It’s been at least a week since there was any Aussie rugby, and so I’ve naturally completely forgotten coming plumb last in the Tri-Nations and stuffing a once in a quarter of a century Grand Slam chance (including losing to Scotland, FFS). As such, the incurable optimism of the Wallaby supporter has re-surfaced (without it, we’d all be Mungos) and I’ve started thinking about my hopes for 2010.
So here they are – I’ve tried to keep them realistically optimistic (I naturally dream we win everything), but you can give me a reality check no doubt!
MY AUSSIE RUGBY WISHES FOR 2010
1. Wallabies to win all their home Tri-Nations games: that’s the Boks in Brissy, the ABs in Sydney and Melbourne; all doable, but not easy. This would probably put us second in the table, and with a sniff of the title. The away games look tough though – Bloemfontein, Pretoria (both 1km+ altitude) and Christchurch. We used to talk about winning away, we now just need to win at home.
2. An Aussie side to reach the S14 final. Of course I’d like to say “an Aussie side to win it”, but looking at last season’s performance, with not even a semi finalist, that’s not on the realistic side of the ledger. However, a good concentration of talent in the Brumbies to match the Tahs, Link McKenzie inserting some iron into the Reds, and a maturing of young talent all round makes me think the Aussie teams should be lifting a few spots this year.
That should put the Tahs and Brumbies in the top four, but out of those two I like the look of the Friend regime a whole lot more than Hickey’s Eastwood, I mean Waratahs.
3. The resurgence of the Aussie lineout. It quite literally killed us last year; losing 1 in 4 of your own throw and only challenging 40% of the time is simply untenable. I’ve wanged on about it until I’m blue in the face, but perhaps AntipoDeans is on a similar wavelength, word on the street being that two new locks are top of the list for talent needed. Let’s hope we see a similar focus as the scrum has received, or my wish #1 hasn’t a chance.
4. Some clear back-line combinations. It’s been largely enforced by injury, and has created some flexibility/experience, but the Wallaby backline was a revolving door in 2009. The only pairing that got any real air-time was Ginea/Giteau, and the longer it went on, the more I thought kid dynamite should be wearing 12. There are some great pieces in this puzzle, but they sure aren’t painting a pretty picture, yet.
5. Better player/ARU relations. They haven’t looked good for a while, culminating in the Clayton’s trial fiasco in October. Even allowing for media beat-up, such off field disharmony doesn’t help anyone. The good news is that one of the key protagonists of just about every shit-fight back to the first days of professionalism – Tony Dempsey – is gawn; boned, I mean stepping aside gracefully, from CEO of RUPA. Let’s hope this delivers more of a common purpose in these testing times for Aussie Rugby and the fans icons to look up to.