In the wake of the Kurtley Beale-Di Patston-Ewen McKenzie fiasco, the embattled Wallabies enter one of the most important periods of their recent history under new coach Michael Cheika – and their Northern Hemisphere tour begins with a tough assignment against a star-studded Barbarians side.
The major talking point ahead of the match, from an Australian point of view, is the presence of compatriot Nick ‘The Honey Badger’ Cummins in the black and white ‘Baa Baas’ jersey.
A Test player earlier this season, Cummins departed Australian rugby to take up a rich Japanese club contract, nobly putting his personal ambitions to one side to alleviate the financial strain brought about by a family illness.
The cult hero will revel in facing off against his former teammates, while the Wallabies appear to be looking forward to it just as much.
The composite Barbarians side, which boasts a mythicised history, has far more going for it than one of Australia’s best wingers, however.
The John Kirwan-coached squad boasts 10 New Zealanders, headlined by flyhalf Colin Slade – who was left out of the All Blacks’ touring team despite his after-the-buzzer match-winning conversion in the last Bledisloe clash – Test representatives Adam Thomson, Matt Todd, Steven Luatua and Mahonri Schwalger, and exciting Chiefs fullback Tim Nanai-Williams.
Scotland lock Alastair Kellock will captain the side, which also includes players from South Africa, England, Argentina and Samoa.
The Barbarians take on the Wallabies at Twickenham on Saturday.