Australian Schoolboys selector defends NSW dominant side

Australian Schoolboys selector and ARU High Performance manager Adrian Thompson has defended the team he, coach Pat Langtry and selector Andrew Maloney have picked to play matches against New Zealand and Fiji Schools later this year.

In one of the tightest Australian Schools Championships in history, ACT defeated QLD II to claim their first national title since 1988.

Despite remaining undefeated all week, just two ACT players were selected in the Australian Schoolboys side, while 11 NSW players were picked despite both their sides missing the final.

“There is always commentary about selections, particularly at schoolboy level but there are a number of things I think people need to remember,” Thompson said.

“The Australian Schools Championships are run for two reasons. To crown a national champion and to select two Australian sides but the two don’t necessarily go hand in hand.

“There aren’t head to head clashes, every team doesn’t play one another and there are also a number of players who are injured and miss the championships or who get injured early in the week,” Thompson continued.

“Where teams finish and how many players are selected isn’t really a factor because selectors are watching individual performances day in day out.”

Thompson confirmed that a number of spots in both the Australian and Australian Barbarians squads remained open and that the coaching staff would take a few weeks before finalising both squads.

“We made it very clear to everyone on Saturday that those places can be taken by players who missed some or all of the week with legitimate injuries, or from players who played at the carnival,” he said.

“So we’ll continue to look at that in the weeks to come and some of the Barbarians players may end up in the Australian team.”

Thompson said he was extremely impressed with the quality of rugby played throughout the week and said he was confident heading into September’s Tests against New Zealand and Fiji Schools.

“The big thing we’ve changed this year is that we’ll have both the Australian and the Barbarians sides stay and train together and I think that will add more competition for spots, plus we’ll be able to reselect those two teams after the first day of Test matches.

“Last year we scored three tries to two against New Zealand but didn’t win but I think we’ll continue to close that gap. We’ll have a really good preparation and will be in camp for two weeks heading into the New Zealand match.”

Thompson added that is certainly wasn’t the end of the road for those players not selected in the two Australian squads.

“We looked at 180 boys last week and although some of them aren’t quite ready for this year’s Australian Schoolboys or maybe underperformed last week, they are still definitely on the radar of their respective Super Rugby academies.

“We just don’t look at the two Australian teams going forward, in fact if you look at this year’s Australian 20s, at least half of the squad if not more didn’t play Australian Schoolboys.”

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