Wallabies lineout general Rob Simmons has dared their World Cup rivals to attack Australia’s set-piece over a perceived weakness.
Following their famous victory over England on Saturday, the Wallabies have been tagged as the main contender to dethrone reigning world champions New Zealand – particularly after a convincing display in the scrum, traditionally Australia’s Achilles heel.
But there is a feeling that one of Australia’s strengths – their powerful back-row – could prove to be a weakness at the lineout.
While the tag-team duo of David Pocock and Michael Hooper has proved hugely effective in forcing turnovers at the breakdown and earned praise for their dogged tackling, height is something of an issue.
At 184cm and 182cm respectively it has been noted that they’re not the tallest back-rowers at the World Cup – which in theory gives Australia fewer targets to call on when the ball is thrown in.
But Simmons, who is the designated caller in the Wallabies’ lineout, is encouraging teams to attack his side in that area.
“I’m not really too worried about it,” he said.
“It’s part of the game that I take responsibility for and if they want to try and start targeting that area then good on them.
“We’ll try and get the ball off them in that area. We just worry about ourselves and try and make our game better each week.”
He remained unfazed about the dual ball-hunters reducing the threats in the Wallabies’ lineout.
“I’ve been in plenty of situations where we haven’t had many jumpers and been in other situations where you have lots of jumpers,” he said.
“You don’t always have a great lineout with five jumpers and you can sometimes have a really good lineout with one jumper.
“It just comes down to doing your research and make sure you do the right calls and try and make it as easy as possible for the team.”
Hooper, who faces a two-week ban after being cited for alleged foul play over an incident in which he cleared England fullback Mike Brown out of a ruck, was used to great effect in Saturday’s victory at Twickenham.
Simmons said the `Pooper’ combination of Pocock and Hooper was improving every time they took the field.
“It looked pretty good on the weekend. It’s just getting better and better,” he said.
“Those two are working each other out and I think they’ve got a pretty good combination going.”
Australian hooker Stephen Moore threw short to Hooper several times as the Wallabies managed to tweak their style to accommodate their twin No.7s – an approach they may continue to use as the tournament progresses.
When asked whether the tactic worked primarily as teams weren’t looking at him as a primary jumper, Simmons replied: “They might have to start doing it if they look at the stats on the weekend.”