The return of James O’Connor and the form of Quade Cooper could spell bad news for Wallabies fullback Tom Banks.
Former Wallabies fullback Chris Latham says room must be made in Australia’s starting baseline for both Quade Cooper and James O’Connor, with current custodian Tom Banks shaping up to be the scapegoat.
Banks has started fullback in all seven Wallabies tests this year despite mixed reviews of his performances.
However, with Cooper starring in the flyhalf on his return to test rugby after a four-year absence in Australia’s 28-26 weekend win over South Africa, and former Wallabies No. 10 O’Connor, he’s back in shape after a long forced injury. absence. Latham wants them both on the team for Saturday’s Rugby Championship comeback fight with the Springboks at Suncorp Stadium.
O’Connor’s versatility has him more than capable of playing fullback, with his ability to stick to structure and play a bit of impromptu soccer making him an attractive proposition.
“With Quade playing so well at 10, I couldn’t see that change,” Latham said.
“While I understand the importance of structure, you also need that unpredictability in your team.
“You need those players who can play unpredictable rugby within the structure. I thought that was the difference Quade made.
“He made the Boks sit and watch and watch because they just didn’t know what he was going to do, but he still played really well inside the structure while doing that.
“Having O’Connor, another attacking weapon, (inside the center) Samu (Kerevi) with that direct run and to unload, and that ball game ability too, that combination will make the Boks think ‘if we run, let’s go to get hurt, so we have to wait ‘and then you have that indecision, and that’s where the opportunities start.
Latham, who made 78 appearances for the Wallabies from 1998 to 2007 and played in three World Cups, said it would be a difficult, but perhaps necessary, decision to leave out Banks, who has not seemed convincing under the high ball.
“I’ve been in that position myself over the years with certain players coming and going,” he said.
“We knew going into that game last week that the Springboks were going to kick a lot of high balls, and it would take us to be in our game on each one of them to defuse that, we” It’s just one of those fierce positions that every week if you don’t you’re at that 100 percent level and you have someone like O’Connor or someone else in the mix, there’s a chance for them that they’re going to try that. “
Former Wallabies flyhalf and inside center Elton Flatley backed Latham’s request that O’Connor play fullback to make sure he and Cooper started together.
“We know James is a world-class play when he’s fit, so if he’s fit and ready to go, like Quade, he has that experience and knowledge to play test rugby,” Flatley said.
“I’d go out and definitely do a job on the 15 jersey.”
Flatley, whose 38 tryouts included the 2003 World Cup final, was pleasantly surprised by Cooper’s performance over the weekend, which included eight of eight with the boot, one after the siren to win the match for Australia. .
“That Quade didn’t play international rugby for four years and came back like he did was tremendous,” Flatley said.
“I don’t think he’s doing that well, but he’s physically in fantastic shape and he was rock solid. You couldn’t blame him. I was very happy for him. ”