Wallabies busted by the benches – not the refs – at Twickenham

Nicholas Bishop Columnist

By Nicholas Bishop, Nicholas Bishop is a Roar Expert

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    It was the 69th minute at a very wet, dank Twickenham stadium in West London. New Zealand referee Ben O’Keefe and TMO Simon McDowell spent over five minutes deciding that Marika Koroibete’s try near the posts was, in fact, an obstruction by replacement hooker Stephen Moore, and therefore a penalty to England.

    It was probably the most contentious decision of a game in which none of the 50-50 calls went Australia’s way. It was also the tipping point of what had, up to that point, been a very evenly-fought contest.

    There is no doubt that the Wallabies would have fully earned their way back to 13-all with ten minutes to play. Nonetheless, I believe it is highly unlikely that they would have gone on to win even if the try had been awarded.

    While the two starting sides slugged it out punch for punch for the first three quarters with neither giving an inch, the introduction of the two sets of bench replacements tipped the game decisively in England’s favour.

    To say there was a huge imbalance in the relative impact from the pine would be an understatement. The shift from a (potentially) tied game to a 24-point margin of defeat accurately represented that imbalance.

    Stephen Moore’s influence on Koroibete’s try was symbolic of it, but he was by no means the worst offender. The problems began at the beginning of the second half when Ben McCalman had to be introduced earlier than expected in the back-row to provide some ball-carrying grunt and an extra lineout target in place of the ineffective Ned Hanigan.

    As a rough guide, replacements are ideally expected to provide 60-75 per cent of the impact (or number of significant involvements) of a starter in the 20-30 minutes they are on the field. McCalman was introduced early because of the flawed initial selection of Ned Hanigan.

    Ned Hanigan Australia Rugby Union Wallabies 2017

    (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

    That, in turn, diluted his ability to provide impact, particularly in the last ten minutes of the game, and that is the time where the impact of the substitution should be at its most pronounced.

    Although England also had to play their joker early in the game when number seven Sam Underhill was injured in the 16th minute, it actually strengthened their hand immeasurably.

    Given the likely weather conditions, Maro Itoje should have been starting in any case.

    His presence gave England a fourth very big man in their back five (one more than Australia) on a day when play was closer to source than normal. Itoje has never had a problem remaining fully effective for 80 minutes (or more).

    Between the 63rd and 70th minutes, all of the Australian bench replacements entered the fray except for Lopeti Timani, while the English bench was emptied between the 56th and 69th minutes, beginning with two British and Irish Lions in Jamie George – the starting hooker in the recent Test series in New Zealand – and Joe Marler at loosehead.

    This gave England a noticeable boost in the fourth-quarter scrums, which had previously been going well for the Wallabies with their starting trio on the field.

    But nowhere was the contrast in bench impact more brutal than in the comparison at scrum-half.

    Will Genia has been one of Australia’s two outstanding backs this season, and the drop in the level of performance down to Nick Phipps was, as refs now like to say, clear and obvious.

    On the other hand, the entry of Danny Care off the bench for England actually improved their play at the position.

    While Care created two tries directly through the vision and accuracy of his kicking game, Phipps made two crucial errors resulting in their concession.

    Let’s take a look at the second England try scored in the 71st minute.

    The build-up to the try is as interesting as the scoring play itself.

    With Kurtley Beale (out of shot in the close-ups but over on the far side in the panoramic overhead view) defending one half of the backfield, the player responsible for the near side is Phipps.

    A couple of phases earlier he’s just about right, able to cover in behind the defensive line or drop back to cover the kick in behind.

    Fatally, he makes the decision to come up into line outside Reece Hodge in the second frame, and at least three England attackers notice it immediately – Jonathan Joseph and Antony Watson on the near-side and Care looking up behind the base of the ruck.

    Once the kick is made, neither Phipps nor Hodge has much chance of matching Joseph or Watson for speed on the turn, and JJ duly gets there first to score the try.

    England’s third try of the game came from another attacking kick by Care, this time from a scrum in the 78th minute (see reel).

    The key moments of the try can be pinpointed in the following images:

    Australia’s initial defensive set-up gives England the chance to exploit the blind-side. Fullback Beale is right out on the open-side edge of the defence, so Bernard Foley will have to function as an emergency sweeper if a play develops to the narrow side.

    There is no problem with Johnny May (with his extreme pace) using late movement to run around the scrum and become an attacking force there.

    To open up the opportunity further, England needs a strong promotion on their tight-head. Both replacement front rows are on the field, and England’s big tighthead Harry Williams (all 133 kilos of him) has a decisive impact on the fate of the set-piece.

    He bullies Tom Robertson backwards and turns the scrum in to take Ben McCalman and Lopeti Timani further out of the play.

    Although McCalman eventually makes the tackle on May a couple of metres from the Wallaby goal-line after he collects the kick through, who is to say that the drive-and-turn by Williams and those extra ten or fifteen minutes out on the field have not taken some vital starch out of his legs and fractionally, but crucially, reduced his ‘impact’ in cover defence?

    The final footnote to the narrative occurred in time added on, with Phipps throwing a hanging pass off his left hand in front of a packed rush defence.

    May is first to pick it up with Care inevitably on hand to receive the offload and put the icing on the English cake.

    When Phipps throws the ‘dying duck’ there are no less than nine English defenders well set and advancing in the area of the pass, and it floats all the way to probably the fastest man on the field with its premier impact player alongside him.

    As long as the starting teams were on the field, Australia was able to play England at least on even terms. Although the rub of the green clearly did not go with the Wallabies, either in terms of refereeing decisions or even the bounce of the ball during that period, the problems off the bench thereafter were largely of their own making.

    After the replacements entered en masse around the 60-70th minute, there was only one winner, and it was not Australia.

    I believe that Ben McCalman should have started the game at number eight with Sean McMahon shifted to six. Instead, it took forty minutes to find out that Ned Hanigan is not equipped to take on the might of four big, physical men in an opposition back five.

    McCalman’s impact off the bench was diluted as a result, even though he still made a hefty contribution to Australia’s ball carrying and second half lineout work.

    The impact of players like Tom Robertson and Nick Phipps tended to have a negative rather than a positive measurement. The Wallaby front row showed obvious signs of deterioration after the starters left the field, and Nick Phipps paled in comparison to his opposite number.

    Australia's Nick Phipps is tackled by Ireland's Jonathan Sexton

    (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

    It remains a mystery why young players like Joe Powell or Jake Gordon have not been granted more game time at the higher level this season, or why Robertson is currently rated above other looseheads like Pek Cowan, Allan Alaalatoa or even the Waratahs’ own Paddy Ryan.

    Scotland at Murrayfield will certainly now become ‘Mission Less Probable’ for the Wallabies than it was, given the home side’s performance against the All Blacks last Saturday and their two previous games against the Wallabies.

    I would like to see Powell given a bench slot at halfback, with Alalaatoa reverting to loosehead back-up and Taniela Tupou as an impact tighthead.

    If Adam Coleman is not fit, I further believe that Matt Philip at four, Ben McCalman at eight (with Lopeti Timani on the bench) and Karmichael Hunt at 15 deserve a chance to start the game.

    The view of Australia’s season as a whole is likely to be permanently coloured by what happens at Murrayfield next weekend, and the Wallabies cannot afford to slide as far and as fast downhill in the final quarter as they did against England, that is for sure.

    Nicholas Bishop
    Nicholas Bishop

    Nick Bishop has worked as a rugby analyst and advisor to Graham Henry (1999-2003), Mike Ruddock (2004-2005) and most recently Stuart Lancaster (2011-2015). He also worked on the 2001 British & Irish Lions tour to Australia and produced his first rugby book with Graham Henry at the end of the tour. Three more rugby books have followed, all of which of have either been nominated for or won national sports book awards. Nick?s latest is a biography of Phil Larder, the first top Rugby League coach to successfully transfer over to Union, entitled ?The Iron Curtain?. He is currently writing articles for The Roar and The Rugby Site, and working as a strategy consultant to Stuart Lancaster and the Leinster coaching staff for their European matches.

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    The Crowd Says (476)

    • Roar Rookie

      November 22nd 2017 @ 4:51am
      nothing if not critical said | November 22nd 2017 @ 4:51am | ! Report

      Look forward to your articles every week, Nick. Your analysis almost makes up for the train-wreck over the weekend.

      Do you think Folau would’ve made much of a difference, or do you think the selection issues in the forwards and on the bench would’ve still been the difference in the sides?

      • Columnist

        November 22nd 2017 @ 4:57am
        Nicholas Bishop said | November 22nd 2017 @ 4:57am | ! Report

        Thanks for your kind comments NINC. In the prevailing conditions, it would have been harder for Folau to make an impact. Having said that, he always seems to find a way to the try-line, and who is to say he would not have converted one of the chances Australia created?

