It was Phil Kearns, of all people, who made the most relevant comment about the lack of rugby nous in the ranks of the Wallabies as the dominant All Blacks attack after attack towards the end of their 38-13 victory in the first released Bledisloe Cup Test.
"Folau is off the field," he said, "and the Wallabies are trying to kick off for the first time in the match!"
Spot on. And then it happened, the Wallabies mouthed that kick-off and turned the ball over for the All Blacks to launch another rising black-wave attack.
Let's be honest here. Israel Folau has two strengths in his game. He is a powerful runner with the ball when he jumps on a pass. And he has a great jump and a creepy ability to take a full step once he lands on the ground.
It was logical for the first kickoff for the Wallabies because it would be long, which led to a tackle deep in the All Blacks 22 made by Marika Koroibete. New Zealand had to clamber several times to find the situation. Their opening minutes of the game, in which they made a number of manipulation errors, reflected the pressure that the Wallabies could exert on them from the Koroibete pursuit.
But the Wallabies continued this Plan A to use the long kick-off list after the All Blacks had picked out things and could launch stabbing attacks after the catch was made.
Why did they use what a one-off trick should be as a standard kickoff? Why did not they return immediately in the next kick-off to Folau's short kick, the airmaster, to tread?
The only answer I can give to these questions is that a game plan, Plan A, had been devised and the Wallabies' leaders on the pitch were not sharp or masterful enough to challenge the details of this plan although it did not work.
Other parts of Plan A, the pressure on the first line runners of the All Blacks and the heavy blows through the middle by Lukhan Tui, and even David Pocock worked excellently – in the first half. It is not often that the Wallabies finally take the lead halfway to the All Blacks.
But the limitation of the high ball tactics while Folau was on the field was a part of Plan A that never worked because it never really tried. Ironically, Folau lowered his catch from the only high ball he had launched in the second half, and ended up uncomfortable with his ankle, resulting in an injury that forced him out of the field.
Folau said before the test that he was not going to change his jumping style, although he was in punishment for this against Ireland.
Even before the test, Bernard Foley said he planned to attack the All Blacks line of defense.
However, in the heat of the battle, against a defense system of All Blacks that went low and fast for the tackle, Foley quickly started sinking so far back from the front line that if he had been in a pool he was under water been.
It was noticeable during the first scorching half, when the Wallabies ran hard against All Blacks, that the attacks were starting from a too deep position. Why was this not noticeable for Foley? Or the supervisors who feel in their box?
The All Blacks contained the early attacks, while receiving a few kickable punishments, and slowly pushed back the attacking line until the Wallabies made a passing or handling error.
about all this is that it is difficult to get through a modern defense line if that line has gone too far.
At some point in the evolution of the Wallabies that will enter the World Championship in Japan next year, if the team is to have some hope of winning the Webb Ellis trophy, there must be a radical change in the backline performance.
The fact of the matter is that there is little threat there, in terms of steady pace, organization or great skills. As Damian McKenzie and Beauden Barrett once again demonstrated, pace is the killer of any defensive organization during the full 80 minutes of a game, no matter how well organized it is, as were the Wallabies in the first half.
That first half revealed a dedicated, heavily shouldered Wallabies side that brought their defense systems to the All Blacks. New Zealand raged on many occasions and had to sabot or resolutely defend from problems to avoid try-scoring break-outs from the Wallabies.
The injury to Israel Folau should allow Michael Cheika to experiment by playing both Tom Banks on fullback and Jack Maddocks on the wing instead of Dane Haylett-Petty, who had a very average game for the Wallabies .
Unfortunately it seems that Cheika has already decided that only one of Banks and Maddocks will start in Auckland.
At a certain point in the Rugby Championship I would therefore like to see a Wallabies backline with Kurtley Beale and Matt Toomua changing between number 10 and inner center, Israel Folau and Koroibete on the wings, Jack Maddocks playing outside center and Tom Banks with the wing supporter.
This would be a back line that at least defied a line of defense with speed and, in the case of Folau, force.
Regarding the peloton, forward, there must be a long ha and look at the Michael Hooper / David Pocock combination.
