Upward trajectory means winning season is within the Wallabies’ grasp

Brett McKay Columnist

By Brett McKay, Brett McKay is a Roar Expert

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    Here’s a wacky thought that seemed far from likely back in June, and even as recently as mid-August: the Wallabies could very easily finish with a winning 2017 international season.

    Back when the Wallabies struggled to get past Italy, and couldn’t get past Scotland in June, and that whole Sydney episode that I’m really working hard to forget about, the notion that the Wallabies could finish the year in the black was about as likely as a David Campese comeback.

    But the Wallabies hard-fought, confidence-solidifying 37-20 win over Argentina in Mendoza means that for the first time this year, they’ve won more games than they’ve lost.

    Heading into the third Bledisloe in Brisbane on October 21, the record stands at four wins, three losses, and the two draws against South Africa.

    With games to come this year against New Zealand, Japan, Wales, England, and Scotland – the Barbarians game on October 28 is not a capped international, as far as I can tell – the opportunity is definitely there to finish the season in positive territory.

    And what’s more, the way they’ve played since the Sydney Bledisloe, it would be a well-deserved finish to the season in which it feels like they’re really starting to make strides.

    Though the scoreboard didn’t really reflect it at the time, once the Wallabies scored that first converted try after halftime, I didn’t really feel like they would lose from there. By that stage in the game, they were already well on top in terms of possession and territory, were certainly playing more rugby, and were asking more questions of the Argentinean defence than was being asked of their own.

    Tatafu Polota-Nau

    (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

    That is, of course, and as is always the case with the Wallabies, not to suggest they were playing perfect rugby. But they looked comfortable leading 20-13 by this stage, with less than half an hour to play.

    And by this stage, Bernard Foley had already missed two penalties and two conversions, but he converted his own try from in front to push the score out to 20-13, and didn’t miss another one from there, including converting Will Genia’s try ten minutes later from the right-hand tramlines, a notoriously weak area of kicking success for him.

    On Foley, it amused me during the game that social media posters wanted him replaced for no other reason than the missed kicks by this stage. Much of the criticism of his kicking is too quick, or too harsh, or in this case, both. There’s no argument here that wasn’t hitting them well in the first half at all; some of those misses outright shanks off the tee.

    He re-aligned the radar and finished well, and the missed kicks really shouldn’t overshadow what was a pretty solid game from the flyhalf, but I’m well aware there will be plenty of you who won’t share that view.

    Regardless, the best part of this Wallabies win was that although Reece Hodge was a clear best-on-ground for mine, there was anywhere up to half a dozen players who weren’t that far behind him, including Tatafu Polota-Nau and Jack Dempsey. Perhaps the real measure of this Wallabies performance was that I thought it was one of Adam Coleman’s quieter games, and it was one of Israel Folau’s quieter games, too.

    Reece Hodge Australia Rugby Union Wallabies 2017 tall

    (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    This isn’t a criticism of either player, but rather a relief that the Wallabies might be moving on from being over-reliant on a couple of key individuals. Michael Hooper had a typically strong game again, but Dempsey and Sean McMahon’s output meant that skipper’s game wasn’t such a standout. Again, this is very good thing.

    Looking ahead, and though the Wallabies will be wanting to – and rightly thinking they can – win all five remaining Tests of 2017.

    The third Bledisloe looms as the toughest of the five matches, but England at Twickenham wouldn’t be far behind it. Ditto, Scotland at Murrayfield. Look, they’re all going to be tough games!

    But the Wallabies are playing with renewed confidence, and are even enjoying a little bit of selection stability, even the second row still feels like it’s a lottery held inside a revolving door.

    Guys are putting their hands up, to the point where it’s no certainty that players like Rory Arnold, Kane Douglas, Sefanaia Naiavalu or even Quade Cooper will return at this stage. Lopeti Timani probably shouldn’t even make the Spring Tour on current form, never mind start in the backrow. Karmichael Hunt probably will return, but I think he’s a long way from being a certain starter now.

    The attacking intent is there and very obvious, and even better, it’s bringing results. The Wallabies have scored 39 tries in 2017 to date, with 20 of them coming in the last five Tests; 25 if you throw in the last half an hour in Sydney as well.

    A winning season is well within reach for this Wallabies group, and it’s up to them entirely if they want to achieve it from here.

    But considering where they were back in June, it’s quite remarkable that I’m even toying with the idea.

    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 (320)

    • October 10th 2017 @ 4:46am
      Riddler said | October 10th 2017 @ 4:46am | ! Report

      Cheers Brett. .

      Agree that we definitely aren’t going as bad as some make out..

      Would love for us to get one over the abs and poms etc. . But would be equally happy with the continuing of the upward trajectory we are on ..

      Am still trying to figure out why our players were not at the appropriate fitness level in June. . Whether it is state or national thing I don’t know but let’s hope that this inexcusable issue is solved going forward.

      • October 10th 2017 @ 9:06am
        jameswm said | October 10th 2017 @ 9:06am | ! Report

        It’s because the Super franchises run their own programs.

        NZ centralise their knowledge and set the programs for all the provinces to follow. Australia should do the same. Let the Wallaby guys set the S & C and skills programs. They should be the best we have.

        At the very least, let them have a significant say in how the franchises do it.

