The Tuesday Top 5 - Green and Gold Rugby
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The Tuesday Top 5

The Tuesday Top 5

Hands up who regrets getting (or staying in this case) up for the Wallabies match. Sleep deprived, disappointed, pissed off – just what the Wallabies want in their fans! So this week in the Top 5, we give you the top 5 things that we are talking about after that match. Well four things. And one about where we are going next.

Another One Bites The Dust

So, what did we make of that performance? We could have a look at the game stats but they really don’t represent much of the story in this one. The issue we had was it really didn’t tell us anything new which maybe the most concerning part of all.

First up; we are still struggling to score tries. It has been an issue for the last few years and is still an ongoing problem. I can’t see anything new in attack. Even if we celebrate our ability to defend if we can’t score, we simply can’t win.

Yes, there was White at halfback and he did bring something to the game. His performance was good, but did it provide the Wallabies with anything really? He provided us with some good kicking, especially his box kicks. But is that what we need?

But with such a short lead up and combinations being critical, especially when you are still scratching around for some attack, is it wise to be bringing in and starting players who have not played or spent much match time with the rest of the players and are still adapting to the culture change?

The Kerevi/Kuridrani combination is fantastic; on paper. One has to sit down, which presents a whole new issue with who stays and who do they bring in. It might be controversial but Kerevi just brings a lot more to the team and I believe that Kuridrani should be considered a backup option.

Samu Kerevi stares down Sonny Bill Williams.

Samu Kerevi stares down Sonny Bill Williams.

I have to say, as harsh as it sounds, that looking at the Wallabies team sheet, I was an opposition coach I don’t think I would be overly worried about the backline threat. Wingers usually represent a threat but Haylett-Petty and Hodge just don’t. There is a case to mount some defence about them playing out of position. However, if that was the case, I would have expected Hodge to be drifting in to the centres at times and irrespective of position, DHP’s issue are basic ball handling skill deficiencies. The Kerevi/Kuridrani combination is, like I said above, threatening on paper but it really hasn’t shown much in reality; it’s all about Kerevi’s individual efforts. Banks at full back looked ok but like any player needs time.

Selections; I am all for giving players an opportunity but Uelese really is the poster boy for why you don’t pick on “potential”. With limited time in Super Rugby and even less with the Wallabies he has shown very little that warrants selection. He may have been exceptionally unlucky on Saturday night but at the same time I could say the same thing about either of the two Reds hookers who on form are probably more deserving of the same opportunity.

Injuries

Injuries are just one of those aspects of the game you need to be able to manage around. Sometimes teams are lucky with injuries and other times not. But I do wonder if there is something more when it comes to the number of injuries that are happening to Wallabies players outside of games? It is becoming a bit of recurring theme with the Wallabies squad and it’s a trend they need to change urgently.

Is this a case of pushing players who are coming off the back of a Super Rugby season too hard too early? It’s a question worth asking as the list of training injury outs is significant.

Michael Hooper

Michael Hooper

Looking for the silver lining it’s forcing the Wallabies to find some squad depth. That really good for the future but right now its really making solidifying combinations increasingly difficult.

One concerning thought I have had is come the Rugby World Cup the pressure will be increased with a tournament format that demands reduced recovery times and a need to maintain peak performance for many weeks. Based on the current rate of injuries I can’t help but be a little concerned if this could have an impact on our RWC squad? Should we be concerned at the rate of training injuries the Wallabies are experiencing? Should RA be looking at the current regime around training, conditioning, player management and recovery to make sure we don’t have it wrong?

A picture

It’s fairly commonplace to hear players, coaches and commentators refer to the “picture” they are trying to present to the referees.

Captains will work hard on engaging with the referee to try and impart their view to help him formulate this picture in an attempt to help influence his perception of events. We hear it often when it comes to the scrum. The right picture tends to show the referee it’s not your team causing the issues. The same when it comes to the breakdown. The referees will also form this picture independently based on the actions of a team.

Take Saturday night. The rush up defence of the Springboks had the referee questioning if they were on-side. At one point early on in the game you could hear him talking with his assistant referees during play, checking on the Springbok defensive line. The picture that was formulated was the Springboks were cutting it fine, but the majority of the time they had their timing right. As the game progressed the question around the timing seemed to dissipate. The Springbok picture had helped him be reassured about their timing.

