Ewen McKenzie: The Wallabies coach remains a cult hero north of the Tweed River but didn't win too many fans when he dropped local favourites Will Genia from the squad and relegated James Horwill to the bench. McKenzie stuck to his guns and continues to experiment with his line-ups as he tries to fashion his wider squad into a hardened Bledisloe/World Cup outfit. On first evidence, he's walking down the right path, although players like Genia are likely to be back in the mix throughout the winter.
Wallabies defeat France in Test opener
Australia beat France 50-23 in their Test opener at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
New faces: Players like Bernard Foley and big lock Sam Carter had the chance to really press their claims at Suncorp Stadium and made the step up to international rugby with little drama, even if the opposition – to be frank – would have battled to beat a half-decent Super Rugby side. Foley took a while to warm into the contest but gradually got his hands on the ball more and more. Carter stood tall at the set piece and carried it sternly into contact. McKenzie has plenty to work with over coming weeks.
Israel Folau: Phil Jackson had a great play when he coached the Jordan-era Bulls. Whenever the side needed something special, just clear out and get it to Mike. It's becoming a go-to play for the Wallabies as well, subbing in Folau for His Airness. Folau scored the first try, had a hand in a few more and generally had the French looking scared (peur, according to Google) anytime he went near the Gilbert. Most of the attempted tackles were laughable. but the Tahs fullback looked pretty sharp.
Leadership groups: I really doubt there's a more annoying term in team sport at the moment than ''leadership groups''. But in this case, the notion served the Wallabies well when they lost their skipper in the third minute of the match. Michael Hooper took over, with a little help from his friends, and the Australians barely missed a beat. The decision-making and intent both in attack and defence was largely on song.
Australian cricket: A few of the Test players were at the ground to enjoy a night on the tins and watch their Wallaby counterparts notch up a half-century. Everybody wins.
Stephen Moore: The new Australian captain celebrated his elevation to the presidential suite by injuring his knee in the third minute of the match. Moore tried valiantly to battle on but looked like a man trying to tapdance after his leg fell asleep. He was eventually convinced to head to the bench and could miss a month or two of rugby if the early diagnosis of a medial ligament tear is on the money. Not the evening he had in mind.
The French: They were rubbish. Aside from a few moments of glorious madness in the first 10 minutes that had the Wallabies taking notice, they served up bowls of dribble for attack before retreating to a defensive line that couldn't be bothered getting off its collective derrière. The lowlight was a horrendous car crash of a play before half-time that saw the ball sent back into their own in-goal, fumbled and put on a plate for Matt Toomua to score. The skill level wasn't up to the international game and France may be paying the price for a cashed-up domestic league that relies on overpaid imports for traction. France hasn't won in Australia since 1990. Tick, tick, tick ...
Late starts: We all understand the television commitments but for a lesser-tier team like the French, it might have been worth setting this one alight at a more family-friendly timeslot like 4pm instead of an 8pm (and change) kick-off. The crowd of just over 33,000 was a fairly good result given the profile of the tourists, but it was still a record low for a Wallaby Test since Suncorp Stadium was redeveloped. A twilight start, in the glorious Brisbane winter weather, might have added a few more thousand to the tally.
TMO: Rugby can't get enough of long, arduous and largely pointless stoppages while 15 different people look at replays for something that probably could have just been decided on the field in five seconds. A first-half try to the Wallabies was finally given by Craig Joubert despite the linesman (in a perfect spot) and TMO saying they believed it contained a forward pass. None of the angles seemed to shine any new light on Tevita Kuridrani's tap-on whatsoever before the arm went up.