Tom Wright
Tom Wright says new Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt is keeping players guessing about his Wales line-up. Image by Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS
  • rugby union

Recalled Wallaby to Wright some wrongs against Wales

Darren Walton July 2, 2024

Not feeling he has any point to prove, Tom Wright credits simple “dad strength” for his rocketing into favouritism to regain the Wallabies fullback role.

Nine months after suffering the crushing disappointment of being overlooked for the Rugby World Cup, a revitalised Wright appears locked in a two-man battle for the No.15 jersey for Saturday’s opening Test of the season against Wales in Sydney.

But coming off a blinding Super Rugby Pacific campaign with the Brumbies, Wright looks set to edge out Andrew Kellaway and win over new coach Joe Schmidt.

The 26-year-old says Schmidt is playing his selection cards close to his chest, leaving the entire squad guessing over who will start in the first encounter between the two sides since Wales scored a record-breaking 40-6 World Cup win in France to all but eliminate the Wallabies.

“On edge is probably a good way to describe it,” Wright said of the mood in Wallabies camp after only 10 World Cup survivors made Schmidt’s squad.

“It’s new for everyone. Plenty of new faces in and some old faces that come back to the set-up. So it’s exciting.”

The classy utility and wife Bronte welcomed baby Indi to the family last year and he reckons it’s been his daughter, not the critics, who have inspired his hot form in 2024.

“The dad strength,” Wright said.

“Coming home after what can be a tough day. We were pretty lucky through the season that we didn’t have too many crappy games, but coming through the door, dropping the bag it’s pretty much the best part of coming home.

“Like the (World Cup) disappointment, obviously everyone is quick to ask about that but that probably didn’t change a whole lot apart from just the extra body in the house at home.

“(Brumbies coach Stephen) ‘Bernie’ (Larkham) was really good obviously in steering me back into confidence and getting in a full pre-season.

“So nothing drastically changed physically or anything.”

Randwick-born Wright, who played five NRL games for Manly as a teenager before joining the Brumbies in 2019 and playing 23 Tests for Australia, does concede his career has been a “rollercoaster” ride.

“High highs, low lows, but I’m trying to find that happy medium,” he said.

“You’re coming up against the best of the best always.”

Whether he plays fullback or wing at Allianz Stadium on Saturday, Wright seems assured of a starting spot and says Schmidt will allow all of the back three to pop up where they see fit.

“He’s definitely put like a little bit of a roving license in and around the game,” he said.

“A lot of emphasis on being able to link with our bigger guys trying to play a little bit tighter and give ourselves a little more room on the edges.”

The Wallabies are also desperate to end a horror run in Sydney that bewilders Wright.

Incredibly, a 34-15 victory over Samoa at Commbank Stadium in 2019 is Australia’s only win from their past 12 Tests in Sydney.

“It’s important for the team to really make Sydney feel like a big home game again,” he said following a series of losses to England, New Zealand, Scotland, Ireland, South Africa and Argentina in the NSW capital.