Selecting a Wallaby WC squad and the SIX Giteau picks (plus a debutant) to bring back Bill

Selecting a Wallaby WC squad and the SIX Giteau picks (plus a debutant) to bring back Bill

I do not envy those who will sit down next year to select the Wallabies’ World Cup squad.

In fact, I can’t think of a more difficult task.

But in the spirit of Christmas and armchair Roaring, I’ve given it a shot.

Mostly because it’s fun but also I’m keen to see how my picks stack up with Wallaby fans and the broader Roar community.

My parameters were simple – pick the best players available.

I’ve also prioritised Test experience (particularly at World Cups) and club combinations.

The result is an interesting mix – 27 Super Rugby players, 6 overseas picks and 1 uncapped player.

The Super Rugby breakdown? 11 Brumbies, 6 Reds/Tahs, 2 Force/Rebels.

If you’re keen to rip straight in to the comments section, scroll to the bottom for a list in full with clubs etc.

Wallabies Australia players celebrate at the final whistle after the Autumn International match at Principality Stadium, Cardiff. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2022. (Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images)

Australia players celebrate at the final whistle (Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images)

For those who can resist the urge, here’s the positional breakdown and why/why nots (players with * are based overseas):

Props: Scott Sio*, James Slipper, Allan Alaalatoa, Taniela Tupou, Angus Bell.
(Standby – Tom Robertson)

When it comes to a World Cup front row, there’s no substitute for experience.

That’s why my first international pick goes to Sio – a 70+ cap Wallaby collecting vital data at Exeter who has well-established combinations with Slipper and Alaalatoa.

And those two pick themselves.

Slipper is a Test centurion headed to his fourth World Cup –he leads the side and will start the big games – while stablemate Alaalatoa is a guaranteed pick and should skipper a few pool games.

Regardless of his 2022 form, Tupou is a gamebreaker when fit and should be played at RWC 23 – provided its for no longer than 40 at a time.

Bell offers a more streamlined version of Tupou’s dynamism across the paddock and completes the quintet – Robertson’s versatility makes him my front row standby.

Hookers: Dave Porecki, Lachlan Lonergan, Folau Fainga’a
(Standby – BPA)

Our hooking stocks are a concern.

Porecki has installed himself as our best set-piece operator but has been injury-prone in 2022.

Fainga’a continues to frustrate at lineout time and has ongoing disciplinary issues but offers strong mauling and general play.

Lonergan will have first dibs on a Brumbies’ starting role with Slipper and AAA. That alone puts him in the box seat for France and potentially the No.2 spot behind Porecki.

Any head-to-heads between NSW, Force & ACT are essential viewing for armchair selectors.

Pending an unmissable season from the likes of Jordan Uelese or Billy Pollard, my standby would be Brandon Paenga-Amosa for match fitness, French inside knowledge and reduced travel expenses.

Australian team sing the Aussie national Anthem

(Photo by Ian Jacobs/MB Media/Getty Images)

Locks: Nick Frost, Will Skelton, Izack Rodda, Rory Arnold
(Standby – Cadeyrn Neville)

Nick Frost shot into the international scene like a rocket in 2022 and bar injury will be one of the first names on Dave Rennie’s teamsheet.

Will Skelton offers something no-one else in Australia can – sheer brute force.

And Izack Rodda and Rory Arnold are experienced bruisers in the best way possible. We need rucks cleared, bodies beaten, and lineouts won. Sign them up.

I’d be keeping Neville on standby over the recovering Phillip as he’ll be getting a full SRP season in with plenty of Wallaby faces at ACT. No fault of Phillip’s but ACLs are no joke.

Backrowers: Rob Valetini, Jed Holloway, Michael Hooper, Pete Samu, Fraser McReight, Harry Wilson
(Standby – Tom Hooper)

Holloway, Hooper & Valetini are my starting backrowers for Fiji, Wales and the knockout stages.

Samu will continue the super-sub tag and I’d love to see him get 30 minutes a game to keep Hooper fresh.

Samu should also taste time at 6 with Wilson and McReight completing the backrow for Portugal.

McReight plays the closest style to Hooper while Wilson offers a high-carry game like Valetini – throw in their club combination and they should complete the backrow contingent.

My standby would be Tom Hooper – our depth at 6 is troubling for mine and I’d be very keen to see him in gold come 2024 – perhaps his time could come sooner with a big Brumbies season?

Hanigan would also be a solid standby option for his lineout. There are plenty of Hanigan baggers out there but if he’s humming in a winning Tahs side I’d have no objections to him flying in as cover.

Halfbacks: Nic White, Tate McDermott, Ryan Lonergan

(Standby – Jake Gordon)

Nic White is a world-class 9 and our clear number one.

Tate McDermott’s Spring Tour offered glimpses of his offensive arsenal, particularly during the first and final games against Scotland and Wales, and he’s two.

