Joe Powell is in dynamic form for the Canberra Vikings. Photo: QRU/SportographyCanberra Vikings youngster Joe Powell is emerging as a future Wallabies halfback following his electric start to the Nation Rugby Championship on Sunday.
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He was dynamic around the ruck against Queensland Country and controlled the ascendancy provided by his forward pack. Powell’s coach Wayne Southwell said his selection in the national side is “only an injury away”.

Powell was a shock inclusion in the 39-man Wallabies squad earlier this year and his age has him primed to take advantage of the World Cup cycle, with a number of his rivals playing overseas.

“[Will] Genia isn’t going to be around that much longer and certainly there is not much between the Australian group that are playing here domestically so he’s in the right age group,” said Southwell.

“Hopefully the [Vikings] forward pack can continue to lay some good foundations for him so he can show his wares in attack.”

Southwell said Powell has developed his game to be more than just an attacking halfback.

“We know what he can do in attack but it was pleasing to see some of his defensive work [on Sunday], which was very good. His organisational ability behind the back of the ruck will be critical in our games to come.

“Those little things that you don’t see off the ball are certainly adding to his game.”

Another emerging inside-back is Jordan Jackson-Hope, 20, who showed a devastating ability to score in loose play.

Southwell said Jackson-Hope’s combination with fellow centre Andrew Smith will go a long way to pushing the Vikings towards the title.

“Smithy’s a good influence on the outside and given a half chance he’s [Jackson-Hope] got the ability to make something happen.

“He was pretty solid out there. He made the most of every opportunity to take on a slower opponent, which is about being able to recognise those opportunities and he did a really good job.”

The Vikings piled on eight tries against Queensland Country, but the coach said it was the defensive side of their game that excited him.

“It’s OK to talk about something like line speed, but it’s another to actually do it.

“It had been a long day waiting to get out there and you can talk about it and talk about it, but the guys went out and executed it well.

“Our line speed cut down a lot of their opportunities early and the defensive line stuck hard in that first 10 minutes where we were in our own 22 for a long period of time.”

Southwell said James Dargaville is awaiting scan results on a shoulder injury.

“We’re hoping that it’s on the shorter range rather than the longer. If it is at the back of the shoulder it is probably a bit of a shorter turn around according to our medicos.”

The Vikings will take on NSW Country this Sunday at Viking Park. The visitors will be full of confidence having knocked off last year’s undefeated champions Brisbane City.

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