I am surprised that you can omit Slater as being of no importance within the Australian set-up? There is a difference in the opposition that Tomkins face in each and every domestic game that they take part in B/kid and as good as Sam can be in S/L he is a long way from proving that he would be equally as dangerous facing much sterner defencies on a weekly basis like those in the NRL.
Sorry but you are misguided to believe that there is little if any difference between Sam and Billy and I would definitely swop theirs for ours withou any hesitation whatsoever.
You though absolutely spot on concerning the halves. The coach should have the know how to perceive that the combination of Sinfield and Chase is on a World scale a pretty poor combination and simply not good enough to compete with either Thurston /Cronk or Johnson/Marshall. Unfortunately although we now do have a decent array of players from which to select our side from, we have a coach who it seems is focussed upon players whom he cannot look beyond and can simply only choose from his own favourites without recourse to others who are not being given opportunities to show their worth.
Finally; yes again, Watkins does look a superb athlete with the ball in hand! However his defence does leave a lot to be desired and unless this improves dramatically (which I for one hope that it does) he could prove to a be liability also if called upon to defend against teams from OZ and NZ. The latter which you seem to dispel as poor or worse? Well I would not be shouting that too loudly as the Kiwi side next November will bear little resemblence to that which we beat in last years tri series, on that score you can rest assured.
I think Sam proved himself in the 2011 4N. At times he ran through the Aus/Kiwi defence with ease especially with ball returns. Against the Kiwis didn't he beat 6 defenders I think their will be a video of that on youtube somehwere. Slater is the better all round player I won't deny that, but if you swapped Tomkins for Slater I don't think that it would be that bad. A quote from Darren Lockyer he said that if you stop Tomkins you go a long way to beating England, as an attacking threat I don't think you can say Slater is a class above Tomkins in attack because I just don't think he is personally. But Slaters all round game is much better.
I agree, it would be a brainfart IMO not to pick Widdop behind Chase and Sinfield. Fair enough he's not anywhere near as Thurston or Marshall but he's a damn sight better than them two.
With Watkins it's the same as Sam really, as an attacking threat he's not far off Aus its just his all round game. If he sorts his all round game then he'll be a good match for international level. With Reed I watched Brisbane 4 times last season and every game they lost, which is probably why I've lowered my opinion of him. Nothing to do with him of course thats probably an explanation why I came out with that statement, didn't watch as much NRL as I did in previous years apart from the play offs so your knowledge on Reed in making a comparision will likely be better than mine.
And no doubt about that, It'll be much better than 2011, but I'll fail to accept the term 'we are light years behind them' when they are beatable.