Rodda urges fans to flock to Wallabies Test against Argentina

The Rugby Championship
by Emma Greenwood

Izack Rodda has pleaded with fans to buck the recent trend of poor crowds for Tests against Argentina and support the Wallabies in one of only two Tests in Australia ahead of the World Cup.

Australia will take on the Pumas at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium on July 27, with tickets going on sale on Friday.

It's the first chance fans will get to see the team in action in Australia ahead of the World Cup, with the only other opportunities a Bledisloe Cup double header with the Wallaroos in Perth that has already sold out and a pre-departure Test against Samoa in Sydney on September 7.

"Like every Test it's really important," Reds lock Rodda said of the Argentina match.

"The Pumas as a team have been slowly growing each year and each game, I've found.

"They're definitely turning into a quality side, they have a strong set piece and their pack is very strong, so it's going to be a very physical game."

The Wallabies have struggled to get a strong crowd in recent matches against the Pumas, with just 16,019 turning up to last year's match on the Gold Coast where Argentina caused an upset, winning in Australia for the first time in 35 years, while fewer than 15,000 have attended Pumas games in recent years.

Izack Rodda worked hard for the Wallabies. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley

But with the match the Wallabies' first home Test of a crucial season, Rodda is hoping for support.

"For a start, Suncorp, I feel is one of the best stadiums in the world to watch football at," he said.

"And it's be great to see as big crowd turn out to watch a quality game of football because it's going to be two quality sides going at it."

The efforts of the dominant Jaguares in Super Rugby this season gives a glimpse of what the Wallabies can expect in July and Rodda's Reds will get a closer look on Saturday night when they meet at Suncorp Stadium.

"They play very similar. There are a few players from that team that are in the Test side as well and you can see the style of footy they want to play which is the same as the Test side," he said.

While Australia, New Zealand and South Africa have implemented rest periods during the Super Rugby season to manage the workload of players ahead of the World Cup, the Jaguares are going all-in, pushing towards the Super finals with a squad that will then back up at the World Cup.

"It could definitely go one of two ways," Rodda said.

 

"If you're playing a lot of footy, you tend to get a lot sorer and things like that and form can tend to slip.

"But when you rest players, they stay in form and get that rest they need, because it is, when you think about it, going from Super Rugby into Tests, it is a long season and I can see the benefits from both sides."

Rodda heads into Saturday's clash against the Jaguares having captained the Reds last week in the absence of regular leader Samu Kerevi.

And with Kerevi's Super Rugby future following the World Cup still in doubt, he could yet be handed the job fulltime next season.

He'd have the support of teammates too, gauging by the reaction of five-eighth Bryce Hegarty.

"He did very well, I'm very proud of him," Hegarty said.

"He led well, he often leads from the front on the field just with his actions and we've got a very good relationship, so I very much enjoyed having Izack as captain and I thought he did a very good job."

Izack Rodda encourages young Wallabies fans at a clinic in Brisbane. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley

It's likely Rodda will be studying his Reds and Wallabies teammates closely for the rest of the year, with the leadership style of Kerevi and Australian captain Michael Hooper something he hopes to emulate.

"I feel I've been pretty fortunate," Rodda said.

"Every team I've been a part of in the professional environment, they've all had great captains in my opinion.

"But lately I feel I've taken a lot from Samu who leads by example and also probably Michael Hooper, who's got just everything, I feel, in a captain.

"He's got great leadership skills, he leads by example, he's just the ultimate professional, I feel. And that's something that I want to work towards."

The Wallabies take on the Pumas at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday, July 27. Tickets go on sale on Friday.