Why so many are right to be angry with the Wallabies

David Lord Columnist

By David Lord, David Lord is a Roar Expert

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101 Have your say

    There are many valid reason why those of us who have been following the Wallabies for over 50 years are criticising the current crop and can’t say anything good about them.

    ‘Criticising?’ Pissed off would be more accurate.

    The standouts over 50 years have been the 1963 Wallabies in South Africa, the 1984 Grand Slammers, the 1991 and 1999 Rugby Wold Cup successes, and the series win over the British and Irish Lions in 2001.

    Each one of those sides had inspirational captains, key Wallabies who set the performance bar for the rest of the team and inspiration coaches.

    In 1963 it was John Thornett and Ken Catchpole who were the inspiration to square the series 2-2 in South Africa, to that point the best ever result against the Boks.

    The Wallabies had prop Jon White, hooker Peter Johnson, lock Rob Heming, flanker Greg Davis, and among the backs Phil Hawthorne.

    The 1984 Grand Slam tour beating England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales was historic and comprehensive with mercurial Mark Ella scoring a try in every international.

    Captained by Andy Slack and coached by Alan Jones, the forwards were led by world class props Topo Rodrigues, and Andy McIntyre, with Simon Poidevin, and Steve Williams, while Nick Farr-Jones, David Campese, and Brendan Moon were standouts among the backs.

    Farr-Jones led the Wallabies to the 1991 Rugby World Cup success over England, coached by Bobby Dwyer.

    What a team that was with Campese again to the fore alongside Tim Horan. The front row was one of the best of all time with Tony Daly, Phil Kearns, and Ewen McKenzie, with Poidevin outstanding. Next to him was a 19-year-old John Eales who was set to become a Wallaby legend.

    It was Eales who led the Wallabies to win the 1999 Rugby World Cup, demolishing France in the final.

    Mentored by the most successful Wallaby coach in history Rod Macqueen, Horan was again outstanding with Matt Burke and Joe Roff, while up front David Giffin, Owen Finegan, and Richard Harry showed the way.

    And basically the same leaders knocked over the British and Irish Lions 2-1, with Justin Harrison in sight of full time by winning a critical lineout on the Lions ball to clinch the historic win.

    Of the current crop only Michael Hooper as player, certainly not as captain, and Israel Folau are genuinely world class.

    Israel Folau Wallabies Australian Rugby Union 2017

    (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

    But where the current Wallabies leave themselves open to being shot at, the rest of the team are playing well below their natural ability.

    Sure it’s not as high as the names I’ve mentioned above, but there’s absolutely no excuse for them to be lowering their own standards.

    And what makes it so bloody awful to watch is they have one gear, and if that doesn’t work, the Wallabies are stuffed.

    It’s a genuine problem, so there’s no captain in their midst, a vital ingrediant to success, especially on an off game like Scotland last Saturday.

    The other question that has yet to be answered has coach Michael Cheika no Plan B or C. Or are the Wallabies too highly paid for no rugby brains to follow the coach’s instructions?

    Whatever the reason, the current crop is in danger of dropping from third to sixth in the world rankings.

    And if that doesn’t stir the Wallabies into action against Italy on Saturday at Suncorp, they have no right to wear the coveted gold jersey.

    It’s as simple as that.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn?t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world?s great sporting spectacles

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    The Crowd Says (101)

    • June 20th 2017 @ 6:30am
      Drongo said | June 20th 2017 @ 6:30am | ! Report

      David, where do you sit on the Quade Cooper/Bernard Foley issue? Who do you say should be the run on 5/8? We know Spiro’s position, flawed as it is in my opinion. We also know that TWAS, PeterK, KenCatch…leg and I (not that I have any particular gravitas on here) all prefer Quade but also rate Foley as a good bench player.
      As a respected voice I am interested in your view (and hoping it will be formed without a blue cloak around it). Would also like to know Brett’s opinion. To me, only true Wallaby supporters opinions are relevant. But let’s not argue about that side issue.

      • June 20th 2017 @ 6:45am
        Jethro said | June 20th 2017 @ 6:45am | ! Report

        David, you never touched on the fact that during the glory years the Wallabies, not only had great leaders on the field, but off the field and on the training paddock.
        They had smart, brave and intelligent coaches with game plans that were relevant and worked.
        Cheika is blaming the players after the weekend’s loss against Scotland.. but he should really look at his tactics and game plan. To me he is out of his depth at international level.
        In ’63 the Wallabies had Roper and Palmer, in ’84 it was Jones, then Dwyer in ’91. Mcquuen was king in the ’99 World Cup and 2001 BIL.
        We need a proper coach now.. or the rot will continue.

