Player position changes: Who can fill 6 and 8?
The Spring Tour squad is out and a number of good prospects seem to be missing.
Every year this list gets me thinking that at least a few of the missing must be wondering what it will take to make the grade.
For most it probably just isn’t going to happen – ever. Even if they get better so will the competition, both incumbents and new guys.
There are a few though, that just might be better off looking at a different position. There is notable examples of players making significant, and successful changes.
Jim Williams from winger to back row, and Matt Banahan from lock to wing come to mind.
What I have in mind are less radical changes that if successful, might optimise the use of available athletic talent for rugby.
Two positions that seem a little short on obvious options are our blindside-flankers at number 6 and our number 8.
This seems eminently fixable. There are a number of very handy 4/5s in Australia’s Super Rugby franchises who tick all my boxes around size, work rate, hunger, etc.
The players I’d like to see tried at blindside are Sam Carter (Brumbies), Sam Wykes (Force), and Hugh Pyle (Rebels). I’d also like to see Ben Mowen (Brumbies) given a run at 6 if he’s not going to be used at 8 – but, this seems to be a no-brainer.
Clearly, these players are not 6s right now (though I think Mowen would slot in very easily). However, given the opportunity and playing time they all have what it takes to make a fist of it.
At 8 I’ll take a bigger (literally) leap – Cadeyrn Neville. Despite his obvious potential and increasing accomplishments as a lock it appears to me that he was defaulted there because of his size.
He is a huge, apparently durable talent with relatively little time in any position. He is already powerful, mobile and aggressive. Knock a few kilos off him and his mobility and quickness will be even better.
A switch to 8 at this stage of his young career (if successful) would leave him with many years ahead of him and in time give us a real option where now there are few.
I am sure others will have ideas and critiques of these. No problems. That is the whole point of the article. Over a span of 50+ years I’ve seen too many examples to count of players who are playing in the wrong position because that’s where they got stuck by their first coach. It seems such a waste.
I’ll end this with a question. The ARU has a high performance unit and Nucifora is in charge, correct? What do they do? I’d imagined that their ‘portfolio’ included anything involving improvement of performance and optimization of the use of available talent – including stuff like the topic of this discussion. Anyone know?
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