Cheika – how long has he got? - Green and Gold Rugby

Cheika – how long has he got?

Cheika – how long has he got?

After the loss to Argentina recently, the rumblings of discontent have started about Michael Cheika’s reign as the Wallabies Coach. Having now been in the position for 4 years, he has had long enough to establish himself and his squad.

Cheika’s style is unique. Waratahs fans will recall the use of the Golf club and all fans will know of his infamous temper. This sort of style has had the desired impact at various clubs. At Leinster he won the coveted Heineken Cup in his fourth season, 2009. At the Waratahs he won the Super Rugby title in his second season in charge, and with the Wallabies, he took them to the final of the 2015 World Cup just 9 months after taking over the team.

Cheika was the 2015 World Rugby Coach of the Year, a great honour given the All Blacks won their second consecutive World Cup that season. However, his win ratio is now 51%. How did this happen?

Cheika’s intense style has been compared to Eddie Jones, whose notorious intensity quickly got the best out of England very quickly. While Eddie hasn’t had a great run recently, he has an 81% win ratio with England so he has more breathing space. Given Jones’ England has never played New Zealand, it should be less – but in reality, removing NZ from the equation only gets the Cheika coached Wallabies to a win ratio of 63%.

Michael Cheika revs the Wallabies up pre-game

Michael Cheika revs the Wallabies up pre-game

He has an 18% win ratio against the All Blacks, but very few teams win against them. Over the last four years (September 14 to September 18) against New Zealand:

  • South Africa have played them 8 times for 2 wins (25% win ratio)
  • England have not played them and in 2014 lost all 3 matches in the series
  • Ireland have played them twice for one win (their first ever)

And herein lies the biggest issue with Cheika’s tenure. It is not about his record against the All Blacks but has happened against others. The Wallabies win ratio is 14% against England (once in 7 matches) and 20% against Ireland (once in 5 matches). He has lost twice to Scotland in four matches (50%) and once to South Africa, Argentina and France respectively. The win against England was in the 2015 World Cup and the Ireland win was earlier in 2018, in the fortress that is Suncorp Stadium. Historically, the Wallabies win ratios against Ireland and England have been 61% and 51% respectively, although under Cheika this has slumped to 14% and 20% respectively. Even more concerning is that many of these matches have come on home soil, in dry conditions.

The Wallabies have lost ground to teams other than the All Blacks. Whether that is due to their opponents improving or the Wallabies lack of improvement, that is debatable, however there should be no debate that it is the core issue. England, Ireland and Argentina have taken steps forward while the Wallabies have not.

The Wallabies are at their lowest ever IRB world ranking. Is this Cheika’s fault, or is it symptomatic of Australian Rugby’s broader issues?

This question is not only a question of Cheika’s leadership, but that of his boss, CEO, Raelene Castle. Castle has been in the post for a little under 12 months and has an even scorecard with the benefit of doubt in her favour – she botched dealing with Israel Folau’s social media ‘issue’ but has made some interesting headway on junior playing issues such as ‘outlier policy’.

Recent crowds of 66,318 (79% capacity) for the Bledisloe Cup in Sydney, 27,849 (53% capacity) for the Springboks in Brisbane and 16,019 (58% capacity) for Argentina in Gold Coast make for ordinary reading – but the most concerning is Brisbane. The Boks may not be too high in the rankings at the moment, but the match was against a fierce opponent and a traditional rival in a city that usually a sell out for Wallabies matches. Against Ireland the same stadium hosted over 46,000 fans. These types of results will hurt the Rugby AU bottom line significantly, putting pressure on Castle. Not too long after those financial year results are published, the Wallabies will contest the World Cup in Japan. If she is going to move on Cheika, it must be before the November internationals or not at all.

Given the challenges that RA are likely facing financially, would it be worse financially to payout Cheika now and refresh, or run the course and see how it goes? Tough call. Given the draw in Pool D, it looks like the Wallabies would have to completely implode to not get out of the pools, but anything less than a semi will be deemed a failure. His win ratio is now perilously low and unacceptable with the talent at his disposal – he and Rugby AU have fought hard to bring back players, he has his own people around him and his own choices on the field. If it doesn’t improve quickly, the Castle may have to move on the King for checkmate.

  • Ian Rodger

    The bigger question is who is going to take over if they do move Cheika on? Nothing that we have seen from either gray or Larkham shows they are ready and picking them would be nothing more than jobs for the boys. None of the aussie super rugby coaches look ready to take over either.

    Who is coaching overseas that could be a good pick?

    • Bakkies

      White put up his hand six days ago. Wasn’t reported in the Aus press which is as blind as the RA. White usually puts International out clauses in his contracts so wouldn’t require a pay out to his Japanese contracts. Cotter wants to coach at test level again.

      • Fatflanker

        IMO, White would not be a bad option if Cheika does go – a short-term contract to see us through the RWC, with the option to extend. He and Larkam worked well together.

        • Bakkies

          White brings in the right people to help with him coach areas that he is weak in.


    As far as I’m concerned he should quit himself before he’s fired. His record is terrible, his odd selections and methods seem to come up short far more often then not.. . …whats this rubbish about needing to be fired to leave? He should see he’s been bad for the WALLABIES and do the right thing by the WALLABIES. Not HIS family first like he was talking about a few weeks ago when he said something like it would suck for his family…….hmmmmm.

  • ForceFan

    How interesting…..these numbers haven’t just developed overnight but previously few would say anything about them and if they did they were howled down. Sadly it’s not just the coach that’s the problem.

    • disqus_NMX

      This year is different. 2016 could be seen as a building year after the world cup. In 2017 we almost beat the Nearlies twice. Yeah there were some shockers throughout that, but there was enough promise of possible glory. But 2018, the shockers are outshining any promise, and the promise is looking like that of a used car salesman. Cheika is done.

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        ‘Cheika is done.’

        Sadly, because Cheika seems a decent bloke, but at this point we can only hope for a change in coach ASAP…

        • Geoffro

          You want a good bloke,Razor Robertson fits the bill but don’t think he’d get too many ops to bust a breakdance if the Wallabies kept performing like they have

      • Geoffro

        Seems that way,SA and Argentina may be his swansong if we get thumped.White must be looking on in Montpelier with interest,he’s been busting his nuts to get another national coaching gig for a few years now.

        • Bakkies

          Cotter is coaching Montpellier. White got the boot as Altrad like any proud Frenchmen wasn’t happy that he applied for the England job. He is coaching Suntory.

        • Geoffro

          I stand corrected.I s’pose he probably not on ARU’s radar anyway as applied for job previously and was overlooked wasn’t he ? Did a fair job with an average brumbies roster though and coached the Boks to a WC so has some credentials.

        • Bakkies

          Connolly was overlooked at least three times so it shouldn’t matter and it is a different board. You can’t ignore his resume.

  • Timbuktu

    While both of our series losses to England and Ireland were
    disappointing, both teams were playing at a very high level and were
    both ranked 2nd in the world at the time. We may not be cutting it with
    the top two at this point in time but that’s just how sport goes. Cheika
    may be a little one-dimensional, but he is the best we have at this
    point, and with the world cup around the corner let’s just keep at it
    and hope for the best.

