Dwyer's View: Aussie Teams Off the Pace, But Squad Still Firming
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Dwyer’s View: Aussie teams off pace, but squad firming

Dwyer’s View: Aussie teams off pace, but squad firming

All five Aussie franchises played in the Super Rugby tournament on the weekend and just one of the five had a win – and that against another Aussie team! Not a very reassuring thought, perhaps, but there were still plenty of positives to be taken.

Shepherd - belter

For a start, Berrick Barnes, Stephen Moore, David Pocock and Matt Hodgson were all back on the pitch and looking secure. Over the next few weeks their form will continue to improve, but their performances were all OK for early days. Cameron Shepherd has played a few games now and adds another player of genuine international class to the list. Emerging players like Sam Wykes, Beau Robinson, Dan Palmer, Luke Morahan, Mike Harris, Nick Phipps and Richard Kingi have all made their mark in one way or another to indicate they could handle the game at Test level.

There are still some concerns, of course. Luke Burgess is a long way from delivering the requirements of a scrum-half. Actually, if he were a flanker, his form would be OK! His defence is excellent and he carries pretty well. Kurtley Beale is not at the superlative level that he showed last year, but I’m confident that he will be just fine when settled at fullback, surrounded by quality players.

The Waratahs’ form slump appears to have bottomed out, not surprisingly, with the return of Berrick Barnes. The Force continue to be super-competitive. Even against the Crusaders, they showed a real ability to break the line and create tries. The Reds have been clearly the best of the Aussie franchise, but, in the words of their captain, James Horwill, they just “didn’t show up” against the Hurricanes. The Brumbies continue to struggle without Rocky Elsom and Stephen Hoiles, but there were some positives. Matt Giteau appears to be working his way back to form, after an extended period of what looked like the sulks.

We’ve now completed eleven out of sixteen Super Rugby rounds, so it’s worth another look at the possible make up of the Wallaby squad for the World Cup. I made a start five weeks back, suggesting the contenders for the extended squad, which will, no doubt, go into training for the international series that kicks off in mid-July. The selectors will name a final World Cup squad of 30, and at this point I’m suggesting a squad with 17 forwards and 13 backs. I’ve listed players in positions, with other possibilities bracketed.

PROPS
Benn Robinson (#1), Ben Alexander (#1 or 3), James Slipper (#3), Sekope Kepu (#1 or 3)
[Dan Palmer, Laurie Weeks, Ben Daley, Pek Cowan]

HOOKERS
Stephen Moore, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Huia Edmonds
[Saia Faingaa, James Hanson, Ged Robinson*]

LOCKS
Nathan Sharpe, James Horwill, Rob Simmons, Dan Vickerman*
[Sam Wykes, Hugh Pyle, Mark Chisholm, Dean Mumm]

#6 & #8
Rocky Elsom, Scott Higginbotham, Wycliff Palu, Ben McCalman
[Radike Samo, Richard Brown, Ben Mowen]

Wallabies call up - moi?

#7
David Pocock, George Smith
[Beau Robinson, Matt Hodgson, Jarrod Saffy]

SCRUM-HALF
Will Genia, Luke Burgess#, Richard Kingi
[Nick Phipps, Brett Sheehan]

#10 & #12
Quade Cooper, Berrick Barnes, James O’Connor, Matt Giteau
[Mike Harris, Anthony Faingaa]

OUT-CENTRE
Adam Ashley-Cooper
[Nick Cummins, Stirling Mortlock]

WINGS
Digby Ioane, Drew Mitchell*, Lachlan Turner
[Luke Morahan, Peter Hynes, Cooper Vuna]

FULLBACK
Kurtley Beale, Cameron Shepherd
[Pat McCabe, Ben Lucas#, Luke Rooney#]

Some players are selected subject to availability and are marked with *. If Ged Robinson qualifies for Australia, I would say that he will go close to inclusion.

Other players have been included, and marked #, for differing reasons. I am assuming that some quality, focused coaching can get Luke Burgess playing scrum-half again! Ben Lucas is a quality player and offers extreme versatility at 9, 10  and 15. I have seen Luke Rooney play very well at wing and fullback for Toulon. I assume that he can do so again, this time for Australia.

