Live scores
Live Commentary
Rebels : 10
Sharks : 7
| 32:00

The Wrap: There’s a lot to be said for having a game plan

Geoff Parkes Columnist

310 Have your say

Popular article! 10,441 reads

    With due respect to Tonga, Wales and the international women’s sides, there were three top-line matches in Australia and New Zealand over the weekend. All three winners employed clear, distinctive game plans, albeit it very different ones.

    As for the losers? Two weren’t good enough to play the way they wanted to. The third? Let me know when you’ve figured out what their game plan was. But more on the Wallabies later.

    Fans accustomed to the All Blacks starting their Test season slowly will have recognised the first half hour of their match against Samoa as ‘business as usual’. Some sweet stepping embarrassed Sonny Bill Williams – no doubt catching Warren Gatland’s eye – and Samoa were sharp and industrious.

    But once the All Blacks kicked into gear, the class gulf became evident and Samoa was no longer able to make inroads with the ball or build sufficient defensive intensity, after which New Zealand’s conservative approach, marked by plenty of kicking, gave way to attack at all costs to exploit the space offered.

    Make no mistake, Samoa is not a 0-78 team. They will be more than a headache for Wales next weekend at home. They were simply dreadfully unlucky to strike the All Blacks in an irresistible mood with not a moment to waste in their preparation for the Lions series.

    If their first two tries were scratchy, the third, to Ardie Savea, was a work of art, punctuated by superb awareness by impressive centre Anton Leinert-Brown, who, from a set-piece move, angled right to supposedly link with his winger before a lethal prop and straighten put Savea into clear space on his left.

    The All Blacks’ scoring power was astonishing. Everybody knows it’s there, but to see it unleashed as it was in a magical 50-minute spell was breathtaking. Coach Steve Hansen will be breathing easier too after emerging from the match injury free and watching two of his players on return from injury, Ben Smith and Jerome Kaino, both turn in strong performances.

    Next week will, of course, be very different, but as long as the self-belief gained from this performance doesn’t tip into over-confidence, then the All Blacks enter the series in a very good place.

    As do the Lions, regardless of what happens in their match on Tuesday against the Chiefs with their midweek team. There is nothing subtle about Gatland’s game plan – set piece efficiency, an impenetrable wall of defence, offer the opposition no scraps of broken play, take the points on offer – but it is wholly distinctive and has perfectly suited the slippery conditions in Christchurch and Rotorua.

    Ironically, their tactic of kicking to contest and placing pressure on the receiver was vindicated early, although they forgot the other side of that coin is dealing defensively with the same thing: George North failing to tidy up a kick and presenting Liam Messam with a try.

    From then on, the Lions offered the Maori only the most meagre of scraps, their pack grew increasingly dominant and their ‘Selleys’ defensive line offered no gaps on the counter attack, increasingly pushing the Maori backline deeper and deeper in a futile search for running room.

    (Image: AP Photo/Mark Baker)

    Those quick to condemn any of the Maori backs for their ineffectiveness or desperate low percentage options might do well to remember that the essence of rugby remains winning the battle for possession and providing front-foot ball.

    Anyone looking for scapegoats thus needs to eye off the low numbers first, exempting No.6, where Akira Ioane manfully stayed in the contest for the whole 80 minutes, signalling his growing maturity.

    The immediate response of many New Zealand fans, and some in the media too, that the Lions type of play is boring or somehow less worthy than a free flowing contest full of skilful backline tries is as predictable as it is totally misplaced. Long may rugby be a contest of ideas and cause for celebration when divergent approaches are put to the test, as they surely will be next weekend.

    The problem for the Lions is that for them to have the match played on their terms against the All Blacks, who won’t allow the same armchair ride for the excellent Conor Murray and Jonathan Sexton, they need to have it played on their terms for the whole match.

    By contrast, such is their scoring power, the All Blacks may only need, say, 25 to 30 per cent of the match played on their terms, a few passages of broken play here or there, as long as they limit any early points damage and don’t panic, as the Maori did.

    Maro Itoje, Sean O’Brien and Tadhg Furlong gave the Maori nothing but grief at the breakdown, but for all of their grunt and industriousness – which will force the All Blacks to commit running forwards in much tighter if they want to protect Aaron Smith – it is a huge ask to keep this going for the full 80 minutes against the world champions, all the while retaining the discipline not to deviate from the game plan.

    The other true strength of this All Blacks side is that while everyone marvels at their electric try-scoring ability they, as demonstrated against Ireland in November, equally relish the opportunity to confront their opposition with sheer physicality. In that respect, Sam Cane and Kaino become key players next week.

