We've got about 6 weeks left of the Australian Domestic Super Rugby competition and attention will soon turn to Dave Rennie picking a Wallabies side. Who, when and where will they play? Well, no ones entirely sure, perhaps we can salvage a couple of Bledisloe cup matches? That might be the best result we can get for 2020, although the COVID cases popping up across the ditch would make that seem unlikely.
But let's remain optimistic and let's look at what a 1-15 might look like should we be fortunate enough to get a game or two.
Front Row: Sio, Fainga'a, Tupou
Not too many arguments here you wouldn't think? Scott Sio the most experienced of the tight 5 in Australia. Better yet, he's played 55 tests and only turns 29 in October this year, his best years might be ahead of him? Expecting Folau Fainga'a to hold his position in the side, he's a try scoring machine and boasts a strong set piece! The other side of the scrum, Taniela Tupou. He's a different player in 2020 with the COVID shutdown giving him a chance to improve his fitness and now he's arguably the best scrummaging prop in the country.
Second Row: Philip & Salakaia-Loto
No, sorry, no Rob Simmons. Going with Melbourne Rebels lock Matt Phillip who has played just the 3 tests and none since 2017 but has shown he's back to his best with some brilliant defensive efforts. Joining him is Cheika's man, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto. He too provides great defense and an improving line out and is better suited at lock.
Back Row: Valetini, Hooper, Wilson
So many options for the back row, we're in safe hands with a number of options but I've settled on a nice balanced back row and some young bucks who have earned an opportunity in Wallaby gold. Rob Valetini has been arguably one of the Brumbies best in 2020 and offers great ball carrying presence. He's played just the 1 test, there's plenty more to come! At the other end of the scale, Michael Hooper who boasts 99 test and his experience amongst a young side will be particularly important.
Joining Valetini and Hooper in the back row? Likely debutant and the best player in Super Rugby AU thus far, Harry Wilson. The man with the striking red head gear is surely in line to make his debut as soon as we find a test match to play.
Halves: McDermott & O'Connor
Backing the QLD Reds pairing to assume the 9/10 jerseys. Albeit, Tate McDermott has been spending some time on the pine of late and finishing in games, he has furnished into a wonderful scrum half capable of leading a side around the park. The first man to get a crack at fly half is the comeback kid, James O'Connor. Hasn't he made some great changes in his life, both on and off the field. O'Connor has been impressive behind a strong Reds pack and has experience on his side. Noah Lolesio might have been in the conversation pre-injury and Matt Toomua is certainly pushing a case as well, but JOC gets first crack.
Centres: Toomua & Hunt
I think we'll be living in a world where Samu Kerevi isn't available, sadly. With him gone, the centres are tricky to get right as I fear we might be lacking some ball carrying potency. We'll push Matt Toomua out to Inside Centre, which will allow the Wallabies to play with greater width. Outside centre is up for grabs, there's probably 4-5 names but landed with the experience of Karmichael Hunt. If not him, who can provide us with that front foot ball? Hunter Paisami, Jordan Petaia and Campbell Magnay are the new blood, or we could lean on the experience of Tevita Kuridrani and his 58 tests.
Centres might be the problem, what's the best option there?
Back 3: Wright, Banks & Koroibete
A mix of experience and a couple of blokes that have earned an opportunity. The obvious, Marika Koroibete. Not much more needs to be said. Fullback has to be Tom Banks, arguably should have played more tests by now and his counter attack will put opposition under serious pressure.
The other winger, think there's a fair few options here from experienced names such as Hodge or Haylett-Petty, or the new blood of Filipo Daugunu, Byron Ralston and Tom Wright. Leaning towards Tom Wright, who is in-form and if the side was picked tomorrow, he deserves his shot at higher honours.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on where I've got this wrong. The good news is there's plenty missing from this XV that have put their hand up. We might be doing this all in vain but it's a good thing to do via our virtual water cooler.