Schmidt’s picks: Big Tane questions Joe must answer, and most on ‘trend’ player he named


Former Wallaby No.10 Matt To’omua says Joe Schmidt needs to answer several key questions about Waratahs flyhalf Tane Edmed when he gets a close look at him in the Wallabies train on sessions.

Edmed is one of around 16 players who were told to report for a Wallabies train-on squad this week. The players have been drawn from the Waratahs and Western Force following their elimination, with more to be added as the Australian franchises finish their Super Rugby commitments.

To’omua, speaking on The Roar Rugby Podcast, backed the decision to bring in veteran Kurtley Beale after his return with the Force and for Schmidt to ignore Wallaby winger Mark Nawaqanitawase, who may have played his final game of rugby before heading to the NRL.

“I think it’s smart bringing a guy like Kurtley in, what he can add to the group,” said To’omua.

“I think Joe Schmidt might just get his eyes on Kurtley and think ‘can I get more out of him’ and make some decisions there.”

To’omua said the new coach has big questions to answer around Edmed in particular.

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

“It’s a difficult one. I think him and Tom Lynagh are probably very much in that similar bracket where they haven’t yet played for Australia, but they could be around there,” said To’omua.

“Once again, I really think this is Joe Schmidt wanting to get some closer eyes on him, see what he’s like,” To’omua said.

“Was he, in inverted commas, a victim of poor performances from the Waratahs as a whole? Was he shouldering too much of that load? Is that where you saw some bits that maybe he didn’t excel as much as he would have liked, or was it another explanation?

“I don’t think he’s in my depth chart. He’s not ahead of the guys like Carter Gordon or Ben Donaldson or Noah Lolesio, but I think he’s a good footy player.

“He clearly can run a team quite well. I think, yeah, that’s probably enough for a guy like a Joe Schmidt just to have a deeper look.”

Bayley Kuenzle’s selection also caught To’omua’s eye.

“The trend now, particularly off the bench is guys that can cover multiple positions,” To’omua said.

Bayley Kuenzle.. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

“So, if you’re picking a 6-2 bench and one of those back positions is a halfback, you need someone who can really Adam Ashley Cooper-style step in from 12 out.

“Kuenzel, we saw him at the Brumbies play a bit more in the midfield and he’s now a little bit wider. He is clearly a really skilled footballer and I think you start opening up avenues in that sense.

“I think Eddie Jones spoke about it last year, having these guys who can play back row and centre, but he didn’t really back it up in selection.

“But I think we might start seeing that in the next few years.

“I really think Joe Schmidt might put an emphasis on the pack and then some backs who can cover everywhere.”

To’omua was also intrigued by Charlie Gamble’s inclusion.

“You talk about your on-ballers and Fraser McReight very much sticks out, but tactically, you’re probably starting to look at Gamble,” said To’omua.

“You’re starting to look at some of the guys down at the Brumbies who can be on-ballers, but you may be starting to see where Joe Schmidt realises he needs some balance in that back row and it can’t all just be brute force.”

To’omua meanwhile said Marky Mark’s omission “makes sense”.

“If Mark was here 2025, you’d maybe see it worthwhile. If he was playing his absolute socks off, then you’d see him in that squad as well. But I think unfortunately, it’s been a year where he hasn’t been in his best form.

“We’ve seen him miss out and I think that makes sense.”

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