Palu pining after World Cup chance
August 12, 2011
Palu has been Australia's premier No.8 in the past but has a significant lack of game time under his belt © Getty Images
Australian back-row Wycliff Palu is hoping his previous form in the Wallabies jersey will be enough to convince Robbie Deans of his place in the final World Cup squad.
The Wallabies' 30-man squad will be named on August 18 - eight days before Palu's planned comeback from long-term shoulder and knee injuries. The destructive No.8 will play his first game for two months when he lines up for the Australian Barbarians against Canada on the Gold Coast on August 26.
As hard as he has worked on his rehabilitation, Palu acknowledges there is no guarantee his body will hold up for the duration of a tough World Cup campaign. But he is hoping past deeds will be enough to convince coach Robbie Deans that he is worth a calculated gamble.
He has kept the Wallabies boss up to date with his progress, speaking regularly on the phone and sending vision of his workouts to Deans in South Africa. "They know what I can do. I don't usually take long to get back to full fitness and I'm definitely mentally fresh after the long break," said the 29-year-old.
"I've been working very hard (in rehab) and hopefully that counts for something. It's been frustrating watching and I just want to get back out there and rip in. If I do get picked I will definitely be up for it."
Palu played just six Super Rugby games for the Waratahs this season but was hampered by hamstring problems before he fractured his shoulder blade in the penultimate game of the regular season. Minor knee surgery further hampered his progress but the 29-year-old is confident there will be no further problems.
"I'm not quite sure what they are thinking in regards to the World Cup as I haven't been given any indication," Palu said. "I've been playing it week by week and just trying to get on top of the injuries but, like I said, I am ready to go if they want me.
"I feel in good shape."
Palu rejected a move to Japan last year to remain in Australia and chase his dream of winning a World Cup. He concedes he will be shattered if left out of Deans' squad. "They (World Cups) don't come around very often and I'd be upset to miss out," Palu said. "One of the main reasons I stayed around was to play in the World Cup.
"But everything happens for a reason. If I miss out, (club side) Manly will still be playing around then so hopefully I'll get a run for them in the finals."
The Wallabies could have done with Palu's forceful running game and aggression after being kept on the back foot by New Zealand in last Saturday's demoralising 30-14 loss in Auckland. But Palu, who watched the match on television back in Australia, saw some positives.
"Robbie (Deans) summed it up pretty well. They've just got to be more patient. They probably tried to score off every phase and it didn't work out," Palu said. "The All Blacks defended very well but I'm sure the boys can hit back."
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