Incredible numbers behind rookie’s Wallabies rise
Reds flanker Liam Wright may be warming the seat for David Pocock's return but Michael Cheika simply couldn't ignore the 21-year-old's mind-blowing Super Rugby statistics.
To say that Wright, 21, is only warming a seat as an openside flanker until the return of David Pocock from injury is selling the tall Queenslander short.
In this season of clunky resting policies and workrate monitoring, Wright kept playing and playing.
He was off the field for just nine minutes in Queensland's 16 games which is a huge vote for his durability in the high impact zone that he plays in.
No one in Super Rugby triggered more forced ruck and maul penalties (11) with his timing to latch onto opposition ball and few made more tackles (184).
"Liam came into our camp in May and we discussed things he needed to bring to his game and we felt he did so this is the reward," Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said.
Cheika said the formal three-selector process introduced with director of rugby Johnson and former Wallaby O'Connor had proven valuable.
"It's the first time we've worked in earnest as a selection panel so, with different opinions and challenging each other, there's a better outcome than if I'd been picking it by myself," Cheika said.
Cheika added with a laugh that there'd be no leaks: "We made a pact, all had to cut ourselves and put in a bit of blood, that what goes on in the selectors' room will stay in the room."
Cheika said he had yet to really get to know James O'Connor but "he's hungry to be involved and to prove himself" and had left a positive impression in two days of squad training.
Utility O'Connor will keep training and play club rugby while the Wallabies are in South Africa before rejoining the wider squad before the July 27 Test against Argentina in Brisbane.