Pat McCabe shows Wallabies have another option
March 10, 2014
Pat McCabe topped the poll for the Greg Growden Medal this week, the Brumbies centre producing the equal-best individual effort of the season by an Australian-based Super Rugby player.
McCabe earned a round four vote of 8.5 to equal the score of Israel Folau in round two, the poll just result for what Greg Growden described as "easily the most courageous performance of the season when he ran the Hurricanes off the paddock at the Cake Tin".
"Virtually every time the Brumbies had possession, there was McCabe making the break, charging down the field, or setting up his team-mates," Growden wrote. "There were constant mad dashes, extensive runs, interspersed with his usual dazzling tackling skills.
What made this performance even more extraordinary was the fact that he appeared doomed just six days earlier to finishing the season, even his career, prematurely. McCabe was in a Perth hospital, fearing he had suffered yet another serious neck injury."
McCabe was free to face the Hurricanes after being diagnosed "only" with a strained muscle, and how the Brumbies benefitted with the centre running for more than 12 0 metres in attack, making half-a-dozen tackle busts, punching line-breaks, and playing a hand in a number of his side's four tries.
"He got a lot of confidence out of the fact that he put his head and upper body through all those contacts," Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham said of McCabe. "He played really well, and he's really put his hand up at the moment as one of our standout players."
McCabe was but one of the Brumbies inside backs to star in Wellington, however, with Matt Toomua and Tevita Kuridrani demonstrating they will not easily or willingly give up the Wallabies jumpers. Quade Cooper, for Queensland Reds against the Cheetahs, also produced a match-defining effort.
Ben McCalman, for Western Force against Melbourne Rebels in Perth, showed just why he is a serious contender for the Wallabies' No.8 jumper, producing another strong effort as the Perth franchise humbled the Rebels. He certainly got the better of his head-to-head with Scott Higginbotham, another Wallabies aspirant. Perhaps the most noteworthy factor of the weekend, though, was the Greg Growden Medal judges' opinion of the Rebels: Melbourne were horrible in Perth, and the judges deemed them so bad as to be worth not a single medal vote between them.
Of course players and teams will have an off-week - they are only human, after all - but we cannot guarantee that Ewen McKenzie will not remember this response to adversity when he selects his starting XVs for the best teams feature players known to get going when the going gets tough.
The table at the top of the story shows the players standings, round by round, while that below shows the team-by-team figures. Play around with the tabs to enjoy the full stats experience.
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