Rodda as ready as he'll ever be for Wallabies

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

No one is ever truly ready to be thrust into Test rugby, but Wallabies captain Michael Hooper is confident that debutant Izack Rodda will stand up to the ultimate challenge.

Hooper played against Rodda at Super Rugby level this year, but it was a coincidence of circumstance that truly caught his eye.

The 21-year-old lock trained alongside the Wallabies in June, when they were based in Brisbane, and his work impressed Hooper and the Wallabies coaches.

It was that June session that gives Hooper confidence now that Rodda will be able to swim in rugby’s deepest of deep ends.

“Obviously (I remember) playing him and thinking there's a big lump of a bloke running at you you haven't seen before,” he said.

“But then in June, he was walking around in Reds gear and Cheik had him come in and do a bit of training with the guys.

“He ripped in straight away and it goes back to that question of being ready.

“It's about taking your opportunity and Rodds in the wrong gear that day was taking his opportunity and putting us through our paces and that's what you want from a guy like him.”

Rodda has played 12 Super Rugby games, and only made five starts, in his debut season, but Hooper said there was no way to truly ready yourself for a Test debut.

"You're never ready,” he said. 

“You're in the best possible position you can be in and you've just got to get out there and do what you do.

“I've been really impressed with Rodds throughout the year.

“He's just got to get in the jersey and do his thing.”

Confirmation of Rodda’s debut came in a flurry on Friday morning, with first-choice starting lock Adam Coleman battling to overcome a shoulder injury, ultimately having to concede just prior to the side’s captain’s run.

It was only then that Rodda was told he would be suiting up in Dunedin on Saturday night, coach Michael Cheika said.

“I just told him out on the field go back in and kit up, you're playing,” he said.

“Maybe that's a good way to go, I don't know.

“In all the preparation that we do, we are preparing guys to play.

“They’re not just here to have an education or to learn.

“Yes, they have done that but also the key is for them to be playing.

“They all want to play. And the look on his face was pretty excited so I am sure he's going to have a good game on Saturday.”

Cheika said Rodda’s whirlwind journey to the Wallabies didn’t worry him.

“There are a few of us like that this year. Ned is here as well,” he said.

“I suppose that's part of what we've been doing, we have to stay at that.

“He's well worth the investment Izack, he's got a really good attitude and he's going to have a great Test in his first game for Australia.”

The Wallabies take on the All Blacks in Dunedin on Saturday night, kicking off at 5:35pm AEST LIVE on FOX SPORTS.