Wallabies on the defence about defensive frailties

Brett McKay Columnist

By Brett McKay, Brett McKay is a Roar Expert

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    “One hundred per cent, mate,” came the direct response from Wallabies coach Michael Cheika.

    “One hundred per cent,” he repeated, for dramatic emphasis of what would become the immediate soundbite, simultaneously setting the tone for the build-up ahead of this weekend’s second Bledisloe Cup Test Match.

    It was a very deliberate answer, pointedly delivered eyeball-to-eyeball straight back from where the very deliberate and equally pointed question came in the opening moments of the press conference on Saturday night.

    After the Wallabies missed 37 first-half tackles to trail 40-6 at halftime, sending the press corps and broadcasters alike scurrying for the record books, Cheika was always going to be asked if he continued to have full faith in the defensive systems implemented by his defence coach, Nathan Grey.

    And Cheika knew it was coming, clearly, because there was no pause before the answer. He couldn’t be seen to have any doubts, even if he did. So, he tried to jump straight on it, not giving it any chance to get away from him.

    “One hundred per cent, mate. One hundred per cent.”

    Sure enough though, Sunday’s headlines told the tale of woe.

    Wallabies stunned by All Blacks in bizarre Bledisloe opener”, Fairfax ran with. “Cheika defends the indefensible”, the Daily Telegraph in Sydney followed, while for the Courier Mail in Brisbane, former Wallabies skipper Andrew Slack opined with scything accuracy, “Somehow, the Wallabies debacle was worse than it looked.”

    The test for Cheika, and especially Grey now, is how to address the many defensive issues.

    The Wallabies introduced a new structure for this Test, so they said post-match, which still looked remarkably similar to the same players in motion, swing-your-partner-round-and-round, overly complicated musical chairs structure that’s been causing defensive issues for 18 months now.

    Whether it looked any different to the New Zealand attackers is immaterial, because they did the same thing they’ve always done: eyed off the likely chink in the alignment, and run at it.

    When you look at Australia’s missed and ineffective tackle numbers, the one thing the stands out is that the bulk came from the three-quarter line of Curtis Rona, Kurtley Beale, Samu Kerevi, and Henry Speight. There were 17 missed tackles between the four of them, according to the official SANZAAR numbers.

    In the case of Rona and Speight, most of the ten they missed collectively came in midfield, where the two wingers defended in the centre channels. Now, Rona has defended at 13 for most of the season for the Western Force, but never at 12 or 13 having come in from the wing. Likewise, winger Speight doesn’t defend in the centres for the Brumbies for very good reason.

    A combination of two guys defending in unfamiliar territory and circumstances, a lack of communication, and no real evident trust in the inside defenders meant defenders were pushing in too far, or worse, not far enough all night.

    Slack summed this up perfectly: “Time together is crucial and with debutant Curtis Rona given some midfield defensive responsibilities, the All Blacks smelled blood in that area and drank it like a thirsty vampire.”

    Kurtley Beale Australia Rugby Union Championship Wallabies Bledisloe Cup 2017

    Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images

    Similarly, for Beale and Kerevi, many of their seven combined misses came when acting as the designated shooter in defence, where the idea is to pressure the ball-carrier and make the tackle – or at least slow the opposition player down – well behind the gain line. But again, a combination of poor initial-contact and the slide defence not reacting quickly enough in behind created way too many gaps for the All Blacks to create second-phase opportunities.

    Beauden Barrett worked this out quickly; if he just took the initial shooting contact, or looped around another crash runner into said shooting defender, the lack of cover in behind was where the space was.

    Too many moving parts, not enough trust, and lazy cover in behind the shooting defenders are the three major failings of the Wallabies’ current defensive system. And if that’s not attitude of the individuals, like Cheika suggested post-match, then it must be a failing in the system itself.

    Grey knows he’s under pressure, but worryingly doubled down on his strategy.

    “As a defensive coach, it’s difficult. But that’s the great thing about the game. You get to look at things you did wrong and how you can improve. You lick your wounds, pull yourself together and get stuck in again,” Grey said, as the Wallabies set up base in Christchurch on Monday.

    “We had a good look at it and really believe the way we’re trying to do things … is going to be really positive for us and when we get that right and everyone executes we can get the results we’re looking for.”

    Their staunchest defence at the moment does indeed appear to be when defending the clearly indefensible.

    If the crucial step of beating addiction is admitting to the problem in the first place, then the Wallabies appear to be a concerning distance from the rehab clinic just yet.

    Brett McKay
    Brett McKay

    Brett McKay is one of The Roar's good news stories and has been a rugby and cricket expert for the site since July 2009. Brett is an international and Super Rugby commentator for ABC Grandstand radio, has commentated on the Australian Under-20s Championships and National Rugby Championship live stream coverage, and has written for magazines and websites in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the UK. He tweets from @BMcSport.

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    The Crowd Says (281)

    • August 22nd 2017 @ 4:32am
      John said | August 22nd 2017 @ 4:32am | ! Report

      Hi Brett,

      Sorry to do this to you but the pass that led to the Wallaby try. My understanding of the rule is that so long as the ball goes backwards out of the hand its ok if it drifts forward from where it was passed where the passer is also running forward. In that instance though Foley was crabbing sideways as opposed to forward so how is that pass acceptable? Even if he was moving forward it was not at pace with his forward momentum carrying the ball forward. So again – why was it allowed?

      In the post-match interview, I heard Cheika say he could not do (and would not have done) anything differently before the match. I heard the ABs had a warm-up game (I think against Rotorua?) before the Test. Wouldn’t that have been something they could have done differently, especially since they seemed underdone?

      Also, did you hear Cheika say the players need to “play what’s in front of them” during the after-match press conference? Was he channeling his inner-Deans or is he running out of BS to feed us?

      Final question. Rugby in Australia has always been very political. Years ago it was always NSW v QLD. So are we simply seeing a period of NSW dominance which sees undeveloped players like Hanigan get selected when others are ignored?

      • August 22nd 2017 @ 6:50am
        Daveski said | August 22nd 2017 @ 6:50am | ! Report

        John, Hanigan was playing NRC this time last year and playing it very well. I’d argue was as good for the Eagles in the second row as Tui and Rodda were in their teams. Hanigan seems to be target du jour but I s he any less deserving of a spot currently than Rona, Korobeite, Ueleese or at the other end of the spectrum Moore and Genia ?

        People will argue ah but there’s because there’s better options than Hanigan and especially in Higgas and RHP I get that – for me Fardy is well past his best.

        But it’s the same in other positions, how do Moore and Ueleese get a gig ahead of Hanson or even Heath Tessman who at least is a hardnut and always has a crack. Powell should have been given a chance in June to show what he’s got but instead rode the pine. No outside back has done more in the last two years of super rugby than Tom English but he can’t get picked. Someone like Jimmy Dargaville will keep getting ignored cos he doesn’t have a Fijian physique.

        Ok rant over. But you get my point. It’s not only Hanigan who might be there before his time ( or past his prime in the case of others).
        And there are other options… just not as many as the blessed Kiwis have in every darn position.

