Modern-day Wallabies great Drew Mitchell believes Matt To’omua isn’t the man to lead Australia into the World Cup knockout stages after his shaky showing from the No. 10 jersey in his side’s 27-8 win over Georgia in Shizuoka on Friday.
The victory means Michael Cheika’s men will almost certainly face England in the World Cup quarter-finals next weekend, provided that Wales can avoid a major upset and defeat Uruguay comfortably in the final match of Pool D on Sunday.
Despite the win, Mitchell, who played in three World Cups between 2007 and 2015 and earned 71 caps for Australia, remains unconvinced about To’omua’s playmaking ability following the patchy win in wet conditions.
“No I’m not convinced,” Mitchell said on Fox Sports when asked if To’omua did enough to nail down his spot in what was his first start in the No. 10 jersey this year.
“I just think it was too one out. We need a 10 in there… because we don’t kick the ball we play a different type of game to England.
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“England play territory and they have a strong kicking game. We heard Michael Cheika say at the start that the Wallabies like to run more than they like to kick.
“If we are going to run more we need players in those playmaking positions that can create and, at the moment, all we are doing is one out running off the No.9 and also off the No.10.
“We need someone in there who has got the capacity to create and ball play and Matt To’omua is more suited to the No.12 role.”
Mitchell’s comments come after the Wallabies’ flyhalf position has resembled something of a revolving door in recent weeks, with To’omua, Christian Lealiifano and Bernard Foley all sharing time in the position.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 12, 2019
After coming into the tournament as the squad’s starting pivot, Lealiifano was deployed at No. 10 against both Fiji and Uruguay, while veteran Foley was used in Australia’s defeat to Wales.
To’omua has played most of his 51 tests from the midfield or off the bench, where he has excelled for the Wallabies this season.
Although he struggled to bolster the Wallabies’ winning margin against Georgia, the 29-year-old still managed to finish the clash with 40 run metres, a linebreak and a tackle bust to go with two conversions and a penalty from five shots at goal.
Ex-World Cup-winning Wallabies hooker and Mitchell’s fellow Fox Sports panellist, Phil Kearns, suggested that Australia are being hurt when selecting their teams by some players being too young and inexperienced, while others are too close to the end of their careers.
“I just wonder on the selections as a whole whether this World Cup has come a year to early or a year too late,” he said.
“They would be better with an extra year under their belt.
“Then you have got a couple of players that are at the back end of their career.
“The Foley and Genia combination a year ago was working and it is not working this year, so that is why we are in this hiatus of trying to find the right people.
“We are in this no man’s land between some great young players coming through and some older players at the back of their careers.”
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