Dwyer's View: Don't panic Australian Rugby - fix it
Rugby

Dwyer’s View: Don’t panic, fix it

Dwyer’s View: Don’t panic, fix it

The general feeling about the state of Australian rugby is that New Zealand teams are playing out of their skins and Aussie teams aren’t playing well at all (it’s hard to say much about the South African teams because we don’t see much of them). In terms of the coming Rugby Championship though, I’m not so sure all is lost.

We certainly do need to do a bit of work, but when you put the best Australian players together we can come up with a very competitive team. The addition of our European players helps and I don’t see any reason why we can’t at any time change the regulation of saying it has to be 60 tests – because that’s a fair effort. I’m also not sure it would do us any harm to pick anyone outside of Australia. Why restrict ourselves?

If we look back on our form I would certainly agree that we haven’t been consistently good across the season, where four of the New Zealand teams played better than we did. New Zealand teams aren’t the only team in The Rugby Championship though.

Photo courtesy of Tim Anger

Photo courtesy of Tim Anger

Structure

The thing that concerns me though is how we’ve allowed poor technical performance to go unaltered with individual players. The fundamental qualities of good team play are support and realignment (in both attack and defence). I would say that in defence this hasn’t been too bad, but in attack those two elements are poor.

Too many of our teams (in fact, all of them) have a team pattern which almost acts against quality attack support play. All of them run to largely pre-determined positions subsequent to any attack ending in a tackle. As a result we have large numbers of our forwards positioned a long way from the ball, which is just wrong.

Our prime support players should be our three back row forwards, our 9 and 10 and perhaps our hooker from line-outs. With this structure, we don’t have them properly positioned because they’ve already made up their mind what their next role is, without exhausting the support play options available to them.

Then our new ball carriers from the second phase onwards tend to be tight forwards and unless they’re close to the ball and ball carrier, we can’t have a success at the next tackle contest and subsequently the next phase. I see us needing to re-evaluate the structure of our play and a need to reassess and work hard at 100% accurate technique as applicable to each position.

The next thing we need to be a lot better at is lines of running. We start with our 10s and 12s going across the pitch limiting the the ability of our outside backs to perform well. If Israel Folau can perform like he does with no space, imagine what he could do with some…..

Folau dives over for his try - Photo by Keith McInnes

Folau dives over for his try – Photo by Keith McInnes

We really do need to have a close look at our attacking alignment – we are consistently far too deep in attack. If we are to use second line plays – of which I’m not a fan at all – we must be much, much flatter. So that we can use either the first or second line in the play.

Even when we line up from an attacking scrum, our five-eighth is consistently 8m from our 8 when you only have to be 5. At five metres you’ve got at least a 14m gap to the opposition. This should be plenty in which to do something with the ball.

In one test against England, late in the game we had a wide left hand side blind, and we stationed Israel Folau and Luke Morahan on that left hand side. Israel Folau was first receiver on the left and he was 15 metres behind the number 8. Morahan was second receiver and he was 30 metres behind the number eight. What was going to become of that I’ll never know. That was farcical.

Now we’re not spending any more time in Super Rugby, we’ve got the opportunity to fix some of these technical short comings. They’re not difficult things to fix. So we will be in much better shape going into the Rugby Championship than we were going into the series against the English.

Individuals

I’m not completely disheartened by the play of our three bottom teams (Rebels, Force and Reds). At times I’ve seen good things from them and the individuals within the teams. I’d like more consistency, but I’ve seen enough world class in the players and therefore the opportunity for coaches to help them do more with it.

Then I see individual positional technical fundamentals not being good enough by any stretch. For example, our number one scrum half is technically poor – which is seen in his pass. The best scrum half in Australia is an Argentinian – rather than be concerned about Australians overseas, I’d be concerned about overseas players here! Two out of the five teams use foreigners, placing us at a disadvantage.

Michael Hooper scores his first try

Michael Hooper scores his first try

After a slow start Michael Hooper has been fantastically good. He’s a lot more effective at the breakdown and he’s back to his normal outstanding work-rate. I don’t know what the numbers ended up like, but he made very important tackles consistently. He’s back to his workaholic best.

