Jeff Wall writes:


The ongoing controversy surrounding the selection of the Kangaroos team for
next week’s Test match against the Kiwis is in danger of being a bigger event –
at least a bigger media event – than the match itself.

Hardly a day has passed in the last week without a new twist in the team
selection debate. And some turns have been nasty.

Over the weekend, the former coach, Wayne Bennett, and the new coach, Ricky
Stuart, traded verbal blows over whether or not the Broncos centre, Justin
Hodges, should make the team. To say there is “bad blood” between the game’s
leading coaches would be an understatement!

The debate about whether long serving players can pick and choose whether they
play for Australia,
and/or their State rages on unresolved. The ARL
has promised new guidelines and the sooner the better.

As it currently stands, Andrew Johns is keen to play for Australia just one
more time, but not to line up for New South Wales a couple of weeks later.
Given his service to the game, and his increasingly injury racked body, he
should be given that choice.

But it is a “precedent” – one that trapped Sea Eagle Ben Kennedy who last week
wanted to end representative retirement and play for Australia –
but not New South Wales.
Under the current rules he can’t make that choice, so within 24 hours there was
a back down: he would be available for both.

And then there’s the issue of whether Mark Gasnier should be chosen when the
team is named this Sunday.

Yesterday Gasnier received his “offer” from the Australian Rugby Union and the
clamour continues for Gasnier not to be chosen for the Test if he decides to
switch codes. But the Test team is chosen on Sunday, and he is no certainty to
have made up his mind before then.

If the team is chosen on “form” he will be one of the first picked. And given
that the Kangaroos lost the tri-nations series to the Kiwis last year, can Australia do
without him?