Wholesale changes wouldn’t be a “smart” move for the Wallabies against Italy, playmaker Matt To’omua says.
A loss against Wales last weekend has only heightened the significance of a must-win Padova Test, which might otherwise have been used to blood some new Wallabies faces.
Asked whether he felt they needed to make a statement with a full-strength side or give opportunities to new faces, To’omua pointed to the former.
“Without question a bit of a balance but probably more so the first bit. I think we've got to win don't we?,” he said.
“We've got to 1) give respect to Italy as a team who we know can upset a lot of teams.
“We struggled against them a few years ago back in Australia so I don't think going out with wholesale changes would be the smartest tactic but I think at the same time, it'll be a balance.
“We've lost a few on the trot now and we need to - there might be selections that are enforced because of form rather than just giving guys a go.
“It'll be imperative that we win the game and win well and get some momentum going into England and Cheik might have a bigger picture view in terms of a few guys here and there but I think after, particularly what happened on the weekend, we've got to get a win.
“So, how we do that is up to the boss.”
To’omua would be one more experienced name in line to start should Cheika opt to give players like Bernard Foley or Kurtley Beale a rest after a long season.
The 28-year-old would be an option to replace either of those two if required and while he’s played mainly 12 for the Wallabies, either would sit well with To’omua.
“I played most of my rugby when I was a kid at 10, so I probably prefer 10 but we're fortunate enough in the Wallaby setup that the 12 is very much interchangeable,” he said.
“You see Kurtley stepping in at first receiver a lot there as well. I don't really mind in terms of the way we play but generally I'd probably say 10.”
To’omua said while the squad was still disappointed with the Wales result, there was a sense that they simply had to move on from that match.
“No one wants to be a part of that team that loses the first game to Wales in a long, long time, so that's obviously a bit disappointing,” he said.
“It rolls on, doesn't it? You've got to play in seven days so you can't mope around for too long
“We're all pretty good at that, we all get used to that. It's about directing that energy towards actually finding solutions.”
Australia’s tactical kicking was poor against Wales and Toomua said that was in part because putting it on the boot was often a last resort, something they needed to address.
“The issue with us on the weekend was our option to kick was usually option b - we'd run a lot and then we'd go, "Okay, let's kick",” he said.
“We weren't set up well, which often won't get a good kick away.
“I think we kicked about 20 or 21 times on the weekend, which in itself isn't much at all. You can see teams, good attacking teams, kick a lot more than that.
“I think for us it's actually about getting to that early and getting to a structure where we can actually get a good away and not use it as a fallback because then your chase isn't good, your kick quality's not as good as well.”
The Wallabies take on Italy on Saturday November 17, kicking off at 3pm local Sunday 1am AEDT, LIVE on beIn Sports Foxtel Channel 515 and SBS.