Dwyer's View: Campo mark II? - Green and Gold Rugby
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Dwyer’s View: Campo mark II?

Dwyer’s View: Campo mark II?

One of the aims of performance is to win. The Wallabies are winning, but it looks like they’ve only got a tentative grip on continuing in that state – and that’s because our performance is not where it needs to be and is not where it was at the end of last international season.

Australia v Argentina 2014140913_167

The longer I stay associated with the game the more it occurs to me that the one of the major factors in performance is accurate selection. I know selection’s not an exact science and I’ve had plenty of occasions when my selections have been complained about, but nevertheless I have an opinion about such matters and if others disagree – that’s fine.

To me I cant see how our selection of the Wallabies team is helping us to play well enough – indeed it seems we play worse.

Backs

First off – our back line. Most people would have assumed Phipps and Foley were the best performed halves in the Super Rugby competition. Then we add the fact they play together  – although I’m not a great one for picking combos – but if they also play together that would seem to make that selection obvious. Belatedly we find them both together for the Wallabies. An error finally righted.

Then I look further out and most readers will know what I think about the centres. Our 10 and our 12 always take the outside shoulder: all we’ve succeeded in doing is having an attack which invariably goes across field, dragging the defence with it. So we get comments that opposition defences seem to have ‘worked out’ Folau. This is completely false: every time he gets the ball he beats two tacklers, but has four defenders on him and no space!

Aus v Arg Israel Folau

We have to have people in the midfield who can run straight. While Foley doesn’t run straight and usually uses pace to attack the outside shoulder, he plays so flat that he can usually get away with it. Because he doesn’t have to travel over so much ground, his cross-field running doesn’t cause so much problem. Toomua on the other hand plays deeper both at 10 and 12, causing a big problem.

A couple of weeks ago the NZ commentators made a point of saying that Crotty takes the hard yards by straightening on the inside shoulder of his opponent – therefore he’ll do well in the position. They understand that only too clearly. Why don’t we?

I’ve suggested Kuridrani at inside centre for over a year for just this reason. He takes the inside shoulder and goes further forward – surely a valuable commodity. But what I see in the press is that he’s not a ball distributor – so how is Toomua? There’s no evidence other than one ball to Folau – although the skill there was from Folau for straightening into a hole that even Will Skelton – surely not a ball distributor – could pass that ball (as he did versus France).

We have to do something with the performance of our backline which enables us to move the ball across the line with players in motion and put the ball in front of runners. The commentators in the New Zealand versus South Africa test opined on how wonderful some of the All Blacks backline was because the ball was always in front of the receiver. This is in no way difficult, especially when runners come straight.

Next we must insist on the right things happening. We rarely ever have a sequence of play where the passes are all accurate. We say after that we have to cut out our mistakes – but the question is how? We do this by having accurate technique in catching, passing and lines of running.

Campo mark II

Can anyone in Australia think that Kurtley Beale is not among the best seven backs in Australia, even if the rest are fit? I posed the question last week that could Kurtley be Campo mark II? Campo had pretty good pace – but not olympic standard – same as Beale. Excellent acceleration – Campo had it and at one stage KB had the fastest 40m time in the whole Wallaby squad. Very high work rate – you see him involved in everything, as was Campo. Very high skill level, the both of them. The same with their terrific lateral vision and field sense.

KMP-WALLvAB-2235

It was suggested to me though that would Beale really like to play wing? Well, how about suggesting him being the new Campo? I could see him getting more touches at wing than at inside centre; coming in from the blind side to first receiver. Then I can also see him coming into the play by sliding across the field – seeing it all in front of him and pick out the opportunities that exist. I think of all the wingers who have done that – like Sivivatu in France now who even does it on a pick and go.

We can’t leave a player of his ability out of the team and his best abilities are at 13 and wider. He’s done a good job for the Tahs at twelve, but his instincts for injecting himself and his running skills are such that we don’t want  him restricted by the proximity of players on either side of him. The suggestion of moving Folau from fullback to wing for Beale at 15 is nonsensical when you see the value of Izzy under the high ball.

Similarly I wouldn’t have Ashley-Cooper  – who runs the best lines at 13 in the country – on the wing.

