Before departing for the Spring Tour, Dave Rennie was encouraged by the Rugby Australia committee to throw caution to the wind and give opportunities to those on the periphery – no matter their age.
Less than 12 months out from the World Cup, with Rennie’s winning record an unflattering 37.9 per cent and the incumbents doing little to fill anyone with confidence, the Wallabies were told to take a leaf out of Fabien Galthie’s playbook.
The former scrum-half turned coach backed the next generation of players emerging from the French Top 14 on the eve of the last World Cup and it almost worked.
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France made the quarter-finals and could well have made the final four were it not for a reckless red card, as Wales pipped Galthie’s young side by a point.
Now, supercharged by speeding up their development in 2019, France were this year’s Six Nations champions and are primed to give next year’s home World Cup a real shake.
It is in that backdrop by which Rennie is preparing to name his first squad of the Spring Tour – a must-win match against Scotland at Murrayfield.
With just 10 Tests to go before their World Cup opener, the clock is ticking on Rennie’s Wallabies.
They have not been helped by injuries, with the shadow of Quade Cooper and Samu Kerevi looming large over the Wallabies, but Rennie has yet to settle on his preferred scrum-half and fly-half combination.
No nation has won a World Cup without a settled halves pairing and Rennie is set to hand opportunities to players in the key positions of 9, 10 and 15 throughout the tour.
The question is, when and where, and what Tests hold more importance than others?
Every Test is important to win, but after losing three straight, and winning just three of their past 12, starting well at Murrayfield is essential.
Losing in Edinburgh, with a difficult assignment in Paris a week later, could make it a long tour.
It is why making a positive start, against a side missing mercurial geniuses Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg, is a must.
Tate McDermott deserves an opportunity and is someone with genuine X-factor, a point of difference player who has leadership and notably is one of the few players who genuinely looks devastated when on the losing side, but has had very little game time and could well have benefited from playing with the Australia A program.
The Murrayfield pitch is expected to be a heavy one with showers forecast all week, which would likely suit Nic White’s game.
Reece Hodge has been a player who has held the role as Mr Fix It for years, but his selection has been both a blessing and a curse.
Yes he can cover multiple positions, and has some excellent core skills and a huge boot, but at the same time it has meant other fly-half and fullback options have been denied time.
It is in part why Noah Lolesio has been dealt with so brutally because he’s gone from starting to being out of the squad more often than not.
Jordan Petaia’s pre-tour niggle will likely pave the way for Tom Banks to return and push Andrew Kellaway out on the wing.
Jock Campbell is arguably the most complete fullback of the lot, but his understated nature has meant he has been looked over by others, even if it has seen players playing out of position.
At some stage Campbell will get a crack on this tour.
Mark Nawaqanitawase is another whose ceiling is huge and could be a World Cup bolter.
Rob Valetini, meanwhile, has been Australian rugby’s best player this season. But at some point – perhaps against Italy – he will need a rest, which could see Langi Gleeson handed a start.
The question is when does Rennie bite the bullet, and is the weekend’s Test in the Scottish capital the right time to throw caution to the wind?
The reality is there is no perfect time, especially for a side who has lost more than they have won in recent years.