Australia vs USA: 5 thought bombs - Green and Gold Rugby

Australia vs USA: 5 thought bombs

Australia vs USA: 5 thought bombs

It was a friendly using the dirt trackers in Australia vs USA Eagles, but what did we learn from the Wallabies’ 47-10 win?

1. We’re ripe for a pool upset

With a game-plan that relies on ball in hand getting over the gain line, an opposition with a good rush defence and havoc at the breakdown are a mix Cheika’s Wallabies find hard to handle. Just imagine if at half time with the score 10-14 the Eagles had the scoring ability of say, a Fiji? I did and it wasn’t pretty.

The Wallabies need to be able to think their way out of these situations within a half of rugby and not need a spray at half time to sort things out. These tactics – or a team willing to kick-chase and pressure (like New Zealand) – are two problems that the Wallabies should be able to work their way around.

With Giteau on the field I would have expected more in this regard. The lack of verbal leadership in the forwards was also noticeable. At least we have those extra matches before the RWC to sort this out. Oh wait….

2. Sean McMahon is a beast

At times during the match he was a one man forward pack, demolishing the septics in both attack and defence (he ran 70 hard fought metres on his own). If today was an audition for the back row bench spot he nailed it.

While I’m in awe of his beast mode I don’t think he solves the problem we have of a tall bopper to partner the Pooper. The truth is that between McMahon and Gill we have a backup Pooper that most nations would kill for; the problem is that we can only play one pairing on at a time.

Conversely, Cliffy Palu looked very underdone and it’s hard to justify how he should be occupying a spot that either Chibba Hanson or Nic White would be filling in the squad.

3. The offside line is optional

While the most important point is that the Wallabies didn’t deal with the rush D well, Jaco Peyper’s take on the offside line was at times ludicrous. The “hindmost foot” seemed to be that of the player on the Wallabies side of their attacking ruck. I’ll be kind and say it was the extra NFL markings throwing Jaco off.

Another ruling refs are all over the place on are defenders swinging around the side of a ruck McCaw style and kicking/obstructing attacking ball. Joubert is about the only ref I’ve seen call it. Joubers also occasionally picks up defenders “taking the space” (alleluia). Peyper just sticks his hands up in the air touch-down Jesus style and pipes ‘play-on’.

4. A 9-10 pattern emerges

The timing of Will Genia’s injection into the game certainly helped him as the Wallabies had put a lot of work into the yank pack – but full points to Will for playing those cards well.  Sanchez looked dangerous. The way he set the team off on that coast-to-coast try with a pick up and miss pass in traffic to Henry Speight reminded us of the quality he has.

Will Genia, replacement Wallabies' half back, runs toward the line before deciding to pass.

If only he didn’t still have that skip step before each clearance. Regardless, Foley looked comfortable playing with Genia. Perhaps he’ll become the “finisher” at 9 that Toomua has at 10.

Speaking of 10, Foley has surely grabbed the starting jersey. Despite the lack of love he receives in player rankings, the truth is he was involved, if not instrumental, in the majority of the Wallabies tries and then nailed 6/7 shots at goal from all over the shop. Those voting Cooper above him need to lay off the crack pipe.

5. Sweet home Chicago?

I’m not one of those sneering at the fact we didn’t fill Soldier Field (even though we tried to give it a nudge here at G&GR). The All Black brand is a powerful international one and pulling 20,000 to a meaningless friendly in the states isn’t to be scoffed at.

However, if the idea of this was to be a money maker, you have to wonder if it accomplished its mission?


  • BP

    I was critical of the crowd on twitter and disappointed at the numbers vs the All Blacks visit. Substantially less, yes, and the folks at ARU need to work on the global Wallaby brand. However, flicking channels I noticed is was week 1 of college football over their which is huge, and Notre Dame were playing at the same time filling 80k stadiums. This could have had a heavy influence on the numbers.

    Thoughts on the game; Phipps in poor form, White might be needed and hopefully Chieks doesn’t regret this decision like Robbie Deans would have when Sean O’Brien carved the wallabies and McCalman up in 2011. Also, Tomane and Speight very similar. I question both being taken…

    • I Should be Coach

      Also remember that it is Labor Day weekend in US. A lot of people make plans with family for this weekend. Also school just restarted for most and that too had an affect.

  • mark conley

    The better placed service that Genia supplied relative to Phipps could be explained by the extra time he takes to get the pill away

    • That’s right. Phipps takes risks by passing fast off the base. He can be easily disrupted, because he puts his hands in the ruck to get at the ball, and he also makes more outright mistakes (although not as many as his critics say he does).

      Whether the benefits outweight the risks is a matter for the game planners at the Wobs. The Tahs accept the downsides because their game is based on a very fast service.

      What Genia brings (when he’s on song) is a sniping attack that forces the defence to adjust, and makes a rushing defence far more risky for the defenders because he can get in behind them.

      I’d start Genia. I think every team is going to plan to play a rushing defence against us. Bring Phipps on as a finisher.

