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Battle for Wallaby No.10 jersey gets heated

SPOTLIGHT: Welcoming a clean slate, Noah Lolesio hopes to finally nail down the Wallabies No.10 slot after being handed a golden opportunity under new coach Joe Schmidt.


Like many, Lolesio has been in and out of Australia’s side since debuting under Dave Rennie in 2020 and then being overlooked by Eddie Jones for last year’s disastrous World Cup campaign in France.

The 24-year-old readily admits he was down in the dumps before enjoying a refreshing short stint with Toulon late last year as the Wallabies failed to progress out of the pool stages for the first time at the global showpiece.

With Carter Gordon, who was Jones’ only specialist flyhalf at the World Cup, heading to the NRL next year, Schmidt has opted to bring Lolesio back in from the cold for Australia’s upcoming Tests against Wales and Georgia.

He seems locked in a three-man battle with uncapped Queensland Reds playmaker Tom Lynagh and Western Force utility Ben Donaldson for the gold No.10 jumper for the Wallabies’ season-opening clash with Wales on July 6.

Veteran Kurtley Beale is the long shot but word on the street is the sharp-shooting Lolesio will be given first crack under Schmidt after piloting the Brumbies to the Super Rugby Pacific semifinals for a second straight year.

“I’m really grateful to be back in the set-up with all the boys. It’s good to see all the faces again,” Lolesio said on Tuesday.


“I’ll just try and do the best job that I can, training every day, meetings and stuff with the boys and obviously try to get as much feedback as I can from Joe as well because obviously he’s a very experienced coach.

“You just look at his resume so I’m just going to be a sponge and learn as much as I can.”

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Ultimately, Lolesio’s biggest learning from being promoted and relegated from Wallabies teams past is to stick his natural game and try to relax in the heat of battle.

“I’ve sort of taken this approach into the camp of not really changing much of what I’ve done this Super season,” he said.

“The time in France taught me a lot, of just loosening myself up a bit.

“I know as a young 10 internationally, you can tend to put a lot of pressure on yourself.

“So just trying to loosen myself up a bit more to enjoy the moments and training, enjoy the moments with the boys and stuff because when I tend to enjoy what I’m doing, I tend to play better.

“It’s worked well so far and nothing will change in how I prep or anything like that heading in towards the upcoming Test if I get the opportunity to play.”

Lolesio knows he’s not the only one being offered a fresh start after Schmidt picked only 14 players from last year’s World Cup squad for his 38-man training camp.

“Obviously last year happened and a fair chunk of that squad didn’t make it this year,” he said.

“So any position is up for grabs. The next few days of training Joe will be watching with a close eye.

“So, yeah, it’s a clean slate for anyone.”


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