JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

European campaign a useful audition for Lions tour

Date

Paul Cully

Prominent ... Michael Hooper's rise has been so fast that previously unthinkable scenarios, such as moving David Pocock to No.8 or introducing a job-sharing arrangement at openside, have been publicly entertained.

Prominent ... Michael Hooper's rise has been so fast that previously unthinkable scenarios, such as moving David Pocock to No.8 or introducing a job-sharing arrangement at openside, have been publicly entertained. Photo: Getty Images

If some members of the Wallabies squad to tour Europe announced yesterday are yet to fully comprehend the scale of the British and Irish Lions tour next year, they can be forgiven. When Justin Harrison put that massive left mitt in front of Martin Johnson in an iconic moment from the deciding third Test against the tourists in Sydney in 2001, Liam Gill was nine years old.

But that's about to change. When they flick through the British press while on their European travels they will quickly realise the spring tour is firmly being seen through the prism of next year's confrontation. The Guardian has already reported that Lions coach Warren Gatland regards these imminent jousts as more important than next year's Six Nations in terms of selection.

It's a view Robbie Deans probably has some time for: if this crew get the job done for him in arenas such as Twickenham and Millennium Stadium they will take a step towards a chance of securing their own Harrison moment. Of course, the flipside is also true. So much for the theory that Scott Higginbotham, only placed on standby yesterday, had dodged a bullet. It has quickly become clear what he has put at risk.

In that sense, the 30-man squad contained no surprises but was no less interesting for it. The chance of a bolter was slim, with one key selection philosophy established months ago by the omission of Ben Mowen. The Brumbies' captain was unlucky. His Super Rugby form was strong and his leadership impressive, but Deans was after a different model. He wants the Wallabies to play but is determined they first earn the right. Accordingly, those judged to have serious power and athleticism as part of their portfolio have had the advantage.

But if those on the outside looking in - the likes of Mowen, Joe Tomane, Cooper Vuna and even Rob Horne and Quade Cooper - now depend on strong Super campaigns to remind the coach of their abilities, there will also be some intriguing contests within the travelling party over the following weeks. Two, in particular, whet the appetite.

Michael Hooper's rise has been so fast that previously unthinkable scenarios, such as moving David Pocock to No.8 or introducing a job-sharing arrangement at openside, have been publicly entertained. Hooper has been remarkably prominent, but don't let Pocock fall victim to short memories. The man almost single-handedly won a World Cup quarter-final.

The first two Tests will be crucial. The tour can be split into two parts, with the challenges of France and England coming first, a fact that hurt Higginbotham's chances. If Pocock is not deemed ready, these will be the opportunities for Hooper to test himself against the tighter style of northern hemisphere play.

France will try to win the scrum and the collisions after it, before spreading it to the likes of the excellent Wesley Fofana.

England will do likewise. Theoretically, that sort of approach takes away of one Hooper's great strengths - his pace. The openside selection for the final Test, against Wales, might be the first clue as to how Deans sees the back row. There are no further Tests, no more auditions in the white-hot conditions that Super Rugby cannot replicate, before the opening Lions Test in Brisbane in June.

Another area of interest is the right-wing spot, where Drew Mitchell, Nick Cummins and Adam Ashley-Cooper have competing interests.

If we say that the coach and the unlucky Waratah haven't always seen eye to eye we probably don't understate it. But Deans keeps turning to him. His side is not scoring tries and Mitchell is a finisher. It may be two years ago but take a peek at a video of his try against the All Blacks in Hong Kong to remind yourself of his ability to hold width and depth and his straight-line speed.

Some of those named yesterday will probably be defined - for good or for bad - by what happens against the Lions in just eight months. They are unique occasions that captivate both hemispheres. For 30 lucky blokes yesterday, the journey there got a little shorter.

35 comments so far

  • Yeah thats all fine and dandy but the wobblies still have not earned anything solid or consistent in this wallaby fans mind. the deans era is coming to a close and he is still trying to work out how to coach an Australian team. The ARU obviously dont give a toss what there fans have been screaming at them to do and that is to FIRE Deans. ARU you dont exist without Wallaby fans like me DONT FORGET THAT.

