Rugby Championship

Cheika intrigued by new, big lock pairing

2016-10-06 22:15
Michael Cheika (Getty Images)

Cape Town - Rory Arnold's combination with Adam Coleman at Twickenham won't be hard to spot - in fact Coleman, the shorter of the two, stands at 204cm.

The new towering duo will be the Wallabies' seventh second row pairing of the year, a deliberate move from Michael Cheika to give more faces in the squad Test experience.

Cheika commented on Arnold's return to the side by singling out his increased physicality in training ahead of Saturday's Test at Twickenham.

"There's been a contest going on in the lock position over the year and it's part of our programme to grow depth within the team," Cheika said.

"Rory has really kicked on since the June series. He had a little injury but has come back with a lot of good aggression.

"I like his work around training and he deserves an opportunity. We haven't run with this partnership before so it will be interesting to see how it goes. They've showed in training that they're a big pair of lads, both good in the lineout and can work powerfully on the ground as well."

Other noteworthy changes to the matchday squad see Tom Robertson offering cover at loosehead prop, with James Slipper a rare omission from the Wallabies' 23.

Robertson's ability to cover both propping positions is something that Cheika hopes can be developed in the future, starting against Argentina.

"[James] needs to improve certain parts of our game that I feel aren't up to the standard that he has. He has a high standard, he's one of our most capped players, and I want him to go beyond that standard that he's set in the past," Cheika added.

"Tom has played a lot of loosehead in the past. He was at tighthead with the Waratahs this year and we need to have a "flipper" in there who can play both sides, and we see that he is a player who can fulfil that role."

Meanwhile Leroy Houston, the only uncapped player in the 24-man group named by Cheika on Thursday, remains in contention to make his Test debut.

The 29-year-old, currently on loan at Premiership side Bath, has picked up where he left off quickly with the Wallabies since his return to camp this week, with Cheika grateful to Bath for their co-operation in allowing Houston to link up with the squad.

"We've moved on with a few things since he was last in camp but he's adjusted quickly. If we decide to go down the route of a 6-2 obviously he'll definitely be in," Cheika explained. 

"I have been really pleased with what he has brought so far, and I would like to thank Bath for how they've approched this scenario, there has been really good dialogue and I really respect the approach they have had for their player."


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