Genia and Cooper must dominate for Wallabies to win
Wallabies player Quade Cooper. AAP Image/Dave Hunt
It’s time for those two Redmen Will Genia and Quade Cooper to fire up the Wallaby backline tonight against the Boks in Perth.
Both were pedestrian in the two abysmal losses against the All Blacks.
Wallaby backlines over the years have been renowned for flair and excitement, and it all starts with 9 and 10.
We all know how brilliant Genia and Cooper can be.
Tonight’s the night for a renaissance to run those big Bok forwards off their feet and score wide out through two more Redmen – wingers Digby Ioane and Dom Shipperley, who is on debut.
Throw a Rebel in the mix with fullback Kurtley Beale chiming in, and there’s a quality quintet that can restore a lot of lost Wallaby pride and character.
That’s a lot of ‘ifs’, but not too much to ask to do justice to the gold jersey.
All that reads well, but not worth a stamp, nor even possible, if the eight men up-front don’t do their job.
Quick controlled ball is obviously a must, and it’s here the Wallaby pack have been just as pedestrian as the backs.
Hopefully the promotion of number eight Radike Samo will fire up the forwards.
Officially he’s 36, but the fabulous Fijian is somewhere between 34 and 40, playing like a 21-year-old.
Samo is an energiser. He doesn’t play rugby for the money, he just genuinely loves running around like a big kid with ball in hand.
Original first choice eight Scott Higginbotham, so strong during Super Rugby, has been a bitter disappointment in gold and rightfully relegated to the bench.
Unlike Samo, Higginbotham has been swanning out wide, dropping passes, and generally messing up any potential moves.
Samo will roll up his sleeves and get stuck in. The only concern is how long can he last, which will hopefully be into the second half.
So there are the six key Wallabies to beat the Boks tonight – Genia, Cooper, Ioane, Shipperley, Beale, and Samo.
Then there’s a seventh in Tatafu Polota-Nau feeding the lineouts.
It is beyond comprehension how many times he misses his jumpers, sending the Wallabies immediately into defence mode on their ball.
I don’t give a continental who feeds the lineouts so long as he has ball sense. If Beale, Ioane, Michael Hooper, or Ben Alexander, just to name four alternatives, are the most accurate let them do the job.
It’s vital to Australia’s chances.
There’s nothing in the rule book that says it must be the hooker. In the 40s and 50s when I first started watching and playing rugby, it was always the winger feeding on his side of the field, so there’s a precedent.
In the washup, all we ask of the Wallabies tonight is to get the simple and elementary skills right.
Do that and we’ll get our money’s worth.
Don’t, and some careers will come to a shuddering halt.
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