Dwyer's View: Wallabies progress is clear
All Blacks

Dwyer’s View: Wallabies progress is clear

Photos by Keith McInnes
Dwyer’s View: Wallabies progress is clear

It was a great night for Australian rugby in that we haven’t had that sort of a victory over New Zealand for some time. It was an even greater night in as Matt Giteau said – we won the game and yet there are so many areas we can improve on. We know the Wallabies are going to get better.

One of the things that will help us in future games was that the ref was unbelievabley tolerant of some clear and consistent illegal New Zealand tactics. There were three yellow cards but the most consistent deliberate infringement was a player in black lying on the ground and interfering with the wallaby nine’s ball, thereby causing inaccurate passes. At least two were clear penalties – in one occasion Kaino actually raised his hand from the ground to do it. Assuming the ref re-looks at the game I think he’ll see what I mean.

The other area that will be treated more fairly in future will be the dominance we had over the NZ scrum yet got little credit for. Wheeling the scrum to relieve the pressure usually results in a penalty and they did it plenty of times. We finished those scrums with the loose-head prop at a huge angle and the flankers detaching.

I think there’s a lot to be confident about from this Wallaby performance.

The next thing which is becoming a consistent factor in this teams performance is how well they play from the bench. Even if players move from starting to bench they perform well across all positions. One of the comments after the game was that whereas only a few months ago we were searching for someone to  put in positions, now we’re trying to figure out who to leave out.

Had you have said to me couple of months ago that a Wallaby lock pairing in a victory over the All Blacks would have been Mumm and Horwill I would have recommended you see a psychiatrist. Horwill is rejuvenated – just a couple of months ago he’d seemed to have lost everything but whatever the coaching staff has done is working.

Dean Mumm in the UK was clearly an improving player. He’s matured and is bigger which is good – he’s always had outstanding pace.

Giteau’s additional responsibility and relaxed lifestyle has done wonders for a guy who’s not big, but tough and with a great game understanding.

matt giteau and trc cup wallabies

We’ve got a dreadful pool in the RWC, although we’ve got games against the USA, Fiji and Uruguay plus a lot of work off the pitch to get us right to tackle Wales and England. We’ll know more in a week’s time, but no matter the result in Auckland the most important thing will be our performance and whether we improve.

We ought to start to talk about the myth of the Aussie scrum’s weakness. If it were true, it’s a very strange thing that Euro teams continue to sign Aussie props! Not only do we have  avery good front row now, we’ve got some great ones coming through. See Tolu Latu, showing he’s also a very good scrummager in the loose head position for Sydney Uni of late.

Most importantly we’ve now got a very good scrum coach who can get results. Ledesma is giving great value, well done to Cheika. Interestingly the Argie coaches understand Cheika’s coaching ethic well  – work hard and tough to play hard and tough. It seems Moore is getting to grips what the Ledesma wanted out of the scrum. We can now give Slipper some time to get him 100% right – they may not even play him against the USA.

A great step forward by Sio. He’s been very good for the Brumbies and now he’s shown it at test level. Having said that I’ve thought for some months that the NZ scrum is struggling. They’re good on the tight-head side, but are struggling at loose. They’ve got good hookers but can’t connect the three.

The one problem was our lineout. When we get Simmons back that should improve – by reputation he’s a lineout guru in calling and personal contribution. Again though – who to leave out?

Nic White also took a giant step forward. He’s always had plenty of ability  – a very good kicking game which he can then use too much. The second part of his game is that he tends to worry too much about getting under the oppo’s skin, rather than his own game and can get rattled. But last night in his comments after the match he seemed to be very relaxed and focused, making it clear that everyone understood what was required of them.

I understand there’s a lot  of comment about who should be fly half. Toomua has the jump on Foley, but Giteau has the jump on them both. My suggestion of Giteau at ten with Kurudrani at 12 and Ashley-Cooper at 13 would restrict kicking options, but the wingers can help in this regard. I’d be looking at this solution because I see our backline being so much more physically dominant with this combination.

Having a ball distributor in midfield is a myth – anyone should be able to throw a ball to a second line play. No-one would call the NZ wingers starved outside of Nonu and Smith (who rarely passes). Sonny-Bill isn’t a distributor, he’s an offloader.

What’s 100% clear that the Wallabies – squad, staff and administration have a great unit going. Cheika, Grey, Larkham, Ledesma – all demanding, competitors and know the game well. We’re in a good place heading into a better one with a degree of certainty.

Good enough to take out the ultimate prize? We don’t need to talk about that – just how we get better and who we put there to make it happen. I’m very pleased for them and with them. It made for a great Saturday night and a very contented Sunday.

