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‘Cool customer’ Tom Lynagh set to follow in father’s Wallabies footsteps

By Finn Morton
Tom Lynagh poses during an Australia Wallabies Portrait Session on June 26, 2024 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images for ARU)

Tom Lynagh will follow in the footsteps of his father on Saturday evening if the 21-year-old is called on to come off the bench against Wales. Tom is the son of former Wallabies skipper Michael Lynagh, who is arguably the best No. 10 in Australian rugby history.

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On the eve of the Wallabies’ first Test under new coach Joe Schmidt, the playing group made their way out onto the field at Allianz Stadium for their captain’s run. Lynagh was one of the 23 selected who had the luxury of walking out in a Wallabies jersey.

It’s been quite the journey to get to this point. Lynagh has long been touted as a Wallaby-in-waiting since making the move from Harlequins academy to Queensland. After another strong season based out of Ballymore, coach Schmidt rewarded the youngster.

Video Spacer

Sarah Hirini on retiring legend Portia Woodman-Wickliffe

New Zealand Sevens star Sarah Hirini gets emotional when asked by Finn Morton about Portia Woodman-Wickliffe, who will retire after the Olympics.

Video Spacer

Sarah Hirini on retiring legend Portia Woodman-Wickliffe

New Zealand Sevens star Sarah Hirini gets emotional when asked by Finn Morton about Portia Woodman-Wickliffe, who will retire after the Olympics.

Lynagh was selected as one of three No. 10’s in the Wallabies’ initial squad for the July internationals. There was no room for incumbent Carter Gordon, with the coaching staff selecting the trio of Noah Lolesio, Ben Donaldson and Lynagh.

Schmidt later picked the “cool customer” to do a job on Saturday evening after naming the Queensland Reds pivot on the bench. With a little over 24 hours until kick-off at the time of writing, it’s almost time for Lynagh to forge his own legacy as a Test playmaker.

“He’s a cool customer Tom. You talk to him, he just doesn’t get ruffled. I’ve tried to ruffle him to be fair and put him under a little bit of pressure but he just doesn’t get ruffled. I love that and I think the players around him love it because what you want is that calm,” Schmidt told reporters on Thursday.

“In that real hub, pivot position, you want someone who is not going to be ruffled, who’s going to stay nice and clean and clear in their thinking and then in their delivery or whatever they’re required to do on either side of the ball.

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“I know I’ve spoken about his courage before and I don’t have any doubts about him stepping up there.

“They will bring a big, direct midfield at us. They’ll get Aaron Wainwright running off things and running down channels. Tom’s the sort of guy that, well he won’t say anything, he’ll just get on and do it. If that’s his tackle, he’ll make that tackle.

“I’ve been impressed with a number of players who are able just to stay focused on what needs to be done rather than get ruffled or distracted by things they can’t really control anyway, they can only influence what’s immediately in front of them.”

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Along with Lynagh, Melbourne Rebels prop Isaac Kailea, Queenslander Angus Blyth, the Brumbies’ Charlie Cale and NSW Waratahs outside back Dylan Pietsch are also in line to debut off the bench.

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Schmidt has picked uncapped duo Jeremy Williams and Josh Flook in the starting lineup. But the biggest surprise is potentially the selection of Liam Wright as skipper, with the loose forward set to play his first Test since a draw with Argentina in 2020.

The national selectors have also thrown a bit of a curveball in the halves with Nic White omitted from the matchday 23 completely, while Reds co-captain Tate McDermott will come of the pine. Jake Gordon has been given the nod to start at halfback.

“He’s [Gordon] probably just had the sharpest of the passes of the three guys so far. He’s got that really nice long kicking game, high kicking game and those are elements that I think we can make of,” Schmidt explained.

“You can’t tell Sydney weather early in the week. We had a look and it looked like it was going to be rain but now it’s saying sunny so it’s probably going to be rain.

“We’re 48 hours out and things fluctuate a lot. What we don’t want to fluctuate is whatever does turn up, we turn up with the right sort of armoury and we felt Jake had the right armoury for us to kick the first Test off with.”

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finn 5 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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