Defining Moment Looms For Wallabies in Twickenham Caldron
November 19, 2014
One year out from the World Cup and we’re wondering whether the Wallabies will be a force in the tournament. Hell we’re even asking whether we’ll get out of our group? Mark Uruguay down as a win already but Fiji often find a World Cup upset. Then there’s the other 2 nations the Wallabies expect to be fighting with for top spot, Wales and of course our old rival England. Is a shock early exit in store? And would it even be a shock? It’s fair to ask the question after some less than impressive performances in the past months. While turbulent times off the field are stealing the headlines.
Australia has managed just 2 wins in its last 5 matches, and one of them was against a Barbarian side who barely knew each other. Previous to that victory, the Wallabies were slayed by South Africa and embarrassed by Argentina before a determined but losing effort against the All Blacks.
Under new coach Michael Cheika the Green and Gold jetted off for a European Tour that could help the side get back on track but so far the performances have failed to live up to expectations. The new boss covered the cracks with a debut win over an understrength Barbarians but room for improvement was blindingly clear.
There were more positives in the win over Wales despite a scratchy display in Cardiff. Australia’s attack was fluent at times but the defence was dodgy. Still a psychological edge gained over an opponent at the World Cup. The visitors were worse against France and Les Bleus ended Cheika’s short unbeaten run and his side’s chance of an unlikely undefeated Grand Slam tour of Europe. Next up for the Wallabies is a date in Dublin with Ireland this weekend ahead of a tussle at Twickenham with the old enemy.
Beale Back after Latest Suspension
Kurtley Beale’s gone from the courtroom to the dressing room. Australia’s most polarising player in recent years is back among his teammates after more misdemeanours almost ended his career. 6 weeks ago he was fined $45,000 for sending lewd picture messages to the team manager Di Patson, while he was fined a further $3000 for his role in a mid-flight argument with the same women. Since then Patson quit her role and coach Ewen McKenzie also resigned. The latter publically supported Patson while he was still in charge of the side, before cutting ties with the Wallabies after their nail-biting loss to New Zealand in their final Bledisloe cup match. Beale’s behaviour put the team in turmoil and ARU chief executive Bill Pulver and Chairman Michael Hawker recommended he be sacked, but little more than a month later he’s been rushed to Europe and a shock recall against Ireland is likely. Can the bad boy do good things on the field and spark the spring tour into life?
Ireland and England Await
The Wallabies win over Wales wasn’t without multiple mistakes while an error riddled display in Paris proved their downfall at the Stade de France. But it hasn’t changed what the coach wants to get from the tour. Cheika will make a number of changes for the Ireland test as he aims to give players that were overlooked for the first 2 games an opportunity to play under his new system and furthermore a chance to impress.
Then it’s a return to Twickenham where Australia will be hoping to end their European adventure the way they started it. However a showdown with England in an electrifying atmosphere will surely prove more difficult than the ‘you score I score’ battle with the Barbarians at the same venue. The test at the end of the month should be the perfect preparation for the Wallabies World Cup pool clash with the same opposition, which will surely be drowned out by 80,000 Englishmen singing Sweet Chariot.
So is it important that Wallabies secure consecutive wins or are better performances and new players standing out what, the nation back home craves. Well depending on how the games go may depend on how that question is answered in hindsight. The ultimate goal would be strong victories on the back of outstanding displays where our regular hero’s stand tall and new stars emerge. But that may be asking a little too much. I guess all fans can hope for is Australia return from Europe better prepared for a return trip for the game’s greatest tournament.