How did national selectors decide on Michael Crocker over Anthony Laffranchi in the Australian team writes Peter Roy, following the injury to captain Darren Lockyer?
Easily the form back-rower in the NRL and already named as 18th man for Fridayâ€™s Test, why wasnâ€™t Laffranchi an automatic replacement in the backrow, when it was confirmed that the Sharks Greg Bird would move to pivot – leaving a vacant backrow spot?
Was it Ricky Stuart who requested his former pupil Mick Crocker be rushed into the Australian side?
If it was Ricky Stuart who made the call to leave Laffranchi out, then he has plenty of explaining to do. It seems Stuart is using the ‘experience’ tag to push Crocker’s barrow, but there is no question that Laffranchi would stand up to the test if he got his chance on the big stage.
Nothing against Crocker, he is a hard head with a tonne of experience that will get the job done on the night. The fact of the matter is Laffranchi is streets ahead of Crocker in terms of form and offers more variety with the ball in hand, with his ability to offload the ball or take the line on directly.
Stuart and the selectors really need to explain in more detail why they have chosen to leave Anthony Laffranchi in the cold – if so many in Rugby League circles can see the value Laffranchi would add, why can’t the selectors? Maybe Ricky Stuart was too busy worrying about Phil Gould and recent newspaper headlines between the too. If thats the case, Sticky should really get back to focusing on the job at hand and picking the right troops.
As is usually the case with international fixtures, the coach and selectors will avoid criticism and everything will be glossed over when the Kangaroos put the cleaners through a New Zealand side lacking preparation, suffering injuries to important members, and the unavailability of UK based players.
What really ices the cake for me, is that the selectors come out early in the piece and state “We will pick this team based on form.”
But after starting with the axing of Nathan Hindmarsh and Brett Stewart for players in better form such as Gallen and Slater, they suddenly err from their initial mandate and skip right over the top of the absolute form player in NRL – Anthony Laffranchi.
It doesn’t make any sense and if fans can’t make anything of it, then what must the players themselves be thinking?