G&GR Wallaby of the Decade - Green and Gold Rugby
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G&GR Wallaby of the Decade

G&GR Wallaby of the Decade

Despite a decade in which we probably didn’t win as many trophies as we would have liked, and have probably had our longest period of disappointment since, ummmm, the
70s, we’ve had some great players feature for the Wallabies in the noughties.  The likes of John Eales, Jason Little, Dan Herbert, Matthew Burke, Richard Harry, David Wilson and Tim Horan will go down as legends of our game.  However, who can lay claim to being the Wallaby of the Decade?

For mine, Eales and Horan are the best players to have played featured in the green and gold since 2000 until now. However I wouldn’t consider either for this acclaim, due solely to their lack of games. Horan unfortunately featured in less than one game, whereas Eales played for a season and a half. So in discussing the Player of the Decade there are a number of areas that need to be considered.  Durability/longevity, international acclaim, consistency of performance, importance to the Wallabies and probably much much more. So let’s get to it, we here at G&GR have come up with a short list of five players we think are the stand outs, and the rest is up to you.


George Gregan

2000-2009 Stats
First game: v ARG (Brisbane on 17/6/00) won 53-6
Last game: v ENG (Marseille on 6/10/07) lost 12-10 (RWC QF)
Number of Tests: 85
Number of Points: 44  (7 tries, 3 drop goals)
Tests as captain: 59

 

Steve Larkham
2000-2009 Stats
First game: v ARG (Brisbane on 17/6/00) won 53-6
Last game: v JAP (Marseille on 8/9/07) won 91-3 (RWC pool game)
Number of Tests: 71
Number of Points: 63 (12 tries, 1 drop goal)
Tests as captain: 0

 

 

 

Chris Latham
2000-2009 Stats
First game: v ARG (Brisbane on 17/6/00) won 53-6
Last game: v ENG (Marseille on 6/10/07) lost 12-10 (RWC QF)
Number of Tests: 72
Number of Points: 190 (38 tries)
Tests as captain: 0

 

Stirling Mortlock
2000-2009 Stats
First game: v ARG (Brisbane on 17/6/00) won 53-6
Last game: v SAF (Cape Town on 8/9/09) lost 29-17
Number of Tests: 80
Number of Points: 514 (30 tries, 71 conversions, 74 penalties)
Tests as captain: 29

 



George Smith
2000-2009 Stats
First game: v FRA (Paris on 4/11/00) won 18-13 (Test Debut)
Last game: v WAL (Cardiff on 28/11/09) won 33-12
Number of Tests: 110
Number of Points: 45 (9 tries)
Tests as captain: 7

 

*****

There are our Famous Five, and now it is over to you. Who is the best player of the decade? Vote below and then justify your answer by way of a comment.  Should be fascinating stuff!

  • George Gregan (10%, 25 Votes)
  • Stephen Larkham (38%, 96 Votes)
  • Chris Latham (4%, 11 Votes)
  • Stirling Mortlock (9%, 24 Votes)
  • George Smith (39%, 98 Votes)
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  • Who Needs Melon

    Jeez. After what I thought were no brainers for many of the individual positions, I found picking the Wallaby of the Decade tough. I seriously considered every one of those you listed.

    I went with Mortlock because he had the spectacular moments like Latham, the consistency/longevity like Smith AND the captaincy responsibility like Gregan. Larkham I would pick 2nd – not because he is a worse player but just because he didn’t have to shoulder the added burden of leadership through what have been some difficult times.

    • Robson

      I agree with you there, but I still picked Larkham because I just loved the subtlety of the lines he ran and when he threw a wide ball it went flat and like a rocket and put the receiver into so much space it was pure magic.

  • Paris Tah

    IMO, Morty was the Wallaby of the decade and the player in the Wallaby team of the decade who contributed the most by way of point scoring, inspirational play, line breaks, “captains knock”, etc. If I was to choose the best player of the decade where actual skill was the deciding factor then line ball between Slarkham and Smith. I see a subtle difference between best Wallaby and best player.

  • For number of games played while he kept the Wallabies in the hunt, gotta be George Smith.

  • Pedro

    I went for Larkham, he was the guy that could make any old back line fire. When you look at most of the forwards we had, he kept us in games with awesome attack and crazy defense.

    George Smith is up there too.

  • Patrick

    hard to pick! I went for Larkham ‘coz he was was the bestest ever, but I think they all had a real claim. Gregan seems to be getting sold short…

  • chief

    I had to pick Larkham, his attacking flare revolutionizedrunning rugby.

