It’s taken two domestic seasons to do it, but through the unveiling of the squad to go to Europe this spring, together with a revolutionary new leadership team of Rocky Elsom and Berrick “sookface” Barnes, Robbie Deans has well and truly put his stamp on the Wallabies. However, if silly season press stories are to be believed, this has more than ruffled a few feathers in the Wallabies.
According to stories in the Australian and the Herald, Antipodeans didn’t exactly smooth the waters before announcing the new Captain and Vice-Captain: even long-term incumbent Stirling Mortlock found out along with the rest of the team. Together with his Japanese talks a few weeks back, it would seem to be sayonara Stirling at the end of this tour.
But if there’s one senior player from whom most alleged disgruntled noises have been coming from, it’s Matt Giteau. You’ve got to think he was one of the senior non-Waratahs who dug their heels in about not playing the trial at the SFS. Then it was Matt being unhappy at the thought of being moved outside Barnes to 12, followed by him not even getting a look in on the VC role. Giteau has been happy to use the press to ends before, as demonstrated by his open negotiations with the Western Force on the way back through France at the end of last year’s euro-tour. And so it’s easy to write him off as a precious mega-star.
However, Dingo has sent the guy a pretty clear message – “no matter how long you’ve been around, how much you’re paid, or how well you’ve done in Super 14, you’re currently a long way second fiddle to Berrick Barnes”. Even if you swallow the “they’re interchangeable” line, surely the guy who’ll be calling who interchanges when will be Buns as VC in the backline. That’s gotta sting, even make you re-evaluate your spot in the set-up.
There were a number of names with RWC 2011 question marks hanging over them – Baxter, Sharpe, Mortlock, Waugh – but at 27 and the highest paid man in Australian rugby, Gits wasn’t one of them. Following a less than average Tri-Nations, and with both Cooper and Beale in the squad, you get the feeling Robbie is looking for options.
Just where to for Kid Dynamite?