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Matt Toomua has made a surprise appearance as well as a late push for a Wallabies bench spot in a Bledisloe Cup trial game at Sydney’s Leichhardt Oval.
Toomua, who on Wednesday signed a two-and-a-half year deal with Australia and the Melbourne Rebels, started at five-eighth in the Cheika’s Choice team chosen by Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, in their 57-12 win over an Australian Super selection.
Toomua kicked three conversions and directed play well before coming off in the 52nd minute, the same time as Cheika’s captain David Pocock.
There had been doubt over whether Toomua, who is also contracted to English club Leicester, was eligible to play in the game and the man himself didn’t want to talk after the match.
“He’d been back in Australia for a bit, but I didn’t know what I was going to do there and I sort of called it last minute,” Cheika said.
“Because I think it would be good for him to get some time, especially if he’s going to be available to play in the first competitive match, that being the Bledisloe.”
Halfback Will Genia played most of the second half in his first game for almost seven weeks after breaking an arm in the June Test series against France.
He set up a try for Jordan Petaia with a neat crossfield kick and moved around the field well.
“I knew I’d done the work in terms of my conditioning to be up for it and I just feel a lot better for having that hit-out,” Genia said.
Cheika felt the trial was a worthwhile exercise and was pleased with the efforts of several players, including forwards Lukhan Tui, Jermaine Ainsley and fullback Tom Banks, who saved two tries and scored one.
“It was a physical game and some of our established players got to get a good hit-out,’ Cheika said.
“Some of our newer players or some guys who are on the fringes or haven’t been selected in the June series, I think put their hands up.”
Utility back Reece Hodge had a solid game in the outside centre spot, which is up for grabs after injuries to Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kuridrani.
“Curtis (Rona) will come in now probably to the squad and they (he and Hodge) will compete for that position,” Cheika said.
“We’ll have a look at a few other options, but you’d have to think it’s narrowing down to between those two guys.”
Prop Scott Sio came off the field early as a precaution after aggravating a shoulder issue he brought into camp.
The trial also marked the return to rugby of Wallabies prop James Slipper, who put in a solid shift fort the Super side in his first hit-out since completing a two-month ban for violating Rugby Australia’s illicit drugs policy.