Five reasons why Cheika can win back the fans in Bledisloe 1

Fionn Roar Guru

By Fionn, Fionn is a Roar Guru

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    In the first Bledlisloe test of 2018 Michael Cheika has the chance to start anew. To create a new narrative around his coaching of the Wallabies and to restore faith in both the team and in his coaching.

    The resignation of Ewen McKenzie led to a rupturing amongst Australian fans in their opinion about McKenzie, the Wallabies and Michael Cheika as the new coach.

    Cheika’s fantastic results in 2015, getting Australia to its first World Cup final since 2003, momentarily eased a lot of the negativity of the fans.

    When results started to sour in 2016 the negativity regarding Cheika returned.

    I, more than some, am guilty of being unduly negative about the team or about certain players in the previous two years, which is something I cannot take back, but I can try and rectify in the future.

    Since the England series in June 2016 Michael Cheika has in my mind been rightly criticised for both his selections and game plan at times.

    There were periods in which Cheika’s favoured players were very out of form but continually selected, or when performing players were mysteriously dropped.

    There was also the issue that it seemed at times that Cheika’s Wallabies were intent on trying to play a form of unlimited phased rugby league.

    At the same time there were external factors as well. The results of the Super Rugby teams in 2016 declined from 2015 and reached their nadir in 2017.

    All of these things contributed to the poor results of the previous two years.

    On this fixture 12 months ago the Wallabies were at their lowest point. The 54-34 loss was so crushing that many fans lost all faith in Cheika and began calling for resignations.

    Wallabies coach Michael Cheika

    (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

    Nonetheless, aside from a hiccup on the Spring Tour results improved from then and the Wallabies even won the third Bledisloe test.

    In 2018, despite losing the series to Ireland 2-1 most fans, while unhappy with the loss, were cautiously optimistic about the seeming improvement in form.

    With the more time that has passed and with the pain of the loss failing it is easier to recognise that the side had vastly improved from only six months previous.

    Australia’s scrum held its own and was even dominant at times.

    The forwards were much more effective at the breakdown and in terms of tight ball-carrying.

    Despite playing both Michael Hooper and David Pocock Australia’s line out functioned well during the series.

    The midfield defence of Bernard Foley at 10, Kurtley Beale at 12 and Samu Kerevi at 13 was strong, as was Australia’s cover defence.

    Most importantly, from the first test Australia demonstrated a newfound willingness to kick tactically in order to gain field advantage, to utilise Folau or even to score tries.

    There were issues, of course. After the first Test Australia’s tactics did not sufficiently evolve, and the kicks that had been so effective early on were handled relatively easily by the Irish.

    Without Will Genia the attack often lacked spark.

    Nevertheless, the Wallabies were vastly improved on their performances 6 or 12 months previous, and have a lot to build on.

    Wallabies generic

    (Photo by Jono Searle/Getty Images)

    12 months later the Wallabies are up against the best team in the world. The All Blacks won their series 3-0 against France, are on a 15-year winning streak and will be at virtually full strength, but there are reasons to be optimistic as a fan:

    1. Despite being an inferior team in the Bledisloe Cup last year also the Wallabies won the third Test and pushed New Zealand to the limit in the second – the Wallabies do not need to be the better team overall, just to play better on the night

    2. Bernard Foley, Australia’s 10, is in the best form he has been in since at least 2015 and has vastly improved his kicking, which means the Wallabies are unlikely to lose through leaving free points on the field

    3. David Pocock, Australia’s best player, has returned and will combine with Israel Folau, Kurtley Beale and Will Genia for the first time since the Rugby World Cup

    4. Australia has a scrum that should be able to hold firm against the All Black starters and may even improve when Taniela Tupou

    5. For the first time since the World Cup most Wallaby fans are in agreement about most positions, or, at the very least, are not opposed to the incumbents – an indication that Cheika has done a great job in improving his selection.

    A win would be a fantastic result for Cheika, and would likely turn around the opinions of many of those fans critical to him.

