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Opinion

Winners and losers from the Wallabies-France Test series

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Roar Rookie
18th July, 2021
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The Wallabies sealed a memorable series victory over France in Queensland to start their 2021 season on a high. With this, we look at some of the biggest winners and losers from the series moving forward to the Rugby Championship.

Winners

Michael Hooper
A victim of the saying, ‘out of sight, out of mind’, there was a vocal minority prior to the series who questioned Hooper’s status as Australia’s premier backrower. However, these questions were well and truly put to bed throughout the France series.

Hooper’s work rate was second to none and in key moments he seems to make the right decision more often than not.

Case in point during the third Test being his linebreak and try assist for Tate McDermott. This moment allowed Australia to settle into the game after losing Marika Koroibete for the match.

Hooper was also impressive on the defensive side of things, making 20 tackles and winning six penalties across the three games.

Noah Lolesio
The young flyhalf well and truly took his opportunity in this series and expelled many of the demons from his debut Test last season. Lolesio grew as the series went on and was one of the Wallabies best during the all-important third Test.

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He amassed 52 points throughout the series and was near perfect from the kicking tee, ultimately sealing both the first and third Tests for the Wallabies.

James O’Connor will likely get an opportunity in the No.10 jersey at some point during the Rugby Championship but Lolesio’s performances during this series puts him as the front runner for the position going forward.

Losers

Tom Wright
Tom Wright started on the wing for the opening two games and unfortunately struggled in both. Wright went try-less in both games and was left wanting after badly misjudging the bounce of the ball over the try-line in the series opener.

Wright’s decision making and positional play was also exposed by Les Bleus’ kick heavy game style, with many kicks finding grass in the back field. This was made worse by a slight knock-on when receiving a kick ruled out Marika Koroibete’s try in the second Test.

While Wright will almost certainly receive more opportunities in the gold jersey, he may be forced to wait a while, given the number of wingers who are currently around the same level in Australia.

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Rob Valetini
Rob Valetini was outstanding during the Super Rugby AU and Trans-Tasman competitions, and many were excited to see how this would translate to the international stage.

However, during the France series he was not at the damaging best. Valetini only managed to run for 81 metres across the three Test matches.

The French forwards brought a different game style and physicality than that seen in the southern hemisphere’s domestic competitions. Their rush defence was largely able to shut down the dangerous ballcarrier before he got going.

With this, it will be interesting to see who gets the nod in the No.6 jersey for the first Bledisloe clash, given the impressive performance of Lachie Swinton in the third Test.

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