The Roar
The Roar

Will Knight

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Joined February 2008

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Sport is so simple yet often so complex. Sometimes black and white, more often colourful. I try to make a bit of sense of it - mostly cricket, rugby union and rugby league - but try harder to have a laugh along the way. "We’re going to turn this team around 360 degrees” - Jason Kidd

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IT’S NOT ABOUT BLAME (I agree the ARU and SANZAAR have botched it) – this is about MENTAL HEALTH (although if RUPA can’t see that a $28 million loss over four years and poor results equals an unsustainable business model for its members well that’s another article right there).

What’s more important than mental health for young men faced with this “extreme stress”?! If it’s a job – tell Turinui, Hodgson, Cannon and all the Force and Rebels players they’re disingenuous.

RUPA and player welfare - it's time to rise up and represent

Missing the point Brett. This article is specifically related to MENTAL HEALTH. Turinui, Cannon, Hodgson have raised this as an issue. Not me. What have RUPA got to say about the players’ mental welfare through this?!? It’s hurting them. Legal action and legal threats are central to the delay on making the decision as to which team should be axed.
I’m offering a direction that would expedite the ARU ‘s call.
Are you saying that Turinui’s pleas aren’t worth addressing? That mental health doesn’t take priority?!

RUPA and player welfare - it's time to rise up and represent

Well I didn’t see any reports specifically relating to mental wellbeing. Again – Turinui, Hodgson, Cannon etc have brought this into play. So I’ve just offered a way that this mental crisis can be resolved. Otherwise can RUPA sincerely vouch that they represent the welfare of Australia’s professional rugby players? Tell me – what’s more important than mental health?! You may say a job – I’m only suggesting mental welfare may sit above all that.

RUPA and player welfare - it's time to rise up and represent

I suppose it comes down to priorities Paul D. What’s more important than mental health. Rightly a big focus these days. RUPA can play a part in expediting a decision. Drop legal action. Or what about they start paying for extra counsellors and psychologists?! Easy to be reactionary when you’re RUPA and snipe ARU. Why can’t they show leadership?!

RUPA and player welfare - it's time to rise up and represent

As mentioned above Cato – this article isn’t about the blame game. It’s about MENTAL HEALTH – an extremely important issue for the young men at the Force and Rebels. What would you do if you were CEO of RUPA?! Ignore it?!? The players raised it as an issue.

RUPA and player welfare - it's time to rise up and represent

Don’t deny it’s been woeful Sheek. But what do you say about the players’ fragile mindset as it all drags on?!?! RUPA can get on the front foot here if they are truly representing the players and their welfare. What can be more important than the players’ mental wellbeing?!? Turinui, Hodgson, Cannon etc are the ones that brought this issue into it. What has RUPA got to say about mental health relating to this delay?!?

RUPA and player welfare - it's time to rise up and represent

Good points. But how do you address the “extreme stress” being felt by players – they’re Morgan Turinui’s words not mine?!? Do you ignore their pleas that the current delay is hurting the players psychologically?!

RUPA and player welfare - it's time to rise up and represent

It seems the point has been missed here.

Of course the Force and Rebels have a right to take legal action.

Apportioning blame is largely a debate that’s done and dusted. Yes the ARU and SANZAAR got it wrong.

This article is about what’s to be done about the fragile mental state of the Force and Rebels, as passed on by Matt Hodgson, Morgan Turinui and others. It’s not me making that assumption.

If the players’ welfare – their psychological wellbeing – is being severely affected, then the issue needs to be brought to a head. How can that be expedited? Well the ARU are baulking mainly due to the legal action and threats. So here’s a solution for RUPA is they’re serious about their membership’s mental health – ask the clubs to drop their legal action!

RUPA and player welfare - it's time to rise up and represent

A bit early for Larkham I suppose. Jake White one to bear in mind. He had a lot of fans from his time with the Brumbies. Can we rule out Eddie Jones?!?! Incredible how he’s got the best out of England. Can’t he wriggle out of that contract if things go awry for the Wallabies this season?!?! Homesick or something?!?

Cheika's Wallabies future shaped in September

White has done good things wherever he’s gone. A good option if Cheika moves on. Gets results. But hopefully Cheika sharpens up the Wallabies and he settles in until the 2019 World Cup!

Cheika's Wallabies future shaped in September

Ouch!

Cheika's Wallabies future shaped in September

If the Wallabies have another poor season on the back of a six-win nine-loss 2016, on the back of a horrible Super Rugby season, on the back of axing a Super Rugby team as crowds dwindle, interest wanes and friction escalates – do you reckon the ARU sit on their hands?! It takes a dogmatic, stubborn or brave administration to absorb poor results for that long without making changes. Time will tell. But a coach stands next to his results and for a rugby nation that sets high standards, it’s not unrealistic to expect consequences when those standards aren’t reached…
The whole “building towards the next World Cup” PR line is crap to me. It’s used by coaches to buy themselves more time. Fact is they should always be looking to the future and getting the blend of youth and experience right, no matter how far a World Cup is away. Fans’ patience for improvement doesn’t extend to every four years. Nor should it. Sport’s beauty and harsh reality is that results are for the most part black and white. And I like Cheika. I hope he turns the Wallabies around this year. He’s shown he’s a high-class coach. But wins are your currency as a coach. He needs ore of them in 2017.

