A Wallabies’ forward pack to dominate the Taffies
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Waratahs' Dave Dennis, center, tries to sidestep Lions' Wandile Mjekevu. AP Photo/Rob Griffith
Following yesterday’s article setting out my backline for the upcoming Welsh series, here is my forward pack and bench. It follows the same principles as those for the backs but has been a much easier task.
The pack has to be greater than the sum of its parts from the first moment of the first game. The quickest way to achieve this is by selecting existing combinations. It also keeps things simple, something that Robbie Deans appears to have struggled with.
I have predominantly selected the Waratahs pack because it has outperformed all comers in Super Rugby for several seasons. I would also borrow Michael Foley as forwards advisor if I was Robbie Deans.
Benn Robinson, Sekope Kepu, Dave Dennis, Kane Douglas and to a less extent, Tatafu Polota-Nau have been the core of the Tahs pack. The out of favour Mumm must also be given credit for his undercover contribution.
Achieving set piece dominance for the first 55-60 minutes provides the platform for the backs to score tries and effectively put the game away in the third quarter.
Moore has been outstanding around the park for the Brumbies this year is clearly in better form and more durable than Tatafu Polota-Nau. Moore can expect 35 minutes off the bench and as the international season progresses, I expect him to start games with no loss of pack cohesion and dominance.
The other crucial area is the breakdown. Pocock, Tatafu Polota-Nau/Moore, Dennis, Higginbotham and Hooper (in the last 15 minutes) will pilfer enough Taffy ball to further tilt the game to Australia.
With the logic clear, the players select themselves. Those who aren’t members of the ‘Tahs pack are in outstanding individual form. They are:
Loose Head: Robinson
Hooker: Polota Nau
Locks: Simmons and Douglas
Blind Side flanker: Dennis
Open side flanker: Pocock
Number 8: Higginbotham
The expectation of the bench is that Moore and Alexander, imbued with Jake White’s “secret formula for rugby success” will add further drive and mobility around the field in the second half to an already mobile front row.
Sharpe is in better form and more productive than Pyle. However, “lock stocks” are thin. The 39 man squad has Douglas, Neville, Pyle, Simmons, Sharpe and Timani. Horwill will be missed.
Off the bench, Pyle is an investment in the future in an area that does not have enough depth.
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