Ewen McKenzie has named his team for the test against Italy tomorrow evening. The team is:
Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Toomua, Nick Cummins, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Ben Mowen (c), Michael Hooper, Rob Simmons, James Horwill, Sitaleki Timani, Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, James Slipper. Res: Saia Faingaa, Benn Robinson, Sekope Kepu, Dave Dennis, Liam Gill, Nic White, Christian Lealiifano, Joe Tomane.
Rob Simmons comes back from a knee injury on the side of the scrum and, despite some press about it earlier in the week, Ben Mowen remains the captain.
There was much talk around the dinner table last night about the Wallabies woes at the moment: from lamenting the Deans years through to a consideration of whether we have too many Super 15 franchises to some forceful discussion about Australian rugby’s obvious failings when it comes to the domestic game. The crux though of all of the problems we discussed seemed to come back to this immutable truth: the Southern Hemisphere competitors of the Wallabies come from countries where rugby is the national sport. Unfortunately, diehards aside, rugby union is the 4th most popular “winter” sport after NRL, AFL and, of late, soccer.
Therein lies another problem: rugby union seems to be losing its base. The Deans years and the lack of immediate success arising from McKenzie’s appointment is frustrating the diehards and, frankly, moving them away from the game. I offer myself as an example: 12 months ago it would have been personally unthinkable for me not to stay up late into the early hours of the morning to watch the Wallabies play on the European tour. This year I have chosen sleep over disappointment.
I am not sure what will bring back the diehards like me. Winning will help. That said: being competitive will be a bigger help. Here’s hoping that process starts against Italy.