Canberra Vikings set for surprise boost as Wallabies launch Fiji bid

Four Canberra Vikings will forgo a free dinner in Sydney for the chance to get crucial game time in Fiji in a knockout semi-final to prove they're ready for an international rugby recall.

The Vikings are set to be bolstered by the presence of back-rower Pete Samu, who is set to make his debut in the National Rugby Championship final in his first game back from a knee injury.

Pete Samu is hoping to rejoin the Wallabies for the end of year Tests.

Pete Samu is hoping to rejoin the Wallabies for the end of year Tests.Credit:AAP

The Wallabies will name their spring tour squad on Thursday morning, but it's likely Samu will be left out of the initial group to play the All Blacks in Japan as coaches wait to see how he performs for the Vikings.

Rory Arnold, Tom Banks and Joe Powell are also hoping to hear their names read out, although it's likely the Wallabies will change squads for the All Blacks Test and the spring tour.

The Vikings' finals showdown with the Fijian Drua means the team's Wallabies contingent will miss Australian rugby's awards night, the John Eales Medal, in Sydney on Friday.


But the opportunity to play rugby with finals intensity is the best possible preparation for trying to win Wallabies selection in the last four Tests of the year.

"I won't be winning anything, anyway," Arnold joked of the schedule clash. "I think Banksy and I will definitely benefit from getting some footy in our legs this week.

"I'm not sure how it's going to work, I think we'll be right to go this week and then we'll just have to wait and see what happens."

Any Vikings picked in the Wallabies squad will fly from Fiji to Japan on Sunday to link with the rest of the team before the third Bledisloe Cup contest.

Outside centre Tevita Kuridrani is also hoping to earn a spot in the Wallabies squad, but the ACT Brumbies powerhouse hasn't played a game since July when he tore his pectoral muscle.

He was overlooked for Australia's three Tests in June, but started to recapture his best form before being ruled out for three months.

Canberra lock Rory Arnold is trying to lock down his Wallabies spot ahead of the World Cup in Japan next year.

Canberra lock Rory Arnold is trying to lock down his Wallabies spot ahead of the World Cup in Japan next year. Credit:AAP

Arnold and Banks returned to Vikings duties last week after playing a combined 10 minutes in two Tests against South Africa and Argentina.

Powell was dropped from the Wallabies squad to get game time for the Vikings after being under-utilised by Test coach Michael Cheika in the Rugby Championship.

Samu has signed a deal to join the Brumbies next season and made his Test debut in June, but he hasn't played in the past four weeks after hyper-extending his knee and damaged ligaments last month.

Arnold powered through 80 minutes to help the Vikings seal a finals berth last week and is itching for more action against the top of the table Fijian side.

"The boys will take confidence out of being able to grind out a win [last week] … Fiji [beat us] a couple of weeks ago and the boys are pretty fired up about that," Arnold said. "The boys [were in Fiji] a couple of weeks ago, we won't be caught off guard."

The Vikings will drive to Sydney on Thursday before a hit-and-run mission in Fiji, spending just 30 hours in Lautoka to try to secure the club's third grand final opportunity in the past five years.


Saturday: Fijian Drua v Canberra Vikings at Lautoka, 3pm. TV time: Live on Fox Sports.

Chris Dutton is the sports editor at The Canberra Times.

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