Video: Wallaby Halfback Passing

Video: Wallaby Halfback Passing

Luke Burgess’s passing against Ireland left a lot to be desired. He threw an average pass 47% of the time and a poor pass 22% of the time. The performance of Burgess and Genia so far this season is shown below.  Watch the video to see examples from both Burgess and Genia.

FIJI – Luke Burgess ENGLAND – Luke Burgess ENGLAND – Will Genia
Pass Type Number % Number % Number %
Good 40 57% 33 50% 38 66%
Average 25 36% 27 42% 18 31%
Poor 5 7% 5 8% 2 3%
Total 70 100% 65 100% 58 100%
Average – At Receiver 22 31% 23 35% 16 28%


I’ve been very critical of the performance from the Wallabies back line and their conservative play but even if the shackles are removed it will be difficult to get the back line moving well if this inconsistent passing continues.

Interpretations of what’s a good, average or poor pass will be different but when I’m scoring the passes I think this is a fair way to measure:

  • Good pass – maintains or improves momentum of the receiver;
  • Average pass – slows momentum of the receiver or increases risk of a dropped ball;
  • Poor pass – stops momentum or makes it likely there will be a dropped ball.

Ideally the receiver wants to catch the ball out in front of them at chest height.  This means they can run from depth and hit the line at speed.  That also means that they receive the ball in the right area to start their own passing sequence immediately, allowing for quick hands.

If the ball is thrown at the receiver, they will have to check their run slightly to make sure they catch it.  This may not halt their momentum but it will slow it.

Regardless of whether the pass is being thrown to a forward or back, whether a flat line attack is being used or not, the halfback has to pass the ball to where the runner will be, not where they are now.  This is one of Genia’s strong points but he looked rusty against England and as a result 28% of his passes were at the receiver.  Burgess is averaging 1/3 of all his passes at the receiver.

I hope this isn’t another case of Robbie Deans leaving the players to take ownership and solve the problem because Burgess has not been improving his pass over the last two years.  The Wallabies need an experienced halfback coach to work with both players.

The video shows examples of what I consider to be good, average and poor passes over the last four Wallaby games.



Scott is one of our regular contributors from the old days of G&GR. He has experience coaching Premier Grade with two clubs in Brisbane.

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