Waratahs Sacrificed For Wallabies Cause

Like a drunk man throwing punches at an invisible opponent, Robbie Deans has dug deep into his well of Waratahs and barely landed a blow. Waratah after Waratah has gone down Gallipoli style after being ordered by their foreign general to leave their trench and storm the machine guns of the enemy.

The list of damaged Waratah goods is a long one. Missing in action, recently patched up or in doubt are Sekope Kepu, Drew Mitchell, Berrick Barnes, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Sitaleki Timani and Tatatfu Polota-Nau. Wycliffe Palu, Lachlan Turner, Dan Vickerman and Rocky Elsom haven't even been seen in green and gold this year because of injuries sustained during Super Rugby (apologies if that's not entirely accurate but it's hard to keep up - type 'Wycliffe Palu injury' into Google and you get 41,600 results).

It's hard to know what to think about this situation. It's either a testament to the depth of NSW Rugby or the lack of depth of Australian Rugby. Not included in the above list are those Waratahs who somehow have managed to avoid the carnage and stay fit and healthy - Dave Denis, Michael Hooper, Kane Douglas and Benn Robinson.

And none of the above includes all the other NSW product playing for the other states.

Now admittedly Rugby is really only played in two States (NSW and Queensland) or for the cynical and nerdy, two states (a lack of inertia and a lack of velocity). That NSW is over-represented at both Super Rugby level and geographically is clear. The old phrase that Australian Rugby is strong when NSW Rugby is strong has never been more apt. The Waratahs were a dismal, disjointed and dispirited failure in 2012, yet Robbie Deans has seen fit to pick almost every one of them for higher honours.

His intention is clear. Waratah Rugby needs to be boosted, and the best way to boost it is to give every opportunity to as many New South Welshmen as possible. Sure they may be battered and bruised in the process, and sure the Wallabies will take a few hits too along the way. But being the long-term planner that he is, knowing that his position is secure until his contract runs out (the ARU couldn't afford to pay him out), and with the longer term goal of defeating the Lions in 2013, Deans has pursued a deliberate policy of doing whatever it takes to get the Waratahs up to speed.

It's cunning, thoughtful and has the best interests of Australian Rugby at its heart. Robbie Deans is a gentleman and a scholar and is willingly sacrificing his personal and ever dwindling bank of goodwill for the greater good and for that we should all be thankful.


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