9:00am Thursday 14th June 2012
LITTLE frustrates more than to hear post-match grumbling about the illegal work of the opposition openside.
For the last decade it has been New Zealand’s Richie McCaw who has been the pantomime villain and Australia’s David Pocock appears to be his natural successor.
The Wallabies’ first Test success prompted complaints from the Wales coaching team and a vow to change their breakdown approach for Saturday’s Melbourne encounter.
“I really think I’m going to have to work on our tackler getting back up on his feet and competing for the ball because it’s evident you are allowed to do that down here (in the southern hemisphere) whereas maybe where we are (the north) you would get penalised for that,” said Shaun Edwards.
“We were asked to roll away and we rolled away but their tackler was getting up and trying to make a nuisance over the ball. I thought that made a massive difference in who won that game,” he continued.
Whining about an openside being good at cheating is like a football manager complaining about Lionel Messi’s dribbling or England’s Jonny Bairstow moaning about West Indies testing him with the short stuff.
Skulduggery is what Pocock is in the side for and it’s up to Wales to adapt their tactics during the game and be more savvy so that they can ‘out-cheat’ him.
It was alarming that Wales headed out at the Suncorp Stadium seemingly unaware of the type of referee Craig Joubert is and what players have been getting away with in the Super XV.
They also need to observe how the Tri Nations sevens manage the officials.
In the first half of last Saturday’s Test, Joubert pinged Warburton for failing to release the attacker before claiming the scavenge.
The Welshman’s reaction? Initial shock, then a hangdog expression and back he trotted ten metres.
Early in the second half Pocock was penalised by the South African official for failing to roll away at the breakdown.
The Australian’s reaction? That same shock but then he (politely) debated the call with Joubert before going back the ten metres.
The best opensides get away with as much as they can and plant a seed of doubt in the referee’s head.
That’s the game and it’s up to Wales to improve in that department rather than complain; something that perhaps they have recognised with their back row selection.
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