Why Eddie Jones is winning his duel with Michael Cheika

Nicholas Bishop Columnist

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    June 25, 2016, is a date that may return to haunt Michael Cheika. On that day, Australia were playing the third Test of their series against England in Sydney.

    England had already won the series the previous week in Melbourne, but their Australian coach Eddie Jones was determined that there was going to be no let-up.

    Directly after the game in Melbourne, he emerged from the changing sheds to say, “We are not going to be satisfied unless we win 3-0… The players are already talking about it now.”

    The England players were shot physically after a long domestic season, but somehow they found the mental application to compete for another round of 80 minutes and emerge victorious by 44 points to 40.

    It is a turning point that Jones now credits as the most important in England’s recent rugby history. They already had the series under wraps and it would have been so easy to write off that game and head for a sunny holiday destination the following week, but Jones’ England chose to come out and fight to the death one more time.

    That win, dredging up the last ounces of physical and psychological reserve, has become the grit in England’s pearl under Eddie Jones.

    It has given them the confidence to know that they can find a way to win in the face of the unforeseen and in a wider range of circumstances than before.

    Later that year in the autumn international against Argentina, left winger Elliott Daly was sent from the field in only the 11th minute of play. Towards the end of the first half, England lost another player when prop Dan Cole was shown a yellow card.

    They still found a way to win the match 27-14, and Jones was happy that England had adjusted to the change of situation:

    “We are gradually becoming more tactically adaptable and that is super-important for the World Cup”.

    Wind the clock on to 25 October 2017, and another ex-Randwick contemporary of Eddie Jones is coaching Australia in an end of term tour game against Scotland.

    His players, like Jones’ in Sydney the year before, are tired after a long season – some probably cannot wait to step on to the plane home after doing most of the living through a turbulent year for Australian rugby as a whole.

    At the same time, the game represents a terrific opportunity for Michael Cheika to build into his team the same mental fortitude that England now enjoys as a result of that game in Sydney.

    Scotland have proven to be difficult opponents for the Wallabies ever since the World Cup in 2015, winning the last match between the two countries in June – again on Australia’s home patch in Sydney – by 24 points to 17, so there is something riding on the game.

    In the event, Sekope Kepu is sent off for a reckless cleanout right at the end of the first half, and the Wallabies find themselves in the same situation that England faced against Argentina – the similarity growing even closer when Kurtley Beale becomes the second Wallaby to be sin-binned later in the second half.

    Kurtley Beale

    (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

    However, after drawing level at 17-all with an excellent try at the start of the second period, the Wallabies disintegrate mentally and physically, losing the match 53-24.

    The score in the last 35 minutes of the game is 36 points to 7 to Scotland. At that point, the current international coaching career paths of the two ‘Galloping Greens’ concretely diverge.

    Aside from the issue of mental toughness, it is the lack of Eddie Jones’ other cardinal point – tactical adaptability – that must be of most concern to everyone connected with the Wallaby inner sanctum.

    England understood what needed to be done playing with 14 men for 70 minutes of the match.

    They slowed down the tempo of the game to minimise the aerobic workload on their forwards and reduce it to structure, they accented areas of set-piece dominance like scrum and driving maul, and above all, they defended well short-handed.

    On Saturday, Australia did not achieve any of these objectives or even demonstrate that they understood what they were.

    Instead of slowing the game, the Wallabies seemed to delight in trying take on the Scots in the unstructured areas in which the Scotland attack had already shown itself proficient with even numbers.

    Scotland’s go-ahead score occurred in the 45th minute, and although the finish to the try by Sean Maitland is shown on the highlight reel, it is worth examining the set of circumstances which led up to it.

    Scotland had just knocked on the ball after trying to up the tempo with a quick tapped penalty by their no.9, Ali Price. Australia had previously gone through 20 phases of play and two minutes and 20 seconds of sustained offence to score their try, one man down.

    Time to give the forwards some much-needed R&R, you would have thought. All the Wallabies had to do was accept the scrum, slow the game down and give their forwards time to recover from their efforts.

    Instead, Will Genia tries to launch a counter-attack by feeding the ball out to Reece Hodge immediately. Although Hodge makes a half-break, when he goes to offload the ball he finds that the following situation has developed:

    Only Kurtley Beale is running in support of the break, and seven of the nine players around the ball are wearing blue jerseys. By trying to stay with tempo, the Wallabies have created more problems for themselves than they have opportunities.

    In the second frame, five Australian forwards are struggling to get up to the play, and one of them (Scott Sio) is walking with his hands on his hips. On the highlight reel, no.4 Rob Simmons is labouring almost comically in his bid to raise to gallop and catch Maitland.

    But let’s remember that it was Simmons’ ball-four carries and three cleanouts that were such massive factors in the build-up to Beale’s try on the previous sequence of play.

    This pattern of tactical carelessness was repeated for Scotland’s next try three minutes later.

    Tevita Kuridrani has done all the hard work by robbing Peter Horne on the ground in the first frame, but instead of treasuring possession so hard-won, Samu Kerevi immediately gives it back via a reckless offload to John Barclay.

    On the next play, the Scotland replacement prop Jamie Bhatti is relishing a nice choice – either run over Wallaby hooker Stephen Moore or exploit the 6-3 overlap out to his left.

    In the event, he runs over Moore and Scotland converted the break six phases later, on the run by Johnny Gray at 48:50.

    After prop Taniela Tupou came on to the field in the 54th minute to replace back-rower Ben McCalman, it should have been a signal to tighten down all the nuts and bolts defensively yet further.

    Instead, one minute later the Wallabies conceded probably the worst of the eight tries they shipped by switching off completely before the intention behind a Scotland penalty in the Australian 22 had been revealed.

    No less than fourteen seconds elapse between the penalty being awarded and Scotland’s no.10 choosing to take a ‘quick’ tapped penalty, but the Wallabies still do not have all the bases covered.

    Usually, a defensive team will appoint a ‘mirror’ (a defender ready to track the movement after a tapped penalty) if they suspect a quick tap to be on the opponent’s attacking menu in their preparation.

    But there is no-one ready to react to Finn Russell’s change of option immediately in the first frame, and most of the Wallaby bodies are turned towards the far touchline, away from the play.

    Even though the pass from Russell to Huw Jones hits the ground before it ever reaches him, Jones still has about ten metres of space in which to attack Samu Kerevi one-on-one – a situation Scotland would probably have identified in their preparation for the game.

    Kerevi still finds it difficult to change feet quickly when defending at 13, which is why Tevita Kuridrani still has the starting job at outside centre. Jones skirts around him handily to score the try.

    There were several other simple examples of Australia’s failure to adapt as the game wore on, particularly on defence:

    At this lineout, the Scotland drive has been ‘on’ for a full 15 seconds and Tatafu Polota-Nau and Michael Hooper have still not swapped places in order to connect Hooper with Karmichael Hunt and give him a better shot as a folding defender when Australia mount their defensive rush.

    After Hunt leads the rush forward, Hooper needs to be the first folding defender to take Huw Jones when he breaks inside Beale in the third frame.

    The final ignominy was the three-man miss on John Barclay for Scotland’s seventh try in the 75th minute:

    Three defenders are in contact (Kuridrani, Hunt and Lukhan Tui) and Tui and Kuridrani both have a solid shoulder on the ball-carrier, but somehow he slips through all of them to score.

    The current difference between Eddie Jones’ England and Michael Cheika’s Wallabies is nowhere illustrated more clearly than in their response to the adversity of ‘last match of the tour’ syndrome in prep weeks, and the red and yellow cards received during matches.

    While England used the first as motivation to go the extra mile and mentally tough it out against Australia in Sydney, and the second to develop their tactical adaptability against the Pumas a few months later, the Wallabies collapsed on both counts.

    England and Australia lay second and third in the World Rugby rankings going into last weekend’s round of matches, but after the debacle against the Scots, it may be that England’s superiority in the mental/tactical sides of the game indeed warranted the 30-6 margin of victory in the match between the two countries.

    It should be remembered that probably only three Scotland players who started on Saturday would have made the Wallaby XV purely on talent level.