    As much as the All Blacks respect the Lions and will be acutely aware of their ability to control long periods of the game, by no means will they fear them. And, as the Messam try showed, there are fragilities waiting to be exposed when the blowtorch is applied in the reverse direction.


    (AAP Image/ David Rowland)

    A clear game plan was also in evidence in Sydney, Scotland playing within their limitations in attack and nullifying the Wallabies potency by targeting and competing hard at the breakdown. All of that was enough to keep them ahead of the game, yet what deservedly won it for them after struggling to put any incisive attacking play together all match was a fine, sweeping try to Hamish Watson that seemed to come out of nowhere.

    Weak exit kicking by replacement halfback Henry Pyrgos helped keep the Wallabies in the red zone for the remainder of the match, but a combination of gritty Scottish defence and a lack of urgent clarity to Australia’s approach sealed Scotland’s 24-19 victory.

    After Bernard Foley found Israel Folau in acres of space for Australia’s first try there was a sense that, once the initial breach had been made, the Wallabies would have the confidence to go on with the job.

    But instead two brain snaps followed; Dane Haylett-Petty weakly grubbering the ball away when hot on attack, and then, from the quickly taken dropout, Foley stupidly giving up a soft sin-binning.

    Without their regular kicker, Scott Higginbotham and Will Genia telegraphed a scrum exit that Finn Russell, who was excellent throughout, easily read for a charge-down try. While Genia copped the blame, the real culprit was sitting on a white chair watching on, near half-way.

    What followed resembled a Waratahs match. Lots of busyness without any real impact (Sam Carter, Ned Hannigan and Karmichael Hunt), wingers standing around doing not much at all (Eto Nabuli) and unforced skill execution errors (Tatafu Polota-Nau).

    But most of all, captain Michael Hooper charging around trying to do everything himself and left scratching his head afterwards why his example wasn’t being followed.

    In truth, Test match rugby is much more than all of the other kids following what the best kid does, and the sooner Hooper and Michael Cheika accept this and develop a more definable team game plan, the better. It doesn’t need to be New Zealand’s all-out attack or the Lions’ pressure and strangulation method or Scotland’s harry and poach, but whatever it is Wallabies fans – and Australian rugby in general – are desperate for something that defines them. Something, that is, other than mediocrity.

    Whatever the game plan is that Cheika concocts, it must certainly include greater respect for the conventions of Test rugby. Not taking penalty kicks when only five points behind with ten minutes to play reveals only an immature team yet to truly learn anything from last year’s six from 16 record.

    (Image: AAP Image/David Moir)

    To finish with three amusing touches and a groan from the weekend, firstly Welsh replacement winger Cory Allen, copping a massive hit from Tonga’s David Halaifonua that at first viewing looked brutally suspicious but which on review the officials correctly ruled as fair.

    Instead of making a meal of it, Allen bounced straight back to his feet and, watching the replay along with everybody else, could only laugh and shake his head in equal parts embarrassment, acknowledgement to his opponent and ‘don’t worry, let me have another crack at him’.

    It was superb interplay, a videotape of which should be on its way right now to Nicolas Sanchez and Marty Banks.

    Also notable was Maori fullback James Lowe stepping forward to provide a mid-game lesson on the breakdown laws to his new Leinster teammate Furlong, made all the more amusing because it didn’t appear to be meant in a condescending or smart-alec way. No doubt Tadhg had some tips for James later too, over a beer, on how to catch the high ball.

    The almost-final word is reserved for that man of many words, referee Wayne Barnes, who has accidentally discovered that the best way to keep Phil Kearns quiet in the commentary box is to talk all over him.

    On balance, clear and frequent communication from referees is a good thing, but Barnes took this to such a level in Sydney that he made the television commentators redundant, interrupting himself only to blow his whistle.

    The phrase ‘less is more’ is not something that Barnes understands or ascribes to, although ‘less is less’ is the approach taken by six nations rugby, with respect to France’s 100th-minute win against Wales in Paris in March, where a more direct Holly Holm method would have been far more appropriate.

    As a result of France’s ‘not complying with the head injury assessment protocol and relevant laws of the game’ – code for cheating – they have finally received a ‘letter of reprimand’ from the Six Nations UIRG, or ‘untoward incident review group’.

    Setting aside the image of Six Nations investigators in flak jackets busting out of the back of armoured vehicles, perhaps the 14 weeks it has taken to deal with the matter was to allow France ample time to prepare its wrist for a meek slapping, and for the Six Nations wet bus ticket to soften.

    Get in touch with a Daikin dealer today so you don’t sit and suffer through another cold winter while watching the rugby this year. Trusted by many and suitable for the Australian lifestyle, Daikin really is The Best Air Anywhere.

