Can the Wallabies master that deadly combination?

Tipsy McStagger Roar Rookie

By Tipsy McStagger, Tipsy McStagger is a Roar Rookie New author!


32 Have your say

    I have previously preached the gospel of the 2-4-2 attacking system used by the New Zealand teams, and now I’m going to reminisce on the three vital cogs without which it just couldn’t work and ask: “Do the Wallabies have those same cogs?”.

    The 2
    Dane Coles and Codie Taylor, with Nathan Harris in the waiting – not too big, not too small but with plenty of skill and agility. The bit of skill and agility they do lack are being worked on over time to help them fit into the 2-4-2 structure.

    This side of the ditch we marvel at Dane Coles’s running and handling exploits – he runs around like a second open side flanker, and this is exactly how New Zealand hookers are used. The 2-4-2 makes him look good and gives him the opportunity to make himself look good.

    Codie Taylor is being baptised in these ways at the moment and is doing a better job of it at every outing. When is the last time you saw Dane Coles or Codie Taylor making a front-on hit on the defensive line and make significant brute metres? Never, and this is because they aren’t used in this way and it is not expected of them.

    Do we have hookers who rival them? Think about the persistent selections of Stephen Moore and Tatafu Polota-Nau, who offer only slow, immobile diesel engines as opposed to the more efficient turbocharged petrol engines of the New Zealand hookers.

    I will admit Jordan Uelese is an exciting prospect, but will his engine match those of the smaller, more mobile and agile New Zealand hookers? I for one hope Uelese is an exception to the rule in the Malcolm Marx mould.

    I’m also a big fan of Damien Fitzpatrick now that he has returned to our shores. He would fit nicely into the New Zealand hooker mould, especially given his last name.

    (AAP Image/David Moir)

    The 9
    Aaron Smith and TJ Perenara provide excellent service with electric decision-making. With them rest the keys to the All Blacks attack. Most of the time it’s their split-second decision-making and quick vision that allows the All Blacks attack to function.

    After the 2009 All Black debacle against the Springboks kick and contest game their scrum halves have also now been upgraded to include a deadly kicking game a la Fourie du Preez. They are slight of frame because they are so fit, excellent low tacklers behind the defensive line, excellent kickers and always in support of the ball runner or not far off it – again, because they are so fit.

    Do we have scrum halves who rival them? Think the persistent selections of Will Genia and Nick Phipps – slow service, poor kicking games and poor split-second decision-making and vision. Plus they’re much slower, heavier framed and less energetic than their New Zealand counterparts.

    Joe Powell does not inspire me with confidence but, then again, he is not even allowed to get decent game time at the Brumbies. In my mind Jake Gordon is the future, but he too will be wasted if the current attacking structure used by the Wallabies is persisted with.

    Ryan Louwrens and Michael Ruru are also reminiscent of the New Zealand scrum half mould – good energy, good speed, good kicking and good intuition.

    (Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images)

    The 15
    Ben Smith, Jordie Barret, Damien MacKenzie and David Havili are in the waiting. As much as the public raves about Beauden Barrett, it is from here that the attack is informed – true rugby instincts reside here.

    These guys stand back and see the play and gaps unfold in front of them and have the ‘rugby knowledge’ to take advantage of it. They are constantly roaming with perfect positioning because of their understanding of the game. Roam, identify, call and attack unselfishly is the modus operandi here.

    Do we have fullbacks to rival them? Think Israel Folau’s persistent selection with Kurtley Beale as a recent back-up. Folau is physically gifted with talent to burn almost anyone one-on-one but he is no ‘rugby brain’. His positional play is not up to scratch and he cannot for the life of him put someone through a gap, create that gap or see a gap develop.

    In my mind he’s an out-and-out left wing cross-field kick option in the mould of Rieko Ioane. Beale is a man on his own mission. He plays on his own, thinks on his own and almost always keeps the ball for that second too long.

    He does not possess the unselfish trademarks of the New Zealand fullbacks who accept that their role is to roam, identify, call and attack and in almost all instances give the ball to a teammate to make the break or right after a break is made.

    I also personally think Beale is a bit lazy in his positional play. I suspect he is also constricted at fullback due the attacking structure used by the Wallabies – and you have to feel for a bloke who is playing 12 the whole year and then moved to 15.

    Tom Banks seems to be the future here, along with Jack Maddocks. Dane Haylett-Petty should just be left at fullback – he is not a wing. Even Reece Hodge can be given a crack here – in my mind, given some freedom, he’s a player in the mould of Jordie Barrett.

    It’s also a pity that Jesse Mogg was not given a proper crack; he’s Ben Smith’s twin in terms of playing style if I ever saw one – given the proper attacking structure of course.

