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Thread: Wallabies likely to call on rookies to hook in

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    Wallabies likely to call on rookies to hook in

    Wallabies likely to call on rookies to hook in

    GREG GROWDEN
    May 25, 2010


    THE Wallabies may be forced to play two novice hookers for the opening Test against Fiji in Canberra on June 5 as Tatafu Polota-Nau is in doubt with a shoulder injury.

    With Stephen Moore sidelined for several months with a fractured jaw, Polota-Nau was scheduled to take over as Australia's No.1 hooker. However, Polota-Nau's decision to play with a shoulder complaint, which revolves around inflammation of the AC joint, since the Crusaders match in Christchurch on April 10 has taken its toll.

    When Polota-Nau returned to Sydney with the Waratahs yesterday, he was troubled by his sore shoulder and the Wallabies' medical staff want to assess him this week before deciding whether he will be available for next month's Tests.

    However, there is a strong belief the Wallabies will rest him for the bigger Tests in June against England and Ireland. The most likely to move into the Test 22 are the Reds' Saia Faingaa and Huia Edmonds, who has performed well when coming off the bench for the Brumbies this season.

    Polota-Nau conceded that his shoulder is ''not that good''. ''But I'm still hoping all is well with it and that I will be OK for the Fiji game,'' he said yesterday.

    The Wallabies' medical staff will also assess wingers Lachie Turner (ribs) and Drew Mitchell (bruised forearm) this week.

    England five-eighth Jonny Wilkinson is also in doubt for the Australian tour and will undergo scans this week after hurting his back during Toulon's European Challenge Cup final loss to Cardiff on Sunday.

    England have, meanwhile, resolved their pay dispute that threatened to divide the team during their tour of Australia and New Zealand. The pay row concerned some of the squad receiving at least 10,000 more than other tourists if they made the Test team. An independent third party was appointed and the confidential recommendations have been accepted.

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    Hooker has Robbie Deans facing a big dilemma

    Wayne Smith, Rugby union editor From: The Australian May 27, 2010 12:00AM

    WALLABIES hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau's injury situation is more complicated than first revealed, confronting coach Robbie Deans with the agonising choice of losing him for the entire year or playing him for ever-reducing returns.
    If Polota-Nau's problems extended no further than his unstable shoulder, the worst-case scenario probably would be he would miss next month's Tests against Fiji, England and Ireland but then return for the Tri-Nations starting with the July 24 Brisbane Test against South Africa.

    But it understood he also has been troubled by painful bone spurs in his foot and ankle. Neither injury, of itself, has brought him to a halt but there are growing concerns that because he is severely limited in what weight and fitness training he can manage, he is running the risk of picking up an entirely new and major injury.

    Ankle surgery would sideline him for six weeks, which raises the question of whether he should also have his shoulder problem attended to at the same time, even if that puts him out for the rest of the year.

    The upside would be Polota-Nau then would have an uninterrupted lead-in to next year's World Cup. By keeping him ticking over now, the Wallabies could run the risk of losing a world-class player just when they need him most in 2011.

    Deans today almost certainly will name the Reds' Saia Faingaa and Huia Edmonds of the Brumbies as his hookers in the 30-man Test squad, with young Waratah Damian Fitzpatrick contending for the Australian Barbarians side to play England in two midweek games.

    Whichever of that trio of hookers comes through the next month most creditably is likely to be retained in the Tri-Nations 22 once Stephen Moore returns from his broken jaw.

    Moore yesterday was confident he would be able to play one or possibly two club matches before the series opener against South Africa.

    One player whose name will not feature in any Wallabies list this season is former captain Stirling Mortlock, who was released from hospital yesterday after surgery to cut away part of a spinal disc that was pressing on a nerve, sending pain through his lower back and legs.

    "That's probably written me off the rest of the year, including the spring tour, but I'm very confident I'll be right for next year," Mortlock told The Australian.

    "That gives me a great opportunity to build up for next year with the Melbourne Rebels.

    "And obviously next year brings the World Cup which hopefully would be the perfect way for me to finish off my international career."

    But such is the talent Deans is assembling Mortlock might need to bounce back to his very best if he is to add to his tally of 80 Tests.

    Indeed, former All Blacks coach John Mitchell made the extraordinary claim yesterday that Australia's World Cup squad is shaping up better than New Zealand's.

    "Australia probably has more depth than it has ever had while the All Blacks' depth is the lowest it has been for a long while," Western Force coach Mitchell said. "One year out from a World Cup, who would have thought Australia's base would be superior?"

    But Mitchell, speaking from the harsh experience of the 2003 World Cup when key injuries left his All Blacks badly exposed, warned that weakness in even one position could bring the Wallabies undone.

    "There is not a lot of depth at nine (halfback)," Mitchell said.

    "That affects the game and the game plan."

    As worrying as is the drop-off in standard from Will Genia to the next-best number nine, more worrying still is the lack of back-up for Nathan Sharpe in the second row.

    The return next year from a knee reconstruction of James Horwill will ease some of those concerns, but the really exciting news for Australia is that it now seems certain Dan Vickerman will figure in Australia's World Cup plans, even if he takes no part in next year's Super 15.

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    Vickerman & Sharpe will be great but how much rugby has Vickerman played since he trolloped off to Uni?

    Genia might be great but have we ever had two great 9's anyway.. theres always been daylight behind Gregan when he was the incumbant and before him Farr-jones.

    South Africa are the only team to have a number of halfbacks of equal or similar quality year in and year out (well as far back as Jooste VD Westhuisen at least, currently Du Preez is looking sharp.. but they also have Rory Kockott, Sarel Pretorius, Duvenage, January and even Ruan Peinaar is no slouch)


    i Wouldnt worry about half back, Valo & Sheehan and even Phipps are good enough bench warmers. (NSW are deluded if they think Burgess is quality.. his passes are like stray bullets in bagdad)

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    Burgess needs his mother to wash his mouth out with soap I know that!

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