This is a very strong squad by any standards, and is potentially excellent. Quality coaching, focusing on the fundamentals, is required to assist the players to reach their potential. I live in hope!

The front row is versatile in the set piece and Benn Robinson is slowly getting back to his world-class best form. Michael Foley deserves great credit for the development of Sekope Kepu’s scrummaging. Sekope is a wonderful athlete, but the scrum must come first. All of these seven front row players can make significant contributions around the park, and it’s a long while since we’ve been able to say that.

The locks are very good, without being dominant players. If Horwill can reach his best, we will go up a notch. I have included Dan Vickerman on the assumption that he will return as he left. We need him! Sam Wykes is going ahead in leaps and bounds and carries the ball probably better than any of the locks.

The back row has talent – size, speed and attitude. George Smith is in top form for Toulon and remains world-class. We should select him. Beau Robinson is probably our form #7 and Hodgo has never let us down.

I like Richard Kingi. He offers something extra. He has great speed and footwork, excellent strength and he backs himself. Even if the Rebels don’t give him any game time at scrum-half, I would play him off the bench in the early internationals. I took a bit of a punt on George Gregan a few years back, and that worked out OK. I’d do the same with Kingi – and he’s already had a Wallaby tour!

The midfield is loaded with talent. I have only selected one outside centre, but obviously Digby Ioane can play there also. All the various combinations look strong. Mike Harris looks a great talent, and an outstanding goal-kicker. Stirling Mortlock may still force his way in.

The other two wingers and the two fullbacks offer great versatility, as well as real talent. If Drew Mitchell can make it back in time it will be a real boost.

The real quality of my squad is emphasised by the standard of the players left out. This is as it should be. When you narrow the group down to the first choice match-day 22, this becomes even more obvious.

Over the next couple of months, some fringe players will strengthen their claims and our ideas will change – but I think not by much!

  • Kiap

    Bob, I’m liking the look of that squad!

    It would be great if George Smith is given a fair look based on good form. It’s a tough question but I hope the ARU at least have his phone number.

  • Timbo

    Would Mark Gerard be an option at 13? excellent kicking option in the 22, great defence, etc, etc?

    • Graeme

      I’d like to see Gerard on the team sheets also. I’m really surprised more people haven’t mentioned him. Good backup at 15. He has a huge boot which could come in handy if conditions get nasty in NZ. Also he’s been playing extremely well every time I’ve watched him play this year. He actually seems to have gotten better since his stint in Japan. Maybe a bit older, but still younger than morty, looking in better form and more versatile in terms of being able to play a number of positions in the backline.

  • Mel

    Don’t get me wrong, it would be absolutely FANTASTIC to have George Smith back BUT isn’t he ineligible as he does not play for a Super 15 team???? I hope I am wrong…….

  • roland

    Firstly, immediately insert our most in form fullback Mark “Mr Reliable” Gerrard in your lineup as first choice FB with Beale (Beale needing to hit some form to retain it at this stage I have Gerrard in front). You can replace him for Rooney and Ben Lucas. They are hardly a super XV players. Our outside backs are our weakest area due to injury to Mitchell and if Ioane gets injured which he may (as he lays his body on the line every time), we’re in deep trouble.

    Vickerman cant make his university run-on side so you can scratch him.

    I would pencil Nick Phipps in at equal chances for HB with Burgess and Kingi at least (personally have him in front).

    Have we not permanently cancelled Dean Mumm for good yet? How many times must we be bitten by his rubbishness? If he plays, we won’t make it through the group stages. Russia will have it all over us.

    Just a note, you have named 59 players. Are you sure you’re not leaving anybody out?

    • Patrick

      Outside backs aren’t that bad as both Rabbit and Beale are pretty handy out there…

      • Reds Fan 2011

        People need to forget that O’Connor played on the wing last year, HE IS NOT A WINGER. He is a 10 or 12.

        I agree with some comments about Lucas. He has to the most over rated player in super XV along with Dean Mumm. He like Mumm make stupid errors that will cost test matches.

