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Wallabies reaping rewards from new foreign-based arrivals

(Photo by PATRICK HAMILTON/AFP via Getty Images)

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The Wallabies’ mid-week billiards battles have become a competitive outlet to cope with their sudden glut of Rugby Championship options.


Nic White will return to the starting side at stand-out No 9 Tate McDermott’s expense on Saturday as Australia seeks back-to-back wins over world No 1 South Africa.

White seized his chance when an injured McDermott didn’t return in the second half of Sunday’s two-point win, playing with a fury that captain Michael Hooper is well acquainted to.

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Springboks captain Siya Kolisi speaks to media ahead of Rugby Championship clash against Wallabies
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Springboks captain Siya Kolisi speaks to media ahead of Rugby Championship clash against Wallabies

“Nic’s not angry, he’s competitive and he’s ultimately competitive,” he said ahead of their Suncorp Stadium clash.

“Had a pool competition this week and … we got towards the end and there’s no talking, we’re into each other, he just wants to win everything.

“You can imagine, this guy hasn’t played a huge amount of rugby, so he gets on at halftime, he’s buzzing to make a difference.

“You love to play with guys that just want to win and compete.”


The battle for the No 9 jersey is reflected across the park, thanks largely to the return of No 10 Quade Cooper, back rower Sean McMahon and No 12 Samu Kerevi.

Cooper and Kerevi’s form have kept James O’Connor and Hunter Paisami out of the side, while McMahon could play his first test in four years next week against Argentina.

“He’s 27, still has so much footy ahead of him,” Hooper said of his old back row partner, who is based in Japan and like Kerevi allowed to play under Rugby Australia’s loosened eligibility laws.

“Brutal in defence … and he has some of the best leg drive in the business.


“He’ll bust through tackles with sheer belligerence.”

Even before McMahon’s late arrival in camp there was back row depth, with Lachie Swinton and Rob Valetini partnering Hooper and Pete Samu off the bench.

It’s meant Queensland Reds standouts Fraser McReight and Harry Wilson, who was a regular in Rennie’s starting side last year, are not even in the 23.

And, stuck behind Allan Alaalatoa on the bench for all but one test this year, Taniela Tupou will relish a starting role this weekend.

“It’s awesome having competition and depth for positions – managing that is the tricky part,” Hooper said.

“The guys who aren’t, and there’s a lot of them not in the 23, we’ve seen some great attitude from them.”


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