Jake Gordon could be a surprise call-up for Saturday’s Test decider against Ireland after being called into the Wallabies.
Jake Gordon could be a surprise call-up for Saturday’s Test decider against Ireland after being called into the Wallabies.

Gordon called into Wallabies, Genia out for six weeks

WARATAHS halfback Jake Gordon has been called into the Wallabies squad ahead of Saturday's series decider against Ireland in Sydney.

His late inclusion comes after Wallabies vice-captain Will Genia had surgery on Sunday after breaking his arm in the first half of Saturday's 26-21 defeat in Melbourne, which will see him miss the next six weeks.

Gordon returned to Sydney on Monday from Tokyo, after scoring twice during the Waratahs' 29-26 loss against the NEC Green Rockets during an exhibition match in Japan.

The 24-year-old featured in the Wallabies' squad last June, but didn't feature with Genia and Joe Powell instead preferred.

Gordon's Waratahs teammate Nick Phipps is expected to start in place of Genia, after a solid performance off the bench for the Wallabies in Melbourne while Powell is likely to come onto the bench.

Speaking prior to the announcement, Wallabies attack coach Stephen Larkham backed Phipps and Powell to fill the void of Genia.

"He's (Genia) an integral part of the team, there's no doubt about that," Larkham said.

"He's part of our strategy group and he's had a very good combination there with the forward pack and the backline.

"So he's definitely a big loss but in saying that, we've got really good experience in Nick Phipps, Joe Powell's been around the team now for the last 12 months and we'll have to bring someone else into the team now."

Joe Powell is the likely man to play off the bench for the Wallabies.
Joe Powell is the likely man to play off the bench for the Wallabies.

That man quite clearly is Gordon, who at times has started ahead of Phipps for the Waratahs over the past 18 months.

While it would be tough on Powell if Gordon was to be selected ahead of him for Saturday's third Test, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has already shown he's not afraid of promoting players from outside the initial squad.

Ahead of the first Test, Cheika drafted in Waratah Tolu Latu after Rebels rake Jordan Uelese injured his ACL in the final Super Rugby match before the June international window and selected him on the bench ahead of uncapped Brumbies hooker Folau Fainga'a.

But whereas Latu had international experience to draw upon Gordon does not, and given Powell came off the bench three times in 2017 and has been a part of the squad for three years he already understands the systems used under Cheika.

However, in Gordon's favour is that he plays alongside the axis of the Wallabies' backline - Bernard Foley, Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau - at the Waratahs.

Nick Phipps is expected to start at halfback for the Wallabies.
Nick Phipps is expected to start at halfback for the Wallabies. DEAN LEWINS

The Wallabies will settle on their team on Thursday and are expected to make only minor changes.

As well as bringing in a new halfback, Caleb Timu is coming under pressure to retain his spot after two underwhelming Tests to date.

If Cheika were to make a change, David Pocock could be shifted back to number eight to accommodate either Lukhan Tui - who was particularly effective off the bench on Saturday - or Ned Hanigan, last year's rookie of the year.

Second-row Adam Coleman will also have to pass concussion protocols, too, after being forced from the field after copping a shiner early in the second-half from teammate Folau while the duo tackled Irish fullback Rob Kearney.


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