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Food for thought for Michael Cheika

Wallabies player Rory Arnold looks on during the First Test between the Australia Wallabies and the England Roses at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Saturday, June 11, 2016. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Expert
6th August, 2018
121

My first sightings of Wallaby locks were Dr Phil Hardcastle, Joe Kraefft, Grahame Cooke, Rex Mossop and Alan Cameron in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and none of them were tall timbers.

Garrick Fay was the first in the ’70s at 197cms for his 24 caps, then the King of them all – John Eales – at 200cms from 1991 to 2001 for 86 caps and two World Cups.

In the early 2000s Nathan Sharpe stood at 200cms and played 116 Tests. Justin Harrison’s 201cms for 34 made him another genuine tall timber.

And in recent times Will Skelton’s 203cms (18 caps) and Dean Mumm at 196cms for 56 caps both played their part.

But right now, what was rare has become a tsunami – a tsunami of tall timbers.

Rory Arnold’s 208cms has been joined by Adam Coleman’s 204, Izack Rodda’s 202, Rob Simmons’ 199, Matt Philip’s 199, and Lukhan Tui’s 198. It means far too many quality footballers will miss out on the four and five jerseys – and therefore miss out altogether.

But what about the six and eight jerseys?

That’s food for thought for Wallaby coach Michael Cheika.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika

Michael Cheika (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

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Imagine a Wallaby lineout with four 200-plus centimetre jumpers that even Tatafa Polota-Nau must surely find.

These days the Wallabies avoid lineouts like the plague because of the combination of inaccurate feeding and a poor lineout technique.

But with half the lineout over 200cms, and Sekope Kefu handy at 188, lineouts would be a breeze.

Then it would be up to Cheika to get the blindside flanker, and No 8, up to speed for modern day rugby.

That wouldn’t be difficult with all of the above tall timbers very mobile.

It’s too early for the Bledisloe Cup, and Rugby Championship, that’s not the time to start experimenting on a major scale.

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But the end of the year northern hemisphere tour would be ideal, then link with Super Rugby coaches to try aspirants for the six and eight jersey.

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How about a Wallaby scrum of (1) Scott Sio, (2) Tatafa Polota-Nau, (3) Sekope Kepu, (4) Rory Arnold, (5) Adam Coleman, (6) Lukhan Tui, (7) David Pocock (c), and (8) Izack Rodda?

That would be the most feared pack in international rugby.

If the backs can stay injury free with (9) Will Genia, (10) Bernard Foley, (11) Tom Banks, (12) Kurtley Beale, (13) Reece Hodge, (14) Dane Haylett-Petty and Israel Folau the custodian – that is potential Rugby World Cup winning material in Tokyo next year.

The return of Matt Toomua from Leicester to the Rebels is another major plus, but purely as a benchman to cover fly-half, inside centre, and fullback.

Rob Simmons to join him on the bench to complete the amalgamation of the big men.