Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The Wallabies’ Achilles Heel

With the regular season drawing to a close, it’s that time of year when coaches pick their train-on squads and scribes pick their prefered national teams. The selection of this year’s Wallabies should be relatively straightforward with most positions having one or two obvious stand-outs. 

With the likes of Quade Cooper, Genia, Beale, and O’Connor,  the Wallabies will field one of the most exciting backlines in the world.

Australia also have two of international rugby's best hookers in Moore and Polota-Nau, and the team should hold its own in the second row and loose forwards.

However, for over a decade one position has been Australia’s achilles heel: the tighthead prop. 

This blogger recalls that a pressing need to develop Australia’s front row stocks was elucidated by Eddie Jones as far back as 2003, yet here we are two World Cups later still having failed to produce a single world class tighthead. With such a small player base in Australian rugby, perhaps this should not be overly surprising. But there are enough kids of suitable body size in Australia to suggest that either the ARU’s talent scouts or the development pathway have failed.

After the fly-half, the tighthead prop is the next most important player in the team, for he is the anchorman.

It doesn’t matter how good the backline is, if the scrum can't hold its own, the team will concede penalties and the backs will receive poor ball.

The Wallabies have several good looseheads, but although shuffling props from one side of the scrum to the other is often adequate at provincial level, it is questionable whether a makeshift tighthead would be able to stand up to the working over expected from the All Blacks, Springboks, or England.

Suggested Wallaby team:

1 Robinson
2 Polota-Nau 
Kepu or Daley
4 Horwill
5 Sharpe
6 Elsom
7 Pocock
8 Samo 
9 Genia
10 Cooper
11 Ioane
12 Giteau
13 Fainga'a
14 O’Connor
15 Beale 

1 comment:

  1. After the Wallaby loss to Samoa, you look like a prophet.