Errors in Ireland Lead to English Trial For Wallabies
November 24, 2014
This weekend at Twickenham stands to be a defining match for a number of Wallabies, management and players alike. Given all of the turmoil that has unfolded over the last three months, this ‘Class of 2014’ could potentially numb a year of under-achieving and off-field turbulence. After all, it will be their worst spring tour in almost a decade should they lose on Saturday.
The error rate across the park in this spring tour can be explained as a combination of personal form and adjusting to life moving forward with Michael Cheika. The forwards have been exploited and the backs found wanting with their imagination on attack. Simply, if they don’t muscle up on Saturday they may stand to be crushed by England with the axe hanging over a number of players in the side heading into World Cup year.
Sure, the Wallabies have missed a number of front-liners including David Pocock and Stephen Moore among other lengthy stints on the sideline for other key players. But International Rugby requires more composure, a higher level of fitness and the ability to execute under pressure than the Wallabies are showing on this tour. One last shot at redemption exists for some of the squad, as Cheika will be looking to pick a squad to complement his game plan for 2015.
On the other hand, certain players have to be commended for the effort and enthusiasm to win contests, only to be let down others who cannot seem to go the distance. Nick Phipps tries his heart out, Michael Hooper wouldn’t give up even if you paid him too, and Adam Ashley-Cooper is always there when you need him. But it’s the other blokes, particularly up front, that could lay a better platform and learn to dig in when the times get tough because the team is going to grind out a result.
The difference at the moment between the Wallabies and the front-runners like the All Blacks and South Africa, is that they accept the challenge for the first 60 minutes and produce that 20 minutes to blow away the opposition in the end. Fitness, conditioning and depth play their parts, but ultimately it is the resolve and composure of these teams that prevails. Qualities that are seemingly in short supply among this team in 2014, but they desperately need to find their place before the World Cup next year.
This time next year we will know the answers to all of these questions and the rugby public in Australia anxiously have its fingers-crossed that Cheika has the goods to revive this group. We’ve seen glimpses of the talent within to suggest they could give this a good nudge. The problem is that when the leader calls ‘Charge!’ with 20 minutes to go, the battalion goes missing. A lot hinges on Saturday against England, and although the coaching team may get another chance, some players have 80 minutes to fight for their lives. Only a hard-fought, spirited win will save their souls.