Don’t know about you guys, but my mouth is starting to water at the prospect of the Barbarians-Australia game on Wednesday night. With the old firm of Jake White and Eddie Jones at the helm, expect the men in black and white to put in a masterful showing against the Wallabies.
The Baabaas really have assembled a veritable world squad and there are going to be some incredibly exciting combinations all over the park. A loose trio featuring both Schalk Burger and Richie McCaw, anyone? Add Jerry Collins at number 8, with the exciting Nick Koster as an impact sub and there are sure to be fireworks. The squad is literally brimming with talent, with the front row about the only place without a raft of real stars.
Expect John Smit to captain the side from hooker, considering who the coach is, with Census Johnston and Patrice Collazo on either side. Chris Jack and Bakkies Botha will probably be the starting locks – an all-star combo if ever there was one, even though Jack might be a little past his prime. Versatile Federico Pucciariello will be the prop replacement, since he’s comfortable on either side, with Englishman Mark Regan and our own Joe Muller serving as the other tight forward replacements.
I’d be very keen to see Muller and Botha playing as a pair, so let’s hope we see that combination at some stage during the game.
I’m not sure exactly how fit Fourie du Preez actually is at this stage, but since he’s still named in the squad, I’d expect him to start at scrumhalf with George Gregan on the bench. Either way, you have a linkman with oodles of international experience directing traffic from the base of the scrum. Frans Steyn should probably be at flyhalf, since he’s about the only recognised pivot in the squad. Jean de Villiers is a shoe-in at 12 and England’s Ollie Smith will probably get the nod at outside centre, although kiwi Rico Gear could also start.
Percy Montgomery will be at fullback and it’s anyone’s guess how the coaches will decide which pair out of Bryan Habana, Shane Williams and Joe Rococoko will start.
Here’s how I see the team lining up:
Probable Barbarians 22:
15 Montgomery, 14 Williams, 13 Smith, 12 de Villiers, 11 Habana, 10 Steyn, 9 du Preez
8 Collins, 7 Burger, 6 McCaw, 5 Jack, 4 Botha, 3 Johnston, 2 Smit (capt), 1 Collazo
16 Regan, 17 Pucciariello, 18 Muller, 19 Koster, 20 Gregan, 21 Gear, 22 Rococoko