Roarer Realist wrote yesterday, “I love the way you stubbornly excuse Cheika from any criticism, simply because you’re a Randwick fan who remembers him in his glory days”. It was an interesting observation, but only partially correct.

When Randwick is strong, the Wallabies are strong.

Every Wallaby tour since 1933 has had at least one Randwick rep on board.

The famous club has won 32 Shute Shield premierships, far more than any other club, but none since 2004.

During that 14-year drought, the club has been less successful every year and so have the Wallabies.

Michael Cheika was an integral part of an era when Randwick reigned supreme, playing the most entertaining rugby imaginable, running the ball with gay abandon to rightfully earn the tag of the Galloping Greens.

In their heyday, and even before Cheika, I lost count of the number of times Randwick ran the ball at speed from their own in-goal area through a dozen – or more – pairs of hands to score in the corner at the other end.

Brilliant stuff that even had opposition fans on their feet applauding.

It was infectious, but no other club could play that way.

Little wonder 98 Galloping Greens have worn the Wallabies jumper out of the 924 so far, and nine of them became captain – both stats more than any other club.

Ken Catchpole and Mark Ella are still the best halfback and fly-half I’ve ever seen from any country.

Throw them in with David Campese and Simon Poidevin and they are in the top ten Wallabies I’ve ever seen in close to 70 years watching, then covering rugby.

And Bobby Dwyer, another Randwick legend, is right up there, coaching the Wallabies more times than anyone else with 73 in two stints, playing Randwick rugby.

So when Cheika wants his current team to play the Randwick way, he knows what it means to play the game they play in heaven, and enjoy it.

I repeat, only Randwick know how to do it, it’s the club’s DNA. But the rugby nous of the current Wallabies isn’t up to the task.

David Pocock is the only world-class player week in week out, while Kurtley Beale, Israel Folau and Will Genia on their days are world-class as well.

But that’s not enough to play the Randwick way on the international stage, and with the Galloping Greens not able to break out of a trot in Sydney club rugby, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.

So if Cheika has to be criticised, it’s for trying to get Australia playing the Randwick way when they are incapable of doing so, while his weird selections reach for the unreachable.

That was the case until last Sunday, when the Wallabies clicked, the Pumas blinked in disbelief to fall apart, and Australia turned a 7-31 halftime deficit into a stunning 45-34 victory.

So the Wallabies do have the rugby nous after all – when they set their lazy minds to it.

Let’s see if they can repeat those 40 minutes against the All Blacks in three weeks.

If they don’t, and Salta was just a spectacular one-off, Michael Cheika is flogging a dead horse.

David Lord The Roar

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6 April 2019
Coogee Oval
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