The Roar
The Roar

Geoff Parkes

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Joined October 2012

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Geoff is a Melbourne based sports fanatic and writer, who started contributing to The Roar in 2012, originally under the pen name Allanthus. His first book, A World in Conflict; the Global Battle For Rugby Supremacy was released in Dec 2017 to critical acclaim. For details on the book visit www.geoffparkes.com Meanwhile, his twin goals of achieving a single figure golf handicap and owning a fast racehorse remain tantalisingly out of reach.

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I was against taking Petaia on tour Jez, because I don’t think it will do him any good, at 18, putting him into such a confused and misfiring backline.

But now that he’s there, and after this abject performance, I agree that Toomua/Kerevi/Petaia at 10, 12 and 13 is well worth a look.

The Wrap: Cheika and Jones both losers, but heading down very different paths

Yes Chas, I think the consensus is that the rankings don’t mean too much in terms of directly assessing sides – the margins are very slim and the reality is that almost all of the major nations can beat each other on any given day.

They weren’t great with the ball themselves, but I thought Wales deserve credit because they anticipated the way Australia would play and brought the right defensive plan to the match. They rushed the midfield and pushed the Wallabies attack wider and deeper, and correctly identified that they weren’t going to be overcome by big ball runners as an alternative.
Then they just sat back and waited for the loose kicking to start…

The Wrap: Cheika and Jones both losers, but heading down very different paths

The good thing for the Argies Rob is that with Ledesma, they have the right coach in place to fix the scrum. But there are issues around local v overseas based players to overcome too.

The Wrap: Cheika and Jones both losers, but heading down very different paths

Understand your sentiment entirely Puff.
It’s good to extend the benefit of the doubt, but there is also a point where enough is enough.

The Wrap: Cheika and Jones both losers, but heading down very different paths

Hi Hugh

I put in a few games back to back, but sorry to say that I missed USA V Samoa.

I like your perspective about the game and I agree that too much of the criticism is over the top. But we can’t ignore repeated failings, and so I’m also now of the opinion that the Neville Chamberlain-style ‘appeasement’ phase is over, and that affirmative action for coaching change is required for the Wallabies.

The Wrap: Cheika and Jones both losers, but heading down very different paths

I don’t think there are many ‘Brazilians’ in Japan, Digger, it’s not really their thing.
But yes, I take your point, these weekends when there are a multiple internationals really drives home what a great global game rugby is.

The Wrap: Cheika and Jones both losers, but heading down very different paths

Hi robbo

Cheika is a great one for ‘against the odds’ ‘backs to the wall’ performances.
Perhaps we’re all being set up for one of the great Wallabies’ victories at Twickenham???

As for Stephen Jones? Hmmm….

The Wrap: Cheika and Jones both losers, but heading down very different paths

🙂

I see you’re not offering up John Mitchell, James?

The Wrap: Cheika and Jones both losers, but heading down very different paths

Yes, good point.

The Wrap: Cheika and Jones both losers, but heading down very different paths

“there is solace in watching the other games of international rugby around the place…”

Another reminder Grotto that for all of the negativity in Australia we are constantly subjected to, about how rugby is a dying sport etc… the game as a whole is actually in very good health!

Also a reminder to Brett Gosper who framed his proposal for a new global Test championship as a means of overcoming the amount of ‘friendly’ matches, as if there was some parallel to soccer internationals.

One look at the intensity and emotion around the Boks v France and England v NZ matches, or what is in store in Dublin this week, tells us that there is no such thing in Test rugby as a ‘friendly’.

The Wrap: Cheika and Jones both losers, but heading down very different paths

Hi Harry

The commentators suggested otherwise, but I understand that Hartley was replaced for a thumb injury.

Yes the Boks bench won them the game – add Colby cheese to that list too! Although that instant score from the botched kick-off was really the little bit of luck they needed to turn the momentum.

The Wrap: Cheika and Jones both losers, but heading down very different paths

Yes Chook, long may the Victoria reign…!!

The Wrap: Cheika and Jones both losers, but heading down very different paths

Hi Fox, personally I like Itoje as a player, among other things he proved himself last year with the Lions. But I understand that for many, he remains an enigma.

But as James concurs above, Retallick remains the testing material at lock.

The Wrap: Cheika and Jones both losers, but heading down very different paths

Carrots are reputedly good for eyesight Sinclair.
Probably – but not necessarily – a pre-requisite for sports journalism 🙂

The Wrap: Cheika and Jones both losers, but heading down very different paths

You were doing well James until you introduced Kaplan as your wing man… 🙂

It’s hard to respect a man who knows exactly how difficult it is to be a referee, but then tries to make a name for himself bagging refereeing decisions – many of which are subjective and all of which are made without the benefit of the multiple replays he affords himself.

The Wrap: Cheika and Jones both losers, but heading down very different paths

Hi Goatee

Good point about the England scrum. And I agree about the rain – the AB’s don’t mind that, and for as many people who claim it’s a leveller, there’s as many who believe that skill differences are enhanced. It’s not as if the AB’s just rely on a running game – they are a high quality set piece and forwards based side as well.

