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Wallabies 2021

dru

Nick Farr-Jones (63)
Watching the Reds game really reinforced to me how dependant we (as in Aussie teams) are on set piece. There were several times where you could BPA and some of the other forwards were talking with the ref about what they had to do to get rewarded in the scrum even when they did not have dominance. It seemed to be a real focus.

The Red line out stepped up and the scrum still at the minimum held it's own. For the WB line out we need a capable jumper in the back three, a capable throw, and a capable caller. For the WB scrum we will be seeing, I think, a rebalance where Rennie wants front row dynamism on the field, especially in D - as well as scrum. That will slightly detune the scrum in the front row I suspect. Which means more is required from the locks.

It is an intriguing balance and will be interesting to see where Rennie takes it.
 

Purce

Ted Thorn (20)
I had forgotten how young Isi is. Only 26. Honestly thought he was about 30. We really need to keep him in oz for the next world cup. Should be in the prime of his career then. His TT form has been impressive.

I am happy for Kellaway. Think he has potential to be a test player however he just needs to unlock that next level. The covering tackle on the weekend was a thing of beauty and I reckon Rennie would have loved it. Staying in the fight. Moments like that win test matches and often WCs. He is extremely athletic and is a wonderfully balanced runner, reminds me a lot of Drew when he was in his prime. Hopefully maturity and a bit more experience get him there.

Foketi has been excellent this year. I never thought I would be writing that. The form 12 in Aus and I'm very happy he has been selected. He will get a shot against France.

I think Wells has been selected to see if he can make the step up, if not Wright will probably come straight back in. Wright's form wasn't good when he came back at the end of SRAU however I thought he performed really well against the Kiwi teams. Happy for Leota as well, form rewarded. Tough on Hosea and Robinson.
 

mst

Ken Catchpole (46)
The Red line out stepped up and the scrum still at the minimum held it's own. For the WB line out we need a capable jumper in the back three, a capable throw, and a capable caller. For the WB scrum we will be seeing, I think, a rebalance where Rennie wants front row dynamism on the field, especially in D - as well as scrum. That will slightly detune the scrum in the front row I suspect. Which means more is required from the locks.

It is an intriguing balance and will be interesting to see where Rennie takes it.

Thanks Dru, but you actually highlighted my point; our backs are not part of the conversation.

We are struggling to keep pace with the Kiwis running rugby and are very much headed towards European (and South African) rugby which is now being tagged as a power over endurance game that is dominated by set piece and forwards play. Game lengths are now well over the 90mins with lots of set piece and big bodies on the ground slowing the game to get some rest and keep up. It is slow and stodgy. Cast you mind back to SRAU; I fear we are on that path.

We need to look at what the Kiwis are doing and start looking at a more holistic approach and use the backs as well.
 

TSR

Geoff Shaw (53)
A couple of random observations in no particular order -

- I have consistently rallied against the notion that Alaalatoa should be picked in front of Tupou for work rate. But Tupou’s last couple of TT games he did turn over a bit of ball and miss a few tackles. Given Rennie’s post season review comments in him last year I won’t be surprised if that is enough to get Alaalatoa the starting gig. He seems to have slipped a bit in the scrums, but he’s been his normal very good self everywhere else and it is always hard to tell from our side of the tv screen how much of an issue the person next to and behind a prop for a to their form.
- in terms of props, we haven’t quite had the resurgence that it seemed. The fitness of Slipper, form of Sio & HJH and lack of experience of Bell does make me nervous. Of those three, Bell’s lack of experience is the most solveable even though it may come with some short term pain. Our prospects get a hell of a lot better if Sio can re-capture his form and, really, he is at almost the perfect age for a prop so shouldn’t be a spent force by any means
- we’re still in the hunt for our next great locking pair - but at least the guys we have in the squad have potential to be strong contributors at test level. There is opportunity for two of them to really put there hand up and go on to play 100 tests. Of course there is potential for lots of other things too
- it was noted above that Hodge has always struggled to nail a Wallaby spot. I’d argue the opposite. Both Cheika and Rennie seemed pretty keen to include him. He may be a bit unfashionable but he appears to be rated by the coaches
- after what seems like an age of having an undersized back row it is great to see the emergence of some strong, bigger bodied options. We’ll never really know if they’ll cut it at test level until they get thrown in, but at least we have inform options knocking on the door. I am really keen to see Hooper, Wilson & Valetini have a crack though and I hope we can make the lineout function with those guys.
- people need to prepare themselves for continued use of the short kicking game and the reality that our execution will still have some way to go. Both Rennie & Wisemantle use it as part of their attack strategy
- set piece & kicking will be our two biggest issues. At least JOC, Lolesio & Toomua have had good form goal kicking
 

