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

G&GR Wallaby Team of the Decade

G&GR Wallaby Team of the Decade

Well, the people have spoken. The votes are in and we have our official Green & Gold Rugby Wallaby Team of the Decade!

As many people suggested throughout the series, many of the positions were fairly cut and dried.  Scrum Half and Fly Half, for example.  There were some tough decisions, however, such as balancing the player’s overall career compared to what he put on there this decade.

This was probably most relevant in the fullback position in which many people were split beteen Matthew  Burke and Chris Latham. A special mention to Timmy Horan too who still managed to get 20 odd votes, despite playing less than one whole game of footy this decade. What a player!

But we didn’t get it always right. Most notably at inside centre where we opted for Flats, Grey and Jason Little.  The voters, however, were more keen on Matt Giteau and we here at G&GR have listened – he’s in the team.  That’s how we roll! So, without any further delay, we have our Team of the Decade:

TOD Backs

15 Latham – 14 Roff – 13 Mortlock – 12 Giteau – 11 Tuqiri – 10 Larkham – 9 Gregan



8 Kefu – 7 Smith – 6 Elsom – 5 Eales – 4 Vickerman – 3 Noriega – 2 Cannon – 1 Robinson

And for interests sake, our Wallaby A Team of the Decade would be (Gits has to double up)!

15 Matt Burke; 14 Ben Tune; 13 Dan Herbert; 12 Elton Flatley; 11 Clyde Rathbone; 10 Matt Giteau; 9 Will Genia; 8 Wycliff Palu; 7 David Wilson; 6 Owen Finegan; 5 Nathan Sharpe; 4 David Giffin; 3 Al Baxter; 2 Jeremy Paul; 1 Bill Young.

So what do you think? A handy side? I must say, that’s an interesting front row. How would we go against that Rest of the World Side we picked? In fact, screw that, how would we go against that Wallaby A side? That’d be a tough one I reckon. Look at the match-ups.

Burke v Latham

Tune v Roff

Herbert v Mortlock

Palu v Kefu

Wilson v Smith

Young v Noriega

Paul v Cannon

Finegan v Elsom

The battles are awesome and across the park. So who do you reckon would win and where would they win it?

  • Scarfman

    Benn Robbo would have Al popping and dropping all over the place. And I reckon Noriega could handle Bill Young. Probably slap him for boring in when the ref’s not looking.

    The Brumbie Ball combo from 9 to 10 to 12 to 13 to 14 would score tries against against any team any day.

    I’m backing the first XV by a fair margin.

  • Patrick

    I couldn’t call it! Too much would come down to things like: is it fin-de-siecle Herbert vs 2004-8 Mortlock, or are they from the same year?

    If it was each at their peak, I think the 1st XV would be too strong in the line-outs, as strong everywhere else (maybe, like scarfman suggests, too strong in the set-piece full stop?) and has too much talent at 9-10-12 for pretty much any team to handle.

  • Seb V

    The First XV would smash them because they have one key player Stephen Larkham!!!…. I agree with most of the team except i would have put owen finegin in the first XV. But thats just me.

  • Scotty

    Thats a great team!!! Couldn’t pick a better one really.

  • Gumby

    Think the backs are probably a closer match but in the forwards the advantage is clear cut to the First XV even if it was probably not our best front row.

    This probably says more about our struggle to do the job in this department over the last decade rather than anything else. Second Row, Flankers and Lock would be hard to toss if you were choosing from any players from the modern era.

    The only issue I really have in the Backs is Latham over Burke which I would never countenance and Morty on the wing over Tuney. Just too hard for me to leave these two out even if their best Rugby was probably played in the previous decade.

    Lot of fun and a great job Noddy.

  • Pedro

    Baxter would make the difference, if you know what I mean.

  • Coatsieboy

    This is geekier and as pointless as arguing who would win between a fight between Spock and Obi Wan Kenobi.

