Key Wallabies selection decisions loom for Michael Cheika
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has important decisions to reveal as he looks to fire up his struggling side for Saturday’s opening Spring Tour Test against Wales in Cardiff.
Cheika will announce his team on Thursday evening (AEDT) as he looks to maintain the Wallabies’ 10-year unbeaten run against the Welsh – who head into the game on the back of six successive wins.
With the 2019 World Cup coming into ever sharper focus, time for experiments and excuses is fast running out and the Wallabies must string good performances together on this tour
Despite his brain snap against New Zealand’s Codie Taylor that reduced Australia to 14 men in the third Bledisloe in Yokohama last week, the abrasive Tolu Latu could claim the starting hooker role ahead of veteran Tatafu Polota-Nau and youngster Folau Fainga’a.
An impressive cameo from Samu Kerevi against the All Blacks in Japan following a long injury lay-off has put him in line to start at outside centre with Israel Folau likely to move back to the wing in place of Sefa Naivalu.
Cheika’s decision to include veteran outside back Adam Ashley-Cooper in his squad for the European leg of a long and difficult year, also muddies the selection waters.
Australia have shipped 82 points in their last two matches against Argentina and New Zealand and AshleyCooper, who has never lost to the Welsh in nine encounters, has a game to keep a strong home attack in check.
The 34-year-old has trained well this week at the team’s base in Newport, just outside Cardiff, and his stout defensive skills should earn him at least a place on the bench.
Ashley-Cooper said he’s ready to go if called upon by Cheika. “I’ve only been here a week to really settle in and find my feet and observe,” he said. “I want to just contribute in a way where I’m preparing how I would usually prepare for a Test match.
“At this stage it’s a matter of finding my feet and contributing the best way I can.”
Hard-running lock Adam Coleman has train ed all week after sitting out the 37-20 loss to New Zealand in Japan two weeks ago. The Melbourne Rebels skipper has trained fully all week and will be a welcome presence in the second row against Wales skipper Alun Wyn Jones.
Michael Cheika talks to his players during a training session in Newport before Saturday’s Test in Cardiff. Photograph: Dan Mullan/GettyImages