Grey Man Pat McCabe is in the Wallaby starting line-up to face the Springboks in the quarter-final.
The Mole speculated – well, he assumed – that Dingo Deans would have seen the error of his ways and selected Berrick Barnes in the No12 jersey. El Doble-B came on for the injured Kurtley Beale in the easy romp against the Eagles, and started against Mother Russia, putting in performances that ticked a hell of a lot of boxes – composure, control and a varied kicking and distribution game.
Personally, I think it’s a bit of a shock call. Having Barnes and Cooper in your team essentially gives you two outhalves. Even if one of your key decision-makers is at the bottom of a ruck – and Cooper runs a lot and thus finds himself getting tackled quite a bit – you have another one who can put shape on your possession.
Barnes is probably a better tactical kicker than Cooper, and both are talented and pacy runners who can take the ball out of defence in a counter-attack, or even break the line of a well-prepared early phase defense with a step and a shimmy and then a burst of gas. Beyond that, Barnes and Two Dads form an almost prototypical southern hemisphere second five-eighth/first centre combination. Barnes is the distributor and thinker, AAC the line-breaker and try-scorer.
McCabe’s limitations were shown up against Ireland, and his recent shoulder injury will further limit his physicality. Jean de Villiers is considerably bigger than him, and isn’t going to get knocked down or run over. It’s a strange call from the Dingo.
Ah, 20-20 hindsight is a fine thing. My close personal friend Patrick McCabe was in the 3-2-1 for the Wallabies against the Jaapies and Quade stank the joint out. Berrick looked good when he came on but he’s only ever one Danie Roussow knee to the head away from death, or worse, fumbling the ball/missing a kick.
I like the “Two Dads” nickname for Adam Ashley-Cooper. In Australian rugby circles he’s known as “The Earl” because he’s related to the Earl of Shaftesbury:
Nobody is ever going to knock the Grey Man for his bravery – a second dislocated shoulder in the space of two weeks and all he asks for is a bag of ice!
Still hard to figure out just how Australia won that game with so little ball, a really good defensive performance from the men in gold. David Pocock was absolutely everywhere, what a gutsy performance.