Dwyer's View: the right sort of mistakes

Dwyer’s View: the right sort of mistakes

Dwyer’s View: the right sort of mistakes

This was a lot better. OK, we didn’t win the game and that’s a little disappointing but Ireland are in a lot better form than France, as perhaps indicated by France’s lost to Argentina. Ireland are also a tough opponent at home.

We did score three tries to two and had Foley kicked those two sitters we would have won the game. Perhaps the foolishness of long passes might start to sink in to individual players, given the 14 point turn around caused by Phipps’ long pass when we had a four on one. I am strong in the belief that long passes are a cover for poor handling and support skills. Short passes with the addition of a loop play where necessary are a much smarter and more secure way of playing the game.

One of Nick Phipps’ tries – in short space down the right side – indicated just how close support play in depth added to straight running and short passing can bring rewards. I would outlaw all miss-passes from the team until we learn how to catch and pass, run straight and support accurately. People will say that miss passes bring tries sometimes (true). But until we can play the fundamentals I wouldn’t allow them.

There were definitely some positives. I thought that Luke Jones  – although with a flawed performance – indicated what he can add and the more experience he has at the level the better he will get. Will Skelton gave confidence that he will continue to develop. He’s still got a way to go but what I like is that if we get him to his potential he will be a valuable member of a top class team. Whereas with some players, even when we get them to their potential, they couldn’t be a member of a RWC winning team.

Cooper and Genia continue to work back to their best form. There’s a way to go for both, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see them start against England.

This time last year we were getting towards the end of an extremely successful tour of the northern hemisphere where we were unlucky not to come away with a 100% record. However, we did come down hill quickly and our play fell away.

This tour is achieving a number of things and one of the most important is that it’s exposing players to a different way of playing the game with much less structure. It takes a little while for them to develop the right mindset. The general feeling around the community is one of more confidence despite the score board and I think that reading of the teams’ current and developing position is accurate.

We continued to make mistakes, but they were entirely different. Mistakes were made by players pushing to fit into the style Cheika wants to play. When the reserves came on things were hurried and perhaps they hadn’t had the time on the practice pitch. I don’t mind mistakes made with positive intent – they indicate intent, commitment to that style and tell us that all we need to do now is rub off a few edges (I remember a loop play with Robinson that had it come off would have paid dividends) in order to get where we want to go.

I think there’s definitely encouragement. We’re trying some players who have been world class in the past and are coming back. We’re trying others with real potential, like Luke Jones, and that’s a positive. The commentators kept saying that there was more balance with Jones in the back row and that was true. Big guys who are good are really important in a team.

Kurtley Beale on the wing. One of the commentators even said how having him on the wing gave Beale the opportunity to ‘bob up’ where he sees the opportunity. He can be very effective there. Get Kuridrani and Ashley-Cooper in mid field and we have a team that can play all sort of ways.

I say this when Toomua had a great game – his commitment to defence is probably the best in the team. But he doesn’t have the attacking capability of the aforementioned two.

One of the important things for the team to develop is that we can continue to play this way, at this pace, for the whole game using the short side, or mid field, or open side, or pick and drive or kick and chase. We can let our players choose what’s needed.

I hate the phrase ‘play what’s in front of you’, but if people play with respect to where the ball is at any one time – either as a primary support player, secondary support player, or realigning player – then after a longer period of time it’s almost impossible not to fit into a position that the ball and players around it indicate. If we practice and play this way all the time, it becomes instinctive.

There are principles of play that you can practice and if they’re adhered to accurately the game shapes itself for you and your individual role becomes so obvious that you get dragged into it. This is what Cheika is trying to get and we’ve made great strides in it.

By the way, I thought both the penalties that brought Ireland back should have gone to the Wallabies. In one instance, the Ireland 13 was so far offside entering the maul that it didn’t register, and the ref was right there! He must have been two or three metres coming offside coming into our maul and we got penalised for going to ground, even though it wasn’t over the ball. With those two penalties, a 14 point turn around and those two sitters missed,  you’d have to think we would have been deserved winners, had we won.

