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Opinion

Wallabies debut bolters: Who can take the leap from Super Rugby to Test status this season?

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Roar Rookie
7th February, 2023
106
4060 Reads

Before I begin, I’d just like to take some time to delve into some of my opinions surrounding the recent appointment of Eddie Jones.

Nah, just kidding. I think we’ve all read enough about that already. Back to the real rugby which will soon be upon us all: Super Rugby Pacific. And, more importantly, who are the sneaky Wallabies World Cup bolters who have yet to debut that we should all be keeping our eyes on?

I’ll be doing a brief rundown of each Australian Super Rugby team by providing a random number of options based on my knowledge of each team as well as that player’s relative chance of making the Wallabies. An incredibly accurate and unbiased ‘broken chance’ rating out of ten shall be assigned to each prospect.

More bolters may be available in each team, and I may also be completely wrong with my selections and ratings. That’s the nature of opinions I suppose.

ACT Brumbies

There are not many in the Brumbies who haven’t already played for the Wallabies. The team has an experienced pack and back line so that just leaves:

Tom Hooper

Hooper was almost certain to be selected for Australia A honours before a very untimely shoulder injury during the semi-final against the Blues. This guy has all the physical attributes to be a very talented blindside flanker and is quoted as saying he models himself after Scott Fardy. Enough said. If he can work his way into the starting Brumbies pack, which is an achievement on its own, and continue the form he was displaying last year, the Wallabies might have something special on their hands.

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Bolter chance: 6/10

Tom Hooper of the Brumbies

(Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

Melbourne Rebels

There are only a couple of Rebels I can see making a potential play to play in France.

Trevor Hosea

This guy has been on the verge of selection for a while but injuries and murmurings around his effort levels have meant he has yet to debut. He’s a tremendous talent who, if fit, will be a very strong chance of making the Wallabies squad. A future trio of Izack Rodda, Nick Frost and Hosea has me licking my lips. As long as he has a big year and stays fresh, he’s in with a very good shot.

Bolter chance: 8/10

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Carter Gordon

Gordon is the first of a fair amount of No. 10s. I was disappointed to see him leave the Reds, but once he was behind James O’Connor, he shifted down south to get some quality game time. I’ve seen flashes from Carter but nothing that has cemented his chances at the moment, and he’s behind the likes of Noah Lolesio, Ben Donaldson, O’Connor and Tane Edmed. See Reesjan Pasitoa below. He might need something really special this year to climb above the pack.

Bolter chance: 3/10

NSW Waratahs

I would have had Donaldson, Langi Gleeson and Mark Nawaqanitawase in here, but they all just debuted a couple of months ago – and they didn’t look too bad either. Yet I still have multiple bolters below. Dare I say it – there are too many Tahs!

Tane Edmed

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He shared a lot of the duties with Ben Donaldson last year with the Tahs and Australia A, yet it was Big Ben who got the nod. He will most likely have to play inside centre during the opening rounds until Lalakai Foketi recovers from injury, but all the talk – and I’m reading between the lines here – is that the Tahs coaches may even prefer Edmed as their starting No. 10. With Quade Cooper on crutches and no other No. 10 putting their hand up, we could see Tane stake his mark for one of the flyhalf spots for the World Cup squad.

Bolter chance: 5/10

Charlie Gamble

The New Zealand-born moustachioed muchacho becomes eligible for the Wallabies very soon. This guy is good – like, really good. He’s good enough that he should be challenging Michael Hooper to wear the No. 7 jersey for some games. How they fit him into that back row with Langi Gleeson, Will Harris, Lachlan Swinton and Hooper will be interesting. What a headache. If he puts up a season anywhere near as good as he did last year, he should be on the plane. It’s a real battle between him and Fraser McReight.

Bolter chance: 7/10

Will Harris

He had a barnstorming start to the Super Rugby season last year but tapered off towards the end of the year. He has big potential, and like Gamble above, it will come down to how they get all these quality back rowers on the park. Even if he gets solid game time, he will have to put up some seriously impressive numbers to leapfrog Rob Valetini, Harry Wilson and Gleeson.

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Bolter chance: 2/10

Will Harrison of the Waratahs runs towards Fergus Burke of the Crusadersduring the round three Super Rugby Trans-Tasman match between the NSW Waratahs and the Crusaders at WIN Stadium on May 29, 2021 in Wollongong, Australia. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

Queensland Reds

Like the Brumbies and Waratahs, this is a fairly experienced team as far as Wallabies caps go. A few guys have been hovering close to the border though.

Josh Nasser

Hooker. A position where we are crying out for someone to stick their hand up. I think Dave Rennie went through about seven different hookers during his time in charge, and I’m afraid to say that none have nailed down the spot. This one is wide open. Counting against Nasser is his lack of experience, with only 16 Super Rugby appearances, and the fact his front-row partners Taniela Tupou and Harry Hoopert are out for now. Yet he showed enough last year for a lot of people to start suggesting he may be close to being selected for Australia A until his injury. He’ll need to hit the ground running, but out of all the positions, this one may come down to whoever is looking the best by September. He’s a small shout, but a shout nonetheless.

Bolter chance: 5/10

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Josh Flook

He was all but heading to Japan to play with Australia A before his injury. A recent call-up to the late Rennie Wallabies squad in January also reinforces how close he is. In reality, it’s Len Ikitau then daylight. But he’s one outside centre who can potentially force his way in with his ability to play wing, like Adam Ashley-Cooper. With Jordan Petaia and Hunter Paisami able to play No. 13 for the Reds (as well as the Wallabies), a lot will come down to Brad Thorn’s back line selection. He might need to have a blinder of a season.

Bolter chance: 5/10

Isaac Henry

I just like the way this guy plays. I saw him play No. 10 during his schoolboy days before he switched to inside centre. He’s tacked on a lot of mass since then but hasn’t lost his speed and ability to kick off both feet. He’s a true ball-playing No. 12. Samu Kerevi, if healthy, is a certainty. Again, it all comes down to who Brad Thorn picks in his back line, but I would put a meat tray on this guy pulling on a gold jersey at some point. It might just be a wee bit early though.

Bolter chance: 3/10

Western Force

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There are not as many Wallabies caps in the Force squad when compared to the other teams, but they could surprise a lot of people. Out of the current squad, these are the two most likely to get a debut.

Hamish Stewart

He was a very solid No. 12 for the Reds who I’ve enjoyed watching for years, and it’s incredible he’s still only 24 years old after 72 Super Rugby caps. With solid defence and his ability to organise a back line well, as well as being able to play flyhalf, he would be a handy utility to have. We only saw glimpses of him at No. 10, yet he’s quite capable there. and it will be intriguing to see where Simon Cron sees his best position, with Reesjan Pasitoa almost certain to compete with him.

Bolter chance: 3/10

Reesjan Pasitoa

Pasitoa is a prodigious schoolboy talent who didn’t get the opportunities at the Brumbies he needed. so he went west. He had a fairly indifferent season last year, but at just 21 years old he has a very high ceiling. There’s a logjam of young No. 10s jostling for position at the moment, and I feel he may be towards the back of the pack for now. A lot will hinge on where Simon Cron sees him playing – see above.

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Bolter chance: 2/10

These are my bolters who have yet to pull on a Wallabies jersey but might be a sneaky chance to nab a plane ticket to France. As always, I’d love to hear where I went wrong, who I’ve missed and who I should never have included in the first place. But don’t challenge my ratings. Those are rock-solid.

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