Forwards

In the forwards I want to know what it is that Pek Cowan can do better than Benn Robinson? Admittedly we changed hookers as well, but our scrum became infinitely less reliable when Cowan – an honest player –  came on the field. We rushed TPN back into the team but then we leave a better scrummager and infinitely more experienced player out of the squad. And it’s not his work rate, because that’s up there as well.

By the way, commentators talk about Palu’s and Fardy’s work rate as not being up there on the international stage – I would say it also stems from the cross field running of our backs, because it means these guys are out of play – unable to run straight and hard onto the ball or into opportunity.

PS – Some months ago I suggested that the tight head prop with the best back in Australia was Paul Alo-Emile. Nothing I’ve seen since have changed my mind about that, but last week he added to that a fantastic work rate with a team that keeps the ball in hand with the Melbourne Rising. If this guy’s not the most promising tight head in the country then I’m a monkey’s uncle.

  • Pedro

    Thoroughly good read Bob, it’s great to get your insight on where things are with the Wallabies. I wonder how much you think conditions have reduced the impact of the Wallabies expansive play?

    • Hitcho

      I reckon a lot Pedro, the intent was there but the execution wasn’t

      • Pedro

        Yeah, one of the positives I have taken from the wallabies this year is their overly positive intent. They’re playing an Australian style despite somewhat un-Australian conditions.

        • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

          Unfortunately for us there’s a very good chance that the RWC will be played in “un-Australian conditions”.

        • Pedro

          I think it’s good we’re getting the practice then.

  • Stray Gator

    Yep, yep, yep. A lot of rugby wisdom in all that, Bob.

    What’s really quite depressing is that it’s all water of the duck’s back. It’ll be ignored in favour of some unenunciated, semi-mystical plan understood by, and only understandable to, McKenzie.

    I love our national rugby team with a passion. But it’s present weirdness and dysfunction is frankly disheartening.

    Link, can you please listen to your peers and get back to basics. Select the best available players in their best positions. Hardly rocket surgery.

    • Purce

      Who’s out of position? Who wasn’t playing in their best position on the weekend?

      • Stray Gator

        The Cat is a better player than Cowan. For example.

        Against the Boks, AAC played on the wing, i/o 13. Kuridrani was 13 not 12.

        • Train Without A Station

          The Force had a much stronger scrum and was based around a limited, but hard working pack. Other than on the past, you cannot say the Fat Cat is better than Cowan.

        • topgun

          The Fat Cat is better than Cowan

        • Train Without A Station

          thanks for your moronic, biased, uninformed and unsupported response.
          Care to offer any facts to supporting your opinion?

        • topgun

          Woah, chill there buddy. Robinson is in outstanding form and has played well for the tahs all year, including the full 80 in the final. he’s a secure ball carrier and is the absolute king of turnovers and rucking. Cowan’s scrummaging is questionable where Fat Cat’s is very strong… need any more?

        • Train Without A Station

          No. Even though you’ve offered no facts, only your biased opinion, you’ve already confirmed my suspicion that you had a pre-conceived, dated view.
          Personally I’ve never really rated Cowan. But the fact of the matter is Robinson was in poor form for the first half of the season in general play. This improved late in the season, so he may be equal around the ground.
          I don’t know what evidence you can point to in order to support your claim he is a better scrummager? The Waratahs in fact had a very average scrum in 2014, which was inferior to the Force. Perhaps this is an indicator that things had changed?

        • topgun

          Wow, thats a way to argue: NO. The Bias thing is bullshit I watched just about every Australian super rugby match and Robinson is just a much more secure option than Cowan. Sorry to have an opinion…

        • Train Without A Station

          But that’s my point. Your opinion is based on what? Your opinion has lead you to the conclusion that the team with the weaker scrum, with at most 8 internationals in it, and at least 6 internationals, has a stronger scrummaging who is better around the ground, despite the fact that the statistics would indicate Cowan is stronger in that regard. You referred to Robinsons turnovers and rucking. How many pilfers did he make in 2014?

        • topgun

          I don’t fucking know! I don’t watch rugby so I can whip out a statistics sheet after and do myself a tally up. Robinson is Old Faithful when it comes to international games, Cowan hasn’t played since 2011, where he starred as a flanker.

