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Many questions surround Rennie's ill-disciplined Wallabies, with few answers on offer

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Wallabies must unleash Vunivalu in Europe (2:32)

After just two minutes off the bench this season, the ESPN Scrum Reset crew plead with the Wallabies to give Suliasi Vunivalu plenty of game time on the spring tour. (2:32)

There are 348 days until the Wallabies' opening match at the Rugby World Cup. As of now, worryingly, only two names can be written on the teamsheet in ink, a handful of others in pencil as the rest of the A4 piece of paper that carries the signature of team manager Chris Webb is dominated by white space.

Ironically, Marika Koroibete, one of the men whose name would be on a matchday teamsheet to face Georgia at Stade de France in Paris on September 9, has played his last Test of the year and despite a breathtaking chip, chase, and regather in Auckland, the memory that will sit with the Fijian in Japan will be the slightest of touches of the left-hand touchline at Eden Park.

Rob Valetini, who is the second and final name carved in stone, endured one of his tougher nights against a committed black wall, yet the Brumbies back-rower was still one of Australia's best on yet another sorry night for Australian rugby in Auckland.

But not even a multitude of magnificent Koroibete contributions, nor countless Valetini charges, could have rescued Australia on Saturday night as they were once again chewed up and spat out back across the Tasman, this time in a comprehensive 26-point hammering that was inevitable the moment Jed Holloway was sent to the sin-bin. And that was only 90 seconds after the opening kick-off.

If the Wallabies were to be any chance in Auckland then they had to start perfectly, yet Holloway's dangerous cleanout was as ugly as it was predictable, at least in that Australia's disciplinary record was the second worst of any of the four Rugby Championship teams.

And that was only because the Pumas conceded an astonishing 22 penalties in their closing loss to the Springboks, while the week before Argentina's number was 18; but the Wallabies were the only team to concede 16 or more penalties on three or more occasions.

When you factor in that they also received the most yellow cards in the Rugby Championship, the reality of their disciplinary woes needs no further explaining.

The Wallabies had cause to moan about their treatment at the end of Bledisloe I in Melbourne - a point Rennie says World Rugby confirmed last week - but his side now has a target on its back for the spring tour.

"Selection maybe? If we've got individuals giving away lots of penalties maybe it's a selection issue," Rennie said when asked how his side could fix their discipline. "But you're right, we lost collisions. So you're constantly going backwards if you got passive tackles, you give away penalties.

"At times we'll end up in front of the last man's feet because it's a passive tackle. So obviously, there's lots of things. It's a massive focus for us. We put a lot of time into it this week and still got to be better."

Discipline aside, the reality that Rennie and the Wallabies have little idea as to the make-up of their best starting XV is impossible to ignore.

Aside from Valetini fitting in at either No. 6 or No. 8 and the world-class Koroibete owning the No. 11 jersey, there has perhaps never been more uncertainty as to the construction of Australia's run-on team.

In the front-row James Slipper has done an admirable job deputising for Michael Hooper as captain, but the 33-year-old Queenslander is not the player around the paddock he once was. He remains a competent scrummager but the impact Angus Bell makes with ball in hand is undeniable; the Waratahs prop clearly has work to do on his set-piece, though.

Dave Porecki and Folau Fainga'a also have contrasting strengths and weaknesses at set-piece and around the paddock, while Lachie Lonergan continues to wait in the wings and youngster Billy Pollard got his first taste of Test rugby in Argentina.

Where is Taniela Tupou at? In a season when the Reds star was set to confirm his position as the Wallabies' most important player and a million-dollars-a-season man, Tupou at times appeared disinterested; he also battled calf injuries.

Allan Alaalatoa, with a clear run at the No. 3 jersey, was one of Australia's better performers through the back half of the Rugby Championship, while Pone Fa'amausili at last got some time off the bench but did with little impact.