The game itself was pretty physical and the breakdown was fairly heavily contested. The forwards were going at it and there were some brutal hits about, all in all it was just hard rugby. That was the picture I was seeing and it looked like the referee had the same “picture”.

But when it comes to these “pictures” you need to decide what picture you are painting. One painting you tend to want to avoid in rugby is the self-portrait where those who see it look at it with wonder; and not in a good way. Even worse is when it appears, the artist decides to do a series of pictures that just reemphasis the questions about the “picture”.

Sadly, the aspiring artist, Mr Tupou decided he would present a series of pictures to the referee right from the moment he came on the field.

When the referee blew the whistle and reviewed Tupou’s cleanout the picture that had been painted was an individual piece, not seen previously in the game, and it was ugly to the eye of the beholder and most likely influential.

Tupou

What probably made it worse was the painting by numbers of his teammates. While they all doing the same painting by numbers “stacks-on, the balls trapped in the maul” picture Tupou’s was freestyling; attempting to clean out what his teammates wanted to keep in and then proceeded to colour outside the lines, on the far edge of the breakdown, via the side gate and beyond where ball was trapped.

Irrespective if the call was right or wrong, I think Tupou had painted an ugly picture and that was how many would view it, especially the referees. It’s not a picture the game wants to present so technicalities were going to be a hard sell.

It’s not a hard fix but it’s a lesson that needs to be learned very quickly. Come RWC, this is World Rugby’s, (the games) show piece and they (we) will want it to present a good picture. The right picture. Technically right won’t be good enough as it will be all superficial. All about the look.

Abstract Expressionism Existentialism

Talking about pictures I, like many of you, would like Cheika to paint me a new picture or at least something different.

With the Wallabies now on the series of shows before the RWC, they need to be attracting supporters on to the Wallabies bandwagon with some hope or optimism. Yes, Bernard Foley’s comments in the news articles saying the same pessimism was around before the previous RWC and they were reasonably successful. But I can’t help but respond to that comment with the simple age-old question of if a tree falls in a forest; or rather if the Wallabies win and nobody watching…….?

Dejected Wallabies after loss to Argentina

Dejected Wallabies after loss to Argentina

Maybe if I had seen some attacking plays that didn’t quite work, some “oh so close chances”, or a few more “that was close” I would have been happier as it would have showed me signs of life, risk taking and a willingness to chance their hand and see what they can get to work in the led up to the RWC I would have waked way with a different impression.

But as much as I stare at it, tilt my head, squint, I just can see it any other way at the moment.

The reality is that this is a long way from a masterpiece and between the continuing unattractive and uninspiring picture the Wallabies present, the sales pitch of excuses, work in progress and reproductions it’s a hard sell even to the Wallabies junkies.

To add to my depression was the realisation that somewhere between post 2015 RWC and now South Africa had worked out how to develop new talent and add depth while it appears Australia hasn’t.

Rugby like any sport is a strange beast so who knows, it might all fall into place and the Wallabies will be successful.

I can only hope that RA work out that the masses, especially the Australian sporting public, know what a Bradbury is, like an underdog and will usually watch any sport where there is a chance for any of our national teams to have success.

Maybe it’s time to take the brushes and pallet away from Cheika and let him paint the Wallabies picture a better way. Finger painting is always just simple fun!

Run forward

As Michael Cheika recently said “I know that’s a bit cliched but one thing I think is going to be big this year is building momentum. It’s no secret we’re coming from way back and to come from way back you’ve got to build momentum and belief in yourself on the way, it’s really important”.

1 game down, 4 to go before the World Cup – and so far momentum isn’t looking so good. But we could still turn it around, right? Let’s have a look at what the Wallabies have coming up over the next few weeks.

This coming weekend we take on the Pumas in Brisbane. Not long ago, this would have been a given win for the Wallabies, especially at home. But now? Last year the Pumas beat the Wallabies in Australia. This year the Jaguares have been on fire and as Phil Kearnes pointed out last weekend, no international team has had as much time playing together as the Pumas. Last weekend the Pumas came within 4 points of beating the All Blacks, holding them scoreless in the second half and coming so close to scoring the winning try. So will the Wallabies romp it in? Or will it be a tough one that could go either way?

