We all have our opinions when the AB team is announced; but mostly we are ill-informed as to who and why. The coaches and selectors have designed their Game Plan and picked the best players to execute it. But we don't know what the strategy is or how SBW fits into this plan.
Apart from a pre-Lions Tour opener against Samoa and the red card in the second Lions test, the last time Sonny Bill started for the ABs, was against Australia in Sydney, two years ago. We lost and we lost because the Aussies attacked our midfield from set play and close-in from broken play. Also it was the first time for a long-time, they weren't up against Ma'a Nonu.
Now before you judge my assessment as harsh, ask yourself if you were the Wallaby 12, who would you prefer to mark? Sonny Bill Williams or Ma'a Nonu? My answer would be anyone, but Ma'a. He would be in my face for 80 minutes trying to rip my tongue out.
SBW was found out that night and I have noticed this weakness since against Samoa (especially), where we were cut open in the midfield; also against the Lions.
Second five is a confrontational position. In defence there is no room for hesitancy as it creates uncertainty for other defenders.
In addition, Ryan Crotty has played well at 12 and has been moved out to centre at the expense of Anton Lienert Brown, who has been a standout at centre. Ben Smith is also out of position for this game.
I’m picking Australia to surprise and will be hoping, collectively as a team, we will still be better than the Aussies and will scrape through narrowly. Either way there will be nothing in this match.
- Murray Mexted, IRANZ Managing Director