Rugby World Cup 2015: Australia’s Halves Pairing Still to be Decided, says Asst Coach Stephen Larkham

Stephen Larkham
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When Assistant Coach Stephen Larkham was one of the top-rated backs for the Wallabies, he regularly affirmed that the best way for a team to enjoy an excellent inside back selection was to choose the best players and stick to the combination. But last week, Larkham, who was a five-eighth in the Wallabies team that won the World Cup in 1999, admitted that the game and players’ environment have changed.

Larkham, the 102-capped player, said he used to cherish continuity while he was a player because it worked at that time. Presently, the Wallabies coach is not sure about the best combination of players for No. 9 and 10 positions. The selectors will decide whether to make a fixed selection or to rotate the guys from week to week. The “guys” involved are the half-backs Will Genia and Nick Phipps as well as five-eighths Quade Cooper and Bernard Foley. Other players like Kurtley Beale, Matt Toomua and Matt Giteau are all potential candidates for the No. 10 position.

larkhamDuring a recent pairing in training, Genia and Cooper played together on one side while Phipps and Foley played in the opposing team. However, Larkham emphasised that in the time available before the Wallabies face Fiji in Cardiff on September 23, the selectors will try out as many combinations as possible. On September 5, the Wallabies will play their last test in Chicago against USA Eagles.

Larkham believes that consistency in a particular position is the principal thing selectors are looking for when they are considering different players. Hence, it pays to rotate the players around the pitch. This rotational approach does not seem to bother Phipps, although he thinks that virtually every player will like to know that he has a fixed position in advance. Phipps has played with all the 10s while Quade and Foley have combined with all halves. Currently, there are no set combinations in training.

Larkham is, however, certain that the players in the team that plays against Fiji will also play its third group match against England. Their best players will play against England and Fiji, while other players will be on the pitch in the match against Uruguay, which comes up four days after the first game against Fiji. More information about the World Cup fixtures and tickets can be found on reputable ticket broker sites like Ticketbis. Click here for information on tickets for the opening match between England and Fiji, Australia vs Fiji, and all other group matches, including tickets of the last pool match on October 12, the USA v Japan.

Most players who have played in all Test matches and Super Rugby will rest during the match in the United States. Due to the short resting periods in between the first three pool games of the World Cup, players that have been very active will have to rest so they can come out fresh during the World Cup.

Wallabies have refused to underrate Fiji whom they will play at Cardiff. Larkham and the rest of the coaching crew have studied the video footage of their opponents and they are working out a set-piece variation to defeat them.

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RWU Co-host Johnathan Wicklow Barberie is the contrived Kiwi rugby personality who can't go ANYWHERE without being asked for an autograph. He always obliges... Matt McCarthy handles the more serious interviews and handles the RWU Sports Desk.