        1. Robinson
        2. Moore (TPN goes too mental and is a great impact player)
        3. Slipper/ Kepu
        4. Horwill
        5. Sharpe
        6. Elsom/ Higginbotham (depends on Rocky’s comeback)
        7. Pocock (Smith won’t play he is not eligible stop dreaming)
        8. Palu

        9. Genia
        10. Cooper
        11. Ioane
        12. O’Connor
        13. Ashley-Cooper
        14. Hynes – (Mitchell if he is healthy but I just can’t see it happening)
        15. Beale

        This is the team that will bring home Bill.

        • Reds Fan 2011

          Also to all those Giteau haters out there. You can’t tell me he isn’t a better option than Burgess as a backup 9 and of course he can back up at 10 & 12 as well. What a great reserve for any test team as it allows an extra foward on the reserve bench.

  • Reddy!

    Pretty good squad, particularly in the forwards. I am, however, worried that our outside centre options are thin, and I don’t think Horne, if fit, will be left out, just because he is an outside centre!

    • Drop kick

      When is Horne due back?

      • roland

        out for season is latest report

  • Gnostic

    Sorry Bob, I don’t care if a player is the second coming on a Rugby field, unless he plays in the Super Rugby Competion he should not be considered for the Wallabies. IMO he should have to play or be available for selection for the entire series to be elligable. G. Smith is a great servant of Oz rugby, but he made his choice and retired from Test Rugby when he left. As far as I’m concerned the same goes for Vickerman, even having him bracketted in the squad makes mockery of the huge work put in by Wykes et al.

    One last point, just on current (as to be honest past form) Burgess is in increasing danger of missing the squad altogether, his cores skills as a halfback have deteriorated this year and there are two genuine challengers in Phipps and Kingi now as well.

  • Gallagher

    There’s no doubt I’d drop Pek Cowan, Brett Sheehan, Cooper Vuna and Luke Rooney from these equations! I also seriously doubt George Smith will be back, the ARU’s rules are too clear and strict. Add Mark Gerrard and Rod Davies to the backs, promote Saia Faingaa over Huia Edmonds, SWEET!

    • Mel

      Indeed Saia Faingaa and Mark Gerard should definitely be in.

      • Gnostic

        Gerrard will not be considered as he doesn’t suit a running game plan. He rarely runs the ball back, being used by most coaches for his enormous boot.

        If the Wallabies wanted to play a territory based game plan (and really some conditions I am expecting at the RWC will require it) he would get a spot, but Deans doesn’t have that game plan and never has.

      • Groucho

        Saia Faingaa should be in… in the stands where he can do the least damage to our chances.

        • Robson

          The Reds lineout against the Canes was not a well oiled machine until Faingaa came on – and Link made the substitution as soon as he saw the rot had set in. The lineout came right straight away.

          TPN keeps getting his head bashed in and that has got to be a real worry (to himself more than anyone else). He is probably the most explosive tight forward in the world, but that is of limited value in that if he is having frequent and prolonged spells off with injury.

          It’s a good thing Moore is coming right – but who is the backup to him in a Wallaby jersey. Logically you would say TPN or vice versa but his injury history shows that he is only a bob each way at best in getting on to the paddock and staying there.

        • Reddy!

          I think Saia is a must in the squad. Very good at the lineout set piece and energetic and aggressive around the field. Not a strong scrummager, but then again, at least he is able to contribute to a game for 80minutes week in, week out unlike TPN. I don’t think the RWC is a time to be carrying injury prone players, wrecking the effectiveness of the 30man squad.

    • Patrick

      I paid that but I think Ged Robinson is pushing Faingaa and I was very concerned to see the scrum appear to strengthen with Hansen on…

      • Homer j

        Hanson is very similar to Finger around the paddock and is a good ball runner. He had an off day at the lineout but is a good scrummager. Don’t forget that the tahs pasted the reds scrum with finger and daley playing.

        • Robson

          Hansen may have had an off day at lineout time against the Canes and he is a good scrummager for sure. I had the feeling that there was a communication issue between him and the jumpers in Wellington, so it’s probably something that can be sorted.

