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Second chance looms for Wallabies hopeful after two-year hiatus

Matt Gibbon. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

After his first taste of the Wallabies ended with a mouth full of sand and a double shoulder reconstruction, unheralded prop Matt Gibbon is hoping his latest call-up leads to a test cap.


The late-blooming Melbourne Rebel won selection for the Rugby Championship tour to Argentina, where Australia will play two tests starting on August 7 (AEST).

The 27-year-old loosehead impressed for Australia A in the recent Pacific Nations Cup and will cover the loss of Angus Bell, who has a toe injury.

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Gibbon was first drafted into the Wallabies in 2019 by then coach Michael Cheika, which was a surprise given it came just months after he transitioned from electrician to full-time Super Rugby player.

Gibbon said it was a tough time under Cheika, who put the props through their paces with gruelling fitness sessions.

“It was me and ‘Nela (Taniela Tupou) and all the other fatties on the beach there with Cheika just kicking us up the arse, climbing up and down the beach at Coogee,” Gibbon said on Wednesday.

“I was actually supposed to get a shoulder reconstruction before I went into that and I said, ‘You know what? I don’t want one – if I’m in the Wallabies squad I want to try to stay there’, so I just kind of brushed the shoulder recon.


“That was probably a bad idea. The shoulder started falling out during the year.”

Gibbon finally underwent surgery and had to work to reclaim his Rebels match-day jersey this season.

But he did enough to catch the eye of Wallabies coach Dave Rennie, who further tested him in the Australia A series in Fiji.

“Building into this year I wasn’t the first choice, but I just knew that if I could get my shoulders right, get confident and put some weight on, I knew I was pretty confident in my scrums,” he said.

Experienced looseheads James Slipper and Scott Sio are the frontrunners for the first test in Mendoza, where Gibbon may again meet Cheika, who is coaching the Pumas.


– Melissa Woods


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Shaylen 2 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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Jon 8 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Sopoaga is going to be more than good enough to look up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

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