Raelene Castle hits mark in call for Wallabies' November whitewash

Raelene Castle, in her first year as Rugby Australia boss, has been at the centre of an endless tsunami of personal attacks.

Some barbs have been warranted, in particular her inaction over the Israel Folau social media brouhaha, while she has at times copped the blame that should be directed as much at others - in particular her underwhelming board of directors who have turned poor decision-making into an art form.

However one topic over which Castle has recently been criticised, but instead should be receiving praise, is her recent public utterances that the Wallabies have to lift their standards, and assume that they will win all three Tests match in Europe, starting this Saturday against Wales in Cardiff.

Her comments that there was 'no reason' why the Wallabies couldn't win all three internationals against Wales, Italy and England, appeared to stagger some, including a few members of the media who pondered whether it was asking too much of Michael Cheika's erratic lot.

Wrong. It was instead rejuvenating to hear someone at head office trying to find a solution to the high level of mediocrity that now flows through Rugby Australia and beyond, which has led to a disconcerting feeling of apathy among the game's followers. Too many supposedly crusted-on fans are walking away, because they 'just don't care anymore.'

And really why shouldn't a chief executive expect their national team to be habitual winners. Not that long ago, the Wallabies were.

It is not the most strenuous end-of-season tour an Australian team has embarked on, and has been helped by the team spending a cruisy week of training in Japan before heading to the United Kingdom.

They are not playing Ireland or Scotland -- two of the more formidable northern hemisphere foes -- but Wales, with whom they enjoy a decade-long 13-match winning streak, Italy, who usually fold when confronted by the Wallabies, and England, who before Eddie Jones re-emerged to stick pins and daggers into the Australian Rugby voodoo doll, were too unreliable to beat the visitors.

Winning all won't be a breeze, but must be an expectation, not a grandiose hope. So three out of three has to be regarded as the 'pass mark' for this outfit. Anything less must be treated as a flop.

And over these three weekends, hopefully some semblance of a consistent Test line-up is found. The most interest will revolve around Adam Ashley-Cooper's involvement.

Ashley-Cooper's return at 34 was eye-raising, but understandable. It is another admission that the Australian rugby system isn't working, and not providing enough viable talent. One can see why Cheika tracked down Ashley-Cooper. He is not young, but certainly reliable, which cannot be said about any other member of the Australian backline.

Ashley-Cooper is one of the very few who has produced something of worth in every Test he has played in. For Cheika, Ashley-Cooper is his insurance policy. The coach just has to prop the centre/winger up for another year.

And as shown by recent Wallabies performances, clear heads and experience is seriously required out wide. On occasions, the Wallabies backline has hummed. But more often than not it has been fractured, unsure of itself, muddled in its planning, losing its way whenever placed under any duress. Their skills under pressure fall away quickly. It lacks clever generals. Ashley-Cooper does understand the importance of straightening an attack, rarely gets rattled, and has seen it all before. He provides some brains to the bluster.

It depends on how much life is left in his legs. And if Ashley-Cooper takes someone else's spot, more fool the dropped player, because they have had endless chances to make it theirs. It's no fault but their own.

What must be so infuriating for Cheika is that he has offered so many opportunities to players and they have failed to take it. The latest is Kurtley Beale, who even though given several opportunities at No 10 floundered. Beale really must pick up his act, because it is a long time since he has been a game-breaking Test performer. The Wallabies cannot go into a World Cup with only one playmaker.

Finally, a bit of advice for Raelene and Co. I can assure you the punters are getting sick and tired of virtually every photograph on this Wallaby tour, supplied by the RU media department, showing players frolicking in pools, palling around at Japanese restaurants, or seemingly on a picture-postcard sightseeing trip. It's fine and dandy to see the players appear to be having a good time and are not going stir crazy in their hotel rooms.

But this team is losing, so it should be hurting. These shots suggest otherwise. A change in direction in the RA media spin is seriously required. Photographs of 'three out of three' winners would work a treat.