Finegan: Recession the Wallabies had to have

by Owen Finegan

Wallaby Coach Michael Chieka has said that he didn’t get it 100 percent right at the start of the year, and in true Cheika style he hit the nail on the head!

When many were thinking this was the year to share in the riches of the Rugby World Cup, the June Test window against England and the first Bledisloe Cup drubbing in Sydney saw the game go into recession, but in a strange way it provided Cheika with no other option but to develop a base for the Wallabies to steadily improve.

The Wallabies have blooded a record amount of debutants this year, 16 in total and it would have been interesting to see whether or not Michael would be talking about blooding talent if we have won those first games of 2016.

However, Cheika's (and our) misery now seems like a stroke of genius following his win against France. The Wallabies showed grit from many we would have have not though were up to it in June. That depth and experience was evident in the Wallaby squad.

The French were dangerous when their offloads started sticking in the back end of the game. But the Wallabies showed resilience to hold on for a tight two-point win with a last ditch French field goal shaving the posts.

"The win was built on defence and pressure at the breakdown. They are real indicators of work ethic and attitude. David Pocock’s defensive impact was probably the difference between the win and the loss.

This weekend the battle of the breakdown and the backrows will be captivating in Dublin. Pocock and Michael Hooper versus two of Cheika’s talents from his days at Leinster, Jamie Heaslip and Sean O’Brien.

The only player still in the Wallabies top XV under the Giteau Law is Will Genia. His form this year has been sensational and the next fortnight against Ireland's Conor Murray and England's Ben Youngs will be crucial for the Wallabies' Grand Slam hopes.

The Wallaby scrum at the back end of the Test against France could quite easily have cost us the Test match. A crucial tight head in the last couple of minutes and a few potential penalty opportunities at set piece for France were not awarded by referee Glen Jackson.

Scott Sio was under immense pressure from French tighthead Rabah Slimani in the final scrums and this week he will be up against the strong scrummaging Tadhg Furlong who is ably supported by captain Rory Best at hooker and loose-head prop Jack McGrath. This will definitely be an area that the Irish will see as a strength.

The Irish are a big threat to the Wallabies' Grand Slam hopes. They definitely have not had the luck of the Irish recently with the loss of key playmakers Jonny Sexton and Robbie Henshaw at No.10 and No.12.

The Grand Slam is definitely on the line in Dublin.

The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the ARU.

Australia takes on Ireland at Lansdowne Rd on Sunday at 4:30am AEDT, LIVE on SBS and beIn Sports 3 (Foxtel Channel 515), live streamed on Foxtel Go and SBS on Demand.