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Simon Levingston

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Joined March 2013

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Hugo Porter

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Rugby is the game of inches, those between the ears. What has been missing in the Wallabies for a number of years is the inches between the ears. Many of the players look great on paper, but when the pressure is on they make dumb decisions, fail to execute accurately or worse are inconsistent. The failure of the Wallabies in recent times has coincided with the dumbing down of the team. The team has been cursed with being consistently inconsistent. One can never tell which team is coming out of the sheds to play. One week they are world beaters i.e. Perth, the next week they are chumps i.e. Auckland, all within 7 days.

The team is almost exactly the same, except there is a change, the stuff that is going on between the ears. They weren’t up to the task and got bullied at the breakdown because it was wet and cold, and the All Blacks just wanted in more. There was a real opportunity to make a statement by the Wallabies, but they just didn’t have the mental capacity to take the opportunity. Was it poor leadership, poor coaching, inconsistency, a lack of rugby smarts, or all of this combination. Whatever it was it was a complete capitulation.

So why did they select Adam Ashley Cooper? He is older and getting slower but he is in my opinion still a smart rugby player. He is rarely caught out of position and he usually makes the correct decision. In my opinion he adds a lot of gravitas to the team and I can see why the selection panel have picked him.

Let’s see if Australia can get past Wales, Fiji and out of the pool to the quarter finals.

England are looking red hot and are enjoying playing in the dry warm weather, just the same conditions Australia like to play.

Can Cheika's Wallabies beat the curse of the beaten RWC finalist?

Suck it up!!

This game was always going to be a huge test for this team. This is test rugby and the Wallabies got an “F” and the All Blacks got an “A+” in that examination.

The Wallabies, and this includes the coaching team, clearly have no idea how to play rugby in the wet and it was on full display. Absolutely useless, but as we have been told by Cheika “SUCK IT UP” in an arrogant tone. Who does this guy think he is? More importantly who does he think we are? This guy is the most useless coach with the worst record, and the facts speak the truth.

Let’s hope that was the last game they have to play in the rain this year. Luckily Japan in the Autumn is generally dry and cool and the typhoon season hopefully will be over – even with global warming.
The Wallabies one week look like world beaters and within 7 days the 8 man scrum gets pushed off the ball by 7 All Blacks …twice. That about sums it up. This is tough to suck up!
The Wallaby tight 5 were bullied by the All Blacks, and the rest of the team suffered. Suck it up! Kurtley Beale played like a chicken with its head cut off…suck that up too!

What was Cheika and the coaching staff telling the team before they ran onto the field? Suck it up as you’re going to hang onto the ball and play dry weather footy? Suck it up as I don’t have any idea how to coach wet weather footy. Let’s not use the blind side, or the touch line, or use the line out, let’s just play dumb rugby and kick the ball to their back 3. Just suck it up! All those supporters in Australia can suck it up too!

The final question I have to ask of this team, including Cheika, is – why do think you deserve our support? We are sick and tired of sucking it up! I think we deserve an apology from Cheika, and a lot less lip.

Cheika's Wallabies need a revised Plan A for RWC glory

Geoff,

The All Blacks really missed Brodie Retallick, he is a great loss to the team and in my opinion one of the reasons why NZ tight 5 is so dominant.

The Wallaby selection panel is working. By removing Cheika as the sole selector is proving a smart move. Isn’t this copying the All Black model of team selections? The panel selection of James O’Connor at 13 was a revelation. The Wallabies are also now finally using another All Black model, a big ball carrier at 12 and a play maker at 13. Australian selections under Cheika was two playmakers at 10 and 12, but the Wallaby panel now has finally done the switch.

I wonder how the Wallaby panel is going to use a fit David Pocock? I like a balanced forward pack with a big body at 6 and 8 and Hooper at 7. Using Pocock and Hooper in my opinion upsets the balance and a similar two fetcher combination for the All Blacks on Saturday was exposed as the bigger Wallaby forwards dominated them off the ball.

