Wizards of Oz

As the Wallabies prepare for Twickenham, Sky Sports' Tony Curtis picks out five Australians to keep an eye out ahead of the Lions series...

By Tony Curtis - Follow me on Twitter: @SkysportsTC.   Last Updated: 15/11/12 10:38am

  • Share:

Sky Bet

    • Retrieving latest Sky Bet odds

There is always something special about any sporting encounter between England and Australia - but Saturday's QBE International at Twickenham will have some added spice.

With the British and Irish Lions set to play three Tests against the Wallabies next summer, the arrival of the current crop of Australian stars on these shores presents the ideal chance for some scouting.

Australia, who lost to France in their opening match of their European tour, will also take on Wales on December 1 - with the Tests against the home union duo serving as an appetiser to what is to come.

The Wallabies, though, have been forced to leave a number of their leading lights at home - with Will Genia, Quade Cooper, James Horwill and James O'Connor among those missing.

However those absentees have opened the door for the next generation - and we will look at five of the tourists who could make a name for themselves ahead of the Lions series.

Michael Hooper

The rising star of the Australian team, Hooper is gaining a growing reputation as one of the leading No 7s in world rugby. That is no mean feat considering he is vying for the openside spot with David Pocock but the 21-year-old looks the business. Having learned his craft under George Smith, Hooper went on to enjoy a stellar Super Rugby campaign this year, while he has shone in his 10 Tests since making his Wallabies debut in June.

Ben Tapuai

The hard-running Reds centre came of age during the 2011 season as the Queensland franchise secured the title. That saw him go on to play for the Australians against the Barbarians and Wales. Unfortunately his hopes of making a bigger impact on the international stage were hampered last season by a broken collarbone. Now back in the fold, Tapuai, who can play at fly-half or in the midfield channel, is also a fearsome defender while he provides a useful kicking option.

Mike Harris

Despite being born in New Zealand, Harris has established himself in the Australia team - despite intense competition for the places in the backs. The versatile Reds star can slot in at fly-half, inside centre or full-back and provides a valuable source of points with his accuracy from the kicking tee. He made his Australia debut this year against Scotland and has gone on to score 55 points in seven appearances - including a crucial 15-point haul in the draw with the All Blacks.

Paddy Ryan

The Waratahs prop has the unenviable task of trying to stop the Australia scrum from creaking. He has found himself fast-tracked into the national set-up after just 13 Super Rugby games. He made his debut off the bench against France in Paris as he continues his development. He will miss the England game but the 24-year-old looks to have a bright future ahead of him. Although a strong scrummager, the combative Ryan also looks to get involved in the loose.

Nick Phipps

While the Australia No 9 shirt is on loan from the irrepressible Will Genia, Phipps is making the most of his opportunity. The 23-year-old, a Commonwealth Games silver medallist in Sevens, has had to live in Genia's shadow for the past few years despite picking up the Australian Rookie of the Year award in 2011. However he is now staking a claim for a starting spot, with a more classical style to his play at scrum-half. He continually looks to play quick ball from the breakdown and tries to keep the pack on the front foot.

  • Share:


Lions tour 2013

Lions fans: Big boost for Australian economy

Lions boosted Aussie economy

The British & Irish Lions tour this summer gave the Australian economy an £88m boost.

Alun Wyn Jones toasts the Lions success with compatriot Sam Warburton in Sydney

Jones - I can't comprehend it

Lions lock Alun Wyn Jones admits to still suffering an "emotional hangover" after the historic series win.

Having won a series with the Lions, Jamie Roberts is plotting further success with Wales

Roberts: Lions can spur Wales

Jamie Roberts hopes the British and Irish Lions' series victory in Australia can spur Wales on to World Cup glory.

Most Popular


Wondrous Wilkinson

Wondrous Wilkinson

From Newcastle to Toulon, via Australia; Sky Sports looks back at the remarkable career of Jonny Wilkinson.

Raising the bar

Raising the bar

Mike Brown is looking to take his game to another level during the QBE Internationals.

Greatest Lions XV

Greatest Lions XV

The voting has been fierce but we can finally reveal our Greatest Lions XV of the modern era.