After the All Blacks had developed the line-out patterns of Wallabies, they drew the code as expertly as bank robbers. This attempted release was facilitated by the fact that the Wallabies had only three potential jumpers, instead of the four offered by the All Blacks.
Each team can lose some lineouts, as the All Blacks did, but losing seven is unacceptable.
There is another complaint that I would also raise. That is the apparent inability of the Wallabies leaders to adapt their plan A both on and off the field to what happened to it and to whatever the All Blacks also striked at them.
For example, it was noticeable that the All Blacks made some major changes to their Plan A, which did not really work for them in the first 40 minutes, in the second half.
In Plan B they used Waisake Naholo more for the ball in the middle of the field where he was too fast for the forward marking above.
They moved Brodie Retallick much wider where he sampled the outer Wallabies backs that were too small to survive the clashes he had survived.
Good coaches understand all that game plans, such as battle plans in warfare, rarely survive the early clashes.
This kind of insight seems to lie outside the current Wallabies support staff and the management group on the field.
It is annoying to have to point this out again and again. But it has to be done.
Sooner or later, hopefully, the message will permeate and the Wallabies will perform a Test with the preparation to play different ways, depending on what the opposition does and how it is a response to the original game plan of the Wallabies.
The problem is accentuated for Michael Cheika and his players, albeit due to the high quality of the All Blacks coaching team when planning and selecting, and the mature and often brilliant game of the team and its leading players.
Graham Henry stated before the Test that this side all Blacks is the greatest possible of all that New Zealand has broadcast in Tests.
There may be something in here. There is no player in the team who does not challenge for a position in a line-up in the world. Some of the players are among the best the All Blacks have played in their positions, such as Ben and Aaron Smith, Rieko Ioane (although he had a mediocre test before being injured), Beauden Barrett, Kieran Read, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Owen Franks and Joe Moody.
The case of Whitelock and Retallick is interesting because they came to greatness through two very different paths.
Whitelock, the first All Blacks slot in the team's history to play 100 tests, was a "hugely talented" basketball player as a teenager, according to Rugby's media release in New Zealand, before concentrating on rugby.
His grandfather, Nelson Dalzell, was a heavy lock and his great-uncle was the Allan center Elsom.
So there was hereditary and individual athletic talent in the background of Whitelock that explains his phenomenal line-out jumping, his strong wears and the innate intensity with which he plays.
The national sport of New Ze is aland, rugby will always attract the best athletes to the game because the appeal of the All Blacks is so strong in a country that is proud to have a & # 39; backbynation & # 39; to be.
Brodie Retallick has a different story. He was rejected by the Crusaders franchise. At the Chiefs he developed the athleticism, rugby smarts (the doll he sold to Foley was "as if he were commissioned", the [Sunday Sunday] noted), the ability to convert (he won a first crucial turnover early in the test), his running and lineouts skills that, in my opinion, make him equal as a slot of the great Colin Meads.
With a rugby league culture dominating in Australia, compared to rugby, we can & # 39; I expect a lot of all Australian Whitelock equivalents.
But why can not Australian rugby produce Retallicks, coach big players to a high level of skills in many facets of the game?
It was done before with John Eales. But since Eales nobody has been at a distance to his standard as a player.
I will make another point here. Eales was developed mainly at amateur level, when there was little money to be gained from coaching. Coaching is now a big company. Whether this large company has produced better individual Wallabies or better Wallabies teams is problematic.
Eales and Stephen Larkham, right now a member of World Rugby's Hall of Fame, several other members of the big parties (Mark Ella, Nick Farr-Jones, David Campese, Matt Burke, etc.), coached by Alan Jones, Bob Dwyer and Rod Macqueen are and are members of the Hall of Fame.
But where are the potential members of the World Rugby Hall of Fame starting their careers as youngsters from 1996 or later in Australia?
I can not see any of the current generation players for example as obvious candidates before so many, for example, of their counterparts of the All Blacks.
What is really awful about this is that the current leadership of Australian rugby, at a professional level, has virtually eliminated the influence and guidance of those coaches who are most responsible for the three major eras of Australian rugby.