and on the wing. So why shove him into a new position?

    In the last year or so, rugby has continued its evolution into a game where the numbers on the backs of players, except obviously for the set piece plays, don’t have the importance they used to have. The skills that have allowed a natural full-back like Haylett-Petty to be effective in his catching, passing, running and tackling under pressure as a winger are transferable, in his case, to the centres.

    Israel Folau Wallabies Australian Rugby Union 2017 tall

    (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

    Will Cheika follow this advice?

    Of course he won’t, certainly not for his starting XV for the Test against Scotland next weekend.

    But I think it is an idea that has merit as a work in progress, especially looking towards the RWC tournament in 2019.

    I was surprised that Will Genia won the official man of match award. He was effective and played with the surety and calmness he generally exhibits.

    But surely Israel Folau (despite his yellow card) was the standout Wallaby on the field?

    He scored the first try from a cross-field bomb from Foley by soaring in the air, defying gravity like a rugby union Michael Jordan, and snatching the ball as he fell to the ground to plant it down for a try.

    With his AFL experience and his wiry body build (despite his obvious size and strength), Folau is a formidable attacker when the ball is in the air. The coaching staff seem, finally, to have worked out ways of keeping Folau in play, even when he is playing at fullback.

    Let’s hope that the systems used to allow him to get his hands on the ball more frequently than he has been for the Waratahs can be refined and perfected to allow Folau’s natural rugby talents to flourish during the harder Tests to come later in the season.

    The result of the systems at Melbourne, anyway, was that Folau had his first two-try Test since November 2014. He looked more like the prodigiously gifted and dangerous player who was so sensational in his first Test against the British and Irish Lions four years ago.

    One aspect of the play of the Wallabies against Fiji, and it is a recurring problem, is that they started brilliantly and after about 20 minutes lapsed into a sort of lacklustre, laboured industriousness that afflicted so much of their play last year.

    At the 17th minute mark, the Wallabies were leading 15-0. They added another 3 points in the next 23 minutes up to half-time. Then in the 53rd minute of play they scored another try to take the lead out to 25-0.

    After this, the Wallabies scored two more tries and conceded two tries to the Fijians, who finally converted a huge amount of time inside the Wallabies 22 in the Test into points.

    It remains a mystery why the Wallabies have this knack of turning off after making an explosive start. It also happened in the June Tests against England, especially in the opening Test when for 15 minutes or so the Wallabies looked like world-beaters or at least England-beaters.

    Sam Carter Wallabies Australia Rugby Union 2017

    (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

    The mystery can be explained by a lack of muscularity and physicality in the Wallabies pack. The players just do not have that collective mongrel that the best packs, like England, Ireland, the All Blacks and the Lions against the Crusaders, have with all their forwards really hitting their targets in tackle like missiles.

    Teams like these, when they get on top, tend to stay on top making each thumping run or tackle another blow to weaken their opponents. The rain of blows often tends to blow away their opponents.

    There is a tendency for the Wallabies (think Sekope Kepu in the RWC 2015 final) to mistake swinging arms and boiling anger for effective physically intimidating play.

    The problem with this foul play attack is that it often leads to yellow cards, as the Waratahs can confirm with their yellow card tally and poor results this season.

    Playing with legalised mongrel is facet of the play of the Wallabies, and Australian rugby in general, that needs addressing. There are no genuine HARD MEN in the Wallabies or Australian rugby, in fact, who can intimidate their opponents with legal, savage, abrasive smash-and-grab forward play.

    The backrow that the Wallabies fielded at Melbourne played well but did not impose themselves on the Fijians. The Fijian forwards, in fact, ended the Test holding their own against the Wallabies pack.

    Ned Hanigan, for instance, already has the physical dimensions to be an enforcer. But his body hasn’t hardened up, nor has his mind. There is too much pretend muscularity with flaying arms and legs and angry gestures, rather than the real mongrel thing, in his play.

    Hopefully, this will come. For he is a player for the future and worth keeping in the starting XV. He is good around the field. He is a lineout winner. And he has the sort of galloping speed that players of his type need to make an impression on opponents. And he has the unbreakable spirit that boys from the bush seem to always have.

    One other point about Hanigan. He is Wallaby 902. A country boy who plays out of the Randwick Club, he is the 102nd Wallaby from the Galloping Greens.

    Think about this. One Sydney rugby club had provided one out of every nine Wallabies. This is an incredible statistic that should give the ARU board members some cause to re-think their stupid policy of rejecting the traditional grassroots of the rugby game here in Australia.

    Now for Michael Hooper. I thought he did well enough but not outstandingly well as the Wallaby captain. He took the easy penalties early on, which is always the right thing to do. He was busy around the field. And his interventions with the referee were shrewd and effective.

    But there must be a question mark over his captaincy given the woeful performance of the Waratahs this season under his captaincy. This is a valid point made by Mark Ella on Saturday in The Australian in an article titled: “It’s not how much we win by that counts, it’s how we play the game.”

    For me, too, he allowed the Wallabies to drift too much through the Test. Someone like George Gregan or Nick Farr-Jones would have had the whip out on the Wallabies who seemed to be easing off too much in their play for my liking, once the game’s result seemed to be settled.

    There is also a sort of question mark over his play. I’ve tried to think about why, even when he plays brilliantly, which is quite often, he rarely has a dominant impact on play.

    He is, it seems to me, a flanker playing as an inside centre rather than an inside centre playing as a flanker. In other words, he plays like a back rather than as a forward.

    For instance, he rarely wins turnovers that turn matches, He rarely makes the bone-crashing tackles that win matches.

    He needs a complementary player, either at number 6 or number 8, to do the impact things. Richard Hardwick came on and immediately won a turnover that stopped a Fijian resurgence.

    My feeling is that if Cheika wants a balanced backrow, he needs to play an abrasive turn-over expert like Hardwick to work with Hooper’s brilliant running and tackling game.

    We come finally to the case of Stephen Moore.

    Surely it was a very odd decision by Cheika to play the Wallabies squad captain as a reserve? Surely the Wallabies captain should be a starter?

    So how does one explain the decision to play Moore as a reserve?

    Wallabies coach Michael Cheika (left) and captain Stephen Moore

    This decision was taken to see if Moore can be used as an impact player, as one of the Cheika’s famed “finishers.”

    Well, he did score a try from a lineout drive. But the reality is that he had little impact on play and he seemed to be off the pace of the game when he came on late in the Test.

    The truth is that Moore either starts or he isn’t in the starting squad, or for that matter in the Test squad.

    I think that there are very really serious questions to be asked about whether Moore’s Test career should be extended into the November Tests.

    For what it is worth, I believe that Bernard Foley should captain the Wallabies.

    He is far and away the most indispensable player in Australian rugby. He plays, too, with an understanding of the correct tactics the Wallabies should be playing that is beyond other Wallabies, at this time.

    To sum up, the Wallabies were good enough to win comfortably. But not good enough to be comfortable about their performance. Therefore, I allocate a 6 out of 10 for their first Test performance in 2017.

    Spiro Zavos
    Spiro Zavos

    Spiro Zavos, a founding writer on The Roar, was long time editorial writer on the Sydney Morning Herald, where he started a rugby column that has run for nearly 30 years. Spiro has written 12 books: fiction, biography, politics and histories of Australian, New Zealand, British and South African rugby. He is regarded as one of the foremost writers on rugby throughout the world.

    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 (199)

    • June 12th 2017 @ 5:24am
      riddler said | June 12th 2017 @ 5:24am | ! Report

      thanks for the write up spiro, i still haven’t managed to watch the game..

      i am a fan of foley and a fan of hunt..

      their new partnership, if the goss on here is right, a 2 day old partnership, looks good by all accounts..

      would have loved for hunt to get a couple of runs at 10 in qld.. he played great there while in france..

      credit to hunt to step in at 12 and play well..

      i agree with foley being indispensable.. not sure about captain..

      but then again nobody was sure about a certain j.eales either.. can’t be any worse than moore or hooper that is for sure..

    • June 12th 2017 @ 6:45am
      Partyhat said | June 12th 2017 @ 6:45am | ! Report

      I did ask this on another thread but to no avail, and it’s a genuine question , not just stirring the pot ,but England got loads of flak on here for giving Fiji a nominal amount for their test at Twikkers last year. Does anyone know how much Oz gave them for this game? ( is there a set amount per test?) .
      For the hand wringing and wailing from some posters after what Eng gave them I’d hope each player received tens if not hundreds of thousands from the Wallabies/ARU
      (now I am stirring the pot)

      • June 12th 2017 @ 11:18am
        Benchie said | June 12th 2017 @ 11:18am | ! Report

        Fiji received nothing for playing.

        • June 12th 2017 @ 2:04pm
          AndyS said | June 12th 2017 @ 2:04pm | ! Report

          Crowd that size, the ARU may not have got much either…

    • June 12th 2017 @ 7:09am
      Cynical Play said | June 12th 2017 @ 7:09am | ! Report

      Spot on with your score of 6/10 Spiro. No more deserved. I agree also with your comments regarding the lack of ruggedness.

      I wrote this yesterday on another article, but it is perhaps more relevant on yours…

      As good as it was to see the team have some success, there remains the comparative lack of breakdown competition and intensity, which has dogged recent WB outfits. Have a look at the skills and intensity of the players (not just forwards) during Friday night’s Chiefs v Hurricanes game, then have a look at the WBs v Fiji on Saturday.

      What a contrast.

      On Friday night, at the Cake-Tin, every player from both NZ sides knew how and when to disrupt or challenge for the ball at the breakdown, how to tackle a player such that the ball is more likely to become available for challenge, and they displayed the attitude that almost every tackle can become an opportunity for a change in possession.

      Not so the WBs who traditionally leave this work up to a few players. From watching Sat game v Fiji, it seems Hunt knows how to do it, Hooper of course, Coleman, Kuridrani a little, Hardwick, Kepu. I don’t mean using their shoulder to clean out, or flopping down, like Moore and Higgers do mostly, I mean winning the collision in defence and getting the ball, wrestling and turning the player like the NZ players are taught from an early age, with small stature being no impediment to effective counter-defence. Until the WBs can do this across the park, they will never challenge the ABs on a regular level. Richard Hardwick is this type of player. He had impact off the bench yesterday and doesn’t stand off. He deserves to start at 7 when Hooper is rested, which might be Italy.

      The NZ players are ALWAYS competing for the ball. THIS IS THE KEY. A tackle becomes a contest. Look how they try and dislodge the ball often as part of the tackle. Look how they challenge a set but undermanned ruck, even when lost. Look how every player knows how to ‘attack’ a just-tackled opponent. THIS in the main area of difference in the approach to NZ rugby as I see it and a huge part of their counter-attack success

      Then there is HUNGER for CONTACT – I can think of 4-5 WBs who started yesterday (and at least 1 off the bench) who don’t have this in sufficient dosage to regarded as complete players in the modern sense.

      Regarding Hannigan, I saw nothing to justify his starting over, say, Fardy or Timani. Nice kid. Has some skills. Should improve. I guess it’s just a Cheika ‘early blooding selection’. But he ain’t the messiah for the RC going on yesterday.

      I agree on Foley for (C) with Hooper (VC). Moore is being let down softly I think and will play no role in 2019. I think

      I agree Spiro that DHP at 13 is well worth a try. He is wasted on the wing and we need at least one winger with blinding pace (Naivalu). For Scots I would like to see Genia > Foley > Hunt > DHP > Naivalu, Speight > Folau

      • June 12th 2017 @ 7:25am
        riddler said | June 12th 2017 @ 7:25am | ! Report

        good points cp..

      • Roar Guru

        June 12th 2017 @ 8:28am
        Joey Johns said | June 12th 2017 @ 8:28am | ! Report

        I’d be hesitant to move DHP closer to the action at the expense of our Crash-ball back.

        Kerevi/Kuridrani go a long way in ensuring that Izzy & co. have space to gander out wide due to the threat they provide in traffic. You simply can’t drift off either of them.

        Take away our crash ball option and we’ll struggle to make the advantage line. Hopefully Hunt keeps the 12 jersey over Beale when he’s back from injury. It’s a much more rounded backline with Hunts starch defense and his ability with ball-in-hand in traffic

        • Roar Rookie

          June 12th 2017 @ 8:46am
          Dave_S said | June 12th 2017 @ 8:46am | ! Report

          Yep. Also a winger needs the ability to either scoot away from the defence or otherwise step around it or roll over the top of it – that’s not Kuridrani. He is either at 13 (and he is good there) or not in the 23 at all, for mine. If one of the Ks is to move to wing, I would have Kerevi.

          • June 12th 2017 @ 9:21am
            Cynical Play said | June 12th 2017 @ 9:21am | ! Report

            Yes, Kerevi on the wing could be something. Can he catch?

            • Roar Rookie

              June 12th 2017 @ 10:08am
              Dave_S said | June 12th 2017 @ 10:08am | ! Report

              Has soft hands, haven’t noticed he’s any more butter fingered than average. Certainly knows his way to the tryline.

            • June 12th 2017 @ 10:13am
              Fionn said | June 12th 2017 @ 10:13am | ! Report

              Kerevi is the best 13 in the country (and I would argue possibly in the world, definitely in attack), I don’t see the advantage in moving him further from the action.

              In my opinion we continue his development at 13, working on his defence or we move him to 12 and try and make him into a Ma’a Nonu-like player, like Nick Bishop suggested.

              We have a heap of decent wing options too now.

            • Roar Guru

              June 12th 2017 @ 10:37am
              PeterK said | June 12th 2017 @ 10:37am | ! Report

              I think the idea is madness to think about DHP as a 13. There are already 3 better 13’s in Kerevi, Kuridrani and Folau.

              First of all the 2 best running backs are Folau and Kerevi.

              If Kerevi is moved it should be to 12 and developed into a Nonu type, just needs a bit of work on his short kicking game and longer passing. If that does not happen he is wasted on the wing as the 1st test against England showed. He lacks the pace , kicking game, and skills under the high ball for a wing. Furthermore he is not the quickest to turn around when kicked behind.

              Kerevi must be at 12 or 13.

              Now to DHP. He lacks brute power and relies on elusivness, Folau who is even more elusive was not as effective at 13 why would DHP be any better. Also DHP is a poor tackler, he misses 30% of tackles, 13 is even harder to defend he would miss even more tackles.

              • June 12th 2017 @ 10:39am
                Fionn said | June 12th 2017 @ 10:39am | ! Report

                I think DHP is better at wriggling through holes and is more elusive, Folau is much, much more powerful though.

                DHP is no 13 though.

              • Roar Rookie

                June 12th 2017 @ 10:48am
                piru said | June 12th 2017 @ 10:48am | ! Report

                I think they need to make a decision – do they want the normal fullback who kicks, reads the game and injects himself where appropriate, or do they want the superstar athlete?

                I personally would have DHP at 15 and Folau at 11, but seeing Folau is immovable at 15 – why are they persisting with a 15 at wing?

                Particularly when there are better wingers around?

                If Folau is 15, DHP needs to be on the bench, at best, while a winger is selected on the wing.

                Oh, and playing him at 13 would be fine while the backline is moving forward in space, but again, there are better 13s in the comp – backline positions aren’t all interchangeable.

              • June 12th 2017 @ 10:51am
                Fionn said | June 12th 2017 @ 10:51am | ! Report

                Agreed, Piru.

              • Roar Pro

                June 12th 2017 @ 10:58am
                Crazy Horse said | June 12th 2017 @ 10:58am | ! Report

                DHP should be at 15 with Folau at 11 or 13. But given Cheika love with Folau at 15 having DHP at 11 and a genuine speedster at 14 would be a better option.

              • June 12th 2017 @ 12:41pm
                John said | June 12th 2017 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

                Sun comes up – Fionn and Crazy Horse banging on again about DHP being “more elusive” than Folau and a better option at fullback.

              • Roar Guru

                June 12th 2017 @ 10:58am
                PeterK said | June 12th 2017 @ 10:58am | ! Report

                it is quite common to play 1 outright wing and other a wing/fb hybrid.

                Look at dagg and b smith. Often one is used as a winger.

                A lot of highkicks go to wings especially box kicks. The issue is if you have Naivalu and Speight as you wings then both are poor kickers.

                Folau reads the game in attack better than any outside back. He is always in the right spot in support play and hits holes really well.
                DHP isn’t even close in reading the game in attack.

                Also Folau can kick and does.

              • Roar Rookie

                June 12th 2017 @ 11:26am
                piru said | June 12th 2017 @ 11:26am | ! Report

                Folau is still more wing than FB and would make more sense in the hybrid position.

              • Roar Rookie

                June 12th 2017 @ 11:39am
                Dave_S said | June 12th 2017 @ 11:39am | ! Report

                I’m not advocating either K to move to wing. I agree DHP is best used as a winger / FB, he’s not a 13 and we don’t need another one anyway.

