While there’s plenty of positives for the Wallabies to take out of their famous win over the All Blacks at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday, one key combination stood out and spurred the underdogs to victory.
When Dave Rennie named his side for Bledisloe IV on the Thursday before the test, plenty of discussion followed about the new-look back three which was set to take the park. Filipo Daugunu had started on the right-wing in the first three Bledisloe’s of the year, but he was dropped for former NRL player Tom Wright, who was named for his test debut.
Interestingly as well, Tom Banks was named to return to the starting side, after being dropped for the experienced Dane Haylett-Petty in Bledisloe III. Wright and Banks were joined in the backfield by 2019 John Eales Medallist, Marika Koroibete.
For four-time Super Rugby winner Bryn Hall, the Healthspan Elite Performer of the week wasn’t just one of these players, but instead all three.
“When was the last time we saw an Australian team have more run metres than the New Zealand team? Koroibete, Wright and Banks were massive around that,” said on the latest episode of the Aotearoa Rugby Pod. “It was great to see Koroibete hold onto the ball; he held onto the ball and he was destructive.
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“Banks and Wright as well, for two guys that haven’t played a lot of test footy, the way they beat defenders and put them [the Wallabies] on the front foot was massive.
“Collectively as a back unit, the back three was fantastic.”
Echoing Hall’s comments, former All Black James Parsons highlighted the defensive effort from the back three, which was a big step up from last week.
“Defensively they did a lot better as well. If you use the 80th minute when Koroibete runs up, he rams, they get an offload off, he gets a good hit then from that offload, bounced off and rips the ball from Jordie; he did double efforts. Wright was the same.”
The panel soon focused on Tom Wright, who had a debut to remember. The 23-year-old had 92 run metres off eight runs, made three-line breaks and beat three defenders.
But the clear highlight was the winger scoring with his first touch just two minutes in.
Flyhalf Reece Hodge put a chip in behind the All Blacks defensive line for Banks to recover inside their attacking 22, before offloading the ball to the debutant.
“His first touch was a try” Parsons exclaimed before talking about the winger’s influence on the game.
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“His kick coverage what I liked. The couple of times there were grubbers through and he got back and exited.
“Also when they [All Blacks] would kick long, he’d be able to catch the ball on the full so it wasn’t bouncing. As Mick Byrne always used to say, ‘if it can get two bounces, that’s a win for the kicker.’
“His attacking stuff speaks for itself but for me, the off the ball work and his ability to cover that backfield and work really well with the other two.
“He can be extremely proud of his performance. I know Rennie’s style, he’ll be liking that off-the-ball, character work that he’s been doing rather than the highlight reel stuff.”
Hall also spoke about the defensive cohesion between the back three, and how this combated the All Blacks attack.
“The communication skills between Wright, Banks and Koroibete must’ve been at the forefront because giving the guys the confident on the inside; to be able to tell them, ‘you can go’ or ‘you leave last’, those really small comms on the run that might be to the loose forward who’s on the edge.
“If you give them the confidence, they can just go whereas in the last test match due to the quick ball and probably because of a little bit of indecision, they were holding off.”
The Wallabies have a bye week in the Tri Nations following the Bledisloe Cup series, with their next test on the 21st in Newcastle against Argentina.
Listen to the latest episode of the Aotearoa Rugby Pod below or find it on your preferred streaming service.
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