  • Skippy

    Huia Edmonds? C’mon Bob get off the grass mate.
    Wouldn’t even let him go to NZ as a spectator for the WC let alone have to consider starting him in a crucial WC match if TPN and Moore were injured.

  • Skippy

    Yes to George Smith, we shoud pick him as his experience in the squad would be invaluable and he is still one of the top 4 openside flankers in the world.
    No to Vickerman. He doesn’t deserve it, hasn’t played competitively or professionally for seveal years and it’s too much to start playing super 15 again, let alone test match rugby.
    Shepherd ahead of Gerrard… as he does the run the ball whilst Gerrard never does. Gerrard is a great tactical kicker etc and plan b fullback but he wont’ compliment the styles of Genia, Cooper and co.
    AAC – gee he needs to hit form as he is really off the pace at present. Not in danger of missing out on tri nations and WC but he needs to improve his performance massively based on present form to be a certain starter. Horne and Mortlock to hopefully recover from injury/recover a yard of pace and bring something to the 13 depth.
    Burgess – agree he is an excellent defender etc and one of the most passionate players I know but his ability to compliment Cooper and co is limited. I never understand why he waits at the back of the ruck for forwards to realign etc… rugby is about taking advantage of the opposition when they are stretched and at 6’s and 7’s. Pick it up and play off the cuff not sit and wait for a structure that goes no where.
    Finally, I expect a lot of those above to make the end of season tour to further develop depth and look to next world cup – Pyle, Wykes, Kingi etc. But I think Deans will stick to what he knows for the WC and not risk exposing anyone now to test match rugby

  • Alan

    pretty sure Cooper Vuna was called up to the Tongan team so that rules him out

    • Skippy

      I think he’s been listed in their squad but is yet to accept and declare his international allegiance. I think I read somewhere recently that he is to either commit to Australia and stay with union or if he goes with the Tonga call up, he will then have to leave the Rebels at end of the season (as no longer eligible for Australia) and would then probably go back to the NRL. I personally hope he sticks with Australia. He’s still young and will learn a lot this season playing with Mortlock etc and next year with Beale and so on. He would improve greatly from the end of season Wallaby tour. Yes, his one on one tackling has been poor this season but I think that’s a sympton of the Rebels squad and Lachie Mackay and Cipriani etc… as when he was at the Newcastle Knights he didn’t have the defensive issues he has had of late.

      • redbull

        Why would playing for Tonga rule him out of Rugby? How many Tongans are playing in Europe?

    • Bobas

      It doesn’t rule him out he hasn’t played for tonga yet. the tongan team also picked timani.

  • Vuna semi-officially said he wants to be a Wallaby, and will reject Tonga. He does still need to learn how to defend…

    Some great calls, some shocking calls IMO.

    Luke Burgess still can’t pass. If he could pass and set up like Phipps, Genia, or Gregan, then he’d be a shoo-in for the #20 jersey. I still think he’ll get it, being a great impact player, but if Genia is out injured, Phipps will start at 9 and play the majority of the game, despite looking a little slow since the Rebels’ bye (injury?)

    Luke Rooney cant get a bench spot at the Rebels because he doesnt look alive on the field, I would put money on him to play for the Kangaroos before the Wallabies.

    Ged Robinson is out for the Wallabies – he played for the Junior All Blacks (Australia A equiv – not age based) a few years back, and with the 1 country rule, he is theirs to keep now.

    13 is the big question, AAC will likely keep his jersey even with his current form, as no-one is better. Mortlock is playing at 12 now, switches in attack and defence a bit, but running defence as a 12 and wearing 12. obviously capable of 13, with a couple of Wallabies caps in that position… but, with an injury every other week, he will be hard to pick in the squad…

    • Bobas

      Damnit, that G. Robinson is awesome, how do the kiwis keep letting our S15 teams pouch such quality players!

      GRobinson, Harris, Anesi…

      • Patrick

        Anesi? Is that Bobas humour?

        • Bobas

          yes Anesi was a joke, something tells me the cheifs kept his inability to recover from back fractures to themselves so he could at least score one more rugby contract somewhere else.

