NEW YORK, NY: The British & Irish Lions vs Australia aka the Wallabies, is the only major match of the Tier 1 and 2 nations occurring this weekend. We must thank both Kiwi coaches for taking a week, when they could have gone with easy calls, and instead turning it into a selection circus. Cheers Gats and Deano!
In the Lions camp, Warren Gatland has done the unthinkable and dropped Brian O’Driscoll (BOD) from the matchday 23. It is a shock because for one he lied to us. By us, we mean you, our fans and the RWU staff. Check out this interview with JWB.
At no time in that interview when he was singing BOD’s praises did he mention the idea of the system being more important.
When news of this decision hit the media, everything from talk shows to Twitter, were chiming in with their thoughts. Not wanting to be left out, here is mine. Gatland has gone for the players that know his system and those that fit his system best. In doing so he has decided that BOD doesn’t fit his system. It is a harsh call because on form BOD has been as good, if not slightly better than Jonathan Davies (who will play Outside Centree instead of BOD). Jamie Roberts’ return appears to have been the key element to the back line play Gatland loves so much. Roberts at inside center is the centerpiece to the Wales back line and despite the 8 game losing streak to Australia he was only there for 1 game. He is the sophisticated crash-ball-merchant-12, that organizes the backline. With Roberts back, BOD is no longer needed for defensive leadership and organization. Despite Australia’s only try last game being Davies’ fault, he goes back to 13 and is re-united with Roberts. It was also decided that Manu Tuilagi, despite being injured, brings more power and pace off the bench to hopefully help finish off Australia.
Should a great player be the one that decides when to call it quits? Gatland clearly feels that leadership and experience are not as important, if the players stick to the system.
Robbie Deans made a surprising decision of his own. Deans has chosen to bring back George Smith, who retired from international rugby in 2009. Four years on and after playing in France and Japan, Smith was called in to help out the ACT Brumbies in the Super 15, after injury ended captain David Pocock’s season. His form was so dominant on his return that he was called back into the national team. Smith was recently injured so his fitness will be in question.
SUPER 15: With 2 games left in the season, there are realistically 8-9 teams fighting for the 6 playoff places. The key match to watch will be the Blues v Cheetahs match as the two teams on the outside fight to get in. Here is the schedule:
Hurricanes vs Highlanders
Cheetahs vs Blues
Southern Kings vs Stormers
Bulls vs Sharks
OC: The Oceanic conference will also be having their World Cup qualifiers this weekend. The likely favorites to win will be either the Cook Islands or Papua New Guinea as they have the pedigree of producing talented players. These players often pop up playing for NZ or Aus, which simply highlights their talen.t Here is the schedule:
Cook Islands – Tahiti
Papua New Guinea – Solomon Islands
That is it for now, feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter @RugbyWrapUp, @JunoirBlaber, @Declan Yeats, @Mathew Drew Turner and @Ebstide52, respectively. And until the next time… stay low and keep pumping those legs.