        • October 10th 2017 @ 9:56am
          PiratesRugby said | October 10th 2017 @ 9:56am | ! Report

          I don’t know about that. The Waratahs were chock full of Wallabies and wallaby coaches. Yet there fitness, skills, defence were some of the worst in the competition. The rest of the Australian teams were just as bad. You’d think at least SR team would get it right. A uniformly bad situation across the nation points to a systemic problem. A national problem.

          • October 10th 2017 @ 12:18pm
            jameswm said | October 10th 2017 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

            Who cares how many Wallabies they had? The players don’t set the programs.

            If the Wallabies are fitter now than they were playing Super rugby, then the Wallaby fitness guys are better. Get them to run the programs at Super level too, as I said.

            Was Mick Byrne the Waratah skills coach? Were they the same S & C guys>?

            Didn’t think so.

            • Roar Rookie

              October 10th 2017 @ 12:47pm
              nothing if not critical said | October 10th 2017 @ 12:47pm | ! Report

              The argument from Cheika that the players were unfit prior to coming into the test series was a furphy. It allowed him some cover for the extraordinarily bad start to the test year.

              Don’t let him fool you.

              The fault is not in our players – they are in fact near the best in the world. The fault rests entirely with the wallabies coaching staff, and chief among them Cheika himself.

              • October 10th 2017 @ 2:56pm
                Reverse Wheel said | October 10th 2017 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

                That’s simply not true.

              • October 11th 2017 @ 2:15am
                Nothing if not critical said | October 11th 2017 @ 2:15am | ! Report

                Prove it. You have nothi g to back it up other than Cheika assertions. And if you believe that they were all unfit then you have to also believe that every one of the super coaches were OK that all their players were unfit. It’s simpky not credible

              • October 11th 2017 @ 2:16am
                Nothing if not critical said | October 11th 2017 @ 2:16am | ! Report

                Prove it. You have nothing to back it up other than Cheika’s assertions. And if you believe that the players were all unfit then you have to also believe that every one of the super coaches were OK with all their players being unfit. It’s simply not credible

              • October 10th 2017 @ 9:30pm
                mikeylive said | October 10th 2017 @ 9:30pm | ! Report

                Erm… Except in June they were unfit and hopeless in the final 20 and are now fit and finishing over teams.

            • October 10th 2017 @ 3:30pm
              PiratesRugby said | October 10th 2017 @ 3:30pm | ! Report

              I’m not blaming the Waratahs but merely using the example of the team with the most wallabies. These are professional athletes playing for the Waratahs and for every other super team. They come off an international tour which followed the TRC and they hit Super rugby and suddenly all become unfit and their skills disappear? If it happened at just one team then you could say that the club was to blame but every team? I use the Waratahs as an example because they have the most wallaby players and coaches. They also have the captain and vice captain of the wallabies. Instead of being one of the fittest super teams they were one of the unfittest. Meanwhile in NZ…

              • October 10th 2017 @ 7:57pm
                Reverse Wheel said | October 10th 2017 @ 7:57pm | ! Report

                Be honest, you’re picking on the Waratahs because that’s all you ever do. And so you want to blame Cheika for something he had no control over. At what point do you hold the super rugby coaches accountable? They had these guys to themselves for 6 months. Cheika didn’t have them. He was handed a steaming pile and they played like it. He was then given a decent time to work with them and their gameplay and fitness started to show signs of life. So yeah, clearly Cheika’s fault.

              • October 11th 2017 @ 9:33am
                PiratesRugby said | October 11th 2017 @ 9:33am | ! Report

                Look, I don’t want to get in the way but I didn’t say it was all Cheika’s fault. I’m just saying it’s not all the clubs’ fault either. I also think the individual players should take some responsibility.
                And I’m not so sure the Wallabies’ fitness and skills were that good anyway, given the EOYT results.

          • October 10th 2017 @ 2:57pm
            Reverse Wheel said | October 10th 2017 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

            Is there anything in the world that you don’t blame the Waratahs for. So bitter.

        • October 10th 2017 @ 4:03pm
          Dan54 said | October 10th 2017 @ 4:03pm | ! Report

          That’s actually not true, they all set their own programmes, I know it sounds great, but do you really balieve that all NZ teams are playing how Hansen etc are telling them? He doesn’t get to tell any team how to play or what position to put players in. They probably share knowledge at coaching seminars etc, but would imagine all coaches do.

      • Roar Guru

        October 10th 2017 @ 11:10am
        Machooka said | October 10th 2017 @ 11:10am | ! Report

        Hola Riddler… buenos dias!

        Regards your last para… I believe the ARU have now in place a structure to make sure those in the wider Wallaby squad are up to fitness standards required by Cheika from their time in SR. So ‘going forward’ let’s hope this is the case eh!

        • October 10th 2017 @ 12:18pm
          jameswm said | October 10th 2017 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

          Why not have all players, including those not in the wider squad, up to that standard? Why stop there?

          • Roar Guru

            October 10th 2017 @ 12:43pm
            Machooka said | October 10th 2017 @ 12:43pm | ! Report

            It’s a start jameswm 😉

      • October 10th 2017 @ 11:22am
        ethan said | October 10th 2017 @ 11:22am | ! Report

        Except perhaps for the Tahs, none of the Aussie SR teams attempted to play the same kind of high octane, side to side, rugby of the WBs. They were fit enough (probably) for their own game plans, but Cheika was taking it up a notch, and they weren’t fit enough for that.

