Podcast 281 - Cheik'd Out - Green and Gold Rugby

Podcast 281 – Cheik’d Out

Podcast 281 – Cheik’d Out

With the Wallabies season finishing up last weekend, the lads came together for our final podcast of the year. Rugby Reg, Matt, Hugh and Jamie were all still traumatised from the horrifying performance they had to watch on Sunday morning, and so used this podcast as a cathartic healing process to get their feelings off their chest about the year we’ve had. Hopefully, it’ll help you too.

The Five Burning Questions:

1. What the f**k happened… again?
2. Can we draw any positives from that Scotland match?
3. Is Cheika‘s job on the line?
4. What was our highs and lows from the 2017 season?
5. What can we look forward to in 2018?

  • Nicholas Wasiliev

    On a small producers note, just want to see thanks for all the support from you GAGRs for the show throughout this year. We’re just a bunch of blokes who love chatting rugby and putting this show together, and its always fantastic to speak to like minded fans of the game. We wish you all a safe and enjoyable break, and we’ll see you refreshed and ready to go in the new year!

    • Moz

      Thanks Nick and the whole team. One day a week I actually look forward to the drive to and from work, listening to the podcast. Not bad for a “bunch of blokes who love chatting rugby” (selling yourselves far too short there!). Enjoy the break, and good luck with the pre-season! Is the plan to be like Ned Hanigan, and hopefully bulk up a bit in the off-season???

    • McWarren

      Thanks Nick, it’s been a very enjoyable read in what has been a tough news year. Enjoy your break.

  • ForceFan

    Fantastic summary of the Wallabies’ chronic problems by Jamie without any of the sugar coating used by most of the Australian rugby commentators.

  • Cameron Sim

    In terms of consistency…we’re the new France.

    • Brisneyland Local

      The new cheese eating Surrender Monkey’s?
      But when Les Blue are red hod they are really red hot.
      I think we only ever get to luke warm!

  • Ad-O

    Is that serious that Phil Kearns is going to be the new ARU CEO? Holy shit! It looks like we’re not at rock bottom yet. I hope to Christ he shows a lot more aptitude for administering than he did for commentating.

  • kesh

    Find it amazing how Australia is so far behind the NH on D when all the NH did was steal the systems from RL. England, Wales and now Ireland (Scotland now adapting it) have essentially poached RL players to develop their D, all while Australian RL has dominated that code and have more than enough people to bring in. You should be years ahead. Is it that tribal down there between codes? I understand ARU (whatever it’s called) doesn’t have the financial clout that NH RFU has yet there’s plenty of retired folk who could help your set-up from the noughties. Brad Fitler isn’t exactly on mega-money coaching Lebanon atm.

    • HK Red

      Freddie will be busy coaching the Blues for the 2018 Origin.

  • Brisneyland Local

    Gents, great discussion. Am glad to finally see that you guys are seeing what the rest of us are (except Hugh)! ha ha

  • Tommy Brady

    Firstly, thank you as always for another year of weekly Podcasts. These are always good conversations from guys who care about the sport we all love. Special thanks to Reg who stepped into the important role of discussion facilitator and the format of the 5 Burning Questions put important structure to the conversations.

    This was a robust final conversation with some well thought out views delivered. Honesty is an essential trait in any review process but keeping perspective on the bigger issues that shape the broader outlook is equally critical.

    Following on from a challenging 2016, it has been a really tough year for rugby in Australia. What I cannot get away from is simply the concern that the game there is finally paying the price for some very poor leadership / management / administration over the past 2-3 years. There has been botched coaching assignments in Queensland, fraud scandals in Canberra, serious financial losses in Melbourne, bumbling incompetence in the marquee NSW State and the entire debacle in WA. Individually each was manageable, collectively they have been damaging. Finger pointing has increased, parochialism has intensified and attention has been shifted away from critical issues such as coaching quality, player skills and overall development.

    Results show that Australia has fallen behind in innovation, analysis and game strategy. What worked in 2015, fell behind in 2016 and is now totally redundant in 2017. The signs were there in Super Rugby level and have been once again exposed at international level over the past few weeks. Australian rugby has become too reliant on a handful of talented players to overcome real shortfalls in overall player skills and conditioning and coaching intelligence. When those players are absent (Folau) or mid-fire (Beale, Hooper, Foley, Genia) the house of cards becomes exposed.

