Michael Cheika has named his first Wallabies side of the year, as they take on the Springboks in Johannesburg this weekend.
By and large the squad is as strong as the Wallabies can field with the injuries that they have, and fans on social media seem fairly upbeat.
After a monumental season with the Reds, Samu Kerevi starts at 12 in a powerful centre partnership with Tevita Kurindrani, which is exciting a number of fans.
Isi Naisarani has been rewarded for his good form with the Rebels this season with his first cap, as has the Brumbies’ Tom Banks, who will earn his fourth cap full-back, with Kurtley Beale on the bench.
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Not only did both players’ form drop towards the back end of the Super Rugby season for the Rebels, but they are not necessarily in their strongest position.
While both have played on the wing before at international level, Haylett-Petty is perhaps better suited to full-back, as he is dependable under the high ball and positionally astute.
His rugby brain and skill set compensate for his lack of pace, which means he is still capable of playing on the wing, but does not pose as much danger as a player like Marika Koroibete (who has flown home after the birth of his child).
Likewise, Hodge offers a huge amount to the team, particularly his cannon-like boot, but his running lines perhaps suit that of a centre. While he will still do a good job on the wing, it possibly prevents him from showcasing his true potential.
Lining up against South Africa’s S’bu Nkosi and Makazole Mapimpi, this lack of pace out wide may be exposed. But there is no denying that Hodge and Haylett-Petty both have their own strengths as well. This is what has been said:
No wingers at all in the team. SA genuine pace out wide?
— Ben Kimber (@benkimber) July 18, 2019
Slow wings and…Foley.
— Wayne Doyle (@waynemarkdoyle) July 18, 2019
Not sure about White starting. DHP too slow to play on the wing. Kerevi and Kuridrani not a complementary centre pairing – would much rather see Hodge alongside Kerevi
— Charlie Lawry (@CharlieLawry) July 18, 2019
Looking a bit slow on the wings…
— cactusback (@cactus_back) July 18, 2019
Big back row first time in a while.
Angry second row.
Kerevi and Kuridrani.
— Tim Phillips (@timbo_phillips) July 18, 2019
I think that back 3, Banks aside, is decidedly pedestrian on this year's showing. Solid, but really quite unspectacular.
— Dave Jefferson (@cyclopath967) July 18, 2019
Slowest wingers in world rugby right there. All of a sudden Australia starts to find some decent forwards and now we have no x-factor in the backs. Kerevi the standout but he’s still a weak defender. Everyone else is solid but no test game breakers.
— Justin Wills (@rugbyaus1) July 18, 2019
Rassie Erasmus has fielded a weakened Springboks side, meaning the Wallabies stand a good chance of winning their first match at Ellis Park for 56 years.
Despite the few concerns from the fans, this is a strong side, which will provide a stern contest for South Africa.
WATCH: Episode three of the RugbyPass Rugby Explorer series where Jim Hamilton takes a trek through South African rugby
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