        The question is, should Cheika have adjusted his game plan to suit their fitness levels in June, or was he right to take the long term approach to get it where he wanted for TRC? Only 2 wins from TRC suggests the long term approach didn’t work out, and we lost a game we might have otherwise won (Scotland) in the process.

        • October 10th 2017 @ 9:34pm
          mikeylive said | October 10th 2017 @ 9:34pm | ! Report

          Got it. So in retrospect the Super Rugby Style was the way to go. How many Super games did we win?

    • Roar Guru

      October 10th 2017 @ 4:55am
      Machpants said | October 10th 2017 @ 4:55am | ! Report

      I hope you’re right Brett, and I think this applies to the Boks to. It’s good to see our SH bros pick up their game, the second tests of both vs the ABs were good. However I can’t see Ozzie touching England, they’re more likely to beat the ABs on the third Bledisloe. That’s a real stumbling block for them. Anyway lots to look forward to on the NH tour for all the SANZAAR partners, even Argentina could hope for some improvement over an abysmal session.

      • October 10th 2017 @ 8:52am
        Jeffrey said | October 10th 2017 @ 8:52am | ! Report

        Agree with you, Machpants. Australia have a better chance of winning against us (ABs) as both nations have similar playing styles. The ARU also really needs to cop a lot of criticism for once again negotiating a terrible EOYT schedule. By the time the wallabies reach Twickenham, they will be on their last legs after already playing NZ, the Barbarians, Japan, Wakes and Scotland in consecutive weeks. If Australia wants to have any chance of beating England on EOY tours, they must play them earlier on in the tour rather than the last game.

        • October 10th 2017 @ 2:06pm
          Bakkies said | October 10th 2017 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

          They had much worse last year. Played SA at Loftus, Argentina in London, NZ in Auckland then back to Europe for the AIs on a Grand Slam tour. Lost four of those matches.

      • October 10th 2017 @ 10:25am
        P2R2 said | October 10th 2017 @ 10:25am | ! Report

        …they’re more likely to beat the ABs on the third Bledisloe….yeah rite!

        • October 10th 2017 @ 10:45am
          Jeffrey said | October 10th 2017 @ 10:45am | ! Report

          Of course they are more likely. The ABs play an all round game that suits Australia more. England places more emphasis on dominating in the forwards and they have the stronger pack compared to Australia. You also have to take into account how shattered the Wallabies will be by the time they face England, not to mention that it will be an away game as opposed to the home game against NZ.

          • October 10th 2017 @ 2:06pm
            English twizz said | October 10th 2017 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

            That’s a weak answer England were at the end of there season last year when they won 3 nil

            • October 10th 2017 @ 2:18pm
              taylorman said | October 10th 2017 @ 2:18pm | ! Report

              test season? How many tests did the English players that toured play within two months of the first test?

              7? Including trips to South Africa, NZ and Argentina? 3 tests vs NZ?

              No, they played one, a friendly and a bunch of club games, at venues they could get to with a bus pass.

              No idea…

              • October 12th 2017 @ 1:30am
                FunBus said | October 12th 2017 @ 1:30am | ! Report

                The England team that pitched up in June 2016 in Australia had just come off 11 months continuous rugby including a RWC and 6 Nations. All the SH teams had a two month break from the end of the RWC and, obviously, the RC games hadn’t started. Many of the English players were playing right up to a week before they got on the plane.

                There are two tests per year that the RC teams have to face any jet-lag before the November matches. I’m not convinced that a bit of jet-lag twice a year and a long trip in Business Class necessarily equates to an Iron man challenge.

                Generally speaking the SH season is much better structured with opportunities for breaks throughout the season. The ABs with their central contracts regularly rest players; there are bye-weeks in the SR, and this June, for instance, all the Aussie players had a month off to prepare for the tests (admittedly because they got knocked out in SR).

                Eliott Daly, for example, played 36 matches in the 2016-2017 season.

              • October 12th 2017 @ 2:05am
                Taylorman said | October 12th 2017 @ 2:05am | ! Report

                Yeah yeah weve heard all that. But they didnt come of seven tests in two months did they, including three tests vs the ABs.

                You cant pitch club rugby in that period as a comparison. If Daly played 36 matches then hes an idiot and I doubt very much the quality and quantity of the output of those matches. Many of the squad will have been playing meaningless club matches that didnt involve finals.

                If someone can provide the matches every squad member played in the two months prior to the Oz tour, its importance then compare that to the Oz campaign of the last two months then Id love to see it cos thats whats missing here. We know what the Wallabies have just played. ‘Eleven months rugby’ doesnt cut it. Too general and if we were to peel back the details Id say theres probably a lot of non essential low level stuff in there.

              • October 12th 2017 @ 11:42am
                FunBus said | October 12th 2017 @ 11:42am | ! Report

                What matters is the physical toll on the body. That comes about from the ferocity and frequency of the collisions and short recovery periods. The English season is tougher on those criteria than the SH season.

