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Recalled Wallaby to Wright some wrongs against Wales

Tom Wright poses during an Australia Wallabies Portrait Session on June 26, 2024 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images for ARU)

Not feeling he has any point to prove, Tom Wright credits simple “dad strength” for his rocketing into favouritism to regain the Wallabies fullback role.


Nine months after suffering the crushing disappointment of being overlooked for the Rugby World Cup, a revitalised Wright appears locked in a two-man battle for the No.15 jersey for Saturday’s opening Test of the season against Wales in Sydney.

But coming off a blinding Super Rugby Pacific campaign with the Brumbies, Wright looks set to edge out Andrew Kellaway and win over new coach Joe Schmidt.

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The 26-year-old says Schmidt is playing his selection cards close to his chest, leaving the entire squad guessing over who will start in the first encounter between the two sides since Wales scored a record-breaking 40-6 World Cup win in France to all but eliminate the Wallabies.

“On edge is probably a good way to describe it,” Wright said of the mood in Wallabies camp after only 10 World Cup survivors made Schmidt’s squad.

“It’s new for everyone. Plenty of new faces in and some old faces that come back to the set-up. So it’s exciting.”

The classy utility and wife Bronte welcomed baby Indi to the family last year and he reckons it’s been his daughter, not the critics, who have inspired his hot form in 2024.


“The dad strength,” Wright said.

“Coming home after what can be a tough day. We were pretty lucky through the season that we didn’t have too many crappy games, but coming through the door, dropping the bag it’s pretty much the best part of coming home.


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“Like the (World Cup) disappointment, obviously everyone is quick to ask about that but that probably didn’t change a whole lot apart from just the extra body in the house at home.

“(Brumbies coach Stephen) ‘Bernie’ (Larkham) was really good obviously in steering me back into confidence and getting in a full pre-season.

“So nothing drastically changed physically or anything.”

Randwick-born Wright, who played five NRL games for Manly as a teenager before joining the Brumbies in 2019 and playing 23 Tests for Australia, does concede his career has been a “rollercoaster” ride.


“High highs, low lows, but I’m trying to find that happy medium,” he said.

“You’re coming up against the best of the best always.”

Whether he plays fullback or wing at Allianz Stadium on Saturday, Wright seems assured of a starting spot and says Schmidt will allow all of the back three to pop up where they see fit.

“He’s definitely put like a little bit of a roving license in and around the game,” he said.

“A lot of emphasis on being able to link with our bigger guys trying to play a little bit tighter and give ourselves a little more room on the edges.”

The Wallabies are also desperate to end a horror run in Sydney that bewilders Wright.

Incredibly, a 34-15 victory over Samoa at Commbank Stadium in 2019 is Australia’s only win from their past 12 Tests in Sydney.

“It’s important for the team to really make Sydney feel like a big home game again,” he said following a series of losses to England, New Zealand, Scotland, Ireland, South Africa and Argentina in the NSW capital.

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finn 5 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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