    Those two qualities of mental toughness and tactical adaptability have to be developed together for the Wallabies to grow as fast as teams like Scotland and Ireland are. Otherwise, they will only fall further behind in the rugby arms race to 2019.

    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 (375)

    • November 29th 2017 @ 4:30am
      Jock Cornet said | November 29th 2017 @ 4:30am | ! Report

      Great article, where will the coaches come from since Randwick has almost disintegrated and Sydney club rugby gets no ARU support. Just think of all the wallabies this club has produced and now we have to rely on the Rebels to produce the players. Qld is a basket case, but Cheika will get us to the semis at the World Cup but unless the ARU change Aust rugby will drop to 8-9th position. Just no cattle, if Phipps, Simmons & Hannigam are the future.

      • Columnist

        November 29th 2017 @ 7:51am
        Nicholas Bishop said | November 29th 2017 @ 7:51am | ! Report

        On the positive side Jock you must be at least half-pleased at the result with that name!!

      • Roar Guru

        November 29th 2017 @ 8:22am
        John R said | November 29th 2017 @ 8:22am | ! Report

        Hanigan plays for Randwick

      • November 29th 2017 @ 9:19am
        wag said | November 29th 2017 @ 9:19am | ! Report

        Jock, getting to the Semis in the 2019 RWC MIGHT not be as easy as it originally appeared.??

        Georgia pushed Wales recently and they are certainly on the improve. How good might they be in 2 years’ time?

        And Fiji pushed Ireland, who thrashed the Boks the previous week. (Fiji were hastily put together, with many players coming from “all over the world”.) With good coaching on their set plays, they could be a real threat by 2019.

        And Wales is “due” for a win against us — hopefully not in 2019!

        I believe that all three nations, Wales, Georgia and Fiji, are in our World Cup Pool ?

        • November 29th 2017 @ 3:40pm
          mz.ilikazi said | November 29th 2017 @ 3:40pm | ! Report

          “And Fiji pushed Ireland, who thrashed the Boks the previous week”

          I am an admirer of Fiji, but that was a very different Ireland team to the one fielded the week before v the Boks.

          However a lot of credit to Fiji. They are improving, and will be stronger when at full strength in 2019 in Japan. Indeed, one would think no team will take them lightly.

          • November 29th 2017 @ 4:20pm
            Cuw said | November 29th 2017 @ 4:20pm | ! Report

            NOPE. the likes of FIJI SAMOA TONGA will never be able to be more competitive , untill they have the ability to have their players at home at least a month before the event and then train and practice together.

            they play all over the world and come from different fitness levels and tactics. that is the difference between them and the first tier teams , who have a lot of time together to train and practice.

            i read somewhere that Eddie Jones has already looked at the places his team is going to be in japan , and with his knowledge of the country he may end up with the best 🙂

            a team like |Samoa may not have the funds to goto world cup – come 2019.

            the suits are just talking. if they really care they shud do some real things to make these teams better.

            i for one believe that with a month of training and practicing with a good coach all 3 eteams can really do a lot more than they have ever done at a world cup.

            Japan have shown this. it can be done . this is not cricket where u can come from Alaska and bowl 10 overs and go back. familiarity , cohesion and fitness is very important in a game like rugger,

      • November 29th 2017 @ 12:53pm
        P2R2 said | November 29th 2017 @ 12:53pm | ! Report

        I can’t agree with your assertion that Choker will get the WBs to the semis….wishful thinking me thinks!

        • November 29th 2017 @ 2:34pm
          Pinetree said | November 29th 2017 @ 2:34pm | ! Report

          P2R2 – If Aus top their pool by beating Wales and Fiji, they will then play Argentina or France in the QF, so no reason why Aus can’t beat them, as Arg and France have had poor form, and do not look like getting better at this stage.

          Aus have a very good record against Wales, so they will be favorites to top their pool.

          If Aus come 2nd in the pool, then they will play England in the QF, in which England have to be firm favorites to win.

          So I ask, why is it wishful thinking for Aus to make the SF? I bet the betting odds when released would disagree with your assertion me thinks.

        • November 29th 2017 @ 4:27pm
          Cuw said | November 29th 2017 @ 4:27pm | ! Report

          dude , Auzzy got the luck of the draw – hands down.

          they have the best pool among the 4

          Australia – Wales – Georgia – Fiji – (americas 2 qualifier)

          when was the last time Wales beat Auzzy?

          when was the last time Georgia beat auzzy?

          when was the last time Fiji beat auzzy?

          we can safely bet that auzzy will top pool D

          winner of pool D plays runner up pool C.

          pool C is : England – France – Argentina – USA – Tonga

          we can again safely bet that England will top pool C leaving France and Argentina the most likely contenders for runnerup place.

          So auzzy can safely be expected to beat the Argies. the only bogey is France – coz u never know if they turn up on the day or not.

          • Roar Guru

            November 29th 2017 @ 8:28pm
            Harry Jones said | November 29th 2017 @ 8:28pm | ! Report

            Cheika has the easiest run to the SF of any top coach

            2019 Pool is 2015 Pool minus England; and QF is ARG or FR.

            SF will be the Big Game for OZ.

            SA or NZ …

            • November 30th 2017 @ 1:54am
              Bakkies said | November 30th 2017 @ 1:54am | ! Report

              That’s provided that SA beat Ireland or Scotland in the QF.

            • November 30th 2017 @ 11:17am
              JP said | November 30th 2017 @ 11:17am | ! Report

              Hopefully Cheika is gone buy 2019.

        • November 29th 2017 @ 9:46pm
          PiratesRugby said | November 29th 2017 @ 9:46pm | ! Report

          The culture and morale of the WBs is deteriorating. Don’t assume that in two years time, the WBs will even be as good as they are now. When Cheika took over, we expected to beat all of the home nations. Now we can only count on beating Wales. England have left us behind. Ireland and now Scotland have our measure. The SFs of the RWC is not a given.
          More importantly, when did we go from expecting to win the RWC to talking about making the SFs?

      • November 29th 2017 @ 1:15pm
        Max Power said | November 29th 2017 @ 1:15pm | ! Report

        Well Townsend played for Warringah not Randwick so other clubs? And Randwicks disintegration is entirely self-inflicted.

      • November 29th 2017 @ 9:54pm
        Rebellion said | November 29th 2017 @ 9:54pm | ! Report

        Queensland produces better players Jock – just compare McMahon, Gill, Pocock, Higginbotham, Genia, Cooper, Folau against NSW’s best in Kepu, TPN, Hanigan, Hooper, Mumm, Phipps & Foley

        Chieka is possibly the worst coach in Wallabies history – good provincial players know Chieka can’t be trusted to give them a fair go against his favourite little Tarts and some have already taken off overseas in the prime of their careers

        Improvement will only start once he’s gone and the buffoons who allowed him to steer the ship into the rocks are removed from the ARU

        • November 30th 2017 @ 4:19am
          Jock Cornet said | November 30th 2017 @ 4:19am | ! Report

          Yeah qld are just sensational, they can’t beat an egg. Folau, Hooper, TPN are the better. Qld use to produce players but their domestic structures have disintegrated.

          • November 30th 2017 @ 9:32am
            Goatee said | November 30th 2017 @ 9:32am | ! Report

            ‘Chieka… may be brought down by a lack of tactical dexterity and selection myopia.’

            I’ve just realised Ken (some 24 hours after I posted it – go figure!!) that this quote, which I attributed to Nick, is actually yours. Many apologies.

            My only mitigation was that it had been a long day, here in Pomland, when I began to type…

    • November 29th 2017 @ 5:05am
      Ken Catchpole's Other Leg said | November 29th 2017 @ 5:05am | ! Report

      Wow. Thanks Nicholas.
      Cheika is certainly a motivator. He has been able to get his team up for a challenge, one game, or one tournament, at a time. Eg. Wales, England in the Rwc15.
      But I have said before that his brand of souffle is not one capable of ‘rising twice’. There does not seem to be a system or tactical process to Cheika’s ‘rising to the occasion’.
      And whilst he has loyalty to certain players there are others that he neglects. There is no discernible ‘competition for spots’ in certain positions. The drama in the booth over Cooper’s soft contact on Izzy in the Baa Baas game was indeed a strange attitude towards a former (and still potenial) squad member.
      I like Cheika. I like most of what he does. But he may be brought down by a lack of tactical dexterity and selection myopia.
      Thanks once again Nicholas.

