Wallabies must meet Lions with bash and barge

John Davidson Roar Guru

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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 โ€“ who seek it and relish it โ€“ 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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    The Crowd Says (74)

    • April 19th 2013 @ 1:49am
      Ben.S said | April 19th 2013 @ 1:49am | ! Report

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

      Honestly… I mean, come on! Really?! If this is true then you should give Robbie Deans a call, because quiet clearly this fact has escaped him.

      • April 19th 2013 @ 3:00am
        A Different Cat. said | April 19th 2013 @ 3:00am | ! Report

        Isnt it 23 now?
        Anyway I wouldnt put Auelua anywhere near the Wallabies team unless Palu goes down with injury.

        • April 19th 2013 @ 3:20am
          Ben.S said | April 19th 2013 @ 3:20am | ! Report

          Impact sub perhaps, but then having a specialist 8 on the bench is risky, unless McMeniman starts at 6 which would allow Auelua on the bench with another backrower. It’s certainly a big series to start him in, but then he has experience in Europe with Toulon. I’d probably stick with Palu myself.

          • April 19th 2013 @ 6:39am
            mania said | April 19th 2013 @ 6:39am | ! Report

            cant believe u guys pick palu. not only does he have glass bones he goes missing for long periods of the game.

            • April 19th 2013 @ 7:47am
              Justin2 said | April 19th 2013 @ 7:47am | ! Report

              The glass comment is fair but not the work rate, that’s a myth.

              • April 19th 2013 @ 8:00am
                mania said | April 19th 2013 @ 8:00am | ! Report

                its all opinion J2, but mine is he goes missing a lot for long periods, at least in AB’s games. does a good/awesome run now and again then u dont see him for 10-15 minutes

              • April 19th 2013 @ 8:29am
                Justin2 said | April 19th 2013 @ 8:29am | ! Report

                work rate is measured, not opinion. You may not notice him but that doesn’t mean he has gone missing. I’m not his biggest fan, I don’t think he his big impacts often enough but he does a lot of work

              • Roar Guru

                April 19th 2013 @ 11:46am
                Jiggles said | April 19th 2013 @ 11:46am | ! Report

                He makes a lot of tackles and runs, but his ruck work is lacking for mine.

            • April 19th 2013 @ 9:06am
              Rob said | April 19th 2013 @ 9:06am | ! Report

              It depends what you mean by going missing. He is one of the few Aussie forwards that gets in the thick of it and smashes defenders off the ball at the ruck. That goes unnoticed. Whereas people like higginbotham who do absolutely none of that, but hang on the wing and may get put in some space are seen to be having a good game and getting “involved”. IMO that’s a wingers job, not a backrower.

              • April 19th 2013 @ 9:13am
                mania said | April 19th 2013 @ 9:13am | ! Report

                i mean palu either not doing anything or standing at the side of the ruck not doing anything. sorry imo he’s lazy and does sweet f a overall. whilst his runs are dynamic he needs to recharge for too long.
                i will admit though that this is in the AB’s games and i dont watch the wb much outside of those games.
                higgers def doesnt do enough tight stuff and seagulls on the wing waiting for his forwards to get him the ball instead of helping to secure it.

              • April 19th 2013 @ 10:14am
                LT18 said | April 19th 2013 @ 10:14am | ! Report

                Obviously you’ve never watched the All Blacks play because Read and McCaw hang on the wings all the time.

              • April 19th 2013 @ 10:19am
                mania said | April 19th 2013 @ 10:19am | ! Report

                LT18 “Read and McCaw hang on the wings all the time.” what a load of BS. both mccaw are in the thick of it all the time.

              • April 19th 2013 @ 10:26am
                Justin2 said | April 19th 2013 @ 10:26am | ! Report

                mania, thats just incorrect.

              • April 19th 2013 @ 10:27am
                Jerry said | April 19th 2013 @ 10:27am | ! Report

                Nah, they do hang out on the wing from time to time. If they’re at the bottom of a breakdown, there’s often no point getting up and charging to be 7th guy to the next one. Sometimes they’ll wait in the backline and often on the wing.

                They’ve both scored tries doing in recent years – eg McCaw’s effort in the corner in SA in 2011.

