'No guarantees': Dave Rennie's message to omitted Wallabies youngsters
Fraser McReight has been left out of the Wallabies’ Spring Tour squad but coach Dave Rennie insists it’s all part of a plan to have him threatening captain Michael Hooper’s hold on the No 7 jersey.
McReight and Queensland Reds backrow partner Harry Wilson, as well as Brumbies five-eighth Noah Lolesio and hooker Lachlan Lonergan were not named in the 37-man squad on Friday that will play Japan, Scotland, England and Wales.
Instead they’ll remain in Australia to get a full preseason at their respective clubs, while enjoying some rare rest after nearly two years of continuous rugby.
A specialist openside flanker, 22-year-old McReight captained Australia’s U20 side to the World Cup final and was named best on ground in last year’s Super Rugby AU final.
But he’s stuck behind his in-form and indefatigable captain Hooper and unable to earn a spot on the bench for the Wallabies, Rennie admitting carrying both in the same side exposes a “lack of versatility”.
Rennie remains massive fans of all of them, including emerging hooker Lonergan, and is confident they’ll take their omissions the right way.
“If he can accelerate his game over the next period like he has in the last 12 months he’s going to put a lot of pressure on Hoops,” Rennie said of McReight.
“There’s no guarantees for everyone.
“Everyone wants to tour, and you take Harry, who hasn’t played test match footy in the last month, he’s desperate to play at this level.
“But staying home is going to give him an opportunity to make shifts physically in his game to allow him to excel at this level.
“This gives him a plan.”
Rennie said Lolesio’s goal was to bulk up in the off-season and that 25-year-old second rower Lukhan Salakaia-Loto needed to work on his leg drive and lower his body height among other things after being overlooked for the squad.
Salakaia-Loto has been a regular Wallabies starter but left the squad for the birth of his daughter and has now fallen down the pecking order.
The coach opted against calling on France-based Kurtley Beale for the Spring Tour, with incumbent No 15 Reece Hodge, winger Andrew Kellaway, O’Connor and Petaia all options to fill the void left by injured Tom Banks.
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