            • October 10th 2017 @ 2:55pm
              Jeffrey said | October 10th 2017 @ 2:55pm | ! Report

              English twizz,

              Did you not read what I said? England are the better team atm so of course you would expect them to win. Don’t let the 3-0 score fool you though, that was a really close fought series which could have gone either way and it was partially due to the fact that England were tired at the end of their season and Australian were playing at home. Compare those three games to how one sided the games are when they are played in England and you might see what I am getting at.

              Also agree with Taylorman, the amount of traveling done by the SH teams and the big Tests played before touring to the North is far more than that of the NH teams.

              • Roar Guru

                October 10th 2017 @ 3:11pm
                taylorman said | October 10th 2017 @ 3:11pm | ! Report

                Certainly immediately before. The 6N is over three months before the June tests so no comparison. And Italy is as far as they travel since july the previous year.
                For me its not just the travel its the proximity of the tests near the AIs.

          • October 10th 2017 @ 2:07pm
            Bakkies said | October 10th 2017 @ 2:07pm | ! Report

            England like NZ have a strong kicking game which pins the Wallabies back and puts pressure on the exits. The breakdown will be key as Eddie knows how important it is to slow the Wallabies down

            • October 10th 2017 @ 6:15pm
              Ed said | October 10th 2017 @ 6:15pm | ! Report

              I can’t see England, Wales nor Scotland ignoring penalty shots like the ABs have done against us this year. Accumulate points adds pressure on the scoreboard.
              Also a real cynic could suggest they could be told “if you are to infringe, you can do it up around a 40 metres arc from the posts” as that is on the limit or just beyond Foley’s range.

              In the first two Bledisloe, the ABs rarely kicked the ball but have slowly added more kicks in subsequent tests. I wonder which version will be at Suncorp?

    • Roar Rookie

      October 10th 2017 @ 5:24am
      Chancho said | October 10th 2017 @ 5:24am | ! Report

      Good article Brett, I’m with you on the positive outlook, especially when you look at how the Wallabies finished 2016. But it’s a welcome relief to be discussing the positives

      I know Chieka likes to play an attacking style of game, but we really need to work on our defence, we’re letting in > 25 points per game which is still too costly.

      You’d think there’d be wins against Japan and Scotland, and a tight one vs Wales… I’m keen to see how we perform against England (which isn’t really that far away now!) and I think that’ll be a good way to judge where we are.

      • October 10th 2017 @ 9:50am
        PiratesRugby said | October 10th 2017 @ 9:50am | ! Report

        There is no upward trajectory. The fact that we didn’t lose to 10th placed Argentina is pleasing but hardly cause for optimism. Whilst there has been progress with individial players like Coleman, Rodda, Dempsey, Hodge, Korobete and return to form of TPN and Genia, there is no sense of development of the team. 15 blokes wearing the same colour jersey and playing at the same time, doesn’t make a team. The Wallabies will probably have the same win/loss record as the last two years. Dead cat bounce.
        The Wallabies will never win a Bled or a RWC with Foley at 10 or Hooper as captain.

        • October 10th 2017 @ 3:12pm
          Connor33 said | October 10th 2017 @ 3:12pm | ! Report

          Pirate – you need to look at World Rugby rankings. How can this so-called horrible horrible AU team happen to be now 3rd in the world? How? No such thing as an upward trajectory? The little green arrows may help, though.


          • October 10th 2017 @ 8:02pm
            Reverse Wheel said | October 10th 2017 @ 8:02pm | ! Report

            Pirate will be negative until there is no one in NSW playing rugby and he runs out of people to blame.

    • Roar Guru

      October 10th 2017 @ 5:36am
      Harry Jones said | October 10th 2017 @ 5:36am | ! Report

      Well, I think the weaker Two of the Big Three (I refuse to admit England or Ireland into the Big 3 until they balance their ledgers against SA and OZ for longer than a year or two) faced the ABs when the ABs were the ABs, I don’t know who that was playing the B&I Lions, but it was not the proper ABs.

      If the ABs played the Lions the way they played OZ and SA, it would’ve been a humiliating rout for the visitors from the Home Unions.

      So, I suppose I am saying these EOYT tours should prove to be 80%+ successes for the Big Three.

      • October 10th 2017 @ 5:52am
        David said | October 10th 2017 @ 5:52am | ! Report

        “Balance their ledger”? England have won 8 of their last 10 against Australia. Any imbalance is against Australia there pal.

        • Roar Guru

          October 10th 2017 @ 6:16am
          Harry Jones said | October 10th 2017 @ 6:16am | ! Report

          There was an “and” in there, my buddy, my pal.
          What’s ENG’s record against SA in the last 10?

          • October 10th 2017 @ 6:36am
            David said | October 10th 2017 @ 6:36am | ! Report

            Surprisingly, it’s better than SA’s record against NZ in the last 10 (1 win, 1 draw).

            I was hinting more that you can’t call NZ, Australia and SA “the Big Three” anymore when only one of them can be considered without doubt as one of the biggest and best three teams in world rugby. England are the number two team at the moment and their form against South Africa prior to 2014 doesn’t effect that. The autumn internationals and next year might change things but for now SA and Australia have everything to prove at the moment if they want to be considered “Big3”.

            • Roar Guru

              October 10th 2017 @ 6:50am
              Harry Jones said | October 10th 2017 @ 6:50am | ! Report

              We shall see. I think England is about to get a rude awakening, after a dream start for EJ.