                Higgenbotham takes it too far though, he just shirks the tight work to seagull.

              • April 19th 2013 @ 11:24am
                Justin2 said | April 19th 2013 @ 11:24am | ! Report

                I was referring to the palu post above…

              • April 19th 2013 @ 12:07pm
                Jerry said | April 19th 2013 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

                Just to clarify, my comment was a response to Mania’s.

              • April 19th 2013 @ 12:11pm
                mania said | April 19th 2013 @ 12:11pm | ! Report

                its bizarre that u guys reacted to my post but not LT18 โ€œRead and McCaw hang on the wings all the time.โ€ all the time ? really ?

            • April 20th 2013 @ 10:47pm
              Pick & go..!! said | April 20th 2013 @ 10:47pm | ! Report

              ‘cant believe u guys pick palu. not only does he have glass bones he goes missing for long periods of the game.’

              Mania which game was that specifically?
              I see you don’t rate Palu for what ever reason, That’s fine with me. But to say Auelua should be wallabie 8?

              Tell me what does Auelua bring that Palu doesn’t already bring at test level?

              You cannot say Auelua brings youth cause at 29 & Palu is 30, you can’t say he brings experience cause Palu gets the nod there. So does he bring?

              Mania there’s an old saying (If it ain’t broke don’t fix it).

    • April 19th 2013 @ 2:06am
      bluerose (Rotuma Island). said | April 19th 2013 @ 2:06am | ! Report

      if only they (Force) had discovered Rory Walton a year earlier, its a bit too early now but with his size hopefully he doesnt get infected with the Timani syndrome “build like Tarzan plays like Jane”, he could have been a powerhouse in the scrums and in the tight.

      • April 19th 2013 @ 5:02am
        moreton bait said | April 19th 2013 @ 5:02am | ! Report

        If you liked the look of Rory Walton check out Will Skelton who might get a run with the Tahs tonight

      • April 19th 2013 @ 8:01am
        Brendon said | April 19th 2013 @ 8:01am | ! Report

        You should of seen Rory at school… He was five foot 9 and soft. Then left school, worked extremely hard and kept growing!! Good on him tho, he had the dream and deserves it after the work he has put in

        • April 19th 2013 @ 9:11am
          Rob said | April 19th 2013 @ 9:11am | ! Report

          Unfortunately you can’t “work” on not being soft when it really matters. A worrying sign. Like far too many private schooled wallabies.

          • April 19th 2013 @ 10:07am
            brendon said | April 19th 2013 @ 10:07am | ! Report

            Yeh but a lot of it is a confidence thing. Rory, is a coffs harbour lad and as he grew, he became more confident and really hit the gym. Then with the right training he got at norths in sydney, he is seeing the results of the hard work he put in.

          • April 19th 2013 @ 10:26am
            Justin2 said | April 19th 2013 @ 10:26am | ! Report

            Like far too many private schooled wallabies.

            God some people right sh%t on here…

            • Roar Guru

              April 19th 2013 @ 12:12pm
              Jiggles said | April 19th 2013 @ 12:12pm | ! Report

              Dennis and Timani are publicly educated lads and they would be the softest Wallabies going round.

              Sh%t indeed.

              • April 19th 2013 @ 12:55pm
                Justin2 said | April 19th 2013 @ 12:55pm | ! Report

                Considering the make up of our two world cup winning teams it fareking hilarious…

          • April 19th 2013 @ 1:02pm
            SkinnyKid said | April 19th 2013 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

            Rob – what a sad post.

            • April 19th 2013 @ 1:35pm
              Rob said | April 19th 2013 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

              I didn’t expect that response. I’m just saying there is a difference between being brought up on the streets of south Auckland or sleeping with a machine gun in South Africa to attending hogwarts on the north shore. When it comes to be a tough rugby forward that is. And that’s not even going into how much bigger our selection pool would be if rugby was played in more public schools instead of being 80% private. Being from a private school by no means guarantees softness (eg phil Waugh, pocock)

    • April 19th 2013 @ 4:29am
      Billy Bob said | April 19th 2013 @ 4:29am | ! Report

      And blue rose right there is yet another argument for the ‘discovery tier’ that elusive elite competition or expansion that would lead to the rory Walton’s getting a run earlier.
      But agree with the gist of the article – wallabies need a core pod of forwards with plenty of ‘don’t argue’ at contact time.