    Would it be the young Kenobi, played by Ewan McGregor, or the Alec Guinness one..? Or would Spock be the young Zachary Quinto or the wise elder Leonard Nimoy blah blah blah…

    Who cares..? Lets concentrate on the future, and what we can do to make Australia a winning nation again. I pine for the days we had men like Horan and Eales leading our blokes. There is so much good building material to work with, but instead of working with this excellent clay each coach we have seems to massage it into mediocre shite.

    I have spent a lot of time watching NPC and European Rugby on Fox in recent months, and I’ve not seen anything better than a game between the stronger Sydney Clubs like Sydney Uni and Eastwood, Randwick or Easts. In fact I saw Warringah demolish Easts at Rat Park in one of the most exciting matches of the season, including the test matches.

    The only O/S exciting comp I saw was the Currie Cup. The Saffas have got the right attitude at the moment, no wonder the Boks are World Champions.

    Lets apply this ‘knowledge’ gained from this little poll and hopefully use it to identify up and coming blokes who might be able to contribute something new and innocvative to the squad, and hopefully the rugby brains running things in this country might be able to use it to inform thier decision making processes.

    I think the one thing we’d all agree on – whether you prefer Gits or Bernie at number ten – is that we have gone steadily off the rails over the last ten years, despite having guys like Smith, Ellsom, Mortlock and Giteau in our arsenal. What can we do to correct this over the next decade, and put us back on top again..?

    I hope “Aussie” (cough) Robbie reads G&G Rugby, along with the other blogs out there, I really do…

    Happy New Year to Matty and all the G&G Tragics out there, have a good one.

    • Gumby

      The funny thing Coatsie is that on figures I recently saw on 606 we have the second highest winning percentage for the last decade of the top eight Nations. It goes something like this:

      NZ 77%
      Aus 53%
      SA 52%
      Eng 51%
      Fra 46%
      Ire 44%
      Arg 37%
      Wal 22%

      Can’t vouch for their accuracy but I think they would be fairly accurate. This season and the disgrace of 2007 seem to colour our thinking on the decade but the truth is that even though they have bombed two RWC’s the All Blacks have been far and away in a class of their own and strange as it seems the Wallabies have been next best.

      Guess we are never satisfied with second best!

      • Coatsie

        Fair call Gumby, but as Benjamin Disraeli once said; “There are three kinds of lies; Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics”.

        We consistently beat Namibia, Japan et-al, but seem to come across like old molls at a knitting expo against the Southern Hemisphere powerhouse rivals – MOST of the time. Second might come right after first but like the old Seinfeld bit; second, well your just really the best of all the losers, aren’t you..?

        Once upon a time I would have included Scotland in the same sentence as Namibia & Japan by-the-way. Good luck to them; the knitting team dropped a stitch or two that evening and the Scots got away with what they deserved, ken..?

        I doubt whether any of us would remember Buzz Aldrin’s name if he didn’t keep putting his bonce on TV every chance he could over the last 40 years, flogging re-badged Toyota Camrys and cameoing on the Simpsons as himself.

        Russian Cosmonauts of the space-race..? After Gagarin… It’s all consonants and forgotten men.

        No one remembers who came second. And third..? Forget it. The bronze medals at the Sydney Olympics were made from recycled Aussie 1 & 2cent pieces. Fact. The change we used to throw on the floor of a cab after a skinfull.

        If we weren’t capable of being world beaters I wouldn’t be whining like John-Michael Howson watching a truckload of DVD’s of Pricilla Queen of the Desert falling off the gap.

        The players deserve more, and we the Aussie Rugby Public deserve more. Like Field of Dreams, if you build it, they will come. The crowds will return and we will have a trophy cabinet to be proud of again.

        Anyway, enough pop-culture references and tired analogy.

        Statistics… Honestly mate… No offence but don’t be so naïve. I bet you can rustle up some figures which make us look pretty shithouse if you dig deep enough, and present them as you’d like them didested. And there’s a fair bit of daylight between us and the AB’s, over 20%.

