The Wrap: Get your Bledisloe Cup myths dispelled here

Geoff Parkes Columnist

By Geoff Parkes, Geoff Parkes is a Roar Expert

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    By the time Ryan Crotty crossed for the All Blacks right on the stroke of halftime to bring the score to an astonishing, point-a-minute 40-6, fans across Australia were already in meltdown.

    The rage continued over the weekend, a common theme being that the Wallabies ‘lacked heart’.

    At the after-match press conference, coach Michael Cheika was quick to reject this – rightly pointing out that a side without heart would not have found the resolve (and skill) to score the final four tries of the match, in doing so taking plenty of the gloss off what, up until then, had been a superb All Blacks performance.

    In truth, it was three tries, but more on that later.

    Not prepared to accept any positives, angry fans thus rejected the last 30 minutes of the Test as New Zealand clocking off, not caring anymore because the game was already won.

    It was Steve Hansen’s turn to dispel this myth. “The first 50 minutes was probably as good a rugby as you’ll see. The last 30 some of the ugliest,” he said.

    While acknowledging that his side “got a bit seduced by the scoreboard”, Hansen insisted that the attitude of the players never softened and that the change in outcome was more to do with a swing in momentum and improved defensive pressure from the Wallabies forcing handling errors.

    Hansen was accurately reflecting every coaches’ dream scenario; “we thrashed them in the first half when the game needed to be won, but we’ve still got plenty to work on this week.”

    In truth, the Wallabies played well with the ball throughout the match, starting from the kick-off, where sustained attack for nearly three unbroken minutes delivered the first points of the match to Bernard Foley. Certainly, there were mishaps along the way, but in any game where the ball is being moved with such speed and intent, there were inevitably going to be spillages, on both sides.

    Inevitably, these errors favoured the All Blacks, none more so that Michael Hooper, early in the second half, bobbling a catch straight into Beauden Barrett, who in turn gave Damian McKenzie an easy run in for the All Blacks’ eighth try.

    Michael Hooper Australia Rugby Union Championship Bledisloe Cup Wallabies 2017 tall

    (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

    The Wallabies persevered, however. Nick Phipps provided energy at halfback, Tevita Kuridrani was direct, and Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau achieved good reward for their efforts in the final quarter.

    Unfortunately, rugby is equal parts attack and defence, and predicted fears that changes to the Wallabies line-up and lack of match practice would impinge on their ability to lock in a defensive system robust enough to withstand the All Blacks proved prescient.

    To illustrate, defence coach Nathan Grey was spotted on the field, in the guise of water-boy, frantically barking orders and pointing fingers at Wallabies players. Setting aside the merits or otherwise of Grey’s defensive blueprint, the notion that this type of behaviour is helpful – in the midst of a high-paced Test match where players are sucking for air, and 15 rampant Damien McKenzie lookalikes are running at them from every phase – is deeply flawed.

    Angry fans went straight to the stats sheet to identify 48 missed tackles by the Wallabies which, like statistics often do, missed the context of the match. A by-product of the strong winds that buffeted Sydney for two days was that conditions were bone-dry, suiting the ambition of both sides to move the ball at speed. A high missed tackle count – for both sides – was always on the cards.

    Acknowledging that last year I, and others, were critical of Cheika lacking a consistent, discernible game plan, it is also a criticism that his adherence to an all-out attacking strategy in this match lacked balance.

    Note that the Lions drew their series against New Zealand because they were equally competent in attack and defence, in the forwards and the backs, had a particular strength in kicking, were mentally strong, and thus were able to compete both on their own terms and however New Zealand chose to play the game.

    Therein lies the root of Cheika’s problem. His best game – fast-paced wide-ranging attack such as seen in periods against England last year – is also the All Blacks’ best game. Only they do it better.

    Unlike Warren Gatland, Cheika cannot easily employ a different strategy, partly because he now staunchly believes that this way is the right way to play, and partly because his playing list does not afford him the opportunity to kick more strategically, or engage more up front.

    Will Genia Australia Rugby Union Championship Bledisloe Cup Wallabies 2017

    (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

    The quid-pro-quo of putting all one’s eggs in the attacking basket is that players inevitably fatigue, or find themselves out of position when a turnover occurs, from where a side as good as this All Blacks side is can quickly put them to the sword.

    Cheika alluded to this post-match, noting that his defenders found themselves faced with waves of attackers, with threats to their left and right and, rather than lacking in attitude, allowed a little bit of doubt to creep in.

    With Barrett selectively able to dish off midfield pop passes or sweep the ball sharply to the flanks, defenders were hesitating and second-guessing; in effect, they provided the attack with extra space and sealed their own fate.

    Nowhere was this better illustrated than with Reiko Ioane’s first try, where he and Barrett were able to conjure space on the left where none seemingly existed.

    These are small errors that unfortunately translate into major damage on the scoreboard. But lazy, simplistic criticism of the Wallabies does the All Blacks, and the modern game, a gross disservice.

    If you eat truffles every day they will eventually taste just like vegemite. Rugby fans today are so spoiled they now don’t even blink at the outrageous skills on display, and the pace at which these skills are performed in this match from both sides.

    They incorrectly assume that defending is simply a matter of occupying a bit of space and laying a tackle, just like they occasionally did for some nondescript third-grade team back in the day.

    Margins for error are so narrow that on a night when the All Blacks click in attack, when the re-cycle to and from Aaron Smith is rapid and the passes stick, the Wallabies can easily be made to look foolish – just as the French were in their 2015 World Cup quarter-final.

    Also instructive was Steve Hansen’s commentary post-match (when he wasn’t adroitly deflecting loaded questions on Jerome Kaino) about the excellent flanker Liam Squire. Hansen explained how Squire had been quietly developed within the All Blacks’ environment over the last 18 months to the point where he is now physically and mentally ready for Test rugby.

    All Blacks coach Steve Hansen

    (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

    The contrast between Squire and Ned Hannigan is obvious. Hannigan appeals as a goer with the ability and inclination to make a good Test player at some future point, when experience and body development dictates.

    That time is not now, yet the dire nature of Australia’s domestic situation – no high-level internal competition, failing Super Rugby franchises and flight of players with experience overseas – pushes Cheika to expose players like Hannigan and Curtis Rona to this level well before they are ready.

    Before the match, as players straggled onto the field prior to beginning their warm-ups, it was fascinating to observe Wallabies skills coach Mick Byrne greet the All Blacks’ players individually, as if each was one of his long lost children. The affection and mutual respect was overt and genuine; star players clearly appreciative of the role Byrne has played in their own development and success, as Byrne is proud of their achievements.

