I don’t want to hear about injuries. I don’t want to hear about how long of a season it was. I don’t want to hear about all the star players that are missing. I’m just not one for excuses.
It was less than 12 months ago that the Australian team were crowned World Champions after they had dominated New Zealand in the 2013 World Cup Final. In that game Australia shut down the Kiwi’s. The scoreline didn’t accurately gauge how one sided the contest was.
Australia has always boasted that they could name a number of teams and still beat most of their opposition. In fact if you look over the history of that game, that has turned out to be true.
So here we are, and there can be no excuses. Australia needs to find some form, and quickly!
Up front Australia were completely dominated by New Zealand on the weekend. I got the feeling going into the tournament that Tim Sheens was looking to have a more mobile pack in the hope that the Kangaroos would once again stifle the opposition in defense. This time around however the Kiwi’s go forward was way too good. When you remember that Issac Luke is still to come back into their side, that is a very big problem.
At the elite level of the game you need to have some big boppers. When you are talking about the Australian and New Zealand test teams, even the biggest players have mobility and speed. That is also the case at State Of Origin level. That means Australia needs to add some size to their pack, and fast!
I’d bring David Klemmer into the starting lineup as a replacement for Aaron Woods. Klemmer is in the squad, and he is either good enough to be there on merit or he isn’t. If he is there, we should use him. We need to get some good go forward early and establish some dominance up front. That isn’t Woods game. It’s time to make a change.
I’d bring Aiden Guerra and Boyd Cordner into the back row replacing Beau Scott and Ryan Hoffman. In my opinion Guerra has been the best forward in the game in 2014. He has to start the match. Cordner will add some much needed size to the back row. That is something we need right now.
I would drop Beau Scott and Aaron Woods from the side completely.
Every team in the Four Nations looked short of a good run on the weekend. Every team had issues with their back line combinations. The issue Australia will have going forward is that the reshuffle they needed in the first game will do nothing to help those combinations work themselves out. Basically, Australia’s match against England needs to be a complete reset on their entire tournament.
I have faith in the backs Sheens selected in game one. Hopefully Daly Cherry-Evans can overcome his hip injury and play out the rest of the tournament because he is a classy player the Kangaroos can not afford to lose. The drop in ability between him and Ben Hunt is a big one. He is also very experience as a representative player and a proven performer at this level.
While Dylan Walker had a shocking game once forced to move to fullback, I would keep him in the side. He was asked to do a lot in his debut, and his performance at fullback was the worst I have seen by an Australian player since Darren Lockyer’s debut.
I was more disappointed with Daniel Tupou’s performance in the first game. I didn’t think he went looking for enough work and there were times in the match I thought he just didn’t show enough urgency.
I’d look to bring Sione Mata’utia onto the wing for Tupou against England. The English backs will not be able to handle Mata’utia’s footwork. They are simply not use to having to mark up against a player like him on the firmer surface they will be playing on this weekend.
Outside of those three changes I’d leave the lineup intact. At the end of the day there is no white knight that is going to ride into the Kangaroos camp that will dramatically change things. The players that are part of this squad need to step up and play better.
Either they are up to the task, or they are not. You can only go by results at international level and in the first game the Australian side was simply not good enough.
Unless Australia can turn things around they face a humiliating outcome. They will beat England, they should beat Samoa, but going into the final against the Kiwi’s on their own patch of dirt will end in tears unless the Kangaroos can turn things around.
I don’t want to hear anything out of the Australian camp this week. I just want to see the result of their improvement on the weekend against England.