It's not a matter of talent for Australia. We have plenty of it. It's impossible to seperate us, New Zealand and England in terms of talent, it's just a matter of finding the right balance.
- Eddie Jones has to go. He is not good for the team. He has this "holier than thou" approach and his constant use of the media is nothing but cr@p. He did great with the brumbies, but look at the list of players he had to deal with. His dealing of the Elton Flatley situation was pathetic. Sure he got out on the p1ss and missed the recovery session. Is that the worlds biggest crime?? Sure you lay **** on him, you fine him, but sacking him, particularly when there was no one to replace him was redicolous. And it's hard to oppose what Eddie did because you could easily be seen as "being soft".
- George Gregan probably isn't the best captain either. He is a great player and a good leader, and a good to have constantly in the referees face, but he doesn't have the respect from referees and outsiders that others do. Eales was a great captain. Kefu would've made a great captain. Gregan whinges and whines too much.
But obviousbly they are not going to sack captain and coach 6 months out from WC time, so that is more something for the next world cup. But for the moment, what we need to do:
- somehow find spots for all four of Finegan, Lyons, Kefu and Smith in the starting XV, but this unfortunately can't be done because we'd than have 1 lineout jumper. So One of those is going to be put onto the bench, and it will probably be Finegan and he'll be used more as an impact player. Phil Waugh is a good player, and played quite well on the weekend, but with George Smith seen as the number 1 small back rower, it makes the pack a bit light on to go on with 2 small back rowers. You need some go forward.
- Daniel Vickerman has to come in. When he's there we are a better team, Giffin is a gun, but should be an impact player of the bench late in the match. Vickerman is a superb line-out jumper.
- Also try something different with the scrum and bring in Ben Darwin for Young or Noriega. Get some younger blood in there, try and get something different happening. It's a difficult choice here, because the problem is in the scrum. Noriega is better than Young in the scrum, but Noriega is completely useless aroun the ground - to the point he's a liablity outside of the scrum. Young is a bit weaker in the scrum, but aroudn the ground he's good. Darwin is a bit in between. But we do need to mix something up with the props because the Noreiga/Young thing isn't happening.
- Jeremy Paul has had a shocking season and as such form must be rewarded. Brendan Cannon come on down. Great for him - looked like his international career was over when Adam Freier took his spot last year, but he's back there now. Cannon is now Australian's number 1 hooker. Freier will be the next WC hooker. The lineouts would be great, because in Vickerman and Sharpe we have two great jumpers, but Paul can't hit them.
So our forward pack should read - Young, Cannon, Darwin, Sharpe, Vickerman, Lyons, Smith, Kefu. On the bench Noriega or Stiles (whats happened to him), Paul, Giffin and Finegan.
Also a few others should be bought upto the squad - Rocky Elsom definetaly but isn't in our strongest team just yet. Where's Justin Harrison?? He should be in the mix, while Daniel Heenan looks pretty good.
The unfortuante thing is that hasn't changed our forward pack a whole heap, although a few clerical changes were made, and it was really the forwards were things went wrong. The scrums were bad (perhaps maybe Noriega should stay in?? tough choice), the rucks were back (this is why Young should stay infront of Noriega??), the lineouts were bad (Cannon comes in). More forwards thrust in the backrow as well with Lyons and Kefu as the ball runners, while Smith is the smaller mobiler player.
Since the departure of Eales and David Wilson our forward pack has never been the same.
Now to the backs:
The biggest priority, by miles in front of anything else is M. Rogers;
- Rogers must play from the start. As Ray Chesterton said in yesterday Telegraph, 'having Rogers on the bench, is like leaving a shotgun in your tent while your out hunting elephants with a slingshot' Where Rogers should be at?? I dont know, anywhere. Admittedly he hasn't played for a while, so yes he probably shouldn't have started for the Pom test, but by the time Tri-Nations comes around, if he isn't in the starting line-up we might as well forget it.
- Roff must get closer to the play. He makes so few mistakes, and has a great ability to do something out of the ordinary. The best bet is probably Fullback, because Latham once again is proving to be the super 12 extrodinaire (sp??) who struggles at the test scene. If Latham can turn it around, then Roff should be given a shot at outside centre - if he doesn't prove to be much of an outside centre (which I think he'd be great at) than he goes back to wing, and we just need to get the ball to him more often.
- At Five-Eight we are lucky with the emergence of Flatley behin Larkham. Larkham is still number 1, but Flatley has proven he can well and truly do the job. Rogers at 5/8 wouldn't be a bad bet either at some point for trial. Gregan obviousbly at halfback.
- Sailor is doing great on one wing - must stay. Tiquri is proving excellent as an impact player of th bench - must stay. At the moment, Latham is copping the axe for mine.
- In the centres, I like Kefu and Turinui. They are doing great, but one of them will have to make way for Rogers.
And with Ben Tune still to come back, he is probably still regarded as one of our best wingers. Stirling Mortlock is still to come back, but considering he probably wouldn't of played any footy all season, its hard to see him having an impact in the WC.
Burkey will have little influence on this test season, although he is still probably the best goalkicker in Australia.
Matt Giteau will also get fleeting runs.
Daniel Herbert is GAWN!!
So at the moment I think our backline should look like:
Gregan, Larkham, Tune/Tiquri, Rogers/Kefu, Rogers/Turuniu, Sailor, Roff and on the bench is Whittaker, Grey/Giteau/Turuniu/Kefu, Tune/Tiquri/Latham/Burke/Mortlock.
As you can see this does look like being a very complicated picture to paint, but there really isn't much wrong with the backs - if we get the ball out, we'll do well in this world cup. The problem is coming from the forwards.
And I've made a few minor changes, but ones which I think will help. Although taking Noriega out of the scrum will slightly weaken the scrum, Darwin will just add somethin around the ground. As I stated, around the ground Noriega is a liability. In the line-out we've sured it up abit with Brendan Cannon and Daniel Vickerman. While the back Row has go forward power of Lyons, Kefu with Finegan of the bench combined with the pilfering power of Smith.