    Byrne is now firmly ensconsed in the Wallabies camp, but for now, the fruits of his labours are evident on the All Blacks side only. When the day comes that it is Australian players who are hugging Byrne like a lost father, fans will know that progress is finally being made.

    In that vein, a high-performance review meeting held in Sydney on Thursday and Friday, at the initiative of founder of the new National Coaching Advisory Panel, Rod Kafer, which also involved the Super Rugby franchises, is also a step in the right direction.

    The introduction of sharp, independent rugby brains like Byrne and Kafer is crucially important for the future of high-level rugby in Australia – even if it is insufficient for now to placate ‘the mob’, who have the blood of anything associated with the ARU in their nostrils, and who won’t be satisfied with anything less than a wholesale cleanout of the ARU executive and board, coaching staff and half the Wallabies squad.

    The problem with throwing all of the toys out of the cot is that all that is left is an empty cot. Who are the replacement administrators who can make silk purses out of the same set of sows ears faced by the current administration?

    Who are the replacement coaches with sufficient experience and smarts to conjure a different result against the All Blacks, using the same players – many of who now have an ingrained inferiority complex against New Zealand sides.

    Note the comment above – ‘half the Wallabies squad’. What angry fans fail to grasp is that they never agree on which half, and so in shouting the house down, they merely consign themselves to continual squabbling and a depressing and increasingly desperate spiral of blame-seeking – none of which is a constructive contributor to future success.

    Also unsuccessful was TMO Rowan Kitt and referee Wayne Barnes’ efforts to convince fans that rugby’s video review system is working as it should be. That Israel Folau’s 68th-minute try could be awarded despite there being an obvious forward pass and a clear offside defied all logic and common-sense.


    (AAP Image/ David Rowland)

    This is uncomfortable territory for rugby. There is a growing sense that a vitally important match will come down to a last-minute TV review decision that will confuse and divide fans. Oh, hang on a minute…

    The same officials followed up by ruling that Foley recovered enough to touch the ball down in-goal, simultaneously with Barrett, a 50/50 call, whichever way it was ruled. But considered together, there was a feeling that the Wallabies might have been better saving up their TMO luck for another, tighter occasion when it might be needed.

    In Port Elizabeth, South Africa continued their 2017 resurgence with an impressive 37-15 victory over Argentina. Challenged by the Pumas, who closed to within eight points in the second half, the Springboks employed a stronger bench to close the match out impressively

    One narrative is that all four sides come away from this opening weekend with a number of positives to draw on and that this year’s Rugby Championship has many intriguing twists and turns to come.

    Another view is that Saturday’s first half accurately represents the true, irredeemable state of Australian rugby. Are Cheika and his Wallabies capable of proving this – admittedly popular – view to be just another myth?

    Geoff Parkes
    Geoff Parkes

    Geoff is a Melbourne-based sports fanatic and writer who started contributing to The Roar in 2012 under the pen name Allanthus. His first book, A World in Union Conflict; The Global Battle For Rugby Supremacy, was released in December 2017 to critical acclaim. For details on the book visit Meanwhile, his twin goals of achieving a single figure golf handicap and owning a fast racehorse remain tantalisingly out of reach.

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    The Crowd Says (404)

    • August 21st 2017 @ 6:42am
      soapit said | August 21st 2017 @ 6:42am | ! Report

      might need a bit more than your opinion to dispel something you see as a myth geoff.

      ab attack didnt seem to be doing anything off the planet for the most part. everything youve described is standard rugby play albeit executed well and they reacted like headless chooks.

      • Columnist

        August 21st 2017 @ 8:06am
        Geoff Parkes said | August 21st 2017 @ 8:06am | ! Report

        Interesting take on ‘standard rugby’ soapit.
        Even when the AB’s coach says the first 50 minutes was as good as he’s seen?

        • August 21st 2017 @ 8:18am
          Fionn said | August 21st 2017 @ 8:18am | ! Report

          He was being polite.

          The first try Samu went for the inside man when everyone knows that, when they have an overlap on the wing if you are the last defender you have to mark the outside man and trust the defence to drift inside and cover the inside man.

          For the second try Folau made a rookie schoolboy error in defence.

          For the third try Foley did one of the stupidest passes I’ve ever seen, up there with TPNs pass to the Scottish player in June.

          Did Rona and whoever it was even try to stop SBW?

          Hooper literally gave the ball to Barrett.

          Ugh. All Blacks were good, as usual, but can we honestly say they were any better than usual? It was just standard for them. They were under no pressure and left to just throw it around.

          • August 21st 2017 @ 9:28am
            haymother said | August 21st 2017 @ 9:28am | ! Report

            You can’t just isolate the tries, highlight WBs defensive mistakes, and then form a conclusion that what they were doing was not that impressive. You have to look at how they played the whole 50 minutes during their period of dominance. First, I agree that the WBs were making them look good, and that this was not the best half the ABs had ever played, not even close. Having said that, they spent the whole half throwing the ball around at speed like Harlem Globetrotters, making ground on every touch with barely a handling error despite multiple passes, many of them no-look, and had the WBs absolutely bedazzled. It was pretty impressive stuff, at least in terms of their handling of the ball. When the tries came and the WBs were all over the shop, maybe its because there had already been multiple phases where they’d been left looking like idiots, they didn’t know which way to turn, and it was more of the same.

            • August 21st 2017 @ 10:28am
              Fionn said | August 21st 2017 @ 10:28am | ! Report

              They were impressive, of course, but how could you not be when you’re playing a team so poor that the inclusion of the Three Stooges on the team sheet would have improved them?

            • August 21st 2017 @ 10:56am
              markie362 said | August 21st 2017 @ 10:56am | ! Report

              C’mon doesn’t matter who’s playing u can’t have the abs running at u and stick an arm out and hope

              • Columnist

                August 21st 2017 @ 11:37am
                Geoff Parkes said | August 21st 2017 @ 11:37am | ! Report

                Of course not markie. But that’s not what I’m saying.

                I’m not excusing poor defence, there were far too many ‘soft’ tries.
                But just making the point that the players didn’t throw in the towel and that the quality of the attack needs to be taken into account.