    However, even if the Wallabies do not earn a famous upset win, I believe most fans are simply hoping to see a continued improvement in skills, an expansion in tactics and an intention to prioritise both defence and kicking.

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    The Crowd Says (165)

    • August 10th 2018 @ 7:57am
      Drongo said | August 10th 2018 @ 7:57am | ! Report

      We still don’t have a proper back up 5/8, the most important position on the field. That will hurt us badly at some stage.

      • August 10th 2018 @ 9:12am
        NSFW said | August 10th 2018 @ 9:12am | ! Report

        This comment has been removed for breaching The Roar’s comments policy – no insults.

        • Roar Guru

          August 10th 2018 @ 10:22am
          jeznez said | August 10th 2018 @ 10:22am | ! Report

          Comment was spot on that Toomua puts us in position where 5/8 is finally covered (whether by him or by Beale).

          Surprised that using another poster’s name can be a breach.

          • Roar Rookie

            August 10th 2018 @ 10:24am
            Boomeranga said | August 10th 2018 @ 10:24am | ! Report

            Yeah. Between the three of them (BF, KB, MT) its perhaps as good as we could hope for.

            • August 10th 2018 @ 12:18pm
              Fionn said | August 10th 2018 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

              I am still really hoping that Toomua outplays Foley in the RC as it just provides so much stronger defence in the midfield, as well as giving us someone with a good tactical kicking game.

              He definitely needs to be eased in over the bench though. I hope Cheika gives him a few starts with Beale at some point during the RC though so we can see how he does.

              • Roar Rookie

                August 10th 2018 @ 1:02pm
                Boomeranga said | August 10th 2018 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

                I wouldn’t mind that option if MT can take over his 10 spot or they show Beale to be the better 10 and MT at 12. Foley was a good fullback when he first made the Waratahs team so could provide handy cover for two spots from the pine.

              • August 10th 2018 @ 1:16pm
                Fionn said | August 10th 2018 @ 1:16pm | ! Report

                Regardless, we’re likely to need all three in order to challenge for the Bledisloe and to challenge for a world cup.

                I think Beale is the one of the trio who is really invaluable as he offers so much spark to the team.

                If you’re interested on the fox rugby podcast they had David Campese on. He spoke about how before we just had one really threatening backline player outside of Folau and that was Beale, but in his day they always had 4-5 guys. He thought that with the addition of guys like Toomua and Banks in addition to Beale and Folau we’re starting to develop a greater number of backline threats, which will mean the opposition won’t be able to mark Beale so closely as they currently do.

                Oh if only JOC had lived up to the promise…

              • August 12th 2018 @ 2:26pm
                PiratesRugby said | August 12th 2018 @ 2:26pm | ! Report

                Fionn, here are 5 reasons why we won’t win the Bled:
                1. Chilean is a poor coach who gets flustered by big series. He’s been out coached by NZ, England, Ireland and Scotland. His issues become the team issues. His outbursts reflect poorly on the team and damage morale. His selection destroy faith in the integrity of the selection process.
                2. Foley is the worst Half in Test rugby. He’s a perfectly serviceable provincial player. He’s not good enough for test rugby and certainly can’t beat the ABs.
                3. Beale is probably the best bench impact player in the world. Coming on in the last 20mins he can slice any team open. He’s an unreliable starter with poor judgment.
                4. Hooper is not a leader. And he’s not even the country’s best 7. Another bench player promoted well above his abilities.
                5. Which brings me to Hanigan. Enough said.
                And I didn’t even get to Phipps on the bench.

              • August 12th 2018 @ 5:39pm
                Fionn said | August 12th 2018 @ 5:39pm | ! Report

                Yeah, Pirates, selections have the ability to detail it!

                How have you been mate? Haven’t spoken to you in a while.