        A figure we probably would have narrowed or god-forbid, even eclipsed if Gary Flowers and his team of Lilly-livered Daisy Chain Poseys did a decent job and kept the machine oiled after JON’s first tenure – keeping the steam roller ploughing along like it had been through the salad days of the turn of the century purple patch.

        What did that man do..? A mate of mine taught his kids, and he said he used to materialize around any sports day or similar function, drop off a bootload of promotional gear and assorted tat, and bugger off like Del-Boy Trotter after the plod arrived to disrupt a nice little earner on a London Street corner.

        Know whaat I mean, Guvnor..?

        Sounds like faaking amatuer hour to me. You plonker Gary…

        Onwards and upwards. lets take a page out of Matty Burkes book, and unlike Chris Latham pull up our socks and get the keys back in the steamroller again.

  • Gumby

    Coatsie. I don’t place much import on these stats either actually as for me it has been a decade of disappointment really, lost opportunity, poor player development, poor coaching and even worse abysmal management.

    What it does show is that overall in terms of consistency we were no worse than anyone else apart from the All Blacks; we however did not rise to any of the big occasions. Considering about 50% of our games were against the All Blacks and Springboks it surprised me that our winning percentage was so high.

    However you are right that there wasn’t much to cheer about from our takings for the decade; no RWC’s when we won two out of three the previous decade. No Tri Nations and Bledisloe’s apart from those in 00 & 01 that were won by the 99 squad. The only thing to crow about was the odd trinket of silverware won during the seasonal Northern Tours and a couple of Mandella Plates.

    Have to agree with you regarding Flowers and his cohorts. He and his other merry men of yesteryear tried to take us back to the 70’s and by hanging onto Steady Eddie for so long they consigned us to the scrap heap.

    2007 was a disgrace and though Connolly will carry the blame in the history books Jones was the real culprit. Interestingly after losing a RWC final in 2003 we kept a losing coach bereft of ideas for most of the remainder of the decade. Don’t think the Kiwis and Saffers would have kept him on after losing a final especially when Macqueen had bequeathed him a peerless team that should have had the core of great players necessary to defend the Cup.

    As I said a very disappointing decade of wasted opportunity. Gives me chest pains thinking about it!

  • Ben

    Interesting that was the backline for the last world cup…..except for mitchell.

    No way i would have roff over Ben Tune.

    After watching us capitulate in Marseille i tend to agree with Gumby…a wasted decade.

    Will be another wasted decade if we dont play the players in the appropriate positions in the backline (GITS PLEASE READ)

    • Gumby

      Absolutely. Tuney and Roff’s should be playing together on opposite sides of the park just as they always did. They were specialist wingers not just good players stuck out there because they were not good enough to claim their real positions in the team.

      • Bobas

        If you remember that shitty game in Marseille, you’ll remember we had AAC on the wing, despite Mitchell being the tournament leading try scorer.

        We also had no Larkham cos a French surgeon didn’t wash his hands. So we played Barnes in 10… Something everyone is currently calling for…

        A wasted decade? stop feeling sorry for yourself.

  • Gumby

    I’m not feeling sorry for myself at all Bobas. It is pretty clear that for most of the decade (read after Macqueen and up until Deans) that Rugby in Australia was poorly managed, the Wallabies were badly coached and directed and they missed out on virtually any big ticket successes as a result. Further more the player base shrunk, millions of dollars were wasted and we did everything possible to give League and AFL a leg up.

    Absolutely a wasted decade, categorically. After RWC 2003 Rugby was growing in popularity here and was financially secure. Then the amateurs took over.

    We were smashed in 2007 by a very, very average England Team (no disrespect intended to them). It wouldn’t have mattered who we played where in the backs, the forwards were the laughing stock of the Rugby World after that tournament. If we had somehow bumbled past England to meet the Boks in the final it would have turned the RWC into a joke and we would have been poleaxed.

    This was the end result of years of Eddie Jones’ tutelage and weak administration from the ARU. Poor JC was on a hiding to nothing when he took over as coach. We could have done much better, should have done much better and the players themselves deserved much more. As I and others have said a wasted decade.