    Despite the (understandable) opposition from many, I believe the reduction to 4 Super Rugby teams in 2018 is an important 1st step in consolidation and preventing further regression in Australian rugby. Less openings will exist and greater competition for places will only be positive. Hopefully that elevates player conditioning levels because the complacency that built across too many players was sadly too evident too often.

    The big unknown is the performance of coaching staff – of which 3 of the 4 coaches are foreigners without ties to Australian rugby. Gibson and Wessels have to improve, Thorn and McKellar have to prove themselves. Meanwhile Cheika, Byrne, Larkham and Grey have to lift – simple. Their Wallabies are flawed, predictable and far too reliant of a handful of key individuals. Their sides are not especially clever or innovative, nor are they mentally strong. That must change to properly threaten the Top 5 sides.

    The work-on’s are real, significant and urgent. All whilst RA bed down a new CEO and face major decisions at the Board level. For the sake of the sport we all love let’s hope for progress. The clock is ticking, and time is not on their side.

    Have an enjoyable summer everyone. Thank you again.

  • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

    Cheika is not not ‘suddenly’ rubbish – he has been rubbish as Wallabies coach in 2014, 2016 and 2017. 2015 was his only successful year. He plays one-note running rugby with no fall-back. He puts no emphasis on defence or kicking—as Matt says, we have lost the same match to England 5 times in which we lose through our inability to kick tactically or defend. We have no Plan B, and the same poor players are selected again and again.

    Foley is not ‘suddenly’ rubbish – he has always been a rubbish international level 10 with a poor tactical kicking game, very average tee kicking game, inability to pass long, no ‘playmaking’ abilities per se (in the Larkham or Finn Russell mould) while only possessing a solid running and support game. People are quite happy to bang on about his performance vs England in the RWC, or his goal against Scotland – do you remember all the goals his missed leading up to the last minute, or his horrible charged down kick that led to a try, which is what put us in the position where we had to make that kick, or his awful performances against New Zealand basically every match and his performances against England since the RWC which have been awful every time.

    Hooper is not ‘suddenly’ rubbish – he is still a very good 7 in some ways, but still lacks a breakdown presence (he is so inferior overall to Pocock and George Smith comparisons are unfair) and has always been a rubbish captain. We saw it with the Waratahs this year when Hooper was totally unable to galvanise the team when the going got tough, the team’s performance would drop off and they’d just give up, while Hooper would argue with the referee, or treat the referee with disdain.

    The problem with the Sydney-centric media and even you guys (as much I think your podcasts are awesome and one of the best parts of being a rugby fan in Australia) is that you’re quite happy to tout the brilliance of New South Welshmen without stopping and thinking about whether their form and results really deserve it.

    I don’t take any pleasure in how the Wallabies are playing. However, it all needs to be said because until we took a good, hard introspective look at the Wallabies, and accept some of the fundamental issues and agree to make the necessary changes, this is going to keep happening. Us Aussie fans are broken, we’ve been banging on about the same issues since 2014 and nothing ever changes.

    • Brisneyland Local

      Well written Mr Braithwaite!

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        Cheers, Brisneyland local. I feel a deep sense of sadness at what is happening to Australian rugby.

        • Brisneyland Local

          YEp, I concur there. What saddens me is that the apologists just delay the inevitable and ensure we totally destroy ourselves before we rebuild, rather than catching it halfway through the fall.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Yep. Just kicking the can down the road.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Well I think there are enough of us to form a movement!

    • Gnostic

      You are right in a lot of point, but the team is about balance, Foley is actually a very good 10 and has shown it plenty of times. What the Wallabies don’t have is anything in terms of depth of attack, they did a few times this year with interplay between him and Beale, but not on the EOYT or the June test series. In these games they went direct and then direct again and then worked the ball wide to run direct. By direct I mean straight at the defence. Just look at the statistics produced by the MSTs. I am always amused by the memories of people that put Larkham as a brilliant 10. He was not. He was however a perfect fit for the constant recycle game plan that Macqueen had for the Wallabies 1998-2002, this plan you should remember revolved around grinding away and maintaining the possession over anything up to 30 phases and hitting 100KG plus back bashing it up time and again. Funny that is very like what we got this year except for a couple of notable games.

      The comments about Hooper are correct but the effect is greatly exaggerated by the fact that the other backrow players are also what I term “workrate players” and the lack of any real power in contact from the backrow is a glaring factor in the Hooper inbalance. Now I know people will point out that McMahon has huge impact at various times, in contact both in attack and defence but it is not consistent and lack of assistance really makes his bursts an outlier and not a consistent threat. On the EOYT this was further exacerbated by the loss of Coleman.

