Five players who could be surprise inclusions in the Wallabies squad including the Junkyard Dog

David Skippers
Wallabies hopefuls image

Reds flyer Tim Ryan and Western Force full-back Kurtley Beale.

Now that the Brumbies are no longer involved in Super Rugby Pacific after their semi-final defeat to the Blues in Auckland on Saturday, focus in Australia shifts to the Wallabies.

After a forgetful 2023 international campaign, in which they only won two out of nine Tests – against Georgia and Portugal – under former boss Eddie Jones, it is a case of new beginnings for the Wallabies under new head coach Joe Schmidt.

The 58-year-old previously worked as Ireland’s head coach between 2013 and 2019 and also served as former All Blacks boss Ian Foster’s assistant in 2022 and 2023.

Unlike Jones, who came into the Wallabies job amidst plenty of hype, Schmidt has kept his cards close to his chest with regards to his plans for the two-time world champions.

However, with the mid-year international season fast approaching, Schmidt has already held training sessions with players from the Waratahs, Western Force, Melbourne Rebels and Reds, and is set to name his first squad next week.

Here are some of the players who could be surprise inclusions in that squad.

Tim Ryan

The 20-year-old Reds flyer has become a cult figure in Brisbane after a string of outstanding performances during their Super Rugby Pacific campaign, which made it hard for Schmidt to ignore him.

Known as the ‘Junkyard Dog’ to his team-mates, the former Australia U20 representative initially made some appearances off the Reds’ replacements bench before getting his run-on debut for the Brisbane-based side in a home fixture against the Blues in Round 10 of Super Rugby Pacific. Although the Reds finished on the losing side in that match, Ryan stole the show as he crossed for a hat-trick of tries.

That made Schmidt sit up and take notice of his exploits and the Wallabies head coach said at the time that a player like Ryan excites him. Ryan continued with his fine form as he scored a brace of tries in his next match, against the Crusaders in Christchurch, before crossing the whitewash again the following week when the Reds hosted the Rebels in Brisbane.

That meant Ryan scored six tries in his first three starts at Super Rugby level and he continued to impress as the season progressed, finishing with nine crossings for the season, which put him in joint-third place in the competition’s try-scoring charts. His impressive form makes him a genuine contender for a Wallabies call-up and due to his superb try-scoring record it might not be such a surprise after all if Schmidt selects him.

Kurtley Beale

Although he is in the twilight of his career at the age of 35, Beale still has unfinished business at international level as he returned to Australia at the end of 2022 with the hope of playing at the 2023 World Cup in France.

Things did not go according to plan, however, as Beale was arrested for alleged sexual assault before being stood down from all forms of rugby by the Waratahs, who he had signed a deal with. He then missed out on playing at a fourth Rugby World Cup for Australia in France last year and eventually spent 14 months on the sidelines before he was found not guilty of the sexual assault allegations made against him.

Beale returned to action in April this year when he signed a short-term deal with the Western Force and although the Perth-based outfit failed to reach Super Rugby Pacific’s quarter-finals, the veteran utility back caught the eye with several outstanding performances. Beale came into the Force’s run-on side at full-back in a Round Nine clash against the Crusaders and started in seven successive matches until the end of the regular season.

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The 95-Test veteran admitted that he still wanted to play for Australia and was part of an initial group of Force and Waratahs players who Schmidt called up to a training camp at the start of this month. Beale will be hoping to be included when the Wallabies squad is named next week and if that happens he will be eager to make his first appearance at Test level since 2021.

Tom Lynagh

The decision by Wallabies and former Melbourne Rebels fly-half Carter Gordon to leave rugby union to further his career in the NRL with the Gold Coast Titans has opened the door for Lynagh to make the step up to the international arena with the Wallabies.

Despite being only 21 years old, the young playmaker, who is the son of legendary former Wallabies fly-half Michael Lynagh, has impressed at Super Rugby Pacific level for the Reds and caught the eye with some excellent performances which helped his team to fifth spot in the standings at the end of that tournament’s regular season.

Although he interchanged with Lawson Creighton in the fly-half position for the Reds during the season, Lynagh has caught the eye with some fine performances in the number 10 jersey during the season. It was therefore not surprising when he was Reds head coach Les Kiss’ preferred choice at fly-half for their Super Rugby Pacific quarter-final against the Chiefs, which they lost in Hamilton earlier this month.

Despite being outplayed in his direct duel with All Blacks star Damian McKenzie in that clash, Lynagh will only improve from that experience. He has already shown during the season that he has a vast array of skills and solid game management and it should benefit him if he gets a chance to operate in the Wallabies environment.

Charlie Cale

Although he only made his Super Rugby Pacific debut for the Brumbies in 2023, the 23-year-old back-row has adapted quickly to the rigours of that competition and will be keen to prove that he can do the same at international level if Schmidt calls him up to the Wallabies squad.

Cale hit the ground running in Super Rugby Pacific this year with his all-action style of play as a number eight, causing opposing defenders countless headaches. His excellent form for the Brumbies saw him score four tries in five matches during the early stages of the season but he suffered a setback when he sustained an ankle injury in the Brumbies’ Round 12 victory over the Waratahs in Sydney.

Cale bided his time on the sidelines but returned to action during the Brumbies’ quarter-final victory over the Highlanders in Canberra as he showed his class with some deft touches on attack, highlighted by a superb offload out of the back of his hand to Andy Muirhead, who raced away to score a try. Apart from his attacking prowess, Cale is also solid on defence and a menace at the breakdown and he has shone in tandem with Wallabies star Rob Valetini in the Brumbies’ back-row – something which they will be keen to do for their country as well.

Miles Amatosero

Despite only turning 22 on June 15 and having recently completed his first season of Super Rugby with the Waratahs, the behemoth lock already has some experience under his belt having played in the Top 14 with Clermont-Auvergne from 2020 to 2023.

Amatosero moved to the famous French club soon after leaving high school and while he initially joined Clermont on a trial, he made a big impact there and eventually made 27 appearances for their senior side during a three-year stint.

Although the Waratahs have been struggling in 2024, Amatosero can hold his head high as he was ever-present during their Super Rugby Pacific campaign, making 14 appearances for the Sydneysiders. He has a high work-rate in the execution of his core duties and is also competitive on either side of the ball.

He has also displayed excellent physicality for the Waratahs throughout their campaign this year and his game will only improve if he earns a Wallabies call-up and spends time in the same surroundings as players like Will Skelton and Taniela Tupou, who are amongst the best tight five players in the world.

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