    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 (310)

    • June 19th 2017 @ 7:15am
      Fionn said | June 19th 2017 @ 7:15am | ! Report

      It’s getting very hard to watch, that’s all I’ll say.

      We’ll never beat good teams if our only tactic is one ups and running the ball, and then trying to score off rolling mauls when we win penalties (which we can’t do).

      • June 19th 2017 @ 9:18am
        PiratesRugby said | June 19th 2017 @ 9:18am | ! Report

        We’ll never beat top teams with Foley at fly half or a forward pack built around Hooper. And I think Cheika has reached his use-by date. His motivational platatitudes betray a lack of insight into the deep structural problems in the national team.

      • June 19th 2017 @ 9:52am
        Selector said | June 19th 2017 @ 9:52am | ! Report

        The ball handling at lineout time was atrocious.

        Also there was a time in the mall, 5 out from the line, where Moore had the ball at the back of the mall. He didn’t present it to Genia, nor did Genia get in there and get it. Then without much pressure, Moore falls to his knees and makes no attempt to get the ball out of there. Ref blows it up, scrum Scotland.

        This weekend will be the first time I will not be watching a Wallabies game, since I was a very young boy.

        • Roar Guru

          June 19th 2017 @ 10:09am
          pformagg said | June 19th 2017 @ 10:09am | ! Report

          fair-weather supporters. Love them.

          • June 19th 2017 @ 11:25am
            Blinky Bill said | June 19th 2017 @ 11:25am | ! Report

            ‘Fair weather’? If he’s been watching the Wallabies since he was a young boy then he’d have gone through his fair share of hard times with the rest of us.

          • June 19th 2017 @ 12:39pm
            Selector said | June 19th 2017 @ 12:39pm | ! Report

            Mate, I have been through absolutely everything that the Wallabies have been through in the past 30 odd years. What I can’t persist with is watching this sort of effort and skill level from our national team, on top of the absolute debacle that the game and its administration is turning into in our country.

            • June 19th 2017 @ 12:45pm
              Fionn said | June 19th 2017 @ 12:45pm | ! Report

              I prefer watching the Kiwis now. I will always love the Wallabies and watch them, but they’re just so frustrating.

              And it isn’t the losses either (although they do grate more and more), it is the same mistakes being made again and again with little to no improvement—brain snaps, line-out, no exits, no tactic to challenge rush defences; and, the fact that it doesn’t feel like we are improving or on an upwards trajectory.

              • June 19th 2017 @ 3:13pm
                Ryan said | June 19th 2017 @ 3:13pm | ! Report

                Fionn – Kia ora & welcome aboard world champion airways. Ditch the wallabies, walk like ducks, quack like em so they must be s#%t-house.

              • Columnist

                June 19th 2017 @ 3:50pm
                Geoff Parkes said | June 19th 2017 @ 3:50pm | ! Report

                Ryan, you should be an author of those self-help books that are so popular. You’d make a fortune.

                Your first title might be ‘How to Win with Humility, Grace and Class’

                And then maybe follow that up with ‘How to Give Your Sick Neighbour’s Dog a Good Kicking And Get Off On It’

        • June 19th 2017 @ 4:38pm
          Gepetto said | June 19th 2017 @ 4:38pm | ! Report

          In commentary, Nathan Sharpe pointed out that the locks taking the ball in the line-out didn’t know how to secure it. The Wallaby line-out is in trouble in the post – Simmons era. The Coleman and Carter carried the ball a half metre too far and Genia had to wait an age for it to appear, stymieing the Wallabies continuity in attack. This is not a problem when Simmo hits the ball up because he is killed in recycling the ball.
          The All Blacks swing either side of the ruck to create numerical advantage and protect kickers – I doubt the Wallabies have heard of this tactic.

    • Roar Guru

      June 19th 2017 @ 7:16am
      Nick Turnbull said | June 19th 2017 @ 7:16am | ! Report

      Morning Geoff,

      To be fair I thought the Wallabies did have a game plan, their useual narrow running pod with an out the back option, and try and play that in the opponents half. They just failed to execute it for four reasons in my opinion;

      1. Cheika called it being a yard off the pace or similar, I call it actually being a phase ahead in your mind and not apphe applying oneself to the play in the immediate. In reality a lack of mental application.

      2. Hooper lacks tactical nous, a lack of genuine command over his team to change their ways and sub standard managing of the referee. Scotland infringed all day yet only one yellow? Where was Hooper when Foley was tackled in the air by Hughes and no penalty? Where was he again when Nabuli clipped Tonks but was rightly penalised? What about taking the points? Had he not learnt from the 12-12 draw with New Zealand in 2013?

