10 Ques­tions for the Oth­ers

NZ Rugby World - - Rugby Championship 2017 -

1 PACKED IN

The Wal­la­bies clearly have a num­ber of prob­lems across the squad – across their game. But top of the list come the Rugby Cham­pi­onship is their pack.

Can it find some kind of steel and abil­ity to hang in for longer than it has been? The Wal­la­bies were too eas­ily de­stroyed at the set piece last year, lacked ball car­ri­ers and didn’t have a bench im­pact to dig them out in the fi­nal quar­ter.

2 BACK TO TRA­DI­TION

The Pu­mas, on the ad­vice of Gra­ham Henry, ditched their ad­her­ence to kick and chase, grind­ing rugby in 2012.

It has been a fas­ci­nat­ing process watch­ing them em­brace pass and catch and be­come great en­ter­tain­ers in a short space of time.

But have they over­done it per­haps? Do they try to run too much? Are they guilty of play­ing too much rugby in the wrong places?

Can they marry a lit­tle prag­ma­tism into the mix with­out com­pletely los­ing their de­sire to at­tack?

3 GO­ING LO­CAL

The Boks still have a num­ber of good play­ers based off­shore. Heaps of them. Is it time, though, that they cut them off? Left them over there and just picked lo­cal play­ers who will be fresher, more at­tuned to the pace of South­ern Hemi­sphere games and not ex­pected to dash back to their clubs and play be­tween tests?

4 TAR­GET GAME

The Pu­mas will fancy they can beat the Wal­la­bies twice this year. They will have looked at the Wal­la­bies’ set piece and licked their lips.

But they have to be care­ful that they don’t fo­cus too hard on just those con­tests and give not much else of them­selves.

Can they tar­get the Wal­la­bies and yet still give a full-noise per­for­mance against the Boks and All Blacks?

That’s the hard­est thing about the Rugby Cham­pi­onship, there is no op­por­tu­nity to switch off and it is the key to do­ing well.

5 NEW BROOM

Wal­la­bies coach Michael Cheika is a big ad­mirer of Stephen Moore and likes the way the Reds hooker cap­tains the Wal­la­bies.

But Moore never plays more than 60 min­utes and isn’t even guar­an­teed of his start­ing place any more. Is it time for a change of lead­er­ship?

Time for a new cap­tain to try to es­tab­lish a new era of Wal­la­bies dom­i­nance? An era where they be­lieve in them­selves more and find a greater sense of iden­tity?

6 ALL BLACKS SCALP

South African rugby mea­sures it­self against New Zealand as the best gauge of how it is re­ally track­ing.

The Boks have beaten the All Blacks just once since 2012 and even that was by the nar­row­est mar­gin. They need an­other win to re­store pride and con­fi­dence.

No matter what else what hap­pens in the Cham­pi­onship can the Boks fi­nally se­cure a cov­eted vic­tory against the All Blacks? Can they use the in­evitable masses of ‘lo­cal’ sup­port they will have in Al­bany to their ad­van­tage?

7 GHOST TOWN

Ex­cuse the French here but ev­ery­one can see that the arse is fall­ing out of Aus­tralian rugby.

Their Su­per Rugby teams are a sham­bles, their ad­min­is­tra­tion has lost the plot and the na­tion is fast los­ing in­ter­est in the game.

Los­ing in June to Scot­land has only dark­ened the gather­ing clouds and if the Wal­la­bies start their cam­paign with a loss to the All Blacks in Syd­ney, the big­gest fea­ture of the Rugby Cham­pi­onship could be the thou­sands of empty seats.

The Wal­la­bies need to find a way, even if they are los­ing, to at least en­gage the Aus­tralian rugby pub­lic and make them want to be there.

Can they per­suade thou­sands of Aus­tralians to front with money and buy match tick­ets? If they can’t it is go­ing to be like play­ing in a ghost town, whoa, woah...play­ing in a ghost town. [Only peo­ple in their 40s and older will get that...but it is quite funny].

8 CAPE TOWN CURSE

The All Blacks haven’t been to Cape Town since 2008 – when they beat the Boks 19-0. And they haven’t been there be­cause the South Africans know it suits New Zealand to be, firstly, at sea level and, sec­ondly, in an area where they tend to garner more home sup­port than the Boks do.

As the Boks try to tran­si­tion their team to re­flect mod­ern South Africa, can they bury their past in Cape Town and, firstly, win and, sec­ondly, per­suade lo­cals to turn up wear­ing green jer­seys and not black?

9 FIND­ING BE­LIEF

The Pu­mas, af­ter an en­cour­ag­ing start in the Rugby Cham­pi­onship and a re­ally strong World Cup cam­paign in 2015, have started to stag­nate. Maybe they have even gone back­wards and with many of them play­ing for the Jaguares, and be­ing beaten each week by the play­ers they will face in New Zealand, South African and Aus­tralian jer­seys, they look like they are los­ing con­fi­dence and be­lief.

Can they find it? Can they re­mem­ber they are good play­ers, an emerg­ing force as a team and more than ca­pa­ble of win­ning big tests?

10 LI­ONS ROAR

Last year new South African coach Al­lis­ter Coet­zee tried to play what would be best de­scribed as a tra­di­tional Spring­boks game. But he did so with the ma­jor­ity of his play­ers picked from the Li­ons, who pre­fer to open things up and use their speed and skill out wide.

It was a to­tal mess. This year, can he marry the style to the per­son­nel a bit bet­ter? The ev­i­dence in June was promising with the Boks beat­ing France and scor­ing plenty of tries in the process.

The Pu­mas need prag­ma­tism back in their mix TONED DOWN

The Wal­la­bies are los­ing fans in their droves. HEARTS AND MINDS

The Boks are adapt­ing the open game­plan of the Li­ons. RUN­NING GAME

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