Australia vs. France: 6 Bold Predictions for Brisbane Test
France meet Australia on Saturday with Les Bleus in a similar predicament to England. The Top 14 domestic final also took place last weekend, ruling out anyone involved from the first Test of their summer tour.
Therefore, a makeshift French side will take on Australia, who are blooding some new talent of their own in fly-half Bernard Foley and lock Sam Carter.
Here are the predictions.
The Honey Badger Will Have His Say
Nick Cummins has been having an outstanding season in Super Rugby. He has scored a hat-trick and three other tries. He also performed one of the best try-saving tackles you’ll see all year last weekend.
On top of that, when a microphone has been waved under his moustache, he has come out with some classic one-liners.
He comes up against another hirsute wing on Saturday in the shape of Yoann Huget, who is no wallflower when it comes to on-field confrontation, either.
Cummins and Huget will be a matchup to savour.
Folau to Frighten French
Another summer, another new side for Israel Folau to take by storm.
The full-back did just that against the Lions last year, announcing his arrival in the sport with those two mesmerising tries in the first Test.
Who knows what the French will make of him, but with a weakened side and at the end of a long season, they could well be ripped apart by the buccaneering Waratahs man.
Fickou Will Worry Wallabies
We saw last season that big, hard-running backs can do damage to the Australian back line.
Think Jamie Roberts and George North.
In Gael Fickou, France have a raw young talent who can break the game wide open.
He did so against England in the Six Nations and was a huge threat against Ireland, who just about managed to stop him busting their defensive line.
Australia might not know too much about the youngster, and he could make them pay for that.
Michalak to Produce Magic
The game has far fewer mavericks than the old days, but France have picked one of the remaining wild cards at fly-half.
Freddie Michalak has been the Marmite of the French rugby public for most of his career, but somehow seems to have remained in the thoughts of every French coach of the last decade.
He plays on Saturday despite being dropped from the entire Toulon squad for last weekend’s domestic final, making the most of the fact that no one who played in that match is eligible for this first Test.
What will we see from the man who puts the "M" in "mercurial"?
Let’s back him to deliver magic rather than mayhem.
White to Assume No. 9 Mantle
One of the biggest selection calls made by Australian coach Ewen McKenzie was to drop scrum-half Will Genia from the squad altogether and start Brumbies youngster Nic White.
McKenzie left Genia in no doubt as to why he had left him out, but the pressure is now on White to perform. The coach told the Sydney Morning Herald:
Sometimes it's only little things and that's the way it is, but you have to be at the peak of your powers.
Players set a standard for themselves and you reference against that. That's why I've been talking about consistency, you reference every player against what you know they're capable of.
We apply that criteria to everyone. The guys who are getting picked are playing the closest to their potential.
White is a player of great promise, and a world-class display on Saturday could signal the changing of the guard in the green and gold No. 9 jersey.
Wallabies to Win
While there seems to be a tiredness and lethargy about the French, Australia have made some bold selections—such as Bernard Foley at No. 10—with an eye on moulding a team capable of doing great things next year at the World Cup.
Home advantage and fresher legs mean only one thing.
Australia to win.