          • August 21st 2017 @ 12:43pm
            Connor33 said | August 21st 2017 @ 12:43pm | ! Report

            Agreed, Fionn. Two of the Abs tries were quite good, but far from spectacular–certainly nothing to some of the tries the Lions scored in the first and second tests. Several of them was just opportunistic bs. Any team with any competence could have done it. Though, probably beyond Australia’s 1st half team.

            Of note, the Rieko try on Folau was impressive. But, really, only individual talent. There was no greatness from the team. As Lynagh pointed out, U/14bs could have defended better than the Wallabies in the first half. Had TK been playing in the first half, I just cant see the misreads on the 1st and 4th tries happening. I think we’re in fierce agreement that Kerevi was responsible for both. And with a little luck, won’t see test rugby for at least 12 months.

            • August 21st 2017 @ 12:47pm
              Connor33 said | August 21st 2017 @ 12:47pm | ! Report

              Correction: the Abs’ fifth try, not fourth. And while Kerevi misread the play, Speight provided no favors. Still, as Lynagh said: U/14B standard.

            • August 21st 2017 @ 10:35pm
              taylorman said | August 21st 2017 @ 10:35pm | ! Report

              Really funny how we were told repetitively to respect the fact that the Lions were the better team yet when we dominate it’s all opportunistic bs with a ‘couple of good tries’. Sometimes you really need to look at things with a bit more balance.

              • August 22nd 2017 @ 7:15am
                soapit said | August 22nd 2017 @ 7:15am | ! Report

                man you guys work hard to find something to be offended about sometimes

              • August 22nd 2017 @ 1:43pm
                ClarkeG said | August 22nd 2017 @ 1:43pm | ! Report

                Yet Taylor’s point is perfectly reasonable regards this particular poster — Connor33.

                I doubt Connor has ever seen a half decent AB try in his time except for that one scored by Cullen at Wellington in 2000.

                He has a well earned reputation as being a hard marker regards the efforts of AB teams.

        • Roar Guru

          August 21st 2017 @ 9:31am
          Ralph said | August 21st 2017 @ 9:31am | ! Report

          It is hard to be unhappy when two attackers create a “clever overlap” and score against five defenders.

        • August 21st 2017 @ 10:50am
          Ruckin Oaf said | August 21st 2017 @ 10:50am | ! Report

          “Even when the AB’s coach says ………….”

          And as everybody knows when the AB’s coach says something he’s playing it straight. No ulterior motives at all, no sireee not ever.

          • Columnist

            August 21st 2017 @ 11:41am
            Geoff Parkes said | August 21st 2017 @ 11:41am | ! Report

            Hansen can certainly be ‘playful’ with the media RO.

            In this context, he was being straight up. in fact his whole press conference was open and informative – even on the Kaino stuff. No problem taking what he said at face value.

            • August 21st 2017 @ 12:25pm
              Ruckin Oaf said | August 21st 2017 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

              That in itself might be a sad indictment on the state of Australian rugby. Week out from game 2 and the AB’s coach isn’t even bothering with mind games.

            • Roar Guru

              August 21st 2017 @ 5:27pm
              Fox Saker said | August 21st 2017 @ 5:27pm | ! Report

              Well yes Geoff but when he said “seduced by the scoreboard” he wasn’t meaning anything else really than saying they got carried away because scoring tries had become so easy and spoken about by their captain Read.

              ” …showed quality the Wallabies) to come back in the second half and we probably took our foot of the throat there…probably second half we thought it was going to come that easy ( like the first half) so we’ll to work on that.”

              …and I think that sums it up pretty much. Two things were working in tandem – the Wallabies started to play better but the All Blacks started to play like they could just throw the ball around and score which was true even in the first 10 minutes of the second half – they definitely started to rush passes more than they were.

              I guess the real proof will be next week – dry ground so both team can run it – and Kuridrani has booked his started spot one would think. Ben Smith will go to 15 and Milner-Scudder or Dagg will play on the wing and the AB bench will be much stronger next week with players returning from minor injuries. Kane Hames will be on the bench and he is monster scrummager so that will be interesting as well when front rows get tired

              • Roar Guru

                August 21st 2017 @ 5:34pm
                Fox Saker said | August 21st 2017 @ 5:34pm | ! Report

                Dane Coles is returning as well apparently so it won’t get any easier in defence.

              • Roar Guru

                August 21st 2017 @ 5:34pm
                Fox Saker said | August 21st 2017 @ 5:34pm | ! Report

                Dane Coles is returning as well apparently so it won’t get any easier in defence.

              • Columnist

                August 21st 2017 @ 6:05pm
                Geoff Parkes said | August 21st 2017 @ 6:05pm | ! Report

                Hi FS

                Yes, the AB’s are going to be no weaker in Dunedin. Coles is a huge in.

        • August 21st 2017 @ 12:08pm
          FunBus said | August 21st 2017 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

          I watched a normally calm person like Michael Lynagh look so angry when analyzing the match on UK Sky I feared for him given his recent health issues.

          Personally, I couldn’t believe what I was watching and nor, apparently, could Lynagh. The question, Geoff, shouldn’t be who are the replacement coaches that can conjure a different result against the ABs, that shipped has sailed for a good while. I’d suggest you need to get a new coaching team in that can conjure a different result against Scotland to begin with.
          I also thought Barnes got all the big decisions right.

          • Columnist

            August 21st 2017 @ 1:53pm
            Geoff Parkes said | August 21st 2017 @ 1:53pm | ! Report

            It’s certainly true FB that the way the Wallabies played against Scotland and Italy meant that this result was no surprise.

            The thing is in this match, the Wallabies were (mostly) very good with the ball, albeit without the variation and subtleties required in their approach to test a side like the AB’s.

            You don’t think Folau was offside from Kuridrani? I couldn’t believe they kept looking at it.

            • Roar Guru

              August 21st 2017 @ 1:59pm
              Machooka said | August 21st 2017 @ 1:59pm | ! Report

              G… didn’t the ball hit Ben Smith’s (?) leg and thus travelled backwards?

              • August 21st 2017 @ 2:11pm
                Jerry said | August 21st 2017 @ 2:11pm | ! Report

                It hit Smith then Kuridrani, I think. Last contact was definitely off Kuridrani, even Barnes accepted that. He just thought Folau wasn’t clearly in front, cause he has no ability to visualise depth apparently.

              • August 21st 2017 @ 10:13pm
                ClarkeG said | August 21st 2017 @ 10:13pm | ! Report

                Foley’s pass was ok I thought because it was not clear and obvious that it was forward.

                The ball definitely come off Kuridrani and at that point Folau was slightly in front …slightly yes… but it was clear and obvious that he was in front.