        The diff in bench quality would still have probably been a game-winning factor however…

        • November 22nd 2017 @ 8:19am
          Goatee said | November 22nd 2017 @ 8:19am | ! Report

          Nick – Thank you. I’ve been looking forward to your post-match reflections, particularly with regard to how England’s back five performed as a unit.

          On the basis of your earlier pre-match prediction, concerning the composition of England’s BR (where you plumped for Itoje) why am I not surprised with your summation that with his introduction in the 16th minute, ‘it strengthened their hand immeasurably.’ Ha ha! The truth is of course, we will never know for sure, whether Underhill’s selection was ultimately vindicated, or not.

          I have a feeling that Itoje’s initial selection on the bench by EJ, was with one eye on RWC ’19. If ENG emerge from a group containing ARG, and FRA, then the knock-out stage will require some rest and recuperation (perhaps, at some point in the pool stage?) for England’s optimum XV. What better way then, to test the depth of England’s resources against high ranking opposition now?

          Furthermore, I suspect that when the run-on side was announced (with Itoje on the bench) the ‘focus’ of Launchberry, Lawes, Underhill and Robshaw was somewhat ‘heightened’. If so, it was clever management on EJ’s part. What do you think, Nick?

          I agree with your comment regarding the point of difference provided by England’s bench. Prior to the match, several posters predicted that England’s depth and bench quality would, if necessary, prove to be the deciding factor in a tight game. However, I’m not aware of any, who predicted it would have quite the impact that it did.

          In your opinion, how much better can this team become, or are they approaching the plateau!?

          • Columnist

            November 22nd 2017 @ 8:25am
            Nicholas Bishop said | November 22nd 2017 @ 8:25am | ! Report

            I’m sure there was a degree of psychology in the original selection by EJ Goatee – plus EJ’s genuine desire to find a real 7.

            However it would not surprise me at all if a combination of Launchbury, Lawes, Itoje and Billy Vunipola take England all the way to 2019 – with only Robshaw’s position at 7 under challenge from the likes of Underhill and Tom Curry.

            That would certainly be a very formidable back five unit!

            • Roar Guru

              November 22nd 2017 @ 4:23pm
              stillmissit said | November 22nd 2017 @ 4:23pm | ! Report

              Nick I thought Underhill was close to the best forward on the park and seemed to pop up everywhere winning, I think, 2 T/O’s in his 16 mins of play.

              I would start him again, would you?

              • Columnist

                November 22nd 2017 @ 5:04pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | November 22nd 2017 @ 5:04pm | ! Report

                I’ve no doubt both he and Tom Curry will get more chances, but have a snese it might be Chris Robshaw they need to displace – and Robshaw is a highly underrated forward.

            • November 22nd 2017 @ 6:14pm
              Cuw said | November 22nd 2017 @ 6:14pm | ! Report

              England 3rd row can only get better with BRAD SHIELDS joining Wasps in 2018 ( apparently his parents are |English – so NO need to wait).

              also not forgetting that Eddie may find it hard to ignore DON ARMAND if he keeps on performing as he does every weekend for Chiefs.

              i will not be surprised if Robshaw becomes the Jack of all trades in the 3d row by 2019 – or even Stephen Donald of England 🙂

              • Columnist

                November 23rd 2017 @ 2:40am
                Nicholas Bishop said | November 23rd 2017 @ 2:40am | ! Report

                Armand’s issue is he’s another six and a half CUW, and Eddie already has enough of those…

          • November 22nd 2017 @ 9:11am
            Graeme said | November 22nd 2017 @ 9:11am | ! Report

            I had heard some comments pre match about EJ agreeing with Saracens to manage Itoje’s workload given his efforts with the Lions and the fact he had started most of not all Sarries matches due to injuries in their squad

            • Roar Guru

              November 22nd 2017 @ 1:16pm
              The Neutral View From Sweden said | November 22nd 2017 @ 1:16pm | ! Report

              That sounds about right Graeme. I doubt there is any player in the world that has played more minutes than Itoje the last two years. To my recollection, he has only been injured once (a small hand injury took him out last years November Tests) during this two year period.

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 7:25pm
                Rugby Tragic said | November 22nd 2017 @ 7:25pm | ! Report

                It seems that only the best thoroughbreds get injured and hate to see that. Itoje must be shortening of WR player of the year now.

                I thought early on that Retallick was going to win it in a cakewalk as that guy never has a bad game and often is extremely infuential. But the odd injury here and there, and the personal tragedy that has kept him out of most test matches put paid to that.

              • Roar Guru

                November 22nd 2017 @ 8:17pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | November 22nd 2017 @ 8:17pm | ! Report

                On the upside, Brodie will most likely be fresher than ever next year.
                That Brodie is the most important player in the best team in the world is a no-brainer, without him the AB’s look a lot more “human”, there can be no confusion about that.

                Itoje sure looks like a strong contender, but who knows how the jury will think. Personally, I don’t think Farrell or Barrett has had seasons that should merit a place on the shortlist.

                Gotta give some credit to my nemesis T-man, who was spot on when he called that neither Jonathan Davies or Ryan Crotty would be on the shortlist, hence midfielders is never picked.

              • Columnist

                November 22nd 2017 @ 11:03pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | November 22nd 2017 @ 11:03pm | ! Report

                Retallick and Itoje would form some combination in the world XV to play Mars, that’s for sure!

              • November 23rd 2017 @ 1:24am
                Sgt Pepperoni said | November 23rd 2017 @ 1:24am | ! Report

                The Mars XV would be a bit short on players with the exception of the Mars rover. Imagine the rover would be quite good at the breakdown but rubbish at the lineout

              • Columnist

                November 23rd 2017 @ 2:31am
                Nicholas Bishop said | November 23rd 2017 @ 2:31am | ! Report


              • November 24th 2017 @ 8:01am
                Mr Hollywood said | November 24th 2017 @ 8:01am | ! Report

                The average height of a Martian is two metres. Thats the average so I’m suspecting there could some three metre ones out there. Retallick and Itoje would be taken to task.

                Anyway they’re underground (sadly after many a galactic war) and they would need machines to breathe the earths air.

                It would make a great game mind you…!

              • Columnist

                November 24th 2017 @ 6:39pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | November 24th 2017 @ 6:39pm | ! Report


              • November 22nd 2017 @ 9:26pm
                Rugby Tragic said | November 22nd 2017 @ 9:26pm | ! Report

                Davies was brilliant in NZ on the BIL tour and I thought the BIL’s player of the series … I never considered Crotty …. my eyes were only on Retallick to be honest.

                Ioane looks a leg in for rookie of the year following Itoje’s selection previously. Folau, I suppose had a chance if he stayed the course but his marriage sort of got in the way of that, Farrell imo nope… Barrett imo, nope … so Maro Itoje, at least to me is last man standing.

                Its a prestigious award, but as you say, subjective but I have no doubt the recipient who is selected, in spite of my thoughts will be worthy… good luck to all..

        • November 22nd 2017 @ 8:58am
          Rebellion said | November 22nd 2017 @ 8:58am | ! Report

          First class (as usual) Nick

          One thing we know about Chieka is he was a successful businessman before he became a full-time professional rugby coach. No doubt he applied some of his business skills to secure absolute authority when negotiating his contract terms with the ARU after the McKenzie quagmire.
          A weak ARU + Crafty Chieka = the current situation, which was made a lot of us even unhappier than when Deans selected his 2011 RWC squad

          • November 22nd 2017 @ 9:04am
            Jerry said | November 22nd 2017 @ 9:04am | ! Report

            I’d like to see him at a negotiating table.

            “Hmm, that’s an interesting proposal Mr Cheika, but we’re not looking to invest in this area presently”
            “AWWWW, you f’king s’tbag cheeting……” (storms out of office).

            • November 22nd 2017 @ 5:26pm
              Connor33 said | November 22nd 2017 @ 5:26pm | ! Report

              At least he doesn’t suggest to players how they should conduct themselves on and off the field, particularly when they end up in a toilet. I guess a lot of s%^*bg there. Or go out and feel their cars up to see whether they’re still warm using those excellent police state skills he gained in the NZ police academy.

              To be honest, Jerry, if you ever met Cheika in person, had a beer with him and actually talked rugby, you’d see a guy that is a lot more cerebral, multicultral and a rugby mind than what the media presents. Granted, he’s passionate. As am I. As are you. Heck, the odd expletive is part of our vernacular, isn’t it? Dare I say your the king of FFS. Why can’t he do the same albeit when he’s a public figure in the public domain. Oh, but that’s right, we hide behind anonymous “Jerry” and “Connor33” avatars. It’s ok for us when we get passionate and swear our bloody heads off, but not him?

