Eales says Wallabies look good at lock
Former Wallabies captain John Eales believes Australia are well served at lock forward despite the pending retirement of Nathan Sharpe and injury to James Horwill.
Sharpe has postponed his exit from the game until after the Rugby Championship, but at this stage Horwill won’t return from his hamstring tear until next year.
That means second row spots are up for grabs for the end-of-season tour, with Queenslander Rob Simmons and NSW giant Sitaleki Timani in the box seat if they take their opportunities over coming Tests.
Simmons has gained plenty of experience at international level over the past two years, while Timani has been elevated to the starting team to take on Wales in Saturday night’s third and final Test in Sydney.
Eales also threw Melbourne Rebels lock Hugh Pyle into the mix, saying coach Robbie Deans has found a good balance for the delicate transition period.
“If you look at some of the young guys who are coming through, Hugh Pyle has been playing very well … Rob Simmons and Sitaleki, and James Horwill will come back from injury … so there really are a lot of players coming up in that position and I think we’re actually in really good shape,” said Eales, who believes Simmons will be a better player from his experiences at last year’s World Cup.
“You want players to always be better players in subsequent years and I think his form this year has been very very good.”
Eales also praised Sharpe for his contribution to the Wallabies: “Through a career that’s spanned as long as his career has, that at the end people are asking him to stay on longer, that’s a great tribute to him.”
Simmons, who is being rested on the bench this weekend, said he’s well aware of the opportunity available for a permanent starting position in the Wallabies pack.
And No.8 Wycliff Palu says Waratahs teammate Timani also has a great chance to push his long-term case against Wales.
“He’d be silly not to think that, there’s pretty much a spot up for grabs really and if he pushes his claim in this Test it’ll probably set him up for the future,” said Palu.© AAP 2013
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