The Sunday post mortem: 11 observations from last nights game - Green and Gold Rugby

The Sunday post mortem: 11 observations from last nights game

The Sunday post mortem: 11 observations from last nights game

So against all my better judgement I sat down and watched the game again this morning. And here are 11 things I noticed:

Our forwards were TERRIBLE

One of the worst forward efforts I have seen in a long time. We were outmuscled in every facet. Our tight defence was weak and passive, our leg drive and support in attack was non-existent, our cleanouts were inaccurate, our set piece poor. The pack was comprehensively outpointed by the South Africans, and never gave our backline any front foot ball to play the wide game we wanted to play. No forward had a good game. We just didn’t show up, and are clearly missing Higgers, Pocock, Palu, Horwill and TPN.

Our decision making in the red zone was once again horrible.

Nick Cummins made a break in the 16th minute, and went to ground just inside the Bok 22. On the right there were six Wallabies lined up against four Boks, with and plenty of space to use. On the left side, the short side, there were two Wallaby forwards against three Boks, with more Boks coming back onside. So what direction did we decide to pass? Left. Fucking left. And then Genia realised the error, and tried to turn it back inside but the pass is intercepted. This has been the story of the last few weeks, and so it was again on Saturday. The Cummins incident was far from the only time this occurred.

We gave away a thousand stupid penalties

Maybe not a thousand, but a bucketload nonetheless. Well maybe not a bucketload, but with Morne Steyn you can’t give them any. But we did, and at crucial times. Some of it was under 8s stuff- Ben Mowen picked the ball up in the middle of a ruck, Quade Cooper ran up miles offside when the Boks were on attack. Others were more akin to under 10s or 11s, with players running away from support into the teeth of the Bok backrow.

Ruan Pienaar with amazing separation from the ruck.

Did these guys even train together?

Honestly. The forwards were strung out and separated from one another. The backs had no interplay at all. The lineout was scratchy (but not bad), the scrum was dodgy, the high ball was again dealt with poorly. The team seemed to have no understanding of each other at all. And when the reserves came on it went from bad to worse.

No basic skills in the backs

While I heap most of the blame for last night on the pigs, the backs can’t hold their heads high either. It took until the 71stminute to take advantage of a three-on-two overlap, despite the fact that we had at least ten opportunities to do so in the preceding minutes. But we crabbed across field, or passed the ball to the wrong man, or ignored the men outside. Bob Dwyer must have pulled his hair out. We took the wrong option about 50-60 per cent of the time. Genia, Quade and Lilo must take the blame for this.

We saw the return of sticky hands AAC

The old adage of ‘AAC can’t pass’ was thoroughly debunked by the Waratahs this season, as he played a key role in distributing to the Tahs’ red-hot outside men. But last night was a return to the bad old days, with AAC ignoring the space and men outside him to truck it up, often with no support. But I can’t blame him too much, as he was more often than not shovelled the ball with nothing on and forced to make a decision that should be being made by a No.10 or No.12. We need AAC running sharp lines in the wider channels, not getting the ball going sideways in the face of a brick wall defence.

Wallabies v Springbok Brisbane 2013 (18 of 34)

Israel Folau is still a work in progress

Which is unsurprising, given he has not yet played a full season of rugby. And he had a few nice moments last night, along with a few shockers. One will cause Link particular concern: in the second Bok try (scored by Jean de Villiers) Israel was gassed by Brian Habana (not a disgrace), and then seemed to completely give up on the play. He slowed to a jog, then propped himself next to the ruck to have a breather. I’m not sure he would have stopped the try if he hustled back, but it was still telling. And it wasn’t the first time this has happened – he was saved similar embarrassment by the corner post in Bledisloe I when Julian Savea made him look like a 4th grade tight forward.

Our kicking for touch was abysmal

Remember when Mark Gerrard used to kick those long, raking drop punts into the corner from penalties? It put the Rebels right on the front foot, and turned a midfield penalty into a red hot tryscoring chance. This element of our game has been totally lacking this season. Last night JOC continued this tradition, by chewing off only 10 or 20 metres with each kick. Morne, on the other hand, was going full Gerrard and the Boks were reaping the benefits.

The Boks were goooood

I probably should have started with this one. Their forwards were big, hungry and, most importantly, clinical. Their cleanouts were powerful and accurate, their attack was simple yet effective, and their defence was dominant. In short it was a vintage Saffer performance. Their backrow were particularly brilliant. But we let them have it their own way all game.

Wallabies v Springbok Brisbane 2013 (30 of 34)


I can’t make up my mind about Leali’ifano

I am still unsure if he has what it takes. He was almost invisible last night. The idea with a No.12 is either to have a second playmaking option, or someone who can crash the ball up hard. At his best Leali’ifano can be both, but at his worst he can be neither. And so it was last night. He shovelled the ball in attack, missed tackles in defence, and dropped one of our best attacking opportunities. Maybe he is better with Toomua at five-eighth. But I can’t help thinking we are nearing the point where we should give James O’Connor a shot at the No.12 jersey.

