Former Australian playmaker Rod Kafer has backed ACT Brumbies halves Matt Toomua and Nic White to beat Queensland stars Quade Cooper and Will Genia for Wallabies spots against France next month.
Former Brumby Kafer praised the side's playmakers for choosing success over the riches on offer in Europe, and is adamant they can revive the club's glory days and nail down long-term spots in the Australian team.
The in-form Brumbies have locked up their creative core with scrumhalf White, flyhalf Toomua, inside-centre Christian Lealiifano and Jesse Mogg re-signing within days of each other.
The Brumbies are top of the Australian conference with eight wins from 11 matches, while the struggling Reds have won just three games.
"I like the White-Toomua combination ... because it's got everything you need for Test rugby,'' Kafer said. "I think it's a better Test combination than Genia and Cooper at the moment.
"The standout of all of them has been Toomua, he's been fantastic. Game management and decision-making was a weakness in his game two years ago, but it's not now.
"Nic White's not the finished article yet, he needs a bit more maturity under pressure, but is getting better all the time.''
While White isn't at Genia's level yet, Kafer said he would give the Brumby the nod because he complements Toomua's game.
"The combination's really good at the moment, they're finding each other intuitively and it never looks stressed or strained,'' he said.
"With a Test team you have a really short period of time to get them together, so you need players with history.''
The combinations forged by inside-centre Kafer and the likes of George Gregan, Stephen Larkham and Matt Giteau were crucial in the Brumbies' march to the 2001 and 2004 Super Rugby titles.
Kafer can see a similar bond building in the capital, and believes their understanding of each other's games gives the current crop the inside running for Test selection against France next month.
Asked if they could build something special like the great Brumbies teams of the past, Kafer said: ''They've got the makings of it. They've got a good opportunity with quality playmakers to go on and do something special, but it doesn't become special until they've won something.
"They haven't won anything yet, that's the challenge.''
Kafer said Gregan and Larkham repeatedly rejected big money overseas to stay at the Brumbies, and were rewarded with two championships.
While they're far from that level just yet, he said if the Wallabies side was chosen today he would pick Toomua and White over the more heralded Queensland pairing Cooper and Genia.
Kafer said the players who have re-committed would be motivated by unfinished business after losing last year's final to the Chiefs.
"What those decisions say to me is the guys have chosen success over money, because no doubt there was big money offers to go elsewhere,'' he said. "Inside-backs are in real hot demand. They made a choice to stay where they think they can be more successful and can lead to more Wallabies caps.
"George and Stephen always had big money offers from everywhere, they spurned lots of overseas opportunities because they didn't want to play for anyone else.
"Super Rugby is always won by teams with good nines and tens, if you can bed them down for a long period of time you're going to have a good side.
"We lost the final in '97 and 2000, then won it in 2001. There's no question we learnt from that experience and they will have too, no doubt.''