          • August 10th 2018 @ 12:57pm
            Riccardo said | August 10th 2018 @ 12:57pm | ! Report

            Yeah, I saw it too and I KNOW I’ve said worse – bit soft fellas…

          • August 10th 2018 @ 10:05pm
            Drongo said | August 10th 2018 @ 10:05pm | ! Report

            Toomua has no runs on the board as an internationsl level 5/8. Hope is all those putting their faith in him have. He is a 28 year old journeyman. And a reasonably decent inside centre when in form and free from injury, which has been quite rare. A lack of a quality tried and tested back up fly/half will cost us. We are one injury away from disaster. Wait and see.

      • August 10th 2018 @ 10:23am
        Fin said | August 10th 2018 @ 10:23am | ! Report

        Not only do we have a proper back up but an alternative. Unlike with Quade, I think Cheika would be actually willing to replace Foley with Toomua is form warranted it.

        • August 10th 2018 @ 10:38am
          John P said | August 10th 2018 @ 10:38am | ! Report

          Foley replaced ?? Once he was replaced with Quade playing 10 but Foley just had to be 12 didn’t he, and Quade played better at 10, but then QC was discarded. Cheika will never replace Foley unless he is injured or retires.

          • August 10th 2018 @ 11:00am
            Fin said | August 10th 2018 @ 11:00am | ! Report

            Cheika simply doesn’t rate Quade ( and he is not in a club of one ). I don’t think Toomua is in the same boat.

            • August 10th 2018 @ 11:09am
              John P said | August 10th 2018 @ 11:09am | ! Report

              That is most likely why the Wallabies have lost most of their tests with an inferior Bernard Foley at 10, because Cheika rates a player who is less superior than QC. Cheika doesn’t rate Toomua as a 10 , If he did rate him he wouldn’t have let Toomua catch that boat the Europe.

              • Roar Pro

                August 10th 2018 @ 4:25pm
                Melburnian said | August 10th 2018 @ 4:25pm | ! Report

                QC is in the same bracket as Carlos Spencer or Danny Cipriani. Heaps of talent but so unpredictable that coaches learn to avoid them. That’s why people like Foley, Farrell or Barrett get the No 10 jersey … because they are dependable and therefore their teammates know what to expect. Its not a slight on QC’s skills, just his approach.

                Secondly what exactly could Cheika do to stop Toomua heading to Europe when he did? Money talks and RA is / was basically broke.

              • Roar Rookie

                August 10th 2018 @ 6:59pm
                Dave_S said | August 10th 2018 @ 6:59pm | ! Report

                The WBs have lost tests for a multitude of reasons, putting it down to one obviously contestable selection doesn’t stand scrutiny.

                “He wouldn’t have let him catch that boat” is the stuff of rom com movies. Get a grip.

        • August 13th 2018 @ 10:23am
          Boggles the Mind said | August 13th 2018 @ 10:23am | ! Report

          Foley is totally useless. Foley and others Phipps Hooper Hanigan etc etc are the reasons why wallabies can`t win the big games. Every one of their opposites is superior to them.

    • August 10th 2018 @ 8:30am
      riddler said | August 10th 2018 @ 8:30am | ! Report

      excellent article fionn..

      well done mate..

      • August 10th 2018 @ 12:19pm
        Fionn said | August 10th 2018 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

        Cheers, Riddler. Hope the sun is blazing up there in Spain!

        • August 10th 2018 @ 7:28pm
          riddler said | August 10th 2018 @ 7:28pm | ! Report

          yes mate.. beautiful weather.. never complain about the warmth.. it is the cold and wet i try and avoid these days!!

    • August 10th 2018 @ 8:32am
      Jacko said | August 10th 2018 @ 8:32am | ! Report

      Cheika is a bit hard to read these days….he has certainly improved his non match day demeanor and 1 can only hope this transfers over to match day, where in the past, way to many times, he has blamed the world and beyond for things going against his team. We saw his petulence back over the Folau YC issue where he tries to make out the world is against him and his team
      Foley has certainly left points on the field this year with 2 games coming to mind where his misses were critical…the Tahs loss to the Saders when they had a massive lead yet blew, and the last test v Ireland are both games Foley has left points out on the field instead of banking them at crucial moments in the game.
      Aus is looking to be a tougher team than last year and will be desperately wanting to show this in the first test next week but I dont see where they will dominate the ABs enough to win the game or win the series. NZRU has given up the 3rd game to Japan so this neutral gorund will give Aus a shot at a series win that they would not have got if the WC was not next year yet I still just cannot see the Wallabies beating NZ 2 from 3…so as someone has said before……1 more year…..

