Wallabies World Cup Squad: Hot or Not?

Wallabies World Cup Squad: Hot or Not?

It’s been a huge day in Australian rugby. Many of you picked the demise of Matt Giteau, a few picked the inclusion of Rob Horne. But no one saw a new Wallaby skipper in their crystal ball.

Oh, there were plenty calling for Rocky Elsom’s head, and a few even went a far as saying that James Horwill should replace him. But no one thought Robbie Deans would have the chutzpah to change horses this close to the World Cup. What’s my opinion? James Horwill is the best choice for Wallaby skipper right now. And this will allow Rocky to concentrate on his game instead of running around doing the captain thing.

Now for the squad. There will be a few arguments about its makeup. I thought I would break it into groups and see if there were better options left at home. Let’s start at the front end.


Ben Alexander, Sekope Kepu, Salesi Ma’afu, James Slipper

The withdrawal of Benn Robinson has left the door open for Ma’afu. he seems to have dropped a fair bit of weight since the Wallabies training camp on the gold coast a few weeks ago. I still have concerns about his ability to contribute anywhere but the scrum. James Slipper is coming off an injury lay-off as well. He doesn’t appear to have the same weight problems as Ma’afu but his lack of game time must also be a worry. Both Alexander and Kepu are playing well and can hold up both sides of the scrum fingers crossed both make it through the first few weeks unscathed.

Who missed out? Ben Daley and Pek Cowan.

Are they better than the guys in the squad? I don’t think so.

Conclusion: I think they got this one right.


Saia Faingaa, Stephen Moore, Tatafu Polota-Nau

Stephen Moore has been amongst our best players every game this Tri Nations. And he appears to be a rarity in Test rugby these days: a hooker who can play for 80 minutes. Tatafu Polota-Nau is returning from injury and may take a few weeks to get up to speed. But when he is on song there are few hookers in the world who can keep up with him. Saia Faingaa is the youngest of the three and there will be a few punters unhappy with his selection. He is part of the victorious Queensland Reds side and the big game experience he picked up on their run to the title probably got him over the line here.

Who missed out? Nathan Charles, John Ulugia, James Hanson.

Are they better than the guys in the squad? I don’t think so.

Conclusion: I think they got this one right.

Second Row:

James Horwill, Rob Simmons, Nathan Sharpe, Dan Vickerman

Horwill is the form Australian lock. Nathan Sharpe is not far behind. Rob Simmons is the young up-and-comer who calls the lineout for the reds, and Dan Vickerman was a lineout guru and a hard man in the tight stuff but is coming back off a long lay-off. Horwill and Sharpe walk into this squad. Simmons is not such a certain pick but I think he has shown enough to be worth an investment now. Vickerman is a bit of a smokey. He certainly was good enough when he left Australia. But can he find some of that form off a few weeks training, 20 minutes of Super rugby  a second tier test match and a few club games? Only time will tell. I hope the selectors got it right here.

Who missed out? Siteleki Temani, Dean Mumm.

Are they better than the guys in the squad? I don’t think so.

Conclusion: They got this one right.

Back row:

Rocky Elsom, Scott Higginbotham, Ben McCalman, David Pocock, Radike Samo, Wycliff Palu

Elsom missed 99.999% of the Super season. He is starting to find some form but these things don’t happen over night. Higginbotham polarises supporters. They either love him or hate him. He certainly was one of the form back-rowers of the Super rugby comp. McCalman is a lighter style 8 who has had trouble making an impact at test level. Pocock is our best fetcher no doubt. But is a fetcher that important at the moment? Pocock picked up 3 penalties last test.  Samo is my favourite pick in the squad. He is big and mobile and sometimes has beautiful handling and sometimes, well he doesn’t. Palu, a notoriously slow starter, is coming back from injury. He looks very fit this time and the scapula break probably didn’t stop him putting a lot of miles in his legs.

Who missed out? Beau Robinson, Matt Hodgson.

Are they better than the guys in the squad? This is a tough one. Maybe better, maybe worse. Certainly both players have a different style to the players picked. I am a Robinson fan and Hodgson is pretty good even if he doesn’t play for the Reds. Robinson is an out-and-out openside and harder to fit onto the bench. Hodgson is more adaptable but pretty light and short for this level.

Conclusion: I hate to say it but yes they did. Even though McCalman and Higginbotham are very similar players they can cover the positions of the two left out. But having only one openside flanker in the squad is still a worry.


Will Genia, Luke Burgess, Nick Phipps

Genia? Well duh. Burgess is definitely the second-best half in the country. Phipps has been picked with an eye to the future. He is still learning to steer a forward pack around.

Who missed out? Josh Valentine, Pat Phibbs.

Are they better than the guys in the squad? No.

Conclusion: This one is spot on.

Five Eigth

Quade Cooper

Cooper is the only full time five-eighth in the squad. His pairing with Genia may be the best in the world right now.

Who missed out? Matt Giteau.

Is he better than the guy in the squad? The question is ‘Is Giteau a better five-eighth than Cooper?’ No, he isn’t. Should he be in the squad? I’m really not sure about that. I can see both sides of that argument. So I will just stay here on the fence, thank you very much.

Conclusion: They got it right.


Adam Ashley-Cooper, Berrick Barnes, Anthony Faingaa, Rob Horne, Pat McCabe

Ashley-Cooper is a frustrating player to watch. In form he has a great fend and can bend the line. But I have never seen him set up his winger for anything. He is not in form. Barnes is a converted five-eighth with a penchant for kicking a lot. When he is in an attacking mood he can draw in players and put people through holes. With Faingaa you know what you’re getting. He will straighten and he will lead the defence. Rob Horne has a very long history of breaking. Le’ts hope the faith shown in him is rewarded. Pat McCabe does the same things as Faingaa. Robbie Deans prefers McCabe; I like Faingaa.

Who missed out? Matt Giteau, Ryan Cross.

Are they better than the guys in the squad? Maybe Giteau.

Conclusion: It was a toss-up between Barnes and Giteau. It’s pretty close. I’d say they got it right.


Digby Ioane, Drew Mitchell

Ioane and Mitchell  are the only full-time wingers listed in the squad. Ioane is at the top of his game. And so was Mitchell before breaking his leg.

Who missed out? Lachie Turner, Rod Davies

Are they better than the guys in the squad? No. While both are good fast wingers they are not in the same class as Ioane and Mitchell.

Conclusion: This one is right.


Kurtley Beale, James O’Connor

Beale has found his spot since moving to fullback to make way for Barnes at the Waratahs. He has been found out of position a couple of times in defence. Perhaps the adjustments made to cover Cooper’s defensive frailty have unsettled him slightly. O’Connor is listed as a fullback despite playing every Test as a winger.

Who missed out? Ben Lucas.

Is he better than the guys in the squad? OK, I admit Lucas is a stretch. He does cover halfback, five-eighth and fullback but Beale and O’Connor are better options.

Conclusion: This one is right.

Despite Matt Giteau’s exclusion this is not a contentious squad. I would like to know which players you would have had in your squad, who they would replace and why.


Just another Rugby tragic. Shane "Sully" Sullivan has been in man love with the game since high school in the 70's. He inflicts his passion on family and anyone who will listen. He can't guarantee unbiased opinion but he can tell you the Reds are Awesome! To read non-rugby content head to

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