Robbie Deans is pleased with Australia’s strength in depth as the countdown to the 2013 Lions continues.
Deans named a number of veterans in his 30-man squad for the Rugby Championship which begins with a home tie with New Zealand on August 18 but he was quick to highlight the amount of talent coming through the ranks, particularly in the back row.
As recently as the 2011 World Cup, the Wallabies looked lost without star openside David Pocock in their starting line up yet they are unlikely to experience quite such a marked decline if the 24-year-old suffers another setback this summer.
When Pocock was injured for the clash with Ireland last autumn, Deans switched No8 Ben McCalman to the No7 shirt and Australia slipped to a surprise defeat in Auckland.
Fast forward 11 months and Deans can now point to two genuine contenders for the scavenging role, with both Michael Hooper and Liam Gill having been included after impressive Super 15 seasons with the Brumbies and Reds respectively.
Throw in the in-form Jake Schatz who could also fill the openside berth and things are suddenly looking good for the Wallabies in that department.
"There's an injection of players in areas where we historically haven't had a lot of depth," said Deans.
"Openside is an obvious one, which is great for those two blokes. It's good to have those two points of enthusiasm added to the group.
"Michael Hooper has had a taste and introduction and Liam fulfilled his obligations to the Australian U20s before we involved him in this instance.
"Liam has been around a long time for a young man and has been waiting for his body to catch up and as such he can cope with the rigours of Test rugby. We believe he's at that point now.
"Jake has really established himself at Super Rugby level and he's a comer. He gets rewarded for his efforts through Super Rugby, where he's been very consistent and he's grown rapidly.
"It's great for us to have not only that depth but that competition around Poey."
For the Wallaby squad please click here