Stephen Hoiles believes Angus Bell could become one of Australia’s greatest ever props after the young loosehead emerged as the brightest light from an otherwise dismal Rugby Championship campaign.
The son of former Wallabies hooker Mark Bell, the Waratahs star missed the entire Super Rugby Pacific season after re-injuring his foot in the season opener against the Brumbies.
Bell then sat out the opening Test against South Africa in Pretoria before impressing off the bench against Argentina in Sydney.
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That dynamic display earned the 22-year-old a start in Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup clash with New Zealand and Bell was Australia’s best in the crushing 38-7 defeat.
Bell was substituted for co-captain James Slipper in the second half but then returned to finish the game after damaging injuries to tightheads Allan Alaalatoa and Taniela Tupou.
“That was really exciting, seeing how well he played and to come back on and do it again,” former Wallabies backrower Hoiles said on Stan Sport’s Between Two Posts.
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“He could go down as one of our very, very best ever. And you know what, he wouldn’t listen to this but he wouldn’t care if he did because he’s not that type of bloke.
“He just gets on with it. Allan Alaalatoa, that’s scary losing him. Taniela, I think we’ll get him back, but I’m shattered for the Wallabies now with that tighthead situation.
“But having Bell back, that’s huge. He’s that good he could finish the game as a backrower. Like his ball running – he’s probably our most damaging ball runner.”
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Wallabies coach Eddie Jones said allowing Bell to continue to start while switching Slipper to tighthead was an option ahead of Saturday’s return match against the All Blacks in Dunedin.
Former Wallabies lock Justin Harrison agreed Bell was Australia’s standout at the MCG.
“There’s a man that’s changed his capacity to scrummage the way they want it,” Harrison said.
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“He’s a huge man, right? So all through age group, he’s never had to really work technically very hard. Then he’s come through and been found out by bigger, stronger people. His core strength now is he’s a big, tall man – remember Carl Hayman when he came through? They said ‘this guy is too tall to play prop.’ He’s worked hard on it.”
Harrison also liked Bell’s heart on sleeve interview as he spoke with Stan Sport’s Drew Mitchell on Saturday.
“He was shattered. Now that is what we’re talking about when you put on a Wallabies jersey.”
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