    I didn’t mind Luke Morahan either. He’s a very smart, deceptively dynamic and unselfish player. We could’ve called him ‘Luke from accounts’.

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    The Crowd Says (32)

    • January 13th 2018 @ 10:23am
      Tooly said | January 13th 2018 @ 10:23am | ! Report

      Pretty much spot on .
      Andrew Ready is very good over the ball and runs well .
      Stirzacher needs looking at .
      Beale is 12 , Folau a winger , Hodge a fullback and Banks a utility .
      Jake McInyre is playing well in England .

      • January 14th 2018 @ 12:54pm
        Tipsy McStagger said | January 14th 2018 @ 12:54pm | ! Report

        Andrew Ready has the raw talent and potential – the Reds game plan of the past few seasons (or lack thereof) has not been of assistance of him at all, or any of the players in that team. Ready will have to lose a few kg’s though and work on his late night benders.

        I am very excited about Brad Thorn now taking the helm at the Reds – QLD Country weren’t a team of superstars but the 2-4-2 worked wonders for them and it was interesting to note that Taniela Tupou was being used to “seagull” in the 15m tram tracks and make damaging runs down the sideline instead of the hooker – good use of personnel and variation by Thorn.

        Always been a fan of Stirzaker – probably the closest we have to the atypical NZ scrumhalf. He has been flatly ignored by the Wallabies “brains trust” though.

        I am a proponent of a large 12 so Beale is not my choice. It has pained me to see his obvious natural talents being wasted by prehistoric attacking game plans. Contender for 15, with some work to be done, if it were up to me.

        100% on Folau and Hodge. Hodge has played his whole life at 10 and then the “brains trust” at the Wallabies and Rebels decide to use him on the wing or inside or outside centre. Admirer of Tommy Banks – hoping he develops well because there is a long term Wallaby in the making.

        Not seen McIntrye play in England but I suspect getting out from under the Reds system has allowed him to showcase himself.

    • January 13th 2018 @ 10:54am
      Rugby is Life said | January 13th 2018 @ 10:54am | ! Report

      Pretty good article. I see exactly the same things with Folau. Not a fullback, it frustrates the hell out of me when he is lauded as the world’s best fullback. NZ have 5 guys who would tank in front of him and there are a clutch of others like Halfpenny and Hogg who would also rank in front of him.

      Spot on in terms of Kurtley. DHP looks good at fullback and is a real fullback. Can read a game, can kick and has pace.

      • January 14th 2018 @ 12:55pm
        Tipsy McStagger said | January 14th 2018 @ 12:55pm | ! Report

        100% on Folau – guess the media and ARU have to keep singing his praises for the amount of money they are paying and for the sponsorship/advertising deals. Never anything other than a left wing in my books.

    • January 13th 2018 @ 10:57am
      Sweaty Prop said | January 13th 2018 @ 10:57am | ! Report


      Great article. I want to thank you for highlighting these issues. You have captured just how lacking and backward the Wallabies are in Rugby thinking.

      The challenge that your article highlights is that the current regime is incapable of thinking beyond a very base strategy of one-out running and bash forward plays.

      I would be happy for someone in the Australian coaching ranks to point out that there are equally intelligent approaches that are alternatives to what you have described……. but I hold little hope.

      • January 13th 2018 @ 2:15pm
        Cliff (Bishkek) said | January 13th 2018 @ 2:15pm | ! Report

        A very good article and well researched and put together and quite frankly, 100% correct. What it actually delivers without mentioning it is that Cheika cannot coach and is a very poor substitute for an international coach. Rugby has changed but Cheika cannot change as he does not have the rugby brain to see the forest for the trees. Similarly, I am concerned that Larkham and Byrne are not being listened to or are not allowed to or do not want to question the Coach on the team selections.

        2018 and 2019 will be another continual Wallabies fialure owing to the Cheika mantre of “Do not Change. Do it my way”.

      • January 14th 2018 @ 1:00pm
        Tipsy McStagger said | January 14th 2018 @ 1:00pm | ! Report

        When I heard Cheika talk about the “Australian way” and “not playing like the AB’s” I knew we were doomed. Swallow your pride, use the 2-4-2 and work on variations thereof. The Kiwis swallowed their pride and learnt from Rod McQueen’s Brumbies and the Wallabies in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.

        Larkham just picked up the game book left by Jake White at the Brumbies and has changed very little at all, and the bit he has changed, is league-like and robotic – which we now see with the Wallabies too.

      • January 15th 2018 @ 4:53pm
        Tipsy McStagger said | January 15th 2018 @ 4:53pm | ! Report

        Hey Sweaty Prop, sorry I missed you in my replies earlier.