  • Coatsie

    One of the points I made in my first spray was that comparing players to earlier players in some geek fantasy match up is a waste of time.

    I maintain this, yet contradict myself a little in criticizing Bobas’ point re Barnes at Number 10.

    Sure, people are calling for it now, however in the 07 WC tournament he was debuting; filling Bernie’s boots was a naïve bloke pitted against Johnny Wonderboots. Whatsmore an away tournament. A little different from making him into the current incumbent.

    You can hardly compare the “two” blokes, he has come ahead in leaps and bounds and is really one of the team leaders, when fit enough.

    This raises the real constant and ubiquitous point; we have no depth in Australia unlike our rivals.

    When blokes like Barnes or Tune or Mortlock go down there are no other specialists – marginally lesser or out of form than the incumbent – to take the reins. Instead you have these (good) utilities like Staniforth and AAC to sew up the gaps. We will never manage to dominate these Rugby nations until this depth exists. And it will never exist until the powers-who-be begin to nourish more grass roots development and stop expecting some leading GPS schools to do it for them.

    The (justifiably) arguable Wallaby of the Decade went to a bloke who attended Lyneham High, Canberra, and the close runner up attended Cromer High on the Northern Beaches. Average State Schools in working to middle class suburbs. These blokes discovered rugby through their families and own extra-curricular interests.

    How many other blokes like Bernie and George fell through the cracks..? As a result of being overlooked went to League, or might be more into paintballing, sailing or god-forbid playing Soccer..?

    Also, other threat is the oldest criticisms of the Australian Cricket team. That it’s harder to get out of than it is to get into, another culture the ARU should be wary of inadvertently developing.


    Eddie Jones should have been investigated by the Fraud Squad, before being tarred and feathered, loaded into a giant slingshot built between North and South Head, and fired off over the horizon. Seeing him in Springbok shirt had me wanting to douse it in lighter fluid while he was wearing it and set fire to his worthless carcass before making a car seat cover out of him for Kyle Sandilands’ worthless, sweaty fat arse to grace daily.

    Not that I minded him all that much (!?!)… I just hated the way he waved that in our faces.


    • Gumby

      So Coatsie; Tell us what you really think! Agree with you wholeheartedly about EJ. Didn’t worry me that he carried the oranges for Jake and the Boks. Kept him off the unemployment benefits.

      What got my goat was the damage he did to the Wallabies in the time he was coach and now they think he’s some sort of Guru up North. Let him stay there, hopefully he’ll get the England gig when Johnson gets punted and we can repay the favour for 2007 on them.

      As for broadening our base, well we should have been targeting the schools in the West of Sydney and after 2003 we had the perfect opportunity to put a dent in the ARL recruitment heartland. But we blew it of course and now we will have to do it the hard way by winning another RWC Final and showing these wonderkids just what a wide world full of opportunity Rugby can offer over League.

  • Robson

    Jones was the mesiah of misery for the WBs over the last decade and there is no doubt about that. But I think he stayed there because he was clever with smoke and mirrors.

    I remember desperately looking for something rugby in Launceston once and managed to get a lonely copy of an Oz rugby mag in a bookstore there. It was like gold to me.

    Jones had written an article for this mag which was the most intelligent article on rugby I had read for aeons. I thought he must be a rugby genius, but couldn’t figure out why the WBs were doing so badly with such a cerebrally inspired coach.

    • Gumby

      He probably had a ghost writer.

      • Coatsie

        Perhaps it was that monotone of his..?

        He had the right ideas but listening to him was like being coached by Elliot Goblet…


        • Robson

          Yeah, but not nearly as funny. And his ideas about the place of scrummaging in the scheme of things wasn’t too clever either.

  • Bubbly

    As with the current team, too many Queenslanders spoil the broth. Latham over Burke? You have got to be kidding. Cannon over Paul? Get real.

  • hey, did you pay for your blog theme? Mine is pretty plain

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