  • Patrick

    Last sentence nailed it!

  • jollyswagman

    Excellent article…..thanks Bob. I would love to see your proposed backline given a run next week. I am not sure what the perceived risks might be but I dare say it could very well be worth it.

  • Hugh Cavill

    Still can’t sign up to Kuridrani at 12. Cheika’s game relies on two playmakers, and neither TK nor AAC are equipped to fulfill this role. Look what happened when the Tahs lost Beale for a few games, they completely lost their shape and structure in attack. A second playmaker gives the halfback options on either side of the ruck and plays a valuable role in taking pressure off the 10.

    • idiot savant

      Completely agree Hugh. I have never seen a crash ball 12 work for Australia. We may even have lost a RWC using it though thats harsh. Ive seen it work at 13, but the greatest 12s ive seen are all playmakers. Lynagh and Horan the standouts. 15 metres out is a different story, and I swear I saw Kuridrani play in the 12 channel close to the line a number of times. Cheika has got the use of this tactic right.

      • CraigB

        Nathan grey?

        • idiot savant

          yeah he was solid and unlike McCabe looked to pass but couldnt create as many opportunities as Lynagh and Horan could. A 12 that can run, pass, and kick has got to offer more surely.

        • Avid

          You just described JOC to a tee.
          Gits and JOC is a great tried and proven combo.

    • The Rant

      For 10 minutes we had this backline:
      9- Giteau
      10- Toomua
      11- Mitchell
      12- Kurindrani
      13- AAC
      14- /
      15 – Folau

      went alright. Especially in defence.

      • Ben

        Wasn’t it Beale at 12 with K at 13 and AAC at 14? I know on D Beale moves to the wing but that’s nothing new… Still two playmakers in any case

        • Who?

          Not when Phipps was in the bin…

        • Ben

          yep, of course, I had the last 10 mins in mind and didn’t notice Giteau instead of White….

    • Who?

      Gits’ lines when he ran at 9 made me realize why people think he’d be a great 9. He ran laterally following the play the same way he runs at 10. It made me wonder if he’s direct enough as Cheika’s second ball player..?
      I think Cheik-ball can get away with a single playmaker, but you’d want someone a little bit lateral, and some one who can spread the ball. Not Foley. Probably not even Toomua – he’s arguably too direct. He’d be fantastic at 12, or good at 10 with a playmaking 12 alongside him (but I think that would need to be Beale – who I don’t want at 12 due to form/defence – because he’s more direct than Gits and Cooper). But Gits or Cooper could – could, when in form, could – possibly work in Cheikball without a second playmaker at 12.
      But I agree we shouldn’t weaken a strength (distribution, creativity) to plug a weakness (direct running and size), and certainly not without trying all the options available first.

      • Bizzare

        Great result, well worked win. It pains me to write, but I think the Welsh are Aus’s bunnies and it will be tough for them to get out of the pool.
        Gits & Copper doesn’t work because both drift, just like Foley & Toomua don’t work because that are both direct. Cheika is looking for diversity not like for like and at 12 Gits job is to run the big backs or wide forwards around for 50-60 then Toomua comes on fresh and direct. If Toomua starts then the big backs or forwards don’t get run about, or if they do, given Gits is 50-60min who does this against the tired legs? Beale can continue Gits run around, but he is not as direct and hard as Toomua. I expect variation next week, but won’t be surprised if Phipps and Foley start if Gits is first name on the team sheet at 12. Phipps Foley Gits to start, then White Toomua Beale, although don’t be surprised if Phipps gets hooked early for a similar performance to Saturday, which would lead to Foley going early, but worth Beale on at 60.

        • Who?

          I should clarify, I meant Gits or Cooper, but was saying that both of them can work as the (sole) drifting runner in a Cheika team. And that the natural drift they both have (Gits more than Cooper) requires a straight running 12. Add in the ability to throw a long ball, and it makes me think that they’d work better at 10 with a crashballing 12 under Cheika than the more direct Toomua or Foley would. Which isn’t to say Toomua couldn’t work, just that he’d work better with a ball playing 12.
          All that said, I don’t expect to see a straight crashballing 12 under Cheika. No TK to 12 – it’s the wrong option. Kerevi would be closer, given all reports are that he’s a better passer, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready of that Cheika will use him this year.
          I really hope we don’t overlook how badly Foley and Phipps played on the weekend… I wasn’t impressed with Gits’ attack, either. With Foley not directing traffic, not stepping into first receiver consistently enough, Gits needed to jump in. But he didn’t. That was a truly dominant performance by our pack, and if you can’t spark something with that much front foot ball, then you’re not up to it as a 10. And Foley was involved in none of the tries – Kepu’s was the forwards, the rest were after he was gone.