  • Avid

    Well it was a fantastic promo for US sports headlines consumption, that’s for dang sure. Rugby wins.
    We played to prescribed patterns, but had to commit less to the breakdown to cover their rushing defence.

  • Drew Sampson

    Number 10 jersey locked up. Please. A less than convincing performance against the 16th ranked team in the world does not a World Cup winning fly half make.
    Being involved in a couple of tries doesn’t cover up a badly managed first half and a terrible game against the all blacks. He still doesn’t seem able get his depth right, he either stands too flat and gets caught with the ball or stands way too deep.
    It’s interesting how winning seems to cover up players short comings in the eyes of a lot of viewers.

    • bad ass

      Agreed. “Surely grabbed the 10 jersey” made me laugh out loud. My wife asked me what was so funny, and when I told her, she didn’t think it was funny. She was more concerned that Foley might be our 10 (she comes from a rugby family). Neither of us are from QLD and it is unfortunate to have to mention that.

      • Anthony Whyte

        Matt, foley was hardly involved in that game against the all blacks, and when he was he was poor. Do you remember his charge down that almost led to a Dan Carter try. Green and Gold rugby (the page you work for) rated him a 5 in that Sydney bledisloe! He got subbed for toomua and immediately the team was far better.

        Foley has never shown he is a test standard play and he never will be. Does not have the game management of an international 10 nor the distance in tactical kicks.

        Also, in your article to write Genia as a “finisher”. Phipps has proved throughout the test season this year he is not up to standard. Poor passing, erratic play, and a multitude of errors. Genia has to start at 9.

        • Chinese Dave

          Without arguing for or against Foley, I laughed when you brought up the G&GR rating as an argument. The after game ratings are a cesspool of provincial hatred and score settling and are about as meaningful as a butterfly sneezing (and don’t go all chaos theory on me now).

      • JKB

        Most deepest thanks for your sense.

    • How does winning a test against the All Blacks rate?

      Sure there are work-ons in Foley’s game, but you look at the options around and how Cheika’s fitting them together (see my post below) and yeah, he’s the first choice 10.

      • Drew Sampson

        Like I said try not to be blinded by winning. And ask yourself did he play well against the all blacks. Was he integral to the win or did we win despite him (and Phipps). I’d say the latter. Charge downs, bad passes, missed tackles. And how many linebreak assists and try assists did he contribute in the game. 1 from memory, where he went down the short side and AAC Was caught high.
        How many of our tries could be considered well worked tries, and how many of them seemed to come from a moment of individual brilliance?

        • Spelling it out a bit more –

          There are four options for the starting 10 in the squad: Cooper, Foley, Giteau and Toomua.

          We’ve barely seen Giteau at 10 and he’s done well at 12. Seems to be slotted there, especially with his left boot.

          Toomua has done well from the bench. He can also cover 10 and 12, neither Foley or Cooper can as well as him. So it looks like Toomua as a finisher from the bench.

          Cooper had two poor games in the TRC at 10. The Wallabies only just won the Saffa match after he was subbed for Toomua. We were slaughtered by the ABs with him at 10. He got sent off in two out of three rugby championship matches for pointless high tackles. His penalty try give away vs the ABs was a key point in the match. He added little from 12 in the matches he played, including against the USA.

          That leaves Foley with whom the team’s won all the matches in which he’s started at 10 this year, including the ABs – where yes he had a passable game – but there was no mass implosion under pressure and, we won. Last weekend was the final match before the RWC and he again plays well as part of the team, individually having a great game however you measure it.

          That’s why he’s grabbed the starting 10 jersey.

        • JKB

          He was awful against the AB’s and was also replaced by ,toomua

      • Larry

        Surely you’re not seriously using that Sydney test as evidence for Foley?!

    • Braveheart81

      Who do you think will be selected at 10 against Fiji and England? It would seem like Foley is the odds on favourite which is the point Matt is making. If it was still up for grabs you could have probably expected Cooper to replace Foley at 10 in the second half.

      Foley’s form is certainly not ideal but it seems almost certain that he is going to be selected at 10 come our opening match.

  • bad ass

    Foleys kicking game (in play) was outclassed by the US 10. Foley passed one ball over the side line under no pressure, completely mistiming a cut out. I remember QC doing that under enormous pressure v the All Blacks where the player he passed to cut inside and missed the pass, and we didn’t hear the end of it. Cooper, Toomua, and Leilo are all better at 10 than Foley. It is disappointing to hear otherwise from you Matt, because I actually think you believe that you are not biased in your opinion. Foley is so far off being the 10 we need for the Wallabies. Phipps pass is quicker but we have seen the extra time, planning and therefore accuracy that Genia puts into his passing game has the backs functioning better. That is what the Wallabies need.

    • You’re right – I’m not biased!

      I’d say the best patches of 10 we’ve seen have been from Matt Toomua, but at the end of a match – he seems to get swallowed up in the first half of tests. If Cheiks is seeing him as a finisher, I think he’s got that right.

      Gits has done well at 12 and brings a lot; experience, left foot, determination.