There are some other players that need to lift like he did. Stephen Moore and Scott Fardy  aren’t at their previous levels.  Is it time to find another six and play Fardy in the second row – would he give away fewer penalties? Sio and Kuridrani aren’t a patch on their previous forms.

Liam Gill’s form and performances have been outstanding, but you can’t have Hooper, Pocock and Gill in the team at the same time. Adam Coleman gave an indication that he can come through and he’d be worth staying with the squad and even getting some game time.

Liam Gill scored 2 tries in his final game for the Reds

Liam Gill scored 2 tries in his final game for the Reds

I would definitely put Lopeti Timani in the squad and see if we could get enough out of him in those sessions to see if we can turn  him into a world class 6. He can tackle and hit hard with genuine size and pace.

I thought that despite the fact he’s only a small bloke, Matt Lucas has added something to the Tahs every time he’s come onto the field. If we’re not sure who the next 9 is then he’s worth a look – getting to the tackle quickly and passing accurately all the time. He’s willing to have a run and his line of run allows him to target the close defenders and exploit a hole. The team attack just looks better whenever he comes on the field.

Andrew Ready looks worth a go. He’s got size, a willingness to take the initiative and has genuine pace. Reece Hodge has some qualities no-one else in Australia has; he can kick the ball a country mile, is big and has pace. I’m not close enough to know how much further he can go, but he’s been in the squad and has impressed with everything he’s done. He much be very close to the match day 23.

Photo by Keith McInnes

Photo by Keith McInnes

Dane Haylett-Petty has done enough to indicate he can continue to improve and make a serious contribution. I’d have to think that a bit more common sense than he’s displayed recently wouldn’t go astray though!

 

  • Tim

    Lopeti Timani and gill are always over looked. Lopeti i think is an outstanding player he is alot better then his brother. I would love to see him off the bench to replace fardy at 6. I dont think this will happen as Cheika seems to hate him

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      I’m not sure he hates him but it would be interesting to see why he doesn’t rate him. I think he’s outstanding.

      • Tim

        His always been over looked and he could have easily been a starting 4-5 during the England series considering he chose everyone but him. I honestly would love to see him at 6 with Fardy on the bench.

        • Adrian

          I think you’ll find that Cheika had a run-in both both Timani brothers at Tahs. Just as Cheika is very loyal to those loyal to him, he can be the opposite to those who cross him. Higginbotham and Nick White have found this out too.
          I think Cheika will eventually accept Timani, and possibly Higginbotham, but not White.
          Gill is just unlucky to have 3 other backrowers in front of him

    • Dougs

      I personally believe we need to start thinking of Hooper as a wonderful back rower but not a 7. I would build my back row by putting Pocock at no. 7, the best back rower outside Hooper and Pocock in their preferred position (6 or 8) and Hooper in the remaining position. I think no. 7 is too important to the team to have someone who is not a natural there (i.e. Hooper or McMahon). Currently the best option is Fardy so I would go 6. Fardy, 7. Pocock and 8. Hooper. In the event the next best back rower in Aus was an 8, Hooper could just as easily be shifted to 6 to accommodate them. Also, in the event Pocock got injured I would personally put Liam F’ing Gill straight into the starting side at no. 7 and continue to use Hooper at 6 or 8 as necessary.

      Also in the backs, I’d prefer we started adopting the model most overseas teams use of a battering ram at no. 12 and a bit more of a wiley ball player at no. 13 (obvious example being Nonu and C. Smith). All back lines need a balance of ball distributors and runners. If we go with Kerevi and Kuridrani in the mid field our whole back line is shut down by just rushing on Foley. Even if we go with a second distributor at 12 (i.e. Toomua), once he gives the ball on there are often 3 or 4 dangerous players outside him (Kuridrani, Folau, Kerevi etc.) but despite this the ball invariably dies with whoever he passed it to. I would prefer a 12 who straightens the attack (Kerevi, Kuridrani) and a 13 who can bring the outside men into the game with his passing game (Toomua, Godwin). The prospect of Toomua running at 2 outside defenders (the rest having been kept honest by Kuridrani’s unders line) with Folau on his inside shoulder and Speight on his outside shoulder is tantalising to me.

