Wallabies' wasted midfield talent
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Rugby World Cup-winning coach Bob Dwyer says it’s not too late for Wallabies selectors to be experimenting but the threat posed by outside centre Tevita Kuridrani is in danger of being wasted.
After starting their Rugby Championship campaign with an away loss to South Africa and a home win over Argentina, Australia have only three more Tests before the World Cup in Japan starts in September.
Next up are back-to-back Bledisloe Cup Tests against defending world champions New Zealand before the last hitout against Samoa in Sydney.
Dwyer believes the Wallabies selectors can still afford to look at different options, rather than picking a combination to face the All Blacks in Perth on August 10 and sticking with it through to the World Cup.
“I think there is time for experimenting,” 1991 World Cup-winning coach Dwyer told AAP.
“You are looking to see where there are areas you might be able to get some improvement.
“Putting people into teams that might not have been considered a first choice, moving people around.
“New Zealand in their last game [against South Africa] moved Beauden Barrett to fullback so they could try Richie Mo’unga at flyhalf, to see what’s going to be their best combination.”
In Australia’s two Tests so far in 2019, the selectors opted for a big, hard-running centre combination of Samu Kerevi at No.12 and Kuridrani at No.13 with mixed results.
It’s a big move away from the previously-preferred option of having a second playmaker – often Kurtley Beale – at inside centre alongside either Kuridrani or Kerevi.
Neither Kerevi nor Kuridrani is noted for creative passing or kicking skills.
“It’s been a bit disappointing to date, you’d hardly think Kuridrani would have played,” Dwyer said.
“Certainly in the first Test you thought you’re not too sure if he was on the field
“But I wouldn’t put that down to Kuridrani’s form, he’s been in very good form and he needs to be getting the ball more.
“They’ve both played pretty well.
“Kerevi’s ball-carrying has been terrific, he made lots and lots of yards, but he hasn’t given Kuridrani the opportunities to carry for lots and lots of yards and to me that lessens the threat.
“Not that I would think necessarily of changing that [combination], but I would be doing a bit of work to add some things to it so that each of them are capable of asking more questions.”
One person yet to play any Test rugby this season is champion back-rower David Pocock, who has been sidelined by a calf injury since March
There’s a chance Pocock could make his eagerly-awaited return on August 10 but Dwyer felt the selectors didn’t need to see a lot to pick him for the World Cup.
“You could make that judgement in training sessions too. It’s not as if you don’t know anything about the guy’s rugby,” Dwyer said.