Popular singer ‘Little Pattie’ on the campaign trail with Gough Whitlam in 1972.
Popular singer ‘Little Pattie’ on the campaign trail with Gough Whitlam in 1972.

‘It’s time’: Why Wallabies must channel Whitlam

IT'S time.

Like when Gough Whitlam used that simple slogan to snap a 23 year drought and lead Labor back into office, it's also high time Michael Cheika's Wallabies delivered something meaningful against Ireland - the world No 2 and Six Nations grand slam champions.

Something that lifts Australia rugby up off the canvas, a statement of intent that provides the country with hope.

The last two years have been rather disastrous for Australia's Super Rugby sides and the Wallabies.

Their consistency has been abouts as dependable as weather forecasts.

Sure, there's been the occasional performance to get excited about... a clinical away win over Wales in 2016, putting an almighty scare into the All Blacks in Dunedin then beating them in Brisbane - but not enough.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika during training at Ballymore in Brisbane.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika during training at Ballymore in Brisbane.

Eddie Jones' takedown of the Wallabies two years ago was a damaging blow.

After a Rugby Championship triumph and World Cup final in 2015, England's clean sweep Down Under was like a pin popping a balloon.

It was a deflating and embarrassing series, and it occurred just a couple of months after Cheika re-signed with the Wallabies until the 2019 World Cup.

The absence of Kurtley Beale and Will Genia was telling in that series and the Wallabies weren't able to adapt without the two key playmakers.

Last year there were also some sort of excuses, with David Pocock missing the entire year and Beale and Israel Folau in and out.

But there are no excuses now.

The big guns - with the exception of rested hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau - are all on deck.

Sean McMahon's move to Japan and injuries to Waratahs duo Ned Hanigan and Jack Dempsey have placed some strain on the backrow depth, but the Wallabies can cope - particularly after New Zealand reluctantly released Melbourne-born Crusader Pete Samu.

Australia's week long preparation can't be used as an excuse either.

The Irish were still hard at it in their Pro14 competition until late last month with half their squad coming from champions Leinster.

Yes, they've played five Tests this year, but they were months ago and rhe bulk of the Wallabies squad has been playing together for many moons.

Importantly, too, the key organisers in the group - Genia, Bernard Foley, Beale and Folau - know each other better than any other backline axis in world rugby.

They've been playing the same style under Cheika since he arrived at the Waratahs in 2013 and the Wallabies a year later.

Every Wallaby, from 1-23, will know exactly what their role is against Ireland.

There will be no surprises when Cheika names his backline on Thursday.

Up front, there will be a couple of new men unleashed, with Reds rookies Brandon Paenga-Amosa and Caleb Timu in line for starting debuts.

But their roles will be simple.

Accuracy at the lineout, workrate and strong carries.

Discipline is the key for a series win.

Joe Schmidt's Irish side are a meticulous, calculated and shrewd beast.

They wear down opposition and are adaptable.

Cheika's Wallabies haven't yet shown they're capable of resorting to a Plan B.

But they will play to their strengths, which is to stretch the opposition and unleash their gamebreakers out wide.

The Wallabies must start fast against Ireland.

It's time to make a statement on the field.