2022-06-26 08:36:00

Six years ago Tom Banks was sitting in the Suncorp Stadium stands when England spoiled the party and shocked the Wallabies in the first Test.

Now, as he approaches his final year in Australian rugby before moving to Japan, Banks is in-line to wear the No.15 jersey in what shapes as a career defining series for the laid-back 28-year-old.

Electric in Super Rugby, the fullback has often turned heads with his speed and booming boot.

But as he approaches his fifth year as an international, he has yet to convince many he is international class.

It’s why Wallabies selectors are considering whether to pull the trigger and throw utility back Jordan Petaia in the deep end ahead of Banks

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Jordan Petaia catches the ball during a Wallabies training session on June 21, 2022 on Sunshine Coast, Australia. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, who handed Banks his debut in 2018, says he would opt for Petaia at fullback.

“Banks is the incumbent – he hasn’t really ever arrived in that position,” Cheika said on Nine’s Sports Sunday recently.

“(Andrew) Kellaway’s a bit of a new kid on the block. I’m a big Jordan Petaia fan.

“At 15 he gives you something a bit different. Great in the air and if he can build his kicking game, he’s got X-factor as well, he can deliver something from the back.”

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Pressed on whether Petaia was ready, Cheika said the only way to find out was to give the 22-year-old a chance.

“He never will be if he doesn’t get a chance,” Cheika said.

“If the coach sees that there’s the opportunity for him, then getting these Test matches a year and half out from the World Cup is essential.”

But starting Petaia, whose fitness and consistency remains a problem despite his freakish potential, would be a risk for a series as important as next month’s against England given his relative lack of game-time in the position.

It is why Banks shapes as the first-choice fullback for Dave Rennie, when he reveals his squad on Thursday to take on Eddie Jones’ England next weekend in Perth.

Electric for the Brumbies, Tom Banks (L) has yet to take him Super Rugby form into the international arena. Photo: AFPSource: AFP

Reflecting on his career to date, Banks, who has yet to run with the same conviction for the Wallabies as he has with the Brumbies, said he needed to work harder to put himself in the position to take his chances.

“I think I can always be better,” he told foxsports.com.au.

“I look at it as a lot of success, learning curves; I’m always striving to be better.

“I just think it’s a step up. Obviously you’re versing world class players week-in, week-out.

“You’ve got to find ways to get yourself into the game and do what you can. It’s a tougher challenge against international level opposition; those chances don’t come around as much.”

With young gun Freddie Stewart in their backline, England has an outside back who matches Israel Folau in the air.

Against France in the Six Nations this year, England kicked regularly for their towering back and while his supporting teammates didn’t help him out by supporting him after he out leapt his opponents, it was a tactic Jones is expected to once again look to.

Tom Banks is likely to wear the No.15 jersey against England in Perth on Saturday. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Banks, who has spent the past week practicing his catching with assistant coach Scott Wisemantel waving a pool toy in front of his eyes, is ready for the tactical aerial battle.

“They’ve got a very good kicking game, a very strong kicking game and a variety of kicks, so it’s going to be hard for us in the backs to negate that,” he said.

Knowing he is off to Japan at season’s end too, Banks knows that it is the final chance to leave a lasting impression on the Wallabies jersey.

“You’d be lying if you said you didn’t (want to leave a lasting impression),” he said.

“You have those moments, especially with the Brums. That place has been pretty special to me, and again here.

“Australian rugby’s done so much for me.

“It’s tough to think that these moments are coming to an end.”

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Source by [graycupnews.com]

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