McDermott primed for Wallabies start

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Will Genia's tutelage and Queensland's Super Rugby AU title have Tate McDermott primed to make his Wallabies starting debut in their opening Test against France.

With veteran halfback Nic White out with a knee injury and Jake Gordon nursing the same, McDermott is the frontrunner for the No.9 jersey for next Wednesday's Test at Suncorp Stadium.

McDermott said on Tuesday he'd been training in the halves with Noah Lolesio and Reece Hodge, with first-choice five eighth James O'Connor another under an injury cloud with a groin complaint.

Genia, who played 110 Tests at halfback before retirement, took McDermott under his wing last year for weekly sessions sessions to work on his pass and also his on-field presence.

Genia has been known for as a vocal, dominant character throughout his career.

Renowned for his running game, McDermott said that Genia's guidance, which he put into practise as Queensland won the Super Rugby AU crown, meant he felt better prepared for the Test arena after two appearances from the bench last year.

"I've still got a hell of a lot of improvement left in me in my core skills and that's what I hear from my coaches - I know my passing and kicking have got to get better and that's been the focus for me leading into this camp," the 22-year-old said.

"In terms of my evolution, I think I really relished the opportunity to steer the Reds team a little bit more this year with James (O'Connor), as in past seasons I've let whoever has been the 10 run the show.

"The time I spent with Willy G really showed me that in order to progress at this level I need to take that step up, whether that's talking in meetings or really being that voice on the field and that's something I've tried to focus on - to make sure people listen to you when you speak."

McDermott was disappointed that White was forced out of their Gold Coast camp after the training injury and said he'd also been generous with advice.

"I was gutted to see Whitey go down so early in the camp," McDermott said.

"He was really good, just in and around my kicking game, which has improved a lot.

"It's still not exactly where want to be but I could give credit to Whitey to where I'm moving in that space."

Meanwhile, the Wallabies have lost another veteran, with prop Scott Sio ruled out of the Test series with a hamstring injury.

The 29-year-old, who has 59 Test caps, suffered the injury at training last Friday.

After scans on the weekend it was decided he should return to Canberra for further treatment and Melbourne Rebels loosehead prop Cameron Orr has joined the squad as his replacement.

Matt Toomua, who has been battling a neck injury, returned to the squad on Tuesday after seeking treatment in Canberra, where Rugby Australia's chief medical officer Warren McDonald is based.

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