        • August 22nd 2017 @ 6:55am
          connor33 said | August 22nd 2017 @ 6:55am | ! Report

          Agree on Jimmy Dargaville and Banks also from the Brumbies…Larkham was apparently pulling for the latter.

          Banks is probably the fastest player in Australia–and really, that’s all you need on the wings, especially in defense (i.e., to hold the space, have a go, and wait for the cover defense to slide across).

          The way Folau was burnt was atrocious. This would not have happened to a faster, fleet-footer winger–yet size as you point out tends to be king.

          • August 22nd 2017 @ 7:25am
            Daveski said | August 22nd 2017 @ 7:25am | ! Report

            Banks in a sense would be a bigger rush job than Hanigan but at the same time I think he deserves a go too. An excellent half a season would have been an excellent full season of Super Rugby if Larkham had realised earlier Banks was a better option than Toua at 15.

            He looks like the sort of guy like Chris Latham who you think might get found out as he goes up to the next level but never does.

            • Roar Guru

              August 22nd 2017 @ 7:35am
              Fionn said | August 22nd 2017 @ 7:35am | ! Report

              Banks isn’t as quick as Naivalu, but Naivalu is injured.

              We’re not going to throw banks to the wolves against New Zealand, it would be cruel. He should have been in the June squad and he should be in the RC squad, but he should make his debut off the bench, and against Argentina or South Africa, not New Zealand.

              • August 22nd 2017 @ 7:44am
                Connor33 said | August 22nd 2017 @ 7:44am | ! Report

                Yes, agree with most of this. Not saying that he should have played, but should have been in the squad of 34.

                I think over 5-15 yards Banks would be quicker–it’d be a good race over 30-50, with Naivalu probably beating him over 50+.

              • Roar Guru

                August 22nd 2017 @ 8:02am
                Fionn said | August 22nd 2017 @ 8:02am | ! Report

                He should have played in June before Nabuli.

                Naivalu is the only winger in Aus who has really proven their Test form, and he should be brought back in when ready, but Banks looks like he will be a good prospect going forward.

              • August 22nd 2017 @ 8:42am
                Daveski said | August 22nd 2017 @ 8:42am | ! Report

                Totally agree….Banks or English or Dargaville in June ahead of Nabuli. I’m rather suss on that selection as per Naivoroyo. Make them eligible then forget about them.

              • August 22nd 2017 @ 9:14am
                jameswm said | August 22nd 2017 @ 9:14am | ! Report

                He should really be playing another season of Super rugby. We have Speight, Naivalu, KOroibet, DHP, Beale, Folau an Hodge to play wing/fullback (some admittedly injured).

                We don’t need to throw half season rookies in. we need to develop them, the way NZ do.

              • August 22nd 2017 @ 1:12pm
                Connor33 said | August 22nd 2017 @ 1:12pm | ! Report

                And J, we get Rona served up.

              • August 22nd 2017 @ 1:38pm
                jameswm said | August 22nd 2017 @ 1:38pm | ! Report

                Exactly. He didn’t need to be thrown in. Useful and promising player, but not ready yet.

              • August 22nd 2017 @ 2:03pm
                sittingbison said | August 22nd 2017 @ 2:03pm | ! Report

                Rona. Played all year at 13, straight from league.
                First international, asked to play on wing, but defend inside to make up for inadequacy of 10 12 13 in a complex pattern found out for two years at both Wallaby and Waratah. Against the All Blacks.
                How is that not thrown to the wolves

              • August 22nd 2017 @ 4:45pm
                ScottD said | August 22nd 2017 @ 4:45pm | ! Report

                Rona was thrown to the wolves mate no doubt.
                Even worse he now is being criticised while guys that should have done the tackling in the centers are sacred cows
                It is a disgrace

            • August 22nd 2017 @ 12:12pm
              MitchO said | August 22nd 2017 @ 12:12pm | ! Report

              Daveski. A guy like Hanigan will always look good against opposition who are not particularly good at second phase because Hanigan does work hard and does do a lot of work. Problem is his effectiveness against those who are actually good at second phase like Scotland or NZ or England.

              You have to earn the right to go wide as many are fond of saying. We need a slow boring Fardy type not a fast exciting Hanigan type. For the Wallabies Timani is much more effective than Hanigan because he is the type we need.

              Banks looked a candidate for the future but he is unlikely to be able to do anything that Rona or Speight could not do. If you leave Rona and Speight on the wings to play wing then they’ll do okay. Both are fast enough. Neither will have had much experience in the Wallabies cutting edge defensive system. The best explanation of the Wallabies defensive system is Highlanders Curtis Rona “welcome to the team”.

              Gotta fix that system. That means Rona gets dropped. Good thing is that that the defense can’t be worse if you leave Foley to defend at 10. Put Kerevi at 12 and TK at 13. KB can play full back or wing with Folau out there. That will work. Certainly it will not fail any worse.

        • August 22nd 2017 @ 7:50am
          Crash Ball2 said | August 22nd 2017 @ 7:50am | ! Report

          Don’t disagree with any of the potential replacements you have flagged. But Hanigan is an outlier because he has been consistently trialled in the starting 15, and every time floundered. Cheika is actually doing Hanigan a diservice by introducing him too early, and then picking him again and again after he has been shown up. Punters are already calling him Mumm 2.0 and that stigma will forever remain even if the bloke finds some Angry and develops the beef and technique that will compliment his frame and undoubted potential. Dropping him will hurt. But not as much as picking him now has done. There were obviously better equipped options for the 6 jersey. This is totally Cheika’s fault.

        • Roar Guru

          August 22nd 2017 @ 8:16am
          Fionn said | August 22nd 2017 @ 8:16am | ! Report

          The major difference is that Moore is playing in a position where we have little depth (although I still wouldn’t pick him at the moment), whereas Hanigan played over guys like Fardy, Haylett-Petty and Higginbotham.

          Dargaville couldn’t consistently getting a starting spot for the Brumbies. He was class in the QF but I don’t think I would pick him in the Wallabies squad. Banks is the main Brumby who should feel hard done by.

          Agree on most of the other players you say shouldn’t deserve to be there. That being said Genia was not actually too bad on Saturday, despite what people are saying.

          • August 22nd 2017 @ 9:18am
            jameswm said | August 22nd 2017 @ 9:18am | ! Report

            Moore just has to go. We cannot pick someone that slow.

            All our forwards must:

            1. be mobile;

            2. be an attaccking threat;

            3. have decent hands and offloads;

            4. win contact consistntly;

            5. be able to do their core skills well.

            Obviously 5 and 4 are the most important, but we need guys who can do all 5. Coleman can, ditto TPN, Arnold and Timani. Lat is very good, but injured. Uelese might hav all 5 and if he does, I’d rather pick him than a misfiring Moore who struggles at 1-3 and isn’t great at 4 either. How good is Uelese’s scrummaging?

