Lock forward Rory Arnold will bring more than just the biggest frame ever seen in a Wallabies jersey when he makes his Test debut in Saturday night’s series opener against England, coach Michael Cheika says.
Arnold has beaten out arguably the hottest competition in any part of the Australian team to win his place alongside Rob Simmons in the second row.
At 208cm, he will become the tallest Wallaby in history when he runs out onto Suncorp Stadium, stepping into the void left by the injured Kane Douglas.
But as much as his height is an advantage against an English side that will present a huge challenge at the line-out, his aggression is what has impressed Cheika the most in the lead-up to what will be a heated, physical series against the old enemy.
“He’s learning about how big his frame is and how to use that,” Cheika said.
“Rory’s played well through Super Rugby, he’s understood what we wanted him to improve and he’s had real intent in improving that, and I’m sure he’ll take that up another step on Saturday.”
England’s three best locks are pure quality in George Kruis, Joe Launchbury and emerging superstar Maro Itoje, 21, the 2016 European Player of the Year.
Arnold is a late bloomer who only signed for the Brumbies last year.
He was born in Wagga Wagga, grew up in Murwillimbah in northern NSW and later emerged at the Gold Coast Breakers as a talented 23-year-old in 2013, before a stint with the Griquas in South Africa’s Currie Cup and then with the Vikings in the National Rugby Competition.
Dean Mumm and James Horwill are the locks named on the bench, ensuring Australia will have experience to call upon when the match enters the key moments in the second half.
Sam Carter and Will Skelton failed to make the cut.
“(Arnold) knows what we want from him in his role, he’s really clear in that, he knows he’ll do one part, Simmons will do the other part, and our finishers will come in and do their part as well,” Cheika said.
“I want him to do what he does and make his own impact on the gold jersey.
“It’s going to be tough, and it’s going to be fun.”