Sam Carter’s knee injury has a host of young (albeit tall) locks around the country salivating over a World Cup spot. Let’s first take a look at the out-and-out locks and then those who have shifted across to cover for their Super Rugby sides.
The tallest man* to ever run onto a Super Rugby field in the 19-year history, at 208cm Arnold is obviously a threat at lineout time. His first eight games in Brumbies’ colours had Michael Cheika taking note before a back injury spoiled his rapid rise. While he’s a big man, he’s also a big name in South Africa after Arnold was alleged to have bit an opponent during his Currie Cup debut in 2013. After a successful appeal he was later cleared. Arnold has attended Michael Cheika’s Wallabies morning-after meetings this season.
*joint tallest with South African Andries Bekker
At 204cm, Coleman is another of the old-school locks despite being just 23 years old. Coleman has dominated for the Force in an otherwise disappointing season, being the go-to man at lineout time. He has also managed the most lineout steals out of any Force player, and is a mongrel in defence with several of his tackles making their way onto hit highlight reels. If Carter was fit, it would have probably been a Cup too soon for Coleman but a spot could now be ready for the taking.
Now to those who are playing out of their favoured position. Timani, brother of 18-Test Wallaby Sitaleki, has been a star for the rising Rebels in 2015 playing out of position in the second row. He could make the squad as a Six or even an Eight but now has runs on the board at lock. His versatility would be invaluable while his physicality wouldn’t be out of place at Test level. Michael Cheika has already said earlier this season that Timani will be a “force to be reckoned with” if he continues his development.
Timani’s second row partner is another back row convert, with Jones preferring the Six on his back. Already with three Wallaby caps to his name Jones knows the Test arena but as a blindside flanker and not in the rough and tumble second row. He has grown in stature in 2015 though, calling the shots in Melbourne and is second in the competition for lineouts won. Jones’ work rate is second to none though, currently fifth in Super Rugby for runs while he’s ninth for pick and drives. At 196cm he’s not exactly small but not a giant either, especially in the world of locks.
At 192cm Dennis is the smallest (only just..) of the men mentioned while he’s also the oldest. The 29-year old has already played 18 Tests for the Wallabies across a host of positions, with Six his preference but he can play Number Eight as well. His leadership has been huge for the Waratahs in recent years and his ability to read the lineout is up there with the best in the competition. Dennis is currently ranked ninth in Super Rugby for lineout steals while he’s sixth for lineouts won. A knee injury ruined his 2014 campaign and robbed him of Super Rugby glory, but 2015 could have a nice Green and Gold finish.