Former Wallaby Rod Kafer has urged Australian selectors to learn from the All Blacks and stick with a ball-playing outside centre at the Rugby World Cup.
For Australia’s first two Tests of 2019 the selectors opted for two powerful, hard-running midfielders in Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kuridrani.
In the most recent Bledisloe Cup Tests they chose skilled and versatile James O’Connor outside centre instead of Kuridrani.
Back in the Wallabies fold after almost six years out, O’Connor shone in the upset win over New Zealand in Perth, but like his teammates found the going much tougher in the return bout with the All Blacks in the wet in Auckland last weekend.
Kafer favours a big ball-carrier at inside centre and a second playmaker at outside centre because of the variety it offers.
He was delighted to see O’Connor given the opportunity to perform that role
“It was a brilliant selection from the coaching staff and the selection committee,” said rugby tv analyst Kafer.
“I hope it continues, whatever the model is, a ball player at 13.
“We saw the All Blacks do it with Mils Muliaina into Conrad Smith, their selection has always been a ball player at 13 for 10 years and I’ve liked it.”
Kafer felt stacking the backline with versatile players like O’Connor, Kurtley Beale and Reece Hodge didnt necessarily count against including a one-position specialist like Kuridrani in the World Cup squad.
“I think you need to have a combination of both specialists in certain positions and other players who can play a variety of positions,” he said.
“You only get to take so many players to the World Cup, so you’ve got to have guys who can play a variety of positions.”
The selectors will on Friday reveal the 31-man World Cup squad to travel to Japan, with just one more lead-up Test against Samoa in Sydney on September 7, before their campaign starts against Fiji two weeks later.
“What’s great about selection is that right at the moment there is pressure on every player in this side and with pressure comes opportunity,” Kafer said.
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