World Cup No.8 Isi Naisarani has joined the Wallabies training camp as they look to bolster their back-row for the third Bledisloe Cup Test against the All Blacks on Saturday.
The Melbourne Rebels big man was a surprise omission from the initial 44-man squad but has been given a second chance to impress Australia’s Test coach Dave Rennie.
Naisarani was slow to return in Super Rugby AU from a serious hamstring injury, with the Rebels holding him back after he failed to meet fitness and weight standards.
Rennie gave the 25-year-old similar feedback but he has been training in Canberra since in the hope of forcing his way into the Wallabies squad.
The Australians are still to settle on a back-row combination, with Rennie making changes after their 16-16 draw in the first Test and flagging more following their 27-7 second Test defeat in Auckland, although Naisarani is unlikely to be straight into the selection mix.
Brumbies hooker Connal McInerney has also joined the squad, replacing Waratahs rake Tom Horton.
After two matches in enemy territory Wallabies prop Scott Sio says the Wallabies can’t wait to be back in front of a home crowd at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium.
Families of some of the players have joined them in camp in the Hunter, in a morale boost for those such as Marika Koroibete who hasn’t been able to see his Melbourne-based family for months.
After the promising draw and disappointing loss, the Australians need a victory to keep the four-Test series alive.
“It’s massive to be at ANZ,” Sio said.
“We know how passionate our fans are, so to be able to play in front of many people with gold jerseys on is very special to us.
“Just being back at home you can feel the vibe – everyone got a bit of time to see family, partners and kids and it’s created a lot of positivity in and around the group which is something I think we can put into our week.”
Sio said they had clear ideas about what needed improvement – namely missed tackles, which was almost double New Zealand’s tally, and a better kicking game.
The forward felt the team’s kicking problems were related to tackling, given the pressure they put on themselves at Eden Park.
“Obviously there were many parts of the game where we need to be better as a team if we want to beat the All Blacks,” Sio said.
“Playing positionally – within our kicking game I don’t think we gave ourselves the best chance to cut space down.
“They’ve got a pretty electric back three and if you give them time and space they’re very talented.
“The most important thing we took out of that game was kicking on our terms technically and making sure we’re set early in the defensive line so we can make the right reads.”
While the All Blacks arrived in Sydney on Sunday the Wallabies will remain in the Hunter until Thursday.
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