      • Roar Rookie

        August 10th 2018 @ 9:52am
        Sage said | August 10th 2018 @ 9:52am | ! Report

        You accusing someone of petulance. I like it.
        Fionn is wrong about Foley. OK
        You just cannot see losing which is fair after 15 years. You’re probably right but imagine if your foresight was wrong though hey.
        I saw an article recently where George said if he knew how very upset he would make so many people he wouldn’t have been so nasty. At least he didn’t mock your accent Jacko.

        • August 10th 2018 @ 10:05am
          Riccardo said | August 10th 2018 @ 10:05am | ! Report

          We dunt huv un account Sage?!

        • August 10th 2018 @ 11:14am
          Jacko said | August 10th 2018 @ 11:14am | ! Report

          Sage I have a full blown Aus accent these days…living in Aus has done that…Yeah I think petulence is the right word for Cheika….but i also see him as getting better so lets see…….I guess if Im wrong then Aus wins the Bledisloe this year but as I say….I dont see the ABs losing 2 of 3…i see the young guys coming thru in Aus in 2020-2022 so maybe just a year or 2 after the WC……..Sorry but I dont know George…lol

          • Roar Guru

            August 10th 2018 @ 11:16am
            jeznez said | August 10th 2018 @ 11:16am | ! Report

            It was George who said “four more years”…. the guy you paraphrased in your last line

          • August 10th 2018 @ 11:37am
            Jacko said | August 10th 2018 @ 11:37am | ! Report

            Haha…OK got it…i wasnt actually refferring to that deliberately…too clever for my own good lol….

            • August 10th 2018 @ 12:21pm
              moa said | August 10th 2018 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

              Gregan would have said ‘fifteen more years’ were the tables turned Jacko! Your “one more year” was very restrained 😉

              • August 10th 2018 @ 12:33pm
                jacko said | August 10th 2018 @ 12:33pm | ! Report

                Yeah thats the problem with being a smart-a$$e I guess…these things can have a habit of coming back to bite…i like Gregan…he is good to listen too re Aus rugby and is not anti the ABs just for the sake of being anti like Kearns etc are.

              • Roar Rookie

                August 11th 2018 @ 6:40am
                Sage said | August 11th 2018 @ 6:40am | ! Report

                That’s the George, yeah. You said a while ago one of the reasons you’ve been here 30 odd years but still support the AB’s and all things NZ was that Aussies made fun of your accent. Must have been a while ago before you started speaking properly 😀

              • August 11th 2018 @ 9:18am
                Jacko said | August 11th 2018 @ 9:18am | ! Report

                What a stupid statement SAGE…..I am a Kiwi…So I support the ABs …Accent or not…thats where I come from and I will never support anyone else in any sport…..what would you expect when no one else is any different

              • August 11th 2018 @ 9:22am
                Fionn said | August 11th 2018 @ 9:22am | ! Report

                Actually, Jacko, I know plenty of people who have moved abroad after growing up in one country and started supporting their adoptive country instead of the country of their birth.

                My entire family is an example, for one. All of us will only ever support Australia.

              • August 11th 2018 @ 9:32am
                Jacko said | August 11th 2018 @ 9:32am | ! Report

                Fionn the stupid statement is that I support NZ because I dont like the Aus accent or some Aus gave me lip about my accent…its a pathetic take on anything I would have written and it is total BS…..I love the french accent…..and the Irish accent….Itialian accent…..and many other accents…….That has zero to do with who I support…..I am a Kiwi and will be until the day I die….Others can do what they like…I dont have to….

