Soap opera dramas aside, there is much to be decided before the Bledisloe Cup bounces for game one at ANZ Stadium in Sydney Saturday coming. Specifically, the team lineups.
Former Canterbury Bulldogs Curtis Rona could debut on the wing for Michael Cheika’s squad against the All Blacks, in place of Dane Haylett-Perry, who has had trouble recovering from a bicep injury. Rona will step in if Haylett-Perry is ruled out.
Rona played centre for the Wester Force, but since joining the Wallabies squad last month, he has been training for the wing. He was a formidable try scorer in the NRL, tallying 35 in 50 games with the Bulldogs in 2015 – 2016 and six for the North Queensland Cowboys in just seven games in 2014.
It is expected that Cheika will name Same Kerevi at no. 13 and Sean McMahon is expected to supplant Lopeti Timani for the no. 8 jersey.
If McMahon does get the starting nod, it would be of significance from the perspective that he is much lighter than Timani and for the fact that he plans to hop from Australian rugby to play in Japan for two years, which would likely rule him out of the World Cup.
He does seem interested in returning to Australia and he will be just 27 if that day comes. “I am quite young and there is a lot of future left hopefully in Australia,” McMahon said. “I am more just looking now in these coming months of enjoying it and getting around the boys and hopefully cracking a few more gigs in that gold jersey, said McMahon in remarks published in the Daily Telegraph.
On inquiries regarding his return following his Japan stint, he said, “Absolutely, especially at the end of it. If there is an opportunity and I can come back to Australia, I am hoping to do that. Right now we are more focused on the games ahead. You can just feel the vibe around here at the moment.”