Nicolas Sanchez scores for the Pumas

Nicolas Sanchez scores for the Pumas

After that things get easier – NOT! A home game against the All Blacks in Perth to finish off the Rugby Championship followed by the second Bledisloe match. At Eden Park. A place where history is most definitely against us.

I’m not saying that the run into the World Cup is going to be 3 more losses followed by a match against Samoa, we know the Wallabies can be unpredictable. They may well go into the World Cup with a run of 4 wins, the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup back in the trophy cabinet, riding high on the wave of momentum Cheika mentioned.

It is possible, but won’t be easy.

  • Bernie Chan

    Foley refers to the fact the Wallas did OK in the last RWC….? Mate…we only got a ‘pass’ mark because a Ref gave us the most dubious of penalties, and that allowed us to rob the poor Scots!

    • NSWelsham in London

      Living in the UK i have had to deal with these bloody Scots for 4 years now complaining about that… My answer to them has always been the same….re-watch the game and see some of the useless penalties Joubert gifted them to keep them in the game. He was as bad for both teams, the issue is people only remember that final penalty and feel that was the reason we won… Bollocks……

      • Bernie Chan

        Yeh…Joubert was pretty crook in general as a Referump, however I still think we were very lucky. But that’s just my opinion….and Cheika has “dined out” on that RWC campaign since while delivering very little to advance the team.

        • NSWelsham in London

          definitely agree he has been dining out on the campaign since – he even mentioned it recently saying how we were runners up so we can do one better this time.. fuck me whats he been doing for the last 4 years then… As I have said before – if we play passionate rugby but lose to a better side then so be it, ill be proud of the guys, its when we play so so so much worse than our potential due to stupid coaching and certain backs acting like 15 year olds that we as supporters deserve to get angry as we all know they are better than that. Pushed passes i can sometimes understand when they just dont pay off, but what some of those players did on the weekend was atrocious, and well below professional level.
          Dont know the relevance of that last comment to the conversation just wanted to get it off my chest..

        • Bernie Chan

          Maaate…we all feel your pain. Lots of guys on this site who support different teams (we even have KRL…!) but all entirely baffled by “the plan”… In fact we are a lot like those characters in Blackadder that some buggers keep plagerising…!
          And I think almost all fans think along the same lines….if our mob give it a “red hot go”, play as well as they can and then lose to a better side, then so be it. But we have seen 4 years of dross, and that hurts…hurts even more when the clique then trot out pointless platitudes and excuses…
          Lucky the next Test is at Lang Park…that is one of few positives this weekend…and Creevy is out.

  • Wallabrumby

    I have not posted on this site for some time.

    Maybe due to my feeling of helplessness in that no matter what input I attempt to type is going to have a dogs breakfast effect on any change in both the performance of the teams I love, but also the perception of the game I love in the nation we one way or another call home.

    But for the sake of me I can’t understand the negativity and nit picking about the national side in a world cup year. No wonder the game is “perceived” as in in trouble if its most loyal supporters (who punch keyboards on this site and others) are always negative about it.

    Why not embrace the outsider tag? The underdog? The true Aussie story?

    Why is New Zealand now winning the WC Netball, a bees… from the cricket WC and dominating Rugby for….well too long!?

    Its because they and their supporters are embracing the underdog status that we used to support and ride on the back off. Like it or not New Zealand is New Australia.

    It seems we have been too spoilt with our past success and as a result have developed a certain privileged attitude towards our representatives and have been overzealous in our criticism of them.

    So lets get behind the wallabies, win lose or draw and thank them for playing for us and been at the pinnacle of the game in Australia and respect them for what they have achieved to get there.

    You never know we might be surprised.

    I for one sleep better with that in mind.

    • A Dingo Stole My Rugby

      I get your overall position about other sports, but can someone please remind me when was the last time a NZ rugby supporter / media type / player thought the All Blacks were remotely close to being underdogs? Was it against the 1973 Barbarians? Or maybe longer ago than that…

      • From NooZealand

        In 1924 – 25 maybe?

        • Who?

          But you guys lost in 1928 (to the Tahs, which RA considers Tests, but the NZRU doesn’t – perhaps to help maintain the impossibly high winning record?) and 1930 (which resulted in the creation of the Bledisloe Cup). So maybe a little more recently..?
          ;-)

        • From NooZealand

          I was just kidding my friend. Sorry.