    Commenter
    Salt
    Date and time
    October 26, 2012, 10:11AM
    • @ Salt
      What sort of a fan are you ? Really? I consider myself a fan but I certainly don't think I have the wherewithal when it comes to team selection, who the coach is or what strategy is in play. I realise that everyone is entitled to opinion but this must also have veracity.
      Therefore, I don't agree with your assertion that 'fans' want Robbie Deans fired and that the ARU wouldn't exist with-out 'fans' like you. Although, at times, I'm at odds with certain decisions that are made in regards to team selection et al I don't react by calling for the coaches head, etc.
      So please put- up or shut-up as to what the 'fans' want as far as YOU'RE concerned. If not, try to be constructive with your comments rather than being de-constructive.
      Alas, if your name were to appear, say in the Test Match program then I might take more notice but I think not, eh !

      Commenter
      Machooka
      Location
      next door
      Date and time
      October 26, 2012, 12:58PM
    • Spot on Machooka. Well said. I think some blokes (eg. Salt) just like to get on media bandwagons, or repeat the "popular" view. It's so easy to be a mindless critic.
      I think the coach is doin' quite well thank you. Until last test against the Saffers we were 5-0 up in the previous 5 tests against them - and they are No.3 behind Aust. Why isn't that fact mentioned more often, but no, its all about "10 years of Bledisloe drought", and so on. I say use the vs. Saffer benchmark, especially when results against the ABs are hard to come by when they have a great side. But get our best side on the paddock and see how we go against ABs in 2013. Some optimism doesn't hurt Salt.

      Commenter
      PJ man
      Location
      NSW
      Date and time
      October 26, 2012, 5:12PM
  • Paul..Drew Mitchell used to have straight line speed before two major injuries (and over 24 months)...it is a waste of a position to have him in the squad..he will be playing in Japan in 12 months time as his best is well past him.....

    Commenter
    Reds are the champs
    Date and time
    October 26, 2012, 10:12AM
    • @ Reds are the champs (or used to be) - I agree with you completely re: Drew Mitchell.
      When fit, Shipperley, Tomane & Vuna are all better options than him.
      2 major injuries do it to you.
      I hope QC comes back better & stronger next season 'cause his talent is undeniable.

      Commenter
      World in Union
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      October 26, 2012, 11:15AM
    • Reds are the champs, you are confused. It is not 2011 anymore. Even more confusing is your dislike of Drew Mitchell. Oh, hang on, he normally turns out in light blue - is that your problem? There's more to a good winger than speed, and Drew is a specialist - never caught out of position and a great finisher.

      My big concern is the buzz around Hooper/ Pocock. Deans already got rid of G Smith at least a year too early (he went on to be Heineken Cup's European player of the year). I think Pocock would be an even better player if he'd been mentored by Smith for another year. But credit to Pocock, he flourished anyway. Number 8 is an entirely different role. I only hope Pocock doesn't get played out of position - we would be weaker in both the 7 and 8 jumpers for it. Instead, he should be allowed to provide the mentoring he was denied for Hooper and Gill

      Commenter
      Omega
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      October 26, 2012, 11:31AM
    • Omega; at least the reds were the champs at sometime...ever..and also they are still the champs of Australian Rugby (finished top of the aussie table from memory).....I am not confused about Drew.. .read the article...Paul was all excited about his straight line speed - which is now behind Drew....he was a decent winger but has lost his speed (think what you want but a winger without speed is pretty useless) and is looking like he is putting back on the beef which has always been a problem for him.....time will show you...in 12 months he will be eating sushi - full time...

      Commenter
      Reds are the champs - STILL
      Date and time
      October 28, 2012, 4:45AM
  • Robbie Deans is still Coach. That's the biggest problem for the Wallabies. At least Deans can't put the hopeless Quade Cooper in the team. It's no surprise the Wallabies play a lot better without him. With a half way reasonable Coach the Wallabies would be some chance in Europe. With Deans they will play, as usual, like headless chooks. Now the egomaniac John O'Neill is gone, it's time for Deans to join him.

    Commenter
    YoYo
    Location
    Brisbane
    Date and time
    October 26, 2012, 11:16AM
    • Perhaps you'd like to put your hand up as coach YoYo? You dish out the criticism constantly but have nothing else to add.