      That leaves the starting 10. Foley more than gets the job done – he either scored or was instrumental in 3 of the weekend’s tries and continued to threaten the line and straighten the attack. It’s no mistake that we keep winning when he plays – even against the All Blacks.

      Meanwhile anyone not arguing for Quade is fighting against the phantom of he player he might have been in 2011 (if we ignore what actually happened in the World Cup). He’s had chances this year and it just hasn’t happened – including an implosion at Eden Park.

      It’s time to get over it and move on

      • bad ass

        We are on the same side and we both want the same outcome Matt, that is for the Wallabies to win. However, I wrote that you don’t “think” that you are biased. I would agree that the evidence for QC should be performances this season, and he has performed way, way better than Foley. But let’s not get into an energy wasting and pointless argument about it, let’s see what the people think. Can you list the candidates and ask your readership for a vote? It should make for some entertaining discussion.

        • Braveheart81

          I think Foley is odds on favourite to be the 10 against Fiji and England now. I don’t think there is any bias involved in saying that.

        • bad ass

          I bloody well hope not.

      • moaning expat

        I love Sanchez but he got on the field with a lot of motivation and a very tired USA team. He was made to look a whole lot better. I was still waving the genia flag when you rightly pointed out how much he was flagging 18 months ago and were proven right. Only problem now is i think Phipps has lost his form.

        Also worries me that you mention 2011 with QC (when he had a shocker run) and not the last autumn internationals when he was fantastic. I saw no implosion at Eden Park at all. In fact i saw a man playing so low key it wasnt good for his natural style. Foley gamestyle is more ‘solid’ than QC- but hes not going to win us a RWC.

        Lastly- in terms of “Money Maker” someone needs to tell the ARU that to make some money you need tv stations showing the game. Everywhere.. And im in a country where theres a 100,000 Aussies and that again of potential viewers of that game. Most of whom are Rugby fans. I had to watch it via pirate feed. I had no other choice.

        • Braveheart81

          This was a USA hosted test match. The TV rights aren’t the ARU’s to sell.

        • Mickeyb

          Poor form though from ARU. A game in the U.S. to raise the profile of Rugby in the largest rugby growth market and it wasn’t televised FTA in Australia.
          A missed opportunity to further promote the game in the lead up to the RWC.

          No wonder we are getting flogged by other codes.

        • Braveheart81

          How exactly do you suggest the ARU gets the game broadcast on FTA television? They neither control the price nor the expenditure and schedule of FTA networks.

          I agree it would be great if there was demand from the FTA networks but unfortunately that comes down to both the time of the match and the relative interest in rugby union in Australia.

        • RobC

          Pulver knows the media business better than most people in media. I think the challenge is, how well does he know Aus Rugby as a product, and how best to sell it.

          Finally, sport isn’t just a business. Its a social and political instrument. To what extent can Hawker Pulver and Co, touch the heartstrings of people and pollies.

          In any case forget fta. The priority is to shore up support by Aus Rugby community.

      • Drew Sampson

        keep winning when he plays? You obviously missed all of last year.

        I see what you’re saying about giteau, but the fact is, is that foley and giteau have not fired as a combination. It was obvious to me that when Beale was switched to 12, we looked a lot better. While when toomua came on against the all blacks for foley we looked a lot better.

        Fighting against the phantom of 2011 Quade cooper. What about 2013? Probably the best we’ve seen of QC at international level. foley only became the 10 in 2014 because QC was injured, and he hardly took his chance.
        Implosion at Eden park? He Went high on the smallest player on the field trying to make a try saving tackle. How is that an implosion.

      • bad ass

        If you stop suggesting that Foley has the number 10 jersey all but wrapped up, I can move on.

      • Fruity

        Couldn’t agree more. Cooper has never really fulfilled his talent – I keep waiting and waiting and waiting but it just never comes. Even in the USA game he was niggling off the ball, nearly threw a punch and thereby nearly got himself suspended in a meaningless game ahead of the big show, Where is the guy’s head? He has so much to offer but the frontal lobes are missing. We’ve waited long enough. Let’s move on.

      • Robson

        I agree. Quade is, sadly, the shadow of the player he once was. I don’t think he is totally beyond redemption, but we are dealing in the now not “what ifs” and “buts” for the future. Having said that the jury is still out for me on Foley too.

      • Rob Malcolm

        Spot on

  • brumby runner

    Matt – all very good points. On the matter of the off side line, we should also acknowledge that Rob Simmons, while he was on, was off (off side) at most rucks. Went both ways imo.

    Foley had a fairly poor game. He seemed to be slow in his decision making and in his ball handling, either getting caught himself or leading to the next receiver being under severe pressure. But he is in better form than Quade and is in no doubt to be the starting No 10 in the main RWC games.

    A good 50% of McMahon’s hard fought metres had one or two Eagles’ players on his back as well. He is indeed a beast.

