The current Wallabies should be rested.
Not because they necessarily deserve said break. After an arduous and unsuccessful tour of Europe (arduous for the fans to watch, unsuccessful for the playing group), several years of Australian rugby fans kept in desperation for wins, and after that hope became forlorn, daydreaming of any positives in terms of development or forward momentum, many of us have become disillusioned with the current wallabies squad and coaching group.
With good reason.
An article was recently written by Rhys Bosley outlining his thoughts as to why the Wallabies higher echelon should be rested, and I enjoyed the article so much, whilst disagreeing, so that it pushed me to write my first article on The Roar, a medium I have enjoyed for several years and have wanted to contribute but never had the bravery to do so.
So without further ado, let me begin.
The Wallabies have struggled for several years, a major reason for this is the lack of new prospects coming through, especially in key positions, such as flyhalf, scrumhalf, fullback and hooker.
As we all know, these are the most important positions after the front row, so it presents a problem (apologies I am an ex-front rower, so excuse the bias)!
This article will stick to (or attempt to) The Roar’s suggestion of 700 words or less, and as being concise is not my natural state, so I will not be discussing coaching methods, selection processes, coaches, centralisation of the code, the importance of the NRC (thanks Brett McKay), our lack of options for coaching the national team, divisions between states, strong players leaving to overseas due to no opportunities, and the disengagement from grassroots to the national team. These are all issues facing our nation in regards to the sport that William Webb Ellis famously started by showing “a fine disregard for the rules of football”.
Alas, I picked a topic for my first article, and I will stick to it!
Currently players such as David Pockock, Will Genia, and as much as I am undecided about the players final positions or warranted selections, Michael Hooper, Kurtley Beale, Israel Folau and Bernard Foley need some sort of break before the Word Cup. No matter how much rugby they have, or have not played, currently these players are where our hopes lie.
Wherein lies our problem.
Does New Zealand fall into a heap if they play without any of their top players? Of course not, they have several players that can fill the gaps. In every position.
If they don’t have one, they will find one. Probably in local club rugby, currently sinking schooners at halftime, such is their depth. We all remember when New Zealand won the 2011 World Cup with their third choice flyhalf, in Aaron Cruden. As if we don’t need a reminder as to their depth.
Depth is the very reason I propose we rest our players. Michael Cheika has currently not tested our depth, and for the sake of self preservation, can we blame him?
We may have all thought that due to his not needing the income, his previous success in other avenues (who would have thought a “multi-million dollar fashion business owner”, and speaker of “fluent Arabic, French and Italian” (thanks Wikipedia), would become our national coach?), that if results didn’t occur he would bow out.
Results haven’t occurred. He certainly hasn’t bowed out. Due to poor results, recently he has chased results, possibly to justify “his plan”, and garner support for said plan. This hasn’t occurred, so now he is in a hole, that I cannot see him digging himself out of.
Due to Rugby Australia’s financial position, or lack thereof, a lack of potential Australian-born rugby coaches (not that I believe Australia necessarily needs an Australian coach, but I can’t see anybody of high quality taking over in the current situation), I cannot see them sacking him.
Therefore, for the first time, in a long time, I agree with Cheika’s reported plan of resting players. In a situation where players are rested, this therein increases our chances of seeing potential dark horses, that could change the game.
In order to stick to The Roar’s “tips on how to be a better Roar writer”, I will provide my version of evidence, provided by the great source that is Wikipedia. Therefore, I guarantee nothing.
Current top seven Rugby Nations, as per The Roar’s rankings
– New Zealand
– South Africa
Australia sits at six. So let’s talk about the average number of caps for the current squads in the top seven (as there is a drop after this on the rankings, and I have already run out of words)
New Zealand has 40 caps as an average;
Ireland has 28 caps as an average;
Wales has 28 caps as an average;
England has 26 caps as an average;
South Africa has 23 caps as an average;
Australia has 38 caps as an average;
Scotland has 20 caps as an average.
Now I am going to employ the author’s prerogrative, and ignore New Zealand’s results. They are the best, whether they win or lose the world cup, whether they drop in rankings, it will be some time, until they aren’t considered the benchmark, and I believe (but can’t back up with facts), that New Zealand has a higher number of caps on average, as they continually blood players, and use their bench.
They also can afford to blood players, and use their bench, when they keep winning. The buggers.
Let’s however ignore the unbelievable success rate of New Zealand, as most of know us have given up on thoughts of beating New Zealand consistently. Australia has 25 per cent more caps on average then other current top tier nations. Yet they haven’t performed.
I would argue that the closest country to Australia in their current situation of poor results is South Africa, and they currently have the lowest caps on average. They have also been progressing in the last few years. Australia has not.
So let’s rest players, let’s unearth some playmakers, let’s find some game changers, let’s find some Aussie spirit, let’s find some damned ticker.
Let’s hope if that happens, our coach gives them a crack.
Like a lot of us, I would rather we give it a crack, rather then fail Einstein’s insanity test in “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
Albeit, if the status quo continues, I am happy for another Einstein quote to rain true.
“What is right is not always popular, and what is popular is not always right.”
As if nothing changes, I do hope Cheika is proved correct.