    • first time long time

      I don’t think the “he’s the best we’ve got” argument flies. We’ve used on too many occasions of late.
      Any coach you pick could get the current results so how does that make him the best.
      If it’s broke…. you have to try and fix it

      • Twoilms

        I don’t think it’s the case that any coach could get the same results.

        An analogous situation: people were calling for anyone but Foley because they couldn’t get any worse. So Beale and Toomua are brought in and behold, we got worse.

        • first time long time

          Disagree entirely on your first point and it was bad selections and a complete cluster fuck of positional swaps in the backline that made it worse, not the absence of Foley. In fact we looked worse when he came on.
          That’s on the coaches in my opinion

      • idiot savant

        I dont believe the core senior players would support a new coach at this point. Getting the co-operation of Hooper, Foley, Beale, Folau, and Genia would be a huge problem for a new coach. I think replacing him before the RWC could possibly be a disaster.

        • laurence king

          If after the next 3 games the situation has deteriorated further, some of these players might disappear with the coach as these players constitute the core of the brains trust bar a couple. And that could be a good thing as a sense of privilege and being untouchable may be adding to the seeming disharmony within the camp.

        • idiot savant

          However our only chance at the RWC is if the creative core of Genia, Foley, Beale, and Folau play to the best of their ability. They have beaten the All Blacks and all of them have won a Super Rugby title. There isn’t time to build new combinations with less experienced players. No RWC has been won without a core of experienced players. And we do have a great draw. The dream is possible but these players need to recapture their best form (and the whole side needs to defend better).

        • laurence king

          I agree that these players are very important, but gee, it would be good to see some of them get the frighteners up them, because if nothing changes the dream will remain only that.

        • idiot savant

          Agree and I think Foley has been momentarily dropped for that very reason. Next shake up will have to be Beale.

        • Who?

          Genia would be fine – he cooperated with Cheika, even though Cheika replaced the bloke who’d molded his career for the previous five years. Hooper, Foley, Beale and Folau, they may be harder.

        • The way Foley and Beale are playing – well I’d replace one of them with Toomua comfortably and at the moment the other isn’t worth his shirt either. I don’t have an instant replacement name to suggest, got to run to work, but there must be a name or two out there.

          I’m not sure it’s a coincidence that Argentina seemed to lift around the time that Hanigan came on and the balance of the back row shifted permanently. Prior to that, the Wobs didn’t look safe but looked better, so I could live without Hooper to be honest.

          Folau… Aussie rugby is not lacking for wingers. I’d rather have him, but if he won’t play, we’ve got a better 15 than him now, and we can find a good winger. He is not bigger than the team.

          Losing all that experience would hurt. But if the players don’t way to play for the new coach, they are, ultimately, replaceable. Two of them really don’t deserve their places right now, one of them is arguable not doing the team a service by playing. Cheika will probably continue to pick all four though.

        • Brumby Runner

          Agree with all of that Eloise. As for the No 12 spot, I’d like to see Billy Meakes have a few runs there.

          Sure, there would be a loss of experience if any of those players were lost, but remember too that the likes of Kerevi and Kuridrani will return bringing a fair bit of experience with them. Add that to Genia, Toomua, DHP, Pocock, Coleman, Kepu, AAT, Sio, TPN and that is still a lot of experience to take to the RWC.

        • Bakkies

          Kepu should be put out to pasture. The jury is out on Coleman. I question his physicality and durability. When it gets physical he gets beaten up and goes quiet. He also has not completed a tour yet and the RWC is about completing seven straight weeks of tough physical games. It is physical enough in the pool stages with Georgia, Wales and Fiji.

        • Who?

          If I were Coleman, I’d be a little embarrassed to be giving up the 5 jersey this week.

        • Bakkies

          Better than being on and off the bench like Arnold.

        • If I’m suddenly in charge of selections, or even part of a panel, for a new coach, I think I’m keeping Kepu and Coleman in what you might call the “wider training squad” and my current probable RWC squad.

          I’m definitely dropping Foley. I’m resting Beale. I think it’s pretty clear he’s not an international 10 but I think he’s better than he’s been showing during the RC. I’m putting Hooper on the bench at best. Izzy and Genia might be unhappy and not want to play – I doubt that, for Genia at least, but I have to be prepared for it. I’m dropping Phipps, ok he’s a sub, but he’s got a lot of caps, even if he spends a lot of them throwing passes straight into touch.

          I’m inclined to think Kepu might not make the plane to Japan, but I want that experience around to bed the new faces in during training. Coleman – I agree with what you say, but he can be a good player at the right time. I was critical of Cheika for only bringing heart and soul. My impression of Coleman is that he brings that, which is a good example, but also brings effort on the pitch. He can be outmuscled and becomes anonymous because he doesn’t have enough other aspects to his game but that doesn’t stop him putting in his core jobs at line out and scrum time, just putting in the extras that you always want, perhaps need. So, it becomes an exercise in managing him, picking the right matches to start him and the right ones to pick him as a replacement. I also wonder, genuinely, unless I rewrite the rules – I need three, probably four locks for Japan. I can’t pick Skelton (he’s looking really good for Sarries right now). Although I’ve championed Hanigan in the past, I’ve given up, he’s just not a test quality player, sorry Ned. Convince me there are four better second rowers to pick for Japan before I’ll agree to drop him.

          If I was taking over in 13 months time, after Japan, I would agree, I’d probably lose them both – but I think Kepu will have gone by then anyway. You can afford the “slump” as everyone starts the cycle to the next RWC. Everyone except NZ slumps with a loss of experience at that point. But taking over now… There’s about 10 tests to try and build a team to be fit to play Fiji on Sept 21st next year.

        • Bakkies

          Kepu should have been pensioned off after his red card against Scotland last year.

          To win a RWC you need a nailed down lock pairing. One of them also needs to be a leader. Neither Rodda, Arnold and Coleman have that in them yet.

          With World Series Rugby approved and finished by June next year I wonder if Cheika or whoever is in charge will go left field and select Berrick Barnes in the squad for the 4 Nations.

        • I’m not really going to argue with any of your statements. However, Kepu wasn’t, and if I’m suddenly in charge of selections, I can’t go back and change that – I’m left wondering if I can change it now and get the best out of the Wobs in 51 weeks time.

          Looking at Australia’s current world ranking, winning the RWC is a pipe dream. It might hurt to write that and read that, but that doesn’t make it less true. That’s not only due to the lack of a world-class lock who is a leader on the pitch but it doesn’t help. I notice you’re not exactly suggesting new names to displace Coleman, rather bemoaning the qualities the current crop don’t have.

          If Cheika is still in charge, and the Tahs have a decent season… we’ll see Foley, Beale and Toomua fighting for the jerseys. I’d look at World Series Rugby and more, my worry would be (before hand) that Barnes (certainly a decent player) might shine if the rest of the quality isn’t there. That might be unfair, we haven’t seen them play yet, but look at how poor the Sunwolves are over the whole season for example. If, say, QC comes back and has a decent season, including all those games against the Kiwi Super Rugby sides should he get a shout instead?

