Brumbies-Reds tie provides Wallabies fullback rehearsal
Alex Mitchell |
Three contenders for the Wallabies’ fullback job at this year’s World Cup will square off on Saturday night when the ACT Brumbies host the Queensland Reds.
Brumby Tom Wright has been in fantastic touch at the back in his side’s 2-0 start to the Super Rugby Pacific campaign, but Reds duo Jordan Petaia and Jock Campbell, who are sharing the role, similarly impressed in a 51-point thrashing of the Western Force last weekend.
Wright was listed as the Wallabies’ first-choice No.15 in a leaked ‘first draft’ squad coach Eddie Jones was photographed writing at Super Round last weekend, although he’s since dismissed the list as “scribble”.
But Brumbies boss Stephen Larkham, who said he was thrilled with Wright’s opening two games since his shift to fullback, believed he’d be more than capable of doing the job for the national team.
“He knows what he’s doing at that top level and there’s not a lot of difference between wing and fullback, you’re often caught in the backfield, you’re often tested under high balls,” he said.
“He’s got a really good skill set and I think he’s certainly got the temperament to play there.
“He’s really diligent off the field and I just like it when he gets his hands on the ball. Everyone can be pretty excited when they see the ball getting kicked to him and the opportunity that presents.”
The Reds showed their attacking prowess putting up 71 points against the Force with Petaia and wing duo Suliasi Vunivalu and Filipo Daugnu all on the scoresheet, and Larkham is wary of coming up against “some of the best players in Australia”.
“They’re a very exciting team to watch, they’ve got a number of players who are dangerous across the park,” he said.
“We’ve certainly spoken about a number of their players and spoken about the fact we need to make sure we’re concentrating on our game.
“When you’ve got that many players across the board who are dangerous, it’s too hard to concentrate on them … we’re looking forward to that challenge.”
Larkham’s Brumbies produced the biggest upset of the young season in last weekend’s 25-20 win against the Blues and will return to GIO Stadium for their first home game of the season.
Halves duo Noah Lolesio and Nic White replace Jack Debreczeni and Ryan Lonergan in the starting side, although skipper Allan Alaalatoa will miss through a head knock.
The Reds have an impressive recent record against the Brumbies, having won four of their last five encounters.AAP