Rodzilla being prepared for the All Blacks

Australia are lining up prop Rodney Blake for a possible return to the green and gold for their vital Tri Nations clash with New Zealand in Melbourne next weekend.

The 24-year-old Queensland Reds prop returned to action last weekend in Australia A’s 50-0 destruction at the hands of the Junior All Blacks. Despite the heavy defeat Blake, affectionately known as Rodzilla, came through unscathed on his return from ankle surgery.

Regarded as one of Australia’s best scrummagers Blake has been named at loose head in the Australia A side to play Fiji in the Pacific Nations Cup on Saturday. He will switch to tight head at half time in a bid to prove his worth for the All Blacks Test.

If he comes through the Fiji game Blake is expected to replace Al Baxter in the senior squad, with Baxter coming under increased pressure to retain his place in the squad.

Blake will be under the close scrutiny of Wallaby selector Michael O’Connor, who will also cast an eye over Brumbies prop Nic Henderson, before reporting back to head coach John Connolly.

“We want to have a look at Blake covering loose-head,” John Connolly told AAP.

“They will swap at half-time and they could have half a game each.”

Connolly admitted using Blake in this way on Saturday could be a trial to see if he can cover both sides of the scrum from the bench against New Zealand.

“Having Rodney play either side of the scrum is an option for us,” he said.

O’Connor will also cast an eye over Blake’s Reds team mate Berrick Barnes. The young fly-half has a late chance to push his World Cup claim having taken Sam Norton-Knight’s starting berth.

One of the two will provide cover for Stephen Larkham at the World Cup later this year.

“We need a game from someone we feel can manage the game as a 10,” Connolly said.

 

365 Digital

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