Quade Cooper, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Taniela Tupou fitness, Super Rugby, Dave Rennie, SFS Springboks Test
While Dave Rennie confirmed his Japan-based star trio will line up against England, the Wallabies boss said he was sweating over Taniela Tupou’s fitness.
The Reds giant has not been seen since sustaining a calf injury in the first half against the Chiefs in Super Rugby last month.
Their defeat badly dented the Reds’ Super Rugby hopes, where Brad Thorn’s side failed to beat New Zealand opposition in six attempts, including their quarter-final loss to the Crusaders there. a week old.
Although Rennie is confident Tupou will be fit for the series opener against England on July 2 in Perth, it is understood the rebels’ wrecking ball Pone Fa’amausili is on hold if the ‘Tongan Thor” is out of shape.
“We’re pretty confident (Tupou will be fit),” Rennie said. “The calf injury is important.
“The Reds understood he wasn’t coming back so our medical team had control over him. We had S and C (strength and conditioning) at Sanctuary Cove working with him and then we brought them here.
“He’s been here (in Sydney) all week.
“He has lost size, works very hard, he is in a very good position mentally, very fresh.
“We were a bit anxious three weeks ago, but we’re pretty confident to bring him in for the first test.”
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But since he will not have returned to the field for two months, the captain of the Brumbies Allan Alaalatoa is in pole position to start ahead of Tupou in jersey n°3.
Rennie was at Sydney Football Stadium on Thursday morning as the rebuilt stadium was shown ahead of a bumper spring which will include a test against the Springboks.
The third-year international manager will unveil his 35-man squad for the England series and while he’s tight-lipped on who would be included, he confirmed Japanese trio Quade Cooper, Samu Kerevi and Marika Koroibete will be eligible for selection in as their three overseas picks.
“It probably wasn’t that secret anyway, but we all have Quade, Samu and Marika coming back,” Rennie said.
“Quade and Samu are here in Sydney today for medicals. Marika went straight to Fiji to spend some time with her family and will be back at the weekend. It’s exciting.
“If you saw the final with Panasonic, Marika was phenomenal. He certainly hasn’t lost any of his physique or his work ethic and so we’re delighted to see him back.
The trio missed last year’s three-game Spring Tour and their absence was felt.
While Koroibete had been a regular in recent years, Rennie remarkably turned to Cooper following Bledisloe’s whiteout and the playmaker’s return, which came a week after Kerevi’s first appearance since the 2019 World Cup. immediately paid off.
Cooper led the Wallabies to five consecutive Test victories, including back-to-back victories over world champion Springboks, but their decision to pull out of the Northern Hemisphere tour rocked Rugby Australia as they decided to stay with their Japanese clubs.
All three parts – the players, their clubs and the management of the Wallabies – are now on the same page after RA crystallized their eligibility laws earlier this year and Rennie said their inclusions would be telling.
“You look at Quade and he has a huge impact, just a really calming influence and he was so awesome in the band,” Rennie said.
“He was great with Noah and even when Noah was playing and Quade wasn’t, his contribution to meetings was great. He would sit on the computer next to Noah and talk about a lot of things. So his contribution has been excellent.
“Samu has only played a handful of Tests and been nominated for Player of the Year, which highlights the impact he has had.
“Marika is one of the best wingers in the world. I don’t know if there’s another winger out there with his repeatability and work ethic. He’s just cutting edge all day and we can’t wait to retrieve it.
Cooper faces the final stage after guiding his Japanese side, Kintetsu Liners, up the League Two division, where the 33-year-old was player of the tournament.
“He is very disciplined and he keeps himself in very good condition. We’re really comfortable,” said Rennie, brushing aside any worries about the leap to international rugby.
“We looked at pictures. He missed a bit of football with a crooked thumb but he came back and played the last two big games for them and it went really well.
While Rennie turned to three backs for the July series, the New Zealand manager left the door ajar for European player Will Skelton to enter the squad later in the year.
Skelton, as well as Toulouse star Rory Arnold, are coming to the end of long seasons in France.
But Skelton, who came off the bench in the Wallabies’ three defeats last November in his first gold medal appearance since 2016, showed his worth late last month by playing in the stunning Cup final victory champions La Rochelle against a stacked Leinster by the Irish.
“Yeah, he also missed a bit of football this year. That’s the challenge for guys coming from France,” Rennie said of Skelton.
“They go deep into the season. It’s been a hell of a long year.
“We brought them in last year and he has settled in well. I’m not looking to bring him back for the English series, but maybe beyond that.
Meanwhile, RA will also name a 30-man Australian A squad early next week for their return to the Pacific Nations Cup.
Australia A will play Tests against Fiji, Tonga and Samoa and the Tests will help the next generation of Wallabies make the leap into international rugby.
Rennie said some fringe Wallabies might miss Test selection so they get more exposure to international rugby.
“We’re going to pick 35 in our squad and use 30 in the Australian A team. It’s come into our thinking,” Rennie said.
“There could be a strange guy who we think will be better served by playing three games at another level, higher than Super Rugby, rather than maybe sitting back and not having an opportunity against England.”
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Then the options where we think some guys need football who are in our squad to send them to Fiji potentially for the third test to get some rugby.
Reds backrow duo Harry Wilson and Fraser McReight could both fall into that category, while Suliasi Vunivalu is another unless the Wallabies want to manage his fitness after two years out with injury.
Waratahs striker Jed Holloway is one of the players in line for his Test debut, with Rennie once again giving up utility.
“I mean, we have (backrower) Rob Leota who finished the season with us and he’s been great,” Rennie said.
“We have Jed Holloway, who has mainly played lock and he could play lock for us, but he is a real Option 6 and he will come close.
“We have real competition for places.”