        • Brumby Runner

          Backies, I was catigated a while ago when I had the temerity to suggest Kepu was then No 3 in the No 3 pecking order. I think now, though, that he has a temporary at least reprieve on the LH side. At least until James Slipper usurps him.

    • Who?

      Pretty sure England weren’t ranked second at the time, they moved that way after beating us 3-0… Because we played boring, one out, rugby, almost like unlimited tackle league, where we sent solo ball carriers into gang tackles for 80 minutes and then struggled to retain possession, with no hope of quick ball, and no deception in receipt of the ball (i.e. we didn’t ask defenders to make decisions, they just had to tackle).

      • Fatflanker

        Not to mention dribbling clearance kicks over the 22. Eddie Jones probably couldn’t believe his luck.

        • Bakkies

          The fact that an England fan could see that in his analysis of the Wallabies’ poor exits is an indictment on Cheika as he had two tests to get it right after the first test loss. The analysis showed that the English back three knew exactly where the ball was going to land and had support players to clear out so they could get back to the 22 off two phases.

  • Jack

    Raelene talks about putting support in place to assist Cheika, but who in their right mind would want to work with Cheika? He is his own man, and wouldn’t take advice easily.
    It has been said that Cheika has lost the confidence of the players, so now they have to lead themselves, but with Hooper as captain that wont work.
    They play like individuals and they need a coach who can give them a strategy and bring them together, instead they’ve got Cheika whose game plan is to tell them to give it all for their country.

    • Twoilms

      “He is his own man, and wouldn’t take advice easily.”

      I hear this kind of thing trotted out a fair bit but how the hell do you know? Have you spoken to him? worked for him? played under him?

      Sounds plain made up.

      • Jack

        Are you suggesting he is not his own man?
        I have not spoken to him. I have not worked for him. I have not played under him. Have you?

        • Alister Smith

          You can be your own man and still be able to take advice. Cheika may well be great at taking advice from within his team but we have know idea so why suggest it if you don’t know either

        • Twoilms

          No, i’m also not making assumptions about his character on the basis of absolutely nothing.

      • Bakkies

        Well David Knox won’t. The two still aren’t on speaking terms after falling out at Leinster. Knox hasn’t touched a pro job since. Pity. He had the Leinster backs playing some serious ball. Sexton’s use of the loop pretty much came from Knox as Irish backs hadn’t really used it previously.

    • laurence king

      There have been rumours of talks etc. but has anything happened. We’ve had guys rolled out in front of the media and they’ve given support. But while the team is languishing has RA actually done anything about correcting the situation or providing some sort of over-site? ‘Fiddling while Rome burns’ comes to mind.

    • Dud Roodt

      “It has been said that Cheika has lost the confidence of the players”

      By who? I haven’t seen that written in the press anywhere?

      • Jack

        yes, I think it was one of Alan Jones’ articles

        • laurence king

          We have speculated on the possibility here, but I don’t think that counts. lol

      • idiot savant

        I don’t believe it.

        • Dud Roodt

          Neither do I. There has been no indication that the players are against him.

        • laurence king

          I dunno, Toomua’s disbelieving stare up into the stands, Genia’s seething interview indicates possible undercurrents. And the disjointed play also may point to problems. But the question is, would you voice something like that, I don’t believe that the players would actively sow discord. They’re trying to get on with the job.

        • Jack

          ok, but can we agree that he has lost the confidence of (some of) the fans?

  • disqus_NMX

    I know a dead parrot when I see one, and I’m looking at one right now.

    • Nicholas Wasiliev

      It’s not pining, it’s passed on. This parrot is no more. It has ceased to be. It’s expired and gone to meet its maker. This is a late parrot. Bereft of life, it’s rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed it to the perch it would pushing up the daisies. It’s run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible.
      This is an ex parrot.

      Sorry, got a bit side tracked there. Good point mate, well made.

      • st saens

        Beautiful plumage, the Norwegian Blue.

  • Who is going to be surprised that I say if he loses either of these tests, they should certainly look at replacing him.

    There are coaches such as Cotter, White and so on, not in international head coaching positions who might take the job for 12/13 months. There are some more left-field ones like Farrell and Lancaster too – I know Lancaster departed England in disgrace but he was concerned with building teamwork, and that’s one of the things the Australian team needs. He would also come in with a clean slate and (at least in theory) pick the best players in each position. [OK, no coach every does that 100% to all of the fans satisfaction, but he stands a chance of getting close, unlike Cheika.]

    I’m wondering though – I know all national head coaching jobs are political but RA is a mess, Super Rugby in Australia isn’t in a great position. Forget for the moment you’re a Wallabies fan, and that you’re not actually qualified for the position. If you think about the other things around it, would you apply? “Head coach of Australia” doesn’t necessarily have quite the appeal on your CV that it used to have. On the other hand, if you take Australia from 7th now, or lower potentially, to say a RWC semi-final or beyond… that would look pretty fine. So maybe people will be up for it.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Hey Eloise,

      Funnily enough I wasn’t surprised :-)
      I think that with the turmoil around Australian rugby at the moment I’m not sure any self respecting coach would actually want the job.

      TBH I think that Cheika deserves to stay until after RWC because despite all our differences and thoughts on what he’s doing no one can argue that he is putting his heart and soul into this job. I personally don’t think he’s got a hope in hell of turning things around and achieving some good wins but I still believe that there actually isn’t that much between the top sides and on the day any of them can pull something off.

      I’m sure that at the RWC they will get out of their pool ok and I think they probably have the heart to scrape in with a win in the next one but I’d be surprised to see them progress further than that. I think the top 4 or 5 have better tactics, smarts and depth.

      • Losing to Wales (possible, maybe even probable this time next year) and one of Georgia or Fiji (both pretty unlikely, with the greatest of respect to both of those sides) seems the only way not to get out of the pool. So that seems plausible.

        Then it gets trickier… one of England, France or Argentina. If Jones can stop England’s death spiral, France carry on improving and Argentina do too… although I’d rather not write this, I can’t see a win there under Cheika.

        I was quite down when I wrote most of the final paragraph last night. But overnight I stopped and thought a bit more. I know I don’t have the skills, but I don’t have the mind set to be a top level coach, DOR etc. either. The levels of self-belief and confidence they must have to go into a job knowing that, a few bad results later, they’re shown the door is honestly beyond my comprehension. But if I try to imagine that, I can imagine looking at the turmoil in RA and saying “One year? Yes, I can turn that around!” and going for it. Whether anyone will, whether RA will do it, I don’t know.

        I agree about heart and soul. That’s not good enough to keep your job. Competence is also required. I’m not trained as a surgeon. If I faked my way into the operating theatre and “tried really hard” that wouldn’t stop me getting both sued, and I think in that case charged with a criminal offence. Certainly if the patient died. (IANAL either, so I’m not 100% it’s a crime if I don’t actually claim to be a surgeon and just do the surgery but it seems like it ought to be.) I’m not saying Cheika is guilty of any crimes, except to the life expectancy of the fans as their blood pressure goes up, but “he’s trying really hard” just isn’t good enough.