                Barnes said it was not clear and obvious even with the benefit of freeze frame. Quite bizarrely there was never a freeze frame at the point it come off Kuridrani’s thigh yet there was when it come off Ben Smith’s leg. Go figure.

            • August 21st 2017 @ 2:09pm
              dontcallmeshirley said | August 21st 2017 @ 2:09pm | ! Report

              I thought it was offside when they played it at normal speed.

            • August 21st 2017 @ 3:47pm
              FunBus said | August 21st 2017 @ 3:47pm | ! Report

              With the Folau offside the more they looked at it the less certain it became. The protocol, once the try had been given, Is for ‘clear’ evidence to overturn it. I didn’t think it was anywhere near ‘clear’.

              • August 21st 2017 @ 5:40pm
                timber said | August 21st 2017 @ 5:40pm | ! Report

                It was a blatantly forward pass in the first place, no need to dissect the offside.
                Quite bizarre how such a poor call has been ignored only to focus on the subsequent play which is ultimately irrelevant.

              • August 21st 2017 @ 7:35pm
                Jerry said | August 21st 2017 @ 7:35pm | ! Report

                Except for the frame he was saying they were even, Folau was a half step in front. What with the forward pass, that one vs Wales last year and the missed one from Barrett (that Owens called) I suspect Barnes simply can’t judge depth or angles. It’s rather odd.

      • August 21st 2017 @ 9:09am
        andrewt said | August 21st 2017 @ 9:09am | ! Report

        agree… we made them look good

        1. Squire – missed one-on-ones, then Kerevi didn’t get back in the line, and speight came in to gift the over lap
        2. Ioane – aust has 3 on 2 and all of them went in for Barrett. Folau showed him the line. Awful.
        3. Ioane – bad pass/foley transferred the pressure and gifted the AB’s a run to the line
        4. SBW – only took a couple of crash ball phases after a line out to get over the line
        5. Crotty – just a simple loop and straight running. How can the wallabies be bamboozled by that?!?!
        6. Crotty – worst of all. Just a single cut pass from a scrum to mid-field!!!

        etc etc …. just terrible defence.

        • Roar Guru

          August 21st 2017 @ 10:17am
          Hoy said | August 21st 2017 @ 10:17am | ! Report

          2. Ioane – Folau didn’t show him the sideline… he was standing in about 5 metres from him… for no reason. He half drifted in, then was left standing there when the pass went outside him to the wing. It was brainless play. Why Folau was standing inside his winger I will never know.

          • Roar Guru

            August 21st 2017 @ 1:09pm
            PeterK said | August 21st 2017 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

            Copying speight who came in off his wing all game

            • August 21st 2017 @ 2:15pm
              Jack said | August 21st 2017 @ 2:15pm | ! Report

              As per the Defence game plan. That’s the issue – wingers being asked to defend in the centres so the 13 can go to 12 and the 12 to 15 and the 15 to the wing. Definition of insanity….

              • Roar Guru

                August 21st 2017 @ 3:54pm
                Hoy said | August 21st 2017 @ 3:54pm | ! Report

                Crazy shuffle of 10 and 12 aside, I just don’t get the shift of Folau to the wing… but then he has never, ever been at the back when someone makes a break… I can’t remember him ever stopping a try. Folau, in how many years, has not stopped a try. He is our international fullback, people claim as one of the best in the world…

          • August 21st 2017 @ 1:19pm
            The Slow Eater said | August 21st 2017 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

            Spot on.

        • August 21st 2017 @ 10:58am
          markie362 said | August 21st 2017 @ 10:58am | ! Report


      • August 21st 2017 @ 12:46pm
        Crash Ball2 said | August 21st 2017 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

        It’s an uncharacteristically patronising piece from an historically very good contributor. Disappointingly, it’s becoming a more common and ugly trait for those doggedly supporting the current Australian coaching and administrative status quo – despite any and all alternative evidence – to accuse those in disagreement of gratuitously lacking logic, emotional awareness or sufficient understanding of this great game to offer a plausible opposing view. “Sharp, independent rugby brains” versus the guttural, illogical, emotional ravings of a frantic mob in an “increasingly desperate spiral of blame-seeking”. The hubris of the great unwashed! I wonder how Michael Lynagh’s third grade rugby team fared back in the day.

        What is not mentioned anywhere in this piece is that nepotistic selections, myopic game strategies and an abject inability to affect systemic change when the incumbent modus operandi is shown to be flawed, have been noticeable themes of Chieka’s blinkered approach for several seasons – and many have been highlighting these concerns long before they became “popular”.

        OK, it’s not working – but the plan is right, the players just aren’t good enough to execute them, and many of the viable alternatives have left our golden shores. But Michael, you assembled the coaching team. You green lit the plans. You selected the players. You ring-fenced several incumbents to the exclusion of all others. How is it possible that is so little accountability is assumed from the guy in the top job (or demanded from mainstream and other sporting media surely mandated to keep the b@stards honest?)

        The bizarre phenomenon is a derivative of the elitism that has so hampered the growth of rugby in Australia. We know more, our resumes are better, your opinions can now be, en masse, portrayed as bitter ravings of a senseless mob. Countless fantastic articles over several years attest to the view that, you’re better than this Allanthus.

        • August 21st 2017 @ 1:04pm
          bigbaz said | August 21st 2017 @ 1:04pm | ! Report

          Very good CB2 , sooner or later the apologists and elites a gunna have too see what we, the great unwashed have known for a couple of years. We may not know or agree on the answer but we’ve got the questions right. This is not the worst football side we’ve had but this is the worst we’ve been.

          • August 21st 2017 @ 3:43pm
            bigbaz said | August 21st 2017 @ 3:43pm | ! Report

            Knee jerk reaction, there were no surprises, we were waiting with baseball bats.

        • Columnist

          August 21st 2017 @ 2:02pm
          Geoff Parkes said | August 21st 2017 @ 2:02pm | ! Report

          You don’t think the addition of Byrne and Kafer is a step in the right direction CB?
          Or is it that anyone associated with the establishment is tainted?

          I’m no apologist for Cheika, but I’m guessing you know that already. I’m also not telling people how to feel, I understand why people are angry.

          But I was more angry about many of the knee jerk responses yesterday than I was about the way the Wallabies played in the first half. If Cheika is right about one thing it is that his players show pride in the jersey.