      • June 20th 2017 @ 7:01am
        Fionn said | June 20th 2017 @ 7:01am | ! Report

        Whomever it is, neither will hugely successful unless the forward pack consistently cleans out effectively and quickly enough to lay a platform.

        Foley wasn’t great on the weekend, but it wasn’t helped by the fact that Scotland slowed down or pilfered our ball so often.

        • June 20th 2017 @ 8:47am
          mania said | June 20th 2017 @ 8:47am | ! Report

          agree Fionn its the forwards that need to step up. screw the problems in the backs, that isnt gonna matter until the forwards are able to consistently lay a platform and protect their possession.

          jethro – u have no choice but to accept and stick to cheika. who else is there? there arent other aussie coaches banging down the door (especially after the job that was done on link) and no non aussie coach is gonna accept that poisoned chalice since deans was run out of town.

          • Roar Guru

            June 20th 2017 @ 11:49am
            Cadfael said | June 20th 2017 @ 11:49am | ! Report

            While Cheika does have problems I would look more at his coaching assistant selections: Grey and Larkham. Both have been average at best and they are talking of Larkham succeeding Cheika! As a defence coach, Grey has been poor, look at both the Wallabies and Tahs defences.

      • Columnist

        June 20th 2017 @ 8:50am
        David Lord said | June 20th 2017 @ 8:50am | ! Report

        You’re no Drongo, it’s a very very good question, Bernard Foley makes less costly mistakes, and his goal kicking is more consistent, especially beating Scotland in the World Cup, and that monster penalty in the shadow of full time that won the Super Rugby title over the Crusaders, ending a 19-year drought.

        But Quade Cooper is the more electric, he can perform miracles on his day, Sadly those electric days are too far apart.

        Neither of them will ever be a Mark Ella, the best of all time, or a Phil Hawthorne, Michael Lynagh, even a Stephen Larkham.

        Michael Cheika can only select what’s in front of him, and taking all aspects, it has to be Foley.

        But it’s top insurance to have Cooper on the bench.

        • June 20th 2017 @ 8:53am
          Fionn said | June 20th 2017 @ 8:53am | ! Report

          I just can’t fathom how anyone can say that Foley makes less costly mistakes after the last two years (especially of international form). I feel like Cooper is still being criticised for past mistakes he made years ago.

          The best example is, now, that some people criticise him for giving up his mercurial play and becoming too tame and predictable. It can’t be both.

          • June 20th 2017 @ 8:59am
            bigbaz said | June 20th 2017 @ 8:59am | ! Report

            Yep, he’s now being dammed with faint praise by those who used to just damn him.

          • June 20th 2017 @ 9:24am
            EnoughisEnough said | June 20th 2017 @ 9:24am | ! Report

            I’d bet that half of Foley’s total Tests have been worse than Cooper’s worst Test. Even the game Cooper is absolutely pilloried for (The 2011 WC against NZ) would be just a standard day in the park for Foley. This rubbish that Cooper makes more costly mistakes than Foley is not supported by fact.

            • June 20th 2017 @ 12:11pm
              Selector said | June 20th 2017 @ 12:11pm | ! Report

              It is because Quade will chance higher percentage plays, that is why he has this stigma.

              Foley is a lower percentage player and still makes so many errors and dumb decisions.

              I am completely off Foley as a Wallabies 10.

              Right now, with the current crop, I would seriously prefer Quade and Lance as my two 10 options.

              • June 20th 2017 @ 4:48pm
                Phil said | June 20th 2017 @ 4:48pm | ! Report

                For the life of me I can’t see why people name Lance as a potential 10 for the Wallabies.He’s a good quality Super player but I hardly think he has ever shown enough to suggest he would be a standout at international level.How long has he been running around now?Admittedly injuries have curtailed a lot of his career,but I don’t think his form has ever shouted pick me.
                There really doesn’t seem to be anyone around except Foley and Cooper.

              • Roar Rookie

                June 20th 2017 @ 4:56pm
                piru said | June 20th 2017 @ 4:56pm | ! Report

                Phil, I think if there were a better option than Foley and Cooper no one would mention Lance.

                Lance is solid – he rarely wins the game for you by himself, but nor does he lose it for you.

                He defends well, he positions himself well, he passes flat and accurately and has a reasonable tactical kicking game


              • June 20th 2017 @ 5:18pm
                Scott said | June 20th 2017 @ 5:18pm | ! Report

                Lance is very solid. He won’t do the flashy things some others do, but neither does he have their weaknesses. There are plenty of “superstars” in the team to win the game for us. He is a better goal kicker and defender than both.

          • June 20th 2017 @ 3:33pm
            Andy said | June 20th 2017 @ 3:33pm | ! Report

            This seems to be the most divisive topic in Oz rugby. I think the vitriol both players get from either side is ridiculous. Both have massive flaws in their games.

