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‘Made my job easier’: Rob Valetini’s praise for Wallabies’ new-look trio

By Finn Morton
Liam Wright of the Wallabies in action during the men's International Test match between Australia Wallabies and Wales at Allianz Stadium on July 06, 2024 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Wallabies enforcer Rob Valetini has praised teammates Liam Wright and Fraser McReight for making “my job easier” on Saturday as the backrow trio combined for a strong performance in the win over Wales.

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In Australia’s first Test of the year, new coach Joe Schmidt threw a curveball by naming Queenslander Liam Wright as both the starting blindside flanker and captain. Wright would join Reds teammate Fraser McReight on the flanks, with Valetini at No. 8.

That decision proved to be a masterstroke from the coaching staff with all three men putting in decent shifts in the 25-16 win at Allianz Stadium. Valetini was especially impressive with a game-high 17 carries and the most tackles from any Wallaby with 13.

Video Spacer

Joe Schmidt and Liam Wright after Wallabies win over Wales

Coach Joe Schmidt and captain Liam Wright spoke to media following their 25-16 win over Wales in Sydney. Wright became the 89th captain of Australia when he led the side out for the first time in front of more than 35,00

Video Spacer

Joe Schmidt and Liam Wright after Wallabies win over Wales

Coach Joe Schmidt and captain Liam Wright spoke to media following their 25-16 win over Wales in Sydney. Wright became the 89th captain of Australia when he led the side out for the first time in front of more than 35,00

While The Roar have reported that Wright has missed out on selection to take on Cymru at Melbourne’s AAMI Park this weekend, with the Brumbies’ Charlie Cale believed to be starting according to Christy Doran, last week’s backrow is still positive.

Depth is so important for any squad who’s looking to forge their own path as a team on the rise. For coach Schmidt and the Wallabies moving forward, the combination of Wright, McReight and Valetini is a reliable option.

“It felt good. I thought Wrongaz went well for his first time captaining Australia,” Valetini told reporters on Tuesday.

“Had a lot of confidence in Wrongaz and Fraser as well, obviously coming through (and) playing under-20s with them and playing a few seasons with him in the gold jersey.

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“Had a lot of confidence in both of them and just knowing that they’re gonna do their job as well. It made my job easier so yeah, felt good out there.

“I feel like he’s a natural leader, and through his actions, not just his words which is always good for the boys. It’s easier to follow someone when they’re doing that,” he added when asked about Wright captaining the Wallabies for the first time.

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“He’s calm as well which is something I like about him out on the field and I know if I listen to him… it calms me down as well in those tight moments towards the end.

“It was good to have him out there.”

Last Saturday in Sydney will go down in Australian rugby history as a proud night for the Wallabies. Australia were coming off the back of a Rugby World Cup disaster but they’ve bounced back with help from a new coaching group.

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That was the Wallabies’ first win over a ‘Tier One’ opponent since beating Wales in Cardiff in November 2022. The Welsh are in the midst of a difficult period themselves as they look to end their international campaign with a win.

Wales’ last victory was in the Rugby World Cup pool stages against Georgia, but since then they’ve lost to Argentina, gone winless in the Six Nations, and suffered one defeat to both South Africa and Australia.

They won’t want to let that run of eight defeats turn into nine.

“The boys have been happy but I think we know if we were in the Wales camp this week, I think they’d be putting everything into this week and throwing everything at us on Saturday,” Valetini said.

“We’re happy with the win [but we know] it’s gonna be another tough match this week and we’ve got to keep working and rolling up our sleeves and knowing that we’ve got another job to do.”

The Wallabies’ team to take on Wales in Melbourne will officially be announced on Thursday.

All Black second row Brodie Retallick joins Jim Hamilton for the latest episode of Walk the Talk, touching on life in Japan, RWC 2023 and the future of All Black rugby. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV

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4 Comments
j
john 12 days ago

Wright, the captain, was subbed around the 60 minute mark and has now been dropped.
Yep master stroke alright.

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Wonton 3 hours ago
Why Scott Robertson may need to ease big names aside for All Blacks' flexibility

One game against Fiji is not enough to show that a player is ready to play the likes of South Africa. Spreading the ball wide too much increases the risk of turnovers and we turned the ball over 20 times against Fiji which is a lot more than what we did in the two England tests. We actually turned the ball over the same amount of times (20) against England in the 2019 semi final which we lost. Fiji didn’t make us pay for those turnovers but other teams will. In the 2nd test against England this year we had 100% success rate on attacking rucks. That’s the first time the AB’s have achieved this since the 2019 opening game of the RWC against South Africa. South Africa won last years RWC and Jesse Kriel did not pass once. The days of the Conrad Smith type centre might be over. Also Conrad Smith debuted in 2004 but he did not become an incumbent until Nonu did also in 2008. As for Rieko Ioane he and Jordie Barrett put in some very strong midfield hits in the 2nd test forcing turnovers several times. Rieko Ioane hasn’t played wing in years. If Proctor is moved to 13 then the best I think Ioane can hope for is an impact player off the bench. He does not have the aerial game of Caleb Clarke or the workrate of Tele’a for 11 and going to be selected over Jordan at 14. However its much too early to replace Rieko with Proctor. Rieko was excellent in the knock out rounds of the RWC. All Proctor has to show on his test CV is a good game against Fiji.

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Nick 4 hours ago
How 'gazelle' Nick Frost thawed the hearts of Wallaby fans at Suncorp

Its almost like you read my comment on the other site on sunday morning Nick - you flagged all the same examples! 😝 Frost was motm for mine. That eg in the 56th minute in particular impressed me, nothing but sheer effort and a dupont/smith-like tracking line behind the D. Surely an effort like that from frost marries perfectly with that quote from schmidt at the start of the year about effort and work rate being 70-80% and talent is just the icing on top… What it also showed though was the players not making that effort, in that example he goes past both valetini and ikitau, and in the eg that finished with valetini scoring hunter paisami barely breaks a canter to support the break. And then there was the chase from wright and lancaster for the 2nd georgian try! One blemish - at kickoff I saw frost miss or get bumped off a few tackles and I felt like I saw what has been holding his selection back. I think because he is so big and is trying to get low to tackle, he seems to dip his head and ends up losing his balance or ability to adjust and ends up missing or making a soft hit. I think in the first 2 minutes he misses or makes 2-3 soft tackles, but you could clearly see the work rate and desire! He (the pod) also missed a kick restart or two? Also very happy to see harry wilson back in the fold. What impressed me from him wasn’t all the usual stuff he is known for, but all the other bits that usually let him down. He looked surprisingly good in the air at lineout time, physical at the breakdown, and good in the maul peeling off 3 georgians for one of the maul tries. Id have frost, skelton, wright as my 4-6 with LSL and wilson on the bench. i’m once again unconvinced by tom wirght - he was very good game 1, but game 2-3 he was back to more rocks than diamonds. There is no real other player to usurp him really so he stays in the team for now but I think Joe should put kellaway wherever he serves the team best and wright can be moved around him. Did donno do enough to overtake noah? My gut says no. They clearly had a plan to attack more so he looked better in that regard because he just had more opportunity, but they looked better off tate (who had a v good game also) then they did off donno.

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