For the past two weeks the cry from some prominent Australian journalists has been that the Wallabies have “retreated” to an “old guard” back-line combination that has an abysmal away record. These pundits are barking up the wrong tree.
First, lets have a look at this combo’s overall record, courtesy of one a chief naysayer,Greg Growden at SMH.
Won 10, Lost 6.
Home: Won 8, Lost 1
Away: Won 2, Lost 5
Yes away form ain’t great (I was pleasantly surprised by the home stats…) but they’re about the same as the highly fancied South Africa side.
What’s important though is to get under the skin of these numbers. To blame this line-up of super talented and experienced backs for all their countries woes is more than harsh. Over this time period, let’s look at what this combo has had to work with:
- Eddie Jones – tried to ignore Giteau and stamp out any ingenuity
- The Sailor and Rogers experiments – square pegs in round holes
- No front row to speak of – I was at Twickenham that day, I still have issues
- No number 6 or 8 – thank god for Elsom, Palu and Hoiles
- No top class goal kicker since Matt Burke
- Eddie Jones – worth saying again
Of all the factors above, that of most impact has to be the shocking scrum that we’ve endured since before the last world cup. No matter what sort of geniuses you have out back, if you have a scrum that’s disintegrating on its own ball, you’re fucked. That these guys have a 60% total win rate and an almost 90% win rate at home with that forward platform is actually impressive.
So to imply that putting this dream team back together is a retrograde step completely misses the point. The biggest test tomorrow isn’t whether this dream team midfield can work, it’s whether they get the quality of ball they deserve.