Wallaby still perplexed by World Cup omission
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Wallaby loose forward Pete Samu doesn’t know why he fell out of favour with coach Michael Cheika before last year’s World Cup, admitting it was a frustrating time.
The Brumbies No.8 played nine Tests in 2018 but couldn’t crack an Australian jumper last year and was overlooked for the showpiece tournament in Japan.
But Samu appears to be in the good books of incoming Wallabies coach Dave Rennie, named earlier this year in an unofficial “players of national interest” squad, which was due reward for his barnstorming start to the Super Rugby season.
He will be up against incumbent, Rebels No.8 Isi Naisarani, as well as young Reds forward Harry Wilson for selection.
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Rennie contacted Samu through the opening seven rounds of this year’s competition, with the Brumbies leading the Australian conference and sitting second overall with just one loss.
“It was pretty positive [hearing from Dave Rennie],” the 28-year-old said on Thursday.
“Being in that group gave me massive confidence that what I was doing on the field was being rewarded.
“He was happy with the way I was playing and gave me just a few work-ons but it was pretty positive messaging which is good.”
Rennie is set to shift from his Scotland base to Australia early next month and will keep a close eye on the five-team domestic Super competition set to start July 3.
Samu said being snubbed for the World Cup was the “big driver” for this year, although he remains clueless why he wasn’t in the selection mix after such a promising year in 2018 when he made his Test debut.
“It’s a good question … I couldn’t tell you to be honest,” Samu said.
“It was quite frustrating at the time but I knew I just had to keep moving forward.”
Brumbies assistant coach and former Waratahs star Peter Hewat said he hoped many of the Canberra crew, including Samu, would be rewarded for their start to the year.
“His chances are very high – we were playing some good footy and were at the head of the Australian conference so hopefully he would be in the top couple of backrowers in the country,” Hewat said.
“Pete’s speed, finesse and skill really suits the way we were playing and I’d love to see him get another crack.
“He’s put on a bit of weight so hopefully he’s a bit more combative in those contact areas – it’s something he’s been working hard on.”
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