TIME WE SAW HIGGINBOTHAM BACK IN GOLD
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.