Finally I have to also admit that the passive line zone defence is working, at least in this match. I thought the All Blacks were going to cut the defence of the Wallabies to pieces if they used the same defensive patterns as they did against the Pumas. It didn’t happen. The Wallaby defense was, in my opinion pretty good, although it does give more time and space for the attack to chip kick through or come up with some other plan.

I guess we will know soon and all will be revealed in fortress Eden Park, the 33 year old graveyard of Australian rugby. The All Blacks will be filthy and the partisan home crowd will be chanting for revenge. I have checked the weather forcast and it is likely it will be raining or have rained, so it will be slippery and cold. If the Wallabies can pull off an unlikely victory then the Wallabies can consider themselves a contender for winning the World Cup.

The Wrap: Resurgent Wallabies place one hand on the Bledisloe Cup

Thanks Nic, yet another intuitive and instructive article. I have a bone to pick about the Haka since the Wallabies are playing the All Blacks this weekend. We have been told on countless occasions that it is an insult to not take the challenge when the Haka is being performed. I like watching the Haka as it is great theatre and it must be practised by the All Blacks for many hours to make sure the choreography is perfect and all the participants are in sync to get the arrowhead shape correct. Having said that, it is ridiculous for any team to have to stand there facing the All Blacks while they carry on with their histrionics. There is no obligation anymore to take the challenge. The reason why I say this is that when I watched the match in Rotorua where the Maori All Blacks the cultural leaders of the Haka, laid down the challenge to the Fijians. What they did beforehand was quite shocking, they turned their backs on the Fijians when they were laying down their challenge. Joining the dots, if its good enough for the NZ Moari to turn their backs when an opposition team lays down their challenge, then the Wallabies and any other team now have the perfect excuse to ignore the Haka. All they have to do is point to this example of disrespect by the NZ Maori to the Fijians. I remember when David Campese used to practise his kicking when the Haka was being performed. I expect to see the Wallabies on Saturday just get on with their warm up and turn their backs, just like the Maori All Blacks.

How the Wallabies are cleaning house under Shaun Berne

They’re all raving how good the Wallaby defence was on Saturday. In my opinion if they use the same defensive structures against the All Blacks, the Wallabies will be cut to pieces. If one needs a lesson on how to defend against the All Blacks then watch the South Africans on Saturday. They choked the All Blacks leaving them no room when the Boks raced up marking the player, a bit like man on man defence in basketball. In contrast the Wallabies played a more zone defence sitting back on their heals. The All Blacks are way to good and will run through zone defences as it gives them time to arrange their attack. I’m not sure Nathan Grey is up to the job and has the flexibility in his coaching tool box to have alternate styles of defence patterns.

Seven talking points from Wallabies vs Argentina

Nick, yet another expert summary.

Question: Can the Cheika coach squad defeat who are effectively the Jaguares a super rugby finalist who were dusted off by the Crusaders …and at home in Brisbane? A loss for the Wallabies will create, in my opinion, aloud ringing of the alarm bells, so loud that Cheika should advise that he will most definitely not be extending his contract beyond the World Cup.
Thinking outside the box if it was up to me I would give Taniela Tupou a stint on the side of the scrum. I reckon he would be a revelation a real handful.

Why the Wallabies were caught short in Johannesburg

As I said in an earlier blog, Coach Cheika is clearly happy with the idea of the selection panel as he can now spread the blame to the two other selectors.

Personally I’ve lost all interest in hearing anything that Cheika has to say as it is the same old lines – I am (my team) are always the victim, like a guy with a chip on his shoulder! One could argue he is incapable of self reflection, self criticism and not capabale to make truley hard decisions and make the adjustments, which in my opinion are essential personality features in a modern day management / coaching position.

One final point, playing a full back (DHP) and a 12/13 (Hodge) on the wings at test level … whose idea was that?