              For me, we need more people passionate about rugby in Australia, because rugby nearly fell of the cliff here in 2014. Cheika brought it back from the death, was titled international coach of the year in 2015 and is the only coach to have beaten the Abs twice in the past 4 or so years…give the guy a break, and perhaps look at your own coach a little more, because you’ll start to see his faults and if you dig, you’ll find them far more disturbing than Cheika’s…ever more so when his two best assistants in Byrne (now Cheika’s assistant) and Smith are no longer there (the latter being a coach that wants a head coach position and yet Hansen wants more than 2019)…anyway, I realize I may be wasting my breath, but I thought I’d try…

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 6:03pm
                Kieron said | November 22nd 2017 @ 6:03pm | ! Report

                You talk crap connor33! Absolutely crap

              • Roar Rookie

                November 22nd 2017 @ 7:34pm
                piru said | November 22nd 2017 @ 7:34pm | ! Report

                Thanks Mrs Cheika

              • Roar Guru

                November 23rd 2017 @ 4:36pm
                Jokerman said | November 23rd 2017 @ 4:36pm | ! Report

                Get the sage wand Conner! The power is with you! If you stop fighting with yourself!! 😉

                I would be in no rush for the Indian tent though. But make sure you get one before you turn 40.

                Nice analysis, Nic. I only saw the highlights but the calls were correct. It’s unfair to try and ruin a refs performance based on a tricky situation. When the ref makes a balanced decision on a 50/50 call he should be praised.

                I can’t help think of the disallowed try at Eden Park last year by Dane Haylett-Petty against the mighty All Blacks (haha). When you’ve got the try there waiting to be scored, play it safe. Don’t niggle or get in the way. I think the Australian team needs to take some responsibility. It’s easy to blame. ”It’s all your fault” It’s a dysfunctional way for the ego to cope. True strength doesn’t go into the ego. It forms the truth, takes responsibility, learns, releases any hurts and moves forward wiser for the experience.

                And a few days later it’s not a big deal. The mind makes it big. The heart flows, adapts and plays life like a cool catz ???

              • Columnist

                November 23rd 2017 @ 5:54pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | November 23rd 2017 @ 5:54pm | ! Report

                Many of the thoughts on this forum, and particularly those surrounding Michael Cheika have been connected with his ability (or lack thereof) to ‘let go’ of perceived injustices done to his team. How is it possible to remain power-ful and remain a strong leader (of yourself and your team), even in circumstances when you think life has been unfair!?

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 7:43pm
                Mr Hollywood said | November 22nd 2017 @ 7:43pm | ! Report

                My name is Mr Hollywood. But that is just an alias of course. My real name is Dr Hollywood, and I might be able to help. You are a complex, difficult case so your improvements will be moderate. But with some care there is a chance I could help you to be normal again.

                Have you ever considered purchasing a sage wand? Or even better a Red Indian sweat tent?

                One is great for clearing negative energy. The other can help with the transition of going from boy to man.

                And dont worry too much about Jerry. Try not to let him upset you. I had a pet bird called Jerry once. Unfortunately he was from Australia and he couldn’t handle the NZ cold conditions, and sadly his head fell off and he died.

                Rumour had it that I sold the dead bird to a blind kid under the guise it was “very quiet” I’ve always denied this.

                Great to see Australia nearly all equal with ten minutes to go! Don’t be hard on Moore though. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a head knock and thought he was a stray sheep running into a fence.

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 8:08pm
                Jerry said | November 22nd 2017 @ 8:08pm | ! Report

                TL DR

              • November 23rd 2017 @ 4:56pm
                Mr Hollywood said | November 23rd 2017 @ 4:56pm | ! Report

                If you you ever see a yellow, parrot bird please let me know, Jerry. Especially if he answers to “Jerry” He could a little jumpy over trivia matters but I believe that was just from his heritage – yes he was from Australia.

                Yes he did pass. But I believe they can come back again. Past lives and stuff. I’m looking forward to his return.

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 9:11pm
                ClarkeG said | November 22nd 2017 @ 9:11pm | ! Report

                Entertaining as usual Connor so not a complete waste of your breath.

                I do have to say though that you are starting to sound a bit Gatlandish.

                Ohhh and are you going to talk us through NZs set piece try. You must have been doing handstands and cartwheels over that one.

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 9:22pm
                Taylorman said | November 22nd 2017 @ 9:22pm | ! Report

                Connor oz play the ABs three times a year, far more than any other side over time and get two bites at home usually so twice isnt a lot over other sides in comparison.

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 10:03pm
                In brief said | November 22nd 2017 @ 10:03pm | ! Report

                X100, you have nailed it. Well spoken.

              • November 23rd 2017 @ 5:43am
                Jerry said | November 23rd 2017 @ 5:43am | ! Report

                Ok, having now read it it’s apologist drivel that entirely misses the point of why Chieka’s outburst was unacceptable.

                It’s not about the ‘F’, it’s about the ‘C’.

                I may swear. I may have even sworn at a ref from the stands and can remember at least one occasion when I dropped an F bomb when trying to explain why I hadn’t rolled away from a ruck.

                But I’ve never been so immature (and I’ve been pretty damned immature) or had such a lack of perspective that I’d accuse a ref of cheating. And it’s laughable that your national coach has.

                As for the Hansen comparisons, my opinion of one is completely independent and unrelated to my opinion of the other, so your whattaboutery is irrelevant.

              • November 23rd 2017 @ 1:33pm
                TC said | November 23rd 2017 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

                Quite true, but you’ve side-stepped the fact that he’s an average selector. As the article points out – and as anyone who has watched and played rugby quite clearly knows – Phipps, Robertsoon and Hannigan are Super players at best. Phipps doesn’t even start for the Tahs. Until Cheika starts looking outside of the Tahs pool, we will continually suffer at the hands of Tier One teams.

          • Columnist

            November 22nd 2017 @ 9:30am
            Nicholas Bishop said | November 22nd 2017 @ 9:30am | ! Report

            I definitely believe you need a panel of selectors Reb, even if that just means all the coaches having an equal voice with head coach presiding. After all it’s the likes of Steve Larkham and Nathan Grey and Mick Byrne who have toe guide the players when they get into camp…

            • Roar Guru

              November 22nd 2017 @ 9:42am
              PeterK said | November 22nd 2017 @ 9:42am | ! Report

              I am sure that the assistant coaches are part of a selection panel.

              IMO the issue is that the culture in the wallabies is to be on board pulling the same way believing in the strategy / vision. At it’s worst this devolves to yes men when it comes to Cheika and that may be what is happening.

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 1:13pm
                Frank said | November 22nd 2017 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

                Hence the discarding of “no men” Higginbotham, Fardy, Gill…

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 2:09pm
                Fionn said | November 22nd 2017 @ 2:09pm | ! Report

                Peter, not according to the little birdies I’ve been speaking to. Even Wayne Smith spoke about how Larkham was apparently desperate (Smith either used that specific word, or a similar one) to get Banks into the Wallaby squad in June, and that this was even more so the case for the RC.

                If Larkham, the attack and backline coach, was unable to get one of his own attacking players into the squad who he rated extremely highly and was desperate for (despite it taking him half a season to realise Banks’ abilities) then it doesn’t speak a lot for the concept of any sort of informal panel existing.

                Larkham found out that Hunt was playing 12 in June AFTER Hunt.

              • Roar Guru

                November 22nd 2017 @ 2:13pm
                PeterK said | November 22nd 2017 @ 2:13pm | ! Report

                Fionn – We discussed the scenario re Hunt and where Larkham would have known it was a possibility , just he got knowledge of it actually being the case after Hunt.

                That on it’s own is not that significant to me.

                I f Smith’s report on Banks is correct then that would be terribly disempowering and a very poor situation and would confirm assistant’s get no input into selection.
                Afterall Larkham was only looking at including a player in the squad for further assessment, not demanding he be included in the 23.

                I do agree with a panel of selectors BTW.

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

                Yep, guess it comes down to whether or not Smith’s source was correct in this instance. Something that I imagine would never become clear unless Larkham one day writes a book.

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 5:32pm
                Connor33 said | November 22nd 2017 @ 5:32pm | ! Report

                Agree, Fionn. Cheika has done well in blooding and experimenting, but now that that has been down, he’ll need to give greater deference to Larkham et al. Perhaps we’ll get our Banks against Ireland next year.

                But I put this to you: would have you been prepared to have Hodge at 12, Banks at 14 and Hunt/ Kerevi on the bench. I would have. I think Banks would have provided far more balance and is probably more like for like with Folau than Hunt…

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 8:39pm
                Fionn said | November 22nd 2017 @ 8:39pm | ! Report

                That’s probably true, Connor.

            • November 22nd 2017 @ 10:07am
              Harry said | November 22nd 2017 @ 10:07am | ! Report

              I’ve said it before but worth repeating … the talented but headstrong Cheika needs a senior Chairman like figure to moderate him. We can all see his favouritism in selecting the likes of Hanigan, Robinson, Phipps and Foley, and giving Hooper exclusivity at 7. He needs someone like McQueen to oversee him, but of course one of Pulver’s failures was to give the guy full power. I know his and his cohort’s arguments is that he’s doing a great job on lousy resourcing compared to other rugby nations so should bbe allowed to do it his way – no doubt that has some merit, but its clear that also causes problems.