      • Seb V

        Dougs your back-row of Fardy, Hooper, Poey IS the wallabies current backrow. Swapping Poey and Hooper around will make zero difference to the way they play on the field. I can’t believe people are still working this out. Poey is at 8 cos he’s better at the back of the scrum then Hooper, he still plays exactly the same around the field.

      • Tim Fin

        “I’d prefer we started adopting the model most overseas teams use of a battering ram at no. 12 and a bit more of a wiley ball player at no. 13 (obvious example being Nonu and C. Smith).”

        I agree wholeheartedly, and have been saying this for years. What’s the point of playing with width when the width stops at 13. This is where you need the best of your bigger ball players.

        Feel sorry for Godwin – not sure what he needs to do to win a cap. Perhaps leave the Force?

    • Patrick

      I can understand Gill being overlooked, as bad as I feel for him about it. At least it is a position where we have some really great players.

      But Timani is being shafted. Friggin Sita got a look in on potential, Skelton gets every chance in the world on potential, and the only one who actually gets out and hits the bloody thing up never gets a crack, it is depressing and mind-boggling.

  • Joe King

    “we don’t have them properly positioned because they’ve already made up their mind what their next role is, without exhausting the support play options available to them.”

    Spot on. It seems the big difference between the NZ teams and Oz teams is this:

    For NZ teams:

    1. Every player with the ball is almost always looking to offload.

    This is a priority for every ball carrier, but these are not risky passes simply to keep the ball alive. If the pass is not on, then a player will take the tackle. But their first thought appears to be to look for the offload to a teammate in support.

    2. Strategic creation of offload chances

    To create the opportunity for the offload, the player with the ball runs to the line, draws in a defender or two and then offloads. This creates space and opportunity for teammates in support.

    3. Players without the ball are supporting and expecting a pass

    Every player without the ball is looking to be in support, expecting the pass from their teammate with the ball.

    But for OZ teams:

    1. Most players with the ball are not looking to offload.

    It’s not their focus. Sometimes even when there is a real opportunity to offload, they don’t. It’s like they are committed to a different game-plan where they have to try and barge their way through the defence and take the tackle. This is especially so among the forwards.

    2. If there is a pass…

    Very often players pass way too early, or too deep, and before drawing in any defenders. This happens especially among the backs. This does not create space or opportunity for support players.

    3. Teammates don’t really run in support very well.

    Supporting players have no expectation of receiving an offload in general play.

    There are occasional exceptions to this, but generally speaking, this is how the two countries seem to be playing rugby ATM.

    • Sideshow

      Exactly! So simple, so basic, so obvious, and yet the Aussie professional rugby setup can’t see it.

    • aj

      or they look to do an offload too late and it’s a risky one armed pass that goes to nobody

      • Joe King

        Yep. That happens too. It’s going to the other extreme.

    • Who?

      The other thing that frustrates me is that we so often run one out, meaning that we don’t ask questions of the defence other than, “Can you tackle the bloke who’s going to get the ball?” We don’t ask them to make a decision – to decide which runner’s going to get the ball, if they need to cover him (because there’s someone else they might need to cover), just to make a tackle. It’s frustrating.

  • Mart

    Good point about Cubelli. I was watching Brumbies a week or 2 ago and Powell was playing and i thought he looked pretty good. Then Cubelli came one and was a class above.
    Whats going on with 9’s in Australia??
    They’ve gotta start scouring deeper. I’m sure there’s more quality around the club scene.
    I hope Genia is in red hot form

    • Seb V

      Whats going on with 9’s in Australia? None of them have a running game. That’s the difference. Cubelli started the season mixed, made some silly decisions and kicked horribly. But the difference is his superb running game that puts him a step above the rest. This is also what made Genia so good back in the day – he has lost his running game and is no longer a threat. Hope he gets it back.

      • boris

        And then compare his running game to someone like TJ Peranara and it takes it to another level. Imagine having that in the team.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          And TJ struggles to get game time with the AB’s. Damn we’re lucky

        • Nick

          We’ll swap you Liam Gill for Aaron Smith. 3 year age gap so you’ll have to throw in a Whitelock. Do we have a deal?

