Three arguments that aren’t helping the Wallabies

Djavion DGriffin Roar Rookie

By Djavion DGriffin, Djavion DGriffin is a Roar Rookie

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    It’s Saturday afternoon and you don’t have the night shift. The ‘Arvo Test Rugby’, as the ARU have decided to brand it, is on and I’m thinking “What the hell”, sit down, crack open a rum and see how the boys go.

    Not to my surprise, there are errors, miskicks, turnovers and just plain bad structural formation from the Wallabies pretty much from the get-go. Admittedly, like most others, I was nervous but thought Australia would just have the game breakers to overrun the Scots in the last 20 minutes or so.

    Undoubtedly, and as I have written before, both the ARU and the Wallabies coaching staff have many hard questions to answer. The ARU, in particular, are a complete shambles and in any regular organisation, they would have carried their boxed up photographs and desk ornaments long out the door by now!

    The coaching staff of Micheal Cheika, Stephen Larkham and Nathan Grey also are near crisis point now where serious questions have to be asked on the platform for which they want to take Australian Rugby.

    But to put aside what true lovers of rugby know as the facade that is the ‘Rugby for Old Boys’, or the ARU, whichever you prefer. This talk is aimed at you, the fans and great lovers of this game.

    For god’s sake if you’re going to play the blame and complain game, at least do so as if you have some semblance of reality of the situation. This, of course, is a small minority, but feel free to correct me where necessary!

    Here are some of my favourites from the post-match comments across various social media outlets.

    “If only we hadn’t signed or developed all those rugby mercenaries of Pacific heritage or league converts who contribute nothing to the code”.
    So this one just made me chuckle after watching Saturday’s game. If you were being brutally honest right this second, who were the most effective players in the team?

    Israel Folau and Karmicheal Hunt, both from rugby league backgrounds, brought a much-needed spark to the backline and created genuine opportunities with Folau crossing for his second double in two Tests.

    Israel Folau Wallabies Australian Rugby Union 2017 tall

    (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

    Tatafu Polota-Nau was certainly more effective as a starter at hooker for the mind, with Stephen Moore seemingly now more energised off the bench.

    Quade Cooper was arguably more dangerous and threatening in his stint then Bernard Foley looked for the entire game and could even push for a starting position if Foley wasn’t a protected species. But then again this leads back to the ‘Booper Conundrum’.

    In the outside center position, the only two genuine options the Wallabies have are either Tevita Kuridrani or Samu Kerevi. While Kuridrani was average against Scotland, the crickets begin chirping when you ask the question of who else is a genuine contender to challenge him for the position, besides Kerevi.

    Lastly, young Allan Alaalatoa isn’t yet the complete product by any means but is certainly worth pursuing as a genuine starter for the Wallabies in the following years if given the opportunity.

    Next up, my personal favourite:

    “Generation Y lack that ‘Aussie Spirit’ and desire to win we once had and have become soft and overpaid show-boys”
    One has to concede that there is certainly one too many overpaid players who don’t earn their wage playing rugby in Australia at the moment, no denying this. Not that the vast majority are in the under 25 categories to me on this season’s showings.

    Having said that, I have and will always continue to believe that the so-called ‘Aussie Spirit’ term that is far more synonyms with War and courage on the battlefield, more so than the myth that has transcended to arrogance based on our golden sporting eras of the 80s to the turn of the millennium.

    We Australians love to muster up that there exists a desire within us as a nation to not give an inch in the name of victory or never giving up.

    While this notion sounds great in speeches and the media loves using it on repeat as a means to generate clickbait news about, the sad reality exists that no one country has a greater fighting spirit when it comes to any one sport.

    If you need simple evidence of this, Scotland had the spirit part in spades over the Wallabies on Saturday. They had superior line-speed, breakdown work and kicking options. But now, wouldn’t that equal a superior game-plan and tactics from the Scots and not superior desire?

