Dwyer's View: let's focus on the opportunities

Dwyer’s View: let’s focus on the opportunities

Dwyer’s View: let’s focus on the opportunities

Two weeks ago in the aftermath of the Argentinian defeat I described the match and the preceding week as a shambles – little did we know then what sort of a shambles it would turn out to be! The subsequent period has been full of drama and accusations and denials, only to follow up with a match that was easily Australia’s best display of the year.

I can’t quite understand what transpired to transform a totally unimaginative and inaccurate attack into genuine quality. There are a couple of possibilities but all of them revolve around much more accurate execution within individual performances.



For sure Lealiifano runs much straighter than Toomua, which will make a fair bit of difference. That however doesn’t explain some of the running lines of the forwards who haven’t exhibited them in the past. All of a sudden I see footwork and yardage through the tackle line from Kepu and Carter – added to the usual good lines from Hooper, Slipper and Fardy which then gives the backline opportunity to attack against hastily retreating defence.

How that happened so quickly, I just don’t know. I’m a stickler for the inclusion in player development programmes one that works on agility, balance and acceleration. One that I’ve used since 1996 is one called SAQ (Speed, Agility, Quickness) from the UK. I don’t know why all coaches don’t use it. There’s no way that improvement could have effect in a week, but it was there. You have more potential to defeat a defender running straight – on either side – than cross field. You won’t beat them for pace often at this level, and so running laterally closes down an option.

I thought that Australia were unlucky to lose. I couldn’t say at all that NZ were lucky to win because they earned it. But I would have liked a few more angles on Cory Jane’s try – to look behind down the touchline – and I would certainly liked to look at the restart where the ball got knocked towards the tryline and fielded by another New Zealand player who had overrun the kick. But it was never examined, which astonished me.

This was a much improved display and you would have to think that just while I’ve been critical of coaches not able to engender critical contributions under pressure, so we have to credit them when it works.

Scrum Aus v NZ Bledisloe 3 141018098

One of the things I’ve not had much experience of is the use of substitutions, because they didn’t exist for most of my career. It was easier for me sitting at home watching the television to determine the wisdom of them. Nick Phipps was having a whale of a game – probably the best he’s had for Australia. Given the anxiety levels of any player having to come on and save the game, the change in such a  crucial position was not wise.

On the other hand, Joe Tomane was one of the few players who played poorly from start to finish. When you think of the season Horne’s had you have to think he could have made a crucial contribution. Tomane potentially cost a try in the first half when following Fardy he surrendered to the tackle rather than passing. And the number of times he raced up out of defence and got no one was amazing, again in the last minute of the game. He may not have stopped the try but he was in the perfect position to make a ball-and-all tackle. It was a mistake to leave him on.

For the most part all players played well. Slipper even better than he normally does. Kepu back to some form. Fainga’a was very good. It was the best Carter has played in this company and Simmons was good enough. Carter is not agile when it comes to defence, but drift defence has to be pushed from the inside not dragged from the outside. If AAC and the man outside of him had stayed closer together for the Coles’ try then they had a hope. You can”t just leave it to Carter – how is a slow player going to pick up a fast player?

I got the impression that Higginbotham made a fair contributions – I’ll have to have another look at the game. Fardy was back to form and all backs except Tomane made a contribution.

Kuridrani smashing into the defence.

Kuridrani smashing into the defence.

I don’t know how much longer I can say that Kuridrani is an absolute walk up start 12. That sort of pressure on the inside shoulder of the defence close to the scrum will have to be able to make more space for our outside backs. I can see a backline with Kuridrani, AAC and Beale(??) on one wing and Speight, or with a burst of common sense then Cummins or Ioane on the other. We can start to put together a pretty fair side.

It was a most encouraging game and even thought it was a disappointing note for which Ewen to leave on, considering it was a very good display.