    • April 19th 2013 @ 5:27am
      kingplaymaker said | April 19th 2013 @ 5:27am | ! Report

      John TPN does not come off second best.

      He may knock himself out in the process, but he definitely makes the intended physical impact. To say he comes off second best is simply false.

      Obviously the Wallabies need the biggest pack possible as the Lions will doubtless select a massive unit.

      The two players mentioned are good, the only problem being they haven’t played test rugby in years or at all, as with the other powerhouse Sio. I would go with a similar pack to last year and bring in these large new players if it isn’t working. With Palu, TPN and Timani there’s plenty of grunt, and the first two of those were excellent against Wales last year.

      I would even start Higginbotham, firstly because he has played a lot of test rugby recently, and secondly because with Palu, TPN, Timani bringing the bulk, he at his best adds speed and variety to the backrow.

      Horwill/Timani looks good for locks. TPN aside, not sure at all about the front row anymore. It’s a shame Sio is new, because he is a bully around the field.

      Bored of the George Smith debate so won’t go into that, except to say I imagine Hooper will start as he is the most game-ready and has played the best test rugby recently, and will be replaced only if he isn’t working. His lack of turnovers is a big weakness his two competitors don’t have.

      I think this pack will start:

      Someone, probably Alexander

      But I can see big changes if it isn’t working, even early in the first test.

      This photo reminds me of Radike Samo: he can be very effective against some opposition.

      • April 19th 2013 @ 7:44am
        Kane said | April 19th 2013 @ 7:44am | ! Report

        If someone tackles me and puts me on my arse while knocking himself out then goes on to throw the next ten lineouts not straight before being hauled off the field then he’s come off second best.

      • April 19th 2013 @ 10:28am
        LT18 said | April 19th 2013 @ 10:28am | ! Report

        What the hell is this? You’ve got to be kidding me. TPN will cost us at the lineout and is constantly missing due to his no-care attitude, which i admire but keeps him out of the game when he’s really needed. i’d rather start with Moore as he is always reliable both the set piece and go with Gill at openside cause Hooper hasn’t shown anything close to where he was last year and Gill is absolutely outstanding. I’d only chose palu if he’s played a good number of games and on form.

      • April 19th 2013 @ 10:28am
        Jerry said | April 19th 2013 @ 10:28am | ! Report

        If one guy goes off the field injured and it’s not the guy TPN tackled, then he’s come off second best.

      • April 19th 2013 @ 11:53am
        Rob said | April 19th 2013 @ 11:53am | ! Report

        I actually think its safer to start with TPN. Have him play the first 30 at full intensive with a licence to knock the opposition (and himself) out. If he gets injured Moore is waiting. But if you sub Moore off, TPN might not last the rest of the game.

        • April 19th 2013 @ 12:02pm
          Red Kev said | April 19th 2013 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

          It’s safer not to have TPN in the side at all. His so-called big runs turn over possession and his so called big hits always result in him on one knee getting attention from the doc. Moore to start with Hanson on the bench is a far better hooking combination.

          Slipper-Moore-Palmer (Sio-Hanson-Alexander)
          Horwill-McMeniman (Simmons)
          Mowen-Gill-Palu/Auelua depending on the injury situation (Hooper)

          It may not be as heavy as kpm’s pack but it will still perform strongly at scrum time and more importantly will be a hell of a lot better at lineout and breakdown time.

          • Roar Guru

            April 19th 2013 @ 12:10pm
            Jiggles said | April 19th 2013 @ 12:10pm | ! Report

            Great squad pack RK. The front row can scrum and have a huge work ethic. It has 3 real plus 2 options at the lineout. The second rows move around the field very well, but also have beef for the srcum. The backrow is balanced, and has a lot of tackles and rucks between them.

            Robbie take note.

          • April 19th 2013 @ 1:23pm
            KT said | April 19th 2013 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

            Liking this group a lot.

