Wallabies selection headache
By MITCHELL DALE
NOT tonight, Mrs Jones, Eddie's got a few selection headaches.
Wallabies coach Eddie Jones faces some tough times at the selection table during Australia's four-Test tour of Europe this month, with a full range of backline artillery available for the first time this year.
World Cup vice-captain Elton Flately and slippery outside back Mat Rogers are back in the 28-man squad after long injury lay-offs, meaning Jones faces some difficult decisions.
Veterans George Gregan, Stephen Larkham and possibly outside centre Stirling Mortlock are the only backs assured of starting positions.
"It is a good headache to have," Jones said.
"We have a lot of talented players all firing at once, so there is a lot of competition for spots."
With so much in-house competition, Jones hopes the players will push each other to greater heights.
"That is what we are aiming for," he said.
"Whether or not that happens, we will find out when we get to the Test matches I suppose."
The Wallabies side for Saturday night's first Test against Scotland was named overnight (AEDT), but before the side left for Europe Jones was tight-lipped about whether any changes would be made from the last-start 23-19 loss to South Africa in the Tri-Nations decider.
"It will come down to what they can do now, how they have been training and what they are capable of in the future," he said.
"Those are options we will have to weigh up."
Jones drilled the side relentlessly in scrums and lineouts before the tour in an attempt to stop the bleeding in the set pieces.
"Our scrums and lineouts have not been as good as I wanted and that area needed improvement," he said. "It is an area which is increasingly competitive at international level.
"The Super 12 is not strong in that area, so it is something we have had to work on a lot.
"Basically, we have been working on it every day."
The Wallabies have looked butter-fingered in recent tours of Europe as they struggled to deal with the greasy conditions often found in the northern hemisphere.
But Jones believes such problems are a thing of past.