Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has put a premium on form in selecting his 2017 squads, but even he admits there is one obvious exception to that ahead of the Bledisloe Cup.
Out of favour Reds lock Kane Douglas has found his way into the Wallabies 34-man Rugby Championship squad, despite struggling to find a start even at Super Rugby level.
Douglas was an intimidating force for the Wallabies in the 2015 Rugby World Cup but a knee injury curtailed his 2016 season and the 28-year-old has battled to rediscover his best, left out of the June Series squad.
Cheika admitted on Friday, announcing his Rugby Championship squad, that Douglas’s pick was despite his form.
“There's some selections in that squad that aren't Super Rugby form-related, like you'd have to say Kane Douglas's is not,” he said.
“That's on me, wanting to push him, to get something out of him that I know he's got inside of him in that position.”
Cheika said any form had to be taken with a grain of salt heading into Test season.
“But then, with a lot of those selections of those guys who we were just talking about, yeah they've had good Super Rugby form but we're going to need to turn that form into another level,” he said.
“That Super Rugby form is in the past now, it's not going to give us anything when we turn upon the 19th. We've got to set the standard that we as the Wallabies want to play at and that those players as Wallabies will deliver on that night.”
That second row department is one of the most contested, with Adam Coleman the only lock seemingly guaranteed a start in Sydney in a fortnight.
Cheika said omitting Brumbies captain Sam Carter was one of the toughest choices in picking the squad.
“Obviously that's a position there where we're looking for someone to step up and claim that job, the lock partner with Coleman,” he said.
“I think he's been earning his spot pretty well so far and as a player, the opportunity for a player there that wants to step up and we're very clear on what we want out of that role.
“We're going to be competing against two of the best locks in the world in the matches coming up against New Zealand and we've got to be up to the challenge, so that was probably the most difficult one (choice).”
Izack Rodda is the only uncapped lock in the mix, with the 20-year-old impressing Cheika in camp.
“I like his attitude, he's tough and he's prepared to push himself, I've seen that in the training and I see a good future for him," he said.
“How fast that future comes will depend on how he gets stuck into the training over the next couple of weeks where we start to put more of a contact work together and the physicality, which is the key.”
Cheika also found praise for backrower Richard Hardwick, who showed promise in June before missing out on this squad.