Why the Brumbies’ season is done and dusted

moondoggie Roar Rookie

By moondoggie, moondoggie is a Roar Rookie

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    After topping the Australian conference for the last two years – although you can hardly call a 6-9 season successful – and recruiting reasonably well, you would expect much better performances than what the Brumbies have demonstrated this year.

    Frustratingly the team shows no signs of improving as the season progresses and continue to roll out an ineffective game plan, playing as individuals without coherent structure and a poor attitude.

    A sign of a good team is scoring just before or after half-time or not conceding points in that time. The Brumbies did just the opposite on Saturday night, letting in a soft try right on half-time to lose momentum at the break, and then they couldn’t convert 15 minutes of sustained pressure in the Rebels 22 just after half-time.

    Achieving this is about attitude, and in this instance a lack of on-field leadership contributes.

    Compare the collective mindset of the Crusaders against the Waratahs on Saturday to the Brumbies effort. Down 0-29, the hard work, passion and determination in refusing to let the game get away, including three tries in the lead up to half-time, was incredible to watch. The Brumbies on the other hand, up 21-5 after a really good start to the game, became passive and just let the game roll on, expecting to win it without working for it.

    Christian Lealiifano

    (Matt Roberts/Getty Images for Sunwolves)

    Assumption might be a better descriptor than expectation – the Crusaders expected to win too, but that’s because they refuse to accept defeat and they work, work, work to make sure it happens. There is a reason the Kiwi teams turn 21 points in the first half into 50 by the end of the game – it is not just down to skill, it’s largely to do with attitude, hard work, fitness and belief.

    This team has great players, so the issue isn’t one of talent; it’s being unable to create opportunities for them. There is continual poor execution at set piece, especially line-out throwing; lateral running from the inside backs, and Wharenui Hawera is particularly guilty of this; one-out hit ups from a standing start; and passing behind the player.

    The basics skills are not focused on enough. It’s not acceptable to practise until you get it right once; you need to practise until you never get it wrong.

    This season is now a write-off, so the changes for next season need to start now. There needs to be a review of every aspect of on and off-field practice.

    The team needs a new captain, and Tom Cusack may be a good option as he seems to bring the enthusiasm and follow me attitude that few others are showing. I would work really hard to recruit a decent flyhalf or bring in the next generation.

    The game plan needs to focus on creating space for the outside backs and to get Tevita Kuridrani, Henry Speight and Tom Banks into the game. That means inside backs running straight, forwards and taking the ball at full pace, starting from depth and working in groups. There is no variation at the moment and the defence has no need to make a decision because the attack is so predictable and one-dimensional.

    Ultimately the problem is accepting mediocrity, and that has been the root of the problems plaguing Australia rugby in general. Obviously the systems aren’t working, because results have been poor for too long. But where is the leadership to say we need to change, identifying the problems and working as a collective to implement improvement?

    Without change the professional game will collapse in Australia. The dismal crowd of 5283 last night is evidence of this. The organisation needs to live up to its name as a professional team and lift the standards in all departments. Individuals need to really think about the effort they put in.

    I will keep coming to games because I love the club and the game of rugby union. I can also accept losing if the team plays well and represents the club’s history. But neither of these are happening right now and so the public is tuning out. There are still plenty of people out there keen to support the club, but they need to show us something worthy supporting.

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    The Crowd Says (68)

    • May 14th 2018 @ 2:39am
      Malo said | May 14th 2018 @ 2:39am | ! Report

      Pocock has been on a two year sabbatical . That’s a lot of mula from your salary cap that leaves you no players of note. The whole club is a basket case

    • May 14th 2018 @ 5:57am
      Will E. Ruckit said | May 14th 2018 @ 5:57am | ! Report

      Henry Speight has become a liability, his defensive frailties are costing the Brumbies dearly.
      The bigger question though is what is to become of Dan McKellar, another novice coach thrown in at the deep end and he appears to be drowning.
      What are Rod Kafer and Laurie Fisher doing to support, mentor and guide him?

