Will the Wallabies shape up for spring?
Wallabies player Radike Samo drops the ball on the tryline during the Rugby Union International between Australia and Argentina at Skilled Park on the Gold Coast (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
The most eagerly awaited news coming out of the Wallabies’ camp in a few weeks time will not be the inclusion or non-inclusion of Quade Cooper but the availability of first rank players for the spring tour to Europe.
The prospect of a pickup team meeting the Pumas next week is a nightmare for Robbie Deans, but how much does the picture improve for the European venture?
At this point, it’s impossible to know who’ll be healthy for the first of the fixtures, against France on November 10, or any of the subsequent games – England on the 17th, Italy seven days later, and a revenge-minded Wales a week after that.
Four tough internationals on their opponents’ turf inside of a month is an extremely tough ask. The question is, will the squad be injury-free, rested and raring to go, or limping, bone-weary and mentally unsettled?
Along with some first-line players who are iffy for the tour, we can probably rule out Berrick Barnes, who, so the reports say, suffered a pneumothorax from a rib fracture. This type of injury usually takes weeks to heal. Get well soon, Berrick.
Adam Ashley-Cooper should be ready although he’ll be monitored for post-concussive symptoms.
We’re waiting for the latest word regarding Samo, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Digby, Moore, Tomani, Horne, Kepu, Palu and Higgers.
Horwill, Pocock and James O’Connor are possibles apparently, rust and all. And we just have to hope that presently healthy players, like Beale, Phipps, Anthony Fainga’a, Harris, Sheehan, Shipperley, Douglas, Hooper, Dennis and the indispensable Sharpe, come through the Pumas game and the third Bledisloe in good shape.
All in all, it doesn’t look good for Europe. Too much Super 15 and Rugby Championship travel, churlish dissension from a disgruntled Cooper, an absurd amount of injuries, and uncertainty about their coach and association is a lot to overcome in a hurry.
On the plus side, the Wallabies will have personal bravery and fierce commitment going for them. Hats off to them for that, but I fear it won’t be enough to avoid a 1-3 result i Europe.
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