Dwyer's View: Plusses to be had for Wallabies

Dwyer’s View: Wallabies Plusses

Dwyer’s View: Wallabies Plusses

There were a few plusses from Saturday night for the Wallabies.

First – we won.

Second plus –  we had the courage to take risks to get the victory.

Third –  our bench did plenty and ensured the win.

Fourth – certain players probably made it clear that they’re not likely to be fist choices, clarifying selections somewhat. I said a couple of weeks ago after the Super Semi-Final that Nick Phipps probably played Genia in to the Wallaby half back spot – but just as quickly Will played himself out. I also thought Cheiks gamble that he could get the best out of Higgers was worthwhile – but it was also proven incorrect.

So there were a lot of steps forward in developing the squad and run on team for the World Cup.

Some say were were lucky to win, but in fact we were the only team looking likely to score a try (until Kriel’s). We made 9 line breaks to 3 and could have scored more. It says to me we deserved to win.

Our scrum was crushed, but our replacement props turned that around and there’s some possibility one or both of them could start in Argentina. I know that the Wallabies have changed their scrum technique and the only players who would have experienced it were the Waratahs and that might take a little while to get a feel for.

I said a long time ago that I think Tevita Kuridrani should play 12. The way he plays outside centre is the way we’d want him to play inside. He carried 18 times for 118 metres without a line break – so they were all made carrying the tackle line backwards.

You can go a long way to judging a flyhalf’s performance by counting how many second touches he gets. For him to get second touches he needs to take the attacking line to the defence, attracting the 7, 10 and 12 to the first couple of ball carriers. This takes both the defenders and attackers past the 10 and gives him chances to get into spaces.

Cooper played so deep this couldn’t happen. Even his second line plays were so deep they made no impact on defences at all. If Quade is going to be the man he needs to play at least 5 metres flatter, like he did years ago.

Then I looked at the second touches Giteau could get as he took the ball to the defensive line allowing him to get around that next man and support. This is one of the main reasons I thought Giteau was so good in the European championship final – because he made so much space and got so many second touches.

I would very much like to see Giteau play fly-half, but I don’t think that will happen. If we did, you’d have him, Kuridrani and Ashley-Cooper in the middle. Then any of Mitchell, Horne, Beale, Tomane, Naiyaravoro to choose from before you got to Folau. Then we would see a repeat of the big difference Toomua made on Saturday when he came on and started attacking the defensive line, giving more room to Kuridrani and Folau.

If we can use our 10/12/13 to attract defence than Izzy will become a massive problem for defences in the World Cup. A very good judge in my box on the night (who’d coached a certain other team to a World Cup title) reckons that Folau is probably the best broken field runner in world rugby.

Hooper was fantastic, Pocock very good when he came on. The lineout was good and Simmons made a big contribution there.

In all it was very much a first game of the season performance for the Wallabies – but with a huge number of plusses to take out of it.

  • Fatflanker

    Hard to disagree with anything Bob says here I reckon. A shame in a way that the Boks subbed their front row the same time we did. I think Cooper once again shown up against the best opposition but will be worth a lot of points against the lower tier sides in the RWC POD – perhaps intent is to play him against England and Uruguay to rack up the point differentials and hide him from the big boys, Wales and Fiji :-)

    • Marcus Pontmercy

      Cortney lawes will murder him

      • Bobas

        Ironic, murdered and on the wrong side of the Lawes.

    • Ulrich

      I’m not a Cooper fan at all; but we really slowed the ball down for the first 50-60 minutes and the defense was fairly solid so he had slow ball to work with which may be why he chose to stand deep in order to give him time and space to make decisions.

      When Pocock and your front row came on and we changed ours things changed and as a result our defense looked increasingly more penetrable by the minute.

  • RobC

    Thank you Bob. I think there are around 3 Kiwis and a couple of Boks who rival Izzy in broken play.

    It was a good win.

    Gits is a 12. He himself believes that is the only spot for him.

    Big Willy’s scrum is my biggest concern. He’s familiar with Mario Led expectations, but didnt deliver on defending the 2nd shove.

    The worry here is Argentina believes the scrum is their 1st weapon and will go for TH shoves as much as possible. But their scrum looked a little weak last Friday.

    This weekend may be a different story, playing home

  • Qualify


    John Mitchell’s thoughts. Worth a read. Coincides with a lot that Bob says. Worth forwarding to Cheika I reckon.

    That being said, as a Saffa I really appreciate the Wallabies sticking to their guns and playing beautiful positive running rugby. I truly believe that you Australians are the only team capable of beating the All Blacks come WC time if, and only if, you’re forwards are able to gain parity at the scrum and rucks (Only if the Pooper is played imo).

