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Foketi backs Australia A concept as he hunts for Wallabies return

Wed, 27/07/2022, 6:02 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
The Wallabies and England faced off in the decider at the SCG.

Waratahs centre Lalakai Foketi is ready to step into the Wallabies side for next week's Argentina Test if needed after a positive showing with Australia A.

Foketi missed selection for the England series after making his Wallabies debut off the bench against Wales at the end of the Spring Tour.

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Whilst in the past players have been forced back to clubland to press their claims, Foketi and fellow fringe Wallabies made the trip to Fiji for the Pacific Nations Cup, giving players vital playing experience against International sides.

With Samu Kerevi (Sevens) and Izaia Perese (patella) set to miss the start of the Rugby Championship, the 27-year-old has rocketed into contention for the vacant inside centre role along with Hunter Paisami and Irae Simone.

“It’s great getting that call from ‘Rens’ last week not knowing what’s going to happen and focusing on going back into the ‘Tahs after the Australia A campaign,” he told reporters.

“It was always a goal and ambition to get back in so I’m grateful to get back in and amongst the group.

“He called me the day before the England squad to say I missed out so to keep working…It was disappointing to not make the England series but to go away with the 'Oz A squad was awesome to play in that PNC.”

Foketi stepped up as vice-captain for the tournament, with a disjointed Australia A brushing off a slow start against Samoa before wins over Fiji and Tonga.

Throughout this tournament, the Jason Gilmore-led side adopted similar patterns and calls to the national side.

This allows for the likes of Foketi, Matt Gibbon, Jock Campbell and Fraser McReight to slot back seamlessly into camp on the Gold Coast before the side makes the trip to Argentina.

Foketi believes the tough hit-outs has him primed and ready to step up if called upon on August 7 in Mendoza.

“You look at the games and who we played, it was strong and physical in tough conditions so I’ll be banking on those games," he believes. “Hopefully the match fitness is up there so I think I’m ready if I get the opportunity in Argentina.

“If you look at who we played, especially that Fijian side, I think it’s a huge step up from going back to playing club footy.

“I think we can take a lot of confidence from that, I definitely did…It’s a big step up but I think I’ll be ready for it.

“We didn’t know what to expect but it’s the same environment here, you're basically playing for Australia…it’s pretty much the same play sheet so it’s a great platform to go from there straight into the Wallabies. If it’s your first training and you didn’t have Australia A under your belt, you’d have to learn quite quickly.

“The competition was massive and it’s a great set-up and it should continue."

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