        • Train Without A Station

          Just for your benefit I’ve reviewed the two head to head games between the 2. But that was my point anyway. You don’t know.

          Round 1
          Benn Robinson – 2 Runs(2m), 2 tackles in 59 mins
          Pek Cowan – 1 run(0m), 3 tackles in 16 minutes
          Round 9 – Pek Cowan – 4 runs(8m), 4 tackles in 53 minutes
          Benn Robinson – 9 runs(9m), 0 tackles, 1 offload in 66 minutes
          In 69 minutes across 2 games Cowan has had 5 runs for 8m, and made 7 tackles. In 125 minutes across the two games Robinson has had 11 runs for 11m and made 1 offload and 2 tackles.
          He has made zero pilfers also. Based on the fact that the Waratahs dominated possession both games it’s understandable that Robinson may make less tackles over 80, but I don’t know how your summation of him aligns with a guy that made 0 tackles over 66 minutes in round 9.

        • Purce

          Yup, I was referring to the weekend. However I see your point.

          I don’t think we can consider AAC out of position on the wing at Wallaby level. I’d rather have a player who has played many tests on the wing (AAC) than a guy who had only played 1 (Betham).

          Tevita has displayed in the past 2 games the physicality and go forward which AAC just can’t deliver in the 13 jersey at test level. While AAC runs better lines, he can’t match Tevita in that department. IMO I think they’re suited to different opposition, SH teams I’d go with Tevita… NH more often than not AAC would have greater impact. The current form of Toomua has made me think more about what Bob continues to bring up with T at 12 and AAC at 13(then having our 2 best available centres on the field). It could be an astute move particularly with Tevita’s ever improving hands and offloading skills. Also remember Tevita has never played 12 so it’s a far greater risk to throw him in there than move AAC to the wing. Tevita would certainly be considered “out of position” then.

          On Fat Cat v Cowan I can see both sides of the argument but I think Link has it right at the moment. I don’t think it will be long before Big Ben is back in the 23. Cowan has rightfully been rewarded for the great form he has displayed in Super Rugby over the past 3 years. And on the flip side Fat Cat has dropped down a bit due to the less impressive form he has displayed over the same period of time. The issue with Ben is that we all know what he’s capable of and he didn’t deliver that at all until the later parts of this season… even then I’d debate whether it was consistent. Link has rewarded form first this year over reputation.

        • Stray Gator

          I wonder, though, what TK and AAC would do running their hard, straight lines in the centres at 12 and 13 respectively, (with KB and HS outside them), rather than trying to match them both to SH/NH situations or continue to shoehorn MT into a combo situation that he just hasn’t jelled in yet.
          But, thanks to Link’s implacable mindset, I’m gonna wait a loooong time to see it come to pass

        • Purce

          Would be interesting, particularly if you throw Cooper in there to hit whoever is running into a hole. With KB on a wing you have another ball player and sweeper/good support player. The back line you mention 10. Foley/QC 11. KB 12. TK 13. AAC 14. HS 15. IF – could work, strong centres, couple ball players, fair bit of pace. Like you said, doubt we will see it unfortunately. Also interested to see if Godwin is given a crack at 12 this year.

  • Dave

    All good points Bob but to make these changes now would be a mistake IMHO. I can’t think of any game Kuridrani has played at 12 for the Brumbies and certainly not the Wallabies, nor Beale on the wing and trying them there in the middle of the international season would be a big mistake.

    You cite NZ as understanding backline play, and (with the exception of Crotty being a 12/13 hybrid) they very rarely chop and change or make utilities out of their starting team.

    • Funk

      Ben Smith?

      • Purce

        Add to that off the top of my head:
        Nonu: wing/12/13
        Carter: 10/12
        Dag: wing/15
        Barrett: 10/15

  • formerflanker

    The cross-field running may be caused by fear of the harder contact that occurs when straight lines are run, and a lack of this basic skill being practised at Super level.

  • Nick

    One major point missed Bob was Kurtley’s ability to tackle….. I think he is much more effective in the last 20 mins of a game when the defensive line is slower and the opposition have dropped their aggression. I saw him go in very high against the Pumas on at least one occasion. I think Toomua is miles ahead and a long term option at 12, also a massive Kurindrani fan!! Love your writes ups

    • Hitcho

      Totally agree Nick, Toomua hits like a freight train and rarely misses. Matt also runs hard and has a good eye for the gaps. Also a huge fan of Tevita who always gets over the advantage line.

