The fly-half in rugby, like the quarterback in American football, is the most important player in the team, and from the moment Berrick Barnes was ruled out of this weekend’s contest, the odds of a Tahs’ victory lengthened considerably. And so it played out, with Halangahu having a forgettable game before being hooked from the field in the second half.
The Tahs' chances took a further nosedive when Polota-Nau hobbled off, with the scrum resembling a pack of cards thereafter. If the Tahs' are Australia’s best forward pack, there is little to support Robbie Deans’ claim that “the final piece of the Wallabies jig-saw puzzle – the scrum -- has fallen into place”.
As Williams and Fruean carved up the Tahs’ midfield I was reminded that Greg Martin had brazenly predicted that Sonny Bill would be a failure in rugby union. Another player on the park, Brad Thorn, long ago confounded another opinion spruiked by Australian union scribes, that league forwards would not adapt to the 15-a-side game.
When Matt Rogers retired he was reported to have said, “I was never made to feel as welcome in union as I was in league”. Despite many of our best union players having league backgrounds, there is still a prejudice against league converts by some sections of the Australian rugby community.