              • October 10th 2017 @ 7:07am
                Cynical Play said | October 10th 2017 @ 7:07am | ! Report

                I agree. Depth will be exposed and new combinations are vulnerable. Still, England rugby at all levels is developing well and they now have s winning culture. Eddie has the aces but has he got enough left?

              • October 10th 2017 @ 7:17am
                Fionn said | October 10th 2017 @ 7:17am | ! Report

                Peaking too early in RWC cycles has been a curse for the 2nd best team for a number of years.

                Australia in 2010/11 Tri-Nations, Springboks in 2013.

                Englad in 2017?

              • October 10th 2017 @ 10:27am
                P2R2 said | October 10th 2017 @ 10:27am | ! Report

                Bang on there Harry….a huge rude awakening I am expecting…

              • October 10th 2017 @ 10:59am
                DrTootr said | October 10th 2017 @ 10:59am | ! Report

                Agreed as well.

                I was at the match where Australia demolished the English out of their own world cup, it was one of the best games I have ever witnessed live. All I ever heard was how crap Australia and Wales were in the lead up and how they would battle for second, no doubt from the English fans and media alike, it seemed that England’s supposed superiority was fact. Then actual reality hit them like a sledge hammer, even in my joyous celebrations I did feel empathy for them being kicked out on their home turf.

                I know these are EOYT’s and not RWC but a little more respect should be given to both Australia and SA from some of these English fans and their media, with all due respect. I think the English could be in for a huge shock too, even with a fantastic Aussie coach in charge of them all, who they are very lucky to have.

                Australia have now moved to No 3 world ranking. So it is officially in the Top 3, wether we can stay only time will tell. What I do know is I would never count out either Aus & SA.

              • October 10th 2017 @ 5:50pm
                adastra32 said | October 10th 2017 @ 5:50pm | ! Report

                Even with long injury lists, the strength in depth being built in England means that any side they field this autumn will be very competitive – and probably winning.

              • Roar Guru

                October 10th 2017 @ 10:22pm
                Harry Jones said | October 10th 2017 @ 10:22pm | ! Report

                But they will grow stale

                And Checky is obsessed with beating EJ

                It’ll happen

              • October 10th 2017 @ 7:40pm
                MIB2 said | October 10th 2017 @ 7:40pm | ! Report

                Let’s all hope so.. Eddie jones needs a health dose of humble pie. Happy for to be from any of the sh sides

              • October 12th 2017 @ 2:29am
                FunBus said | October 12th 2017 @ 2:29am | ! Report

                ‘Peaking too early in RWC cycles has been a curse for the 2nd best team for a number of years.

                Australia in 2010/11 Tri-Nations, Springboks in 2013.

                Englad in 2017?’

                Can’t rule it out, Fionn. I think what makes it less likely is the age profile of the players and the youngsters coming through. There’s huge competition for every place and that keeps players on their toes, with the youngsters likely to improve rather than stagnate.
                Australia didn’t have that depth or competition in 2010/11. and the Boks had a different age profile in 2013 (yet still came close to knocking the ABs out in the RWC).

              • November 29th 2017 @ 8:31am
                David said | November 29th 2017 @ 8:31am | ! Report

                Boy, that was a rude awakening

            • October 10th 2017 @ 9:00am
              taylorman said | October 10th 2017 @ 9:00am | ! Report

              They were last year, they are so far this year, but that hasn’t finished yet…its been mostly the big three for over a decade so too early to throw that baby out yet.

              • October 10th 2017 @ 5:07pm
                mzilikazi said | October 10th 2017 @ 5:07pm | ! Report

                “even with a fantastic Aussie coach in charge of them all, who they are very lucky to have.”

                Eddie will enjoy reading this comment ! And time will tell if they are lucky to have him….I actually feel it is lucky we don’t have him….and that is saying a lot, given the way things have gone re selection and results fpr the WB’S

          • October 10th 2017 @ 7:07am
            Jake said | October 10th 2017 @ 7:07am | ! Report

            Funny that only 2 years ago the poms and the rest of the nh teams were humiliated at their own world cup and now, suddenly they are cock of the walk, having done little except beat SA and Oz teams that were gutted after the world cup.
            The desperation of the english to gain rugby respect is bordering on pathetic. Haven’t done anything of significance in the rugby world since 07. A 1/4 final and pool round exit is enough for them to consider themselves a big player in the rugby world. Such low standards.

            • October 10th 2017 @ 8:35am
              Davo said | October 10th 2017 @ 8:35am | ! Report

              England was “cock of the walk” after beating NZ in 2012 too. The year after a RWC.

              For Aust & NZ & SA the “RWC cycle” makes a huge difference now. It’s a time when lots of players move north for the big money so there is a lot more experimentation and blooding of inexperienced players by necessity. Although it would never be admitted, there is greater willingness to lose games in the transition years if it means greater likelihood of RWC success. RWC success far outweighs everything else for SH teams now. Much moreso than for NH teams where 6 Nations carries far more weight than “The Rugby Championship”, and the Lions tour is also a huge focus.

              • October 10th 2017 @ 11:37am
                Connor33 said | October 10th 2017 @ 11:37am | ! Report

                Yep, that cyclis an important one. I think players like Toomua will try to time his run back for 2019 — and will be happy making the squad. Fardy may even be brought back in if injuries occurred. CLL will also be back to full fitness when 2019 comes around.