          Maybe a similar reason why the Brums let Morty go, but not all Morty’s skills are physical, hence why he is still a class player.

  • Nathan Gumley

    Bob, you’ve got some pretty unusual picks in that squad.

    I’d be assuming the following:

    * Nic Phipps to replace Richard Kingi as the 3rd halfback. His game is smooth and on form could challenge Burgess for the 20 jumper.
    * Sam Wykes and Hugh Pyle to challenge Rob Simmon’s spot with their added versatility of playing 6. Peter Kimlin may also play himself into contention for the spot on current form, he also has test experience.
    * Dan Vickerman will have to push hard to get into the squad. I see Deans picking Mark Chisolm if this is true.
    * Matt Hodgson to be the backup 7 as ARU prohibits George Smith from playing. Hodgo can also play 6 and 8 at a stretch.
    * Rob Horne* will be used at OC alongside Adam Ashley Cooper. Adam Ashley Cooper can also cover 11-15 so his versatility can and probably will be used.
    * Outside backs to be Drew Mitchell*, Mark Gerrard, Cameron Shepherd, Digby Ioane, Kurtley Beale with Luke Morahan, Pat McCabe, Rod Davies and Lachie Turner fighting out for the last spot. I picked Mark Gerrard for his versatility and kicking game, also thinking back to recent press about his substantial ARU top up which means he’s in Dean’s eye.

    • Bobas

      Huge Pile has shown more than any other lock in the last couple of S15 games I’ve seen. Chis and Kimlin have had their moments too. I would be surprised if Sharpe holds his spot in the starting team at this stage as I think he’s the one making Wykes look good.

    • Pinko

      i dont think burgess should make the squad at all it will be rewarding his atrocious play
      if your looking for a lock who can also play 6 look at the 2 reds who have done it this season, AMH, and horwill, i feel with the way rocky played last year he can’t be picked for the team so you can use one of these guys at 6 and higgs at 8

  • eMack.

    Cooper Vuna? I thought his defensive record was poor. We can only afford one Quade in defence, and Vuna is certainly no Quade in attack.

  • Langthorne

    That is a lot of players there Bob.

    For a World Cup run, I would consider including players like Waugh and to a lesser extent Baxter, for their experience, leadership and sheer mongrel.

    Burgess’ passing was pretty good this week. The occassional long pauses before them was the issue, and his infernal kicking.

    • Patrick

      I will be curious to see if any other Australian out there agrees with this!

    • Blinky Bill from Bellingen

      “and to a lesser extent Baxter, for their experience, leadership and sheer mongrel.”

      “Burgess’ passing was pretty good this week.”

      I know that it’s difficult to express humour in a post. Perhaps sticking in a smiley face would help?

      :)

      With Phil & Al the short comment is ‘been there done that’. :(

    • Reds Fan 2011

      Lanthorne we want team harmony for the World Cup so Phil Waugh won’t be there for that reason. Also we would like the scrum to stay up so Al ‘the idiot face’ Baxter won’t be there also.

  • Homer j

    Love the four props you have chosen, and with Moore and TPN the front row is the best we have had for years.

    Morahan or Davies will be in there as Dingo is a massive fan of both. The midfield is still week but would have Rabbit and diggers – pace and footwork to burn.

    I reckon Pyle may get a run in the eraly tests to see how he goes, with him or Wykes to get Vickermans spot.

    • Reds Fan 2011

      Morahan was shown up big time against the Canes in defence. This is the main reason he wasn’t in the Reds run on team in games gone past. He had a shocker. Davies really has done nothing all year. I think Hynes if he comes back from injury well will seal up a wing spot with Mitchell out.

  • Koala

    I think picking different players for different situations is going to be key for us in this world cup. With the depth that we now seem to have we can pick a world cup squad, with the expectation that each player will contribute against different teams.

    For example at hooked you could start steven moore when in a game that is expected to be scrum heavy, but pick the more mobile Saia Faingaa for games that will be won or lost at the break down, and bring on TPN in both situations toward the end of games to exploit fatigued opponents. Similarly against tall packs you could pick a 6/7/8 combo of Horwill/Pocock/McCalman, the turn around and pick a Hodgson/Pocock/Higgenbotham back row when your after mobility.