        • Who?

          No need to apologize – it might feel that way! :-)
          I’m not one of those who’s too sensitive about such comments. I was trying to play along.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Nope. We’re never an underdog. We get beaten for sure but it’s because someone steps up or we have a bad day or a bit of both. Long may it continue

        • From NooZealand

          I was just teasing him. 1924 -25, as you know, The Invincibles came to stay. Welcome home. As for the game tomorrow night. Very interesting.

    • UTG

      Agree 100%. There’s a big difference between constructive criticism and having a couple of players you flog no matter what the scenario or how they’ve played. Poor old Bernie Foley had far from his worst game and was copping an absolute beating “for creating nothing in attack” and “being useless”. This was despite him being the orchestrator of a number of first half attacking raids that created try scoring opportunities but weren’t executed. It’s not to say he had a perfect game, perhaps he could have tried something like a few more attacking kicks to circumvent the rush defences but to claim he “created nothing” is complete one-eyed junk.

    • Reinforce

      Were you asleep the other night or did you stay up and watch the game? I too wish I had taken the opportunity to sleep better and skip it. I am tired of losing the first game of the RC every year tbh. I foolishly had hope and was optimistic because we were playing Sth Africa and not the ABs but it didn’t matter. Still lost, one dimensional. Lads trying their best but just getting outplayed and out-thought. I have been living with hope every year for 15 years but it does get a little tiresome. If people are p*ssed its an accumulative effect, not just that game.

      • Wallabrumby

        Agree it gets a little tiresome..but I do need some optimism to get me up in the middle of the night, otherwise as you said its better to sleep.

    • From NooZealand

      New Zealand is New Australia? No way, we are Middle Earth, the Darkness, whatever,but not New Australia ((:))

  • Patrick

    I’m tipping we finish last in the RC even if we can get over Argentina, frankly I think that without at least one of Pocock and Folau we just not a top 5 team and it shows.

    • Twoilms

      Tend to agree. Too many factors to overcome. Half our players overseas. Our best two players injured. Same old inefficient tactics (same old coach).

      I think with the exciting under 21s we should write this one off, get in a good coach and a new set of players and really aim to have a good dig at 2023.

      • Patrick

        Sadly, that actually is the most realistic view.

  • As much as that game hurt to watch I’m willing to give it a pass as I suspect the Wallabies are still bedding in their new systems. But I’m not willing to give them much more space.
    Tupou needs to pull his head in a little and not do those unnecessary hits in rucks.
    The injuries in the Wallaby camps are ridiculously high. Whatever is happening is plain wrong. Burning through our most precious resource like it was kindling is stupidity of the highest order.

    • Steve

      I think you’re giving them too much credit Sully – I didn’t really see any evidence of anything new tbh.

      As odd as it sounds I’ve found over time you can sense improvements in a team even if they’re not getting the results, something about the patterns of play and forward momentum they are generating in collisions and cleanouts. I’m not enough of an expert in the game to put my finger on it.

      Ironically given Cheika’s remarks what still characterised the Wallabies was a total lack of momentum in both offence and defence.

      Nothing new from my point of view.

    • Twoilms

      Consistent soft tissue injuries are almost always a sign of over training.

    • Who?

      I don’t give them a pass, but I agree they’re bedding in new systems. The reason I don’t give a pass is because I question the intelligence of the systems. Any system that has Samu Kerevi running the Beale sideways line at 12 is a fail for me. It’s as though Cheika picked his RWC squad in January, with KB at 12 and Folau at 15, then didn’t bother to update it when Samu showed that he was the premier 12 in Super Rugby.

      • UTG

        We discussed yesterday why Kerevi is running the overs line in most of the Wallaby plays, though. It’s to try and get him on the outside of the defender where he’s near impossible to tackle. To the extent that he topped the stats for defenders beaten (with 8 when the next best was 3) and run metres by about 30m (84m vs 50 odd from H Jantjies) it seemed to work, at the very least, ok. Considering he’s the most marked player in the Wallaby line-up I’d be willing to say it even worked pretty well.

        • Who?

