The Roar
The Roar

Sinclair Whitbourne

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Joined May 2017

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Because they come from a nation so thoroughly infested by the round ball game, I have always had immense respect for the quality Argentina has turned out in the years I have seen them. They have also often played a far more enterprising and enjoyable style than their reputation for 10 man rugby might have suggested. At the 1991 they were real entertainers and an abiding memory for me will be the sheer brilliance of their win over Ireland in the 1999 RWC.

As a lover of red wine, red meat, BBQ and red Che Guevarra, I am very happy to get behind a team that might wear blue and white but that is really red to the core – venceremos!

Argentina, everybody’s new favorite team

Gavin, I think if you read my article of 9 October you will see this one is pretty consistent with it.

I am not attacking the coach, I am questioning the viability of what appears to be the game plan. I think Rennie is a fine coach and I am certainly not advocating for his sacking.

If players are making so many mistakes (and they made a lot in Wellington, too) you have to ask ‘why?’ It might be nerves, or the conditions but it might also be that they are being asked to execute skills at a pace and in a way that they have not been brought up to be able to do.

Finally, this is an fan site (mostly) and it is kind of the territory for opinions to be expressed. That isn’t carte blanche for abuse or poor behaviour, but I don’t think it is untoward for constructive criticism to be voiced. I also don’t think this article fits the criteria for ‘keyboard warrior’, which generally would include someone labelling others in a way that they wouldn’t to their face. I do, however, understand the sentiment in your last two sentences and that is a valid response, even if I don’t agree.

Are the Wallabies using the wrong game plan?

Both Hamish Bidwell and (I think) Marc Hinton expressed a view that we haven’t really seen evidence that NZ have addressed the deficits in forwards power that might be needed. I sent a text to a friend at halftime on Sunday saying I thought it was a very entertaining game but that neither team was really likely to be frightening to England or SA.

Huge issues for both sides in the locking area for depth. The back ups are quality players but a step down from Retallick, Whitelock, Arnold etc.

Hanigan showed a lot of development and my observation was that Frizell had more consistent involvement but I don’t see either really making a SA or England side; perhaps they will continue to improve. Kaino, Kaino wherefore art thou?

Are the Wallabies using the wrong game plan?

I am not advocating changing the coach, or saying he can’t coach. I am troubled by what I see, though. I don’t think the players are in Oz who can do what the coach seems to be trying to do. Rod Macqueen modified his approach after 2 tests in Argentina in 1997, for example. There was sharp criticism externally and internally of what he was doing, although no suggestion he should be dumped.

Rennie is entitled to the benefit of the doubt and to time to try to make a very fast tempo, dynamic style work and if he does I will enjoy the spectacle. However, I am entitled to make a case for a different approach.

Are the Wallabies using the wrong game plan?

I agree Muglair that there is a danger in taking the winning ugly thing too far. The Brumbies are still struggling to recover crowds from the Larkham period where they played a kind of caricature of Jake ball.

Are the Wallabies using the wrong game plan?

Thanks for the comment BB and the way you put your difference of view. I think a significant proportion of the mistakes come from players trying to execute things beyond their present capacities. By playing more narrowly for longer periods, you can play more deliberately and more accurately. When you do make a mistake it is close to where you are present in numbers, so more chance to shut the play down, force a restart, or apply pressure to force a poor pass/kick, minimising how much you pay for your mistake.

Agree re not conceding the last 5 before 1/2 time but the first 5-10 of h2 were pretty ugly.

Are the Wallabies using the wrong game plan?

I am probably not quite at your end of the spectrum re JOC, but I am not sure he fits the kind of game I would like to see Australia play. In fairness, he had a good season with QLD and a lot depends on how you see the role of a 10 or 12 and how you want to play. His kicking game is not up to snuff for mine at 10 and at 12 he has to rely on being evasive to breach defensive lines -I am not sure he is evasive enough to overcome a lack of physique. I also want a 12 who can make a dent in close to the ruck, so someone like Simone, who does also have a kicking game appeals.

