Over the past decade, the 103-cap veteran Will Genia has had more or less complete control over the Wallabies No9 shirt but has had to settle for the bench over the past month.
With the World Cup just over a month away, many would have thought that Cheika chose to play White to test how he plays as he knows exactly what he is getting from Genia.
White only recently moved back to Australia after a four-year stint with Montpellier and Exeter Chiefs, and Cheika would have wanted to scout his other scrum-half options ahead of the world showcase in Japan.
However, the performances by the former Exeter man, particularly against the All Blacks last weekend, have suddenly made the 29-year-old the Wallabies’ first choice scrum-half according to many fans on social media.
The Wallabies 47-26 win was laid by a high tempo game to expose a 14-man All Blacks side in the second half. @bensmithrugby reviews Nic White's Bledisloe performance. https://t.co/k1tp89mvXA #AUSvNZL #BledisloeCup #RugbyChampionship #Wallabies #AllBlacks
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 13, 2019
Such a rise was probably not expected by the Australian public, particularly as it was touch-and-go a few months ago as to whether White would even be returning to Australia.
But a scintillating performance last weekend in Perth against the All Blacks, in which Steve Hansen’s side conceded their record number of points in a 47-26 loss, makes it hard to ignore White now.
He bossed the game the whole time he was on, causing havoc around the fringes of the ruck, and helped starve the All Blacks of possession. He finished a brilliant team try to cap off his performance as well.
Since then, there has been a clear rift amongst fans, from both Australia and abroad, as to who should be the first choice scrum-half come the World Cup.
White has won over a lot of people, including former Ireland international Tommy Bowe, which was inevitable after his display against the All Blacks.
White seems to be the popular choice, but there are still those that think Genia is the best option. Perhaps after such a long time, and after so much he has given to the Wallabies, it will take more than a couple of good performances to dislodge the Rebels scrum-half. This is what has been said:
— Tommy Bowe (@TommyBowe) August 10, 2019
— Adam Chown (@Chownie1) August 10, 2019
White was class last week and deserves the jersey. But imagine having the impact of Genia for the last 20
— SouthTerracer (@TerracerSouth) August 15, 2019
White. And I think I was perhaps his biggest critic last time he was in gold. I think he’s adding something Genia isn’t. Forget the RWC though on a rainy night in Eden Park to win the Bledisloe I want White, Hodge and CLL kicking
— Andrew Brogan (@AndrewBrogan) August 13, 2019
White to run on and then Genia to snipe against a tiring defence for the last 30
— Ian Rodger (@IanjfRodger) August 13, 2019
White – Genia off then bench for final 25/20
— Theo Wilson (@theow45) August 13, 2019
Thousand percent, Genia. White more likely to have a poor game
— Dave Hinton (@DaveyJay1) August 13, 2019
Yup Whites found space but Genia a far better option/athlete to exploit it. Going to be an open game moving forwards, tough on White but Genia prefable here
— BG (@grazybizzle) August 10, 2019
Cheika is having a fucking lend if he thinks Nic White is better than Will Genia
— Bring Ash Home (@thaidaynightfb) August 8, 2019
In modern rugby, scrum-halves are substituted almost every game, meaning both White and Genia will be integral to the Wallabies’ chances of success in Japan in September.
Although it is unknown who Cheika will favour, it is a good position to have such quality players vying for the same place.
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