  • Hendo

    Apart from the 2 choke tackles very early on I thought Jones was pretty good, in fact I thought he got dragged too early and it had a negative impact on the team after he left the field.

    • AndrewWA

      He should resist temptation to play scrum-half.
      A bloke his size should make more impact at the breakdown.

  • John Tynan

    The only comments I can’t bring myself to agree with are:

    “The general feeling around the community is one of more confidence despite the score board”

    the members of my community are a bit more wait and see and are still smarting from the allegedly apolitical view of the world.


    “Get Kuridrani and Ashley-Cooper in mid field and we have a team that can play all sort of ways.”

    as long the playing ways doesn’t include passing to the guy outside you?

    • MattyP

      Hehe that was my thought too. I would like at least one centre that can pass.

    • PiratesRugby

      “The general feeling around the community is one of more confidence despite the score board”

      I wonder what community that is?

      • Reality Cheik


    • Yep Kuridrani & AAC centre pairing is one sure way to never get your wingers involved.

      • Badger’s Beanbag

        Unless your wing is Kurtley who can “bob up where he’s needed” which seems to be running directly towards the sideline.

        • sam

          Hahaha classic

  • Wallaby Legion

    Thank you Bob for the article. More and more I wonder what your thoughts will be after these close games and losses.

    The team is showing development. While wins are always welcome being on track for significant improvement is what I think we are going to gain from this trip in the dull North.

    It’s also been nice to see that some of the Northern Hemisphere teams are playing more interesting Rugby these days. That said, the greatest offenders are coming up this week. There’s still time for the patience to be tested.

    • Will

      I think in past tours our final test has normally been a good one. I remember multiple times against Wales where we have had average results (won 1, lost 1 or 2) leading into the final test against Wales and we end up really dropping the hammer on them to end the tour well. Here’s hoping we are ready for England and ready to expose their lack of attack skills. To me they are similar to SA a couple of years ago – crash ball after crash ball.

  • Robbo_76

    I enjoyed this article a lot more than recent ones. Bob, I am curious what you think about AAC’s out-of-character poor performances recently? He hasn’t been a shadow of himself recently. Secondly, I also know you are a fan of Foley given his very effective (often) straight sniping running, but his general play kicking has not been strong nor has his organisation of the back line from my observations. Do you think this is a function of the long season, different game style from the new coach or that he needs Beale to do a lot of those aspects for him?

    • bob

      maybe he hasn’t fielded the offers from France he thought he would. Perhaps Toulon have no interest and he can’t join the Rooster.

  • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

    I do enjoy reading Bob Dwyer’s thoughts.

    It’s fair to say that, in this household anyway, we weren’t as upset by that loss to Ireland as I would have thought. I’m not too sure why that is. Maybe the Irish are seen as ‘good guys’, given that the Irish background of many Australians. Certainly their fans appear to be respectful and a jolly lot. And their players modest & unassuming. In other words their a hard lot to dislike.

    ‘Intent’ is a word that I notice keeps popping up when we stuff-up but were judged to have done it for the right reasons. Could it be argued that long floating cut out pass that lead to an Irish intercept try (effectively a 14 point turn around) had the right intent? I thought it was poor execution by us & the intercept or at least an attempt at one, was so obvious. Yet we fell for it.

    Bob’s consistent, if nothing else, when it comes to promoting AAC & TK as the centre pairing. I can see the obvious advantages but also the disadvantages. I can only assume he has a back-up plan to get he ball from 10 to 11 or 14, which doesn’t involve long cut out passes. ;-)

    Now off to take-on England & Twickers. Will we pull off a win or will it be another case of justifying why it was okay to lose?

    • Snot Rocket Science

      Yes BBofB..quite a conundrum.. how to get the ball from 10 to 14, when TK and AAC are our centres, without using cut-out passes. I’d get Stephen Hawking onto this one (worm holes or warped space or something should do it). In the interim perhaps we could utilise a good old fashioned lamson air tube system??

