Rennie's to-do list for Wallabies rookie Petaia
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Jordan Petaia’s off-the-ball efforts will be under the microscope when the Wallabies wing attempts to fill the void left by Marika Koroibete in his Test return against Argentina.
Koroibete’s personal leave has opened a spot on the wing for Petaia in the side’s final Rugby Championship Test, on the Gold Coast on Saturday.
One of world rugby’s most influential wings and arguably again Australia’s best player this year, Koroibete’s absence may highlight exactly how important he is to Dave Rennie’s improving side.
The coach hopes that’s not the case though, imploring the prodigiously talented 21-year-old to meet the mark set by his senior partner.
“We have the luxury of looking at footage from a variety of angles,” Rennie said of Koroibete.
“But his work ethic is phenomenal; the amount of very high-speed metres he runs every time he’s chasing kicks or kicks offs.
“His ability to get back, get to the other side of the field.
“That’s what we’ve talked to Jordy about.
“He’s got a great skill set, but he’s got to work a lot harder off the ball.
“He’s got aspirations of being a 15 [fullback], so it’s been a focus and he certainly trained that way this week.
“He is not chained to the 15-metre channel [on the sideline]. He’s been all over the park and prepared well.”
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The impressive form of fellow wing Andrew Kellaway has kept Petaia on the bench for most of this season while injuries have already stalled the career of the youngest Australian to play in a World Cup.
Veteran prop Greg Holmes, 38, says the team’s improved depth is noticeable as he prepares for the most unlikely of Test comebacks.
“I think it’s a really settled team and they’re good across the board now,” said Holmes, who last played for Australia in 2016 and debuted in 2005 under Eddie Jones.
“When I first started our set-piece was an issue and we had a really sharp backline … then our forward pack starts going okay and our backline misfires.
“At the moment I see our full team firing.
“I think we’ve got a forward pack that can match it with anyone in the world at the moment and we’ve got some sharp backs with Quadey [Cooper] pulling the strings there; he’s done an incredible job.
“When you can get a team firing like that they can beat anyone, and I think this team can.”