            On super rugby form this year you would have to say QC make more silly errors. I’ve seen him drop two balls close to his line this Year which has costed the reds tries and games. He’s also gone for more yellow cards. He’s probably the most yellow carded back in the game at the moment.

            But Foleys kicking in general play and for touch has been consistently poor. Other than that you could definitely argue he is less creative than QC but to say he is miles behind is just not in line with reality. Form for both has been poor this year but I would definitely say on balance Foley has been better at SR level

            • June 20th 2017 @ 5:09pm
              Train Without A Station said | June 20th 2017 @ 5:09pm | ! Report

              Foley has gone for at least 2 YC’s in 2017.

          • June 20th 2017 @ 3:34pm
            Andy said | June 20th 2017 @ 3:34pm | ! Report

            It’s hard to compare on international form when only 1 has been playing internationals consistently.

            The comparison has to be made on SR form

          • June 20th 2017 @ 5:08pm
            Tuc Du Nard said | June 20th 2017 @ 5:08pm | ! Report

            I thinks it’s because QC tries things too often so that more mistakes happen.
            I also think Foley is unfit and with no zip. He’s been put in cotton wool since Japan so less fit and gets rundown regularly as a glaring lack of pace. Compare him with BB.

        • Roar Guru

          June 20th 2017 @ 11:51am
          Cadfael said | June 20th 2017 @ 11:51am | ! Report

          Foley isn’t a really consistent kicker both at goal and in general play. His goal kicking an be game winning and misses seeing us lose. Last week’s game a case in point, 2 out of 4 as against the Scots four out of four.

        • June 20th 2017 @ 1:17pm
          Drongo said | June 20th 2017 @ 1:17pm | ! Report

          Ok, thanks David. A perfectly reasonable assessment.

        • June 21st 2017 @ 7:44am
          Michael Lynagh said | June 21st 2017 @ 7:44am | ! Report

          Finally got a mention in the message board. I Was started to think I didn’t play or contribute in 84 and 91. Also, you missed out the Bledisloe Cup win in NZ 86. Great achievement.

      • Roar Guru

        June 20th 2017 @ 9:25am
        sheek said | June 20th 2017 @ 9:25am | ! Report


        For what it’s worth I prefer Quade over Foley. But only because he asks more questions of the defence. The Wallas are too predictable & they need guys who can vary their play, do something different.

        • Roar Guru

          June 20th 2017 @ 9:44am
          Rabbitz said | June 20th 2017 @ 9:44am | ! Report

          My issue with this is the support players are too mechanical and lacking in vision. When someone makes a break, or does something unpredictable, they fail to react and the playmaker gets isolated or has to resort to a “Hail Mary” play.

        • June 20th 2017 @ 1:20pm
          Drongo said | June 20th 2017 @ 1:20pm | ! Report

          It’s worth a lot Sheek, whether you preferred QC or Foley. I agree with your reasons too, better to go down with a fight than a whimper!
          What is clear is that some very good judges and true Wallaby supporters are split on this. It is not just a case of blue v red.

          • June 20th 2017 @ 1:55pm
            Rory said | June 20th 2017 @ 1:55pm | ! Report

            I remember watching one of QC’s first test appearances (or maybe even his first) against Italy on a spring tour with that horrible mullet. He came on as an inside centre and had a blinder, including, I think, scoring the winning try. There has been a lot of talk about K Beale coming back into the fold as the 2nd playmaker. We saw that QC at 10 and Foley at 12 didn’t work when tried, but I think QC displayed a LOT of enterprise when he came on against the Scots, and I’m not a fan. I also think Kuridrani has been mostly invisible at 13. Maybe QC at 12 and Hunt could be moved to 13, or to fullback? Is Kerevi fit to play 13? Folau to the wing if Hunt (who’s been one of the best backs in my opinion) goes to fullback? I know that’s a lot of changes, but for God’s sake, we have to try something. Also, please kick to Folau in the air for tries… How can it be so spectacularly successful, and then not even tried again in that game?

      • Roar Guru

        June 20th 2017 @ 10:47am
        Timbo (L) said | June 20th 2017 @ 10:47am | ! Report

        Cards on the table, I am pushing an agenda:

        I don’t think Cooper’s Defense is strong enough to warrant selection.
        Foley’s kicking and lack of attacking flair lets him down.
        So why restrict ourselves to just 2 choices?

        I like what I have seen of Mack Mason, he is at least in the squad, an as my esteemed colleague has pointed out Jordan Jackson-Hope is living under the shadow of a Kiwi import. Jake MacIntire, in the same boat behind Cooper. And the Force keep breaking theirs or using fullbacks. (Lance, Prior). Debracszini a man with a Hodge-esque boot when fit plays 10 or 15.