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Hahaha a big fat Nope! On that mate

      • Neb

        IMHO, Ben Meehan is the most exciting #9 running around in Aus rugby right now. Sure he my not be at the top of the current pecking order but he seems to be showing some great attributes….not to mention a killer pass.

        • Seb V

          You just like the man bun.

  • Mart

    “it’s hard to say much about the South African teams because we don’t see much of them” the Stormers played their first Kiwi team and got pumped.

    I hope the Lions can hang in there.

  • Simon

    I’ve never been able to understand WHY we stand so deep and so flat-footed in attack. It’s not something that happens by accident, especially since nearly all our Super teams and the national side do it. Which means it’s being coached.

    What possible advantage is there to standing so deep if you’re playing a ball-in-hand game?

  • Lens Tamanalevu

    Bob Dwyer, I think you might have read my comment on this site about Lopeti Timani!! (was joking)..and I feel like I have won a lottery that we think alike…Well if you didn’t read that comment of mine, I thought Lopeti would be the Wallabies version of Jerome Kaino; bulky, gets over the advantage line nearly always, makes big tackles, was a lock and can jump in lineouts and is good enough to steel the pill many times before!!…I think he is better than Kaino actually…why he isn’t included at least in the wallabies wider training squad eludes me!!!…Imagine having Lopeti and Skelton in the team!! that would complement the Pooper combination as Lopeti would be doing what is needed for an #8 that Poccock doesn’t have. And Lopeti is only 26 yrs old compared to the 32 yr old fardy, that means Lopeti is good to breed right now for rwc 2019!!…Please Cheika read my comment too!!

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Lopeti – yes! (although he’s got a long way to go before he’s better than Kaino) but I’m sorry I still can’t see what Skelton offers to the team. If he got fitter and actually made some meters, off loads and tackles then perhaps but his form this season with the Waratahs and Wallabies just hasn’t justified his selection in either team.

      • Keith Butler

        I’ve been saying for the last 2 seasons that LT should be playing at 6 for the Rebels. I’m still not convinced he’s a lock even though his line out has improved considerably. But with Jones going I reckon he’ll be stuck there for another season and our back row will consist of an 8 and two 7s and imo unbalanced. Nothing to stop Cheks picking him as a 6 though.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I think he offers more as a lock as he’s got good line out skills and offers the sort of mobility Retalick gives the All Blacks

        • Keith Butler

          Can’t really argue against any of that Kiwi. Being an ex lock but on the wrong side of 60 we didn’t have the benefit of legal lifters so had to get in the air by other means both legal and illegal so I guess I’m height biased, 2m being the ideal height for me. On another note one of my personal highlights was acting as cannon fodder for Graham Mourie’s 1979 ABs before they played England. They looked human but when they pull on the jersey they seemed to grow 6 inches. Got a pair of socks and a tie pin for a great day learnt a lot as well.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Awesome mate

      • Sideshow

        I used to sit on the fence about Skelton, keeping in mind Bob’s “a good big player is better than a good small player”. But what is implied but not said is that a good small player is better than an average big player. Sean McMahon at 100kg makes more meters through traffic by a country mile than any other Aussie forward, and especially more than Skelton at 140kg. Skelton is NOT a GOOD big player, he is a pedestrian big player.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Absolutely

        • Seb V

          McMahon struggles to make metres in test rugby. Had only one decent running game so far – England Test 3.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Yeah but is that his fault or the rest of the team not stepping up as well? I think if he was in a good pack going forward he’d perform better. Good point though and maybe Fardy as lock is abetter option

        • Seb V

          That’s a funny statement kiwi, doesn’t every player perform better with a good pack going forward.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          yeah mate they do – good point. I was trying to say it was the rest of the pack not stepping up that contributed to McMahon struggling to shine at test level and that if they had all been playing their game he could have concentrated on his and may have proved his worth. Yeah obvious I suppose

        • Sideshow

          I definitely had in mind that 3rd test in my comment, and McMahon had a cracker of a game. I haven’t seen too much of him otherwise, so will take your judgement on that. I’ve seen enough of Skelton though, and hope not to see much more of him.

