JOHANNESBURG, July 16 (Reuters) - Brumbies lock Rory Arnold is hoping to create a World Cup selection headache for Australia coach Michael Cheika after returning to the squad ahead of the Rugby Championship opener against South Africa at Ellis Park on Saturday.
Arnold’s form in Super Rugby has seen him recalled to the national set-up, despite having signed a contract with French Top 14 side Toulouse which means his Wallabies career will be over when he moves to Europe after the World Cup.
Fellow Brumbies forwards, hooker Folau Fainga’a, and props Allan Alaalatoa, Scott Sio and James Slipper, are all in contention to play against the Springboks, and keeping this tight-five largely intact would be a bonus, according to Arnold.
“It’d be nice to keep that together but it’s whoever is playing their best footy. You’re not going to just play those group of players because they play Super Rugby together,” Arnold said.
“For us Brumbies boys it’s about getting on the same page having only a week together with the team.”
Cheika may be tempted to keep the Brumbies combination that had performed so well in Super Rugby as he seeks to create a solid platform with the forwards from which to unleash an at times static backline.
“I won’t give away a whole lot but we’re doing a bit of work around the maul and the lineout. I think we’ll have a solid platform to play off this year,” Arnold said.
“It’s a big year coming up and we have a lot of depth in the lock department. If we’re all playing our best footy that can only be a good thing for Cheika and the Wallabies to have.”
Arnold has been in and out of the Australia side in recent years, playing only four tests in 2018, but he is looking for a big finish before his move to Toulouse.
“It would be nice to finish on a high and play some really good footy at Test level,” he said.
“Obviously moving on at the end of the year means the curtain will shut down on my Test career, but I’m really excited and looking forward to this year.”
Arnold faces competition from fellow second rowers Luke Jones, Izack Rodda and Rob Simmons to start against the Boks. (Reporting By Nick Said; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)