For the future, we have some policies in force in Australia – decisions we make for ourselves. One of them is that we won’t consider for selection players playing outside of Australia. That is an arrogant and stupid decision. It’s just us and New Zealand who do it – are we in their league in terms of depth? I think not. Sixty percent of the South African team must be playing outside of South Africa. Are we that much better than them?

The other question is what good reason should prevent coaches of a Super franchise coaching Australia? I can think of none at all. Not only does it enable the best coaches in the country to work with the national team, it allows the best coaches to work with half of the best players. Its clear to me that Cheika and Larkham are the best two coaches in the country and that Michael Foley is technically excellent. This would be a very potent coaching group and for the most part they aren’t doing much else when Australia are playing.  Equally coaches alway know the strengths of their opponents and weaknesses of their own players. Very useful for selection.

Let’s do this and get on with it. It will rejuvenate the whole team.

Let’s not focus on the difficulties, but the opportunities.

  • Bobas

    Larkham should be playing in next years world cup. I know which Bernie I’d rather closing out a close game against the All Blacks.

    • Pedro

      I think he’d be a good guy to have around the team, but he’s already turned down the trip to Europe. He’ll have to play his way back into form at Super level.

  • Pedro

    I don’t know why you insist that Kuridrani should play at inside centre. For mine he is the second coming of Mortlock. Leave him at 13 where his size has more space. He runs a beautiful outside line, fends ferociously and offloads beautifully. I also feel that 13 is the most tactically difficult position defensively and Kuridrani has proven more than effective in that respect.

    Also, great article.

    • campo

      I agree he has been great there but maybe look at how the ABs backline has seemed a bit less threatening without Nonu, they have lost a lot of directness.
      He would create a lot of space for Folau (who as Bob has pointed out previously is getting the ball with the whole backline sliding sideways but still manages to beat at least one tackle) as well as the quality wingers that will be coming into contention-O’Connor ,Speight ,maybe the Badge , Crawford (when he fulfils his undoubted potential).
      Maybe worth a shot , the second playmaker thing has not done us too many favours lately, once QC comes back throwing long passes with Tevita as decoy havoc could be wreaked.

      • Who?

        TK’s fine at 13. He doesn’t need to move infield. Link’s tactics – as enunciated in his post-match, pre-announcement interview – were to pull the ABs tight, then have his big runners – TK and Folau – take the ball out wide on the openside and run through. It mostly worked.
        Folau actually has space, he’s just got to stop running quite so much across field. I watched the game from end on. He ran more sideways than any Aussie back since Giteau, way more than Quade, even Kurtley.
        And if you want to complain about the backline running sideways, look at Foley… He was very, VERY lateral on the night. His MO was to grab the ball running away from the 9, hold it in front, shape to pass inside, then pass outside. Can’t think of a single inside ball he actually threw, or a time when he ran straight before passing.
        Having TK at 13 – straightening the attack – allows Folau to pick the side of TK he wants to run. Run inside? There’s space. Run outside? There’s more space than if we have a 13 who drifts out (like most Aussie backs) or who doesn’t pass (like AAC).
        And the Second Five thing? Ma’a still throws a good pass. TK doesn’t (look at the shocker to Fardy at 65 minutes – a good pass there, and we’re 5m from the line). But the key is he’s backed up by a 13 who runs the backline around him. As did BOD, and as does Davies. It allows you to run the big bopper (Ma’a, Fekitoa, Roberts) at 12 without losing the structure in the backline. Playing TK at 12 then requires a smarter, playmaking 13, and we don’t have one of them.

    • I’m loving TK at 13, but am intrigued to see what he would look like at 12, especially with the Earl outside of him

    • therawbucket

      Agreed. TK is our man for 13. AAC is probably a more “finesse” 13, but TK is the gain line monster we need and there is always more metres to be made in a 13 channel than a 12 channel, and lord knows getting on the front foot has been our biggest challenge for some time now…

  • Phil

    Totally agree on Tomane. He is not up to Test standard. He is strong and fast but slow on rugby intellect. We need more wing options with wider skills including kicking. I’d have Horne, Turner or Crawford. Folau made no impact in defence either. A try saving tackle, or any sort of tackle from him could have meant a win rather than a loss. He’s a risk in his current form at fullback in defence.

