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Thread: Look to the next generation…

  1. #1
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    Look to the next generation…

    Look to the next generation…

    By Andrew Logan, The Roar
    October 8th 2007 @ 5:48am


    After the gut wrenching quarter final loss to a deserving and dominant England side, there are some hard questions to be answered by the Australian rugby hierarchy over the next two years.

    Make no mistake, this loss is a disaster for not only the Wallabies, but Australian rugby generally. Had the Wallabies made the final, or even the semis, the interest boost for the code in Australia might have been enough to breathe some life into it before next season.

    As it is, the only way forward for Australia is to clear the decks and start again, putting its trust in the talented youth of the game and sending a message that the opportunities will be there for those who show they deserve them, regardless of age or perceived pedigree.

    Over the next four years, the players who should be picked to resurrect Australian rugby are:

    Cameron Shepherd - showed during this years S14 that with some quality ball and good coaching, he can dominate a game from the back. Hits the line beautifully in attack and can kick well in general play - a quality that will be sorely missed when the sublime Chris Latham heads for greener pastures.

    Drew Mitchell - led the tournament try scoring at RWC 07, and showed that he has overcome his tendency to turn over ball at crucial times. His break against England showed how dangerous he is with space, and also how little cut through Australia had for the rest of the evening - Mortlock excepted. Lachie Turner also fits the bill here, but may be a shade light to be consistently effective at Test level.

    Adam Ashley-Cooper - Lacked opportunities against England but has shown that his pace and strength will develop with time, and if allowed to settle into a position, he will be an experienced and dangerous campaigner for the Wallabies by 2011.

    Berrick Barnes - was shut down behind a soundly beaten pack against England, but showed that he is capable of some deft touches and deserves to be persevered with. Will develop into a quality playmaker with another 5 or 6 Tests under his belt.

    Kurtley Beale - it’s not hard to tip Beale as a star of tomorrow, particularly after his flashy S14, and domination of the ARC. The upside of a Beale is his ability to score tries in a poorly performing side, as he showed for the Waratahs this year. One wonders what he might have pulled out against England. The question mark is over his ability to strategically direct a side around the park and create chances for others, rather than one out. Prefer Barnes next year, but after that it’s a line ball.

    Quade Cooper - I mention him here to stop people asking “What about Quade Cooper?”, but his temperament appears brittle so far and he is easily rattled. This may be more a reflection on the Reds side than Cooper himself, but he will need to show greater team control, and self control too, if he wants to be a Wallaby.

    Josh Holmes - a player who has been embarrassingly traded away from the Waratahs when they desperately need him, and who has starred in the ARC. His biggest plus is his ability to turn average ball into threatening ball as he showed with the Waratahs in his few games this year. It is a quality which the great John Hipwell had in abundance. Since it doesn’t look like Australian packs are getting better any time soon, so we’ll need a half with this golden touch, as well as the ability to mix it with the big boys.

    David Pocock - alas Smith and Waugh will have headed for Europe or retirement by 2011, but never fear. David Pocock has shown little regard for reputations in his 2007 S14, and his awesome strength and hyper-committed training ethic will see him in Wallaby gold by 2008 or 2009 at the latest. He is hard on the ball, physical in the tackle and backs down to no man - just what the Wallabies could have used at the breakdown in Marseille.

    Ben McCalman - still a colt, McCalman was a regular standout for the Australian Schoolboys in 2005 and 2006 and was a member of the Australian U19 side in 2007. He is a tall, athletic and aggressive flanker who can also play 8, and who would be the ideal foil for Elsom/McMeniman and Pocock.

    Al Kanaar - the forgotten man of Australian forward play since he injured a knee at the beginning of last year to compound his ankle injury from just a few months before. 2005 saw Kanaar play all levels and make his Test debut against the All Blacks at Eden Park and stamp himself as an aggressive, athletic lock of the future. Will be at his athletic and experience peak in 2011.

    Benn Robinson - The front row is something of a desert, but Robinson made his debut in 2006 and with another solid S14 season or two under his belt may grow into a useful practitioner. As with all Australian props bar Rodney Blake, he is at least 5 kilos too light, and lacks the frame to carry that weight even if he can manufacture it in the gym. However, Dunning, Shepherdson and Baxter have all been shown up, so the door is open.