      • TouchFinderGeneral

        ” still believe that there actually isn’t that much between the top sides”.Characteristically generous there @KRL, but – assuming they respond as expected to the Boks setback – the AB’s remain significantly ahead of everyone else.

        Still, to back up your point, it is worth considering that the Wallabies are (admittedly forever) 2 passes away from a series win against #2, and a win last weekend. Sure, read the paper and all that – but they aren’t as hopeless as the rugby historians of a 100 years hence might conclude from their studies of the GAGR scrolls.

        Near misses aren’t enough though – there are on-field weakness obvious in the Wallabies that are the same as they have been for donkey’s – poor tactical kicking, unreliable place kicking, lack of options @10, loose-forward balance, inconsistent set-piece, etc. Why this should be is not crystal clear, at least in part it must come down to available personnel, so is it fair to blame the incumbent coach for the fact we don’t have replacement Toutai Kefu’s, & Lynagh’s rolling off the production line?

        In my book there is no point changing the coach at this stage. What *would* be nice is an open & honest report on why the faults mentioned above are seemingly obligatory. Can we get the NZRU to do it?

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Mate the guys on this forum seem to have it pretty much sorted. I’d get Adrian, BL, Nutta, Hoss & Eloise to pull it together

        • TouchFinderGeneral

          Can’t wait!

        • Who?

          Given your pseudonym, I’m guessing I’m not talking to Mr Foley. :-P
          We can’t blame the coach for not having the best players available, but we can blame the coach if he’s not selecting the best players available, and using them in the best possible manner for those players. I don’t think many would argue the incumbent coach is doing either successfully. I can deal with losing, what I can’t deal with is seeing us playing below our best, and we’re a long way below our ultimate potential. That may still be a world ranking of 3 or 4 (behind NZ and Ireland, maybe SA, depending on how Rassie goes), but we’re nowhere near the level of the two two right now (regardless of the June series).

        • TouchFinderGeneral

          Rumbled @Who (My fave band by the way. Is that you Mr Townshend?). Not young Bernard, and would I admit it if I was?

          I share the disappointment, & understand the argument. I guess I’m not convinced we have clearly better options. To take a few examples Folau & Beale have to be in the team – they are the 2 guys most likely to take even decent defences by surprise. But which positions do they play in? In my view it wouldn’t help much with Beale @15, Folau on the wing. As for the Pooper … We missed MH against Arg, whilst he won’t put the fear of judgement day into opposition rucks a la Sean O’Brien, he will make a nuisance of himself by getting there before anyone else. And Pocock just has to play. Anywhere. The problem is we don’t have a lineout-winning, tackle-busting, off-loading, rib-crunching, 6/8 to balance the Pooper row out.

          With a well organised team it doesn’t, I think, matter so much if a few guys aren’t in the preferred slots. Ben Smith could line up anywhere outside 10 (& I wouldn’t completely rule that offside either) and the AB’s would still function.

          Your assessment of potential seems fair enough to me, given glimpses of decent rugby even when overwhelmed by the AB’s it looks as though there is a decent rugby team to be found. To be fair there have been enough injuries and other disruptions to make it difficult for coach & players alike to settle the defensive & attacking structures.

        • Who?

          Nah, I’m just “Who?”, not ‘THE Who’. I wish I had Mr Townshend’s skill… Though I’m glad I don’t have his tinnitus or history of abuse. :-(
          I’m also not convinced we have better options, or that they’d be willing to take on the role with the current state of the game.
          I don’t agree that anyone HAS to be in the team. If in form, I’d have both Beale and Folau in the team. Currently, I’d give Beale a rest – he’s not himself. Maybe a couple of weeks away from the pressure would do him good?
          I agree that preferred slots aren’t always key, but our backrow has little balance. Our defensive structures are terrible. With better structures, we have the cattle to do better, we just have to play a more balanced and more guided game. Not necessarily structured, but guided. Guided by principles, rather than regimented by directions. By principles, I don’t mean, “Don’t kick,” I mean, “Run these lines, pick the best runner,” or “kick in this manner if you have this situation.” They’ve got to have control, but they’ve got to better understand the principles of the game than their current play makes one think they understand…

    • Bakkies

      Lancaster said when coaching England 70% of his time was taken up with management. That suggests that Farrell who is with Ireland now and the Georgia bound Rowntree were doing a lot of the coaching. That is quiet common with England.

      He has now gone back to his strengths at Leinster which are coaching and developing young players. He also is calm and doesn’t rant which is something the Wallabies need. I don’t think White was like that either with the Boks.

      • I think Lancaster might not work in the long run as Wallabies coach, but he could coach and build the team and say “stuff it” to the longer term developmental and management sides of things and be what they need. Not saying he’d do it because I understand he likes his role at Leinster.

        • Bakkies

          The Wallabies in Macqueen’s and Eddie’s day had a team manager to do the work that Lancaster was referring to. I am not sure if it is still the case.

  • Geoffro

    Throw in a beachfront home at a good surf break might do the job :)

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Hey Happy, thanks for this and some damning points there.

    I think your 2nd last sentence Sums up a lot. He’s been given pretty much free reign with players and coaches and has gone backwards.

    Personally I can’t see him accepting an advisor from RA as I don’t think his personality would accept that. Maybe he’ll see it as such an insult that he’ll resign.

    I think RA should be starting to plan for his successor now and accept post RWC as a starting point. What will be really interesting is to see what players survive after him as well. I’m sure that some of them will be worried about the change as well

  • Nutta

    Lumping it on Cheks is fair because:
    * He selects
    * He game-plans
    * He manages
    * He clearly resists any attempt at influence so therefore he owns what he sails

    Lumping it on Cheks is a bit unfair because:
    * The rest of the world has caught up – that’s about player pool development – that’s RA
    * The game is about 10th and losing ground in Aus – that’s because of isolationism – that’s RA
    * The game is not feeding to the top – that’s because of self interested parties not centrally organised – that’s RA

    There is an argument to say the points I raise are also inter-related and not just delineated as RA/state-union/Cheks fault. There is truth in that too. No one is an island.

    So maybe it’s time to finally own up and have a bit of a strategic truth-session and redraw the lines in the national interest starting with a focus on:
    * Participation esp in larger urban areas (eg western Sydney for 1)
    * Participation among juniors in those larger urban areas
    * Clear developmental targets and pathways
    * Centralised administration and agenda setting to focus efforts and budgets

    That said, it’s business. So whilst lumping it on Cheks is a bit unfair, that’s life at the top.

    • Twoilms

      They are currently trying to centralise the development system similar to NZ but it’s about 15 years too late (at least).

      • Nutta

        Better late than never. That said, I’ll believe it when I see it on the basis of ‘Facta non verba’.

    • Brisneyland Local

      Agree. My Old Army Boss once told me;
      “BL as leader, Expect nothing, do something, and blame no one!”