Adam84

Tony Shaw (54)
I think the evolution of scrummaging has left Sio behind a bit, I don’t know if it’s the style of scrummaging or the change in the bind/engagement but loose heads seem to be trending bigger again, in height and weight. Sio isn’t small, but he seems leaner when compared to other test LHPs like Tu'ungafasi, Jones, Vunipola, Marler, Genge. Even in the domestic tournament the big fattys like Eloff, Fotuaika and Zander, who aren’t of the same caliber but held themselves against the best.
 

Derpus

Rod McCall (65)
I think the evolution of scrummaging has left Sio behind a bit, I don’t know if it’s the style of scrummaging or the change in the bind/engagement but loose heads seem to be trending bigger again, in height and weight. Sio isn’t small, but he seems leaner when compared to other test LHPs like Tu'ungafasi, Jones, Vunipola, Marler, Genge. Even in the domestic tournament the big fattys like Eloff, Fotuaika and Zander, who aren’t of the same caliber but held themselves against the best.

I love these insights. I understand nothing that happens in scrums.
 

rodha

Fred Wood (13)
Seeing this 38, I don't think I can recall a weaker Wallabies squad ever named. I think it really shows how far the depth & quality of Australian rugby has fallen since the Robbie Deans years. Every coach since then has been fighting an uphill battle IMO.

For example, Cheika didn't have anywhere near the quality of cattle compared to Deans. Cheika arrived as the mass exodus of Australian talent (many of them experienced internationals) really exploded, especially post-2015. In my opinion, Cheika did alright considering the circumstances, it was pretty dire. The Australian rugby talent pool at it's lowest ebb post-2015.

Between 2015-2019 Australian Super Rugby squads were probably the weakest ever.

Didn't NZ teams go something like 38 games unbeaten 2017/18 seasons? Merely execution of the basics among Aussie Super Rugby players was really lacking across the board. An ever-dwindling talent (quality players heading overseas) base.. & genuine lack of quality Australian Super Rugby coaches (McKellar who started in 2018 - was probably the one exception).
 

rodha

Fred Wood (13)
I actually think that in hindsight.. Robbie Deans had a lot more to work with compared to Cheika. He got his hands on a full generation of world-class Australian players between 2008-2013 before most of them either became washed up or headed off-shore.

At the time, Deans had access to probably the most dangerous test backline in the world at the time.

Here's a team I pulled up from the 2010 EOYT:

Kurtley Beale, James O'Connor, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Berrick Barnes, Drew Mitchell, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Ben McCalman, David Pocock, Rocky Elsom (c), Nathan Sharpe, Rob Simmons, Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, James Slipper, (Bench): Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson, Mark Chisholm, Scott Higginbotham, Luke Burgess, Matt Giteau, Lachlan Turner.

Robbie had access to a lot of good players at the peak of their powers, with little overseas movement, then post-Deans/McKenzie (2013-2015) an incredible amount of Wallabies talent headed off-shore & the guys who stayed on were past their prime once the Cheika-era (2015-2019) rolled around.
 

rodha

Fred Wood (13)
Cheika was a great head coach who could've helped himself greatly by selecting better assistant coaches during his Wallabies tenure. He had Simon Raiwalui as forwards coach, Larkham & Shaun Berne were both woeful attack coaches, & Nathan Grey's defensive track record speaks for itself..

Unlike Cheika, Deans didn't get to choose his backroom staff but ultimately he had some pretty respected names assisting him such as Tony McGahan, David Nucifora, Nick Scrivener, Andrew Blades & Phil Blake.

Obviously you could argue Cheika was worse because he willfully surrounded himself in 'yes-men' assistants and stubbornly refused to bring in stronger backroom staff even after that disastrous 4/14 win 2018 season..

