Australia legend David Campese has defended Wallabies coach John Connolly against accusations his World Cup squad is too conservative.
Connolly ignored a host of dazzling up-and-coming players such as Lachlan Turner, Kurtley Beale, Digby Ioane and Quade Cooper in favour of a veteran line-up when he named his 30-man party earlier this week.
However, Campese has thrown his support behind Connolly in his column for Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, claiming it takes men – not boys – to win the World Cup.
"People need to understand that the World Cup is such a huge stage that experience plays a vital role in trying to lift the Webb Ellis trophy," wrote Campese.
"Have a look at all the sides that have won the title.
"New Zealand in 1987 had been together for quite a while; in 1991, we had a real core of hardened internationals and a couple of fresh faces – John Eales included – who gave us a really nice blend."
Campese also reminded readers that England, victorious in the 2003 World Cup, were also billed as ‘Dad’s Army’ and insisted that the emerging brigade of young stars of Australian rugby will be prime contenders for the 2011 competition – but not this year in France.
"Don’t get me wrong. New South Wales wing Lachlan Turner and emerging five-eighth Kurtley Beale are blessed with incredible talent," he said. "They are the path to the future for the Wallabies.
"For the moment, however, Connolly and his selectors got it right by not asking too much of them too early.
"They have, after all, brought on one exceptional talent in the back-line this year in Brumbies utility star Adam Ashley-Cooper.
"He is a genuine game-breaker, and that is good to see.
"But it would be asking too much of Turner and Beale and other bright young stars on the horizon to enter the Wallabies’ set-up at this late stage and make a real difference on the game’s biggest stage."