        I am not saying any one of these players deserve a gold Jersey right now but they need to be considered for development so that they can be. 4 SR tams is going to make it even harder to develop new talent.
        One head knock and a bag full of Euro’s and the cupboard is suddenly bare.

        • June 20th 2017 @ 12:14pm
          Selector said | June 20th 2017 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

          We need to do some serious investment in some 10 options.

          I would suggest that we can Garden-Bishop and Harrewa as soon as possible. I honestly don’t think we would lose too much with Mason etc at the helm.

          • Roar Rookie

            June 20th 2017 @ 4:57pm
            piru said | June 20th 2017 @ 4:57pm | ! Report

            The young fellow who started a few times for the Force while Lance was out is not bad, quite big for a 10, may be a future option.

            Can’t remember his name though, wears headgear.

        • June 20th 2017 @ 1:22pm
          Drongo said | June 20th 2017 @ 1:22pm | ! Report

          If we had a clear third option the problem would be solved.

          • June 20th 2017 @ 1:58pm
            Drongo said | June 20th 2017 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

            Must add, it’s good to read all these honest and reasonable opinions from true Wallaby supporters. I think Quades winning ?

          • June 20th 2017 @ 2:03pm
            Fionn said | June 20th 2017 @ 2:03pm | ! Report

            If Johno Lance could stay injury free he would be a legitimate third option.

            The bloke can defend well, has a strong tactical kicking game and can kick his goals.

            I can’t help but feel if Jake White took over that Lance would be our 10.

        • June 20th 2017 @ 2:57pm
          Link said | June 20th 2017 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

          Sorry Timbo you cannot pick a bloke who has failed for the Waratahs in the few games he`s played for them.You are wrong on that score.Overall you are ususally on the money.Not this time mate.Mason needs a few seasons at super level to be selected for GOLD if he is anygood.But being a Waratah he may be on the bench this weekend.

          Cooper has to start Saturday arvo as Foley has failed in every game bar that RWC pommy game in 2015 .

          • June 21st 2017 @ 8:24am
            Tenfour said | June 21st 2017 @ 8:24am | ! Report

            Mason is not a big body. His defence at Shute shield isn’t that good. He has a go but when targeted he by big backrowers he gets bumped pretty easily. I didn’t watch his Waratahs games to see how he went .

    • June 20th 2017 @ 6:39am
      jeff dustby said | June 20th 2017 @ 6:39am | ! Report

      We have very few world class players

      • June 20th 2017 @ 9:21am
        jameswm said | June 20th 2017 @ 9:21am | ! Report

        A few are coming through and will hiopefully be right up there by 2019. I mean guys like Latu, Ala’alatoa, Sio, Coleman, Arnold, Kerevi (already is probably), Hunt, Hodge etc.

        Throw in Beale, Folau and Hooper, it’s not all bad.

        • June 20th 2017 @ 4:17pm
          Link said | June 20th 2017 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

          jameswm ,

          Throw those last 3 out, they bring a losing culture.

    • June 20th 2017 @ 6:44am
      Sportscrazy said | June 20th 2017 @ 6:44am | ! Report

      Not one of the current players would have made the Wallabies you have highlighted. Whilst most other Rugby nations have improved in skill we have gone backwards. Compare this to our National cricket and league teams, where past greats would struggle to make the current teams. Why, because the game has moved on and so has the team.

      I put the blame squarely on the Board. The lack of innovation and strategic planning and execution has killed the games superiority in Australia. There has been little/no coordination of individual or team development. God knows what the Board does.

      The pitiful numbers watching the Scottish test on tv last weekend says it all.

      I feel for the players who are the brunt of criticism. They are not performing due to many years of poor coaching and lack of skill development. They are lost out on the field. DHP could be fantastic, but on Saturday he didn’t have a clue of his role. This is poor coaching.it is killing his confidence. Sadly all others are the same.

      Some of our better players have seen the light and moved overseas. This is also due to poor selection practices and a realisation that will be overlooked by a coach who has a disregard for rewarding performance. Take for example Liam Gill. Has been Reds best and fairest for a couple of years. A past under 20 captain….but sat behind Hooper, Hodges and McMahon on the player list.

      • June 20th 2017 @ 8:04am
        Shaun said | June 20th 2017 @ 8:04am | ! Report

        I agree. As someone who follows the warriors and all blacks, i can actually see a lot of similarities between NZ rugby league/the Warriors and Australian rugby. It seems that their is a toxic hierarchy and culture of helping your mates out, over actually looking to develop the game. Selfish interests at the top seem to be the biggest problem, and they have lost touch with the grass roots.

