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Wednesday, January 25, 2006


International Rugby: Poisoned Chalice?

It seems that the proximity to the next world cup in France, with the possible consequent fall-out from failure, is putting off any aspirant Australian national coaches.

In a situation that is rapidly becoming farcical, nobody, besides John Connolly, is showing any interest. You can bet, however, that if this situation had arisen after the world cup there would be a queue around the block.

Perhaps, in retrospect, it would have been wiser for the ARU to stick with Eddie Jones until the world cup.

Any ambitious coach is loathe to take up the position now because of the perceived problems with the national team and the expected poor showing at the world cup.

I tend to disagree though, many of the matches that were lost last year were extremely close and they suffered a nightmare run of injuries. I am inclined to believe that Australia will be as competitive as ever once the world cup arrives.

Still, there are unresolved issues that any new coach is going to have to address as a matter of urgency.

What to do with the ageing George Gregan, and his patient, but equally ageing understudy, Chris Whitaker. Whitaker has been gaining splinters for more than 76 tests (If Shimmie thought he has a problem, at least he is not alone), his contract is nearing it's end and he is already 31.

Then there is the front row question. 2005 really was the year that the Aussie front row was well and truly defrocked for all the world to see, with Bill Young, in particular, taking a beasting from more vigilant referees. The absolute nadir must have been, what many believe, the deception displayed by Donut Dunning in creating a situation of uncontested scrums against England.

The ARU have taken concrete steps to address the front row weaknesses in the national game but the results surely cannot be expected for years.

The loose forward combination will be another vexing issue. Will a new coach persist with the two short fetchers at 6 and 7? Or will he determine that Phil Waugh and George Smith are fighting for the same position? Possibly bring in John Roe at blindside and David Lyons (who had a stormer last year) at 8?

So, whilst I expect the return of the likes of Bernie Larkham will have a galvanising effect on the team, I can understand why no coach is in a particular hurry to take up the position.

It looks likely that Connolly will be appointed up to the world cup, many within the ARU are not keen on the idea but their hand may be forced.

Either way, I still have a sneaky feeling that come 2007, the Wallabies will be as competitive as ever.
Rocky Elsom was playing blinsider for them last year.

On the end of season tour I believe the combination was

6 Waugh
7 Elsom
8 Smith

Front row is a problem.
Half back is also a problem.
Does Gregan go...does he stay?
Is Whittiker any good anyway?

They also have no solution to accomodating all there best players.

Almost as if they are TO skillful....not enough graft in the mix.

For this reason I would go with Turinui at 12 instead of Giteua.

Sailor is way overrated....he should be playing Vodacom.

Rogers is a legend.
i agree StP.

front row and half back are areas of concern.

is henjack any good?

he is out for the force this year - if they have a mare in their first season - where do they go to?
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