Saturday, 14 May 2016

Couch Coach - Test Match Edition

New Zealand vs Australia

It's never a good feeling to lose. It's an even worse feeling to lose to Australia. It's sad to say that we can go even one better than that. We lost to the Aussies without scoring a point. Where was that G.I mentality at the end of the game where we could have been taking a shot at field goal?

Due to some sort of secret squirrel business involving the formula that is used in the International Rugby League Rankings and the lack of material to be found online, we now have to sit through the rest of the month until we find out if we even retain #1 spot in the world. Judging by the little information I could find, it seems part of the criteria is based on the last 3 years results. With NZ currently sitting on 897 points and Australia 719 there may be hope that we hold onto those bragging rights. Let's face it, when it comes to the Aussies bragging rights are as good as a win.

Let's dust off the old chalk board, doodle up a couple of quick illustrations of some cock and balls then have a look at some key points to be taken away from last nights game.

1. No specialist hooker

We'll start with the obvious. I think we can all agree that leaving Luke out of the game put us on that back foot before a ball had even been kicked.

Although he has started the season off with the Warriors with some unflattering form there has been the positive that he has looked better with each game he plays.

Not only does he add speed around the ruck, quality ball service from dummy half, adds a dimension of play with his darting runs that gain valuable metres and gets through his fair share of defensive work, he is a leader within the squad. He is a senior member who provides confidence around the squad and has the ability to take pressure of those around him. He leads our Haka like a man possessed and brings with him experience and a calm head when the going gets tough.

What message does leaving Luke out of the squad send to the rest of the team? Does it give them an edge and determination to keep their spot or does it create doubt in the mind adding unnecessary pressure in a game that has enough of its own already?

2. SJ Flying Solo

I've seen plenty of criticism fired SJ's way in the aftermath of the match. While I am one to quickly have something to say about a players performance I feel he is a little hard done by in this instance.
Australia would have gone into battle with one very clear message coming from the sheds; "SHUT DOWN JOHNSON". What's the man to do when the opposition are putting even more attention on him that usual while knowing full well that there isn't a Plan B for the kiwis if SJ gets taken out of the game.

Meninga enters every game he coaches with the mindset of winning that particular game. He has been very successful using that method and is something we needs to have endorsed within this squad. When we're down on troops you have to pick the best options for positions, that means picking Benji at 5/8.

Imagine the extra possibilities with ball in hand just by adding those two very experienced blokes in Marshall and Luke. I applaud Kearney for his record over the last few years but if he was a junkie and dropped the ball like that he'd be giving wristy's in the truck stop in an attempt to have a second chance at holding the ball next time around.

3. Jordan Kahu

I must admit that I raised an eyebrow when I saw his selection at fullback. I thought Josh Hoffman would have got the nod before him to fill in the void.

It is clear I need to pay more attention to Broncos games as I haven't seen a great deal of the guy and his effort for the Kiwis was simply outstanding.

Kahu made a number of try savers both by his determination in defence, his ability to pop up at the right time and a never give up attitude.

Most notably was his try saver on Semi that just stopped the big guy in his tracks 5m out from the line, then with the very next play getting across to the other side of the field to stop/almost stop another try scoring effort. Right on halftime he managed to put enough pressure on an Australian kick to force the ball dead in what otherwise could have been another try and a very ugly halftime score.

4. Defence

Not much to say here. Pure desperation, fight and pride in the jersey were key to stopping the flood gates from potentially opening up. With the sheer weight of possession against them it was refreshing to see this mob not drop their heads and start kicking stones because it was getting too hard. Now, wouldn't it be nice to see that sort of attitude in defence from the NZ Warriors?!?

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