      3. I thought Wayne Barnes had a horrible first half, Scotland got the rub of the green. The continually dived over, fell over our ruck, at times Barnes was telling them not to do it and never pinged them for it. Other times, I recall Brown especially taking down Wallaby mauls by clear side entry whilst on attack. It was nae good enough in the first half, but I thought he was better in the second.

      4. Scotland, better team on the day who played to their game plan and as a team. Well done to them, a deserving victory.

      • June 19th 2017 @ 7:37am
        Bring Back...? said | June 19th 2017 @ 7:37am | ! Report

        Some fair observation no doubt. To blame a player off the field for Genia’s mistake is a stretch too far for mine. It was the second time he had a kick charged down in the half and he had a poor game.

        Two biggest issues for me are leadership – we have none – and the back row – it is a mess.

        Barring Robertson in the front row, I suspect most would be content with the tight 5 selection. There is a question of Carter v Arnold but I felt our line out was better when Carter was on. I really think it’s a marginal call.

        Kerevi will come into the back line but apart from the usual Foley v Cooper divide, there probably wouldn’t be too much debate.

        Then there is the mess. Hannigan is worth persevering with from a development perspective but he’s not front line yet. Higginbotham deserved his call up this season but he has failed to impress again. Skill level is sub standard and I just don’t see what he brings to a team that is struggling to earn the right to go wide and maintain possession for sustained periods. Then there’s Hooper – an excellent bench option.

        Perhaps Hardwick at 7, Timani at 8 and RHP at 6 this week. Leaving Fardy out simply because he’s going o/s but he would be there for mine.

        • Roar Guru

          June 19th 2017 @ 7:49am
          Nick Turnbull said | June 19th 2017 @ 7:49am | ! Report

          I’d keep Hoops at 7, but not as skipper.

          • June 19th 2017 @ 7:56am
            Bring Back...? said | June 19th 2017 @ 7:56am | ! Report

            I just think the team is too compromised with him starting at 7.

      • Columnist

        June 19th 2017 @ 7:42am
        Geoff Parkes said | June 19th 2017 @ 7:42am | ! Report

        Morning Nick

        re point 4, in normal times this would be the beginning and end of it. ‘Well done Scotland, you were better on the day, we’ll reverse things next time’

        But these aren’t normal times, there is so much negativity around, rugby here badly needs something positive for fans to latch on to, so a loss like this carries extra weight.

        • June 19th 2017 @ 2:29pm
          Cuw said | June 19th 2017 @ 2:29pm | ! Report

          @ Geoff Parkes

          i have said many a time before that , no matter what u do the 3rd row balance is compromised with someone like Hooper – unless u can find really outof this world talents like Savea or Read to play alongside him .

          everyone accepts Hooper does not do the traditional 7 (maybe everyone i think). so u need to balance it with two other guys who can compensate. it worked for a while (but not perfectly) with Fardy and Pocock – simply becoz both have the skills to play multidimensional rugger.

          now again u have a rookie 6 – who is good enuf for super rugger but not for test rugger (yet).

          and look who the scapegoat is now ? – Higginbotham , becoz he is expected to do a lot more than possible.

          and last time who was the scapegoat? Fardy.

          noone wants to sit up and say its our blue-eyed boy with his wavy blonde hair that is the root of the problem of the 3rd row !!!

          • Columnist

            June 19th 2017 @ 4:37pm
            Geoff Parkes said | June 19th 2017 @ 4:37pm | ! Report

            Hi Cuw

            I’m not sure that ‘traditional No.7’ is really the issue. But no question, since the whole Pocock, Hooper and then McMahon thing started, and now with just Hooper available of those three, the Wallabies have really struggled to consistently field a combination that complements each other.

      • Roar Rookie

        June 19th 2017 @ 11:18am
        Dave_S said | June 19th 2017 @ 11:18am | ! Report

        Hooper might not be taking the points because Foley is such an amateur kicker.

      • June 19th 2017 @ 11:27am
        ClarkeG said | June 19th 2017 @ 11:27am | ! Report

        Considering point 2 and 3 not sure how you arrived at point 4.

        • June 19th 2017 @ 2:23pm
          Cuw said | June 19th 2017 @ 2:23pm | ! Report

          LOL 🙂

          its a cheika version 1.1 assessment – blame it on the ref and then say the other team way better , grudgingly 😛

      • June 19th 2017 @ 4:48pm
        Drongo said | June 19th 2017 @ 4:48pm | ! Report

        The tackle on the player taking a catch before his feet hit the ground was a blatant, serious and dangerous error by Barnes. Why wasn’t that a card and a penalty?

