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Can the Wallabies bank on Banks?

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Roar Rookie
8th July, 2021
2418 Reads

Historically, the only safe place to store your money was in a bank.

You had no worries about accessing your money and were comfortable with it being there. You could even get a modest return on your investment relatively risk-free. Besides, what other options do you have?

Trust in banks remained fairly solid. At least until the global financial crisis (GFC) and more recently the banking royal commission. People realised that trust was misplaced.

In part out of the GFC emerged cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, which are designed to turn the financial system on its head and make banks irrelevant.

Now, you may ask what this has to do with rugby.

Well, the Wallabies have a Banks crisis, and we need a crypto.

Current Wallabies fullback Tom Banks is causing a confidence crisis among the following public. They just don’t see him as a safe option to invest Wallabies resources. He has never reached his potential at Test level, too inconsistent on his returns. Fans want that 100-time return.

Tom Banks of the Wallabies runs the ball

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

So what makes a good fullback?


It used to be good speed, a good kick, good defence, good positional play, good decision-making and good communication.

Good speed: He needs to be as quick as the wingers and just as quick off the mark.

Good kick: He needs to be able to kick tactically either short, long or high and mostly pick the right option.

Good defence: He needs to be able to tackle or at least slow the behemoth down until the cavalry arrive. He needs to be solid under the high ball, 90-plus per cent solid.

Good positional play: He needs to have the ability to be in the right place at the right time, whether attacking or defending. He needs to be able to read the game.

Good decision-making: He needs to make the correct decision most of the time – when to chime into a backline move, follow a breakout, run it or kick and chase. He needs to know when to stay in the defensive line or drop back for a kick.

Good communication: Finally, he needs to rally the troops in defence and inform playmakers of the opposition back three tendencies. Talk like brothers with the wingers.


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While these still apply today, the modern fullback needs additional abilities. These extras skills are aerial abilities, line busting, tackle evading, playmaking and game changing.

Goal kicking is still a bonus.

Aerial abilities: He needs to be able to soar above the clouds, pick the ball from the heavens to score tries.

Line busting: He needs to be able to bust tackles like you are playing against 12-year-olds and bend the gain line when tackled.


Tackle evading: He needs to be like Casper the friendly ghost and leave the opponents grasping air.

Playmaking: As modern No. 12s are forwards in disguise, he needs to be able to take over the playmaking from the flyhalf, set up tries and win games.

Game changing: He needs to be able to make that game-changing play every five to ten touches of the ball.

When you look at all the requirements for a good fullback, it’s not hard to see why the Wallabies struggle to find someone for such a demanding role. Usually the fullback is great at some, good at most and average at a few.

My favourite fullback of all time is Christian Cullen – I could watch him all day – but even he didn’t tick off all that list.

You can thank modern fullbacks such as the Barretts, Damian McKenzie, Israel Folau and others for the additions.


We have our Banks, so who is our crypto?

When you look at the Wallabies options for fullback, there aren’t any that stand out.

Reece Hodge is a solid performer and a safe option. He is not known for his speed, especially off the mark.

Jack Maddocks has the skills and potentially the speed, but his headspace needs a lot of work.

Jordan Petaia? You are either a fullback or you are not, even wingers know this, and I think Petaia is more dangerous in the centres.

Tom Wright? Great skills, great potential. Would be a possibility if his decision-making were to improve.

There may be other players as options, and I will leave that for others to discuss.


So where does this leave Banks?

Banks reminds me of Chris Latham but without the self-belief. He needs to win back the public by performing well, minimising errors and bringing some Super Rugby exploits to the Test arena. He needs to improve his in-tackle contact, leg drive and recycling of the ball.

He has plenty to work on, he has a lot of positives; he just needs the self-belief and time.

Will he get the time? I hope so. If he can reach his potential, we might have that fullback that can go from good to great.

If not, who’s your crypto?