Who should make Wallabies XV to play in Australia’s rugby union games against England?




You don’t meticulously assemble a 40-man practice squad, as Wallabies boss Dave Rennie did this week, without already having a Test draft from XV for July 2.

Rennie’s planning is well advanced for that huge fixture with Eddie Jones and England at the Optus Stadium in Perth.

Playing against England is one of the few clashes for the Wallabies on Australian soil where the general sports bettor pays attention.

Usually you have to beat the All Blacks or the Springboks, when they are World Cup champions, to get that wider attention.

Beat England in this series of three Tests and they will deliver a real blow. This is exactly what the Wallabies and Australian rugby need.

Rennie owns Australia’s horrendous 0-8 run against England, although he’s only responsible for the latest defeat, the wasteful 32-15 trip to Twickenham last November. To be the coach who puts an end to the nightmare would be a real feather in his cap.

More than once, Rennie made it clear before and during camp that: “There are still opportunities to come (late) to the team like Andrew Kellaway did (in 2021).”

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

That’s eight rounds and finals in Super Rugby Pacific to make so much noise that your authority or skill cannot be ignored.

Taking a wide sweep, only a few are able to do this.

The top contender should be Queensland Reds winger Suliasi Vunivalu, who will likely have seven or eight games to show just how good of a finisher he is on his imminent return from a long-term hamstring problem. He is the mystery element.

Queensland Reds flanker Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, who left for Northampton Saints at the end of the year, would need a blistering second half of the season against Kiwi sides once he recovers from his sprained ankle.

The form of experienced Melbourne Rebels playmaker Matt Toomua has improved, but the caravan appears to have moved on.

Brumbies finisher Andy Muirhead or Western Force backrower Tim Anstee would need five-star effort week after week to earn the practice squad spots they had in 2021, but none of the XV’s starting candidates for July.

Your July 2 Test XV will come from the 40 names already announced plus a dollop of Quade Cooper, Rory Arnold and Samu Kerevi from abroad.

Join experts Brett McKay and Harry Jones plus special guest Jonathan Kaplan on the latest edition of The Roar Rugby podcast.

Now that the ‘Giteau Law’ has been superseded by the ‘Kerevi Clause’, Rennie can use up to three overseas-based players in any series or tournament.

This language is educational in itself. Could Cooper play both the English Series AND the Rugby Championship? It’s doubtful as he will certainly be sought after for the European tour in November as a major World Cup repeat tour.

Catching him for three Test blocks in five months would seem highly unlikely given that Japanese club the Wallabies and Cooper couldn’t be on the same page for the November tour last year.

If so, Rennie would back James O’Connor and Noah Lolesio against England and hold Cooper back until the TRC so he could be measured against his nemesis the All Blacks.

These are just guesses.

The great thing is that there are plenty of moving parts and selection puzzles to solve before July 2.

Can you play both Rob Valetini and Harry Wilson in the same Test row as both excel in Super Rugby Pacific? When will Rob Leota resurface because the mullet man made his mark at the end of last season?

Jordan Petaia may be an exciting and important bet against England or he may be getting the high work rate he needs right now to be a better Test winger.

The biggest winner in all of this could be NSW Waratahs hooker Dave Porecki. If his form holds up against Kiwi opposition, he could be the only Wallaby debutant against England on July 2.

POSSIBLE WALLABIES XV (against England, July 2, Perth):

Jordan Petaia, Suliasi Vunivalu, Len Ikitau, Samu Kerevi, Andrew Kellaway, Quade Cooper, Tate McDermott, Harry Wilson, Michael Hooper (c), Rob Valetini, Izack Rodda, Rory Arnold, Taniela Tupou, Dave Porecki, James Slipper.




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