          People can shout and spit venom all they like but to claim that they don’t is unfair and I’m happy to speak up for the players and the coach in that regard.

          • August 21st 2017 @ 2:59pm
            Gilbert said | August 21st 2017 @ 2:59pm | ! Report

            ARU should go after Vern Cotter. Fire Cheika after RC.

          • August 21st 2017 @ 3:23pm
            Crash Ball2 said | August 21st 2017 @ 3:23pm | ! Report

            GP, the addition of innovative rugby knowledge would absolutely be invaluable to Australian rugby. Nowhere did I claim otherwise.

            My objection to your combative piece is specifically the indiscriminate dismissal of the views of any Australian rugby fan who has become disillusioned with the intransigent and ineffective approach of Michael Cheika as, across the board, “throwing all toys out of the cot” whilst employing “lazy, simplistic criticism.” It is a pugnacious and bold platform to be espousing; particularly given the consistently wretched output from this Wallabies team over a long period.

            What you claim is a “knee jerk” reaction to 50 minutes of smoking trainwreck-rugby is for many, by stark contrast, an accumulation of – now clearly habitual – head-scratching team selections, consistently ineffective game plans and a dogged determination to shift responsibility, and reject change. What you also “fail to grasp”, is that these valid, widespread criticisms existed well before this 50 or 80 minutes, and even before Cheika’s Wallabies’ apparent zenith in late 2015. The seeds of this current, tragic Wallabies iteration were sown long ago, and the few that held a alternative view of Cheika’s (then apparently successful) approach were ironically decried by a “mob” of fervent Cheika supporters – including you. If you are seeking to find spat venom in this discussion, just review the truculent and blindly dismissive language scattered throughout your own piece today.

            Write passionately about whatever you believe. Fight whatever corner you wish. On most occasions, you do so with consummate skill, elegant prose and subtle wit. Overwhelmingly I’ve also found you do so with great respect to your audience, and without belittling the broad spectrum of entirely defensible views across your readership. Not so today.

            • August 21st 2017 @ 4:14pm
              Sage said | August 21st 2017 @ 4:14pm | ! Report

              Pretty fair summation CB2. Felt the same way and I normally don’t with Alanthus.

            • Columnist

              August 21st 2017 @ 4:24pm
              Geoff Parkes said | August 21st 2017 @ 4:24pm | ! Report

              No worries CB2, happy to agree to disagree.
              As stated elsewhere, I’m not belittling anyone – at least not intending to.

              • August 21st 2017 @ 4:43pm
                Crash Ball2 said | August 21st 2017 @ 4:43pm | ! Report

                I don’t doubt it Geoff. No one who has read any collection of your contributions over the years would ever question your genuine passion for this team.

              • August 21st 2017 @ 6:36pm
                Charlie Turner said | August 21st 2017 @ 6:36pm | ! Report

                To be fair I think Geoff as a Kiwi is writing from a completely different place to a genuine Wallaby supporter. His perspective while well meaning will always lack the sense of urgency of a true believer. It’s almost impossible to not come across as patronising if you’re and AB supporter.

              • August 21st 2017 @ 7:46pm
                Crash Ball2 said | August 21st 2017 @ 7:46pm | ! Report

                We’ve certainly disagreed on a range of topics over the years. But based on Geoff / Allanthus’ offerings over that duration, I don’t doubt the sincerity of his positive intent for Australian rugby.

              • Columnist

                August 21st 2017 @ 8:48pm
                Geoff Parkes said | August 21st 2017 @ 8:48pm | ! Report

                I think you’re both right on that!

      • August 21st 2017 @ 12:52pm
        Cassandra said | August 21st 2017 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

        I thought the try right on half time was a very good example of this. All we had to do was defend against a scrum, admittedly inside our 22, knowing that the hooter was about to blow. It wasn’t just that they scored, it was the ease with which they scored off a move that really didn’t look like anything off the planet.

      • August 21st 2017 @ 4:36pm
        PiratesRugby said | August 21st 2017 @ 4:36pm | ! Report

        3-zip to England at home. 3-zip to NZ including 42 points in Sydney. No problem. Nothing to see here. Loss to darling Scotland at home. Nearly lost to Italy B and now 54 points to NZ again. If you think there is any myth to fans’ feelings towards Cheika and his Wallabies then you are delusional. We have good evidence that he is a failure. His selection, his preparation, his game plan, his team culture and his management have resulted in two solid years of utter failure and humiliation. Players are being let down. Players are finding reasons not to be selected. Fans have stopped turning up to games. Rugby is a joke to the Australian public. Sponsors will soon evaporate. Broadcast rights won’t be worth anything
        If you can get anyone to believe that there is anything good to come out of 54 points at home then that’s not a myth. It’s a miracle.

    • August 21st 2017 @ 6:42am
      MH01 said | August 21st 2017 @ 6:42am | ! Report

      The biggest issue is that Cheika, larkham and grey don’t see a problem ….. why ha grey even there?

      The only question I have, what happened to the skills these players had in 2014? Seems this coaching setup have managed to de-skill our national side.

      And what do the coaches focus on…….fitness ….I mean seriously , how delusional are they?

      • August 21st 2017 @ 8:57pm
        Jacky said | August 21st 2017 @ 8:57pm | ! Report

        I am not defending Grey but I think he is very limited in what he can do with the way the coach picks the team,the buck really stops with Cheika and I would like to know long we need to put up with the farce that is today’s Wallabies

    • August 21st 2017 @ 6:43am
      Daveski said | August 21st 2017 @ 6:43am | ! Report

      I admire the positivity I really do. And I like to thing I’m not part of the angry mob.

      But I think you’ll find the angry mob is quite united at the moment ( except when it comes to Foley v Cooper ).

      Someone suggested the Warringah Rats would’ve done better and as good as the weekend’s two Shute Shield finals were, I think all sane people know that isn’t true.

      We need to pull back our game plan in attack, we simply don’t have the side ( or players out of the side ) to play 80min up tempo footy against the best in the world. Secondly, this defensive system of Grey’s is abominable. It’s not helping at all.

      • Columnist

        August 21st 2017 @ 8:11am
        Geoff Parkes said | August 21st 2017 @ 8:11am | ! Report

        The mob is certainly united in its anger Daveski!
        Although hopelessly divided on what the solution is…

        I agree that taking on the world’s best at their own strength is asking for trouble. But Cheika was pilloried last year for taking a negative, niggly game plan into the Wellington test too. It seems that there are few realistic alternatives in the short term.

