Who will be the Wallabies’ centres?
110 Have your say
Australia's Berrick Barnes (C) attacks the The United States defense (EPA/KIM LUDBROOK)
So far this season, the Australian Super Rugby backlines have been somewhat mediocre. With that in mind, who will be the Wallabies’ centre pairing when the side is selected?
One of the main reasons the Wallabies were not able to win the World Cup, and have not been able to win back the Bledisloe for over a decade is due to their lack of a solid centre combination.
For years we have seen the likes of Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith for the All Blacks. Nonu has always found it easy to get over the gain line and Smith has had arguably the best defensive organisation in the world.
Now with Sonny Bill-Williams in the equation, the All Blacks have even further depth in the centre role.
South Africa have always been known for their size and speed in the centres, with guys like Jacque Fourie and Jean de Villiers giving the Springbok attack not only threats to beat you on the outside, but also the ability to run over the top of you.
What about the Wallabies? Robbie Deans has attempted to provide that needed grunt in the centres with the inclusion of Pat McCabe, with his hard and straight running lines. However, McCabe has been reasonably quiet this season.
James O’Connor is best suited at inside centre, where he can play the role of both a play maker and a ball runner. But his injury means that someone else must step up.
Rob Horne, Berrick Barnes and all the other Waratahs inside backs have been the most disappointing this season, due to the team’s poor form.
But I believe that Adam Ashley-Cooper is still a likely candidate for the outside centre position, as although he hasn’t been in the best form in Super Rugby, he has the uncanny ability to step up, and produce outstanding performances at test match level.
So for me, he would be my pick for outside.
However Anthony Fainga’a must also be considered, as his thundering defence was one of the key factors for the Reds resurgence this season.
Although he still needs work in attack, I would have him on the bench as an impact player to provide some physicality in defence when needed.
As for inside centre, the number of players available for this position is a very worrying sign.
Berrick Barnes has not played to his full potential this season, and is much better at number ten than inside.
Pat McCabe is the likely choice for coach Robbie Deans however another option for the Wallabies is Mike Harris.
Although born in New Zealand, Mike Harris has an Australian born Grandmother and is therefore eligible to play for Australia.
With James O’Connor out, and Pat McCabe being out of form, I believe it would be a good opportunity to give Harris a go, and see what he is capable of in test match rugby.
His solid kicking game, steady defence and good decision making in attack ensures that he could be able to play test match rugby, and play it well.
The centre combination is of the utmost importance for the Wallabies at the moment, as the upcoming matches against Wales could prove decisive in this area.
The Welsh centre pairing of Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies were one of the standouts during the World Cup, and their combination was one of their greatest weapons during the Six Nations victory.