Richard Loe is a former All Black and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Richard Loe: Wallabies will win only once in new comp

Australia's Quade Cooper. Photo / Richard Robinson
Australia's Quade Cooper. Photo / Richard Robinson

You can imagine the reaction I got when I offered a bunch of Aussies a bet the other day - that the Wallabies would win only one match in the upcoming Rugby Championship.

They coughed and spluttered and, typical Aussies, the environment over there seems to be pretty positive.

However, I think they have a horrible draw and they will struggle for a few reasons.

First, they will be found wanting up front. That much was clear from the front rows on view during Super Rugby and they have worn out a few locks, haven't they?

Nathan Sharpe isn't allowed to retire - it's like us selecting Gary Whetton again - and the young guys they have picked, like Kane Douglas and Sitaleki Timani, will soon be discovering the gap between Super Rugby and test rugby.

They also start with two tough games against the All Blacks and I believe the Pumas will win at least one match - probably the home test against the Wallabies on October 6.

Because of their forwards' shortcomings, I think the Wallabies will struggle to win either of the two tests against the Boks.

They are not without some hope, though I think it very much depends on who Robbie Deans selects.

If he chooses Berrick Barnes at first five-eighths, I will stick to my one-win prediction. However, they may do better if he selects Quade Cooper.

I know Graham Henry said the other day that Cooper was a weakness for the Australians but he's a strength as well.

If they have David Pocock and Scott Higginbotham in the back row, working with Will Genia and Cooper in the halves, I think that gives them their best chance of sparking something.

As for the Boks, they are a bit of an unknown quantity and I thought they looked a little lethargic in the June series against England.

They have lost some key players - at lock, for example, although big Andries Bekker will be welcomed back. At loose forward, they will miss Schalk Burger.

But they are bringing some young guys through and, again, it is a question of who they select. Aside from the Super rugby final, I thought a lot of the Sharks players were worthy of selection. Winger/centre JP Pietersen had a great Super Rugby tournament and the du Plessis brothers, Jannie and Bismarck, were going great guns until the final.

Springbok fetcher Heinrich Brussow is injured and I noticed they don't have another ball-fetcher at openside flanker; they have selected ball carriers like Marcell Coetzee, Keegan Daniel, Willem Alberts and Soya Kolisi along with Pierre Spies.

As ever, they will be a danger to all teams at home - even the All Blacks, I'd suggest. Their biggest selection question is over first five-eighths.

If they select Morne Steyn, then that will slow down their attacking play.

In my opinion, they need a first five who runs on to the ball and can get their backline away and they have some interesting characters in that backline - such as Francois Steyn in the midfield, probably along with Jean de Villers.

That gives them some real crunch going forward and on defence.

Having someone like Morne Steyn at 10 also tends to rob them of the spark that can come from halfback Francois Hougaard.

He can be a dangerous customer but I think he needs guidance, not only from his No 10 but also from his back row.

- Herald on Sunday

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Richard Loe is a former All Black and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Richard Wyllie Loe was a renowned All Black forward prop who plied his trade for the New Zealand national team between 1987 and 1995. Loe was well known by fans and team mates alike as an ‘enforcer’ on the pitch, a player who balanced his abilities with the ball with a tough-tackling prowess and a penchant for physicality. During an outstanding career Richard Loe represented his country of birth in no less than three World Cups, assisting the All Blacks to a famous victory in 1987. Along with fellow team mate and captain Sean Fitzpatrick, Loe formed one of the most formidable forward lines ever to lead the All Blacks. Despite his sometimes overly physical dominance on the pitch, Loe is regarded by former team mates as being an exceptional character and professional. Following retirement from rugby Loe became a sport columnist for the New Zealand Herald, a position he still holds today.

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