      • Columnist

        November 29th 2017 @ 7:52am
        Nicholas Bishop said | November 29th 2017 @ 7:52am | ! Report

        I like Cheika. I like most of what he does. But he may be brought down by a lack of tactical dexterity and selection myopia.

        My sentiments to a tee Ken – thanks for the summary!

        • November 29th 2017 @ 10:08am
          Goatee said | November 29th 2017 @ 10:08am | ! Report

          Nick – Another well written piece and an enjoyable read. Thank you.

          It was evident that Scotland were building nicely while under Cotter. Yet, in spite of their win in Sydney during the summer (and the WB’s win against the AB’s in the RC) I always felt that the Scots would present the WB’s with a more formidable challenge at Murrayfield. However, on the basis of their performances this autumn, it would appear that Townsend has not only added some gloss but has taken them to another level. Roll on the Calcutta Cup! On this showing, England will have to be on top their game to beat them… With Ireland also, in the ascendancy, we can look forward to a fantastic 6N.

          You say, ‘The two qualities of mental toughness and tactical adaptability have to be developed together for the Wallabies to grow as fast as teams like Scotland and Ireland are.’ And also, ‘Cheika… may be brought down by a lack of tactical dexterity and selection myopia.

          I agree with both statements and herein lies the crux of the matter for both the WB’s and the ARU, as they contemplate the run-in to RWC ’19.

          I too, believe, that more often than not, the attitude and demeanour of the coach will be reflected in the performances of their team on the field. So, while mental toughness CAN be developed – a degree of emotional intelligence and self-awareness are also indispensable for this process to occur. At the moment, IMO, there is little evidence to suggest that Cheika possesses the necessary degree of either EI, or self-awareness for this to take place. Currently, his ‘demeanour’ while watching his team play, particularly when things are not going well (in tandem, with several of his post-match interviews afterward) might lead one to conclude that he himself, is not yet ‘mentally tough’ enough.

          This, IMO, is having a trickle-down effect on his players.

          With regard to tactical adaptability, Eddie Jones (at this moment) is streets ahead of Cheika, and their last five encounters have confirmed this. EJ is also an astute selector of players. Could the same accusation be levelled at MC? Again, Cheika’s capacity to adapt in both these areas, will be dependent upon his own level of self-awareness and possibly humility too. Firstly, he may need to be persuaded that there is a problem – and that his side won’t be a great one until they can play in more than one way, in all conditions. Mick Byrne is a quality coach and can assist in this regard. With regards to team selection, and as you have already suggested Nick, his team might be better served by bringing someone in from the outside, to assist in this area.

          The clock is ticking for the WB’s and the ARU. If MC begins to make the necessary adjustments now, they will be a genuine contender at RWC’19. If he doesn’t (or is not prompted to do so) then they are likely to underachieve.

          • November 29th 2017 @ 12:54pm
            P2R2 said | November 29th 2017 @ 12:54pm | ! Report

            …and the WB’s win against the AB’s in the RC) …the win in Brisbane was NOT an RC game…it was BC3…NZ had already won the RC 6-0

            • November 30th 2017 @ 2:07am
              Goatee said | November 30th 2017 @ 2:07am | ! Report

              @P2R2 – Yes… my mistake. Sorry!!

          • Columnist

            November 29th 2017 @ 6:30pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | November 29th 2017 @ 6:30pm | ! Report

            You also have to remember that Eddie Jones has a great deal more international experience than Michael Cheika too… He’s been through the fires from 2001-2006 so knows some of the pitfalls, whereas MC is learning as he goes… Perhaps the biggest danger is “I am right” as EJ found out.

            So who can MC find to give him that invaluable outside perspective? Who can play the Grant Fox role for him?

            • November 29th 2017 @ 9:10pm
              Fin said | November 29th 2017 @ 9:10pm | ! Report

              Eddie Jones could Nick, but he’s coaching England.
              Eddie may end up back here helping out Steve Larkham if Larkham is the next wallabies coach.

            • November 30th 2017 @ 2:31am
              Goatee said | November 30th 2017 @ 2:31am | ! Report

              NB – ‘You also have to remember that Eddie Jones has a great deal more international experience than Michael Cheika.’

              Agreed, hence my reference to EJ being streets ahead ‘at this moment.’

              ‘Who can MC find to give him that invaluable outside perspective?’

              I would approach Rod MacQ and Michael Lynagh. If I could get both on board, then great.

              • Columnist

                November 30th 2017 @ 3:25am
                Nicholas Bishop said | November 30th 2017 @ 3:25am | ! Report

                Reasonable choices both there G.

            • November 30th 2017 @ 4:41pm
              Old One Eye said | November 30th 2017 @ 4:41pm | ! Report

              Maybe Cheika needs to follow the examples of Bob Dwyer and Eddie Jones. Both relatively unsuccessful as international coaches first time around. Both great successes after some time away from a national team.

        • Roar Guru

          November 29th 2017 @ 10:30am
          PeterK said | November 29th 2017 @ 10:30am | ! Report

          NB – This is one of the dumbest wallaby sides ever. They lack all rugby nous.

          It is not only cheika IMO. Previous sides players would have had the smarts to slow the game down and change tactics as required without an intervention by the coach.

          • November 29th 2017 @ 11:38am
            ethan said | November 29th 2017 @ 11:38am | ! Report

            It feels like they’ve been trained to play high octane rugby no matter what the situation, whether its raining, against any defensive system… As you say, the lack of variety and game smarts is clearly lacking, but I think much of it is the coaching and selections.

            In picking a flyhalf who can’t kick Cheika has backed himself into a corner to play only one way. But I feel he would play that way anyway. It’s the Randwick way.

            After a stint in Europe Beale showed he could learn some tactical nous in a relatively short space of time, but his form noticeably dipped the longer the season went. The players may not be Einsteins, but they can certainly be coached to use their heads a bit more.

            • Columnist

              November 29th 2017 @ 6:35pm
              Nicholas Bishop said | November 29th 2017 @ 6:35pm | ! Report

              Beale and Hunt look like two guys who can think their way through games Ethan, but by the end of Saturday both looked quite overwhelmed by the momentum of events.

              • November 29th 2017 @ 10:41pm
                ethan said | November 29th 2017 @ 10:41pm | ! Report

                Not sure whether Hunt is a thinker or a madman at times, but I’ve got plenty of time for him. Clearly we were a thinker short on the weekend!

          • November 29th 2017 @ 12:35pm
            Cliff (Bishkek) said | November 29th 2017 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

            PK, the lack of Rugby nous in the Wallabies, and SR as well, within Australia, is something that has been happening for sometime. For some reason we have Captains and senior players who cannot think without being told “how to play the game”. This is a result in my honest opinion of the professional era.

            Remember Nick Farr Jones, Lynagh, Ella, Eales – all could think and replace tactics to suit a situation and although a man who did not go on to Rugby greatness but NRL greatness, Wally Lewis the greatest reader of a game there ever was – my opinion.

            And this raises a question, why is it that NRL can still produce the great thinking Rugby League players; Cameron Smith, Cronk, Slater, Lockyer. Rugby Union in Australia does not have these players.

            The WB Captain – Hooper; he does not have smarts at all – a one dimensional player and no thinking capabilities. It has been a very long time since I have seen a Wallaby Captain take the team under the goal posts after an opposition try and rev the bee-jeesas out of the players. Or take them and explain what they intend to do.

            Australian Rugby, Wallaby Rugby was always played “SMART”. We no longer have that.

            • Roar Guru

              November 29th 2017 @ 1:14pm
              PeterK said | November 29th 2017 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

              Don’t agree that it is a professional era thing at all.

              Larkham, Gregan, Cooper all have very good rugby nous.

              Stirzaker from the new guys has.