      • June 20th 2017 @ 9:23am
        jameswm said | June 20th 2017 @ 9:23am | ! Report

        For starters, our props are as better now than we’ve ever had. Tell me when we’ve had two THs like Kepu and Ala’alatoa to pick from, with up and comers Tupou and Lomax, and Holmes overseas?

        • Roar Guru

          June 20th 2017 @ 9:27am
          sheek said | June 20th 2017 @ 9:27am | ! Report

          Mid-80s: McIntyre, Hartill & Burrow..

          Mid-90s: McKenzie, Hartill & Crowley (played both ides of scrum).

          • June 20th 2017 @ 10:45am
            Harry said | June 20th 2017 @ 10:45am | ! Report

            Just conceded a tighthead there JWM.

            • June 20th 2017 @ 5:34pm
              jameswm said | June 20th 2017 @ 5:34pm | ! Report

              You think the props Sheek mentioned are better? McIntyre, Hartill, Crowley, McKenzie?

              Could they even run above a trot?

              No – prop is not our issue (for once).

    • Roar Guru

      June 20th 2017 @ 6:44am
      Rabbitz said | June 20th 2017 @ 6:44am | ! Report

      I hope that the Wallabies wake up soon.

      I don’t believe that they are actually as poor as their performances over the last couple of years have shown. It seems to come down to a couple of things:
      – A lack of instinctual mastery of the basics. Rather than it all happening as reflex, they seem to force every pass, catch or kick.
      – Little understanding or vision of what their playmakers can/might/will do. Responses to breaks and changed plays are mechanical and slow. They then fail to support the player in the breakdown that ensues.
      – Very little commitment to the breakdown in general. Lots of seagulling and standing next to the ruck (with one hand in the air – what does that even mean?). This results in one player trying to effect a turn over or clean out – with no help, so it becomes a wasted effort.

      All of these issues can be improved by effective and targeted coaching. More rugby training less gym junkie training would be a start.

      There doesn’t appear to be much of a team spirit, the old-fashioned camaraderie on the pitch. Support and protect your team-mates. This results in poor commitment to the contest for the ball as players stand around (with one hand in the air) and therefore loss opportunities to steal possession and lost opportunity to disrupt the opposition.

      Maybe they should be more focused on getting the job done rather than who has the most idiotic hair cut or who has the latest ink.

      So here is a suggestion; To foster a greater bond how about all of the players and staff get together and commit to making a team statement. Something like, all shaving their noggins before the match and then playing like a team that is committed on the pitch?

    • June 20th 2017 @ 6:47am
      Fionn said | June 20th 2017 @ 6:47am | ! Report

      Even if they’re not the most skilful they could be the fittest. It’s always possible to find an edge.

      • June 20th 2017 @ 7:01am
        Kelefua said | June 20th 2017 @ 7:01am | ! Report

        So true Fionn

      • Roar Guru

        June 20th 2017 @ 7:11am
        Rabbitz said | June 20th 2017 @ 7:11am | ! Report

        Yup, they could be Kings of the Wind Sprint, bench press twice their body weight, hardly raising a sweat at 80 minutes.

        Trouble is they still won’t be supporting players, committing to the breakdown, contesting the ball. catching, passing, kicking or tackling…

        • June 20th 2017 @ 7:14am
          Fionn said | June 20th 2017 @ 7:14am | ! Report

          I disagree. I think part of the reason for the lack of support, poor decision making and lack of effective and fast clean outs stems partially from a lack of fitness. We drift in and out of games in a way that other teams don’t.

          • Roar Guru

            June 20th 2017 @ 7:17am
            Rabbitz said | June 20th 2017 @ 7:17am | ! Report

            So how do you explain their brain fades and poor skills in the first 20 minutes?

            • June 20th 2017 @ 7:28am
              Fionn said | June 20th 2017 @ 7:28am | ! Report

              It was either because they weren’t mentally prepared enough for Scotland, they just got unlucky, or because they aren’t fit enough they were surprised by how much pressure Scotland put them under. I think we have a habit of constantly underestimating Scotland (god knows why given our record against them).

              Skills are a different issue and harder to fix, but if you’re completely fit then you can effectively hit rucks, run hard, chase kicks and tackle for the full 80 – you don’t drift in and out of games.

              • Roar Guru

                June 20th 2017 @ 7:44am
                Rabbitz said | June 20th 2017 @ 7:44am | ! Report

                Fitness isn’t their big issue. Willingness to play as a team and support their fellow players is – this is why they fail to “effectively hit rucks, run hard, chase kicks and tackle for the full 80 “, starting from the first pea.

              • June 20th 2017 @ 7:57am
                Fionn said | June 20th 2017 @ 7:57am | ! Report

                I agree it isn’t the number one issue, mate. In no uncertain terms we are largely less skilful, cohesive as a team and worse coached than our rivals in NZ, South Africa, England, Ireland and (I would argue) Scotland.

