Throughout his first five matches in charge of the Wallabies, coach Dave Rennie has refrained from making any rash decisions following unwelcomed results.
The Wallabies have only won 20% of their matches so far in 2020, yet since Bledisloe II especially, the team has remained relatively consistent aside from some changes due to injuries.
That being said, after a shock draw to the Pumas in Newcastle, and with the Wallabies’ hopes of winning the Tri Nations on home soil all but done and dusted, now might be the time to try something new.
Australia played with 63% of possession and were well on top in the territory battle, but they still couldn’t make it count on the scoreboard as they went on to give up a nine-point lead. Not any one player is to blame for the draw, but there a definitely some selections to consider for their final test of the year on December 5th.
Here are three changes that Dave Rennie should make, and another three players that deserve to retain their spots for the rematch with the Pumas in Sydney.
It’s been somewhat of a surprise to not have seen Hosea feature at all this year.
While he’s young and is still far from the finished product, the 20-year-old (21 tomorrow) was a standout in Super Rugby AU with the Rebels.
Standing at 203cm, Hosea was a leader at the Rebels set-piece alongside Wallaby Matt Philip, and was brutal in attack, defence and around the breakdown as well.
Burn Boy Trevor Hosea repping the people of Melbourne ?
Catch him in action against the Brumbies tonight!
— Melbourne Rebels (@MelbourneRebels) August 6, 2020
Last Saturday, The Wallabies lineout struggled at times, but his inclusion in the final matchday side of the year, be that on the bench or starting, would benefit the men in gold. Rob Simmons was impressive against the Pumas, but especially considering that the Argentines are playing such a physical game, having someone like Hosea could bring some stability to the Wallabies, as they combat the Pumas threat.
My view is that Hosea comes off the bench with 20 minutes to play, bringing plenty of energy and size to the contest, while he lines up alongside Philip. Hosea should replace Rob Valentini on the bench.
It was a bit of a shock to see Super Rugby champion Pete Samu dropped from the Wallabies following Bledisloe I.
Samu didn’t miss a tackle in Wellington, and two-thirds of his hits were also dominant. Add to that three turnovers won, and it becomes clear that he really was a force to be reckoned with.
But instead, from Bledisloe II onwards, Rennie has elected to go with young gun Harry Wilson at number eight, while picking Ned Hanigan at six. Part of this decision no doubt comes down to the lineout, and that’s certainly something to consider.
But Samu has jumped at the lineout before so if he can fill that spot, then this is a selection that needs to be made.
Seeing Samu back in the side for the final match of the year though, would definitely bring a smile to faces of a lot of Australian rugby fans. He needs to start at blindside while Hanigan is dropped completely.
This guy is something special.
TRY OF THE WEEK | Super Rugby AU Rd 8
— Super Rugby/Tri Nations (@SuperRugby) August 24, 2020
Throughout Super Rugby AU, McDermott was earning rightful praise for his form and was touted as the next Wallabies number nine.
While he hasn’t had a chance to start, the Sunshine Coast Grammar product turned heads in his two games off the bench against the All Blacks in Sydney and then Brisbane. His pace off the mark is elite already, which makes him a threat to any opposition when he decides to snipe around the ruck.
His kicking is definitely improving as well, and that’s probably one of the bigger question marks hanging over his head.
Jake Gordon is a great player, don’t get me wrong, but McDermott simply has the potential to be a generational talent.
Nic White has also performed really well in the nine jersey, so he deserves to retain his spot. So McDermott as a straight swap for Gordon seems like a positive move for the Wallabies. It’s not like the 22-year-old hasn’t shown supporters that he’s up to the task.
Retain their spot
The player throwing into a struggling Wallabies lineout has to take some of the blame. This is a cornerstone of his position in the modern game, and his performance has to be significantly judged on this.
Throws were often not straight or were far too contestable, and the hosts were made to pay for that.
That being said though, dropping Paenga-Amosa isn’t a move that the Wallabies should be making.
He’s had some impressive performances in a Wallabies jersey this year, definitely showing that he’s better than what he was against the Pumas.
But he faces some tough competition.
Folau Fainga’a was by far the best hooker in Super Rugby AU – without a doubt. It was a surprise to see him dropped after Bledisloe I but like I said, for the most part, Paenga-Amosa has made the most of his opportunity.
In two weeks’ time, Rennie should go with the same one-two punch that he did in Newcastle, with Paenga-Amosa starting while Fainga’a comes off the bench.
Three players have worn the Wallabies number 10 jersey this year, but Hodge has been the best performer by far.
In Bledisloe IV in Brisbane, he made the second-most tackles of any player with 17, while against the Pumas he ran for 59 metres, had 191 kick metres, and scored 15 points – that’s 29 points in two games.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 23, 2020
Even if James O’Connor is back, the Wallabies should stay loyal to Hodge, who came within a penalty kick of guiding the team to back-to-back wins. If he’d made that kick, this wouldn’t even be a debate.
In his second match starting at inside centre for the Wallabies, Paisami was arguably the player of the first half.
Linking up with Jordan Petaia, the Reds teammates were running rampant as Paisami stepped up as a playmaker which was great to see. His playmaking nearly set up his centre partner for a try, had a kick in-behind the Pumas defence had run mere inches shorter than what it did.
Individually everyone has known that both players have potential, but link them up, and the Wallabies might just have their version of Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith.
Paisami was touted as the replacement to Samu Kerevi for the Reds, and it appears that he’s stepped into his shoes for the national side as well.
Paisami and Petaia is a combination isn’t just for the future, it’s a partnership that the Wallabies need right now.
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