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Is Wallabies’ 10 really the issue – or is it who wears 1 to 5?

Quade Cooper. Robbie Deans. World Cup meltdown. Toxic environment.

 OK. Now we’ve got that out of the way, how about we do as Deans himself is so often inclined to say … play what’s in front of us.

 The Australian selectors have shown their hand – at least the “core” of it – so let’s get on with it. There’s no value in dwelling on history, and its ramifications, while time ticks away in the countdown to such a monumental Test series.

 Let’s face it, too. Do we really believe it’s who wears 10 that’s going to ultimately decide the Wallabies’ fortunes against Warren Gatland’s British and Irish Lions?

 Or, in a series that looms as a genuine battle of attrition, is it who wears 1 to 5?

 Somehow, as much as I can understand the polarisation and passion the Cooper-Deans imbroglio has generated, I think it’s that front-five confrontation – and, more specifically, the Wallabies’ ability, or otherwise, to measure up in that area – that should be the focus of speculation right now.

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 If we have to live with rugby’s tedious scrum resets, I wish more referees would take a leaf out of Lourens van der Merwe’s book — even if, strictly speaking, the South African whistleblower may be overstepping the mark.

 I’m not big on stats, but no doubt there are boffins out there with some pretty damning figures showing just how much this blight on the game can eat into its playing time.

 How interesting then to see van der Merwe, in charge of last Friday night’s Hurricanes-Chiefs match in Wellington, call “time off” after several scrum collapses — until both packs had regained their footing and were ready to re-engage.

 Fox Sports’ Kiwi commentators were quick to question whether a referee is actually entitled to stop the clock in such circumstances – and I, like them, haven’t been able to find the definitive answer. But they were just as quick to commend van der Merwe’s refreshingly commonsense approach.

 What a shame, whatever the reason, it’s not the norm.

 — Peter Thomson




2 Responses to Is Wallabies’ 10 really the issue – or is it who wears 1 to 5?

  • Leo says:

    Well, Pete, Johnny Wilkinson’s fans might choose to differ with you, as might the fans of Grant Fox, Dan Carter, Hugo Porta et al.
    I reckon the absence of Quade “Q.C.” Cooper from number 10 in the Australian Wallabies team is positively important to their prospects.

    • Admin says:

      Not for the first time, Leo, the thrust of my blog seems to have eluded you. I’m suggesting that if they can’t win the tight-five battle — or at least break square — it’ll barely matter who’s playing 10 for the Wallabies without a platform for front-foot ball.

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