Finding a heart muscle in a line of turnstiles

Martin Rocks Roar Guru

By Martin Rocks, Martin Rocks is a Roar Guru

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    I must admit I have tuned out from the rugby the last couple of months.

    I was so confused and lost on the timing, mid-season break and finals structure for Super Rugby that by the time the Brumbies were on again, it was middle of July and minus five on the old weather vane.

    I’m not fickle or afraid of a bit of frostbite, I just couldn’t understand why a team who had won six games and lost nine had the right to host a final against a team who had won 12 and only lost three.

    Switch to the mid-season internationals, and I saw the Scotland team record an inspirational victory (minus their Lions’ players), and Italy doing enough to sniff a boilover in Brisbane before falling short.

    Then we have just had a wonderful month to watch the Wallabies train.

    Follow the Wallabies on Facebook and it looked tough – sand dunes, hills, and lots of hard work and talk. But oh how they trained so hard against each other.

    Just like they have done so since those school boy academies they have been nurtured into from a young age and told how great they are.

    But we really want to beat New Zealand don’t we?

    To further the cause, the team brings in a specialist defensive coach from Fortress NSW to toughen up the resolve.

    We were also in our second year of having the best ‘skills’ coach in the world who we poached back from New Zealand. Tick – looking forward to catching and passing again.

    And, even better, one of the Brumbies’ favourite sons goes full-time into the Assistant Coach role, having not changed the Brumbies at all from the Jake White rolling maul days of a few years back. At least the set piece will rock and roll.

    We pick the key elements of the Waratahs and Reds teams that have bought so much success recently.

    Then the same old and tired hookers – Stephen Moore and Tatafu Poluta-Nau. One seems to have not been able to play 80 minutes for a decade, the other couldn’t throw a line out to save himself. These guys have been associated with long-term abject Bledisloe failure and at their ages will not achieve anything.

    Rob Simmons was selected to add some impact off the bench, even though the might of the Queensland Reds axed him earlier this year – despite the Wallabies re-signing him until 2019 on a top-up contract.

    So you have nice month off on retreat, and you mix all of the above ingredients together – and here we are ready to storm the beaches and reclaim the Bledisloe right?

    Kurtley Beale Australia Rugby Union Championship Wallabies Bledisloe Cup 2017

    (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

    Overcoached, robotic heartless and clueless drones is what I saw on television. I feel sorry for the dwindling number of people who paid money to go see it. At least you could say every missed tackle only cost a couple of bucks in an abstract value for money ideal.

    New Zealand declared and enforced the follow on after 45 minutes. Forget any reference to a comeback as a positive.

    In Sydney in 2017 we have seen an enormous rise in the Shute Shield profile under the banner of ‘make club rugby great again’.

    It was fantastic yesterday afternoon watching Norths take on Eastwood in one of the semi-finals.

    The players actually played what was in front of them, and the clear majority could draw and pass at speed. In addition, they not only relied on coached structures, yet also instinct, and a clear understanding of the basics of support in broken play.

    It also showcased what is right about rugby in Australia – the uncomplicated running game we all love and know played by teams that clearly have a soul, and the passion to play.

    Maybe the Wallabies squad members should have been playing club rugby before coming together a week before the game – to reinforce some basic elements of skill, pride and desire that were completely missing from the drivel presented on Saturday.

    I’ve never seen such a worrying disconnect between a fan-base and a beloved national institution.

    Getting hassled by a parent or partner about spending too much time playing video games? Now, you can tell them the story of how some ordinary gamers scored $225k for just seven weeks of work.

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    The Crowd Says (10)

    • August 21st 2017 @ 3:06am
      OZ Mike said | August 21st 2017 @ 3:06am | ! Report

      Very good read. Let me be clear I am a supporter and will stick with the team through what will certainly be a longer and potentially worse road. As much as I have defended our players who are severely outclassed they produced an individual and collective performance that was well below their ‘average’ potential.

      For me, having defended Cheika and the coaching staff on here, I have to say Saturday night was the last gamble we take together as coach and supporter. His selections alone do NOT add up never mind game play. Our centres were never ever going to work. Kerevi was destroyed defending at 13. Hannigan over Higginbotham or Timani. Simmons! If you look up ineffectual substitute in the rugby dictionary you’ll see a picture of him. Gamble gamble gamble. His first one of picking two 7s at the RWC worked. Sadly it may have clouded his decision making and encouraged his outside box tendencies.

      After a deafening chorus of criticism of Foley at 10 Cheika responds by promoting him to vc. He’s mates with the players, seems like a hellova good bloke and someone who would go to war for, and fall on a grenade for his players. Hes loyal. I bet those on the right side of him love him. And that’s great for provincial rugby. Not international rugby.

      • August 21st 2017 @ 10:28pm
        PiratesRugby said | August 21st 2017 @ 10:28pm | ! Report

        He had to play Pocock because he was better than Hooper. The back row worked because Pocock and Fardy were brilliant. Hooper was just along for the ride. Remember her also picked Mumm, Skelton and Palu. His actual master stroke was picking Douglas. When he came off during the final our night was over (Mumm came on).

