The other day, I woke up, rubbed the sleep out of my eyes and indulged in my usual bowl of cornflakes. After sprinkling three packets of sugar on top, everything seemed to be traveling well.
The cornflakes, however, took a bitter twist when I heard on the radio that Johnathan Thurston was to be forced out of the Australian side because there simply wasn?t any room for him.
I heard something along the lines of this for Australian selection:
1. Anthony Minichiello 6. Darren Lockyer 7. Andrew Johns 14. Craig Wing
I could then think of a reason why Thurston should be in the side ahead of all these players. Let?s play ?who wants to be a millionaire?. You choose the correct answer.
A. Minichiello should be shifted to the wing to accommodate Lockyer, who?ll be shifted to fullback, leaving Thurston at five eighth.
B. Lockyer should be dropped altogether, despite being captain. Thurston is the form five-eighth and Minichiello is the form fullback, leaving no room for the man whose selection was once regarded as a certainty.
C. Johns is regarded as the best player in the world but has already said this will be his last representative match. Shouldn?t the Australian selectors pick Thurston for one, or both of the following reasons? He is the form player of the competition, and the side should be selected on form; or the fact that the selectors should be looking to the future and with the Kiwis winning last year?s Tri-Nations series, this train of thought is more imperative now than it ever was. Thurston should be the Australian halfback. D. Wing has had a shocking start to the season and doesn?t deserve selection in the Test side. Lockyer should be five eighth and Johns halfback, while Minichiello will play in his preferred fullback position - leaving Thurston to fill the utility bench spot.
E. None of the above.
Personally, I think you?re mad to choose E or C. But I think A, B and D are all realistic solutions. Let me know what you think, and send your thoughts to [email protected]
This fiasco could well be solved if the Andrew Johns injury is worse than first thought, and he?s forced out. But, we never anticipate that injuries will be a factor, so we?ll ignore that for this deliberation.
I?d be choosing D. Lockyer is too good a player to leave out of the Australian side, being the captain and the Kangaroos? saviour for the last four or five years. Johns will not be in any doubt to don the number seven jumper in his representative swansong.
And Minichiello has been the best fullback in the world since Lockyer shifted to five eighth. He deserves to keep his post there, especially after claiming last year?s prestigious Golden Boot honour for world?s best player in 2005.
To choose Wing over Thurston would definitely reek of Roosters? nepotism from Australian coach Ricky Stuart, given that Wing has been woeful thus far in ?06. Thurston deserves a place somewhere in the 17 and this seems the most logical to me. He contributed significantly to a Bulldogs? premiership in 2004, won the Dally M Medal in 2005 ? and was arguably the best player in the 2005 grand final. He?s also been the best player thus far in 2006, and if that sort of form isn?t good enough to play for Australia, then Anthony Mundine?s humility is his greatest asset.
The other main issue at the moment is the Roosters ? and in particular the coaching form of Ricky Stuart.
He?s had superb playing talent at his disposal, but hasn?t put the runs on the board. People have often criticised Nathan Brown for his inexperience, I think the only difference between the two is that Stuart is falsely recognised as a ?master-coach? and Brown is often heavily disparaged with regards to his ability as a coach. In terms of ability alone, they?re no different whatsoever. Stuart is a media darling, whereas Brown is made the scapegoat by frustrated Dragons supporters.
Whilst on ?A View from the Hill? on the weekend, a caller rang in and described an incident which occurred at a post-game function at Easts Leagues club. Apparently a supporter yelled from the crowd ?no more excuses?. Stuart then challenged the supporter verbally ? ?that man in the blue shirt, I?ve got my eye on you?.
I don?t really think anything more needs to be added to that.
I did raise the issue as to why, or, under what criteria, was Stuart was appointed Australian coach?
To me, this really does vindicate his obsession to have Andrew Johns on the field for the Test match. His best coaching days were when he had a one man band in tune, the conductor back then was Brad Fittler. He?ll only get one song with Joey though, and then he?ll trundle back to the Roosters.
If my name is Nick Politis, I?m knocking on John Lang?s door immediately.