        • Paul

          Its a tough one with McMahon. Still only 22 and only played a handful of tests. 3rd test vs. England he very was good. I wouldn’t start him but he might be worth persisting with for a bit longer – coming of the bench as a sub. Hard to say, but I wouldn’t discard hm just yet.

        • onlinesideline

          agree re Skelton – I used to like his impact but watched him really closely in pommie series and man he is unfit .. he was running into opposition in absolute slo mo and virtually stationary – he didnt even put his head down – he was actually being smashed – we will get nowhere against kiwis with this guy on board – wayyyyy too slow – he is not wallaby standard at all.

          I reckon Coleman will step up big time and long term too – a hunch only but a strong hunch

        • bigmac

          skelton seems way out of shape.

        • Nick

          I’d be interested to see if we can shed another 10kgs off Skelton so that he can be more effective at lock work. I think he still has great potential but definitely needs to be under 130kg.

        • bigmac

          agree re skelton.
          i recently described him as slow and lazy and some of his mates on this forum poured scorn on me.
          am very surprised he made the wallaby squad.

      • Lens Tamanalevu

        okay scrape Skelton out and replace him with who?…Me thinks Kane Douglas…well whoever it is to pair Rob Simmons long term, we need to get Lopeti playing at 6…ANd yeah,might have gone too far with Lopeti being better than Kaino, but he has the potential to be better though I think.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Mate I’d have McMahon or Fardy in there as options. I like Douglas too. So many choices

        • onlinesideline

          Coleman was a real sucess I thought – on the burst flying thru the back line trying to make dreams come true on his debut – loved it

        • Who?

          And Mr Dwyer’s been talking him up since before he started arguing for Kuridrani at 12 (read: 3 years).

        • onlinesideline

          i was actually speaking about the 2nd rower dude – have i spelt his name wrong or is that who you / Bob meant ?

        • Who?

          Yeah, Adam Coleman. Before Bob created the ‘TK to 12′ train, he was quietly advocating on here for Adam Coleman to be given a call up to at least attend a Wallabies camp. He was right back then, and he was vindicated by Coleman’s performance in that third English test.

    • brumby runner

      I am flabbergasted (to quote a certain legend) that others and you are talking up Timani’s lineout skills. That is one particular area that he was considered deficient in, and to be honest, I can’t say that I saw any improvement from him in this year’s SR. The suggestion that he and Skelton should both play to complement the Pooper is simply an invitation to lose each and every lineout in the game.

      LT could fit in at 6 or 8 if needed, but not with Skelton also in the side, and not imo when the Pooper is playing.

      • Seb V

        Can we please drop Skelton then!

  • Rebels3

    Wow, Bob I don’t always agree with you but this is spot on.

    With regards to no9, I think frisby is the best we have got playing in Australia. It would be nice if the aru could get either white or Genia back to play for the force.

    Fardy to lock is a brilliant idea, it is by far our weakest area. The like of carter (the pillow) and dean mumm shouldn’t be up for selection. I’d rather an abrasive and aggressive lock who can offer good line out ball. Simmons I’m happy to survive the cut as he is extremely good come line out time and a good scrummager.

    Sio
    Moore
    Kepu
    Fardy
    Simmons
    Timani
    Hooper
    Pocock
    Genia
    Foley
    AAC /naivalu (once he’s eligible)
    Toomua
    Kerevi
    DHP
    Folau

    TPN
    Slipper
    Holmes
    McMahon
    Coleman
    Mccalman
    Hodge
    Frisby

    • A Fan

      If we are talking abrasive and aggressive you can’t just live with Simmons then.

      • brumby runner

        Spot on. And Fardy has had many opportunities at lock and has been less than effective. To really have an abrasive second and back row, I’d go with :
        4 Coleman or Arnold,
        5 Douglas,
        6 Fardy,
        7 Pocock,
        8 Timani.

        Arnold or Coleman or Staniforth with Cottrell on the bench.