              • November 29th 2017 @ 1:43pm
                Cliff (Bishkek) said | November 29th 2017 @ 1:43pm | ! Report

                PK – with all due respect – Larkham and Gregan are the old school. Cooper had Rugby Nous as a No. 10 and could read a game but he could not or was unable to change tactics from a Team perspective. Larkham and Gregan were not great at this. Even Ella was not the greatest at it.

                But NFJ, Lynagh and Eales were masters at it. We do not have the Captain or leadership qualities.

                Place that against people like Fitzpatrick, McCaw.

                When is the last time you have seen a Wallaby Captain bring his team together and see a very serious and heated blast and explanation of what is going to happen – and then seen it happen – win or lose!!

                That is what I am talking about – Nous and the Leadership to pull it off!!

              • Roar Guru

                November 29th 2017 @ 4:48pm
                jeznez said | November 29th 2017 @ 4:48pm | ! Report

                Cliff – how often has Cooper captained his team?

                I thought his leadership of the Reds against the BIL was exceptional.

                Agree we are lacking in this department but there is one player we are ignoring who looks stronger in this space than any other candidate out there today.

              • Roar Rookie

                November 29th 2017 @ 9:20pm
                Don said | November 29th 2017 @ 9:20pm | ! Report

                Boy, thanks for reminding me of that Reds effort. It was a great game against the BILs Jez.
                With the locks and other key players missing, if only QLD had been able to secure their own pill in the lineouts it really looked like it could go the other way.

                I am of the belief that QCs weaknesses can be offset with a quality fullback and 12. QLD had Lance, Mikey Harris and Ben Tapuai around that 2011 season where Cooper would drop back to fullback in defence and Harris or Lance would come into 10.
                It wasn’t just to cover a fragility in QCs defence. It was to launch counter attack and kick for territory from fullback with your best attacking player…

                Unfortunately I think our best 10/12 combination before Cheika took over was Lealiifano and Toomua but different circumstances means we are unlikely to see that again.
                A Cooper / Toomua 10/12 would still be better than anything available today I think.

                People forget what a loss Matt Toomua was.

              • Roar Guru

                November 30th 2017 @ 3:26pm
                jeznez said | November 30th 2017 @ 3:26pm | ! Report

                Don – they played one Northern tour together and went very well.

                With Izzy holding a lock on fullback and Koroibete developing exceptionally on one wing. Would probably pit Beale in a head to head with Hodge for the hybrid winger role.

                One to start the other on the bench.

                Then TK vs Kerevi in a shoot out for 13 would put us in a great position.

                Agree he has been a massive loss.

            • Columnist

              November 29th 2017 @ 6:37pm
              Nicholas Bishop said | November 29th 2017 @ 6:37pm | ! Report

              Australian Rugby, Wallaby Rugby was always played “SMART”. We no longer have that.

              If one word could sum up Rod Macqueen’s sides, it would be ‘Smart’ Cliff. Look at the plays the Brumbies used to run off David Knox!

            • November 29th 2017 @ 9:58pm
              mz.ilikazi said | November 29th 2017 @ 9:58pm | ! Report

              You make interesting points, Cliff. It is interesting to compare NRL players currently at the top, with those we have in Union. Cameron Smith, Cronk, Slater, Lockyer…….these are all great playmakers, some are great leaders too. Actually I would rate Jonathan Thurstan as arguably the best back playing in either code currently.

              I wonder if these things are not to a great degree cyclical. That Rugby league is currently in a cycle of great players coming along at the same time, whereas in Union in Australia there is a dearth of such players.

              The passing skill level in League is also currently way above that in Union, with often as low as a couple of handling errors in the high pressure cauldron of State of Origin.

              • Roar Guru

                November 30th 2017 @ 9:55am
                PeterK said | November 30th 2017 @ 9:55am | ! Report

                Can’t compare.

                In rugby lite the players are under no pressure to pass.

                They can always take the easy option of taking a tackle and then having a play the ball.

                Also the playmakers have it very easy with the defence back 10 metres giving them a lot of time to decide what to do, they have time and space every play.

                The league guys would be rushed for time and space in rugby and wouldn’t look flash at all, in fact most would crumble.

              • November 30th 2017 @ 1:29pm
                JP said | November 30th 2017 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

                mz.ilikazi You are right, PeterK is WRONG.

                Bernard Foley and Phipps wouldn’t last 5 minutes in the NRL..Meanwhile Berrick Barnes was average in League but waltzed into the Reds Waratahs and Wallabies.

              • November 30th 2017 @ 6:31pm
                soapit said | November 30th 2017 @ 6:31pm | ! Report

                evidence points almost exclusively to the opposite peter.

          • Roar Guru

            November 29th 2017 @ 12:47pm
            Hoy said | November 29th 2017 @ 12:47pm | ! Report

            Because the team has publicly said they focus on what they can do, and not the opposition… so then they aren’t prepared for what the opposition can do. They have lent no thought to what type of game the opposition may bring… what options are available to them to exploit, or target, or try to cover.

            They are training dumb, playing dumb. Poor coaching, poor leadership.

            • Columnist

              November 29th 2017 @ 6:40pm
              Nicholas Bishop said | November 29th 2017 @ 6:40pm | ! Report

              I do feel this is an area of relative weakness Hoy – the WBs seemed to pretty much ignore the way Scotland wanted to play the game on Saturday and not factor it in to their thinking.

          • November 29th 2017 @ 2:58pm
            Damo said | November 29th 2017 @ 2:58pm | ! Report

            PK, I posted on this site yesterday that I have reached the conclusion that Cheika knows this is not a smart team and he has built this high speed, blunt instrument formulaic game plan with that shortcoming in mind. We watched the frenzied rubbish the wallabies dished up in June and decided it was a team blowing out cobwebs, but in reality it was probably a dress rehearsal of what was to come. Helps us understand what the focus on fitness has been about and why a rugby ad libber like Cooper simply isn’t in the mix.
            Fact is, the approach can work and has worked. However it relies on a lot of 50/50 stuff which just has to come off. It also is so reliant of accurate skills execution and discipline. Nicholas has identified a number of occasions in the Scotland game where the quick response stuff didn’t work and handed the ball and the momentum back to the opposition. Some intelligent composure was what was really required. The good teams have got us worked out. It all seems to be light years away from Dean’s “play what’s in front of you” philosophy and the “smart” rugby brand that the wallabies carried for so long.
            We could probably all be talking through our hat and MC has it all under control, but in the end the scoreboard doesn’t lie.

          • Columnist

            November 29th 2017 @ 6:33pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | November 29th 2017 @ 6:33pm | ! Report

            For me as a NH observer this is perhaps the biggest shock Peter. When I was involved in the early-mid 2000s especially, the WB’s always impressed me as a very clever, calculated outfit. Nothing they did was ‘by chance’ or without care and attention. Now there does appear to be a relish for going gung-ho whatever the circumstances.

        • November 29th 2017 @ 6:19pm
          Redsfan1 said | November 29th 2017 @ 6:19pm | ! Report

          Yep spot on. I like Cheika’s passion but he isn’t showing that he is very tactically astue. This whole running rugby at all costs “Aussie way” is just plain dumb. It’s telling other teams how to best you.

        • Roar Guru

          November 29th 2017 @ 7:08pm
          Fox said | November 29th 2017 @ 7:08pm | ! Report

          Well you cannot like most of what he does if his lack of tactical dexterity and selections is the issue as that is a large part – a very large part – of what wins and loses matches so I find that a bit of an oxymoron to say the least.

          And his off field ref blaming and other infamous over emotional nonsense?

      • November 30th 2017 @ 9:28am
        Goatee said | November 30th 2017 @ 9:28am | ! Report

    • November 29th 2017 @ 5:07am
      John said | November 29th 2017 @ 5:07am | ! Report

      Hi Nick,

      Thanks again! I sit in my office in Connecticut every Tuesday and look forward to reading your article as I eat my lunch. A couple of things.

      If New Zealand and England are clearly ahead of the Wallabies, and Wales, France and South Africa are in disarray (or cursed – you can decide), surely your last paragraph highlights the main concern. Ireland and Scotland are building nicely whereas the Wallabies are – what exactly? Stagnant heading into the third year of a rebuild? Two losses in a row to Scotland suggests the Wallabies should be fourth or fifth.

