Cheika’s Picks for Wallabies Complicated by Availability Concerns

Origin selections will be out for the NSW Blues on May 28.

Two days later, Wallabies Coach Michael Cheika will divulge which players will be on the national squad for the tour of Ireland.

There are 17 Tests to be played between now and the Rugby World Cup in 16 months’ time. The first will be with Japan, the side the Wallabies beat before heading to Europe and finding tough times in the 2017 tour of the north.

Cheika has in the past, following the 2015 World Cup, handed debuts to 27 players out of the 65 he has used. It could be interpreted as a sign that experience without current performance is not a factor in who gets the cap from Cheika.

Rob Valenti is one who had caught the eye of Cheika, but he has to weigh the factor of yet another Valenti knee injury into the young back-rower’s history. Valenti had to limp off when the Brumbies were in South Africa to play the Lions weekend past. If he is sound, Valenti would seem to offer a no-brainer selection, but he had just returned the week prior.

Jack Maddocks seems destined to be picked, although he is likely to be found coming off the bench. He has been a regular fixture for the Rebels in 2018 and offers the versatility of being able to man wing and fullback positions. He is viewed as a Test five-eighth of the future.

Cheika has in the past favoured Will Genia and Nick Phipps for the halfback slots, because below those two is a gap to the next level. Up and comer Tate McDermott could be the wave of the future, but he is committed to the Aussie under-20 World Cup squad for the moment.

Two others that offer Cheika potential are Caleb Timu, who is currently with the Reds and has NRL experience, and Jordan Petaia, who was one of the few bright spots for the Reds when they were embarrassed by the Tokyo Sunwolves, even if “embarrassed” is an inadequate word to describe the bloodbath.