    In the backs picking a ball running 12 as well as a ball playing 12 would be intelligent as again, it adds an extra chess piece to your gameplanning arsenal.

    I personally do not see the point in picking two pure number 7’s in Smith and Pocock. Its a waste of a roster spot. Pick players that can play different roles, depending on the expectations of the way the opponent play, and I think we will be a real shot to win it.

  • Pinko

    I think its an alright squad. because when you look at it there a some big names but most are out of form.
    Mainly with the backs, I think that before a squad is decided a few other decisions need to be made.
    -firstly what the aim of the international season will be to win the world cup (i think for the first time in a long while it will be to win games not get a solid group of people playing together.
    -2ndly, who the flyhalf will be. I know there will be arguments about this but this is the first position that will need to be picked and then the backline will need to be created to suit their style of play. Personally I think that quade is our only option at 10 because of his attaking ability. he is the only one of australias inside backs that teams just cant seem to stop him. I think that the only chance we have of beating the all blacks is with him controlling the game.
    – with quade at 10 you can now look at who you should look at to make him play his best:
    -firstly he needs space (genia has the best pass in australian rugby and i don’t think anyone will argue with that)
    – secondly he needs strike runners at inside, outside, full back and the wingers need to have the comfidense to come in. now this is a big change from how rugby teams play at the moment with the inside center as a 2nd play maker. but all you need to do is look at last year and tis year with quade. last year he had chambers, hines, digby, davies, and A faingaa. the only other real playmaker was genia who did a steller job. Not saying that harris is bad, i love the kid, i just feel that inside is not the best position for him. but with just the one playmaker in the backline and the rest of them stike runners it will force the defenders to stay true and if there are any holes in the defence some one will be hitting it.
    – Finally you need to look at his defence, this is an issue and it needs to be looked after, but this can be done with the correct selections around him.

    so i feel
    9 – Genia and the next best pass in my view is phipps
    10 – quade
    12 – A. Faingaa/AAC/Mortlock- as they all run hard and tackle well
    13- AAC/ Digby/ Mortlock
    11/14- Morahan/Digby/Mitchel (if hes good)/rabbit (i feel he plays better when he isn’t the playmaker) and Gerrard (if he can run the ball instead of kicking it)
    15 – Hynes/Beale

    My starting team would be
    9. Genia
    10. quade
    11. Morahan
    12. AAC
    13. Digby
    14. Mitchell / Gerard
    15. Beale

    • roland

      any lineup without O’Conner just loses all credibility for mine. Please review tapes of past 12 weeks and reassess your backline.

      best goal kicker and wold tear shreds through backlines with will and quade inside him.

      i think for NZ we should defs play A.Faingaa in IC, as when he tackles, he is a bone cruncher and there is no options for SBW to throw the offload, not when he’s on his arse in pain from a massive hit. But JOC at IC mostly

      • Davo

        i think oconnor handled sonny bill pretty well in the tackle

    • Scrummie

      I’m guessing you’re a Reds fan?

  • ozrugbynut

    I have this idea in my mind about a front row of Slipper (TH), Moore and Ben Alexander (closely followed by Fatcat).

    Also, Beau Robinson looks a good prospect as a backup to Poey and possibly Hodgeson (although I’ve never been wowed by him)

  • Robson

    There are some quality backs in the squad for sure, but how many of them would jell together in a way which keeps the pill moving fast towards the goal line through the hands?