Number 8 continues to be problematic

I think it is almost time to add yet another name to the long list of ‘blokes who have failed in the Wallaby No.8 jersey when Cliff Palu is injured’. Benny Mowen was industrious last night, but was outmuscled and outplayed by Duane Vermeulen. He doesn’t deserve the sack, but I reckon it is time to put him back to the blindside, and give another member of the illustrious BWHFITWNEJWCPII club a crack (Ben McCalman) with Scott Fardy moving into the second row. But this is once again evidence of how much we struggle without Cliff Palu, and the mountain of unseen work he can get through every game. And Higgers and Pocock are sorely missed as well.


What do you think? Am I on the money?

  • Nick

    Agree with everything actually. Good article.

    • Steve Harris

      top draw

  • beasties

    I’ve not be a huge McCalman supporter but he actually showed some appetite for hitting rucks when he got on – its a shame the starting pack didn’t show the same intent

    • beasties

      * “I’ve not been”

  • Fatty Forward

    Can Kepu even do a push-up without stopping for a rest? Poor guy probably runs out of puff taking a sh*t.

    • Fats

      In the whole game he had 1 run for 1m and first to the ruck only once…

      • Timbo

        Same stats show that Simmons had 0 runs and 1 R/M. Don’t think they’re that trustworthy.

    • YBT

      Agreed. I was at the game and he looked stuffed from about 15 minutes on. Down on his haunches during stoppages etc – he really needs to improve his conditioning to have any hope of further involvement at this level.

    • Batteries-not-included

      As an observation….when Jake White took over the Boks……the one comment he made come true was that we might not have been the most talented team of the time…….but we were going to be the fittest.

      Something I think your chaps might need to work on…..they certainly didn’t seem to be able to stay with the Boks in the second half…..which immediately indicates that their levels of fitness ain’t where they should be?

  • Jon Cooper

    MORAL! What is going on with this teams moral? These blokes look like they quickly lose the love and joy of the game very quickly. Take away all the SKILL issues these players can do the things that are needed.

  • old mate

    “We just didn’t show up, and are clearly missing Higgers, Pocock, Palu, Horwill and TPN.”
    Dam right!

    “One will cause Link particular concern: in the second Bok try (scored by Jean de Villiers) Israel was gassed by Brian Habana (not a disgrace), and then seemed to completely give up on the play.”
    He seems to still make that league mistake of coming off the wing and giving the opposite winger to much room. That play could easily have been shut down had he have been in a better position and showed a lot more urgency. I would have been dropped to 5th grade for that!

    “Our kicking for touch was abysmal”
    What the hell was that all about?! Steyn was getting 40-45m each penalty where JOC was luck to get 20… I’ve got nothing.

    What I dont get, is how all these guys played so well in super footy, but when they get the chance to step up and play in green and gold, they get overwhelmed? They’re mostly playing the exact same people, only in different coloured jerseys!

  • RedAnt

    Hard to argue with any of that, Ba-Ba. Particularly agree re: Leali’. I’m assuming it was the lack of combo with QC, but isn’t that what training is for? My overwhelming feeling is the Walla’s in general are not playing as a team. I don’t know if it’s lack of hunger or lack of understanding of the team game plan. Maybe Link has to do a Cheika and start rebuilding from the ground up. That means a bit more pain to come though, and it still remains to be seen how successful the Tahs will be… In short, I don’t have any freakin’ answers!

    • Hungover

      Why not just get Chieka? The Wallabies attack is precisely like most MacKenzie attacks have been throughout his coaching career, with one notable exception: lateral and scrappy.

      • Jamie

        How many games did the Tah’s win this year mate? You are missing the point. The Wallabies don’t need to start playing the game any faster, any wider or any more expansively. They need to learn how to win and winning big test matches starts with winning the inches up front that can lead to the yards out the back. Simple stuff, but unglamourous. Like a house with poor foundations, pretty on the sunny days but collapses when the storms come. 1 win in 6 tests says the storms have come. Anyone seeing a change in the weather?

  • Robson

    There were so many dysfunctional elements in the game last night that I seriously don’t believe that any one or two different players would have made any significant difference. Amid all the things that went wrong, there was one issue for me that stuck out like dog’s nuts. We didn’t have a team of fifteen men on the park last night, we had a bunch of fifteen guys each playing their own game. There was an alarming absence of cohesiveness which is a quality that seems to have been slowly receding over recent games; and last night the tide went out on it completely. Sure there were some big names missing, but the truth is that the job of really turning up and playing intelligently for each other is everyone’s duty; even at very basic levels of the game. McKenzie has got a job on his hands before next weekend and unless he can boot a different attitude into the Wallabies, the Pumas are going to maul them like rag dolls.