            • Roar Guru

              August 22nd 2017 @ 9:34am
              Fionn said | August 22nd 2017 @ 9:34am | ! Report

              ‘How good is Uelese’s scrummaging?’

              No idea, but regardless, can it be worse than Moore? He was a very good Wallaby and great servant of Aussie rugby, but, I agree, it is time to move on.

              • August 22nd 2017 @ 9:45am
                Wolman said | August 22nd 2017 @ 9:45am | ! Report

                Moore has to be on the bench.

                Uelese has played no rugby to know if hes up to it. We have to think of him as a person. Throwing him into the caludron can not be a good thing. having him in the squad and not playing is great for him.

                All he has done is help destroy an All Balck u’20 scrum, which is promising, but I doubt hes going to do as well against the real deal.

              • August 22nd 2017 @ 10:07am
                Jacky said | August 22nd 2017 @ 10:07am | ! Report

                So why would you pick a player who you have never seen play?Uelese?He may be very good but neither you or I know that and in the first half of the game the only players who could hold their head up were the tight 5 plus Genia.

              • Roar Guru

                August 22nd 2017 @ 10:10am
                Fionn said | August 22nd 2017 @ 10:10am | ! Report

                Jacky, you’re seriously saying that Moore could hold his head up?

              • August 22nd 2017 @ 6:45pm
                Andy said | August 22nd 2017 @ 6:45pm | ! Report

                Jacky probably still thinks the all blacks only won due to dodgy refereeing decisions

              • August 22nd 2017 @ 12:21pm
                MitchO said | August 22nd 2017 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

                I reckon that TPN is the old man of the team so the second hooker spot should go to a “young” guy. But if you have to pick Moore then you have to start TPN and tell him to burn himself out. That way Moore only as to go as hard as he can for twenty or thirty minutes. Moore will try very hard but he doesn’t have TPNs impact. In his day Moore was one of the best hookers in the world. Not so much the best but if you had Moore that was good enough. He’s getting old. It happens. TPN still has that physicality and toughness and he even throws better than he used to.

                If I was Robertson I’d be working on my throwing. He is a good size for a hooker. He’ll never make it as a topline prop. He’ll keep playing test matches but he’ll only be keeping the seat warm until some better comes along.

            • August 22nd 2017 @ 10:32am
              rl said | August 22nd 2017 @ 10:32am | ! Report

              james, one thing I really miss about Moore is his cover defence – before he lost a yard or two, he used to be very good at cleaning up any inside breaks and providing a contest for the ball at those critical early moments of the breakdown (in the manner of an extra loosie). Especially vital at the moment as our loosies need all the help they can get. And his formerly effective tight runs are now resembling the “flop” that Sharpie adopted as his career faded.

              Great servant, and possibly still good for 20 minutes towards the end of a test.

        • August 22nd 2017 @ 8:21am
          John said | August 22nd 2017 @ 8:21am | ! Report

          Yes Daveski, I get your point. Maybe Horne and Douglas are better examples. The former is picked even though he is leaving for Europe. The latter is picked even though he cannot get a gig on the bench in his home team, while Cooper and fans are left to wonder. Not saying Cooper should be in the squad, but just that selections are inconsistent.

          For all of Cheika’s supposed skills as a communicator, he could explain what and why but he doesn’t.

          • August 22nd 2017 @ 8:44am
            Daveski said | August 22nd 2017 @ 8:44am | ! Report

            When Cheika first started I thought he was a breath of fresh air in terms of speaking to the media but you’re right he doesn’t actually say a lot in terms of clarifying selections and tactics.

        • August 22nd 2017 @ 9:14am
          Harry said | August 22nd 2017 @ 9:14am | ! Report

          Ah I love a Roar truism and one that is getting a lot of airtime this year is Fardy is past his best and shouldn’t be picked. I would refer you all to NSW v Brumbies at the SFS this year, where Fardy was the best forward on the field, completely overshadowing all Tah forwards. And when the Brums gave a competitive display in their final, Fardy was again good.
          On recent form, Fardy is the standout 6 in Australia, with Ross Haylett-Petty finishing the season strongly and looking a real prospect. Instead who is selected? Hanigan, Dempsey and the other project player, McMahon.

          • August 22nd 2017 @ 9:19am
            jameswm said | August 22nd 2017 @ 9:19am | ! Report

            Fardy is too slow (off the mark at least), is a negligible attacking threat and doesn’t win contact enough.

            • August 22nd 2017 @ 9:46am
              Harry said | August 22nd 2017 @ 9:46am | ! Report

              Do you seriously assert those backrowers in the current squad (Hooper, McMahon, Dempsey, Hanigan, Timani, Korczyk) are better than Fardy at the basics of a number 6/backrower – lineout option, contesting the breakdown, defence, ball carrying, disrupting opposition ball (yes he’s a bit of a penalty magnet)?

            • August 22nd 2017 @ 10:21am
              Akari said | August 22nd 2017 @ 10:21am | ! Report

              An apt description of Hannigan’s credentials, J, and yet he gets a run-on start. I agree with Crash Ball 2 that Cheika is ruining Hannigan’s game and name by trying to prove to one and all that he was right in selecting Hannigan in the 1st place. Perhaps Cheika could recruit Willie O to take the young fella under his wing and help his development over the next few months.

              • August 22nd 2017 @ 1:45pm
                jameswm said | August 22nd 2017 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

                Not sure why this is aimed at me Akari. I wouldn’t pick Hanigan either. He lacks 4, and to a lesser extent 2. You cannot pick guys at 4-6 who lose contact – Carter and Simmons have been manhandled before too.

                I still think if Skelton improves his fitness and lineout work in England he will become a valuable backup for Arnold and Coleman. Skelton has physicality in spades. He lacks 5 a bit now and will always lack 1 to an extent.

                Harry – Dempsey and Hanigan are similar in the lineout to Fardy. Fardy is better over the ball, but Dempsey is more physical, quicker, with better hands and a better attacker. Hanigan is too deficient in 1 or 2 areas to pick, as is Fardy.

                None of the ones you listed (or Fardy) are the best in all 5 categories.

              • August 23rd 2017 @ 2:23pm
                Akari said | August 23rd 2017 @ 2:23pm | ! Report

                Not aimed at you, J. I was just saying the description matched Ned Hannigan (and I should qualify that with) at this time. He is still a boy and can and will become better as he grows into the role expected of him one season ahead of time I guess.

        • August 22nd 2017 @ 9:32am
          Ben said | August 22nd 2017 @ 9:32am | ! Report

          Hannigan looks like the guy on Dukes of Hazard….plays like Daisy though.

        • August 22nd 2017 @ 12:42pm
          STin said | August 22nd 2017 @ 12:42pm | ! Report

          We need selectors to provide the squad based on an independent view of form and experience.

        • Roar Guru

          August 22nd 2017 @ 1:23pm
          Train Without A Station said | August 22nd 2017 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

          Hanigan was playing NRC this time last year.


          NRC is totally different to test match rugby.

          It has a higher ball in play time than a Super Rugby game, but is well below in physicality.

          Hanigan was able to do well in a high tempo, but low physicality game.