              As always, terrific article Nick that explains and analyses to us everyday fans the complexities of what we are seeing.

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 10:35am
                Bakkies said | November 22nd 2017 @ 10:35am | ! Report

                Given that Cheika was competing with Jake White for the job I doubt that White would have agreed to a DoR looking over his shoulder either.

              • Roar Rookie

                November 22nd 2017 @ 3:27pm
                Don said | November 22nd 2017 @ 3:27pm | ! Report

                Jake White would likely have accepted a selection panel that he was part of though.

                Something like; McQueen ( if he wanted to do it and is keeping up to speed with Rugby these days), a player who has been retired for a reasonable period like Eales, Kefu, David Wilson, Horan, Gregan etc plus Cheika.

              • Columnist

                November 22nd 2017 @ 5:08pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | November 22nd 2017 @ 5:08pm | ! Report

                While no-one would argue with MC having final say in selection, it does sound (if previous comments on thread are to be believed) like the process is not particularly transparent, even to the other coaches!

              • November 23rd 2017 @ 1:01am
                Bakkies said | November 23rd 2017 @ 1:01am | ! Report

                Nick non transparency is normal in Australian Rugby.

              • Columnist

                November 23rd 2017 @ 2:32am
                Nicholas Bishop said | November 23rd 2017 @ 2:32am | ! Report

                Selection processes sometimes leak out (at least in a very general way) like Gatland’s admission about the battle which preceded Jonathan Joseph’s pick for the Lions… So ofc it would be nice for us to play ‘fly on the wall’ for short time!

              • November 23rd 2017 @ 10:48am
                DaveR said | November 23rd 2017 @ 10:48am | ! Report

                Nick, this is the crux of your article and it is a very important point, especially if the Wallabies are rolled again by Scotland.

                MC’s selections, both for the touring squad and on match day, are a problem for Australian rugby. Pure and simple.

                Not only the bench players, but the choice of run-on players.

                With Coleman gone look at the available lock selection for the Scotland match: Simmons – a great and safe player but on the way down, and essentially 3 rookies.

                MC does not have the skills to be the sole selector.

          • November 22nd 2017 @ 10:33am
            wag said | November 22nd 2017 @ 10:33am | ! Report

            Hi Rebellion,

            Following on from your comments:—- Like Cheika and McKenzie, Deans did make some “curious” selections”. — esp. with the self-styled “Three Amigoes” (whom the ARU should have disciplined).

            But Deans did NOT play FAVOURITES, and he would never have behaved like Cheika in public (an embarrassment to Austrailia and to Aust. Rugby!)

            Despite the criticism (mainly over selections), Deans was a good coach whose team would have won the British Lions series if first-choice kicker, CLF, did not get injured in the opening minute of the first test, and if Beale had not slipped when taking that kick at goal as a replacement kicker.
            (The heavy loss in the Third Lions Test was when it had been revealed to the “inner circle”, BEFORE that test, that Deans would be sacked.!!)

            • Roar Guru

              November 22nd 2017 @ 11:06am
              Hoy said | November 22nd 2017 @ 11:06am | ! Report

              Say what you want, but by selecting JOC over Cooper for the Lions, Deans did show he had favourites and those on the outer… for good reason after Cooper’s spray you might say. But Cooper should have played at 10 that series.

              Next… I love how people say we should have won the series but for Beales slipped kick… But for Halfpenny’s missed kick, the Lions would have won 3-0. Think about that. That would have been pretty embarrassing really.

            • November 22nd 2017 @ 12:24pm
              Harry said | November 22nd 2017 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

              Bit of revisionism here. Deans, a good coach, got into a fight with Quade and then wouldn’t pick him when he was clealy the best option at 10. Over-invested in JOC at 10 and paid the price. Was unlucky that the champion 7 Pocock was injured for the Lions series and he had to pick Ben Alexander as tighthead (no other options).

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 2:48pm
                Marc Johno said | November 22nd 2017 @ 2:48pm | ! Report

                Deans actually wanted to select Quade at 10 for the 2013 Lions series but was overruled by his assistant coaches who threatened to walk.

              • Roar Guru

                November 22nd 2017 @ 2:52pm
                PeterK said | November 22nd 2017 @ 2:52pm | ! Report

                Have a link with a quote from Deans?

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 3:04pm
                Marc Johno said | November 22nd 2017 @ 3:04pm | ! Report

                Source is not Deans but someone else who was at the meeting.

              • Roar Guru

                November 22nd 2017 @ 3:27pm
                Hoy said | November 22nd 2017 @ 3:27pm | ! Report

                Well there you go… I would love to know what it what here… I can’t even remember who they were back then…

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 3:40pm
                Charlie Turner said | November 22nd 2017 @ 3:40pm | ! Report

                Marc that doesn’t sound right. Tony McGahan was Deans’ senior assistant in 2013 along with Blades and Scrivener. In 2016 McGahan was working with Morgan Turinui to lure Cooper to the Rebels. Doesn’t seem like the actions of someone who had previously conspired to destroy Coopers Wallaby career. I doubt Blades could give two pinches of pelican s.h.i.t for what a back does or thinks so Scrivener must have been the lone dissenter….nah your source is telling porkies.

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 3:46pm
                rebel said | November 22nd 2017 @ 3:46pm | ! Report

                Tony McGahan, Andrew Blades and Nick Scrivener

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 4:23pm
                JP said | November 22nd 2017 @ 4:23pm | ! Report

                Andrew Blades was the guy who threatened to walk.

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 5:20pm
                Dave_S said | November 22nd 2017 @ 5:20pm | ! Report

                Geeez talk about a sliding doors moment for Aust rugby …

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 10:10pm
                In brief said | November 22nd 2017 @ 10:10pm | ! Report

                Was that a threat or offer? Blades was hopeless.

            • November 22nd 2017 @ 9:21pm
              Rebellion said | November 22nd 2017 @ 9:21pm | ! Report

              Hi Wag
              To be clear – I was actually referring to Dingo’s RWC Squad. I supported him leaving Giteau out but thought he lost the plot a bit and couldn’t figure out why he only took one openside flanker to a 7-game tournament. Wheras Deans had his own reasons for that squad, I don’t (aside from a personality clash with Giteau) think it’s anywhere near the level of favouritism/blacklisting that Chieka displays.
              Chieka is behaving like he has no fear of repercussions – like a man who has been absolutely guaranteed his term up until the end of the next World Cup. A bit like the fella from North Korea who looks like an overgrown baby

        • November 22nd 2017 @ 9:26am
          Noodles said | November 22nd 2017 @ 9:26am | ! Report

          Great comments Nick. But I can’t get Isar the opportunities we had that were squandered. Two tries lost through carelessness. A lineout on attack list through inaccuracy and poor technique. A penalty kick for attacking lineout kicked out. Numerous basic handling errors in good situations.
          Even with the flaws you expose impressively we had a win to take and simply did not have the mindset.

          • Columnist

            November 22nd 2017 @ 9:28am
            Nicholas Bishop said | November 22nd 2017 @ 9:28am | ! Report

            Last comment near the truth there Noodles…

        • November 22nd 2017 @ 10:07pm
          In brief said | November 22nd 2017 @ 10:07pm | ! Report

          I was actually disappointed with this article as I expected Mr Bishop to dissect some of the controversial decisions. Granted that would have been a brave thing to do. However rugby needs more transparency and more honesty. The old don’t blame the infallible referee charade will ultimately do more damage to the game than good.

      • November 22nd 2017 @ 8:02pm
        Drongo said | November 22nd 2017 @ 8:02pm | ! Report

        Nick’s articles are by far the best on the roar. His analysis is skilled and accurate and he does not play the character game that so blights the other writers. He has no apparent bias and writes honestly and without ego. The polar opposite if a certain other contributor.

        • November 22nd 2017 @ 10:14pm
          In brief said | November 22nd 2017 @ 10:14pm | ! Report

          Surely the main talking point was the referees performance. This article ignores this fact. Do we just pretend the referee had no influence on the outcome? Are we that dishonest or honourable or too blind to admit the blindingly obvious?

          • Columnist

            November 23rd 2017 @ 2:43am
            Nicholas Bishop said | November 23rd 2017 @ 2:43am | ! Report

            IB, how many articles had already appeared on the Roar about this topic prior to mine – would a few screenshots really have clarified the issues one way or t’other?

          • November 23rd 2017 @ 8:27am
            ClarkeG said | November 23rd 2017 @ 8:27am | ! Report

            You have had ample opportunity to dissect the so called controversial issues in this forum before Nicholas Bishop’s Wed article. So where’s the problem?

