2013 Australian Super Rugby Team of the Year: Part 1 - The Forwards

It's that time of year again when the Rolling Maul casts its eye across the detritus that is Australian Rugby (with a few exceptions) to seek out the chaff from the wheat and to discover who of those amongst the many did the least to not stand out and deliberately or otherwise contributed least to their team's plight.

Here is Part 1 of the 2013 Australian Super Rugby Team of the Year - the Forwards:

Click here for Part 2 - The Backs

Dan Palmer (Brumbies)
Palmer is a bit of an exception to the rule of this team of the year in that he actually had quite a reasonable season on the field to the extent that until injury intervened who was being talked about as a likely Wallaby-starter against the Lions. He makes this team of the year though for his occasionally occurring but frequently very amusing column in the Canberra Times Palmed Off and his very quotable quotes. Take these for example:
  • "If it hasn't previously had a heartbeat, it is not worth eating."
  • "If you are garnishing your meat with meat, you are doing something right."
  • "Spinach does not make you strong, it makes you a winger."
  • “Never argue with an idiot, they will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.”
  • “My mum is an early riser, my dad sleeps all the time, I'm a mix of both because I get up early, but I want to go straight back to bed''. That's actually Palmer quoting Ben Alexander.
  • “Nobody has the right not to be offended. That's right, not even you! You are not special, and guess what, sometimes things are not going to go your way, and sometimes people will have a different opinion to yours. Suck it up sunshine, this is the way the world works.”
Palmer's off to France in 2014. He'll by missed.

Salesi Ma'afu err Salesi Manu (Force)
It's hard to know if the Force were trying to play some sort of practical joke on the media by having two props in their squad with almost identical names. One of them was a Wallaby but never really cemented his place. The other is an up and coming prop with big wraps. Neither set the world on fire in 2013, and maybe one of them got injured, or fell out of favour, but in any case it was too hard to keep track so in the end the Rolling Maul didn't bother.

Shota Horie (Rebels)
Melbourne went Shota crazy
Japanese players are finally making a bit of a presence in Super Rugby. Fumiaki Tanaka spent much of 2013 warming the bench for the Highlanders but did run on a number of times and even started at halfback as their season went from dismal to atrocious. Things were much the same for Horie, who also spent a lot of time in the Rebels 23 man squads with compliant broadcasters ensuring he got plenty of camera time while stretching or waving at the nominal Japanese audience back home. When Horie did finally get a run-on start, against the Blues in New Zealand, he didn't exactly set the world on fire and Ged Robinson resumed his starting role the following match. It's not much but it's a start.

Will Skelton (Waratahs)
Skelton prior to the start of the season
and commencing his new fitness regime
There's big raps on Will Skelton and it's a mystery to the Rolling Maul why that is the case. Sure, the guy is imposing. Anyone who weighs 130kg and is nearly 7ft tall is bound to be. But the Rolling Maul has observed Skelton live a number of times this season and he not only doesn't take advantage of his great natural presence but he doesn't do much of anything except loll around the field and occassionally fall on people in defence or fall into people in attack. He's never broken the line and barely bends it. He occassionally passes the ball but we're not talking about a Sonny-Bill Williams round-the-corner offload here. Indeed it seems that his greatest achievement in 2013 was losing 30kg. Maybe he should have kept them and tried being a prop.

Leon Power (Brumbies)
It's been a great year for locks in Australian Rugby. Horwill and Simmons have remained largely injury free and earned Wallaby returns, Radike Samo backed them up nicely, Neville and Jones at the Rebels showed they are stars of the future, the Timani borthers and Kane Douglas improved at the Tahs, Will Skelton just was, Hugh McMeniman made a good return to Australian shores for the Force and at the Brumbies, Peter Kimlin, Scott Fardy and Ben Mowen went from strength to strength. So it was pretty unfortunate timing for Leon Power who moved to Australai from New Zealand to further his career. Indeed, apart from his name, there's nothing noteworthy at all about Power who was barely sighted in Brumbies colours in 2013.

Beau Robinson (Reds)
Beau Robinson is the almost man of Australian rugby. He almost made it at the Waratahs but didn't so moved to Queensland where he worked in a pub. Ewen McKenzie then plucked him out of almost obscurity where he almost became an integral part of the Reds charge to the title in 2011. He almost scored a few tries and almost became a regular in the starting 15 in 2012 until injury struck him down. It almost ended his career, but it didn't. He almost missed all of the 2013 season, but came back to reclaim his bench spot, a couple of 15 minute activity and aggressive cameos late in the season almost typifying his almost career.

David Pocock (Brumbies)
David Pocock comes to the
Wallabies rescue
David Pocock is just so damned good. Good looking. Great player. Nice bloke. Everyone likes David. He's so bloody good he makes everyone else feel inferior in every way. But he's so bloody awesome you can't dislike him for that either. This was going to be the year that David Pocock was going to rule the World. He'd moved from the Force to the Brumbies (no hard feelings from the Force who were just grateful to have spent time in the the great man's presence), he was the incumbent Wallabies captain, and the Lions were coming to bathe in and succumb to his supreme powers. But it didn't quite happen that way. He did his ACL early on in the Super Rugby season and that was it for 2013. George Smith returned to the Brumbies and the original supreme being and all-round nice guy steered them to the Final. Clearly the planet isn't big enough for both of them.

Tim Davidson (Rebels)
Tim Davidson -
Captain extraordinaire
Tim Davidson has two Rugby claims to fame and neither of them have to do with the Melbourne Rebels. He's a much loved and highly successful member of the Sydney University club Rugby team that swept all before them for about the last decade with Davidson at the helm as captain. He also captained the Combined Country team that took on, and were thrashed by, the British and Irish Lions earlier this year, courtesy of being born in Young in central NSW. Super Rugby-wise his record in modest, a few games for the Tahs and Force, a few more games for the Rebels, mostly from the bench. He is the Rebels inaugural Club Captain though, an off-field and largely meaningless position. In 2013 he played one match for the Rebels from the bench and then announced his retirement. A fitting end.

Click here for Part 2 - The Backs