Selection battle keeping Simmons on his toes

by Staff Writer

There has been plenty made of selection battles in the Wallabies team this World Cup, but one that has bubbled under the surface somewhat is that of the starting locks.

Rob Simmons and Dean Mumm have alternated spots in recent weeks in a contest Simmons said was keeping him on his toes.

It is a welcome problem for the side to have - Kane Douglas and Mumm would not have been available in previous years, with new eligibility rules allowing players contracted in Super Rugby in an upcoming season to play.

“Those two guys in the squad has been very good for the team, building depth and experience,” he said.

“The qualities that the guys who have come back from overseas have provided this team is second to none.

“The things they bring to this team you can’t (replicate) anywhere else.”

Simmons said he and Mumm were working closely together in the lead up to games, with the lineouts a high priority for the side as they progress through the tournament.

“We’ve been pushing each other and we help each other out from week to week, especially earlier on in the week trying to decide on how we’re going to run the line out,” he said.

“Bit of competition and Cheik with his selection has been keeping us on our toes.

“We’re pushing each other every day which has been fun.”

Simmons may well have been playing an altogether different code had his primary school not had a visit from John Eales, a moment that sparked his interest in the 15-man code.

It was Eales who delivered the news that Simmons would line up in this World Cup, a fitting messenger for that conversation.

“That was my first introduction to rugby union,” he said.

“I was a country kid at a school that provided rugby league until went to boarding school and I started watching a fair bit, kicking goals and trying to do everything that he did in his job.”

While the goal kicking never stuck, Simmons still draws inspiration from Eales, who imparted some of his knowledge in their phone conversation.

“Honour of talking to John Eales, and he told me I was in the squad,” he said.

“He told me to just play and what to expect.”

Simmons said the Wallabies were acutely aware of the raised stakes as they move into sudden-death.

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