    • November 22nd 2017 @ 4:52am
      Bankso said | November 22nd 2017 @ 4:52am | ! Report

      Thanks Nick, I look forward to reading your match analysis after each international. If Cheika is such a bad selector, which he’s proven time and again, why is it that this has not been addressed? Do you think he’s the right man for the job and is there a case to be made that a panel should be put in place for team selection. Ned H would surely not have got the number of caps he has if a selection panel were in place.

      • Columnist

        November 22nd 2017 @ 4:59am
        Nicholas Bishop said | November 22nd 2017 @ 4:59am | ! Report

        Ofc we don’t know for sure who pushes the case for each player, assuming that Larkham, Grey and Byrne all have some input.

        But I do feel there has been some stubbornness in the selection of Phipps and Hanigan especially – and the roots of that stubbornness need to be addressed…

        • November 22nd 2017 @ 5:11am
          Bankso said | November 22nd 2017 @ 5:11am | ! Report

          I think Robertson has to be in the group also. His core skill set for a prop doesn’t seem consistently at test level at this point in his career. In Robertson’s case, Do we blame Ledesma for his past inclusion, or does Cheika ultimately take the blame for repetitive selection.

          At some stage there has to be a tipping point where even the buffoons at the ARU realise it’s a weakness in his coaching.

          • Columnist

            November 22nd 2017 @ 5:25am
            Nicholas Bishop said | November 22nd 2017 @ 5:25am | ! Report

            Robertson is simply not big enough to compete at this level yet. He’s around 110 kilos, and he was giving away well over 20 kilos+ to Harry Williams at scrum-time. It showed.

            • November 22nd 2017 @ 3:33pm
              Cliff (Bishkek) said | November 22nd 2017 @ 3:33pm | ! Report

              But Nicholas, Robertson does have one skill set to be a prop – “He Bends at the Middle”. The problem is he cannot stay there and again the weight and strength is a problem. Possibly also youth!

              But a Coach does not keep selecting the “failures” time and time again. Send them away to learn and see if they can come back.

              • Columnist

                November 22nd 2017 @ 5:12pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | November 22nd 2017 @ 5:12pm | ! Report

                We had a similar issue with Joe Marler a few years ago. He was around the same weight as Robertson while his opposites seemed to be getting bigger all the time. He was asked to put on @6-7 kilos and that’s what he did. I don’t think it would be unreasonable to ask Robertson to add more muscle mass to his frame (or move in to hooker!).

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 5:24pm
                Dave_S said | November 22nd 2017 @ 5:24pm | ! Report

                Reportedly, James Slipper has added 10kg (the good sort) while he’s been out.

              • Columnist

                November 22nd 2017 @ 6:14pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | November 22nd 2017 @ 6:14pm | ! Report

                Let’s hope it’s all in the right places Dave!!

              • Roar Rookie

                November 22nd 2017 @ 6:28pm
                Dave_S said | November 22nd 2017 @ 6:28pm | ! Report

                Not like mine Nic, all in the middle body! My daughter calls me Daddy Pig …

            • November 22nd 2017 @ 4:24pm
              JP said | November 22nd 2017 @ 4:24pm | ! Report

              107 kilos

            • November 22nd 2017 @ 6:25pm
              Cuw said | November 22nd 2017 @ 6:25pm | ! Report

              yeah Nicholas Bishop,

              i suspect even Jamie George is heavier than him….

        • November 22nd 2017 @ 7:05am
          Fionn said | November 22nd 2017 @ 7:05am | ! Report

          Nick, I have no idea if this is true, but what I’ve heard through the grapevine is that the assistants get very little say.

          • Columnist

            November 22nd 2017 @ 7:26am
            Nicholas Bishop said | November 22nd 2017 @ 7:26am | ! Report

            If that is the case Fionn, they need to have more otherwise there will be insufficient sense of shared ownership.

            • November 22nd 2017 @ 12:51pm
              Perthstayer said | November 22nd 2017 @ 12:51pm | ! Report


              These coaches do not have to hang around. It reflects poorly on their self confidence. Is their loyalty so misplaced that their blinded from taking offers elsewhere?

              • Roar Rookie

                November 22nd 2017 @ 5:30pm
                Dave_S said | November 22nd 2017 @ 5:30pm | ! Report

                To be fair, Perthsayer, there might not be a lot of offers from elsewhere – no doubt they have mortgages to pay, kids in schools, etc

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 7:12pm
                Perthstayer said | November 22nd 2017 @ 7:12pm | ! Report

                If they’re aware that the system is failing the country then I see it they have a duty to act.

                I find it very hard to believe they are not aware.

                Pulver sold his soul and there was no return, these guys have options.

          • November 22nd 2017 @ 10:11am
            Harry said | November 22nd 2017 @ 10:11am | ! Report

            I also here through the grapevine that Hanigan’s continued bewildering inclusion is greatly explained by his friendship with Hooper and Cheika. I know I am gossiping and conjecturing as an anonymous contributor but there ya go.

            • Columnist

              November 22nd 2017 @ 5:13pm
              Nicholas Bishop said | November 22nd 2017 @ 5:13pm | ! Report

              Hard to work out why NH is being developed through Test rugby rather than for it, that’s for sure!

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 6:22pm
                Cuw said | November 22nd 2017 @ 6:22pm | ! Report

                the hair ? i mean NEVEA adverts are very lucrative 😛

                i think Ronaldo and some of his mates at Real are in one advert ….

    • November 22nd 2017 @ 5:31am
      John said | November 22nd 2017 @ 5:31am | ! Report

      Thanks Nick – as always. A few different strands of thought.

      You mentioned pulling Hanigan, but it seems equally impactful (in a negative way) was the removal of Kerevi from the 12 position. A lot of the backline go-forward was removed as well, don’t you think? And more to that point, why oh why was Timani only given 2 minutes? Perhaps bench imbalance in picking two back rowers when both Hooper and MacMahon played as much as they did?

      During the press conference Cheika talked about a no excuses environment or words to that effect. Isn’t that precisely the opposite of how he has behaved himself? It seems he whines after every defeat. Thoughts?

      On the Beale yellow card, on the footage I saw he was so off-balance when he went for the ball he almost fell over sideways immediately afterwards. Yet he still argued the point with the ref before the card was issued. Any thoughts on that aspect – his behavior with the ref before the card was issued?

      • Columnist

        November 22nd 2017 @ 5:49am
        Nicholas Bishop said | November 22nd 2017 @ 5:49am | ! Report

        I got the impression (rightly or wrongly) that MC didn’t want to put Timani on at all, so 2 minutes at the end was just an apology.

        I actually think KB behaved pretty well once the Y/C had been given. He had a smile on his face even though it was an obvious decision for the ref. Saturday wasn’t his best day but he has matured considerably IMO.

        • Roar Guru

          November 22nd 2017 @ 7:35am
          PeterK said | November 22nd 2017 @ 7:35am | ! Report

          NB – IMO TK who was less effective than Kerevi 2 games in a row should have been subbed and Kerevi moved to 13 when Hunt came on, another mistake by Cheika.

          It is pretty obvious MC has no faith in Timani.

          That being the case why select him on the bench, if you aren’t going to use the bench then don’t select them.

          Note Hanigan was replaced due to injury not poor performance so Cheika had no choice in playing McCalman earlier than planned. Since that was the case it was even more imperative to use Timani.

          IMO Chieka has his replacements planned and does them by the numbers and ignores actual performances on the ground.

          • Columnist

            November 22nd 2017 @ 7:42am
            Nicholas Bishop said | November 22nd 2017 @ 7:42am | ! Report

            It is pretty obvious MC has no faith in Timani.

            That being the case why select him on the bench, if you aren’t going to use the bench then don’t select them.

            This is a very good point and another selection issue Peter. If Timani is really out in the cold, would it not be better for MC to send him back to provincial rugby and tell him what aspects of his game he wants him to improve there?

    • Roar Pro

      November 22nd 2017 @ 5:47am
      Matt Davis said | November 22nd 2017 @ 5:47am | ! Report

      Nicely done Nick, you’ve hit two birds with one stone in this piece, great analysis and getting on the roar favourites: Hannigan, Phipps and robertson!
      That said, the drop off was clear, I think the next big work on for the coaching team will be in the finishers. I feel as though Cheika was the first coach I heard talking about reserves as finishers at the RWC, and it certainly worked them in 2015. Would be great if players like Toomua and Fardy hadn’t gone to Europe…
      Two last thoughts, isn’t Phipps normally pretty good defensively? Got the sense that he/we started chasing the game too much and it went very pear shaped in those final few minutes.
      Lastly I though Hanigan played fairly well, but he was ultimately pulled and McCalman sent in early because of an injury.

      • Columnist

        November 22nd 2017 @ 5:52am
        Nicholas Bishop said | November 22nd 2017 @ 5:52am | ! Report

        Thanks Matt… 🙂

        Some aspects of Phipps’ defending can be outstanding, like his D in cover/scramble. Hard to know the communication out on the field but the mistake he appeared to make was in the reading of play and where he had to be in relation to Beale on the other side of the backfield.