    Seeing as Cheika is addressing all previous concerns I had with your team I’m going to call it… Oz vs Eng final. 2003 repeat with the venues switched. Oz for the win.


    • Hitcho

      That’s a good read too.

    • Tahs_Man_Fan

      Cheers mate!!

      I’ve always thought the Saffas are the total opposite of the Aussies. We have great backs and forwards who don’t know how to click. You have great forwards and back that don’t know how to click. Our countries talents combined = the all blacks. Either of us can take them down, we just need to get the whole 15 working as a pack. If the Bok backs can get more creative and retain possession by running more often, like you did in the newlands 2014 test, you will beat the nuns as well

    • Big_Shiny_Au_Nuggets

      That would make it a 1991 repeat then…same teams AND same venue. (I’m pretty sure Bob remembers ’91…that’s when he met Lizzie).

      And thanks for your positive vibes…unfortunately I’ve had many more bad than good experiences with Bokke fans on match day over the years – including on Saturday with a Saffa mate being an obnoxious, mouthy git in my own lounge room. The thing is though that every nation has it’s fair share of ignorant dickheads hell-bent on racial supremacy but it’s good to see the trend bucked every now and then by good souls like you honouring the beauty of sport.

      Good luck to you too mate.

      • Ulrich

        I’d say England and the Boks could spring a surprise as well against the All Blacks, but not consistently. They still reign supreme.

        As for the fans, we have some of the most vicious trolls out there in Saffaland. If you have not done so check out sport24.co.za/Rugby and read any article with a few comments (Mind you read ANY news article on a South African website with enough comments and you’ll see how trollish most are).

        There are very few with good opinion – most of us hang out here where opinion is debated and doesn’t flare into racial / provincial / bigotry / illiteracy and so on.

    • Hambone

      and that would be the sweetest victory known to mankind (australian mankind anyway).. add a little folau line break in extra time to go over under the posts to that scenario in the final and i could finally put some demons to rest.. hahaha

    • Brendo


  • jamie

    So you say ‘so we can see what Toomua did’ and then not select him in your backline at all.

    Also worth noting this is the first time you’ve ever said ‘higginbotham’ in a post.

    • Bobas

      He said “Higgers”… Your comment wasn’t automatically deleted because you failed to capitalise.

    • sugarwookie

      I thought that was pretty weird too…

      I still want to see Toomua get a proper stint at flyhalf, with Giteau or Leali’ifano at 12. He just showed how good he is at 10 on the weekend!

  • pem890

    g’day Bob
    good article – only thing I would say is the turnovers we suffered seemed to indicate a lack of support arriving in time to the tackled player

    • Dally M

      Very much so and is pretty inexcusable. It was like we were surprised player X broke the line and made ground beyond the advantage line at times.
      You almost never see that from the Darkness, there are always options in support or the support arrives in time to ensure ball security.

  • Nipper

    If AAC plays 13, you can safely say that no outside backs will ever see the ball.

    • Bobas

      They’ll see it, they’ll see it stop with him. And if the rarity occurs and they do get it passed to them it will be a suboptimal delivery, rest assured.

      • Nipper

        Good one, Bobas. That’s why I prefer him at wing – he is rarely required to pass to anyone. I’m not about bashing the guy – he’s a solid player who brings a lot to the team. But freeing up the outside backs is not one of those things.

    • And yet almost half the Tahs tries this year were scored by three players: Horne, Naiyaravoro and Folau.

  • How deep does our alternate 10s play? Can’t say I can recall a lot different with others.

    • Bernardo

      I believe Foley plays a lot flatter and likes running straight and taking the ball to the line.

      • jamie

        Not sure how flat Bernardo Foley would play if he had the back foot ball that Coops had on Saturday, Bernard.

        • Bernardo Faria

          Nice point. Wait until you see my last name.

      • tah fan

        quade did a few times and then got demolished. serves him right for thinking he could smash through the boks bakkies jnr and the like. Toumooa came on when things were a little easier, half the pack he was up against were worn out. You’d have to retry the starting backline against another team before you can make definite conclusions about taking the ball to the line.

      • You’re shitting me right? Sarcasm?

  • Pedro

    It’s amazing to think a world cup winning coach would realise that Folau is the world’s best broken field runner, it’s only been apparent to the rest of the world since ever.

    Great read as always Bob.

  • Simon

    It’s a bit hard to tell how much Slipper and Kepu really struggled vis-a-vis Sio and Holmes, because not only did the starters face the du Plessis brothers plus the Beast (a very different proposition from what the subs faced), but they also had Skelton behind them, whereas the subs mostly had Simmons and Horwill, who whatever you may say about their open game, are definitely an excellent scrum pair.