    Misguided people love to say after a loss to the opposition that “the team lacks hunger, thirst for victory”.

    Quade Cooper after the Wallabies loss to Scotland

    (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

    No. It’s as simple as 2+1=3. Scotland simply knew their personal strengths and exposed the Wallabies’ glaring weaknesses. They had tight controlled rucking combined with an astute kicking game, thus limiting the dangers posed by the Australian backline.

    Coupled with our own disastrous kicking or basic rushed interplay and slow breakdown, results like Scotland will become all too common. The spirit part just gives you that warm tingling feeling player and fan alike.

    The funny thing about this statement though is that it wasn’t the debutants and new players who didn’t have the so-called ‘desire’. If anything, it was the far more seasoned campaigners in Will Genia, Scott Higginbotham and San Carter who really needed to step up and lead from the front didn’t.

    That grubber kick from Genia pretty much summed it up. On the other hand, young Ned Hannigan, Alaalatoa and Adam Coleman were in everything. Again, they’re by no means finished products, but if not these guys then I repeat the question: who do you play instead?

    If this so called ‘Aussie Spirit’ was such an x-factor for Australian success, the coaching trio of Michael Chieka, Stephen Larkham, and Nathan Grey are all from the golden Wallaby era! They should have the whole team playing on this laurel of astute running rugby the ‘Australian Way’ and the ‘Aussie Spirit’ would just be shining through as a result.

    That’s the thing though, isn’t it? It all comes back to a good game-plan based on exposing the other team’s weaknesses without giving way to your own.

    That’s a little thing three men by the names of Bob Dwyer, Alan Jones, and Rod Macqueen knew how to implement to perfection and something the current coaching unit sadly lacks.

    Lastly and really my conclusion to some of the misguided views of some out there:

    “Why is it that Cheika is always using the same ‘Dads Army’ players and not giving all the young blokes a crack at the International level?”
    Really? No Dean Mumm? Check. No Nick Phipps? Check. No Rob Horne (yet)? Check.

    There’s also no Will Skelton, Rob Simmons or Scott Fardy for that matter.

    Sam Carter Wallabies Australia Rugby Union 2017

    (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

    To cut Chieka a little bit of slack, he has attempted in the two Tests so far this year to blood younger players into the side. With regards to other players of the so-called ‘Dads Army’ in Will Genia, Micheal Hooper, Israel Folau, Steven Moore, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Sekope Kepu and Bernard Foley, I start seriously hearing those crickets chirping when I ask who else is better to step up and take their places.

    I am fully on the bandwagon for change within the circus that is the ARU and am now left wondering whether maybe Chieka and co. will have a gig by the end of the year.

    Out of all this and 2016, one wonders what it was that aligned for the Wallabies in their 2015 charge to the World Cup final or whether that was simply an anomaly now lost to time.

    The one fact remains, though: we should be debating ways to make proper sustainable improvements to the game in this country, not hypothetical non-arguments that have no true basis for the problems this code faces.

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    The Crowd Says (16)

    • June 19th 2017 @ 8:58am
      tyrone said | June 19th 2017 @ 8:58am | ! Report

      We were beaten by a better team.

      I wonder how much this is due to blooding new players?

      I hate the idea of ‘blooding”, it is a Test match and our national team, pick the best team who is available for every match.

      The coaches decisions to blood in the afternoon tests is essentially saying these will be easy wins anyway. Maybe the egg on his face might make him take all games seriously.

      • June 19th 2017 @ 11:15pm
        Realist said | June 19th 2017 @ 11:15pm | ! Report

        One thing is for certain ladies and gents – jump on eBay and buy your souvenir Western Force jerseys cause they will soon be history !Proud of you Bill Pulver for showing some spine and doing what you need to to prefect the code. Melbourne – we in the heartland now have our eye on ‘YOU’ ?

