Never cross an angered Wallaby…

28 08 2007

As an Australian, I was pretty sure when I posted the Riddler’s wrap-up of the Wallabies, the feathers’d fly. Hell… I was hoping for it.
Pretty sure Riddler knew it as well. I’m guessing that’s why he wrote it.
Well, fly they did (feathers). And sure enough, someone responded. It’s worth noting that both Riddler and this article/opinion’s writer know each other from a sports-chat-board… so excuse the light jibes & jabs that occur.
So… I present to you:

The Wallabies aren’t gone at RWC… Sorry
– by Ado Tornado

Aussie Rugby…It is said that a well-balanced New Zealander is one with a chip on both shoulders. Avid readers of With Malice would have undoubtedly read the ramblings of once such well-balanced New Zealander who writes under the moniker Riddler, and witnessed his puerile attempt to play up everything All Black and downplay the chances of the most successful nation ever to participate at Rugby World Cup.

That nation would be Australia: the utopia of the southern hemisphere. A fact to which Riddler can freely attest as he is actually one of hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders who have chosen to abandon their homeland in favour of sunshine, good times and a very generous welfare system.

Now then as a born and bred Walla’s man, I cannot stand by and let one of these welfare bludging interlopers simply trash talk Australia’s chances at RWC 2007!

So in an attempt to redress Riddler’s cycloptic view of the world, here follows a fair and unbiased assessment as to why the Wallabies are in fact dark horses to win Bill [editor’s note: the nickname for the Webb Ellis Trophy – which the winner of the Rugby World Cup obtains] back (And they’re not actually that dark either)!!

John “Knuckles” Connolly - Coach of the WallabiesLet’s start at the beginning. The black hole of a European tour 3 years ago that exposed some glaring deficiencies in the Australian scrum and the Eddie Jones style of play. Basically… our scrum was on rollers skates and our back line couldn’t run a bath. Exit Eddie, and enter John “Knuckles” Connolly. Call him old fashion, but he is a coach that still believes forwards win matches and backs just score the tries.

Fast forward to 2007. It is more than fair to say that he and his crew have re-engineered the Wallabies into a side capable of beating anyone. They have beaten – and been beaten by – both the Boks and All Blacks this year.

This is a far cry from where many critics thought they would be. Indeed Alec ‘scrum doctor’ Evans now rates this Walla’s pack as equal to either the 91 and 99 sides that bought Bill home. And he should know… he was with them!

Let’s get specific.
Why are these Walla’s a good chance for the title in 2007?
Well for one, old heads win tight games. How many times have we seen the Walla’s win games when they’ve had no right to? Sterling effort that…Gregan, Larkham, Latham and Mortlock have all been there and done that. Some are already winners of RWC and many others are still smarting from the pain of losing to Martin Johnson’s men on home soil in 2003. Experience and motivation makes a potent fuel.

The form of the backs has been good without setting the world on fire. However with an in-form Latham directing from the back and the inclusion of an angry Lote on the wing they will only get better. Note to all: France will be the first time this year we have seen the number one Walla’s back line on the park!

Worth remembering also that no other country knows how to play tournament rugby as well as the Wallabies do. There is an inherent ability to get it right in the big games. That is why we have beaten the AB’s, Springboks and Poms in critical games at past tournaments. Australia is the bogey side for form teams at RWC.

Defense wins matches. As super coach Jack Gibson would say, “If they can’t score, you can’t lose’. This isn’t rocket surgery, but from what we’ve seen over the past few weeks, the Southern hemisphere big guns have the distinct advantage here. Their defensive cycle of being able to move up, slide and reform is much more decisive than any of the Northern hemisphere sides. This has always been Australia’s strength at RWC and it’s proven to be pretty effective this year. If they can reproduce the defensive form they displayed against the Boks in SA during the tri-nations, the Wallabies line will be very, very hard to breach.

And who, if any, are the X factors?
Well, I think there are a few…

The first is Lote Tuquiri. Firebrand Lote TuqiriDerided by many as over paid and a loose cannon, I would just remind everyone what he did when he came back from exile at ‘sprint camp’. He was angry, fast and dangerous. And unlike his illustrious AB’s counterparts, is a devastating defender. We all know he was outed for recent indiscretions, but right now he is a caged animal and I pity the first player who comes face to face with him in France.

The second is Chris Latham who has recently recovered from a full leg reconstruction. I have watched him in two recent Australian provincial championship games and he was back to his fast, incisive running and deft passing best.
Oh… and contrary to Doctor Riddler’s prognosis, his leg drive is just fine thanks. 😉

Finally, a word on guest tactical coach Joey Johns. The try line is getting harder to cross. And no player in the past 20 years in either code had a more effective way of doing at than Joey with his short kicking. I have a sneaking suspicion we will see his influence emerge very early on in the tournament.

If Australia has a weakness it is in the front row. I am personally not a big Dunning fan but Knuckles and Axel Foley are far more qualified than me to make the call on why he’s there. If the hookers throw straight and the props hold up, I think we will all be very happy.

The WallabiesOver all the 2007 World Cup Wallabies are a pretty good outfit to be taking to France.
They have bucket-loads of experience, loads of motivation, quality across the board, depth to cover all critical positions and a fair splash of class in the backs.

Whilst the All Blacks are still deserving favourites to win for the first time in 20 years, in my humble opinion it wouldn’t hurt to keep some cash in reserve and put it on the Walla’s for a not so big upset.

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3 responses

28 08 2007
kip

Good article Ado and a good response.

I fear that the Wallabies will be blitzed straight down the middle irrespective of their organised defence by vastly superior beef.

However, if they can hold their own in the pack then yes they will be a force.

28 08 2007
Mel

Kip,

When are you going to learn that big, strong and slow forwards don’t win against the BOKS or BLACKS. You need to think again. Good article Ado. You have stated your biggest problem – your front row. It is hard to win with a pack going backwards. The backs, who do have the potential to break any line, can’t go forwards when they are not getting quality ball.

29 08 2007
kip

Mel

I was referring to to Wallabies.

To beat the ABs and the Boks for that matter you simply cut out space and ball. Deny them these two and they are very beatable.

A committed team can do this.

England will be committed !!!!

And don’t underestimate the NH teams in general.

Blessings (come on Mel your signature)

kip

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