If the first two tests were “tinkering with the A team”, this this team selection criteria seems to be “stuff it, let’s just chuck ’em on”.
The changes in the backline worry me less – really it’s just Buns getting a chance at 10 with Quade at 12 – Gits on the bench should things go pear shaped.
However, the pack has got me concerned. Last weekend we got done in the loose for muscle and just about held the scrum. However, the light-weight back row remains, with that age-old failed experiment of Smith at 8 getting re-visited.
And the heavyweight replacement on the bench is…..Phil Waugh. Could Robbie achieve a first of three openside flankers on at once?
But most worrying is the front row – a noted strength of the Italians. The golfer and some-time prop Pek Cowan makes his debut at loose head and novice tight head Ben Alexander continues his education in the role, backed up by specialist loose-head Benn Robinson. What the fuck? Mallet must be talking the ears off anyone who’ll listen about their chances.
Finally, the team manager almost got a run but no Lote or Tahu. Ouch.
15. James O’Connor (Western Force)
14. Lachie Turner (NSW Waratahs)
13. Ryan Cross (Western Force)
12. Quade Cooper (Queensland Reds)
11. Peter Hynes (Queensland Reds)
10. Berrick Barnes (Queensland Reds)
9. Luke Burgess (NSW Waratahs)
8. George Smith (c) (Brumbies)
7. David Pocock (Western Force)
6. Peter Kimlin (Brumbies)
5. Dean Mumm (NSW Waratahs)
4. James Horwill (Queensland Reds)
3. Ben Alexander (Brumbies)
2. Tatafu Polota-Nau (NSW Waratahs)
1. Pekahou Cowan (Western Force)
16. Stephen Moore (Brumbies)
17. Benn Robinson (NSW Waratahs)
18. Nathan Sharpe (Western Force)
19. Phil Waugh (NSW Waratahs)
20. Josh Valentine (Western Force)
21. Matt Giteau (Western Force)
22. Adam Ashley-Cooper (Brumbies)