      On top of the poor selection and tactics that go hand in hand the team was very poorly led, not only on field by Hooper, but more importantly by the coach acting like a child. The terrible discipline of the team is mirrored in its leader.

      You are right totally in the win record against Tier 1 nations, though I would point out the Argentina side is well below its RWC strength as the Europe based players cannot be selected which has taken massive talent away from the front row and midfield. Also don’t forget that the Wallabies conceded record points to Japan a Tier 2.

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        We can agree to disagree on Foley. I happen to think him incredibly limited and a very poor quality international 10—would he even have started for any NZ SR team this year aside from the Blues? I think the attack was more to do with Beale being good and Foley just shovelling the ball onto Beale. Mark Ella wrote a good column essentially asking what the point of Foley was, given that it was Beale’s job to do all of the playmaking.

        Larkham was a brilliant 10. Full stop. After Rod left and the team’s performance declined it was he, George Smith and Stirling Mortlock that had to carry the team from 2003-07. Go back to the 03 RWC final. Whenever Larkham was on the field we were doing well. Or, just go and look at some of his youtube highlights. Likewise, he was brilliant for the Brumbies also. The Wallabies backline has never functioned well since Larkham’s retirement aside from 2010 and a brief moment on the 2013 EOYT. Larkham had the ability to use dummy runners, use his outside men, change the attack mid-run and throw cut out balls, as well as to kick tactically. Foley can do none of this.

        I agree that the whole back-row weakened Hooper’s abilities. That said, McMahon outplayed him for a lot of the international season. For a long time I have thought that Hooper was our second best 7 after Pocock, but this year has somewhat changed my mind. The game has moved on since 07, or even since 2013, players are heavier, more powerful, and Hooper doesn’t have the strength, especially at the breakdown, to compete. Too often he is outmuscled. He might still be our second best 7 because of the other things he brings, but I don’t think that he is someone we want to rely on forever. He just doesn’t add enough at the breakdown unless there is a Fardy or Pocock there to compensate (and playing the Pooper kills our line out).

        You’re possibly right in querying whether Argentina should even be considered a tier 1 team anymore. How depressing is that thought?

        • Twoilms

          Didn’t Foley create 2/3 of our tries against Scotland, off the boot?

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Even a broken clock is right twice a day. He rarely does so.

          He also perfectly set up Scotland’s first try.

  • Mart

    Well done guys, cheers for the podcasts. Never let a week go by without listening!

  • Andy

    Great cast again.

    Agree with most even though I hate saying it. I think the time for change is now. This has been a very poor year despite the challenges the team faced and the coaching team has been extremely underwhelming in all areas mentioned. There has to be accountability at some point for:

    1. The teams attiude
    2. Team selection (which have been disgraceful)
    3. Defensive structures

    All 3 areas heavily rest on the coaches head. Again, I’m not one of the Cheika haters on this site but results speak for themselves and we simply have not been going in the right direction as a team from what I can see.

  • Knapsta

    Hi team, I think you hit the nail on the head with one thing you mentioned.

    You pointed out that if you lineup the names of both Scotland and Australia that the majority of people will pick the Australian players over their scottish counterparts. However Scotland won because they played collectively as a team, highlighted even more by the fact the late replacements could slot straight in and knew what the game plan was. Australia are incapable of this under Chieka. He relies too heavily on individual performances and if there is any semblance of structure, I haven’t seen it and nor have the players.

    Gone are the days that you can play your own game without considering the style of the opposition and or the conditions. The stubbornness and refusal to consider a plan B is killing the wallabies. Sure some days plan A will work but it’s far far less than it not working.

  • Khun Pugwash

    Thanks guys for a great year of podcasts, its made tuesday/wednesday mornings at work a bit more enjoyable. I really enjoy hearing hugh’s positive viewpoints because at the end of the day its just sport so no need to get so down and out about how shit our team can be some/most of the time.