    • Pclifto


  • ChargerWA

    Love you thoughts on the coaching setup. I agree, more isn’t always less. Let’s rip in to it.

  • Boomer

    In a week when the vested interests of rugby are laid bare, you give us this shallow attempt to push your agenda even harder.

    You’d prefer to not talk about how a coach was boned, but would like to mention about how players should be allowed more time overseas? Let me guess… easier transfers between Narbonne and NSW (but only after it’s flogged off to your mates)?

    You’d also like to see a state-coach (hmmm, could it be … Mikey C?) handle the top job at the same time.

    If ever we needed a statesman-like performance, it was now, Instead, we have a version of the same, just magnified.

    You’re fiddling while Rome burns. Shameful

  • gel

    “The other question is what good reason should prevent coaches of a Super
    franchise coaching Australia? I can think of none at all”

    The potential issues are obvious.

  • Samantha

    The fact that you still include Beale in your backline, even with a ? Next to his name says it all for me. I stopped reading at that point.

    • brumby runner

      Yeah – I stopped giving the article any credence at that point.

    • Tahs_Man_Fan

      100% agree. Pretty disappointed to be honest. I would have though Bob Dwyer was a man of integrity, who would condemn sending texts like beale did. Beale is a blight on our game, and he and his attitude needs to go. Shame bob, shame. was an avid fan until now

    • The Jackal

      I think it’s alright to still include him in discussion until after his review, that’s the basis of due process isn’t it? Innocent until proven guilty

      • Beagle

        Tell that to Link

        • alby

          well dwyer knows the aru and that there is a possibility of beale getting off with a slap on the wrist

  • Robbo_76

    Very interesting article as always!

    I can think of so many reasons why a Super coach shouldn’t be the national coach (inability to interact with players, coaches in opposing jurisdictions, adequate planning for trips, training camps etc – particularly given the ARU has little money to allocate these tasks to others, as well as the inherent perception of bias that will result – real or not, the perception will be there)…there is a reason that it is extremely uncommon. Given there is a whole pre-season ahead, i can see no reason why a province can’t recruit a new coach should they lose them to the national set-up. As a Wallaby fan, if the coach also coached a Super team, i would already be more disappointed with how they would have been bullied into accepting it.

    As for the game, surely Foley deserves more scrutiny here? His errant defence contributed to a try and definitely resulted in the final try. And where was he in the final 20mins when we needed the 5/8 to take control of the game, get points on the board whilst the ABs had a yellow and then execute better in the final moments? Like the first Bledisloe, his lack of game management which he is heralded for, was poor and a big contributor to the loss and draw against the ABs that we didn’t had to have.

    Besides that, so many positives….sorry the post seems negative, but so many players were so good! Kuridrani at out-centre was brilliant again and was my standout…

    • brumby runner

      Certainly, Foley was very much responsible for the last try. And I do recall him missing tackles in the game otherwise. Maybe we need to take a more critical look at his game, especially now that Cooper is on the comeback. The way Quade managed the NRC game a couple of weeks ago is chalk and cheese to Foley’s contribution towards the end of this test match.

      • Matt James

        This is a Dwyer article. Quade is not welcome here.

      • Rob G

        NRC and bledisloe cup is chalk and cheese my friend. I can’t believe I’m even bothering to put this in writing. Rubbish comment.

        • Who?

          It’s not the first time Foley’s game management’s been missing this year, and has cost us games.

  • Wobbly

    If Beale ever wears Wallaby Gold again, it’ll be in front of an empty stadium. Push your barrow as much as you like Bob, but don’t expect to have the rugby community (Tah sycophants aside) follow you.

    • Drop kick

      You speak for the rugby community do you?
      IF Beale is found guilty of a code of conduct breach, the punishment should fit the crime.
      He doesn’t deserve summary execution as some are suggesting.

