Wallabies must start Ioane at 13
Something isn’t working. That we can all agree on. For a long time the backs have been the Wallabies strength while the forwards have been lacking the required ‘oomph’ and ‘mongrel’ to take on the bigger packs in the world (which are more numerous than we’d like).
Yet, last weekend there was displayed an enormous difference in metres gained, not through the rucks and mauls, but through the middle of the field.
This would be less of an issue if we were able to follow suit.
The ability of the All Blacks to make easy metres is well documented, but our centre combination of Berrick Barnes and Rob Horne had no physical answers in attack to Ma’a Nonu and Sony Bill Williams.
I still think that Barnes at 12 has merit. I think he is defensively sound and is a good foil to Coopers unpredictability. Given time this could prove to be quite a solid combination.
It’s when we get to 13 that things start to get awry.
I’m not going to sit here and knock Horne. He is a very good player but I think if anything he is struggling with Pocock-itis – that is he has bulked up more than he needs to.
When he burst onto the Waratahs scene as a very young kid he was blistering in attack. His acceleration was phenomenal and his strength in the tackle was superb. Since then he has become a far bigger unit, subsequently his center of gravity and speed seems to have been seriously affected.
Perhaps he can learn to work with his frame better but at the moment he’s not busting tackles like he used to and this is something he must work on and people need to help him.
If you look at our best 13′s they have been instrumental to our success. Sterling Mortlock, Dan Herbert, Jason Little to name a few in the modern era. They were strong, fast and allowed the rest of the team to work off a good platform moving forward.
Mike Tindall did the same for England, Tana Umaga for New Zealand, Brian O’Driscoll for Ireland. Every good international team has a centre in this mold.
I remember when I was playing fantasy Super 14 (I think it was) and I had picked Digby Ioane as one of my outside backs, however that year he actually spent most of the time in outside centre for the Reds.
Every single week, almost without fail, he would pick up the most points because of his ridiculous metres gained. He set up the Reds attacking phases with his awesome speed and the ability to step without losing that speed. He saw the ball more and the team benefited.
The Wallabies need this right now more than ever. They need someone who is going to get past the advantage line so the likes of Quade Cooper and Kurtley Beale can do some damage with a broken field with forward runners throughout it. This is, I believe, playing to our strengths.
I know many people will say that Digby can’t or won’t pass the ball and maybe they’re right. But this doesn’t concern me. We have plenty of people who can pass and pass well. I want Digby to pin his ears back and do what he does best – run at full tilt, all the time. You know he will. If he is making yards like he always does I don’t care if he never passes the ball again.
Kiwis are regularly saying that the two people who would have a crack at making the All Black team are Will Genia and Ioane. Genia sees the ball plenty and Ioane needs to see it more. Let the people inside and outside of him do the pretty stuff.
We need a 13 who defences offset their positioning for. At the moment they are just waiting on their toes for the collision. And colliding successfully they are. Pick Digby Ioane at number 13.
Wallabes vs Wales - Scott Allen's match highlights -