Rugby Wallabies must hand Tom Banks a starting role

Wallabies must hand Tom Banks a starting role

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Banks deserves a crack in the no. 15 jersey at some stage, even if it is not against the Springboks. The home fixture against the Pumas in Brisbane may be less than Ellis Park and there is also a sentimental case to be made for Haylett-Petty's opportunity to come against the All Blacks in Perth.

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Regardless of how they mix it up, Banks is one of the players you just could come through at a Rugby World Cup. But you will never know if you don't try.

2. The message from Fiji's win against NZ Maori

The current NZ Maori site is a far cry from the one that unleashed Hosea Gear against the Irish in 2010 but Fiji's win on Saturday was still a notable achievement.

The Fijians were not at full strength but caused the Maori all kinds of problems with their offloading game, particularly in the first half.

It looks off-the-cuff, unstructured, but that doesn't mean it's not the result of practice. The most impressive aspect was the depth of the support runners. So often you see players over the ball carrier but the Fijians were coming to pace from his shoulder and the Maori found it extremely difficult to contain.

This is really a different style to the one that the Wallabies players are used to encounter and their opening Rugby World Cup game against Fiji is clearly going to be massive.

They will be noted, as when the Maori tried to go to structure in the second half, the Fijians were effective in shutting down their lineout drives. Plenty for Australia two ponder.

3. Ben Volavola impresses at No. 10

One player the Wallabies know well in the Fijian side is former Waratah Ben Volavola.

The No. 10 has had an interesting career, picking up experience in a number of countries (he currently plays in France). However, judging by his performance on Saturday, Volavola might be one of those 'slow burners' players who don't reach their potential until their late 20s.

Ben Volavola (left) is proving a late bloomer for the Fijians.

Ben Volavola (left) is proving a late bloomer for the Fijians.Credit:AP

Volavola looked creative, with plenty of time with ball in hand and a clear idea or where the space was: in other words, much improved from the player of the previous Rugby World Cup.

The Melbourne-Rebels recruit Frank Lomani in the no. 9 jersey. Lomani looked sharp, cleared the ball well and didn't overplay his hand. His rise shows how important the inclusion of the Fijian Drua side in the NRC has been for the Pacific Island nation.

4. Genia won't get away that easily

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Congratulations to Will Genia on an outstanding Wallabies career but can expect a phone call from the next Wallabies coach testing the strength of his retirement decision.

Genia is heading to Japan next year but that should not impact on its test eligibility and there is no reason to believe that it will still be the best Australian No. 9 next year.

Sure, the 31-year-old may resist any attempts to snatch him back but some players find that the fire is pretty hard to extinguish when it comes to Test rugby.

Genia's form has been excellent this year, it looks like a great nick physically, and it can be easily argued that the Wallabies still need him next year until the next crop comes through.

5. Rugby's relationship with pay TV is worth re-examining

There are conflicts reports in the northern hemisphere about the future of the Six Nations tournament as those test nations weigh up how much they want to give away in return for bucketloads of cash.

A prediction: if they accept any proposal to move some tests away from free-to-air television – and content gradually slips behind the pay TV wall – in five to 10 years' time there will be editorials it was the stupidest thing they ever have did.

The beauty of that tournament is that it is free for everyone to view, drawing in fixed numbers of casual sports fans who become engaged with the tournament's twists and turns. It's that very accessibility that has given the Six Nations so much meaning. What price for that?

Part of the appeal of the Six Nations is the fact that it is broadcast on free-to-air television.

Part of the appeal of the Six Nations is the fact that it is broadcast on free-to-air television.Credit:ON

And this is not just a UK question. The relationship between sports rights holders and broadcasters in all parts of the rugby world will be redrawn in the next few years and Rugby Australia must at last address the question of whether its Super Rugby relationship with Fox Sports has become a valid cage.

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