Rugby Championship: Who is missing out?
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans celebrates the win with his players (Image: AAP)
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The inaugural Rugby Championship has been much more interesting than I assumed it would be. Many of my pre-conceptions were thrown out the window in the first week.
Yes, Argentina can hang with the big boys. In my opinion they have been more impressive than the first-placed All Blacks who, while still being dominant, have revelead they can be exposed.
The Wallabies have shown incredible character despite their numerous injuries to come up with some great victories.
But there are some deserving players who are missing out on the action for their respective countries.
N.b. I do not know enough about the Argentinean team to suggest my opinion on any possible changes
New Zealand: Tom Taylor
Some might say the man taking over the reins from Dan Carter at provincial level was the top-performing Crusader all season. That’s a big rap considering the quality on the Crusaders’ list, especially the aforementioned Carter.
The All Blacks have been forced to blood new cubs, with many of their older statesman retiring or taking off to other leagues around the world, but I think they should start to take a look a Taylor as well.
Their current centres, Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith, are both 30 years old and won’t be around forever. One of them should be moved aside sooner or later, or at least spend some time on the bench in order to help develop Taylor.
He has already shown how capable he is with the boot, and that he is comftable with fitting in with a team of stars, which he will be doing with the All Blacks for years to come.
Australia: Mike Harris
Despite showing that he can step up when it matters against Wales in June, Mike Harris has received no test action in the Rugby Championship.
Harris showed throughout the Super Rugby season that he is deadly with the boot, and can step up to replace a superstar who goes down, such as Quade Cooper, and keep his team relevant.
This makes it even more surprising that he was not selected. Kurtley Beale’s blunders early on in the championships certainly called for Harris to replace him in the no. 15 jersey.
It’s hard to believe that the Wallabies are still overlooking ‘Magic Mike’, as their desperation for a fullback has been confirmed by moving Berrick Barnes back. Certainly, the Wallabies should start trialling Harris a bit more.
South Africa: Joe Pietersen
If I was a South African selector, I would most certainly have the streaky Joe Pietersen in at fullback at no time. Zane Kirchner hasn’t been as impressive as in past years, and perhaps a change of position or a changing of the guard is in order.
Pietersen also plays wing, which is currently occupied by Francois Hougaard who is much more suited to playing the scrum-half position.
Pietersen was a standout for the Stormers this year, helping them achieve top position on the ladder and get one game away from the final.
Despite nearly toppling the All Blacks, the Boks haven’t looked all that crash hot, and tinkering with players’ positions may help South Africa beat Australia and New Zealand at home, and this starts with Joe Pietersen.
The Rugby Championship looks poised to be a great event on the calendar of world rugby for years to come, and this small taste of it has only got us looking to next August wondering what will be in store. The coming games will continue to enthrall us, and with these few changes can make for an even better 2012 Rugby Championship.
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