Rugby

Wallaby Tri-Nations Player Ratings

Wallaby Tri-Nations Player Ratings

Its post-mortem season, so I have decided to cast my (dubious) eye over the Wallaby players. Some stepped up to the plate, others fell away without troubling the scorers. I haven’t used any statistics (except for the G&GR ratings received for each game, which you see in brackets after the review in order of the games played) so I must prepare to stand corrected on a few issues. Overall I just went off the vibe of the thing, which is what this site is all about.

I am only rating players who played key roles in at least two games. Guys like Burgo and Simmons just scrape in, while A. Faingaa and Hodgson miss out. Anyway, have a look and see what you think:

Robinson – It’s good to see Fatcat back on the paddock after a long absence from the game, during which he was badly missed. The 3N scrum was only solid at best, and sadly it cannot be said that we have improved in this vital aspect of the game since last year. Whether that has more to do with the other side of the scrum remains to be seen, but Benny must undoubtedly share some of the blame. Around the park he was good, but again lacked the dynamism we have seen from him in the last couple of years. Still easily our number 1 number 1 though. (5,6,6,6,7,5)   6

Moore – After a few impressive efforts off the bench Robbie finally saw sense and promoted him to the starting lineup. Was a very consistent performer in all aspects. Trucked the ball up well in attack and made all his tackles. Lineout throwing was very good, and I cannot remember a not straight call all 3N to be honest. The only drawback this 3N is  he has not successfully cemented his spot for next season with a blinding performance or two, and I think most would still consider TPN our top ranked hooker. Nonetheless a pretty good campaign. (7,6,6,7,6)    7

Faingaa –The Na’avi warrior had his ups and downs this 3N.  At his best he was a dynamic presence in the tight, and a powerful runner in the loose. His throwing was good and his defence solid. However he did make some auspicious errors- our lineout suffered badly in Pretoria and he gave away numerous silly penalties, none more so than his yellow card in Bloem. Altogether not a bad effort, but will need another strong S14 performance if he is to be considered for a World Cup tilt. (6,6,6,5,1)    5

Maafu –  Started in every game, which is an achievement in itself for a player in his debut season in the toughest of positions. He had two very good games, and four fairly average ones. He has two main issues in my eyes. Firstly the scrum was very erratic and struggled to achieve parity with either opponent. He has to put his hand up and take a fair whack of that criticism. Secondly, he often struggles to get into the game. It’s not that he makes mistakes, but much like Mark Chisolm he never really seems to get involved. Not going to make Ben Alexander lose any sleep, but may prove to be a solid backup come RWC time. (7,4,3,5,3,6)    6

Slipper – For a guy who had only played a handful of Super 14 games he did pretty well. Deans’ miserly use of the bench limited his game time significantly, but he still managed to make a fair impact in his few minutes on the park. All that said, I still don’t know if he is up to international class just yet. His work at the scrum isn’t quite good enough as yet. Give him some time on the Spring Tour and throw him into a good Reds pack and by this time next year he could be pushing strongly for a start. Props are hard to judge at a young age, but he is certainly making a lot of the right noises. (6,5,6,4)   6

Sharpe – He’s back, baby. Sharpie has backed up his stellar Super 14 season with a stellar Tri-Nations effort. Whilst he had a quiet game in Melbourne (injury affected perhaps) he was hands down our best forward with ball in hand throughout- he seemingly never fails to make the gain line. I have also noticed a considerably higher workrate in defence, and he is often the one making the big hits at crucial stages. Our lineout has been excellent barring the game in Pretoria. We now just have to start praying his 68 year old frame holds up until the big show next year. Fingers and toes crossed people. (7,4,5,8,6,7)   9

Mumm – After another solid S14 and with key rivals out injured this was his time to shine. He even said it himself in a number of media articles- you know, the usual ‘I have played like shit but this year that’s all going to change’. But did it? I would be inclined to say almost but not quite. I think Mumm currently lies in the well-trodden paddock between Super Rugby and International footy- good in the blue never a standout in gold. Scott Fava, Ryan Cross and Mark Gerrard are three names that immediately spring to mind here. Needs a strong spring tour, and an even stronger S14. (7,5,6,6,5,5) 5

Chisolm – Big Chis was bought into the side for the game in Bloem after a string of anonymous performances from Dean Mumm, and proceeded to deliver a couple of anonymous performances of his own. More than 50 tests and the jury is still out. That fact in itself probably says enough about him. In my view he has had his chance, and has failed repeatedly to show his talents. With names like Simmons, Douglas and Vickerman floating around I doubt we will see him come World Cup time. (5,4)   4

Simmons – Much like Slipper he did pretty well considering the short time he was given on the park. Showed enough to warrant some time on the Spring Tour certainly. Give him another Super 14 season with big Van and he may well be rolling c*nts left, right and centre this time next year.  (6,6,4)   5

Elsom – Silenced a lot of his critics after a patchy S14. His habit of going missing in the big games has almost been eradicated, as have any perceived defensive inadequacies. His captaincy was less polished, and his manner with referees obviously needs work. I love the Captain Grumpy routine as much as the next guy but it doesn’t work as well in rugby as it does in other sports. Nowadays buttering up the ref can be crucial- a relaxed and comfortable ref is certainly more likely to make better and more rational decisions. Has definitely locked up the 6 for a fair while to come. (9,5,6,5,7,8) 7

