Rennie planning 'changes' to Wallabies
Wallabies coach Dave Rennie says spots for next month’s France series remain up for grabs with one round of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman remaining.
Rennie will name his players next Sunday for the series, which opens in Sydney on July 7, with three Tests played in 11 days, and says there will be some changes to the 40-man training squad he named in March.
“We’ve got the spine of a team,” Rennie said, adding: “There are certainly positions that we’re unsure of and the next couple of weeks are going to be important for those individuals.”
After leaving out all three of the hookers he used in 2020, Rennie said the No.2 jersey still remained wide open, as did spots in the second row.
World Cup hookers Folau Fainga’a (Brumbies), Jordan Uelese (Rebels) and Brandon Paenga-Amosa missed the March cut but Rennie made mention of the departing Red.
He was hopeful Waratahs rake David Porecki and Queenslander Alex Mafi would overcome injury to be available for selection.
“We’re going to pick three hookers but it’s wide open,” Rennie said.
“Brandon Paenga-Amosa is heading overseas but he’s been really strong over the last four to five weeks.
“Long-term Lachlan Lonergan’s a really good athlete, similar to the Kiwis, where he’s got a real presence over the ball and he’s good in wide channels and aggressive; a good thrower, but from a scrummaging point of view he’s got a bit of work to do.
“[Feleti] Kaitu’u has had an excellent season.”
Rennie said that Brumbies lock Cadeyrn Neville was set for his Test debut until a shoulder injury stalled his season but he hoped to call on the veteran later in the year.
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Melbourne second row forward Trevor Hosea is in the mix for a maiden Test cap and performed strongly against the Chiefs on Sunday, with Rennie in the stands, as did No.8 Isi Naisarani.
In the backs, he saw Rebel Matt Toomua as a No.12 rather than flyhalf, preferring James O’Connor and Noah Lolesio.
He’d said been impressed with Waratahs centre Izaia Perese, who has been a shining light in a season of gloom.
“He’s been excellent,” Rennie said.
“Prior to that March camp, he’d had a 20-minute cameo and was red-carded and then one game so we were never going to bring him in.
“We wanted him to earn the right and play well and he’s done that.
“We’re excited by that and whether he’s a 12 or 13 depends on how we use Toomua or Hunter Paisami.”
Rennie was pleased with the growth of the Australian teams through the series, despite only banking two wins from four rounds.
“I think it’s been awesome for us. It’s certainly given our guys an indication of the intensity of the Kiwi teams play [with] and I think we’ve gotten better and better,” he said.