Hugh McMeniman (QLD): The debate continues to rage. Is MMM better suited to playing lock or blindside? Some say he plays a tighter, more aggressive game when at lock, whilst others will suggest he hasn’t the physicality or strength for lock. I could imagine it would be tough to find your groove being shunted around week to week. Its fair to suggest, however, that his mobility, pace and skills aren’t in question. Just his impact.
The likely candidates:
Dean Mumm (NSW): Similar questions to those asked of MMM, except that Mumm has probably shown more consistency in his ability to play either position. In his favour has been the fact that he has been able to focus on the one position (namely lock) most of the season. However, like MMM, he has the mobility and indeed speed to play on the flank. Has become a real lineout general as well, which is a valuable string to his bow.
Richard Brown (WA): And why not? He’s one of the top performing backrowers in the country. Who says that the blindside flanker HAS to be a long loping wannabe lock. If Deans wants Palu’s power from the back, then Brown can provide his work rate from the side. He’s good enough, it just depends on the balance of the rest of the pack.
Rocky Elsom (AWOL): I’m calling him a roughie, but that’s just my little protest. I don’t think he should be able to walk straight back into the Wallaby team. Whilst the Wallabies are playing Italy and France, he should be playing club and earning his spot in Australia. When he does he should be the first picked forward however.
Scott Higginbottham (QLD): Getting Rougher by the week. Started the season all guns a blazing. The talk out of Ballymore was that his off-season was superb. And it showed on the field as he demonstrated his defensive and attacking capabilities. A technical hitch, I’m suggesting poor footwork, which has seen him miss too many tackles, has him now relegated to the bench, which won’t do his selection chances much good.
Mitchell Chapman (ACT): Wallaby selection for Mitch was first mooted a couple of years ago, when he was a Red. His move to the Brumbies was meant to hasten his selection. A quiet year last year seemed to continue as the 2009 season kicked off. Injuries, however, have given him a chance and he is relishing them. Mitch has shown real maturity for the Brums and, whilst being a dangerous runner and lineout linchpin, has shown he’s not afraid to do the hard work when required.
Ben Mowen (NSW): Now this was a proposition most unlikely early this year. And, in reality, its still pretty damn unlikely. But he’s surprised a few, has Ben, filling in for Rocky Elsom. He’s definitely busy around the park, and is a decent link man. Probably soesn’t have the physicality of a test forward just yet.
Matt Hodgson (WA): Another option many would have thought unthinkable at the start of the year. Hodgson was raved about as the next Aussie openside some years ago. After dominating club football, representing Australia at 7s and never really getting a clean shot at the Tahs, Hodgson moved West. Having played all three backrow positions, he has settled in the number 6 jersey in what has become, fairly easily arguable, the best Aussie backrow combination in the comp, and he has more than held his own. Who is to say he couldn’t do it on the global stage ala Richard Brown last year?
George Smith (ACT): A very left field option, but if for some reason Deans believes that Pocock must get game time now, or that Waugh has forced his way back into contention, then Smith’s versatility definitely enables him to play in the 6 jersey. And before you can cry “NOT DUAL FLYERS AGAIN”, the game has evolved, and perhaps a more mobile backrow is what is needed currently?
What is Deans looking for?
Rocky. He’s looking for Rocky Elsom. It’s an easy answer really. Deans wants Rocky. Leinster wants Rocky. The Reds want Rocky. The Tahs want Rocky. Rocky Rocky Rocky. It’s understandable really, as the only Wallaby who is a definite World XV starter, the Wallabies need him
Who is the answer?
Ahhh, who am I kidding? It’s Rocky. As much as I think he shouldn’t be able to collect his Wallaby jersey in the Arrival Lounge, we need him come Tri-Nations time. I’ve considered the other options – namely Mumm or McMeniman, and it’s just not as classy. I’d probably lean more towards a player like Brown or even Smith (with Pocock at 7) if Rocky wasn’t to come back.