Monday, March 27, 2006

Aussies ponder Minichiello move

Anthony Minichiello may be moved to the wing for Australia's Test against New Zealand next month to accommodate captain Darren Lockyer at full-back.

Minichiello won last year's Golden Boot, but Lockyer could be poised for a return to his original position.

Chairman of selectors Bob McCarthy suggested Lockyer's attacking talents were being blunted by the defensive requirements of the stand-off role.

And coach Ricky Stuart said he thought Lockyer's best position was full-back.

"I think Darren's best at full-back but we've got the world's best player there at the moment," said Stuart, who coaches Minichiello at club level with the Sydney Roosters.

"But it's not my position to pick the team, it's the selectors' - I will coach whatever team they give me.

"I have the ear of the selectors and the team that we pick will be the best team for Australia."

We don't want Darren Lockyer having to make a hundred tackles
Australia chairman of selectors Bob McCarthy

Speculation has suggested either Trent Barrett or Braith Anasta would slot in at stand-off.

McCarthy voiced concerns about Lockyer's defensive workload.

"We don't want him having to make a hundred tackles," said McCarthy.

"Because of his great attacking prowess you don't want to see him saddled with doing 40-odd tackles a game.

"New Zealand have those big boppers in the back row and they'll be running at him the whole game."

Australia's long domination of the international scene ended last year when New Zealand swept to victory in the Tri-Nations final, a game Lockyer missed with a foot injury.


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