The uncertainty in this Wallabies team is perhaps best summed up at lock, where injury, suspension and the use of the Giteau Law have created a muddled picture. Each of Rory Arnold, Jed Holloway, Darcy Swain, Nick Frost and Cadeyrn Neville saw time in the second-row during the Rugby Championship while Izack Rodda continues his recovery from injury and Will Skelton awaits a call-up in France that might yet not come.

Hooper's withdrawal ahead of the first Test was a huge moment not just for Australian rugby, but for Australian sport as a whole. It also gave Rennie an opportunity to see both Fraser McReight and Pete Samu in the No. 7, with the latter arguably Australia's best player in the back-to-back defeats by the All Blacks.

Having been pigeon-holed as an impact player of the bench, Samu has now proven himself worthy of more opportunities to start; the question is with Hooper potentially nearing a return, will he have the chance to do so?

"He's a wait and see, we've been in constant communication with Hoops and we'll let everyone know what the plan is over the next couple of weeks," Rennie said of his sidelined skipper.

At No. 9, there is an entire Australian state wondering what Tate McDermott has to do to get a start. The Queenslander has only had limited opportunities as first Nic White and then Jake Gordon have worn the No. 9 jersey.

McDermott might not be up to the task, but it is hard to get a gauge on the scrum-half's suitability on the basis of a couple of starts in 2021.

Injury and form are a recurring theme at fly-half. And perhaps the Wallabies would have enjoyed greater Rugby Championship success had Quade Cooper not torn his Achilles tendon after only 50 minutes of the first Test in Argentina.

James O'Connor's stocks, even before his injury, have declined, the veteran now behind Bernard Foley in the pecking order after the 33-year-old was brought in to start in Melbourne and very nearly led the Wallabies to a famous win.

Noah Lolesio, meanwhile, sits on the fringe of selection and the spring tour looks like the perfect opportunity for him to build some continuity at No. 10 - providing his body holds up.

In the midfield and outside backs, the picture is just as murky.

The season-ending injury to Samu Kerevi and consecutive concussions suffered by Hunter Paisami opened up the opportunity for Lalakai Foketi to start, and largely impress, but the Waratah centre's own campaign now appears to be over after a shoulder injury.

While perhaps not at the rusted-on stage as Valetini or Koroibete, Len Ikitau is another player who is very close to locking down a starting spot at No. 13. He has been one of the finds of the Rennie era.

The Australia A tour to Japan looms as a huge opportunity for many players, but none more so than Suliasi Vunivalu. Apart from two-and-a-half minutes against England in Sydney, no one knows whether the Fijian flyer can impact Test rugby like many think he will.

And Tom Banks' selection for the same tour suggests the uncertainty at fullback will continue no matter Andrew Kellaway's recent deeds at the back, nor the presence of Kurtley Beale who played his first game in months in a Waratahs development XV on the weekend.

As is the case with McDermott, many Queenslanders are wondering what Jock Campbell has to do to get an opportunity as well.

And so with a few weeks to reflect on the Rugby Championship, and absorb the opening games of the Australia A tour, Rennie and his fellow Wallabies staffers have time to ponder their squad and plot a path forward.

The five-match tour against Scotland, France, Italy, Ireland and Wales, will be incredibly challenging, but it is almost the final opportunity to build even the smallest shred of consistency before the World Cup. After last year's 0-3 return, it looks a tall order.

And the cold hard fact is that only once in three years has Rennie's team strung consecutive wins together - five in total - that coming in last year's Rugby Championship and then Japan.

While there are many unknowns, Rennie, at least, recognises that.

"We know when we're at our best, we can compete with anyone," the Wallabies coach said Saturday night. "But we've got to be in and around 100% every week. Otherwise, if we're under par we get hurt like we do against good sides like New Zealand...if you go into a World Cup and you have a great performance one week and a poor one the next then you're out."

With 348 days to go until they run out at Stade de France, right now the Wallabies are anything but World Cup contenders. With so much up positional uncertainty, discipline woes and no idea what the word consistency means, a semifinal finish is all that can be expected -- and even that is down to the fortune of the World Cup draw.