              • August 11th 2018 @ 9:34am
                Fionn said | August 11th 2018 @ 9:34am | ! Report

                Never said that you did, Jacko. I don’t think Sage said that you supported New Zealand because you didn’t like the Aussie accent either.

              • August 11th 2018 @ 9:44am
                Jacko said | August 11th 2018 @ 9:44am | ! Report

                Sage’s post…..You said a while ago one of the reasons you’ve been here 30 odd years but still support the AB’s and all things NZ was that Aussies made fun of your accent………….What do you get from that little snippit from Sage’s post? Aug 11…6.40pm…
                So yeah…Sage did say exactly that…

              • August 11th 2018 @ 9:50am
                Fionn said | August 11th 2018 @ 9:50am | ! Report

                Jacko, he didn’t say you ‘support NZ because I dont like the Aus accent’, and he said that the other was a factor (thereby implying there are others also) that resulted in your supporting the All Blacks. In my opinion you were changing his post to the point that it no longer conveyed his original point.

              • Roar Rookie

                August 11th 2018 @ 10:16am
                Sage said | August 11th 2018 @ 10:16am | ! Report

                Fair enough if you think the statement is stupid but just remember who made it and a hint, it wasn’t me. I was reminding you of what you stated, that’s all. I’m mucking around, don’t be offended.

              • August 11th 2018 @ 10:18am
                Jacko said | August 11th 2018 @ 10:18am | ! Report

                Well Fionn….i have copied and pasted….not re-written where i could get it wrong…and I have pointed out where it was said and the time it was said….I have done all I can do yet you still say SAGE did not say what is very clearly written in his post….I have nothing further to add re this matter

              • August 11th 2018 @ 10:36am
                Jacko said | August 11th 2018 @ 10:36am | ! Report

                OK SAGE…….If you want to cherry pick a word here or there without any context then I guess you must be right and I clearly only support NZ because i dont like the Aus accent….the same 1 I speak with…….
                Oh of course you are just mucking around…arnt we all?

              • August 12th 2018 @ 2:49pm
                Drongo said | August 12th 2018 @ 2:49pm | ! Report

                Are you an Australian citizen? Did you cross your fingers for the oath of allegiance? You can support whoever you like but don’t be a hypocrite and accept the benefits without paying the price. And that isn’t just taxation.

              • Roar Guru

                August 13th 2018 @ 6:58am
                taylorman said | August 13th 2018 @ 6:58am | ! Report

                What benefits? There arent any.

              • August 13th 2018 @ 6:13pm
                Drongo said | August 13th 2018 @ 6:13pm | ! Report

                There are if you take citizenship. If not, just living here is a huge privilege. One to be respected and honoured.

      • August 10th 2018 @ 12:20pm
        Fionn said | August 10th 2018 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

        I take some of your points, and I think the Wallabies will win back the Bledisloe, but as I said they don’t have to be the better team, just to play better than the All Blacks. Anything is possible in sport, however unlikely.

        • August 11th 2018 @ 9:24am
          Jacko said | August 11th 2018 @ 9:24am | ! Report

          I think the Wallabies will win back the Bledisloe, but as I said they don’t have to be the better team, just to play better than the All Blacks.

          great stratergy………Just play better than the better team…….I think that is called hoping the opposition plays terrible so you can win….2 out of 3 tests

          • August 11th 2018 @ 9:32am
            Fionn said | August 11th 2018 @ 9:32am | ! Report

            I don’t know whether you’re misinterpreting accidentally or on purpose, but I didn’t say that, Jacko.

            • August 11th 2018 @ 9:39am
              Jacko said | August 11th 2018 @ 9:39am | ! Report

              I copied and pasted from your post DIRECTLY above my reply so how could you say you didnt say that…the only thing I missed was the “and” in front.

              The reason the ABs are the better team is because they play better than other teams……Which part am I interpreting wrong?

