Wallabies enforcer Wycliff Palu has welcomed the challenge of David Pocock to his No.8 jersey ahead of the Rugby World Cup and says he isn’t the only player gunning for the spot.
Palu admits competition for places has the Wallabies thriving ahead of their Test against the United States in Chicago on September 5 before they meet Fiji in Cardiff 18 days later in Australia’s World Cup opener.
“It’s always a challenge no matter who I’m up against,” Palu said.
“Not just (from) Pocock, but we’ve Benny McCalman there and Sean (McMahon) who could probably slot in at eight. It’s good competition for that spot and it’s something that we really enjoy.”
The 33-year-old Palu feels refreshed after being rested from the three-Test Rugby Championship which Australia won.
He only has 40 minutes of club rugby and half a Test match under his belt ahead of the clash with the Eagles in the Windy City, but feels in good shape after training up to three times a day.
“Everyone has stepped up their own personal training and that’s added to the team,” he said.
“I’m feeling a lot better now than I did a few weeks ago, that’s for sure.”
Palu’s only Test appearance of the Wallabies’ winter campaign was in the hammering against the All Blacks at Eden Park two weeks ago.
That match came a week after Pocock starred from the Wallabies at No.8, terrorising the All Blacks at the breakdown in tandem with fellow openside flanker specialist Michael Hooper.
Coach Michael Cheika was slammed for shifting Pocock from No.8 and will be tempted to revert to his double openside plan against Fiji.
Meanwhile, Palu said the Wallabies are learning to love to the set-piece under the guidance of former Argentina hooker Mario Ledesma, who played in four World Cups for the Pumas.
“He’s very good. Just the passion he brings to the scrum and the lineout, it’s something we really need as a forward pack,” he said.
“I think what we haven’t had in the past is the passion they bring into the set-piece, obviously with him coming from Argentina, it’s a big part of their game and he’s bringing that influence into our game.”