                And how can we forget about Pocock.

              • October 12th 2017 @ 2:32am
                FunBus said | October 12th 2017 @ 2:32am | ! Report

                ‘Yep, that cyclis an important one. I think players like Toomua will try to time his run back for 2019 — and will be happy making the squad.’

                Playing very well for Leicester at the moment.

            • October 12th 2017 @ 2:24am
              FunBus said | October 12th 2017 @ 2:24am | ! Report

              ‘…suddenly they are cock of the walk…’

              Spot-on as always, Jake. Let’s run through those outrageously arrogant comments from England.

              ‘NZ are the best side in the world’

              ‘We don’t yet have one player that would make a world XV’.

              ‘We’re striving to be number 1 but we’ve got a long way to go to achieve that.’

              Such hubris. I think they should take a leaf out of the Aussie’s book of humility. You know, like that Fox Promo before the June 2016 test series.

          • October 10th 2017 @ 5:49pm
            DavSA said | October 10th 2017 @ 5:49pm | ! Report

            The All Blacks and Wallabies have by some distance imo the most lethal backlines in the world . This is why despite being dominated by the Boks up front , losing on all the major pointers ie. territory ,possession ( I will discount Albany ) , They score tries with just a sniff of opportunity . England do not have that kind of attacking firepower and rely heavily on forward control . The question is …..Can the England pack boss the Boks upfront ?

            Answer : Not that Bok pack that played on Saturday.

            • Roar Guru

              October 10th 2017 @ 6:22pm
              The Neutral View From Sweden said | October 10th 2017 @ 6:22pm | ! Report

              Hello DavSA

              With respect, I think you are underestimating the quality of England’s’ backs a lot. Care, Youngs, Ford, Farrell, Joseph, Te’o, Nowell, Daly, Watson, May and a whole bunch of youngsters who have been part of U20’s team that has consistently performed at the same level as New Zealand for five six years.

              The Aviva Premiership is not what it used to be (low-scoring and boring). These days it is a try-scoring party and the skills on display is from the top shelf. Foreign trainers, a massive attitude change, and artificial pitches have made a huge difference.

              And they have a coach with serious nous and rugby smarts.

              • October 10th 2017 @ 6:45pm
                DavSA said | October 10th 2017 @ 6:45pm | ! Report

                Hi NV , it may have come across that way but I have the utmost respect for the England backs and certainly do not underestimate them but for sheer attacking prowess especially on the counterattack which has become such a feature and important weapon of world rugby of late I still have the AB’s up there as the best I have seen in 50 years of watching rugby . Australia in a distant 2nd place with England close behind . England will take the cake over all 3 though for defensive ability .

                And yes I personally rate Eddie Jones as the worlds finest coach . I have witnessed first hand how he assisted us to win a world cup,then subsequently with the opposition may have cost us one ( Remember that Japan game ).

              • Roar Guru

                October 10th 2017 @ 7:04pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | October 10th 2017 @ 7:04pm | ! Report

                All good Dav

                The AB’s attacking ability is special, but to be fair, we have seen very little from their attack through structured play lately. Most of their points come from quick turnover ball and individual brilliance.

                The AB’s team between 2011-15 scored fewer points, but their structure on attack was superior to what we see today. Tries like the one Crotty scored away against Ireland 2013 – to ruin the Irish party – seems to be beyond them now.

                In the Lions series, it was the Lions who scored the structured tries and the Blacks who scored the opportunistic ones. Same same in Cape Town a few days ago. If you can starve this current AB’s team on turnover ball – easier said than done I know – they have a very human side.

                I do agree that Australia at their best is very mean on attack.

              • October 10th 2017 @ 7:56pm
                MIB2 said | October 10th 2017 @ 7:56pm | ! Report

                I think that the abs are playing different rugby to the past as evidenced by several of the games this to instructions from the coaching staff to try new things.

                A multitude of injuries to key players have them turning out a team that will look nothing like their best team in 2019 when it really counts.

                The lions series was influenced much more by terrible wet weather and diabolically bad French referring than by any drop off in quality of the play of the abs.

              • Roar Guru

                October 10th 2017 @ 8:33pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | October 10th 2017 @ 8:33pm | ! Report

                Wet weather and the refs…. LOL!

                And all teams have to deal with injuries, even the great AB side between 2011-15. And speaking of that side, they blooded a lot of players also and dealt with sabbaticals to key players.

              • October 11th 2017 @ 12:10am
                Bakkies said | October 11th 2017 @ 12:10am | ! Report

                Handling errors and discipline had more to do with the AB performance against the Lions then the referees.

            • October 10th 2017 @ 6:42pm
              Bakkies said | October 10th 2017 @ 6:42pm | ! Report

              England are smart enough to not take the Boks on physically. That’s a sure way to lose the game.

        • October 10th 2017 @ 2:43pm
          Gary said | October 10th 2017 @ 2:43pm | ! Report

          Records state – 48 matches total , Oz 25 wins / Poms 22 / 1 kiss your sister . Average score 22 Oz – 17 Poms. So last few years the Poms surely have improved , they needed to being the home of Rugby and all.