      • Tahs_Man_Fan

        Are you being serious!? I’m actually so surprised beale still has supporters!! If this tribunal doesn’t terminate his contract, then the entire ARU and rugby in Australia is a farce. This is rugbys chance to show Australian sport how we value women in the game, and if Beale isn’t stood down then we are no greater or more honourable a game than rugby league

        • ROb G

          Mate i guarantee is Beale runs out for the Tahs opener next season he will get one of the loudest cheers (assuming its played in NSW).

        • Tahs_Man_Fan

          I’m a rusted on Tahs fan, but I won’t be cheering. I pride myself in following a sport that has integrity as one of its core values. If kurtley is allowed to stay, never again can I argue with my unfortunate mates who follow league that my game is cleaner than theirs

        • Farthing

          The man dreserves punishment but that doesn’t mean he should lose all support and be condemned for life. Bob Dwyer suggests he might play rugby again and he is suddenly discredited? Give me a break..
          I hate to get all philosophical on a rugby website but if every young man was cast off every time he screwed up the world would be a mess.

        • Meatray

          how many chances do you give a bloke? at what point do you say enough? (honest question)

        • 23rd Red

          Get him drunk and ask him to board a plane in a seat he doesn’t like.

        • Whig

          Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

        • Tahs_Man_Fan

          (1) I’m not a rugby player, just a humble peasant who loves the game. As a supporter, I feel entitled to throw a few stones here and there, especially when Ive never sent nude pics of my bosses PA to a bunch of mates AND THAT PA asking who wants to bang her (2) forget about throwing stones, kurtley is throwing boulders and has for a long time (3) how many chances does the “troubled young/not so young anymore/man” get???

      • Christopher

        If found guilty of code conduct? Sorry but everyone has admitted he sent the text. Whether or not there is a clause in his contract that has been contradicted is irrelevant to the rugby community.

        He has shown he is not a team player.

  • PiratesRugby

    Just couldn’t bring yourself to praise Higginbotham could you? It’s actually really funny now.
    I’ll give you a heads up on substitutions. The players wear GPS now. Their fitness profile is monitored throughout camp, training and playing. There’s usually a member of staff sometimes known as a load manager who monitors that. That person can tell a coach when a player has played to his physiological limit. It’s just science. The body can’t do anymore. Power is gone. The coach then decides whether to leave that player on or replace him.
    Phipps can’t pass as well as most forwards but he puts in around the park like nobody else. His off the ball stats must be staggering. But once the tank is empty, he’s just a witches hat.
    Do you really think Beale will (or should) play for Australia again?

    • touko

      Phipps’ passing in that test was beautiful.

    • campo

      There is an intangible called ‘ticker’. When the body goes beyond its’ perceived limits.
      They were all playing like men possessed and he was one of the stand outs.
      And his passing had been superb. He would have finished the game at the same tempo given the chance.
      The over reliance on sports science in modern sport has been to its’ detriment.
      I spent 3 years of my life studying it.

    • Whig

      That would make sense if not for the fact that Phipps clearly wasn’t knackered at the 50 min mark. Why would he be? And foley clearly was dead on his feet towards the end of the game, but QC sat there gaining splinters in his bum.

  • freakout

    Your articles are always such a great read Bob, I think sometimes the keyboard warriors on here take for granted the fact we are able to get real coaching insight from an expert.

    I usually seem to sway towards most of your thinking but I would love to know why Higginbotham is never high on your list of praise? I rate him highly and thoroughly enjoy watching him play so I would be curious to know what he is doing wrong in your eyes.

    • He’s not a Tah.

      • Tahs_Man_Fan

        Hahahaha, good call

        • Rob G

          no, because he is a mud player. Lazy, plays like he’s 80kg and goes missing unless playing russia, USA or italy type teams.

