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Thread: Connolly 'must take risks or bow out'

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    Connolly 'must take risks or bow out'

    Connolly 'must take risks or bow out'

    By Bret Harris
    November 24, 2006


    FORMER Australia captain Simon Poidevin believes Wallabies coach John Connolly should resign if he plans to revert to conservative tactics for the Rugby World Cup in France next year.

    Poidevin, along with former Wallabies coach Rod Macqueen, was a member of the recruitment panel that recommended Connolly to the Australian Rugby Union after the sacking of Eddie Jones.

    But Poidevin was dismayed with the Wallabies' safety-first approach in their 21-6 loss to Ireland in Dublin on Monday (AEDT), and he believes there is no point in Connolly continuing if he wants to take the team down the minimum-risk path.

    "I sense there is maybe a view out there that because we are a year away from the World Cup that we will go right into a traditional Connolly game," Poidevin said at a Rugby World Cup function at the Alliance Francaise in Sydney on Wednesday night.

    "I will feel very responsible if that's the case because Knuckles (Connolly) was brought into this team - he got there on his own merits - to clean out the culture because the culture was poor and I think he is struggling with that.

    "But if he now wants to move into a conservative, 10-mannish, risk-averse game, I think he should fall on his sword.

    "We can't do that.

    "The Australian public will support the Wallabies playing the way they have historically."

    Poidevin said it was a bitter irony that Ireland played Australian-style attacking rugby to outscore the Wallabies two tries to nil in atrocious conditions at Lansdowne Road.

    "The sad thing about the Irish Test is that we didn't score a try," Poidevin said.

    "(Ireland captain) Brian O'Driscoll rightly said after the game that Ireland played all the rugby and scored two fantastic tries in what were testing conditions.

    "But (New Zealand's) attitude in similar conditions would be to continue to use the ball and use the width of the field, which I think is the saddest thing for us.

    "I think if our players were playing the same style of game as the All Blacks, we would be a very successful side.

    "It is good to see sides playing rugby as we know it getting rewarded and teams that are playing a risk-averse game are getting punished.

    "Until we work out that's the case we are not going to become a power again."

    While Connolly and assistant coach Michael Foley were charged with improving the forwards' play, it must be remembered that the ARU specifically appointed Scott Johnson as attack coach so the team would play the expansive style of game that helped Wales win the Six Nations in 2005.

    Poidevin also strongly disagreed with the view that the ARU should launch another raid on rugby league to boost the Wallabies' playing strength.

    He described the recruitment of rugby league players Wendell Sailor, Mat Rogers and Lote Tuqiri as a worthwhile experiment, but he said the time was right to concentrate on developing Australian rugby's emerging talent.

    "There is fantastic talent coming through the under-19s and under-21s," Poidevin said.

    "It is the wrong signal to those players to say we are going to fix problems with league recruits.

    "League players do find that it doesn't happen overnight. Wendell Sailor really never got to the phase where he was a natural rugby player. He was a pretty good athlete in his own right but it is a different game, vastly different in culture and rules."

    But Poidevin said the Wallabies could still learn from rugby league and AFL, especially in relation to mental toughness.

    "I really admire the league competition for toughness week in, week out," he said.

    "There is nowhere to hide, the occasional easy game, but you rarely see top-line players out of sides.

    "They get back on the field and give it a go. I don't see the same mental toughness in our guys.

    "Likewise, AFL, that is a high impact, high velocity game and players turn up week in, week out.

    "I think that's the biggest lesson our guys can take out of those two games. It's combat every week. You just can't have a very procedural build-up to every game and get cotton-woolled.

    "I think there is fabulous talent in the team. We've got to harness that talent and get the players believing in themselves.

    "The players have to become tougher mentally because to win a World Cup you've got to be mentally tough."

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    Poido makes a few good points, but this close to the main event is not the right time to be changing the coaching staff, put a cracker up their clacker perhaps, but not outright change....We need to build NOW, and get the foundations laid for a successful tilt at the big one, otherwise it`ll be Kiwis first, daylight second...

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    Hang on a minute, if this chap is now suggesting that an error was made (by Him and others) in selecting Knuckles then maybe it is they that should be falling on swords! Lead by example would be my call and never take a position on a selection panel again.

    I remember some good old debate on here, particularly with Burgs, at the time of the announcement. I was obviously interested as Knuckles and Foley were both taken from Bath and I recall warning about the "Connolly way", he is a 10 man rugby coach and he has never tried to pretend he is something else.

    At the time if I recall correctly the other side of the debate was suggesting that he only coached that way because he didn't have the quality backline to use and that once he was given the riches of the Aussie Backs to work with all would be well in the world of OZ, well wake up and smell the coffee...Knuckles does what Knuckles does best, if a different type of head coach was required then a different one should have been selected. At the time the Aussie pack was being mullered and that was most likely why they turned to him, as for suggesting in the article that "we may go into a traditional Connelly game", well of course you will...doh!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flat-top
    Hang on a minute, if this chap is now suggesting that an error was made (by Him and others) in selecting Knuckles then maybe it is they that should be falling on swords! Lead by example would be my call and never take a position on a selection panel again.

    I remember some good old debate on here, particularly with Burgs, at the time of the announcement. I was obviously interested as Knuckles and Foley were both taken from Bath and I recall warning about the "Connolly way", he is a 10 man rugby coach and he has never tried to pretend he is something else.

    At the time if I recall correctly the other side of the debate was suggesting that he only coached that way because he didn't have the quality backline to use and that once he was given the riches of the Aussie Backs to work with all would be well in the world of OZ, well wake up and smell the coffee...Knuckles does what Knuckles does best, if a different type of head coach was required then a different one should have been selected. At the time the Aussie pack was being mullered and that was most likely why they turned to him, as for suggesting in the article that "we may go into a traditional Connelly game", well of course you will...doh!
    Knuckles said from the start that he was going to make the Wallabies less structured. Well he has done that in spades, doubled, re-doubled and vulnerable. The back line is now so unstructured that they do not know what the player next to them is going to do. However, I see a glimmer of hope in the team for Scotland. The only improvement I could suggest is MG at 12 and a lifetime half back at 9. Both Valentine and Sheehan have been given little or no chance to show their wares.

    One other niggle, Knuckles, get rid of that bloody gold chain!

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    Ironically F-t, it is still the very area he is reputed to favour that is the most unstructured of the whole unstructured mess!!!
    I recall the debate but without looking back not so much the detail however, I think the gist of it for me was I don't have a problem with him Coaching ten man Rugby (unless it was to be purely to get within Penalty Goal territory) as the opportunities to a skilled outside back unit would come off that anyway.
    He has been reported to have wanted to "unleash" his potent backline but has failed to develop the 1-10 to either play ten man or flashy fifteen man. Either goal has failed this far.
    I do agree with your statement re Poido, if Knuckles is at fault then so is he.
    However, it would seem to me that it is more of a case that Knuckles allegedly "committed" to an "Australian" try orientated style at interview and has now appeared to change mid course, so I can see both side of the coin on this one.
    At this stage of the WC cycle I feel the Wallabies need to establish a pack that provides parity (rather than dominates), a halves combination that will keep the ball in hand/alive and an outside unit that can tackle and can keep it very simple in attack with a license to be creative if the opportunity arises.
    It is a way of playing that has been effective for Australia and isn't reinventing the wheel for the players concerned.
    If we can keep the ball and keep it moving we can beat all comers including the heavily “counter attack-reliant” All Blacks. Unfortunately at the moment the same could be said for anyone AGAINST us as well…

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    What?! Is he a "vBookie" too?

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    no tales out of school...

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