  • Straith

    I think Quade could have done everything Foley did that game but better. What Foley did wasn’t at all impressive, Quade can have a field day against rush defense putting people through holes nonstop. Anyone else wanna hit the Pipe with me? :|

    • Chinese Dave

      Coulda Woulda Shoulda….


      • Straith

        Yeah Didn’t.

        Didn’t get selected.

  • RobC

    Thanks for the post, Matt. SeanMc will overrun both Poey Hoops and own seven before long, imo

    I think the four halves will be interchangeable, QC’s style would be better suited for the first half wide ball. ONLY if he slots kicks.

    • jamie

      Not Pocock until Pocock gets old. And McMahon, if he continues to improve, will be an even better Hooper if possible

      • RobC

        From what I observe, Sean has Hoops speed, Poeys power with superior endurance and jumping. Hes already bigger than Hoops and will catch up to Poey before long.

        There are currently two things going against Sean:
        – He’s still being played at six by the Rebs, but will always be too small for a test blindside. When he played openside for Rising 2014 he was the best in the comp by a country mile.

        – He doesnt have the caps, or seniority of the other two.

        This guy will be an undeniable killer on the paddock. Too bad for Gilly also. But a good thing for WBs to have more options.

        • jamie

          Would be a very good 8 if he packed on a couple more kg’s of solid muscle in 5-6 years time. Fairly solid lineout too.

        • RobC

          Yeah, 8 is a head scratcher isnt it? The only bolter I can think of from the conveyor belt is young Lolo Fakaosilea.

          Tala Gray has gone to France.

          Lopeti is an 8 playing lock. The bloke is not a prime jumper. Silly Rebs…

          I reckon a makeshift could be Fards at 8, with Mumm or Jones at flank – depending who can scrummage bettter. Then we have a solid rucking, LO, scrummaging team. But not in the next coupla weeks

        • jamie

          Fardy is less likely to be around than Pocock in 4 years… He’s already 31 or 32. Jones or McMahon or Timani would be very good 8’s. (I know, provincial bias, but they’re young and developing and already match it with the best/close to. For me it’s Timani over Skelton at this point in time.)

        • RobC

          Yeah, sorry about confusing you there. Fards Lopeti isn’t for 2019. Rather 2016. Sean too small he’s only 101kg

          8 must br a 120kg non jumper or 115kg jumper. The latter being preferred.

          Timani at lock is the reason why Rebs don’t win.

        • jamie

          I don’t think it’s fair to simply base things on weight. McMahon punches well above his weight and his hits seem to come with a brick wall attached to him.

          Kieran Read is 110. McMahon puts on 5kg and he’s similar. Already a scarily strong bastard already.

          Timani was often described as the most powerful scrumming lock in the rebels pack. And the rebels weren’t too bad this season considering their relatively nameless team.

          Remind me how the rebs set piece functions? Majority of their tries are forwards as well.

        • RobC

          Rebs lose games because of poor lineout. Lopeti caught nil in SR15. Their scrum is good, but not the winning factor

          Read is 112kg. Abso minimum. Duane V 116kg. The best countries have heavy 8s

          Ireland France have a lighter eight, but I wouldn’t want their results compared to SH teams

          Sean when he moves up, like Poey can play a light 8 when needed. But a proper big mofo 8 is what is missing.

          Our front row is piling up, lock stock looking healthier. Flankers are ok.

        • Keith Butler

          Absolutely right Rob. Big mistake by the Rebs in casting Neville aside. Interesting selections in the BR next season.

        • Gringo

          All true but doesn’t get Poey’s turnovers – massive part of the game for Wobs

        • RobC

          he will, if / when he settles into the seven position. He did it pretty well in NRC

  • Gottsy

    It’s hard to judge who everyone prefers at 10 from the ratings. I for one voted on what I saw, and that wasn’t cooper playing 10, so votes are skewed that way.
    Agree on the point that we can’t be that complacent one we get to the wc

  • Pete

    Try keep the bias out of next time mate, foley was bland, slow and him same old bad decision making self… Locked up the 10 jumper, please…

    • Braveheart81

      What bias is there in making that comment? It would seem incredibly likely now that Foley will be the 10 against Fiji and England.

      • bad ass

        Because Foley was awful against the AB and average against the US, and Cooper, Giteau and Toomua have played way better.

  • Jamie Miller

    McMahon “demolishing the septics” indeed. Knocked the shit out of more than a few yanks.

  • Lindommer

    Couldn’t agree more on the offside observation, Matt. At one stage I pointed out to my lovely spare-rib one, no two Wallaby offsides in a passage of play, then Kafer comes on and mentions three gold offsides! Bugger, I missed one. What I did notice is neither TJ/AR were standing on the defensive offside line and helping Peyper. Forgive me for harping on about this but we could take a leaf out of soccer’s book here and delegate ALL offsides to the two side blokes. They’ve really got bugger all else to do, and that’s coming from a former ref and Level 2 touchie.

  • Kokonutcreme

    Just a comment on the crowd figure.

