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Wallaby Watch: Breaking down the lock options ahead of the England series

Thu, 26/05/2022, 12:37 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson

With Super Rugby Pacific winding down, the attention and hype towards a highly-anticipated series with England in July.

There have been plenty of players that have used the competition to press their claims for higher honours, rewarded with selection in Dave Rennie's first training squad of 2022 back in April.

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Along with this, several stars have pressed their claim for a recall, peaking at the right time with finals and a stacked calendar on the horizon.

With this in mind,Rugby.com.au breaks down the options ahead of England, focusing on the second row.

In the Squad - Players selected in the first squad of 2022

Nick Frost

Frost has had a whirlwind 12 months, looking to add to it with a maiden Wallaby cap.

The 22-year-old looked all set to leave for Japan before his selection for April's camp forced a re-think and a re-signing after an excellent year with the Brumbies.

The towering lock is therefore a key piece for the future and will have the perfect chance to stake his claim in the Super Rugby finals

Jed Holloway

The buy of the season for the Waratahs.

Holloway has been a revelation since returning home, powering the Waratahs into the finals as he steps up as a leader of their pack.

His stint in Japan has done him wonders, putting him in prime position for the elusive Wallabies call-up, years after it was initially expected to come.

Cadeyrn Neville

Neville remains a key figure in the Brumbies set-up despite struggling with injuries.

Whilst he has played just six games in 2022 after missing Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, Neville has started in each game, proving a key figure in the Brumbies' success against the Kiwi teams.

The 33-year-old has been a staple of Dave Rennie's squads since he has taken over and will fly under many radars, however, expect him to be firmly in the mix.

Matt Philip

Philip has been one of the shining lights for the Rebels, continuing to take his game to the next level.

The vice-captain has produced multiple game-winning performances for the Melbourne-based side, leading Super Rugby for lineout wins whilst in the top ten for carries and offloads.

The 28-year-old looks refreshed after missing the Spring Tour and has done everything to reclaim his spot in the 23.

Izack Rodda

Rodda's return to Australian Rugby has been one of the stories of the season, stepping up for the Force.

His presence at lineout time and in attack is one of the key reasons the WA club find itself in finals contention.

Rodda was called into the side for the Spring Tour and looms as one of the front-runners heading forward.

Darcy Swain

The Brumby continues to get better and better as he refines his game under Dan McKellar.

Swain has been a regular starter for the Brumbies as they book a home final, providing a crucial presence for their dominant set piece attack and defence

The 24-year-old had a breakout 2021 campaign and will be eager to replicate it in July.

Pushing for selection - Players outside of the first training squad staking their claims

Rory Arnold

One of the key foreign-based players on the Wallabies' radar as part of the new selection policy.

Arnold was brought in for the Spring Tour and instantly chucked into the starting side for all three games.

He remains a favourite of Rennie but with just three overseas players available for selection, he might find himself left out given the incredible depth in the second-row department in Australia.

Angus Blyth and Ryan Smith

The duo have followed similar paths, developing a crucial combination in 2022 as the Reds started Super Rugby Pacific strong.

Their respective performances have kept out regular Wallaby Lukhan Salakaia-Loto from the starting side.

Blyth and Smith loom as key pieces for the future, putting pressure on some of the established players in the Wallabies set-up.

Ned Hanigan

Hanigan has picked up where he has left off for the Waratahs, starring on his return last week.

Whilst he only has limited time to press his case, he has already been thrust into the starting side for Saturday's clash with the Blues, the perfect opportunity to stake his claim.

He provides much-needed versatility, able to cover all positions in the back-row, giving the returning Wallaby a key point of difference as Rennie and the coaching staff weight up their options.

Tom Hooper

Another Brumby bolter, Hooper has truly taken his chances in Super Rugby Pacific.

He has stepped up in Rob Valetini's absence over the past couple of weeks, initially forcing his way into the squad after a brilliant starting debut against the Rebels.

Likely a year or two early for the 21-year-old but looms as an exciting talent for the future.

Lukhan Salakaia-Loto

Salakaia-Loto has become a bit of a forgotten man in Australian Rugby as he prepares to go overseas.

Once a Wallaby certainty, injuries and poor form saw him left out after the Bledisloe, featuring just six times for the Reds in 2022.

Despite this, he remains an incredible talent on his day, able to match it with the best, keen to end his stint on a high.

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