Cheika trusts gut on Powell

by AAP

After plucking him out of wilderness for Wallabies duty last year, Michael Cheika believes Joe Powell can be the silver lining to the Brumbies' injury misfortune and push for a possible Test debut this year.

The 22-year-old halfback initially thought he was being pranked when the Australia coach named him in his squad for the series against England last June and summoned him to their Sunshine Coast training camp.

Joe Powell will have to step up in 2017. Photo: Getty ImagesCheika wasn't joking - even though Powell had only played a total of 60 minutes across seven Super Rugby appearances for the Brumbies at the time, he said he had a sense the former carpenter was something special.

Fast forward to this season and his chance to prove it has arrived.

A season-ending injury to Argentine Tomas Cubelli has opened the door for Powell to become the Brumbies' starting No.9 ahead of Ryan Lonergan and new signing Dewet Roos.

"Sometimes you have those gut feelings about guys,"- Michael Cheika

"Here's a real opportunity now to use the experience he would have got from being in that Wallabies environment.

"He's very competitive, very fit, he's got some work to do with the consistency of his passing but I see him as a good prospect.

"I don't want to be loading him up with 'here he is, finished product', et cetera.

"But I like the fact that he's a strong competitor. I really think he'll prosper."

Will Genia played in his first French win. Photo: AFPA Test shot is a genuine possibility for Powell because the Wallabies' halfback mix is a movable feast.

France-based Will Genia is the go-to man but is not always available, Nick Phipps is under pressure to keep his Waratahs starting spot and Queensland's Nick Frisby still has a few kinks in his game to iron out.

"We're starting to build some nice depth in our halfbacks and having Joe come through I think will be a real plus for us," Cheika said.

Brumbies coach and Wallabies assistant Stephen Larkham is excited about Powell's likely starting combination with Kiwi five-eighth Wharenui Hawera, who has wowed coaching staff through the pre-season since he was recruited from the Mitre 10 Cup.

"I've seen a lot of potential in Joe," Larkham told AAP.

"I've personally been working with Joe for a while now in preparation for being the No.1 halfback, so I have a lot of confidence in him being confident on the field, which I think is the key - making sure our nine and 10 are very confident."