Rugby News

Rugby-Banks looking to make claim on Wallabies jersey

MELBOURNE, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Tom Banks was disappointed to miss out on a Rugby World Cup spot in Japan last year but fresh opportunities beckon under new Wallabies coach Dave Rennie.

Banks was named in Rennie’s squad for the first two tests of the season against the All Blacks and hopes to grab a spot in the matchday squad for Sunday’s opener in Wellington.

With long-time fullback Kurtley Beale omitted after opting to play overseas, Banks may have a better chance of adding to his six test caps.

But with plenty of rivals for the back three positions, the fleet-footed ACT Brumbies fullback is keeping his options open.

“I’d be happy to play anywhere. Obviously I’d prefer to play fullback and that’s where I’ve been training,” the 26-year-old told reporters in a video call on Monday.

“It’s a really competitive environment and it’s no different in the back three. We’ve got some exceptional talents, especially on the wing and then at fullback as well.”

If Rennie opts for experience, Dane Haylett-Petty may be his first choice at fullback but the Melbourne Rebel is on the comeback trail from a groin injury.

Jack Maddocks and Rebels utility Reece Hodge are also contenders for the 15 jersey for Wellington, the first match of Australia and New Zealand’s annual Bledisloe Cup series.

Pinching a spot out wide might be a tougher ask, with World Cup winger Marika Koroibete hard to dislodge and impressive newcomers like Filipo Daugunu and Tom Wright jostling for berths.

“Obviously Dane (Haylett-Petty) and Jack (Maddocks) have been training really well, so it’s tough,” said Banks.

“But a competitive environment is really what you want.”

Even with Beale gone, Rennie will have several playmaking options in the Wallabies backline but Banks said it could not hurt to have another at fullback.

“You’ve got to be a reliable playmaking option if you want to play test footy, I believe,” he said.

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing Peter Rutherford