      As a leader Chieka has:
      1. Expected everything (i.e. Full time coaching staff, larger concentration periods etc etc) and got them.
      2. done fuck all.
      3. Blamed the umpires and everyone else.

      • The2Game

        BL, Cheika is good at two things:

        Looking irate on TV
        Thumping windows in coach’s boxes

        • Brisneyland Local

          Dont forget desiging dresses. He has won an award for that.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      100% correct Nutta and that’s why I think they’ll struggle to replace him if they do decide he has to go. The issues about how the players are managed and grown in Australia are so completely stuffed it’s not funny and none of that is Cheika’s fault. However, he is responsible for the team that takes the field and the way they play. I do actually feel a bit for him as he really puts in 100% but I just don’t think he’s got the leadership, tactical knowledge, personal management skills or ability to take them further. I feel his style of “I’m in charge and you do it my way or else” combined with his penchant for thinking everything can be solved by more mongrel and just going harder has really reached the end of its use by date.
      I see the following changes needed for Rugby in Australia to grow
      – Completely revamp the RA board and remove the state bias.
      – Put in place national frameworks for the development of players, coaches, referees and administrators.
      -Develop the NRC so that it becomes a true path between club and Super rugby.
      – Grow the game through the NRC and provide FTA coverage so that people can watch the games.

      • Waz_dog

        You’re a broken record – state bias…. fark me if you haven’t worked things out by now you never will. All roads lead to NSW, always have and none of this will be resolved until the head of the snake is removed – ie ARU being independent from the ear whispering of the NSWRU. “Bias” from other states is simply a cause and effect from what the brokers of NSW try to enforce on the national team. Cricket, NRL all have the same issue – want a smoother ride into the national squad of any sport in Aus? Get a gig in the NSW team. It’s so comical because this scenario happens in all countries, including NZ.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Probably a bit but I’d say less so in NZ

        • Bakkies

          Well you did clean up the Auckland v Canterbury spite.

        • Waz_dog

          Hahahaha – you need to go and live in NZ to know that, that is only a comment from the outward looking in. Go down a tier or two and look at the politics that goes on. School boy rugby is full of ‘you need to be in the right school’ to make a SR squad. Sir Richie should have always been a highlander and every nzder knows that.

        • Waz_dog

          Missed the trick there KRL. The point is you think you know the issue, but you don’t know the reasons behind it. QRU only protects its patch because of examples like what happened in WA. Until NSWRU are taken by the scruff and told to pull their head in no other state will relent – rightly so. Their is only one state causing the problem and if you continue to highlight that as an issue you need to get it right.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I’d be hesitant about saying it’s only NSW mate. There’s been a bit of stuff over the years from QLD and ACT at times. I do agree though that NSW is the big obstacle

        • Waz_dog

          Other states have returned volley and done the situation no favours, but they never fired the first shot. Until NSWRU is reined in, nothing will get better.

    • laurence king

      There’s been a bit of talk about Gregan, Eales and/or others having some tete a tete with Cheika, having a review, some level of discussion. Has any of this actually happened and are they going to tell us if they did. So far, I don’t see much change, just the same paralysis of thought that been going on for ages.

      • Fatflanker

        With Eales already on the RA board I’d find it incredulous that he hasn’t injected into the malaise yet.

        • laurence king

          He did come out in support of Cheika, but that’s all I’ve heard. But you’re right, I don’t think (and this may be my cynicism) Cheika would have dropped Foley if nothing had been said

        • Bakkies

          Eales resigned from the board in April.

  • cantab

    Depends what happens in the next 3 games.

    2 wins and he’s fine, but 1 might be enough.

    0/3 and then I say we are looking at a new coach before the end of year tour.

  • Alister Smith

    There are a lot of potential selections as potential short term replacements – Cotter, Lancaster (bit left field picking the coach who in part lost his job after being mauled by the Wallabies but hey..), Jake White, Scott Robertson etc but as KRL said a week or so (and was castigated by some for) “who would want the job”. Cheika’s results don’t stand up historically and there is a lot of (fair) criticism around his selections. However, in our last game the team selected was almost exactly the team that most on here (with the exception of the QC fans) were calling for and it was one of our worst, if not our worst, performances since Cheika took over.
    The truth is that KRL is most likely correct.
    I think there are significant structural issues with rugby in Australia that need to be sorted out before many outsiders would be prepared to take it on. In addition to that, the preparation time is limited, the player stocks aren’t fantastic and the squad is pretty raw and the support staff haven’t got great results outside or within the Wallabies. Rugby Australia has limited resources and probably can’t afford to pay big dollars for a short term contract, particularly given that they would also have to pay out the remainder of Cheika’s contract.
    A lot of the Kiwi coaches (and most of the best ones are) Roberston, Cotter, Schmidt, Gatland already have international jobs (with teams ranked higher than 7) or would be hoping to be considered as part of a revised All Blacks job after the RWC. They have great records and it might be a risk to take on an underperforming Wallabies side in the hope that they could turn it around in a limited time before the RWC. Also Cotter and Lancaster etc are coaching in France or the premiership and are probably pretty well remunerated. No one knows where Ewen McKenzie is or if he is ever interested in coaching again. With all the heartbreak, personal attacks and public character assination that went on before his departure and with some of the same players who were said to be part of his downfall in senior leadership positions at the Wallabies it is a very remote chance that he would want to come back.
    Two coaches have taken on the Wallabies for short term runs into a World Cup – Cheika who had a very good result (admittedly with some help from favourable decisions against Scotland and was already coaching half the side in the Waratahs) and John Connolly who, while I am not a huge fan of the style of game he plays, I thought had a bit of an unlucky run and deserved to have a longer tenor. If we are looking for a high level coach with results the chances of getting a foreigner with great results are very limited. They have different motivations to locals, it’s not an act of patriotism for them it is a professional decision. It is likely that Robbie Deans took the job hoping that he would be successful enough to get the job for the Kiwis down the track – that is probably the aim of all Kiwi professional coaches although, if that opportunities not available they may then look at other alternatives.

    • Brumby Runner

      The intriguing part is that Cheika’s most successful period was immediately after he took charge and into the RWC. After that, it has been all down hill both in terms of the skills on show and the results.

      And we might remember when he took over, the excuses were being made for any potential failures that he had inherited the MacKenzie team and it was too late for him to make his own changes in time for the RWC.

      Well, he has now had the squad for nearly three years after the last WC and he has moulded the team as he wanted. It has all been a failure and nobody else is responsible but Cheika himself. At the time he was being touted as TGC, The Great Cheika, to which I responded he was The Great Charlatan, much to the ire and derision of the many Tahs/Cheika supporters on this site. Funny thing that the nickname has disappeared over the past couple of years.

      Cheika’s time was up at the latest by the end of 2017. He should have been replaced then, but if he doesn’t go now, the results and standing of the Wallabies are likely to decline further.

      • Bakkies

        Cheika tends to wear thin after a couple of years and lacks tactical nous to make changes which is important in keeping a coaching job for a long time.

        Even Gatland has evolved moving away from cement ball which revolved around 100kg running crash ball or decoy runs.

        As for McKenzie he is back town planning and was involved in a waste management project in Canberra.

