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