Bad break for Tom Banks opens fullback chance for James O'Connor

Sat, 18/09/2021, 11:26 am
Jim Tucker
by Jim Tucker
The Wallabies go back to back against the Springboks

The unfortunate broken arm sustained by Tom Banks has opened up a Wallabies spot at fullback for the return of James O’Connor in Townsville next Saturday.

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said Banks would be sidelined for “six weeks-plus” after being forced off in Saturday night’s 30-17 eclipse of World Cup champions South Africa.

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“It’s a fracture. I feel for Tom. We’ll get a bit of clarity around whether it impacts on our end-of-season tour,” Rennie said at Suncorp Stadium.

Banks has played in all eight Tests this season and was in good form against the Springboks with a neat inside pass in the lead-up to the second Len Ikitau try.

As a frontline player, Rennie may well consider taking Banks on tour even though he won’t be fit to face Japan on October 23 in Oita. A two-week break until the next Test against Scotland at Murrayfield on November 7 may give him the chance to prove his fitness.

More immediately, the Wallabies have to fill the No.15 jersey to face Argentina at Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville.

Reece Hodge played more than 50 minutes against the Springboks at fullback. The extra distance to his kicks was crucial to the territory game. One clearance was superb because he chased it and tackled centre Damian de Allende 50m downfield.

He spilt high kick after high kick and that will count against him most of all.

O’Connor is fit again after his groin problem and Rennie will be keen to get him back involved.

Quade Cooper deserves to hold the No.10 jersey in Townsville so the versatile O’Connor may well be asked to start a Test at fullback for the first time since the 2011 World Cup.

Rennie was coy: “We have a number of considerations.

“It’s great to have ‘Rabs’ back in the mix. He's ready to go. He's come back in fantastic nick.

“Again, he’s another very experienced player. We’ll make a call around that (selection) in the next few days.”

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