Wow! The build up to the Bledisloe Cup match in Sydney on Saturday has been amazing. And there are still two days to go!
Not one ‘unique group’ or ‘deposit in belief’ to be heard anywhere! Just clear, concise answers in language we can all understand! The speculation over the make up of our side has been intense with articles littering the papers and the internet!
Everyone has had their say and now so have the wallaby coaching staff. The reaction to the team has been pretty much universal approval. Think back and try to remember the last time you’ve been this happy with the Wallaby team? Yes it’s been that long. How does it feel? It feels pretty good doesn’t it.
Well feelings are for guys that wear jerseys with double digit numbers on them! We’re here to do a preview!
Tatafu Polota-Nau has done a hamstring (instant dismissal from the frontrowers club) (two weeks), Peter Kimlin broke his thumb at training (four weeks), and from outside the original squad Wycliff Palu has a knee injury (four weeks) while Kurtley Beale (shoulder), David Pocock (knee), Scott Higginbotham (shoulder), Pat McCabe (neck) and Digby Ioane (shoulder) are gone for the year.
The big news is Daniel Carter has done his calf, while Wyatt Crockett has a bung knee and Liam Messam is a late withdrawal with a hamstring problem.
Normally the Wallabies would be pretty happy with Carter and Messam on the sideline but Aaron Cruden, who has just won his second consecutive Super Rugby title, will step into his spot and the team will hardly miss a beat. While Liam Messam’s replacement Stephen Luatua might be making his run-on debut but his form leading into the match has been phenomenal!
After a few minutes of Super Rugby and a friendly against a Crusaders side McCaw is back in the cockpit of the All Blacks 747. There are a few punters and commentators suggesting he’s underdone. I’m not one of them. At 32 years of age and 116 Test matches Richie McCaw know every shortcut on a rugby field and the Rolls Royce V12 under the hood just won’t give up. I think that despite his limited build-up he still has what it takes at this level.
Australia v. New Zealand
Australia New Zealand
James Slipper 1 Tony Woodcock
Stephen Moore 2 Andrew Hore
Ben Alexander 3 Owen Franks
Rob Simmons 4 Luke Romano
James Horwill (c) 5 Samuel Whitelock
Hugh McMeniman 6 Steve Luatua
Michael Hooper 7 Richie McCaw (capt)
Ben Mowen 8 Kieran Read
Will Genia 9 Aaron Smith
Matt Toomua 10 Aaron Cruden
James OConnor 11 Julian Savea
Christian Leali'ifano 12 Ma'a Nonu
Adam Ashley-Cooper 13 Conrad Smith
Israel Folau 14 Ben Smith
Jesse Mogg 15 Israel Dagg
Reserves Saia Faingaa 16 Keven Mealamu
Scott Sio 17 Ben Franks
Sekope Kepu 18 Charlie Faumuina
Scott Fardy 19 Brodie Retallick
Liam Gill 20 Sam Cane
Nic White 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow
Quade Cooper 22 Beauden Barrett
Tevita Kuridrani 23 Ryan Crotty *
Date: 17/08/2013 Location: ANZ Stadium, Sydney Kickoff: 20:05 EST Referee: Craig Joubert (RSA) AR1: Jaco Peyper (RSA) AR2: Lourens van der Merwe (RSA) TMO: Shaun Veldsman (RSA)
The Wallabies have moved James Slipper from his normal tighthead spot to the loosehead side and kept Ben Alexander at tighthead. Stephen Moore is, as always, the best hooker available. Without knowing the results of the new scrum engagement laws three strong frontrowers seems like the way to go.
The Second row is the Reds duo of Rob Simmons and James Horwill. Simmons’ inclusion has been questioned but his 61 lineout takes is the second highest for an Australian this year and his tackling rate of 93 per cent for the season is nothing to be sneezed at.
Hugh McMeniman has won the race for the hotly contested number 6 jersey And Michael Hooper the number 7 despite Liam Gill being the favourite of many a
commentator Queenslander (Ed.). Ben Mowen, the leading lineout operator, fills out a very capable backrow at number 8
Will Genia is almost an automatic choice at halfback and Matt Toomua, deservingly, will debut at flyhalf. His form in the later part of the season has simple been too hard to resist. The centres are unchanged from the Lions series. Leali’ifano and Ashley-Cooper are the form centres in the Australian conference and would be hard to unseat. The back three are James O’Connor, Israel Folau and Jesse Mogg.
Nick Cummins could feel a little unlucky not to get a run on one wing but it’s hard to see where he’s better than O’Connor and Folau. Jesse Mogg as had a great season but there are serious questions with his defence. He missed over 40 per cent of the tackles he attempted in Super Rugby and as Jamie Miller Suggested in his Flyhalf series of articles that’s way too many misses for an international player.
The New Zealand team is just full of experience! 874 caps across the 23 players. Tony Woodcock , Andrew Hore and Owen Franks make up an impressive front row. Luke Romano and Sam Whitelock are two of the best locks in the world and can sorely test opposition lineouts and are both strong runners with the ball.
The backrow is Luatua, McCaw and Kieran Read. Read and McCaw are world class and it must be amazing to start your international career beside them.
With the loss of Carter, there has been some disruption in the backs. Cruden is in. Ma’a Nonu is having trouble with his ankle but will play. I don’t think either will let the side down. Conrad Smith, who at 31 years of age shows no sign of slowing down, is the outside centre. Cruden, Nonu and Smith will form a potent midfield.
The back three are Julian Savea, Ben Smith and Israel Dagg. Dagg is a dangerous counter attacker and has a massive boot to get the New Zealanders on the front foot.
This ‘weakened’ All Black team still looks pretty scary!
The Fearless prediction!
I think Australian rugby has just turned a corner. We’re on an upwards path but I also think it’s just too soon to predict a win. We have a new coaching team, new playing patterns and new players. They have a settled coaching team, an established team and massive experience. Then there are the questions surrounding the untried scrum Laws to add to the uncertainty.
Simply put I just don’t see how we can do it! So…
Australia by 10!
Carn the Wallabies!