      • chasmac


  • Richard

    I strongly disagree with the concept of allowing players to play overseas and still be eligible for the Wallabies. If allowed, for Australian rugby to remain viable, the Melbourne Rebels Super15 franchise would have to be shut down. There is no way Australian rugby has the player depth to cover the loss of these key players, and of equal importance, the dilution in quality should the leading players not be featuring would be enormous.

    • Farthing

      It would have an impact. Most South African teams are pretty rubbish in super rugby as a result of letting their players stray.

    • Observer

      I’d have to agree here.
      I think it would weaken the local teams too much.
      However, where it might work is for past or current wallabies who have earned X number of caps.
      ie. If you have earned 50 caps for the Wallabies, then we will still consider you if you are playing overseas and we don’t have a better player coming through the Super XV.
      Of course, if they can’t get out of their overseas contracts or have some clause in it, what can you do?

  • tropicalsauce

    Well written Bob, a true gentlemen of the game . maybe there is one job you haven’t done yet which may be of interest to you and that is the CEO’s role at the ARU , they could do with your rugby brains at the moment !! ! Just saying ..
    I agreed with your summary with exception of our 2nd Row , the three of them. Thought they were a little timid at times and as usual gave away too many crucial penalties for the same dumb things they do week in week out !!
    Wallabies were unlucky to loose , but I felt they lost their structure in the last 5min when they needed it most.

  • subfreq

    I would like to see players with 50 or more caps be eligible for Wallaby selection on winter tours and for the WC but also be allowed to play in foreign leagues.

    This would allow for domestic players to still develop and stay in Australia until players build respect and caps in the Gold jersey but also provide selectors with a chance to add quality every winter and develop towards the WC in 4 year cycles.

    Reward the guys who commit to the national side and provide an incentive for others to come through the ranks in a system that is transparent.

    Every one wins in this scenario.

    • c

      One of the best posts I have ever seen on here.
      These young guys are now forsaking career/university/travel to focus on Rugby(yes they travel but in a cocoon..) A good player can have 50 caps by age 25. Let them go but still select them, let them reap the financial rewards, a career ending injury is always around the corner. They will come back perhaps as more rounded individuals and we might see less of the unsavoury incidents that so enrage the moral majority on this site.

    • ben

      very good post…..sounds so obvious.

  • Gus

    The fact you bring up Beale wearing the green and gold again is frankly an insult to everything this site has tried to do over the last few weeks. I am surprised that the site let that pass edit. Beale has actively brought the game into disrepute and seriously damaged the ability for the cash strapped ARU to market to half of the Australian viewing public. The idea of that man getting the honor of representing the wallabies again is sickening.

    • Over the past few weeks Bob has steered away from making comment on the off field dramas – from either perspective – until process has run its course. As I see it that’s what he’s doing here.

      • Gus

        So you believe the process has run it’s course? It seems to me like we are still smack bang in the middle of all of this, I mean kurtley hasn’t even been handed a ruling. I can’t imagine a situation where this doesn’t get worse before it gets better.

        • No, I said UNTIL it has run its course, which is still hasn’t

        • Gus

          Well then I must plainly disagree with you. You really think Bob has refrained from making any comment on the off field drama in this piece? Because I would say naming Beale to your dream Wallabies lineup (even with a few ?s) the day after the coach resigns is a cynical way of making a very clear comment on the off field issues the wallabies are currently facing…

  • Thomas B

    So you bag the wallabies out until McKenzie quits and then as soon as there is talk of Cheika being coach it’s all about looking on the bright side, fits the trend of the majority of your articles!

    • campo

      I recall Bob picking Ewen in his Wallaby side many times and even won a world cup with him!
      I am sure he is not relishing his old players demise. He started by praising the coaches and is trying to be positive moving forward from a situation that cannot be undone.

    • Parker

      No. He based his comments on the fact this was the best performance by the Wallabies in a long time.

  • Grant NZ

    “I would certainly liked to look at the restart where the ball got knocked towards the tryline and fielded by another New Zealand player who had overrun the kick. But it was never examined, which astonished me.”

