Will the Wallabies be Cheika’s champs or chumps?

keith hurst Roar Rookie

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    From primary school into my high school years I played two sports: cricket and rugby.

    I was competent in both and represented my school for many years, and this experience resulted in me being a lifelong fan of both sports.

    As I matured I joined a tennis group consisting of a number of expat South Africans for whom South African rugby was a religion. Some of them still support the Springboks, other now follow the Waratahs and Wallabies.

    At first many games of tennis had the Springbok versus Wallabies edge. This was the ultimate sporting contest. Forget Graeme Pollock or Barry Richards; the real contest was between the very old foes. Grizzled huge prop forwards trying to roll over our beloved gutsy and fleet-footed Wallabies muttering insults in Afrikaans. Not any more.

    I looked up to Tony Miller, Nick Shehadie, Ken Catchpole, David Campese and George Gregan as my rugby fan heroes. I read as many newspaper articles as I could about them and their successes.

    But my rugby fandom has slipped alarmingly in the last few years. Looking at the diminishing crowds watching both the Super Rugby teams and the tests, it seems that I am not alone in reacting so negatively to the game.

    wallabies indigenous jersey anthem

    (Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

    I remember when the decline started for me. At the time I was a member of ANZ Stadium and never missed a home rugby test.

    One year, having trekked to Homebush one Saturday night to see a South Africa versus Australia Test with a pretty good crowd, our expectations were high. A good game was expected, but unfortunately we saw the most uninteresting, boring, mistake-filled exhibition of a Test match. There was no atmosphere, no excitement, no thrills or spills – nothing. Only penalties, lineouts, scrums, scrum resets and more scrums.

    I think we won, but no-one cared. I resolved that from then the only rugby I would see was Australia versus New Zealand Bledisloe Cup games – two neighbours scrapping like backyard brothers to win the cup.

    I remember the most thrilling game ever where in front of 100,000 people Jonah Lomu ran over Andrew Walker like he was an ant to score the winning try. What an amazing game!

    But that was the high point. Since then the contest has become one-sided. New Zealand – Cheika will not call them the All Blacks – have been many points better than the Wallabies and won Test after Test and a World Cup.

    There have been two recent games in which New Zealand have been ahead by at least 30 points at half-time. In one of those games I did the unthinkable and left at half-time. I missed a try by Nick Phipps. We still got thrashed.

    Last year we won a game. Wow!

    This year we again live in hope. Can our heroes drag the Wallabies to some respectability? I really hope so. I’ll be watching the games.

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    The Crowd Says (5)

    • August 5th 2018 @ 8:26pm
      PiratesRugby said | August 5th 2018 @ 8:26pm | ! Report

      The Wallabies aren’t chumps but they’re certainly not champs. They are being poorly led by Cheika. What success they’ve had has been in spite of him not because of him. And there hasn’t been much success has there? The whinging, blaming and poor sportsmanship from him has made the entire Wallabies outfit look pretty grubby.
      We are blessed to be living through a golden era of rugby. It’s just that it’s not being played by us but by the All Blacks. It sucks to be on the wrong end of so many beatings but bowling to Bradman must have sucked too.

    • August 6th 2018 @ 8:15am
      Emanuel Kilismanis said | August 6th 2018 @ 8:15am | ! Report

      I could not agree more with the article from Pirates Rugby, the Wallabies are a very good rugby side but are poorly led by their coach. Every time they loose to the All Blacks he and the Kiwi haters (ex wallabies Fox Sports commentators) always have someone to blame but themselves. No doubt people will disagree and shot me down but you know what, I couldn’t care less the proof is in the pudding as they say. Australian rugby fans are sick and tired of the blame game and the negative commentaries, they want to see the Wallaby teams not only winning but showing respect for their opposition unlike their coach who’s shown nothing but contempt and bad sportsmanship every time his team looses to the All Blacks.

    • August 6th 2018 @ 1:41pm
      jimbo81 said | August 6th 2018 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

      Cheika can’t blame the cattle – we’re in rude health at the moment – 4 players per position (except 10 and 13) and it’s not terrible there either.

      He can’t blame the super coaches – our teams are fit and the Reds pack with the Brumbies and Rebels backline looks fairly lethal to me. Toomua, Beale, Pocock back.

      It’s his pig-headed reluctance to change the Tahs backline spine: Phipps, Foley, Folau, 9,10,15. Change that and the Wallabies will threaten the best in the world. Folau can’t kick long so the exit strategy becomes kick short or run it – and teams have no fear of kicking long to make us play our poor hand. He also is a poor cover defender which adds to the problem.

      Phipps can’t pass accurately in a hurry. It’s slow and accurate (and we get hospital passes getting smashed behind the advantage line) or fast and scatter-gun (behind the man or over his head).

      Foley is incapable of unlocking defences, creating plays, tactical kicking from hand and is average in defence – he almost always misses the kick at test level when we really need it like Bledialoe 2, 2017. He’s a disaster as far as Wallaby BIG games comes (has lost every one – Ireland series, England series, Bledisloe cups, World cup final, etc).

      If Cheika could move away from those three players in pivotal positions, we could improve as a team.

      • August 7th 2018 @ 10:23am
        John P said | August 7th 2018 @ 10:23am | ! Report

        On point Jimbo, but Cheika wont listen, He will still pick the same Tah failures again,Plus Hanigan Hooper and Robertson.

    • August 6th 2018 @ 9:29pm
      Bill said | August 6th 2018 @ 9:29pm | ! Report

      Onya Jimbo, 100%.

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