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Palu cracks Wallabies milestone

Thursday, June 05, 2014

GOLD COAST - Milestone man Wycliff Palu admits he feared he would be another big name Wallaby that Ewen McKenzie was dumping from Saturday night's opening Test against France.

Palu will play his 50th Test at Suncorp Stadium against Les Bleus but the bulldozing No.8 wasn't confident he'd be in McKenzie's first team of the year.

Although he's been playing solidly for the in-form NSW Waratahs, the 31-year-old felt Ben McCalman or Scott Higginbotham had been in better form.

McKenzie has been ruthless in his form-based selections, dumping stalwart prop Benn Robinson from his 32-man squad, axing Will Genia from the team, and benching former skipper James Horwill.

Palu said he was particularly worried when he received a missed call from McKenzie before the initial squad was announced, fearing the coach had called to break the bad news.

"I was pretty nervous really," he told AAP.

"He gave me a call because I've never been in the squad since he's been coach of the Wallabies.

"It was a nice surprise."

But McKenzie argued that Palu, who he recruited from the NRL's St George-Illawarra in 2004 when Waratahs coach, had the physicality and pack influence required against the powerful French.

Palu is one of two Wallabies forwards to receive their 50th cap against France but, in contrast, it's been much smoother sailing for prop James Slipper.

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