How low does rugby in Australia have to sink before it hits rock bottom – the bad news is a lot further. The future for rugby in Australia looks bleak unless there is a complete change to how everything is run, and even then it may till be too late.

The Wallabies will be lucky to beat the Pumas.

The Wrap: Are the Wallabies cursed? Too right they are

Another loss by a Cheika coached team against a Springbok “B” team, with their A team training in NZ to play the All Blacks. Australia should change their name to Les Wallabies, because like France the Australian team has been and continues to be consistently inconsistent under Coach Cheika. The good news now for Cheika is he can now pass the blame to the other 2 selectors. Maybe that’s why he has embraced the idea of the selection panel?

Bernard Foley – I guess his pop gun kick was not a problem at 1,700 mtrs altitude, but his defence is poor and attack is fair – and I think we can all agree that’s being kind. So when the Wallabies return to sea level i.e. Japan – are they really going to continue to play him at fly half?

Taniela Tupou – I would love to see him get a go as a flanker off the bench – to replace Hooper. He would be a real nusiance to the opposition – until he got tired.

Kurtley Beale – I love that guy – a real natural…in attack.

Six talking points from Wallabies vs Springboks

The All Blacks will be doing the Haka to challenge the Pumas. The Pumas, like all teams, have been told to respect the challenge and stand there and face it. Not to do so, we have been lectured by NZ, is an insult. Do I have this right?

I was shocked to see the Maori All Blacks turn their backs and form a circle and not take the challenge from the Fijians, then when it was the turn of the Maori All Blacks, the Fijians stood and took their challenge.

Ok so this is the precedent set by the Maori All Blacks, that teams no longer take the Haka challenge and can now turn their backs!

If you don’t believe me watch the replay when the challanges were being displayed.

I was quite shocked – what a con job!

David Campese had it right when he said he used to ignore that nonsence and would put in extra kicking practice during the Haka.

Four key match-ups: Argentina vs New Zealand

If the selectors want Will Skelton to play for the Wallabies in the World Cup, pick him. Why would Australia hamstring itself? Australia needs to start thinking of itself as a larger version of Fiji and Argentina. Australia was one of the southern hemisphere rugby super powers in the good old days, yesterday, before the balance of power changed with the weight of money shifting to the north. It’s time to wake up and recognise the harsh reality. The charade of making an overseas player qualify to play for the Wallabies because they have signed a contract to play for an Australian (why not NZ too?) super rugby franchise in the future, let’s be really cynical and say 2029, a rule that should be struck out. How many Australian franchises will there be anyway in 2029, my guess is three. Another prediction is the average age of the player in the future Australian rugby franchises will be 20, as the money imbalance is going to get larger and Australia will be just a pool of talent, just like Fiji and Argentina.

If it was me I would be talking to the USA and getting rid of South Africa and creating a Pacific competition, with or without NZ.

Rugby AU weighing up their options for new Wallabies coach after World Cup

Nick, Australia must realise they are suffer the same problems as Argentina with the loss of talent and the rules for the selection of overseas players of must be relaxed, if RA truly wants the Wallabies to be an on field success and to continue to be the biggest earner and continues to generate the cash to pay for the basic overheads. The most urgent attention in my opinion is to amend the selection rules for the Wallabies so that any player participating in super rugby may be selected, redacting the words “in Australia”. Especially when and if Australia is reduced down to 3 super rugby franchises.

Why Argentina needs to get the import-export balance right

Do you think Scott Robertson would coach the Wallabies if he was invited? That’s of course if the All Blacks don’t want him!

The Wrap: The Crusaders do it once again for Christchurch

I think the way the Waratahs performed this season was forgettable. I am not a fan of Foley, Robertson, or Simmons and let’s toss in Hooper, I think they were lucky to be selected in the squad for South Africa. The selection panel, who are much more experienced than me and have access to a lot more information must think they have merit.

