After his first taste of the Wallabies ended with a mouth full of sand and a double shoulder reconstruction, unheralded prop Matt Gibbon is hoping his latest call-up leads to a Test cap.
The late-blooming Melbourne Rebel won selection for the Rugby Championship tour to Argentina, where Australia will play two Tests starting on August 7 (AEST).
The 27-year-old loosehead impressed for Australia A in the recent Pacific Nations Cup and will cover the loss of Angus Bell, who has a toe injury.
Gibbon was first drafted into the Wallabies in 2019 by then coach Michael Cheika, which was a surprise given it came just months after he transitioned from electrician to full-time Super Rugby player.
Gibbon said it was a tough time under Cheika, who put the props through their paces with gruelling fitness sessions.
“It was me and ‘Nela (Taniela Tupou) and all the other fatties on the beach there with Cheika just kicking us up the arse, climbing up and down the beach at Coogee,” Gibbon said on Wednesday.
“I was actually supposed to get a shoulder reconstruction before I went into that and I said, ‘You know what? I don’t want one – if I’m in the Wallabies squad I want to try to stay there’, so I just kind of brushed the shoulder recon.
“That was probably a bad idea. The shoulder started falling out during the year.”
Gibbon finally underwent surgery and had to work to reclaim his Rebels match-day jersey this season.
But he did enough to catch the eye of Wallabies coach Dave Rennie, who further tested him in the Australia A series in Fiji.
“Building into this year I wasn’t the first choice, but I just knew that if I could get my shoulders right, get confident and put some weight on, I knew I was pretty confident in my scrums,” he said.
Experienced looseheads James Slipper and Scott Sio are the frontrunners for the first Test in Mendoza, where Gibbon may again meet Cheika, who is coaching the Pumas.