Australian rugby great Stephen Larkham has urged the Wallabies to stick with Matt Toomua and Jesse Mogg to give them a chance to shine against South Africa on Saturday night.
The Wallabies are still searching for their first win of the Rugby Championship after losing the Bledisloe Cup to New Zealand last month.
Flyhalf and fullback will be the two most contentious selections, as Quade Cooper and Israel Folau vie to take over from incumbents Toomua and Mogg.
But Larkham hopes Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie gives the ACT Brumbies duo more time to settle into their Test roles.
”I thought [Toomua] didn’t run the ball as much as he needed to [in the first Test] but we saw a dramatic transformation in the second Test. I thought he was outstanding,” he said. ”I think if this team’s given more time together, [they] will start to string wins together.
”You’ve got to give [Mogg and Toomua] some time to find some combinations out there. [Toomua] is very well suited to Test rugby. Moggy just needs a bit more time. Maybe he needs to run the ball a bit more, but his kicking was outstanding and so was his defence.”
The Wallabies went into camp on Sunday to prepare for the Springboks. Cooper and Folau are two of the highest-profile players in the team and their presence intensifies the spotlight on Mogg and Toomua.
There have been calls for McKenzie to shift Australian rookie of the year Folau from the wing to fullback to better utilise his attacking brilliance.
Mogg has been the fullback for the first two Tests and will meet with McKenzie this week to discuss how he can improve.
Toomua and Cooper have been used in tandem as the Wallabies’ chief playmaker.
Brumbies backs coach Larkham said the combination of Toomua’s structured style and Cooper’s enigmatic flair had ”tremendous potential”.
Toomua has been the starting No.10 for the Tests against the All Blacks but it remains unclear whether McKenzie will inject Cooper to the starting XV for games against South Africa and Argentina.
The Brumbies have made up the bulk of the Test team to start the Rugby Championship after they made it to the Super Rugby grand final last month.
Prop Ben Alexander could be under pressure to keep his spot, while Scott Fardy impressed in his run-on debut against the All Blacks two weeks ago.
McKenzie also wants more impact from his bench players for the clashes with South Africa and Argentina.
Mogg is hopeful of keeping his place in the starting XV and wants to show he belongs on the international stage. But with McKenzie replacing Robbie Deans as coach in July and implementing a new game plan, Mogg said it would take time for the team to adjust.
”It hasn’t been through a lack of trying, just execution a bit and I’ll improve at training and bring it into games,” Mogg said.
”We’re going to get better with the more time we have together and keeping the combinations. With a new coach, people’s expectations were high and our expectations were to win the first two Tests. It’s tough at Test level, and at the end of the day you have to perform.”
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net….