Wallabies fullback in focus: Banks in the short term, but beyond that?

The countdown to the Wallabies' three-Test series against England continues, with anticipation building around Australia.

England coach Eddie Jones this week named a squad for a training camp, with several new faces, including the talented Henry Arundell, who has been brought in for the first time.

Meanwhile on home soil, Wallabies coach Dave Rennie is anxiously watching Super Rugby Pacific, hoping no further names are added to an injury list that already includes Taniela Tupou, Izaia Perese and Rob Valetini, although all three players are expected to recover in time to face England.

As we edge closer to the series, we continue our look at the Wallabies squad, this time focusing in on fullback.

The incumbent: Kurtley Beale

If you'd suggested at the start of 2021 that Beale would be wearing the No. 15 jersey in the final Wallabies Test of 2021, you may well have been put into concussion protocol on the misunderstanding you'd suffered a bump to the head.

But after a bizarre turn of events, and multiple injuries, that's exactly what happened as the 93-Test veteran started both at the Principality Stadium and at Twickenham the week prior, Tests the Wallabies dropped as part of a three-game skid to finish 2021.

After a quiet night against the English, Beale wound back the clock with a sparkling game against Wales, showing the speed and footwork that were the hallmarks of the early part of his career. He did, however, earn himself a yellow card for a deliberate knock-down on a night when the ridiculousness of that law was unavoidable.

Named in Wallabies training squad in April: Tom Banks, Reece Hodge, Jock Campbell, Jordan Petaia

As mentioned with the cohort of wingers, Jock Campbell is the new face that also offers another option at fullback.

After finding himself shifted to the wing to accommodate the trial of Jordan Petaia at fullback, and then suffering an injury, Campbell has been reinstated as the Reds fullback by coach Brad Thorn with Petaia perhaps not making a great fist of his opportunity, despite a couple of eye-catching moments in attack.

On the fringes: -

A position where the Wallabies are short on depth, there are no real other genuine contenders for the No. 15 jersey.

That is further evidenced by Rennie's push to turn Petaia into a fullback.

The storyline: Banks' big decision and Beale's injury

Australian rugby was rocked by news that Tom Banks had been offered a two-year deal by Japanese rugby, but it is a reality to which it must become accustomed with the money on offer only set to increase in the coming years.

It also put the question of who should play fullback for the Wallabies against England front and centre of the selections discussions, with the jury still out on whether Banks is the man not just for that series but through to the World Cup - a decision that now looks 50/50 at best.

Still, Rennie this week revealed he wouldn't overlook Banks for England if he does in fact decide to head to League One, saying he'd been happy with the Brumbies custodian's form since his return from a fractured cheekbone.

"Well we certainly want to win now and grow from that, so form will dictate who we play at 15," Rennie said.

"Tom's been excellent, it's great to see Jordy play there, Jock's played a bit too and Kurtley's been injured for a long time but will be back in a few weeks," Rennie said.

"There's definitely some options there but all I'll say (on Banks) is that he's had an excellent season, missed a few weeks due to injury, but come back in really good form again.

"He's quicker, worked harder on his game and we're seeing the benefit of that and we'll pick on form."

The key thing here is to remember that while Beale is currently playing overseas, he sits beyond the three spots Rennie has at his disposal under the Overseas Player Selection Policy given he is signed to the Waratahs next season.

However, the big concern with Beale is that he is currently injured and has not played for Racing 92 since late February after picking up a hamstring injury.

While Rennie indicated Beale was edging closer to a return, there is only sparing little time for the veteran back to see some action in the Top 14.

At the same time, Reece Hodge is finally also finding some form, his try against the Chiefs last week proof that he can add value in attack, alongside a long-range kicking boot that can be incredibly valuable as a utility option on the bench.

Campbell, meanwhile, very much remains the smoky. Called into Wallabies camp for the first time in April, the Inverell-raised product appears to have seen off the challenge of Petaia at the Reds and enjoys a strong combination with potential Test fly-half James O'Connor.

Throwing him in at the deep end against England might be too much too soon, but he very much looks like a player that has found his feet at Super Rugby level and is ready to take the next step up.

Beale, meanwhile, has gone all in on one final crack at the World Cup. Nearly two decades on from when he was first touted as a schoolboy sensation, the kid from western Sydney is still looking for that one truly successful run in the gold jersey. There have been moments, sure, a handful of them match-winning, but his career has perhaps not quite ever matched the hype.

In a few weeks the final chapter of Beale's rugby story will begin to be written, such has been the journey along the way, it is impossible to guess how it might all end.