'He's a hell of a player': Wallabies reserve makes strong impact
Tate McDermott’s Test-turning cameo has given Wallabies coach Dave Rennie “food for thought” as he promises to pick his strongest team for next Tuesday’s rematch with France.
The Queensland Reds hooker, along with clubmate Taniela Tupou and debutant Brumbies lock Darcy Swain all excelled off the bench as the Wallabies came from 15-0 down to win 23-21 in the most incredible circumstances at Suncorp Stadium.
Up by one, a young French team missing a smattering of their top talent had seemingly sewn up their first win in Australia since 1990 when they won a penalty on the buzzer to stave off one last Wallabies raid.
They won the line-out but, under pressure from a rampaging Tupou, panicked and were unable to clean up possession and find touch as McDermott dived on the ball.
Jake Gordon had overcome a knee injury to earn the start at halfback ahead of McDermott, Rennie justifying the selection on the back of Gordon’s superior kicking game and terrific Super Rugby Trans-Tasman form.
But the NSW Waratahs captain had a forgettable outing, strangely rolling the ball forward in a ruck to knock on, before missing a tackle that led to France’s second try.
Another Gordon box kick went sideways to continue the Wallabies’ sloppy night.
Rennie admitted his substitutes made a massive impact as they overturned a 15-7 halftime deficit to win despite missing several other late opportunities to go ahead.
“That’s what it’s about; carpe diem, seize the day,” he said.
“Two Tests in close proximity; we’ll need to share the load and some guys made statements tonight.
“As we expected with Tate, coming on late in the game against tiring defences, he’s electric and he kicked well tonight too.
“He’s a hell of a player, so it’s food for thought and I’m sure he’ll be scrapping for bigger minutes.”
The Wallabies, who drew a 17,821-strong crowd despite the game’s late switch from Sydney, will return to Brisbane for the final Test next Saturday.
Three games in 11 days won’t force Rennie into experimental selections though as he seeks clear decision making and clean execution.
“Test two we’ll put as strong a side on the field as we can, but it doesn’t mean guys won’t share the load,” he said.
“We’ll manage them well, there will be guys that I reckon will play all three Tests and do it easily.”
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