Wallabies set for another second row shuffle

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika looks set to pull another lock switch in Australia’s final Rugby Championship match, with Rory Arnold expected to line up in the second row at Twickenham.

Arnold started in the opening June Test against England but an elbow injury in the Super Rugby finals delayed his Rugby Championship start, with Cheika opting to give him a chance to work back to fitness in the NRC.

The 26-year old impressed off the bench against South Africa and Argentina in Brisbane but was left out of the match day squad for last week’s Pretoria Test.

“I just think he's [Arnold] been aggressive, his lineout jumping's really improved, his mobility and his ball carry and every time he's come on the field...he's made an impact as a finisher,” Cheika said.

Rory Arnold is hoping for more Test opportunities. Photo: Getty Images“He's getting fitter, match fitter, he's maturing. He started playing rugby late so he's maturing and again it's more opportunities for guys to say right, okay I'm a starter here.”

Rookie lock Adam Coleman is quickly becoming a Test fixture but Cheika said he was looking even beyond the current squad to expand the depth in his second row.

“Coleman really moved on nicely into that position of calling lineouts, for a young guy, who's only played four or five Tests,” he said.

“There's a couple of young locks coming through from the under 20s that we really like as well.

“That's the way we want to try and broaden the base, is by getting the guys who have the experience and getting guys in there to play ahead of them or challenge them,” he said.

Lopeti Timani is ahead in the number eight race. Photo: Getty ImagesLopeti Timani is expected to beat out Leroy Houston for the number 8 spot, after Sean McMahon’s ankle injury.

A run-on start would be Timani’s first for the Wallabies, after the Rebels forward was injected into last month’s Perth clash with the Pumas.

Cheika said he was confident Timani would manage a step up into the Wallabies starting side.

“I think with the profile of the other players we have like the sixes, they’re more of the jumping type sixes, that ball carrying eight, that Wycliff Palu style player is something we want to have as well,” he said.

“We need a player with that profile and he did well when he came on in the first game against Argentina so with a start, there’s a bit more detail he'll have to keep in his head but he'll be fine.”

Houston’s 11-year wait for a Wallabies debut could come down to whether Cheika opts for a six-two or five-three forwards-backs bench split.

The Wallabies team to face Argentina at Twickenham on Sunday morning (AEDT) will be announced on Thursday night.