      • the pirate

        I like Toomua as well but I don’t think you are going to lose too much defensively with Kuridrani at 12 and AAC at 13 in all fairness

    • Dane

      Good point Nick, Kurtley’s defence is why he is never selected at 13.

      To furthur dwyers hypothesis, campo was not noted for his defence either.

  • TouchFinderGeneral

    Advanced common-sense, as usual Bob.

    Hard to argue really. I’ve been disappointed with Toomua at 12. Can’t fault his defence and there has been the odd nice touch, but in between those there are too many poor passes, and few instances of him putting anyone into space, or finding a gap himself. The 2nd playmaker just isn’t working at present. Yet he went well with Cooper at 10, or seemed to.

    Is TK the answer at 12? Dunno – is there that much difference between 12/13 he couldn’t do what he has done well at 13?

    But no team can expect to perform to potential when so many basic/braindead mistakes are made. They look confused to me.

    On the positive side a good chunk of the handling in difficult conditions has been surprisingly good, and (until TPN disappeared) the front row were again excellent. Phipps has actually provided a decent impersonation of an international 9, Betham looked the part, *and* they’ve reeled in 2 games they did more than enough to lose in the snags.

  • Stephen Larkham

    Bob can’t agree more with your arguments against Beale at fullback and Folau at wing, not 1 year goes by and we forget how shitty it was when teams could just put bombs up and use beale’s shonty hands under the high ball to piggyback them down the field

    • Train Without A Station

      And let’s remember Beale’s defense on the wing in Auckland.

      Bob is an excellent rugby mind who is right on a lot of things. I think this is one thing he is not right about though.

      • Purce

        Neither was Campo…. food for thought.

        Out of interest would you rather see Betham on the wing or Beale?

  • A good article with some interesting selection ideas with solid grounds for review. Problem is, selection to the wallabies starting XV is no exact science as you rightly point out, it’s seems of late (and possibly initiated by Dingo Deans), as based purely on a phone call to a psychic call-centre for a brief enlightening chat with a card dealing, mystic eight-ball reading, chicken bone throwing, non-rugby understanding, guesstimator. It bothers me no end that the leading conversations contained in this forum and with mates each week are over the inept choices being made to our national team. I struggle to believe that the same topic is covered ad nauseam week-in/week-out by our friends in NZ/SA etc etc. I wouldn’t think that Link bringing in some ‘consultants’ such as Dwyer would be a bad thing to at least understand what’s being seen by past top coaches of our national side.

  • Boris

    Everyone loves to talk about the backline and who to put on the wing etc but this is all meaningless until the forward pack can get on top of the opposition. The backs have been going ok given the conditions.

    Getting improvement out of 4,5 and 6 will make a bigger difference than who plays 11 or 14.

    • bad ass

      I like Bob’s point regarding if the backs straighten up it makes it easier for the forwards to be over the ball. It seems common sense once someone points it out to you.

      • John Tynan

        I should have read one more comment down…

    • John Tynan

      You must be a back Boris? Forwards aren’t making the princesses run across field every time they get the ball. Defence drifts onto them, and then how do you make an effective cleanout when the angles are all wrong?

      • muffy

        Good comment JTadd to that the meters our forwards are running and you wonder why there is a fade come the 50 minute mark, the opposition get up then normality is restored when the reserve forwards arrive.
        Nothing pissed me off n a rugby field than seeing a princess sprint off diagonally, get isolated and then whinge that the forwards weren’t there to support his golden locks while they were still disengaging from the scrum.
        Running away from your support leaves you vulnerable to steals and penalties for side entry… sound familiar?

        • Stray Gator

          Indeed, depressingly so.

  • bad ass

    All sounds very reasonable. It seems to me Bob, from your analysis, the major issue is getting the players to do what you say they should, i.e. inside backs running at the inside shoulder, and accurate “in front of” passes, rather than selection issues being the problem. Much of what you say can be achieved at training without the position changes you talk of.