        • Wales has, arguably, a smaller selection pool than Australia, and Gatland went with a style of play that suited his best players. Now Roberts is past his prime and not his best choice at 12 and all his good choices are smaller ball handlers, he’s looking for a different way to play.

          Rugby in Wales has always put its emphasis on 7, 9, 10, 15. They’ve been gifted over the years with some talented players in other positions, where build matters too (tight five for example). But their centres are often players who aren’t good enough to be a 7, 10 or 15 so the pickings are slimmer.

        • Bakkies

          Not necessarily having watched a lot of Welsh Rugby over the past 10 years Gatland moved away from small backs which was common when Shane Williams etc were running around under previous coaches. Roberts’ replacement Scott Williams is a big back. Very good player and has more of a passing game that Roberts never had. Gatland has also selected Hadleigh Parkes there.

          With players like Amos, Matthew Morgan, Anscombe, Sam Davies, Leigh Williams the Welsh are moving back to slimmer backs. Wayne Pivac the next head coach has taken the Scarlets back to their attacking mindset which has given Gatland more to work with.

          Other teams had also worked out cement ball which was very one dimensional.

  • Kokonutcreme

    Despite the Wallabies record, the position of head coach for an international team is still highly desired so there would be a number of well qualified candidates that would consider it.

    Actual coaching of the team is the least difficult part.

    It’s all the individual parts that make up the whole of rugby in Australia that’s the most difficult part and ultimately has equally as much influence as that of the coach.

    Graham Henry recognised it when he coached Wales and tried to institute wholesale changes with their setup which met great resistance.

    Robbie Deans also recognised the differences between NZ and Australian rugby and tried to introduce change from within but also faced resistance.

    Cheika has actually introduced more changes behind the scenes than any previous Wallaby coach in an effort to create a more cohesive working relationship with the Super teams and national team.

    His reaction post match against Argentina was the first time I’ve ever seen him look defeated. He may have been the beaten coach more times than he’d want but he still had that defiant attitude.

    Why some coaches are able to sustain their success better than others is somewhat of a mystery.

    John Mitchell, Jake White, Eddie Jones are all coaches often associated with short term gains and longer term pain. Linking Cheika to this group whether fair or not, doesn’t ask questions of their ability to coach, but whether their default behaviour is one that will eventually grate upon most players instead of motivating them.

    Australian rugby fans find themselves at a similar crossroads after the 2007 RWC, when they wanted the best coach available for the Wallabies regardless of nationality.

    Desperation can often cloud judgement and decisions.

    • Adrian

      Good analysis Kok

    • idiot savant

      I agree and I think regardless of what happens in the remaining matches this year, RA should be thinking ahead to post RWC to appoint a new coach with clear heads and no knee jerk reactions. I still believe deep down that we have not sufficiently cleared up the state bias problem and that the next coach should be foreign and come to the job with no allegiances. I think Warren Gatland will be available and it is unlikely that he will succeed Hansen so I would be sounding him out.

    • Bakkies

      White finished his Bok tenure with a RWC win. Pdivvy was delivered that team on a plate.

  • Jimmydubs

    Cheika says he’s not in it for tge money and only for the challenge and for wallabies to do well.
    If he’s true to his word and not full of ut then they shouldn’t have to pay him out.

  • Adrian

    1. I’m sure he has the gig until the WC.

    2. I’m also sure that Castle is going to “give” him some help, straight after next Argentina game.

    3. I think there will also be some “adjustments”, meaning guys will go. A probability, but not a certainty.

    4. One certainty IMO is that they will be very lucky to get out of the group at WC with current coaching group and current tactics, or lack of tactics.

    5. IMO we do have the cattle to get out of the group, and then fluke another win or two. This would require different tactics, and I think this will happen once 2 and 3 (above) happen.

    6. Probably Cheika will be trying to head off these changes this week and next by getting the guys to do something “special”, …but irrespective, the changes will happen.

    From Bled 3 onwards, I’m expecting a change in style/tactics/selections, with Cheika remaining as coach….and perhaps coaching to his own strengths (as a coach), rather than a hybrid mish-mash, laughingly called “ball in hand”

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Hey Adrian,
      I’m wondering how that “assistant” role would work. In reality it will be seen, and taken, as RA not happy and interfering with what he wants to do. This could end up going very badly. It also gives Cheika the excuse for the following games of “Well I wanted to do it my way but was forced to change and now look what’s happened?”

      I actually think his issue is that he has selected a group of coaches supporting him who don’t have the ability to actually do their job. I know some have argued that this is because Cheika has not given them the freedom to do what they want but I think that’s pretty lame really. Cheika has always been more of a motivator than a coach and I think the issue now is that none of his team are able to manage the tactical application of the game either.

      • idiot savant

        I imagine Cheika will resist getting rid of his coaches. I suspect there can only be an addition to the coaching team. If he wasn’t so defiant he would have let Grey go earlier but now it will seem like his hand is being forced so I doubt he will do it. Larkham has been good in patches but it is impossible to know how that relationship works. Other than Larkham being told by a journalist that Hunt was playing 12 two days before a test match!

      • Fatflanker

        It’s a stupid idea, IMO. Does Cheeks strike anyone as the type of personality who’d react well to an appointed ‘keeper’. His existing mix of assistants is the pressing issue.

      • Brumby Runner

        If Cheika stays, he must continue to have and be responsible for the game plan, strategies, tactics and selections. If we want to change any of these, we (AR) must be willing to change the head coach. The last thing we need is a failing head coach (Cheika) with a ready made excuse (and very possible a legitimate one at that) that he was over-ruled in one or more of those critical areas.

        Like Adrian above, I think we really do have the players make at least a reasonable showing in the remainder of the RC and Bled 3, but even more so into the RWC next year. But we need clear heads in charge, and that might require a change at the top.

        My vision for going into 2019 would be to make a couple of radical changes now and have the players commit to them. Beale I would drop out of the squad and tell him that he must demonstrate an ability and willingness to defend consistently well before he will be considered again. I would establish Toomua and Foley as the No 10s in the squad, with the one in better form to start and the other on the bench.

        I would be looking at Kerevi/Kuridrani as the centre partnership when fit, and in the meantime continue with Hodge at 13 with the intent to bring him up to RWC standard as backup. But I would also be giving Hodge a lot of time at 15. I think he has the makings of a quality fullback, reminiscent of Latham who I believe is one of the best No 15s ever turned out by the Wallabies, but it did take time for him to develop.

        I would be looking at Folau and Koroibete to fill the right wing spot between them, and Maddocks and Banks the left wing.

        DHP continues at 15, sharing with Hodge as opportunities arise.

        I would now establish Gordon and Powell as the back up No 9s to Genia, and make sure they had good time each off the bench to develop.

        I would tell Pocock and Hooper that the Pooper is dead, and explain that they will be sharing the No 7 duties in future depending of who is regarded to be the best fit against particular oppositions.

        I would now bring Timu into No 8 and tell him he has the best part of a year to make the position his, or face competition from Naisarani, Valetini et al for a spot at the RWC.

