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The Roar



Inefficient, injured and inept... How on earth did the Wallabies end up here?

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Roar Guru
21st September, 2023
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Australia is on the verge of missing out on the quarter finals of the Rugby World Cup for the very first time in the competition’s history. How a nation that has won the World Cup twice and been a finalist twice can have fallen so badly?

And why are hasty decisions are now backfiring and costing Rugby Australia so much shame?

There is no doubt Eddie Jones is a great coach, but, why appoint him 9 months out from the World Cup to rebuild a team that has been preparing for the past 3 years under Dave Rennie? This is pure madness.

Yes, Rennie’s record was not that great but at the same time, there were some encouraging results that were ignored or pushed under the carpet (two close defeats to the top two teams in the world during November), and the polished performance against New Zealand where the result was overturned by the referee’s pedantic interpretation of the laws.

Since then, what have we seen? The Eddie Jones bragging show – we are going to win in South Africa, the Bledisloe Cup is ours and the NZ economy will nose-dive, we are genuine contenders for the World Cup… Except that the results have not been there, and the selection policy has been pure nonsense.

The Wallabies react after losing to Fiji at the Rugby World Cup. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

You do not embark on a World Cup adventure without key experienced players and that was clearly visible against Fiji. How can you give the conduct of the game to Carter Gordon who is an unproved player at that level? The poor guy needs more time to learn and should have been the understudy of Quade Cooper or Bernard Foley.


What happened to talented players like Andrew Kellaway who has not played a single minute in this World Cup? And what about the balance of the back row, totally dominated at the breakdown by Fiji?

Australia was always able to produce outstanding backrowers like George Smith, Phil Waugh, David Pocock, Michael Hooper… No-one is taking up the mantle in this team and we start realising that leaving Michael Hooper behind may not have been such a good idea when the team is under pressure.

What about the coaching staff? A rabble of inexperienced ex-rugby league players who do not understand the game of union, especially the breakdown phase. A defence coach who has never coached at that level. The forward coaches are inept as we can see from the performance of the front 5 and the domination of the Fijian scrum.

The inefficiency of the maul is flagrant. Eddie Jones has surrounded himself with people who will not question or threaten him but who do not appear to have the necessary credentials to coach a top national team. Talented coaches like Dan McKellar quickly got the message and left for Leicester. Laurie Fisher was pushed out and criticised for raising concerns.

Of even more concern is the number of injuries.

Allan Alaalatoa. (Photo by Morgan Hancock/Getty Images)


Rugby is a contact sport and we can expect injuries during games. But soft tissue injuries during training sessions? That is unacceptable when those athletes should be at the peak of their performance.

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That raises the question around the competency of our conditioners and fitness experts – why do we “break” so many players during training session? Why do we have so many Australian players with a ruptured Achilles? Quade Cooper, Taniela Tupou, Rob Leota, Allan Alaalatoa in a 1 year period. That should raise questions, especially when we compare to other nations. The Top 14, with its large number of games, does not break that many Achilles. In fact, no French international is out due to a ruptured Achilles.

Jones should have been appointed post World Cup to build a new team. You do not build a new team for an impending World Cup, especially when you get rid of key experienced players before the tournament and cap untested players at that level. This is nonsense and pure madness. You cannot win a World Cup like that.

Hopefully, this generation will not be traumatised by a likely early exit of the World Cup and will be able to grow to face the British and Irish Lions and successfully represent Australia in 2027.