The Australian squad to go to France was announced last night. While there weren’t too many howls about players left out, there aren’t many slaps on the back for any visionary selections either.
In the backs, Huxley (lucky idiot) and Berrick Barnes made it in.While Barnes hasn’t had a great year for the failing Reds and Beale is obviously the future, he does have a lot more top grade footy under the belt than Beale, who is not yet ready for the biggest stage. We can also be thankful they went for Barnes over Norton-Knight, who is a disaster at five-eighth. In the end, should (or when) Bernie Larkham gets injured, it’ll be Gits to 10 and Staniforth to 12, so the back up is really for second string cover.
One gamble I would have taken though is Lachlan Turner on the wing. He proved himself at S14 and should have been given a run out at least for the Wallabies. He has more pace and physicality than Mitchell.
The pack is relatively straight forward until you get to the front row. Dunning and Shepherdson are still not up to scratch in the scrum. Could Blake have got a look in here? There are also many calling for Polota-Nau in as third hooker over Hardman, which I would have to agree with.
As a back up loosie/lock, McMeniman is trading on performances before his last injury, as he’s made no real impact off the bench yet. With Palu and Lyons injured and out of form, we could see more of him and even Matt Cockbain (named as back-up at 34!) on a French paddock.
Finally, Beavis named as captain is a good move. He’s stepped up into the role this season and led from the front. Not giving it to Gregan also allows more flexibility with a Cordingly or Giteau switch.
Backs: Chris Latham, Julian Huxley, Lote Tuqiri, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Mark Gerrard, Drew Mitchell, Matt Giteau, Stirling Mortlock (capt), Scott Staniforth, Stephen Larkham, Berrick Barnes, George Gregan (vc), Sam Cordingley.
Forwards: David Lyons, Wycliff Palu, Stephen Hoiles, George Smith, Phil Waugh (vc), Hugh McMeniman, Rocky Elsom, Dan Vickerman, Nathan Sharpe, Mark Chisholm, Al Baxter, Greg Holmes, Matt Dunning, Guy Shepherdson, Adam Freier, Stephen Moore, Sean Hardman.
Shadow squad: Benn Robinson, Rodney Blake, James Horwill, Al Campbell, Josh Holmes, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Jone Tawake, Josh Valentine, Ryan Cross, Clinton Schifcofske and Sam Norton-Knight