Cole­man’s hop­ing for thumbs up for Test

Daily Mercury - - SPORT LEAGUE/UNION - — Jim Tucker

RUGBY UNION: Pack en­forcer Adam Cole­man faces a cru­cial fit­ness test to­day which will de­cide whether the Wal­la­bies throw a pow­er­ful clenched fist at Eng­land or a hope­ful hay­maker at their Twick­en­ham fortress.

Aus­tralia’s top lock took no part in Mon­day’s ses­sion be­cause of the thumb in­jury sus­tained against Wales last week­end and up­graded his in­volve­ment only slightly on Tues­day when he ran with the team to open train­ing.

By­pass­ing a kick-catch­ing drill and hold­ing a limbo-style pole, set up to as­sist team­mates through a thump­ing ses­sion of low cleanouts into padded shields, was aimed at keep­ing the digit away from a friendly-fire in­ci­dent. The 20-Test Cole­man is essen­tial to the mood and ag­gres­sion of the Wal­la­bies pack and play­ing an in­ex­pe­ri­enced al­ter­na­tive would se­ri­ously di­min­ish the chances on Satur­day of re­dress­ing the ugly 0-4 run in Tests against Eng­land last year.

As­sis­tant coach Steve Larkham was up­beat when quizzed whether Cole­man (pic­tured) was cer­tain to play.

“He pulled up re­ally well out of the game,” Larkham said.

“We’re just mak­ing sure that we do right by him so he’s cer­tainly on track to play.”

There’s no Wal­laby who can re­place the 15 dom­i­nant tackles that Cole­man hurls into ev­ery out­ing, his big dog per­sona or his li­ne­out acu­men be­side stal­wart Rob Sim­mons.

What com­pli­cates the crit­i­cal Cole­man case is im­pres­sive Lukhan Tui still be­ing touch-and-go to re­turn from the ham­string in­jury that has side­lined the young back-up lock from the open­ing two Tests of the tour.

He is a wait-and-see case as well which pitches raw-boned Matt Philip into the frame as a pos­si­ble starter on the strength of just 33 min­utes of Test rugby from his two go-for­ward Test cameos.

Un­capped Brumby Blake En­ever would then be an un­der­pow­ered bolter for the bench to match-up against an Eng­land team which will likely load its for­mi­da­ble start­ing pack with three locks, Courtney Lawes, Ge­orge Kruis and Maro Itoje.

The sig­nif­i­cant se­lec­tion call is at in­side cen­tre where Karmichael Hunt’s ex­tra ver­sa­til­ity is be­ing weighed up as a swap for Samu Kerevi.

PHOTO: AP IMAGES

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