      • August 22nd 2017 @ 9:15am
        Angus said | August 22nd 2017 @ 9:15am | ! Report

        A lot of his “new blood” selections must be seen for what they are.

        In my book his strategy is looking ahead with the long term in mind – tying players like Curtis Rona into a commitment to play for the Wallabies.

        That is smart for securing player stocks into the future but may not fully suit the game of the selection.

        Staying with Curtis – I am glad he made it though. His missed tackles probably came from being stretched because of failures earlier in the line and he can only grow. Until he showed the team where the line was, they didn’t have a clue.

    • August 21st 2017 @ 3:48am
      Angus said | August 21st 2017 @ 3:48am | ! Report

      The responsibility for this one lies right at the top .

      The ARU BOARD is totally out of touch with rugby in this great country.

      Big corporate egos are at play here.

      Clyne thinks that chopping a State is like closing a bank branch somewhere. Just a few numbers on paper so who cares.

      When resistance follows, the ARU BOARD hides behind spreadsheets and litigation and plays games with the stakeholders by setting States and clubs against one another for an entire super rugby season.

      The outcome is that the professional players across all 5 clubs are left facing differing degrees of vulnerability.

      Tough as they are, how can any player be expected to give of his best when his sense of well being is being constantly eroded and his livelihood is threatened.

      The fans, like you, wonder what its all about and start to lose interest. Everything snow balls from there.

      This ARU BOARD MUST GO and only when it does go can our great game start to heal.

    • August 21st 2017 @ 8:59am
      Decs said | August 21st 2017 @ 8:59am | ! Report

      Rocko, I don’t know where to start.
      I have defended Cheik to kingdom come, but I am losing heart (although I don’t know any alternative). How can he defend (pardon the pun) Grey as D coach. How can he ‘blood’ someone like Ned in a Bledisloe, yes he has ‘promise’ but promise doesn’t help you against the best team in the world. How can he select Rona?

      I feel he selects and bases his strategy on hope. Hope they will come good, hope that a left field selection will make him a tactical genius.
      Out: Moore, Ned, Rona and Kerevi.
      In: TPN, Timani, Hodge to IC, Kuindrani, Beale to FB, Izzy to wing.

      I too watched the second semi on Sunday, and had the same thoughts you did. The pace, passing and awareness was fantastic. Yes the D pressure is not as great as a Test and we have seen players like Wells dominate club rugby who can’t take the next step, but we do have the basics there. We just need to funnel them in the right way.

      • August 21st 2017 @ 1:46pm
        Wolman said | August 21st 2017 @ 1:46pm | ! Report

        he selected Rona because DHP was injured.

        What did Hanigan do wrong exactly, he topped the tackle count with no misses. he missed one clean out, something that happens to almost everyone atleast once a game, and that’s all he did wrong.

        • August 22nd 2017 @ 8:41am
          Decs said | August 22nd 2017 @ 8:41am | ! Report

          Rona was selected on ‘hope’. Yes he had a good season for the Force at 13. He is now a starting winger against the best team in the world. That is madness. Hodge would have made much more sense.

          I like Ned. I think he has potential to become Rocky 2.0, but again this is ‘hope’ that he does. I wasn’t meant to be seen to be making a knee jerk reaction on Ned, I just think he needs another year of good Super rugby.
          We are blooding these guys against one of the greatest sporting teams of all time.
          We have the basis of a good team, I just don’t think the balance is right.

    • August 21st 2017 @ 1:44pm
      Wolman said | August 21st 2017 @ 1:44pm | ! Report

      There was nothing wrong with the line out.

      Why is the picture of Beale. I think its the best we’ve seen from him in defence. On one occasion he went for an intercept on SBW (who’d just steamrolled Mcmahon) and one could argue that wasn’t a bad idea because the covering defence had it covered, but if you want to argue that was an error on beale’s part, that would be the only defensive error he made.

      Rob Simmons was mentioned and I thought its the most effective he’s been in a long time. Let’s face it he was dropped by the reds because they have 5 quality locks at their disposal.

      so its a strange article. looks like many on here that are using a massive scoreboard to suit their agenda on selection without actually looking closely s to what was to blame. Take Kerevi out of the equation and its a different game.

    • Roar Guru

      August 21st 2017 @ 4:44pm
      Kashmir Pete said | August 21st 2017 @ 4:44pm | ! Report

      I just couldn’t understand why a team who had won six games and lost nine had the right to host a final against a team who had won 12 and only lost three.

      Ouch! Not the Burmbies fault of course, but all the same….

      Cheers
      KP

    • August 22nd 2017 @ 2:06am
      BeastieBoy said | August 22nd 2017 @ 2:06am | ! Report

      They have the kids now playing this highly structured Pod Rugby where they can’t develop the skill sets of their position and don’t learn how to improvise.

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