NRC: NRC standouts in consideration for Wallabies tour

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika will be casting a wider Wallabies net when it comes to picking his Spring Tour squad.

The squad for the Northern Hemisphere trip is set to be announced on Monday and Cheika said there would definitely be some new faces, potentially including some of this season’s standout NRC talent.

While he didn’t drop any names on Sunday, Cheika has been keeping a close eye on Queensland Country back Izaia Perese and has praised the form of his front row teammate Taniela Tupou.

Tolyu Latu has impressed for the NSW Country Eagles. Photo: Getty ImagesNSW Country Eagles hooker Tolu Latu has already been included in the Wallabies squad based on his NRC form, added after an injury to Tatafu Polota-Nau.

If NRC players are included in the five-week tour, they might not play any of the matches, rather travelling as ‘apprentices’, a concept New Zealand has adopted in the past.

“We had a meeting last night just to see where we stood around that and there are a few players we’re considering,” Cheika said.

“With what we’ve been doing over the last 12 months about bringing new players in, there’s probably a few young players that we’d consider bringing back either in a squad selection or in an apprentice role that we’d consider have the potential to go forward later on.”

Outside of the NRC, Melbourne Storm flyer Marika Koroibete is another name that will potentially be on the list on Monday, after months of speculation.

While there will be new blood, the tour will also be a chance for the current Wallabies to show some adaptability.

Israel Folau was switched into the midfield in attack at Eden Park on Saturday night, with Samu Kerevi’s ankle injury, a move that could be replicated if Kerevi isn’t available for the tour, though Cheika stopped of saying the fullback would move out of the 15 jersey to state a Test.

“That was part of our strategy last night,” he said.

“I thought it went nicely.

“We’ll mix and match and we’re going to have to have some versatility – we’ve got six games in five weeks.

“We’re going to need to be creative and have versatility in our stocks and vary our game plan from week to week so teams are looking at different things.

"Israel will definitely have some time in the middle and some time out the back. I thought he was very good in the touches he did have last night as well.         

Israel Folau went into the midfield. Photo: Getty ImagesThe Wallabies’ attack looked the most complete it has this season in Auckland and Cheika said they wanted to continue to refine that towards the end of the year, to convert linebreaks into points.

“It’s all those small things, the smaller details combined and that’s where New Zealand are ahead of us, is they’re very accurate in picking off those opportunities,” he said.

“They’ll come for us the more we play together, the more we create opportunities and get disciplined on playing our style a bit more, maybe not making that last one a risky one or a 50-50.

“Always have the line of sight. If you haven’t got that, then got to the next play.”

The Wallabies will leave for London on Friday.