Drew Mitchell faces crucial Tuesday test

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies winger Drew Mitchell faces a major test on Tuesday in a bid to make his return to the Test arena.

Mitchell has been out of action since May, with a groin concern and was originally expected to be fit for the second Bledisloe Test a fortnight ago, though the injury has become more complex than first thought.

The 32-year-old will need to get through Tuesday’s contact session to be in contention for a spot in Saturday’s Test against the Springboks, which would be his first Wallabies outing since last year’s World Cup final.

Drew Mitchell in action at training. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleySpeaking ahead of training on Tuesday, Mitchell said he wouldn’t play unless he was 100 per cent ready.

“Basically I just need to get through the session, really. Been up to full training for a while now, it's just more coping with the intensity of full contact and that sort of stuff,” he said.

“I've got through it [training] but obviously going into a Test this weekend, you've got to make sure you're 100% on the injury, so hopefully I'll be at that point after today's session.

“Obviously when I came back, it was a little bit more complicated than I thought so we've just been rehabbing that but I think we may have turned the corner and things are going alright.

“Today's session's pretty crucial and hopefully get through that and everything's alright.”

Dane Haylett-Petty was a target for the All Blacks. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyMitchell’s potential return, whether as a starter or off the bench, would make him the most experienced player in the Wallabies backline, with 70 Tests,  just shading Will Genia’s 68, after the departure of Adam Ashley-Cooper (116) and Matt Giteau (103).

Incumbent winger Dane Haylett-Petty was targeted in the Bledisloe Tests, struggling after a superb June series and Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has moved to reinforce his outside backs, with the return of Henry Speight and Luke Morahan to the main squad.

Speight has played just two games of 15s rugby since a stint with the Australian Sevens took him to Rio, showing mixed form in the NRC for the UC Vikings.

Drew Mitchell expected to be back much earlier than this weekend. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyMitchell said it hadn’t been easy to watch from the sidelines as the Wallabies stretched their losing streak to six Tests, but it’s not an entirely foreign situation for him, having been in the Wallabies fold since 2004.

“I mean it's always tough watching the team go through a testing period but also for me I haven't played for quite some time now as well,” he said.

“It's not very nice being on the sidelines in the rehab group so hopefully I can graduate out of that and get back to playing.”

The Wallabies take on the Springboks at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night, at 8:05pm AEST.