August 23, 2005
Well, there you go ...
It's hard to be down on the Wallabies after Saturday night. They tried their hearts out and had the better of most of the game. The attack looked patchy - quite inept in places - and lacked any kind of penetration but under the circumstances that's probably understandable.
George Gregan played better than he has for a long time (although he fell apart when it counted at the end) and may have saved his career. Tough call, that one. Glad I don't have to make it.
But the injury worries have exposed another issue that has plagued Australian rugby for years - depth. When the All Blacks lost Dan Carter, they brought on Luke McAllister and there's not much difference. Lose Luke and they've still got Carlos Spencer and Andrew Merhtens, not to mention a few other promising youngsters, to fall back on. Some of the British Lions and NPC games show that New Zealand has plenty of talent below Super 12 level.
But when the Wallabies lose Stephn Larkham, there's a big gap back to the next two, and with them gone, the cupboard is bare. What's worse, apart from the top three, none of the prospects has test experience. In the front row, things are even worse. True, the Wallabies seem awash with loose forwards and quality outside backs, but that's rarely where games are won and lost. What happened to Australia's depth?
This is exactly the problem that made the Brumbies an early success, with disgruntled QLD and NSW players forming a formidable, if untried, lineup that soon proved it's ability. It's also a problem that will get better once the Western Force have a few seasons under their belt and the National Club Competition was specifically mooted to bring club-level players closer to international experience.
Some weeks ago there was a comment made that perhaps we need to re-introduce scrummaging techniques at an earlier age and stop bagging props as stupid to improve Australia's front-row stocks. Certainly, that's an area teh Wallabies have been down on for a few years.
I have no doubt that Australia has the talent to make up the difference but we don't seem to be using it effectively, not developing it adequately.Posted by Hughie at August 23, 2005 10:31 AM