Veteran fly-half Matt Toomua has backed the Wallabies' young guns to make an impression for Australia if they get selected to make their Test debut against the All Blacks on Sunday for Bledisloe I.
With 14 uncapped players in the squad, speculation has mounted whether new Wallabies coach Dave Rennie will name a mix of youth and experience, or if he will throw the young talent into the deep end. Either way, Toomua believes the young players are full of confidence.
"The first Test was quite a stressful week actually; I remember it is definitely a step up in that sense," Toomua said on Tuesday. "They've got a ton of confidence - a lot of them have come from winning team, particularly the Brumbies guys. I think someone like Noah [Lolesio] is a good example; he's just won a competition; he's got some good experience of a big game under his belt.
"I don't think anyone would be disrespecting a Bledisloe team in naming a team full of debutants, but in saying that we've got to develop players and develop a squad for the future as well. I'm sure it'll be a balance; I think most guys are guessing there'll be a mix of both."
Toomua made his Test debut for the Wallabies against the All Blacks in Bledisloe I in Sydney in 2013 -- he was the first Wallaby to make his debut against New Zealand in the starting fifteen since Rod Kafer -- and went on to start at fly-half again the following week.
He recounted how stressful the lead-up to his debut was, and how similar the circumstances were with a new coach heading into a Bledisloe Test.
"My first time -- I think we had a new coach then as well -- Link had just become coach, there was just a bit of spotlight on the fly-half position at the time, it was just different to be honest with you.
"Sometimes you go to a presser and there'll be maybe one person there if you're at a Super Rugby game; there was just more people, more interest - a lot of people at home are really interested as well. I found for me the week after was a big relief, I could just get on with my rugby.
"These are emotions everyone making their debuts are going to have to experience at some stage."
In a race for starting positions, perhaps the most speculated is the starting fly-half role, which Toomua is challenging for. Named alongside experienced James O'Connor and uncapped Noah Lolesio and Will Harrison, the Wallabies' depth at fly-half hasn't looked so good in several years and the 30-year-old believes the race for the starting role is wide open.
"I think at this stage of the year, yes [it's competitive], we're all kind of waiting to see Dave's first squad and then you probably get a little bit of an idea as it goes on. It is a little bit of a blank slate, there's four options there and all of them have played really well.
"In the last few years we've had great options at 10 as well, but you just got an idea obviously because we were later into the season, we'd seen the way that Cheika at the time had liked to pick his fly-half. It's pretty open at the moment, which is nice and stressful for guys like myself, but I dare say we'll get an idea of it down the track."
As Bledisloe I creeps closer, conjecture on who will making the starting side continues to mount, but Rennie is yet to give any hints to players who will be running out on Sunday afternoon.
"Not officially, we've looked at combinations a bit earlier in the week," Toomua said. "Today's kind of the start of our week in a sense, it being a Sunday game, so we're just starting a day later. We'll probably get a fair indication after training. Coaches love keeping their cards to their chest with us as much as you guys, as well."
The Wallabies, inside their hotel-quarantine bubble, are yet to enter the outside world since their arrival in camp in Christchurch last week and it's given the players plenty of time to focus on the challenges ahead.
"[It is a] very different feel, figuratively and quite literally we're in a bubble. So often you're shielded from the public in that sense and the noise around the game, but here even more so because we're in the hotel; we go to training then straight back to the hotel.
"It's an odd feeling, it allows you to focus on the game a lot more. I think we'll all be looking forward to getting out of the bubble this week and experience a little bit of normal life -- some coffee outside -- and then you start feeling the buzz around the town. Particularly in New Zealand, for us it'll be a good feeling Wellington later in the week."
The players won't fly up to Wellington until Saturday night, meaning the team won't be doing their captain's run at Sky Stadium - instead they will do their trial run in Christchurch.