Wallaby rookie backed to turn the tables against the Boks
Dual international Mat Rogers doesn’t believe Sunday’s Rugby Championship Test against South Africa is not the moment to axe Wallabies rookie Noah Lolesio.
Whether Lolesio retains his starting role against the world champion Springboks on the Gold Coast is one of several selection issues for coach Dave Rennie after last weekend’s loss to the All Blacks in Perth.
The 21-year-old is yet to impose himself at Test level and Rennie could be tempted to move utility Reece Hodge into the No.10 jersey this weekend.
Veteran James O’Connor is back training, but may not be rushed back from the groin injury that has sidelined him since mid-May.
Rogers, who himself had to withstand the criticism of his influence as a playmaker during his Wallabies career, believes persisting with Lolesio is worth it if Rennie truly feels he’s Australia’s long-term option in that role.
“Chopping and changing I don’t think is the answer,” Rogers told AAP at a promotional event for Australia’s 2027 Rugby World Cup bid.
“If you think you’ve got the right guy there, then you’ve got to persist with him through the good and the bad and the bad can sometimes be really bad.
“You take someone out and how long does it take when you bring them back to get their confidence back? I’d be persistent.”
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Despite a 0-3 Bledisloe Cup series loss to the All Blacks this year, Rogers feels there were signs Australia has the potential for much better results in the future.
He singled out Jordan Petaia as a standout performer and said dropping Lolesio could have a knock-on effect across the backline.
“We’ve shown we can compete. We’ve got some great players,” Rogers said.
“Jordan Petaia, he just looks like an out-and-out star.
“It’s just getting the ball in these guys hands in the right moments and, as I said, if the people inside him – a guy like Jordan – are chopping and changing all the time, the combinations change.
“There’s a lot of combinations within the team – teams within the team – and the stronger you can develop those the better your team’s going to function as a whole.”