The increasingly strident calls for more Queensland Reds input into the Wallaby test side have been answered with both Radike Samo and Anthony Faingaa recalled for duty.
For Samo it’s more of a resurrection, but for Faingaa its as a substitute for a selfish and unprofessional James O’Connor, whose poor judgment has left the Wallabies’ outside backs exposed in what is adjudged to be the most important game of the year to date.
His suspension has caused a dilemma as the third winger Drew Mitchell is clearly not yet ready for test rugby despite being named in the RWC squad. The selectors have been forced to move Adam Ashley-Cooper from outside centre to cover and give the gig to Ant.
There have been many pundits, myself included, calling for Faingaa’s selection in the First XV, so I’m comfortable with this decision. It’ll be interesting to see how a McCabe/Faingaa midfield functions — directly I expect? The goalkicking duties have been handed over to Quade Cooper.
As for Samo, he’ll be providing bulk and aggression from the back. Along with the inclusion of Dan Vickerman, the pack looks like its been picked with the All Black’s physicality in mind.
Scott Higginbotham returns to the reserve bench after an underwhelming performance in the Springbok test but he’s another ideally suited to making an impact late in the game.
After the last week or two I’d be expecting an angry former captain in Rocky Elsom making a statement about his form and intentions.
With a five/two split on the bench, Robbie Deans has left the naming of the final back reserve until some time later. Matt Giteau (along with others) has been withdrawn from the Barbarians v Canada match with a slight strain so they’re probably waiting to see how Berrick Barnes goes on Friday. I’d imagine they’d be too embarrassed to include Lachie Turner….
What strikes me is the folly of not naming a backup No 7 in the RWC squad. I think this shortsightedness is something that could quite easily come back to bite us on the rump.
Has JOC’s stupidity weakened the Wallabies’ campaign? Yes, for sure. Not only that but it’s raised this other ridiculous assertion about a Paris pissup and alleged misbehaviour by JOC and his mates.
This overblown, hyped, media beat-up has been a shitstorm in a tea cup and some of the journo’s involved certainly haven’t covered themselves in any glory. In fact, they’re just as unprofessional as O’Connor if you ask me?
You can bet your bottom dollar that this untimely distraction will be front and centre if the Wallabies go belly-up on Saturday.
I think it’s a good selection but a bit ragged when it comes to who’s fit and the balance on the bench.
Wallabies: 15. Kurtley Beale 14. Adam Ashley-Cooper 13. Anthony Fainga’a 12. Pat McCabe 11. Digby Ioane 10. Quade Cooper 9. Will Genia 8. Radike Samo 7. David Pocock 6. Rocky Elsom 5. James Horwill 4. Dan Vickerman 3. Ben Alexander 2. Stephen Moore 1. Sekope Kepu
Reserves: 16. Saia Fainga’a 17. Salesi Ma’afu 18. Rob Simmons 19. Ben McCalman 20. Scott Higginbotham 21. Luke Burgess 22. To be advised
There are a number of changes to the Australian Barbarians teams to play Canada on Friday night:
Mark Gerrard, Matt Giteau and Ben Daley are all unavailable. Their places in the match night squad have been taken by Bernard Foley (Australian Sevens), Ben Lucas and Greg Holmes.
15. Lachie Turner 14. Rod Davies 13. Rob Horne 12. Ben Tapuai 11. Drew Mitchell 10. Berrick Barnes 9. Nick Phipps 8. Pat McCutcheon 7. Matt Hodgson 6. Dave Dennis 5. Nathan Sharpe 4. Sitaleki Timani 3. James Slipper 2. Tatafu Polota Nau 1. Pekahou Cowan
Reserves: 16. James Hanson 17. Greg Holmes 18. Dean Mumm 19. Beau Robinson 20. Ben Lucas 21. Luke Morahan 22. Bernard Foley
The All Black team will be selected from their RWC Squad, which was named today:
Backs: Mils Muliaina, Israel Dagg, Isaia Toeava, Corey Jane, Zac Guildford, Conrad Smith, Richard Kahui, Ma’a Nonu, Sonny Bill Williams, Dan Carter, Colin Slade, Jimmy Cowan, Piri Weepu, Andy Ellis
Forwards: Kieran Read, Victor Vito, Richie McCaw (capt), Adam Thomson, Jerome Kaino, Ali Williams, Brad Thorn, Sam Whitelock, Anthony Boric, Owen Franks, John Afoa, Ben Franks, Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu, Andrew Hore, Corey Flynn