        Was Hanigan injured when he was replaced at the half??

        • November 22nd 2017 @ 6:59am
          Morsie said | November 22nd 2017 @ 6:59am | ! Report

          Hannigan was injured in the first half but played on and has been sent home, Coleman also injured and sent home. I didn’t think Hannigan was too bad.

          • Roar Guru

            November 22nd 2017 @ 7:37am
            PeterK said | November 22nd 2017 @ 7:37am | ! Report

            IMO Hanigan played as well as McCalman did.

            • November 22nd 2017 @ 11:22am
              JP said | November 22nd 2017 @ 11:22am | ! Report

              Both ran for 0 meteres,so in Hangans case still useless.No improvement.

              • Roar Guru

                November 22nd 2017 @ 1:28pm
                PeterK said | November 22nd 2017 @ 1:28pm | ! Report

                agree, hence my comment McCalman didn’t perform that well either, mind you gets rated a lot higher on scores on player ratings

          • November 22nd 2017 @ 12:05pm
            Cynical Play said | November 22nd 2017 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

            Hannigan tore his MCL around the 35min mark. You didn’t see them spend 2 minutes stopping play to tape it?

            • Roar Rookie

              November 22nd 2017 @ 12:11pm
              piru said | November 22nd 2017 @ 12:11pm | ! Report

              Poor bugger, he’s out of his league, but trying as hard as he can.

              Cheika is doing him and his reputation no favours by continually throwing him to the wolves

        • November 22nd 2017 @ 7:01am
          rebel said | November 22nd 2017 @ 7:01am | ! Report

          Considering he has come back to Australia with a knee injury after it clearly being strapped up on the field in the first half, I would be fairly confident that he was replaced due to injury.
          I was watching his involvement particularly prior to the injury and he was playing well. No he’s not a premeir six, but the analysis is a bit off in this case.

          • Columnist

            November 22nd 2017 @ 7:28am
            Nicholas Bishop said | November 22nd 2017 @ 7:28am | ! Report

            It would be interesting to know when he started struggling with the injury in the first half. But Ben McCalman would have been a much better choice for this game right from the off. Better ball-carrier, better lineout player, better value at the breakdown on defence, better wet weather option all-round.

            • Roar Guru

              November 22nd 2017 @ 7:39am
              PeterK said | November 22nd 2017 @ 7:39am | ! Report

              I agree based on previous performances.

              I have to say in this actual game McCalman did not perform significantly better than Hanigan.

              • Columnist

                November 22nd 2017 @ 7:45am
                Nicholas Bishop said | November 22nd 2017 @ 7:45am | ! Report

                It was not a world-shattering difference Peter – though McCalman had five carries (to two by NH) and four lineout wins (zero by NH).

            • November 22nd 2017 @ 7:58am
              rebel said | November 22nd 2017 @ 7:58am | ! Report

              No doubt Macalman is a better option, just think the criticism of Hannigan is OTT.

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 9:15am
                Rebellion said | November 22nd 2017 @ 9:15am | ! Report

                Sorry Rebel but most of us concur that Hanigan is way out of his depth and shouldn’t be anywhere near the Wallabies squad.
                He is selected at six yet is totally dominated in the ruck both in the cleanout and in his carries. Imagine what a player like Scott Higginbotham could contribute if he was allowed to play 15 tests in a season???
                The reality is that Chieka will keep selecting his favourites up until after the next RWC at the expense of the team – sending a message to fringe players that perfromance won’t be rewarded & they’re better off chasing more lucrative contracts overseas

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 9:46am
                rl said | November 22nd 2017 @ 9:46am | ! Report

                Agree with Rebel that the criticism is completely OTT. And disagree with Rebellion – Hanigan does deserve to be n the squad, just not as starting 6. I’m a fan of Higgers, but I’m not so blind to see that at international level he’s a bust. Perhaps Higgers didn’t get the same opportunities at the same stage in his career, but at this point I think he’s far better chasing the dollars.

                Maybe Hannigan going home to recover and work on his strength training is a blessing in disguise.

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 10:01am
                rebel said | November 22nd 2017 @ 10:01am | ! Report

                Rebellion, he is not totally dominated at all, I was watching specifically for it on Saturday. Like I said, I don’t believe he is the best option, but the criticism of him is OTT. Unfortunately you are one of the worst offenders of this.

              • Roar Guru

                November 22nd 2017 @ 3:49pm
                Timbo (L) said | November 22nd 2017 @ 3:49pm | ! Report

                Hanigan is a good player and has a lot of potential.
                He should wear a Gold jersey when he reaches it, not before.

        • Roar Guru

          November 22nd 2017 @ 12:07pm
          jeznez said | November 22nd 2017 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

          Nick – did Phipps have a lot of choice on that first one?

          Your photos show four England attackers facing three Aussie defenders, including Phipps. Am ignoring the Englishman near the ruck and Moore (who doesn’t have the speed to cover there).

          If he drops those four attackers are looking at a four on two with only Phipps in the backfield. Even jockeying I’m not sure how much time he can buy in that scenario.

          • Columnist

            November 22nd 2017 @ 5:19pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | November 22nd 2017 @ 5:19pm | ! Report

            That’s why I queried the communication Jez – did Karmichael Hunt really need to go and defend on the other side of the field?

            But in any case Phipps would have given himself more options by staying in the backfield @5-10 metres deep. Aus might have given up a few metres if the ball was moved down that side but they should still be able to defend it – not as if England had shown much cutting edge with ball in hand up to that point.

            • Roar Guru

              November 22nd 2017 @ 6:43pm
              jeznez said | November 22nd 2017 @ 6:43pm | ! Report

              Fair enough – calling a defender across from the other side could have bought him the time, especially if he could work the extra attackers towards the sideline

        • November 22nd 2017 @ 12:16pm
          double agent said | November 22nd 2017 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

          In the first example where he moves up to join the line he’s in a bit of a catch 22. England had about 5 on 2 there.He stays back and there’s certain overlap. He moves forward and the kick comes into it.

          • Roar Guru

            November 22nd 2017 @ 3:00pm
            jeznez said | November 22nd 2017 @ 3:00pm | ! Report

            yep – and people saying if he moved up he could have told Hodge to drop back re-create the same problem as Hodge was one of the 2.

      • November 22nd 2017 @ 6:47am
        mzilikazi said | November 22nd 2017 @ 6:47am | ! Report

        “Would be great if players like Toomua and Fardy hadn’t gone to Europe…”

        IMO, would be great if the overseas player rule were totally dropped, and the best available team of qualified players is selected….especially for the WC. Can accept club difficulties for some of these current games.

        • Columnist

          November 22nd 2017 @ 6:54am
          Nicholas Bishop said | November 22nd 2017 @ 6:54am | ! Report

          It may come to that, if the player drain reaches a tipping point MZ. One irony is that at a club like Exeter for example, guys like Greg Holmes and Dave Dennis are not even first choices when everyone is available, as they would be (still) back home.

          • November 22nd 2017 @ 7:04am
            mzilikazi said | November 22nd 2017 @ 7:04am | ! Report

            Interesting neither are first choices, Nic. Have been meaning to ask you how Will Skelton is going at Saracens.

            • Columnist

              November 22nd 2017 @ 7:31am
              Nicholas Bishop said | November 22nd 2017 @ 7:31am | ! Report

              Again not a first choice MZ, behind Itoje, Kruis and Isiekwe in that order. The number 4 lock at the club!

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 6:30pm
                Cuw said | November 22nd 2017 @ 6:30pm | ! Report

                i think the Sarries have sort of shelved the forwards dominated set -piece oriented game plan , at least up to this day in Aviva.

                they – like few of the Aviva clubs – are looking to play a fast running game with dual playmakers thingy.

                the top 3 guys are all very mobile and fit enuf to go 80+ if required ( hmmm maybe not Kruis but Itoje and NI are very fit young guys).

          • November 22nd 2017 @ 7:07am
            Fionn said | November 22nd 2017 @ 7:07am | ! Report

            Problem is mzilikazi and Nick, that there would be no time for camps or extended training sessions beforehand. The team would come together the week before the first Test.

            • Roar Guru

              November 22nd 2017 @ 7:40am
              PeterK said | November 22nd 2017 @ 7:40am | ! Report

              agree, they also wouldn’t be available for all the test matches since wallabies play matches outside the intl windows.

              • Roar Rookie

                November 22nd 2017 @ 8:04am
                Dave_S said | November 22nd 2017 @ 8:04am | ! Report

                Agree, keep the rule as it is. It is the main incentive keeping players here, and it is the best way to assess their suitability.

