Lions Post #6: The Three Amigos

When Dingo Deans announced the names for the first Wallaby training camp, there were two big names missing – Quade Cooper was out of favour after some artistic differences with Dingo last year, and Kurtley Beale is indefinitely suspended from rugby by the ARU while he deal with some off-field issues.

Both these players, on form, are sumptuous and gifted attackers, and give Australia a big X-factor (thanks, Gerry). On the other hand, in tandem with James O’Connor, they are a handful to manage. Rather like Alex Ferguson in the 1980s when Paul McGrath and Norman Whiteside were sacrificed for Steve Bruce and Neil Webb, Dingo is trading down on talent but up on camp harmony. At least that is the plan.

But it does weaken the Wallaby backline quite substantially – no team wouldn’t miss players of the calibre of Cooper or Beale. Or does it?

While the backline could be: Genia, Cooper, Ioane, Leali’ifano, AAC, O’Connor, Beale; it’s likely to look more like: Genia, O’Connor, Ioane, Leali’ifano, AAC, Folau, Barnes.

The replacements in the first XV could be Israel Folau and Berrick Barnes – not bad. Where is does make the Wallabies weaker is in the depth charts – after those, you have Jesse Mogg, then you are into the Pat McCabes and Ben Taupuis of this world.

The three amigos might have been broken up, but it appears the Wallabies might be able to manage without them – and probably be more likely to be twenty-three amigos.

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  1. Simon Farrell (@SFarrell_5)

     /  April 17, 2013

    I have a sneaking suspicion ‘Useless’ Ed will poll strongly here…

  2. Yossarian

     /  April 17, 2013

    Barnes for Beale is a massive drop off in quality. When Johnny last had contract negotiations Berrick Barnes name was linked as a possible option and i had no interest. Granted he is a far better player than he was 3/4 seasons ago but Beale is a genuine world beater. I think one of the two will have to be brought back in, O’Connor could probably cover full back if Cooper got brought back in (is Drew Mitchell out of the tour?) Cooper might not be everyones cup of tea at test level but he responded to his omission from the training squad with some pretty big performances for Reds and there is the Genia link there as well.
    Will he bring one of the two back in before the Lions come?

  3. Having answered honestly (Quade), I knew even before I clicked that Ed would be ahead in the running. I think Simon above has it right; Beale and Cooper will fight hard, but O’Donoghue is Mr X. Factor himself.

    Ben Tapuai’s a good player. Otherwise, basically agree (though I maybe rate QC higher than most).

  4. Leinsterlion

     /  April 17, 2013

    Rookie error WOC, you never include the home favorite in the poll. Aaaaaaand its Useless Ed at a canter!!!
    Beale seems to be really in the doghouse, it’ll take a few injuries for him to get back into the squad.
    I have a sneaking suspicion that Cooper will be starting, “having learned his lesson”, he’s the form pick and on his day can shred teams.
    My moneys on a Cooper Genia reunion.

  5. Ed’s not running away with quite as predicted, chaps. He’s got a slight nudge on the field right now, but I wuldn’t call it a sure thing yet…

  6. I get the impression that Cooper struggles without Genia.

    While O’Connor is good at 10, I don’t think that’s his best position. He’s a better 12, and could become a great 13 if ever played there.

    Beale is not a ten, only a full-back.

    On the subject of who will be missed more, with Lealiifano going great guns who can slot in at ten, and Mogg slotting in at 15, it’s not as damaging as it could have been even last year.

  7. Deans is a massive fan of McCabe……

    Can’t help but think the Aussies will miss Nathan Sharpe the most. Played in all 15 tests post world cup and is a leader of men, odd decision to retire.

  8. pete (buachaill on eirne)

     /  April 17, 2013

    Massive loss I think if they don’t play for the Wallabies.

    The Lions don’t have a lot of time together or get used to each others habits and abilities. This makes so many aspects of the game harder, scrum will take some getting used to, the lineout will take a lot of getting used to, backline moves and support runs will take a lot of time to get used to and most importantly defence.

    Defence is without doubt the thing you need the most time to work on as a unit or group of mini units.

    Guys like Cooper, JOC and Beale are excellent at exposing weaknesses in defence through individual attacking ability. When you are missing 2 out of 3 of those guys I predict that the Wallabies’ chance of winning drops drastically simply through narrowing of tactics. Wallaby possession could kill the Lions as the Lions’ defence will get more and more ragged over the course of multiple phases it is at that point when one of these lads normally pops up and makes the break or halfbreak

  9. toro toro

     /  April 17, 2013

    I don’t get the non-love for Pat McCabe. or rather, I do, but it’s misplaced. Super player, physical in contact, and excellent both defending and organising a defence, but not the bosher that would suggest; good hands, a good mind, and a superb rucker to boot. Take a look:

    Had you said Anthony Fainga’a, I’d agree totally. But while McCabe isn’t a thoroughbred, he’s pure quality. Not unlike a less-dancing, physically stronger D’Arcy; I’d happily have him in the Land of His Fathers’ XV.