    • Simon

      I made the comment before the game that I hoped to see a Giteau-Toomua 10-12 combo and it got a lot of upvotes so it seems plenty here agree. I would have thought pretty much everything we saw on Saturday night backed that up, particularly when it finally happened (albeit wearing different numbers) when Toomua replaced Foley. Giteau had a great game but is still too deep and running too laterally in attack, so is better suited to 10. Toomua brings that direct running to the game but still has some flexibility as a playmaker, so he’s the perfect 12. TK’s pure runner so he’s perfect at 13.

  • ScottishRed

    I’d like to give the White-Cooper-Toomua combo a go again, worked very well back in 2013 and hasn’t been used since

    • I agree but not against the ABs over there. The NZ crowd get in Cooper’s head and he hasn’t exactly been playing the house down. That combo should start against the USA and into the World Cup. I’d go with White, Toomua, Giteau next week.

      • Ben

        I partly agree, but what better opportunity to see if Cooper has truly matured over the last couple of years? If he can perform at Eden Park then you can probably trust him in big RWC matches… if not, then let’s move on because ultimately, it’s these big matches that matter

        • harro

          Are you saying playing in NZ to win the Bledisloe Cup for the first time in over a decade is not a big match? No time for testing players out in this one. I’d be surprised if the starting team wasn’t the same next week, and shocked if there were any changes to the 23

        • Ben

          It is a big game and for Quade, it’s the most hostile environment possible. However, I still think it sits well below Bill overall…

      • Who?

        He’s short on game time, but he did ok last game in NZ (Dunedin, 2013).

      • RobC

        Nah. The last QC WB game was Dunedin 2013. A perfect flyhalf’s game by him.

    • The Rant

      Cooper is out. End of.

      • Julesie Bolwell


      • bad ass

        Do you know that for a fact? It seems like he’s the invisible man according to Dwyer and others.

  • “Horwill is rejuvenated – just a couple of months ago he’d seemed to have lost everything but whatever the coaching staff has done is working.” I do believe the “whatever” Bob speaks of is actual coaching. Having Richard Graham at the reds has weakened Australian rugby. #sackrichardgraham

    • RobC

      I believe contract has run out. So hashtag should be #donthireRG ?

    • Lachy

      I suspect Cheika’s mentoring has helped. They are kindred spirits – heart on sleeves type blokes and I think this was harnessed by Cheika and chamneled into his performance on Saturday night.

  • gypsyspud

    I still am far from understanding why Toomua is anywhere but on the starting team! Very nearly hasn’t done a thing wrong in Gold this year, also coming off a good year last year! Is very solid in defence plus has a good passing and kicking game. As well as the main thing being that he runs it straight, to the line and at pace!

    • Mart

      I think he would’ve started, bar the head knock V Argentina

    • Ben

      Maybe he’s such a good “finisher” that he is exactly where Cheik wants him?

    • Hambone

      he needs time still and best we give him as much as possible leading into world cup to get over persistent concussions.. i felt the backline kicked a new gear when he came on. we need to keep him in the pocket leading up to big Bill

  • @Adorimedia

    Once the Wallabies have a 10 that we know will play consistently and handle any sort of pressure with good game control, then we could start to look at Kuridrani at 12 and AAC (or whoever) at 13. If we had a settled 10 then it could happen and with Toomua/Gits at 10 maybe in time it will. But the time to try that isn’t at Eden Park but against the USA etc or in an EOYT.

    Its great seeing the difference Toomua brings when he’s behind a pack with parity and giving him confidence to create. While it is only one game, you sense that the plays that made a difference on Saturday night (White backing himself and Toomua backing himself with his grubber to AAC & even Kepu’s sidestep) came from players who were finally confident to back themselves at the right moment and not resort to a “safety first” play/action – which we have certainly resorted to in the past even when it was obvious the time was to back themselves. Deciding when to back yourself and when to play safe is a skill that our boys need to develop more and some the Kiwi’s seem to have naturally – look at Milner-Skudder.

  • DReido

    Toomua is a great injection off the bench. He seems to bring more impact from the bench than when he starts. He definitely made a huge difference coming on last night. I’d like to see Giteau start at 10 and Toomua come on with 20-30m to go and move Gits to 12 when he does, but who would you start at 12, definitely not Beale. I’m a huge fan of Cooper in S15, but the way this team is starting to look, I don’t think there is a spot for him against the AB’s. Playing Kuridrani out of position in such an important game would be suicide.