      After last weekend I read a lot suggesting this was a defeat waiting to happen – last game of the year, end of a long season, squad beset by injury, etc. Surely there were as many factors available to lift them – avenging the Sydney loss, making amends for the English defeat, beating a team missing (from what I read) 8 front-line players. Surely they would have been “up” for this match. Yet no so much the loss itself but the manner of it is what stunned me.

      Many have made a big deal of the play of Finn Russell but wasn’t he the fourth string Lion fly-half behind Sexton, Biggar and Farrell? From memory wasn’t he also only brought in after the Sydney Test as cover? Makes one wonder how we could have been so dazzled by a fourth stringer, doesn’t it?

      The bit that really makes me wonder – what can we take from losing to a side by a record margin and a series of front line players absent when our own coach in now in his third year of rebuilding. Townsend seems to have done such a better job of preparing for this match its scary (that’s my rant).

      • November 29th 2017 @ 6:24am
        mz.ilikazi said | November 29th 2017 @ 6:24am | ! Report

        “Many have made a big deal of the play of Finn Russell but wasn’t he the fourth string Lion fly-half behind Sexton, Biggar and Farrell?

        Good you have raised this one, John. There was outrage in Scotland , and I would think more widely in the UK and Ireland, when after a very good season, so few Scots were picked for the Lions. Finn Russell was clearly a player who could/should have been with the Lions in NZ. He is a top play maker, and highly skilled all round as a player.

        Finn would in my book be behind Sexton, but would challenge Biggar, and as a playmaker, IMO, is well ahead of Farrell. However I would concede that Farrell as a kicker is very important, and I would judge is mentally very tough.

        And i have no doubt Fionn will also have a lot to say on this one.

        • Columnist

          November 29th 2017 @ 6:30am
          Nicholas Bishop said | November 29th 2017 @ 6:30am | ! Report

          Subsequent events have surely proven that the only reason there were so many Welshmen on the Lions tour, and so few Scots, was WG’s familiarity with his own players.

          I can think of another half dozen Scots who would easily have warranted a place on that tour!

          • November 29th 2017 @ 3:36pm
            Perthstayer said | November 29th 2017 @ 3:36pm | ! Report

            Nick – Great article

            I said this elsewhere in the comments but interested in your thoughts.

            Cheika was unable to motivate the team at half time. This is supposedly his core strength.

            Lack of passion contributed to several of the failings you outline. Stops you putting your hands on your hips in open play (swinging your arms when walking makes you go faster!). It keeps you watching the opposition constantly (quick penalty failure). It makes you play 100% for 80 minutes.

            • Columnist

              November 29th 2017 @ 6:41pm
              Nicholas Bishop said | November 29th 2017 @ 6:41pm | ! Report

              well they came out and scored that very good try at the beginning of second half PS, but after that it was pretty much one-way traffic.

              • November 29th 2017 @ 6:48pm
                Perthstayer said | November 29th 2017 @ 6:48pm | ! Report

                why I added 100% for 80 minutes 🙂

          • Roar Guru

            November 29th 2017 @ 7:19pm
            Fox said | November 29th 2017 @ 7:19pm | ! Report

            Easily and some – they are 6th in the rankings now.

            I thought Cheika’s and the Wallaby flaws were horribly exposed by Scotland – If he loses 3-0 to Ireland nest June the writing must be on wall for Cheika and the Bledisloe has two game in NZ next year.

            Australia are back to 4 and Ireland 3 in the rankings , but in the last 7 matches since 2009 Scotland a have won 4 and the Wallabies 3 and one of those was the infamous WC quarter so it is bit hard to argue that the Wallabies are better than Scotland right now. The rankings might say that – the results sure as hell don’t

            I tell you Nick, by the time the WC comes around Ioane is going to be force to be reckoned with. Perhaps even Lomuesk in terms of his possible impact at least, and no I do not say that lightly. Not many would argue against him being the most dangerous attacking player in world rugby right now with Stuart Hogg a possible close second IMO.

            Scotland could even top their group in the WC if they keep developing. Tough ask, but not beyond possibility. England is set to meet NZ in a semi which I doubt England really wanted despite what they might say publicly.

            The AB’s have a huge – and I mean huge – following in Japan – I think it is their second highest merchandising region from memory so they will have plenty of support in the WC as well which should not be underestimated. Hey just sayin’ 🙂

        • November 29th 2017 @ 7:14am
          Neil Back said | November 29th 2017 @ 7:14am | ! Report

          Russell would currently rank behind Ford as an attacking 10, and in the unlucky stakes, Ford was one of a number of Englishmen like Launchbury, and a few Scots as you mention, who deserved on merit to be on that tour. I’m interested to see how Russell develops though – he looks an exciting prospect.

          • Columnist

            November 29th 2017 @ 7:23am
            Nicholas Bishop said | November 29th 2017 @ 7:23am | ! Report

            I think Russell has a lot going for him Neil – though agree he’s not more talented than Ford.

            • Roar Guru

              November 29th 2017 @ 5:47pm
              Harry Jones said | November 29th 2017 @ 5:47pm | ! Report

              But Russell can see more than Ford bc he’s taller.

              • Columnist

                November 29th 2017 @ 6:42pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | November 29th 2017 @ 6:42pm | ! Report

                Yeah but Ford can duck under all the big brutes – he has to!

              • Roar Guru

                November 29th 2017 @ 8:33pm
                Harry Jones said | November 29th 2017 @ 8:33pm | ! Report

                He fords the stream of loose forwards …

              • Columnist

                November 29th 2017 @ 9:01pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | November 29th 2017 @ 9:01pm | ! Report

                Has been known to pontoon rivers on a good day H.

              • November 29th 2017 @ 6:51pm
                Perthstayer said | November 29th 2017 @ 6:51pm | ! Report

                I’d jack Russell.


      • Columnist

        November 29th 2017 @ 6:27am
        Nicholas Bishop said | November 29th 2017 @ 6:27am | ! Report

        Thanks for the contribution John.

        Yes I’d say the Wallabies are probably fourth behind NZ, England and Ireland – though Scotland are catching them fast!

        Finn Russell is probably one of the two best attacking 10’s in the UK – the other being George Ford. The way Saturday’s match evolved suited him perfectly (as does Gregor Townsend’s coaching)…

        But I think you’re right to be concerned about Australia’s prep for this game – and there isn’t a lot of evidence that they can adapt their game to diff opponents or conditions as yet.

        • Roar Guru

          November 29th 2017 @ 10:32am
          PeterK said | November 29th 2017 @ 10:32am | ! Report

          IMO Scotland are ahead of the wallabies whilst Cheika is coach.

          Out of the top 4 nations 3 are NH.

        • Roar Guru

          November 29th 2017 @ 10:34am
          PeterK said | November 29th 2017 @ 10:34am | ! Report

          I have noted for a long time cheika does not seem to do opposition analysis.

          He does not vary selection or tactics based on weather or known , observed or expected opposition tactics.
          This makes the wallabies very predictable and very very easy to coach against and come up with the right tactics against them.

          • Roar Guru

            November 29th 2017 @ 3:18pm
            The Neutral View From Sweden said | November 29th 2017 @ 3:18pm | ! Report

            I agree with you PeterK, the Wallabies under Chieka seems to have only one gameplan, without any regards whom they are facing.

            As good as Scotland was after a rewatch I think it is pretty obvious that Scotland had a very potent plan how to play against the WB.

      • November 29th 2017 @ 6:38am
        Fionn said | November 29th 2017 @ 6:38am | ! Report

        Russell and Sexton are the two best 10s in the northern hemisphere. Him not being on the tour was Gatland exercising his Wales bias.

        • Columnist

          November 29th 2017 @ 6:46am
          Nicholas Bishop said | November 29th 2017 @ 6:46am | ! Report

          I think it’s an exaggeration to say that Russell is a more complete 10 than Owen Farrell, or a better attacking 10 than George Ford. But assuming Farrell was taken as a 12, a trio of Sexton, Ford and Russell at 10 would have made a lot of sense.