    • Columnist

      June 19th 2017 @ 7:41am
      Geoff Parkes said | June 19th 2017 @ 7:41am | ! Report

      Just a wee edit… in 2016, Australia won 6/15, not 6/16

    • June 19th 2017 @ 7:45am
      Steve J said | June 19th 2017 @ 7:45am | ! Report

      I think Cheika has a game plan, that said I want to address your point re: Sam Carter, Hannigan and especially Hunt.
      IMO they were busy without collective reward rather than individual impact. Hunt defensive stats (tackles and ruck involvement) were phenomenal which indicates he’s doing a mountain or dirty work and being rewarded the unrewarding stuff which some call nil impact.
      Cheika spoke about the urgency to win the rucks inclusive of speedy exits yet his rookie back leads the defensive stats which then ask the question why is he’s doing that much work? If he’s following instructions who isn’t?

      • Columnist

        June 19th 2017 @ 8:19am
        Geoff Parkes said | June 19th 2017 @ 8:19am | ! Report

        Hi Steve

        I like Hunt and think he’s made a really good contribution since going to the Reds. No question he’s a good defender, as you would expect from someone with his background. And after meeting him up close last week, there’s a real sense that he’s grateful for the opportunity at test level and his busting his backside to make a good fist of it.

        And he’s only played two tests in a position in which he hasn’t been playing regularly.

        Does he have the presence/authority on the ball that guys like SBW and Ben Te’o showed? Not even close, but then again unlike them, he’s playing in a side which lacks presence and authority.

        • Columnist

          June 19th 2017 @ 8:20am
          Geoff Parkes said | June 19th 2017 @ 8:20am | ! Report

          Apologies for using ‘backside’ and ‘fist’ in the same sentence…

          • Roar Guru

            June 19th 2017 @ 9:01am
            Carlos the Argie said | June 19th 2017 @ 9:01am | ! Report

            And to top it off, Spiro mentions annus horribilis. Thank goodness for the extra “n”.

            • Roar Guru

              June 19th 2017 @ 11:00am
              Red Kev said | June 19th 2017 @ 11:00am | ! Report

              I just assumed that extra ‘n’ was an intentional typo to get it past The Roar moderators.

              • Columnist

                June 19th 2017 @ 11:31am
                Geoff Parkes said | June 19th 2017 @ 11:31am | ! Report

                Great to see you up and about RK!

        • June 19th 2017 @ 8:26am
          Fionn said | June 19th 2017 @ 8:26am | ! Report

          I think he’s still confused about his role in the team. He has to learn the ropes at 12 at international level.

          But yes, he doesn’t have the runnning game he did in the NRL ten years ago.

          • Roar Rookie

            June 19th 2017 @ 8:54am
            Dave_S said | June 19th 2017 @ 8:54am | ! Report

            Fionn I think that’s a fair observation. With Cooper at 10 and Hunt at 15 for the Reds, Hunt seemed to know when to involve himself, often as a 3rd centre to all intents and purposes.

            Now (and not knowing whether it’s Foley’s or Cheikas fault), he simply gets a lot shovelled-on ball well behind the gain line as if it’s his job to direct the attack.

            Which just brings out the broken record of what is Foley’s role in attack?

            • Roar Rookie

              June 19th 2017 @ 10:56am
              Russell Neville said | June 19th 2017 @ 10:56am | ! Report

              Dave I agree totally with your observation about Hunt receiving shovelled-on ball. Ironically it wasn’t always the forwards fault on Saturday. However I think Hunt deserves more time at 12, but I like the idea of Folau to wing and Hunt at 15 if Beale or Kerevi is at 12. Mind you Kurindrani made some dumb mistakes. But it was immediately apparent that Genia & Quade have a great understanding when Quade came on. Why would Bernard Foley do such a stupid thing, he is normally very calm, does this say something about the coaching. In the forwards I thought Rory Arnold made more impact when he came on but the line-out was weaker, Robinson was MIA and Sam Carter has only ever had one out-standing game for the Wallabies to my memory v ABs in Brisbane October 2014 (McKenzie’s last game). TPN despite some mistakes I think is still the best option at 2 but Moore has no place in the 23. Where is the Wallaby skill-set don’t they practise basics at training like catching the bloody ball & Cleaning-out, they don’t look fit enough.

              • June 19th 2017 @ 11:24am
                Fionn said | June 19th 2017 @ 11:24am | ! Report

                Foley is calm when playing against drift defences; he has never been calm against rush defences aside from the England match in the RWC.

              • Roar Rookie

                June 19th 2017 @ 11:57am
                Dave_S said | June 19th 2017 @ 11:57am | ! Report

                Russell I certainly want to persist with Hunt at 12, I think he and Foley will eventually work up a decent combo (they were good in combo against Fiji including because Foley ran to the line better).