  • SolitudeSA

    It’s not always nice when a South African comes and posts on an Aussie website. Please do note that I want the Wallabies to play well since I love the Southern Hemisphere teams.

    I thought the Wallabies game plan was particularly poor. They tried to run everything from their own 22. This may work against some Super Rugby teams and maybe some smaller international teams but they were playing against the number 2 ranked country in the world.

    Maybe it’s good that they tried once or twice but it wasn’t working and there wasn’t anything else that they could fall on. The kickers for Australia were abysmal. They missed Mogg who can kick a ball even further than Steyn.

    The new coaching staff still have to find their feet and they will make mistakes just like Meyer did in the beginning but I hope they realise that attractive rugby isn’t always running everything. It’s about varying your options and most importantly, it’s about winning.

    Good luck guys! May the Wallabies play better next weekend.

    • Jimmy

      I’m desperate for the Boks to beat the kiwis and I really hope you do. but, despite thrashing our “team” last night (I guess it’s a team although you wouldn’t fucking know it) your boys are going to get belted by the all Blacks if you don’t lift.

      Anyway – great post. You are pretty much spot on with your analysis.

      • Opheliacrutchmore

        I can never wish for a SA team to beat the AB’s. As a WB s supporter I still have to be able to sleep at night safe in the knowledge that the Boks have been beaten by the AB’s.

  • JimmyC

    Great article Barbarian, completely agree with all topics.
    Concerning your thoughts on the ‘Gerrard’ touch finder. Myself and many other Rebels supporters have been screaming at our touch finders since Mark left the Rebels. And as you said, this also applies for the Wallabies. Why isn’t someone (ie Gerrardo himself) teaching this stuff at training. Its so bloody obvious!!

  • Zach harris

    Great article – does not make up for having to watch it in Cape Town with Afrikaans in – laws! So many questions with very few answers – but here’s a concept: maybe some of the moral issues start with us as supporters. I’ve seen Bok supporters suffer but never waiver. When the beast gets a better reception at suncorp than any if our guys it’s a huge issue. A little faith from our end could help stem the tide of darkness – just a thought!

    • Big Ted

      Couldn’t agree with you more Zach. Australian sports supporters are fair weather supporters at best. Very chirpy when we are doing well but you can hear a pin drop when the chips are down, and the chips have been down in Australian sport in general for too long now.
      What happened to the support our teams used to have in the 80’s and 90’s. On mass our national teams were fairing no better then than they are now but Australia was known for its unwavering support for its sports teams, and the teams seemed to lift as a result.
      If attitude is what the wallabies are lacking, I think the average supporter needs to look at their own attitude and how they support their team.

      And don’t tell me that Australians just don’t have it in them to be stoic supporters of their team through thick and thin. I am writing this whilst watching Carlton play Richmond in the background. Now there is a group who know how to get behind their teams!

  • Richard

    All interesting and valid points Hugh – thank you.

    Be honest though and go ask yourself how many of those 11 observations (ignore the Boks were good) could have been used in each of the last 4 thrashings the Wallabies have received? Maybe add why are the Wallabies always so badly out scored in the last 20 minutes and why is the tight forward play worse now than 8 weeks ago?

    For whatever reason, too many people have wanted to hang their misguided hopes on weak intangibles such as McKenzie now being the coach, or Cooper being back at 10, or Folau finding his right position or Hooper being a rover or AAC this or JOC that. It is masking over the facts that much inside Australian rugby is extremely flawed. The showpiece Wallaby side are just exposing it for all to see and opposition sides are going to keep piling on the misery as long as those flaws exist. All this whilst guys like McKenzie and Michael Cheika are lauded for bringing a fast-paced, up-tempo style of play that is putting too little emphasis on core set-pieces, tight forward play, basic skills and defense. It is cart before horse logic. Every rugby fan of any stature knows every big game is won or lost up front — they always have been! Somehow that is being overlooked in Australia and has been for far too long. The results have been there for all to see in these last 4 crushing losses and anyone honestly seeing systems, procedures and practices being put in place to facilitate necessary change?

    Be sure to save this note Hugh, it feels like it has shelf life for a while. Especially if Australia rugby wants to keep retaining it’s attention where it is, not where it needs to be. The really big ticket sales and really big TV ratings come when you win, not when you look pretty.

    • Hugh Cavill

      I disagree, we are not ‘extremely flawed’. Our forwards have proven on numerous occasions that they are capable of muscling up and taking it to the top international sides. They did it in the first two tests against the Lions, they did it in Super Rugby, they did it in the Northern Hemisphere at the end of last season.

