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5 key points after the Wallabies' end of year tour

Australia's Kurtley Beale. Photo / Getty Images

The Wallabies have ended their season after an up and down European tour. It started well, beating Wales in Cardiff – but a controversial defeat against England was followed by a thumping at Murrayfield against Scotland.

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Michael Cheika has had a look at a couple of fringe players and can start planning for next season, with the World Cup in Japan on the horizon. There have been plenty of noteworthy things from an up and down tour, so here’s a few points.

  • Israel Folau’s stock has risen by not going. Folau declared himself unavailable for this tour just before the Barbarians game. Arguably the best full back in the world, Folau is one of the most potent attacking weapons in the Wallaby arsenal. Kurtley Beale took over the 15 shirt for the tour, played quite well against Wales but otherwise didn’t cover himself in glory. Karmichael Hunt wasn’t played there and Dane Haylett-Petty is injured so Beale appears to the be second choice, and after this tour there isn’t much of a contest.
  • The centre pairing is still to be decided. Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kuridrani don’t work together. Kerevi is very one dimensional and was shackled well against Wales and Scotland. Against England he certainly troubled the defence with ball in hand but doesn’t offer enough on a regular basis. Defensively, they get very stretched and Scotland exposed that ruthlessly on a couple of occasions. Beale is used there when Folau is at 15 but Reece Hodge is used there defensively which isn’t ideal.
  • This was one tour too many for Stephen Moore. Moore has been an incredible servant and superb player for Australian Rugby. What better way to sign off than beat the All Blacks on your home ground. Instead he has signed off by conceding 50 points to Scotland. Moore and Polota-Nau have had the two hooker spots pretty much locked down for a number of seasons. With the emergence of Jordan Uelese this would have been the perfect time to get him in and amongst the test squad and touring party. Cheika could have missed a trick, there is no room for sentimentality in top level sport.
  • Will Genia is getting back to his best. Prior to moving to France, Genia was arguably the best scrum half in the world. He was the first name on the team sheet and a player that the team was built around. He didn’t enjoy the best of times in France and has taken a little while to get his form back. His performance against Wales was imperious and against England he had a great battle with Ben Youngs. Scotland wasn’t his best performance but if he continues like this then there will be a lot of happy people in the Wallabies camp.
  • Marika Korobiete has cemented himself in one of the wing spots. His defence is superb and every time he gets the ball he looks dangerous. One critique that can be aimed at him is that he doesn’t go looking for work as often as he could do but that could be due to team instructions. He is a potent weapon though, and alongside Folau they will form a formidable back three.

 

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Turlough 5 hours ago
Jean de Villiers' three word response to 'best in the world' debate

This ‘raging’ debate is only happenning in media circles and has never been a topic in Ireland (although SA media are interested). It makes the media companies money I guess. SA are RWC champions and #1 ranked team although Ireland are back within a point there. The facts point to SA. For a lot of 2021 France beat ALL their rivals and Ireland similar in 2022-2023. It is not wrong to say that on such form either can be deemed to be the current best team if they have beaten all their rivals and ranked #1. The ‘have to have won a world cup’ stipulation is nonsense. The world cup draw and scheduling has been tailored to the traditional big teams since the start. The scheduling also which sees the big teams sheltered from playing a hard pool match the week before has also been a constant. It is extraordinary that for example France have made so many finals. Ireland who were realistically only contenders in 2023 were in a Pool with two other top 5 teams and had to play one of them 7 days before a quarter final against France or New Zealand. Always going to be a coin toss. Scotland’s situation was worse. New Zealand had great chances in 1995, 1999, 2007 but they could not win a tight RWC match. The first tight match they ever won was versus France in the 2011 final, literally they lost every other tight match before that. Some of those NZ teams around that era were #1 surely?

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