Liam Wright knows Wallabies jerseys are on the line as he pilots the Queensland Reds towards the Super Rugby AU final.
The Reds play the Brumbies in Brisbane on Saturday night, with the latter assured a grand-final berth and the former to host either the NSW Waratahs or Melbourne Rebels in next weekend’s preliminary final.
With tests likely against New Zealand next month, new Wallabies coach Dave Rennie will be watching closely as he finalises his first national squad.
Wright is among a host of young Reds to confirm their potential this year, but knows how they perform in the next two or three weeks will be key.
“I think there will be a fair few jerseys up for grabs in these games coming up,” said the flanker, who boasts one test cap.
“There will be selectors watching and people trying to put their best foot forward.”
Wright, who has benefited from John Eales’ mentorship in an extraordinary introduction to captaincy, and back row partners Harry Wilson and Fraser McReight have all flourished under Brad Thorn this year.
Four-test hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa is in career-best form as he pushes for a recall and James O’Connor has made a case at No.10, while halfback Tate McDermott has been electric alongside him.
Jordan Petaia is fit again while fellow centre Hunter Paisami made his mark when the 20-year-old flyer was injured.
“I reckon all of them (could make a case for selection), they’ve all stepped up,” Wright said of his side.
His rise from garbage man to Wallabies hooker was nothing short of spectacular, but Reds coach Brad Thorn believes it's time for one of his star men to earn an international re-call.https://t.co/1IboVTBjWJ
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) September 3, 2020
“Look at a guy like (prop) Dane Zander, who wasn’t anywhere to be found last season.
“Was playing NRC, has come in and done a job, played 80 minutes against the Brums last time.
“He’s an example, and one of many, that if you put them into an environment they’ll step up.”
They’ll all face their direct opponents for a test berth in the next fortnight, with Wallabies halfback Nic White’s return to the Brumbies’ starting side another subplot to enjoy at Suncorp Stadium this weekend.
Incumbent Wallabies Folau Fainga’a and Tevita Kuridrani will also start, complementing an all-star forward pack as coach Dan McKellar seeks continuity before the decider.
The Reds have lost both fixtures against the Brumbies this season by a combined five points despite leading for long periods in both.
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