          • November 29th 2017 @ 7:08am
            Cynical Play said | November 29th 2017 @ 7:08am | ! Report

            Fionn prone to exaggeration?… Never.

            • November 29th 2017 @ 7:24am
              Fionn said | November 29th 2017 @ 7:24am | ! Report

              Nick, Jake White only took the Brumbies job as he wanted the Wallabies gig, and as a result he actually understands the Australian system.

              The ARU have tried going with the local boys, and Cheika’s results have been the worst since at least the 1980s. I think results have gotten so dire that the ARU would indeed consider coaches they previously wouldn’t. It cannot get any worse than what we’ve seen under Cheika.

              Cheika’s Wallabies must surely be seen as an international embarrassment – a 45% win ratio since the RWC.

              • November 29th 2017 @ 8:03am
                riddler said | November 29th 2017 @ 8:03am | ! Report

                i think russell is great.. but he unfortunately had two ordinary games in the last 6 nations..

                and that is why he and ford both didn’t go..

                personally would say farrell is slightly ahead of sexton.. but both are superb.. (only negative being farrell’s petulant attitude that shows its head far too frequently)

              • November 29th 2017 @ 8:15am
                Neil Back said | November 29th 2017 @ 8:15am | ! Report

                Really Riddler? Can you point to these numerous occasions re Farrell?

              • Columnist

                November 29th 2017 @ 9:07am
                Nicholas Bishop said | November 29th 2017 @ 9:07am | ! Report

                White’s game-plan would not suit the Wallabies need to entertain in the Australian sports market Fionn.

              • Roar Guru

                November 29th 2017 @ 9:48am
                Wal said | November 29th 2017 @ 9:48am | ! Report

                I’m not so sure Nick, Aussies will back a winner first and foremost. And generally don’t care too much how it’s achieved.
                Bradbury is a perfect example.
                It is amazing how many episodes of poor behaviour or performances are forgotten so quickly when a team/individual becomes winners.

              • Roar Guru

                November 29th 2017 @ 4:59pm
                jeznez said | November 29th 2017 @ 4:59pm | ! Report

                Agree Nick.

                Wal, Bradbury is a pretty different kettle of fish – celebrating complete good fortune because a guy won who was completely outclassed by his opponents.

                Is different from a team playing minimalist mistake free, percentage rugby. From memory Brumbies crowds dropped during White’s tenure. Succesful results wasn’t bringing back the crowds with that style of play.

              • November 29th 2017 @ 6:34pm
                DavSA said | November 29th 2017 @ 6:34pm | ! Report

                Hi Fionn , Jake White has 3 major strengths ..

                1. He is a great selector.
                2. He is a very good player manager.
                3. He believes only in winning.

                But I seriously do not see Cheika under threat . …Yet.

            • November 29th 2017 @ 7:26am
              Fionn said | November 29th 2017 @ 7:26am | ! Report

              Funny, CP, that person who you try to claim is right about everything and substantiate your nonsensical claims (these being most of your claims), Paul Cully, seems to think he might be the best 10 in the world. I won’t be waiting for your reply, CP, as it is unlikely to be worthwhile reading or of any value.


              Nick, from what I’ve seen he is far, far better in attack than Farrell or Ford. Farrell seems more like a Toomua-style 12 capable of distribution, as opposed to a playmaking 10.

              • Columnist

                November 29th 2017 @ 7:27am
                Nicholas Bishop said | November 29th 2017 @ 7:27am | ! Report

                Ford is a superbly-intuitive attacking 10 Fionn, and well worth a Lions tour!

              • November 29th 2017 @ 7:34am
                Fionn said | November 29th 2017 @ 7:34am | ! Report

                I don’t disagree, Nick, they should both have been in the Lions (with Farrell a cenre) and Ford would walk into the Wallabies, for sure.

                But from what I’ve seen of both Glasgow and Scotland Russell is the guy that I’d want if I could make either Russell or Ford a Wallaby.

                Whenever we’ve played England Ford has threatened less individually than Russell has when we’ve played Scotland.

              • November 29th 2017 @ 8:07am
                Cynical Play said | November 29th 2017 @ 8:07am | ! Report

                You again place words in my mouth that were never said. I like Paul Cullys analysis but don’t always share his view. I agree with that article though. Maybe stop verballing other commentators who have a different, but no less valid, opinion to yours, which we’ve heard ad nauseum.

              • Roar Guru

                November 29th 2017 @ 8:18am
                Fionn said | November 29th 2017 @ 8:18am | ! Report

                Not putting words in your mouth. A few weeks ago you tried to claim, essentially, that his words were gospel and that I was stupid for even thinking that he was wrong on Foley being world class (incidentally, you never did answer – a few weeks ago you said it was a ‘strange comment’ when I said that Russell was better than Foley, still feel that way, bud?).

                And yet because I think that Russell is one of the top 10s in the NH I am exaggerating, even though Cully thinks he might be one of the best in the world? Incredible logic, CP. Right up there with: ‘the Waratahs are the best team in the Australian conference, and getting better’.

              • November 29th 2017 @ 8:25am
                AUssie Joe said | November 29th 2017 @ 8:25am | ! Report

                Geez how old are you Fionn… childish response

              • November 29th 2017 @ 8:38am
                Fionn said | November 29th 2017 @ 8:38am | ! Report

                Not really, just throwing Cynical Play’s own words back at him/her.

                If Cynical Play wants to say that I’m an idiot for daring to disagree with Cully on one point re. how good a fly-half is, then it is pretty difficult to then argue that I’m exaggerating by rating Russell as one of the top two fly-halfs in the NH when Cully goes further than I do and says he is perhaps the best in the world. Or that would indicate CP thinks that Cully is exaggerating also.

              • November 29th 2017 @ 9:04am
                Cynical Play said | November 29th 2017 @ 9:04am | ! Report

                Wow Fionn. You need to get a grip. I make one comment weeks ago in which I referred to Foley as “world class”. I argued that he was one of the best in the that position at the time (I was thinking probably top 6 or 7). It was an opinion (shared by some notable analysts), my opinion, and I recognised his form is periodically patchy. You have, for reasons I don’t understand, relentlessly thrown it back as some kind of personal attack on your love for Finn Russell. I like Finn Russel. Good 10 no doubt.

                Re Cully, I think I referred to Paul Cully once in a post, yet you seem obsessed that I did. And have grossly exaggerated my comment ever since.

                And for the 4th time in as many weeks you quote a single comment I made about the Tahs 6 months ago, again out of context, for some purpose not clear to me.

                We all get that you have strong views. We all get that you need to write dozens of posts to make sure your views are heard. I’m all for robust discussion, but you’re need to dominate the argument every day to the point where you have previous called me a liar, and continue to misrepresent my analysis and opinion, I think, goes against the spirit of this forum.

              • November 29th 2017 @ 9:17am
                Fionn said | November 29th 2017 @ 9:17am | ! Report

                Actually, I asked you to clarify what you meant by ‘world class’ and you refused to do so.

                And no, at the time you clearly said it was a ‘strange comment’ to say that Russell was better. And no, you didn’t at the time recognise his form was patchy, you were pretty unambiguous in saying that he was great.

                And, no, you can go back and look but you essentially accused me of being ridiculous to even think that I could argue against Cully. I think it is a little hypocritical to then accuse me of exaggerating how good Russell is when I am understating how good he is compared to Cully.

                And, no, I didn’t call you a liar. When you accused me of calling you a liar I clarified at the time that I was instead asking you whether you were mistaken on a fact or being deliberately misleading.

                The reason I quoted it in this instance was to point out that those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. To accuse me of exaggerating after claiming about halfway through the SR season that the Waratahs were clearly the best Australian team.

                Just like your out of place use of hyperbole the other day was derailing—honestly, comparing someone claiming that Cheika is ultimately responsible for the Wallabies’ discipline with the idea that Cheika is responsible for climate change, were you serious?

              • November 29th 2017 @ 5:05pm
                Rodger said | November 29th 2017 @ 5:05pm | ! Report

                Look maybe you guys should have his argument offline? I’m sure I speak for many people in here but you’re both being bloody immature and I don’t come into this site to listen to childish petulant bickering.

