RWC: 5 Things You Need to Know About Australia

RWC: 5 Things You Need to Know About Australia

RWC: 5 Things You Need to Know About Australia

The Wallabies come into this World Cup as one of the favourites. But to traverse to the final, they need to make it out of the toughest pool and, if not, South Africa and New Zealand in the quarter and semi finals. All of this against the backdrop of poor perceptions about our scrum and our ability to keep it together when the going gets tough. We’ll do it, though – and here’s why…..

1.  Super Pooper!

“Pooper – No longer divided”

It’s our (not so) secret weapon. And, like all secret weapons, it has caused consternation and debate. The conservative want to ensure we deploy it without jeopardising our other strategies. The modernists just want to deploy it – who cares if we lose a lineout when we get 338 turnovers a game? And the conspiracy theorists want to know why we can’t just pick all of our great 7s and be fair to everyone. But we know the main reason is that Rehoocockillson doesn’t quite have the gravitas as ‘Pooper’.

It sure speeds up a game and puts pressure on at the breakdown when Hooper and Pocock share the field. The issue will be maintaining balance throughout the tournament. It’s not just the lineout which needs to be managed. There are also matters such as the use of other good ball getters like Fardy and wider runners like Higginbotham (Higgardy?).

Whichever way you cut it, we’re likely to see some interesting configurations to facilitate the Pooper. And I think it opens the door to new ways to use other players.

2.  Cashing a Big Cheik

“I said right effin’ there”

You can call Michael Cheika a lot of things, but there’s no way you’d use the term ‘orthodox’. Well, he might seem orthodox if you look at the way we prepared 20 years ago. Cheika is more than an old school hard man, though. He combines that mentality of uncompromising hard work with a unique and decidedly modern approach to the actual playing of the game.

He seemingly re-jigged the Waratahs’ attack from 1st principles and came up with some novel new approaches. He found new and interesting ways of leveraging the talents of his players and causing consternation at the same time. I think we’re past that now and most of those smart fans with an opinion just look forward to what Cheika will do next. Whether it be moving Rob Horne to wherever on the field we need a tackle made, finding a way to use Beale (those two really go hand in hand) or coming up with some extraordinary motivation method, it is part of the suspense and entertainment of having such a unique bloke in charge.

3.  Izzy! Izzy! Izzy!

Oi! Oi! Oi!

This is the bloke who will break a game open for the Wallabies. At least, that’s what the rest of the world thinks. The respect the press and opposition teams have for the talents of a player like Folau is rare to see across the board. And he certainly deserves it. We don’t need stats to know he’s great. He makes more metres in counter attack than just about anyone, is superb under the high ball and has improved his kicking significantly.

Looking deeper, though, I think he brings a whole different dimension to the team which is less discussed. His abilities mean the Wallabies have more flexibility in how they work. As an example, much is made (by some) of Kurtley Beale’s ability to release Folau. However, it is actually Folau’s ability to straighten the attack in the vein of an inside centre, along with his ability to know exactly when to do so, that does the job. That means Beale (or another 12) has more flexibility in playing the ball. Toomua was the beneficiary of that same abilities on last year’s tour.

4.  Bringing Back the Scrum

Ledesma – More than just a pretty face

Everyone has always known Australians can’t scrum. The Poms know they can win as many penalties as they like at scrum time and I think the Welsh believe they can get a pushover try from the 22. Their 22. I mean, after all, our selection method for props is understood by them to send a couple of flankers to Hungry Jacks for an extended camp and see who can still run when they get back.

Things have changed, though. There is no question that the five props heading to the tournament can scrum. And in each case, it is their core skill (OK, maybe Slipper is also a defacto flyhalf, but he can still scrummage). As regular contributor, Nutta, might say – we’ve got some meat and potatoes on the plate before the gravy for a change. Greg Holmes and Scott Sio have provided the depth we’ve been sorely missing at the back end of games. More so, they are challenging for the starting spots and keeping the pressure on to perform for everyone. As an added bonus, Toby Smith’s inclusion gives us more options both at the scrum and around the park. Plus, Sio’s versatility has meant we can drop a hooker and select us some more outside backs.

The influence of Mario Ledesma cannot be overstated. The Wallabies are playing with a variation of the Argentinian scrum and spend more ‘time under tension’ than they ever have had before. I also think it’s important to give a vote of thanks to Nick Stiles. It seems Stiles has been instrumental in the resurgence of Greg Holmes and the Queensland scrum, which also contributes Slipper and Simmons to the Wallabies tight five.

5. 23:4

The Wallabies will traverse the pool of death in their path to the RWC final. The permutations, likelihoods and potential upsets have been done to death at this stage. There is nothing we can add except that the pool will be won by the team with the wherewithal and determination to gut it out. And if, for whatever reason, we end up in second spot, we’ll have to find even more to get through the quarters and semis.