  • Juan_Time

    I am with Hugh today most days (and subsequently Capt’n Pugwash). Whilst there are some obvious flaws, numerous issues and lot’s of work to do. l like many here grew up in the halcyon days of Poidevin to Eales to Larkham and semi-professionalism, but things have changed, and it is an increasingly more competitive international field (and that is a good thing overall for rugby). But… there is also hope.
    I have made a list of a few things that give me optimism of better times ahead;
    1. David Pocock’s return;
    2. The green shoots of local, Club and NRC rugby;
    3. The end of the NRL NYC comp (enticing our best young talent for years);
    4. The only upside to the sad end of the Force, is improved Super Rugby teams with depth;
    5. The emergence of a new group of players including Lukhan Tui, Isaac Rodda, Jack Dempsey, Jordan Uelese, Marika Koirabette, Duncan Pau’aiu etc
    6. The loss to Scotland.

    The last one is a bit out there, but should mean zero complacency in any aspect of our preparation for the year ahead. If that means that Super Rugby teams are fit and competitive and we hit the ground running for the next international season – all the better.

  • paul

    Thanks Guys for the podcasts over the year really enjoy the banter and really refreshing to listen to views that I generally agree with.

    You made many a trip to Brisbane in traffic bearable.

  • Moose

    Thanks for the great podcasts this year, I look forward to it every week. It can’t be easy doing it when the rugby news this year has often been dire. To paraphrase the Queen, 2017 has been a horrible anus for Aus rugby… Looking forward to the pod next year, hopefully with lots of happier talking points!
    Thanks again.

  • MungBean

    1. Australia are arrogant, led by a poor captain, and there are certain players who won’t be dropped no matter and they know it
    2. An arse kicking may be an inch closer
    3. Probably not. He’s the establishment choice, surrounded by yes men and they’ll never admit they’re wrong. Ever. As Mark Latham would say, it’s a Congaline of Suckholes
    4. Nothing. The 2017 season
    5. More of the same

  • Ruggaman

    Stumbled on your site this year & enjoyed the podcasts, from a safa

  • Gnostic

    I agree fully if Cheika is going to be sacked it has to be now. If it isn’t done until the end of next year its just like the John Connolly replacement of Eddie Jones, less than 12 months out from the RWC and expecting results.

    I will say that I am not convinced that Cheika is a good coach. I believe he is a good motivator, and in my experience motivators are good at motivating but lack substance and structures, they tend to gain quick results but do not gain long term results because there is nothing of substance their. Ask the question what players have improved in skills and execution. Has the team evolved and improved in execution as a team, has discipline improved. The answer can only be no. Now also ask the question has any side that Cheika has coached produced long term lasting results. Munster ?, Stade – sacked, Tahs – No 2014 success then collapse, Wallabies – 2015 then collapse. That tells me that if there are actually systems in place, they have not performed over an extended period and the staff have not done the proper review and assessment of them.

    Finally, hang in there Hugh, like I said to you on your blog post you will resist the evidence and will not criticise right until somebody makes a decision then you’ll say ‘yeah well it hasn’t been working for some time its time he went, maybe past time.’

    • Tommy Brady

      Interesting points Gnostic – and somehow not often referred to when analyzing Michael Cheika’s coaching record. Isn’t the sports world full of 3 types of coaches…

      1. The coach that achieves good initial results before ultimately getting fired or jumping onto the next “new thing”. Haven’t Eddie Jones and Jose Mourinho made a career of doing this?

      2. The coach that can’t transition from professional level to test match level. Robbie Deans, Stuart Lancaster, Heyneke Meyer, Rickie Stuart?

      3. The coach that papers together early results but ultimately leaves the organization in worse shape. Pete Carroll, Rick Patino, Mick Malthouse.

      Isn’t the problem with Cheika coached sides that they have failed to evolve? The way they played one year, is largely how they’ve played the year after – and the year after that. It’s fodder for smart opposition coaches / players — especially at the highest level which is international rugby.

      The big unanswered question feels whether the Cheika message has run it’s course with this current group of influential Wallaby players? It happens right? Does Cheika change / evolve – or has his message, and his ways, simply got tired and are now bumping up against it’s effectiveness date? Anyone see a team at Twickenham or Murrayfield looking astute and well prepared for some good quality test opposition? More importantly, anyone see a team responding positively to the words and efforts of the coaching staff?

      Oh – I forgot to mention the 4th type of coach. The guy who is always evolving, reinventing and moving the bar before opposition have worked him, or his teams out. Bill Belichick, Craig Bellamy, Wayne Smith.


Die-hard Brumbies/Country Eagles fan now based in Sydney. Author, anthropologist, musician and second-rower trying to kick start a writing career in an increasingly bonkers world...

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