There were a few plusses from Saturday night for the Wallabies.
First – we won.
Second plus – we had the courage to take risks to get the victory.
Third – our bench did plenty and ensured the win.
Fourth – certain players probably made it clear that they’re not likely to be fist choices, clarifying selections somewhat. I said a couple of weeks ago after the Super Semi-Final that Nick Phipps probably played Genia in to the Wallaby half back spot – but just as quickly Will played himself out. I also thought Cheiks gamble that he could get the best out of Higgers was worthwhile – but it was also proven incorrect.
So there were a lot of steps forward in developing the squad and run on team for the World Cup.
Some say were were lucky to win, but in fact we were the only team looking likely to score a try (until Kriel’s). We made 9 line breaks to 3 and could have scored more. It says to me we deserved to win.
Our scrum was crushed, but our replacement props turned that around and there’s some possibility one or both of them could start in Argentina. I know that the Wallabies have changed their scrum technique and the only players who would have experienced it were the Waratahs and that might take a little while to get a feel for.
I said a long time ago that I think Tevita Kuridrani should play 12. The way he plays outside centre is the way we’d want him to play inside. He carried 18 times for 118 metres without a line break – so they were all made carrying the tackle line backwards.
You can go a long way to judging a flyhalf’s performance by counting how many second touches he gets. For him to get second touches he needs to take the attacking line to the defence, attracting the 7, 10 and 12 to the first couple of ball carriers. This takes both the defenders and attackers past the 10 and gives him chances to get into spaces.
Cooper played so deep this couldn’t happen. Even his second line plays were so deep they made no impact on defences at all. If Quade is going to be the man he needs to play at least 5 metres flatter, like he did years ago.
Then I looked at the second touches Giteau could get as he took the ball to the defensive line allowing him to get around that next man and support. This is one of the main reasons I thought Giteau was so good in the European championship final – because he made so much space and got so many second touches.
I would very much like to see Giteau play fly-half, but I don’t think that will happen. If we did, you’d have him, Kuridrani and Ashley-Cooper in the middle. Then any of Mitchell, Horne, Beale, Tomane, Naiyaravoro to choose from before you got to Folau. Then we would see a repeat of the big difference Toomua made on Saturday when he came on and started attacking the defensive line, giving more room to Kuridrani and Folau.
If we can use our 10/12/13 to attract defence than Izzy will become a massive problem for defences in the World Cup. A very good judge in my box on the night (who’d coached a certain other team to a World Cup title) reckons that Folau is probably the best broken field runner in world rugby.
Hooper was fantastic, Pocock very good when he came on. The lineout was good and Simmons made a big contribution there.
In all it was very much a first game of the season performance for the Wallabies – but with a huge number of plusses to take out of it.