    Rodney Blake - Blake will be 28 in 2011, a great age for a prop. He is a genuine, genetic 125-130kg which is very different from gym-manufactured weight. His fitness will always be a concern, but his ball skills a bonus. With some coaching from the likes of a Foley or Blades, and if he can remain injury free, might hold up a serviceable scrum by 2011.

    Tatafu Polota-Nau - still disappointingly ignored at the Waratahs in favour of Adam Freier, the explosive and brilliant handler Polota-Nau will undoubtedly be a Wallaby as soon as his set-piece measures up. At 113kg he is a good weight for a hooker, and can run like a back. Once his lineout throw is right, he is ready.

    Assuming 2008 to be a year of blooding new players, and general transition, the Wallaby side I’d like to see picked in 2009 to work towards RWC 2011 would be: (Burgs' different picks...)

    1. Benn Robinson; Greg Holmes
    2. Tatafu Polota-Nau;
    3. Rodney Blake;
    4. Mark Chisolm; Nathan Sharpe (C) (Hugh McMeniman)
    5. Alex Kanaar; James Horwill
    6. Rocky Elsom (Hugh McMeniman); Rocky Elsom
    7. David Pocock;
    8. Ben McCalman; Richard Brown

    9. Josh Holmes; Matt Giteau
    10. Berrick Barnes (Kurtley Beale); Kurtley Beale
    11. Drew Mitchell;
    12. Matt Giteau; Berrick Barnes
    13. Adam Ashley-Cooper; Ryan Cross
    14. Lachlan Turner;
    15. Cameron Shepherd.

    The pack, as with all Australian packs of recent times, lacks truly awesome weight, which is a problem. Until we learn the England lesson - that big men who dominate up front win matches - we will always struggle to use our brilliant backs to best effect. Aside from this, the side has youth, athleticism and confidence.

    As Franklin D Roosevelt once said “We have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends.”

    Lets hope the new Wallaby management thinks the same.

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  2. #2
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    glad a few force players got (well deserved) mentions

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    1. Benn Robinson
    2. Huia Edmonds
    3. Kesomi Lolotonga
    4. Mark Chisholm
    5. Hugh McMeniman
    6. Rocky Elsom (vc)
    7. David Pocock
    8. Wycliff Palu

    9. Matt Giteau (c)
    10. Kurtley Beale
    11. Drew Mitchell/ Digby Ioane
    12. Berrick Barnes
    13. Adam Ashley-Cooper
    14. Lachlan Turner
    15. Aiden Toua

    16. Tatafu Polota Nau
    17. Rodney Blake
    18. James Horwill/ Will Caldwell
    19. Ben McCalman/ Julian Salvi/ Leroy Houston
    20. Cameron Shepherd/ Timana Tahu
    21. Matt Toomua/ Quade Cooper/ Anthony Faingaa
    22. Nic Berry/ Josh Holmes/ Brent Hamlin

    Theres some talent coming through Australian rugby, hopefully we can get a decent coach and get them blooded in

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    Veteran Contributor frontrow's Avatar
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    Welcome along endurance, some interesting choices there...

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    Veteran zimeric's Avatar
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    Im looking forward to the impact Pocock, Cummins, and Henjak will have this year.
    especially Cummins as he is the unknown factor. I think henjaks stint as skipper only did good things I still think Henners is better than Cordingly and think he more than deserves to be the starting 9 for the Wallabies.

    Provided Bambams injury has not put him a few steps back i think they will be three of the outstanding performers next year.

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    Champion Contributor jazza93's Avatar
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    the future for the wallabies looks good.

    i would put digby in there to

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    any other names to throw in the mix? i think the last few years' schoolboys teams will contribute alot come 2011 ie- beale, cooper, toomua, mccalman, tpn, faingaa twins, turner, toua, hamlin, pocock, salvi, lolotonga etc.... Probaly a few league converts aswell tahu and i can see a few of the young melbourne storm players returning.

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    Last edited by Endurance; 11-11-07 at 12:20. Reason: ...

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    Not much to add other than, watching the Spirit/Aces match this year, I thought Blake had his arse handed to him.

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