  • Waz_dog

    Can we have a covert op to teach hooper how to kick? Imagine hooper having a 12 on his back instead of a 7. Would give the boys to inside shoulder runner you state and give the wider backs some comfort knowing he’d get to the break down and prevent a turnover

    In saying that – Ma’a didn’t use a kicking game until the last couple of years.

    • Mart

      And Toomua has been dominating at the breakdown

      • Stray Gator

        But he doesn’t run through holes (because they’ve closed before he gets to the advantage line)

        • Mart

          Fair point

        • Neahb

          Might also have something to do with Test rugby being a whole new level…..

        • Pedro

          He does it plenty for the brumbies. Check how many tries he got this season.

        • Stray Gator

          Don’t get me wrong – I am a huge fan, but he has not yet adjusted to a different structure. The Wallabies are trying to play much flatter than the Brumbies played in 2014. He needs to come up 2 to 3 metres.

    • muffy

      There is very little difference between a good 12 and a good 7.
      think about it, how good would Ant Faainga be at 7? I still think Mortlock would have made a very good open side flanker.
      Pocock and Hooper played 12 at school.

    • bad ass

      I’m all for Hooper at 12. And I bet he could run straight too. Might be another Daniel Herbert.

      • Klaus

        Herbie was a 13.

        • bad ass

          Thanks Klaus. Fair call. Similar to Herbert as a bone crunching, straight running nugget centre punching holes in attack and snapping ribs in defence. Would probably work best at 13, but I’d be happy for him at 12.

    • Klaus

      He doesn’t pass is the only problem.

  • Mart

    So Bob’s backline.
    9.Phipps
    10.Foley
    11.Horne
    12.Kurandrani
    13.AAC
    14.Beale
    15.Folau
    Toomua on the bench.

    Definitely worth a shot. I don’t buy the, ‘Don’t try it when there so much at stake midway through the RC argument’.
    Link already rolled the dice with the 2 biggest games of the year, so what the hell.
    Kurandrani has a very good draw and pass.

    • RugbyStu

      They could try it against a lesser team for sure.

      • Mart

        They tried a new 5/8 (the most critical position on the field) against the number 1 team?

        • topgun

          I think Link is trying to throw a crack addiction…

    • Guy

      Yeah that’s how i read it… and kinda like it

      BUT i think AAC’s conservatism in passing from 13 may put him one step behind at test level. Keep him on the wing – I KNOW, he is awesome and his experience tells him to hold back the pass sometimes so to maintain continuity and/or not isolate the winger, but sometimes he just needs to let it go. I think test 13’s know to pressure his outside slightly and they can kill the backline… the wing/centre/8 sideline interchanges have always been a hallmark of the game… maybe if he had better support options he would let it go… but the evidence isnt there to suggest so

      Beales boot will be also be quite useful in the back area, especially if he is asked to keep his eye on falou to help out if he can

  • john g

    I’ve copped abuse in the past (not here) for suggesting that Kurtley should be on the wing. Makes perfect sense to me.

  • topgun

    Dwyer picked Kearns from Randwick 2nd grade, I think it’s time for Hugh Roach to pull the jersey on…

  • subfreq

    That is a really interesting article Bob because it suggests a greater problem underlining Australian Rugby

    Australian selection for the last half decade has placed players outside their comfort zone or conventional wisdom for the requirements of the position in question. In a sense saying that Australia need to be clever and unconventional to get a result.

    I am starting to believe that over time this has eroded a deep belief in the squad and public that the team is good enough. We can’t just front up, we always have to think “outside the box”. This has set a rot in our thinking. The selections of 10 and 12 is evidence of this.

    It’s also why we continually fall short against the AB’s. Each game tries to invent a new wheel rather than building on a solid structure over time.

    The debate over public interest falling off is missing the mark if you ask me. It has nothing to do with other codes, restarts, rules or opposition. The public know that this squad is a considerable distance from winning silver wear (i.e. The All Blacks).

Rugby
@bobdwyerrugby

If you don't know Bob Dwyer is the world cup winning coach of the 1991 Wallabies, then give yourself an uppercut. He did a load in between, but he now runs Bob Dwyer's Rugby Workshops, which you can read more about on his site.

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