Wallaby Watch: Analysing the front-row options for Joe Schmidt's opening Test against Wales

Wed, Apr 10, 2024, 7:18 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson

The Wallabies' opening Test of 2024 is just under three months away as players look to press their claims.

July 6 will mark Joe Schmidt's first game in charge as the Wallabies take on Wales in Sydney.

Catch every game of Super Rugby Pacific LIVE, ad-free and on demand on Stan Sport.

A new coach brings fresh opportunities for players to impress as they look to stand out in Super Rugby Pacific.

With the regular season halfway completed, Rugby.com.au presents 'Wallaby Watch' - a new series breaking down positional groups ahead of the Test season, starting with the front row.

It willl be broken into two sections: players selected at the 2023 Rugby World Cup and those looking to break into the squad in 2024.

Maintain their spot (Players selected in 2023 RWC)
James Slipper

Slipper remains in career best form as he became the most capped Australian player in Super Rugby history.

The Brumby has managed his body perfectly and will likely play a big role in the Wallabies’ campaign in 2024.

Blake Schoupp

Schoupp is on the mend after a shoulder injury in their win over the Highlanders in mid-March.

He started the season behind Slipper, playing a key role off the bench in closing out games.

Taniela Tupou

Tupou has had a slow start to the season as the Rebels ease him into the season after an injury disrupted 2023.

He has started just two games in 2024, but has shown enough off the bench to prove he still as damaging as ever as a ball runner and scrummager.

Zane Nonggorr

Nonggorr’s form has been crucial towards the Reds’ strong start to the season.

He has impressed in his five starts in 2024 and will be massive towards the Reds’ finals hopes

Matt Faessler

Faessler has been one of the Reds’ best in the opening six weeks of the season.

He sits tied for second for tries in 2024 and his lineout work has been as consistent as ever.

Angus Bell

Bell’s Wallaby future is clouded after suffering a toe injury against the Brumbies.

He has been a bright spark for the Waratahs in 2024, however, if it’s the same injury as previous years, his time in the gold jersey could be limited.

Jordan Uelese

Uelese has impressed for the Rebels in 2024 as they eye a top four spot.

His scrummaging has been one of the best in the comp whilst his lineout throwing is continuing to improve.

Pone Fa’amausili

Fa’amausili is stuck in limbo, yet to appear in 2024 for the Rebels as he finds himself stuck behind Sam Talakai and Taniela Tupou.

He will potentially need an injury to leapfrog the duo and has already indicated a move to the back row could be on the cards.

Dave Porecki 

Likewise, Porecki has not been sighted in 2024 as he deals with an Achilles injury.

He will likely take the field towards the end of the Super season with an eye towards impressing new coach Joe Schmidt.

Pushing for selection (Those who missed 2023 RWC)
Allan Alaalatoa

Alaalatoa is yet to take the field after his Achilles injury at the MCG in July.

He will eye a return in the coming weeks as he looks to regain his spot in the Wallabies side.

Billy Pollard

Pollard has the perfect chance to impress following Lachlan Lonergan’s season-ending injury.

The hooker has taken plenty out of his stint with Stade Rochelle, looking to build off his maiden cap.

Tom Horton

Horton has been dynamic for the Force since his return from England.

The hooker is a real try-scoring threat whilst adding a real point of difference with his speed and skills.

Matt Gibbon

Gibbon is playing like a man possessed in 2024, leading the Rebels’ charge.

The loosehead has been one of the form props of Super Rugby Pacific and can make a major case for a recall if he takes the Melbourne-based side deep into the competition.

Sam Talakai

Likewise with Gibbon, Talakai’s form is one of the key reasons behind the Rebels' strong start to the season.

With Alaalatoa on the sidelines, Talakai will be eyeing a recall to the Wallabies set-up after his debut at the end of 2022

*Mahe Vailanu and Lachlan Lonergan were in contention but their season-ending injuries have ended those plans despite strong seasons.