    • May 14th 2018 @ 7:22am
      Lol said | May 14th 2018 @ 7:22am | ! Report

      McKellar is the problem.
      Players don’t rate him.
      He coached a quality NRC Vikings and got nowhere!
      McKellar yells and screams at them when he doesn’t get his own way.
      Players have tried to tell him that things won’t work and he just spits it!
      Hewatt is hopeless end of story with there!

      • May 14th 2018 @ 8:02pm
        Malo said | May 14th 2018 @ 8:02pm | ! Report

        The players are the problem. They aren’t very good .

    • May 14th 2018 @ 7:31am
      Gepetto said | May 14th 2018 @ 7:31am | ! Report

      Brisbane’s ladder topping South’s club looks like a great source of talent

    • May 14th 2018 @ 8:13am
      waxhead said | May 14th 2018 @ 8:13am | ! Report

      Yes I agree with Moondoggie 100%.
      Pocock would be my captain.
      Coach and about 20 players need replacement for next year imo

      • May 14th 2018 @ 9:27am
        Bakkies said | May 14th 2018 @ 9:27am | ! Report

        I would get rid of McKellar and Hawera. 20 players don’t need replacing it is a strong squad bar a couple of positions such as hooker and flyhalf.

        McKellar did little to fix deficiencies as an Assistant now he is in charge of a team in a rut.

        There is little promotion of the team on radio (and they have a sponsor) and on tv to inform people there is a match on.

        • May 14th 2018 @ 9:38am
          Puff said | May 14th 2018 @ 9:38am | ! Report

          Hawera needs serious coaching in the off season by a Carter type person, the man has skills but little vision or experience at this level. Pocock is not captain material, his personal agenda and interests may clash with other team members. The Brumbies have player depth but have a very lightweight senior coach; Dan McKellar struggles to manage numerous key moments during matches. Their last two outings provide classic examples, particularly the prudent 15 minutes in the Crusaders game and the way the Brumbies were cajoled by the Rebels in the second half at GIO, in front of a poor crowd. Allowing the Rebels to return from a first half hammering is wasteful but made my night.

          • May 14th 2018 @ 10:20am
            Markus said | May 14th 2018 @ 10:20am | ! Report

            I don’t think he has sufficient skills to warrant investing in. His goal kicking is great one day but atrocious the next, general play kicking poor, he does not have a strong passing game and his decision making is atrocious.
            Hopefully Mack Hansen has the goods. Or maybe Academy youngster, Will Goddard who helped the ACT Schoolboys break a 30-year premiership drought, will continue to develop strongly in coming years.

            • May 14th 2018 @ 7:03pm
              Bakkies said | May 14th 2018 @ 7:03pm | ! Report

              Markus I mentioned below that Larkham and McKellar haven’t grasped squad management and bringing through young talent. The Brumbies had this in the Super 12 days when there was a reserve team the Runners playing matches so far this year all I know is the reserves played one match against Rebels A and smacked them. They get used to playing in the jersey and developing at a higher intensity. When the Brumbies had injuries or retirements there were match ready alternatives.

              The second was under Jake White who had a knack of developing young players. He got in early and went out trialling players some didn’t make it, others made the Wallabies.

              Larkham seemed afraid to blood young players so brought in patch up jobs. McKellar is no better particularly at hooker and flyhalf.

              • May 15th 2018 @ 11:15am
                Markus said | May 15th 2018 @ 11:15am | ! Report

                I would agree with that. Larkham was heavily dependent on the squad core that White put together. Over the last 3-4 years that core has been lost to natural attrition and there has been insufficient development and succession planning, in the halves in particular. Props and possibly second row are the only areas where we are in a stronger position now than under White (though you wouldn’t know it based on the set piece performance this year).

