Wallaby ‘lack of maturity of a Test player’, naive executives slammed after ‘pissing off the ref’


After the neck rolls, should some heads roll?

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie remarked to Drew Mitchell following the Wallabies’ 13-10 loss to Ireland that the home side conceded more penalties in Dublin. But there are penalties and then there are brutal coach killers.

Put the brains of Folau Fainga’a’s yellow card in the latter category. The prostitute’s form is in the basement right now, but this stunning moment of indiscipline was as predictable as it was avoidable. It looks like Rennie has a long chance of trusting him beyond this tour.

The Wallabies were on the attack when he took the neck penalty – one of four in the game Australia conceded. The entire Wallabies squad had been cautioned by Ben O’Keeffe, who stripped a first down from Nic White due to a header against Dave Porecki.

Australia’s Folau Fainga’a, left, receives a yellow card from referee Ben O’Keeffe. (Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

The Fainga’a map has been a mind-boggling moment in a year.

Morgan Turinui is the most sober member of the Stan Sport panel. Even he couldn’t help it.

“Why do you do that?’ Fainga’a’s Sean Maloney asked as O’Keeffe held up the yellow card.

Turinui’s response: “The reason is that you lack the discipline and maturity of a Test player.”

Here’s who played and who stumbled in the loss to Ireland

Fainga’a’s moment made him an obvious target after the game.

“It sums up the Wallabies, doesn’t it? This inconsistency,” Jim Tucker said on The Roar Instant Reaction podcast.

“I congratulated him this year for this more dynamic involvement away from the rolling maul, for having good ranges and sometimes being a little excited. But the inconsistency of being the neck guy, missing a line throw, whatever, some of them are hard to master.

Brett McKay had Fainga’a as the match’s drop stock.

“I’ll be happy to start Folau Fainga’a because he replaced Dave Porecki at the start of the first half,” McKay said.

“He was in place when there were penalties. He was in place when the warning was given to both teams that the next high-contact necker will be a yellow card, and he still went. And that just shows a lack of rugby in us general brains. I do not know.”

Harry Jones, also on the Instant Reaction podcast, felt the yellow card situation was a multi-level leadership failure within the Wallabies.

The team have now had 13 yellow cards and one red losing 10 of their 14 Tests in 2022.

“It’s very difficult to judge this team at the moment. I guess the first thing is that they should start well, then when you start well, and you score and Nic White’s try is canceled due to an unnecessary neck roll, then you keep rolling.

“It’s a way to clean up a ruck that’s been driven.

“You just have to go back to the training standards, leaders, captain, vice-captain, pack leaders, whatever, somebody has to stop and say, whatever you do, for the 30 next few minutes, nobody touches a neck because Ben O’Keeffe is all about the neck today.

Australia's Nic White clashes with Ireland's Andrew Porter during the Bank of Ireland Nations Series match between Ireland and Australia at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. (Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Australia’s Nic White fights with Andrew Porter. (Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

“It’s Test foot. I don’t know who to choose for this, because it’s almost unfair. It looks like a business problem, that the Wallabies manage to snuff out their good start. And second, just keep doing something that pisses off the referee.

The Wallabies were knocking on the door for a famous victory against the world No. 1 ranked team near death when Jake Gordon was penalised.

“He’s been great for the Waratahs every time he plays, but that just doesn’t translate into Test football,” Tucker said.

Rennie brought back some of his big guns after the loss to Italy a week later, but then faced a significant injury toll with seven players injured in the match.

Hunter Paisami has a medial ligament injury amid fears Taniela Tupou has suffered an Achilles.

There were encouraging signs for the Wallabies coach under fire despite the loss and human wreckage.

Jordan Petaia had his best game in a Wallabies shirt after replacing Paisami and World Cup winner Tim Horan said he was the favorite to wear it at next year’s tournament.

“Jordie Petaia if he stays fit for the next 12 months he will start in the No.15 shirt at the Rugby World Cup,” Horan said on the cover of Stan Sport. “He’s an exceptional player, an X-factor player.”

Turinui added: “He’s a player of light and shadow and we saw so much lightness tonight.”

Tucker chose Petaia as his outgoing stock in the game.

“Jordie has had a really mixed year. It looked like he was almost guaranteed some time at the back earlier in the year, which was average,” Tucker said.

“He just needed to come in but without pressure, which was perfectly created by Paisami’s injury and his exit after three minutes.

“He just had a free hit in the game and played really well with no stupid stuff.

“He showed what he could do with those quick changes of pace, crossed the line a bit in a game where nobody crossed the line.

“And then when he got that little wink to score a try, he just put the afterburners on and took it really well.”

Tucker was also impressed with Mark Nawaqanitawase on the wing, praising him for a spectacular high kick grab.

Harry Jones accepted. “I liked Marky Mark – I thought he was very busy,” Jones said.

“He did a very good job of staying in touch. And I think Ireland usually play with the touchline as an extra defender, so he did a really good job staying inside, keeping the ball alive.

Jones also praised locks – starters Cadeyrn Neville and Nick Frost and backup Will Skelton, whose incredible play that sucked in four defenders set up the try for Petaia.

“Both locks were given proper consideration as James Ryan was at the top of his game and Tadgh Furlong is one of the best tight strikers in the world. And I feel like it was a dead end said Jones.

McKay has added Jed Holloway to the list of impressive Australian forwards.

“He went through a mountain of defences, was good in the lineout, had a few lineout steals when it counted, carried pretty well,” McKay said.

Tucker also called up Michael Hooper, who took over as captain following the departure of James Slipper.

“We can’t ignore that Hooper did what a number seven should do,” Tucker said.

“He made two great interceptions – his involvement all around the ball was significant. If we could get those two interceptions per game from Michael Hooper…

“Maybe I’m a dinosaur who just thinks I want number seven who only makes a few steals. It changes the whole course of the game. And the ones he got were important, so a big plus for Michael Hooper .

The match ended with an error by fly-half Bernard Foley, which continues to divide the fans.

“Nic White and Bernard Foley have done some really good things as a partnership,” Tucker said. “There will be people who get carried away of course. But Foley’s two tackles when they were down to 13 men were extremely good.

Tucker felt the Wallabies were tactically improved.

“They didn’t play too much football. I think there was a clear instruction that kicking and not having the ball would be an advantage in this game in some ways,” Tucker said.

“So they gave a little better. Some of the aerial stuff was much better. Like Nawaqanitawase catching a front kick and Petaia catching a front kick. They were important.

“Foley kicks to hit – there will always be moaners saying he’s a pop gun, but he kicked to hit well. Took the pressure off his shoulders.

“They had these raids, applying pressure in the Irish 22, where they held the ball for 20 phases or 10 phases.

But there was a sense of a missed opportunity with Skelton reduced to a bench role.

“You would have thought we could have Will Skelton just for 60 seconds at any of those times,” Tucker said.

“Late in the game when he brought in four players to stop him, it finally created a lag and a bit of a disturbance in the Irish defense and bang Petaia scores a try. There were good things, just good rugby, stable and intelligent.




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