Brumbies coach backs Tom Banks to match it with best in the world
Brumbies fullback Tom Banks is on the cusp of his Wallabies debut.
ACT Brumbies coach Dan McKellar has been cautious not to overhype his inexperienced players this season, but with Tom Banks on the cusp of a Wallabies debut – he indulged.
Banks was named in the Wallabies 28-man squad on Sunday and he'll likely compete with Melbourne Rebels winger Jack Maddocks for a bench spot in the Bledisloe Cup opener against New Zealand on Saturday.
Banks came to Canberra in 2016 searching for an opportunity after the fullback earned just two caps in two seasons at the Queensland Reds.
The 24-year-old played 10 games for the Brumbies in 2017 but really burst onto the scene this year with a breakout Super Rugby campaign.
Banks scored nine tries in 16 games before bolting into the Wallabies squad and starred in their trial at Leichhardt Oval two weeks ago.
McKellar scouted Banks out of Brisbane and said it was satisfying to see the speedster reach his potential, but added the fearless fullback must not change his game in the Test arena.
"It's important for him that he continues to back his ability and have that confidence and belief that he can compete with anyone at any level," McKellar said.
"It's pleasing for any coach when you see your players develop and improve and Banksy is no different.
"He's been very good over the past couple of months and was very good in the Leichhardt trial, hopefully he gets picked in that Test environment."
The Brumbies have built their legacy as Australia's most successful Super Rugby club by showing faith in players who've been rejected interstate.
No other club has produced more Wallabies than the Brumbies and – like Banks – many have come to the capital in search of game time, before earning international honours.
The Brumbies have been a Wallabies production line since the club launched in 1996 and Banks' path to green and gold is a well-trodden one.
"He came to us on the back of very good National Rugby Championship in 2016, he made the most metres and line breaks in that competition, playing for a Queensland Country side that wasn't up the top," McKellar said.
Brumbies fullback Tom Banks has been picked in the Wallabies squad for the Rugby Championship.
"He had a good introduction last year to Super Rugby and this year he’s flourished and in the last eight games he's really found his groove and belief and confidence.
"Guys come here who haven't had opportunity elsewhere… and if you believe in what they have to offer, that player will flourish, Tommy is no different.
"The Brumbies have being doing that for a long, long time. Guys just come here and get better and we pride ourselves on that and feel it's something we do as well as anyone."
Banks is joined in the Australian squad by Brumbies teammates David Pocock, Pete Samu, Allan Alaalatoa, Scott Sio and Joe Powell.
But it wasn't all good news for the ACT men, with lock Rory Arnold a controversial omission as Michael Cheika trimmed his squad from 36 to 28, while Folau Faingaa also missed out.
"I'm really disappointed for Rory, he had an outstanding season for us and you know I'm probably biased but I feel he should be in there," McKellar said.
"Folau is a young developing hooker who will play a lot of Test footy, he just has to be patient and listen to feedback and be ready when his chance comes."
Meanwhile, the Brumbies have signed Australian under-20 prop Tom Ross and Canberra Vikings centre Len Ikitau on wider training squad contracts.
BLEDISLOE CUP 2018
August 18: Wallabies v All Blacks at ANZ Stadium, 8.05pm.
August 25: All Blacks v Wallabies at Eden Park, 5.35pm (AEST).
October 27: Wallabies v All Blacks at International Stadium Yokohama, 10am (AEST).
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