The Big Rugby Championship Question: Momentum and morale

The Roar: After last weekend showed that the Wallabies can indeed win games of rugby and the Pumas can indeed challenge the All Blacks (albeit for a period not quite equalling eighty minutes), this weekend is the one where the two teams can mark themselves off against each other.

For the Wallabies, a win would confirm that last weekend wasn’t a dream, and things really aren’t too bad as long you’re not playing the best team in the world every weekend. For Argentina, a win would confirm common thoughts that they’re now capable of winning away from home.

The Big Question for Week 4: What is our predicted effect of last weekend’s matches likely to have on the momentum and morale of Australia and Argentina?

Wallabies unbeaten in September! And other associated hyperbole…

ONE IN A ROW! The Wallabies broke their six-game losing streak against South Africa in Brisbane on Saturday night. Image: ABC Grandstand

The Roar: Well, this is definitely the week. A Wallabies win after a year of losses just has to be a green light to dial up all manner of wild claims and predictions.

I mean, if you can’t be bullish after a six-point win over a surprisingly mediocre former force, when can you?

I kind of tried to do this a fortnight ago, but it only lasted a couple of paragraphs before the sinking reality took hold. But after the Wallabies solid – no, ‘stellar’! – 23-17 win over South Africa, now there’s no holding back.

So here it all comes – positivity turned up to 11. And then maybe reined in a tiny dose of reality…

The Big Rugby Championship Question: We might not lose this weekend!

Michael Hooper and David Pocock in tandem for the Wallabies. Is it the weak link? Image: ABC Grandstand

The Roar: Australians all, let us rejoice, for we are not going to lose to the All Blacks this week! One of the big pluses in the immediate aftermath of the Bledisloe Tests, and even as we emerged this side of the bye weekend was that suddenly, the Wallabies are a chance of winning a Test this weekend.

Of course, that same feeling is shared by our South African friends, whose Springboks are playing with a similar lack of lustre, and who are similarly pulling apart their team’s performance to try and work out how on earth they’re trying to play.

And so it seemed only fair that we hand the question reins over to our resident South African this week.

The Big Question for the Week 3: For each team, which player epitomises the team’s strongest point, and who epitomises the weak point?

Cheika’s fine line of selection

Hiding to nothing: After five straight losses in 2016, if Michael Cheika makes a string of changes and he’s just shuffling the deckchairs; make no changes and he’s a selection dunce without a clue. Image: ABC Grandstand

The Roar: Anyone that’s been involved in the selection of sporting teams at any level knows that it’s a rare event to go from one game to the next with an unchanged line-up.

The further down the pyramid you go, the harder the job gets; players go up and down grades, players’ availability changes, injuries take longer to get over, jobs happen.

At the highest level, all the factors above apply, but then you add scrutiny, debate, rumours and politicking of selection at its zenith. Any possible selection decision will be debated in the lead-up, and dissected and rationalised and debated even more in the aftermath.

This is where we find Michael Cheika this week, as he mulls over his side to face South Africa on Saturday night in Brisbane.