Dave Rennie says Wallabies hopefuls have nine weeks to impress

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has outlined fullback and hooker as positions where a player can "make a statement" over the next nine weeks and put themselves in pole position for a start against France in three months' time.

And Rennie is adamant New Zealand's five teams need the trans-Tasman crossover series - which was last week green lit following the confirmation of a travel bubble with Australia -- as much as Australia's five franchises, after Argentina's shock defeat of the All Blacks last year.

Rennie, who held a three-day camp for 40 players in Sydney this week, believes the experience of playing provincial teams from other countries is invaluable when the game progresses to the international stage later in the year.

"I think it's important that we play the Kiwis and I reckon a lot of people think that we need to play the Kiwis, [but] they don't need to play us because they can play each other," Rennie told reporters. "But New Zealand sides are very similar, they play a high-speed, high-skill game and they defend similarly, they attack similarly.

"And I reckon when they played the Argentinians last year, a team that defended totally different, it took them a long time to break them down, they got beaten obviously in the first one and then they worked it out. But it was a totally different way of defending; committing no numbers [to the breakdown] two guys in the tackle, slow ball.

"So by playing us, we've got teams that play different footy too; the Rebels are a very territorially-based side, they're prepared to kick and kick and put pressure through that; the Brumbies are a very strong set-piece but they've probably got more of a mix to their game and the Reds can hurt you from anywhere. So I think it will be good for us, but good for the Kiwi sides as well."

After yet another Reds-Brumbies thriller over the weekend, Rennie was cautiously optimistic when analysing his playing stocks after eight weeks of Super Rugby AU action. With 26 of the 40 players in camp this week coming from the two in-form franchises, it's reasonable to think that the first Wallabies Test of 2021 will carry a distinctly Queensland/ACT feel.

ESPN understands that the first game will come in Brisbane on July 10, with the second and third Tests against France to follow in Melbourne and Sydney respectively.

But that doesn't mean the door is closed on players from the other three franchises either; certainly a handful of Rebels are right in contention while four Western Force players attended this week's camp.

And then are the Waratahs, who saw their Wallabies squad contribution drop from 10 players at last year's Tri Nations to just four this week in Sydney.

The message to those who missed the squad then? Use the remaining games from Super Rugby AU and then the trans-Tasman crossover series to really make a case to the Australian selectors.

"I think those sides [Reds and Brumbies] are going well, they've got really good depth and that's been reflected in the group that we've bought in here," Rennie said.

"But when we're looking at individuals there is a lot of clarity and detail around what we're looking for in each position; there's no doubt those sides are going well but there's still nine weeks to go until we assemble or whatever so there's still a fair bit of time for guys to push their way back in.

"And there are some experienced guys who aren't here at the moment, and it's a bit of a signal to them that they're going to have to make some shifts."

The good news for Rennie is that there is genuine competition for places across most positions in the squad, with only a handful having a clear standout performer who is demanding selection. Going by what Rennie was saying, "sensational" Queensland Reds fly-half James O'Connor is likely one of those.

But hooker, fullback and probably No. 6, where youngsters Tim Anstee, Rob Valentini, Josh Kemeny and Lachie Swinton are pressing, are very much up for grabs.

"You'd have to say hooker, we had four different guys in here last year and we've had four different fellas in this year," Rennie said of positions where there was uncertainty. "And that doesn't mean that the guys we used last year are out of the mix, but it's a bit of a signal there that we're looking with an eye to the future. But it's a really competitive spot, we believe.

"So I think that hooker's wide open but we've picked the guys who we think are playing the best footy; ironically two of the hookers we've brought in didn't start on the weekend, they were on the bench. So that's one spot.

"I think out wide there is a fair bit of competition for places, so from that perspective it's exciting; fullback's probably a thin position for us. Obviously we've got Tom [Banks] here and we brought Hodgey [Reece Hodge] in who's a utility and can play 15, so that's a position that someone could make a statement in in the next nine weeks."

With that uncertainty at fullback and Dane Haylett-Petty still to make his return from concussion, Jordan Petaia could yet be considered in the custodian role despite spending his time at the Reds this year at outside centre and on the wing.

"He's probably played his best footy on the wing/fullback, so I mean he's a player who can play any of those [positions] isn't he?" Rennie said of Petaia. "I thought he was really strong on the weekend, had his best game this year, and certainly he's been working really hard on his kicking game and it was good to see that on the weekend; a pretty pivotal moment when he does the old 50/22 and a few phases later he ends up scoring off that.

"So we're certainly putting emphasis on our wingers being able to kick the ball because that then allows us to play wide and still kick from out there which sort of manipulates the shape of their back three and so on. So he becomes a strong option based on that."