        That would be a real pack playing a real pack’s game.

    • Dud Roodt

      I didn’t really have an opinion on Frisby either way leading up to the England tests as it’s hard the gauge a guys talent when he’s playing in a bad team, and therefor was happy to give him a crack.
      I found that when he did come on he was so slow to every breakdown! I actually asked my mate if he had been injured jogging onto the park as the ball would be sitting there for 3 or 4 seconds before he even arrived

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Not a bad team that one

    • Paul

      I guess you are assuming Kane Douglas is not fit?

      • Rebels3

        My bad, Douglas is a certain selection for me.

        Sio
        Moore
        Kepu
        Douglas
        Fardy
        Timani
        Hooper
        Pocock
        Genia
        Foley
        AAC/sefa (when eligible)
        Toomua (Beale when fit)
        Kerevi
        DHP
        Folau

        TPN
        Slipper
        Holmes
        Coleman
        McMahon
        Mccalman
        Hodge
        Frisby

        Several 2nd row and backrow options if there is injuries.

        Hodge can play every backline position

        • Seb V

          Fardy at lock. Goodbye scrum.

        • Rebels3

          The same Scott Fardy that played lock for half of his career? The same Fardy that played lock during the brumbies run to the super rugby final in ’13? The same Fardy that is bigger than Maro itoje, Paul o’connell, etc (not that I’m one for believing bigger is better)?

        • Paul

          Good team. I’d still personally keep the Fardy/Hooper/Pocock back row, as with Douglas coming back into the team matched with maybe Arnold/Coleman it’ll be OK. Toomua or Beale at 12, with Kuridrani/Kerevi competing for the 13 jersey depending on form. I’d like to see Kerevi given a good run there to see how he does. I’d keep Folau at fullback with DHP on one wing. Not sure on the other wing – so long as it’s not Rob Horne. Would love for TPN to start but I know that won’t happen.

    • Nick

      - Matt Lucas needs a crack I reckon;
      – I’m done with Stephen Moore. He’s a liability. Much rather Taf;
      – Timani hopefully will be our Kaino; and
      – I’d like to have a go with Toomua at 10, Folau at 13 and DHP at 15. Maybe go with Hodge at 12 for the big boot. Kuridrani and Kerevi should both be working at kicking and distribution. Not sure who we put on the wings but they need to be quick, have a good boot and be safe under the high ball.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Nice article Bob, I like that you are looking for the good in the Rebels, Reds and Force rather than just knocking them like so many others. I absolutely agree with your comment on foreign players, losing good people like Genia and then having only three to look at for a replacement because two positions are taken by foreigners (and one of those is a kiwi who couldn’t make a Super Rugby Team) is crazy.
    I am sure that the Wallabies will be more competitive in the RC than they were against England. I do agree with some here in that having coaches like Larkham trying to do two jobs was a big part of the problem. Now that he can stop and concentrate totally on the Wallabies will be a big changer. Good luck – but not when you play NZ.

    • Dave

      Do you reckon Larkham will have picked up his bottom lip by the start of the RC though?

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Hahahaha absolutely mate. He’s got 5 weeks to get over it.

  • ForceFan

    “After a slow start Michael Hooper has been fantastically good. He’s a lot more effective at the breakdown and he’s back to his normal outstanding work-rate. I don’t know what the numbers ended up like, but he made very important tackles consistently.”

    Bob was very critical of Hooper’s efforts after the Round 7 Bye when he labelled Hooper as “the worst No 7 in Australian Super Rugby”.
    After the game against the Chiefs, Bob’s comment was “his form has improved out of sight”.
    Now Bob’s comments are “he’s back to his best”.

    It always concerns me that sweeping statements can be made without any evidence. Maybe it’s just the effect of the Federal Election? It seems that even a past Wallabies coach can do with a bit of fact-checking.

    Hooper’s work rate should be able to be measured in Ruck Involvements, Tackles and Ball Carries.

    This data breaks down activity in periods leading up to each of Bob’s comments.

    The comparison shows:

    1. Ruck Involvements are essentially at the same level with perhaps a slight improvement in Impact but more Ruck Involvements per TOW.