Are the Wallabies using the wrong game plan?

I think Rennie is a great coach, but he may be on a steep learning curve here. He did fairly well in Scotland, so he can clearly coach non-NZ sides. I actually think a South African like Jake White would be more closely aligned to our players’ capacities but I am certainly not advocating coaching change – it will take 12-24 months to really know how Rennie is going and it may well take a full, normal season for him to try a few things and find his feet.

Agree about care in where the point of attack is made. Brumbies generally very good at this, others more variable.

Are the Wallabies using the wrong game plan?

Thanks for the article Bentnuc, a good read. I am not sure the team is actually playing to its strengths and its opponent’s (relative) weaknesses, but I guess time will tell. I rate Rennie very highly but have long thought someone like Jake the Snake White might come with a game sense closer to Oz players’ capacities than is the case with a Kiwi. I think Rennie may find it hard to find players with the rugby smarts, skills and instincts that are developed through the age and grade levels in NZ and which he could harness when he had his success at the Waikato based franchise. Jake doesn’t come without some baggage either, of course.

Green shoots from the Wallabies' Eden Park loss

PM, my view is that the inability to convert attacking opportunities and the defensive lapses are very much connected to the type of game the side is playing, which I think plays directly to NZ strengths and really exposes a lot of Australian weaknesses. I would like to see the side play much narrower channels, a lot of them close to the ruck – essentially a Brumby method. However, this was an improvement on past capitulations. Q, though whether this is a particularly strong All Black side, particularly in the forwards? Rugby Pass and Stuff have had articles by New Zealand writers saying the win papered over some significant issues in the forwards. I also wonder how many Wallabies would secure a starting gig in the NZ Super franchises? At least the side is playing endeavour and more sense of purpose than in recent years

Green shoots from the Wallabies' Eden Park loss

Peter, many thanks for this article. The set piece and the maul are unique to our game and need more love and understanding. Unless you have played as a forward it is difficult to get a grasp of the technicalities and multi-faceted nature of the scrum, line-out and maul. I would desperately love for TV to do what cricket does and use graphics and genuine experts to help generate more understanding. Of course the school curriculum really needs to be addressed with mandatory scrum, maul and lineout proficiency for all students required and likewise for all aspiring Australian citizens and permanent residents.

Thanks also for pointing out that not every lost lineout is the hooker’s fault.

I had considered the possibility that Oz lineout deficiencies were a product of players being very familiar with each other and so competing more effectively in the domestic competition, but I think you are right that technique and smarts have been allowed to deteriorate. More reason to return to the abandoned national frameworks and to promote players and coaches spending some time overseas to study their craft?

Throwing the game away: The blight on Australian rugby

Thanks for this and for a focus on a less glamorous player position – yet the way the game is now, perhaps one of the more critical. Locks and props are now being expected (and perhaps the modern game requires) to be able to do a lot more than secure set piece and make their tackles and lean into rucks and mauls. Locks are now expected to bring more mobility so they can add support to defence and ball carrying, yet they are also expected to add heft and spite to defence and to hitting the ball up. There is an increasing tendency to hybridisation between lock and 6, which a player like Bulky Barrett epitomises. Matt Phillip may be an Australian equivalent.

If Whitelock is out with concussion but Barrett is available, as may be possible according to the NZH, how do you think the combination of Patsy T and Barrett would go?

Take a second for the second row

Grace and Sotutu both look to have excellent potential to me.

What changes should the All Blacks and Wallabies make for Bledisloe 2?

Boring in is pretty common to my observation and surely goes well beyond TT? I agree however that it should be policed far more than it is. I find it odd that with all the (necessary) focus on trying to reduce danger, putting the neck into a pincer is tolerated, despite being illegal on my last reading of relevant law.

I wish that tv coverage featured overhead at scrum time and that in lead up there was use of graphics and genuine expert commentary to help bring people around to this unique and wonderful part of the game.

