Three Wallabies have managed to receive declarations of fitness to participate in the first Bledisloe Cup Test in Sydney, provided they do not succumb to some mysterious malady after the All Blacks perform their mystical pre-game haka ahead of the game.
The three players are Captain Michael Hooper, Scott Sio and Dane Haylett-Petty.
Hooper had that malady that seems to affect us all at times, a hamstring issue. Sio had a bad shoulder and Haylett-Petty had knee trouble.
Wallabies’ Coach Michael Cheika is approaching the Cup with a squad of just 28, but all save Brumbies fullback Tom Banks and Jack Maddocks of the Rebels have prior international experience.
The information at this stage is that Rebels utility Reece Hodge will start at outside centre following the cutting of Curtis Rona of the Waratahs.
“We’ll have some extra players in there on Monday and Tuesday, so we can get our training done and then I just think that I want to have a bit more focus on the group that’s going to play the game,” Cheika explained.“I want the guys that are not playing in that given week to go and play some footy, whether it be club or NRC, depending on the time of year.I just think that little bit of extra focus on a smaller group of players in there can build our alignment and cohesion.”
The All Blacks are in Sydney after having a hitout against Otago and Canterbury on Friday.
In what would not be considered a shocker, the All Blacks beat Otago 32 – 0 in one half of play, but they did show signs of chinks in the armour by allowing Canterbury to score five points in the second hitout.
Cheika has plenty of players with experience, including the afore-mentioned Hooper and Sekope Kepu, who has 94 caps listed on his resume.