                At least while Foley is the 10, I think the best 12 is Hunt – can do some of the first receiver distribution work (which I don’t see Kerevi doing), is a good stopper in that D channel, and can organise the outside defence (which makes it safer to play Kerevi at 13 instead of Kuridrani).

              • Roar Rookie

                June 12th 2017 @ 11:45am
                piru said | June 12th 2017 @ 11:45am | ! Report

                Actually agree Dave, Hunt looked really good at 12, happy to concede I was wrong on that one.

                It really ruins my arguments against playing people out of position when it comes off like that.

              • Roar Guru

                June 12th 2017 @ 11:50am
                PeterK said | June 12th 2017 @ 11:50am | ! Report

                Dave_S – I agree right now Hunt is better for 12 than Kerevi especially with Foley at 10.

                Hunt is needed to organise the backline in attack and defence, something Cooper does because both have vision and anticipate play.

                Foley does it by the numbers not by reading the play.

                IMO Kerevi should be developed and upskilled to become an all round 12 in the mould of Nonu. Once he has those skills he can move into 12. Hunt won’t be around that long.
                My fear is Beale will get 12 and the defensive musical chairs will start all over again.

              • June 12th 2017 @ 12:36pm
                Hello said | June 12th 2017 @ 12:36pm | ! Report

                I think that is a sound fear Peter and probably shared by more then a few

              • June 12th 2017 @ 8:19pm
                Reverse Wheel said | June 12th 2017 @ 8:19pm | ! Report

                I don’t fear it. Beale needs to be in the team.

              • June 13th 2017 @ 10:54am
                Taniwha said | June 13th 2017 @ 10:54am | ! Report

                Folau 13 ? Naah bro.The bloke is mud at 15, why would you want him to bring even more mud to the Wallies backline.

      • June 12th 2017 @ 9:06am
        Fionn said | June 12th 2017 @ 9:06am | ! Report

        I think we have enough abrasive forwards if they’re properly selected and coached

        – TPN
        – Ala’alatoa
        – Kepu
        – Coleman
        – Arnold
        – Timani
        – Fardy

        These are all players who are good in the tight and love physical contact. Guys like Carter and Hanigan just let the team down too much from the physical perspective, especially with Hooper and Higginbotham, who both like to play loose.

        • June 12th 2017 @ 9:18am
          Cynical Play said | June 12th 2017 @ 9:18am | ! Report

          Yes. Agree on those piggies. Add Hardwick, Hooper.

          But my point is that backs need to be able to contest every tackle as well. These skills need to be across the park in the modern game. Backs need to be able to attack the tackled player, not waiting for the forwards, and likewise shut down an attack on their tackled team-mate. NZ players can do this across the park to a much higher level than Oz. The modern game requires every player to be broadly skilled. The NZ players just keep getting better at this. Oz needs persistent formal up-skilling in this regard.

          • June 12th 2017 @ 9:47am
            Fionn said | June 12th 2017 @ 9:47am | ! Report

            Very true.

            Hunt is about only Wallaby back I would put in that category. Speight tries hard but isn’t super effective at it.

            • Roar Guru

              June 12th 2017 @ 10:42am
              PeterK said | June 12th 2017 @ 10:42am | ! Report

              AAC did, it seems it is up to the individual and coaches don’t direct or develop the backs to do it

            • June 12th 2017 @ 10:53am
              Utah said | June 12th 2017 @ 10:53am | ! Report

              Speight is pretty effective at it for a back. Often up the top of Super Rugby stats for turnovers for backs, and surpasses many forwards who he shouldn’t be. AAC very good too.

            • Roar Pro

              June 12th 2017 @ 11:00am
              Crazy Horse said | June 12th 2017 @ 11:00am | ! Report

              Nick Cummins loves to mix it up with the forwards.

          • June 12th 2017 @ 10:01am
            Fionn said | June 12th 2017 @ 10:01am | ! Report

            Hardwick and Hooper too yeah. Australia has never suffered for quality 7s, it is the one position where we have an abundance of talent.

