What to make of the Wallabies Forward Pack
It makes me, and almost every other Wallabies fan happy to see that the entire forward pack has been selected purely on form.
Ewen McKenzies ‘Bledisloe Headaches’ mainly seem to have been in the backline, but don’t fret, there is plenty on the elsewhere.
Starting in the front row McKenzie has selected James Slipper who is obviously the best choice for Loosehead prop. This is based purely on form plus his experience and general work around the park. Below him will be Pek Cowan, the in form Western Force prop. Cowan played well against Les Blues as Slippers backup and with all things going to plan this will continue through against the All Blacks.
At the Hooker spot we have Nathan Charles. Despite being the Wallabies third string Hooker due to injury troubles, Charles showed great form all year, and especially towards the end of the season after his Wallaby debut. He has a very strong attacking game and he will not at all be a liability in the lineout or the scrum.
Sekope Kepu will take the starting spot at tighthead. This will be Kepu’s 42nd Test Match and his 23rd start and he has the experience and leadership that the Wallabies young forward pack will need.
The second row was probably the biggest talking point of the entire week leading up to the selection. Carter has been in fantastic form and had a Wallaby debut that will be talked about for years to come. Carters pure work rate on defense and his work on the set piece is exactly what the Wallabies need to take on Rettalick and Whitelock.
Rob Simmons was obviously selected at Number five. He will support Sam Carter and is ever consistent. Backing these two up is Will Skelton who has been in much better form than former Wallaby captain James Horwill who completely missed out on a spot in the squad. This came as a surprise for some, but Skelton is definitely the lock the Wallabies need to close out the game.
Blindside flanker has of course been occupied by Scott Fardy. Fardy is probably one player out of the entire pack whose form has worn down since the start of the season with the ACT Brumbies. The worrying part is that there is no true backup flanker in the entire squad. If need be Ben McCalman would be able to come off the bench and play number 6, as unbeknownst to some he actually plays some of his best rugby there. However, for this match it looks like McCalman will be locked into the number 8 backup spot.
Michael Hooper is the one player in the entire squad who does not need to contend for his spot. He plays a full, honest 80 minutes as the captain of the side and opens up the spot for extra backs on the bench, as he does not need a backup.
Finally, at Number 8 Wycliff Palu will get the starting position with McCalman as his backup. Palu has been showing great form especially towards the end of the Super Rugby season and through the playoffs. Ben McCalman is also in great form and will close out the game in a great fashion.