      • Bill

        Maybe we could have quantum entangled rugby balls that would be activated just by AAC thinking of passing! …ah, no, that won’t work either.

      • Just Club Rugby

        To be fair, AAC doesn’t pass unless the next player is in a better position than he is. That’s pretty basic rugby. Too often Aussie teams push the last pass. Kuridrani is not a great passer of the ball though.

  • joeyjohns

    Thankyou Bob for joining the chorus of Wallatah apologists.

    When one coach loses two in a row against the best two teams in the world, the knives are out!

    However, when another coach sees us drop to our lowest place in the rankings ever, and oversees our worst Spring tour ever…. DON’T WORRY, THEY ARE MAKING THE RIGHT SORT OF MISTAKES.

    Let’s call a spade a spade hey? You don’t like Toomua. We get it. He’s not from NSW and has never played for Randwick.
    However, herein lies your paradox. You want to play “running rugby” yet you want to play Kuridrani and AAC in the centres. Ball would never get past the 12 channel, let alone 13.

    • usacenter

      The difference being one coach saw a huge regression in the quality of his team since spring, and the other literally got the team days before his first test. But no, keep letting your insane nsw Qld bias continue to hold Australian rugby back.

      • Digs

        I accept that Cheika has had a big ask to deliver in such short time but a “huge regression” is a bit rich as well. We drew with the ABs one game and came very close in the third. We beat SA in one game and came close in the second. We had a shocker in Argentina in the middle of the Beale imbroglio and one shocker against ABs in NZ. It wasn’t the best Rugby Champtionship but it also wasn’t a huge regression.

    • Toadflax


      You and your 29 mates really need to get over it. Apart from your final comment (I agree it raises a question to be answered) the rest of this comment shows you either you have not read the article, really know know sweet FA about the game (which I am sure is not the case) or are so bent out of shape by your desire to promote all things Reds that you lose all sense of perspective and objectivity.

      Mate, Link resigned. No-one forced him to. One day we may find out why or at least hear some form of heavily varnished truth

      I am intrigued by all the huff and puff around the Reds being shafted. Last week you had 3 players in the starting line up and four of the bench. Tahs had 5 starters and 3 on the bench. Given Super 15 form/form leading into the tests and performance on the tour, do you seriously expect it to be otherwise? QC seems close to a start but really who else?

      • Brax

        I didn’t see him mention Queensland once in his post, and Link isn’t a Queenslander anyway, just coached them to their best over a few years. You’d have to be pretty blind/biased to see he was pushed into an uncompromisable position when he resigned.

        • Just Club Rugby

          Link played at Randwick and for NSW. He coached NSW. So, a true blue Queenslander.
          I love the line about how Link resigned and no-one forced him to. Perhaps Toadflax didn’t read any of the Sydney papers for about 2 months there, or watch tv or listen to the radio or read any rugby websites? And then Link lost the support of the dressing room. Yes, happy days. Why would he leave???
          Link’s mistake was in trying to appease NSW by appointing Hooper as captain (a huge mistake) and playing Beale at 10 (fail). NSW just saw this as weakness. When Beale shat the bed, then that was Link’s fault because it made NSW look stupid. Well, they got what they wanted. Link out. Cheika as coach. Beale back in the bossom of Australian rugby. The fact that it set the Wallabies back 12 to 24 months was irrelevant.
          And I’m not from Qld.

        • Toadflax

          Pick that all up from the Courier Mail did you?

        • bad ass

          Agreed and I’m from NSW.

      • More friends then you son

        how did you manage to like yourself 3 times?

