AAP Rugby

Haylett-Petty poised for starting role

By AAP Newswire

Dane Haylett-Petty's Johannesburg juggle is becoming a distant memory as the revitalised winger surges towards Wallabies starting XV status at the Rugby World Cup.

If Reece Hodge can't escape a judicial suspension for his dangerous tackle against Fiji, the No.14 jersey will almost certainly transfer to Haylett-Petty.

Even if Hodge dodges a ban, his Melbourne Rebels teammate is potentially banging loudly enough on the door of coach Michael Cheika to win a start against Wales in Tokyo on Sunday.

Cheika is in limbo as he weighs up the merits of changes from the team who beat the Fijians 39-21 in Sapporo.

The backline is in the spotlight, particularly after reserves Will Genia, Matt Toomua and 34-Test veteran Haylett-Petty made big impacts off the bench.

Haylett-Petty's excellent cameo was for just 10 minutes, in place of fullback Kurtley Beale, but it was enough to spark some unprompted remarks about his form from Cheika after Saturday's win.

"He made some very good touches. A good high ball take, a beautiful pass to set up a try," the coach said.

"Because he knows, 'when I get my chance here I've got to do my job as best I can to get back in the team'."

It's a seal of approval for a player whose international season began with his bombing of a certain try in the 35-17 loss to the Springboks at Ellis Park in July.

Haylett-Petty failed to pick up a ball cleanly without a defender near him just metres from the tryline in a killer blow to Australia's chances.

He was dropped for the next three Tests before returning to action impressively against Samoa in Sydney.

Another right wing option would be veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper

Hodge should learn his fate on Tuesday or Wednesday, when the three-man judiciary hears arguments for and against his contentious hit on flanker Peceli Yato.

The first major on-field incident of the tournament has divided rugby commentators.

Former Wallabies captain Phil Kearns told Fox Sports Hodge was caught in an awkward position and that the citing commissioner was swayed by the weight of public and media opinion.

"It is the biggest load of tripe that we have seen in world rugby for a long time," Kearns said.

Former South African referee Kaplan was a polar opposite, saying a red card was warranted for Hodge.

"To me it was completely clear and an almost textbook example of the type of challenge World Rugby are trying to outlaw."