Rugby Union 1 year ago

Cheika to deploy new-look Wallaby back row

  • Cheika to deploy new-look Wallaby back row

    LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 06: Israel Folau of Australia lines up a pass during an Australia training session at The Lensbury Hotel on October 6, 2016 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Forced to make two changes to his starting lineup from a last-start loss to the All Blacks, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika is wrestling with decisions over how to kick-start Australia's Spring Tour against Wales.

While star fullback Israel Folau is a consideration to take on the outside centre spot vacated by the injured Samu Kerevi, more mystery surrounds the makeup of the team's backrow following a suspension to veteran Dean Mumm.

The well-travelled Mumm will serve a one-match ban for striking New Zealand lock Brodie Retallick.

You might also like

Defensive coach Nathan Grey indicated Cheika wasn't short on options to fill the No.6 jersey - with World Cup favourite Scott Fardy in contention along with young bull Sean McMahon, who has recovered from an ankle injury.

"We've got a number of guys who've played in that position for us," Grey said on Wednesday ahead of the team naming on Thursday night AEDT.

"You've got Fards who can do that for us quite comfortably. Seany is coming back into contention."

Outside centre is also causing headaches for Cheika, who could shift Folau from fullback, opt for the experienced Tevita Kuridrani or move livewire Henry Speight in from the wing.

With the unavailability of halfback Will Genia, who has again not been released by French club Stade Francais for the outside-the-international-window Test, Nick Phipps is favoured to win the No.9 jersey as he did against New Zealand last start.

Grey expressed his disappointment at not being able to call on Genia, but said it hadn't had a drastic impact on the week as the team was quite prepared to be without their star playmaker.

"I'm not quite sure how the French operate sometimes, so you definitely plan both ways," he said.

"We were prepared for him not being here and that's totally understandable: Stade Francais are his employer.

"It's unfortunate but that's the way it is, we'll push on."

Meanwhile, the importance of kicking off the tour with a win in search of an elusive grand slam will ensure Australia don't let their eyes wander to a potential grudge match with England next month.

"The players and coaching staff are very focused on this performance and putting everything into this first performance against Wales," Grey said.

"We're not looking too far down the road.

"The Welsh Test is a great opportunity for us to start our Spring Tour playing a style of rugby we're proud of, and playing a style and brand of rugby that our supporters can be very proud of."

0 0
please wait...