Ella punts Aussie pups
22 Sep 2008
Former Wallabies flyhalf believes Robbie Deans needs to give Kurtley Beale and Quade Cooper extensive game time in order to develop depth at pivot.
Deans will name his squad to tour Hong Kong and Europe on Tuesday. Australia play their final Bledisloe Cup fixture against New Zealand on 1 November before facing Italy, England, France and Wales in successive weeks.
Ella said this presented a golden opportunity to build for next year’s Tri-Nations and the 2011 World Cup.
“I would be disappointed if both Beale and Cooper were not picked in the touring side, not only because of their youth and versatility but as genuine ball players who, over the next couple of years, will really challenge [Matt] Giteau for the No 10 jersey, which is good for Australian rugby,” Ella wrote in The Australian.
“In 2005, then-Australian coach Eddie Jones selected a number of exciting young players to go on Australia’s end-of-season tour of the northern hemisphere. Unfortunately he stayed true to his senior players and the youngsters warmed the bench or watched from the grandstands.
“When John Connolly assumed control of the Wallabies in 2006, he had to make a decision on whether to introduce young legs to a tiring, battled-scarred team or persevere with what he had and simply hope for the best. [Connolly] stuck with what he had, thus maintaining the clear influence of several senior players within the squad, and the team’s downfall against England in the quarterfinals [of the World Cup] proved him wrong and out the door he went.”
Ella mentioned a few more players he feels have a great future at the highest level.
“A young player who also should be considered because of his versatility is Reds halfback [No 9] Ben Lucas, who is a former five-eighth [No 10] and has all the creative skills needed to keep the opposition guessing at the set pieces.
“Dean Mumm and Hugh McMeniman can play either lock or blindside flank and without [Rocky] Elsom they will get their opportunities.
“At No 8, Richard Brown, who made his debut for the Wallabies last weekend in Brisbane, showed a new level of enthusiasm and passion in the position. I hope he gets plenty of game time.
“All these exciting young players may make players such as Nathan Sharpe, Phil Waugh, George Smith, Wycliff Palu, Tuqiri and captain Stirling Mortlock feel old but they are our future.”
Deans will take 33 or 34 players on tour depending on the availability of Lote Tuqri who is recovering from knee surgery.