                I’m not sure Hunt has the pace to be the 15 we want for the WBs

              • Roar Guru

                June 19th 2017 @ 12:27pm
                PeterK said | June 19th 2017 @ 12:27pm | ! Report

                The ideal combo right now would be Cooper 10, Hunt 12, Kerevi 13, Beale 15, Folau 11, Naivalu 14 Hodge 23

              • Roar Rookie

                June 19th 2017 @ 1:28pm
                Dave_S said | June 19th 2017 @ 1:28pm | ! Report

                Peter I agree, I’m just resigned to Foley having a lock on 10 under Cheika. (And I’m not certain about 14)

          • June 19th 2017 @ 10:29am
            Steve J said | June 19th 2017 @ 10:29am | ! Report

            Thanks Geoff and Fionn, respectfully I don’t think my questions were answer correctly but rather given an account of arguably expectations and inexperience’s.

            Again, let’s go back the premise of the heading which involves a game plan. Question – If the instructions was to create urgency to provide hardened and exit presence at the ruck why did Hunt deliver more substance than any other back for that matter close to what the his top forwards offered? Right place wrong time? Wrong time right place?

            If there’s anyone who understand his role is Hunt to assume he doesn’t is a fallacy. You simply don’t play professional football within 3 codes from the age of 16 on talent alone you get there by summing up instructions and executing to your ability.

            Re: Hunt on ball – refer back to Cheika’s game plan.

            Re: Dave _S – I’m not sure if you were at the game however Hunt was organising the middle shape. What was so dam annoying at times he was barking at his forwards to realign themselves in order to work the edges, again, he appears to understand his role however he shouldn’t have to keep telling his team members where to stand.

            • Roar Pro

              June 19th 2017 @ 11:02am
              Matt Davis said | June 19th 2017 @ 11:02am | ! Report

              Application. It all comes down to application.

              For mine, all this talk of an unbalanced back row, while not entirely without merit is a golden goose. One player-whoever it is, with the realistic ability to be at 20/30% of rucks will not make a difference to the team, what’s missing at the moment is application. The players are playing in a system (to suggest there’s no gameplan is ludicrous) but they are not executing their role properly-for instance cleaning up the rucks when the ball goes to ground.

            • Roar Rookie

              June 19th 2017 @ 2:05pm
              Dave_S said | June 19th 2017 @ 2:05pm | ! Report

              Steve yes Hunt is a director and talker! Hopefully he is not overdoing it. Public comments from the likes of Cheika, Hooper and Foley suggest that it is valued and appreciated.

          • Roar Guru

            June 19th 2017 @ 11:10am
            Ralph said | June 19th 2017 @ 11:10am | ! Report

            I am pretty sure none of us have the running game we had ten years ago.

            • Roar Rookie

              June 19th 2017 @ 1:27pm
              Shane D said | June 19th 2017 @ 1:27pm | ! Report

              Depends who is doing the chasing Ralph!

        • June 19th 2017 @ 10:51am
          Perthstayer said | June 19th 2017 @ 10:51am | ! Report

          Geoff, great article, thanks.

          The w/d showed me the WBs do not have the cattle. A good dose of Stuart Lancaster is required.

          Your comment Hunt’s “playing in a side which lacks presence and authority” is relevant to 13 of them (Coleman & Hunt are exceptions). They are only good enough if surrounded by others good enough (see Skelton’s Saracens success).

          If ARU remain in situ post RC then the negative repercussions from this mess will prevail for several years post RWC19. Mistrust and dismay are entrenched. Cheika, like Hooper, are not bad at their jobs, they are simply not what the team needs at the moment.

          England’s failings at RWC 15 brought them record success. WB’s suffered the reverse. Stuart Lancaster is the reason behind this.

          SL imploded at RWC because he bowed under home tournament pressure. EJ has succeeded with the same group of players because of the structures Lancaster had put in.

          Australian rugby must take control of the next few steps backwards it will be taking before it moves forward. That way it can use them to come out stronger.

          A new ARU and Lancaster in charge for 3-4 years. (I do not know his current contract terms but I am confident he would jump at the chance). Write off RWC 19 and aim to win RWC 23, or else quite plausibly it means write off both comps.

          • Columnist

            June 19th 2017 @ 11:37am
            Geoff Parkes said | June 19th 2017 @ 11:37am | ! Report

            Hi Perthstayer

            Well i certainly don’t agree with ‘writing off’ the 2019 RWC. While I know what you’re getting at, Australian rugby can’t afford to target success in 6 years time.

            The thing about a world cup, you get through your pool and you’re only 3 games away from winning the thing. That’s achievable for any side which has momentum at the right time.