Re Hartley, the commentators were suggesting at first that he’d been replaced for tactical reasons and that this signalled that it was close to the end of the road for him, but I believe he was substituted for injury – which sheds a different light.

The Boks v France might not have had the same overall skill level but it was a wonderful contest throughout with a genuinely thrilling finish.

The Wrap: Cheika and Jones both losers, but heading down very different paths

That’s the point I make in the article mz, the ball may look ‘out’, but referees are allowing the halfback time to work the ball around, get set and then only call it out once the halfback picks it up. Or else, if they feel the ball has squeezed out a bit more, they might let the the defenders play at it.

But it’s a very grey area. Often halfbacks have to reach in and pull the ball out – they are in effect holding it off the ground, but is that deemed ‘out’ or not? And what constitutes illegal blocking in front of the halfback, or is ruled as blokes just inadvertently being in the way?

I believe that Perenara did on Sat was consistent with how things are being interpreted now, ie, setting himself up for the kick, and we’d have a very different game if Lawes and other players were allowed to come around in that type of situation.

The Wrap: Cheika and Jones both losers, but heading down very different paths

Hi Corne

No comment from you on the Boks v France match? Or are you still too traumatised? What a finish that was, fantastic theatre.

I really felt sorry for Bastareaud, who had taken over the captaincy – he accepted a couple of contentious calls without argument and focused immediately on getting his team organised. But in the end the Boks still found a way to steal it.

Nick B has outlined before how fast Retallick is at getting up and in front of his opponent – and here it was beautifully executed.

The Wrap: Cheika and Jones both losers, but heading down very different paths

Agree on all counts.

One thing that was interesting was the scrums. Through the week there was a fair bit of speculation about how NZ would exploit a potential England weakness, but no dice. In reality, I’m struggling to ever recall a weak England scrum.

The Wrap: Cheika and Jones both losers, but heading down very different paths

Hi Derek

Yes selection for this week should prove very interesting. I can’t see how Beale retains his spot, and, as you say, Genia will surely be fully rested for Phipps/Gordon.

I’d be surprised though if Hooper is rested, he will certainly want to play and he did miss a few weeks fairly recently.

The Wrap: Cheika and Jones both losers, but heading down very different paths

Solid rant Fionn!

I think it’s fair enough for rugby writers to be broadly supportive of the coach and contribute to a positive narrative around the national team and the game as a whole – with the rider that constructive criticism is applied when justified.

And the same applies to Rugby Australia. The circumstances that led to McKenzie’s resignation were unusual and unexpected, and I think it was entirely reasonable to employ Cheika as the best candidate available, and back him through to the 2019 RWC. He might have been slightly fortunate at the 2015 RWC, but all sides get good and bad luck, and 2nd place was a fair return and good reason to be optimistic, and hence they have been (rightly imo) backing their man.

But Cheika’s side has regressed and to watch that backline completely grind to a halt in the second half against Wales was, as you say, sad. Let’s not underestimate Wales and their smart defensive set-up, (rush the midfield, force the interchanges to occur wide and deep) but it shouldn’t have taken much tactical nous to realise that Wales would have been ready and waiting for this, and to employ a more direct game plan.

As such, unless there is a stark turnaround against England, I don’t expect the status quo to continue.

The Wrap: Cheika and Jones both losers, but heading down very different paths

Morning Hugo,

You’ve stumbled upon the reason why I write a Monday column and not a Friday column 🙂

But since you’ve asked…

I think the AB’s have more in the tank this tour than in recent years (Whitelock and Taylor possibly excepted). Of course they can be beaten but they’re still a damn fine side, with an excellent bench.

All sides lift for the AB’s, but Ireland seem to do this better than any side. And they have no apparent weaknesses in their 23, albeit the dreadfully unlucky O’Brien will be a huge loss.

It all points to another epic game… AB’s by 5pts!

The Wrap: Cheika and Jones both losers, but heading down very different paths

Yes, thanks IC, I discovered that last night after I’d posted. Assumed it was closed, especially given the rain in London. I hope I’m forgiven… 🙂

The Wrap: Cheika and Jones both losers, but heading down very different paths

I don’t criticise Hooper at all for speaking optimistically at post-match pressers Cole. It’s just a bit of theatre, and some grist for the press mills.
It’s one thing for fans and critics to get the knives out afterwards, but it’s not realistic to expect any captain to go back into the rooms and tell his players that ‘I just told the press we’re all a bunch of no-hopers’.
But that particular comment, inadvertent as it was, was too good to let slide 🙂

The Wrap: Cheika and Jones both losers, but heading down very different paths

“I don’t think anyone can undo Cheika’s mess in the short time available”

I’m not so sure about this Kane. There are a lot of high quality players in the squad. The margins between the top rugby nations are pretty fine. I don’t think it would take much at all – a simpler, more focused template for attack and defence, a couple of selection tweaks, the uplift that a coaching change so often brings… it’s possible.

The Wrap: Cheika and Jones both losers, but heading down very different paths