Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose – “the more things change, the more they continue to be the same thing”.
Ten-time player of the year Roy ‘Crackling’ Pork and lifetime MVP Wayne ‘Spanks’ Spankle sit down at the bar to get to the bottom of everything that’s going on in the world of sports.
CRACKLING: Well, Spanks, the Wallabies went down to the All Blacks, and I haven’t seen anything so predictable since Smugsie Trumbull turned up to Mad Monday in a Godzilla onesie and threw up on the entire Daddo family.
SPANKS: I admire the Wallabies. They’ve found a way to be incredibly predictable and wildly disappointing at the same time. And you know what the problem is?
CRACKLING: Social media.
SPANKS: What? No.
CRACKLING: I thought it might be, it’s the problem with everything else.
SPANKS: No mate, the problem with the Wallabies is: coddling.
CRACKLING: Ah yeah. Coddling.
SPANKS: Too much coddling, mate. Look at how the Wallabies of today get treated. Luxury hotel rooms, business class flights, masseurs, dietitians, sports psychologists. Their every desire catered to. Now is that any way to breed a warrior tribe?
CRACKLING: Spanks, I reckon it’s not.
SPANKS: Of course it’s not! Look at the ’84 Wallabies. They won the Grand Slam, and why? Because Alan Jones treated ’em mean, kept ’em keen. He had them carry backpacks full of rocks through every training session. He fed them nothing but porridge. He made them sleep naked in the street the night before every game, to make sure they kept their edge. And it worked a treat.
CRACKLING: You think we need a bit more of the Jonesy spirit, Spanks?
SPANKS: For sure. Jonesy knows what’s what. I know because I asked him.
CRACKLING: As you know, Spanks, I’m a bit of a sports scientist.
SPANKS: Institute of Grog Studies!
CRACKLING: Anyway, I did an in-depth analysis of the Wallabies’ loss to the All Blacks, and the stats point to a few very clear facts that Michael Cheika – or Jonesy, if the ARU comes to its senses – need to address right away. First of all, the lineouts – Australia needs to switch immediately to a policy of winning some.
SPANKS: I totally agree. At first I thought Cheika’s new strategy of losing our own lineouts was fresh and bold, but sometimes the old ways are the best.
CRACKLING: Secondly, the Wallabies need to adopt a new approach to the ball.
CRACKLING: I see it as a two-pronged approach: one, get the ball. Two, hold onto the ball.
SPANKS: And you see that as the answer?
CRACKLING: There are no silver bullets, Spanks, but getting and keeping the ball will definitely put upward pressure on Australia’s scoreline.
Speaking of which, I crunched the numbers from the Test and another thing stood out to me: New Zealand scored a lot of tries, and Australia scored only one. I would suggest doing something about that.
SPANKS: And what do you think they should do?
CRACKLING: I think they should make it the other way round.
SPANKS: Well, let’s hope the backroom boys listen to you, Crackers.
CRACKLING: Of course, there was more football on the weekend than just rugby.
SPANKS: There certainly was. I was at the Geelong-Fremantle game.
CRACKLING: How did the Dockers look?
SPANKS: Hard to say, they weren’t there.
CRACKLING: Not there?
SPANKS: Nope, never showed up. Some said they missed the bus. Others said they’d been kidnapped.
CRACKLING: So Geelong’s job was pretty easy then
SPANKS: Pretty easy, yes. Not that it matters really: the Tiges have got it wrapped up.
CRACKLING: Captain Blood would be proud of this mob, Spanks. They play it hard, they play it fair, and they kick more goals than the other team, and that’s the Jack Dyer philosophy to a T.
SPANKS: Apart from the “play it fair” bit.
CRACKLING: Apart from that, yes. But this is 2018 and as much as Dimma would love to say Bachar, Dusty, Rancid, get out there and bust some scones, it’s not a good look.
SPANKS: Not a good look at all. But speaking of Dimma, good to see that the Richmond model of sticking fat with the coach is catching on. Look at Collingwood.
CRACKLING: I prefer not to, to be honest.
SPANKS: They kept faith in Nathan Buckley and now they’re reaping the spoils.
CRACKLING: If only NRL clubs would take a leaf out of that tree. What’s going on with that merry-go-round?
SPANKS: I think it’s pretty clear that Bennett’s gone.
CRACKLING: He’s gone for all money. In today’s climate you can’t hold a disloyal barbecue and expect to keep your job.
SPANKS: Things have changed since the days when Ron Willey was given carte blanche to hold as many barbecues as he liked.
CRACKLING: Frank Stanton used to barbecue on the sidelines during games. Nobody minded. Chicka Ferguson would light his Winnie Reds off the coals. And at halftime, all the players would get a snag.
SPANKS: Whereas these days, every player is a snag.
(pause for lengthy wheezes of laughter)
CRACKLING: Anyway, Bennett’s gone, he’ll probably end up on the Gold Coast with Darius Boyd as his assistant. Seibold to Brisbane, Griffin to Souths, Maguire to Penrith, Cleary to Melbourne …
SPANKS: Bellamy’s gone?
CRACKLING: No, Ivan’s just going for a long weekend. And obviously the new coach of the Roosters will be Cam Munster.
SPANKS: What about Trent Barrett?
CRACKLING: Well Des Hasler will return to Manly. So will Geoff Toovey. But Barrett won’t leave. They’ll have to all coach simultaneously. Kind of like The Voice.
SPANKS: Well I’m not Johnny Farnham, Cracks – if this is The Voice, I don’t understand it.
CRACKLING: I’ll drink to that.