    I would like to see Genia, Cooper, O’Connor and Mike Harris all teamed up as 9, 10, 12 and 13 respectively. Beale at fullback and Diggers and either Turner, Morahan or Hynes on the other wing. I think the dream potion of attacking magic is best served up by Genia, Coops, O’Connor and Harris with Beale in for the final peal

  • Skippy

    I dont understand and will never understand all this love for Digby at 13…. he has only played a handful of games at Super 15 and even less for the Wallabies in this position (and only ever out of necessity I feel). The guy is an excellent player, full of power and explosiveness. But he is by no means a world class 13 someone who should be thrust into the WC in this crucial position. He passing is poor off both hands. His handling is poor. He can be prone to making error after error when the rot sets in, and his confidence is knocked. And he can lose the ball in contact quite often when crash balling.
    I’m sorry to all his supporters but there is no way Dingo Deans will go with Ioane as our best 13 option. Yes, AAC is off form, Mortlock too slow and Horne always injured etc (injury prone) but they all bring more balance to a backline and more skill than Digby does at 13.
    The guy is a winger first and foremost and always will be.

    • Pinko

      I understand where you come from. i’ll be happy with AAC or mortlock, but i have to dissagree with you about horne, from the way he played in the internationals last year he doesn’t deserve another chance untill he starts performing in super rugby (ever tho he hasn’t had the chance this year), but the reason i like digby at 13 is the ability he has to compleatly change the game. so he makes a few mistakes with the ball in hand but in my view he is still in better form then AAC at the moment

      • Skippy

        My fear is this WC is 12 months too early for the Wallabies. I think we are on the verge of a golden era and its up to the ARU to ensure it every opportunity to occur, and then maintain it for as long as possible and have a plan in place for when the generation comes to an end. The ARU and Deans etc will have a lot of tough decisions to make over the next 5 years about who to keep, who to sign/top up, who to let go. We are building a lot of depth (the benefit of 5 Super teams – albeit the depth is now spread more across 5 teams) and it’s not going to be possible to keep everyone on the books with offers from League and Overseas clubs in the years to come.
        However, for all our depth 13 still looks one of the few positions where there is not a lot of depth. Aside from AAC, Horne (with exception of Mortlock who is not going to be around in 12 months due to age etc) who else is coming through as a genuine 13? Cummins? He’s a winger at best. Paddy from the Force? Mitch Inman?
        Please don’t give me Faingaa as an option at 13 or Lachy Mackay.
        Seriously 13 is a problem or concern for the WC but the point I’m trying to make now is that I think the problem will still be the same next year and possibly for a few years to come!

        • roland

          Mate AAC is a world class OC and we should throw him in there as Mr Reliable. Good defense, it is his preferred position, he’s big enough. we got the game breakers inside and outside of him. I’m happy that AAC matches Fruen, COnrad Smith, FOurie etc (actually very similar to all these players too). So we have at least parity at OC ( maybe not against Ireland, but who can match BOD).

          This argument is over. AAC is perfect. If he hits some form of 2 years ago, even better, if not, he will be the wallabies best dummy runner ever.

  • Jimbo81

    2nd row?

  • Damo

    AAC will be the first choice outside centre. He was superb for the Wallabies last year, think of his solo try in Hong Kong (a great break and a great finish) and he had a superb game in Paris. The French just couldn’t handle him. He has real bulk, speed and skill and I’m sure he will come good in time.

    Though, depth in the 13 position is a problem. I think the back up to AAC has to be Digby. True his handling could be better but he has the ability to break the line on a regular basis. There were some problems defensively but he looked pretty good there on the EOYT in 2009. There are precious few other options.

    Also, Pinko, I notice your starting team does not have JOC in there. Are you crazy? He must be in the team. Primarily for his creativity but also for his goal kicking. The real debate is whether JOC is ready to play 12 (or we play him on the wing).

    Inside centre is a position that demands creativity. He is the second general in charge (think when Quade is at the bottom of a ruck after making a tackle. Ok that never happens but how about when he is picking a fight or doing backflips) and the angles that an inside centre runs are crucial. The great teams have creativity at 12 – think of Timmy Horan.

    But with only five internationals before the world cup can we get JOC ready in time? That is a tough ask especially with Sonny Bill/Nonu running at you. Would it be better to have Barnes taking SBW because of his great defensive game and experience at 12? These are tough calls to make and I’m undecided as yet. The two backlines I’m debating between are;

    9. Genia
    10. Quade
    11. Mitchell
    12. JOC
    13.AAC
    14. Ione
    15. Beale

    Or;

    9. Genia
    10. Quade
    11. Mitchell
    12. Barnes
    13. AAC
    14. JOC
    15. Beale

    The crucial factor may be Mitchell’s fitness and whether he comes back in time. Turner, Morhan and Shepherd are all solid back ups but they don’t have the same creativity or line breaking ability as JOC and Ione. On the other hand JOC at inside centre might be like pulling a Rabbit out of a hat – the final surprise.

