The talking point of the last few weeks has been about the inside backs but these aren’t where the holes will be in the Wallaby back line. Just look a little bit wider to the wings.
The predicted wingers for the British and Irish Lions are the two Welshmen, Alex Cuthbert and George North. Both quick, agile and very big men to tackle. Sorry Rod Davies, but you are off the list.
Digby Ioane may seem like a definite for one of the spots but his previous form hasn’t been very sharp. Last year on the European tour we were even calling for him to be dropped.
I don’t think Robbie Deans will look past him though, because of his electric pace of the mark and his ability to commit three defenders to him every time he touches the ball.
With James O’Connor looking more and more likely to play within the inside backs, a new spot has opened up on the wing. The contenders for this spot are Alfi Mafi, Joe Tomane, Nick Cummins and possibly Israel Folau.
Alfie Mafi has been the best winger in Australia this season, topping the competition try count. In a losing side he has been a standout but a lack of international experience may cost him this position.
Joe Tomane debuted for the Wallabies last year but got injured, ending his 2012 season. He is league convert but has picked up the game within a few seasons and looks like someone who could be a definite Wallaby. His sheer strength can’t be unnoticed.
Tomane is often over-shadowed by Henry Speight, his opposite winger for the Brumbies, who would make Wallabies if he was available for selection. Joe Tomane’s kicking may be a problem if Ioane is selected as he also doesn’t have a strong boot.
Nick Cummins still hasn’t played in 2013 but his end of year season for the Wallabies European tour was a standout. You can’t dismiss his effort and how hard he runs at the opposition. He needs to get back from injury quickly, otherwise he may just have run out of time to make the squad.
You may be thinking why Israel Folau could enter the equation for the Wallaby wing spot. The answer is in the statistics.
He tops the Australian conference for metres run, carries and defenders beaten. At the moment he hasn’t fully adapted to union, often being out of position in defence or trying too much in each tackle, but his x factor can not be looked past.
As a wing for the Wallabies he is less likely to be targeted with kicking like he is at the Waratahs playing fullback, but his lack of kicking ability might stop of him from obtaining a Wallaby starting position.
Maybe a bench position would better suit him.
At the moment, and my team has differed over the last few weeks, here is my Wallaby back line:
9. Will Genia
10. Christian Lealiifano
11. Digby Ioane
12. James O’Connor
13. Adam Ashley-Cooper
14. Joe Tomane
15. Jesse Mogg