Wallabies must meet Lions with bash and barge

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Australia's rugby team players are seen during a training session in Paris.(AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere

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To defeat the Lions the Wallabies must unleash their inner mongrel, and that could come in the shape of intimidating forwards Fota Auelua and Hugh McMeniman.

The Lions will undoubtedly try to bully the Wallabies over the three-match Test series, smashing and monstering them around the park using the physical edge that northern hemisphere rugby is known for.

It’s an approach that has worked in recent years against Robbie Deans’ Australian side, for example by Scotland, Samoa and Ireland.

There is a belief in some British quarters that the Wallabies are somewhat soft, and that their pack is far from the toughest going round.

In some respects this is true. The Wallabies have featured a distinct lack of hard nuts in recent times.

The hard-nosed players, the ones who love contact – who seek it and relish it – have been largely absent.

Sure, Tatafu Polota-Nau is willing to throw his body at anyone, but unfortunately too often the Tahs hooker comes off second best and is forced from the field.

The Lions will bring a big, tough squad down under, packed with huge forwards, giant backs and an equally sizeable scrum-half in Mike Phillips.

This will be a Lions selection without a lot of flair or fleet-footed players, missing the magic previously provided by the likes of a Shane Williams or Jason Robinson.

The Wallabies, on the other hand, will have a 22 stacked with playmakers and game-breakers.

Will Genia, James O’Connor, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Digby Ioane, Jesse Mogg, Quade Cooper, Berrick Barnes and Kurtley Beale all have the ability to rip open a match and decide a game through a pass, run or kick.

That is all well and good, but what they are really missing is some mongrel to meet the Lions fire with fire.

Enter the likes of Brumby backrower Aueleua and Force lock McMeniman.

Auelua has been a standout since joining the Brumbies last year.

The Wellington-born Aussie of Samoan descent, who grew up in western Sydney, has been a joy to watch. He takes on the line and is a handful to tackle.

The former Australian Schoolboy seems to enjoy knocking people down and putting opponents on their arses.

Auelua is not all graft either, as his beautiful draw of two defenders and pass to set up Henry Speight’s try against the Sharks showed.

The 29-year has great ball skills for a big man and mixes his play up well.

McMeniman has been in the Wallabies setup before and knows what it is all about.

The 21-cap veteran has returned to Super Rugby this year and been one of the struggling Force’s best players. His muscular style, strong ball-carrying and robust performances are what a timid Australian side, devoid of quality second rowers apart from James Horwill, needs.

A recent shoulder injury has put the ex-Queensland Red who can also play flanker out of action, but there is enough time for him to re-stake his Lions claim.

Both Aueleua and McMeniman are seasoned veterans at 29 years of age who have experienced overseas footy and returned to Australia refreshed and better players.

Both possess the physical edge and abrasive approach to trouble the Lions. Both won’t be overawed by the occasion of a rare Lions tour.

Robbie Deans must get the playing balance right of imagination and muscle to defeat the ferocity of the Lions, combining some brutality with the beauty.

Adding Aueleua and McMeniman to the mix would go a long way to achieving this.

Follow John Davidson on Twitter @johnnyddavidson

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