The Wallabies enter this year’s Rugby championship with several reasons to be cheerful.
The New South Wales Waratahs, stacked with Australian internationals, just walked off with the Super Rugby title after a thrilling final against the Crusaders; their marquee players have had fantastic seasons; they are unearthing some new young talent in key positions; and under Ewen McKenzie they have won their last eight internationals.
They are, however, missing one or two key men with vast experience when it comes to mixing it with the other big guns from the Southern Hemisphere.
In assessing McKenzie’s squad, I have decided to apply the following criteria to come up with a final grade.
- Experience: The number of caps held by the players likely to be first-choice in the tournament counts for a lot.
- Form: Players coming off the back of a strong Super Rugby season can boost a position’s grade.
- Star men: The big names deserve respect in terms of their grade for what they can do on the field.
- The opposition: Australia will be up against the two strongest rugby nations on earth. How their players rank against their opposites will be the final factor applied to these grades.
Stats courtesy of Opta's wealth of information housed on the New Zealand Herald.