Two Wallabies in Rugby World’s Best XV
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In the August edition of the world’s best selling rugby magazine, Rugby World, a current World XV has been named with two Australians gaining selection.
Will Genia the tremendously influential focal point of everything red and gold makes the grade at no. 9. This is no surprise, it is further confirmation of his standing in world rugby.
With such a disappointing World Cup and a poor first half of the 2012 Super XV season, question marks were surrounding Genia and rightly so.
It seems once he had settled his future with the Reds and got his mind in the right place, he has rediscovered his most influential form.
His first game against Wales this June was one for the ages and the fact that Mike Phillips was seen to be so inconsequential is testament to how much more valuable Genia really is.
Perhaps the Frenchmen Parra or Yachvili, or the Ulsterman Ruan Pienaar, might argue that their respective superior kicking games should consider them better players. The truth is Genia’s ability to keep defences guessing as to when a sniping run might cut them to shreads from phase play is too irresistible to ignore. Genia is as without peer as any other player named in the world XV.
There are no prizes for guessing the other Australian. It is of course the new captain David Pocock. His selection is further evidence that in most minds (with neutral agendas), there is a new king of the breakdown. It is no longer Richie McCaw.
For many this notion of a new king was first evident in 2010. It was consolidated at the 2011 World Cup Quarter Final and now it has been confirmed by the influence this modern no. seven has had over the best team in the Northern Hemisphere this June. In this series it seemed that every time the Wallabies desperately needed him, there was Pocock, asserting his defensive dominance by either driving ball carriers back or by making covering tackles. In both instances he has the amazing ability to also rise to his feet in the one motion in order to slow the phase play down, gain a penalty or pilfer the ball.
Pocock is not as far without peer as Genia but he is the best of the best Test opensides, most of whom are rival captains of the best Test sides in the world.
But what does having the world’s best no. seven and no nine really mean?
In the modern game, with so many breakdowns and so few set pieces in comparison, the man that has the most ruck involvements and the most influence in turn overs and or slowing down opposition phase ball is arguably the most important individual player in the pack. Pocock is this man for Australia and frankly his deeds have been carrying the Australian pack for the best part of two or three years.
In this time the Australian pack has been as ever inadequate at scrum time and average at the lineout, yet it is still accredited as being the forward pack of the no. two ranked side in the world. All because of what has been taking place at the breakdown, led by Pocock.
As mentioned, with so much phase play in the modern game the person that is involved in the most breakdowns is so vitally important. The man that handles all this ball from the base of these breakdowns is arguably now the most important player in the back-line.
Whether the no. seven can secure or slow down opposition ball at a disproportionate amount to his individual standing, and whether the no. nine can create chances from all this recycled ball now in the game is key to success in modern rugby.
With improvements in some other facets of play the Wallabies should go close to winning this year’s rugby championship. A bold prediction I know but one that is based on a hope that our two most influential players, Pocock and Genia stay fit.
On an Australian website I do not see the need to critique each of the other 13 named players, only to say this. With four All Blacks, three Welshman, three South Africans (two current players and one retired), two Scots and one Irishman, it sounds about right to me, although I might have had Dagg at 14 and a fit Beale at fullback.
Roarers, what do you think?
1. Tony Woodcock (New Zealand and Blues)
2. Bismarck Du Plessis (South Africa and Sharks)
3. Euan Murray (Scotland and Newcastle)
4. Bakkies Botha (Toulon)
5. Richie Gray (Scotland and Glasgow: Sale in 2012-13)
6. Dan Lydiate (Wales and Dragons)
7. David Pocock (Australia and Western Force)
8. Kieran Read (New Zealand and Crusaders)
9. Will Genia (Australia and Queensland Reds)
10. Dan Carter (New Zealand and Crusaders)
11. George North (Wales and Scarlets)
12. Jamie Roberts (Wales and Cardiff)
13. Conrad Smith (New Zealand and Hurricanes)
14. JP Pieterson (South Africa and Sharks)
15. Rob Kearney (Ireland and Leinster)
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