            • November 29th 2017 @ 11:37am
              Marto said | November 29th 2017 @ 11:37am | ! Report

              Hey Boys, have a read at the history. Cynical is playing checkers again, while the rest of us play chess.

        • November 29th 2017 @ 10:10am
          ClarkeG said | November 29th 2017 @ 10:10am | ! Report

          Maybe and perhaps concern over the Scots melt down at Twickenham.

      • November 29th 2017 @ 7:13am
        Ruckin' Oaf said | November 29th 2017 @ 7:13am | ! Report

        “Stagnant heading into the third year of a rebuild? ”

        Funny I can recall that 2016 was going to be the year that Australian rugby kicked on after their incredibly successful RWC campaign.

        Now 2018 will still be part of the “rebuilding” phase ………………

        • November 29th 2017 @ 7:59am
          Ed said | November 29th 2017 @ 7:59am | ! Report

          There were a few article here in Oz at the beginning of the 2016 season that were upbeat about our chances in winning the Bledisloe Cup as the All Blacks had lost Richie, Dan, Ma’a, Conrad and Keven…

        • Roar Rookie

          November 29th 2017 @ 12:17pm
          piru said | November 29th 2017 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

          Only the third year?

          My estimates place it at at least 15

          • Roar Guru

            November 29th 2017 @ 5:04pm
            jeznez said | November 29th 2017 @ 5:04pm | ! Report

            There is still time – the Tahs re-built for about 18 years before they finally cracked Super Rugby.

            The Tahs should be good again around 2033 based on past performance.

        • November 30th 2017 @ 12:56pm
          Over here said | November 30th 2017 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

          Thank you for raising this point. I “hate” Chieka passionately now, Not for any personal or logical reasons. Purely because he was going to be the messiah after rwc 2015 and it still doesn’t look like happening any time soon. Eddie, please come back soon, I have forgiven you

    • November 29th 2017 @ 5:29am
      Dan in Devon said | November 29th 2017 @ 5:29am | ! Report

      Finn Russell is very much a playmaker in the Quade Cooper mode but the WBs have opted more for a pivot than a playmaker – there is a lot to like about Foley but creativity is not his forte. I have felt that he has not been the same player since his concussion issues. Finn Russell’s penalty was a testament to the Scottish preparation. They were alive to the fact that the WBs have defensive issues out wide. The question is where does all this leave Cheika’s tenure when the WBs appear stagnant while the NH teams are taking big strides based around formidable and emerging halves.

      • Columnist

        November 29th 2017 @ 6:32am
        Nicholas Bishop said | November 29th 2017 @ 6:32am | ! Report

        Townsend is an innovative coach Dan – even by New Zealand standards. Imagine what a diff he would have made to the Lions attacking play in June 🙂

        • November 29th 2017 @ 8:53am
          John said | November 29th 2017 @ 8:53am | ! Report

          So I wonder how much Russell’s game improves with Rennie as his coach in Glasgow and Townsend with the Scottish national side? Did I get the coaching right Nick?

          Also, doesn’t this absolutely shame the current Australian set-up where we have a Kiwi at the Waratahs and a Saffer at the Rebels? Not that I have anything against them but where are the bright young Australian coaches?

          • Columnist

            November 29th 2017 @ 9:09am
            Nicholas Bishop said | November 29th 2017 @ 9:09am | ! Report

            Russell will certainly be getting fed ideas from two bright coaching minds from diff hemispheres, that’s for sure John.

            • Roar Guru

              November 29th 2017 @ 10:54am
              Wal said | November 29th 2017 @ 10:54am | ! Report

              Hopefully, Mo’unga reaps the same benefits

              • Columnist

                November 29th 2017 @ 6:45pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | November 29th 2017 @ 6:45pm | ! Report

                Yes it will be fascinating to see how ROG goes at the Crusaders – it’s almost the first time I can recall coaching movement working this way around (esp to NZ!)…

        • Roar Guru

          November 29th 2017 @ 10:52am
          Wal said | November 29th 2017 @ 10:52am | ! Report

          Much like the players there seems to be a number of exciting coaches coming through. Townsend front and centre, along with Jamie Joseph. Who else do you see on the horizon?

          • November 29th 2017 @ 11:17am
            Old Bugger said | November 29th 2017 @ 11:17am | ! Report

            From NZ, there’s Razor Robertson (Saders) and Azza Mauger (H’Landers) – also Tony Brown. Definitely Ackermann from SA and Wessels, now with the Rebs. Keep an eye on Brad Thorn next year to see how he fares, as a debutante. Rennie said yesterday that he’s a young coach but, he’s not getting any younger and he’s definitely chasing, an national role…..question is, who with??

            • November 29th 2017 @ 1:01pm
              P2R2 said | November 29th 2017 @ 1:01pm | ! Report

              not AUS….maybe ENG when EJ leaves

            • Roar Guru

              November 29th 2017 @ 3:25pm
              The Neutral View From Sweden said | November 29th 2017 @ 3:25pm | ! Report

              The rumors are that Rennie is first in line to replace Gatland as Wales coach after the WC 2019. Rennie is very open with that he strives to become a Test level coach.

              • November 29th 2017 @ 5:09pm
                Rugby Tragic said | November 29th 2017 @ 5:09pm | ! Report

                If he gets the job, his first year, Wales I think will win the 6N. I think NV Rennie is that good … great record of early success and unbeaten as NZ U20 Head Coach

              • Roar Guru

                November 29th 2017 @ 6:04pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | November 29th 2017 @ 6:04pm | ! Report

                It would be very interesting to see Wales being coached by Rennie. I heard a lot of noise, for many years, from Wales rugger fans that they have a lot of talent that never gets picked by Gatland or gets picked and is forced to play out of position within a tactical system that does not suit their strengths at all.

            • Roar Guru

              November 29th 2017 @ 3:32pm
              Wal said | November 29th 2017 @ 3:32pm | ! Report

              Really hope Thorn goes well I suspect the Reds are at least going to be fit!!

              • November 29th 2017 @ 8:33pm
                Cuw said | November 29th 2017 @ 8:33pm | ! Report

                2018 Reds squad:


                Sef Fa’agase, Harry Hooper, James Slipper, JP Smith, Taniela Tupou, Markus Vanzati, Alex Mafi, Andrew Ready, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Angus Blyth, Kane Douglas, Harry Hockings, Izack Rodda, Lukhan Tui, Michael Gunn, Reece Hewat, Scott Higginbotham, Adam Korczyk, Angus Scott-Young, George Smith, Caleb Timu, Liam Wright


                Nick Frisby, Tate McDermott, Moses Sorovi, James Tuttle, Quade Cooper, Hamish Stewart, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Samu Kerevi, Duncan Paia’aua, Filipo Daugunu, Karmichael Hunt, Lachlan Maranta, Eto Nabuli, Izaia Perese

          • Columnist

            November 29th 2017 @ 6:46pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | November 29th 2017 @ 6:46pm | ! Report

            The best two attack coaches in NH rugby right now are Townsend and Stuart Lancaster at Leinster.

      • November 29th 2017 @ 8:04am
        riddler said | November 29th 2017 @ 8:04am | ! Report

        dan russell is streets ahead of cooper currently..

        • November 29th 2017 @ 12:41pm
          enoughisenough said | November 29th 2017 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

          Geez that must put Foley a long way behind Russel then, seeing as Cooper is better 10 than Foley.

      • Roar Guru

        November 29th 2017 @ 3:22pm
        The Neutral View From Sweden said | November 29th 2017 @ 3:22pm | ! Report

        Finn Russell’s penalty was a testament to the Scottish preparation.

        Very true. Read an interview with Huw Jones yesterday, and he said it was Townsend that told the players at halftime that the move was on.

        • Roar Guru

          November 29th 2017 @ 5:50pm
          Harry Jones said | November 29th 2017 @ 5:50pm | ! Report

          That’s interesting, Viking Man.

          • Roar Guru

            November 29th 2017 @ 6:08pm
            The Neutral View From Sweden said | November 29th 2017 @ 6:08pm | ! Report

            Thanks, big H.

            From my soccer days, I can recall that is the kind info/tips you love to hear as a player. The coach clearly sees an opening, convinces everyone that the move is on, and voila…the scoreboard is ticking.

