Rugby

GENIA COLUMN: It’s vital the Wallabies beat Argentina otherwise self-doubt will creep in, three key selections

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I’ve got to admit, I didn’t see last weekend’s result coming. We got physically dominated and the scoreline showed that.

The most worrying part is that it wasn’t even South Africa’s best team.

Like it or not, and clearly Eddie didn’t, they were missing several players who would have started if it was a World Cup knockout match.

I’ll touch more on the game later, but looking ahead, it’s vital the Wallabies bounce back quickly.

This weekend against Argentina is going to be huge just for the fact that we’ve got to build a bit of self-belief in what we’re trying to do.

Eddie’s obviously come into the environment wanting to play a different way, create a different structure of rugby, change their mindset and their psyche, so it’s really important that we get a result this week and get some positive positivity from that, that can give us some confidence for the rest of the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe leading to the World Cup.

Will Genia says it’s vital the Wallabies bounce back against Argentina. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

I’m not saying that they’ll lose belief, but if you lose this weekend, in wanting to try and bring in a new style and a new game with the World Cup around the corner, you start feeling the pressure thinking ‘jeez, it’s getting closer and closer, but we’re not getting the results that we want.’

It’s not that you don’t believe in the coach, or you don’t believe in his vision, you just start to question everything.

Trust me, they’ll say that they have full belief and stuff like that. And again, it’s not that you question the coach, but you start to question little things along the way, you start to have reservations and hesitate a little bit because you’re not getting the results, and that affects team alignment.

If you don’t have everybody on the same page, you’re going to struggle.

One thing is for sure, the way South Africa played on the weekend is the perfect template for how you’re going to play competitive World Cup rugby.

The Springboks calved up the Wallabies off the back of a dominant set-piece and gain line battle. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

It’s about dominating the set-piece, making sure that you’re playing in the right parts of the field and identifying when you have space to use the ball. The Wallabies didn’t do that in Pretoria.

But in order to be able to use the ball effectively at Test level, you’ve got to have ascendancy or parity at your set-piece because that generates pressure.

If you’ve got a good lineout and you’re winning your lineout, the defence has to be aware of the lineout, so they stay.

If you’ve got a good maul, the defensive maul has to stay tight which creates opportunities at the seam. You saw South Africa do that to us.

If you don’t have a good maul, teams sort of tend to bounce out a little bit on the defensive maul and can cover that seam a lot easier.

Same thing with the scrum, your flank probably needs to stay on a little bit longer, which creates space inside and outside the No.10 channel which then creates the space further out wide.

So, the set-piece is going to be crucial and it’s going to be a huge area that we need to improve on.

As a nine or 10, it’s incredibly tough to have a lot of control over the game when your forwards are dominated, getting parity at the set piece and when you’re getting dominated in defence.

But it’s more a case of when we have the ball, what do you do with it?

The Wallabies were smashed at the gain line battle. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

A couple of times where we were putting up bombs when we were about 30-40 metres out or when kicking long when we were about 40-45 metres out, it would have been a good opportunity to put them under some pressure, build some phases and make them work.

The way it looked to me was they went into that game wanting to kick a hell of a lot.

You heard Dave Rennie speak about it during his tenure around how we don’t kick well or kick effectively or know when to kick, so the way I was analysing it was it seems like he’s said, ‘let’s kick the hell out of the ball to try and change our mindset about kicking, so we can compete with the Frences, Irelands and New Zealands’ and then he’ll rein it in as we get closer to the World Cup.

Eddie doesn’t strike me as the type of bloke that’s desperate.

I think he understands the bigger picture around wanting to be as well prepared as he can for the World Cup.

Even in the loss, he obviously mentioned that there weren’t a lot of positives that come from it, but I feel like he’s definitely got a plan in mind for what he wants to do.

It makes it a bit more difficult because of the nature of the loss, but I honestly believe he’ll want to give guys an opportunity that played well.

There weren’t a lot of guys who played well, maybe that means Carter Gordon gets maybe 20 or 30 minutes, or potentially even start.

The halfback selection will be difficult as well.

I thought Tate McDermott did pretty well coming on. As we know, he brings a bit of spark, a bit of energy, a bit of speed and tempo.

Nic White obviously has tactical nous and game management skills, then Ryan Lonergan’s probably a combination of both of them. I rate him incredibly highly.

It might even be one of those things where he gets an opportunity to start this week.

I’d like to see Pete Samu at seven. He probably brings a bit more bulk.

Will Genia believes Pete Samu could be a solution for the Wallabies at openside flanker. (Photo by Will Russell/Getty Images)

Michael Hooper is a champion player and a champion bloke and a great leader. But Eddie’s even said it, rugby these days is more about the power game, the ball in playtime isn’t as long as what it used to be, and it’s about having a bit more size to be able to contend at the top level.

Pete Samu’s been excellent the last couple of years for the Brumbies and for the Wallabies. Again, he brings a bit more size, a bit more dynamism in like the carry, and it’s a good combination that’s worked at the Brumbies with Bobby Valetini.

I’d hate to be a selector because part of me wants to see a White-Quade Cooper-Samu Kerevi combination because I know they’ll do well, particularly against Argentina, but there’s also a part of me that would like to see Carter get an opportunity to give him more confidence, if called upon because of injury to Quade during the World Cup.

It’s a big weekend. 

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