Brett McKay: Cheika’s backrow gamble to keep series alive

By Brett McKay The moment last weekend David Pocock was ruled out for the rest of the Cook Cup series, the hottest question in Australian rugby has been, “who will ‘Cheik’ pick?” With specialist No.8s Ben McCalman and Wycliff Palu in the Wallabies squad already, they loomed as the obvious replacement for Pocock at the back of the Wallabies scrum for the must-win Second Test in Melbourne. If the Wallabies were to force the series into a decider in Sydney, then surely the Australian pack needed to fight English physicality with fire. The ‘Pooper’ experiment might have reached its use-by date, so surely it was time to go back to the tried and tested. No, Siree, Bob. And I don’t mean Mr Dwyer. Cheika ignored the obvious claims of McCalman and Palu, and instead installed rampaging Melbourne Rebels backrower Sean McMahon in place of Pocock. It was a move that very few saw coming; playing two fast and physical – but not necessarily on-ball – flankers in McMahon and Mich
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