CAMPO: Will Deans change the style of the Wallabies play?
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Wallaby Kurtley Beale speaks with teammate James O'Connor and coach Robbie Deans.
It was pretty clear last year that the style of rugby Robbie Deans had the Wallabies playing didn’t work. So the big question is: will he be changing it in 2012?
Can Deans please let us know what style we’ll be playing? It’s not clear to Wallabies fans, but it needs to be known.
Looking at the players that Deans will have available, there is every reason to believe that he should take the team down a more attacking route, especially if the mercurial Kurtley Beale is selected at 10.
However, given his track record, this is probably wishful thinking.
Instead, Deans may use the first few Tests of the season to play safe and get his post-Quade combinations in place. And it’s fair to say that the cupboard in some positions is looking a little bare.
Looking at the backs, obviously Genia will be the halfback, even though he had a reasonably slow start to the Super Rugby season. He seems be to be hitting form at the right time.
But a few players are hot on his heels.
Outside of Genia, Deans may look at both O’Connor and Cooper. But really, why rush Quade when you have Beale more than capable of playing 10? He’s a great player.
But will Deans pick a player who can make anything happen?
And, as I’ve said a few times before, O’Connor is not a ten. He should never be picked there. He is a winger or a fullback. He needs room to operate in, rather than have to create space for those around him.
He can’t kick under pressure and he looks for work. Maybe we can see brand O’Connor at full-flight this season.
In the centres, Pat McCabe is not the answer. He cannot pass the ball. But then again, that may well suit the style of rugby that Deans want to play. Bash and crash, with very little flair and skill.
Deans needs to understand that Australian rugby is not All Black rugby. He has lost three years trying to play defensive rugby. Maybe he had no idea about the way we play.
If that’s the case, then he could well go with McCabe.
What we really need is a 13 who can create some space for Digby, who is a dynamic runner of the ball and he needs to get it more often.
That would shift Adam Ashley Cooper back to fullback, which is his best position.
If Drew Mitchell was fit and healthy, he’d be a certainty on the other wing. In his absence, there aren’t many decent alternatives.
Perhaps Rob Horne will get a go at 12, even though he is also not a creator. And of course, Mortlock is also back in the mix.
Barnes is the other option. He will fit in nicely, and he had a strong adviser in the great Tim Horan.
But it hardly looks like a backline that will worry the All Blacks or the Springboks, both of whom seem to be bursting with talent and depth.
I do think, though, that there are some good Australian forwards going around: Moore, Robinson, Hardy, and Slipper, who still has a way to go.
Higginbottom is playing well. He is a very good player. And Pocock’s one of the best.
The Wallabies could be competitive up front and lay a solid platform for the backs, which we have lacked over the years.
But I hope it’s not going to be a defensive game plan from Deans, like our Rugby World Cup campaign last year.
What a mess.
The other problem the team faces is the lack of depth. We really want players to put pressure on players for their position in the squad. At the moment, that’s just not the case.
And the Wallabies need to play as a team.
Last season, there were too many individuals and not enough unity. I’ve heard rumblings within the team that some of the players aren’t happy with Deans’ approach.
Deans has two years to go as Wallabies coach. Can he see the light and play our style of rugby?
The first Test of the season will be most interesting to watch and hopefully we can find the next star of Australian rugby.