              • August 11th 2018 @ 9:48am
                Fionn said | August 11th 2018 @ 9:48am | ! Report

                Sorry, I actually miswrote originally. I meant to say that I don’t think the Wallabies will win back the Bledisloe. If you had read the article, or any of the rest of my comments, it would have been evident that that was a typo. I make clear everywhere else that the All Blacks are favourites.

                However, even if I thought that the Wallabies would win it doesn’t require the All Blacks to play ‘terrible’. Not every match the All Blacks lose is through them playing poorly – sometimes the other team is just better despite being an inferior team. With the home field advantage this first Bledlisloe it is not unthinkable that the Wallabies will win. The All Blacks were very lucky with that kick off at the end of the Dunedin test (it was good skill from the All Blacks to earn a deserved victory, but it had luck also) and then the Wallabies won in Brisbane. If the Wallabies win this weekend then who knows what could happen in Japan, especially if the Wallabies are lucky and the All Blacks are unlucky with injuries.

              • August 11th 2018 @ 10:50am
                Jacko said | August 11th 2018 @ 10:50am | ! Report

                Oh OK I will read the article…..Geez…..
                not once have I said that Aus cannot win the Bledisloe….I dont THINK they can win 2 of the 3 but anything is possible and as I have stated many times, I believe Aus rugby is improving……I see 2020-2022 as the best years in the immediate future…….
                As for the Dunedin test well sure NZ were lucky ( or good enough)to score after Aus had gone ahead…..but you fail to mention the luck Aus had in getting a 17 point lead. An intercept then a scrum going backward so fast no AB could adjust in time…Luck…like the match…can go for more than 80mins per test, and is not just confined to the last few mins
                lets hope its about who plays best this weekend coming rather than luck or reffing and if AUS wins because they are the best side then we will hopefully all acknowledge that and move to the following weekend where i would expect a massive Backlash

              • August 11th 2018 @ 7:13pm
                Fionn said | August 11th 2018 @ 7:13pm | ! Report

                No worries, Jacko. For as much as we but heads I do enjoy your comments. Best of luck to the All Blacks this weekend too. May the best team win.

    • August 10th 2018 @ 8:35am
      John said | August 10th 2018 @ 8:35am | ! Report

      Fair and relatively balanced article, Fionn. Thank you.

      The one key area I believe Cheika will fail to win people over, and has been consistent in this area, is his selections. I believe we will see Hanigan and Robertson again, when there are clearly better choices available. The notion that these players are much improved is distasteful considering that concedes they should not have been there to begin with.

      I won’t go into his ongoing selection of Phipps, who may warrant a place in the match day squad, but should have been dropped for any number of on and off field acts.

      • Roar Rookie

        August 10th 2018 @ 10:31am
        Boomeranga said | August 10th 2018 @ 10:31am | ! Report

        Robertson was rightly not selected for the first test v Ireland and only got a chance once AAA got injured. He played pretty well thereafter. I’d still take Slipper but his lack of availability isn’t Cheika’s fault.

        I agree Hannigan isnt good enough yet, but I dispute the idea we have had clearly better choices available. We have struggled for years to find effective big backrows.

        • Roar Guru

          August 10th 2018 @ 11:24am
          jeznez said | August 10th 2018 @ 11:24am | ! Report

          As you say AA is the clear better choice and potentially Sliipper for the back up LH.

          Between Pocock, Hooper, Timu, Tui and Samu I think we do have a pretty clear alternate choice to Hanigan as well. Particularly if we go a 6/2 split.

          • Roar Rookie

            August 10th 2018 @ 11:39am
            Boomeranga said | August 10th 2018 @ 11:39am | ! Report

            I don’t think Pocock, Hooper and Samu are in competition with Hannigan though. They are or should be in competition with each other.

            Timu and Tui are alternatives for sure but they are also new blokes, not the finished article yet, and were not always available over the past year point five.

            I see Higginbotham as the bloke whose spot Hannigan has been taking, and I see him as a bloke whose good performances are really good but there has been a pretty big range.