        • October 10th 2017 @ 3:35pm
          marto said | October 10th 2017 @ 3:35pm | ! Report

          Over the history of Rugby in 48 matches between Australia and England, Australia is in front …

          25 wins Australia
          22 wins England .
          one draw

          Chuckles Cheika has let you blokes catch up

          Well done Chuckles!!! hahaha ..Time to go Cheika..

          • October 10th 2017 @ 6:20pm
            Ed said | October 10th 2017 @ 6:20pm | ! Report

            In the professional era we have played England 29 times.
            Thirteen wins, 15 losses and one draw.
            If Eddie’s lot win in November that will equal England’s best winning streak of five against us.

      • October 10th 2017 @ 7:39am
        Pilferer said | October 10th 2017 @ 7:39am | ! Report

        Hi Harry , I expect your going to get a lecture from a certain poster in about 3 hours.

        • Roar Guru

          October 10th 2017 @ 8:32am
          Harry Jones said | October 10th 2017 @ 8:32am | ! Report

          I’ll ask him if there is a huge 300+ English player diaspora plying their trade in the Southern Hemisphere, gutting Eddie Jones’ ability to evaluate, train, and cohere.

      • October 10th 2017 @ 8:34am
        Bakkies said | October 10th 2017 @ 8:34am | ! Report

        ‘So, I suppose I am saying these EOYT tours should prove to be 80%+ successes for the Big Three.’

        What are you on about Harry? There is no big three. It’s between NZ and the rest.

        As for balancing ledgers Ireland have won 3 out of their last 4 against the Wallabies dating back to 2011.

        ‘Big 3 until they balance their ledgers against SA and OZ for longer than a year or two) faced the ABs when the ABs were the ABs, I don’t know who that was playing the B&I Lions, but it was not the proper ABs.’

        It was the ABs

        • October 10th 2017 @ 9:02am
          David said | October 10th 2017 @ 9:02am | ! Report

          Huzzah, a voice of reason. Anyone trying to put SA and Australia on NZ’s coat tails with this big theee rubbish is kidding themselves.

          • Roar Guru

            October 10th 2017 @ 9:23am
            Harry Jones said | October 10th 2017 @ 9:23am | ! Report

            We’ll see!

            Ireland almost never plays in SA.

            When they do, they almost always lose.

            • October 10th 2017 @ 2:12pm
              Bakkies said | October 10th 2017 @ 2:12pm | ! Report

              Ireland weren’t invited to tour SA Harry that’s why. Last year’s only occurred due to the IRB tours schedule.

        • October 10th 2017 @ 9:35am
          Jake said | October 10th 2017 @ 9:35am | ! Report

          “Ireland have won 3 out of their last 4 against the Wallabies dating back to 2011.”

          That has barely dented ledger. Even at home Ireland have only won 7 games against Australia. Oz have won 11.
          Over 33 games; Oz 22 wins Ireland 11 1 draw.

          • October 10th 2017 @ 3:14pm
            Connor33 said | October 10th 2017 @ 3:14pm | ! Report

            AU probably would have beaten them in 2015, but f the fact that the Argies belted them in the QF — with AU beating the Argies by 10 plus the following week.

      • October 12th 2017 @ 1:35am
        FunBus said | October 12th 2017 @ 1:35am | ! Report

        ‘If the ABs played the Lions the way they played OZ and SA, it would’ve been a humiliating rout for the visitors from the Home Unions.’

        That’s an unusually obtuse thing for you to say, Harry. As I know you know, you play as well as you’re allowed to play.

        • Roar Guru

          October 12th 2017 @ 1:52am
          Harry Jones said | October 12th 2017 @ 1:52am | ! Report

          I’m an obtuse guy.

          But seriously, I think the ABs were not in good form (for NZ) until mid-RC.

          Hell, If the Lions had played the young little Boklings in Cape Town last Saturday, they would have got a real hiding.

          But all credit to the Gatland guys; they did not lose the series.

          • October 12th 2017 @ 2:19am
            FunBus said | October 12th 2017 @ 2:19am | ! Report

            ‘Hell, If the Lions had played the young little Boklings in Cape Town last Saturday, they would have got a real hiding.’

            It’s great to see you rediscover your huge confidence in the Boks, Harry. I thought you were going to require counselling last year.

            Just to get your juices flowing even more. Lions 3-0 winners if they’d toured SA.

            • Roar Guru

              October 12th 2017 @ 2:28am
              Harry Jones said | October 12th 2017 @ 2:28am | ! Report

              My polite little Boklings are not a good Bok team, yet. We have sub-Test standard passengers at 9, 10, 13, 14, and 15.

              But rugby can be a brutal sport, and SA rediscovered how effective blunt force trauma rugby can be on Sat.

              That pack (even carrying Plank Dreyer, and his 3 penalties) will all be on every Aviva management’s offer list, trying to find the next Schalk Brits or Schalk Burger etc.

              Just one day.

              Not consistent enough.

              And Elton-Ross cannot even tie Sexton-Murray’s bootlaces yet.

              But I think no NH team could’ve withstood the Marx-Kitshoff-Etzebeth-PSDT rhino charge as well as the ABs did.

