Brilliant Banks put himself in Wallabies frame: Cheika

The Rugby Championship
by Iain Payten

Michael Cheika said he’d have no problem picking Tom Banks on the wing after the flying Brumbies fullback stuck his hand in the air for selection with impeccable timing on Friday night.

Amid strong competition, Banks was arguably the best-on-field in the Wallabies trial match against the Super Rugby selection side at a packed Leichhardt Oval.

Banks scored a try and was a constant threat in attack but it was the 24-year-old’s work without the ball that caught the eye and firmly pressed his claim to a Wallabies debut in the opening Bledisloe Cup game later this month.

Not once but twice Banks showed his blistering pace to run down runaway Super selection players Moses Sorovi and Richard Hardwick, and stop them both scoring tries in the south-western corner.

The run-down of Sorovi from 10 metres behind, in particular, took blinding speed.

“I was definitely feeling pretty gassed toward the end there. I thought he was going to get there but luckily enough I got him in the corner,” Banks said.

Asked if he was happier to score one try or prevent two, Banks said: “Probably the preventing two. Probably defence is pretty key. Attacking rugby is good but I think defensive play is a lot better.”

A performance from the top-shelf was perfectly timed by Banks, with some selection opportunities potentially arising for Bledisloe One.

With incumbent winger Dane Haylett-Petty injured and not certain to play, and Reece Hodge likely to play outside centre after an assured 80-minute effort in the Friday night trial, spots on the wing and the Wallabies bench could need filling.

Banks primarily plays fullback but he said he would comfortable playing wing if asked to.

“Obviously I would be happy to play wherever,” Banks said.

“I obviously like playing fullback but I would be happy to play wherever he puts me and the system we sort of play really promotes that second fullback, so I would be pretty happy wherever.”

Cheika said he was impressed with Banks’ performance, and he’d have no problems deploying him on the wing.

“I think he could play on the wing without a doubt,” Cheika said.

“He's got the pace and he had a great game tonight. I think he's just got an attitude where's looking to...he's got improvement too as well. I think he's very willing and that goes a long way.

"We'll see when we pick the squad to go up to Cessnock but he certainly put himself up there. He had plenty of involvements and he got noticed by a lot of people so he wouldn't have done himself any harm.”

Cheika will name a Bledisloe Cup training squad on Sunday.