      Commenter
      World in Union
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      October 26, 2012, 12:50PM
  • One of my worries is the recent hype around Ben Tapuai at 13. While AAC may be able to play anywhere, he is EXCEPTIONAL at 13. In my opinion the best in the world. With him and Pat McCabe at 12 they make a world class centre pairing. A lot of commentary has been flying around that Tapuai had a great game against the Pumas in Rosario. I disagree. He made some incredibly glaring errors, including one which prevented a certain try when he hung on to the ball instead of offloading. Put AAC back in his best position and leave Tapuai on the bench.

    Commenter
    TF
    Date and time
    October 26, 2012, 12:49PM

    More comments

    Make a comment

    You are logged in as [Logout]

    All information entered below may be published.

    Error: Please enter your screen name.

    Error: Your Screen Name must be less than 255 characters.

    Error: Your Location must be less than 255 characters.

    Error: Please enter your comment.

    Error: Your Message must be less than 300 words.

    Post to

    You need to have read and accepted the Conditions of Use.

    Thank you

    Your comment has been submitted for approval.

    Comments are moderated and are generally published if they are on-topic and not abusive.

    Super Rugby 2015

    Round 1
    Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
    CRU 10 vs REB 20 Report Stats
    BRU 47 vs RED 3 Stats
    Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
    LIO 8 vs HUR 22 Report Stats
    BLU 18 vs CHF 23 Report Stats
    Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
    SHA 29 vs CHT 35 Report Stats
    BUL 17 vs STO 29 Report Stats
    WAR 13 vs FOR 25 Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 2
    Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
    CHF 19 vs BRU 17 Report Stats
    REB 28 vs WAR 38 Report Stats
    Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
    BUL 13 vs HUR 17 Report Stats
    HIG 20 vs CRU 26 Report Stats
    RED 18 vs FOR 6 Report Stats
    Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
    STO 27 vs BLU 16 Report Stats
    SHA 29 vs LIO 12 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 3
    Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
    HIG 20 vs RED 13 Report Stats
    FOR 13 vs HUR 42 Stats
    Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
    CHT 25 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
    CHF 40 vs CRU 16 Stats
    REB 15 vs BRU 20 Report Stats
    Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
    BUL 43 vs SHA 35 Report Stats
    LIO 19 vs STO 22 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 4
    Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
    CHF 17 vs HIG 20 Report Stats
    BRU 27 vs FOR 15 Report Stats
    Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
    BLU 10 vs LIO 13 Report Stats
    RED 5 vs WAR 23 Report Stats
    Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
    CHT 20 vs BUL 39 Report Stats
    STO 29 vs SHA 13 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 5
    Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
    HUR 30 vs BLU 23 Report Stats
    FOR 17 vs REB 21 Report Stats
    Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
    CRU 34 vs LIO 6 Report Stats
    HIG 26 vs WAR 19 Report Stats
    RED vs BRU 29 Stats
    Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
    STO 19 vs CHF 28 Report Stats
    CHT 10 vs SHA 27 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 6
    Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
    HIG 13 vs HUR 20 Report Stats
    REB 16 vs LIO 20 Report Stats
    Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
    CRU 57 vs CHT 14 Report Stats
    Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
    BUL 25 vs FOR 24 Report Stats
    SHA 12 vs CHF 11 Report Stats
    WAR 28 vs BRU 13 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 7
    Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
    HUR 36 vs REB 12 Report Stats
    RED 17 vs LIO 18 Report Stats
    Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
    CHF 37 vs CHT 27 Report Stats
    HIG 39 vs STO 21 Report Stats
    WAR 23 vs BLU 11 Report Stats
    Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
    SHA 15 vs FOR 9 Report Stats
    BUL 31 vs CRU 19 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 8
    Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
    HUR 25 vs STO 20 Report Stats
    REB 23 vs RED 15 Report Stats
    Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
    CHF 23 vs BLU 16 Report Stats
    BRU 20 vs CHT 3 Report Stats
    Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
    SHA 10 vs CRU 52 Report Stats
    LIO 22 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 9
    Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
    BLU 16 vs BRU 14 Report Stats
    Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
    CRU 20 vs HIG 25 Report Stats
    WAR 18 vs STO 32 Report Stats
    FOR 15 vs CHT 24 Report Stats
    Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
    LIO 23 vs SHA 21 Report Stats
    BUL 43 vs RED 22 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 10
    Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
    CRU 9 vs CHF 26 Report Stats
    Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
    HUR 24 vs WAR 29 Report Stats
    HIG 30 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
    BRU 8 vs REB 13 Report Stats
    FOR 6 vs STO 13 Report Stats
    Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
    SHA 10 vs BUL 17 Report Stats
    CHT 17 vs RED 18 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 11
    Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
    CHF 35 vs FOR 27 Report Stats
    BRU 31 vs HIG 18 Report Stats
    Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
    CRU 29 vs BLU 15 Report Stats
    WAR 18 vs REB 16 Report Stats
    Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
    LIO 34 vs CHT 29 Report Stats
    STO 15 vs BUL 13 Report Stats
    RED 19 vs HUR 35 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 12
    Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
    HIG 48 vs SHA 15 Report Stats
    BRU 10 vs WAR 13 Report Stats
    Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
    BLU 41 vs FOR 24 Report Stats
    HUR 29 vs CRU 23 Report Stats
    REB 16 vs CHF 15 Report Stats
    Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
    CHT 25 vs STO 17 Report Stats
    BUL 35 vs LIO 33 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 13
    Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
    CRU vs RED 17:35AMI
    REB vs BLU 19:40AAMI
    Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
    HUR vs SHA 17:35WS
    FOR vs WAR 19:40nib Stadium
    LIO vs HIG 23:00Emirates Airlines Park
    Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
    STO vs BRU 01:05DHL Newlands
    View All Fixtures
    Round 14
    Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
    BLU vs BUL 17:35EP
    RED vs REB 19:40SS
    Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
    HUR vs CHF 17:35WS
    WAR vs SHA 19:40AS
    Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
    LIO vs BRU 01:05Emirates Airlines Park
    CHT vs HIG 03:10FSS
    View All Fixtures
    Round 15
    Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
    CHF vs BUL 17:35Rotorua International Stadium
    RED vs SHA 19:40SS
    Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
    BLU vs HUR 17:35Emirates Airlines Park
    WAR vs CRU 19:40ANZ
    FOR vs HIG 21:45nib Stadium
    Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
    CHT vs LIO 01:05FSS
    STO vs REB 03:10DHL Newlands
    View All Fixtures
    Round 16
    Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
    CRU vs HUR 17:35Trafalgar Park
    BRU vs BUL 19:40GIO Stadium
    Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
    SHA vs REB 03:10Growthpoint Kings Park
    HIG vs CHF 17:35Rugby Park
    FOR vs RED 19:40nib Stadium
    Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
    STO vs CHT 01:05DHL Newlands
    LIO vs WAR 03:10Emirates Airlines Park
    View All Fixtures
    Round 17
    Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
    HUR vs HIG 17:35McLean Park
    FOR vs BRU 21:00nib Stadium
    Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
    REB vs BUL 15:30AAMI
    BLU vs CRU 17:35EP
    RED vs CHF 19:40SS
    CHT vs WAR 23:00FSS
    Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
    STO vs LIO 01:05DHL Newlands
    View All Fixtures
    Round 18
    Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
    BLU vs HIG 17:35EP
    REB vs FOR 19:40AAMI
    Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
    BRU vs CRU 15:30GIO Stadium
    CHF vs HUR 17:35Yarrow Stadium
    WAR vs RED 19:40AS
    Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
    BUL vs CHT 01:05Loftus Versfeld
    SHA vs STO 03:10Growthpoint Kings Park
    View All Fixtures
    Round 19
    Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
    7 vs 7 09:00
    Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
    7 vs 7 09:00
    View All Fixtures
    Round 20
    Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
    7 vs 7 09:00
    Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
    7 vs 7 09:00
    View All Fixtures
    Round 21
    Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
    7 vs 7 09:00
    View All Fixtures
    Super Rugby 2015
    Overall standings
    Team P W L D +/- Pts
    Hurricanes 10 9 1 0 107 43
    Bulls 11 7 4 0 48 34
    Brumbies 11 6 5 0 93 32
    Chiefs 11 8 3 0 77 38
    Waratahs 10 7 3 0 32 31
    Stormers 11 7 4 0 25 30
    Highlanders 10 7 3 0 53 33
    Lions 11 6 5 0 -45 27
    View all
     
    Featured advertisers