RATHBONE: Wallabies loss due to more than just Scotland
The Wallabies were brought back down to earth by Scotland (AAP Image/Paul Miller)
I made the point last week that the 2009 loss to Scotland was an anomaly. So imagine my surprise when yet another perfect storm of events conspired against the Wallabies on Tuesday.
A compressed preparation combined with players backing up after putting their bodies through the grinder only days earlier and truly abysmal weather were all stacked against the Wallabies.
So, while it’s fair to point out that we should have overcome these difficulties and found a way to produce a victory, let’s not ignore all the factors at play.
Most fans seem ever ready to slam the team and to a greater degree Robbie Deans and his staff. But as Phil Kerns rightly pointed out, the scheduling of Tuesday’s match by the ARU was at best reckless.
We have players who after Saturday will have played three matches in the space of seven days. In isolation this is barely tolerable but when considered in the context of a season 14 rounds deep it’s complete lunacy.
One can only hope that the Rugby Union Players Association moves to ensure future test scheduling better respects the players and the Wallabies Jersey.
Turning our attention to the Welsh it’s clear that Robbie Deans and his selectors have reverted to what they believe is their best line-up. Injuries to Superstars JOC, Beale and QC again underline our lack of depth in key positions.
These players are game breakers in the sense that they can turn a match single handedly. Having all three on the sidelines has significantly blunted our attacking potential.
But the side picked for Saturday is certainly capable of winning. After Tuesday there will be no lack of motivation and in some instances players will recognise that they are playing for their test futures.
The powers that be should be applauded for bringing a genuine tour to our shores. A test series of 3 matches should be encouraged because it captures the attention of rugby fans in a way that one off matches never do.
The Welsh are here on a mission. They arrived early ensuring that they will be physically prepared, they are the reigning 6 Nations champions and they will fancy their chances of achieving a historic series win in Australia.
The series also serves as a significant prelude to the 2013 Lions tour. The Welsh players have an opportunity to stick ‘gold stars’ alongside their names with strong performances in Australia.
One thing Australian rugby needs to do is begin fostering combinations. The All Blacks World Cup victory was founded upon a settled side and solid combinations, something our campaign was sorely lacking.
Our best 10, centre combination and one wing spot are all undecided. Injuries have meant that by the conclusion of the Welsh tour we will have moved few steps closer to solidifying our long term combinations.
Assuming the return of the aforementioned players here is what I believe comprises our best back-line:
The last wing spot is wide open, if Drew Mitchell returns fully fit he’s proven at test level and a good option. The other options exist in the newcomers to the Wallabies. Joe Tomane & Dom Shipperley both impressed during Super Rugby and both posses the genuine speed Robbie Deans favours.
All told these are just some of the very important and difficult selection questions that our selectors must answer over the next few months.
Former Wallaby Clyde Rathbone has returned to Super Rugby with the ACT Brumbies, following an injury-forced retirement from all forms in 2009. He writes guest columns for The Roar, and will blog his journey back to professional rugby in 2013.
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