        I would do a similar thing with Samu, Tui, Dempsey and Cottrell for the No 6 spot. Give them all opportunities, depending on fitness, to win the spot for the RWC.

        I would right now establish the locking order to be Coleman, Arnold, Rodda and Philip and give them all time on the park to continue to develop, improve towards RWC.

        No need to do much at prop. About the only spots where we can go through to RWC 2019 with no change to the current personnel.

        I would be looking to phase TPN out of the match day squad by using Fainga’a, BPA and Uelese (when fit).

        Skelton is a possibility of coming under consideration, and McMahon certainly if he returns. But I see no reason why a strong squad with a few new faces can’t be put together for the RWC if we make the required start now.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          All good points but not happening under this coaching team

        • Adrian

          Good points Brumby, but more suited to a more orthodox coach I think

      • Adrian

        Agree 100% re his assistants being incompetent re what Cheika wants.

        I reckon 50%+ chance one or more will go after RC

        • Bakkies

          With a new coach there needs to be a new captain. Hooper lacks tactical nous and understanding of the laws. He has also has a bad habit of leaving the line at pillar which creates a big hole.

          If what Larkham says is true that he like the players doesn’t know the side until it is selected that absolves a lot of the flack off him. Very hard to perform a role of an assistant in charge of a unit when you don’t know what you are working with.

      • Bakkies

        Larkham said last year that he often doesn’t know who is in the team until it is named. Very hard to coach an attack when you don’t who is selected. With that in mind with the side not named yet he only has one session to work with the starting side as the Friday session is the captain’s run. I have not seen a captain’s run in motion so don’t know how much work is put in by the coaches.

    • Who?

      Completely agree Adrian. I really wouldn’t mind seeing a combination of Cheik-ball (i.e. big runners at pace at the gain line) mixed with clever kicking (which he’d have had with Jonny Sexton at Leinster). It’s not traditional Australian Rugby (because, let’s be honest, much as Randwick was all about running the ball, we’re famous as a nation for our backs, not our forwards), I don’t know that it’s my preferred style (I have no problem with bash and barge, but I prefer it to be mixed with a little more guile. I think Australian Rugby isn’t as physically tough as we like to pretend, no nation can expect to dominate everyone physically in a professional era) but it’s something we can actually do with the talent available, should we choose to use it. And it doesn’t cross the Cheika philosophy too harshly.

      • idiot savant

        The trouble is our kick chase and reform defence is terrible. The ABs just ripped us apart when we kicked to them. Cheika will need a new defence coach if he is to try that as it seems that there is an enormous amount of work to be done to get there. I cant see us being able to defend like the Saffers did against the ABs for example. They kicked a lot and they managed to get their defensive line in place so well. It was the key to their victory. Can you see us learning that in short order?

        • Who?

          Well we haven’t learned it (kick chase, with a few notable individual exceptions (Hooper, AAC)) over the past 15 years, so probably not!

        • No, although it would be helped if there was kicking smart to start.

          If you consider only kicking from hand, Biggar, Sexton and Barrett are a class apart of the world’s regular 10’s. Farrell, although he’s a 12 for England and Cipriani although he’s not been picked, Jantjies, Mo’unga, and a batch of others (the Scottish, French, even the Italian 10) are probably in the next group. Somewhere behind them are Foley and Beale from what we’ve seen – Foley on a fairly long run, Beale on a couple of games.

          There are other things that would be needed, like a really good kick chase, but there needs to be a good tactical kicker at 10 or 12 for it to work too. Toomua might be the right man for the job, but after hooking him early against Argentina when I would have said he was probably the Wobs’ best back… got to question if Cheika will pick him. Or if he’ll be mysteriously unavailable, just as Marler has become in England I was reading this morning.

      • Adrian

        Trouble is that we don’t have any competent kickers. IMO that includes Toomua who kicked 2 nothing midfield kicks down Argentine throats. He’s our best too, but not that good.

        I think we could learn a better chase game, but kicking needs massive improvement.

        What is Byrne doing?

        • Bakkies

          The key to having a good chase is the length of the kick and too often the Wallabies hoof it long up the middle of the park a lot of those chasers have to retire back onside. Against the ABs it is too late.

          The Irish kicking is the right length. Murray’s box kicks are really accurate high balls which give his chasers every opportunity. They also rarely concede counter attack tries off kicks.

    • idiot savant

      I agree that Cheika will remain till the RWC. Besides we need to have our most experienced players at the tournament and they are all supporters of Cheika. A new coach could not rely on their co-operation.

      Im not so hopeful about the prospect for tactical change though. I think Foley has only been dropped to shake him up a bit. I think he will be 10 for the RWC.

      What do you think he will change?

      • laurence king

        The team for the SA game will be interesting. For we’ll see if he’s prepared to change it up a bit. If not, it will be more of the same results as we’ve been experiencing. I hope that he will take a gamble on some new blood.

        • Bakkies

          He has dropped Kepu.

          Wallabies – 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Israel Folau, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Will Genia, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Izack Rodda, 4 Adam Coleman, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Scott Sio.
          Subs: 16 Folau Faingaa, 17 Sekope Kepu, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Rory Arnold, 20 Rob Simmons, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Bernard Foley, 23 Jack Maddocks.

      • disqus_NMX

        Where do you get this idea that a new coach wouldn’t be supported by the players? I find that completely ridiculous.

        • idiot savant

          As ridiculous as the support they showed for McKenzie just a few years ago…

        • disqus_NMX

          I don’t get what you’re saying? How does the McKenzie situation remotely compare?

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Mate I think he raises a good point. The current crop of players were part of the reason Link got removed and most of them seem to have a pretty clear alliegance to Cheika, or at the worst seem to really like him. I think a new coach coming in would struggle initially to gain the authority needed to impart his decisions on the team. I don’t think it’d take the form of disobedience but it will probably be a struggle for a little while anyway.

        • disqus_NMX

          This is a nuts argument. If you stick with that logic, then we will have to keep Cheika until he dies.

          And regardless, the McKenzie incident was a bit more convoluted.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I’m not saying it’ll be that bad but I do think it’s something that will need to be managed

        • Bakkies

          White wouldn’t tolerate that he weeded out the players at the Brumbies who caused Tony Rea and Andy Friend problems. He also has a knack of bringing through young players quickly which was a strength of Australian Rugby along with stripping it back to basics until players work on their skills (which they refused to do under Rea).

          I wish I could find Tony Rea’s spray as a lot of what he said then is true today. Particularly of entitlement and not putting enough hard work on their skills.

        • Ed

          For your pleasure Bakkies. It was truly a moment where you stopped and listened to the coach. Rea definitely could not fault the effort of Giteau as he busted his gut each week for the Brums. Some of the “galaticos” went out there and made a real effort while others were phoning it in and appeared to not give a stuff.

        • Bakkies

          Thanks mate.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          And what a shame that would be. ….. players who think they’re all that and can choose their own coach. Kick any one out who bagsthe ciach

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Mate I agree, trouble is there’s a bit of history of it here.