Foley has a pop gun kick and any team he represents has difficulty in exiting when he is trying to boot the ball downfield and to top it off is inconsistent. All the Australian fly half’s are! I would have liked to look st Jack Deberecjni ( or however you spell his name!) at the well coached Chiefs. He plays super rugby … oh that’s right not for and Australian rugby franchise. Who was the dope who thought of that stupid rule? We could also be looking st Allaotoa (another tricky name) at the Crusaders,

Robertson is smart but just too puny to mix it with the big boys.

Simmons has seen better days and is just not good enough at the clean out.

Hooper is the most expensive flanker in Australia- or is that the world! Who is his manager who got him that contract! Wow he must be a good talker! Hooper is good but no where near as good as Pocock and when Mcreight from the u20s gets another year older Hooper may have difficulty getting any call up at all let alone being picked as Captain!

VOTE: Pick your Wallabies XV to face the Springboks

Wow what a game of rugby…between the Crusaders and the Hurricanes. This really was an All Black trial. The poor old Wallabies had better get their skills and fitness levels up to peak standard to even compete with our brothers across the ditch.

The Brumbies were disappointing and weren’t good enough. Maybe the travelling halfway across the world is just unreasonable when a team has to perform at such a high level with jet lag and a hostile home ground? Notwithstanding the possible excuses for the Brumbies, the Jaguares were very good. I am pleased for rugby in Argentina and the boost it will for the game there. It will be interesting to see if the Jaguares forward pack can match it with the Crusaders. My guess is they will be blown off the park, given they too have all that travel and adjust to jet lag and up against an All Black tight 5.

The Wrap: And then there were two — an epic Super Rugby final awaits

Luca, I agree with your article.

I first proposed the so called “Giteau Rule” for an overseas player to have met the threshold of 60 tests in my article of the 11th of March, 2013 on the Roar. I went on and on to write many blogs adopting the additional idea of having served 5 to 7 seasons in Australia could also be adopted as part of the threshold and was effectively shouted down by many of the “experts” and rugby sports fans that it was a bad idea. I was even criticised by some, and they know who they are as being “boring” and that I should shut up.

The Giteau Rule of 60 tests and 7 season threshold was then claimed by Michael Cheika in 2015, two years later, as his idea. The idea was thought to by many as how smart he was and laughably…”what a good idea – what a genious!”

The idea in its essence does have merit, but as we have experienced many of the overseas players have returned worn out and out of form as they have been used as work horses or lacked the intensive sort term training lan so they peak at the correct time.

In my opinion the “Giteau Rule” needs adjusting down to around 30 tests, with no super rugby season served thresholds.

I have since advocated that in a World Cup year the Australian selectors may pick any player who qualifies to play for the Wallabies. The only threshold is that they are better than the local talent and add depth to the Wallaby squad.

Australian rugby must realise in the brave new world of big money and rugby talent that it is only one step away from being exploited like Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.

Is it time to change 'Giteau's law'?

Nick, a couple of points: firstly, we should thank the individual who sparked the idea within RA to successfully reduce the sole selection influence of Michael Cheika by introducing Scott Johnson and Michael O’Connor as part of the selection panel for the Wallabies.

Michael Cheika has in my opinion been blinkered in his selections and is a major cause for the demise of the Wallabies in world rankings by sticking with selections that have demonstrated frustratingly inconsistent performances, a forward pack that has lacked balance i.e. “the Pooper experiment”, a consistently high team penalty count in the negative, a weak exit strategy with a fly half i.e. Foley, with a “pop gun” kick which is lucky to reach the side line 30 to 35 metre mark, allowing good teams to continue to apply pressure in the Wallaby defensive half.