                These aren’t issues that can be easily fixed. That being said, one area that we can have the edge is by making ourselves the fittest we can possibly be. I don’t see our team as being particularly fit whatsoever.

              • June 20th 2017 @ 10:03am
                Ed said | June 20th 2017 @ 10:03am | ! Report

                Yes fitness is an issue, but it is now hard to lift it during a season.
                Cheika could have five weeks with most of his squad before the Bledisloe, so he may try to raise the fitness levels. Remember he flogged them last year and they were so flat before the first Bledisloe.

                The below is copied from a Nick Bishop article from last month with a post from Concerned Supporter, where fitness/strength appears to be the main form of training.
                Nick hits the nail with his follow-up on an important area where our skills have diminished.

                “concerned supporter said | May 11th 2017 @ 6:29pm | ! Report

                A week in the training life of a Waratah,

                Below is a long article which recently appeared in Rugby News, would you read it? Yours and other Roarers comments, please:

                “Have you ever wondered what it would be like to train full time as a professional rugby player? Rugby News caught up with John Dams this week, the Waratahs head of Athletic Performance, to find out exactly what the Waratahs do each week and why they do it.

                Dams said the nature of the Super Rugby competition meant that every week was different, however for the purpose of the exercise, we looked at a typical week with a seven-day turnaround and no travel.


                Sunday, or the day after a game is a family day so players are given the day off and complete their recovery individually. Dams said the Waratahs call it ‘satellite recovery’ and that the idea was to give the players some time off to relax away from the training base.

                “We educate the players about what we think the best form of recovery for each player is and they’re expected to do that on their own,” he said.

                “Most players know what works for them. Some like the water, some like massage so it’s whatever works for the individual.”


                On Monday morning, players arrive at Moore Park at 7:30am and immediately undergo a recovery test. The medical staff measure the players resting heart rate and their autonomic nervous system.

                “We measure that by a heart rate variability assessment to find out what the body is doing at rest. It basically tells us where they are at to start of the week and how their cardiovascular and nervous systems have recovered from the weekend.”

                After breakfast, the medical team conduct a musculoskeletal screening of all players, which usually lasts until 8:30am.

                “Players are then broken up into groups for the morning session. Some will do strength work, others will do individual review or unit review. Then we’ll do a core class to work on our core control and that usually finishes up at about 11:30am, then they have a team review,” Dams said.

                “Usually they split between forwards and backs, but some times it might be the playing 23 and the non playing group, it depends on what the session is.”

                After the team review, the squad has lunch together. Following lunch, players are strapped and take part in session prep ahead of the afternoons on field session, which usually lasts 60-75 minutes.

                “If we’ve got a seven day turnaround, the Monday afternoon session is usually what we call an install day, where we take in some learning. It’s a relatively low intensity session where we begin to work on what we want to improve on through the week,” Dams added.

                At the end of the session, players return to the training base for an individual recovery session.

                “They can do some body work with trigger balls, foam rollers or bands. Others will stretch and do some activation work, or corrections as we call it, they can hop in an ice bath and do some contrast baths with hot and cold water. It all depends on the individual athlete.”

                The day typically wraps up at around 4:30-5pm.


                On Tuesday, players arrive at 7:45am for breakfast, then immediately head into triage.

                “Triage allows players to address any issues from the day before with the medical team before the day begins. They get a quick look over and the medical staff then plan their treatment for the day or plan any modifications they might need for that day’s training.”

                After triage, the players spend 20 minutes in session prep, before they split into backs and forwards. The forwards head to the gym and the backs head out onto the field for a unit session. After roughly 75 minutes, the two groups switch.

                “The gym program depends on each individual athlete. A five year professional who is in the starting side every week has a different program to a rookie who is still developing and most likely playing club rugby and is in and out of the 23,” Dams said.

                “Some elements are the same so that everyone is working hard together, but obviously every athlete and position is different.”

                The group has lunch at 12pm, then a team meeting is held before the players are strapped and begin session prep. The team for the weekend is also usually announced on Tuesday.

                “Session prep starts in the gym. It’s a combination of soft tissue work with balls and rollers, working on certain activations, and then we’ll do some movement skills. That will either be in a straight line or multi directional skills depending on the session ahead,” Dams said.

                “We then head out onto the pitch and finish the last lot of movement skills on the field. That usually involves high speed running or changing direction ahead of the rugby session.”

                Tuesday afternoons on-field session begins at around 2:15pm and lasts just over an hour.

                “During this session, we work on what we learnt in Monday afternoons session. Typically, it involves a lot of contact and is very physical. Tuesday is our heaviest training day of the week.”

