Wallaby fullback Tom Banks has the potential to become one of Australia’s greatest fullbacks but must avoid getting caught in “no-man’s land”.
Banks has been recalled to the Wallabies side for Saturday night’s Bledisloe Cup Test against New Zealand at Suncorp Stadium.
Dropped for last weekend’s embarrassing 43-5 loss the All Blacks in Sydney, the Brumbies No.15 is back in favour with Wallabies coach Dave Rennie.
While the Bledisloe Cup is out of Australia’s reach after successive losses, Banks is one of several Wallabies with a point to prove.
Former Test custodian Roger Gould – described by ex-Wallabies coach Alan Jones as the best player he coached – put the heat on Banks to perform.
“I think he learnt a big lesson on the second Test,” Gould said of Banks’ poor performance in New Zealand’s 27-7 win over Australia in Auckland last month.
“It seems to me that he’s changed his game in a year from running around or to the shoulder of people … he’s starting to run into people. I don’t know whether that’s an instruction.
“It just seems in the last couple of games when he’s bringing the ball back, he’s trying to do a hell of a lot himself and when he gets into no-man’s land he crashes into people.
If you go back six months, a year, he was going around and to the side of people.”
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Gould said at his best, Banks was a mix of lethal former Wallabies pair Chris Latham and David Campese.
“He’s got that potential in my mind. I think he can be one of the best fullbacks we’ve ever had,” Gould said.
“That’s one lesson he’s probably going to learn out this because he got pretty heavily hit two weeks ago (in Auckland) so he needs to pick up on that.”
Gould hoped the Wallabies could take a leaf out of the Queensland Reds’ book in the way they recovered from a heavy 45-12 loss to NSW in August to go on a winning run that took them all the way to the Super Rugby AU final.
“They (Queensland) were playing OK, then they got absolutely thumped by the Waratahs,” Gould said.
“You can’t change much in a week but that team came out a week later with a completely different attitude in how they played the game and went through and made the final.
“Last week may be a moment for those (Wallabies) guys.
“Maybe we need that thumping. The other game was fine. It’s not all doom and gloom, that’s for sure, but I think it was a good lesson that they get that taste, they never want it to happen again.
“Nobody ever wants get beaten by 40 points – ever.”
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