As we say adieu to the Wallaby season following our massive win over France, we can start to look back at the year and reflect. Looking at our win percentage alone, we’re getting better. In 2009 we could only manage six wins from our fourteen tests. This year we somewhat significantly more successful in winning nine of our fifteen tests. Sure we went down to the Poms a couple of times, and the All Blacks maintain a hold on the Bledisloe Cup, but there were moments of joy in 2010. The Wallabies managed to beat the Boks in Bloemfontein and then break a 10-game hoodoo by downing the Blacks in Honkers. And that demolition of France should long remain in our memory banks. Could it be a World Cup turning point?
We scored a shed-load of tries thanks largely to our exciting young backline. Drew Mitchell followed on from his sensational Super 14 form and topped the try scorers list with nine tries. Not far behind was Kurtley Beale, who made is Wallaby debut in the last match of the 2009 season, with 7 five-pointers. Another of the Three Amigos at the back, winger, James O’Connor snagged 5 tries and we can see the emergence of a potent and effective back three unit. Quade Cooper, at flyhalf, scored five tries as well whilst skipper Rocky Elsom and Adam Ashley-Cooper were rewarded with four meat pies of their own.
We also saw the introduction, on to the international stage, of some new Wallabies. The Super 14 form of Queensland saw a number of Reds get their first Wallaby call up, including Ben Daley, Saia & Anthony Faingaa, James Slipper, Rob Simmons & Scott Higginbotham. The Force provided more backrow talent in Ben McCalman and the long awaited debut for Matty Hogdson. From the Brumbies we saw Huia Edmonds, Salesi Ma’afu and Pat “The New Noodles” McCabe whilst Robbie Horne was the sole Tahs rookie.
There is much to look forward to come next year, but for now let’s look back further to the start of the 2010 Wallaby test season. For those out of the loop, after every Wallaby test over at the forum, members vote for their three best Wallaby players of the match. These points are accumulated and an overall 3-2-1 is determined for each test. From these we determine the ultimate winner of the GREEN & GOLD RUGBY WALLABY PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARD. If you think we’re not serious, look back at our 2009 winner.
But before we get to that, we have to start with the domestic test series, the Domestic Test Series, which included tests against Fiji, England and Ireland. Without any further delay, let’s look at the four tests involved.
Match One: Australia v Fiji @ Canberra Stadium, Canberra (5 June)
Australia: Kurtley Beale, Digby Ioane, Rob Horne, Matt Giteau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Quade Cooper, Luke Burgess, Richard Brown, David Pocock, Rocky Elsom [C], Nathan Sharpe, Dean Mumm, Salesi Ma’afu, Huia Edmonds, Ben Alexander. Replacements: Saia Faingaa, Pek Cowan, Matt Hodgson, Drew Mitchell.
Fiji: Taniela Rawaqa, Tomici Nagusa, Rupeni Caucaunibuca, Saula Radidi, Sireli Bobo, Waisea Luveniyali, Emosi Vucago, Jone Qovu, Jimilai Naikadawa, Anthony Wise, Dominiko Waqaniburotu, Sekonaia Qaraniqio, Deacon Manu [C], Tuapati Talemaitoga,Campese Ma’afu. Replacements: Vili Veikoso, Graham Dewes, Rupeni Nasiga, Malaki Volau, Vitori Buatava, Ropate Ratu, Nemani Nadolo.
Match Two: Australia v England @ Subiaco Oval, Perth (12 June)
Australia: James O’Connor, Digby Ioane, Rob Horne, Berrick Barnes, Drew Mitchell, Quade Cooper, Luke Burgess, Richard Brown, David Pocock, Rocky Elsom [C], Nathan Sharpe, Dean Mumm, Salesi Ma’afu, Saia Faingaa, Ben Daley. Replacements: Huia Edmonds, James Slipper, Mark Chisholm, Matt Hodgson, Kurtley Beale.
England: Ben Foden, Mark Cueto, Mike Tindall, Shontayne Hape, Chris Ashton, Toby Flood, Danny Care, Nick Easter, Lewis Moody [C], Tom Croft, Tom Palmer, Simon Shaw, Dan Cole, Steve Thompson, Tim Payne. Replacements: George Chuter, David Wilson, Courtney Lawes, James Haskell, Ben Youngs, Jonny Wilkinson.
Australia 27 (Rocky Elsom try; Quade Cooper 2 tries, pg; James O’Connor 3 conv, pg) defeated England 17 (2 Penalty Tries; Toby Flood 2 conv, pg)
3 – Quade Cooper
2 – Luke Burgess
1 – Drew Mitchell
Match Three: Australia v England @ ANZ Stadium, Sydney (19 June)
Australia: James O’Connor, Digby Ioane, Rob Horne, Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Richard Brown, David Pocock, Rocky Elsom [C], Nathan Sharpe, Dean Mumm, Salesi Ma’afu, Saia Faingaa, Ben Daley. Replacements: Huia Edmonds, James Slipper, Mark Chisholm, Adam Ashley-Cooper.
England: Ben Foden, Mark Cueto, Mike Tindall, Shontayne Hape, Chris Ashton, Toby Flood, Ben Youngs, Nick Easter, Lewis Moody [C], Tom Croft, Tom Palmer, Courtney Lawes, Dan Cole, Steve Thompson, Tim Payne. Replacements: George Chuter, David Wilson, Simon Shaw, Delon Armitage, Danny Care, Jonny Wilkinson.
England 21 (Ben Youngs, Chris Ashton tries; Toby Flood 2 pg, conv; Jonny Wilkinson pg) defeated Australia 20 (Matt Giteau 2 tries, 2 conv, 2 pg)
Match Four: Australia v Ireland @ Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane (26 June)
Australia: James O’Connor, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Rob Horne, Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell, Quade Cooper, Luke Burgess, Richard Brown, David Pocock, [C] Rocky Elsom, Mark Chisholm, Dean Mumm, Salesi Ma’afu, Saia Faingaa, Ben Daley. Replacements: Kurtley Beale, James Slipper.
Ireland: Robert Kearney, Tommy Bowe, Brian O’driscoll (C), Paddy Wallace, Andrew Trimble, Jonathan Sexton, Tomas O’Leary, Chris Henry, Shane Jennings, Niall Ronan, Mick O’Driscoll, Donncha O’Callaghan, Tony Buckley, Sean Cronin, Cian Healy. Replacements: Damien Varley, Tom Court, Dan Tuohy, Rhys Ruddock, Geordan Murphy.
Australia 22 (Luke Burgess try; Quade Cooper try, 2 pg; Matt Giteau 2 pg) defeated Ireland 15 (Jonathan Sexton 5 pg)
So if we accumulate the points from the Domestic Test Series, we have the first winner of the year. The Green & Gold Rugby Domestic Test Series Player of the Year.
A big congratulations to Quade who continued on from his superb Super 14 form with the Reds, to play some scintillating footy with the Wallabies and is a deserved winner of our first award. Stay tuned later this week for our next award – the Green & Gold Rugby Wallaby Tri-Nations Player of the Year.