        I share your concerns re the coaches thinking outside the box. I am almost sure that Larkham, Grey and Cheika are so insularly and arrogantly focused on their own methods to the exclusion of anyone and everything else that they purposefully will not look elsewhere. It makes me chuckle that they got Mick Byrne in to work on the player’s skills but they refuse to implement the game plan which allows the players to use, practice and showcase them – what a contradiction.

    • January 13th 2018 @ 11:26am
      taylorman said | January 13th 2018 @ 11:26am | ! Report

      Yes youve highlighted some of the AB strengths and at hooker theres also Aumua who could displace them all, especially if Coles cant regain his form around the field.

      We will struggle at 10 with Cruden and Sapoaga both gone, Barrett himself sometimes struggling in the position and its a huge drop to the next in terms of experience at the top level. Thats Hansens biggest challenge this year. Two years ago we had Carter, Barrett, Cruden and Sapoaga.

      Now we have Barrett, Mouaga?, McKenzie?,??

      Given how important Carters performance was in the World cup, Barretts slip vs the Lions, we have problems going into the next two years and world cup. 9 and 10 have been more solid in the last five years than at any other time in terms of depth.

      The other issue is our midfield, we have several putting their hand up, but none owning either spot outright. No. 8 after Read could also be a concern.

      For Oz I think Folau and Beale are the best two backs so despite their shortfalls they still offer much more than anyone else, but unfortunately only on ‘sunny days’, and there havent been many of those.

      Halfback, 10 and Hooker, after P-Nau, are real issues for Oz, and have been for some time.

      • January 14th 2018 @ 1:10pm
        Tipsy McStagger said | January 14th 2018 @ 1:10pm | ! Report

        I am almost sure that the AB’s brains trust are scouting the next potential players to fit into their systems at school level already.

        Jordie Barret seems to me to be next logical back-up to his brother but I also like what I see from Richie Moaunga – he is being brought along nice and slow by the AB’s.

        I see Sonny-Bill as being a massive cog in the AB’s team at the moment. Although I have not rated him as much as Nonu, he has significantly changed the way he plays since it has now become obvious that he is the only 12 capable of filling that particular role in the AB’s attacking structure – I think the game he played against the Boks in Cape Town last year was his best to date. I am sure the AB’s brains trust are working overtime on Laumape, as they did with Nonu, to fit into the structure.

        Ditto for Ryan Crotty, are real smart player and Anton Lienert-Brown seems to be the back-up, with noise being made about Jack Goodhue. Lienert-Brown is a very good player but not in the Crotty spheres yet. But again, he is being brought along nice and slow by the AB’s brains trust.

        Life after Read will be tough but I like what I see from Liam Squire. The other new blindside from the Hurricanes (his name escapes me) is obviously being groomed to fill the 6 void with Squire moving in to the 8 void that will one day be left by Read.

        As far as the Wallabies selections go, I can only scratch my head. The players are there, even at Club level, but they aren’t getting given any attention. It’s a very clicky rugby crowd on this side of the ditch….

        • January 14th 2018 @ 4:56pm
          taylorman said | January 14th 2018 @ 4:56pm | ! Report

          Yes Hansen will have been very busy trying to replace these guys but the problem going forward is there wont be the time to develop them. They’ll start getting scooped up before they’re anywhere near ready, so Hansen doesnt have the luxury of time to develop and experiment.

          In fact with the number of midfielders and hookers around it wouldn’t surprise me if any day one or more from those positions announces a move. Sapoagas is really bad timing and suddenly the Highlanders look vulnerable.

          And if players can just up and go…I dont know when he leaves…whats stopping others.

          • January 14th 2018 @ 6:31pm
            Highlander said | January 14th 2018 @ 6:31pm | ! Report

            Lima is here for this year TM

            Maybe we will get Mitch Hunt…that would be a nice touch

        • Roar Guru

          January 15th 2018 @ 10:20am
          Hoy said | January 15th 2018 @ 10:20am | ! Report

          I don’t think SBW and Barrett gel that well… Barrett is a run first bloke, however SBW to be super effective needs early ball so he can pick his line, and poke his head through. With Barrett running, he isn’t getting early ball, but is getting ball too close to the line. That’s just the impression I get and I think they have had teething problems early on in their relationship. It’s why SBW isn’t playing as well as he should be.

    • Roar Guru

      January 13th 2018 @ 1:50pm
      RobC said | January 13th 2018 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

      Thanks Tipsy! I think the challenge is coaching and prep. Not the players

      • January 14th 2018 @ 1:12pm
        Tipsy McStagger said | January 14th 2018 @ 1:12pm | ! Report

        Agreed. Blaming players and their lack of, well, basically everything from what I heard out of the Wallabies “brains trust”, is a very poor excuse to deflect from the real problem – stupid game plan and stupid selections.

