Ripping the bandaid off. Shock and raw. Call it what you like but Eddie doesn’t mess about does he?
Some may see it as grandstanding, others may think it insanity. However, there is method to this madness.
A calculated decision has been taken here.
Living in the northern hemisphere, having watched Ireland and France plan meticulously over the past 5-10 years for this tournament, two things are clear to me.
Firstly, the Wallabies even with a fully fit and firing Michael Hooper or Quade Cooper would struggle to win three straight matches against any of the top six Test nations.
Eddie knows this. He’s looked to the future by picking a side that can escape the pool stages this year and push England or Argentina all the way in a quarter final. After that, anything can happen but probably won’t.
Second. Eddie’s done exactly what French Rugby did in 2019. He’s swept into an underperforming side with a culture of losing and taken a broom to it. It may be harsh but there is no room for sentimentality right now, if ever.
People will argue that under Dave Rennie, the Wallabies were there or thereabouts. Fast improving, primed for a tilt at the Webb Ellis trophy.
The fact is that under Rennie, a full strength side scraped by at home against Argentina and South Africa after those two sides had each won the Covid Quarantine fantasy raffle.
They then lost a three-game series to a mediocre, highly fatigued England played on fast, hard Australian tracks.
All before the disastrous tour to Europe last year where Rennie’s side found ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in three of five games. In the two games they won, against Scotland and Wales, they were lucky in the extreme. Yellow cards. Red cards. Losses.
Enough was enough.
Eddie gave Michael Hooper a game in Pretoria when arguably he’d been the 3rd or 4th best open side flanker in Australia for 12 months. He was battered, mercilessly targeted by the Springboks all game. It was sad.
Quade Cooper also had his opportunities. His heroic game on the Gold Coast against the Springboks came two years too early. Is he a better 10 than Donaldson now? Undoubtedly. Will he be around for the next World Cup? Undoubtedly not.
Why take players to a Rugby World Cup who may help you lose a semifinal by 10 points instead of 20 when you can take players who might win the whole thing in 2027?
Some of you will point out that Australian Rugby doesn’t have a Dupont or Ntamack hanging out in the junior sides right now.
You’d be right. Find me a commentator who says any Test nation, including New Zealand or South Africa does and I’ll show you a liar.
Dupont in particular may well become one of the greatest test scrum halves of all time, right up there with Edwards, Joost, Gregan and Smith.
What Australia does have is a group of players all well under 25 years of age who are about to become seasoned veterans.
Would you believe that Angus Bell is just 22 years old? He makes Taniela Tupou at 27 seem like an old age pensioner.
Nick Frost, Tom Hooper, Fraser McReight. All 24 years old or under, all still growing into their bodies, or looking for half of them if you listen to Eddie.
If Australian Rugby was to sign up Payne Haas for example, someone to push Rob Valetini harder, that is some sort of millennial rugby wet dream isn’t it?
But let’s not stop there.
Tate McDermott and Issak Fines-Leleiwasa will both be in their primes between the Lions Tour in 2025 and the Rugby World Cup in 2027.
They’ll be pushed all the way by Ryan Lonergan who will also need to contend with a fast rising son of a gun, Teddy Wilson.
Carter Gordon has been anointed but won’t have it all his own way. Young Tom Lynagh showed enough this season to establish he’s got what it takes to contend.
Jordan Petaia, Mark Nawaquanitawase, Max Jorgensen. All still just kids, especially Jorgensen who shows sons of guns come in threes these days.
About the only problem position I can see is at 12. Samu Kerevi probably won’t make it to 2025, let alone 2027 so why not grab Cameron Murray? Tough tackling, hard running, plenty of Union background and young.
It is doubtful that any other Test nation will be as primed to win the Rugby World Cup in 2027 as Australia.
The Wallabies by that stage will have an average age of about 28 and average test caps of well over 50. Key metrics when it comes to winning ‘Bill’.
They will have soundly lost a semifinal in 2023, won a brutal Lions series two years later and wrestled back the Bledisloe immediately after.
We can all dream can’t we! And this selection allows us to do that.
Possible Wallaby Side 2027 Rugby World Cup with age in 2027 in brackets:
1. Angus Bell (26)
2. Matt Faessler (28)
3. Taniela Tupou (31)
4. Will Skelton (35)
5. Nick Frost (27)
6. Tom Hooper (26)
7. Fraser McReight (28)
8. Payne Haas (27)
9. Tate McDermott (28)
10. Carter Gordon (26)
11. Mark Nawaqanitawase (26)
12. Cameron Murray (29)
13. Jordan Petaia (27)
14. Max Jorgensen (22)
15. Joseph Sua’ali’i (24)
Bench contenders: Blake Schoupp (27), Zane Nonggorr (26), Rob Valetini (28), Teddy Wilson (24), Ryan Lonergan (29), Tom Lynagh (24), Josh Flook (25).