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After more than 30 years with The Sydney Morning Herald and Fairfax Media in Australia, Greg Growden now writes exclusively online for ESPNscrum. Never afraid to step on toes, you can expect plenty of compelling insight from one of Australia's most renowned rugby writers.

Australia
From one Amigo to another
Greg Growden
May 22, 2014
Kurtley Beale and Rob Horne have each been in good form in recent week © Getty Images
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Kurtley Beale appears destined to be back in Australia's No.10 jersey when the Wallabies play France in June.

Wallabies Squad To Play France

  • Prop: Ben Alexander (Brumbies) Pek Cowan (Force) Sekope Kepu (Waratahs) Scott Sio (Brumbies) James Slipper (Reds).
  • Hookers: Nathan Charles (Force), Stephen Moore (Brumbies), Tatafu Polota-Nau (Waratahs)
  • Second-row: Sam Carter (Brumbies) James Horwill (Reds) Luke Jones (Rebels) Rob Simmons (Reds) Will Skelton (Waratahs).
  • Back-row: Scott Fardy (Brumbies) Scott Higginbotham (Rebels) Matt Hodgson (Force) Michael Hooper (Waratahs) Ben McCalman (Force) Wycliff Palu (Waratahs).
  • Scrum-half: Will Genia (Reds) Nick Phipps (Waratahs) Nic White (Brumbies).
  • Fly-half: Kurtley Beale (Waratahs) Bernard Foley (Waratahs).
  • Centre: Tevita Kuridrani (Brumbies) Christian Leali'ifano (Brumbies) Matt Toomua (Brumbies).
  • Back- three: Adam Ashley-Cooper (Waratahs) Nick Cummins (Force) Israel Folau (Waratahs) Rob Horne (Waratahs) Pat McCabe (Brumbies).

There were no overwhelming surprises in the announcement of the Wallabies squad, and some pleasing inclusions - in particular New South Wales Waratahs lock Will Skelton making the cut.

But the most intriguing development was Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie naming Beale as one of his two fly-halves, alongside Bernard Foley. Matt Toomua was meanwhile named among the centres.

The assumption when Quade Cooper damaged his left shoulder was that Toomua, who has been the standout fly-half in the Australian Super Rugby franchises, would move from the Wallabies centres into the No.10 spot. But it appears McKenzie wants Toomua to stay at No.12, giving Beale the chance to return to the playmaker role. No doubt Beale and Toomua will have a similar relationship to that of Cooper and Toomua, with the freedom to swap positions.

While there has been a concerted media push for Bernard Foley to take over as the Test No.10, his form for the Waratahs was somewhat shaky until the past few weeks. He needs a bit more time, and it would be far wiser to start Beale against France with Foley the insurance on the bench.

While McKenzie opted for experience - and included several players such as James Horwill and Rob Simmons who are well off their best - he has also rewarded form, with Pek Cowan, Matt Hodgson, Luke Jones, Scott Sio, Nathan Charles, Rob Horne and Pat McCabe all making the squad. Horne, who has adapted well from the centres to wing, is a good choice, and it would not surprise if he appears on the Test wing during the French series.

Exclusive: Stephen Moore says actions count, not words
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McKenzie has also wisely given himself some time before deciding upon a captain. If form is crucial, the armband should not go to James Horwill as he has not stood out in the lock department this season. Sam Carter, Jones and Skelton have all played better.

A captain does not earn respect if his spot in the team is not warranted. It is time to look elsewhere. If Stephen Moore were playing the full 80 minutes, I would go with him as the Test skipper. But McKenzie is certain to have Moore and Tatafu Polota-Nau playing 40 minutes each.

You can't have your Test skipper on the bench for half a game.

Instead, give the captaincy to Scott Higginbotham. Sure it's a risk, as the Rebels skipper is flighty. But you know he will give his all. And he will not be intimidated by anyone.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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