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WILL GENIA: ‘Looked intentional’ – Wallabies can’t justify Swain stance, Foley shows he belongs in RWC chat


There has been a lot of attention on Bernard Foley, and how he handled the last few minutes of the loss in Melbourne, but the strange circumstances shouldn’t overshadow how excellent he was and the impact he had on the team.

I believe him when he said he was unaware of exactly what was going on in that moment where the referee Mathieu Raynal pulled him up for delaying the kick and gave the scrum that led to the All Blacks’ win.

People have talked about the reactions of Lalakai Foketi and Len Ikitau, but they’re just standing there listening to the referee. As a playmaker, Nard has a lot more going on. He’s speaking to the forwards, working out the play. He’s having conversations with the halfback, lineout caller and game drivers.

You do have to be aware of the clock and what the ref’s saying. And there is a case to be made that he needs to be better aware. I back him to learn from it and understand what needs to be done better.

It didn’t detract from his performance at all. It was very much like when Quade came back. Nard brought that sense of calm and leadership and an ability to direct play and implement the game plan.

That’s the biggest thing that Dave Rennie wants in his team – a No.10 who has a calm head and can put what he wants in place.

I wrote last week about Noah Lolesio needing to be brave and back himself in big moments and Bernard gave a perfect example of how much those attributes help power a team.

He wanted his hands on the ball. Even when there seemed to be nothing on he carried it – look at that offload to Andrew Kellaway for the try.

Bernard Foley of the Wallabies kicks the ball during The Rugby Championship & Bledisloe Cup match between the Australia Wallabies and the New Zealand All Blacks at Marvel Stadium on September 15, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Morgan Hancock/Getty Images)

Bernard Foley. (Photo by Morgan Hancock/Getty Images)

He didn’t even just do his job but he was outstanding. There is no way he can be dropped after that.

Dan Carter won the World Cup in 2015 when he was 34 and Bernard will be 34 next year and Quade will be 35. If they are both performing, and fit, I would definitely go with those two as the specialist No.10s picked for France next year, with a utility like Reece Hodge as back up.

After that Noah will still only be 24. He’s got a big future ahead of him.

I said it last time, and I had people having a go at me calling me biased and saying I was contradicting myself, but I maintain you have got to pick people who are performing.

The coaches can only do so much around giving players opportunities – but not if we’re losing.

You could see what experience does for the dynamic of this Wallabies team, which is overall young, raw and inexperienced.

They back themselves and they’ll go hard all the time, no matter what. But the problem is they sometimes get caught up when things get hard when pressure comes on, and they’re unsure how to get out of those moments.

Guys like Quade and Bernard help with that. The World Cup is seven games straight. You have to be playing consistently.

So it’s not like you go there with a young playmaker you don’t fully trust and say take us to the promised land.  So you’ve got to go with guys who are going to implement the game plan.

What Bernard did shows he still has the level of game to play at the World Cup. But he’s got to back it up.

That is just one game. He’s got to play well next week and on the Spring Tour if he gets picked. There’s a lot of footy still to be played, there are injuries to consider as well.

It would be a tough position to be in as a selector, picking a World Cup No.10. You have to find the right balance, and ensure guys are performing and are in good shape. Quade will be coming back off the Achilles, so what’s he going to be like? All that type of stuff you have to take into consideration.

‘It looked intentional’

Aside from the late drama, there was another big moment of controversy, when Darcy Swain received a yellow card for going through Quinn Tupaea’s knee and putting him out of action for three months.

I didn’t like what Darcy did. I don’t rate that at all.

I don’t care what Dave says or anyone wants to say to try to justify it. He goes in for his knee and twists his ankle and his knee with his body weight.

They said he got a head roll or neck roll the play before. Right or wrong, sometimes you get caught in a position where you get neck rolled because that used to be a technique people used to clean out. Sometimes you get caught in those positions because it’s a high-collision sport played at an intense pace.

It looked intentional to me. There’s plenty of room for error as far as head knocks, as far as high tackles, and tackling in the air all go, but for a guy to do something intentionally like that you’ve got to stamp it out of the game.

Darcy Swain of the Wallabies leaves the field after receiving a yellow card during The Rugby Championship & Bledisloe Cup match between the Australia Wallabies and the New Zealand All Blacks at Marvel Stadium on September 15, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Darcy Swain of the Wallabies leaves the field after receiving a yellow card. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Darcy seems to love the physical battle, particularly around the breakdown. He likes making himself a menace in that space and it’s a strength of his.

You don’t want people not expressing themselves in areas that they’re very good at but this is a case where he needs to understand where the boundaries are and stay within boundaries.

I don’t think it’s a technique issue he needs to fix. I genuinely believe it’s just a case of just not doing it. You can clean out fairly. Just put yourself in a position to make a good play.

Because it’s a high collision sport you can make mistakes. But that to me is not a mistake. To me, a mistake is someone going down in a clean out and you accidentally hit his head with your shoulder because you make a decision in a split second.

‘Both teams will have confidence’

When I first saw Raynal take the kick off Australia I thought the TMO must have looked at the turnover and noticed a knock-on by Foketi, or something similar.

Then I just thought ‘oh, shit,’ because I know what the All Blacks are like. They’re such a great process-driven team, where the moments are never too big or too small, all they concentrate on is the process. They trust what they’re doing and back themselves to get over.

I didn’t agree with the decision but I understand where the referee was coming from because of the warnings he gave.

I think it’s the wrong decision because there’s so much precedent. You look at the northern hemisphere teams, look at South Africa, how long they take to kick the ball out. And when they do kick the ball out, they walk as slowly as they possibly can to the lineout.

If we’re going to call time wasting we have to call it for everything. So I don’t agree with it but I have a little bit of empathy for where the referee is coming from.

But I’ve never seen anything like it in all my career.

I can understand why there’s an official complaint. If you’re going to give the referee discretion to do that, then you have to have them do it all the time. Otherwise, everyone will look at it and think they just wanted the All Blacks to win.

The Australians will move on quickly from the circumstances.

Referee Mathieu Raynal speaks to Nic White and Bernard Foley of the Wallabies during The Rugby Championship & Bledisloe Cup match between the Australia Wallabies and the New Zealand All Blacks at Marvel Stadium on September 15, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Referee Mathieu Raynal speaks to Nic White and Bernard Foley. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

It’s one of those things you have to just treat as part of the game. It could have been a dropped ball that led to them getting the scrum and scoring from the last play. Or a bad decision.

It doesn’t matter. You can’t focus too much on the specifics of the game. That’s going to be heartbreaking regardless of how it happened. It’s a case of understanding that.

The Wallabies should go to Eden Park with a lot of positivity, because they were down 31-13 with 20 minutes to go, and then came back to take the lead.

That shows a lot of character and helps with their building.

The All Blacks could have scored another couple of tries in that second half. One from a cross-kick to Caleb Clarke and one where Hoskins Sotutu made a break and put in a rubbish kick. If they score those two tries, then it blows out to 50 points.

But the guys got into defensive positions to stop the plays and that breeds confidence to keep pushing yourself to stay in games.

The All Blacks bombed a fair few opportunities and I liked how they looked but there are still positive signs for us. We went to another level in terms of staying in the fight and competing and they didn’t go with us.

Both teams will go in with a lot of confidence on Saturday in terms of how they both played, but also how the game finished.

The Wallabies will go in confident knowing that if they just kick that ball out and win the lineout they win the Test.

The All Blacks go in confident knowing they won the game in the 82nd minute, they found the composure and smarts to do that.





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