Will Genia may have pushed for the Wallabies No.9 jersey going forward but Gerard Beale and Sean McMahon were the other big winners from the victory over the USA.
Genia lifted the tempo for the Wallabies when he came on in the second half and had the forwards playing more direct but McMahon was one starter who couldn’t be accused of early indifference.
The 21-year-old excelled at openside flanker in the absence of regular starters David Pocock and Michael Hooper, showing the tenacity that made him a breakout star in the spring tour last year.
Having not been used in the Rugby Championship a bench spot in the World Cup opening side against Fiji may have seemed a big climb until now.
“He played well. He’s still very fresh but his energy is outstanding. It is infectious to the other players,” coach Michael Cheika said of the youngster.
“That energy he brings to the team and that raw edge is the reason he got selected.”
But the man himself was a hard taskmaster on his own performance, vowing to improve further as he tries to prove his worth.
“I was happy with my performance but in every game you come off thinking you could have done better. That’s where I am at the moment and I’m going to go back and try to fix a few little things,” McMahon said.
“I am out there being an energiser just trying to do what I do at 110 percent all the time. With that though discipline and technique has to come also.”
Cheika has the Melbourne Rebel training across all backrow positions, a pointer to his bench value for the World Cup.
“At the moment I am kind of floating, running around playing every position, learning all the roles so if I get an opportunity I am going to be able to play the role with knowledge,” McMahon added.
Beale also proved his value while filling in at fullback for the rested two-time reigning John Eales Medalist Israel Folau.
While Folau has a mortgage on the 15 jersey Beale wore at the 2011 World Cup, his ability to keep up his stellar play when moving to inside centre against the Eagles showcased his supreme utility value and likely cemented his place for the Cup.
He’s no slouch anywhere from 10 to 15 in the backline.
“Those positions are pretty stocked with some pretty special talent so hopefully I’ve impressed and hopefully I get another chance,” Beale said.
“I’m very pleased with the opportunity to start and with how I went.
“Individually it’s about focusing on your role within the team to achieve the outcome. All the hard work during the week – it’s tough – there’s always someone knocking on the door, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do.
“Hopefully I’ve showcased my ability to be able to play the game, and I feel like I’m back to where I was a couple of years ago.”