        • Toadflax

          Yes, it would seem there are quite a few trolls floating around – as evidenced by the three guest votes you have given yourself. Fortunately the number of “likes” my posts attract is not determinative of either the veracity of my comments nor my sense of self-worth. Of course, I do recognise that the less fortunate (i.e. you) may feel the absence of approbation keenly and hence your resort to approval of your own posts as “Guest”. Public displays of such insecurity are to be pitied and despised in equal measure. Nevertheless you could take some comfort from the fact that I am flattered you have gone to the effort of registering a user name that reflects my original post and have then gone to the effort of approving your own efforts. Good on you. Things can only look up for you from here dear boy.

    • Upfromdown

      But MckEnzie quit and was not forced out because of losses by the team. Something had obviously gone wrong and he decided not to stay and fight it. So for fans to say “well he was rubbish anyway” is a bit unfair on him and likewise for fans of McKenzie to criticise Cheika, after having the job for 3 and a half weeks or so, for 2 close losses is is unfair on him as well.
      I have not always agreed with the decisions of the coach of the wallabies at the time (including Mckenzie’s stupid comments about the AB’s this year before Auckland) but I am behind them as a fan and want them to do well whereever the coaches are from and it would serve the team and rugby community better if we all acted that way.

  • Brad

    I do not want to see QC and Genia start for England. I feel without TK it will be a hospital pass and not help their coming along back to top form. Leave the incumbents in another week and give teh reds paring more game time off the bench. Without TK we will not be comparing apples and apples.

  • Brendan Hume

    I find this article bizarre. We didn’t fall away quickly after the 2013 Spring tour, we won three tests against the French and drew with the All Blacks 8 months later. We had a tough time of it after that.
    And the performance of the Wallabies – rated by Cheika as about a six… There are still many basic errors that BD would slam normally – high balls not being contested, defensive misreads, scrum problems… and because it would seem Bob is talking with Cheika these things are now overlooked because the trajectory is in the right direction.
    I’m probably a bit downhearted about where we are now. I think we’re missing a few key players (a world class lock, world class 6, in form world class winger), although I’m reasonably pragmatic that by RWC 2019 we can be in good shape and hopefully by 2016/2017 we might be able to challenge again for #1 or #2 in the world, but this article is so far outside the general Dwyer style, I think it’s ridiculous.

    • Just Club Rugby

      It all fell away when McKenzie picked Beale at 10 for the first two RC tests. We can only speculate why he would try this when everything was ticking along nicely. We’d lost Pocock, Moore, Genia and Cooper since the previous EOYT but we were making do with Phipps and Foley at 9 and 10. Then we played Beale. Why? What pressure did McKenzie feel to play Beale at 10? He turned out to be a damp squib. Hooper mismanaged Bled 1 and the rot set in. On the way to Argentina, Beale blew up. Instead of cutting him loose for the good of the team (and Australian rugby), a campaign was launched against McKenzie. There could only be one outcome if that was successful. And here we are. Cheika (a successful provincial coach and qualified candidate for the top job) has to come in, a few days before the EOYT with the RWC less than 12 months away. How can that possibly be good for our prospects? New patterns of play. New expectations for players. Turmoil which results in the kind of performances we’ve seen on this tour. The WBs of 2013 would cream this lot. And why? Because Beale blew up on the plane.
      Sometimes you might have to amputate a toe in order to save the whole leg. Beale is that rotten toe and should have been cut off ages ago. Instead, we’ll try to save him and lose the rest of the leg instead.

  • idiot savant

    Will the selectors please pick Kuridrani at inside centre for the next test? If only to get Bob to shut up about it!

    I still think Toomua has proved himself to be a class act now on two Spring tours in that position. He offers a variety that Kuridarani just cant match. It was all on show in that match – straight running, angled running, inside passes, kicking, and peerless defence. And he can only get better. I would like to see TK go to in centre off some set pieces but not play in that position all the time.

    I couldnt agree more with you Bob on those perfectly timed referee decisions late in the game. I thought I was watching Bill Harrigan deliberately manipulating a result. And the refusal to police offside was a deliberate choice to nullify the high tempo game. OK we were off side too but that favour was useless to us. The Irish were mediocre in attack and scored tries off two pieces of luck – an intercept and a perfect bounce. They wont be any threat in the RWC because Sexton’s boot is their only weapon.