                Reassess only if it comes to the stage where 3/4 of our best are playing o/s (in which case we have even bigger problems …)

              • Roar Guru

                November 22nd 2017 @ 8:23am
                PeterK said | November 22nd 2017 @ 8:23am | ! Report

                if the situation gets that bad and most players are picked from o/s then the wallabies should reduce how many games they play to just the intl windows.

            • November 22nd 2017 @ 10:29am
              mzilikazi said | November 22nd 2017 @ 10:29am | ! Report

              Yes, Fionn, that is true of the RC and EOYT games, but not the WC period….and the latter would be my main focus currently.

              I just don’t see Australia as being strong enough to ignore world class players….look at South Africa currently. Really only AB’s and England have the luxury currently of very great reserve depth.

              Actually fionn, be interesting to see what Ireland do at flyhalf with Carberry injured, and Jackson certain not to be available for the Six Nations at least. Ian Madigan would be next in line ??? Don’t know eough about Irish rugby to be certain who is next in line.

              • Roar Guru

                November 22nd 2017 @ 10:40am
                PeterK said | November 22nd 2017 @ 10:40am | ! Report

                I don’t have an issue in the rwc year of bringing in o/s based players during the RC to see if they still are better than the locally based ones. Then if so fine use them in the rwc.

                I wouldn’t assume they were better though. They also need time to get combos going and learn the systems depending on how long they have been away.

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 6:33pm
                Cuw said | November 22nd 2017 @ 6:33pm | ! Report

                Keatley from Munster .

              • Roar Guru

                November 22nd 2017 @ 7:48pm
                Poth Ale said | November 22nd 2017 @ 7:48pm | ! Report

                Ian Keatley at Munster will back up Sexton on Saturday against Argentina. He’s done well so far in November and seems to be getting a bit of confidence and form back. Tyler Bleyendaal who competes for 10 with Keatley will qualify on residency in January but don’t know if Schmidt would trial him in the Six Nations unless injury dictates it. Otherwise, there’s uncapped Ross Byrne at Leinster who plays 10 in most of the PRO14 league games – Leo Cullen prefers Carbery at 15. JJ Hanrahan at Munster is another newbie but way back in the queue.

              • Columnist

                November 22nd 2017 @ 10:58pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | November 22nd 2017 @ 10:58pm | ! Report

                Yes Ross Byrne has come on a lot this season. There was a lot of concern when Johnny Sexton pulled out at the eleventh hour against Montpellier but Byrne filled in for him very nicely thank you…

    • November 22nd 2017 @ 6:26am
      Davo said | November 22nd 2017 @ 6:26am | ! Report

      I have read elsewhere that Hanigan was replaced early due to injury and is already back in Sydney undergoing surgery. He was certainly receiving onfield treatment shortly before he went off. Yet you claim he was hooked early for being ineffective and should be dropped for the next game? Are you suggesting the injury story is “fake news”, designed to protect Hanigan’s and Cheika’s pride?

      • Columnist

        November 22nd 2017 @ 8:28am
        Nicholas Bishop said | November 22nd 2017 @ 8:28am | ! Report

        Tbh I was unaware of the extent of the injury Davo, though I saw his leg being taped up.

        IMO Hanigan is not yet Test-match ready and there are better options available, even within the current touring party. McCalman and Lukhan Tui and two of them.

        • November 22nd 2017 @ 10:30am
          Harry said | November 22nd 2017 @ 10:30am | ! Report

          Tui isn’t fit to play. No argument with taking him on the tour as a learning experience but obviously the injury is worse than feared. They will have to make do for 4,5, 6 and 8 this week with Enever, Simmons, Phillips, Timani, McAlman and McMahon.

          Fair old injury list for these 4 positions … COleman, Arnold, Rodda, Tui, Dempsey, Higginbotham + Carter and Douglas unwanted.

          And in Europe … Fardy, Horwill, Timani senior, Mowem, Dennis, Pyle, Jones, Skelton.

          At 7, Pocock on sabbatical and GIll starring in Europe.

      • Roar Guru

        November 22nd 2017 @ 8:32am
        PeterK said | November 22nd 2017 @ 8:32am | ! Report

        nah, Cheika had Hanigan on the bench previously and only recalled him when injuries hit.

    • November 22nd 2017 @ 6:31am
      mzilikazi said | November 22nd 2017 @ 6:31am | ! Report

      Always interesting to hear what you have to say on these games, Nic. Thank you for a very balanced and truthful assessment.

      Huge problems in WB land, that is for sure. Frustrating thing for me is the quality of players we have, and how poorly our resources are being deployed. Will be interesting to see the comments this week. Hopefully we will all have calmed down a lot more than was the case when Geoff and Brett’s article appeared.

      Ah well, I can always drop back into my ancestry, and bask in the warmth of Scotlands great display v the All Blacks, or the Huguenot descent on my mothers side and rejoice in a Bok win……French gave the Huguenots a bad time, so they don’t get my support. And finally the old Huguenot stronghold of La Rochelle has a pretty fair team currently.

      • Columnist

        November 22nd 2017 @ 6:52am
        Nicholas Bishop said | November 22nd 2017 @ 6:52am | ! Report

        I’d agree that in the current climate – with player drainage to the EPL and Top 14 plus Japan and the flux in the SR situation – resources need to be very carefully husbanded MZ… Ironically that situation is now more dependent on international success than it ever has been, given the issues at the level below (playing and administrative). At a time when the ARU would dearly love to move away from it.

        Yes La Rochelle are great to watch right now, and glad to see they have played in such an uninhibited way in the ECC… 😀

      • Roar Guru

        November 22nd 2017 @ 7:43am
        PeterK said | November 22nd 2017 @ 7:43am | ! Report

        Scotland could have won if not for the incredible amount of cynical infringing by the ab’s, the ref missed Read intentionally knocking the ball forward whilst lying on the ground 1 metre from the tryline.

        • November 22nd 2017 @ 8:02am
          Jerry said | November 22nd 2017 @ 8:02am | ! Report

          Then again, they wouldn’t have been as close if the ref had spotted Huw Jones advancing while in front of the kicker immediately prior to his try…..

          • Roar Guru

            November 22nd 2017 @ 8:15am
            PeterK said | November 22nd 2017 @ 8:15am | ! Report

            sure but no doubt overall AB’s were far more cynical in their play

          • November 22nd 2017 @ 8:19am
            Ozrugbynut said | November 22nd 2017 @ 8:19am | ! Report

            Precisely. Scotland play an equally negative and spoiling game as the ABs (who both are particularly good at it, not saying all sides dont engage in it). One of the key reasons WBs have struggled against them as they force WBs to play and we make mistakes which are capitalised on.

            • Roar Guru

              November 22nd 2017 @ 8:25am
              PeterK said | November 22nd 2017 @ 8:25am | ! Report

              advancing in front of a kicker is hardly indicative of a negative and spoiling game.

              No team comes close to AB’s in frequency or quality of cynical play to prevent tries.

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 8:52am
                rebel said | November 22nd 2017 @ 8:52am | ! Report

                Please provide evidence of this claim

              • Roar Guru

                November 22nd 2017 @ 9:03am
                PeterK said | November 22nd 2017 @ 9:03am | ! Report

                mark reason and others have provided plenty of sufficient evidence

                in fact just go through games whenever ab’s tryline is under threat.

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 9:12am
                rebel said | November 22nd 2017 @ 9:12am | ! Report

                No they haven’t, but if you could provide a link to their detailed analysis of all counties it would be most appreciated.
                Also, how is only watching AB matches going to prove ‘No team comes close to AB’s in frequency or quality of cynical play to prevent tries.’
                I am asking politely that you back up your claim, considering you have rightfully castigated Fionn below for a similar unsubstantiated ‘cheap jibe’. All it can do is flame the unwanted international wars.

              • Roar Guru

                November 22nd 2017 @ 9:25am
                PeterK said | November 22nd 2017 @ 9:25am | ! Report

                fair point, I agree not all countries, it should be restricted to tier 1 countries since not enough is seen of minor countries.

                Mind you it would be hard to imagine countries with less professional resources could come up with such rehearsed , coached and practised cyncial play , but it is possible.

                Many countries and journos over many years have noted the level of cyncial play of the AB’s, but yes agree can only be compared to tier 1 countries.

                My comment re Fionn was about other fans.

                Opinions about teams (or players), how they play is what this site is about. Also my initial comment was in response to someone elses initial one about Scotland’s great display (which it was) and what imo prevented their win.

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 10:11am
                rebel said | November 22nd 2017 @ 10:11am | ! Report

                Look I am not denying that the ABs can be cynical at times. I cringed at Sam Canes effort on Saturday and knew immediately it was a card. However I don’t think that they are ‘clearly’ worse than any other side. Worse maybe, but not clearly.
                For example, one thing I noticed a lot this year was on Folau’s kick returns, he often sized up where his retreating players were, aiming for them to coincide with the defenders meeting at the same time. There ends up being a very fine line between a break and an obstruction. Hooper was the retreating team mate on a few I noticed and he didn’t even attempt to hide the fact he was shepherding throwing his arms out and leaning back into the defender. Add this type of play to the number of cards the wallabies have received this year, especially close to their line, and I would say that they put about as much effort into this side of the game as the ABs.
                As you have noted before, the only way to stamp out this poor aspect of the game is to keep binning players, however I wouldn’t focus on one side over the others.

