Positions still up for grabs as Dave Rennie continues to look at Wallaby hopefuls

Wed, 14/04/2021, 08:00 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Dave Rennie looks over the Wallabies during a training camp | Andrew Phan/Wallabies Media

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has confirmed that a number of positions are still up for grabs after assembling his first camp of 2021.

Rennie selected a 40-man squad for the three-day camp at Coogee, with the focus revolving around improving basic skills and ball retention.

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The squad is dominated by the top two Super Rugby teams, Reds and Brumbies, with 26 players coming from the two.

Despite the make-up, Rennie was adamant that players from beyond those squads could still make a push towards selection, with Super Rugby Trans-Tasman on the horizon.

“I think those sides are doing well, they have really good depth and that’s been reflected in the group that we’ve brought here but when we’re looking, we’re looking at individuals,” he said.

“There is a lot of detail and clarity around what we’re looking for in each position.

“There’s no doubt that those sides are going well but there’s still nine weeks until we will assemble so there are still a fair bit of time for guys to push their way in.

“There are some experienced guys who aren’t here at the moment so that’s a signal to them that they are going to have to make some shifts.”

Air Jordan in the clutch

One player that Rennie would like to see make a push is Waratahs fullback Jack Maddocks, with just one specialist fullback (Tom Banks) picked in the squad.

Whilst he has pointed to the likes of Reece Hodge and Jordan Petaia as potential candidates, Rennie pointed to the Eastern Suburbs product as a player who needed to find consistency if they wished to earn a re-call.

“There’s a lot we like about Jack but for him it’s around consistency,” he said on Maddocks.

“I was there for a week and watched them train and he was phenomenal so we know what he’s capable of but he’s been really inconsistent in performances so we judge it on that.

“They may get less opportunities but it’s about making them count. We’re putting a lot of time into looking at everyone, it’s not just this side’s going well so they’ll have more players. But that’s the challenge for them.”

Along with the fullback conundrum, Rennie is still searching for his ideal hooker.

As part of the squad, the Wallabies named four hookers, all of which had not been capped previously at the international level.

With the likes of Jordan Uelese, Brandon Paenga-Amosa and Folau Fainga'a snubbed, Rennie believes that the four selected are currently playing the best in Australia regardless of what role they play for their club.

“We’ve had four different guys in here last year, four different in this year. It doesn’t mean the guys we used last year are out of the mix but there is a little bit of a signal there we’re looking with an eye to the future,” Rennie admitted.

“It’s a really competitive spot, we believe. Hooker is wide open.

“We have picked the guys who we think are playing the best footy. Ironically, two (Lonergan, Mafi) of the hookers we’ve brought in didn’t start on the weekend, they were on the bench.”

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