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It might only be an under-strength Wallabies side playing against a Super Rugby XV, but there are still plenty of reasons to be excited about tonight’s trial game at Leichhardt.
The inaugural World Series Rugby has proved to be nothing but positive for West Australian rugby. Although the quality of opposition has been lacking at times, the series of games have allowed those in the west to stay involved with rugby – and the excitement that has surrounded each game has been great.
A bright shining light for the Force through the first five games has been Andrew Deegan. The young fly-half has led the Force around the park brilliantly and it will be great to see him have a crack against his Super Rugby counterparts.
Tevin Ferris has also been very good and will come off the bench for the Barbarians.
Hodge at 13
This will be one of the hot topics going into the Bledisloe Cup opener on August 18.
With injuries to Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kuridrani, the 13th position is open and Reece Hodge will rightfully get the first crack.
The Rebels’ man is the likeliest to take the position against the All Blacks with Dave Wessels labelling him a ‘natural centre’.
However, a bad performance at Leichhardt could leave the door open for young Jordan Petaia who might also get a chance at outside centre off the bench after finishing the season there with the Reds.
With Micheal Cheika selecting 28 players for the trial, it will be interesting to see the number of minutes everyone receives, along with where everyone plays.
With the game meant to prepare players for the opening Bledisloe Cup, I expect to see many of the key players get significant minutes with some of the outer squad members rotating more regularly.
Cheika will probably give some new combinations a try and move some players around through the game. I expect to see Jack Maddocks at fullback at some point.
Also, with no recognised second fly half in the mix, Reece Hodge may have a go there for moments during the game.
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In both the Wallabies and Barbarians side, there is youth. Hamish Stewart is probably the player who jumps off the page the most, but there are many more.
It will be great to see some of these young guns push their case for selection in the matchday 23 – not only the for Bledisloe Cup, but for the Rugby Championship which follows.
The British side will present a difficult challenge for the Wallabies.
I expect that they are hoping to pull off an upset that would rattle a few players. This competitive nature will ensure a high-intensity, physical match.
Matt Phillip of the Rebels has said, “We’ll be definitely trying to flog them, try and put some good hits on and stuff like that.”
Many of the Barbarians will be looking to impress as they push for selection in the Wallabies end of year touring party – and hey, who knows, a standout performance could lead to a call-up for the Rugby Championship.