Wallabies told to go big or go home
SPOTLIGHT: The last man to captain the Wallabies to a win at Eden Park has urged selectors to be daring as the “new era” get their first taste of Bledisloe Cup action on Sunday.
None of the current 44-man squad were alive when Andrew Slack captained a side featuring David Campese, Michael Lynagh and Nick Farr-Jones who last knocked off the All Blacks at their Auckland fortress in 1986.
The latest crop – with an average age of 24 and 16 potential debutants – will get their chance on October 18, although the series begins in Wellington this weekend.
Slack can sense an opportunity in a COVID-19-disrupted season he says has thrown up “more pre-Test uncertainties than ever before”.
But he hopes new coach Dave Rennie rolls out a backline packed with players “that can change the game” and has endorsed Brumbies fullback Tom Banks’ recall after missing the World Cup squad.
“We’ve got to be aggressive in our selections and back guys in who can change the game,” the former centre told AAP.
“Others will think differently but I think it’s a new era, time to try things and there’s not a lot of downside to being non-conservative.
“And [by selecting boldly] even if we play well in defeat it will create plenty of excitement for what’s to come.”
Banks is in a three-way battle with Dane Haylett-Petty and Jack Maddocks to play fullback, Haylett-Petty on the comeback from a groin injury and Maddocks without the advantage of a Super Rugby AU title to his name.
“I’m a big fan of Haylett-Petty but I think Banks was very unlucky to miss that World Cup squad and I think deserves this selection,” he said.
“Deserving is an underused term, but he’s bounced back well [from missing the World Cup].”
Slack believes Jordan Petaia and Marika Koroibete are automatic selections at outside centre and wing.
And he’d love to see the dice rolled on the uncapped Tate McDermott and Noah Lolesio in the halves as well as Reds excitement machines Filipo Daugunu and Hunter Paisami on the wing and inside centre respectively.
“That would be fun to watch … I think McDermott’s a beauty and all these young guys strike me as calm and resilient,” he said.
“I can see Toomua or O’Connor being an option at No.12, but they’ve [the younger players] done all they can by playing well in the domestic competition.”
ANDREW SLACK’S WALLABIES BACKLINE
15 Tom Banks, 14 Filipo Daugunu, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Hunter Paisami/James O’Connor/Matt Toomua, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Tate McDermott.