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08.04.22

Can the Wallabies beat “New England”?

The Australian sporting story of the week has to be the extraordinarily dominant victory by the Australian Women’s Cricket team in the final of the World Cup.

It is a superb team, easy to watch, full of players with oustanding technique and possessing all the components of a great side namely, when one player fails, another steps up.

And so it has been with Alyssa Healy.

This was a victory for the ages.

Meanwhile, on the other side of ditch, the Cantebury Crusaders and the Auckland Blues are on top of the New Zealand conference.

It is no surprise the Scott Robertson coached Crusaders winning, but the rise of the Auckland Blues is a welcome surprise and credit must go to the young coach, Leon MacDonald.

Talent has never been an issue in Auckland but the province has underperformed in recent years. All that seems to have changed and it is great to see the traditional North vs. South dynamic alive and well in the land of the long white cloud.

Closer to home, in the match billed as a “Wallaby trial”, the Queensland Reds were too strong, at home, against the ACT Brumbies, as I forecast would be the case.

Based on last week’s performance, most of the Reds’ players can expect to be invovled in the forthcoming Test series against England.

For my momey, Tate McDermott and James O’Connor should be the starting halfback combination but Quade Cooper is a difficult player to leave out if you want him to win a game via attack.

Whilst there has been a lot of positivity in Australian rugby so far this season, the sacking of Tim Sampson at the Force is a real concern.

Sampson is a young Australian coach.

He has lost his job to another New Zealander, Simon Cron, albeit a New Zealander with significant Australian experience.

However, the obsession with New Zealand coaches, by Australian Rugby administrators and boards, is not helping our game; and it is not just happening at the provincial level; even some Sydney clubs are hiring Kiwi coaches and players.

The ‘Kiwification’ of our game is not supported by the vast majority of the Australian rugby family.

There is an alternative to this short-term “quick fix” approach; the appointment of Darren Coleman at the Waratahs has been very well received.

He is a young Australian coach who has earned his stripes in the club game.

We should be promoting more homegrown coaches like Coleman.

We don’t so it is not surprising so many Australian coaches decide to head overseas.

They are clearly valued in Japan and Europe.

On the international scene, with the Six Nations now over, international teams must prepare for the July Test matches between the Northern and Southern Hemisphere heavyweights.

In Australia, the Wallabies will host England in a three match Test series with matches in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney.

The last time England came down here for a three match series was 2016.

On that occasion, the Poms cleaned up, winning all three Tests.

This time around it could be different.

Can the Wallabies beat England?

This current English team, coached by Eddie Jones, has floundered again in the Six Nations, winning only two matches.

Jones has called him team “New England” in a bid to buy time as he peddles the story that he is “rebuilding”.

However, the rugby media and the fans in England have turned on Jones and his coaching future is in the balance.

To hold his job, Jones really needs to win the series against the Wallabies.

Make no mistake, Eddie Jones is under the pump and he never helps himself.

Not only is he the current England coach but he is also the Director of Rugby at the Suntory Club in Japan.

In fact, Eddie Jones is now coaching current Wallabies Sean McMahon and Samu Kerevi.

This has not gone down well in England where he earns about $1.5 million a season to coach England.

How on Earth did the England Rugby Union agree to this?

Why isn’t Eddie Jones told to make up his mind?

Which is it?

This is not passing the pub test in England or Australia.

Australia can win this series against England but it is doubtful that they will.

We have the talent. That is never a doubt. But why a squad of 40 in camp? I have no idea.

What Australia needs, above all else, are combinations.

I have said many times that you can’t be a good coach without being a good selector.

The selectors, whomever they are, must now decide on their best 15.

We have seen these players going around for weeks.

Choose a 15 and stick to them.

Let them develop combinations and then they may be able to achieve the full return that their talent deserves.

Australian rugby has been let down in recent times by sloppy selection.

Change that and then we may well change the rugby outcome.