Cheika backs unflappable Haylett-Petty

Michael Cheika believes Wallabies debutant Dane Haylett-Petty has the temperament and the ability to make a seamless step up to the Test arena.

Western Force fullback Haylett-Petty has been selected on the wing for the opening clash of the three-Test series against England on Saturday night at Suncorp Stadium, an opportunity that has opened up due to injuries to Henry Speight and Joe Tomane.

The 26-year-old has been a consistently strong performer in Super Rugby but now gets the chance to show he can play at a higher level, and from what Cheika’s seen at training, that shouldn’t been a problem.

“I like what he’s got to offer as a footballer,” he said.

“When I’ve seen him come into the camp and train with the lads, I feel like he’s been right able to step up with the level and the speed of the game.

“He’s attacking, he wants to make a break, he wants to take responsibility for the ball in the air, which I’m sure he’ll see plenty of.

“He wants to get in there, he wants to jump in at first receiver, he’s not carrying fear into the game and I like that. He’s prepared to back himself and go the distance.”

Haylett-Petty was born in Durban and grew up a diehard Springboks fan, but moved to Perth with his family for a fresh start when he was 10.

The arrival of the Force in 2005 ensured that perhaps unlike others who went before him, he wouldn’t be lost to rugby – their development pathway meant Haylett-Petty, a talented junior sportsman, was able to stick with the code he grew up with instead of pursuing a career in cricket, hockey or AFL.

“I was lucky – as I was finishing school, the Force was coming in,” he said.

“There was a bit more of a pathway there than the guys a bit older than me.

“I did that (national talent squad) and as I finished, I signed for the Force so I was able to progress onto that pathway and I think it’s a good pathway through now, they’ve developed a lot of players like David Pocock, Digby Ioane, James O’Connor.”

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