      It seems to me that the problem isn’t technique, it is attitude. For some reason we just can’t put it together when push comes to shove. That is our fatal flaw- nothing to do with development or procedures. And I don’t know what the answer is, and it seems you don’t either.

      • Jon Cooper

        Thanks for the article Hugh. Agree with all your points and the only thing that every one of these comments is that they are just opinions and observations not solutions. And bugger me to what the issue is and hopefully the staff identify it soon.

        To me a lot of these bloke bar a handful, look heartbroken. They don’t even look like mates to me there little cliques or circles. In comparison to the Boks they looked like it was a reunion.

        This might sound silly but I would start with the room assignments when on tour. Put blokes like JOC with Moore tell them to hangout and not to be more than 5m away from each other for a week.
        I had this experience in the RAAF it was a great way to bond guys quickly from all over OZ. Or even crazier no hotels bunks go really medieval 30 odd blokes in a hall and no one goes anywhere without 7 other blokes.

        I am sure Ill see crazy BOKS Kamp Staaldraad blah blah blah comments.

        • southerner

          I agree with this point. Where is the do or die attitude among the Wallabies that is going to get them the big games?
          At the moment the team is looking weary, sick of playing and frightened of the physical contest which goes to the heart of forward combat. If you don’t like the heat get out of the fire!

      • MooMagic

        Dead right Hugh. You can see that lacking attitude when the Boks scored their first try. It was heads down hands on hips instead of what you see from the premium teams of arse slapping and saying ‘we’ll get the next one boys, it’s early days.’

      • Richard

        And therein lies the problem Hugh…. Each week going into each test I read from guys like you, and listen on the Podcast how you for all kinds of reasons predict a Wallaby victory for that week. Then afterwards I read and listen to the same scribes prefering to focus on the 1 or 2 positives from the match, not the clear list of deficiencies you have outlined here in your article. You “hope” it gets better. You “hope” the attitude changes. You “hope” enough possession can be secured then hope it can be converted into points. You “hope” the defensive systems hold up and hope the tackles get made. It goes on and on — has done for quite some time now. God forbid the “hope” when McKenzie replaced Deans was deafening.

        The flaws I refer to certainly incorporate attitude, but do not end there. Attitude alone does not dictate to a forward what keeps a scrum moving straight, how to be most effective at breakdown or be most productive off the ball in the same way attitude alone does not teach a backline to hold together a strong defensive formation or run straight lines on attack. We have seen it all year in Australian rugby and is why Australian sides have won no competitions. Competitive yes, winning no.

        Your reference to Australian sides results in the recent past is worth a concluding thought. The world feels to have evolved, but Australia stayed constant. What once worked now does not. Attitude maybe. I would suggest advancements in technique, skills, planning and analysis. Did someone say coaching?

        • Hugh Cavill

          OK let’s take this point by point.

          1. Of course I ‘hope’ they win, I am a Wallabies fan. I choose to focus on the positives each week because that is what a sports fan does. If you want to focus on the negatives and feel shitty every week, why bother? Don’t confuse me and this site with the coaching staff, because all we can do is ‘hope’.

          2. We HAVE seen solid forward play and set piece work from Australian sides this year. Did you watch the Brumbies? You know, the team that were 15 minutes away from winning the comp? The team who beat the Bulls at Loftus, mainly by rolling over them in the forwards and at the scrum? The team that won the whole show, the Chiefs, were hardly known for their forward play, so to associate lack of competition success with that is disingenuous.

          3. I don’t think the world of rugby has ‘evolved’ at all. I saw nothing from the Boks on Saturday that I haven’t seen for the 20 or so years I have been watching top level rugby. There are obviously advancements in a few areas, but the foundations of good play remain the same, and it was these basics that we failed badly at on Saturday- hitting the ball at pace, the ability to draw and pass, accurate cleanout work at the breakdown, running with support and driving in contact. I don’t know what the solution is to these problems, but I certainly don’t think we have been left behind by the rest of the rugby world.

        • Richard

          I appreciate your comments Hugh. Thank you.

        • Batteries-not-included

          Hugh……may I point out (tongue in cheek) that the Brumbies are coached by a Saffa? LOL

      • Batteries-not-included

        To be perfectly honest Hugh…..after watching the Wallabys (and in particular James O’Connor) after the match all full of smiles and laughter…….losing like that would concern the hell out of me.

        They should be mad and hurting…..and wanting to take the head off the next opposition they’re to play against. Not walking around as though they just came from a Sunday picnic?

        So….I’m with you on the “attitude” problem. Don’t know what’s happened to it…..but it certainly hasn’t been there for a while now?

    • BennyJJ

      That was something I found a bit strange. They have made a lot of talk about wanting to play a fast continuous game and through quick taps, line outs rather than penalties, and running rather than clearing kicks, showed that their plan was to run the Boks ragged. But at the same time, it looks like they aren’t capable of it and it was the so-call jet lagged team that ran in three tries in the last twenty mins.

