Sweden XV for Autumn internationals
12 okt 2018 0 kommentarer
Finally some information. We are told that 70 from a possibles group were invited to join two training camps prior to the two approaching internationals. Apparently 43 accepted and 27 declined. The list of 43 is published on the Union webpage today. It contains a number of candidates for selection and a fair number who cannot be regarded as remotely qualified for international honours.
What would be interesting is to see the names of the 27 players (almost 40%) who did not accept the offer to try to make the team. Some injured possibly, but a large number must have refused for other reasons. Is there any other sport where 40% of those invited decline the chance to represent their country? I doubt it.
It is easy to make a list of at least 15 players who should be in the squad, but are not listed among the 43. Either the selection procedure is badly flawed or they have all refused. The selection procedure has certainly been very poor for years but the question should also be asked why so many have refused. The answer to that may explain why we have lost 22 of our last 25 internationals.
15 Swedish clubs have provided players for the 43. Two Swedish clubs (Exiles and Pingvin) have shown themselves to be far superior to all the others for a number of years and almost all of their regular players are eligible to play for Sweden. Exiles have 6 and Pingvin 4 players in the 43. Two from Exiles are useful players but are not normally in their top squad of 23. The remaining four are forwards who should go straight into the starting line-up, they have been outstanding all season, two in the front row two in the back. The Pingvin four include two who are registered with other clubs but who played for them in the finals. I could see three of them getting into the starting lineup. The two players selected which shows some imagination are Exiles´ Georgian prop Giga Khanishvili who passed the three year requirement last year and who has probably been Sweden´s strongest prop for some time. He also scores lots of tries. The other is the young hooker from Wexiö, Anthony Rafael, who comes off the bench regularly for Pingvin. I have mentioned him previously as a future internationalist and I would rank him nr 1 of those in the 43. The other outsider is Alfred Nordgren from Malmö who has also bobbed up with their Skåne arch-rivals. He played well in the GP-sevens and although kept on a tight reign by Exiles in the finals he is also worth a place in the final squad.
The main question mark over the troupe of 43 is the complete absence of the Exiles´ backs. They cannot have been judged to be not good enough (Kanogo was at the final) so the conclusion must be that they don´t want to play, which is very sad. Matt Mitchell and Dustin Eaton are head and shoulders above the other halfbacks in Sweden while Oliver Sharp and Dan Nissala were the two outstanding wingers towards the end of the season. Not to mention our powerful Saffer centres Rikus and Neill.
Moldavia are a far weaker team than a few years ago, they lost all five games in 2017/2018. Their powerful pack seems to have melted away to play in Romania, Russia and even in Britain. They will still present problems up front, however, they lost several games narrowly, and this Swedish troupe seems to have little to offer in the powerhouse of the scrum or at the lineout for that matter. Marini plays flanker for his club, the Hammarby second-rower has disappeared and the Exiles/Pingvin second-rows are out of favour. Sean Burke returning from injury has in recent weeks shown himself to be easily the best lineout jumper in Sweden, but he is also a no-show, for whatever reason.
If I were to pick a Swedish team from the 43, I would be struggling to get 15 adequate players.
This is my framework:
Theo Anthony Giga
Neets ? Sami
? Axel Erik Alfred
If I had access to all the best players in Sweden I would retain these five forwards and Alfred. The remaining nine IMHO are to be found outside the 43.