Wallabies Watch: Valetini takes top spot, Wilson makes statement

It's the battle of the champs in Brisbane.

With the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman season underway, attention starts to turn to the make-up of the Wallabies squad for their next Test series.

Whilst the wins fail to flow for the Australian teams, there were plenty of players making their name in losing efforts as they attempt to impress Dave Rennie and the Wallabies staff.

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Rugby.com.au has looked at the top ten performances from Australian players as they press for selection.

1.Rob Valetini (Last week: 2)

Valetini continues to set the standard for back-rowers in the country and the world following another incredible display.

He led the Brumbies with a massive 17 tackles and took the ball over the advantage line on a number of occasions, eventually earning a well-deserved try.

In a crowded Wallabies back-row, the hard-hitting Brumby is doing everything to take the decision out of Dave Rennie's hands and looks certain to be selected in the Wallabies' 23 for July.

2. Angus Bell (Last week: 3)

Bell's bursting run was a delight to see for any front-rower around the country as he torched the Blues defence.

The 20-year-old's running game has been a feature of the Waratahs' improved showings in the second half of the season but he'll always be rated on his scrummaging first and foremost.

He still has improvements to make in this area and packing against Kiwi sides five weeks in a row is an ideal education.

Angus Bell burst away for the runaway try

3.Harry Wilson (Last week: NR)

This was a huge showing from Harry Wilson. The Reds were on the ropes and well beaten but the big Reds’ No.8 just kept on fighting.

His 11 gallops yielded 76m. He dashed over from 50m with a classic dummy as he dangled the ball in his right hand. He also charged down a kick and put Vunivalu over. 

The Wallabies may have a tricky choice to make. Wilson and Brumbies’ No.8 Rob Valetini are wonderful weapons but is either a big enough lineout factor to select both in a Test backrow with a Michael Hooper or Fraser McReight?  

4.Jake Gordon (Last week: NR)

Gordon's presence has left many to wonder what the Waratahs season would've looked like if they had their skipper for the entire season.

His reading of the play was world-class when he snatched an intercept from Finlay Christie and has led from the front in a tough season for the Waratahs.

What looked like a battle between two (Nic White and Tate McDermott) now has a third contestant as Gordon impresses in a poor side.

5.Tom Banks (Last week: 1)

It's says something about how well Banks has been going when 14 carries for 87m is considered to be a slow game for the Brumbies fullback.

Banks' grasp on the fullback position continues to tighten as he impresses against his NZ counterparts, looking to lap his competitors in a field that was considered wide-open by Dave Rennie a month ago.

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6. Suliasi Vunivalu (Last week: 5)

Coach Brad Thorn called the convert from the NRL a player with a big-match temperament and he proved it against the Crusaders. It was Vunivalu’s busiest game in rugby for the Reds with 11 runs for 76m and five tackle busts along the way.

His aerial brilliance for tries was the standout feature against the Highlanders a week earlier. This time, it was his positional play and a powerful fend to back up Harry Wilson for a try that was quality.

Vunivalu is happy to come off his wing for work too. He’s an exciting new wing element to work with for Wallabies coach Dave Rennie.

7.Sitaleki Timani (Last week: NR)

Timani is by far the most valuable player for the Western Force and is one of few that can match it with the Kiwis in terms of physicality.

In defence, he sets the tempo with some brutal hits whilst his presence at line-out time is enormous for Feleti Kaitu'u and the Force.

With the Wallabies seemingly embracing a youth-first policy, Timani experience's, particularly against the French style of play, could prove invaluable come July.

8. Marika Koroibete (Last week: NR)

Has there been a winger who has had as good a season as Koroibete without scoring a try?

Koroibete's influence extends across the field in attack and defence.

His match-up against the hulking Julian Savea once again proved his worth even though it might not show on the scorers' sheet.


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9. Tim Anstee (Last week: NR)

Anstee remains an interesting prospect to many as he continues to develop and adapt to the 15-a-side game.

Filling in at number eight, Anstee's all-round game sets him apart from the rest of the backrowers in the country as makes an impact on the contest.

As he weighs up what gold he will chase in July, his consistent performances for the Force may give Dave Rennie no other choice.

10. Rory Arnold (Last week: NR)

A left-field option but with 'Giteau's Law' still in play, it's tough to ignore Rory Arnold's efforts in Toulouse's Final win.

Arnold commanded the set-pieces against his former Wallaby teammate Will Skelton and was crucial to cementing Toulouse's return to the pinnacle of European Rugby.

Whilst Arnold and Skelton are more than likely unavailable for the French series, their showing in Europe has them in discussions as some of the world's best and therefore must be considered when looking at the Wallabies for The Rugby Championship.

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