Naivalu inclusion just the start of wing competition

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The competition for Wallabies wing spots is set to heat up, with Sefa Naivalu the first in a slew of potential additions to their ranks. 

Naivalu became eligible for Test duties on September 18 and was immediately retained in the Wallabies squad for their tour to Pretoria and London, putting him one step closer to a Wallabies debut.

Marika Koroibete is in contention for the Spring Tour. Photo: Getty Images“Obviously we've been watching him for a while in Super Rugby, where he's been performing very well in Melbourne and he's certainly merited his opportunity to come into the squad now and be available for selection,” Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said.

“He's been training well with the lads.

“He’s got a really good attitude and mindset and I'm really keen to see what he's going to bring when that opportunity comes for him.

“He's going to have a battle out there for him but very excited to see him in there now and in the hunt and available to be selected.”

Incumbent wingers Reece Hodge and Dane Haylett-Petty were two of the Wallabies’ best in Perth and looming Melbourne Storm convert Marika Koroibete is a strong chance of coming on the Wallabies’ Spring Tour, adding more variety to the mix.

Henry Speight’s return from injury and an Aussie Sevens stint, as well as Luke Morahan’s retention in the squad for South Africa and London, gives the Wallabies more options for specialist wingers as well.

“In a few positions, we've been going through a bit of a changeover,” Cheika said.

“The idea is that we're going to build more depth, that's  the whole idea of this process of getting guys experience and getting a few more guys a look at the international level.”

Drew Mitchell is working his way back from injury. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyVeteran winger Drew Mitchell has returned to Toulon, after featuring just once in his return from a groin injury but Cheika said the 32-year-old’s stint back home had not been in vain.

“He's really been a good voice out there. We've got a pretty young backline starting to appear.

“Some of the previous experiences he's had will pass on to those guys.

“We’re certainly not disappointed. I would've liked him to play obviously but I’m keen to see him available going further.”

Andrew Kellaway is making his way in Super Rugby. Photo: Getty ImagesAs well as those who have been in the international squads this season, Cheika said he had his eye on a number of outside backs who haven’t, including NSW fullback Andrew Kellaway and Queensland’s Izaia Perese, a highly-rated prospect who was hampered by injury this season.

The Wallabies leave for South Africa on Saturday morning, ahead of their October 2 Test against the Springboks.