Is it really the Wallabies playing Scotland?
Wallabies halfback Will Genia kicks the ball. AAP Image/Dave Hunt
As someone who dreamed of playing for the Wallabies, I imagine that the first time you get handed your jumper would be an amazing moment.
You have toiled away, trained and played hard, and have finally been recognised for your efforts. You are one of the best in the country, one of the elite.
This is how it should be. But it is not.
The ARU scheduled a Wallabies test for Tuesday, and then another test for the immediate Saturday following that game. How can you have a competitive team playing Test match rugby with a three day turnaround? You can’t.
So what is going to be put out for the first two tests of the year is two distinctly different teams, both of which are representing the Wallabies. This frustrates me.
It is clear that the team picked to play Scotland is going to be more of an ‘Australia A’ (albeit not as much now due to injuries), even though they will not be recognised as this.
Could you imagine 10 or 20 years ago, Cadeyrn Neville getting a run in a Wallabies jersey after three Super Rugby games? All the best to him, I think he is a good player with a bright future, but he should not be thrust into that type of arena yet.
If the Scotland game was a week before the Welsh test, he probably would not be.
On the other side of the coin, I would be happy for him to play for ‘Australia A’. The same goes for Dave Dennis, Jesse Mogg, Bernard Foley etc…
But these guys playing for the Wallabies? Not yet.
I know the schedule is crammed, and the ARU needs to fill up the coffers, but this to me just seems to cheapen the Wallaby Jersey.
If there is not enough time for the tests (much of the team will be playing 3-4 days before in the final Super Rugby round before the break), please don’t cram them in. Fans want to see strong, competitive Wallabies sides.
We realistically should rack up a big score playing against Scotland on a (hopefully) dry track in Newcastle. But because of the team likely to be put out and the lack of preparation time, I’m not so sure.
Why not put out an ‘Australia A’ side against Scotland on the Tuesday? As it is not called the Wallabies, Quade would not be expected to play, and players like Neville and Mogg would be playing without as much pressure, pushing for a spot in the Wallabies, as opposed to being thrust into the Wallabies prematurely.
Some might say that an Australia A side would not be appealing to fans in Newcastle. I wouldn’t be one of them.
I would happily go and watch Australia A play against Scotland. I believe that they could be a more entertaining side, free to throw the ball around and push for a spot in the Wallabies. And they would be more than competitive against Scotland.
This would leave the more established Wallabies with a week to prepare for the first Wales test. And who knows, a bolter may emerge from Australia A and play his way into that Wallabies side.
I hope that this type of scheduling does not become a common occurrence in future Test series, as it is robbing fans of what they expect when they watch the Wallabies play.
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