      • August 22nd 2017 @ 7:55am
        P2R2 said | August 22nd 2017 @ 7:55am | ! Report

        Hi John – just to add one other important factor, not only was that pass FORWARD, but the knock-on by Kuridrani and taken by Folau in an OFF-SIDE position was beyond belief…..how did that happen?

        • August 22nd 2017 @ 9:23am
          Ben said | August 22nd 2017 @ 9:23am | ! Report

          P2R2…yes..luckily the game was well and truly over prior to that so had no effect on the result. Thus it really hasnt had much coverage.
          Just unbelievable though that both very obvious errors were ignored.

          • Roar Guru

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

            The forward pass for the first try of the match by Squire was missed as well.

            As usual there were multiple mistakes and they had no impact on the result so rightfully more impactful issues like the Wallabies lack of defence are getting the airplay

            • August 22nd 2017 @ 3:42pm
              ojp said | August 22nd 2017 @ 3:42pm | ! Report

              yep, I thought the last pass to Squire was suspect too;

        • August 22nd 2017 @ 9:46am
          Wolman said | August 22nd 2017 @ 9:46am | ! Report

          it was inconclusive

          • Roar Rookie

            August 22nd 2017 @ 11:38am
            piru said | August 22nd 2017 @ 11:38am | ! Report

            I’ve seen Brett Favre throw Hail Marys that didn’t go that far forward

            • Roar Guru

              August 22nd 2017 @ 12:22pm
              Hoy said | August 22nd 2017 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

              I can’t recall when Union crossed over into League and “back out of the hands” was the excuse. It used to be forward was forward… and don’t give me that physics argument about all passes being forward…

              That pass was so forward, it went into the neighbouring suburb, and it bounced off three people, the last being TK, before Folau picked it up from in front of TK. How the TMO didn’t rule on that I will never know… Barnes wanted no part of it, asking the TMO to decide…

              It was a crazy ruling.

              • Roar Rookie

                August 22nd 2017 @ 1:13pm
                Shane D said | August 22nd 2017 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

                Pretty much always been the law Hoy.
                That pass was forward out of the hands for mine though.
                Barnes awarded the try so there had to be ‘clear & obvious’ evidence & he didn’t want to look at the pass, only the offside. The TMO should have highlighted the pass as a problem.

              • August 22nd 2017 @ 1:47pm
                jameswm said | August 22nd 2017 @ 1:47pm | ! Report

                I thought it was marginal out of the hands. Whether it then drifted or bounced forward is immaterial.

                There was no knock on either.

                Off side probably, but marginal. You couldn’t quite tell when the ball hit Kuridrani’s leg.

              • Roar Rookie

                August 22nd 2017 @ 2:14pm
                piru said | August 22nd 2017 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

                I think Barnes knew the TMO was going to say it went forward as he pre empted him with ‘I’m happy with the pass’.

                Now I’m not one to tell the ref he’s wrong on a judgement call, but you’d think Barnes would be particularly sensitive to forward passes

              • August 22nd 2017 @ 2:21pm
                Fionn said | August 22nd 2017 @ 2:21pm | ! Report

                I was at the game and I and the Aussie lads I was sitting with were 100% sure it wasn’t a try. We were gobsmacked at the decision.

              • August 22nd 2017 @ 3:20pm
                ClarkeG said | August 22nd 2017 @ 3:20pm | ! Report

                Hoy …if that pass was forward from Foley then I doubt very much it was even close to being as forward as you think it was.

                And I don’t know how many times we have to go over this thingee about passes not necessarily being forward even though they may drift nearer the goal line the passer is playing towards.

                It’s been proven so many times over and over again. Even if you can’t accept that, it is the way the law is applied.

                And regards the potential offside, rather than Barnes wanting no part of it, he led the whole process to the point of conclusion…so it was very much his decision.

              • August 22nd 2017 @ 3:22pm
                timber said | August 22nd 2017 @ 3:22pm | ! Report

                It was a terrible decision, obviously forward out of the hands.
                The flippant manner in which Barnes dismissed reviewing the pass was bizarre. The first AB try was suspect too so it evens out.
                I seriously think Barnes lacks depth perception or the ability to see angles because that pass was just so very very forward.

          • August 22nd 2017 @ 2:49pm
            ClarkeG said | August 22nd 2017 @ 2:49pm | ! Report

            I agree regards Foley’s pass…it was not clearly and obviously forward from his hands…but as is usually the case with ruling on forward passes using the TMO – it’s very hard to tell.

            Folau however was clearly and obviously (even if only slightly) in front of Kuridrani when the ball touched Kuridrani’s thigh. If only they had freeze framed it at that point, rather than when the ball come off Ben Smith’s leg. then they would have seen the obvious.

            • August 22nd 2017 @ 3:35pm
              timber said | August 22nd 2017 @ 3:35pm | ! Report

              It was clearly and obviously forward from his hands.
              Foleys not running very fast, he’s moving sideways as well, there’s no way momentum accounts for the pass being forward within a metre of him releasing it. It even looks like he loses control of it from his fingertips.

              • August 22nd 2017 @ 6:32pm
                ClarkeG said | August 22nd 2017 @ 6:32pm | ! Report

                But none of that matters of course. The only thing that does matter is….when he released the ball, was it in a forward direction…yes or no.

                If you can’t be sure then it’s a no. I’m saying I’m not sure.

                Funnier things have happened (e.g. they ruled that it was not clear and obvious that Folau was offside) but I would have been surprised if the try had been disallowed for a forward pass on the basis of the replays I have seen.

                But yet again it just proves that we can all watch the same pictures and come to different conclusions as to what we see.

        • Columnist

          August 22nd 2017 @ 4:08pm
          Brett McKay said | August 22nd 2017 @ 4:08pm | ! Report

          And to pick this up from here John (and P2R2), we questioned immediately during the ABC call how they could possibly have ruled Folau was not offside. Even if you accept that Kuridrani didn’t knock-on (of which I still have doubts!), to have ruled by freezing individual frames that it was still inconclusive if there was an offside, I think it would be generous to describe the decision as generous, even..

          • August 22nd 2017 @ 4:17pm
            cuw said | August 22nd 2017 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

            aside from that Brett McKay , in the name of consistency , they shud have used freeze frames to decide on Barrett and Foley simultaneos touch.

            what i have always hated as a neutral is the refs using different theories at different times on different teams.

            • Columnist

              August 22nd 2017 @ 6:39pm
              Brett McKay said | August 22nd 2017 @ 6:39pm | ! Report

              They did, effectively. That was how they decided that there it wasn’t conclusive a try had been scored..

            • August 22nd 2017 @ 7:17pm
              ClarkeG said | August 22nd 2017 @ 7:17pm | ! Report

              One might ask …if Barnes used the theory that it was not clear and obvious that Folau was offside and thus the try stood then why would not Barrett’s try be allowed on the basis that it was not clear and obvious that Foley grounded the ball at least simultaneously.

              I’m pretty sure I know what the answer would be however it would be interesting to have the lawmakers explain why.