                Following the afternoon session, the players return to the training base for massage treatment, which runs through to 6pm.


                Wednesday is the player’s day off and although they aren’t required at the training base, the squad is spit into geographical groups and are expected to spend some time together in the morning.

                “We’ve got a group on the northern beaches, an eastern group and a western group. They’ll get together and go to the beach, get in the sea or go and get some food in the morning, then they have the rest of the day to themselves,” Dams said.

                “Some will come in for treatment and others come in for an extra gym session or conditioning block depending on what the individual needs.”

                While the players aren’t typically expected to cover anything specific on Wednesday, Dams said he thought it was important for the players to spend time together away from the training base.


                “If Tuesday was our highest volume day, Thursday is our highest intensity day. We ramp up intensity to start to build towards the weekend,” Dams said.

                Players arrive at 7:30am for breakfast and a recovery test before a 45-minute team meeting.

                “After strapping the players head into the gym for what we call our ‘pump up’.

                “Usually it involves some high intensity work ahead of our on field training session. All the movements are really dynamic – jumps, throws, cleans, speed work. The idea is to start to prime their systems ahead of training to build towards the weekend.”

                The players then head onto the training field for a one-hour session.

                “This is the highest intensity session of the week. The idea is to surpass match intensity during training on a Thursday,” Dams said.

                After lunch players take part in an individual needs session.

                “Individual needs might be an extra gym block. Others need more correctives, some might have a massage or look at video. The idea is to tick off whatever else we need to do ahead of the weekend.”

                Dams added that most players spend 15-20 minutes after each session working on specific skills or extras.

                “That’s not structured, but each player knows what he needs to work on. Our halfbacks work on their passing accuracy, others work on kicking, or decision making, tackling, ruck work, handling.

                “The best players are the ones that work hardest on those little things, so they’re all usually out there working on extras most days.”

                Players usually leave by 2:30pm on Thursday, unless the team is travelling for an away game. Depending on flight availability and the location of the game, the group either travel in the morning before a training session, or they train in the morning and travel in the afternoon.


                On Friday, those not in the matchday 23 arrive early for a core class and some body work. If they aren’t playing club rugby on the weekend, they’ll also do a conditioning session.

                The main group also do a core class when they arrive on Friday morning, then they have a team meeting and get strapped for the captain’s run.

                “The captain’s run usually doesn’t last much longer than 30 minutes. There is a little bit of structure from the coaches, but Hoops (Michael Hooper) usually takes control.”

                The players then return to the training base and have lunch together.

                “Breakfast and lunch are provided for the players every day when they are at the training base. Towards the back end of the week, players are given more flexibility and usually on Friday, they head out as a group together for lunch.

                “Depending on the training day, the meals usually include a good amount of vegetables, a good amount of protein and depending on the athlete, some quality carbs.

                “In the morning, we also have a nutrition station, so the players will have a green drink, with some fish oil in the morning. After each session, they have a post training snack, which is usually protein based. We also give them amino acids before gym sessions and protein shakes after each session.

                After lunch on Friday the players head home.


                On game day, the players usually arrive around 4:30pm or three hours before kick-off.

                “We put on a bit of a snack for them in the training base when they arrive, then they begin their preparation. Over the next 60-90 minutes the players get strapped and complete their last bits of preparation. They’re expected to mentally and physically prepare in this time,” Dams said.

                An hour before kick-off, the team walk to the stadium together for the match.”

                When I played, a long time ago, we would train 2 nights a week. After training mostly we would shower and have a couple of beers in the clubhouse.


                Nicholas Bishop said | May 11th 2017 @ 6:47pm | ! Report

                That’s the transition from amateur to pro fro you…

                The only obvious point I’d pick up on is that the skills work seems largely optional or voluntary – you’d think it would be mandatory and included as part of the structured week.”

              • June 20th 2017 @ 12:18pm
                Fionn said | June 20th 2017 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

                Cheers. That’s scary, mate. Scary.

              • Roar Guru

                June 20th 2017 @ 12:40pm
                Train Without A Station said | June 20th 2017 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

                Fionn I think “fitness” is a lazy pointer.

                Ed has pasted a long winded post but ultimately it’s meaningless. Why? There’s no context.

                What are NZ teams doing? What are UK teams doing? What are NRL teams doing?

                Unless you can compare it to this it’s absolutely useless in trying to understand if they are, or are not working hard enough.

                Also what is a “typical” week? Every week is different with different travel requirements, different turn arounds. I’d guess that during a bye week the conditioning work would be ramped up.

                But I doubt they are. S&C is not some dark art full of unknowns. It’s a fairly known science when it comes to the level of effort required to achieved what’s necessary. Especially with full time athletes.

