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Opinion

The mystery of the missing Waratahs locks

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Roar Rookie
22nd November, 2020
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When you look up Australia’s most valuable exports on Wikipedia you’ll fine we sell steel to China, coal to India and rugby locks to Europe.

After the Wallabies lineout once again faltered at crucial times again against Argentina in Newcastle it’s worth remembering that only one other team in the world would rule out perhaps their best three or four locks on principle before heading into a major tournament.

At risk of this article degrading into a conversation on eligibility, I should point out I actually agree with the Giteau law as it stands. The onus should be on us to get more of these guys back here under the rules we have set ourselves.

This need not be an article of disrespect to the two locks that started against the Pumas, because both of them are signed to play overseas next year, as is Ned Hanigan, the only cover for that position in the match day squad.

What are already thin resources will next year be overly scarce, so now might be a good time to start preparing for the drought.

It is at this point when one might turn their attention to the Super Rugby squads.

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Queensland are perhaps best stocked, with Lukhan Salakaia-loto (currently injured) and the promising young Angus Blyth progressing well.

The Brumbies have the experienced Cadeyrn Neville and the up-and-coming Darcy Swain.

The Western Force have the former All Black Jeremy Thrush and the impressive Fergus Lee Warner.

The Rebels have Wallaby in waiting Trevor Hosea pairing possibly with Ross Haylett-Petty.

The Waratahs – well, we have no idea. Rob Simmons is off to the pasture in England, long-time club stalwart Jed Holloway has been let go, as has hard worker Tom Staniforth. Ned Hanigan is also off to Japan.

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The Waratahs have an exciting young team across the park. Even without Michael Hooper, the back row of Carlo Tizzano, Will Harris, Jack Dempsey and Lachie Swinton will keep each other fighting for spots.

The front row of Angus Bell, Tom Horton and Harry Johnson-Holmes is ultra-competitive by any measure.

But this forward pack is looking, well, short on tall guys!

Is it possible that Rob Penney has a local young gun waiting in the shadows? Perhaps. Does he have two who can step up to Super Rugby level from Game 1? Unlikely.

Bringing big Sam Wykes back to his home state from Japan is a good start, but at 32, I’m not sure he would get a start at any other Super Rugby AU franchise.

Waratahs players react after a Super Rugby loss

(Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

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The only hope for Waratahs fans is that there is a big transfer in the works that is being kept under wraps.

A Will Skelton homecoming, the Izack Rodda redemption, a return of at least one of the Arnolds or, could you imagine, an Adam Coleman in Sky Blue.

It is beyond reasonable belief that Waratahs management haven’t noticed this massive gap on their squad sheet, so I have faith that they have something planned.

But until that mystery is solved we are left with the reality that our national shortage of locks is starting to bite, and the Waratahs will be the first to experience what it is to go without.