Cheika’s backrow gamble to keep series alive

Melbourne Rebels flanker Sean McMahon has been entrusted to fill David Pocock's no.8 role for the Wallabies in the 2nd Test. No, he's not started there before... Image via Wallabies Facebook.

Melbourne Rebels flanker Sean McMahon has been entrusted to fill David Pocock’s no.8 role for the Wallabies in the 2nd Test. No, he’s not started there before… Image via Wallabies Facebook.

Rugby News (Australia): The moment last weekend David Pocock was ruled out for the rest of the Cook Cup series, the hottest question in Australian rugby has been, “who will ‘Cheik’ pick?”

With specialist No.8s Ben McCalman and Wycliff Palu in the Wallabies squad already, they loomed as the obvious replacement for Pocock at the back of the Wallabies scrum for the must-win Second Test in Melbourne. If the Wallabies were to force the series into a decider in Sydney, then surely the Australian pack needed to fight English physicality with fire.

The ‘Pooper’ experiment might have reached its use-by date, so surely it was time to go back to the tried and tested.

No, Siree, Bob. And I don’t mean Mr Dwyer.

Second Test: what the Wallabies must not do

The Roar: The Wallabies’ win 50-23 win over France in Brisbane was their best start to an international season since the respective twin wins over Italy and Fiji in Canberra in 2009 and 2010. Short of returning to the evident fortress of the National Capital (which is a whole other topic), Ewen McKenzie’s team needed to fire the opening salvos in the series again France, to prove that the end of 2013 wasn’t a dream.

Adam Ashley-Cooper scores against France in Brisbane last weekend. The Wallabies must maintain the urge to hold the ball tomorrow night in Melbourne. Image: ABC Grandstand

Adam Ashley-Cooper scores against France in Brisbane last weekend. The Wallabies must maintain the urge to hold the ball tomorrow night in Melbourne. Image: ABC Grandstand

And fire the opening salvos they did.

They mean nothing in June, of course, but the Wallabies were superb from the outset and clocked up the would-be bonus point fourth try well before halftime, effectively killing France’s hopes before they ever got a chance to resume their own impressive start in the match.

But as I’ve said of the Wallabies many a time previously, they are now not ‘only as good as their last game’, but rather their next; the wonderful start to the campaign in Brisbane will count for naught if they don’t go on with it in Melbourne on Saturday night.

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