    This trip was not a promotional campaign driven by a major US based sponsor like the All Blacks visit last year. AIG took great care in negotiating the timing of the match so that they could raise the profile without competition from the NFL. The All Blacks spent a whole week in Chicago attending media events so the whole city knew they were in town plus its easier peddling the tag World Champions to an American audience than Rugby Champions.

    The NZRU and AIG made sure they capitalised on their pounds of flesh to profit from the occasion, this trip was never really about the Wallabies making money otherwise why base the team in Notre Dame?

    I get the sense that Cheika tolerates Pulver but doesn’t let him interfere with his rugby program.

  • Nutta

    There are two things that concern me re our game atm and they were brought into stark relief again on the weekend (perhaps more-so against B-grade opponents):

    1. We continue to go side to side without first establishing go-forward. This doesn’t make any sense to me as it is simply too easy to defend against. Worse still we do this via some lumbering forward standing deep and acting as a mid-field link by throwing a harbour bridge pass 10m behind him. It just brings shudders to me every time. We must go forward first. Get the defensive line retiring & bunching to stop the hard & straight runner first. That’s how you MAKE space for the wide men. Then swing to your wide men once they have some space. I know it’s old fashioned and conventional but that’s me I guess – rugby is a simple game.

    2. Our chase on the kick is bloody poor. Whether it’s because everyone is knackered running side to side or up & down hills or what I don’t know. But our chase is shite. “There’s no such thing as a bad kick. There is only a bad chase.” was one old axiom I was raised with and it’s bloody well true. You don’t kick and then have everyone sit back and admire the shape, pitch and spiral of the flight to assess it’s effect whilst you take a minute to swallow sea-gulls! Rather get on the fkn toe and get after it! A committed, talkative 3or4-man chase will make even the most ordinary shank a pearler through pressure IF YOU WANT TO. If our chase is that ineffective against the flair of the Fijians or the structure of the English then the Fijian’s will scorch us and the Poms will check-mate us.

    • idiot savant

      All of this makes great sense Nutta. I have been perplexed for many years about the Australian kicking game and would love to see some analysis on this site from people with bigger brains than me. Something along the lines of the brilliant series on lineouts from Scott Allen, or thedeadballarea. I feel a wider conversation on Australia’s kicking in general play is well overdue.

      At Eden Park, the ABs kicked 30% more than we did (28-18?) and while Folau did score off an almost identical kick to one of Toomuas, it was when the game was over. Clearly they had no fear in kicking to us because they had faith in their well coached support system. We on the other hand have such poorly coached structures that Toomua has almost been written off as a fly half because of two kicks. We blame the kicker, not the structure. All of which adds up to a situation where our team is deprived of a key strategic weapon – the kick in general play. I guess its ball in hand for the foreseeable future.

    • Chinese Dave

      One more frustrated fan chiming in in support of your point about the kick chase. It absolutely shits me to death how they just fing stand there watching the ball. Run at the god damn thing, scare the bejesus out of the catcher, you never know what might happen, just ask AAC how many time he benefited out of running at the goal posts after a goal kick. It boggles the mind!

    • Nutta

      Thanks lads. In simple terms, if footage of Conrad Smith lying on the ground TWICE with Folau’s feet STILL IN HIS HANDS after different high-ball take-outs was there for all & sundry to see, and yet he was NOT carded in what was the most heavily scrutinised rugby match of this year to-date (Wobblies vs AIB’s in NZ – 1 vs 2 in the world following an upset the week before so don’t try & tell me that every major player, ref, coach and administrator in world rugby was not watching it), then if that does not demonstrate the mileage in at least SOMEONE aggressively pursuing the kick then fkn nothing else will.

    • Davo

      I remember seeing the Bulls play the Tahs at SFS a few years ago and Morne Steyn kicked almost every ball he was passed. Now on telly this is dead boring, but when you could see the full field panorama of a superbly coordinated kick chase, it was actually a thing of beauty.

      • Avid

        Stormers played Tahs this year and won with rush defence. Tahs didnt adapt. Surely noted by Chieka and Grey. You’d think.

    • Marcus Pontmercy

      I watched the eng ire game.. the poms were so quick of the mark their rush def shut down the irish

  • Roscoe Tims aka Lance Free

    You’d have to say Foley has his nose in front in the No 10 selection stakes. I thought he had a solid game. That said, to win the RWC you generally need a world class five eighth (The Man from Waiuku River notwithstanding). We don’t have one but I would have liked to have seen Matt Toomua given more time at pivot. He seems to me to have the most potential of the three to adjust to and play a tighter style and tempo that test rugby demands. Also locks off defence in that channel which the others can’t really provide. Goal kicking is probably a (negative) factor too for him. I guess there’s still time …

  • Brisneyland Local

    Matt, great read and very thought provoking. Not just because I am living in Qld (am an ex-NSW boy), I think the difference with Sanchez on was telling. His talking, his leadership were great. Maybe if we had Horwill there in the forwards you would have that maturity and leadership. The team seems to look for guidance within its self when things dont go to plan. If Squeak isnt there, very little seems to get done.
    Test experience and maturity are what is required.

