Coach Michael Cheika claims Wycliff Palu’s omission from the Australian squad for their opening Rugby Championship match against South Africa is a double-edged victory for the Wallabies.
The powerful back-rower, capped 54 times, was the best credentialled of the nine players cut from the original squad of 40 which worked this week on the Sunshine Coast.
Also missing the cut for the Brisbane Test on July 18 were fellow forwards Dave Dennis, James Hanson, Tetera Faulkner and Toby Smith and backs Christian Leali’ifano, Samu Kerevi, Henry Speight and Nic White.
Rather than being snubbed, it appears 32-year-old impact player Palu is being rested and saved for matches later in the campaign.
Palu has been notoriously injury-prone through his career, but Cheika stresses he isn’t plagued by any particular problem.
“He’s fully fit – there’s no issue there around injury,” Cheika said.
“I’ve got to know him over the last few years and, to get the best out of Cliff in the longer run, would be to give him three or four weeks right now to get his body right to go.
“It’s not like we don’t have some handy players in that position. (Scott) Higginbotham has been excellent this week and we’ve also got Ben McCalman coming back from injury, so we’ve got plenty of good players there.
“I think it’s a double-edged victory for us in that those guys will get to play footy and Wycliff will get to prepare himself and he’ll get an opportunity definitely at some stage later on in the Rugby Championship.”
Cheika said back Kurtley Beale, who missed recent NSW Waratahs games due to a quadriceps injury, ran on Friday.
A number of players were given at least one day’s break during the camp after logging big Super Rugby minutes.
Among them were flanker Michael Hooper, fullback Israel Folau and flanker Scott Fardy.