Apparently, the bible gives us Psalm 23:4 to give motivation for times like this, but I prefer the version taught to me by some friends in the US Marine Corps, which I’ve modified here to suit:

Though I walk

Through the valley of the pool of death

I shall fear no evil

For I am the evilest son of a bitch in the valley

  • jamie

    Just reckon you’ve been looking forward to writing this one. I know I’ve been looking forward to reading it

  • Nutta

    Cheers for the acknowledgement Chris. To escape the veil of plagiarism I should reference my old dad as the author of the statement: “Meat & potatoes first Boy. Then gravy. Only a fkn idiot puts gravy on the plate first Boy.”

    Likewise to be clear, and to what I’m sure will be howls of indignation from Queensland, Slipper is not my loosehead because of that very statement. He has too much of the Burger King ilk (I liked that analogy). But too much time & resource has been invested in him to not have him there (and one or two others). If it were my choice from the squad it would Toby Smith as LH followed by Sio. If it were open book choice I would have Fat Cat. Excuse me whilst I put on a helmet…

    All that said, great write up. We have the cattle, we have the leadership, we have form (4N winners and the only team to KO the AB’s of late) and that also has our opponents second guessing us and jumping at our shadows. So the stage is set. Let’s get it on!

    • Pedro

      How much importance do you place on familiarity? As in getting blokes that have scrummaged together previously?

      • Nutta

        Huge emphasis. But your question also unmasks some of the dangers/foibles we outsiders face when picking a team. Do we pick the best individual players in each spot and thereby acknowledge the individual – but thereby perhaps lack cohesion? Or do we pick a combination over a brilliant individual? This is philosophical stuff

        In the opening of a big game I want hard-nosed confidence & aggression up-front. This usually comes via experience. That experience also gives knowledge through which to adapt to your colleague and opponent. That’s why I would go with Fatty/Squeak/Kepu. Aggressive, experienced and confident. If I’m going to introduce someone into that group as more of a dynamic player it is at LH because it is easier to be aggressive at LH then Hook or TH. A LH can just rip, tear and snort into their scrum on their feed whereas Hook & TH are more controlled (they have to be). This is why Smithy and Sio have proven so valuable to their teams.

        However when the fatigue factor kicks in and decisions around the park start being made on auto-pilot, that’s when fresh legs with combination make a huge impact. For this reason (if it were MY team), I would run replacements to get the whole Qld Tight5 out at 60min to close out the game (yes even Slipps). Because that combination, familiarity and trust at scrum and lineout in the closing quarter of a match – particularly as their replacements just hurt theirs – would be a massive weapon. That’s just me though.

  • Hugo Wran

    Was a good read, cheers!

  • wilful

    My only fear in the pool stages is a badly reffed game against the soapdodgers. We’ll come from behind against Fiji, just to give the fans a scare, we’ll beat the taffies surprisingly easily, and we’ll be shouting and wailing at the dirty cheating poms when they beat us in a low scoring close one. Well that’s my fearless prediction. Which puts us in line against South Africa. Which is no problem, I’m sure we can handle them. Then the ABs.. :(

    So we *really* need to top our pool if we’re to make it to the final.

    • Graeme

      We pretty much have to beat England and Wales to hope to make the final. Playing our B team against Uraguay may turn out to be a bit ‘brave’. If it ends up a three way draw with us, England and Wales then the placements will probably be decided on the bonus point against Fiji (which England now has) and then who put the most points on Uraguay.

  • The difference in my perceptions of this Wallabies team has changed so dramatically in the last 12 months I can hardly believe it. I gave us no shot of beating England at Twickers and thought we’d struggle against Wales. Now I truly believe we can win our pool, which in turn will put us on the inside track to the final. I believe in Chieka, I believe in Izzy, I believe in the Pooper, I believe in the Wallabies. Go on boys, do us proud!

  • Bernardo Faria


    • John Tynan

      still waiting for the Official GAGR stubby cooler/tshirt to come out!

  • Ols

    When are we getting the massive fire up piece from Hugh?!?


    • Chris M

      Hear, hear.

  • Zebber

    #0: We’re gunna fucking win it.

  • Cramps

    F*ck yes!

  • Ian

    “Higgarty Higgarty Higgarty” For the family guy fans out there

    • Chris M

      I should add here that Higgardy came from the Pooper discussion on the forum. I just don’t know who it was.

      That, and I’m sure it’s obvious I have no idea what you mean.

      • Unfortunately it’s only -ardy, since the elusive Higg- part(icle) is in Australia, watching on TV.

        • Chris M

          Please don’t tell me you took too many German pills this morning… Humour, ja?

  • McWarren

    Chris, I have my boys writing the above prayer out 100 times. That’s fired me up no end!!!!

  • History is on our side. Never lost a world cup in the UK…


Mrs Mac thinks Chris talks about Rugby far too much. She's probably right. If he's not coaching, he's watching. And if he's not doing either, he's jibbering incessantly about it. He has also been named as a finalist in the Asteron Life Community Coach of the Year for 2015. Mrs Mac remains unimpressed.

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