    2. There has been a marked improvement in tackle success rate but also a marked decrease in the number of tackles being made.

    3. There was little difference to justify Bob re-assessment prior to the England Tests. However, in the 3 closing games, Hooper showed marked improvement in m/ball carry – with his best efforts against the Canes and Blues.

    Hooper’s Ruck Involvements compared to other Aussie No 7s can be viewed at http://www.greenandgoldrugby.com/community/threads/wallabies-2016-and-onwards.16224/page-94 (#1876).

    I question Bob’s assessment regarding Hooper’s work rate improvements in areas other than Ball Carries.

    I hope we continue to see the improvements shown after the June Test break as clearly the Wallabies need Michael Hooper at or above his very best in the Tests to come in 2016.

    Note: Labels in line which says Rounds 15-16 should read Rounds 15-17.

    Michael Hooper’s turn-around in form really commenced with the Cheetahs game – after the win against the Stormers in Capetown – with consistently better ball carry outcomes.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Mate I agree. I like him at times but too much swanning and showing off rather than doing the hard yards. I also think his work with referees needs to improve when he steps up as captain

    • Paul

      I think overall Hooper’s been pretty good for the Tah’s and Wallabies this year. Huge work-rate and gives his all every game. Yes he’s not a traditional pilfering 7, but contributes in other ways.

      • ForceFan

        Thanks Paul. Perhaps you can help me with how this “huge work rate” can be measured if not in the stats highlighted.

        • Paul

          No you made a great post Forcefan. I’m not disagreeing with you in any way. The stats do tell the story. A big last few games, but pretty consistent for the rest of the season – as the stats show.

        • jamie

          Stats don’t show that he’s often the first man out of the defensive line, leading the charge, or that he’s usually also hauling serious ass to even attempt a tackle on the other side of the pitch that no one else has made/attempted.

          These things can’t be measured other than by watching and focusing on him.

        • ForceFan

          Thanks Jamie.

          To collect my Ruck Stats I actually have to watch each game by each Aussie team at least twice. I reckon I’ve got a good appreciation of who’s doing the hard work. There still needs to be some measurable outcomes. To support Bob Dwyer’s comments I would have thought that any improvement would be detected in the stats which I used. So running to and fro without outcomes is considered effective these days?
          When collecting ruck stats a player may run the length of the pitch to join a ruck but if the ball has already moved on then I don’t give him any stat. It’s not a late arrival without impact. It’s a wasted effort.

        • jamie

          I didn’t say effective: I said work rate. If he runs 80m to pull a winger down and stops the opposition scoring the winning try he’s a hero. If the player is a half a second earlier and puts it down before Hoops can stop him, it’s forgotten, despite the huge effort (and the right decision in chasing) in getting there.

        • Who?

          The same thing can be said of Liam Gill so often… Hooper obstructed him (held him back illegally) in the lead up to a try in the last Reds/Tahs game, yet it was Gill who chased down Foley (past Hooper) and made the tackle. It’s the same as Hooper – just a huge motor, always running harder and smarter than anyone else. We’re lucky to have had such players, unlucky for Gill that he was the one who missed out most.

    • ForceFan – when you hear ‘workaholic’ you obviously hear ‘involvements completed’.

      When in fact Bob clearly talks about ‘effectiveness’. For example, he’s not just talking about numbers of tackles, he’s talking about *important* tackles.

      Even with your own stats, Hooper’s effectiveness clearly improved. The difference between an 82% vs 90% is significant.

      Whenever I see you make these points about pure number of involvements I find it hard to believe that:

      a) you can’t see how a team’s gameplan will drastically impact the ratio of defensive vs attacking breakdowns and who is involved with them

      and

      b) how the players you rate higher for involvements tend to be in those teams at the bottom of the super rugby ladder.

      • ForceFan

        David Pocock?
        Whether or not a particular game plan results in wins.

        14 tackles made (with 2 missed per game) becomes 8 tackles with 1 missed. The higher workrate would support the former rather than the latter.