    No mention of Nick Cummins to come into the side, or is he injured again? Quality winger, who has a handful of caps in the last year, he’s in the depth chart as well. Silly hair, likes Honey Badgers, fast as bejaysus.

    • Leinsterlion

       /  April 17, 2013

      McCabe is essentially an Australian DeWet Barry imo, forever to be maligned and underrated.

  10. Chris

     /  April 17, 2013

    A few comments that I don’t agree with regarding the depth of the Aussie squad, I think if anything the squad selection, in parts, demonstrates depth.

    I think that Deans has made a clever decision to leave them out, I actually would have left out O’Connor as well; not only has he been poor for the Rebels but players like these need to know that they are not sewn into those gold jerseys and they can be dropped just like anyone else. We already saw that QC picked up his game the weekend after the announcement.

    I will also highlight that this is a logistics squad, they will go through things like what not to say to the media when the lions thump them or how not to get photographed naked on a dance floor in Kings Cross just before the last test. The Lions squad will be announced again on 19th May plus another 6 players at the beginning of June.

    One notable absentee for me is Kyle Godwin, he has been a standout in a very average Force team.

  11. Chogan (@Cillian_Hogan)

     /  April 18, 2013

    Australia are fortunate that they can select a horses for courses backline and still compete at test level in a one off match. That being said, the Lions under Gatty are likely to pick as big a team as possible (look at the Welsh side). So assuming that does happen, Australia don’t have the size that can win a three test series.

    “If you can’t go through them, go around them”

    It’s an old one but one of my favourites. However, it does comes with a caveat. The smaller, nippier, faster and more skilled players better be able to tackle and have a system that works.

    9. Genia, picks himself. There is no one better when fit, he has it all.
    Nick White is the form replacement.

    10. QC can do it all going forward and you can hide him defensively. His counter attack is very good when kicked to on the wing. Has a great playing relationship with Genia.
    Beale is stronger in the tackle put he does need a shoulder opp. (It’s on hold because of the Lions) Attack is quite lateral though his footwork can compensate.
    JOC hasn’t played enough there but if Deans doesn’t pick either of the other 2, he gets my pick.
    Barnes does not fit the game plan that I believe can beat the Lions

    11. Digby, Next.

    12. Lealiifano is playing the best consistently in the 12 shirt in super rugby.
    Tapuai is doing a good job for the Reds too
    McCabe might make it, defensively he’s the best of the lot but will find limited time there for the Brumbies.
    JOC should be considered here

    13. AAC, great fend, decent feet, scores trys and makes his tackles
    Fainga’a is a great defender but doesn’t offer much else.
    Horne, has failed to deliver at test level and there’s not time to get better.

    14. A best of the rest position for Australia. It could be any number from JOC, Drew, Speight, Folau, Mogg, Cummins? or Alfi Mafi
    Speight is rated very highly by all the NZ teams (Justin Marshall said he was the best winger playing in Australia last week) and is playing the best in that position.
    O’Connor could end up there with strong goal kicking and having play most of his tests there.
    Drew is more a lefty but that’s where Digby plays.
    Mogg is lightning fast with a huge boot
    Folau is still a work in progress and can be fantastic with the ball. Coming from League and AFL he’d be great for cross field kicks.
    Cummins finished the end of year tour there but hasn’t been playing and when is fit will likely play elsewhere for a weak Force team.
    Mafi is doing very good Lomu/Savea impressions at the moment

    15. Beale, Mogg, JOC, Folau.

    I believe Deans will have to play it fast, very fast to win the series. This mean his pack will be moving a lot, so I can see him going for a 6/2 split on the bench. 9 is a specialised position meaning that one outside player will have to be able to cover a number of positions. This rules out the specialist wingers. Given that the players are so adept at slotting into a number of positions this slot can be filled by a number of people.

    If Beale and QC are part of the show my pick is;
    Genia, QC, Digby, JOC, AAC, Speight, Beale – White, Lealiifano &/or Mogg

    If they’re not picked
    Genia, JOC, Digby, Lealiifano, AAC, Drew, Mogg – White, McCabe &/or Tapuai

  12. Kelly Peters

     /  April 18, 2013

    They call themselves the Bungy Brothers and Digby Ioane has managed to find himself drawn into it. They seem to bring out the worst in each other. Key will working out who the ringleaders are and dump them. Strange thing is Beale, Cooper and JOC are all best of friends yet all want to play 10.

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