Rennie's big fullback decision ahead of England series
SPOTLIGHT: Wallabies coach Dave Rennie won’t hold Tom Banks’s impending move to Japan against him when it comes to selecting his team to face England in July.
The Brumbies fullback is expected to agree to an eye-watering offer reportedly worth AUS$2.8 million over two years.
Unlikely to be preferred as one of three foreign-based players available to Rennie under the new selection policy, it means Banks would miss next year’s World Cup in France.
But that won’t factor into the debate as Perth’s Test opener against England on July 2 looms.
“We’ve got some decisions to make around ‘are we using all the games this year to gear up for a World Cup? Or are we trying to win Test matches?’,” Rennie told AAP.
“Well we certainly want to win now and grow from that, so form will dictate who we play at 15.”
Banks was controversially overlooked for the 2019 World Cup by Michael Cheika but was the first-choice custodian last season under Rennie until breaking his arm.
Reece Hodge, Andrew Kellaway and Kurtley Beale were used in the remaining Tests, while Jock Campbell and Jordan Petaia have emerged as options since then.
But none have banged the door down, while 93-Test talent Beale will be back at the Waratahs from his two-year stint with Racing 92 in France fresh off a long injury stint.
“Tom’s been excellent, it’s great to see Jordy play there, Jock’s played a bit too and Kurtley’s been injured for a long time but will be back in a few weeks,” Rennie said.
“There’s definitely some options there but all I’ll say [on Banks] is that he’s had an excellent season, missed a few weeks due to injury, but come back in really good form again.
“He’s quicker, worked harder on his game and we’re seeing the benefit of that and we’ll pick on form.”
It’s an approach that pleases former Wallabies captain Andrew Slack, who doesn’t want to see the important England series become a World Cup laboratory.
“I haven’t changed my mind in 30 years, in terms of that we can get overcommitted to the next World Cup,” he told AAP.
“It’s important for the team to win this year, you can get confidence out of it so if he’s the best choice, pick him now and someone else will fill in if he’s not here next year.
“To pick guys purely and simply on the basis of a World Cup, you’re playing with fire.
“Obviously you’re not going to play five blokes who all aren’t going to be there, but in certain positions, you pick your best.”