Ewen McKenzie has 'Brumbies or Waratahs' headache
August 7, 2014
Ruck'n Maul: Australian rugby has a golden glow
New South Wales Waratahs' Super Rugby title win has given Ewen McKenzie "selection headaches", but the Wallabies coach has stopped short of indicating whether he'll tweak his backline.
The Wallabies' inner and midfield backline is dominated by Brumbies players, with Nic White the incumbent half-back, Matt Toomua at second five-eighth and Tevita Kuridrani at centre, yet the strong performances of the Waratahs backs alongside incumbent Wallabies fly-half Bernard Foley in the latter stages of the Super Rugby season have presented McKenzie with a conundrum ahead of the Bledisloe Cup opener in Sydney on August 16.
Waratahs half-back Nick Phipps put on a sterling defensive effort in both the semi-final, against the Brumbies, and the final; Kurtley Beale lit up the park at second five-eighth; and Adam Ashley-Cooper, who plays on the wing for Australia, scored two tries at centre in the final to claim the Man-of-the-Natch award.
Kurtley Beale and Nick Phipps have pressed a strong claim to play alongside in the starting Wallabies XV © Getty Images
"There's always selection headaches," McKenzie said at the Wallabies reached Mount Panorama in Bathurst on the Bush2Bledisloe drive.
"The Waratahs have done a fantastic job: we recognise that, we recognise form. They go about their business a certain way, we do things a little bit differently. We'll go through the business of selections and announce a team next week."
Ashley-Cooper is likely to remain on the wing for the Wallabies, due to a lack of depth in the position, while Toomua's strong performances for the Brumbies should see him hold selected ahead of in-form Beale - who is listed in the squad as a No.10. That leaves Phipps as the most likely Waratahs back to earn a starting spot - especially given his blossoming partnership with Foley.
The 11 Waratahs in the 32-man Test squad joined their Wallabies team-mates in Bathurst on Wednesday after completing the Super Rugby celebrations with a civic presentation in Sydney on Tuesday.