Toni Pulu’s surprise Wallabies call ignites World Cup hopes


It has opened the door for Pulu to force his way into World Cup selection contention, although getting a Brumbies spot might prove just as hard as chasing Wallabies gold.

«I was surprised [to be at the camp], I was excited, told my family and they were happy too. Hopefully there’s more to come,» Pulu said.

«I spoke to [Cheika] in Auckland before I came here so I understood what needed to be done and what’s expected. My first day wasn’t too bad, I hit the hills and that’s not my thing.

«I managed to get through that … [Cheika] is looking for people who work hard, are good blokes and the team bonding thing is big for him. I don’t look too far forward, I was grateful to be there [at the camp].»


Pulu and Lausii Taliauli have been the Brumbies’ starting wingers in their two trial-match wins during the pre-season, giving coach Dan McKellar a welcome back-line headache.

Taliauli is expected to be cleared of major damage to his knee after falling awkwardly in a 34-28 win against the NSW Waratahs in Goulburn on Thursday night.

It is hoped the slimmed-down winger, who has shed 10 kilograms in the off-season, will be available for selection for the first game of the season against the Melbourne Rebels at Canberra Stadium on Friday night.

But McKellar has to weigh up the best combinations with Henry Speight, Chance Peni and Andy Muirhead all pressing their claims for game time.

Speight has been the incumbent winger for the past eight seasons, while Pulu adds X-factor and speed to the attack.

Henry Speight made his Brumbies comeback on Thursday night.

Henry Speight made his Brumbies comeback on Thursday night.Credit:Sitthixay Ditthavong

«It’s pretty tough. It’s going to be exciting seeing who gets out there, the boys know whoever it is can do the job,» Pulu said.

«It will be tough for the coaches. We’re happy with whoever gets out there. I’m here to do a job and if the coaches see that, and I fit that category for a wing, I’ll be happy.»

McKellar has some tough selection calls to make as he juggles Wallabies workload management and players desperate to get on to the field to play the Rebels.


Wallabies trio David Pocock, Allan Alaalatoa and Scott Sio didn’t play in either of the trials, but will be available for round-one selection.

«We had a 30-minute game-simulation hitout with [Pocock, Alaalatoa and Sio] on Thursday, we tried to get it as close to a game as possible. Poey rated it a nine out of 10 in terms of effort,» McKellar said.

«They’re in good nick. It would be nice to get some game time into them, especially the front-rowers, but they’ve prepared well and they’ll be available next week.

«I’ve got a fair idea what I’ll do there, but you’ve got to take all of those things into consideration going into the first game of the year. It will be high intensity and fast … to throw guys in without any game time at all is always a risk.»

James Slipper is also expected to be cleared play in round one after the prop recruit left the field with a rib injury in the Waratahs trial.

Former Queensland Reds and Wallabies captain Slipper is looking for a fresh start to his career in Canberra and could be thrown into the starting front row to ease Sio back into action.


Friday: ACT Brumbies v Melbourne Rebels at Canberra Stadium. Tickets available from Ticketek.

Chris Dutton is the sports editor at The Canberra Times.




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