          But it’s not ‘just’ an overs line. It’s not a slight overs line to get outside people (because, let’s be honest, that doesn’t work – he was ankle tapped by a bench Saffa hooker doing that during the Super season!), it’s a direct sideways line (a la Beale), where he then throws a pass to an outside player after having stolen their space. That’s the line that was used on multiple occasions on the weekend. If it were a slight overs line, trying to set up a step…

        • UTG

          I remember that ankle tap but in that case he was trying to burn him on the outside. In most cases he’s running the overs to isolate a shoulder, particularly with his left foot in and away step. I don’t remember his overs line being as extreme as Beale’s (admittedly, I haven’t watched any footage since the game) but I’d imagine the thinking behind a hard overs line from Kerevi is to run a slider play with someone on the outside coming back under. This should work pretty well given how heavily Kerevi is marked. Here we have to give the Saffa defence some credit in defence, they weren’t able to stop Kerevi’s running but they did a very good job prohibiting him from offloading and distributing.

        • Who?

          He ran that line a couple of times.
          If it weren’t that hard sideways (and even a little bit backwards), I wouldn’t be criticising, because I do realize that Kerevi knows how to look for a soft shoulder, and that overs line can get him one.
          That said, I don’t recall Kerevi being that effective in terms of forward metres until the second half, after Toomua came on and he effectively moved to 13, where he ran straighter. Other than that, a big chunk of his metres (almost 50 of them) would’ve come from his break for the overturned try. I don’t know why the Wallabies didn’t have a game plan where he was meant to run straighter all game.

        • UTG

          Well, so as not to go round and round, I’ll just say I’ve explained what I think the logic is behind Kerevi running the overs and Kurindrani back on the unders line. I understand what you’re saying about running straighter and I’m not saying it wouldn’t be effective but in my mind what they were attempting to do were the right tactics, perhaps, execution wasn’t 100%. Maybe, this week they’ll adjust and we’ll see them running lines you’re happier with.

          Take your point about the run metres stat but he still beat a number of defenders and the Boks did well to ensure he couldn’t link up with men outside.

  • RedAnt

    Well you’ve got me nodding along to pretty much all that, MST! It’s hard to maintain optimism in the face of what we’re seeing, but I do think everyone involved is at least trying their hardest… we have some great players, the margins are fine, so you just never know, there’s always a chance we can post a few wins between now and November.

  • Zippo

    For the $1 million they spent to go to South Africa for 2 weeks – and still dish up that crap, the money would’ve been better spent paying out cheika’s contract, and getting someone in who knows what they’re doing!

    • Max Graham

      Pretty sure that they couldn’t have cut $1m from the budget, even if they forfeited the game and sent the players home without pay.

  • Here’s hoping the whole Brumbies front-row is fit and ready for this one with Slipper and Thor as reserves. Likewise LLF at fly-half prefereably with his Brumbies 2018 half. Pity they didn’t pick the Brumbies #12. Still Beale and Hooper may be good in sharing that role with Kerevi at outside centre. Be great to see genuine wingers so Henri Speight and either Koroibete or Naivalu. Let DHP and Banks fight it out for full-back/bench.

    • Who?

      If you’re talking the 2012-15 Brumbies 9/10 (White and Leali’ifano), then why not also their other 10 (Toomua – at least on the bench), Kerevi for Simone at 12, and keep their long term 13 (who had no attacking opportunities but was excellent in defence) in TK on the field?

      • Max Graham

        That makes far too much sense.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Another great set of observations MST. I really don’t know what the solution is. Do we keep the players and change the game plan or keep the game plan and change the players or a bit of a combination of both. I didn’t think Cheika’s post match was as bad as previous ones but I still struggle to understand what he’s trying to say.

    I still think the biggest issue is poor decisions under pressure and unfortunately that’s not a quick fix. I’m just hanging out for November when hopefully there’ll be big changes in both the coaching team and the player roster.

    Unlike Sully I don’t give it a pass. An under strength Boks team should have been put away and it never looked as though that was going to happen. Again dumb selections – wingers who aren’t and too slow to ever be and a game plan that exposed the weaknesses of the team.

  • AllyOz

    ” I, like many of you, would like Cheika to paint me a new picture or at least something different”

    I just want him to speak in coherent sentences. That would be a start.

  • GO THE Q REDS

    As I read this article I can’t help but think so many of your questions could be specifically answered by a simple 2 words…..Quade Cooper!

Analysis

Brumbies first, then for the love of the game. "It infuriates me to be wrong when I know I'm right." —Moliere

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