        • Roar Guru

          August 21st 2017 @ 9:37am
          Ralph said | August 21st 2017 @ 9:37am | ! Report

          “hopelessly divided on what the solution is…”

          There is wisdom in that thinking. There is much to be said about ‘cures’ that do not cure and ‘solutions’ that create more problems than they solve.

          • August 21st 2017 @ 4:46pm
            Sage said | August 21st 2017 @ 4:46pm | ! Report

            Talk of an niggly game plan last year wasn’t criticism from this side of the ditch Geoff.

            • Columnist

              August 21st 2017 @ 6:08pm
              Geoff Parkes said | August 21st 2017 @ 6:08pm | ! Report

              Note sure that’s the case Sage.
              More so from NZ of course but definitely from Australian writers too. And Spiro! 🙂

              • August 22nd 2017 @ 10:06am
                Sage said | August 22nd 2017 @ 10:06am | ! Report

                When it comes to rugby, Spiro is a Kiwi. Which Aus writers spoke about the niggle?

        • August 21st 2017 @ 12:14pm
          Perthstayer said | August 21st 2017 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

          Geoff – I do not have all the solutions but simple old fashioned ones are:

          Slow the game when mayhem is suffocating you.

          Take a slow lineout, catch and drive, first receiver runs straight ahead/back toward forwards, pick and go’s, couple of players 5 minutes apart drop the knee Fitzpatrick style to feign injury.

          A “system” cannot be changed during a game. Slowing down play can.

          • Columnist

            August 21st 2017 @ 2:07pm
            Geoff Parkes said | August 21st 2017 @ 2:07pm | ! Report

            Hi Perthstayer

            That’s a good observation, and I’d imagine that a more experienced captain might have been able to draw his team in and try to change the tempo of the game for 5-10 mins, just to try and do that. Rather like a cricket team does when it loses early wickets – the middle order has to revert to preservation mode for a bit, whatever the initial plan was.

            That said, in the period leading up to half-time, the Wallabies struggled to get their hands on the ball. Hansen mentioned it afterwards – momentum is such a key thing in the game now, and when NZ had it, and they weren’t dropping the ball or kicking it away, the Wallabies found themselves with no influence on how the game was being played.

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

        Can anybody tell me what Grey’s defensive system is? This is not a facetious question. How are they trying to defend and how is it different enough to be Grey’s system?

        • August 21st 2017 @ 8:45am
          Grotto said | August 21st 2017 @ 8:45am | ! Report

          And also how it’s different to the system that got us to a world cup final, and through a tough pool match against Wales with 13 blokes on the field…

          • August 21st 2017 @ 9:35am
            Harryonthcoast said | August 21st 2017 @ 9:35am | ! Report

            And a dubious win against Scotland who later beat you at home!!

            • August 21st 2017 @ 11:32am
              Craig said | August 21st 2017 @ 11:32am | ! Report

              Just can’t let it go eh?

          • August 21st 2017 @ 10:54am
            Jock Cornet said | August 21st 2017 @ 10:54am | ! Report

            AAC was the difference. We need AAC , he covered well for Beale and loved defence.

          • August 21st 2017 @ 10:56am
            Ruckin Oaf said | August 21st 2017 @ 10:56am | ! Report

            Wales crossed the Wallabies line 4 times in that world cup match and were held up each time.

            Kudos to the players for the effort but the defensive system still let them cross the line 4 times.

            • August 22nd 2017 @ 11:39pm
              Jock Cornet said | August 22nd 2017 @ 11:39pm | ! Report

              I was at that game and at one stage we were playing with 13 men

        • August 21st 2017 @ 9:05am
          jameswm said | August 21st 2017 @ 9:05am | ! Report

          Nick Bishop can tell you this – he has done pieces on it. In short it relies on line speed from the first two players off the pillar and then a drift if they get past the two shooters. Something like that.

          • August 21st 2017 @ 9:31am
            haymother said | August 21st 2017 @ 9:31am | ! Report

            If the first tackler misses, and they did the other night, it all falls apart. He has people takling out of position seems to be the biggest issue.

          • August 21st 2017 @ 10:21am
            Jacko said | August 21st 2017 @ 10:21am | ! Report

            Nick Bishop can tell you this – he has done pieces on it. In short

            Nick does not do “in short” His theory is… Why use 300 words and 10 pictures when 4000 words and 60 pictures are available

            • August 21st 2017 @ 11:09am
              jameswm said | August 21st 2017 @ 11:09am | ! Report

              Jacko – a bit of comprehension for you – the “in short” bit was my summary.

              No one’s forcing you to read more words than you want to, if your attention span is struggling. Many people enjoy the depth.

              IOt seems you aren’t one of them. Your choice.

        • August 21st 2017 @ 9:24am
          Highlander said | August 21st 2017 @ 9:24am | ! Report

          I too would like to know what has changed from the system from last year.
          Have seen the wallabies live twice this year, if anything the system looks more convulsed than in 2016

          Saturday saw 5 guys defending out of their traditional backline roles, plus Genia sweeping deeper than most halfbacks.
          You just can’t transition that many people quickly

          • August 21st 2017 @ 9:50am
            Centreman said | August 21st 2017 @ 9:50am | ! Report

            If players cant defend in their positions then they are not up to Test level or are playing out of position.
            Our defensive pattern seemed to involve moving Foley and Beale out of the middle channel with Speight and Rona filling in. Recipe for disaster.

            • August 21st 2017 @ 10:27am
              Hugo au Gogo said | August 21st 2017 @ 10:27am | ! Report

              The tactic of moving a weaker defender outside has been used by Oz teams for years – I first noticed Quade Cooper being moved wide, by Deans I think. And apart from causing confusion, it doesn’t allow teams to switch into attack if they win a turnover.

            • August 21st 2017 @ 11:21am
              Raa said | August 21st 2017 @ 11:21am | ! Report

              I totally agree. Let every player defend in their positions place. all the moving around in defense creates the confusion. They talk about trusting the men around you when tackling yet the coaches don’t trust the players to defend in their positions.
              If you aren’t good enough to attack and defend in your position then you shouldn’t be there,

              • August 21st 2017 @ 12:42pm
                Jellybelly said | August 21st 2017 @ 12:42pm | ! Report

                Absolutely correct Raa. “If you aren’t good enough to attack and defend in your position then you shouldn’t be there,” And this is where our selection process, beginning with the under 7s, needs work. It seems to me, and yes I am old, that young players spend too much time perfecting flick passes and not nearly enough time on defence i.e. where to defend and how to tackle. Too many players get into the Wallabies based on their “potential” which is often code for a) they have a poor kicking out of hand game; b) they can’t pass on both sides; c) their defence is poor etc. etc. The ABs don’t pick players with “potential”. They arrive at the ABs good to go.