      But we can’t blame the new WBs coach for that. It rests with the super rugby coaches to get these guys fit. Especially the Reds’ coach :)

  • Jitterry

    No heart, not willing to do the hard yards and the basics. What Jake White has instilled at the Brumbies is missing in this wallabies team. Play the percentages then play the fancy stuff

    • Hendo

      Forwards win games, backs decide by how much.

  • Big Ted

    I will say, if the Boks players were half as emotionally charged for that game as Heyneke Meyer was, it’s no wonder they door matted us! As a wallaby supporter I must say it was refreshing to see a coach show some genuine emotion during a match. I think he also played it well pre match in the interviews, lauding the wallabies and lulling them into a false sense of security. Much better than baiting a team and poking the wasps nest…are you listening Steve Hanson you twit?

    Can’t remember seeing a wallabies side ever look as clueless as last night. I’ve watched many a poor performance by them before clinging to a dysfunctional game plan, but last night I don’t think there was a game plan. It was like Link had just said “run out, sing the anthem and see what happens”. All the wallabies wins over top teams have always been built around a real intensity in the tight to at least gain parity in the set piece and in the loose. I didn’t see much intensity in any of the wallabies play last night.

    Intensity as far as I am aware is an attitude thing…and it looks like the wallabies attitude is shit.

  • billy

    The forwards need to run on to the ball! our attack is unbelievably poor and we can never put any pressure on the other team. Also, someone tell Mowen that he isnt a playmaker… he should be dropped and we need some strong ball carriers.

  • Epi

    Agree with everything except about Lilo. I think he’s a 10 and a good one and he’s the only one in Australia who can kick goals.. Do we really want to go back to the bad old days? Think lions v wallabies game 1

    • Bcombes

      Bill I’m 50/50 on Lilo. I agree he has a golden boot but I think the wallabies are relying on this too much and letting of foot off the throat of opposition in moments where we have the upper hand and selecting to take 3 points from the contest. I don’t think a player should solely be picked on his boot. For me I would rather a more dynamic no. 12 and have the ability to bring in another attacking player and have a kicker with a 70% accuracy then rely on a boot and not much else

  • Bcombes

    Couldn’t agree more Hugh! I’ve disagreed with you before a few times, but you are 100% correct here. I think the wallabies lack 3 things.
    1.) leadership – even of late big kev has been weak in this area. When your playing the boks and especially more steyn you do not get caught in trying to compete at a penalty kicking comp. when the boks received the yellow card and we received a penalty in their red zone we chose to take 3 points from the occasion not 5 or 7. From this moment in the game I knew we would lose.
    2.) structure – our game play lacks any structure what so ever. What happened to you have to win the contest up front to earn the right to go wide?
    3.) passion & self belief – I think this ties in to the two points above but wallabies seem lack luster and seem to have conceited to the loss with 30 minutes still left on the clock.

    To be honest I’ve never been more disappointed in a wallaby performance as I was last night, to make it even worse I had a couple of arrogant bok supporters seated behind me at the game

  • 0497

    Missing Palu and Auelua when fit! Auelua will fuck up a sth African line any day!

  • the ardent b’stard

    Thanks Hugh, for me the Meateaters just did the simple stuff very very well.
    1. Absolute focus and control on the collision and the gain line.
    2. Very few errors from 9 and 10 – just good simple control
    3. And the backs run straight, bugga me who would have thought that works.
    Note to EM, you earn the right to go wide by winning up front first.
    That was an awesome pack that went the full 80 minutes – 2 good games coming up next week.
    Don’t think the Wallabies need to overcomplicate this – simple stuff first

  • Davy

    On the money Hugh, 100%.
    But my question would be why? Why are they playing so badly. It seems the longer the team are together the worse they are becoming. The amount of stupid penalties conceded is indicative of a team without leadership and discipline. Surely you talk before the game about Steyn and not conceding needless penalties?
    You have to ask whether the culture within the team is right when discipline on the field is poor and when under pressure the basic skills are melting away.

    • Hugh Cavill

      Agreed. We really were missing a leader out there, you could tell.

      • Billy Bob Vanderwaal

        Genia was the captain but it was Moore who chatting at the ref, then when Genia and Mowen were both subbed off, the ref had to ask who was the captain and it didn’t seem like anyone knew.

    • rugby bloke

      Maybe it’s not a lack of leaders but too many

  • Ads

    I cannot for the life of me see why Benn Robinson is not there when our scrum is so shyte. Simmons and Douglas were both average. I would consider Lilo at 10 to see how that pans out. Having done international time at 12 he might go ok and no one else has done much at 10.

