Rugby Australia chief Raelene Castle has been making calls. Ringing around. Trying to find someone to be sole selector of the Wallabies.
It’s been bit of a hard sell.
One potential type told her he’d be interested, though only as long as coach Michael Chieka was on board with The Plan.
It seems, however, that Chieka is not.
And that’s effectively where that phone call ended.
And probably fair enough – as head coach Cheika lives and dies on the performance of the people running about in gold, you’d think he’d have the major say in who those people are.
It would be only fair.
Yet headquarters, it seems, would like the buck to stop with someone other than coachy – a sole, independent selectorial chieftain.
For now though it’s Cheika team in all respects and it’s he who’d best be getting a win this weekend against Italy. Or poo will meet fan, and no argument.
Should Chieka pick his best XXIII or new blood such as the heir, Jordan Petaia?
Is Petaia in the best XXIII? As Yoda said of Luke, the raps are strong on this one.
Bung him in?
Would it matter?
The Wallabies are travelling like such busteds that installing someone else’s XXIII – particularly one without the blessing of the coach – could be akin to repositioning the deck chairs upon the Lusitania which was sunk by German U-boats in May of 1915 and which presaged the United States declaring war on Germany in 1917. You’d think it would’ve been earlier but it was not.
Or maybe they’d go grouse, the new man’s XXIII.
Who knows? The Wallabies could lose to Italy and then beat England.
Thirteen months ago they beat the All Blacks. A month after that Scotland put 53 on them. Scotland didn’t score 53 points in all of 1953.
They are nothing if not enigmatic, these people.
And for mine these people should be:
1. Scott Sio – Chunky man doing little wrong. He’s been anointed a long time, Scotty Sio, since a famous win by Brumbies over the British Lions. Pick and stick if fit.
2. Folau Fainga’a – the other hookers are throwing the ball in crooked, on occasion, under the pump, and this simply cannot be. Mark Loane described losing line-out ball as rugby’s slow poison. Losing line-out ball on your own throw is like taking a bath in Agent Orange. Maybe not that bad. But bad, man. Bad.
3. Taniela Tupou – Hard carries and X-factor from a chunky man in the middle, old mate ‘The Tongan Thor’ – cracking handle – is the sort of character who can. It doesn’t matter the detail. He’s a doer. Fit, pick, stick.
4. Adam Coleman – Every team needs a crazy man, a feared one, a wildling. Coleman is that wildling.
5. Izack Rodda – is the other one. Bung in. Let rip. But then the Wallabies’ tight-five, outside the odd dick-up at set-piece or in the red mist of their minds, goes okay.
They’re tough, they tackle. And their backup in 16-19 are pretty tight, too. It’s elsewhere there are issues.
6. Pete Samu – He’s played 26 games for the Crusaders. He’s 26 years old. He’s a big unit who doesn’t talk, the best kind of big unit. And he, Samu, will do.
7. David Pocock – The best No.7 in Australia should play No.7 for Australia. You can’t have two short-arses in the back-row, however good they are, see M.Loane’s thing about the poison bath.
Pocock wins ball, penalties and Test matches. Michael Hooper scurries about and brings plenty to the party. But it’s one or the other. And Pocock’s better.
8. Jack Dempsey – Bit of mongrel. Bit wild. Bit good. He’ll do, too.
9. Will Genia – The country’s best No.9. And that is just it.
10. Matt Toomua – Yep. Thanks, Bernard, you’ve had your moments. But Australia needs a hard-arse in the middle channel – for 65 minutes, anyway. Foley and Kurtley Beale are brave enough but being targeted by big units, and eventually run ragged.
It’s simple physiology. They are what they are. They can’t stem the wave. Foley’s clever, and you like him off the bench changing the pace of the game. But he’s been quarterback in a lengthy and forlorn period of Not Winning.
So it’s Toomua Time. Tough, skilled, fit, good – the 10.
11. Marika Koroibete – Nuggety runner with pace and an eye for the line he’s … he’s good. He’ll do. What do you want? You’ve seen him play. He is good.
12. Samu Kerevi – bustling ball runner with low centre of gravity, I like him hitting the line and offloading for such as Israel and Beale, and whoever else would bust into space off nugget man.
13. Jordan Petaia – I’m bungin’ him in! The hell with it! He’s not on tour because he can’t play. Who else? AAC? He gets a buttock on the bench. I want to see the wunderkind. Bring it, baby Skywalker running boy man.
14. Israel Folau – Australia’s best ball-running back is best when he’s hitting holes from ball provided by clever dicks in broken play. Not at fullback unless it’s in defence and he’s waiting for high ball.
Folau is excellent under the high ball, best practice. And out wide – ie on the wing – he can wait out there and the blokes inside can kick it over to him, and he can fly through the air and score tries, as he has, job done.
15. Kurtley Beale – Australia’s other best ball-running back needs broken field to run in. He needs ragged, bedraggled space.
There’s less space wearing 10 than there is wearing 12, and he’s occupied both positions with enigmatic results. Play him at the back, running with Israel and Marika and whoever else is bopping about. And just do that, okay. Thanks.
16. Tatafu Polota-Nau – I like him. I just like him coming on in the second half and throwing into the line-out while his mind is relatively fresh and clear of fog. I also like him belting people. He’s good at that.
17. Allan Alaalatoa – Our sweet cousin Jaapies will tell you the first picked player is the tight-head prop and the next picked is the reserve tight-head. So Allan it is. How about how many ‘a’s in his name? Ridiculous amount of ‘a’s.
18. Sekope Kepu – hundred Tests? He’s done something right.
19. Rory Arnold – Has the Skylab Factor if not the ‘X’. A line-out go-to in the last quarter.
20. Michael Hooper – He’s a beauty, Michael Hooper, a fit and fun-running gun. But he can captain from the bench. Or not at all. Why’d they make him Captain Forever when he wouldn’t be first-picked in the 7? A silly business.
21. Jake Gordon – Because if Nick Phipps was gonna, Nick Phipps woulda.
22. Adam Ashley-Cooper – Because the backline needs an old hound to tell Jordan Petaia about boats and goats.
23. Dale Haylett-Petty – Though Jack Maddocks.