Lopeti Timani has forced Michael Cheika’s hand at the selection table but the Wallabies No.8 says it’s his own responsibility to ensure he retains his spot.
Cheika said earlier this week that Timani had made himself impossible to drop at this point, with performances that have earned him four consecutive Test starts, after being elevated after David Pocock broke his hand against Argentina.
The Rebels forward fits the bill of the No.8s that have come before him, Wallabies including Toutai Kefu and Wycliff Palu but to be considered among those, or even demand another Test start with Sean McMahon’s return from injury looming in an already heavily contested back row, Timani said he needed to make the spot his own.
“At the moment it’s dependent on me,” he said.
“If I want to take the position I have to work hard to own the No.8 (position) because I think a few of the boys like Sean McMahon, Pocock and that, if I’m not playing well it’s easy for them to take the No.8 (jersey).
“I have to play well every weekend and look after myself so I can perform really well.”
His position at the back of the scrum pushed David Pocock to his first Test at blindside flanker, part of a combination that lasted just one half on the weekend with Pocock’s early exit with a head knock but one that Timani believes has potential.
“I trust those guys [David Pocock and Michael Hooper] because they have more experience.” - Lopeti Timani.
“I trust those guys [David Pocock and Michael Hooper] because they have more experience,” Timani said.
“I try and play behind them and especially on the D-line, I try and get them the ball or make a line break.
“I feel safe in my position at No.8 especially off the scrum.”
Timani played his first full Test last weekend, with Pocock’s concussion throwing out the Wallabies’ substitutions plan, but the bollocking backrower showed he was capable, a development that seemed even a pleasant surprise for him.
“I was a bit cooked there though, the last bit of the game [but] it was good to get a run of 80 minutes,” he said.
“I wasn't looking to play 80 minutes because I thought 'Poey' was going to play 80 minutes but it a bit of shock when they said 'Poey's' going to be out the second half.
“[I showed] I could play 80 minutes,I think it's good for me.”
Cheika said Timani deserved another opportunity to show his improvement but was looking for more stable from from the No.8.
“His consistency and detail in his game, there’s a fair bit of detail in the way we play around the shape of our game and everybody’s role, and he’s picked that up really well in a short space of time,” he said.
“But he’s still learning too, he’s hungry for more, and I want to give him another opportunity to have a go.All of the Wallabies’ Spring Tour Tests will be broadcast LIVE on beIn Sports and streamed LIVE on Foxtel Go (for Foxtel subscribers).