  • oli

    Great article however losta bit of credibility by stating Foley has surely grabbed the 10 jersey… apart from his goalkicking he was awful against the yanks. Proving for what feels like the thousandth time he is nothing more than a good super rugby player. I’d be very disappointed in cheiks if he was our starting flyhalf during the world cup against anyone other than Uruguay.

    • Braveheart81

      Get ready to be disappointed then. I’d say it’s very likely he’ll start at 10 against Fiji and England.

      Cooper will start against Uruguay.

      • oli

        Based on what evidence? Cooper has started the big games during 2015 and has looked miles above foley in the games he has played. The only significant game in which foley started at 10 was the 1st Bledisloe and he produced one of the worst performance in living memory

        • Braveheart81

          Neither have played well in tests this year. Reading the tea leaves, I think Foley was always the most likely starting 10 and Cooper hasn’t done anything to change that. Cooper wasn’t good against either South Africa nor New Zealand (and was poor against Argentina albeit playing out of position). Foley was alright against Argentina and poor against New Zealand.

          Do you really think Cooper is going to be selected at 10 against Fiji and England?

        • joeyjohns

          I see the logic, but a lot of it is tea-leaves and the point can be made in reverse.

          If you are reading into the team selection vs. the USA.. Considering we played a “B” team, perhaps Foley, Giteau & Phipps are in fact the B team. Genia, Cooper, Toomua are the A-Team. Kurtley is the super-back reserve.

          That’s what I first thought anyway. Giteau has been average. Weak in contact (turnovers, held-up), butchered tries (no-pass to izzy) and all he’s done is run sideways. I don’t agree that he’s first choice 12, regardless of the shocker Toomua put in at Eden Park.

        • bad ass

          Cooper was excellent against SA and good against the AB but was sent off for a head high tackle. Foley was awful in Sydney. Stop the misinformation.

  • Brendan Hume

    I find it a bit hard to reconcile point 4 regarding Foley and point 1 regarding direction and tactics. Firstly, Foley had touches after the phase in three of the seven tries – one (the first) he scored, he drew and passed three passes before the second try, and passed a simple cutout to Naiyaravoro in the last.

    Not sure if Quade would be doing a better job here, but surely the 10 needs to manage the blokes around him and execute the patterns. The Aussie attack for much of the game was aimless, side to side, and easily accounted for by good US defence. The only good period for mine was when we played more off Genia in the lead up to the Mumm try.

    We need some better carries from the back 5 forwards and need to play a little more direct before shifting the the edge.

    • That’s a fair point about game management – I’m not sure any of our candidates have nailed that one

  • Klaus

    Henry Speight also proved to us all he is not up to Test match rugby. He was lazy out there. Palu is a favourite of Cheika’s and that is the only reason he is there. He was below Super rugby quality let alone Test Footy.

    • bad ass

      Crap. Poor wingers suffer when the inside backs play poorly. It doesn’t help when the 5/8 simply draws and passes short and creates nothing.

      • As a winger I’d rather my 5/8 catch and pass short than run sideways towards me. All day

        • Who?

          Depends on what your centres do, too… If your centres don’t all run sideways – like a Richard Graham coached team – then your 10 can go a bit lateral. Bernie wasn’t the straightest running 10, but Snorky’s hard lines back against the drift worked it to our advantage.

          And you can’t work wrap around plays from your 10 unless he’s running sideways. Which is something that Foley and particularly Beale do well.

          I honestly can’t remember many times recently where we’ve seen our wingers regularly given the ball without our centres crowding them.

        • Avid

          I wanna know what Cheikas winged keel looks like.

        • bad ass

          Cooper involves the wingers with a pass straight to them very frequently, either a pass long and wide or short often on a switch play. The winger gets the ball way less with Foley, if that is what you would prefer.

        • You’d be right if it wasn’t for this thing called ‘phase play’

  • Klaus

    I thought our backrow were very poor. I know Sean had a great game against the number 16 team in the midfield attack. BUT their support of the ruck throughout the game in both attack and defence was shit. The only turnover we won I believe was from our loosehead.

  • James L

    Don’t read too much into a game where it was our B team playing where all squad members had been thrashed all week in high heat and humidity.

    • Nutta

      That is a fair comment

  • Who?

    Love how everything on here is again going back to a Cooper vs Foley debate, always taken by Tahs fans to be created out of provincial biases. As in, everyone other than Foley fans must come from Qld! And only intelligent, non-Cooper fans could ever think that anyone other than Foley should be the right choice! Although there’s also some conceit from parties all round the country that their guy isn’t really the right person, so it must be Toomua…
    I’ll note it here – I haven’t had time to watch the game yet. It was on Fox only (which is a joke), and I’ve got a life… Too much of which is involved in running a local club and being heavily involved in the local game. So I haven’t had time to watch.

    Mr Rowley, there’s no question you’re biased. You think Quade is rubbish. Every point you’ve written about him for several years now has been from a Dwyer-influenced perspective. You give him no credit, and you seem to think that Deans was a good coach… That’s fine. You’re wrong, but that’s fine! :-P Just don’t claim to be unbiased.