            • Roar Guru

              August 10th 2018 @ 11:48am
              jeznez said | August 10th 2018 @ 11:48am | ! Report

              I’ve listed out the full backrow unit that I expect Cheika would be willing to roll with.

              Timu, Tui and Samu are the guys in competition with Hanigan, one as a starter and the other two in contention for bench roles.

              Hanigan is certainly still a new bloke and not the finished article yet either.

              • Roar Rookie

                August 10th 2018 @ 12:48pm
                Boomeranga said | August 10th 2018 @ 12:48pm | ! Report

                Yep.

                The point I was trying to make to John initially is that had we had good big back rowers to pick from, Ned wouldn’t have been in the picture yet. We have lacked a depth of good big men for the back row for years.

                Tui is my choice over Ned if Tui can show he has the speed and engine for the role. He is certainly more effective physically than Ned at this stage. I suspect Ned might be a better athlete and all round rugby player.

              • August 10th 2018 @ 2:21pm
                Nick said | August 10th 2018 @ 2:21pm | ! Report

                Tui is miles ahead of hanigan

              • August 10th 2018 @ 12:52pm
                Fionn said | August 10th 2018 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

                I actually really rate Timu as a rugby player. I think that he was unlucky to cop that injury early in the second test against Ireland.

              • August 10th 2018 @ 2:54pm
                Boggles the Mind said | August 10th 2018 @ 2:54pm | ! Report

                We all know Hanigan will be in the Wallaby 23. Stop beating around the bush.

                Timu, Tui and Samu . One of these blokes will miss out, quite possibly two.

              • August 10th 2018 @ 10:02pm
                Dahl said | August 10th 2018 @ 10:02pm | ! Report

                Fardy. Mowen. Higginbotham. Kimlin.

      • August 10th 2018 @ 12:21pm
        Fionn said | August 10th 2018 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

        I think Robertson has improved, but I do hope Alaalatoa is considered there.

        As for Hanigan, I wonder whether Tui might have played him out of contention. Timu is definitely a stronger option off the bench also.

        • Roar Rookie

          August 10th 2018 @ 12:55pm
          Boomeranga said | August 10th 2018 @ 12:55pm | ! Report

          Tui has looked good hey.

          I’ve noticed you wonder as to his speed for the position which is the same thought I have. I really hope he does make it. He is one of those guys who seems to love the battle, which is something I feel we have often lacked.

          • August 10th 2018 @ 1:01pm
            Fionn said | August 10th 2018 @ 1:01pm | ! Report

            ‘He is one of those guys who seems to love the battle, which is something I feel we have often lacked.’

            Yeah, absolutely. Great point that I hadn’t thought of. Fardy had it too before him, and I think his aggression and love of the physical stuff was crucial in the RWC. As much as I acutually thought Timani was a quality player I think he seemed to lack that attitude Tui and Fardy give off.

            Yeah, I hope Tui has the speed. If he does then he could be our Danie Rossouw..

            • August 10th 2018 @ 1:52pm
              The Slow Eater said | August 10th 2018 @ 1:52pm | ! Report

              Fionn. Thanks for the article – much appreciated. There are certainly reasons to be optimistic, and as long as we continue to see improvement that would be great.

              On the back row – I also think Dempsey is one that has the mongrel that Fardy displays. Hopefully he’ll be back soon !

            • Roar Guru

              August 10th 2018 @ 8:33pm
              RobC said | August 10th 2018 @ 8:33pm | ! Report

              Aggression wise. I’d rate Fards as 6. Tui as 9

          • August 10th 2018 @ 3:59pm
            Connor33 said | August 10th 2018 @ 3:59pm | ! Report

            Great point re Tui and Fardy. Was Fardy from the western suburbs as well. Both as tough as nails.

            Was of the reason why I scrum was strong during the WC was because of Fardy pushing like a 3rd second rower behind the TH. Tui I think is I think even better.

            Tui just needs to work hard at the ruck work and help protect Pocock when he is poaching. He’s going to have to learn to put his head in dark places—as Fardy did.

