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Rennie weighing up fullback options as Wallabies look for Springboks statement

Fri, 19/08/2022, 5:20 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has spoken to media after announcing his squad for the upcoming match against the Springboks.

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie is looking for some consistency at the back as they weigh up their fullback options ahead of next week's Test against the Springboks.

The Wallabies have used four different options in 2022, with Tom Wright struggling in the second Test defeat to Argentina despite strong showings against England.

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The inability to shut down the high ball came back to haunt the visitors as Los Pumas ran away with the 47-17 victory in San Juan.

This has opened the door for the returning Andrew Kellaway and Jock Campbell to contest the position, both named in Thursday's 35-player squad for Tests against the world champions in Adelaide and Sydney.

“We have used a few back there,” Rennie admitted to reporters on Thursday. "Tom Wright’s done a really good job for us at 15. He probably made a few errors last week that he’s disappointed about but we’re starting to create genuine depth there.

“We’re confident ‘Kells’ (Andrew Kellaway) can play back there as well. You’ve seen ‘Hodgey’ (Reece Hodge) play there and Jordie had about two minutes before getting himself knocked out in the second Test against England.

“It wasn’t that long ago we had real question marks around the depth of that position but we do have options and we really want someone to nail it.

“(Campbell) an excellent player, that’s been a great thing about having him in the camp – we’ve got to learn more intimately about him. He’s a very, very good footballer and very smart, a bit of a Conrad Smith-type of player in the back three. Just a really good rugby brain and very efficient skill set.”

Jordan Petaia remains another option to make the shift from wing, selected there for the second Test against England before a concussion ended his night inside ten minutes.

Communication remains the key for the 22-year-old, which has the main reason why Wright was preferred at fullback for the Argentina Tests.

“It’s a definite possibility,” Rennie said.

“The thing with Tom Wright, and why when we brought Jordie back we left him on the wing, Tom’s communication is excellent, his ability to organise people in front of him and he’s got a very good skill set and he’s very quick, and leg speed at 15 is a real asset for us.

“Obviously Jordie has a similar skill set and we want to see him own that back area vocally and have the ability to boss others around and organise people in front of him. He’s made really good shifts in that area and he’s made big shifts around his work rate off the ball so he’s a genuine option.”

Returning Waratah Kurtley Beale will also join the camp from next week as a training member, continuing to recover from a hamstring injury suffered during his stint with Racing 92.

As the Wallabies prepare to recoup, Rennie recognised the importance of putting the 'embarrassing' defeat behind them, wack-to-back wins in last year's Rugby Championship over the South Africans helping to supercharge the Wallabies' season as they built a five-game winning streak.

“It was a frustrating day and the boys were pretty embarrassed,” Rennie reflected.

“We talk a lot about respect being earned daily and the character that we showed the week before under difficult circumstances was massive for us. To not back that up was massively disappointing.

“…We know it’s massive. You look at the Springbok side, it’s very, very strong, They’re almost at full strength and they’ll be grumpy after their second Test lost to the All Blacks.

“We’re well aware of what’s coming, based on last year’s couple of wins, that’ll only create a bit more of an edge for the Springboks.

“We’re going to have to be at our best, no doubt, and it’s a massive series for us.”

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