Stay up to date with all the latest Wallabies news ahead of England Test match

He’s played for three Super Rugby clubs, had a stint in Japan, and was first picked in the Wallabies training squad 10 years ago. Finally, Cadeyrn Neville gets his Test debut this weekend.

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie will drop a selection bombshell on Thursday by naming 33-year-old lock Cadeyrn Neville for his debut Test match against England this weekend.

Neville will become the third oldest Wallaby debutant since World War II when he starts at Perth’s Optus Stadium on Saturday night, tasked with taking on one of the most imposing second-rowers in the game in England enforcer Maro Itoje.

The shock selection caps an extraordinary journey for Neville, who was first selected in a Wallabies squad in 2012 but has never managed to pull on the gold jersey.

Stream Over 50 Sports Live & On-Demand with Kayo. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now >

Cadeyrn Neville is set to make his debut after 10 years in the Wallabies system. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty
Cadeyrn Neville is set to make his debut after 10 years in the Wallabies system. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty

Only dual-code and dual-national star Tiaan Strauss (33 years, 349 days) and one-Test Wallaby Ken Yanz (33 years, 295 days) made their Test debuts for Australia later than Neville (33 years, 235 days) will do.

Strauss played for South Africa from 1992-94, before switching codes and playing for Cronulla Sharks for two seasons.

He then switched back to union, playing for NSW Waratahs, and qualified for the Wallabies in 1999 when he was selected by World Cup-winning coach Rod Macqueen, playing 11 Tests that year including the quarter-final win against Wales, his final Test.

Yanz played his one and only Test in 1958 against France in Paris.

Neville, the 202cm lineout specialist who had a fine season with the Brumbies this year, was a junior rowing champion and rugby league star who only took up union in 2009.

He quickly became a star for the Manly Marlins in the Shute Shield, and was signed by the Melbourne Rebels in 2012, during which he was drafted into the Wallabies training squad by then coach Robbie Deans.

Tiaan Strauss was 33 when he made his debut in 1999. Picture: Nathan Richter.
Tiaan Strauss was 33 when he made his debut in 1999. Picture: Nathan Richter.

However, Neville failed to get a Test cap, and after three seasons at Melbourne he joined Queensland Reds for two years.

With little success, Neville signed with Japanese club Toyota Shuttles for three years in 2017, and many expected that move to signal the end of his chances of representing Australia.

But upon signing with the Brumbies 2020, Neville has proven a reliable performer in Australia’s best Super Rugby side, culminating in his remarkable selection this week, set to partner his Canberra teammate Darcy Swain.

Quade Cooper looks likely to win the battle for the crucial No.10 jersey, and reunite with Japan-based backs Samu Kerevi and Marika Koroibete.

Neville’s call-up coincides with Wallabies forwards coach Dan McKellar – who has just finished his time as head coach of the Brumbies – declaring that Australia wants to have the “best maul in the world”.

“We’re trying to develop a mindset here of having the best maul in the world,” McKellar said.

Cadeyrn Neville is a Shute Shield veteran.
Cadeyrn Neville is a Shute Shield veteran.

“That takes time, there’s five groups of players that come from different franchises and they all do it differently, so the buy in and thirst for it has been obvious from my end.”

McKellar said his forwards would be ruthless in their intent to physically dominate their English rivals in this three-Test series.

“You’ve got to take them on, you’ve got to understand that you can’t shy away from where the challenge is coming from,” McKellar said.

“It’s been part of English rugby DNA for forever and a day that set-piece and physicality and brutality is important and it’s certainly going to be important for our pack.

“We know that for us to win this game we’ve got to win the collisions and we’ve got to look to dominate at set-piece.

“They’re world class and it’s a real challenge for us. If we do that you give the likes of the players we have in the backline to really shine and dominate.”

Originally published as Stay up to date with all the latest Wallabies news ahead of England Test match

Add your comment to this story

To join the conversation, please Don't have an account? Register

Join the conversation, you are commenting as Logout