  • mattyjinred

    Here is a wild thought TK at I/C and Toomua at O/C. More in the Nonu/Smith or SBW/Smith setting. I do agree AAC needs to be left on the wing as his ability to distribute is a challenge.

    • Phil

      Unfortunately TK is out injured so it will be a question of who plays outside Toomua.AAC,I guess.

    • Gloss

      I think many are overestimating the number of passes and the complexity of passes that Toomua throws at 12. Most often it is just a pop pass that AAC and Kuridrani can comfortably replicate.

      I agree Toomua had a cracking game in defense but offers little in attack in that position, I think he’s an excellent 10 and an average 12. We need hard running centres to get us moving forward which became really obvious when Kuridrani was replaced and we lost all momentum. Toomua is not that sort of player unfortunately. Personally I’d run with Genia, Speight, Cooper or Toomua, Kuridrani, AAC, Beale, Folau.

      Only picking Quade if he shows a willingness to carry the ball to the lie and not pass early, committing no-one, as he has done often since hurting his knee.

      • idiot savant

        TK might be able to pop a pass as you say, but that is only a fraction of the play of an inside centre. Can he read the game to know what is on and what isnt? Can he kick when the situation demands it? Is he light enough on his feet to cover an opponent’s step? Can he move to first receiver and take command if the 5/8 is caught in a ruck? Does he have the engine to keep backing up?

        Toomua can do all of these things. Phipps’ second try was the result of a correct read by Toomua. Could TK do that?

        I think back to the great Australian sides that won Bledisloes and World Cups and two inside centres come to mind – Lynagh and Horan. Both grew up playing 5/8, neither were very big, but they could do all of the things above and wingers scored trys with them in the team, Campese among them. I think back to the ‘hard running’ inside centres like Shaw, Grey, or McCabe and i don’t see wingers scoring as many tries and i dont see back line dominance. Not that I dont admire their guts and ability. In other words there is less evidence for the success of ‘hard running’ inside centres in Australian rugby than there is for second five eights.

        I think this whole TK for inside centre thing is an attempt to believe we can copy the ABs use of Umaga, Nonu, and SBW in the 12 channel. I dont think we play the kind ‘role rugby’ that makes that possible. Our victories have rarely ever come with forward dominance, more like forward parity, so the difference is in the backs and the winning difference has been backs who play with great inventiveness and flair. I dont see that happening with TK inside centre, but if we must try it then lets do it first match of next season and settle the matter. If we really want to try that kind of rugby, Id have Folau at inside centre. He is a much better and more natural offloader.

        • Gloss

          You make some good points but I feel what we are missing is a player of the same quality of Horan or Lynagh. Given the limitations of what we have available I believe TK is the man for the job. Again nothing against Toomua as a player I just feel he is a natural 10 and seems very hesitant in attack at 12. It would be nice if the Brumbies would test the theory for us but given their roster it seems unlikely.

  • brumby runner

    “Short passes with the addition of a loop play where necessary are a much smarter and more secure way of playing the game.” Saw a bit of this when Quade came on near the end.

    “This time last year we were getting towards the end of an extremely successful tour of the northern hemisphere where we were unlucky not to come away with a 100% record. However, we did come down hill quickly and our play fell away.” The initial cause of our deteriorating play in 2014 was the selection of Beale at 10 for the first two ABs tests. Unforgivable error by Link at the time.

    “I hate the phrase ‘play what’s in front of you’,” Like the phrase or not, that is not the game style we are seeing from Foley atm. Against the French, he was entirely predictable, simply passing the ball on to a support player. The variation came in this game only when Toomua came into first receiver which he did on numerous occasions. If the Cheika style is to encourage players to take responsibility for their own decision making during a game, then quite simply Cooper has the skills required to play that style moreso than Foley.