The second issue is with the Waratahs, they too plagued by a poor selection policy, but in the Waraah’s case the problem is more fundamental, who is doing the recruitment of talent and deciding who is staying, playing and coming into the team? This person or selection team should be shown the door. The weaknesses in the Wallabies in my opinion have come from Michael Cheika using the core Waratahs as the basis of the national team, when this policy has been fundamentally flawed since the last World Cup , 4 years ago. I think there is a direct correlation between Michael Cheika having sole selection control, the demise of the Waratahs and the now very inconsistent Wallabies, who now look like a French side i.e. you don’t know which team is turning up to play from week to week.

Nick, I agree with your proposal that it is the Brumbies who make up the core of the Australian team, and individual players from the other Australian franchises, and from overseas are introduced to make an improvement or provide depth. The biggest problem I see is that Australia is lacking a world class flyhalf.

Take note, Michael Cheika: Canberra must be the Wallabies' power base in 2019

Geoff, I’ve been saying for years that the Wallaby selectors should be able to pick any player who is eligible to play for Australia in the World Cup from anywhere. If they’re the best in the their position then they should get the nod. This condition of having signed a super rugby contract is a farce.

Australia is arrogant to think it is better than Samoa or Fiji or Tonga, but it may come as a shock to many readers and rusted on supporters that they are living in a fantasy and Australia is in much of the same position as our Polynesian rugby brothers.

We are the poor cousins and we need to pool all our resources to put the best team on the field at each World Cup. It is more than likely that the local players will be considered ahead of those playing elsewhere as they have built up combinations and we get to see them every week. The offshore “blow ins” will have to be exceptional, but they will strengthen and deepen the depth st certain positions.

I don’t think Will Skelton would add much value as we have some really good 4 and 5s in Super Rugby and the forward pack generally is in pretty good shape thanks to the Brumbies and Reds.

The Wallaby selectors also have lots of local choice in the backs especially at half back. The weakness in my opinion is at 10 and they can’t pick Foley with his pop gun kick or the erratic Lealiifano or Cooper, even though they did play reasonably well over the weekend mainly due to the weak teams they were playing made them look good.

So it’s time for the rule makers to get the black texta out and redact any reference to overseas players needing signed super rugby contracts to play for the Wallabies in World Cup years.

The Wrap: Suva rocks as the World Cup magnet pulls players home

Rugby in Australia is missing a true world class No. 10. In my opinion the 3 Wallaby contenders being talked up by the commentators being Foley, Cooper and Lealiifano are good players at provincial level, but definitely not up to international standard. They are all inconsistent and prone to making ridiculous mistakes. My examples are watch any of the games each of them have played and will be playing in the next weeks and each of their inaccuracies would cost the Wallabies the the game. At international level the margins are very tight and errors or inaccurate performances by any player especially in a critical role like flyhalf are unacceptable.
My prediction is if Australia plays any of these 3 players at 10 at the World Cup in critical games then there is no chance of getting anywhere near the finals, even with the leg up of an easy draw.
So what is the solution? Find someone to play 10 for the Wallabies apart from the said 3 at the World Cup. This is URGENT!!
I’m not a selector but I too can see when a player is inaccurate and not up to international standard like the said 3.

Future of Australia’s three best five-eighths up in the air

The behaviour of Israel Folau in my opinion is completely unacceptable. I was not going to write any comments about this matter but I can no longer sit back.

We are in the age of the “the metoo movement” and there is too much hate speach on social media, including the rise of extremism including white supremecy, religious fanatics of all types willing to kill you and your family and friends because you don’t believe in what they think you should. They will blow you up, gun you down, chop your head off, fly you into a building, stab you to death or any other nasty way to shorten your life and those of the people you love – and while filming it for youtube, Instagram or facebook.

Israel Folau has no right to say that people who don’t have the same values as him should all go to hell or wish them misfortune – words matter! It sends the wrong message and is out of step with our society where we all we don’t for example; wear swastikers (in public), spit out hate and prejudice. This is Australia the great melting pot of people from all over the world.

I think Israel Folau owes us all an apology and needs to drop this self righteous position, we are all brothers and sisters and everyone is different and that is the beauty and the strength of Australia.