              Having watched it again I’m not convinced that Foley, although he made contact with the ball simultaneously…possibly…with Barrett, had downward pressure on the ball, whereas it was clear and obvious that Barrett did.

      • August 22nd 2017 @ 9:18am
        Ben said | August 22nd 2017 @ 9:18am | ! Report

        Rotorua is not a team.
        They played “the game of 3 halves” against Taranaki and Counties in Pukekohe.

        • August 22nd 2017 @ 10:12am
          John said | August 22nd 2017 @ 10:12am | ! Report

          Thanks for clarifying. They did play though, while Grump the Clown says there was nothing they could have done differently ….

      • August 22nd 2017 @ 9:58am
        Jacky said | August 22nd 2017 @ 9:58am | ! Report

        If coach says he would not and could not do anything differently is it not time to go.He admits there is nothing he can do.I would say firstly look at your captain both for ability to be a good 7 and then as a leader.Find a genuine 7 bring Gill back from overseas.Look at your fullback and either drop him to bench or altogether I believe these two players are the common denominator in every losing test that where you have been coach.Next stop picking players who can not cover all requirements to cover the position for which they are picked and stop being adamant that your failed ways are right and accept that it is impossible for any defence coach to be successful under your selection criteria You Mr Cheika are no better than your employers and to my mind you are doing just as much damage to the game that I have followed since before you were born.Man up and resign.

      • August 22nd 2017 @ 5:39pm
        Curl said | August 22nd 2017 @ 5:39pm | ! Report

        We did the same thing last year against a red hot England coming off their best 6 nations for years and the No. 1 ranked ABs who had lead up games. We had no lead up games and this showed on the field with poor combinations and predictable results. I am not sure the coaching staff are responsible for this, but something needs to be done.

    • August 22nd 2017 @ 4:38am
      Fin said | August 22nd 2017 @ 4:38am | ! Report

      What is the fix Brett?

      Cheika seems unwilling to move Folua to the wing which in my opinion would give him better defensive options( and kicking) with a couple of players switch from the bench to the starting side.

      Genia, Foley, Speight, Hodge, Kuridrani, Folua, Beale. Rona went okay give him another run off the bench. Kerevi is too good a player to discard plus he probably doesn’t deserve to be the fall guy when there failings everywhere.

      Make Foley defend at 10 maybe with the exception of a defensive lineout the other defend where they attack. Plus we have Hodge to kick for touch. If Grey wants to stick with his defensive pattern this combination has a much better chance of pulling it off.

      • August 22nd 2017 @ 5:43am
        Connor33 said | August 22nd 2017 @ 5:43am | ! Report

        I’d swap DHP for Speight, but other than that it is these players that must be in the backline. And bloody well should have been for the June series to build on the defensive structures.

        The key, though, is to have Hodge and TK at 12-13–much like how they were when we won 3 out of 5 on the 2016 EOYT. And ironically we were leading England at the 50 minute mark. And had the better of Ireland but for the 14-3 penalty count against.

        Gee those were the days–and only a mere 10 months ago when we could actually tackle, and had players in the back line to do so.

        Still, furious with Cheika’s selections….thank goodness the Roar provides a forum to rant. No doubt we’ll see Lynagh soon…

        • August 22nd 2017 @ 5:53am
          Jarijari said | August 22nd 2017 @ 5:53am | ! Report

          Agreed on all counts, but it’s unlikely Cheika will remake the three-quarter line so drastically.

        • August 22nd 2017 @ 7:50am
          Fox Molder said | August 22nd 2017 @ 7:50am | ! Report

          Stats don’t tell the full story. Due to Grey’s insane ‘system’ Speight was caught defending and covering for players on his inside, most of his missed tackles were actuallly in the event of the other team scoring a try as he scrambled to cover other players out of position. Rona’s misses were one simple one one ones that he stone cold missed, including getting spun a dance by the AB back rower down the side line. Speight’s ruck involvements, clean outs and hard running metres pre and post contact are a must in this team. To drop him for DHP and keep Rona is beyond ludicrous.

          • August 22nd 2017 @ 8:34am
            Connor33 said | August 22nd 2017 @ 8:34am | ! Report

            Rona goes. And I now tend to agree re Speight. Both he and TK do more ruck work than Saturday’s back row put together.

            DHP is a test player, though. Hard to pick over Speight. Perhaps each get 40 with Speight starting to provide some continuity after Kerevi and Roma are heaved out of the 23.

            • August 22nd 2017 @ 9:21am
              jameswm said | August 22nd 2017 @ 9:21am | ! Report

              Speight and TK had a very good Super season too and work well together. I’d keep Speight.

            • August 22nd 2017 @ 9:21am
              Harry said | August 22nd 2017 @ 9:21am | ! Report

              For those pushing the DHP barrow, please watch the first 10 minutes of last years Bledisloe where he is rounded with ease by the kiwi wingers … the guy is a solid SR player and a useful backup 15, but FGS lets not build him up as a genuine test winger.

              • August 22nd 2017 @ 9:29am
                Wolman said | August 22nd 2017 @ 9:29am | ! Report

                yes DHP was ordinary in that game and maybe one other last year. But he was also excellent in many others.

                DHP if fit wlll start. If not fit I’d be tempted to give Rona another chance.

                In regards to Kerevi though he looks sluggish, not just the one on one misses but he did not look fit. He needs some time playing NRC to build up his match fitness. Moving him to 12 will only move the problem elsewhere.

              • August 22nd 2017 @ 1:48pm
                jameswm said | August 22nd 2017 @ 1:48pm | ! Report

                DHP was also very ordinary in one game this season – Italy or Scotland, can’t remember which. Error after error.

                He’s just not a test footballer.

              • Roar Rookie

                August 22nd 2017 @ 4:04pm
                piru said | August 22nd 2017 @ 4:04pm | ! Report

                but FGS lets not build him up as a genuine test winger.

                He’s not a test winger – he’s a fullback being played out of position

                The subject has been spoken about at length

      • August 22nd 2017 @ 9:20am
        jameswm said | August 22nd 2017 @ 9:20am | ! Report

        Folau plays o n the wing for half the game.

        Agree on Kerevi – defends better at 12, but it is an area he needs to improve. Eve his attack was ordinary – he seemed short of a gallop.

        • Roar Rookie

          August 22nd 2017 @ 1:10pm
          Shane D said | August 22nd 2017 @ 1:10pm | ! Report

          Folau defending on the wing is in it’s self an interesting option.
          Isn’t he considered one of if not the best in the world under the high ball? Why plant him on one side of the field where it is so easy to kick away from him?
          The AB’s were happy to put up contestable high kicks out towards Foley playing on the left wing when exiting their territory. Would that have been an option if Folau was at FB & able to cheat over to that side to provide Foley with support?

