Who makes the cut in Wallabies backline?
101 Have your say
Injuries to Wallaby stars’ Quade Cooper, Kurtley Beale and James O’Connor has given Australian selectors a chance to experiment and trial new combinations ahead of the inaugural Rugby Championship.
Players like Berrick Barnes, Pat McCabe and Rob Horne have been handed greater responsibility against the Welsh with promising results.
McCabe and Horne have been thrust into a like-for-like centre pairing; both defensive, tackling machines with less flair than their backline counterparts.
Barnes on the other hand, has been able to orchestrate the backline magnificently during the Welsh series. Pinpoint passing mixed with the occasional ball carrying burst has enabled the Wallabies to continue producing attacking flair in the absence of their superstars.
Barnes’s kicking game has also been exceptional, making him a constant threat in attack.
The question remains, with a clean bill of health to choose from, what is the Wallabies best starting backline?
Halfback Will Genia is a certainty, although reserve Nick Phipps is proving a worthy understudy.
The fly half position is more contentious with Cooper, Barnes, Beale and O’Connor all more than capable of partnering Genia.
Based on current form Barnes deserves first crack given his strong performances against the Welsh. Cooper perhaps second in line, coming off the bench in the second half of matches to terrorize tiring opposition defences.
The centre combination does not need to be tinkered with just yet. McCabe and Horne have been impressive so far and deserve more time in the 12 and 13 respectively.
It is a toss between Beale and Adam Ashley-Cooper for the fullback spot. Ashley-Cooper has been faultless so far in the Welsh series but his versatility warrants him a valuable asset on the bench. Ready to fill-in where he is needed, whether it is wing, centre or fullback.
Plenty of wingers to pick from but Digby Ioane and O’Connor get the nod here.
The selection analysis suggests backline depth is promising in Australian rugby and the debate will generate excitement ahead of an exhilarating Bledisloe series and the inaugural Rugby Championship featuring Argentina.
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