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The winners and losers from the first Wallabies squad of 2021

By Finn Morton

Trending on RugbyPass

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Dave Rennie has named his first Wallabies squad of 2021, which includes 14-uncapped players from the group of 40.

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This follows Rennie having named 16 uncapped players in his first Wallabies squad of last year, with 10 having gone on to make their test debuts.

This squad will assemble for a three-day camp on the Gold Coast in April. Here are the 14 winners (all the uncapped players) and a few of the players who were unlucky not to make the squad.

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Dave Rennie names Suliasi Vunivalu in first Wallabies squad of 2021

 

Winners

Alex Mafi (Queensland Reds)

Mafi has been one of the best performing players in Super Rugby AU this season, and his selection should really excite fans. Earlier this month, I mentioned my surprise that he hadn’t played test rugby before – he’s just been that good for the Reds

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All you have to do is look at his most recent match too, where he scored a hat-trick against the Waratahs.

While it’s only an initial squad for a three-day camp, I’d be surprised not to see him go on to make his Wallabies debut later this year.

 

Andy Muirhead (ACT Brumbies)

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The winger has been a reliable option for the Brumbies for years now, but he’s finally earned a call-up into the national squad for this camp.

In the Brumbies most recent match against the Force, Muirhead crossed for a double. But throughout this season, he’s really impressed me for what he’s done even when he hasn’t scored tries.

Dave Rennie certainly has plenty of depth to fill up the back three now, but Muirhead would be a great option moving forward.

 

Cadeyrn Neville (ACT Brumbies)

The second of five uncapped Brumbies on this list, Cadeyrn Neville can bring some useful depth to the Wallabies in the second row.

The 32-year-old has been a quality performer for the Brumbies, and it’ll be interesting to see where his career goes as a result of this callup.

 

Darcy Swain (ACT Brumbies)

Another uncapped lock from the Brumbies who has the potential to star for the Wallabies going forward.

His work rate is great, but his prowess at the set-piece is also worth noting. Swain never looks out of place when he plays Super Rugby, so in my opinion, it’s a great time for him to get a taste of the next step up.

 

David Porecki (NSW Waratahs)

Porecki has started the last three Super Rugby AU matches for the Waratahs, ahead of Tom Horton who was involved in the Wallabies last year (but didn’t make his debut).

The 28-year-old is the only uncapped Waratah to be included in the first squad of 2021, and one of just four in the squad altogether. It’ll be interesting to see how much he can develop on the back of this experience in the Wallabies camp.

 

Feleti Kaitu’u (Western Force)

The Western Force didn’t have any players involved in the Wallabies last year, but now with the first squad of 2021, they have two uncapped players involved with hooker Feleti Kaitu’u being one of them.

As one of four uncapped hookers named in the squad, he’ll face plenty of competition as he looks to push on for a test debut later this year.

 

Josh Kemeny (Melbourne Rebels)

As one of the standouts for the Melbourne Rebels, Kemeny has definitely earned his selection in this Wallabies squad.

Through his first four matches played in Super Rugby AU this year, the flanker has missed just one tackle from 34 attempts according to our stats at RugbyPass. As well as his defensive efforts, I’ve also been quite impressed with his work around the breakdown – where he’s won four turnovers.

 

Lachlan Lonergan (ACT Brumbies)

Lonergan first caught my eye as a player for the future when he was playing for the Junior Wallabies a few years ago. He’s another player to have graduated from the under-20s level and into the national setup which is exciting in itself.

The hooker started against France in the 2019 World Championship Final, where they lost by an agonising one-point. More recently though, Lonergan really impressed alongside his brother Ryan in the win over the Rebels in round three.

Lachlan Lonergan is definitely one for the future.

 

Len Ikitau (ACT Brumbies)

Ikitau has taken his opportunity at the Brumbies this year with both hands, with some impressive performances this year already.

The centre was regarded as arguably the biggest bolter heading into Dave Rennie’s first Wallabies squad last year, considering he only played five Super Rugby matches, all off the bench.

But since he’s replaced the long-term holder of the Brumbies 13 jersey in Tevita Kuridrani, who is now with the Force, he’s well and truly proven himself as one of the premier centres in the country in my opinion.

 

Pone Fa’amausili (Melbourne Rebels)

It almost goes without saying that Pone Fa’amausili is an uncapped player to watch.

He’s been simply a standout for the Rebels in both last year and this year’s Super Rugby AU seasons, but we’re still yet to see him don Wallaby gold.

But that could all change soon.

With a solid three days in camp, and a strong finish to the Super Rugby AU season, there’s no reason why he can’t be a test debutant in 2021, in my opinion.

 

Seru Uru (Queensland Reds)

Uru has been sensational for the Reds this season, and has made an already strong forward pack even better with his performances.

Last Saturday against the Waratahs, the 24-year-old even started ahead of Wallaby Harry Wilson at Number Eight.

Of all the players on this list, he’d be one of the players I’m most excited see develop on the back of his exposure to a test rugby environment next month.

 

Suliasi Vunivalu (Queensland Reds)

When it was announced that the NRL star would be switching codes, he was rightly considered a marquee signing for not just the Reds but also the future of Wallabies rugby.

As a prolific try-scorer in Rugby League, there was plenty expected of him, and that was pretty clear from when he was called into the Wallabies squad during last year’s Tri Nations.

The winger so nearly had an immediate impact on the sport on his debut for the Reds, chasing down a James O’Connor kick-off and coming within inches of dotting the ball down within the in-goal. He has scored one try for the Reds though, in his first start in the win over the Brumbies in Canberra. But arguably his standout play was his massive fend on Force back Jack McGregor.

 

Tim Anstee (Western Force)

The former Australian Sevens representative has been called into the Wallabies squad for the first time after impressing with the Western Force in Super Rugby AU so far this year.

Anstee was arguably the best performer in round three of the competition, where he had one try assist, as well as crossing for one of his own. According to our stats at RugbyPass, he’d also made 95% of his tackles heading into the most recent round of the competition, having missed just one from 20 attempts.

 

Trevor Hosea (Melbourne Rebels)

He’s the future of the Wallabies second-row in my opinion. It’s as simple as that.

Hosea is someone who has impressed pretty well every time he’s taken the field with the Melbourne Rebels, since making his debut in Super Rugby AU last year.

At just 21-years-old, he already seems like a leader at the lineout for the Rebels, and he also knows how to make his mark around the field.

On the back of his experience in the Wallabies last year, after this camp, I’d be very surprised if he doesn’t go on to make his test debut soon.

 

Losers

Fergus Lee-Warner (Western Force)

Considering his form this season, I’m personally a bit surprised that Lee-Warner isn’t involved in this three-day camp.

He’s been quite impressive for the Force so far this year, notably, one of the standouts in round three alongside Tim Anstee. Just like Anstee, he had a try and a try assist – actually setting up Anstee’s try, just as he set up Lee-Warner’s.

 

Will Harrison (NSW Waratahs)

As a player who has been touted as one of the future prospects of Australian rugby at the fly-half position, his non-selection in this camp surprised me.

With Jack Maddocks also not being selected, it seems like a result of the Waratahs winless run so far in Super Rugby AU.

 

Folau Fainga’a (ACT Brumbies)

Fainga’a has played two matches with the Brumbies, both since returning from injury. But for this camp, he was overlooked, with Dave Rennie instead naming four uncapped hookers in the squad.

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The winners and losers from the first Wallabies squad of 2021

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