Champion flanker David Pocock came agonisingly close to a Bledisloe Cup call-up before Wallabies coach Michael Cheika stepped in to make the final call.
Pocock completed all the necessary training in the lead-up to Saturday’s decider against the All Blacks in Auckland, which would have been his first match since March.
But in the end Cheika decided not to risk the 31-year-old’s troublesome calf in such a huge game with the World Cup starting next month.
He will instead play against Samoa in a farewell Test in Sydney on September 7.
What made Cheika’s decision a little easier was the first-rate performance of the Wallabies back row in their 47-26 win in Perth.
“It was so close – I called it in the end,” Cheika said on Thursday.
“We’re close to the World Cup and another couple of weeks of getting himself loaded, we will definitely see him out on the field against Samoa.”
The absence of Pocock has opened the door for a possible Test debut by young Queensland flanker Liam Wright.
The 21-year-old will be a handy ball-pilfering option, bringing energy at the back end of the game.
Cheika said Wright had trained the house down to earn his place, while had also taken on board some advice during the Super Rugby season.
“In the back half of the Super Rugby he was getting away from the squad and we gave him some tips on what would be good to see and he came good,” Cheika said.
“I know he hasn’t played with us but he’s just been competing so hard in training we thought it was a good opportunity and well-deserved.”
Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper also liked what he’d seen from Wright.
“What a game to make your debut,” he said.
“This is going to be a battle and he’s someone who can come on and add that energy and youthful enthusiasm.
“He’s fresh to this environment so what that brings with it is going to be great on the field.”