We're just 10 days away from the opening Bledisloe Cup Test of 2016, but who will be starting at lock?
Douglas has recovered from the ACL injury that he suffered in the Rugby World Cup final having played the final three matches for the Reds this season. The Wallabies missed his mongrel during the June Test series, and you’d think that he would return to the Wallabies’ starting XV for the opening Bledisloe Cup.
The Western Force made his debut for the Wallabies in the final match against England in June off the bench. Has shown in Super Rugby how useful he is at the set piece and is also a damaging ball-runner. A project player who can expect more game time during the Rugby Championship, though will likely come off the pine again.
Simmons has recovered from a shoulder injury that ended his Super Rugby season prematurely and will look to rediscover some form in the Rugby Championship. His technical expertise at lineout time a huge bonus for the Wallabies and his success in combination with Douglas would be hard to overlook.
It’s been an up and down season for Skelton, with the second-rower dropped back to the club rugby during the Super Rugby season, though that proved a turning point for the towering lock. Skelton started in the final Test against England will be looking to add to his 15 Test caps in the Rugby Championships. Adds some grunt and plenty of bulk to the Test team when he is there.
Known for his versatility, Mumm can cover lock and backrow spots and will be a valuable addition the Wallabies set up. While this season hasn’t been his best, his versatility could see him picked on the bench as cover for a number of spots.
The only uncapped Wallaby among the locks in the current squad, Timani can play a similar role to Mumm at lock and the backrow. Timani has been superb in Super Rugby this season and has the aggression that Cheika tends to love. It probably comes down to a selection between he and Mumm for a bench spot in a forwards-heavy match-day 23.
The 2014 World Rugby Player of the Year has been a stalwart of the All Blacks side since his debut in 2012 and is a near automatic selection for New Zealand. His athleticism is one of his greatest weapons, epitomizing the attack-heavy New Zealand style of rugby.
Romano has been in the All Blacks system for the past four years, starting in five Test matches in 2015. Known for his defensive work, Romano is a major threat for the opposition’s lineout.
Tuipulotu returned to the All Blacks set up for the June Series against Wales after injury ended his chances of a World cup berth in 2015. The Blues enforcer added two Tests to his tally in June and will be looking for more game time in the Rugby Championship.
The most experienced lock in the All Blacks squad with 75 caps to his name, Whitelock is known for his athleticism and is a threat with the ball in hand. His combination with Retallick has been damaging in recent Tests and you’d think they’d opt for the duo again.