    I can’t say for sure, but I do think Sio and Holmes probably would have had much the same trouble as Slipper and Kepu did if they’d been starters. Still, it would be a good thing to check, particularly against the Pumas.

    I still want to see a pack of Slipper, Holmes, Simmons and Horwill at some stage – the scrum was the one part of the Reds’ game this season that was unquestionably the best in the competition. I’d love to see how that transfers to test level…

    • Ulrich

      Wouldn’t say the best in the competition. Perhaps the best in Australia. I believe the Hurricanes, Stormers and Lions scrums were pretty decent as well.

      • Simon

        Slipper and Holmes dominated the Lions and Canes scrums. They even got a penalty try against the Lions. I was at that game, it was amazing to watch – the Reds drove their tight five through the middle and split the Lions’ pack apart. The entire tight five ended up still locked together over the tryline. You can see it here at the 2:45 mark:


        They didn’t play the Stormers this year but I’ve no doubt the result would have been the same.

        Things did even up a lot when the reserve props came on, particularly in the Canes game. If you’re talking about overall, 80 minute scrums then I’d probably agree, other sides probably had more consistently good scrums through having better reserve props. But I was talking about a tight five of Slipper, Hanson/Faingaa, Holmes, Horwill and Simmons.

        • RobC

          Agree Simon.

          Not only the Canes, but massacared the scrums of Chiefs and Crusaders. LO also. Too bad they havent got their act together in every other part of the game haha

          The Lions penalty was 8 on 7. In any case, Lions this year is soft, compared to last year.

          Im not so sure about Reds Stormers. Stormers massacred Brumbies scrum. And a few others. But their reserve LHP (Vermaak) is a big drop down from Kitshoff.

          Their binds are as good as Reds. It would be like pushing against a giant granite slab.

          I was fretting these guys didnt face each other. Would have been a cracker. Well at least the starting 8 v 8 anyway. I think Daley or Pett Paraka would have the wood on Vermaak.

          Whilst the Stormers were so strong they are the only team who can hook the ball on tighthead, the Reds have the distinction of being the only team who can split an opponents scrum clean in half. Start 3m45sec below


        • Simon

          Yeah that was a great scrum too! Slipper/Holmes again. So they split the opposition scrum in half on more than one occasion.

          I’m pretty sure it wasn’t 8 on 7, that Reds penalty try. Lions had a man down but it was Combrinck the winger. You can see in the video above that the Lions packed down with two flankers and a number 8.

          Towards the end of the season I noticed they had someone at the back, probably Schatz the 8, who was calling time “ONE, TWO… ONE, TWO…” and they’d all shunt together. From memory they blitzed the Chiefs scrum using that tactic. It didn’t split the scrum but it just drove the opposition back on their heels.

        • RobC

          ah thanks Simon. Didnt check if the winger was there or not.

          I think that particular Cheetahs scrum was the only perfect split. Where the left and right pods were split apart. And the they walk through the middle and rolled the opposing scummagers backwards.

          In other cases, they have driven through a whole lot of opposing scrums, but the opposing FR and pods are generally intact or pushed aside, or ‘dismantled imperfectly’. This split I believe is as rare as a tighthead pushover try.

          Too bad the Reds suck at everything else other than lineout haha

        • Simon

          Yes, it’s been a difficult season to watch. I believe they had both the best scrum and lineout in the comp, plus one of the best 7s in Liam Gill. Thomson no slouch either, and Chibba one of the better running hookers. Add to that two Wallabies locks (come this weekend possibly starting locks, even after such a poor season), and a backline comprising Genia, Cooper, JOC and Kerevi, it’s really hard to believe they could suck so badly. But suck they did.

        • RobC

          Apparently, its not the coach. Heard someone say here RG is back for SR16?

          Would’ve been happy even if we reached 8th, with all that talent. And set piece ascendancy.

          I believe LO yes once Simmons returned.

          Interesting the WB game plan had quite a few similarities as Reds. Except Reds has one extra playmaker

  • Matt

    What are your thoughts on the flankers roaming out wide and not supporting the tackled player at the breakdown as opposed to actually fulfilling their proper roles and securing the ball? Or Hoopers inability to get over the ball and secure a turnover? Pocock was on for a few minutes and pilfered a ball, a better starter IMO, especially if your 6 & 8 are going to swan around on the wings. We got smashed in the rucks and this has to change otherwise the ABs will destroy us.

    • Ulrich

      I think your locks just need to work a bit harder and things will be alright. If you had Eben and Lood on Saturday your flankers could have run on the wing quite a bit.

