Scott Sio says the young blood in the Wallabies squad is keeping the established test stars on their toes as they prepare for next month’s opening Bledisloe Cup matches in New Zealand.
At 28 and with 63 tests and two World Cups behind him, Sio is one of the most experienced players in coach Dave Rennie’s first Wallabies squad, that includes 16 debutants.
Brumbies prop Sio said there was a buzz in the Wallabies’ Hunter Valley training camp before their Friday night flight to New Zealand.
The players will be in hotel quarantine in Christchurch until day three, when they will have their first COVID-19 test and can start training in small groups.
They can then train as a full group from the sixth day of their two-week quarantine period as they build toward the opening test in Wellington on October 11.
“It’s been real fresh and new with new faces with players and coaching staff and that brings a lot of fresh ideas into camp with a different way we want to play,” Sio said on Friday.
“There’s always a lot of excitement around the unknown; an opportunity for guys to represent their country for the first time is very special.”
The likes of Taniela Tupou and fellow young props Pone Fa’amausili and Angus Bell have impressed Sio with their athleticism in camp.
The new age of front-rowers are known for their powerful ball-carrying, offloads and linebreaks as much as their scrummaging.
“They’re athletes aren’t they? They are getting bigger, stronger, quicker and fitter and I think it’s only going to benefit world rugby.
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“The prototype of the prop is changing and evolving.
“If we have the ability as a front-row to dominate at set piece and excel around the park it’s only going to help your team.
“They’re really putting pressure on us old fellas, James Slipper and I, to get back there in the gym and start throwing some tin around.”
Despite the mammoth challenge of beating the All Blacks on their home soil and the prospect of ending an 18-year Bledisloe Cup drought, Sio didn’t think Australia’s limited preparation would sway team selection for Rennie – who has stated his intention to pick players on performance rather than reputation.
“Rennie has been big on picking guys on form and whoever is playing their best rugby and if those guys can gel really quickly and build that combination within this time, it’s about making sure we field the best team possible regardless of age,” Sio said.
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