Wallaby winger Andrew Kellaway believes he’s taken “one step closer” to proving his Test worth after earning praise for his performance in his first international start against the All Blacks last Saturday.
But whether it’s enough to keep out superstar Marika Koroibete remains up to coach Dave Rennie, with the 2019 John Eales medallist available to return from the booze ban that kept him out of Australia’s Bledisloe Cup loss.
Rennie took a hard-line stance against Koroibete, who was found drinking with two teammates in his hotel after a team dinner.
The Wallabies were good late in the opening clash but still lost, and now Rennie needs to decide whether to recall Koroibete straight away when the teams clash again in Auckland this Saturday.
Kellaway, who scored his maiden Test try at Eden Park and was widely applauded for his efforts with the ball and in defence in just his third Test, said his performance was “irrelevant” given the Wallabies lost.
Andrew Kellaway celebrates his try with teammates. Picture: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
“You play well, you play badly – if you lose it doesn’t matter. I’d rather play badly and win,” Kellaway said on Monday.
“Marika is huge for us, he’s a fantastic player. If I am the one who had to make way for him, it’s a pretty handy player to make way for.”
A statistical comparison puts Kellaway ahead of Jordan Petaia who played on the other wing in his first Australian appearance in 2021.
Kellaway made five tackle busts in his seven runs, the most of any Wallaby, and scored a try. Petaia only made two runs.
The performance was one Kellaway, 25, always believed he had in him and a reward for his decision to return to Australia to play Super Rugby after stints in England and more recently Japan.
“We talk about why we do what we do and that’s changed for me in recent times,” Kellaway said.
“If you are Australian and grow up playing rugby in Australia, you want to be a Wallaby. Anyone who says they don’t, I don’t want to call them a liar but they are not far off.
Marika Koroibete could be back for the Wallabies. Picture: Graham Denholm/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
“Circumstances affect things differently. Some guys go (overseas) and are probably never going to be a Wallaby and make great a career overseas. Some of my friends are doing that.
“For me, I always knew in my own strange twisted way I was good enough to be a Wallaby, and coming home was much about proving that to myself as everyone else.
“I spent the better part of three years away by myself, so coming home to see family, friends, was really important.
“But it was definitely about proving I was good enough, and hopefully I am one step closer to doing that.”
The Wallabies were blown away by three tries in 20 minutes after halftime by the home side last week.
Kellaway said it was a trait of New Zealand teams, and the Wallabies had to address it or risk losing the Bledisloe Cup again.
“We saw it all through the trans-Tasman Super Rugby, the 10-15 minutes after halftime was where a lot of Australian teams lost it,” he said.
“You cop a blow, whether it be three, five or seven points and you are on the back foot. It was the same on Saturday night. We’ll fix that up and go again.
“If anything, it’s a conscious thing the Kiwis are doing. It’s probably something they talk about it and they make a conscious choice to focus on that part of the game.
“For us it’s about understanding that, and that will go a long way in terms of us being able to deal with it.”
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