Rookie Tui next in frame

The Weekend Post - - Sport - IAIN PAYTEN RUGBY UNION

MICHAEL Cheika said his plan to usher in the Wal­la­bies’ “Gen Next” is firmly on track af­ter nam­ing yet an­other debu­tant in the su­per­sized shape of Lukhan Tui.

Tui has been con­firmed as an ex­tra for­ward re­serve for Aus­tralia on a 6-2 bench de­signed to match the mus­cle of the Spring­boks pack in Bloem­fontein early to­mor­row morn­ing (AEST).

Al­though he plays lock for Queens­land along­side fel­low Wal­la­bies green­horn Izack Rodda, the 21-year-old is seen as a back­row op­tion as well.

If and when the 120kg Tui gets on the field, he’ll be the 24th debu­tant for the Wal­la­bies since the 2015 World Cup.

“He (Tui) has had a good sea­son with the Reds and in a game like this, where for­ward play is go­ing to be ul­tra-im­por­tant, there is no bet­ter place to get that Test out,” coach Cheika said.

“I know peo­ple might say ‘why do you do this with younger guys in this en­vi­ron­ment?’ But I see th­ese as our tal­ented play­ers. I want to get them time now and give them the ex­pe­ri­ence now. I still think they can per­form well.”

Cheika is back­ing Rodda and Tui in a fur­nace, with the Boks need­ing to ap­pease a na­tion af­ter their 57-0 crash to the All Blacks.

“Ret­ri­bu­tion will be in the air, no doubt, and we just hap­pen to be the next team in line,” Cheika said.

Af­ter tap­ping firmly into the power of the grey­beard for the 2015 World Cup – more than a third of his squad was over 30 – Cheika has spent the past two years re­build­ing with youth.

“We are try­ing to move the team into a dif­fer­ent age pro­file and we have done that,” he said. “We knew there would be some hard yards but we have a base of play­ers now to keep driv­ing.”

Rodda, 21, has paid trib­ute to the in­flu­ence of ex-All Blacks hard­man Brad Thorn in teach­ing him the bru­tal ba­sics of for­ward play for his first run-on role.

The main mes­sage from his con­tact coach at the Reds?

“Def­i­nitely phys­i­cal­ity. He prides him­self on the game of phys­i­cal­ity,” Rodda said.

“You’ve got to be real phys­i­cal and dom­i­nant.”

If you’re go­ing to throw a young lock into bat­tle with the Spring­boks, a Thorn-forged rookie is as good as you can hope for.

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