Is McCaffrey the solution to the Wallabies back row?

Is McCaffrey the solution to the Wallabies back row?

There are bound to be numerous changes in the Wallabies set-up under new Director of Rugby Scott Johnson with Stephen Larkham already falling victim to one of those changes.


One of Michael Cheika's most difficult tasks during his tenure as the Wallabies head coach is finding the perfect player to fill his back row with Michael Hooper and David Pocock. It is certainly not impossible to successfully field two 'fetchers' in your test starting line up with Cheika successfully doing it with the national side in 2015, while more recently Warren Gatland has done it regularly with Wales.

During the 2015 Rugby World Cup, Scott Fardy successfully did the job for the Wallabies but the experienced blindside flanker moved to Leinster in 2017 and recently re-signed for the current Champions Cup and PRO14 champions, effectively ruling him out of contention for the World Cup in Japan.

Sean McMahon impressed in the gold jersey but he hit his highs while David Pocock was on his sabbatical. McMahon could certainly do the job for the Wallabies but like Fardy, McMahon doesn't not have enough test caps (60) to qualify as an overseas-based Wallabies. McMahon was set to feature for the Sunwolves this Super Rugby season but was ruled out through injury. On the other end of the scale, Luke Jones has returned from Bordeaux Begles to push for a place in the Wallabies World Cup squad and can cover both flank and lock.

This leaves Cheika with the options he currently has in Australia. Ned Hanigan, Caleb Timu and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (Lukhan Tui) have both been tested in the role without nailing down the jersey as their own while Pete Samu and Jack Dempsey have also been given their opportunity. Dempsey was superb for the Wallabies in 2017 and could improve even more in 2019 after missing large parts of the season in 2018. Samu has been good for the Wallabies but could best be used via the bench due his versatility and impact. 

So where does that leave the Wallabies head coach? He has the option to try the explosive Rebels loosie Isi Naisarani who qualifies to represent the Wallabies this year but one man has stood out above the rest so far this Super Rugby season, Lachlan McCaffrey.

The Brumbies loose forward has been outstanding so far this season for the men from Canberra, building on a solid return to Australia in 2018.

The former Tigers' big ball carrying and thumping hits on defence has really caught the eye, in what is his second season back from England, and he could just be the fix Michael Chieka has been searching for. McCaffrey brings yet another threat to the breakdown for the Wallabies but his overall work rate would dovetail perfectly with Hooper and Pocock. 

With McCaffrey at no.8 for the Wallabies, Cheika's pack would look similar to that of Wales with Josh Navidi and Justin Tipuric doing a lot of work at the breakdown while weighing in on defence while the likes of Ross Moriarty and Taulupe Faletau carry the ball hard and rack the tackles numbers up on defence. 

The Wallabies are certainly not out of options in trying to find the perfect player to try and 'balance out' their back row with Hooper and Pocock but if or when they do, they will certainly cause numerous issues for every test side. 

Handing a test debut to a seasoned 28-year-old could do the trick for Wallabies!

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