            In fact sounds downright easy when you say it fast…

            • June 19th 2017 @ 12:24pm
              jossoc said | June 19th 2017 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

              Think Pakistan, who just won the Champions Trophy. A dreadful ODI side, ranked 8th (last in tournament with 88 ranking points in may 2017), flogged by India in the pool rounds, managed to string together some wins, beat the host nation, and reverse fortunes in the final against India to win convincingly.

              So yes, it can happen. And hope is keeping me, and probably many more Wallaby supporters engaged at the moment. There’s not much else!

              • June 19th 2017 @ 1:46pm
                Perthstayer said | June 19th 2017 @ 1:46pm | ! Report

                jossoc – “hope” is rotting the game you love.

            • June 19th 2017 @ 1:39pm
              Perthstayer said | June 19th 2017 @ 1:39pm | ! Report


              “Australia can’t afford to target success in 6 years” – that is the ARU policy I am referring to that will cause longer term damage to the game than drawing a line in the sand today would.

              By keeping the status quo IMO Australia will not win RWC 19, and what’s worse is they will have failed by staggering along under the growing weight of band aids. There will then be a “root and branch” review which at best will reach a decision I am suggesting is implemented today.

              “Write off” does not have to be a policy/newspaper headline.The strategy I am suggesting will not simply dismiss RWC success, I am just being a realist of bedding down major structural change.

              What is different in today’s Wallabies set up from 12 months ago in the midst of a record failure year? We are just further down the road with the same can.

              • Columnist

                June 19th 2017 @ 2:03pm
                Geoff Parkes said | June 19th 2017 @ 2:03pm | ! Report

                And that is true mate and it is also true that there isn’t any real sense that things are going to get better by continuing on the same way.

                That said, the outcome from the U20’s shows that there is no quick solution on the horizon, player wise. Changing the ARU management and coaching personnel might satisfy those baying for blood in the short term, but it’s surely a lot more complex than that.

            • June 19th 2017 @ 5:33pm
              Perthstayer said | June 19th 2017 @ 5:33pm | ! Report

              Complex it certainly is, and as such the best people must be paid to help out.

              My belief remains that big change is required. People, strategy and policy. Change that will tackle the long term big issues that are known about but seemingly ignored in the hope they will go away.

              We have not scratched the surface on the impact of being a professional game. A very extreme example is EPL, not the absurd money but where only 30% of players are English (end 2016).

              The pull from Europe will get stronger. Good example is Exeter’s success with a core group of Aussies will not have gone unnoticed, several of whom were affordable guys, even for second division sides.

              Australia knows what’s coming, as it stands it also knows its long term weaknesses outweigh its strengths. No 5+ years plan seems remarkable.

              • Columnist

                June 19th 2017 @ 8:01pm
                Geoff Parkes said | June 19th 2017 @ 8:01pm | ! Report

                Good observations Perthstayer.
                Keep your eye out later in the year, I think I know of a book you might be interested in reading….

        • Roar Pro

          June 19th 2017 @ 3:04pm
          Crazy Horse said | June 19th 2017 @ 3:04pm | ! Report

          One moment impressed me above all others for shear guts. Hunt was already in the hands of the trainers and about to go off for a concussion test (which he failed) when he spots a Scotsman breaking the line. Hunt left the trainers, tackled the players very hard, then clearly dazed returned to the trainers. Too many of the overpaid so called stars would have just let him go.

          • Columnist

            June 19th 2017 @ 4:39pm
            Geoff Parkes said | June 19th 2017 @ 4:39pm | ! Report

            Very good call CH. That was inspirational stuff.

        • June 19th 2017 @ 4:00pm
          Cuw said | June 19th 2017 @ 4:00pm | ! Report

          @ Geoff Parkes

          there is ur problem – u have two defensive centers who are not that great in attack. Kurindrani is also a great defender but not that fly in attack.

          so if it was me selecting , i would have Hunt/ Kuri with an attacking center like Kerevi ( injured unfortunately ) .

          ur problems will multiply once Beale comes home , becoz am sure he will not want to be HOuston mark II.

          IMO Hunt shud be the super sub, who can fit in either at centers or at full back. i am sure once Crotty is fit Sonny Bill will also be on the bench , becoz no way NZ will have a defensive line like they had against Samoa , vs the Lions.

          btw, Tim Nanai Willims is SBWs cousin , and just maybe there are few times he has side-stepped the more notorios cousin 🙂

        • Roar Rookie

          June 19th 2017 @ 8:35pm
          Kirky said | June 19th 2017 @ 8:35pm | ! Report

          Geoff ~ Like Ben Teo muchly, if he’d stayed at home he no doubt would be wearing the Black, very good player!!

