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Thread: There is a deluge of local talent and Deans has a tough task filling the Wallabies ar

  1. #1
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    There is a deluge of local talent and Deans has a tough task filling the Wallabies ar

    John Connolly | May 3, 2009

    When you a pick a Wallabies squad of 30 players, the general approach is you want two of every position. And when you pick two of everything for the coming international season, I can't see any more than four positions being available in what looms as the Wallabies' most dangerous side in years.

    Australia kick off their international season against the Barbarians in Sydney next month. The depth in Australian rugby is tremendous and for the first time in a very long time, it's shaping as though there might not be a single debutant in the side, such is the talent available to Robbie Deans.

    As much as I'd like to see the likes of young Waratahs talent Rob Horne given a go, the list of centres at Australia's disposal means it's hard to see where he could possibly fit in. It's bad news for some of the young guys, but great news for Australian rugby.

    Automatic selections include loose-head props Benn Robinson and Ben Alexander. Selected as hookers will be Stephen Moore and Tatafu Polota-Nau. Tight-heads will be Al Baxter and Guy Shepherdson, who appear to be head and shoulders above the rest with Matt Dunning injured.

    The spots under tremendous scrutiny are the fullback, centres, halfback and lock positions.

    Since the departures of Matt Burke, Chris Latham and even Mat Rogers, fullback has been an Achilles heel for Australia. At the moment, the contenders appear to be Drew Mitchell and Adam Ashley-Cooper. However, Mitchell is naturally a winger, while Ashley-Cooper is definitely more suited to outside-centre or the wing.

    Lachie Turner and James O'Connor are further down the line, but still in contention, while Mark Gerrard has all but ruled himself out by deciding to go overseas.

    Stirling Mortlock will be one of the four centres selected, but whether he plays 13 or 14 is yet to be decided, having been shifted to the wing for the Brumbies after struggling for form.

    But with him and Ryan Cross on the wrong side of 30, Deans may be looking for some youth and there you have Phil Mooney pushing Digby Ioane very strongly. I feel he's more suited to wing than 13. Wing is where the Wallabies are spoilt for choice in the back line.

    The options are, of course, Mortlock moving out one with Berrick Barnes and O'Connor bidding for the No.12 spot, with Matt Giteau at No.10. I have a lot of time for Horne and Timana Tahu, but if only four centres are selected, then they could miss out. Halfback is an area of some concern, but the incumbent Luke Burgess should hold on to the jumper despite losing his spot at the Waratahs to Brett Sheehan.

    Josh Holmes has seen off the challenge of Patrick Phibbs at the Brumbies and is definitely a player on the way up and, if there's one bolter, it may well be Will Genia, the young Red. All the halfbacks have big areas of their games they have to work on. Burgess is a certainty, but who will be his deputy is anyone's guess.

    Lock is an area where Australia are well served despite Hugh McMeniman being sidelined due to an ankle injury, but the position still poses problems as to who to leave out. There are James Horwill, Mark Chisholm and Nathan Sharpe as the main contenders. Dean Mumm, who's more comfortable on the side of the scrum but can play lock, is also in heavy contention.

    An interesting thought is where Sharpe will end up in the wash-up, with Deans showing his position was under threat by leaving him out of the South African tour last year, preferring the more physical player.

    But Sharpe adds a certain expertise at the lineout, which will make him hard to leave out, at least out of the squad.

    All in all, they're good headaches for Deans to have, but I don't envy his position of having to cull some of the country's best players.

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  2. #2
    Legend Contributor Flamethrower's Avatar
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    Nothing there to argue about.

    I bet Connolly wishes he had the same problems during his tenure.

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    Veteran mudskipper's Avatar
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    Who will be the second Flyhalf, Barnes is the best, but may be required at 12... Cooper is at times all over the place...

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