            • Roar Guru

              November 29th 2017 @ 6:33pm
              Harry Jones said | November 29th 2017 @ 6:33pm | ! Report

              It’s exactly what wins: astute halftime adjustments, explained simply and credibly.

              You see it in every sport.

        • Columnist

          November 29th 2017 @ 6:47pm
          Nicholas Bishop said | November 29th 2017 @ 6:47pm | ! Report

          It was not the first tap they’d taken either, so Oz had had fair notice…

          • November 29th 2017 @ 8:34pm
            Cuw said | November 29th 2017 @ 8:34pm | ! Report

            probably took a tip from the Babaas if u recall.

            i think it was against NZ in the last minute.

          • Roar Guru

            November 29th 2017 @ 11:44pm
            Fox said | November 29th 2017 @ 11:44pm | ! Report

            Ah yes but “notice’ is an interesting term is it not – the captain especially should be taking note

            Still not convinced about Hooper as Captain Nick – he is fine player and gives it his all but is he a good leader and more importantly – a consistently good leader?

            I am not so sure. He was poor for NSW this year as well. But then who else?

            I also think that Cheika Nick epitomises the following quote from Sun Tzu

            “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

            What do you reckon? 🙂

    • Roar Rookie

      November 29th 2017 @ 5:47am
      DJ DJ said | November 29th 2017 @ 5:47am | ! Report

      Opposition coaches have worked cheika out and he doesn’t have the tactical nouse to respond. Team ildiscipline starts with the attitude and discipline of the coach. Unfortunately Australian Rugby is in disarray so it won’t act on cheika. Let’s hope the new CEO is decisive and replaces cheika ASAP so we have time pre the next World Cup. Because as it stands now we have no chance. That is the reality.

      • Columnist

        November 29th 2017 @ 6:34am
        Nicholas Bishop said | November 29th 2017 @ 6:34am | ! Report

        Team ill-discipline starts with the attitude and discipline of the coach.

        Although there was a long debate on this point in the thread to last week’s article, I tend to agree that a team acts out in its coach’s image. Discipline and adaptability are not its fortes, and when things start to go wrong they just appear to snowball…

        • November 29th 2017 @ 9:16am
          jim boyce said | November 29th 2017 @ 9:16am | ! Report

          Nick – You are attaching all the differences as between Cheika and Jones. Where is the captain , Hooper , in all this. Surely part of the slowing down of the game by the numerically inferior team , has to be influenced by the captain. Hooper has unique talents but he is long way from being a good captain both in marshalling his team and in decision making..
          As always a brilliant analysis and your follow through in responding to comments is exceptional.

          • Columnist

            November 29th 2017 @ 9:21am
            Nicholas Bishop said | November 29th 2017 @ 9:21am | ! Report

            Hi Jim

            Most coaches will plan for situations where you go down a man – so the leaders in the side will know what that plan is before they go out on the field. Ofc there can be tweaks as you can go along depending on circumstances (like weather conditions), but the planning should be paramount.

            • November 29th 2017 @ 9:49am
              jim boyce said | November 29th 2017 @ 9:49am | ! Report

              Nick – Correct me if I am wrong, but you said that there was a lack of evidence that the Wallaby side was trying to slow it down , citing one particular case. You are also broadening the captaincy role to be the leadership group. I guess then I am questioning the role of the captain other than to guide the team along the passageway out on to the ground.
              I met Hooper once , some years ago, when we met over the grave of Tom Richards in Manly. He is a good guy but he struck me as a bit of a loner. Interested in your take.

              • Columnist

                November 29th 2017 @ 6:49pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | November 29th 2017 @ 6:49pm | ! Report

                I honestly don’t know Jim, as it’s only his first season as captain at pro level (to the best of my knowledge).

        • Roar Guru

          November 29th 2017 @ 5:56pm
          Harry Jones said | November 29th 2017 @ 5:56pm | ! Report

          The Plan B of Cheika and his teams seems to be:

          – keep doing what we were doing
          – but do it harder, faster, madder
          – and never ever admit error

          • November 29th 2017 @ 11:15pm
            Rugby Tragic said | November 29th 2017 @ 11:15pm | ! Report

            “- and never ever admit error”

            That’s plan C 🙂

      • November 29th 2017 @ 2:00pm
        DLKN said | November 29th 2017 @ 2:00pm | ! Report

        If the whispers are true, and the incoming CEO is a certain former teammate and clubmate of Cheika’s, don’t expect the current bias, real or perceived, to reduce. The opposite is far more likely, and won’t that be a fun ride!

        • Roar Guru

          November 29th 2017 @ 5:07pm
          jeznez said | November 29th 2017 @ 5:07pm | ! Report

          He might get fellow Randwick man and his old mate Bob Dwyer in to oversee selections and act as a mentor?

          If it is all about the old club tie.

          I’d rather see Macqueen involved and assume Kafer has to have a seat at the table.

          Think someone with a strong rugby brain has to be in a review position over Cheika based on his intransigence regarding selection and strategies.

          • Columnist

            November 29th 2017 @ 6:50pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | November 29th 2017 @ 6:50pm | ! Report

            Macqueen would be ideal, but I’d think Bob Dwyer would have enough independence to call Cheika when he felt it necessary!?

            • Roar Guru

              November 29th 2017 @ 8:33pm
              jeznez said | November 29th 2017 @ 8:33pm | ! Report

              I’m sure Bob would, he was always a fantastic selector. I was being a bit cheeky calling him out due to the relationship to both Kearns if he is the new head and to Cheika – but he is also 77 years old and should be enjoying his retirement!

              Rod is 10 years younger and has such a fine pedigree that I’d love it if we could keep him involved.

              Kafer has been brought in by Rugby Au in a High Performance role but I think having someone who has done as much in the game as Macqueen would be incredibly valuable.

              From memory – Cheika held the ARU over a barrell and insisted that he have total control so I think he’d have to agree to having someone in this role brought in.

              • Columnist

                November 29th 2017 @ 9:00pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | November 29th 2017 @ 9:00pm | ! Report

                From memory – Cheika held the ARU over a barrel and insisted that he have total control so I think he’d have to agree to having someone in this role brought in.

                Maybe this is the reevaluation that needs to happen, needs a bit of backbone to see it through…

              • November 29th 2017 @ 9:32pm
                Worlds Biggest said | November 29th 2017 @ 9:32pm | ! Report

                Agree with you Jez, Cheika really needs a mentor and Macqueen’s cerebral temperament would be a nice foil for Cheika. Bob Dwyer is retired and doesn’t need the grief !

              • Roar Guru

                November 29th 2017 @ 11:36pm
                Fox said | November 29th 2017 @ 11:36pm | ! Report

                I hope you are not considering mentioning backbone and ARU in the same sentence Nick 🙂

              • November 30th 2017 @ 4:26am
                Jock Cornet said | November 30th 2017 @ 4:26am | ! Report

                Jez you are kidding, in his early years Bob Dwyer would just select Randwick players over great qld backs and forwards. Roger Gould was a great fullback and not chosen.

              • Roar Guru

                November 30th 2017 @ 3:30pm
                jeznez said | November 30th 2017 @ 3:30pm | ! Report

                I look at the starts that he gave Kearns, Eales, Horan and Little. He spotted some great young talent and fired them into the team. A couple of those guys are even from Qld!

                He also got guys like Roebuck and Edgerton who weren’t flashy to fulfil a role and deliver a result.

    • November 29th 2017 @ 6:05am
      mz.ilikazi said | November 29th 2017 @ 6:05am | ! Report

      Good evening Nic. Unlike John in Connecticut, I am not eating lunch high on the escarpment outside Toowoomba on a lovely foggy and cool morning.

      But like John, every Weds. morning, before going out for our morning hike before breakfast, I eagerly look forward to reading your article. Interesting angle this week. Good choice. Thank you.

      • Columnist

        November 29th 2017 @ 6:35am
        Nicholas Bishop said | November 29th 2017 @ 6:35am | ! Report

        No worries MZ, and don’t worry about your . [dot] I passed over it in silence!

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