What changes should the All Blacks and Wallabies make for Bledisloe 2?

Ardie was pretty heavily involved at ruck was my observation – similar with Samu on the other side. I think the prospects of Ardie being dropped are low. Shelford (bring him back!) rates Ardie at 8. Agree that backrow didn’t obtain needed dominance on a consistent basis – I thought the front rowers actually put in some very effective work in rucks and were the heroes in a pack that failed to really fire.

What changes should the All Blacks and Wallabies make for Bledisloe 2?

Carlos, waiting for someone to home in on these points. I was disappointed in Frizell and Patsy T, who had something to prove in terms of being able to produce consistent, strong performance at this level. Cane was heroic and Ardie worked hard, but the pack didn’t really fire consistently. If the pack can’t produce some good, front foot possession, the halves and inside backs will struggle and so it goes. However, I did think the NZ front rowers played well and Moody did his job holding Tupou.

What changes should the All Blacks and Wallabies make for Bledisloe 2?

The 60’s Bob was fresh and fine and there is an argument that by the 1970’s he was largely refining/re-treading earlier ideas, skills, themes. I find the trio of 70’s albums – Blood, Desire and Street Legal totally compelling. I also like the ferocity of Slow Train although I am a militant atheist. There’s been some excellent bits and pieces since then.

Who were those masked men? With apologies to Bob Dylan

Inspired by Zubrick’s mention of the song to me in a different article. Maybe the ponies in the side will help him ride off with said safe?

Fun game, wasn’t it? I thought it had all the things you want to see in a game of rugby.

Who were those masked men? With apologies to Bob Dylan

Mirt, you know your Dylan! Do New Zealand need to channel ‘The Man in the Long Black Coat’?

Who were those masked men? With apologies to Bob Dylan

Thanks for this article FF. I had and still have reservations about JOC at 10 but he played very well yesterday, his defensive organisation was very important and his role in the first Oz try was critical – it took a very fine finish from Koroibete but it needed the pinpoint timing, pace and accuracy of JOC’s lead-up.

Dave Rennie’s influence already showing on improving Wallabies

This captures the pleasure of the game that unfolded yesterday, really well. Many thanks. If one breaks things down there were lots of issues but if one takes it as a whole, even before the manic 8 minutes of overtime, it was a gripping game with a good mix of the things that make rugby great. Reminded me of watching live music – sometimes a player will fluff the odd note but the overall product is so good that it seems churlish to harp (pardon the pun) on that.

Agree that the big thing for Oz will be to back this performance up. NZ often start the test season a little slowly.

Where were these Wellington Wallabies?

Zubrick, I have expanded on the theme you suggested in something that has been put on this site today. Always great to talk Bob Dylan.

Why I have hope for the Wallabies

I think that is a really good question. I wouldn’t. But I am not Foster, a coach whose appointment was not popular with a lot of people in the press and public in NZ. He will be under pressure. He will be disappointed that his forwards, especially his back 5 forwards did not do the job against Australia. This was the problem last year, too; the pack remains a good one but a replacement for Kaino is still to be found, Read likewise and Patsy T, whilst he has improved his work rate enormously, he is no Retallick.

Why I have hope for the Wallabies

Disappointing to see the comments on refereeing. This was a wonderful, gripping game of rugby. Can we not just enjoy that? The referees were a positive part of this game. It is a very complex game to referee and questionable calls are a part of the game. An Oz assistant ref missed a pretty clear foot in touch in the first NZ try. The penalty called by the NZ ref against Big Karl T at 72 mins was pretty tough indeed and so it goes. I thought the draw a fair result. Let’s just enjoy a wonderful contest.

IT'S A DRAW! Bledisloe 1 ends all square

I take it back, it is not a humbucker, as such. It does seem to give a richer tone perhaps than the usual Strat? Did you install yourself ? I used to play hollow bodies because I thought I preferred the tone – now I am not so sure.

O'Connor at 10, four debutants in Wallabies team for Bledisloe 1