          • August 22nd 2017 @ 5:38pm
            cuw said | August 22nd 2017 @ 5:38pm | ! Report

            It is possible to kick away from one good catcher , irrespective of where he plays.

            that is why teams like NZ England Lions … use 2 full backs or even very good catchers to cover at least 2/3 of the width of the park , while using the fly half to cover the balance.

            for eg. i think the sole reason DMac played 15 and Smith on wing was becoz Dagg is injured. after the loss to Ireland am sure they saw that 2 wings who maybe big and quick but not so good at catching is an issue in modern style.

            even the BILs untill Hogg got injured had basically 2 fullbacks with Williams on wing.

      • August 22nd 2017 @ 9:25am
        Wolman said | August 22nd 2017 @ 9:25am | ! Report


        Folau plays wing in defense. Has done for years.

      • Columnist

        August 22nd 2017 @ 4:09pm
        Brett McKay said | August 22nd 2017 @ 4:09pm | ! Report

        I might save the fix for Thursday, Fin! 😉

    • August 22nd 2017 @ 4:48am
      levelheaded said | August 22nd 2017 @ 4:48am | ! Report

      I can’t get my head around why the questions regarding how so many players are leaving our shores are not being asked by the media – is the elephant in the room Cheika’s ex media mate who sits next to him at all the games? As a passionate Rugby supporter I feel like these guys are constantly attempting to play games with their fans, too many clichés, rhetoric and amateurism.

      The next question is what on earth do we think we are going to get out of this coaching group? It’s not personal as I don’t know them of course. What I see is a dysfunctional group hardly able to comprehend defensive structures, lacking team morale, with a Captain that appears out of his depth and a serious lack of international game plan…

      When will this stop and we can reboot the Wallabies, surely Cheika and his crew have now had enough chances…

      Stop the spin, stop the false hope and bravado, stop the rot!

      • August 22nd 2017 @ 6:34am
        rl said | August 22nd 2017 @ 6:34am | ! Report

        Don’t forget NRL. The starting centres for the 2013 Australian schoolboys are now both playing for NRL clubs. I dare say both of them would have come in handy on sat night.

        • August 22nd 2017 @ 9:18am
          PiratesRugby said | August 22nd 2017 @ 9:18am | ! Report

          Luke Jones, Scott Higginbotham, Scott Fardy, Liam Gill, Sean McMahon, Lopeti Timani would all have been better options at 6. Yet Cheika always finds a reason to play them there or at all. But he can find reasons to play Hanigan or Mumm.
          The one thing I knew about Nathan Grey before he got the full time gig with the Wallabies was that he was the much maligned Waratah defensive coach. Again, what did he do to deserve the promotion?
          What has Hooper done to deserve captaincy other than show time and again that he doesn’t deserve it?
          Cheika sounds like a property developer who always has some simple solution to a problem, which always turns out to be crap.

      • August 22nd 2017 @ 10:29am
        Akari said | August 22nd 2017 @ 10:29am | ! Report

        the elephant in the room Cheika’s ex media mate who sits next to him at all the games?

        Who is he by the way and what senior rugby coaching stints has he done? Why aren’t the assistants, Lakham and Grey, seated with Cheika? How do they communicate with each other during the game?

        In contrast, the ABs coach and assistants are seated together in the coaching box.

        • Roar Rookie

          August 22nd 2017 @ 1:17pm
          Shane D said | August 22nd 2017 @ 1:17pm | ! Report

          I thought he was there to give Cheika meds when it looks like his blood pressure is going to go through the roof.

        • Columnist

          August 22nd 2017 @ 4:16pm
          Brett McKay said | August 22nd 2017 @ 4:16pm | ! Report

          Pat Molihan is his name, Akari, officially the Wallabies Team Manager. Former Channel 7 sports journo, but has also worked in management with the NSW Rugby League, I believe.

          Grey acts as one of the on-field runners and is mic’d up to the coaches’ box. Larkham has done this in the past, too..

          • August 23rd 2017 @ 2:31pm
            Akari said | August 23rd 2017 @ 2:31pm | ! Report

            It’s good to know as I have always wondered why he was there and his role. All cleared now and thanks, Brett.

            I have also wondered whether there has been some communication disconnect as the 3 assistants, Grey, Larkham, and Byrne are never seen with the coach during a game. I guess being mic’d up is close enough.

    • August 22nd 2017 @ 5:05am
      maxxlord said | August 22nd 2017 @ 5:05am | ! Report

      Fire Cheika, and Fire Grey. 1. They have utterly failed 2. Between them there is no sign at all that they can do any better.

      • August 22nd 2017 @ 5:17am
        Bankso said | August 22nd 2017 @ 5:17am | ! Report

        Larkham as well, he’s done nothing with the Brumbies or the Wallabys. He’s not qualified for the job.
        Jim McKay should be brought back in as the attack coach.

        • August 22nd 2017 @ 9:25am
          jameswm said | August 22nd 2017 @ 9:25am | ! Report

          Agreed – Larkham is out of his depth and doesn’t have the required work ethic. See the amount of work the AB coaches put in – all of them.

          We need to go to the room of mirrors and have good, hard look at ourselves.

          Cheika and Byrne – they do have the work ethic. .

          • Roar Guru

            August 22nd 2017 @ 9:30am
            Fionn said | August 22nd 2017 @ 9:30am | ! Report

            I have no issue with criticising his results, but what makes you think Larkham hasn’t the work ethic?

          • Columnist

            August 22nd 2017 @ 9:36am
            Brett McKay said | August 22nd 2017 @ 9:36am | ! Report

            James, I’m just curious how you could reach this conclusion about the work ethic of any coach? Unless you’re sitting beside them, how can you even guess how much they put in away from the cameras?

            • August 22nd 2017 @ 1:50pm
              jameswm said | August 22nd 2017 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

              Bret and Fionn – because of something I was told confidentially by someone related to a person in the coaching/management group of the Tahs.

              Turn up to a Monday review of a test, and Larkham and Grey haven’t even turned on a TV. Cheika and Byrne have spent 8-10 hours on Sunday reviewing and preparing. As no doubt would every member of the AB staff.

              • Roar Rookie

                August 22nd 2017 @ 2:53pm
                Shane D said | August 22nd 2017 @ 2:53pm | ! Report

                Can understand Grey not being there. I mean defence is an easy fix.

              • Columnist

                August 22nd 2017 @ 4:18pm
                Brett McKay said | August 22nd 2017 @ 4:18pm | ! Report

                OK, fair enough. I’m not sure one example is quite enough to make such a broad characterisation, but if that’s what you’re going off, fair enough..

                (I’m still curious as to why you’d then have “no doubt” what ABs coaches do, but I’ll leave it there..)

              • August 22nd 2017 @ 5:40pm
                Fionn said | August 22nd 2017 @ 5:40pm | ! Report

                That’s bad if true, James.

                However, I wonder what Cheika is getting from that as he obviously identifies different problems than I do.

                Brett, I think it is pretty safe to say that when the All Blacks lose and they are expected to turn up for a review they will have reviewed it at least once, surely.

              • Roar Rookie

                August 22nd 2017 @ 6:07pm
                Shane D said | August 22nd 2017 @ 6:07pm | ! Report

                Whitelock mentioned they had their normal debrief on Monday (& were caned over the last 30 minutes by the way).
                One can assume that the coaching staff have completed their reviews well before then.

