Up front, the battle to replace James Slipper at loosehead prop has been narrowed down to 66-Test veteran Scott Sio and a young gun with just one Test under his belt – Angus Bell.
Bell entered rare company on Saturday, when he became one of just a handful of Wallabies to beat the All Blacks on debut. The 20-year-old replaced Slipper late in the first half after the 100-Test prop suffered a dislocated elbow. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise, according to the Waratahs rookie.
“It was better I just got chucked in. No thinking, just straight into it,” Bell said. “It was definitely tough but it was good scrumming with [Taniela Tupou]. He definitely helps. It was just a good day – we put a lot of prep into our scrum and set-piece.
“We’d mauled and scrummaged all week so that was definitely a plan. It was good it came to fruition and we got some pay from it.”
While Bell’s family – including dog ‘Tank’, who was wearing a Wallabies jersey back to mark the occasion – could not be at Suncorp Stadium, they will be in the thick of it at McDonald Jones Stadium. Bell’s father Mark played one Test for the Wallabies and only had one piece of advice ahead of the dream debut.
“No advice – just go as hard as you can,” Bell said. “He was watching it from Sydney. As soon as I could, I called him. It was a very good moment. Very special and especially to come away with the win on Slips’ 100th – it was an awesome day.
“It was a dream to face the All Blacks and the haka – it was probably the best week of my life. I’ll definitely never forget it.”
Bell will almost certainly be joined in Dave Rennie’s 23-man squad by Ned Hanigan, who admired the passion the Argentinians displayed throughout their historic win against the All Blacks at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday.
“We saw it on the weekend – the passion and just pride they have got in the jersey,” Hanigan said. “You could see the reaction after the game, the jubilation, they were crying and just so incredibly proud of representing their country. They’re a classy outfit.