Make Mortlock Wallaby captain against Scotland
Stirling Mortlock in action. AAP Image/David Crosling
Wallaby coach Robbie Deans’ big headache with what to do with very talented teenage open-side flanker Liam Gill has been avoided until the end of the year.
Gill (18) will captain the Australian under 20 side to the IRB Junior Rugby World Cup in South Africa at exactly the same time as the Wallabies play a Test against Scotland and three against Wales – the entire home series this winter.
Deans is blessed with having three of the world’s best No 7s at his disposal, with incumbent David Pocock, Gill, and Michael Hooper.
But he has the chance to blood Hooper against Scotland at Newcastle on June 5, with the first Test against Wales only four days later at Suncorp where Pocock will be on duty.
In fact, the ARU must have had blooding new players in mind to agree to such a ridiculous itinerary, with two Tests so close together.
That being the case, why not select a whole lot of new faces, given the rare chance to improve the depth of Wallaby ranks?
Give the captaincy to the teak-tough and experienced old warrior Stirling Mortlock, and let’s see how the fringe Wallabies cope with the international atmosphere.
There’s a strong argument a coveted Wallaby jersey shouldn’t be handed out at random, rightfully reserving it for the best. But the best can’t play two Tests in four days, so the argument falls apart.
This team wouldn’t let the gold jersey down in any way:
15. Jesse Mogg (Brumbies) – an exciting custodian, never afraid to attack.
14. Dom Shipperley (Reds) – a try-scoring machine, often making something out of nothing.
13. Stirling Mortlock (Rebels – captain) – older, slower, but still a great competitor, ideal to lead this side.
12. Mike Harris (Reds) – safe hands, solid defender, and champion goal-kicker.
11. Joe Tomane (Brumbies) – centre or wing, woe betide anyone who gets in his way.
10. Ben Lucas (Reds) – with Quade Cooper and Sam Lane out of action, he’s filled the fly-half position with ease.
9. Nick Phipps (Rebels) – an integral cog in the improving Rebels machinery.
8 Fotu Auelua (Brumbies) – a 189cm, 115kgs, wrecking ball.
7. Michael Hooper (Brumbies) – all class across the park.
6. David Dennis (Waratahs) – a non-stop performer in an under-performing side.
5. Carderyn Neville (Rebels) – in only his third season of rugby after a rowing career, he has Wallaby written all over him.
4. Hugh Pyle (Rebels) – forming an impressive combination with Neville.
3. Dan Palmer (Brumbies) – technically gifted, and always ready to get on with it in general play.
2. Nathan Charles (Force) – one of the few Force reps who turns up to play every week.
1. Ruaidhri Murphy (Brumbies) – Dublin-born in his first Super season, he’s already proved he’s a strong scrummager.
Plenty of talent there: some raw, some proven.
But this is the perfect time to give them a chance of proving themselves against a Six Nations side and to assist Robbie Deans with his back-up squad.
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