The Wallaby team to take on England this weekend was named today, and what flutter of excitement it’s caused. There might only be one new starter and a few positional swaps in it, but what a change it signals.
From the makeshift security of The Earl (AAC) and Ryan Cross being part of another predictable loss last weekend, we now have the excitement machine; a centre pairing of Mr BBQ footy – Quade Cooper at 12, and the hardest runner in the Super 14 of 2009 – Digby Ioane at 13.
Just when you start to think Robbies selection are made by a robot, he does this. Can anyone remember a more instinctive combination in the Wallabies? I believe that this, dare I say it, could shade Horan & Little for it’s potential to wreak havoc – hopefully just in attack though. A nice curve ball indeed.
To make way for this, The Earl moves to fullback and Shmoo slots in on the wing. So not only does this create a new attacking axis for the Wallabies, but it also shores up the back three. The only other change is George Smith starting in his 107th test, which surely fields Australia’s most competitive back row.
So what does this mean for this weekend?
The pommy press has dismissed this Wallaby side as nothing more than a work in progress, Tri-Nations whipping boy for whom the potential of winning a Grand Slam is nothing short of fantasy. I’ll readily admit that the questions over the Wallaby line-out and locking combination remain a real threat. However, through their second row selections, England seem to be looking for bulk in the scrum and lineout rather than jumping prowess, and in those two areas Australia has made great strides.
What the pommy press has conveniently overlooked, while at the same time bleating about injuries, is that while this thrown together England team has few tested combinations, this Wallaby team has spent the last 3 months training together in between testing themselves against the best two teams in the world.
I believe we could well see the benefit of this learning curve start to pay off this Saturday, with a change from staring down the Boks and the Blacks acting as the the confidence tonic this side needs. As usual, the opposite is just not worth thinking about.
Gagger says: Wallabies by 10
15. Adam Ashley-Cooper (Brumbies)
14. Peter Hynes (Queensland Reds)
13. Digby Ioane (Queensland Reds)
12. Quade Cooper (Queensland Reds)
11. Drew Mitchell (NSW Waratahs)
10. Matt Giteau (Brumbies)
9. Will Genia (Queensland Reds)
8. Wycliff Palu (NSW Waratahs)
7. George Smith (Brumbies)
6. Rocky Elsom (Brumbies, captain)
5. Mark Chisholm (Brumbies)
4. James Horwill (Queensland Reds)
3. Ben Alexander (Brumbies)
2. Stephen Moore (Brumbies)
1. Benn Robinson (NSW Waratahs)
Run on reserves:
16. Tatafu Polota Nau (NSW Waratahs)
17. Matt Dunning (Western Force)
18. Dean Mumm (NSW Waratahs)
19. David Pocock (Western Force)
20. Luke Burgess (NSW Waratahs)
21. Ryan Cross (Western Force)
22. James O’Connor (Western Force)