          • June 20th 2017 @ 3:22pm
            Cuw said | June 20th 2017 @ 3:22pm | ! Report

            highly debatable.

            when some of the NZ boys go to the NH , they stand out becoz of their better skills-set.

            but at home they are one of many who have the same skills-set.

            if u look at the current set of centers in super rugger , all of Crotty , Ngatai , Sonny, Fekitoa , anton , Seta, Goodhue , Laumape , Aso , Moala , Reiko , – the ranking will be quite close .

            what makes u think Teo would be better than those above?

      • Roar Guru

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

        IF the forwards were doing their part, Hunt shouldn’t be doing so much dirty work.

        • Roar Rookie

          June 19th 2017 @ 1:31pm
          Dave_S said | June 19th 2017 @ 1:31pm | ! Report

          Technically true but I think Hunt has got a taste for it and he would have to be ordered to stay out of it.

          If Hooper is ever YCd I think you’d find Hunt packing on the side of the next scrum uninvited 🙂

    • June 19th 2017 @ 7:51am
      Waxhead said | June 19th 2017 @ 7:51am | ! Report

      Mr Parkes – Wallabies clearly had a game plan.
      It was the usual Cheika game plan but……………
      As is often the case the players lack the ability to implement it consistently well.

      They are easily disrupted and distracted by a good opponent and fall into multiple errors by almost all players.
      Then Plan B (if ever attempted) has the same fate.
      Bottom line is no game plan can be implemented when the players are so error prone and lacking in discipline.

      • Columnist

        June 19th 2017 @ 9:58am
        Geoff Parkes said | June 19th 2017 @ 9:58am | ! Report

        Hi Waxhead,

        i think the focus on eliminating errors is overstated. It was a big thing in McKenzie’s time as coach and again now. It’s test rugby, there’s a lot of pressure on, of course there are going to be errors. The All Blacks make plenty of errors.

        If the game plan revolves around eliminating errors then either the play is going to be so conservative it isn’t going to trouble good opposition, or else it’s chasing the impossible holy grail for questionable purpose.

        • June 19th 2017 @ 10:27am
          Drongo said | June 19th 2017 @ 10:27am | ! Report

          No, can’t agree. Eliminating errors is more important than that. Errors cost the Wallabies that match. Including errors in not taking shots at goal. Maybe the ABs can make lots of errors and still win games but most teams can’t. The Scots last try was quite brilliantly constructed, but most of not all of their other points came directly from Wallaby errors. There you have it, the importance of eliminating, as far as possible, errors of all types in a game.

          • Columnist

            June 19th 2017 @ 11:01am
            Geoff Parkes said | June 19th 2017 @ 11:01am | ! Report

            Not taking the penalties on offer was definitely a big mistake. But tactical errors like that aren’t really what I’m talking about.

            I liken it more to the continuing decrease in speed limits in Melbourne streets. Now down to 40kmh in many places with lobby groups now calling for 30kmh. How many lives do we have to potentially save before the ‘benefit’ is offset by the loss of utility?

            Sure, Genia doesn’t roll a pass along the ground and TPN doesn’t throw an intercept and maybe that 7 points is the difference – 19-17 to Australia.

            But for me, the real question is why aren’t the Wallabies – on a beautiful day on a dry track – looking like they can post 50 points and, allowing for some errors, still posting 35?

            • Roar Guru

              June 19th 2017 @ 11:14am
              Ralph said | June 19th 2017 @ 11:14am | ! Report

              Some possibilities:

              (a) no real game plan

              (b) the wrong game plan

              (c) didn’t stick to the game plan

              (d) opposition didn’t allow you to implement the game plan

        • June 19th 2017 @ 10:38am
          Ouch said | June 19th 2017 @ 10:38am | ! Report

          Have to disagree Geoff.

          Not for the first time, the Wallabies gifted the opposition points, 14 in this case, from basic errors. It really is frustrating to watch.

          • Roar Guru

            June 19th 2017 @ 11:40am
            PeterK said | June 19th 2017 @ 11:40am | ! Report

            agree with eliminating charge down errors, they just shouldn’t happen.

            However you need to accept some passing and catching errors, if you want to players to be able to run at full pace and pass the ball or offload in the tackle then you must accept some go to ground and not hang them for it.

            If as some call you expect zero errors then the only way that will happen for any team is to never pass or only pass when standing still and only pass 3 metres.

    • June 19th 2017 @ 7:57am
      Brizvegas said | June 19th 2017 @ 7:57am | ! Report

      At stages throughout the game it felt like Barnes was doing on field coaching for both teams but more so for Michael Hooper. Do they practice the Plan at training?

    , , ,