Win, lose, or in the unlikely event of a draw, it is probable Kurtley Beale, James O’Connor and Quade Cooper will be right at the centre of the outcome of the Lions tour.
Robbie Deans nailed his colours to the mast quite some time ago – long before Beale reportedly clocked the other Cooper (Vuna). It was before Quade turned Erin Brockovich at team Wallaby. It was just before the infamous food fight.
The fact is when he took the helm, Deans made all three youngsters a foundation of his coaching platform for Rugby World Cup 2011 and this Lions series.
While not impossible, it is unlikely the three will take to the field simultaneously. Deans seems unwilling to think of JOC instead of Pat McCabe and more willing to start Beale at 10 instead of Cooper for example.
But all surely must figure prominently in Robbie Deans’ plans for the most significant Test series in a generation for the Wallabies.
To suggest otherwise would suggest Deans, arguably the most stubborn Wallaby coach in living memory, is digressing from his master plan.
Just how worried the ARU and Wallabies coaching staff are right now by Beale’s behaviour and O’Connor’s lack of form is anyone’s guess. It is safe to say ‘very’ is a safe one though.
Quade Cooper is slowly returning to form and reigniting his partnership with Will Genia is key. But would Deans have started him anyway?
Should Beale’s latest indiscretion see him suspended for a number of weeks, a player who is heavily dependent on match fitness will have little to none.
Just eight weeks out from the Lions landing on Australian shores, the Wallabies are already in a heap of trouble.
Just how fair would it be for Robbie Deans to throw a Matt Toomua into the hot seat for this series? Probably about as fair as it is likely.
I’ve written before about the selfishness, ill-discipline and lack of morality the Three Amigos have exhibited over the years.
The ARU should have and could have come down like a ton of bricks on each one of them well before now.
But they didn’t.
And so it is written that these three young men will become heroes or villains. While the sadist in most of us would like it to be villains, the patriots in all of us say different.
All three young men are well paid. They are wonderful rugby players. Just ask them. So sooner or later they were going to have to back up all the talk and walk the walk.
The Lions series is the stage they need to do it.
If they can’t, it’s time to feed all three of them to the Lions.