Deans had stronger player base in comparison to Cheika due to... A) less quality players heading overseas - especially compared to 2015-2019, and.. B) the Aussie Super Rugby franchises in a much healthier state with quality coaches (such as Jim McKay, Ewen McKenzie, Jake White etc..) developing & funneling through a lot of good talent.

Cheika presided during a time in which Aussie Super Rugby teams were (for a long period) all weak & all poorly coached. Not saying he was bad, but Deans had considerably better circumstances to work with compared to the hand Mr Cheika was dealt with. Cheika was a massive victim of the overseas player drain & ever-dwindling player resources.

It's plausible Rennie could suffer a similar fate as Cheika. I just hope that doesn't eventuate.
 

swingpass

John Thornett (49)
when i started the Aussie Exodus thread in april 2014, it was in anticipation of the post RWC 2015 player departures, it is really interesting having a look back at some of the posts from then. Rodha's point is well made, each successive Wallabies coach has made errors, but in reality they have had fewer top class cattle to work with and poorer coaching at Super level.

i wonder if Braveheart still believes this "I think the greater availability of overseas professional contracts is improving Australian rugby rather than weakening it."
 

Dctarget

Andrew Slack (58)
Kurtley Beale, James O'Connor, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Berrick Barnes, Drew Mitchell, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Ben McCalman, David Pocock, Rocky Elsom (c), Nathan Sharpe, Rob Simmons, Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, James Slipper, (Bench): Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson, Mark Chisholm, Scott Higginbotham, Luke Burgess, Matt Giteau, Lachlan Turner.

Our possible 23 is worse. Though, I'd take our starting current forward pack over that one. Tupou > Alexander. Slipper = Slipper, Philip/LSL > Simmons. Hooper = Poey. Wilson > McCalman.

Put in our OS players and I'd back it in (which proves Rodha's point).
1. Slipper
2. Latu
3. Tupou
4. Skelton
5. Arnold
6. Valetini
7. Hooper
8. Wilson
9. White
10. O'Connor
11. Koroibete
12. Paisami
13. Kerevi
14. Wright
15. Beale
16. BPA
17. Bell
18. Alaalatoa
19. Philip
20. McMahon
21. McDermott
22. To'omua
23. Hodge
 

Ignoto

Ken Catchpole (46)
Seeing this 38, I don't think I can recall a weaker Wallabies squad ever named. I think it really shows how far the depth & quality of Australian rugby has fallen since the Robbie Deans years. Every coach since then has been fighting an uphill battle IMO.

I'd argue the reason why Chieka got a shorter end of the stick than Deans is, Deans (and the then ARU) did bugger all to invest in the next generation of talent, both in coaching and players.

There's a myriad of reasons why, but the scariest thing from the pre Chieka period is/was how segregated the Super Clubs were with the national set up. Players weren't fit and SR didn't share data.

Anyway, putting that to one side. There are like 2-4 players overseas who would be part of the national squad. The player drain has had a greater impact on our competitiveness in Super Rugby more than our national level competitiveness.
 

Dctarget

Andrew Slack (58)
I don't disagree with your major point, but I just wanted to point out 2021 Slipper is better than 2011 Slipper, not equal to.

Really? I actually thought that was the one where I was pushing it. 2011 Slipper was immense. I don't think he has his motor anymore.
 

Wilson

Peter Johnson (47)
Really? I actually thought that was the one where I was pushing it. 2011 Slipper was immense. I don't think he has his motor anymore.

Yeah, miles better in the scrum and still very solid around the park. Work rate might not be as high and 2021 isn't peak Slipper but I'd take 2021 over 2011.
 
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TSR

Geoff Shaw (53)
Largely I agree - but we don’t know what the impact of his latest injuries are going to be.
 

fatprop

Jason Little (69)
Staff member
I'd say we've seen Hodge hit his ceiling of potential and to be frank, it's like a lot of sharehouses that have a downstairs 'living' room that isn't legal height.

Chirsty Doran reported this over the weekend;


Hodge has struggled to cement a starting spot in the Australian team for the last few years, what's the odds he'll somehow produce something new that'll elevate him to a world XV?


In a perfect world, I agree, in the reality of the current Wobs, he only has to be better than the other options and with foketi & ikitau being two of those options, the ceiling is very low
 
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