          • June 12th 2017 @ 10:30am
            Link said | June 12th 2017 @ 10:30am | ! Report

            Add Hooper to Fionns list?? No. He is not abrasive.He runs out in the backs

          • June 12th 2017 @ 9:25pm
            ThugbyFan said | June 12th 2017 @ 9:25pm | ! Report

            Spot on CP, A good case in point is Ryan Crotty of the Crusaders. He attacks every ruck forming near him and creates havoc. Because of his speed, ruck skills and the fact he is already halfway out-wide, Crotty is mostly first into any wide breakdowns (defence or attack) and is hard to shift. It was obvious the Crusaders really missed Crotty on Saturday against the Lions, especially at his disruption of rucks. I don’t know of his situation with the AB but to be sure they will be sweating on him being available.

            I would like to see all 5 skills coaches of the Aus SR teams make it their personal KPI for 2017 to get at least one centre (prefer IC) and one winger to grow into nuisance ruck monkeys. K.Hunt is pretty good, whereas I.Folau just leans on the ruck without attacking it. Most of the other backs are just ruck observers. For the backs, the rucks and the short kicking game of 5/8 and IC should be the skills that all the SR teams need serious work on.

        • Roar Guru

          June 12th 2017 @ 10:40am
          PeterK said | June 12th 2017 @ 10:40am | ! Report

          add in Sio, Latu, Pocock, Naisarni (when eligible)

        • June 12th 2017 @ 12:10pm
          Akari said | June 12th 2017 @ 12:10pm | ! Report

          If Coleman is an enforcer type, Fionn, you then need a work horse in the team to keep things ticking and that’s where Carter comes in.

          It was a good test for Hannigan to be given an opportunity to test his mettle but he is certainly not a Fardy or Timani type that Hooper needs to play his way.

          • Roar Guru

            June 12th 2017 @ 12:15pm
            PeterK said | June 12th 2017 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

            Coleman plays 80 mins, calls lineouts, is an enforcer, has a high workrate, and offloads in the tackle, the complete lock.
            Arnold is better to start with him. You can have to physical locks , one doesn’t have to be a beanpole grinder.

            • June 12th 2017 @ 9:02pm
              MitchO said | June 12th 2017 @ 9:02pm | ! Report

              Not in the squad but Rhp has the mongrel. Matt Phillip may as he is physical. Don’t know why spiro said no one in the pack when both tpn and Coleman have it.

          • June 12th 2017 @ 9:48pm
            ThugbyFan said | June 12th 2017 @ 9:48pm | ! Report

            What about A.Coleman’s offload in heavy traffic to Higgers which led to H.Speight’s 1st try? It was a ripper. I.Folau should have got that try but the pass was cr*p and luckily Speight got to the ball. A decent pass and Izzy may have got a hat-trick of meat pies.

            For my money, A.Coleman was man of the match. What is really pleasing is not only seeing topline locks such as Coleman and R.Arnold begin their WB careers but a slew of very good locks such as S.Carter, L.Tui and M.Philip coming through the ranks. We are not there yet but I hope all these 5 blokes get blooded into the WB fold over the next 19 months. Last year’s EOYT, once Coleman and R.Arnold were out of the WB (injured), our backup locks of R.Simmons and K.Douglas, while very good players just weren’t up to the task against the forward heavy teams like England and Ireland.

      • June 12th 2017 @ 10:24am
        Link said | June 12th 2017 @ 10:24am | ! Report

        ” With the only indispensable Wallaby, Bernard Foley ”

        Foley is a failure at test level.We saw it last year,and the year before.When will Cheika learn .He plays well against minnows.Robertson that bloke is terrible ,so many times I saw him get bollocked by the Fijians,it was so emabarrasing to watch.It was only the Fijians rememeber.The the rest of the pack were great,my ony concern is Hanigan is probably not test standard yet,but Cheika will pick him until he comes good.

        • June 12th 2017 @ 12:13pm
          Akari said | June 12th 2017 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

          Someone suggested last week that Robertson could be more appropriate at hooker like a Tom Lawton type. He, maybe should give it ago.

          • June 12th 2017 @ 2:16pm
            Link said | June 12th 2017 @ 2:16pm | ! Report

            Akari ,

            Except Tommy Lawton was 6 “1 and 119 kilos when playing hooker..( A monster )

            Robertson is 5″10 and 107 kilos ..Aint gonna happen

      • June 12th 2017 @ 10:38am
        Marto said | June 12th 2017 @ 10:38am | ! Report

        Any other Waratahs for leadership roles ??..Horne, VC of the outside backs? Kepu, VC of the front row ? Hanigan VC of the back row..You mate are tragic and what is wrong with aussie rugby, if you really are an aussie .hahaha

        • June 12th 2017 @ 10:48am
          Cynical Play said | June 12th 2017 @ 10:48am | ! Report

          Marto..VC of Canetoads.

