The next generation is here for the Wallabies, as coach Michael Cheika looks to build from the bottom up ahead of the 2019 World Cup.
It’s an approach the Wallabies showed last year, and though it didn’t immediately pay off in their win-loss column, it’s laid some foundations for this year.
Halfback is, as always, an intriguing spot with usual second-choice Test half Nick Phipps dropped to the bench for the Waratahs.
“He's had a checquered start to the year,” he said.
“I know that Nick has got a certain skill set that he's very good at and when he gets back to doing that skill set alone and focusing on that, that he'll be right in the reckoning.”
Cheika still rates Will Genia as his first-choice for June, with Phipps and the Brumbies’ Joe Powell, who has been a standout in the absence of Tomas Cubelli.
Phipps’ NSW teammate Jake Gordon was also a last-minute inclusion to the camp, though still considered on the fringes, while the injured Ryan Louwrens caught Cheika’s attention before doing his knee.
Cheika said Nick Frisby was the only one of those younger debutants not invited to this week’s camp, but that it wasn’t about attitudinal problems that Reds coach Nick Stiles has hinted at this season, after dropping him back to club rugby.
“I haven't spoken to Nick Frisby per se but the reason he wasn't at the camp was because of his games, not because of anything else,” he said.
“It happens to players, players have rough trots.
“For me, what I would talk about a player in that situation is not how he got there but, ‘How am I going to get out of it?’ That's what talks.:
Powell is far from the only young player rising up the Wallabies ranks, with Cheika admitting he wanted the next generation to become a part of their plan.
Cheika took Andrew Kellaway, Jack Dempsey, Izaia Perese and Taniela Tupou on the Wallabies Spring Tour last season for development and estimates roughly 12 of those in camp this week were outside of those in serious contention for the June series.
Some of the new additions to the wider group include front rowers Sef Faagase and Tyrel Lomax, locks Izack Rodda and Ned Hanigan, backrower Richard Hardwick and centre Duncan Paiaaua.
Cheika said he’d also been impressed by Curtis Rona and the Force’s aggressive backline this season.
“I know you guys all probably think we're full of it when we say that stuff but we're making a concerted effort with that group of players so we can make a contest with the other group of players and get our top players playing well, our young players coming through and all that squeezes out the best,” he said.
“Maybe we haven't focused on those guys enough in the past to come up and compete.
“If I don't get them (younger guys) into the system somehow and start to get them to that level now, (it’s too late)...because you don't play this year, then next year's '18.
“You want to start putting your squad together then and then it's on after that. This is the time.”