                But the other thing to consider is that retaining possession for multiple phases can be more energy sapping than defending. If you play a poor game plan, you try and run too often, you work too hard to keep your ball you are wearing yourself out more to do the same thing.

                I doubt that the All Blacks have some spectacular level of conditioning. It just doesn’t make any sense. New Zealand can’t possibly be on the cutting edge of S & C given their professional sporting infrastructure.

                What they are on the cutting edge of is playing smart and efficient rugby. If you don’t waste energy unnecessarily, and you are efficient and accurate in what you actually do, you will maintain your pace for longer.

    • June 20th 2017 @ 7:01am
      Cynical Play said | June 20th 2017 @ 7:01am | ! Report

      There’s no risk of the Wallabies losing against Italy. But even if they beat Italy by 50, nothing of the present predicament will be erased. The team and individual performances against Scotland were very telling. I think that game correctly showed what the WBs current ranking is. It’s not 3 and has not really been 3 for 2 years. And there is no surprise given the decline in the sport and the problems off the field. Today’s ARU meeting will make a few people feel heard, but what else? Not much probably.

      Read this excellent article by Peter FitzSimons yesterday:


      Pulver gets the blame for lot of stuff that went on before. If he quits will it help? Not in the short term. Blame is probably not going to help here. A Wallaby win over Scotland would have helped the fans for sure, and the team, but I feel it would also have made Cheika think his selections were working, which they aren’t.

      I think the game can recover but fans need to be realistic about our future as the WBs will not, on current form and rugby stocks, be in the top 3 for some time. Further, the fans and sports writers constant criticism of the players, coach and administration is seeing the game eat itself. Why would Hooper, arguable the most loyal and committed NSW and WB player (just as an example) not eventually take off to Europe to get away from the constant negativity and pressure? Who can blame Fardy (for example) for going to Europe where the press are off his back and the fans (who are only happy when winning) aren’t abusing you. I’m not saying players should be beyond criticism, but some perspective is needed here. Remember, the players are also caught in this ARU mess without the AFL and ARL juggernaut resources. If it’s not right off the field, it’s harder to produce on the field.

      And to that moron who posted a drunken rant on Facebook, maybe don’t drink so much. There is a stark difference between analysis and angry ranting. In these troubled times I would have thought continued angry fan rants do nothing but further undermine the last legs of a game limping into the desert.

      • June 20th 2017 @ 7:24am
        Fionn said | June 20th 2017 @ 7:24am | ! Report

        Thanks for the article, it was very illuminating.

        I think you’re right in saying fans are probably overly-harsh towards the players (and your point on Hooper is valid too), and we should be asking more questions of the coaching staff and administration – especially of grassroots. And perhaps you’re right, perhaps this is the new normal/reality now.

        That being said, the players have to know some things aren’t okay – for example, not being fit enough to play the full 80 at intensity in June is not acceptable; not cleaning out is not acceptable, etc.

      • June 20th 2017 @ 9:36am
        Jibba Jabba said | June 20th 2017 @ 9:36am | ! Report

        Would Fardy be going to Europe if cheika was still picking him ? Appears there’s abit of angst between the two.

        • June 20th 2017 @ 12:14pm
          Cynical Play said | June 20th 2017 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

          Fardy might well have been picked for Bled in my view, given Hannigan is not the answer.

        • June 20th 2017 @ 12:31pm
          Highlander said | June 20th 2017 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

          I will have a crack at pinpointing the moment the Fardy/Cheika relationship went south.

          Bledisloe 2 last year in Wellington, Coleman got binned for taking a player out past the ball with about 10 to go before halftime.
          Cheika hooks Fardy and inserts Mumm immediately, probably to protect the lineout.
          The look on Scott Fardys face as he walked off was total amazement, wasn’t happy.

        • Roar Guru

          June 21st 2017 @ 4:25pm
          John R said | June 21st 2017 @ 4:25pm | ! Report

          If Cheika was still picking Fardy, then there’d be just as many people whinging about not blooding new talent.

          Ya can’t win!

      • June 20th 2017 @ 9:55am
        Ouch said | June 20th 2017 @ 9:55am | ! Report

        One of PF’s better articles. This quote summed it all up imo;

        ” “Privately-educated-upper-middle-class man unable to identify problem with Australian rugby union . . . The game needs to be more approachable,” he said, from the helm of his 34ft ketch. “That responsibility lies with the boarding schools.”

        • Roar Guru

          June 20th 2017 @ 12:48pm
          Rabbitz said | June 20th 2017 @ 12:48pm | ! Report

          Sounds like we’re back to the glorious days of the Gregan “Professionals don’t need passion” comments.

          Such fond memories.

          Sure they were trying. But exactly what were they trying? Whatever it was it looked pretty brain-dead and ineffective to me.

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