  • Gumby

    Has to be Smithy. Throughout the whole decade he has been compared to Ritchie McCaw who for many would be the International Player of the Decade.

    Personally I rate Smith above RM and believe if he had been an All Black playing in their teams and RM a Wallaby or in any other team no-one would be making any comparisons as who was best.

    Smith has had to play with some of the weakest Wallaby packs of the last thirty years and he is still compared to the best of the best. Just an outstanding player and one of the best to ever wear the Gold Jersey.

  • To get a hundred caps is extraordinary, but to do so in one of the most attritional positions, where placing your neck where most wouldn’t put their boot and being cleaned-out in brutal fashion over and over again is part of the job description defies superlatives. If there were no Richie, George Smith would be the greatest openside of all time. As such, even in such estimable company, he’s the greatest Wallaby of the decade.

    And he’s not done yet.

  • jcmp99

    For meI just cant go past Smith. A seemingly quite achiever in at times a soft engine room. Over one hundred tests for your country is no small acomplishment and to do it at such a high level week in week out. For mine he is the International player of the decade.

    • Gumby

      Larkham is a legend and we all love him. But to select him over Smith is a heart over reason decision.

      • Scarfman

        Totally agree. I’d rather watch Bernie’s highlights reel, but Smith is/was in the top 2 or 3 international players of the decade, along with Richie, BOD, and Matfield.

  • spaceman

    its gotta be mortlock… been involved in every big moment in the past 10 years

  • Jim

    for me it has to be horan – the only player like him in the game today is o’driscoll and even he can’t stroll through the defensive line like horan could. Watch highlights of the wallabies under Mcqueen and see how many times horan creates or scores crucial tries in big matches. It quickly becomes apparent how vital he was to the success of the most successfull wallabies team in history…

  • chief

    Jim its this decade mate.

  • mark_s

    Larkham. Gregan a close second and Latham and Smith tied for 3rd.

    ITs telling that there was only 1 forward on this list. Sums up our probs of the last decade really.

  • Jim

    Fair point i guess… I would back smith then larkham – larkham was fantastic but his best days were actually more often in the late 90’s mcqueen era as well… he was amazing with the ball in hand, but his kicking game was never quite as good as it should have been and under jone’s and then connolly he never quite managed to control and manage games in the same way either wilkinson or carter did. Sadly although predictable as his career went on he stopped running as much and stood further and further from the gain which I felt was a shame although I understand you can only be smashed so often but 110kg loose forwards… still a real shame as i loved watching him float through a gap in the inside channels to create a try.

    So for me it has to be Smith. For most of the 90’s he pretty much was our forward pack. He worked tirelessly at the breakdown creating countless turnovers and slowing up opposition ball at key moments in match and through that alone kept Australia in many, many games. Add to that the amount of tackles he would get through and the fact he was more creative in attack than people gave him credit for.

    Add to that the fact that he would be starting or on the bench of any world XV for most of the decade which can’t be said of larkham and he becomes the obvious choice.

    Honorable mention for the human wrecking ball that was Chris Latham who provided some of the most thrilling moments on attack – nothing like watching gumby rampage through 5 tackles before chipping ahead and scoring a miracle try to cheer me up while slugging through the often uninspiring play the wallabies turned out under jones and connolly…

  • wannabprop

    Me pick Smith… err… cuz he’s a forward… pfft

  • I can’t believe how much support George Smith is getting. He’s never established himself as the dominant 7 in Australia, with Waugh and more recently Pocock always a chance to take his starting jersey.

    After many losses in this years 3N we reflected that we were beaten at the breakdown, and while Smith’s efforts have been valiant, a test centurion should be offering more leadership and ensuring the back row works.

    For me, there is only one choice in this poll. Stirling ‘the evil wizard’ Mortlock was a part of every big moment in the past decade and frequently won big games through his boot, scoring match winning tries, and most importantly inspiring others around him to perform.

    Larkham is in my mind a very close second.

  • Very tough list to choose from…I’ve just always admired Mortlock, a great leader and player. It will be interesting to see how many of these players end up in coaching when their careers are done.

  • Suth

    Great to see the Brumbies there! George Smith is just so consistent. No flamboyance but plenty of grunt and persistence. A dependable team member without whom the flashy players would be unable to perform.

    • chief

      Brumbies are the only Aussie team to have won the Super Rugby during the 2000’s. Hardly surprising.

  • Seb V

    This was a tough one. For me it came down to Smith or Larkham. I ended up going with larkham because ever since he has gone the backline has been struggling. In other words he was the most irreplacable.

  • Tod the Ranter

    Smith.

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