        • June 12th 2017 @ 10:59am
          Cynical Play said | June 12th 2017 @ 10:59am | ! Report

          Hey Marto, your spelling’s getting better. Did you get the debating prize at school? I bet you did !!

          How are things up North? Pauline for premier yet? Must be awful to see CQ wasted on the bench, eh Marto? Go QLDer…. At least you got your own NRL show.

          • June 12th 2017 @ 2:19pm
            Marto said | June 12th 2017 @ 2:19pm | ! Report

            Oh and Kepu should have been ( C ) of the front row… My apologies..

        • Roar Pro

          June 12th 2017 @ 11:01am
          Crazy Horse said | June 12th 2017 @ 11:01am | ! Report

          Nick Cummins loves to mix it up with the forwards.

      • June 12th 2017 @ 4:32pm
        savant said | June 12th 2017 @ 4:32pm | ! Report

        Please send this to the ARU and all the schools and clubs. It is what I have forever believed about why the kiwis are the hardest team to beat in the world.

      • June 12th 2017 @ 8:57pm
        Mike said | June 12th 2017 @ 8:57pm | ! Report

        Excellent post, CP

        A lot of ink is spilled about selections, but they don’t make all that much difference against the top three sides.

    • Roar Guru

      June 12th 2017 @ 8:13am
      Simon Levingston said | June 12th 2017 @ 8:13am | ! Report


      Once again a very astute summary of the match. The Wallabies need as many easier games as possible so they can practise their improving skill sets and playing systems.

      Michael Hooper is a good player. I don’t think he should be captain either. If he is going to play as a centre / flanker then he too needs to improve the way he plays. Firstly I find it frustrating to watch him play his one dimensional game. His weakness I think is he lacks vision and when he does good work he then fails to finish it off. If he was playing in a NZ team I think he probably wouldn’t be selected because he fails to look for supporting team mates to keep the ball alive. Isn’t this the new holy grail of rugby to keep the ball alive at all costs to change the point of attack? Michael Hooper continues to die with the ball. He lacks the necessary vision to captain the Wallabies.

    • June 12th 2017 @ 8:24am
      Bakkies said | June 12th 2017 @ 8:24am | ! Report

      In Ireland’s win in November against the NZ the Irish forwards chose which rucks to contest which A led to a low penalty count that gives point or field position and B the defenders were set to nail the ABs 9 and 10. Instead it was the ABs who gave away penalties that led to points or easy field position.

    • June 12th 2017 @ 8:35am
      Ken Catchpole's Other Leg said | June 12th 2017 @ 8:35am | ! Report

      Agree with much of your post Cynical.
      I would like to add to the detail in your anzac contrast – nz players are disciplined to ‘triage’ opportunity, that is, when it is ‘on’, be it a turnover, or a counter attack opportunity, their disciplined alertness allows them to act , in numbers, with intensity, coordination and accuracy.
      It begins though with an alertness that triages the opportunity.
      We have not yet trained our boys in such alertness. The debutants of today were playing in the U/6’s in 2003. In the U/10’s in 2007. That year was when NZ said ‘enough was enough’ and re-created their famed ‘rugby factory’ which produces not only the best players, coaches and teams in the world, but the best systems, and Im betting that it all starts at age 4 over there.
      It all begins with alertness -essentially of the opportunity available in time and space. Alertness is one ‘non-physical’ that can create time and space. Team alertness compounds the opportunty. Accuracy turns that opportunity into points, in increments of five.
      I suspect that one of our own, Mick Byrne, contributed (amongst many others) to this highly disciplined outcome, after offering his services to us.
      Anyhow, good article Spiro. 6/10, yes.
      Foley ‘irreplaceable’? Well aprt from the fact that he is not bulletproof, he is also not Ella, or Larkham. Great player. Great Wallaby. Not irreplaceable.

      • June 12th 2017 @ 5:22pm
        double agent said | June 12th 2017 @ 5:22pm | ! Report

        Unfortunately Ella and Larkham are not available so it looks like Foley has got the job.

    , , ,