    I’ll similarly point out that I think Quade’s the best 10 in the country, though he’s a good way short of a run (not entirely his fault). I think he’s less rattled than people like to believe. He has the better general kicking game, his goal kicking is every bit as reliable, his passing is better. He’s definitely a less direct runner. Partially because he’s got a better step. Partially because of the amount of flak he’s copped over the years for overplaying his hand. But he also dislikes the attacking contact, and avoids it, preferring to keep the ball alive. Whereas Foley, for mine, can take on the line too often (especially for the Tahs – overplaying his hand). I like my 10’s to direct the team and be decision makers, not ball hogs (not saying Foley goes that far, either). Foley’s primary role is to get the ball wider for the Tahs, where other people actually make the play. Whereas Quade’s role over a long period has been to make the play, pick the hole runner himself. Hence my position. I also like coaches who give clear structure and don’t have all their backs running the same lines (hence my lack of respect for Deans and Richard Graham).

    Now, that’s all fine. We all have our own perspectives on what we think is the right way to play Rugby. But I think we’re now in a position where we believe we’re inside Cheika’s head. I’m not so certain any of is truly is…

    Let’s go back. When Douglas first started to be discussed, we were all certain he’d be picked. Those of us who don’t currently rate him were grumpy, and wrote it off as Tahs bias. For me, certainly, that’s not about a preference for players from a particular state, it’s a preference for known quantities. This is significantly different to Link’s approach, and is partly due to the different time scales the two coaches have had. Link had 2 years to figure out what was available to him, so he immediately picked on form and had a lot of Brumbies in key positions. Which gave him a chance to get to know players he previously hadn’t seen up close. Cheika’s not had that time, so he’s got pretty well 50% of the national team as players who’ve worked with him before (or wore Blue at some point in time – such as Mitchell – but we’ll just conveniently forget he also wore Red and lived in Perth).

    So, the Douglas decision, whilst not rated by myself or many others (I was initially very enthusiastic for Douglas’ selection in the Wallabies, all the way back to 2012, but he’s disappointed me too many times in Gold, signed overseas (and was therefore rightly dumped by Link, to find other options), was mediocre there, got injured…), wasn’t hard to predict. Cheika was talking about it in the press, and he does tend to like using what he knows.

    But many of Cheika’s other decisions have been very hard to predict. Clearly G&GR has a very good leaker, but those leaks for team announcements haven’t ever been more than a day ahead. And even then, there’s been surprises.

    Did anyone really expect Quade to come in for Auckland, let alone for Cheika – and all his assistants – to come out and say it was part of the pre-existing plan from before the season started?!

    Did anyone expect us to take only 2 hookers?! 2 scrumhalves was mooted, with Gits as the possible cover, but I don’t think most genuinely believed it would happen (or wanted it to happen).

    Did anyone predict no Horwill?

    Did anyone expect to take 6 guys to cover the wings and fullback?

    Many have spruiked for Toomua to play 10 and Lealiifano to be called up, yet neither has happened – in spite of their S15 coach being the Wallabies attack coach!

    I’m not saying we have to agree with Cheika, or each other. But I think it’s time to stop acting as though we actually have a clue what’s going on inside Cheika’s mind. Or Larkham’s mind, given the Toomua and Lealiifano talk on here. Larkham ‘s the attack coach, he has a say! Maybe we should all stop writing anyone off, stop attacking each other, and chill until we actually see what Cheika does. THEN we can all argue about whether or not he’s got a clue! Until then, I don’t think any of us can be certain as to what he’s planning.

    • galumay

      I dont agree with your assessment of QC, but Chieka obviouslly believe he has a place to play in the Wobblies WC. I think your last paragragh elequently outlines something I have been saying for some time, the couch-coaches need to stop believing they know better than professional coaches at the international level – its plainly absurd.

      • Who?

        I think we’re more than entitled to think we know better than Cheika, or any other coach. I just think we should stop pretending that we know what Cheika’s actually thinking! We can’t be certain we know better than Cheika until we know what he’s thinking. Because we could actually be thinking the same thing. Or we might think Cheika’s justifying our position, but he might not be.
        As an example, lots are talking as though QC’s on the scrap heap, but Cheika was the one who pushed the ARU to keep him in Australia (even if he’s probably playing 7’s next year), Cheika’s continued to pick him at 10 over Toomua…
        Many also didn’t want Horwill in the RC squad. Cheik definitely got that one right. Should Jones have been left out? Or Arnold not blooded? Not so sure about those ones. Still would’ve liked Arnold blooded, but I can’t definitively say he got that wrong. Neither can anyone else. Jones? I don’t know – I lean more to the position he should be playing 6, and in the squad, but I can’t be certain Mumm’s not the better option at present.
        So, clearly, there’s more to Cheika’s thoughts than he’s letting us know, and while it’s fun to argue positions, it gets pointless when we’re using a coach’s selections – which he’s clearly making with the longer view and without actually telling us anything about his current thoughts – as justification for any viewpoint. We just don’t know his viewpoint!

