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Three Centre Partnerships Michael Cheika Could Turn To Amidst Injury Crisis

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 20: Matt Giteau of the Wallabies is seen at full time with crutchers following the Bledisloe Cup Rugby Championship match between the Australian Wallabies and the New Zealand All Blacks at ANZ Stadium on August 20, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Australia’s are short of midfield options ahead of second Bledisloe Cup match.

As if Australia’s 42-8 hammering at the hands of New Zealand wasn’t enough, the Wallabies must also contend with a major midfield injury crisis ahead of the return fixture next weekend.

Such was the extent of the drubbing handed out by the All Blacks, the unlucky nature in which Australia lost three inside centres in a single game has been overlooked.

Indeed, rugby fans will sympathies with Matt Giteau, after he sacrificed a substantial percentage of his Toulon salary in order to have one last crack at lifting the Bledisloe Cup.

However, as was the case in the World Cup final, the unfortunate Giteau was forced from the field in the early stages with a broken ankle and fractured leg.

Giteau’s replacement, Matt Toomua, was taken off the field a short time afterwards, as was the Rob Horne, leaving the Wallabies short on options in midfield.

Consequently, it now seems likely that Samu Kerevi will get the nod in the 12 jersey, despite being dropped before Australia’s third test with England in June.




1. Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kuridrani

Samu Kerevi
(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Although Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kuridrani promised bring a great deal of physicality to Australia’s midfield, the partnership proved to be ineffective against England.

Despite being big ball carriers who can break the defensive line, there was little subtlety to their play. Therefore it wasn’t at all surprising to see Toomua come in at inside centre for the final test against England.

However, with Toomua injured, Cheika could be forced to turn to a midfield combination that previously failed to inspire. What’s worse is the fact that Kuridrani looked particularity off the pace against New Zealand.


[tie_slide]2. Israel Folau and Adam Ashley Cooper

Waratahs v Crusaders - Super Rugby Grand Final
(Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

With Giteau’s international career effectively over and both Toomua and Kurtley Beale joining Leicester Tigers and Wasps respectively, numerous commentators have called on Cheika to select Israel Folau at inside centre.

Their argument certainly holds merit, after all Folau is Australia’s most dangerous attacker with ball in hand.

However it would seem that Cheika will maintain the Waratahs player at full back. Nevertheless, given how ineffective Kuridrani was against New Zealand, many Australian fans would like to see Folau partner Adam Ashley Cooper in midfield.


[tie_slide]3. Reece Hodge and Tevita Kuridrani


Although Reece Hodge maybe uncapped at international level, the Wallabies could be forced to turn to the 21 year old if Cheika does in fact select Falou at fullback.

However, after impressing during his debut season with the Melbourne Rebels, Hodge is not without his supporters.

While Hodge maybe better known as a fullback, like many Australian players, he possesses the skill set to play in a number of positions.

Indeed, Hodge is regarded as playmaker in the mould of Giteau and Toomua, making the Rebels player more of a direct replacement at inside centre than would otherwise be the case with Kerevi.

In addition, with Cheika set to maintain Folau at fullback, the possibility of Hodge making his debut against New Zealand increases further.



Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena


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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.