Mumm’s the word as Wallabies’ star rises

Wallabies lock Dean Mumm, mid-picture, celebrates Australia’s win over the All Blacks on Saturday. Picture: GETTY IMAGESRUGBY UNION

Returning to Australia on a wing and a prayer, Wallabies lock Dean Mumm is set to continue his remarkable resurgence by stepping into New Zealand rugby’s hottest cauldron.

Mumm played 33 Tests between 2008 and 2010 but looked unlikely to add to that tally after going to English club Exeter in 2012.

After three years there, Mumm signed for his old Super Rugby side NSW Waratahs for 2016, but linked up with them in June and played in their last three rounds.

Waratahs and Wallabies coach Michael Cheika initially dismissed any suggestion Mumm could be a contender for a World Cup berth but then chose the lock in his Rugby Championship squad.

Mumm played his first Test in almost five years last month, coming off the bench to score a try against Argentina, and then he started against New Zealand.

Mumm says he could not have imagined such a scenario even three months ago.

“I was coming back on a little bit of a wing and a prayer. I hadn’t spoken to Cheik,” he said.

Mumm tasted defeat in his first seven encounters with the All Blacks but has savoured victory in his last two, albeit almost five years apart.

New Zealand-born Mumm, whose family migrated to Australia when he was around 18 months old, knows the Wallabies face an enormous task to win at Eden Park, the spiritual home of the All Blacks.

“We’re expecting a pretty full-on Kiwi response, I’d say, at Eden Park in front of a crowd that is extremely patriotic in a place that they absolutely love playing.

“They are the best team in the world because they are very very consistent, and they are going home to their favourite ground to play.

“It’s a very big challenge for us but one we’re very much looking forward to.”

Mumm acknowledged the Wallabies had some work to do on their lineouts, after the All Blacks snaffled a number of their throws last weekend.

That Test was the first since November 2009 against Wales, when Mumm started in the second row alongside his Australian under-21 colleague James Horwill.

Meanwhile, fringe Wallabies squad members Christian Lealiifano and Sean McMahon have been released from Australia’s Bledisloe Cup training camp to play for a World XV against Japan in Tokyo, joining recent Wallabies squad members Nick Cummins and Taqele Naiyaravoro among 14 Australian internationals.

Cheika has recalled Queensland Reds centre Samu Kerevi and NSW Waratahs captain Dave Dennis into his squad for the weekend. – AAP

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