              • August 21st 2017 @ 1:19pm
                Dummy Scissors said | August 21st 2017 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

                Agree 100% Raaaaaa … if you’re defending in broken play, you’d have Kurtley and Foley squealing while they run to the wings and everyone else trying to keep a pattern.

                You need to own your channel and get on top of your opposite number.

                You can’t play with a 10 and 12 who can’t tackle.

              • August 21st 2017 @ 4:58pm
                Fin said | August 21st 2017 @ 4:58pm | ! Report

                Especially when your 11,13 & 14 can’t tackle either. Foley and Beale should defend in the 10-12 channel they couldn’t possibly do any worse,

          • Columnist

            August 21st 2017 @ 9:51am
            Geoff Parkes said | August 21st 2017 @ 9:51am | ! Report

            I think that’s central to the problem Highlander.
            It might be ok to stand a smaller flyhalf out of the front line, but once it extends to multiple players being posted out of position it surely becomes a disaster waiting to happen?

        • August 21st 2017 @ 11:45am
          Rolando said | August 21st 2017 @ 11:45am | ! Report

          Here’s a guess: Rona was installed to defend one of the wings, reliably. Ab’s typically attacked toward other side of field through 10/12 channel or out to Ioane where Izzy ‘defends’.

          Izzy is in XV purely as an attacker and kick receiver, not a defender. Izzy moves to Speight’s wing in defence while Speight moved inside to assist cover the 12 channel due to the SBW threat. Hooper was not asked to help defend, or attack, in the 10/12 channel as he often has done. Foley and Beale were asked to defend the 10 channel, Foley moved back to fullback in defence less so than usual.

          When AB’s throw the ball wide it becomes critical that Kerevi and Izzy defend their man. However they were too focused on the threat inside of AB’s running off SBW’s passes and SBW himself. When ball went wide, Kerevi and Izzy were beaten on the outside. I’d guess Grey’s plan was to stop AB ball ever going wide to Ioane where Izzy defends.

          I think WB’s need a great defender around 12 channel who can catch and pass. If he can attack a bit, fine, but not so important. Let Beale do the attacking from fullback, including through 12 channel. Let Speight stay on his wing, More robust performances from the 6 and 8 and Hooper can get back to being a danger in the midfield in defence and attack.

          • August 21st 2017 @ 3:37pm
            ajg said | August 21st 2017 @ 3:37pm | ! Report

            I’d love to see this

            maybe it will when Hunt comes back?

            But i wudnt hold my breathe

        • August 21st 2017 @ 1:15pm
          Spanners said | August 21st 2017 @ 1:15pm | ! Report

          I think I saw Kafer explain this and basically the system employs a shooter coming out of the line to target the attacker who is receiving the ball one off the ruck. The theory is that the defender either makes the tackle far behind the gain line, or forces a bad pass from rush pressure. The problem is that the Wallabies can’t make the one on one tackle and all that is achieved is a gap left in the line.

          Grey combined this with a convoluted system of players defending out of their positions depending on field position and set piece/general play. I am unable to crack this code and will need study the replay at least another 20 times or so to unravel the methodology used. To be fair, Samu Kerevi had been working on this full-time for a month and wasn’t able to understand the system either.

      • August 21st 2017 @ 11:41am
        Drongo said | August 21st 2017 @ 11:41am | ! Report

        Yes, the mob is united. But like all mobs they are also emotional and ugly, stupid and silly.
        Geoff’s article is balanced. It was a very poor 1st half against a very good ABs. But the game goes for 80 minutes and both teams should be assessed on their complete performance.
        I just focused on my alcohol consumption in the 1st 40 and as a result I really enjoyed the 2nd 40. Maybe some of you should reflect on your own lives. Gee, they must be perfect. Mine isn’t and until it is I will exercise some restraint in my criticism of these young men.

    • August 21st 2017 @ 6:45am
      Ken Catchpole's Other Leg said | August 21st 2017 @ 6:45am | ! Report

      Another good piece Geoff.
      I’d like to challenge a couple of points -but i wont.
      Most of it was spot on. It seems everyone agrees on the disease. Its the cure we argue about

    • August 21st 2017 @ 6:45am
      Ken Catchpole's Other Leg said | August 21st 2017 @ 6:45am | ! Report

      Another good piece Geoff.
      I’d like to challenge a couple of points -but i wont.
      Most of it was spot on. It seems everyone agrees on the disease. Its the cure we argue about

    • August 21st 2017 @ 6:53am
      Woodsman said | August 21st 2017 @ 6:53am | ! Report

      Thanks Geoff, a good read from a level head. I do wonder if Nathan Grey’s structures have made some usually decent defenders look diabolical. The All Blacks were on fire but the defense under Grey at all levels has been woeful for a couple of years.

      • Columnist

        August 21st 2017 @ 8:14am
        Geoff Parkes said | August 21st 2017 @ 8:14am | ! Report

        Post-match Cheika was defiant in his defence of Grey Woodsman – as you would expect from someone who values loyalty like he does.

        But yes, you’d have to imagine there are some tough questions being asked behind closed doors.

        • August 21st 2017 @ 10:30am
          rl said | August 21st 2017 @ 10:30am | ! Report

          I’ll actually stick up for Grey (to an extent) – take a look at the backline he was handed:
          – A 10 who is an adequate defender
          – 12 who hasn’t played high level for how long, and who’s defence isn’t up to snuff at 12 anyway
          – 13 who normally plays 12 well, coming back from long term injury (I watched Kerevi and couldn’t help but think of Horne, who also was an excellent defender at 12 but hopeless at 13, very different positions)
          – a debutant on the wing who despite his league heritage has been flakey in defence
          – Folau – caught out defending on the wing

          They trot this out against the world’s best and wonder why there’s doubt amongst us couch surfers??

          Cheika actually handed his mate Grey a massive s##t-sandwich from a selection point of view. I suspect Cheiks is a good coach… but his selections stink, and he needs to be relieved of these duties (this is where Kafe could come in?). Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I would have thought in the context of all the above, Bill Meakes would have been a safer bet at 12 (or Hodge if you were really concerned about throwing a debutant in there, but I reckon Meakes’ defence is better). He might not of turned the game, but he certainly would have tightened up that defensive channel without the need for all the shuffled deckchairs.