            • August 11th 2018 @ 8:11am
              Max Power said | August 11th 2018 @ 8:11am | ! Report

              Fards grew up in the mean streets of Newport.

    • August 10th 2018 @ 8:54am
      Mzilikazi said | August 10th 2018 @ 8:54am | ! Report

      Nice article, Fionn. Thanks.

      You make a lot of good points, and there is certainly more optimism in the air currently. I would hope that the very fine margins between these top teams in the world see the WB’s getting over the line for two wins this time. What would be most disappointing would be a collapse and a blowout score in an AB win.

      “the Wallabies do not need to be the better team overall, just to play better on the night ” That is a very astute comment, and that is where the wins can come for the WB’s. For all their power and might, these AB’s are human, and can be pressured into mistakes. And that is where the WB’s must start…pressure in all areas of the game, applied throughout and with a high level of concentration.

      I would also like to see the tap penalty used a lot, especially near the line, where the lineout option is taken. The AB’s will have a strong disruptive lineout, and will defend the drive well, if the Crusaders Lions final is any guide….which I would say it is.

      And not just a tap and run, but a series of different options used on the tap. For example, setting up a driving maul, or the scrum half tapping and running across field and giving a short pass to a player running into a hole, or simply spinning the ball to the far wing….endless options, and these used to be a big part of the game in the past.

      • August 10th 2018 @ 12:22pm
        Fionn said | August 10th 2018 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

        Thanks mate. How are things?

        I actually think you’re right, when used well it can be a gamebreaker. Aaron Smith’s decision making about when to use it is wonderful. I actually think Genia is capable of that too.

        • August 10th 2018 @ 3:26pm
          Mzilikazi said | August 10th 2018 @ 3:26pm | ! Report

          Pretty good up here…lovely winters day. Good discussions on your article…will read all tonight when I have a bit more time………you will begin to rival Nic, Geoff and Brett if you keep writing !!!

          • August 10th 2018 @ 7:31pm
            Fionn said | August 10th 2018 @ 7:31pm | ! Report

            I’m sorry mate I’ve totally blanked on where you are at the moment! It wasn’t the Atherton Tablelands was it?

            You’re too kind my friend, haha.

            • August 10th 2018 @ 8:27pm
              Mzilikazi said | August 10th 2018 @ 8:27pm | ! Report

              Toowoomba now…..nice high country…..cooler in summer, and warmer in winter than the lowlands. Only about an hour and three quarters from Suncorp !

              • August 10th 2018 @ 8:49pm
                Fionn said | August 10th 2018 @ 8:49pm | ! Report

                Ah, it’s a really nice city. I went on a tennis trip there once.

      • August 10th 2018 @ 5:01pm
        MitchO said | August 10th 2018 @ 5:01pm | ! Report

        I like the old attacking scrum. Lock down eight kiwi forwards and you give Folau a truck load of space to run into. Folau as a decoy works too.

        RHP is a big unit with plenty of anger in him. I have not heard much from you guys about him this year. Did he have a bad season? I get the impression the Melbourne forwards were either inconsistent or underwhelming at times.

        I do like Tui though. He seems to have a lot of drive and hopefully Holloway is inspired. He is a sufficiently big unit.

        • August 11th 2018 @ 8:02am
          Rob said | August 11th 2018 @ 8:02am | ! Report

          Yep, attacking scrum. Our lineout is dodgy, ABs lineout is #1 – so turnover odds too high. Our scrum is now consistent, and our backline with room should convert those chances much better than a lineout. It’s not the right play for every team, but in this situation it really is.

    • Roar Rookie

      August 10th 2018 @ 9:01am
      Paul D said | August 10th 2018 @ 9:01am | ! Report

      Very even keeled article. Criticism where it’s deserved, but not dismissive of the gains made. Good work

      • August 10th 2018 @ 12:23pm
        Fionn said | August 10th 2018 @ 12:23pm | ! Report

        Thanks mate. Enjoy your weekend!

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