Wallabies’ rugby league converts out to prove they are a risk worth taking

first_img Read more Wallabies jump to third in world rankings after Rugby Championship Could the Wallabies be on the cusp of a rugby league-led recovery? Should Karmichael Hunt be selected alongside Israel Folau and Marika Koroibete for the third Bledisloe Cup Test against the All Blacks in Brisbane on Saturday night, it will be the first time three high profile rugby league converts have played together for the Wallabies since Wendell Sailor, Lote Tuqiri and Mat Rogers.And it would not be a coincidence. Like former Wallabies coach Eddie Jones, who recruited Sailor, Tuqiri and Rogers, current Australia coach Michael Cheika is fascinated with rugby league. Cheika loves watching the game and incorporating NRL team plays into the Wallabies’ attack. He would be itching to get Folau, Koroibete and Hunt onto the field at the same time. … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. 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Sign up to the Breakdown for the latest rugby union news Share on WhatsApp Share on Messenger Rugby union Since you’re here… Share on Facebook Support The Guardian Topics Folau, of course, is an automatic selection at fullback, while Koroibete seems to have cemented his place on the wing after scoring three tries in his three Tests against Argentina and South Africa, providing the Wallabies with the finishing they have been looking for.Hunt, who was ruled out of the Rugby Championship with an ankle injury, has been recalled to the Wallabies training squad and his match fitness will be assessed to determine whether he will be considered for the All Blacks.If the former Brisbane Bronco proves himself at training, it would be unlikely he would start against the All Blacks, but he could secure a place on the bench at the expense of centre Samu Kerevi or specialist winger Henry Speight.Even if Hunt is not ready for the All Blacks, the chances of seeing the ex-rugby league trio together in the Test squad in the near future are good – given that Hunt can play anywhere from five-eighth to fullback there is a strong possibility the three of them could start alongside each other.While Folau is a supreme athlete, Cheika will be looking to Hunt and Koroibete to inject the uncompromising attitude of rugby league into the Wallabies. Koroibete and Hunt in particular defend with the physical aggression and intimidation that code is known for. There is also a synergy between the three of them, which Cheika would be keen to tap into. Folau and Hunt both played for the Broncos and the Queensland State of Origin team and were exposed to the same culture and influences.center_img Australia rugby union team Share on Twitter features Share on LinkedIn Share via Email Australia sport Read more Share on Pinterest Bledisloe Cup Similarly, Folau and Koroibete both spent time under the guidance of Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy, albeit six years apart. Their formative years in football have much in common, meaning they are in a strong position to work together. But as the great rugby league convert experiment of the early 2000s showed, there are rewards and risks with players from the 13-a-side code.The Wallabies reached the 2003 World Cup final with Sailor, Tuqiri and Rogers in the back three, but some still believe they would have beaten England if the natural rugby players, Chris Latham and Joe Roff, had started ahead of Rogers and Sailor respectively.There is an argument that union and league are such different games that it is not wise to recruit too heavily from the rival code. Union is not second nature to ex-league players, although Hunt and Koroibete played the 15-a-side game as schoolboys. Having three league converts on the field at the same time could expose the Wallabies to costly errors, particularly against the All Blacks.One of the biggest potential liabilities of Hunt and Koroibete is also one of their major strengths – their defence. Both players like to rush out of the defensive line and put big dominant hits on opposition players, rugby league-style.But old habits die hard. Sonny Bill Williams had not played rugby league for nine years, but was red-carded in the All Blacks’ loss in the second Test against the British and Irish Lions for a shoulder charge which connected with an opponent’s head.If you have two or three ex-league players in the team, there is the risk of increasing chances of bad habits creeping in at crucial times, something which may not be able to afford in a Bledisloe Cup Test or a World Cup knock-out match. But this is a risk that Cheika may feel he has to take to build a physically and mentally tough team that can finally win back the Bledisloe Cup and contend for the 2019 World Cup in Japan. Reuse this contentlast_img

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