Hugh McMeniman seeking Wallabies jumper
March 11, 2013
The Bulls proved too strong in the final stages, scoring 17 unanswered points to claim the victory%]
Western Force lock Hugh McMeniman looms as a key weapon in the series against the British & Irish Lions, with the Wallabies crying out for a big, aggressive and mobile forward. And he has a prime opportunity to underline his Test credentials when he plays against Queensland Reds on Friday night, adding starch to the Force pack against his former side.
McMeniman was a star in the making a few years ago, playing 21 Tests for the Wallabies and winning 29 Super Rugby caps for the Reds, but a raft of serious shoulder and knee injuries curtailed his progress and he moved to ply his trade in the more body-friendly environment of Japanese rugby. McMeniman believes, however, he has now unlocked the secret to staying injury-free and he wants a Wallabies jumper.
That's good news for Wallabies coach Robbie Deans, who is desperate both to find a replacement for retired lock Nathan Sharpe and to add depth to the team's back row. Standing 200cm and weighing 114kg, McMeniman is a formidable force at lock or blindside flanker, giving the Wallabies vital flexibility. But his mongrel remains his greatest attribute.
McMeniman has fond memories of his three-year stint with Japanese side Kubota, but the lure of playing against the Lions was too hard to resist - convincing him to pen a one-year deal with the Force.
"Nathan Sharpe played his whole career and didn't get the chance to play the Lions, and he's been around forever and played everyone and done everything," McMeniman said. "It just shows you that if you get selected to play against the Lions, it's a very special opportunity." McMeniman's immediate focus is on helping his new team break their season's duck against the Reds.
"Basically the whole team was there from when I was there; the only difference is I didn't get a premiership," he said. "I'm looking forward to this game immensely."
The latest Week in Pictures takes in a fiery East Midlands derby and all the action from the Aviva Premiership and Top 14
The rolling maul is becoming an increasingly potent attacking weapon. Conor O'Shea looks at the difficulties of stopping it
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton