Why you should be excited about Kyle Godwin’s Wallabies debut
By Sam Ryan
Just over two years after joining his first Wallabies tour, Brumbies recruit Kyle Godwin will make his long awaited Test debut on Sunday morning (AEST) against France.
24-year old Godwin replaces 22-year old Reece Hodge in the Wallabies starting side and will become the 13th Australian to make his international debut this year.
Hodge has had an outstanding year and there is no doubting that he’ll wear gold for many years to come, but I’m not sure if he’ll have the No.12 on his back for much longer.
At 6’3 and 94kg, the former Manly Marlin will be just as effective at outside centre or on the wing, in fact you could probably argue that he could wear almost any number in the backline, bar No.9, if push came to shove.
By shifting Hodge wider down the track, Cheika can play a genuine ball playing/running No.12, something New Zealand have had great success with and something we haven’t had in Australia in some time.
A player that can distribute, kick and organise like a flyhalf but run and defend like a No.13 or loose forward.
Ma’a Nonu is the perfect example, as was Conrad Smith to a lesser extent. Both players are complete footballers with unbelievable skill sets. It’s something that is required more than ever in modern International rugby.
Imagine trying to defend Nonu. As you prepare to try and stop a 107kg wrecking back, he notices that he’s committed you and often another defender. So he slows, just slightly and throws a perfect 20m spiral pass and hits another attacker on the outside.
In the past, Australia’s inside men have been quite one-dimensional. Brilliant distributers or runners in their own right, but rarely able to do both.
Kyle Godwin can and while he gets first crack to prove it, there are a few others knocking on the door.
Dave Horwitz showed career best form for NSW Country in the NRC playing outside of Godwin and looks ready to make a real impact at Super Rugby level next year.
Both Horwitz and Godwin can stand at 10,12 or 13 in attack, as they often did for the Eagles, which creates serious headaches for the defence.
Waratahs recruit Irae Simone is a different style of player but is just as good. While he is still adjusting to the 15-man game and may benefit from a little more time in the Shute Shield, the Northern Suburbs and Sydney Rays centre was outstanding this year and at 21, he’s only going to get better.
While none of these players are at Nonu or Smith’s standard just yet, they certainly fit the right mould required to help the Wallabies continue to evolve their attack.
It won’t be easy for Godwin on Sunday morning, playing in a new look Wallabies side, outside of Quade Cooper against a handy French outfit.
But it will give him an opportunity to show his worth and prove why so many Australian rugby fans are excited about his Wallabies debut.