    TMO Protocols “Where match officials believe an infringement may have occurred leading to a try or in preventing a try providing that the potential infringement has occurred no more than two phases (rucks or mauls) after the potential infringement and before the ball has been grounded in in-goal”

    Leaving aside that the TMO protocols seem to have a great big mistake in them (ie, how can the potential infringement occur after the potential infringement?) this suggests that the potential knock on couldn’t be examined. Assuming the wording should be “providing that the potential TRY has occurred no more than two phases (rucks or mauls) after the potential infringement” then it couldn’t be, as there were two rucks between the potential infringement and the try.

    I’ve replayed it frame by frame and can’t tell if it came off Retallick or the Wallaby jumper.

    • Who?

      Didn’t stop the TMO going back six phases in SA the other weekend for Kepu’s grab on Pollard.
      I agree, it’s pretty well impossible to tell if it came off Retallick, the Wallaby, or even both of them.
      But the biggest reffing gaff in the match was allowing Aaron Smith to take a tap a good 7+m inside the mark to score his try. It was pretty well directly in front of me, Horwill and Foley immediately started pointing to the mark, no question it wasn’t taken on the mark… No review.

      • Grant NZ

        Yep, that was a big mistake from Joubert all right. I dunno if any ref is gonna say “Hey, I think I’ve completely farked that one up – can you just check for me?” though!

        I’m pretty sure I’ve seen them go back more than two faces other times also, but then there were times they went outside the protocol under the old one also (eg the forward pass one in 2011 NZ v SA).

        • Who?

          The unusual thing with this one is that the other places they’ve gone back or outside the protocols, they’ve gotten it right. As in, the Kepu grab, I still think it was inconsequential, but you’d be crazy to argue it wasn’t a technical penalty. And the forward pass in PE in 2011, it was definitely outside his protocol, but it was also a forward pass. This time, no checking. But I’m with you – with the angles shown on TV, very hard to call it one way or another. So it’s not technically a mistake, thought it’s something that Aussies would obviously have appreciated having reviewed.
          Joubert has gone back and admitted mistakes in the past. He admitted to Baxter that his career-ending penalties in 2009 at Eden Park were all wrong. And checking that the penalty was taken on the mark, that’s not hard. Could still have come back and given the ABs the opportunity to re-take the penalty at the correct mark after the review. Especially given the Wallaby defenders knew where the mark was, they were heading towards it, and they did point it out respectfully.

  • RugbyStu

    I would love to see Bob’s TK experiment against the Barbars or a lesser team, why not at least try?

  • Bill

    I guess it’s an unfortunate state of affairs when I see a headline comprising “let’s focus on the opportunities” and my first interpretation is “let’s give our consent”.

  • Klaus

    Carter wasn’t to blame for that try to Coles. Foley was. If he didn’t shoot out of the line and tackle no one they would never have been a gap. Funny how Bob didn’t mention that or the fact that he let the last try in as well, didn’t call for the ball and kick it well down field and didn’t make more than 20 metres each time from a penalty kick to touch. If it was Quade god forbid. He was good when running flat but he let the team down in my opinion.

  • idiot savant

    There is a revolution in Australian rugby! Bob Dwyer is blushing with positivity. Congratulations Bob!

    And really agree about the running. The sustained hard straight running from so many players was a real standout feature of the game.

  • Pclifto

    Agree with most of it Bob. But why talk about Cummins / Ioane when we have Speight?

    And why try to re-engineer Kuridrani into a 12 when Lilo just played a blinder there and Toomua is a great back-up? With others like Godwin waiting in the wings?

  • John Tynan

    You mean the rags to riches Waratahs who had to be bailed out by the ARU only to take it over a couple of years later? Clearly a leading organisation, can’t shut them down…

  • Train Without A Station

    Take over the ARU.

    More like rags… To more rags. The home GF is the only thing that kept them in the black for 2014.


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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