It’s exciting times at Club Wallaby with players coming out and putting excessive pressure on themselves and their teams as well as giving a heated up opposition an awesome piece of propaganda to adorn their training shed walls. One cannot yet determine the veracity of these assertions (because, of course, they are predictions, not matters of fact) but one can be assured they will be laid out in front of them on the carpet of shame should such bravado just be an obfuscation of the reality that is the environment they are all living and working in. It takes more than Jake the Muss to bring this back on an even keel.
One can feel the tension in the Puma’s camp now, building up to a niggly, hot-tempered affair up in the rarefied air ~1,200 odd metres above comfortable. They’ll be blinking at the effrontery and lack of respect they’re being dished up by a team that is, in effect, in the same boat. The significant difference is that the Argentinians are praised for making the Yarpies and AB’s lives difficult whereas the Wallabies are reminded constantly of their fragility of mind, attitude and physical prowess. Where one is being pulled up to heights yet unknown, the other is being dragged down through the mire of public opinion. No one cares that the Competition is about as fierce as it gets. This gladiatorial contest is no six nations where the Scots, Italians, Welsh and, to a lesser degree, the French are about the same level as Australia and Argentina and where the minor placings are not places of shame and ignominy compared to the leading contenders. In a four-team competition, there’s nowhere to hide. In the six nations, third may be good enough. This is purely my opinion though, but it does seem to strike true. Does Scotland think they’ll win the Six Nations? Really? Does Italy? Would the Six Nations even be a thing of the All Blacks played in it and dominated it in the way they dominate these southern extravaganzas? It makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
The Australian public may be fickle, but they will return in spades should the results improve. They haven’t left for League, AFL or Croquet, they’ve left to watch re-runs or highlights, annoyed at the slippage in standards and “apparent” attitude issues in the Wallaby camp. Cheika, Hooper and others in the fold have all mentioned their inability to show enthusiasm. I am very interested to hear from Morgan T. on how this may be improved. What can the coaches’ do, what can the team leaders do?
Now, back to some Rugby basics. Kicking penalties. In this year’s Rugby Championship, in particular, it seems that there is a Superrugbyesque tendency to “go for it” almost always. In the “House of Diatribe”, there’s always the scream of “take the three”, “Take the three”. Scoreboard pressure makes teams’ second guess themselves. It also puts extra emphasis on the times that you do forgo the penalty and try to put the boot well on the neck of the opposition. What’s everyone’s opinion on this? We’ve seen games lost. We’ve heard ad nauseam about game management and how it’s altering the games outcomes quite often in this championship. Should teams be kicking more three-pointers?
Is it too harsh? Are the Wallabies underprepared and lacking confidence? Are the Yarpies high on themselves at the moment, but they cannot keep it up? Are the Argies where they want to be? Are the AB’s ahead of themselves or on track?
This chart is how I see it. The Boks have been tough on defence the last two games, and stupid mistakes by the AB’s and Wallabies let them in games they had no right to win. I didn’t think that the Yarps were that great, but you have to give it to them for the gutsy effort. I think they may be in for a rude shock this weekend where an AB team bent on revenge is coming their way. No experiments from Hansen this week, just pure attitude and winning formula. The Yarps could be in for belting if they don’t step up as hard as the last two games. Confidence will shatter if Barret, Ioane and the rest start tearing them a new one.
Prediction: All Blacks by 20 (or more)
The Wallabies have vowed to beat the Pumas. It this of the same ilk “We have a plan”? Are they going to suffer further ignominy? Even in the interviews, it’s obvious that they’re feeling the pressure. I think some good “communications management” is in order to keep them focused. Now it seems that the “Beale” question has been answered, they can bring Foley back, or perhaps Toomua? Wow, that’d be gutsy, given the state of things. Do the Wallabies need this sort of selection dystopia or do they need some consistency? Certainly, this is well into the RWC cycle and they seem to be way underdone for where they need to be. When Cheika took over in 2015 it was not as bad as this I think. But the Cheika “bump” has been done and it cannot be replicated. Eddie Jones could bump them up for a campaign perhaps, or even another coach somewhere, ummm, Jake White? No, not for me. I think the players need to step into the breach and take the bull by the horns. So many commentators are saying the coach is just a figurehead, and then they call for their heads!! Which one is it? As punters, out here watching the disaster unfold, powerless to interfere, a bit of transparency would help. This, of course, will never happen. Human nature being what it is, no one likes to admit they have issues. Can you imagine an Amazon TV series on the Wallabies? Yes, laughable. Not so laughable in 1999 where they were something to fear. I remember sitting in the stands with 110,833 people watching the Bledisloe cup unfold between two teams that played totally differently but were ruthless and merciless. The Wallabies need more of this.
As for the Pumas, just keep it up, lads!! Keep the momentum and push, push, push! I’m liking what I see. Perhaps less of the niggle, but against Australia, this might work. They are in a delicate mental state.
Prediction: Wallabies by 10