With regard to Etihad – they need to amend their prejudicial policies of employment if they want to operate in Australia. Rugby Australia should be applying the same standards to them too. Two wrongs don’t make it right!! I say boycott them, don’t buy any of their tickets so they have to shut up shop in Australia and don’t attend any games at Etihad Stadium – simple. Its time to vote with your hard earned dollars. Let Rugby Australia know and understand that the same stanards they are applying to Folau apply across the board to sponsors too – no exceptions!

Israel Folau has been unfairly hounded out of Australian rugby

Brett

This is s very short sighted and what would appear a self interested political decision. It is little wonder that rugby in this part of the world is in my opinion in decline. I would have thought NZ would have had more spine and stood up to SA. I have already given up hope of RA having any backbone or commercial acumen, but NZ bring pushed around is quite surprising. The whole decision is very disappointing.

SANZAAR's Sunwolves decision is all dollars and no sense

Spiro

You have no faith. MC has this secret plan to make the Wallabies look hopeless and outgunned so they slip down the world rankings to maybe 7 or 8 or even out of the top 10. This is so he and his very clever coaching crew can guide the Wallabies into the World Cup and cause upset after upset. When one thinks about it Australia loves best being the inderdog. Wait for it…. it’s coming all of a sudden the world class back line will carve up all the opposition teams. What a brilliant plan! What a genius!!

Wallabies defeat Italy, but the RWC 2019 cause still looks hopeless

The people running RA and the coaching staff of the Wallabies must have all gone to the same business school. This is the place where they teach that when a business is going down the drain it is all the fault of the employees. The CEO and all the management have the best plan but it isn’t being executed properly. As it is the fault of the employees- all of whom were selected by management, then when you bring in the liquidation team the management should keep their jobs and continue to being paid as they are the best.

This is the logic we are being served up by Cheika and his coaching team. Worse it is also being swallowed by RA and the board of “yes” men and women.

This whole charade could only happen in Australia, the land of weak management and royal commissions.

No excuses: The Pumas and Springboks deserved their wins over the Wallabies and All Blacks

Well done to Argentina and to Mario Ledesma. The Wallabies in my opinion had it coming. That ridiculous tongue in cheek speech by Stephen Larkham about Ledesma which I thought was not funny but condescending and insulting was an indication of the lack of respect shown to Argentina. The Australian attack which Larkham is responsible is a shambles and absolutely woeful. Larkham should be shown the door!

With regard to the rest of the coaching team they have been unable to rid Australia of the trademark inconsistency of performance. Australia is exactly like Frsnce – you never know which team you’re playing on Saturday!

If coaching selection was based purely on team perfermsnce like a true professional sport like, say, the NFL then these bunch of chumps would have been shown the door long ago.

Personally I’m with Lukhan Tui as I too Have had enough of rugby for this year and will spend time thinking of other more positive matters.

Wallabies beat themselves on the Gold Coast

Tooly

Hooper should own the deficiencies of himself and his team mates. That’s what he should be saying! This is the reality.

The Australian rugby system is the problem, not just Michael Cheika

If Twiggy wants to establish a team in
Western Sydney and pump cash into the game, then that has to be a good thing. RA has dropped the ball and capitulatef this very large population base of over 2 million people to the other 3 larger sports. RA has hamstrung itself with SANZAAR and all the strings of exclusive TV rights held by the cable operator Foxtel ( in Australia).

Twiggy is an interrupter and doesn’t have any of that baggage so in my opinion give him free rein to anywhere he wants to go.

The benefits to Australian rugby ftom the interruption is more depth of talent, more people watching, playing and supporting rugby.

I wonder how many Israel Folaus or Topous he can discover?

RA need to get out of theiir ivory tower and embrace the new paradigm and make it work for everyone and especially for the game of rugby in Australia.

Andrew Forrest ramps up political and PR war against Rugby Australia