Wallabies knew of NZ's secret World Cup plan years ago
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP SPOTLIGHT: The Wallabies were not surprised by the changes to the All Blacks’ team for their clash against the Springboks in Round Two of the Rugby Championship.
The All Blacks are experimenting heavily with their squad and the most intriguing aspect has been the use of flyhalf Beauden Barrett at fullback, with Richie Mo’unga handed the No.10 jersey.
Wallabies utility back Dane Haylett-Petty said that combination of two playmakers had big potential.
“I think they probably need to give it a go,” Haylett-Petty said.
“Interestingly enough, two years ago Mick Byrne [former All Blacks skills coach and now Wallabies skills coach] was saying he thought Barrett would play 15 at the World Cup, which I found surprising.
“The combination with Mo’unga, just the two ball players playing both sides of the ruck, both are very good ball players and both are very dangerous.”
Meanwhile, Haylett-Petty says the Wallabies would love to end Australia’s 17-year Bledisloe Cup drought this month, but building momentum towards the World Cup is just as important.
The Wallabies haven’t held the Bledisloe Cup since 2002 and will need to post a win against the All Blacks in Perth on Saturday if they are to have any hope of regaining the prized trophy.
But with the Wallabies playing just three more Tests before the start of the World Cup in Japan, Haylett-Petty said the back-to-back Bledisloe Cup fixtures against the All Blacks would carry a dual narrative.
“We definitely want to break that [Bledisloe Cup drought],” Haylett-Petty said.
“But this year there’s a huge goal at the end of the year as well.
“A big focus for us has been building some momentum. We’ve changed a few things, there’s a lot of competition within the group and everyone is pushing for spots, which is great.
“The biggest focus has been trying to get better each week.”
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika experimented with his combinations in the 17-35 loss to South Africa and the 16-10 win over Argentina.
Haylett-Petty started on the wing in the loss to South Africa, but missed the squad altogether against Argentina as Cheika experimented with other options.
Marika Koroibete took Haylett-Petty’s spot on the wing against Argentina while Kurtley Beale replaced Tom Banks at fullback.
Haylett-Petty can play either wing or fullback, but said he doesn’t have a preference as long as he earns a starting berth.
“I get asked that a lot and I genuinely enjoy playing both positions for different reasons,” Haylett-Petty said.
“On the wing I really enjoy contesting high balls and chasing kicks and get a little bit more space at times.
“And it’s hard to stay out of the game at fullback, it’s more of a kicking game and ball playing. I enjoy both.
“But I definitely prefer starting. I find it easier to build into the game when you’ve got 80 minutes to play.”