Pocock – Wow. We all had an inkling as to how good this guy could be, but I don’t think anyone could have predicted how quickly it has all come together. I don’t really need to say much more, really. I will just let his ratings do the talking. (9,9,8,7,9,7) 10 and G&GR Player of the Series

Brown – Another who was presented with a golden opportunity after key injuries, and another who has let it slip through his fingers once again. Nobody doubts the guy’s effort levels, and I’m sure this isn’t the last of Dick Brown in Gold. But his tackling can let him down, and he lacks the real punch that guys like Palu and now McCalman provide. I mean, can you picture him running onto the field in a World Cup Final with it all on the line? Thought not. (6,5,4,6,6,6) 5

McCalman – Although he only played two full games, you get the feeling we could be seeing a lot more of him. He just showed glimpses- a strong hitup here, dominant tackle there. I don’t think Wycliff is losing any sleep yet, but a strong Spring Tour will certainly have the big fella training that little bit harder in preseason. And that can’t hurt. (6,7,7)   7

Genia – I think until we know the full extent of his injury we shouldn’t be too harsh in our judgements here. Because clearly he was not himself for most of the series. His service was slow and at times erratic, and he lacked his usual zip around the ruck. He still showed some great touches though, and was right on his game in Brisbane as the ratings show. Hopefully we will see a return to form on the spring tour, because I think he is a real talisman- when he is good we tend to win. (9,6,5,7,7,3)    6

Burgess – With very limited game time he showed what he is capable of. Speedy service around the ruck and bone-crunching defence. I can’t see him starting anytime soon, but he certainly nailed down the bench spot. You would have to think only injury would prevent these two being our halfback pairing when we take the field in the RWC next year. (7,6)    6

Cooper – You could easily write a whole post about this guy, he is very hard to sum up in a couple of sentences. I think his contribution was best shown by our performance in his absence- his creativity was clearly missed. In South Africa he was sublime. And to his credit he hasn’t turned in any brain fart performances we know he was once capable of. His defence, though, is abysmal. There is no other way to put it. Until he can fix it (as so many others have done before him) I am very uneasy about seeing him in a World Cup final. (7,7,6,4)    7

Giteau – The same old report card for Gits sadly. Flashes of brilliance, but has a tendency to go missing. With a cut-pass master like Cooper inside him it is a little easier to understand, but he needs to do more with ball in hand. His defence is rock solid, and there are signs he is developing into a wise old head. His kicking was generally good but he is still capable of having a shocker, with Sydney being exhibits A, B and C. A few challengers lurk so the Spring Tour will be vital you would think. (8,7,4,6,7,5)    6

Barnes – A similar tale to Giteau, although his game time was fairly limited it must be said. Had some classy moments (eg. Inside ball to Schmoo in the Republic) but also some shocking ones (Charged down kick in Melbourne). He needs to step up to the plate soon, or else he will find the World Cup ship has sailed. Of course he will not miss out, and probably has a lock on a bench spot, but he is a few steps behind where he was a few seasons ago. (4,6,5)     6

Horne – Remember him? Rangy outside centre from New South Wales. Started the first two games before yet another major injury ended his season. Sadly you would think it is back to square one for Horne- whilst he looked good he was never near securing the 13 jersey for the long term, and he is miles away now after AAC has stepped in. Still a good prospect, but probably not as good as we all had hoped. (6,4)     5

Ashley-Cooper – Like Giteau you could almost copy and past his comments from last year. Unlike Giteau, those comments would be hugely complementary. I think we have finally found a good enough15 so that he can play 13, the position that most have been screaming for him to play on a regular basis. So reliable in all facets, he has become the Wallabies most consistent player. He lacks that game-changing spark, but that is a commodity few outside centres possess- he does the hard stuff well, and that is what counts. (6,6,6,5,8,6)      8

Mitchell – Another who really stepped up in the big games. He is powerful and fast, and rarely makes errors in defence. He was red-carded in Melbourne after a string of stupid (albeit dubious) penalties, but was as quiet as a mouse after that so must have learnt his lesson. He is turning into a classy test winger (see the lines he was running in Bloem), and I just hope that no-one ever tries to change that- hopefully the idea of playing him at 15 will never be raised again. I think we might be onto a good thing. (8,3,6,7,7)      7

O’Connor – For a guy who is only just 20 he did pretty well. Extremely well in fact. Is he a winger? No. Is he talented? Very.  Will he be around come World Cup time? You bet. Another rhetorical question? Why not. Seriously though he has pace, agility and great skills.  His defence is much improved and knows his way to the tryline well. I think he showed enough for the non-believers to come around and accept the fact we might have to put up with this guy for a long, long time. Not at wing though. (7,5,5,6,7,5)      7

Beale – The last, but certainly not the least, Gilbert was the discovery of the 3N without a doubt, and certainly on the ‘Player of the 3N’ podium. Lost the spare tyre and became an agile dynamo, mixing the skill we knew he had with the strength and defensive skills we had always hoped he would develop. Watch out for this guy over the Spring- you don’t have to be a rocket surgeon to predict very good things on the horizon. We just have to pray he doesn’t get injured. (7,8,8,9)      8


Ratings Scale:

10 – A legendary performance to go down in the history books
9 – Outstanding performance: Man of the series shoo-in
8 – Excellent all round effort
7 – Good campaign with a few sparkles
6 – Solid performance
5 – Average – ho hum
4 – Below par
3 – Had a bad series
2 – Tell your story walking pal
1 – A complete joke

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