              • October 12th 2017 @ 2:57am
                FunBus said | October 12th 2017 @ 2:57am | ! Report

                ‘That pack (even carrying Plank Dreyer, and his 3 penalties) will all be on every Aviva management’s offer list, trying to find the next Schalk Brits or Schalk Burger etc.’

                Maybe so, but there are 12 Aviva clubs that need big squads. Neither Brits nor Burger are guaranteed starters for Saracens.

                ‘But I think no NH team could’ve withstood the Marx-Kitshoff-Etzebeth-PSDT rhino charge as well as the ABs did.’

                It’s certainly the best I’ve seen the Boks play for a while, and was a great game, but I’m not so sure about that. PSDT was almost humiliated when he played ‘6’ at Twickenham last when Youngs dummied him twice. I thought Marx and Etzebeth were excellent, but not entirely sure they would have rolled over the Lions pack like you say. I think the ABs seriously missed Retallick and I have been convinced for a while that the AB bench tight five replacements are becoming a bit of a weakness, especially when they have injuries. Kitshoff was OK, but didn’t see anything outstanding, although I rate him. If you’re picking a composite side from the Lions last June and the Boks last Saturday I’d go with:

                Kitshoff (although McGrath runs him very close and I like Vunipola coming off the bench)
                Marx (George would have got the nod last June)

                The bench would have been dominated by Lions. That’s 3 ‘Boklings’ in the starting XV.

              • Roar Guru

                October 12th 2017 @ 3:25am
                Harry Jones said | October 12th 2017 @ 3:25am | ! Report

                Brits has been Mr Saracen

                Saffas are incredible rugby imports for European teams

                Even a guy like Michael Rhodes or Vincent Koch (marginal Bok material) look great in Avivaland; and Stander or Strauss or Pienaar rule the Pro12

              • October 12th 2017 @ 3:28am
                Taylorman said | October 12th 2017 @ 3:28am | ! Report

                Yes the AB bench is becoming a weakness FB, because they keep coming off it to prop up northern clubs. Yet you only mention injuries? Isnt that odd. Are Cruden, Faumuina, Luatua injured?

              • October 12th 2017 @ 3:50am
                FunBus said | October 12th 2017 @ 3:50am | ! Report

                Whatever the reason, Tman, the bench is becoming an issue. Not in the backs where there is a bewildering array of options, but up front. Really, only Faumuina is a ’23’ forward lost to the NH; so you can’t really blame us on that front.

              • October 12th 2017 @ 3:52am
                FunBus said | October 12th 2017 @ 3:52am | ! Report

                Certainly not knocking Brits, Harry. He’s a wonderfully exciting player and a great bloke as well by all accounts. Definitely been right at the heart of the growth of Saracens. Doesn’t alter the fact George probably starts all the big games now, though.

                The other players you mention in the Aviva are certainly good (although not what you’d call stars), but aren’t really inked in names on the starting sheet. Probably the best Bok in the Aviva is Louw, but even he is facing a challenge from Underhill who might be England’s starting open side in the EOYT. I’d expect even marginal Bok players (particularly forwards) to be good acquisitions in a 12 club league.

    • October 10th 2017 @ 6:34am
      David said | October 10th 2017 @ 6:34am | ! Report


    • October 10th 2017 @ 6:36am
      Galatzo said | October 10th 2017 @ 6:36am | ! Report

      Hate to say it Brett but a 5-2-7 is on the cards. The ABs are such a fast team Suncorp will be to their advantage. And then comes more onerous travel. To Japan first then a huge leap to London. I think this is the year Wales makes up for those close defeats in the past. England have 23 totally first class players, far more than us. And Scotland will be as awkward as ever. And we still have only one world class 9, and only Beale to move to 10 if Foley goes down, and Beale’s not a great 10. On a cheerier note, things look better for the RWC with Dempsey, Koroibete, Reese looking good, McMahon surprisingly improved, and Hunt and Pocock back.

      • October 10th 2017 @ 9:04am
        taylorman said | October 10th 2017 @ 9:04am | ! Report

        Japans a tricky one, those stepping stone matches into the non tier one nations can be trip ups as ABs have showed with Hong Kong, Chicago. Even though this one isnt against a tier one they’ll throw everything at Oz, bathroom sink and all, especially if the W’s think its the calm before the storm.

        Not one to take lightly.

        • Roar Guru

          October 10th 2017 @ 12:52pm
          The Neutral View From Sweden said | October 10th 2017 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

          Japan is tricky, but if the Wallabies are up for it, the pace, power, and size of the Wallabies backs will be too much for them to handle. But, if the Wallabies has an average day and don’t up the tempo and bring some grit, the risk of losing is very real.
          To fire yourself up – as a player – against the AB’s (especially after a humiliating loss) and the Boks is one thing, to bring that kind of attitude to a stepping stone match in Japan is a completely different thing.

          Not to be forgotten, Japan has some pretty good Kiwi coaches around the team also. Their player will be prepared and have a realistic plan how to go about business against the Wallabies.

          On a side note: The game is played in Yokohama (same stadium they use for the Fifa WC final 2002) and tickets sell pretty fast. Roar regular LostinTokyo said earlier that a 50 000plus crowd is expected, and that is not bad at all.

      • October 10th 2017 @ 9:08am
        Sgt Pepperoni said | October 10th 2017 @ 9:08am | ! Report

        Agree our depth at 9 & 10 is a massive concern

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