Selection Sunday: Looking at potential Wallabies bolters ahead of Eddie Jones' first squad

Thu, Mar 30, 2023, 4:48 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
The Wallabies travelled to Cardiff for their final Spring Tour match of 2022.

Sunday will provide the first glimpse at Eddie Jones' vision for the Wallabies as he names his first squad ahead of April's training camp.

Jones always seems to have something up his sleeve when it comes to selections.

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This was on full display when he last convened a squad in Australia just under 12 months ago, selecting eight uncapped players headlined by former Uni centre Guy Porter and 19-year-old Henry Arundell, initially selected as an 'apprentice player' only to come off the bench in the opening Test.

Super Rugby has thrown up several breakout players in 2023, particularly as the Rebels have emerged as the surprise packets of this year's competition.

This coupled with a host of younger players stepping into more prominent roles, injuries to established stars and overseas players likely not to be included has left plenty of intrigue surrounding the side.

With this in mind, looks at the potential fresh (or returning) faces to the Wallabies set-up.

Carter Gordon

The breakout star of 2023 has timed his run perfectly if he wishes to stand out for September's World Cup. Gordon has embraced the added responsibility with no Matt To'omua and his direct running and playmaking style has transformed the Rebels.

It comes with Ben Donaldson, Noah Lolesio and Tane Edmed starting the season slow whilst Quade Cooper and Bernard Foley will likely not be considered given they are in Japan.

If Jones selects three flyhalves, Donaldson and Lolesio are the likely two, leaving Gordon to contend with James O'Connor and another Reds half...

Tom Lynagh

Speaking of which, Jones has shown he's been willing to pick an inexperienced Lynagh, what about Tom?

The 19-year-old may follow in Louis' footsteps after a strong start to his Reds' career.

Lynagh faces competition with O'Connor at state and national level, having missed the last two games due to a concussion.

Max Jorgensen

Jorgensen has lived up to the hype since making his Waratahs debut.

He is the only Waratah to score four tries in his first three games, making his return from a shoulder injury against the Brumbies on Saturday.

Jones has never been afraid to blood teenage talent if they are good enough, just ask Matt Giteau in 2003.

Corey Toole

Toole has flown into contention for the back three - literally

The former Sevens star has emerged as one of the fastest players in Super Rugby, lighting the competition up on the wing.

He possesses a genuine x-factor that few can match in World Rugby, although there is plenty of quality ahead of him

Ryan Lonergan

Whether it's 20, 40 or 60 minutes, Lonergan has shone for the Brumbies when given the chance.

The opening month of Super Rugby has seen the scrumhalf's stocks dramatically rise as the Brumbies start the year unbeaten.

He has an excellent Rugby brain and has only got better since captaining Australia A to close out 2022.

Liam Wright

Wright fell off the radar after a tough run of injuries but is slowly working his way back into contention.

He has already played more minutes this year than he managed in 2022 and his versatility is a real point of difference, slotting in nicely with McReight and Wilson.

With Charlie Gamble on the sidelines, Wright could slot straight back into the fold under new management.

Josh Flook

Flook is another who has really thrived in 2023 with the faster style of play.

The 21-year-old already has three doubles in his first five games and has the perfect combo of strength and speed to terrorise opponents.

Another that could form the Giteau mould, Flook will do his chances little harm with a positive showing against the Crusaders on Friday

Andy Muirhead

The unsung hero of the Brumbies has slowly received his flowers in 2023.

He is consistent as ever, showcasing his elite finishing ability to go with a deft playmaking ability.

He's found himself around squads in the past but this year could finally be the one where he breaks through.

Alex Mafi

Mafi has made a seamless transition to the Rebels after a nasty neck injury in 2022.

The Rebels' strong start to the year has been built off their dominant set-piece game, with the hooker combining nicely with Matt Gibbon and a trio of quality tight-heads in Pone Fa'amausili, Sam Talakai and Cabous Eloff.

Dave Porecki and Lachlan Lonergan are the two favourites at the moment, but don't be surprised to see Mafi slip in as the third with Folau Fainga'a dealing with an Achilles issue