Gibbon hoping for second Wallabies chance

Thu, Jul 28, 2022, 1:56 AM
Melissa Woods - AAP
by Melissa Woods - AAP
Wallabies squad members Matt Gibbon and Lalakai Foketi have spoken to media from the Gold Coast.

After his first taste of the Wallabies ended with a mouth full of sand and a double shoulder reconstruction, unheralded prop Matt Gibbon is hoping his latest call-up leads to a Test cap.

The late-blooming Melbourne Rebel won selection for the Rugby Championship tour to Argentina, where Australia will play two Tests starting on August 7 (AEST).

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The 27-year-old loosehead impressed for Australia A in the recent Pacific Nations Cup and will cover the loss of Angus Bell, who has a toe injury.

Gibbon was first drafted into the Wallabies in 2019 by then coach Michael Cheika, which was a surprise given it came just months after he transitioned from electrician to full-time Super Rugby player.

Gibbon said it was a tough time under Cheika, who put the props through their paces with gruelling fitness sessions.

"It was me and 'Nela (Taniela Tupou) and all the other fatties on the beach there with Cheika just kicking us up the arse, climbing up and down the beach at Coogee," Gibbon said on Wednesday.

"I was actually supposed to get a shoulder reconstruction before I went into that and I said, 'You know what? I don't want one - if I'm in the Wallabies squad I want to try to stay there', so I just kind of brushed the shoulder recon.

"That was probably a bad idea. The shoulder started falling out during the year.

“I’ve definitely grown up (since)…it was my first year in Super Rugby and before that I was a sparky so I didn’t know how everything worked. Since then, I’ve learnt how important preparation is and just getting into that Rugby state of mind instead of fun, you here to work.”

Gibbon finally underwent surgery and had to work to reclaim his Rebels match-day jersey this season.

But he did enough to catch the eye of Wallabies coach Dave Rennie, who further tested him in the Australia A series in Fiji.

"Building into this year I wasn't the first choice, but I just knew that if I could get my shoulders right, get confident and put some weight on, I knew I was pretty confident in my scrums," he said.

"I started to build my game around good scrummaging and everything after that was extra. I eventually started my carries, tackling getting better and then started getting some starts which was nice.

“I actually got dropped at the start of the year. ‘Footy’ (Rebels coach Kevin Foote) wasn’t happy with a scrum against the Force and I remember myself and Bobby Tuttle got dropped for two weeks. That was the arse to turn around and go harder.”

Experienced looseheads James Slipper and Scott Sio are the frontrunners for the first Test in Mendoza, where Gibbon may again meet Cheika, who is coaching the Pumas.

“You can definitely see (the experience), I think even in the smaller meetings groups you can see a bloke who’s played 110+ caps for the Wallabies so I’ll try and replicate that,” he added on working with the likes of Slipper. “I’ll try and emulate that but I’ll just focus on getting that first game.

“You can see there’s so many boys that have been here before for so long and have so much knowledge. You take as much as you can out of it but at the end of the day, you have to fight as you can so I’ll do what I can.”