Rugby Union

Who will be Australia's number seven at the Rugby World Cup?

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Unlike many coaches in international rugby, Cheika has the luxury of strength in depth for the number seven jersey; a position which some countries may only have the option of one or maybe two out and out sevens to select from.

In Cheika’s case every Australian super rugby team has a ball winning seven each offering a ball winning threat which brings the question, who should he select?

Here are the top five candidates to claim that spot for the Wallabies at this year's Rugby World Cup.

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David Pocock – Brumbies

Injury struck Pocock has played little rugby over the last two years, however he has made a successful return to super rugby this year and is playing back to his old best. His over the ball technique is arguably the best out of all the number sevens, he has won countless penalties for both club and country with his dedication over the ball.

In the loose, Pocock isn’t as athletic as the other seven’s but this doesn’t stop him from using his big frame to crash the ball up, his defence has always been reliable rarely missing tackles.

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Michael Hooper – Waratahs

Branded as ‘the most consistent high level player’ Michael Cheika has ever worked with. Hooper has had a fantastic rise through the ranks of Australian rugby, possibly due to the absence of Pocock.

Captain of both club and country, the Waratah’s flyer has all round skill set which most professional players would dream off. Hooper has a brilliant technique over the ball and is always found around the ruck disrupting momentum of the attacking team.

His skills in the loose are clearly the best from the others seven’s, making line breaking runs with a combination of raw strength and lightening pace. Although small in stature, Hooper is not afraid to put in a big hit or two which is why he is one of the best tacklers in Australian rugby.

Liam Gill – Queensland Reds

Unfortunately for Gill, the Reds performance during this year’s super rugby campaign has put a down on his chances of making the squad that travels to England this year, words from the Reds man himself.

Gill is currently linked with a move to the Rebels which if goes through, the Rebels will have a back rows packed with ball winning seven’s which could further impact him making the squad. Gill is similar to the talents of Hooper but not as consistent as the Waratahs man with ball winning ability and open field destruction.

Matt Hodgson – Western Force

The Perth man has become a fans favourite in recent times, mainly for deciding to stay at the franchise rather than taking up lucrative contracts elsewhere. The Force man has captained his country on a handful of occasions, doing what Australian seven’s do by winning the ball at the breakdown and tackling hard.

However, with the rise of Hooper and other back row’s in Australia, has seen Hodgson’s skills not required by previous coach Robbie Deans, Ewan Mckenzie or current coach Cheika as much as he would like.

Colby Faingaa – Melbourne Rebels

Younger brother of Reds and Wallabies twins Anthony and Saia, Colby has shined since making his move from the Brumbies where he struggled for game time.

The 24-year-old who has the ability to play each position in the back row, Faingaa is more known for his hard running game more than his ability over the ball where he does not apply himself as much as the other sevens.

This World Cup could come too soon for the Rebel, but come 2018 the Melbourne man should be within a shout for the seven jersey.

I find it hard to see Michael Cheika looking past either David Pocock or Michael Hooper to wear the seven jersey for the World Cup, also it is highly unlikely for Cheika three open side flankers across his back row where would not include the likes of Higgingbottom or Fardy which would affect his lineout game.

But injury has been an issue for every player in this list, so come September any of the above could find themselves representing their country in the Rugby World Cup.

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Rugby Union
Australia Rugby
IRB Rugby World Cup

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