    Totally off topic, but why doesn’t Bob Dwyer not have a Sir in front of him? Every other WC winning coach does. So should he! Sir Bob

    • Whig

      Good point on the knighthood, but apparently you have to be a prince these days to get a knighthood :D

      • Nick

        Prince Bob.

  • DrewB

    Slightly off topic, but if my calculations are correct, this win puts us with a world ranking of 3rd (with a 86.84 points), behind Ireland on 86.89. South Africa slip to 5th behind England.

    • Nick

      Your calculations are correct. How do you get the points to the hundredth though with those small graphs they give or is it just a guess i.e. we pick up approx. 1.6 points?

      • Whig

        85.23 + 1 + (94.33 – 85.23 – 3)/10 = 86.84. The “-3″ is for the home game. It’s all spelled out on the IRB website. We gained 1.61, and nz lost the same. SA lose 2 to be 84.37.

        • Nick

          Usually when I look at the ranking I just guess using the ranking chart (like an idiot it seems in hindsight). We were 6.1 behind allowing for home advantage which I thought was roughly 1.6 points. That’s good to know then that the rating change is 1 + (Rating Gap / 10). I can’t find the explanation of the +1 and /10 on the website though.

        • Nick

          This one: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/23436c40084c2e961e76c55d2c598e65c03423763d53331d133cff6f37ed0a9c.jpg

          Haha Scotland losing that game is re-hashed over and over.

  • Nick

    Thanks for the article Bob. As for Gits at 10 and TK at 12 well if it’s what the coach wants to try out then I’m all for it. I have great faith in the Wallabies now for the first time in a long time. I think the USA game could be a good one to test this out in.

    • Whig

      The USA game is nothing but a money spinner, and apart from that is a waste of time and won’t test anything.

      • Who?

        Not quite… It could give an option for Cheika… If Cheika didn’t want Sanchez to go to the RWC, and Sanchez couldn’t/didn’t get out of his overseas contract, then it could give Cheika the option to pick Genia, get him that 60th cap, then send him home. White’s not going to be an option next year, and two of our franchises won’t be running with Aussie 9’s as first choice. SO that 60th cap could be crucial, and the Eagles game could be a way to snatch it without impacting the RWC squad..?

      • Nick

        I agree it’s a money spinner but it’s perfect to test out that combo. Yes it won’t mean as much as if it was tested in the Rugby Championship but why would we risk it when we can just use this one?

    • jamie

      Gits at 10, running centres around him, sole playmaker, minnow nation, World Cup year. This sounds familiar.

      Think, Samoa

      • Nick

        Haha the USA are in no way, shape or form the challenge that Samoa presents. The All Blacks didn’t beat them convincingly this year but they thrashed USA last year.

  • Older I Get

    I am pleased someone else saw Kaino on the ground interfering with Phipps. It caused a bad pass to Foley who had to force it behind the try line.

  • skip

    Given the last 10 years have seen a few touch ups by English packs, it should be little surprise that 3 seasons there would do Mumm a lot of good.

    • Bobas

      Vickermumm, he had one bad carry, the rest of the time he was bending them back like TK in form.

  • Bobas

    “anyone should be able to throw a ball to a second line play.” – I’m a big AAC fan but he doesn’t carry in two hands and only has a serviceable pass when he does have it in two, he also finds it hard to change the decision he’s made on the fly to either pass or run if the situation changes in front of him.

    • doohanfan

      Ditto. Hard to go past him in his current role but wasn’t good at passing the ball as a centre.

      • Mike

        That is the best thing about him as a centre, he knows when NOT to pass. Rather, he forces the opponents to commit.

        Same for Kuridrani – he passes even less than AAC, and is all the better as a centre for it.

        • doohanfan

          There is a difference between knowing when to pass, and never passing.

  • Jcee

    Lost me at Kuridrani at 12. And SBW is a very good distributer off both sides not just an offloader. With all due respect Bob.. Watch some chiefs games.

  • RobC

    Thanks Bob. If we want to straighten the attack put KTrain at 13, Samu K 12. Scary.

    Latu is good, but there are better options in Reds (Fingers) and Rebs next year (Chibba)

    Gits is not a ten. He himself said no on TV.

    Scrum good. My fav was 24′ perfectly low, straight. AB left right pods in total misalignment. ABs tried a Crusaders left right push, in the end. Too obvious.

