Jones gives 'everyone in Australian rugby hope'
SUPER SPOTLIGHT: A pre-season trial game will serve as a critical moment in Harry Wilson’s rugby career.
The Queensland Reds No.8 fell out of favour with former Wallabies coach Dave Rennie but admits Eddie Jones’s shock arrival in a World Cup year has offered him a “lot more hope”.
And Jones will be in the stands in Narrabri on Saturday when the NSW Waratahs host the Reds in their final Super Rugby Pacific trial game.
Like high-profile Reds prop Taniela Tupou, Wilson is off contract beyond 2023 and has seen former teammates Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Brandon Paenga-Amosa and Angus Scott-Young depart recently for Europe.
Wilson scored twice in the trial victory over the Western Force in Perth last weekend and says he’d love to remain at Ballymore.
But with the British and Irish Lions touring in 2025 and a home World Cup in 2027, the 23-year-old wants to know where he sits in the Wallabies’ flank depth charts before making his decision.
“I want to play well at the start of the Super season and go from there,” he said.
“It [Jones’s arrival] gives everyone in Australian rugby – and someone like me who’s been in and out for a few years – a lot more hope.
“With new eyes watching it’s only good for my opportunities and any performance in front of him [Jones] is only going to help you.
“Definitely [playing for the Wallabies this year will be a factor in his contract decision].
“But I’m very aware I won’t get picked if I don’t play well here.”
The Reds named a near-full-strength squad for the clash with former Melbourne NRL wing Suliasi Vunivalu, another fringe Wallaby, keen to impress Jones after two injury-hit seasons since his code switch.
Flyhalf James O’Connor was named to play but is likely to be rested as he completes the final stages of his recovery from off-season ankle surgery.
Former Wallabies lock and off-season signing Luke Jones (neck) is another injury concern ahead of their February 25 season opener in Townsville, as is fellow lock Angus Blyth (ankle).