    • Reds Fan 2011

      Turner…. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha………………

      Stop it the jokes are too much my stomach hurts.

    • Patrick

      Well JO’C handled SBW just fine…didn’t dominate him, but wasn’t beaten either…and that was in a generally back-footed backline and without Cooper inside, AAC outside and Beale Ioane and (hopefully) Mitchell as options.

      Enough to keep any defence in two or three (or half a) minds!

  • bazaar

    Damo –

    You are 99% correct…..

    The bit about AAC and “Real bulk” …..?????

  • Damo

    bazaar – Yeah OK AAC is not Toutai Kefu. What i meant was – he is pretty solid in the tackle. He almost always gets over the advantage line.

  • Bob Dwyer

    There has been some great comment. Well done guys! Re my selections: I often choose players on the basis of – what I consider to be – their potential and they might not be the ‘next best’ at the time. I want guys who, at their best, can be world class, and I back my ability to help them reach their potential. If you select ‘next best’ that’s generally what you get! Phil Kearns, George Gregan, Tim Horan, Jason Little are past instances. Some of my current ‘selections’ are similar. Luke Burgess is currently way off the pace, but I would back myself to get him there. Phipps is good, but I think that Kingi has the ‘x-factor’ and I’d like to find out. Vickerman, IF back to his best, would be invaluable and we should find out. I know Dan and he’s not a ‘romancer’. If he says that he genuinely wants to try for a spot, then he’ll give it a great try! Same with Rocky! My mail is that Rob Horne is really struggling, but, if fit, will make the squad. I forgot Rod Davies and he will he high in the list, perhaps in front of Turner, or as a sub for Mitchell. Re George Smith: I’m not selecting him as a favour to George. He can help us win a World Cup – and he can and does play 6,7 and 8! I’m happy to give him a run in the Sydney team and I’m sure the Brumbies could find a spot for a few matches – c.f. Vickerman for the Tahs.

    • Bobas

      Bob, what are the things in the past that have keep players like Mark Gerrard and to a lesser extent Peter Hewit out of wallaby squads?

      Although they don’t seem to have the blinding speed or huge physical attributes for their outside back positions they bring an attitude to the game that seems to give them more time with the ball and allow them to make the right decision more often.

      Other players that come to mind are like Morgan Tirinui and I’m sure there’s plenty more I just cant think of at the moment.

      On that Quade Cooper cross kick Ioane ran off like a headless chook and wasted a very simple try scoring opertunity by making the pass 100% more difficult than it needed to be.

      JOC slowed it down after his line break and switched play to the opposite wing and Shepherd scored in the corner.

      Seems a waste to leave all players with a unique skill set out of squads unless they are seen as a possible number 10.

  • Balms

    I like the prospect of having aggressive impact forwards like Kepu, TPN, Wykes, Higginbotham etc coming of the bench, if Dingo FUCKING uses the bench that is.

  • Damo

    I’m with Bob on this one. Let’s start the ‘Bring back George Smith campaign!’

    His experience could be crucial. I would never take Pocock off but we could play him off the bench at no 8.

    Can’t you drop him a text Bob?

  • bazaar

    we must persist with hope for vickerman. at his best, especially with matfield seemingly in decline, he is the worlds finest lineout jumper and will push ni the scrums with horwill – apparetnyl sharoe is not a pusher….

    you never know with the safas tho. they could be taking it easy. they are capable of knocking nz over in the semis.

ACT Brumbies
@bobdwyerrugby

If you don't know Bob Dwyer is the world cup winning coach of the 1991 Wallabies, then give yourself an uppercut. He did a load in between, but he now runs Bob Dwyer's Rugby Workshops, which you can read more about on his site.

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