Stewart to train with Wallabies ahead of first Test

International
by Sam Phillips

Hamish Stewart is set to train with the Wallabies in the lead up to the first Test against Ireland, if he picks up his phone.

The Reds young gun wasn't named in coach Michael Cheika's first squad of the year on Wednesday night but will be called into camp to train with the team next week, invaluable experience for the 20-year-old playmaker.

That is if he picks up his phone, having dodged Cheika's calls to date.

"If Hamish would answer his phone I would tell him he’s coming into training this week but he doesn’t want to answer his phone," Cheika said with a laugh.

"I’ve rung him three times this afternoon.Hamish Stewart will train with the Wallabies next week. Photo: Getty Images"He’s either phone screening or he doesn’t like me - I don’t know what’s going on.

"I’ve been ringing him telling him I want him to come into training so I can have a look at you and you can run as the 10 in the other team but I haven’t seen him much and he hasn’t played a lot of 10 here either, which probably didn’t help.

"But any backrower that can convert to playing 10 - which was my dream - I think I have to have a look at him at some stage."

Stewart will start at flyhalf against the Waratahs on Saturday and appears the primary option as a long term backup for Bernard Foley.

The Toowoomba Grammar product has shown he is more than capable at Super Rugby level from fullback and now that he has been shifted to his preferred position of flyhalf, the world is at his feet.

Wallabies honours may still be a while off, though, and that leaves the playmaking duties in the hands of Reece Hodge and Kurtley Beale, should Foley be unavailable through injury or suspension.

"I don’t feel like we are at any risk (at flyhalf) whatsoever," Cheika said.Reece Hodge will be the backup at flyhalf. Photo: Getty Images"We have Hodge and Beale - Hodge played well against Japan when he played there and I thought he was outstanding the other night when Melbourne put him there.

"He’s got the temperament, too.

"He’s not going to be perfect but he he’s got the temperament to do it and that’s the important thing."

Hodge forced his way into the Australian starting XV after some standout performances on the wing last year but Cheika said he will play the Mr Fixit role leading up to next year's World Cup. 

"We’ve spoken - he’s going to be a bit all over the place in this year leading up to the World Cup," Cheika said.

"After the World Cup he will find his position and he will own it - a bit like Kurtley did in the run to the last World Cup.

"We’ve had the discussion and it takes a certain quality to be able to do that.

"This will be his job for this little block and he knows how much we respect him as a player.

"He knows that after that we will be focusing on a position for him to go into."

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