              • August 22nd 2017 @ 5:59pm
                jameswm said | August 22nd 2017 @ 5:59pm | ! Report

                Sorry – I meant coaching/management group of the Wallabies.

                Brett – if we ever catch up I will explain more. Can’t really do it here.

              • August 22nd 2017 @ 6:02pm
                Fionn said | August 22nd 2017 @ 6:02pm | ! Report

                I’d love to hear about it in person if we ever happen to be going to the same match, understand that it isn’t really something you can’t speak about in person. Really bad if true though.

              • Columnist

                August 22nd 2017 @ 6:40pm
                Brett McKay said | August 22nd 2017 @ 6:40pm | ! Report

                Sure, no problems…

          • August 22nd 2017 @ 9:38am
            Wolman said | August 22nd 2017 @ 9:38am | ! Report

            it is perplexing how someone can come to the conclusion about someones work ethic from afar…

    • Roar Guru

      August 22nd 2017 @ 5:22am
      Harry Jones said | August 22nd 2017 @ 5:22am | ! Report

      Good article, Brett.

      Here is my unsolicited advice for Australia:

      1. Shave heads. Flock of Seagulls flanker Michael Hooper uses 23 percent more energy than old school Sam Cane because of his incessant need to finger-comb his carefully ironic locks. Henry Speight missed several tackles because his mop created negative ion inertia and even created a personal magnetic hotspot that melded him and the reserve Wallaby hooker together, destroying several late lineout throws.

      2. Kick far. If a man cannot advance the ball more than 30 metres from any position on the pitch, he really must not be doing the exits or penalty touch kicks. Several people in Australia have been known to kick far. The NFL even recruits them now. Reece Hodge can usually kick the ball far. RAF Lieutenant Bernard What-What St. Foley OME cannot. Ever. His average is just under 20.

      3. Tackle-Miss Limits. After a player misses his third tackle, he trots off the field. ‘Hair-in-my-Eyes’ Hooper, Samu Kerevi, and Curtis Rona would have been gone, and a better tackler would have taken their places.

      4. Pay by the Good Ruck Clean, Breakdown Turnover, Tackle Bust and Line Break; Subtract for Knock Ons, Bad Passes, Dropped Garryowens, Cards, Missed Tackles and Penalties Conceded. All the world needs a code. Players will play better when every good thing and every bad thing translates into salary.

      5. Select Players who Can Play that Exact Position. No more musical chairs in the midfield. Also, I am not sure Ned Hanigan is really sure what a test-level blindside enforcer does, but he got 80 minutes. He carried three times; spilled the pill in contact twice. I don’t think Liam Squire and Hanigan frequent the same bars.

      6. Tackle Harder. If you are going to miss so many tackles, at least make a few HEAVY ones. South Africa (23 dominant tackles) and New Zealand (20) were offensive with their defence. Australia made only 7 dominant tackles, and one was made by Kurtley Beale, so anyone can do it!

      7. Beale Less Bealey. Six handling errors in fourteen carries is too much for a playmaker, unless those errors are Quade-like optical illusions masquerading as offloads. It’s easy to remember the great things Beale does; like only remembering the good guesses of a fortune teller.

      8. Don’t Talk to the Ref. It’s tiring. It’s not working. Just play.

      • August 22nd 2017 @ 5:40am
        Cut One said | August 22nd 2017 @ 5:40am | ! Report

        Brilliant work HJ … don’t forget Get Angry About Losing … the old boys are fired up, they never took this lying down and wondering where the odd hard man is … Michael Scott Fardy while a little off the pace now would be perfect with Timani

      • August 22nd 2017 @ 6:30am
        rl said | August 22nd 2017 @ 6:30am | ! Report

        Brilliant. Just…… brilliant.

      • August 22nd 2017 @ 6:32am
        Drongo said | August 22nd 2017 @ 6:32am | ! Report

        Don’t think Hooper’s defence is a real issue. Totally agree on the kicking. I am also jealous of all that hair.

        • August 22nd 2017 @ 4:23pm
          Jacky said | August 22nd 2017 @ 4:23pm | ! Report

          Hence your name

      • August 22nd 2017 @ 6:37am
        Blue Horned Mike said | August 22nd 2017 @ 6:37am | ! Report

        Regarding Point 8. The refs in the Currie Cup have started blowing down on players shouting: “Holding!” or any “player refereeing”. It’s a great spectacle to see that the refs are taking action against this negative action.

        • August 22nd 2017 @ 9:27am
          jameswm said | August 22nd 2017 @ 9:27am | ! Report

          Yep it’s the only way to approach it – and the players will stop.

      • Roar Guru

        August 22nd 2017 @ 6:37am
        taylorman said | August 22nd 2017 @ 6:37am | ! Report

        Very nice Harry. Doing anything this week? Someone I know visiting Dunedin could do with a friendly chat.

        Especially cant stand professionals with long hair in losing sides. seeingvthem standing on the goal line brushing their hair from the face is about as path,,etic as one can get.

      • August 22nd 2017 @ 6:42am
        Fin said | August 22nd 2017 @ 6:42am | ! Report

        Speaking of tackling harder I thought the best thing Beale did on Saturday was to get up again after he ran into Read. I was calling for the stretcher from my living room.

        • August 22nd 2017 @ 6:53am
          Daveski said | August 22nd 2017 @ 6:53am | ! Report

          Best and most perfectly legal hit all year.

      • August 22nd 2017 @ 6:45am
        Adsa said | August 22nd 2017 @ 6:45am | ! Report

        Thanks Harry, I needed that after all the gloom.

      • August 22nd 2017 @ 6:48am
        Eeben Barlow said | August 22nd 2017 @ 6:48am | ! Report

        Oh where is the like button? Nice one Harry.

      • Roar Guru

        August 22nd 2017 @ 7:25am
        Who Needs Melon said | August 22nd 2017 @ 7:25am | ! Report

        Brilliant. Hire this man

      • Roar Guru

        August 22nd 2017 @ 7:40am
        Fionn said | August 22nd 2017 @ 7:40am | ! Report

        I’d have you as Wallabies coach, my friend. However, I can’t agree with point 1 in whole, that would have meant forcing Samo and George Smith to shave. Or, do you mean that you simply have to earn the right to have a mad hair style?

        • Roar Guru

          August 22nd 2017 @ 7:49am
          Harry Jones said | August 22nd 2017 @ 7:49am | ! Report

          Have mad hair, after some wins

          Show up shaved for Bled 2

          • August 22nd 2017 @ 8:20am
            The Electronic Swagman said | August 22nd 2017 @ 8:20am | ! Report

            Its not the mad hair, it’s the incessant playing with it in the middle of a test match.

            But why has no one mentioned the penalties Hooper gave away or the two mistakes that led to All Blacks tries. Personally, the five minute tribute to him on Foxtel before the game, complete with heroic hair adjusting’ made me nauseous.

