McDermott, Fa'amausili set to provide major Wallaby boost

Wed, Sep 20, 2023, 1:16 PM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Tate McDermott, Pone Fa'amausili & Neal Hatley speak to the press prior to their must-win clash with Wales at Rugby World Cup 2023

The Wallabies are set to be boosted by the return of Tate McDermott and Pone Fa'amausili for the must-win match against Wales on Monday in Lyon.

McDermott missed the defeat to Fiji after suffering a concussion against Georgia during the tournament opener.

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Fa'amausili meanwhile has been dealing with a calf injury picked up before the warm-up Test against France.

"To get people coming back into the mix is always fantastic and creates competition," scrum coach Neal Hatley said.

"Tate has become a really influential player and I think you saw the first 40 minutes in Dunedin just how important Pone has become for us.

"It’s great to have them both back. I’m thrilled about it."

Their returns come at the perfect time, with Will Skelton (calf) and Taniela Tupou (hamstring) on the sidelines.

McDermott will likely take over the captaincy from Dave Porecki, although was coy about it when asked by journalists.

"I'm not quite sure [if I am captain]. We've got a strong leadership group, so anyone in that group is capable of taking that role. You saw Dave Porecki take over and I missed that game so we'll just have to see," he remarked.

Fa'amausili adds significant power to the front-row, with James Slipper forced to move from loosehead to cover Tupou's absence.

The Rebel famously had to overcome 13 calf injuries before returning to the gold jersey last year and showed the labours of a relatively healthy year with his best performance at Test level against the All Blacks in the second Bledisloe

His history with the injury gave him comfort that the latest setback was nothing serious, with Hatley glowing in his praise of the 26-year-old.

"I had good people around me, a medical team, so their advice was real positive when it first happened. I was just keen to rip into my rehab and come back," Fa'amausili said.

"He's our most improved player," Hatley added. "For a guy who didn't start regularly for the Rebels, to be doing what he's doing at the moment - it's phenomenal.

"His body's changed, his whole attitude, his mindset how he approaches training. It's the toughest position in the game, tighthead prop. Even though he's a big he's changed and what he's done is nothing short of phenomenal.

"He's been our most improved player in the short time that he's been with us. So we can’t be more pleased with him."