          • Roar Guru

            August 21st 2017 @ 11:25am
            Hoy said | August 21st 2017 @ 11:25am | ! Report

            The stupid thing is you don’t need hindsight to see the issue… We all saw it coming.

          • August 21st 2017 @ 11:37am
            Craig said | August 21st 2017 @ 11:37am | ! Report

            Yes, that is a very fair point – Grey is certainly carrying the can for Cheika’s selections and constantly changing backline. Nonetheless a month of rehearsal and preparation should have paid more than it did.

            • August 21st 2017 @ 12:50pm
              Ruckin Oaf said | August 21st 2017 @ 12:50pm | ! Report

              Could it also be that Gray’s preference would be to have each man defend in his position but it’s Cheika who likes the switcheroo.

              • August 21st 2017 @ 6:57pm
                Charlie Turner said | August 21st 2017 @ 6:57pm | ! Report

                It’s simply impossible for Grey to keep the players in their selected defensive positions as those players are very poor defenders. The system is further complicated by the fact the shuffled in players are only marginally better defenders. I’m sure Grey would love to have guys who are tackling above 80% but none of those players are on Cheikas list.

                According to Fox sports stats page Foleys tackling efficiency this year was 48%, and that was with his be hidden in defence. That is a damning statistic!

          • August 21st 2017 @ 12:35pm
            Rolando said | August 21st 2017 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

            I agree. Chiek brings the winger in to defend 12 so Izzy can attack from fullback. Horne was much better than Speight at this, although you do reduce the threat of attack from wing a bit.

            Hooper used to defend and attack in the 10/12 channel too. With a weaker 8 on the field Hooper had to stay around the forward pack and not play his natural game ( which suffered).

            Arnold may be good at set-piece but is a weak forward defensively and in cleaning out and rarely runs etc. I don’t think WB’s can afford him and Hannigan or him and Simmons in same forward pack.

            Meakes to 12 looks good with Beale to fb and Izzy on wing. Still leaves the headache of who would defend Izzy’s wing as he is expected to attack from any point of the field and run off Beale and Foley and that means he’ll be out of position in defense ( and doesn’t seem to be much of a tackler anyway).

          • Roar Guru

            August 21st 2017 @ 12:58pm
            Who Needs Melon said | August 21st 2017 @ 12:58pm | ! Report


            On the one hand, haven’t Greys defensive strategies have been woeful at Waratah level too? Do we say “oh, well – it’s just because the Waratahs don’t have the right personnel either”? I’m not laying all the blame at Greys feet but he does need to shoulder a fair bit of it.

            On the other hand, as I’ve said before, we have a rugby conveyor belt in this country that is broken. We are just not getting good coaches or players out the end of it. Rather than placing the bulk of the blame at the broken products that are coming out the end, a total overhaul and reconstruction of the conveyor belt is required.

            How do we reconstruct Australias rugby pathways so that we get better players (and coaches) at the end of it? Do this and we should hopefully start to see results in 10-15 years time. Ignore it and take the ‘safe’ route of not changing too much and we will continue to see a slow decline.

            Yes, that’s right, just like when I predicted a drubbing this weekend, I’m being ‘all doom and gloom’ again.

            • Columnist

              August 21st 2017 @ 2:14pm
              Geoff Parkes said | August 21st 2017 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

              Melon, the conveyor belt analogy is a good one. That’s what the meeting on Thursday and Friday was about, but it will obviously take much more than that over a long period of time.

              The post above from Rolando proposes Meakes as the next solution. Maybe, but how do we know he will be any better? What I saw from him this year was someone who has flair and is combative but spills the ball a fair bit in contact.

              He may make a good test player but is he ready to be thrown straight in against this All Black’s side? I doubt it.

              • August 21st 2017 @ 3:21pm
                rl said | August 21st 2017 @ 3:21pm | ! Report

                Geoff, how do we really know any debutant will be any better? At least we have a marker on Meakes’ form. What has Beale done? At 12? Its yet another “captains call” by Cheika gone wrong (prob the only time he’s jagged one is picking Hunt at 12 earlier this year).

                I’m not as pessimistic as Melon about the conveyor belt, albeit that the basic skills of the players coming through (catching passing, tackling) seem to be sadly lacking. But it certainly doesn’t help by plucking them off the conveyor belt and playing them out of position!!!

                further on the conveyor belt – here’s a question for you: can anyone guess where the first choice no6 for the 2013 NSW Schoolboys XV is now playing? (and no, its not Ned Hannigan, he made the 2nd XV). I’m sure there’s a heap of other examples…..

              • August 21st 2017 @ 4:49pm
                Worlds Biggest said | August 21st 2017 @ 4:49pm | ! Report

                Would that be Angus Crichton of the Rabbitohs !

              • August 21st 2017 @ 5:22pm
                MitchO said | August 21st 2017 @ 5:22pm | ! Report

                rl. KB played well. I saw him not try to make one tackle but mostly he did try stand in front and play patticake. His D was not strong but it was enough given his outstanding contribution to the attack. He does bring Folau into the game much more. so play him at wing or fullback and on balance KB is positive.

                Folau, apart from letting in the Ione try, is kind of neutral as a defender. You basically get the bare minimum out of him but the main negative is that he doesn’t really clean anything up. Really I reckon Folau defensive work is just par but it is par. His attacking skills are really good. So he plays wing or fullback. Then you only need to worry about Foley’s defence at 10. Foley is okay he. Tries hard. Provided the 12 can tackle it is relatively easy to support Foley. 10s typically are not strong tacklers so everybody is used to protecting them a bit. Leave him in the line and send the 7 (usually Hooper) over to help him out.

              • August 21st 2017 @ 5:31pm
                rl said | August 21st 2017 @ 5:31pm | ! Report

                good work WB!

                Not arguing with you much MitchO, I though KB was OK, and deserves another run next week… but not at 12.

          • August 21st 2017 @ 6:18pm
            Sheriff said | August 21st 2017 @ 6:18pm | ! Report

            My question is this; these are highly paid professional rugby players. Why is it so openly known that ” such and such” can’t defend, so we need to hide them. They are professionals, if they are not up to the job, get rid of them!

            • August 21st 2017 @ 8:29pm
              Jacky said | August 21st 2017 @ 8:29pm | ! Report

              I agree wholeheartedly if they can’t do 100% of the job they should not be in the team.

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