Wallabies squad: The three biggest losers
OPINION: Dave Rennie has named his first Wallabies squad as head coach, selecting just 16 of the 31 players from last year’s Rugby World Cup in favour of the next wave of talent.
Rennie selected six of last year’s Junior Wallabies starting XV, that played France in the World U20s Championship Final in Argentina. They lost by one point, but it was still a best-ever finish from an Australian under-20s side.
After naming a players of national interest (PONI) list last month, the general shape of the squad appeared all but set ahead of the announcement on Sunday afternoon.
But the shock omissions of some of last year’s Wallabies in favour of some 16 uncapped players, has seen a number of winners and losers come out of the 44-man Wallabies squad.
Daugunu has arguably been the in-form wing of Super Rugby AU, and few would argue with his selection.
The 25-year-old gets busy around the park and makes sure to make an impact in both attack and defence.
He’s scored the most tries in the Australian competition with six, and has run the most metres as well – but his impressive resume doesn’t stop there. He’s also had the most carries, made the most clean breaks, and has beaten the most defenders of any player.
Need I say more?
It was always a matter of when Wilson would be selected for the Wallabies, not if.
After playing for Gregory Terrace in Brisbane’s GPS high school competition, before starring for Brothers, the Junior Wallabies and Queensland Country, Wilson has made every step up look easy – and this hasn’t stopped at Super level.
In March, Crusaders coach Scott Robertson said that he’d “fallen” for the Reds number eight, while Wilson’s coach Brad Thorn described him as “special.”
The 20-year-olds maturity, work rate that never stops, and offloading ability, already set him a class above other Australian number eights. He’s exactly what the Wallabies need to usher in a golden generation of success.
One of the best players in Super Rugby AU, Simone simply had to be named in this squad. Born in New Zealand, the inside centre has made a name for himself playing consistently eye-catching rugby on the west of the Tasman.
Simone’s work rate, playmaking ability, and impact on defence have all contributed heavily to the Brumbies success as of late.
If you need reminding of just how impactful the 25-year-old has been, re-watch the Brumbies round nine match against the Force – he was simply outstanding and could prove very useful for Dave Rennie depending on what combinations he decides to go with.
Ikitau has impressed in his chances off the bench recently, but not many would’ve expected to have seen him selected in the first Wallabies squad under Dave Rennie.
The 21-year-old was one of two uncapped players (Hunter Paisami) to have been selected after not having been named in the PONI list in August.
In his last three matches, the centre has come off the bench and had four try assist and one try – arguably outplaying starting thirteen Tevita Kuridrani.
Even though he’s performed well for the Junior Wallabies and Canberra Vikings in the past, but Ikitau’s selection is by far the biggest surprise of what’s to come for the Wallabies.
After breaking onto the Super Rugby scene a few years ago, many expected McDermott to take the step up to Wallaby gold in time for the next World Cup cycle – if not before then.
The Sunshine Coast-product has been one of the better players from Super Rugby AU, with his form over the last few weeks in particular, especially impressive.
His try against the Western Force in round eight was yet another example of his genius, with a 40-metre tap-and-go resulting in a try of the season contender.
McDermott has also made a mark on defence this season, with a few try saving tackles in round seven against the Rebels, and as recently as round ten with a fantastic showing of determination to chase down a runaway Tevita Kuridrani.
His ability to create something out of nothing and snipe around the breakdown is dangerous, and could prove lethal for the Wallabies attack if selected in the 23.
Hosea might just be the find of the season, and will definitely be one to watch in the coming months.
Born in Victoria, Hosea made a career-minded decision in 2016, moving to Brisbane Boys’ College to continue his development.
After graduating the year after, the up-and-comer spent a few years in the Rebels squad, but was made to wait for his debut. In the opening round of the Super AU campaign, he finally got his chance against the Brumbies.
He hasn’t looked out of place since.
Not only does Hosea ‘win’ by being selected, but Australian rugby will be better off with him featuring.
Dave Rennie has plenty of options at flyhalf, and Will Harrison is certainly one to consider.
After starting at flyhalf in the Junior World Cup Final, the 21-year-old has made the Waratahs 10 jersey his own throughout 2020.
With kicking accuracy that barely ever misses, and a playmaking ability that’s only getting better and better, it’s no surprise to see him named – but with so much competition for the Wallabies 10 jersey, it’s up to him to make it his own.
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From starting at number eight for the Wallabies in their Quarter Final loss to England at last year’s World Cup, to being left out altogether – Isi Naisarani was a shock omission from Dave Rennie’s Wallabies plans.
The 25-year-old returned from a hamstring injury in round five of Super Rugby AU, and has arguably been the form player of the competition since.
Averaging nearly 15 carries and 12 tackles across his five performances, the backrower has a work rate and ability to get over the gain line that could’ve proved useful.
Dempsey was another player from last year’s Rugby World Cup who couldn’t make the cut this time around.
The backrow started the Super AU season on the bench for the Waratahs, and at the time was definitely an outside chance of being named in a future national squad.
Dempsey has had a strong season since, where he’s stood out in both attack and defence. But his Wallabies fate looked set in August when he wasn’t named in the PONI list.
Dave Rennie clearly wants to make the most of the talent coming through, selecting up-and-coming players and leaving more experienced players out.
Kuridrani has had a mixed season with the Brumbies, not performing to the same level that the ‘K-Train’ has in the past.
With young players like Jordan Petaia and Hunter Paisami gunning for the outside centre role with the Wallabies, there just wasn’t space in the 44-man squad for the 61-test veteran. Kuridrani faces an up-hill battle to get back in the Wallabies fold.
By Finn Morton, Rugbypass