More than just next gen on show against Baabaas

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Saturday’s Barbarians-Wallabies clash might just be a glimpse of the future of Australian rugby on the field.

Coach Michael Cheika has rested 13 of his top-line players for the clash, but the players just beneath are desperate to make the most of their chance to push for Spring Tour spots, or put pressure on those they are sitting behind.

In many ways the motivations in this team are not too dissimilar to that of the Barbarians, each player keen to prove themselves to their teammates, Michael Cheika, or just themselves after injury layoffs.

“You see a lot of players, like Ned Hanigan, he's come back into the squad, had an opportunity to perform and he wants to start cementing themselves as one of Australia's best backrowers leading into next year,” Wallabies captain Nick Phipps said.

“Players like Samu (Kerevi) coming in - he's a fantastic player and he gets the opportunity to present himself as another dominant centre in the game, and then you've got players like Ben McCalman coming back, so it's a great opportunity for so many different players.”

The Wallabies will be a youthful side on Saturday, but it’s a make up that shows the next generation, players like Hanigan and potential new face Liam Wright, the latter yet to play Super Rugby.

These are some of the names that will likely prove a critical part in the Wallabies’ route to 2019, with the next step to prove the 24 debutants since the World Cup can take them to success at the next tournament.

“This young age profile is going to be the crux of the group that'll be hopefully going over to Japan to win the World Cup,” Phipps said.

“It's their opportunity now to be able to impress on the world stage and impress in front of selectors especially.

“There is a lot of young players in the group that they're certainly playing like they've been around for a lot longer and with our boys tomorrow.

“I'm really looking forward to letting them express themselves and letting them play their natural game and hopefully be able to also make sure it's an entertaining day for everyone that comes out to Allianz.”

Halfback Phipps said he had spoken to usual Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper to get a bit of advice on referee communication ahead of the game.

“I spoke to Hoops ages ago actually about it and about when he's trying to talk to the ref and how it's funny that when you're in that leadership role you just focus on working with him and working really well around the game,” he said.

“It's something that as a younger player I probably wouldn't be able to handle but now I have an older, wiser head on me I know when is the right time to have a chat.”

The Wallabies take on the Barbarians on Saturday October 28, kicking off at 3pm AEDT, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and Network Ten.