The Springboks could face yet another Rugby League convert when they go head-to-head with the Wallabies in their Tri-Nations return Test in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Rugby 365 reports that Australian coach Robbie Deans has declared former National Rugby League (NRL) star Timana Tahu ready to start his first Test in the wake of Berrick Barnes’s injury in the Aussies 27-15 demolition of the Boks last Saturday.
Deans has confirmed that Tahu will be considered in the team for Australia’s clash with South Africa in Johannesburg this coming Saturday.
While Deans has to wait another day to find out whether he’ll be without flank Rocky Elsom – who faced a judicial hearing for dangerous play only for the result to be held over – he’s already making his feelings known about a possible replacement for Barnes.
The coach has several possible midfield combinations to choose from, one of which would include the fast-tracking of former Kangaroo Tahu into the Wallabies’ No.12 jersey.
“There’s no doubt he can start a Test, he’s perfectly capable of that,” Deans told reporters.
After playing just three minutes off the bench in his Test debut a month ago, Tahu got the final 20 minutes at inside centre in Durban after Ryan Cross had originally replaced Barnes from the 20th minute of the game.
At that point, outside centre Stirling Mortlock moved in one position with Cross playing at No.13.
“It was great for Timana to get the time that he got,” Deans said.
“We delayed his entry obviously and deferred to the blokes who had the background of Test rugby first with the initial replacement option.
“But when Timana got in the game … my first instinct was that he did really well having watched it live.
“We’ll have a look at the footage and pour over it and contemplate our combinations and what we believe will work for us.”
Australia are insisting back-to-back wins in the Republic for the first time in 45 years is their priority, but Saturday’s Test will have no bearing on the outcome of the Tri-Nations series, so the Wallabies would have nothing to lose by experimenting with Tahu.
Cross, another former League star, also performed well on Saturday and has put his hand up for a promotion from the bench.
“I think I’ve taken my opportunities this year so hopefully if I get a spot we can make it another good win,” he told reporters.
“I see myself as a No.13, but obviously Stirling’s captain and also had a great game, but I could slot in at No.12 or any other place in the backline.
“We can swap any time, I can go 12, he can go 13, we’re both big centres and get over the advantage line and I think that’s a bonus for us.”Tweet