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Wallabies looking just fine thank you

There’s a bit of doom and gloom out there about Australian rugby after some disappointing results and performances in recent weeks by the Super 14 teams. Some bloggers and experts have claimed that the future looks dire, especially for the Wallabies. I could not disagree more.

When you take the best attributes from Queensland, NSW, WA, and the ACT you come up with a 15 that will beat the All Blacks and South Africa this year. Robbie Deans will have a proper preparation for the Internationals and Tri Nations something he missed out on last year.

Let’s look at this a different way. NSW is the leading Australian side but lacks some of the finer skills locked up by the other states. Let’s use the Waratahs as our starting team then cherry pick from the others to produce our Wallaby team.

The front row is performing well but it would be better with Stephen Moore at hooker. So we have Benn Robinson, Stephen Moore and Al Baxter, no surprises there. Now to the second row and let’s put in James Horwill from the Reds and Nathan Sharpe from the Force. Still nothing dramatic so far but already the NSW pack is being assimilated into our multicultural rugby society.

The back row must begin with Rocky Elsom who will play for Australia this year. Is he a Waratah still? Let’s say yes for the moment. George Smith at open side and Richard Brown at Number 8 make up the pack.

So the count so far: NSW 3, ACT 2, Qld 1 & WA 2.

I made these selections in consultation with Mark Cashman and it’s all pretty obvious. The point though … is that these players don’t get picked because Australia has four teams at the top of the Super 14 table. They get picked because they are the best performing players in their position regardless of where their team is ranked. The incorrect assumption is that the national team will suffer as a result of ladder positions.

Just look at our forward pack and see how the NSW has been reduced from 8 to 3 in our selection process which we’ll continue now with the backs.

The Waratahs scrumhalf Luke Burgess stays but we solve the on-going flyhalf issue by picking Matt Giteau and Berrick Barnes at 10 and 12. The Wallaby captain, Stirling Mortlock, also fills the void at 13. That was pretty simple but the next bit isn’t so easy.

We found the selection of the back three not so clear cut. We’ve made a few calls but we’re not completely convinced.

On one wing Digby Ioane. He has caused havoc for the opposition this year and will continue to improve under Deans. The other wing goes to Lote Tuqiri and although not the speed demon he once was his experience, work rate and ability to attract defenders make him a must. Drew Mitchell is our fullback. He’s had a good year with the Force although some defensive lapses last weekend

So the final count is NSW 5, ACT 3, Qld 3, & WA4. Our NSW line-up was the starting base but it’s ended up looking quite different.

The top side from Australia and the competition for a large slab this year doesn’t even dominate the starting side of our 2009 Wallabies.

The point is Robbie Deans and his selectors aren’t looking at basing the Wallabies around one team, they have their own team in mind by analysing the game at a deeper level than points on a log.

Deans said on this very show that he had no one pencilled in for this year but that may have changed by now. Let’s see how it pans out in two months.

RuggaMatrix 2009 Wallaby XV

1. Benn Robinson – NSW 2. Stephen Moore – ACT 3. Al Baxter – NSW 4. James Horwill – Qld 5. Nathan Sharpe – WA 6. Rocky Elsom – NSW 7. George Smith – ACT 8. Richard Brown – WA 9. Luke Burgess – NSW 10. Matt Giteau – WA 11.Digby Ioane – Qld 12. Berrick Barnes – Qld 13. Stirling Mortlock – ACT 14. Lote Tuqiri – NSW 15. Drew Mitchell – WA

NSW – 5 Qld – 3 ACT – 3 WA – 4