                White, for his limitations as a coach, was fantastic at having all players in the squad fully understand their role within the team and step in to deliver to the best of their abilities (even if they weren’t necessarily the best players), better than any Australian coach I have seen in a long time.

              • May 15th 2018 @ 11:26am
                Fionn said | May 15th 2018 @ 11:26am | ! Report

                People liked to overstate White’s limitations. I think that the Brumbies scored more tries under him than we have since.

                I wish we could have coaxed Link out of retirement when Larkham moved on.

          • May 14th 2018 @ 10:47am
            nutter said | May 14th 2018 @ 10:47am | ! Report

            Coaching Hawera would be a waste for time. He doesn’t have the skills and he definitely doesn’t have the vision. Most irritatingly is that we scored from a cross field kick so in his mind the tactic works and we’ll now need to watch him bomb another 10 kicks in the hope of another try.

            Agree that MacKellar is out of his depth but the writing was on the wall when the Vikings (who were basically the Brumbies) played dull, uninspiring, unskilled Rugby all last season, barely managing to stumble into the final. They should have been undefeated in the NRC and won comfortably.

            • May 14th 2018 @ 11:07am
              Bakkies said | May 14th 2018 @ 11:07am | ! Report

              Tim Sampson’s (now head coach of the Force) Vikings did far better than McKellar’s squad did. My biggest fear is now that Scrivener is back he will take the squad.

    • May 14th 2018 @ 8:23am
      Baz said | May 14th 2018 @ 8:23am | ! Report

      @moondoggie not sure I agree entirely with your blog mate. The fact is they are missing some key positions. Hawera is not performing at this level and needs replacing. Banks is unpredictable and inexperienced at best. But he will be better next year.
      The first half of their game on the weekend was anything but predictable. Take another look. The recycles were accurate and quick. Powell was quick to the break down and kept the momentum moving forward.
      There does appear to be a serious disconnect between the players and the coaching staff and looks to be a lot of unhappy players who don’t understand the defensive structure. This is clearly McKellars fault as is the continued faith in Hawera at 10.

      • May 14th 2018 @ 10:42am
        Fionn said | May 14th 2018 @ 10:42am | ! Report

        Banks was far better last year than he has been this year. Virtually entire team is playing poorly, with Rory Arnold probably the main exception.

        • Roar Guru

          May 14th 2018 @ 12:29pm
          PeterK said | May 14th 2018 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

          agree with that

          I picked very very early McKellar was a poor choice as coach and sadly it turned out to be true.

          I thought their season was done when they lost to the tahs at home since it is most likely that only 1 aust team will make the finals.

      • Roar Rookie

        May 14th 2018 @ 12:44pm
        moondoggie said | May 14th 2018 @ 12:44pm | ! Report

        I agree they had a great start, but couldn’t maintain it. They slipped back into the playing patterns which have seen them struggle in attack all year, IE too lateral, not utilising space and not creating opportunities for the finishers. Hawera is a major contributor to this, as is the lack of on field leadership to identify the regression mid game.

        • May 14th 2018 @ 1:58pm
          Baz said | May 14th 2018 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

          I think what you saw in the first half was a conscious effort by the team to move away from that old style predictable structure that has been around for years (Jake White era). The Kiwi’s gobble it up. They know exactly how to take advantage of it.

          They found it difficult to maintain for a full 80 because they lack the aerobic conditioning, the backs (like Speight and Kuridrani) are not getting involved and they were to busy trying to protect the lead and defending in the second half because of a huge hole on the right. Also poor timing in the introduction of the bench.

          That first half was a good lesson for all our franchises in how to play the Kiwi’s. Larger backs like TK and Speight need to help the forwards out with some carries. There are some basic rules to make this offense work but I don’t think the current coaching staff really get it.

          There was a change in how they played that first half but unfortunately I don’t think any lessons were learnt. I am afraid they will chalk it up to ‘just another thing that didn’t work’.

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