  • Cypod

    I never thought I would say this but it looked like from the moment the Boks ran out onto the pitch they were really relaxed and focused on just enjoying themselves playing rugby, which is what its all about but so rarely seen in todays professional arena. They look like an awesome side that could go a long way.Its a long shot but maybe Lilo? should move to 5/8 and try Toomua at inside centre his defence alone could be a huge game changer.

  • Jimmy

    Obviously he isn’t to blame, but can someone please tell me how many ordinary games Cooper needs to have before we stop picking him. all those who kept calling for him to replace Toomua must watch the game with blinkers because he didn’t offer anything more than Toomua did last game and his defence was a damn site worse.

    • Timbo

      Running sideways and into big dudes expecting to beat them with flair. when you’re running at Vermulen and Alberts who are both as wide as they are tall x-factor is not going to do you any good. Cooper was/is ineffective against good defence.

    • the ardent b’stard


    • Hugh Cavill

      Cooper didn’t have his best game, but he certainly wasn’t alone there. Plus he had no front foot ball at all. I am more worried by the fact that we appeared unorganised, like there was no communication going on. I thought one of the benefits of having the Genia-Cooper nexus was their combination and history, but we sadly saw no evidence of that on Saturday.

      • Mart

        Good point about the combo.

        The pushed pass from Cooper has always been my fear.

  • Madflyhalf

    What I saw yesterday was one of the ugliest rugby show I’ve ever seen, amd I’m Italian, living i Italy, not far from Zebre HQ!

    1) forwards play makes difference. Yes, already echoed in the big inferno’s circles, but again: did you realize that Morné ‘Traffic-light’ Steyn launched his backline attacks ALWAYS 10m deep and STEADY??
    Btw he looked god, thanks to his forward (and a couple of backs too)!

    2) Cooper can’t adapt and this is unacceptable for his experience! If defence is rushing like Saffa’s, take a bit of space, sacrifying territorial gain in the first channels, but spreading the ball wide exploring the defence there! Cooper has always been caught too flat and unable to distribute good balls to his backs
    In Bled 2nd Toomua was more confident, and varied his depth in funcion of what he was trying to do, despite his 1 test experience

    3) is McKenzie revolution too much for now? IMO yes, but it’s hard take a step back atm, I just don’t see any structure of forwards/tight play, any backline movements, any scrum progress.
    I don’t see a team playing the same game.

    And that’s scarying, for team spirit, beacuse this team can’t afford to forget how to win!

    Let’s see what happens next saturday…

    • Mukhtar

      I sympathize with EM – trying to forge a new team in the RC is as hard a task as any in the sport, no? Added to that, his forwards are being monstered – how galling for a coach who was a renowned forward himself. Astonishingly, he does not seem to notice the repeated infringements by his team in the scrums!!

      Tellingly, EM was given the job of not just ‘winning’, but ‘entertaining’ also! I have a feeling, EM, the WallaBs and their fans will settle for the ‘ugliest’ win imaginable against the Pumas..
      Finally, what’s happened to Genia between the 1st and 3rd Lions Tests? He seems to be human after all.. Class is permanent, but this talisman needs a big game; his team needs him at his game-breaking best.

  • Seb V

    I never rate Lealifano as a 12. He just doesn’t seem to have an impact. Lealifano at 10 however is better then both Toomua and Cooper!

  • james

    we can discuss this as much as we like but the unpalatable truth is these players are simply not good enough.that might be an obvious statement but it seems beyond the australian media to comprehend this and most likely alot of us supporters as well.these current players are simply second rate.

  • Mudskipper

    No genuine comment about Quade Cooper ? Hardly Leo’s issue ic Genia and QC cant make good choices…

  • SaffaG

    Australian Rugby is just coming through a bit of controversy in regard to coaching and players and a bit of infighting. Lots of changes and instability. Don’t worry Oz, the dust will settle soon and the guys will start functioning as a team again… hopefully sooner than later. You got the coaching staff and you got the talent. Just look at how South Africa turned it around since last year.

  • Pclifto

    As a rabid Wallabies supporter I have grown up with an equal amount of loathing and hatred for the Boks and the All Blacks, our natural foes.

    But am I the only one to have found the attitude from the Boks this year refreshingly gracious?

    Both captain Jean de Villiers and coach Heyneke Meyer come across as genuinely nice fellas, gracious in victory without a hint of arrogance… just a feeling of relaxed pride in their performances.

    Dare I say it, I’m finding it hard to hate the Saffas these days. They are playing great rugby by designing an effective gameplan and executing it ruthlessly.

    That fat arrogant twat Hansen and the ABs set-up could take notes in humility. Here’s hoping the Boks stuff them this weekend.

    • Mart

      Couldn’t agree more

    • Glen

      Mate Hanson and the all blacks are so pc its a joke. They never bag the other team. So I dont know why you have your undies in a knot. Least they don’t whinge when they lose.