    • January 13th 2018 @ 1:56pm
      ethan said | January 13th 2018 @ 1:56pm | ! Report

      Great articles Tipsy. It really doesn’t look like our players have the skill set to play NZ structures, hence why we don’t.

      Hooker. It’s interesting that these are the structures NZ have adopted at all levels from the grass roots up – makes Coles one of the most influential men to ever have played the game. None of our current hookers are in the Coles mould – an extra flanker. Taniela Tupou has a similar skill set for a short big man, but is a prop.

      Fifteen. Given NZ favour a big man at inside centre, fifteen tends to be the second play maker position, offering the vision as you say. Kurtley Beale currently performs this role from 12 for the WBs, whereas TK performs the Sonny Bill role from 13. I’m sure Kurtley could do the same from fullback if given the NZ structures and a full season of SR playing the position (not Ben Smith level, but certainly Damien McKenzie level), but our depth is not nearly as strong as theirs. Izzy is a great fullback performing the role that he does, but as you say it wouldn’t really work in the NZ structures, and he is more suited to the wing. Best to start Hodge out in the Conrad Smith role now I reckon, with the potential to shift to fullback in time if his passing skills develop. Would have loved to see more of Morahan, but Mogg, while lightning fast with a big boot, was as flakey as they came, and never lived up to the big moments. Ben Smith does, every time.

      • January 14th 2018 @ 1:23pm
        Tipsy McStagger said | January 14th 2018 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

        Cheers. It so simple yet so effective.

        It’s a bit of a catch 22, if the system don’t get used the players won’t develop and vice versa.

        At 108/110 kegs, the AB’s hooker aren’t all that “small” – they are supremely conditioned though. The fact that a hooker and a loose head basically scrum together against the opposition tight head may explain why the AB’s are prepared to give away a few kegs in that position. Taniela Tupou was used in that general play hooker role by Brad Thorn at QLD Country this year – he had some damaging runs down the sidelines.

        Fifteen is a problem, but Cheika’s game plan reflects his persistence with Folau: “let’s select big blokes, get them to run at the opposition and try to intimidate them and then get front foot ball for more big blokes to run at their backs – a la Waratahs in Super Rugby”. Problem is, this works for the one season in Super Rugby (and only just if you remember the final) but the physical playing field is levelled out at international level.

        • January 14th 2018 @ 2:14pm
          ethan said | January 14th 2018 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

          The difference is that at SR level he had his big blokes in the forwards, whereas now he persists with little guys in the backrow.

          Be interesting to see if Thorn brings the 2-4-2 to QLD. Paia’aua is not a big 12 and with Hunt and Cooper on the outer we may not have anyone that could perform as a “visionary” style fullback. But Kerevi at 12 with Paia’aua 15 (can he take a high ball?) would suit the system. Ready, Manu and Thor are all pretty athletic, so could perhaps mimic the Coles role.

          • January 15th 2018 @ 4:27pm
            Tipsy McStagger said | January 15th 2018 @ 4:27pm | ! Report

            Agreed Ethan, can’t understand the persistence with two small open sides in the back row if he’s going to persist with his “Cheika Ball” – it’s a contradiction. I have heard him rumble about it being more of a defensive ploy – but playing a 7 at 8 to get turnovers gets very easily negated, as the AB’s showed in the 2015 WC final.

            I am certain Thorn will be running the 2-4-2 at QLD – he was using it with the QLD Country team. His selections will be interesting to watch because he hasn’t got much to choose from. But then again, QLD Country weren’t full of superstars, their attacking structure took them to the title, along with good old fashioned Brad Thorn instilled gumption.

            • January 15th 2018 @ 5:19pm
              ethan said | January 15th 2018 @ 5:19pm | ! Report

              Yeah I’m more optimistic about the Reds chances than some, especially if they employ the 2-4-2. They were very limited under Graham and that didn’t appear to change a great deal under Stiles. There is plenty of firepower with the likes of Paia’aua, Kerevi, F-Sautia, Perese and Daugunu. It just depends if the structure can overcome the lack of playmaking qualities at 10 and 15. Defence has been an even bigger problem in the past, but if anyone can over come that its Thorn. As you say, that old fashioned Thorn gumption is exactly what we need.

              On Cheika, I’ve given up trying to understand the logic in some of his decisions. It mostly seems to be based around fitness and attitude, which is all well and good, but I fear we’ve lost too much tactically in the process.