        I was trying to find the “lot more effectiveness at the breakdown”. Did I miss it?
        The link to the Forum provides provisions for what maybe seen as different game plans. Low involvement is still low involvement no matter how it’s packaged.
        Someone in the team has to do the hard work. Currently for the Waratahs and Wallabies it appears it’s being left for someone else (yet to be discovered). Especially for the Wallabies when Pocock isn’t available.

      • Who?

        Matt, when I see ‘ForceFan’ and ‘Workaholic’ in the same paragraph, my automatic reaction is to assume it’s a description of ForceFan! Can’t believe some of the stats he takes down.
        Even so, those percentages… It’s a big difference between 82% and 90%. But when you’re talking about an average of 26 rucks, the difference between Rounds 1-7 and 15/16 is that Hooper was early to one fewer ruck (of 26!), and effective at 2 more rucks (of 26 per game). It’s not a huge difference, as a round number per game, and Rounds 15 and 16 isn’t a big sample size. What would be really interesting to know would be how arrival time impacted on impact. Did getting to that one ruck slightly slower mean that he was actually more effective at that ruck, because he found his target better? Just speculation from curiosity, nothing more.
        What’s really interesting is that ‘Back to his workaholic best’ was when Hooper managed to get his running game going strongly. It’s also interesting to see his figures for 2015 are very similar to 2016, with the exception of his run metres, particularly for those last two rounds. It reflects something I’ve thought for the Wallabies. I didn’t think Hooper’s running game was at all strong last year. It just wasn’t his focus – his focus was more on his tackling, which was dominant and great to watch. All players shift focus over time – I remember in 2010, Dan Carter had more pilfers in the 3N’s than Richie McCaw! That wasn’t McCaw failing to do his job, it was following the game plan and the responsibilities given to him for that year. But perhaps, given how electrifying Hooper’s running game was when we first saw him burst onto the scene, perhaps ‘Back to his workaholic best’ is really as much about his running game as anything else?

  • jamie

    Who are the 2 non Aussie 9s? Cubelli and? Phipps, Pryor, Stirzy and Frisby are the other 9s.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Alby Matherson. He’s a kiwi

      • jamie

        He hasn’t been starting for the force for a while. I don’t even think he’s been warming the pine for them.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          OK I must admit not having foxtel this year has meant I haven’t followed the games as much as usual. Been disturbing my Sunday lie in just to get the one free to air game each week. It sux

  • Patrick

    Ironically this is partly a plea to try QC back at 10 ;)

  • jamie

    Probably made this comment a dozen times, but how does a 123kg man of epic proportions and an even more epic hairdo fly under Cheika’s radar? You wanna play violent, abrasive rugby? Let Timani lead your pack. He’s what Potgeiter was to the Tahs in 2014 (their success was largely driven off him).

    Glad to see I’m in agreement with a WC winning coach.

  • Ted B

    I totally agree with you re no. 9 Matt Lucas is a lot faster with the pass, is a good darter and is fearless in defence also he is a reliable goal kicker

  • Bay35Pablo

    Agree on Matt Lucas. have rated him since first saw him playing that way for the Rays in NRC.
    And why oh why we cannot learn to kick accurately and consistently I do not know. Fine, don’t kick often and run with the ball in hand until you drop, but sometimes just sometimes you are going to have to kick it. When you do, do it right, not like you haven’t practiced it since U9s. Professional athletes do what?!?!? “Forgetting kicking drills boys, go play some Pokemon Go ….”

  • Nutta

    Thanks Bob

    Team – pick footballers who will play what’s there to be played:
    Toby Tatts Kepu
    Kane Coleman
    Poey Macca Fardy
    Phipps L’fano
    Too’s K’drani
    Horne Folau DHP

    Tactically
    * Kick deep and play down there
    * Run maggot plays early to stop the rush defence
    * Strong scrum picked – so use it
    * Play flatter with quicker alignment and hands
    * Round the corner forwards with an early off-load instead of see-saw pods
    * 9 must run or get hooked
    * Fwds run onto the ball or get hooked (another reason I prefer round the corner)
    * Fk off with 2nd man plays (they waste supporters and force no choices from defence)

    It’s a pretty simple game really

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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