      • JP

        Good point Glen. The ABs have so much ammunition to stick the boot in to the opposition, but are so PC and nice that the fans are wondering if it is all an act. Regardless, to call them arrogant smacks of sour grapes. Although Steve Hansen can be infuriating with his sly digs at the opposition, the AB team and other coaches are just too nice.

    • Batteries-not-included

      Thanks mate…..much appreciated and yes……we’ve noticed the change ourselves. :-)

  • SCH

    Completely agree this is an issue of attitude, not talent. Each of the players is clearly talented, but for whatever reason they are not playing for each other and to win. They are clearly frustrated with losing and I fear losing is beginning to set in as an expectation. Your comment about whether this team actually trains together is spot on. They do not know each other as players and seemingly have no clue about the style, strengths and weaknesses of each other. They appear to be trying to play to what they think others are expecting them to play, rather than to their own strengths or from a clear and honest understanding of their weaknesses. This, to me, is ultimately a coaching problem. My fear is Link and the ARU are so obsessed with the “kind” of game the WB’s should be playing they ignore the game that best suits the skills of the team we actually have and allows the WB’s to win.

    We can’t underestimate the negative impact of all the toxicity of the late Dingo era and this was never going to be fixed immediately. The good news is that this is a fixable problem. But it needs to be fixed soon, otherwise there won’t be any supporters left. This afternoon, I actually found myself thinking about watching an AFL game – and I hate AFL

  • Rugby_Union

    Against the run of play here but I am not ready to despair. You have to knock down before you can build up. Even if we finish last in the RC this year I am sure we will see the goods produced at the end of year tour and at the next RC.

    Have a little faith and stick with the lads through the hard and the easy. And trust me, I can see some good stuff on the horizon

    • Hugh Cavill

      But see the problem I have (although I wouldn’t say I’m ‘dispairing’, just concerned) is that there is no evidence that Link has knocked anything down at all.

      I haven’t seen much in the way of a different game plan. In fact I am seeing the same flaws in the team I have seen for the past two years- soft forwards and an inability to convert field position into points. There haven’t been any major changes in personnel, either.

      Certainly not panic stations, but the pressure is really on to produce against the Argies. The fact is that in the last three games we have only scored three tries, only one of which when the game was still alive, and that was an 80m fluke.

  • gareth

    very well written. right on point.

  • Garry

    BB, loved your article and everyword (always intuitive) until you undermined it with your love of Cliff Palu. You lost me there. Big lump of a fella, which gets him some meters, but he’s a perennial underperformer at the top level. He’s always injured (unfortunately) and you gotta stop holding out for his return. We got outmuscled, but his presence would not have made one iota..

    For those who watched the NZ Argies game, what odds are we to get out muscled againin Perth? Wooden spoon?

    Lastly, who is that Fox commentator who keeps spruiking monotonous stats about the AB glory and our pitiiful results. Send him back to what ever sport he came from.

    • Mica

      Yep agreed. If you replace since Palu with since Kefu (or even Lyons at a push) I’d agree

  • BennyJJ

    Once Pockock, Higgers, Palu, TPN and Horwill are back and Link realises that JOC is the best FH Australia has, things should come right. Autumn internationals shouldn’t be so bad.

    • Will

      I assume by saying JOC as Australia’s best FH means F%ck Head right? You can’t seriously mean Fly Half after the Lions tour can you?

      • BennyJJ

        I’m being a bit facetious but I do wonder if, given time at super rugby level, JOC would be a good option at first or second five. It won’t be long before has Beale, Folau, and Speight at the back so one of the four will have to miss out.

        • Hendo

          For me JOC would make a good 12 – there’s competition tho. However, he still looks like a teenager trying to be popular. Is it me or do today’s youth take longer to grow up?

        • BennyJJ

          It’s all the hormones in the chicken these days. He’s actually only 11 years old but looks 17

  • AJ

    I thought Lilo was decent, actually. He ran some good lines (eg. the interplay with Folau in the first half), but also distributed well (AAC crash balls). There was never a lot of forward momentum, which has to do with breaking the advantage line in the forwards.

    I think the scrum was poor, and we really missed Big Kev. All that being said, I think the Saffas would’ve beaten us regardless of who we had on the field. Strong performance by them.

  • Reds Ninja

    I say we try something new next match, keep Genia and Cooper cause there was sparks of what can be unlocked last night when they link up, lose AAC because he had a shocking display last night, we shoudln’t be picking on reputatuion. Switch O’Connor to 13 and keep Lilo at 12, then bring in F-Sautia for a debut at 11. Keep Folau at the back and Cummins at 14 cause we need to wait for Speight.

