The Wallabies are in danger of making the same mistake that cost them their World Cup crown in 1995, according to one of Australia’s leading rugby scribes.
The Sydney Morning Herald‘s Greg Growden has revealed he believes that head coach Michael Cheika is set to pick too many old players who are past their prime for this year’s World Cup in Japan.
Many of Australia’s frontline players are in their 30’s, with Growden labelling Cheika’s potential World Cup squad as a “Dad’s Army”.
Growden said that an increase of age wouldn’t be detrimental to a team’s chances of World Cup success if the players are experienced at winning at test level, but this isn’t the case with the Wallabies under Cheika’s tenure.
A large proportion of Cheika’s key players have been involved in his side since he took control four-and-a-half years ago, and with a well-maintained track record of underperformance under the stewardship of the 52-year-old – particularly since 2016, with just 17 wins from 42 outings – the Wallabies could be set for a dismal World Cup campaign.
Growden suspects the situation is comparable to that of 1995, when the Wallabies were knocked out of the World Cup in South Africa at the quarter-final stage – their equal-worst showing at the tournament – as a result of selecting too many old heads past their peak from their title-winning 1991 campaign.
His suggestion: inject the fresh, young faces that have stood out in Super Rugby’s opening five rounds into the national squad.
Queensland halves duo Tate McDermott and Isaac Lucas have been noted as the picks of the bunch by Growden, with 20-year-old halfback McDermott particularly eye-catching.
He has had to bide his time behind current Reds incumbent Moses Sorovi, but appearances from off the bench have illustrated his pace, unpredictability, and crisp passing ability, the latter a quality that Growden believes is vital for any successful World Cup halfback.
McDermott will have to contend with veteran Wallabies centurion Will Genia, Brumbies star Joe Powell, and Waratahs duo Jake Gordon and Nick Phipps for a place in Japan, but after being named to start against the Brumbies this weekend, it provides the youngster a chance to prove his worth to Cheika and the Wallabies selectors.
Dad’s Army (Wallabies 30 or older when the World Cup kicks-off in September): Kurtley Beale 30, Israel Folau 30, Bernard Foley 30, Will Genia 31, Dane Haylett-Petty 30, Sekope Kepu 33, Nick Phipps 30, Tatafu Polota-Nau 34, Rob Simmons 30, Henry Speight 31, Quade Cooper 31, Adam Ashley-Cooper 35, David Pocock 31, Sam Carter 30, Karmichael Hunt 32, Damien Fitzpatrick 30, Scott Higginbotham 33, Christian Lealiifano 31, James Slipper 30
Watch – Isaac Lucas ahead of Brumbies clash:
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