Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has flagged fresh blood for next Saturday’s Sydney test despite the Bledisloe Cup series on the line.
The Australians need to win the third test at ANZ Stadium to keep the four-game series alive, and their hopes of wresting back the trans-Tasman trophy after 18 years.
Rennie had hoped to give some players in the 44-man Wallabies squad a run in a NSW outfit against Argentina on Saturday but the Pumas cancelled the match citing soreness amongst their players.
But the coach says he won’t hesitate to throw new players in as the Wallabies look to rebound from their disappointing performance in the 27-7 loss in the second test in Auckland.
He showed his hand after the 16-16 draw in the first test in Wellington, making four changes.
“We’ve worked everyone really hard even though we’ve had 40-odd at training and a lot of moving parts,” Rennie said on Friday.
“We’ve got a lot of work into these guys so we are pretty confident we can pick anyone from the group and they’ll be ready to go.”
Rennie said up to a dozen players could be released to form part of an Australia A side which will also give the Pumas a warm-up match before the South Americans open their Tri-Nations against New Zealand on November 14 at Bankwest Stadium.
Inside centre Matt To’omua underwent specialist scans on Friday to confirm the seriousness of his groin injury that is likely to sideline him for the remainder of the year.
While Noah Lolesio played at 12 for the Junior Wallabies side in their successful under-20s World Cup campaign, Rennie said he primarily saw the 20-year-old as a five-eighth.
An ex-All Black has leapt to Ian Foster's defence after the New Zealand boss fell under heavy criticism in the opening stages of his tenure at the helm of the national side.https://t.co/agabnn7jJj
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 24, 2020
He said Lolesio’s Brumbies teammate Irae Simone was in the selection mix and could make his test debut.
“We primarily see Noah as a 10 who can play 12 so he’s very similar to James O’Connor
“We have a lot of options at 12 – there’s Hunter (Paisami) who filled in there really well for the majority of that test,” Rennie said.
“Irae Simone was very strong for the Brumbies and is a very a good communicator so he’s a strong option as well so we’ve got a bit to pick from.”
Despite the “step backward” after their rousing opening test performance, which was their first under Rennie, the new coach felt optimistic about the Tri-Nations campaign.
Upon reviewing Auckland he said they needed to improve their individual tackling and game management such as kicking more effectively.
But there was plenty of upside.
“The first test showed there’s a lot of character in this group and I reckon we’ve got a massive upside,” he said.
“We’re going to get better with time and that’s what excites us about having a lot of tests in quick succession.”
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