    • Roar Rookie

      June 19th 2017 @ 10:45am
      Pablo said | June 19th 2017 @ 10:45am | ! Report

      The coaches need to go. All three 3! It aint working! Change is needed.
      Player talent is good enough to compete, against most teams, also easier to find 3 new coaches than another 30 odd test players!
      (Except against the All Blacks and we will see how good the the MIB are, after this weekend, against the Lions).
      Cheika is the wrong style of coach for this team of players sand he is a good coach, but not for this team!
      A Jake White or Link type of coach is needed BIG TIME!
      Call it 10 man rugby or, smart rugby, or winning rugby, but field position and quick turnovers cause tries, ask the MIB!
      To the poor game plan, 2 critical turning points, 2 senseless kicks, 1 by Genia and 1 by DHP, why, because no plan! i.e. oh what do I do now, Both players are better than that. Hooper being left on half way, after a great run, with no support, near east player in support is Higginbotham, where is Genia, Foley, wingers, again still trying to organise the D! Poor coaching! The support play is atrocious! It is non existent.
      The MIB support play is awesome, wonder why they keep winning!
      Simple Rugby, take the tackle, and set up again, not hard just needs less Cheika running Rugby at all costs, like the Ella days, this is NOT how you play the game in 2017! The rules and much else has changed! and Foley is no ELLA!
      Cheikas game plan is well past its use by date, from the pre millineum.
      Cheika is well past his use by date too, and if change is to be made it is after the June tests, to give the new coach a chance for next world cup
      Sorry Cheiks, I am a fan of your rough and tumble life style image, but NOT your coaching style!

    • June 19th 2017 @ 10:48am
      Drongo said | June 19th 2017 @ 10:48am | ! Report

      Nice article. Sensible articles like this tend to not get many comments because your points are very well made and leave those intent on sheeting home all our problems to character flaws with no where to go. Effectively what you have done is taken the emotional baggage out of the analysis. Well done.

      • June 19th 2017 @ 2:36pm
        AGordon said | June 19th 2017 @ 2:36pm | ! Report

        completely agree but sadly, the blokes who need to read this, ie the coaches and the ARU management, won’t see it.

        The other sad bit is the level of disarray in Australian Rugby. It’s pretty clear both the Board and coaching staff need a shake up but there doesn’t seem to be anyone stepping forward to take control.

        The public is already voting with it’s feet and unless things change quickly, Rugby could become a second rate sport in Australia behind women’s cricket and netball.

    • June 19th 2017 @ 11:16am
      Keith of WA said | June 19th 2017 @ 11:16am | ! Report

      2015 was a team gee’d up and carried through on emotion and passion.

      Cheika is a one trick pony (motivator) and the players aren’t buying into the latest ‘golf club’…..

      He continues to select players out of their natural and instinctive position, we have a 7 who plays out in the backs and robotic plays that the forwards keep on repeating….

      Definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing all the time but expect a different result.

      Time is revealing all….

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

      great article. this is the telling line: “It all comes back to a good game-plan based on exposing the other team’s weaknesses without giving way to your own.”
      McKenzie was the master at picking apart the opposition weaknesses.
      Coach Chieka since day 1 has rather naively (or arrogantly) made comments such as “we don’t really look at the opposition to be honest. If we take care of our own game, we will win.” It may work for super rugby when your province has an open cheque book, but not in test rugby.

    • June 19th 2017 @ 2:21pm
      Bobbo7 said | June 19th 2017 @ 2:21pm | ! Report

      The Wallabies need a new coach with stature – Jake White or a Wayne Smith type who has a record to back up the hard talk

      I suspect too many of the players have overrated view of their own ability – While you can forgive loses against the ABs at the moment, losses to the likes of Scotland are not acceptable.

      Basic skills, and a game plan that the players can follow with a coach they fear

      • Roar Rookie

        June 19th 2017 @ 2:26pm
        piru said | June 19th 2017 @ 2:26pm | ! Report

        What’s Graham Henry doing these days?

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