            I’ve said it before but Hooper is emblematic of everything wrong with the Wallabies. For a start it’s insane that someone of his size plays in a test pack. He creates imbalances and forces people who do his job to do it from another position they dont know – Macmahon or Pocock at No 8.

            Watch the SA game to see what loose forwwards do, and how big they are, what physical presence they bring to the team. Watch them create turnovers and clean outs, you know, like Pocock or Gill or George Smith do.

            The same augument that applies to Grey, that he has no track record of excellence, comes to Hooper’s leadership. Add the fact that while Australian captain he arrived at the airport in torn jeans to make a point about Mackenzie and his support for Beale. Pure treachery. Imagine an All Black culture rewarding that kind of captain. This is insane.

            • Roar Guru

              August 22nd 2017 @ 8:32am
              Machooka said | August 22nd 2017 @ 8:32am | ! Report

              Right on que… and no thanks to Harry for gifting you this opportunity!?! 😉

              • Roar Guru

                August 22nd 2017 @ 8:37am
                Harry Jones said | August 22nd 2017 @ 8:37am | ! Report

                Equal opportunity !!!

              • August 22nd 2017 @ 10:35am
                The Electronic Swagman said | August 22nd 2017 @ 10:35am | ! Report

                And you are right on que as well Machooka. We’ve all got our bugbears.

              • Roar Guru

                August 22nd 2017 @ 10:56am
                Machooka said | August 22nd 2017 @ 10:56am | ! Report

                And thank ye gods we don’t have bedbugs… hopefully! 🙂

            • August 22nd 2017 @ 8:36am
              Connor33 said | August 22nd 2017 @ 8:36am | ! Report

              Could Gill come back next year or is he contracted out?

            • August 22nd 2017 @ 10:44am
              Akari said | August 22nd 2017 @ 10:44am | ! Report

              A bit hard on Hooper, TE Swagman and admittedly was below his best at the office on Saturday. His size is not a problem in tests. I think a contributing factor was the promotion of the wrong people at 6 and 8 in the run-on side and the 6 played the full game.

              • Roar Guru

                August 22nd 2017 @ 11:00am
                Machooka said | August 22nd 2017 @ 11:00am | ! Report

                Akari… we desperately need an 8.

              • August 22nd 2017 @ 1:27pm
                The Electronic Swagman said | August 22nd 2017 @ 1:27pm | ! Report

                I disagree entirely Akari. He simply doesn’t have the critical mass to punish people at the tackle, breakdown or to hold his line at when trying to steal the ball.

                I remember Hansen, when questioned about Ma’a Nonu, saying “would you like to tackle him?.” He understands that rugby is a game of primal collisions.

                I’ve seen Hooper bounced around like a pin ball and squeezed from rucks like mustard from a hot dog. It’s embarrassing. He should have been playing in a position that suits his body shape, like half back or winger. Some suggest hooker but I can’t see it for the same reason as he is too small for a breakaway. Perhaps an inside centre.

                The problem with displacing players like Pocock and MacMahon from their natural positions, is that it has a far reaching and detrimental effect on culture and morale, let alone weakening playing structures in the same way having wingers shuffle into centre weakens structure.

                Have a look at the SA game where Du Prez I think it is, comes on a breakaway and smashes tacklers out of the way, much like Savea does. It lifts teams, frightens opponents and changes momentum.

                As for captaining the team, it is clear that no one listens to him, players and ref both.

          • August 22nd 2017 @ 10:30am
            Charlie Turner said | August 22nd 2017 @ 10:30am | ! Report

            Shaved heads and wearing orange robes. Say no to head lice!

          • August 22nd 2017 @ 10:31am
            Highlander said | August 22nd 2017 @ 10:31am | ! Report

            Subsection of the shaved heads rule, black boots only

            • Roar Guru

              August 22nd 2017 @ 10:58am
              Machooka said | August 22nd 2017 @ 10:58am | ! Report

              H’lander… I very much like Squire’s do. Very medieval methinks!

              • August 22nd 2017 @ 3:26pm
                Highlander said | August 22nd 2017 @ 3:26pm | ! Report

                Almost impossible to get worse after the mullet, but still he managed it!

          • Roar Guru

            August 22nd 2017 @ 9:01pm
            Kia Kaha said | August 22nd 2017 @ 9:01pm | ! Report

            Love your work, Harry.

            I think I dreamt last night Phipps badgered the ref at Dunedin about a card. The ref promptly replied: ‘Sure. Here you are. Off you go for ten minutes. Goodbye, you are the weakest link.’

            Now if that were to come true…

      • August 22nd 2017 @ 9:16am
        AJM said | August 22nd 2017 @ 9:16am | ! Report

        I’ve just emailed this to my mates.

      • August 22nd 2017 @ 9:37am
        Jarijari said | August 22nd 2017 @ 9:37am | ! Report

        Tackle-miss limits a good idea but you might have to clear the bench a bit early.

      • August 22nd 2017 @ 11:07am
        Dsat24 said | August 22nd 2017 @ 11:07am | ! Report

        Nice Harry

      • Columnist

        August 22nd 2017 @ 4:18pm
        Brett McKay said | August 22nd 2017 @ 4:18pm | ! Report

        Too good. Hire this man…

      • August 22nd 2017 @ 5:14pm
        Rugby Tragic said | August 22nd 2017 @ 5:14pm | ! Report

        *shakes head after reading Harry’s post* …. yeah, well, I guess ,,,,,,,, *S*

    • August 22nd 2017 @ 6:35am
      Daveski said | August 22nd 2017 @ 6:35am | ! Report

      Brett you highlighted three main problems in defense but none of those were “don’t miss when you do try to make the tackle”.

      For all the fury about systems there were some straight out bad misses. I was at the game and haven’t re-watched it ( why would I do that to myself ) but just off the top of my head there was Squire stepping inside Rona, McKenzie skipping out of a number of tackles, Foley’s miss on Ioane in cover after halftime, Crotty running straight through Kerevi and Speight on halftime from set-piece.

      There’s a lot of ordinary tacklers in this team, being hindered not helped by the complicated defensive structures.

      • Columnist

        August 22nd 2017 @ 7:55am
        Brett McKay said | August 22nd 2017 @ 7:55am | ! Report

        Daveski, I’d have thought “don’t miss tackles” was so obvious that it doesn’t need to be poined out!

        • August 22nd 2017 @ 8:46am
          JackBrumbie said | August 22nd 2017 @ 8:46am | ! Report

          You would think so.

      • August 22nd 2017 @ 8:59am
        Gepetto said | August 22nd 2017 @ 8:59am | ! Report

        Bring back Ant Faingaaa and Benny Taps -they never miss.

        • August 22nd 2017 @ 9:04am
          Wolman said | August 22nd 2017 @ 9:04am | ! Report

          except Taps was worse than even Kerevi.

          Faingaa was over-rated

          • August 22nd 2017 @ 11:26am
            marto said | August 22nd 2017 @ 11:26am | ! Report

            Naaaah maaaaaaate .They good player

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