              • Roar Guru

                November 22nd 2017 @ 10:33am
                PeterK said | November 22nd 2017 @ 10:33am | ! Report

                rebel – very true that there has been a significant growth in cynical play in creating tries.

                The majority used to be in stopping tries.

                Now far more blocking goes on both in ball carrying, and just in normal play the forwards run as grid iron blockers in front of the ball carriers pretending to be viable options but just there to impede the defence (another innovation brought in by AB’s and then copied), taking out players past the ruck or in front of the ruck creating holes (mastered by ab’s and starting to be copied).

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 11:25am
                Marto said | November 22nd 2017 @ 11:25am | ! Report

                Where`s Cynical play to dispute this cynical play ?

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 12:09pm
                Cynical Play said | November 22nd 2017 @ 12:09pm | ! Report

                Of corse it’s Cynical. ABs made it an art form.

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 12:16pm
                ClarkeG said | November 22nd 2017 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

                Mark Reason? and others?

                Gee wizz… case closed then. The prosecution rests.

                It’s even possible Peter that this unsubstantiated angle you throw in the mix often has gone way way beyond being churlish.

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 2:52pm
                richard said | November 22nd 2017 @ 2:52pm | ! Report

                Mark Reaon? Like his father,a serial AB hater,a clickbait merchant of the highest order.

                You are going to have to do better than that.From a personal pov,I would rather the AB’s didn’t do these EOYT’s to britain.Not worth the grief and vitriol thrown at them by the UK press,and their so-called fans.

                But,unfortunately that won’t happen,its all about the moola.

              • Roar Rookie

                November 22nd 2017 @ 3:51pm
                piru said | November 22nd 2017 @ 3:51pm | ! Report

                mark reason and others have provided plenty of sufficient evidence

                hmm, not sure I’d be following Mark Reason down that particular rabbit hole

                he does live there after all

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 11:13pm
                JimmyB said | November 22nd 2017 @ 11:13pm | ! Report

                Gee Richard, bit precious, don’t you think?!

          • November 22nd 2017 @ 8:32am
            Jerry said | November 22nd 2017 @ 8:32am | ! Report

            They were and were punished for most of it by playing 20 minutes short handed. It’s been an issue for them this season that they haven’t been good at keeping sides down when in front.

            But refs miss things and it goes both ways – I don’t think Scotland have much to complain about on that front was my point.

            • Roar Guru

              November 22nd 2017 @ 9:52am
              PeterK said | November 22nd 2017 @ 9:52am | ! Report

              hard to rate advancing in front of the kicker in the same league / category of cynical infringing that prevent tries. His at least was positive infringing, to create a try.

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 10:06am
                Jerry said | November 22nd 2017 @ 10:06am | ! Report

                I wasn’t equating them in terms of cynicism.

                You raised the issue that it was missed by the ref. Well, the ref missed both and only one definitely affected the scoreline. Also, I doubt you’d be as forgiving of ‘positive infringing’ if it was an AB doing it.

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 10:21am
                Jerry said | November 22nd 2017 @ 10:21am | ! Report

                Basically, I’m not denying the AB’s can be cynical but they were pinged for it and punished with cards so, given the Scots got a the odd favourable call themselves, I don’t think they can really have much cause for complaint generally.

              • Roar Guru

                November 22nd 2017 @ 10:28am
                PeterK said | November 22nd 2017 @ 10:28am | ! Report

                fair point re missing that infringement cost points.

                You would need to go through every single infringement missed and judge what impact it would have.

                Read would have been binned for his IMO but not a penalty try so can’t say it would have cost points (other than 3 which they wouldn’t have taken at that time).

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 11:53am
                Jerry said | November 22nd 2017 @ 11:53am | ! Report

                It would have got a card yeah. They actually got a pen regardless as they had the advantage already – probably why Read tried it on.

        • November 22nd 2017 @ 8:05am
          FunBus said | November 22nd 2017 @ 8:05am | ! Report

          I think the biggest reason they couldn’t get over the line was the loss of their tight-head during the game with injury. It allowed the ABs to really dominate the scrum.
          They’re without Nel and Ferguson against the WBs as well which might give you the edge.

          • Columnist

            November 22nd 2017 @ 8:29am
            Nicholas Bishop said | November 22nd 2017 @ 8:29am | ! Report

            Any idea who they’ve got left at TH FB? Cannot think of anyone offhand!

            • November 22nd 2017 @ 11:56am
              FunBus said | November 22nd 2017 @ 11:56am | ! Report

              No idea- which probably tells us all we need to know.

            • November 22nd 2017 @ 1:53pm
              Bakkies said | November 22nd 2017 @ 1:53pm | ! Report

              A shame that Dell and Ryan Grant are looseheads. This seems to be a common theme with Scottish props and having just two pro sides. I remember Glasgow getting in strife running out of props to play in the Heineken Cup and not allowed to bring in replacements.

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 7:00pm
                Cuw said | November 22nd 2017 @ 7:00pm | ! Report

                am sure Exeter Chefs have a Scottish prop – cant recall name or which side he plays tho ….

              • November 23rd 2017 @ 4:24am
                Colin N said | November 23rd 2017 @ 4:24am | ! Report

                Moray Low is the Exeter prop but he’s not played much this season.

              • Columnist

                November 23rd 2017 @ 5:17am
                Nicholas Bishop said | November 23rd 2017 @ 5:17am | ! Report

                Yep Low has had to switch to LH to even get a game – he was fourth on the depth chart behind Williams, Francis, Holmes on the other side…

          • November 22nd 2017 @ 8:39am
            Highlander said | November 22nd 2017 @ 8:39am | ! Report

            Was gutted Nel was injured, easily the most destructive tighthead going round currently and was looking forward to seeing him up against Hames who has quickly gained a reputation as loosehead who is always trying to disrupt.

            That would have been a contest.

            • Columnist

              November 22nd 2017 @ 8:47am
              Nicholas Bishop said | November 22nd 2017 @ 8:47am | ! Report

              With you on that one H’lander. Nel might even have ousted Tadhg Furlong for the Lions Test spot had he been fully fit in the summer.

            • November 22nd 2017 @ 1:29pm
              Ed said | November 22nd 2017 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

              When ABs have first choice front-row back, will Hansen keep the current props bench of Wyatt and Ofa or could Kane and Nepo be pushing for those spots?

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 2:12pm
                Highlander said | November 22nd 2017 @ 2:12pm | ! Report

                Gday Ed
                Interesting isn’t it and only the guru mike cron knows but for mine

                Crockett wont make RWC so we keep Hames, and while Ofa is super improved this year, you have to keep Nepo.
                In their first year really and they haven’t been bested yet, and both disruptive scrummagers too.
                Quite positive.

              • Roar Guru

                November 22nd 2017 @ 3:01pm
                jeznez said | November 22nd 2017 @ 3:01pm | ! Report

                Agree – Hames and Laulala are vastly superior scrummagers and likely to further improve.

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 7:03pm
                Cuw said | November 22nd 2017 @ 7:03pm | ! Report

                hmmmm ….. long way to go before the world cup so dont count on anything.

                if my memory is right Nepo was selected into the NZ team a few years back , only to be injured on the day it was announced in a match ( either super rugger or miter 10 ).

                thee funny thing ; the guy who tackled him was then called into the squad – JTA . such is life !!!

              • November 22nd 2017 @ 9:36pm
                Taylorman said | November 22nd 2017 @ 9:36pm | ! Report

                Yes Ive head Ofa’s really come on under Cron, switching heads even.

              • Roar Guru

                November 23rd 2017 @ 2:39pm
                jeznez said | November 23rd 2017 @ 2:39pm | ! Report

                Who’ll play tight for the Blues, T-man?

                If Ofa switched sides and they’ve lost Faumuina then they’ll need someone coming through.

                Any chance of taking Ta’avao back? 😀

              • Columnist

                November 23rd 2017 @ 5:55pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | November 23rd 2017 @ 5:55pm | ! Report

                Any chance of taking Ta’avao back?

                Nice try Jez!

              • November 23rd 2017 @ 4:45pm
                Cuw said | November 23rd 2017 @ 4:45pm | ! Report

                Alex Hodgman
                Sione Mafileo
                Pauliasi Manu
                Isaac Salmon
                Mike Tamoaieta
                Ofa Tu’ungafasi

              • Roar Guru

                November 23rd 2017 @ 7:17pm
                jeznez said | November 23rd 2017 @ 7:17pm | ! Report

                I guess Manu gets first crack if Ofa switches sides?

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