      • Adrian

        I think that Cheika would be happy if Castle removed all of his assistants bar the new forwards guy.

        As far as I know he’s not mates with any of them.

        Grey is there on a verbal promise, and Cheika is big on sticking to promises.

        Larkham is there because Cheika called on other SR coaches to help him in 2014, and Larkham came forward.

        It could have been even worse, as former Tah coach, and then Force coach Foley hummed and ha’d before saying no!

        If he gets better assistants he’ll use more Cheikerball techniques, and definitely keep Beale and Folau close to each other. He’d probably use Foley at 5/8, because Toomua isn’t that good either….in this context.

        If I had to summarise, Tah backs with Red forwards

        • Who?

          I’d have been ok with Foley working with Cheika… He eventually got that Wallabies scrum rolling (Twickers 08!). As long as he wasn’t running the whole team, or the backs!

  • idiot savant

    Trying to sleep on a recent long haul flight I swapped counting sheep for trying to remember the Wallabies trajectory under the new coach that was appointed for the spring tour of 2014. My memory aint what she used to be so apologies for errors of fact:

    Spring Tour 2014: The side played without real cohesion as if they were adjusting to new combinations, game plans, and strategies. The WBs may have beaten Wales (we always beat Wales) but lost most of the other games.

    RC 2015: The WBs won the RC shortened to one round due to the RWC. Game plan not abundantly clear to me but the creative core of the Super Rugby winning Tahs (Foley, Beale, Ashley Cooper, Folau) led the attack. The Pooper surprised the ABs, controlling the breakdown and denying them fast ball. Finishers very good. Toomua came on as 10 and controlled the last quarter. Scrum was solid with Kepu anchoring and 2 good scrummaging hookers. Line out ok with Simmons calling and Fardy jumping at the back. Still not sure about the game plan other than limited kicking but the side was enthusiastic and dangerous with the ball.

    RWC 2015: The enthusiasm continued and the Tah creative core again led the attack well, with help from experienced players under the Giteau rule. Fell over the line against Wales and Scotland due to passionate defence. Not disgraced in the final. Carter opting for a drop goal with 20 to go was a sign that we had the ABs worried. The side showed real potential.

    June 2016: Lost to England 3 nil. No post RWC rebuild. Some Giteau rule players. Game plan emerged. Hold the ball at all times, don’t kick, complicated defensive pattern. This game plan was easily beaten by the English game plan which was kick for territory and pressure errors with great line speed defence. Beale was missed as the Tah creative core didn’t function as well.

    RC 2016: The no kicking possession game plan and complicated defensive pattern continued resulting in thrashings by the ABs. Lost to SA away. Lost more Giteau rule players but no rebuilding plan in place yet. Strategy seemed to rely on Tah creative core with the goal of scoring more tries than the opposition. No territory or defensive game plan.

    Spring Tour 2016: Mixed bag. Possession game plan again defeated by the stronger sides playing territory and line speed defence. 2016 was a record year for the number of tries let in by a WB side.

    June 2017: Started rebuilding and blooding new players. Struggled in every game, lost to Scotland, and faded badly at the end of each game. Persisted with possession game plan, complicated defence, and reliance on Tah creative core.

    RC 2017: Tah creative core played well with Beale back, scoring plenty of tries against the ABs. Unfortunately they scored a lot more. Pocock missed in these games. Drew twice with SA who were poor. Line out deteriorated. Same game plan continued until the last Bledisloe where more kicking was allowed. Dempsey and McMahon made a real difference to pack aggression. The creative core played well and we beat the ABs. Things were looking up.

    Spring Tour 2017: Started well against Wales but the positive signs vanished. Missing Folau, Beale went to 15. The Tah creative core broke down. Losses to England and Scotland. When Genia plays well so does side and vice versa. 2017 beat previous record for tries let in.

    June 2018: More blooding of new players. The side played with real enthusiasm against Ireland narrowly losing series. Scrum good. Defensive line speed much better and less complicated pattern. Reliance on Tah creative core continued. A real sense of improvement and development in the side.

    RC 2018: The ABs brought the WBs crashing back down to Earth. WB line speed and defensive pattern really good for 55 minutes but faded badly. Finishers provided no energy lift. SA and Pumas very improved sides. Line out a farce. Scrum reliant on a few players. After 4 years as first choice 10, Foley replaced. Tah creative core malfunctioning. Beale lost form.

    In summary, the Wallabies in the last 5 years have relied heavily on a core of creative players to score more tries than the opposition. Inconsistency has been a hall mark of this side. When they have lost form, Australia has struggled. Defence has not been a priority as evidenced by the record number of tries let in. The side usually starts fired up but with a few exceptions fades badly in the last quarter. When things go wrong, the side lacks on field leadership or coach provided strategies to stem bleeding and alter momentum. Depth has been built in some positions but significantly ignored in the core creative positions that the coach has relied so heavily upon to deliver victory. It appears the coach now recognises this. It might be a little too late for the RWC.

    Never did manage to get to sleep.

    • Fatflanker

      One hell of a memory there, IS – hard to argue with any of those recollections. I’d only add that a complicated defensive pattern has come undone every time players changed position or came into the team.

      • tREDgic

        I would say the complicated defensive pattern is the *reason* we fade in the last quarter. People say the team isnt fit, but I dont believe that is true – its that they are being run around shifting position due to the defensive “strategy”. I feel it is also the reason the fitter type players are being selected, such as Phipps, Hanigan, as well as Foley and Simonds to a degreee, and why Hooper is untouchable. Hooper is all over the park patching up the defensive weaknesses of other players, not being the hard hitting 7 that we need.

    • Damo

      Interesting read and a good summary I think. When I look back over this period I recall so many promising starts and I think OK game plans have completely fallen in a heap due to chronic failure to execute core skills under pressure and poor discipline leading sequential penalties + yellow cards. Unfortunately the team leadership isn’t smart enough to right the ship again and get the momentum back.And the few good wins have been when these failings haven’t been so pronounced. This is an issue which should be able to be fixed by someone.

    • Adrian

      Pretty good analysis idiot.

      Amongst all of that, and what he did, Cheika never introduced the Tahs heavy forward runners style to the Wallabies, for the first half of Bled 2 in 2015. Skeleton and Palu were both injured, and taken off at half time. Even then, he didn’t have the Tah backs with these guys to do something with any half breaks that might have happened.

      As you said, Pooper and experienced guys got us through the WC, but after that it has been vascillating ball retention, with the occasional break, behind competent rather than dominant forwards.

      He has some cards up his sleeve (eg Tuopo) if only he realised it

      • Alister Smith

        Maybe today??

        • Adrian

          Exactly Alister

  • Will

    What about the Sith Dark Lord – Graham Henry? Can we convince him to come into the light?

    • Who?

      Nick Bishop says no. And he’s still regularly in contact with Ted, given their long working history. So I’d trust his call.


A reasonable player whose enthusiasm never quite matched his ability. Snuck into teams by surrounding himself with talent and passing it off as his own. Played in Sydney grade, subbies and also had a stint in Hong Kong and is probably better in a suit than rugby boots.

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