Brumbies Form A Bonus for the Waratahs (Eventually)

One of the great conundrums of Australian Rugby at the moment is how the Waratahs, a team so bereft of ideas, basic skills and most importantly, winning form, can provide the bulk of the players for the Wallabies. The good news for Waratahs fans, is that the Brumbies are in irresistible form, so irresistible that even Robbie Deans won't be able to resist them come selection time for the Lions tests.

There is no doubting the talent that Michael Cheika has at his disposal. So much talent in fact, that he's been able to dump a couple of Wallabies, namely Drew Mitchell and Sekope Kepu, from his team.

They're not the only Wallabies running around in sky blue. Benn Robinson, Tatafu Polata-Nau, Dave Dennis, Kane Douglas, Wycliffe Paul, Sitaleki Timani and Michael Hooper for starters and that's just the forwards. In the backs, in addition to Mitchell, you've got Adam Ashley-Cooper, Berrick Barnes, Rob Horne and Lachlan Turner. Even Brendan McKibbin got some time on the Wallabies bench as a late replacement on the European tour.

It's no wonder that the Tahs are slow starters. Each season they're flogged to death in the freezing European winters while their Australian counterparts back home are staying fit by running laps of the beach or playing ultimate frisbee with their pet dog. Refreshment is an ice cream or two instead of an energy drink and discipline is what the girlfriend demands, not some obscure team concept. Come pre-season training they're fresh and raring to go, unlike their Waratahs counterparts who are sore, jaded and buggered.

If ever proof was needed just look at Michael Hooper. He was a revelation last season, a jack-in-the box ball of energy who loved nothing better than to dig into the nether regions of a ruck and extract the rugby ball with more skill and precision than an obstetrician who specialises in insects. Come Wallabies time and his form continued. Through the Rugby Championship and the European tour his enthusiasm never dwindled and neither did his form.

But this Super Rugby season has seen him come back to the pack. Call it second season syndrome if you like, but Hooper isn't half the player he was. He needs a good lie down, a dozen margaritas and a month of Mondays (they're like Sundays for people with normal jobs).

Yet there is hope, and it's come in the form (literally) of the Brumbies. Giant killing trend setters, competition leaders, the hope of a nation. the Brumbies have swept all before them and with barely a Wallaby in sight. It's no coincidence. Almost the entire team had a proper pre-season of barbecues and lazing by the pool. Their team bonding didn't require homework or group presentations, just good old hard yakka. And it shows.

It'll show too come Wallaby selection time for the Lions tests. Robbie Deans will have little choice but to select the bulk of the Brumbies in his squad. Form will demand it, and so will the public. No more lip service to reputation and potential. With no trial games, the Wallabies will need to hit the ground running, and no Super Rugby team runs better than the Brumbies.

And nothing could be better for the Waratahs. Without the distractions of Wallabies jumpers to compete for, Waratah success will be the players' number one priority. While the Lions thrash the Wallabies around the park, it'll be the turn of the Waratahs to fine tune their performance and finish the season with the spinnaker flying. It may be too little too late, but only this year. Come 2014, it'll all fall into place, and Waratah success will be guaranteed. For the Brumbies though, well you only need to look at the Waratahs now to make that prediction.

Comments

Popular Posts