James O’Connor has returned to the Wallabies’ flyhalf jersey for the side’s final Test of the year against Argentina this Saturday.
After yet another loss by the Wallabies, this time to the Springboks 12-23 at Port Elizabeth. You would have to think that Michael Cheika’s position as coach of the Wallabies will now come under intense scrutiny.
With just two wins from eight Tests in 2018 it’s little wonder that Tony Shaw, a tough and uncompromising former Wallabies captain, was seen looking despondent in the grandstand.
Sure, if Folau had passed the ball to Bernard Foley with the tryline wide open (instead of butchering the try) with seconds remaining in the Wallabies’ game against Argentina on the Gold Coast, then the Wallabies record would be slightly better.
That being said it’s unfair to blame Folau for one poor decision as he’s consistently been one of the best Wallabies over a long period of time.
A win would have only masked the issues that appear to be festering in the Wallabies at the moment, with the main issue appearing to be that there is no set structure.
You only have to look at Michael Hooper who seems to spend more time out on the wing than around the breakdown where an open side flanker should be to pilfer the ball back for his team.
As a long time rugby union fan I’ve also been baffled by some of Cheika’s recent selections, in particular playing Kurtley Beale at number 10 and Israel Folau at number 14.
In the match the Wallabies just lost to the Springboks, Beale made a number of incisive breaks and was clearly the Wallabies’ most potent attacking weapon. Therefore, it would seem to make sense to have him at either centre or fullback.
On the other hand Folau was starved of possession on the right wing so he should also be at either centre or fullback where he can get his hands on the ball a lot more.
Then we also shouldn’t forget that Australian rugby has two former Wallabies who have been in the wilderness playing park football this year in Quade Cooper and Karmichael Hunt.
Yes, they have their deficiencies and have transgressed, but they also have an x-factor, something that the Wallabies at present are sadly lacking.
The other thing that makes absolutely no sense at all is why Rugby Australia doesn’t utilise former Wallaby greats like John Eales, David Campese, Nick Farr-Jones, Tim Horan and Tony Shaw in a coaching or mentoring capacity.
With the World Cup to be held in Japan just one year away, it’s high time that those in charge reviewed Cheika’s position urgently.
The Wallabies current World ranking of seventh is unacceptable and with possible further losses in the Rugby Championship on the horizon they may slide even lower down the rankings.