Wallabies captain Michael Hooper speaks ahead of Australia’s Test against South Africa.
Having “bagged a bit of meat” with just his second touch back in Super Rugby, Nick “Honey Badger” Cummins says he’s keen to get himself placed in Michael Cheika’s World Cup “handy group”.
The Western Force cult hero might have been on the losing side in Friday night’s clash with the Brumbies, but it was through no fault of his own.
Playing his first Super Rugby game since leaving for Japanese rugby eight months ago, Cummins wasted no time in putting himself back on the radar of Wallaby coach Cheika – scoring with just his second touch in the 27-15 loss.
Down 7-0 after 11 minutes, the Aussie larrikin fought his way past three defenders in an area no bigger than a Japanese sleeping capsule to score centimetres from the corner post.
Cummins had to muscle through Wallaby halfback Nic White to find the chalk, while Australian wing spot rival Henry Speight and then fullback Robbie Coleman made late attempts to bundle him into touch.
“Yeah, second touch, Speighty is a gun so it’s hard enough to get around him. Luckily he wasn’t there at the time,” Cummins told AAP.
“But Whitey is a tenacious little mongrel. He’s one of those chihuahuas with a bloody big bark – and still a bit of a goer.”
While there was no clear-cut winner in his head-to-head battle with Speight, Cummins made it clear he wants to be on the plane to England for September’s World Cup.
“Cheika’s got a whole bunch of blokes to choose from who are handy, so I’ve got to try and get myself into the handy group,” he said.
His return performance earned plaudits from Brumbies head coach Stephen Larkham and Force counterpart Michael Foley.
“He was fantastic – he finished off that try superbly,” Larkham said.
“He was very energetic in defence as well.
“We didn’t make any breaks down that side, but we did make some down the other side.
“So he hit the ground running.”
Foley said: “I’ve had other players come back from Japan to Super Rugby, and the time it takes them is always extensive.
“But he stepped off the plane … to going a million miles an hour.
“He was due to play 40 minutes tonight, but Luke (Morahan) had to come off so he pushed through.”
However, Cummins said he didn’t feel the pace differed too much from his games with the Coca Cola West Red Sparks in Japan.
“The impact is a little bit more here. But the speed is maybe quicker over there – little bit lighter blokes so it’s a bit nippier.”