    • Qualify

      Play Hooper and Pocock! Best forwards you have. No other player in your team tackles like Hooper… ask Burger, De Allende and Etsebeth. I’d drop Fardy (or move him to lock) and keep Higgers at 8 because of his lineout work. Oh and Arnold needs a shot! 208cm with natural aggresion… forget about it.

    • Kiwi John

      I think they must be playing to a plan from Cheika to consistently do that. Not sure I agree but you don’t know if it’s the others not stepping up which the plan also asks for. Personally I rate Pocock much higher than Hooper but a coach has people for his game plan. I agree with starting Pocock and bringing Hooper on later when people are tired, but if he replaces Pocock then you change the game plan so might not be so easy. Starting both is a good plan. Hooper’s role seems very different from the classic 7 role, time will tell if it’s successful.

  • Who?

    Two points… First off, if the Tahs were the only ones who’d seen the new scrummaging techniques, why were they part of the scrums that struggled..? The scrum struggled with Skelton, Slipper and Kepu. Slipper’s not a Tah (though there’s speculate he was playing injured), and the guys who had the most successful scrums were Reds or Brumbies (Sio/Moore/Holmes/Horwill/Simmons). So… Why did it work for them?
    Secondly, the last time Giteau played 10, he had a similarly non-passing 12 outside him, in Pat McCabe. We played Samoa. How’d that work out for us..? I’ve no issue with running a crashball 12, but it shouldn’t be Kuridrani (the game’s professional, you don’t make changes at Test level, and Bernie’s the attack coach – he’d have played Kuridrani at 12 for the Brums if that’s what he wanted for the Wallabies), and you’ve got to pick a 10 who can work with a crashball 12. Of the Aussie 10’s currently running round, that precludes Foley (needs Beale), and Toomua (usually has Leali’ifano at 12). It allows for playing Debreczeni, Leali’ifano (because if he’s playing 10, it’s usually because Toomua’s injured, which may have meant McCabe, or other crashballers. Other than Coleman), and Cooper (Ant Fainga’a in the day, now Kerevi, who is lining up as our future 12, once he fixes his defence).

    • RobC

      Slips at 65′ was the last prop standing. Everyone else was replaced 10′ to 15′ earlier. He did the job after the Reds locks partnered at 52′, but he was already buggered by 58′

      Squeak was the only starting FR to stay on. Thank goodness, as he led the team v well.

      I hope Big Willy gains his scrummaging form in time. Cos the Pumas is a different story. Having said that, they were a comparatively soft last week

      • On re-watch it was the loose-head side that suffered the most, i.e. Slips and Simmons. I couldn’t help but think Slipper was injured, just didn’t have any of his usual impact across the field.

        • RobC

          Hi Matt.

          Ive watched each scrum more times than I would like to admit :p

          The issue is clearly with Big Willy. He turtle backs during all SB 2nd shoves and backpeddles the entire scrum.

          The SB pushes through Slips when Hoops is behind him. Hoops gives up too easily. Shame, because Ive seen Hoops in some solid engagements in early parts of the SR15 season. Fell off by the round 15.

          When Simmons replaces Big Will at THL and Kev is parked behind Slips and Squeak, the scrum does not move. And the collapses happen instead of being pushed back. This means the THL and his pod, are doing their job

          You can see the whole WB second row, including flankers, lined up perfectly and powerfully. You could draw a straight line across the bottom of their shirts, leg angles were perfect. You could lay Cleopatra on their backs. That row wasnt going back an inch.

          Back to Slips. Malherbe pushed right through Slips when Jannie was on blood at 14′, as Hoops peeled off. Major part is that the WB just wanted a quick hook, for clearance.

          Slips got him back at 59′. At 63′ Owen short-armed him for early engagement. Its better call than a 50/50 penalty. At this point, a fresh prop.

          In any case, I agree, Slips was playing with a niggle. He had medics around him by the 15′ mark I mentioned elsewhere, he needs a break.

          I think it was unwise for Reds to name him Captain.

  • Andy

    Aside from the backrow and obvious forces changes due to injury, I think Cheika should stick with the majority of the selections. They just need more time together. The fact the bench produced is a great sign. Haven’t seen that in ages. Horwill just may have found his perfect position for us – impact player off the bench.

    • jamie

      Not if it means Skelton is starting.

    • Patrick

      I’d be very tempted to start most of the bench and call up Luke Jones ASAP.

  • Klaus

    Can someone please tell me why we don’t try league style kicks for Folau to score. We have the best aerial jumper in both codes however we never use him? It make no sense to me..

