Wednesday’s Rugby News explores Foley finding the key to unlock our attack, Hooper continuing to be a pain in the neck, the prop doctor goes under the knife and the Australian Schools team announced
Foley finds the key for Aussie attack
After their remarkable comeback against Argentina on the weekend, Bernard Foley believes that the Wallabies have figured out the key to unlocking their attacking potential.
Foley believes that the key to the impressive second half performance was the side fixing their defence which gave the backline enough space to execute plays that were falling apart in the first half.
“It was just the intent in our defence that was letting us down,” Foley said. “We were waiting, sitting on the line, missing tackles and they were really good and going through us.”
“We’ve just got to allow ourselves to play enough in the right half to play our structures and when we defend right we create turnovers and give ourselves a chance,” Foley said pointing out the blatantly obvious.
Coach Chieka agreed with the sentiment, noting the direct correlation between the change in attitude and work ethic in defence with the change in momentum and ultimately the win.
“You saw the change in attitude and work ethic and outcome in the defensive side of the game and that changes the tone of the fixture altogether,” Cheika said. “It stops the opposition, they start to think ‘why can’t we get through in attack?’ and then that leads to them maybe not concentrating as much on D, and then you take those opportunities as well.”
Cheika also took the time to reflect on the turbulent Argentian match, which offered up plenty of learning experiences for the Wallabies heading into the European Tour.
“I think there’s a season’s worth of learning in that game for our lads and now it’s up to them to take it,” Cheika said. “No one can force that into their minds, into their conscience or their sub-conscience. They’ve got to take the necessary pieces that are going to help them to be standout players going forward.”
“The second half there was some sublime rugby,” Cheika said. “I won’t lie, it was unreal, but we don’t forget about the first 40 in any way, shape or form…At a point in the game and the season really where we were right there and then, to deliver that, you need to have courage. We didn’t show that in the first half – that courage – but we showed it in the second.”
David’s Groundhog Day
Humanitarian, activist, rugby player: what can’t David Pocock do. Now Pocock is staring in the real-life remark of the classic movie Groundhog Day as he continues to relive his constant troubles with head rolls.
Analysis by Fox Sports has found that despite the assurance by World Rugby boss Brett Gosper that “We are harsh on head rolls — if they’re seen, cited and so on,” Pocock continues to be on the receiving end of dangerous targeting to his neck.
Pocock has received consistent targeting at the breakdown in which opposition players are wrenching at his neck, a tactic which already ruled him out of a test against South Africa when New Zealand tried to literally rip his head off.
It appears that despite the warnings, both South Africa and Argentina have been found guilty of employing the same tactic at the break down in the last two rounds of the Rugby Championship.
Against the Springboks, fullback Willie le Roux attempted to wrestle Pocock off the ball in the 68th minute at the breakdown. After realising he couldn’t roll him off the ball, he deliberately pulls up and flips Pocock over his head, putting him in serious danger.
One Test later, Argentina lock Tomas Lavanini was also beaten to the breakdown by Pocock in the 70th minute and employed a similar tactic when he couldn’t remove him from the breakdown, flipping him dangerously.
This is compounded moments later when Marcos Kremer crashes into Pocock and fails to use his arms in the tackle as he leans with his right shoulder first.
Fiji’s gold medal winning coach Ben Ryan has been consistantly blasting World Rugby for the lack of action in regards to protecting the player at the breakdown.
“It’s isn’t the officials in the games to blame — it’s those at World Rugby that have effectively told them to ignore laws in the book that are there for a very good reason,” Ryan tweeted.
This is becoming a dangerous trend for Pocock and other specialist ballhawks at the ruck, and I fear that this could lead to someone getting seriously injured if players continue to get away with it.
The Doctor turns into the patient
The world’s smartest prop Tom Robertson will become the patient next week, as the studying medical science doctor goes under the knife for a ruptured ACL.
Robertson injured his knee during a training accident on Wallabies duty in Buenos Aires last week, ahead of the final Rugby Championship clash with Argentina in Salta.
Scans taken upon Robertson’s return home on Monday night confirmed that the worst fears of the initial diagnosis have come true, with the prop rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
The Wallaby camp is still optimistic that the young prop could still be available for the Rugby World Cup in Japan next year, despite the massive setback.
The estimated recovery time is between six and nine months, so if he can get through rehabilitation drama free, he could play in the last couple of rounds of the Super Rugby season.
The injury to Robertson opens the door for experienced Test prop James Slipper to step back into the Wallabies frame, after going through a torrid time this season as a result of a drug ban for cocaine.
Slipper has been a shining light for Queensland Country during the NRC, seemingly returning to the dominant form that made him a stalwart in the Wallabies side for several years.
However, it seems that Cheika has already indicated his preferred replacement, with young Rebels prop Jermaine Ainsley called in as injury cover for Robertson which should lead to selection in the upcoming Spring Tour.
Schoolboy selection shakeup
The Australian Schools have named their squad for an upcoming tour of Ireland and Scotland and it represents a change in the selection process of the side.
For the first time, Schools coach Andrew Moloney has been able to pick from a group of boys who have left school but are still under 18, aligning Australia with the northern hemisphere models. This has allowed Moloney to include has promising young guns Carlos Tizzano, Viliami Lea and Max Douglas, all three who have been plying their trade in top-level club rugby this year.
Tizzano was crowned WA’s club rugby player of the year whilst Lea has been getting consistent playing time at Souths (Queensland) this season and Douglas became a stable in Manly’s Shute Shield charge to the finals.
Their inclusion boosts the quality of the side which narrowly went down to New Zealand Schoolboys and is set to take on Ireland and Scotland Under 19’s teams, along with Academy teams from Munster and Ulster and a selection of top six Scotland schools.
“This is a really exciting time in these young men’s lives, with tours to northern hemisphere a unique experience,” coach Andrew Moloney said. “We saw from the Tri-Nations Series the great rugby that our lads are capable of and we have built a squad, from the Schoolboys, Barbarians and some players from our Academies around the country to take on Scotland and Ireland.”
“Both teams will present very different challenges, but we are looking forward to meeting both sides and representing the gold jersey with pride.”
The Schoolboys and Under 18’s squad is as followed: Daniel Ala, Angus Bell (x2), John Connolly, Vincent Creagh, Max Douglas, Carter Gordon, Will Harris, Zane Hogan, Lachlan Ilias, Spencer Jeans, Brendan Jimenez, Tyrell Kopua, Thomas Lambert, Viliami Lea, Reesjan Pasitoa, Billy Pollard, Luke Reimer, Seb Strang, Phranci Sula-Siaosi, Bailey Tautau, Carlos Tizzano, Tom van der Schyff, Harry Vella, Joey Walton, Jeremy Williams