    You nailed it re Phipps fubar pass into ingoal at 46′. Everybody blamed Phipps. It was not his fault:
    – Kaino was laying right under Phipps,
    – waving his hands about. Shocking.
    – It should have been penalty at least against Kaino, probably YC

    This led to the bad pass to Foley. A nuance I noticed was Read shoved Foleys head into the dirt for no good reason. Frustration perhaps. Or maybe didnt like the late Judo flip by Phipps after the 24′ scrum

    In any case, next was ABs ‘attacking’ 5m scrum. WBs dominated AB, but Barnes didnt award it. Few picks later, ABs gave up and took 3 points for WB offiside

    • RobC
    • harro

      Yeah, I noticed that from Read too. Seemed weird since they had just caught a massive break in earning a 5m scrum.

    • Patrick

      You will be happy to know that Samu is now in the squad…

      • RobC

        YOU BEAUTY!!!!!!!

      • RobC

        but hang on. Does that mean he’s off the NRC list?

        I hope he does get a full run at NRC. The Reds restricts his role to a hard running man, whilst Samu can do a lot more. The NRC is good place for him to re-express this. Just as he did last year

  • onlinesideline

    slightly off topic ..sort of … reading the kiwi newspapers … they are starting to ask serious questions of themselves .. they are all saying this time its different, that the Eden park rebound is not that probable this time, that actually we are onto it and we are a real threat to get the Bledisloe back.

    They are talking, AB arrogance, predictablity, ageing veterans, smarter aussies.

    This is really an opportunity …. we are on the ascendency here.

    Cmon wallas..you can do this !!

    • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

      As supporters, perhaps we need to stay grounded and look at out own game. It was a good hard fought win against a team that rarely loses.

      • onlinesideline

        i agree, we do definetly need to stay very grounded..Im getting a little amped Blinky

        • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

          Mate I really can’t blame you. Especially as I’ve been getting around the place feeling bloody fantastic and whistling when I work.
          But I do need to remind myself not to give anyone wearing black and walking around with a scowl, any ammunition. Humble as, humble as.

      • Nick

        Why stay grounded when we go wild!? No. 1 BABY!

    • Hambone

      not all of them… classic one eyed kiwi ranting ;)


  • Avid

    Thank you Bob. Exactly what the next game demands.
    Giteau 10 + Kuridrani 12 + Ashley-Cooper 13 stiffens our midfield v Nonu/Fekitoa + Smith.
    Can I now give up on subbing Hooper to 12 enabling an extra jumper plus Skelton?

    • jamie

      Kuridrani has NEVER played 12. You seem to think he will just appear there and know exactly what to do. It takes years to learn the defensive positioning of a 12.

      Toomua 10, Speight 11, Giteau 12, Kuridrani 14, AAC 14, Folau 15. That stiffens our inside backs. Toomua and Giteau will be used interchangeably and Toomua is a 1 on 1 defensive match for Nonu or SBW of Fekitoa.

      • Avid

        The point being made is we don’t have one player who can switch between 12 and 13 like Nonu and Fekitoa. We only have one line breake/defender in Toomua and lots of playmaker options for 12. I see that as a mismatch.

  • Bay35Pablo

    “the ref was unbelievabley tolerant of” (enter AB behaviour here)

    I would have thought it was the constant offside “rush defence”. But Bob would have a better view from the armchair than me on the sideline.
    Plus actually knows what he’s talking about …. :)

  • I like serious discussions but we’ve seen how difficult it is to read Cheika’s choices until we see the game.
    Reality now, makes the old reality hard to believe.
    The scrum was great!!!
    Cheika has the advantage of seeing the players at training, and we know under his call the training is fierce.
    I think the armchair critics should be ready to back Cheiks and stop bagging his choices.
    Surely after tonight you can back the coaches decisions and shut up with the carping criticisms

  • Scot Free

    Your opinion and yours alone. Show some respect.

  • DigbytheWonderDog

    @chuckles – whilst I do have some sympathy with your view and I understand what you’re trying to get at here I do think that @ScotFree has a very valid point. Bob Dwyer is a RWC winning coach (albeit a different generation and almost a different game) who has given a lot to the game of rugby. Your post is disrespectful and actually rude. I’m not sure why you would even take the time to post it tbh. What were you hoping to achieve? It reflects more on you than it does GAGR for posting it. The site isn’t just for you and there’s a lot who don’t share your views. At the very least he gives a different perspective – an outdated one you may argue but surely it’s all about different views. Failing that you could always f@ck off and read something else.

  • PC Joy

    I think you should be F@cked off as well although I don’t know if it is for the same reason because the post you criticise has been removed. A bit like punching someone in a straight jacket.

  • DigbytheWonderDog

    hahahahah. Okay then. Gotta say I’m a bit confused though. If you didn’t see the post why do you think I should be f@cked off as well”? I saw the post before it was removed. Did you? Maybe you’re the same guy coming back as a guest?

All Blacks

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 All Blacks