But that’s where the easy decisions end.

Jake Gordon’s been a rock for the Tahs over 70-odd Super Rugby caps but in my opinion hasn’t been able to replicate that form for the Wallabies.

He’s a player I immensely respect but I can’t see him winning games and winning key moments for us in France.

So do we take him, and if so, in what capacity? Does Australia really benefit from Gordon playing a few bench games?

My gut feel is no – and the alternative number three is Ryan Lonergan.

I’d picking him for his existing Brumbies combination with Valetini and Lolesio, performance as Australia A skipper, and goalkicking.

If proverbial hits the fan and we lose the likes of Quade Cooper and Nic White, I’d much rather Lonergan steering his 8-10 clubmates around.

Jump in Tahs fans – hit the comments and tell me why I’m wrong.

Flyhalves: Quade Cooper, Noah Lolesio, Reece Hodge.

(Standby – James O’Connor/ Bernard Foley)

QC rules the roost when/if fit. Read Nick Bishop’s excellent article here if you disagree and if you still aren’t convinced I’m not sure what to tell you.

Noah Lolesio is on the plane as his deputy. I’d be giving him least 30 minutes against Wales, Fiji and Georgia before a 50-60 minute starting stint against Portugal.

I’ve blabbed on about Lolesio’s international development ad nauseum (most recently here) and would be genuinely gobsmacked if he’s overlooked for selection.

I’ve named Reece Hodge as a third flyhalf option as he’s stepped up in big Tests and played the part. His big boot helps, as do 60+ caps in gold.

Put me in Rennie’s shoes and I’m on the phone to Kevin Foote strongly urging him to play Hodge at 10 all year.

Nothing against Ben Donaldson, who I’m certain has a massive future, but I’d love him to have two or three dominant years at the Tahs and clearly outplaying Lolesio before parachuting him into the Wallaby No. 10 again.

For mine, James O’Connor would be standby for his McDermott combination & WC experience but I imagine Donaldson or Foley would be shoulder-tapped first by Rennie.

Centres: Samu Kerevi, Len Ikitau, Hunter Paisami, Lalakai Foketi

(Standby – Jordan Petaia/ Izzy Perese)

Kerevi is an easy pick when fit – arguably our best Wallaby back – and partners Ikitau in our strongest XV.

I’ve tentatively picked Paisami as he can cover 12-13 despite an up-down 2022 and have also included Foketi off the back of an impressive debut international season. I rreally liked what Foketi’s offered off the ball as well.

Either Petaia or Perese could play themselves into squad contention but neither would make my 23 for a knockout clash. Keep them on standby – gut feel says Petaia has inside running against a Perese returning from one of the all-time nasty injuries (ruptured patella tendon).

Outside backs: Marika Koroibete, Tom Wright, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Andrew Kellaway, Jock Campbell
(Standby – Kurtley Beale)

Koroibete & Nawaqanitawase are out-and-out finishers who can turn games. If fit, they’re my big game starters on the wing.

Wright and Kellaway are versatile and can slot in wherever required (plus 13 in Kellaway’s case).

My final spot goes to Campbell who provides a genuine fullback option with Beale a standby – realistically that’s down to his WC experience and versatility but again so much is reliant on Super Rugby form in 2023.

Who else could fill that final slot?


Alaalatoa (ACT)
Arnold (OS)
Bell (NSW)
Campbell (QLD)
Cooper (OS)
Fainga’a (WF)
Foketi (NSW)
Frost (ACT)
Hodge (MEL)
Hollaway (NSW)
Ikitau (ACT)
Kellaway (MEL)
Kerevi (OS)
Koroibete (OS)
L Lonergan (ACT)
R Lonergan (ACT) *uncapped
Lolesio (ACT)
M Hooper (NSW)
McDermott (QLD)
McReight (QLD)
Nawaqanitawase (NSW)
Paisami (QLD)
Porecki (NSW)
Rodda (WF)
Samu (ACT)
Sio (OS)
Skelton (OS)
Slipper © (ACT)
Tupou (QLD)
Valetini (ACT)
White (ACT)
H Wilson (QLD)
T Wright (ACT)


1. James Slipper ©
2. Dave Porecki
3. Allan Alaalatoa
4. Nick Frost
5. Will Skelton
6. Jed Hollaway
7. Michael Hooper
8. Rob Valetini
9. Nic White
10. Quade Cooper
11. Marika Koroibete
12. Samu Kerevi
13. Len Ikitau
14. Mark Nawaqanitawase
15. Andrew Kellaway

16. Lachlan Lonergan
17. Angus Bell
18. Taniela Tupou
19. Rory Arnold
20. Pete Samu
21. Tate McDermott
22. Noah Lolesio
23. Tom Wright

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