Cheika's Wallabies future shaped in September

Yeah they haven’t been great at home have they. And the Wallabies pounded them in the Rugby Championship match in Argentina in 2015. So that’s a bit of a speccy. But that home Test against the Boks stands out to me as a potential do-or-die for Cheika.

Cheika's Wallabies future shaped in September

Rebuilding?!?! Perhaps if there was the prospect of five or more debutants this year? Will that happen? Not convinced. Enough experience around to be accountable I’d argue – Moore, Kepu, Hooper, Higginbotham, Genia, Foley, Kuridrani, Folau, Speight. Coleman, Arold, Kerevi have been at Super Rugby long enough to step up you think?!?
As I said I reckon a level-headed restrained Wallabies fan is relatively comfortable with being beaten by the All Blacks – they’re a phenomenal powerhouse at the moment. But if we lose to South Africa at home – I reckon that will test the patience of those fans… and the ARU. Rebuilding is a nice PR fallback for coaches but wears thin quickly with fans I reckon. Fans want to win trophies now – they often can’t wait for that four-year World Cup cycle…

Cheika's Wallabies future shaped in September

Consider this scenario over the next 10 Tests:

3 June Tests:

10 Jun 3pm, Australia vs Fiji – Melbourne — Wallabies win
17 Jun 3pm, Australia vs Scotland – Sydney — Wallabies win
24 Jun 3pm, Australia vs Italy – Brisbane — Wallabies win

7 Bledisloe and Rugby Championship:

19 Aug 8pm, Australia vs New Zealand – Sydney — Loss
26 Aug 5:35pm, New Zealand vs Australia – Dunedin — Loss
9 Sep 8pm, Australia vs South Africa – Perth — Wallabies win
16 Sep 8pm, Australia vs Argentina – Canberra — Wallabies win
30 Sep 9am, South Africa vs Australia – Bloemfontein — Loss
7 Oct 10am, Argentina vs Australia – Mendoza — Loss
21 Oct ?, Australia v New Zealand – Brisbane — Loss

Five wins from 10 games; two wins in Rugby Championship – which would probably put Wallabies third.

Good enough for two-time World Cup winners?!? Finalists two years ago?!? On back of worst season since 2005 (and most number of losses in a season ever by a Wallabies team – nine)?!?!

Cheika's Wallabies future shaped in September

Surely a win over the ABs is fanciful?!? They would have to have a seriously off night. Where’s Suzie the waitress?!?!?

80%?!?! That’s a high bar given how the five Aussie teams have been in Super Rugby this season!

Cheika's Wallabies future shaped in September

Really?!? Reckon Wallabies fans can put up with back-to-back seasons with a 40% and 30% win rate?!?! We were in a World Cup final two years ago. Do Aussie fans have the patience?!? I’m not convinced.

Cheika's Wallabies future shaped in September

Yep things can change quickly. But hard to see anyone coming through who will make their mark quickly at Wallabies level. The Coleman-Arnold combo is exciting – hope they get a full Wallabies season in. And then there’s Kerevi – he’s got the raps so he’s ready to light it up. Would like to see Karmichael Hunt too. Get the feeling he would thrive with guys like Folau around him.

Cheika's Wallabies future shaped in September

Ha Timbo love a good analogy. Your sand one doesn’t work for mine. I still think there’s going to be decent coin around for the best 50 players in Australia. As an example, Will Skelton left probably mostly because he’s slid own the pecking order for locks in Australia. With Wallabies hopes slipping, the European cash looks nice.

Who can blame broadcasters for wanting a Super Rugby restructure?

Ha the Blues still tough at home. And looks like they’re on the right trajectory. One more quality playmaker and they could be carving. But for now, as tricky an assignment as it is, the Blues offer a bit of an opening for an Aussie team to bag an upset…

Who can blame broadcasters for wanting a Super Rugby restructure?

Good points Sheek. Sunwolves have been a flop but they’re only a season-and-a-bit in. The Western Force have been battling away for 11 SEASONS now – and have finished mostly 12th to 16th. The Rebels in 6 seasons have finished 10th to 15th. Based on this, the Sunwolves probably deserve a crack over the Force. It’s a shame Jake White is headed to Japan. A coach of his calibre – one feels – could spark the Rebels.

Who can blame broadcasters for wanting a Super Rugby restructure?

No of course there’s no proof. That’s impossible. Can be guided by logic though – and taking away a team should boost the quality of the four teams.
I’d love an Aussie team to score an upset this round. Have you tipped any Aussie teams apart from the Waratahs?
And the ARU should commit whatever savings they make on one less Super Rugby team directly to club rugby and other grassroots programs. Non-negotiable.

Who can blame broadcasters for wanting a Super Rugby restructure?

Yep fair enough. That’s certainly as close as an Aussie team has got over there this season…

Who can blame broadcasters for wanting a Super Rugby restructure?

that was in Melbourne. I was mostly focussed on the forlorn attempts to win IN New Zealand…

Who can blame broadcasters for wanting a Super Rugby restructure?

Yep. Channels 9 and 7 wouldn’t be keen – they’re in deep with NRL and AFL. What does Channel 10 have on a Friday night? Why not a deal there? An Aussie team playing the 7.30pm AEST game on a Friday night on Channel 10 nationally. Or is there some reality TV show carving it up in the ratings in that slot?!?!

Would more foreigners really improve Super Rugby?