Banks a bonafide Wallabies bolter

by Sam Phillips

A two week stretch of sublime football was all it took for Tom Banks to storm into the first Wallabies squad of the year.

If the June squad was picked a month ago Banks would not have been named but a pair of dazzling performances in South Africa left coach Michael Cheika with next to no choice.

The 23-year-old stole the headlines on Sunday (AEST) with a superb individual try to claim an incredible victory for the Brumbies in Pretoria and it was a match Cheika watched closely.

"The contributions he has made in those games... he’s been playing well but he has really powered up towards the end of the season," Cheika said.

"He wasn’t in the reckoning early on but he has certainly stormed into that in those last few weeks."

Banks' natural line breaking ability is clear to anyone that has watched him play but that wasn't the element of his game which caught Cheika's eye.Michael Cheika admits Tom Banks only forced his way into the Wallabies squad over the past month. Photo: Getty Images"He showed really good intent," Cheika said.

"He wanted to break the line, he wanted to get back and cover kicks, he wanted to make that last, try saving tackle.

"I think that type of intent makes a huge difference to any player that has talent like he has - plus that athletic ability as well."

Banks has X-factor in spades, a characteristic he shares with fellow young gun Izaia Perese.

Perese was not named in Cheika's squad, a partial ACL tear in the preseason only allowing the star winger to show his wares against the Highlanders.

His performance in the loss was Perese at his best but it wasn't enough to earn a chance to fight for a Test debut.

"Very hard decision for me because he’s a guy I really like and I love his attitude towards the game," Cheika said of Perese.Izaia Perese was left out of the first Wallabies squad of the season. Photo: Walmsley"There’s one specific area - those things stay between us coaches and players - that I’ve spoken to him about and he totally understood.

"I know he has the bit between his teeth to get himself selected and when that opportunity comes to him - which I’m sure it will at some stage - he’ll be ready to take it."

If Banks is to make his Test debut, he must show Cheika he is willing to outwork his opposite number.

That's the theme the coach drove home at the recent Gold Coast camp and he did not beat around the bush when asked what shape his side will take when tackling the all conquering Irish.

"We talked from the tactical side of things about two or three really important elements that we feel will be really important against Ireland," Cheika said.

"That’s tee’d off, without a doubt, with our work ethic.

"They’re a team that works hard and we have to work harder.

"This is a battle for hard work and work ethic - getting to things first, wanting to be at things first, getting to the next thing after that straight away.

"If we start off with that - especially with the short turnaround - we’ll go a long way towards helping us win."

The Wallabies take on Ireland in the June Series, kicking off on Saturday June 9 at Suncorp Stadium, at 8pm AEST. Buy tickets here.