Friday, 1 August 2008 Entries

Keeping it real

Hasn’t Robbie Deans said and done all the right things in his first month of tenure?

In the press Deans has been promoting the virtues of the team rather than the individual performances of the players. This is in stark contrast to what the Wallabies have been all about in the past couple of seasons, when you would have been forgiven for thinking that there were only two or three worthy players representing the country.

This approach was evident when Deans was asked if Lote Tuiqui would play a senior leadership role within the team. His response would have made George Orwell proud – all players are equal and he does not promote a hierarchical system.

We are all hoping for an overnight miracle that would see the Wallabies win the Bledisloe Cup and Tri-nations trophy in 2008, but we have to be a little more realistic. While not saying we will not be triumphant, a complete change of style, approach and culture will take time to implement and nurture.

Some players will revel in Deans’ style of promoting instinctive play, while others out of the Eddie Jones and John Connolly era of robotic play will self-implode.

Matt Giteau is one that will thrive. He has all the skill and vision, coupled with the opportunity of taking over from Stephen Larkham as the play maker to challenge Dan Carter as the world’s best rugby player.

The Pacific Nations Cup has also been a great success. Not only does it give some of the more flamboyant countries a platform to show their wares, but it also provides an opportunity to develop some exciting local talent.

But for me, playing games on a Sunday afternoon at great rugby venues is something that has been sadly lacking in the professional era.

It was wonderful to see families at the rugby together, rather than just Dad making the trek to Homebush alone. Also, generally the quality of game in the afternoon is much better as you do not have to contend with the lights and night dew, making handling the ball much easier.

From Australia A grade’s performance, there was none better than Timana Tahu. Playing him at inside centre has been a master stroke.

Inside centre is the easiest place to defend in Rugby. Sure you have to make a lot of tackles, but the decision making process is so much easier than number 11, 13 or 14. Tahu does not have an issue with making a big hit, but for a guy new to the game this is the best spot defensively.

But it is his feet, which have movement when he has the ball, that have us all excited about what he can achieve. Only time will tell if he can match the feats (pardon the pun) of Michael O’Connor or Brett Papworth and step his way to Wallaby folklore.

Here’s good luck to the Wallabies in the Tri-nations and hopes of Deans to become another great Australian like Russell Crowe or Tim and Neil Finn.

Jason Little is general manager – Australia at Goodman International

Jason Little | Friday, 1 August 2008 12:39 PM |