Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie looks poised to resist wholesale changes to the side that swept France, with Pat McCabe looming as the man to lock down the vacant wing spot for next week’s Bledisloe Cup opener against the All Blacks.
The squad trained as a whole for the first time on Thursday afternoon after 11 Waratahs players joined the camp in Bathurst for the Bush2Bledisloe campaign.
While the Bledisloe Cup opener is still nine days away and the session was only an opposed training run, it still gives a strong indication of the side McKenzie intends to name on Tuesday.
McKenzie is poised to make just two forced starting changes to the side that beat France 50-23 in game one despite several Waratahs players – including Kurtley Beale and Nick Phipps – staking strong claims for selection during their Super Rugby title win.
Brumbies comeback king McCabe was seen training in the wing spot vacated by Nick “Honey Badger” Cummins.
It would be a huge reward for McCabe, who hasn’t started a Test since November 2012, and broke his neck for a second time when he came off the bench against the British and Irish Lions in June last year.
As widely expected, Western Force frontrower Nathan Charles was training in the hooker role following knee injuries to rakes Stephen Moore and Tatafu Polota-Nau.
Workhorse Sam Carter also looks as though he’ll hold onto his spot at lock ahead of Waratahs giant Will Skelton and former captain James Horwill after missing the final two matches against the French with a sprained ankle.
Likely Wallabies starting XV: Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Toomua, Pat McCabe, Bernard Foley, Nic White, Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper (capt), Scott Fardy, Rob Simmons, Sam Carter, Sekope Kepu, Nathan Charles, James Slipper.