Cheika’s smiling but Deans has problems
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NSW Waratahs coach Michael Cheika (Image: Supplied)
There were mixed feelings for Michael Cheika and Robbie Deans with the 30 Wallabies named to take on France, England, Italy, and Wales next month.
It was the ultimate for new Waratahs coach, Cheika, with his entire pack plus one in the squad as a standup start to his first Super Rugby campaign next year: props Benn Robinson, Sekope Kepu, and Wallaby rookie Paddy Ryan, hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, locks Kane Douglas and Sitaleki Timani, with backrowers Wycliff Palu, Dave Dennis, and the new boy on the Blue block Michael Hooper.
Add three very experienced backs in Berrick Barnes, Adam Ashley-Cooper, and Drew Mitchell, and the Waratahs top the Wallaby squad with 12 compared to nine Reds, five Brumbies, three Force, and two Rebels.
While Cheika has plenty to smile about, Deans has a major problem with his half-backs, and with Polota-Nau feeding the lineouts
Losing Will Genia is huge.
On a normal day, Genia is the best No 9 in the world. On a bad day, he’s the length of the straight better than his replacements Nick Phipps and Brett Sheehan, who just can’t get the basics right.
Polota-Nau’s lineout service is beyond belief.
One doubts his ball sense, which is underlined by the number of possessions he coughs up.
Despite those shortcomings, the Wallabies beat the Pumas on their home turf – no mean feat – and drew with the best side on the planet – the All Blacks – in back-to-back games.
But this Wallaby squad can do so well on the coming four-Test tour if Phipps, Sheehan, and Polota-Nau, lift their game to the required standards that should be automatic. They are internationals.
That’s Robbie Deans’ number one priority on this tour.
The rest will fall into place until the real troops arrive in time for Super Rugby 2013 and the Lions.
Then we will see the real Wallabies on duty.
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