The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - SPORT - ANDREW SLACK

I’M truly in­debted to the ARU Board, Michael Hooper, Michael Cheika and Is­rael Fo­lau for en­light­en­ing me as to which way they might care to vote on a mat­ter of in­di­vid­ual con­science.

But in truth, I’d rather all these par­ties work to­gether to en­sure the Wal­la­bies play bet­ter rugby on a week-to-week ba­sis.

There were some pos­i­tive as­pects to last night’s 45-20 win over Ar­gentina, but de­spite the fi­nal score it wasn’t overly con­vinc­ing.

I don’t re­ally care what Is­rael’s views are on same sex mar­riage, be­cause one way or the other it will have no in­flu­ence on me.

What I am de­lighted about though is that he is play­ing for the Wal­la­bies, be­cause with­out his X-fac­tor ca­pac­ity in a team lack­ing enough of that type, he is in­dis­pens­able.

And if he wasn’t the dif­fer­ence last night, the man at the other end of the field was.

Props rarely get man of the match awards but if I’d have been the judge last night, Sekope Kepu would have made it a close run thing with Fo­lau.

It must be hard enough for a front rower to do his bit in scrums, and other less ro­man­tic parts of the game, let alone hav­ing to be a proxy back­rower. That’s what Kepu was with his ram­pag­ing and ef­fec­tive runs, and per­haps he will need to keep that ar­row in his quiver as long as Cheika sticks fast with his cur­rent back­row trio of Hooper, Sean McMa­hon and Ned Hani­gan.

Hooper and McMa­hon ex­ert some in­flu­ence but Hani­gan is in­vis­i­ble. He needs at least an­other sea­son of Su­per Rugby be­fore his game reaches the level re­quired.

Which all leads to the ques­tion as to why the Reds’ Scott Hig­gin­botham has been dis­carded, in my eyes, so pre­ma­turely.

There have been ar­gu­ments that he doesn’t work hard enough in the tight and is not an 80-minute player. Well, show me an 80-minute player these days, and I’ll show you some pretty lonely men.

And as for not do­ing enough in the tight, if you can set up or score tries out wide, I’m not con­vinced I want you to get your hands too dirty.

The All Blacks have such at­tack­ing prow­ess in their back­row they could af­ford to omit Vaea Fi­fita from last night’s game against the Spring­boks af­ter his su­perb per­for­mance against the Pu­mas last week.

He couldn’t even keep a place on the bench with the likes of Liam Squire and Ardie Savea in the mix.

Hig­gin­botham is one of the few op­tions in Aus­tralian rugby who can bring that thrust to the Wal­la­bies ef­fort. He needs to be re­called, even if it’s only off the bench.

Winger Henry Speight is an­other who seems to be a Cheika favourite.

He’s handy enough, and I’m sure if you asked the Ar­gen­tinian, All Black or South African wingers, they’d also pick Speight. Bet­ter that than hav­ing to face Marika Koroi­bete. IM­PACT: Sean McMa­hon tack­les Emil­iano Bof­felli.

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