        • galumay

          “I think we’re more than entitled to think we know better than Cheika, or any other coach.”

          WOW! Really!!?? I am flabbergasted by that response.

        • Who?

          You seriously think we don’t have a right to be arrogant, or to have different philosophies of how to play the game? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. Did you spend the entire Deans era defending him? Did you agree with all Link did? Are you supporting Richard Graham? Do you think there’s no Kiwis out there who disagreed with Deans (and were happy he wasn’t picked as ABs coach in 2008), no Kiwis who don’t disagree with Ted and Shag..?

          No one’s perfect, and having the capacity to defend one’s own viewpoint means that perhaps you’ve spent the time arriving at that viewpoint. It doesn’t mean it’s right. It doesn’t mean the counterpoint is right. But there’s more to be gained by thinking than by blindly following. There’s more to be gained by reading people with whom you don’t always agree than only reading people who share your mentality. You don’t have to agree with them, but maybe you’ll learn and grow. It may well convince you even more firmly of your own views! Any outcome that encourages thought is a positive.

          And in saying I can disagree with a coach, it doesn’t mean I don’t support the team, or the players. I didn’t support Deans by 2010, but I always wanted to see the Wallabies win. Even if they’re doing things in ways that I think aren’t the most ideal or even intelligent, I don’t ever doubt that every member of the (broader) team (players, coaches, support staff…) is doing their best.

    • Gilbert

      Quade may have been a good 5/8 ( I loved him the Reds 2013) and may be under done. But he can’t fuckin tackle. He is not a small bloke and wish somebody in Qnld would teach him how to do it properly. That last tackle on Smith in Auckland was bloody pathetic. Talk about a girl tackle he deserved his binning. And as a Brumbies supporter I think Lilo should be 5/8 so get off the Reds Waratahs angle because this is about bring back Bill ..

      • Who?

        Think you’ve missed my point…

    • Avid

      Fair point re the crystal ball, and we are all up for speculation, observation and justified criticism. Based on predetermined plays, its fair to say this coaching staff is getting the best out of highly skilled selections, who were playing, and flexibility on who’s fit for those plays.

      I’m also a firm believer in Quad Cooper. He is far and away our most creative 5/8 – full stop.
      He’s there to create attacking opportunities. Hence, just having Larkham coaching his marvellous skills says to me that Quade will be first choice. Either Phipps or Genia at 9 doesn’t matter. Foley and/or Toomua are highly credible finishers. Sans injuries of course.

      Mind you depending on who we are playing, say v Englands rushing defence, Toomua at 5/8 with Kuradrani at 12 and AAC at 13 also looks very inviting indeed. My speculation for the day is ex-factor O’Connor will be called up at some stage (mooted by Cheika earlier).

  • McWarren

    My biggest concern with Foley is his depth. He stands so far behind the advantage line, then he passes to where I believe a defending fullback would stand. Add a rush defence on top of that and we’re back peddling even before we fumble it in contact. I think the commentators praised him for a chip kick in the first half as an effort to halt the rush defence. They were right but he only did it once!! This is not a Foley only problem.

    Is it just me or do we sound like stuck records. The G&GR masses have been calling for the Wallabies to play a flatter attacking line, to use a smart kicking game including the chip kick when it’s on. Yet we continue to play rugby like we are just learning it at test level. Same with the whole physicality thing, why do our internationals have to be reminded at half time that they are required to clean out at the breakdown!! Who knew that a rugby forward needs to be physical!!! Is it just me or does anyone else get embarrassed when our coaches, players, pundits and the like announce that the Wallabies are going to ‘start’ bringing ‘a physicality’ to their game?

  • JKB

    Foley is third in the ranks for fly half in my book.
    He was horrible against the allblacks in Sydney before being replaced by Toomua. Kicking out of hand is poor as is his long passing. An average performance against a club rugby standard side hasn’t changed that surely.

  • PC Joy

    Foley field kicking is poor. A bit like a hooked that can’t push.

  • idiot savant

    Dunno about the best. Gits was very good. But Foley was good. I love the way he quietly goes about getting into the right positions for the team in defence and attack. Has his game got better in the competition with QC or has his confidence been eroded?

    I liked the refereeing btw. It did us a favour in exposing the problems Matt mentioned!

  • I think that the most we can say about our top XV is that with the possible exception of Foley it isn’t that one.

    I’ve long been of the view that the Wobs would play Phipps Foley, because those two do a job Cheika wants done, which includes Phipps’ immediate pass off the back, but Phipps just seems to keep playing himself further from contention. Genia came on and showed glimpses of the Genia of old. Geez he looks fit.

    Foley was good. He didn’t get his outside backs going, but we didn’t cope with the defence.


Matt started G&GR just before the 2007 Rugby World Cup and has been enslaved ever since. Follow him on twitter: @MattRowley

More in Rugby