The missing ingredient: a Wallabies captain
Given the form of the Australian Super 14 sides and increased depth, many on this site agree that the Wallabies are shaping up well for a good season this year and have rightly been installed as second favourite for next year’s Rugby World Cup by bookmakers.
Last year Rocky Elsom was awarded the Wallabies captaincy by coach Deans with Berrick Barnes his deputy. The form and leadership performances of both these players during the Super 14 has been sub-optimal and this raises the question of whether they will make the Wallabies run on side – let alone lead the team.
All World Cup winning rugby sides have had smart, inspirational leaders who knew when to step in and take charge. Throw in the difference good leadership made to other outstanding sides where they had the skills to direct the group at key moments or direct a change in tactics when required and it is apparent that at the top level good leadership can make the difference on the day.
As a rule captains are the first players picked and should demand a starting place on form in most teams (Smit aside for SA because he is such a good captain). Deans recently stated that ‘everything is up for grabs’ during this new Wallabies season so let’s quickly assess the Wallaby captaincy options:
Rocky Elsom has been in poor form and appears lost in the Brumbies leadership structure. On his day a very good player but does not impress as the best long term option as he is not guaranteed a place in the team and he did not ‘grab’ the job by the throat last year. Deans can be conservative so will probably give him the first shot.
Berrick Barnes, like Elsom, has been in poor form and not a guaranteed starter. Has a mature head and tactical nous but has not shown me any outstanding leadership potential. No certainty.
Nathan Sharpe will start on form and has been leading the Force quiet well in difficult circumstances this year. Too old to be considered a captain at Wallaby level. Nope.
Phil Waugh is not a certain starter and getting long in the tooth. His is a virtual dictatorship at the ‘Tahs but is often tactically inept and is the driving force behind the ‘Tahs’ one dimensional play over the last few years. No thanks.
Will Genia‘s fine form this year and long-term starting spot with the Wallabies is guaranteed. Has developed his quiet leadership style this year at the Reds but perhaps a little too early for him to lead the country. However he has good long-term potential and perhaps VC would help that. Yes, please.
David Pocock will start with the Wallabies whenever fit and like Genia is young and energetic. Very mature for his age, instructed by his families background, and has philanthropic off-field pursuits in SA. Exudes leadership potential but we haven’t really seen him in a leadership position. Shaping as the best long-term option, potentially. Give him a crack.
The only other candidates I can come up with are Robinson and Horwill. My best option is Pocock leading with Genia as vice captain.
Over to you Roarers – who should Deans choose to lead the Wallabies to a new era of success and hopefully a World Cup victory next year?
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