‘Lay off Baxter’

Former Wallabies prop Jon White says Al Baxter has been treated harshly by referees.

The Wallabies pack have been heavily penalised during the Tri-Nations so far, with Baxter considered to be the main culprit. However, White believes as long as South Africa referee Jonathan Kaplan gives the front row a legitimate go, the Australian pack will be able to measure up to the All Blacks at scrum time on Saturday.

‘In Cape Town, Australia scrummed better than I’ve seen them scrum for a long, long time,’ he told rugbyheavan.com.au, ‘and I also thought they scrummed pretty well in Auckland.

‘However, one of my abiding memories of that Auckland game is of the Australian forwards driving the All Blacks backwards and they ended up collapsing, and poor bloody Al Baxter getting penalised.

‘He can’t do anything right. I just think the referees pick on him for some obscure reason. Nobody seems to know why but he gets penalised more than most, and he doesn’t appear to do anything different to his opponents. The refs seem to think he is some sort of scoundrel.’

White also feels that second-choice prop Ben Alexander should get some opportunities ahead of Baxter to prepare the 24-year-old for the future.

‘It’s time that Ben got a few starts because experience is such a big thing. The World Cup is coming up, and I don’t think Al will improve any. I think he’s where he will be, and Ben has a lot of upside in him.’