Adam out to shine in gold
ADAM Coleman will proudly wear Wallaby gold into tonight’s intense pack fight against the Springboks in Perth yet his closest family will all be wearing Western Force blue in the grandstand to protest against the injustice dealt his Super Rugby club.
Nothing better sums up the swirl of emotions that are percolating through this intriguing Test at nib Stadium where blue jerseys and inflammatory banners seem certain to outnumber those in the colours of rugby’s national team.
“The ARU ... Anti Rugby Union”, “Stop The De-Clyne” and “The Force Was My Dream ... The ARU Stole It” are just a selection of the emotive messages to the banner diplomacy already seen in the west.
Security will be subtly raised a notch around the ARU’s top officials Bill Pulver and Cameron Clyne, who will watch the Test from an openair area of the main stand and are hardy enough to be expecting a few barbs.
Western Australians see the ARU as the arch villain of the Force axing but Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has done everything possible to differentiate his team so they cop no misguided fallout.
He supports the wearing of blue jerseys, alongside gold, in the crowd as “a great thing” and the symbolism of a big performance “from us as Wallabies to show how much we want to play for WA on the field and for those (Force) lads in our team.”
Lock Coleman stepped up brilliantly a year ago in Perth with 18 big tackles and the shrewd tail-of-the-lineout call for a set-play try when his hour of power against Argentina stamped him as a terrific Test prospect.
He will have to again compete against Eben Etzebeth, the new Springboks captain and enforcer who is one of the few world locks who can look Coleman directly in the eyes at 2.04m.
“Playing a Test in front of Force and Wallabies fans for the first time was an amazing experience and there’s obviously going to be extra motivation in my home town for this one,” Coleman said.
“The first thing, always, against the Boks is the physicality of their forwards and you’ve got to take it to them, not shy away.”
Back-row great Imanol Harinordoquy famously wore his Basque colours under his French Test jersey but Coleman’s support for the Force will be slightly different.
“My partner, my uncle ... they’ll be in the stands wearing blue and supporting the Wallabies,” Coleman said.
It’s a shame tonight’s crowd turnout won’t reach the 25,718 level when the Boks last visited Perth in 2015 because two rugby heavyweights fighting to regain status should be an absorbing spectacle.
After eight Test losses in a disastrous 2016, the Boks have rebounded with more tries (nine) in their two recent wins over Argentina than they scored (eight) in the whole Rugby Championship last year.
Adam Coleman (top) is lifted high in a lineout for the Wallabies and (above) celebrates with Western Force teammates in Super Rugby.