CAMPO: Barnes was the right choice ahead of Cooper
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Australia rugby union coach Robbie Deans speaks with players Berrick Barnes and Nick Phipps. (AAP Image/Paul Miller)
I’m all for the Wallabies playing attacking, positive rugby. But by the looks of the squad Robbie Deans has picked for Saturday’s Test, they’ll be doing a lot of kicking.
This is especially reflected in the selection of Barnes ahead of the more dynamic but unpredictable Quade Cooper.
Cooper is a great player, but Barnes is the in-form option right now.
His kicking game is solid, and will suit the tactics the Wallabies will probably adopt of trying to tire out the All Blacks, and Richie McCaw in particular, as he, along with several of his senior team-mates, are getting noticeably slower around the field.
Unfortunately, much of the Wallabies attack will break down with Anthony Fainga’a in midfield, as he’s not known to pass the ball.
Instead, the Wallabies will probably keep the ball in tight, and won’t run it much out wide, which is a shame because Digby Ioane is probably their greatest attacking weapon.
The real mystery for me is how 9 Waratahs players made the squad, despite having a terrible Super Rugby season. It shows that we still lack depth in our rugby teams.
They weren’t good enough to get their Super team across the line, but somehow they’re now good enough to represent their country?
Anyway, to win, the Wallabies have just got to go out there and play their own game.
The All Blacks are a very different side from that which won the Rugby World Cup. And there’s now a lot more pressure on them, whereas, the Wallabies have got nothing to lose.
They just can’t afford to turn the ball over against the All Blacks. With great players like Carter, McCaw and co, you can’t afford to make too many mistakes.
So the selection of Barnes is a wise one.
He’s more consistent and a better tactical kicker and defensive player than Cooper, especially under pressure. Also, with Beale back and Ioane, we have two great finishes in the game.
But will they get the ball?
The addition of Rob Horne suggests that the Wallabies will put a lot of emphasis on their defence.
But I hope they remember that they still have to score tries. Our defence is good but our attack must be better so we can keep the All Blacks on their toes at all times.
In big matches, the All Blacks always turn up, so let’s hope that the Wallabies, with the extra rest, will show us what Deans has been doing with the team and we get to play the way we know they can play.
After the defensive RWC, entertaining rugby is what the fans want to see. It’ll be a truly fascinating match.
Incidentally, after last week’s article, a few replies were about why I say a lot about coaching in Australia. The reason I am now in South Africa is that I was not allow to coach in Australia!
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