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Tall timber thin in Aussie jungle

It could be a blessing or a curse, but Australia’s tight forward resources remain very limited. As is the case with the front row, the options for Wallaby coach Robbie Deans in the second row is paper thin.

They have very much the old guard from 2011 – James Horwill, Rob Simmons and Nathan Sharpe making most of the noise among the tall timber in Australia.

However, Sharpe – still Australia’s premier lock – has retired from Test rugby.

Another seasoned player unlikely to feature in the Tests is the injury-prone Dan Vickerman.

Given that Dean Mumm has signed to join English Premiership Exeter Chiefs at the end of the 2012 Super Rugby season., it is unlikely he will be seen in the Test arena either.

That leaves the coach, Deans, with the same starting lock combination he so often featured in 2011 –  the Reds combination of James Horwill and Rob Simmons.

And while that is indeed a solid combination, it is the back-up players that leave the Aussies’ tall timber jungle very barren.

With Sharpe, Vickerman and Mumm all out of the picture, Deans will have to look to introduce some new talent.

The Brumbies duo of Sam Carter and Scott Fardy have been impressive and may well get a look-in. The Reds’ replacement Adam Wallace-Harrison may suddenly also be an option, as a result of the depleted resources.

Rebels lock Hugh Pyle is no more than adequate at Super Rugby level, while teammate Cadeyrn Neville is a real rookie. And Sharpe’s teammate at the Force is Kiwi veteran Toby Lynn.

Indeed a barren landscape for Deans to survey.

Wallaby locks:

Starting:

5 James Horwill:
As the incumbent Wallaby captain he is a certainty to start. ‘Big Kev’ is the driving force at both the Reds and Wallabies. He has been consistently one of Australia’s best forwards.

4 Rob Simmons:
Having cemented his status as one of the premier locks in Australia in 2011, where he featured prominently for both the Super Rugby champion Reds and the Wallabies, he will again partner Horwill in 2012.

Bench:

18 Sitaleki Timani:
Back from a brief stint in Japan, with Canon Eagles, Timani is likely to add to his one Test cap – which came against Samoa in 2011.

By Jan de Koning

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