    If Skelton one day learns how to pack in a scrum and add his considerable weight to the push, and if he learns how to jump in a lineout, and if he can put more effort into breaking the line with ball in hand, then he will be our world beater, I agree. He’s not there yet by any measure.

    • Just Club Rugby

      “The initial cause of our deteriorating play in 2014 was the selection of Beale at 10 for the first two ABs tests. Unforgivable error by Link at the time.”

      Any idea why he would do that? I reckon he was pressured by NSW.

      • Tedward

        why? the incumbent 10 was also a Tah…………..

      • bad ass

        More likely by the ARU when just prior to contract negotiations, he typically threatened to go to league.

  • “This time last year we were getting towards the end of an extremely successful tour of the northern hemisphere where we were unlucky not to come away with a 100% record. However, we did come down hill quickly and our play fell away.”

    The number 1 difference between this spring tour and last is Genia and Cooper were our halves last year and this year it’s Phipps and Foley.

  • drewprint

    Playing Beale on the wing just gives him that much more room to crab across the entire field. But hey let’s do it, just gotta shift our best player (Kuridrani) into an unfamiliar position first.

  • Michael Brial

    The QLD/NSW dribble that gets trotted out here each week is not dissimilar to the general mood in Australian rugby, where provinces fail to put the country first and there is a horrid level of self-interest. All roads lead back to pushing the provincial barrow. There’s just under 300 days to the RWC, get on-board or fark off.

    • Spank

      On a side note did anyone else notice that Rebels Prop Paul Alo-Emile is off to the French Top 14 on a 3 year contract. Bob Dwyer has rated this guy the best Tight Head propr in the country and now we seem to have further proof. Also imagine how much value he could bring to the Wallabies internationally after even one season in France learning from forwards (and coaches) who can scrum and IF Australia followed the South African practice of ‘pick your best team’ from whereever they are. Potentially this is another big loss to Australian rugby especially if the selectors persist with guys like Ben Alexander.

      • Nick


  • RobC

    Thanks again for for the post.

    Luke Jones was indeed lukewarm in attack, not really well positioned to break the line. Having said that he was the guy who ran in the ball and committed the Ireland defence, that positioned Wallabies for the 3rd try

    But his form in defence was good. Defence was the reason WBs got the second try. Well even the first, considering it was a scramble intercept by Foley which setup Phipps for the runaway first try.

    It was also defence which kept Ireland from making metres in the 2nd half.

    So, I thought defence was the big improve by the WBs.

  • Steve

    With Kuridrani and AAC in the centre’s our general play kicking would be more of a liability than it is at the moment.
    Toomoua has been one of our best players every time he takes the field and yet we still have calls to bench him, it just doesn’t make sense.

  • Kickitotheshouse

    Well said Bob,

    I don’t get into the fine detail when I look at these games (maybe I am an average unsubtle ex player) but what I think I agree on with you is that the Wallabies were by far the more enterprising which is pleasing.

    Frankly, even though my second favourite team won, I don’t see them getting within a bulls roar of the WC final simply because it is just refined NH rugby. They JUST don’t get total rugby. I may be wrong, but my penny to anyone’s pound is that the winning team will score lots of tries. This means ABs are in box seat, but I never ever count Australia out!

  • Manu

    the team will be ready for the world cup when you ll have o´connor playing 12 alongside his mate quade at 10. I would like to see luke jones at 4, scott fardy at 6 and scott higginbotham at number 8. kurtley could play on the wing it would provide him more freedom and his magic eventually will come up.

    • bad ass

      Poey at 7 and replace Beale on the wing with Hooper.

  • Tim

    Toomua was in the middle of a number of moves, with some great passes behind the man to create breaks. His involvement in the backline surely has to be one of the reasons the Wallabies had more impact. And his performances are consistent.

    And what happens to Hooper when Poey comes back? There’s no doubt Hooper is a great player, but Poey is so much better over the ball.


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.

More in Ireland