Predicted Wallabies squad: Rennie’s selection dilemma ahead of French series

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Predicted Wallabies squad: Rennie’s selection dilemma ahead of French series

Queensland Rugby blocked a move to allow Izack Rodda to join a rival Super Rugby club last year during the COVID crisis.

Now the Wallabies, having been pressured not to welcome him home, must decide whether to immediately welcome him back inside the tent.

The World Cup Wallaby is back in Australia serving his quarantine alongside Matt Philip after the Test duo wrapped up their seasons in France.

Dave Rennie will announce on Sunday afternoon his 38-man Wallabies squad.

While Philip is expected to be immediately recalled to the squad, Rennie has a big decision to make over Rodda.

Dave Rennie last month confirmed Michael Hooper would captain the Wallabies.. Photo: Stuart Walmsley / Rugby AustraliaSource: Supplied

On Thursday, the national coach said anyone who was signed to a Super Rugby club next year would be in contention to take on France for their three-match Test series.

But after the ugly departure of Rodda, who was asked to apologise by the Reds for abandoning them during the COVID pay cuts, Rennie has a decision to make over whether to immediately recall the Force-bound 24-year-old, who started in the World Cup final, or wait until the Bledisloe Cup.

While Rodda left Australian rugby when the code faced a return to the “amateur” age, he has turned down riches in France to come home.

If he is included, Rodda will likely take the position of Nick Frost, the rising 21-year-old from the Brumbies, who shapes as a Wallabies star of the future. Uncapped duo Trevor Hosea and Darcy Swain could instead make way too.

Nick Frost could be the unfortunate player to make way if Izack Rodda is selected. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Recent injuries to Jake Gordon, Suliasi Vunivalu, Toni Pulu, Jordan Petaia, Cadeyrn Neville, Alex Mafi and David Porecki have thrown the door wide open in selection.

As a result, Brumbies brothers Lachlan and Ryan Lonergan could be the first Wallabies siblings selected since Saia and Anthony Fainga’a played almost a decade ago.

Rennie is expected to pick three halfbacks in the squad and Ryan Lonergan, who is the best goal-kicker in the country, is expected to jostle with Joe Powell for the position.

At hooker, injuries to Porecki and Mafi, who will miss the next two months with a hamstring injury, will likely see Lachie Longeran, who is seen as an exciting long-term Wallabies player, selected.

Wallabies back-rower Isi Naisarani is another expected to leave Australian rugby at season’s end, but the World Cup member, who was surprisingly overlooked last year, has exploded back to form.

Ryan Lonergan, who kicked a matchwinning penalty against the Rebels earlier this year, could make his way into the Wallabies after Jake Gordon’s injury. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

In the backline, Will Harrison could be included if Australia’s selectors – Rennie, Scott Johnson, Scott Wisemantel – feel the need to have three specialist playmakers despite being outshone by injured Waratahs teammate Ben Donaldson.

But given Matt To’omua’s ability to jump into the No.10 jersey, Rennie could prefer to carry an extra man in the outside channels.

Force vice-captain Kyle Godwin will likely contest for a position alongside Irae Simone.

Further out wide, Andy Murihead’s recent injury could see him pipped for a position by emerging Reds talent Josh Flook, who looks a player of the future.

Predicted 38-man Wallabies squad:

Forwards (23): Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Lachlan Lonergan, Feleti Kaitu’u

Props: James Slipper, Angus Bell, Taniela Tupou, Allan Alaalatoa, Pone Fa’amausili, Tom Robertson, Scott Sio

Locks: Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Sitaleki Timani, Trevor Hosea, Darcy Swain, Matt Philip, Izack Rodda

Back-row: Lachlan Swinton, Rob Valetini, Michael Hooper (c), Fraser McReight, Harry Wilson, Seru Uru, Isi Naisarani

Backs (15):

Halfbacks: Nic White, Tate McDermott, Ryan Lonergan

Five-eighths: James O’Connor, Noah Lolesio

Midfield: Hunter Paisami, Kyle Godwin, Izaia Perese, Len Ikitau

Outside backs: Tom Banks, Marika Koroibete, Tom Wright, Filpo Daugunu, Josh Flook, Reece Hodge

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