    • Hugh Cavill

      I think that is the last thing we need to be doing. AAC played no worse than Cooper or Genia or Lealiifano or Cummins. Chris F’Sautia is still at least a year off the Wallabies.

      • Parker

        I second your idea for JOC at 12 and have been saying so for a while.

  • Stin

    Yes you’re on the money. Grrrrrrrr

  • subfreq

    Australia seem to have forgotten one of Rugby’s greatest cliches/wisdoms. “You earn the right to go wide”. We are playing it like sevens and I think some of this might be down to a poor understanding of what Australian running rugby should be about.

    Leinster in Ireland actually play the prototype of rugby we should be looking at. Low percentage in their own half, expansive up the field and a real focus on first phase execution off set plays. They play athletic and mobile rugby without even having the riches we do at 7.

    Our biggest impediment to achieving this though is a rear lack of quality in the tight five. We have nothing in the loose or tight from these guys. Moore no longer barges around the field.

    No point of even talking backline until this is sorted.

  • Canuckruck

    Having watched Argentina play the All Blacks after watching the Wallaby v Springbok game, I am very concerned for the Wallabies next weekend. Pumas were very aggressive and powerful at the scrum and breakdown, everything that the Wallabies weren’t against the Springboks….The Wallabies are going to have to significantly lift their game, especially in the forwards.

  • The Epicurean

    All valid observations Hugh but by far biggest worry for me is scrum and breakdown and what concerns me even more is that the problem is more about attitude than ability and technique though they are also issues within themselves. My concern is doubled by Ewans apparent inability to deal with it. I am a big fan of his following what he achieved from the smoldering wreck that was the Reds. By whatever means he managed to get the best out of every player which together with game plans designed around opposition strengths and weaknesses translated into a sustained winning culture. Sadly there are no signs of that experience being repeated on the Wallaby horizon I guess it is early days however I would have thought that with the cattle now at his disposal (the nations entire playing list) we would have seen better results notwithstanding that the 3 matches so far have been against teams ranked 1and 2 in world rugby. There seems to be a problem associated with attitude/culture that is at the root of the poor performances under EM that is a carryover from the Deans era. It is to be hoped that it can soon be diagnosed and cured before we all start watching League and Aussie Rules

    • ash

      One of the highlights of the Reds win in 2011 was the way the forwards attacked the ruck, particularly the win over the Stormers in SA and the win over the Chiefs in NZ in the wet. In both of these games the Reds played a forwards orientated game plan and their lower rated forwards won both the breakdown and collisions. The scrum was sacrificed (e.g. playing Daley) but at Super level you could get away with that. Meanwhile, the Wallabies are getting soundly beaten at all aspects of forward play (maybe other than the lineout),

      If you win both the breakdown and collisions you will go a long way to winning the game. The Boks beat us at set pieces, the scrum, the breakdown, and the collisions. The fact that their backs clicked and guys like le Roux and Engelbrecht looked dangerous meant it was a real hiding. That Bok team looks like it could develop into a real ripper, while we look to be going the other way.

  • Fed up

    Where is Dwyer with his ‘Deans’ era like not so subtle digs at the coach now?

  • Farva

    Re number 8, Mowen is not an 8. He is a 6. He has performed really well at 6 this season for the Brumbies. Why not play him there? We are short at 8, but dont cover that by pulling excellent options at 6 and shimmying them in to a position they are not used to.
    For 12, Lilos goal kicking is well worth it (and probably means we should keep him there). But JOC and Cooper can both kick. When Kyle Godwin is fit I would like to see him given a run (preferably on the EOYT). He is the type of player that will make breaks and run the ball. That will give space to the guys like AAC outside of him. And he is fine defensively. Granted his goal kicking is woeful but we have others who can do that.
    As a left field thought, what is Matt Giteau’s contractual commitments in Europe. Can he be signed to an Australian team and reintroduced to the team?
    Anyway, the changes are in the forwards, particularly the tight five. Simmons and Douglas are not test quality locks. Moore is out of form. Kepu and Alexander are struggling.

  • ash

    I suspect that the 10 / 12 early passing was a plan, at least early on, as the Boks have been utilising a compressed, up and in umbrelly defence. I think that idea was get out the outside player rushing up – generally JDV or Engelbrecht. For this to work we need good decisions from the 13 or the fullback joining the line. However, the Boks actually seemed to adjust their defence to more of a drift meaning that we just shovelled ineffectually early on in the game. Later in the first half you could see both Cooper and Lilo started taking the ball closer to the line a few times before passing.

    That being said, I’m still haunted with memories of our forwards being beaten so badly at ruck time. Inaccurate, poor cleanouts, too much watching, particularly on our own ball. Watching the supposedly slower Bok backrow get to rucks before our own backrow was particularly galling.


Can't write, can't play. Tahs and Wallabies.

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