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Battered and bruised, Wallabies must make stand in Argentina


Knocked out ... Benn Robinson consoles Adam Ashley-Cooper after he was badly concussed in a try-saving tackle.

Knocked out ... Benn Robinson consoles Adam Ashley-Cooper after he was badly concussed in a try-saving tackle. Photo: AP

Australian Rugby has endured the most dreadful of weeks. And next week could be even worse, with the Wallabies heading deeper into the horror tour from hell.

Disruption and decay are everywhere. Quade Cooper dumps on them, the Springboks smash them and now they head to Argentina with the fear that without enough fit bodies they could be decimated by the Pumas. The Wallabies management doesn't even know if it will have 22 healthy players for their final Rugby Championship Test in Rosario.

These are grim times, with the only hope being the Wallabies show some old-fashioned Australian spirit to avoid a second shellacking in a row next weekend. There's no other way out of this mess.

When you're about to confront the Springboks on the highveld everything has to be working in your favour even to be competitive. You must be at full strength, at the peak of your game with everything working in perfect harmony.

The Wallabies were well short of that yesterday. Decimated by injuries, their starting XV was nowhere near its best. And the team's form this season has, not surprisingly, also fluctuated. Too many influential players are sidelined for the Wallabies to achieve any encouraging level of consistency.

Team harmony was also put to the test when supposed allies at home took sulking to extremes by slagging off everything about the Wallabies and Australian Rugby.

If Cooper's aim in bleating was to get Australian coach Robbie Deans back for singling him out for criticism after the win against Argentina on the Gold Coast, it worked. Cooper's complaints became a distraction. Players and management argue otherwise but what Cooper said turned into an issue. It didn't destabilise the team, but was more a hindrance than a help in the team's preparation.

Under such pressure, with questions raised by one of the inner sanctum over whether the team environment was ''toxic'' or not, the Wallabies needed a lucky break.

Instead during the Pretoria Test they discovered they were jinxed. Nothing went their way. But to their credit, the maimed and hobbling Wallabies never gave up, in particular young breakaway Michael Hooper and five-eighth Kurtley Beale.

Admittedly, the Springboks were far more passionate, had greater purpose in their play, outmanoeuvred the Wallabies in most areas - especially the breakdown - and took every opportunity. But the Springboks always knew they were comfortable as soon as Wallabies players started falling one after the other during the Test.

Ever time you looked up, there seemed to be another Wallabies player in the hands of the medical staff. Even before kick-off, the Wallabies were forced to rejig their team list when Scott Higginbotham was taken off the bench because of a sore back suffered in a training mishap when Nathan Sharpe fell on top of him during a lineout drill.

Then Berrick Barnes was holding his chest, Adam Ashley-Cooper was knocked out during a courageous tackle of Springboks fullback Zane Kirchner, Radike Samo had to be helped from the field, as did Digby Ioane and Tatafu Polota-Nau. What hope did a team have of getting back into the game when the Test line-up was repeatedly rejigged, to the extent halfback Nick Phipps found himself on the wing and prop Benn Robinson became a lineout thrower?

Undoubtedly this loss will give greater voice to those in the anti-Deans brigade demanding a Wallabies coaching change.

But balance is required. This time around, Deans can actually get away with using injuries - five to key performers - as a valid excuse for a lopsided scoreline.

95 comments so far

  • wat a joke , we are already making excuses for our defeat in Argentine. I was a Dean's fan but robbie time for you to go,if you can find 15 players amongst the 100000's of rugby players in Australia, sorry you cant. you are running out Sharpe summo and you still have Beale on the squad. you have run out "OLD" past their useby date players and we are still being beaten.
    if we cant win blood some new younger players build something for the future. the game plan is to kick the ball away, robbie you cant win the game without the ball.
    Time to go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Date and time
    October 01, 2012, 12:55AM
    • Did you say something about "Sidiney"? (doubt you are bright enough to get the joke here)
      Please, your ramblings are almost incoherent but what is most annoying is the obvious fact you cannot take the small amount of time required to review your spelling (or do you believe your blog is much for the claim that ALL rugby fans are private school old boys!!) especially of another countries name!! What utter disrespect.
      As an AB supporter I enjoy the banter in "bashing" the wobblies as do most Kiwis BUT this situation is not good for world rugby and therefore I am sad to see the wobblies getting hammered when they simply have no depth and the team they would select, if available, is basically ALL on the injured list. This is a legitimate claim and as Growden states does not allow for daring game plans to be formulated at short notice. Stop bashing Deans he is in a no win place right now and YOU have no idea what is going on behind doors

      headed off
      Guatacita, Colombia
      Date and time
      October 01, 2012, 8:51AM
    • After Hooper, Beale was best on ground for the Wallabies at the weekend. He is now getting back to fitness and both plays well and enjoys #10.

      The Slow Eater
      Date and time
      October 01, 2012, 1:03PM
    • I can't be the only one who enjoys the irony of #headed off spelling "country's" incorrectly as he was giving someone a serve about spelling and grammar, right?

      Date and time
      October 01, 2012, 1:03PM
  • 1. We need a national comp. We needed one a generation ago. Please explain, ARU.

    2.At least Quade isn't playing.

    Date and time
    October 01, 2012, 1:18AM
    • Agree. Now the folly of dumping the fledgling ARC without giving it a fair go and then expecting to have another Super rugby shows the ineptitude of the ARU leadership. The comp was just getting its feet at the end of the first year and it was axed for what reason is still unclear.

      Both NZ and SA are in the midst of their second tier competitions at the moment. They could both call on players fully match prepared at a moments notice. Where is the Australian equivalent??

      Date and time
      October 01, 2012, 11:50AM
    • Wobbles,

      Here is a link to an article i wrote on teh Importance of a domestic competition. Thought you might like to read it.

      Date and time
      October 01, 2012, 9:20PM
    • Agreed, but this time the comp must be based on existing clubs... May be a series of JVs. The only club that could compete stand alone would be Sydney Uni...

      Date and time
      October 02, 2012, 8:04AM
  • Cooper didnt dump on them , he told the truth, which needs to be said. And it takes someone couragous to say it. Fact is the wallabies need a major overhaul and need to start selecting form players from all the provinces not just the favourites from the Tahs

    Date and time
    October 01, 2012, 2:17AM
    • You are right, players should be picked on form and Quade Cooper should have not been anywhere near the wallabies squad this year because he came back from injury and only played 2 or 3 mediocre games before the test matches started.

      Date and time
      October 01, 2012, 8:50AM

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