Rennie clearly has a match-day 23 in mind but is keeping players on their toes and in the most debated position of the lot, five-eighth.
With limited preparation, one wouldn’t have been surprised if Rennie pulled aside the successful candidate weeks out from the first Test of 2020 to give them an early heads-up.
Unless Toomua has an excellent poker face, he seemed genuinely in the dark as to who would wear the Wallabies No.10 jersey on Sunday – be it himself, James O’Connor, or even a wildcard in Brumbies rookie Noah Lolesio.
Toomua could even line up up at inside-centre, given he’s been training there as well.
“I think it’s pretty open there, which is nice and stressful for guys like myself,” Toomua said. “It is a little bit of a blank slate where there are four options there [Waratahs No.10 Will Harrison is also the in the squad]. In the last few years we’ve had great options at 10 but you’ve just got an idea because we were later into the season or we’d seen the way that Cheik liked to pick his fly-halves.
“I don’t think anyone would be disrespecting a Bledisloe team and naming a team full of debutants. We’ve got to develop players and develop a squad for the future as well. I’m sure it’ll be a balance.”
In coming days, players will get their first real understanding of where they sit with Rennie, who has been analysing their every on-field move from afar for almost 12 months since he was appointed Michael Cheika’s successor following a failed World Cup campaign in Japan.
Players have given glowing reviews of Rennie during his short time in charge and why wouldn’t they, given there are so many spots up for grabs.
But as Toomua explained, Rennie and his predecessor are a little different.
“We’re almost in a honeymoon period,” Toomua said. “He hasn’t dropped me yet, he hasn’t dropped us yet, we haven’t had to experience too much stress in that sense … but it’s been great. It’s been a good breath of fresh air in that sense.
“Michael did a great job and he put in a great shift for the Australian rugby community. He got us to a [World Cup] final. [Rennie] has definitely got a few different tendencies. He loves a little sing-a-long, he loves all these different things, it’s been good. A lot of it’s new but he seems like a very calm and composed character, which is quite nice.”
Toomua has played a quarter of his 52 Tests against the All Blacks, so knows a thing or two about the vibe of a Bledisloe week.
He debuted against New Zealand in 2013 – a game the Wallabies lost 47-29, before an 11-point defeat in Wellington the following week.
“My first Test was quite a stressful week actually,” Toomua said. “I remember it was definitely a step up in that sense.
“We had a new coach as well [in Ewen McKenzie]. There was a bit of spotlight on the fly-half position at the time. Sometimes you go to a presser and there’d be maybe one person there. There was just more people, more interest. I found the week after was a big relief and I could just get on with my rugby. These are emotions everyone making their debut is probably going to have to experience at some stage.”
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Tom Decent is a journalist with The Sydney Morning Herald