    • RobC

      Capital idea. Its a little better than getting isolated and handing the ball back to BdP or Flouw

    • Norm de plume

      Yeah I agree. Just google this highlight reel from his debut league season and count the tries he scored from the air

      Israel Folau Highlights 2007 – YouTube

    • Graeme

      As soon as we have a penalty advantage within the 22 it should just be the standard go to play. No risk and high payoff.

      • RobC

        Right again Graeme!

        That’s exactly what Pollard did to Izzy. Big Willy conceded a soft penalty disruption of a ruck clearance – not picking on him. Serious!

        Immediately a Pop kick by Pollard behind Izzy who has to jump backwards. Habana going forward had a tap back. Piiennar and Eben , try

        • Graeme

          Only one thing. When you say “right again Graeme” I’m a bit afeared you might think I’m the same Graeme as the really smart DeadBallArea Graeme. Although I do live in France also I’m the not so smart Graeme when it comes to rugby.

      • Parker

        Yeah, bring back Johnny Peard to coach the kickers.

  • Punter

    Nice article from Big Bob. The man love for Higgers is palatable. But a big problem is there are no goal kickers in Bob’s backline. Test rugby demands an 80%+ kicker.

  • Allrugby87

    Great summary. I think it could be far too risky playing Kurindranu at 12 at this stage. Im not sure of his playing history there. It is such a puzzle getting that 10-12-13 combination right. There are so many options. They mud compliment each other. The only other play competent at 13 in the current squad (in a defensive sense) is AAC. Not a bad situation for Check with all these options.

  • Brendo

    Lucky win for the boys. I’m very worried about the depth, a few injuries and look almost second rate. South Africa in my opinion are nothing compared to what they were and we only just won at home against them. Yes it was the first game but let’s look at some facts. Look at the quality of players here at the moment. Go back to the super 15. New Zealand had atleast 3 teams that could of beaten Australia’s best side and 4 teams better than our top 2. South Africa had no team close to top 4. So what can we make of this. Well cheika was coach of the tahs. Half his starting wallaby team will be tahs. I’ll say no more

  • Brendo

    All black, Ireland final. All blacks back to back I feel this year. They certainly deserve it, to be number 1 for over 90 percent of the professional error it would be fitting that’s for sure. Not to mention having mccaw and carter retiring. They possess a few of the greatest to ever play the game. There experience and control is un matched and there depth and talent is frightening

  • RobC

    Yep. And… MalaFekitoa, Nehe-Milner Skudder, the Bus, Waesake Naholo, Ma’a Nonu.

    These guys run less metres than Izzy because they spread the work between their team mates.

    SA: Jessie Kriel, Willie Le Roux

    In contact, no one beats Damian De Allende. He’s their KTrain. He didnt get a chance to express last weekend, esp with Habana WLR JPP Kriel or Reinach in support. No possession.

  • Seb V

    Hooper did a good job of covering De Allende most of the time too.

  • RobC

    Hoops did an excellent job on everybody imo. But that didnt stop DdA from doing damage. He had less than half the possession as KTrain, but more ( tackle + line ) breaks

    Kriel was in more space. He also had half KTrain’s carriers and delivered more metres, tackle and line breaks. less than half the carries as Izzy, but 80% of the metres, and tackle + line breaks.

    WLR ran the same metres as Izzy and set up a try.

    These guys are as dangerous as our backs. I think the days of WB has better backs than SA are over.

  • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

    Imagine – Higgers instead of booting the ball away and over the dead ball line, links-up, draws and passes, try scored, Cheiks a Master Coach.

    Would we be even having this conversation?

  • Bobas

    A chip kick is only the right option if you have blinding speed. Mogg, Coleman, Davies, Campo, Tune, Roff, Edmunds, Matfield, Foley.

  • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

    Hi Eye, Sadly I’ve only just deleted the recording of the match. Bugger.
    What I wrote was actually intended to be in support of Hig’bum, who I reckon could well prove to be a real point of difference for the Wallabies.
    I’ve marveled at Higgers ball skills on a few occasions. Ex-Soccer maybe?
    Equally I could have said ‘imagine Higgs kick ahead bounced perfectly into his arms, try scored, genious.’
    Personally I’m not into knocking players making split second decisions. Some work, some don’t. That’s Rugby.

  • Bobas

    I watched it, but I don’t remember that chapter.

  • Graeme

    It was a set play. Both Cooper and Gietau didn’t have to do anything more than follow instructions, which they BOTH did well. What made the try was Kuridrani’s dummy run. Along with good finishing skills from AAC.

  • Big_Shiny_Au_Nuggets


    I miss Latham.

    He was alright that fella. Fucking carved it up.


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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