Let’s get the Wallabies motivated
The New Zealand All Black's Cory Jane (l) competes for the ball with Will Genia of Australian Wallabies during the Bledisloe Cup rugby union test match (AAP Image/Paul Miller)
There’s still no James O’Connor, but this is more like a Wallaby squad. Pat McCabe’s back in the mix after a foot injury, so too Ben Tapuai, with Caderyn Neville, Dom Shipperley, and Nick Cummins welcome additions to the 31-strong squad to meet the Boks in Perth next Saturday.
The 22 will be named on Tuesday.
O’Connor may yet front in the Rugby Championship, but it won’t be until the last two games in South Africa and Argentina – the hell trip of the tournament.
After two dismal internationals against the All Blacks, the Wallabies are looking at the 21 names on the injured list, longing for some of them to be available for selection.
It might be a game too early for McCabe against the Boks, but he should be in the starting lineup the following Saturday against the Pumas at Skilled Park.
The Wallabies desperately need his straight running and devastating defence in the midfield.
Tapuai will be well-short on match fitness, but beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to available talent. He will play club rugby this weekend as will Neville, Radike Samo, Saia Fainga’a, Mike Harris, and Rob Simmons.
Prop James Slipper is also in the squad.
Last night he won the coveted Pilecki Medal for the most outstanding Queensland Red of the season with a record score of 272 points awarded by his peers.
The previous record was 263 when Will Genia won last year.
It was Slipper and daylight with Scott Higginbotham second in the voting with 226, Liam Gill on 202, and Jake Schatz’s 168.
Which begs the question: why isn’t Slipper an automatic frontline selection instead of a benchman? Peers are the best judges of rugby talent.
The same could be said for Neville, Shipperley, and Cummins. All three must make their Wallaby debuts sooner than later despite what Wallaby centre legend Tim Horan believes.
On “The Rugby Show” during the week, Horan said Test rugby was a lot harder than Super Rugby and therefore the national selectors had to be careful picking debutants.
That negative attitude from a former positive playing centre is one of the major problems with Australian rugby at the moment. No one will ever know if a fringe Wallaby contender would ever make the big time if he isn’t given a crack at it.
Neville is the perfect case in point.
At 23 standing 202cm and tipping the scales at 120kgs with great hands, he’s also blessed with astonishing speed for such a big unit.
Nathan Sharpe, Kane Douglas, and Rob Simmons can’t match him.
Pairing Neville with lock Sitaleki Timani (203cm and 120kgs) would give the Wallabies some long overdue physical clout in the engine room, lineout, and general play.
Shipperley (21) and Cummins (24) are two backs who know where the white line is.
Winger Shipperley has had the easier road of the two at the end of a quality Reds backline, but he makes the most of every opportunity.
Cummins has fired at centre or wing in a very ordinary Force backline, and would relish the chance in gold company to show his undoubted wares.
So the suggested lineup to meet the Boks with Quade Cooper and Scott Higginbotham on shape up or ship out notice, and Pat McCabe at inside centre against the Pumas:
(1) Benn Robinson.
(2) Stephen Moore.
(3) James Slipper.
(4) Sitaleki Timani.
(5) Caderyn Neville.
(6) Liam Gill.
(7) Michael Hooper.
(8) Scott Higginbotham.
(9) Will Genia.
(10) Quade Cooper.
(11) Digby Ioane.
(12) Berrick Barnes.
(13) Nick Cummins.
(14) Dom Shipperley.
(15) Adam Ashley-Cooper.
(16) Ben Alexander.
(17) Tatafu Polota-Nau.
(18) Nathan Sharpe.
(19) Radike Samo.
(20) Nick Phipps.
(21) Ben Tapuai.
(22) Kurtley Beale.
So no Drew Mitchell (injured), Rob Horne, Anthony Fainga’a, Saia Fainga’a, or David Dennis from Eden Park.
Let’s get this Wallaby train to leave the station and become motivated.
Wallabes vs Wales - Scott Allen's match highlights -