Scotland conundrums for Cheika

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika will have a few selection conundrums ahead of the side’s second Spring Tour Test, against Scotland, as the possibility of starting team tweaks looms.

With the potential return of Rugby Championship starting blindside flanker Dean Mumm, who missed the Wales match through suspension, Cheika faces somewhat of a backrow dilemma.

Last weekend’s blindside flanker David Pocock will be monited in his return from concussion this week but Cheika was confident he would be right for Saturday’s clash.

Pocock’s early exit in Cardiff gave Scott Fardy the chance to push his credentials as a potential number six contender, in a spot that he had a stranglehold on up until the Wellington Bledisloe Test in August.

The success of the lineout in Cardiff even with the smaller loose forwards in the first half has given Cheika food for thought, admitting there was a number of avenues to explore around their backrow.

“We know what all the options are,” he said.

“We come into every week with a certain mindset around what we might want to do and let the first day or so play out to see how the lads are going on the field and where their headspace is at.

“[We] try to get guys playing who are in the right frame of mind, as well as what we want.

“Dean's had a good week last week, obviously looked after a lot of the crew that weren't playing, and especially in the back end of the week worked hard with them.

“We had a new combination playing last week and then Fardy played quite well when he came on as well.

“It's, again, a tough decision that we'll have to make in the next day or two.”

In the backline, Will Genia’s arrival in camp will put the spotlight on the number nine jersey, with the Stade Francais halfback likely to slot straight back in.

Cheika said he hadn’t made any definitive calls on his team for Saturday but Genia was the incumbent starter and one of the standouts for the Wallabies through the Rugby Championship.

“He's obviously had a great rugby championship, there's no doubt about it, but Phipps has played well these past two games.

“That's exactly what I want to have, these issues.”

"Nick [Phipps], with the opportunity to have a bit of game time as well, has been able to start to get his game together which has been really good.

And that's what all the lads want, competition for spots. And Nick Frisby as well, off the bench made a nice contribution to finish.

"What I've noticed with this crew, and last year's as well, the boys compete hard for spots. They cheer each other on as much as possible when they're in the jersey.

"They work hard together to get their skills right, and that's what we want - have the three of them together working against each other and then for each other in the end."

James Hanson fractured his jaw in training. Photo: Getty ImagesCheika said an assessment would be made on James Hanson's ongoing involvement in the squad after this week, as he continues his recovery from a broken jaw.

We'll have a look and see what his comeback is like and if we feel like he's an option to play in the last few games, and then we'll make a call from there," he said.

All of the Wallabies’ Spring Tour Tests will be broadcast LIVE on beIn Sports and streamed LIVE on Foxtel Go (for Foxtel subscribers).