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Robinson ruled out for Wallabies

By Jim Morton 12/05/2010 04:09:01 PM Comments (0)

Scrum cornerstone Benn Robinson has been ruled out of the Wallabies' opening four Tests of the year, leaving selectors with a dilemma in choosing which other "Big Ben" to wear his No.1 jersey.

Australian coach Robbie Deans on Wednesday revealed Robinson's fractured arm would not only end his Super 14 season but also continue to sideline the prop until the Tri-Nations campaign, kicking off in July.

The NSW Waratahs front-rower would have been one of the first men picked by Deans in his starting XV to play Fiji, England (two Tests) and Ireland in June.

But now he must decide whether to switch Ben Alexander from the other side of the scrum.

A specialist loosehead with the Brumbies, Alexander was the Wallabies' big success story of 2009 by making a successful move to tighthead which immediately stabilised the wonky Wallabies scrum.

Now with the position vacant, for a month, at Test level, Deans is considering whether to keep him there or again play him at tighthead and give Queenslander Ben Daley, 21, a chance at loosehead.

Daley, who will miss Saturday night's final-round clash with the Highlanders due to a torn tricep, has enjoyed a superb season for the Reds to be the next cab off the rank.

If Alexander is picked at loosehead, then his Brumbies teammate Salesi Ma'afu is in line to start at tighthead in an all-ACT Test front row along with hooker Stephen Moore.

Deans bemoaned Robinson's extended unavailability, as a result of re-injuring his arm against the Chiefs, and indicated Alexander would continue to spend time developing his tighthead game.

"He obviously hasn't done that for a while but he will be spending time on the tighthead side whether it be in training or whether be in game because that's one of the strengths that he offers us," he said.

"While some might suggest it's an inconvenience that he hasn't been playing there, ultimately, in the long run it can't help but help him - the experience he gets on both sides.

"Someone will profit (from Robinson's injury) and clearly Ben (Daley) is one bloke who has had a very good Super 14 and is probably evidence of the Reds in many ways - what you look at what he has done he reflects very much what the team has done this year."

Other loosehead options include former Wallabies Matt Dunning and Greg Holmes who have spent most of the Super 14 on the bench while Pek Cowan has endured an injury-riddled year.

Deans will name a 40-man squad for the in-bound Test season on May 27, but will delay it until May 30 if either the Waratahs or Brumbies make the Super 14 final on May 29.

The opening Test is against Fiji in Canberra on June 5 and the selectors may choose to rest a number of players if they make the competition decider.

England, with an eye on next year's World Cup, have chosen a large and strong squad for their four-game tour of Australia and Deans is especially excited by the challenge it will present for his mid-week Barbarians team.

Impressed by the performances of the Australian Super 14 teams in 2010, he admitted he had a more challenging selection task than in the past year when stocks have been thin in some areas.

"We were looking for people to press their claims so we had some choice and competition but most importantly some depth of quality and I think we're getting there."

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