    • April 19th 2013 @ 5:38am
      Justin2 said | April 19th 2013 @ 5:38am | ! Report

      Don’t need Timani, can’t jump and Horwill does more work and is more effective anyway. You need a loose head lock to go with Horwill and Timani ain’t one of those. Simmons is the LO general and caller and has been in good form, he may well get the berth. Moore will start at hooker, he is the better player. Higgers is the best LO forward in AUS just about and his play has been improving. As long as Dennis isn’t there 6 will be ok.

      • April 19th 2013 @ 5:50am
        Ben.S said | April 19th 2013 @ 5:50am | ! Report

        Fighting a losing battle there. News is that TPN and Timani are simply superb rugby players.

        • April 19th 2013 @ 5:56am
          Justin2 said | April 19th 2013 @ 5:56am | ! Report

          Yes I know, absolute must have for AUS to win against anyone ๐Ÿ˜‰

          • April 19th 2013 @ 6:14am
            kingplaymaker said | April 19th 2013 @ 6:14am | ! Report

            Justin actually I’ve been more impressed with Simmons this year than ever before, and I would definitely have him in the 22. But I think with Higginbotham and Palu the lineout is strong and so you can play both Horwill/Timani, especially as Horwill has been very good in the lineout. Other backrow candidates are good lineout performers too. Timani detractors would probably note that one thing he does is significantly strengthen the scrummaging, and that’s perhaps the greatest weakness in the Wallaby pack at the moment.

            • April 19th 2013 @ 6:21am
              Ben.S said | April 19th 2013 @ 6:21am | ! Report

              When has Palu ever been anything more than useable come lineout time? You seem to be suggesting that he’s an accomplished lineout forward. I’ve never noticed that before, and I’ve never read that or heard it said. The other thing you seem to be missing is the pretty significant fact that both Horwill and Timani are front jumpers.

              • April 19th 2013 @ 7:49am
                Justin2 said | April 19th 2013 @ 7:49am | ! Report

                Exactly, Palu is ok but he can’t be a prime target. The middle is a key and Simmons may well do the job having “grown up” so,what in the last year.

              • April 19th 2013 @ 12:49pm
                rl said | April 19th 2013 @ 12:49pm | ! Report

                totally agree re Palu – and with Horwill, Simmons/McMeniman and Mowen/Higgers/Dennis (if you must) as primary targets, and Gill potentially as a secondary target, you don’t particularly want/need Palu or Auelua as targets. Better to have those blokes standing in your first five’s pocket with a view to run amok.

      • Roar Guru

        April 19th 2013 @ 12:17pm
        Jiggles said | April 19th 2013 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

        Higgers has stepped up a lot in the last couple of weeks and is covering big time for Pyle and big Nev who have both regressed a bit this year. What it means is He is doing a lot more of the tight work, which he really had to work on in a lot of people’s eyes. Mowen is still probably playing better, but Higgers is the incumbent so you’d have to pick him in the 22 at least.

        • April 19th 2013 @ 1:02pm
          Justin2 said | April 19th 2013 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

          Pyle had a bad SA tour otherwise he has been right up there across, runs, metres, tackles and rucks as any other rebels forward. He has been good IMO outside those two matches. Neville isnt improving at all though. His body height is still rubbish.

          Main issue with the Rebels is the front row. Not only is the set piece average their work rate is a disgrace.

          • Roar Guru

            April 19th 2013 @ 2:24pm
            Jiggles said | April 19th 2013 @ 2:24pm | ! Report

            That’s true Pyle did start the year very well. I thought is last game was average against the kings, but I didn’t look at the stats so it’s just a hunch. I don’t buy the seagull tag for him either.

            Wasn’t sold on Nev last year but he did grab my attention. He’s only been in the game about 3 years so the nuisances will come with time.

    • April 19th 2013 @ 6:07am
      Demers said | April 19th 2013 @ 6:07am | ! Report

      BEN S You’re right on the money. If the Ws have a reliable playmaker at 10 we’ll be lucky. Deans will pick McCabe at 12 because he fears Roberts. Not sure why he does because in test rugby Roberts falls into people rather than try to run through them a la Nonu and Fruen. Genia is our only genuine threat and he’ll be haunted all day by Phillips/Youngs and a flanker or two. Deans, the traditionalist, will play somebody like Dave Dennis at 6 to ensure against Gray. Lastly, I’d much prefer Aueleua against Morgan but Deans will go with Palu.

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